Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sloan Boutique

738 NW 23rd Ave

Monday afternoon seems like a long time ago but I could not leave it without a separate post on this great boutique. I’ll admit that in these days of malls and online shopping I’ve fallen away from going to small standalone stores. Sloan Boutique is exactly why you should not let this happen! It’s perfectly sized and executed with a chic but not snooty vibe (one of my biggest peeves with boutiques). It’s like walking into someone’s house and finding it filled with all sorts of delicious clothing and accessory options- from casual to dressy even work wear is represented. More importantly, these are not designers and styles you’ll see at the department stores. Everything feels fresher. Which it is because the owner goes to LA almost weekly. You can’t get that at the bigger stores.

If you’re thinking ‘uh hunh and I bet the prices are boutique-y too’ you’re wrong. The majority of items I looked at fell between $35 and $100. And the only attitude from the sales associates was warm and friendly without being pushy. They really know the labels and are happy to talk about them as much or as little as you want.

Below are just a few items I loved. I would have taken even more photos but started to feel bad because it was not a buying day for me. Trust me when it is I’ll go back. I loved this store!

I fell in love with the adorable style and fabric of this tunic length top. All we need is some warmer weather and this would be perfect with leggings, loads of bracelets or a cute cuff, and a great chunky wrap sandal.

Like I said- I loved this top! In fact I was so gaga I forgot to note the designer so if anyone from Sloan is reading this please help me out! It's a little hard to see but the very top part is smocked which is flattering to everyone. And that braided neck- sexy.

This Pico jacket is a perfect Portland piece because it is all about layering. You can wear it right now with a long sleeved top underneath and with a tank when it gets warm. The color is a perfect neutral but the soft fringy-ness (yes, that is a design term) means this jacket is anything but boring. 

This Lily jumper/shift is another great piece for Portland. You can wear it bare with a great chunky necklace or you can wear it in the colder weather with a black turtleneck, tights, and boots. The b/w plaid is classic but the tiny bits of color (yellow, green, and blue) make it pop. I also liked this for its flexibility in styling. You could glam it up or look completely chic at the office. Win win.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday Adventure- Nob Hill

This week’s adventure (and yes, my life is that small now) took me to  Nob Hill (aka Northwest Portland). I’ve not spent much time there, aside from meeting friends for drinks (which means the late hour not  the alcohol intake inhibited my ability to look around).

Because a girl can’t live by shopping alone I also planned my trip with lunch in mind. Every year Portland Monthly reviews and rates pizza in our fair city and every year this place is in the Top 3. So, I awoke this morning dreaming of a great slice. Unfortunately, I’m new enough to still miss many nuances that long time PDXers catch. Namely, that there is a Ken’s Artisan Bakery and a Ken’s Artisan Pizzeria (different names, go figure). The pizzeria is across the river. Despair is not a strong enough word at this point. I had the taste and texture of amazing pizza in my heart and was denied. Thankfully, I have food fortitude so I rallied and ordered what turned out to be a delicious egg salad panini on their pain rustique (so good I bought a loaf to take home).

My after lunch stroll turned up some great finds- for woman and beast alike. You already know I’m not a dog person but The Hip Hound looked almost cute enough for me to venture in. Enough couture clothing for even the most pampered canine!

Zucari Home and Garden was having a 50% everything spring sale which I hope is not a euphemism for 'closing'. There were lots of cartons and not much merch but I'll try and stay positive as I coveted these garden globes. Came close but did not buy….yet.

Last but not least I visited Seams to Fit which is a bit out of the way but does a really nice job with high-end consignment clothing. There were at least 5 pairs of shoes that should belong to me except they were a size 7. Do size 9s not put their shoes up for consignment? Gorgeous designer handbags as well and a Burberry trenchcoat for $480. Given that it seems we’re going to be in this soaked state this should be a must-have purchase.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Citrus Yogurt Muffins

I’m secure enough to put my mistakes out there on the web to be read in perpetuity which is why I wrote How Not To but if I get it right I’m also going to crow a little- and share the results!

These spunky muffins are a recipe from the same book that produced the cupcake debacle so I was hesitant to try them but the lure of lemon and lime zest was too great. Thankfully, the end result is a tender tasty muffin that is not too sweet and low in fat. 

Citrus Yogurt Muffins
From 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly

2C flour                                                           1T baking powder
¾ C superfine sugar                                         pinch of salt
1T ea grated lemon, orange, lime zest               1C fat free plain yogurt
½ C sunflower or canola                                   1 lightly beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin pan.
In a medium bowl all the dry ingredients including the zest. In a large bowl beat together the oil, yogurt, and egg until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins and serve warm. If eating next day toast to re-crisp outside.Can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Quick notes: Zesting oranges and lemons is not as easy as it looks. I watched 15 youtube videos to see if someone out there had a good solution but they all say the same thing- and most of them are so perky (even the guys) they made me gag. I’d suggest using a zester or even a vegetable peeler for the orange. They have so much natural oil that a microplane grater gets clogged and you end up with a pile of mush and orange oil all over your hands. Smells great but is a pain to clean up. A zester gives you long thin curls which you can chop smaller if you want or leave to the mixer.

The only other thing I’ll mention is that this batter is more like a dough; a very stiff dough which was a complete surprise to me. I checked the recipe twice to make sure I hadn’t left out a key liquid! It is so firm you could use your hand to form the balls for the muffin tin. I stuck with spoons but you will want to press the dough into the tins so there are no air spaces in the bottom.

So get into the kitchen while we’re still stuck in the isn’t-it-spring-yet doldrums and make a batch of these bright light muffins. Then sit back and relax with a treat and a nice cup of tea for a mid-afternoon break. For me I like Earl Grey decaf loose leaf tea from Adagio.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Little Bits

Just how many “for Dummies” books do you have to read before you are one?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rain Boots

Just thought you should have a small dose of reality before you go gallivanting off into the weekend all jacked up on my What I Love post this morning.

I may put photos of booties, ghillies, pumps, and all other manner of hot sassy shoes in this blog and I may devour photos of said footwear on everyone’s else’s blogs BUT this is how we roll in Portland. The only sartorial control I have over the situation is that my rain boots are going to be covered with a tattoey tough chick motif that gets me compliments every time I wear them. They’re Voodoo Graphic by Chooka. I would gladly share buying info with you but I got them at this great website where it’s all overstock and end of season so they are long gone. Anyway, Chooka in season can be found at Nordstrom, piperlime, and all kinds of hip places.

And yes, I do wear grandma jeans that are baggy. No leggings, jeggings, or skinny jeans for me. At least not during the day. I’m not going to whine about aging but at some point you have to let it go and dress appropriately.

This is me. This is Portland.

What I Love This Week- Molton Brown

When we lived in Utah lotion was a utilitarian ‘buy the 6 pack of Vaseline Intensive Care large size bottles at CostCo’ thing. You got out of the shower and could watch the lines appear on your face as it dried and feel the scruffiness on hands and elbows before you’d even finished toweling off. It was the first time in my life when I understood what the word ‘slather’ meant. You got as much on as many places as you could reach and then if you had nowhere to be you even pulled on socks to ensure it really absorbed into your skin.

Now, we’re in Portland where I’m beginning to google “rain damp mold growth possible human skin” (this is why I’m a research professional and you’re not). I have 2 full bottles of the Intensive Care left that I bought almost 2 years ago. Aside from the face (with which one does NOT take chances at my age) lotion is not an everyday or every shower necessity. Which makes my love this week even better because it is so delightful and always makes me feel special- even after something as simple as washing my hands. 

It is my perfectly not-too-much-not-too-little scented Molton Brown naran ji hand lotion. I interpret ‘hand’ loosely and will mix it with unscented body lotion when I really want to feel pampered. The scent is light and warm and the texture is creamy but disappears nicely into your skin so you’re not all gloppy or rubbing excess off on a towel (what a waste!).

It was a gift from my sister-in-law (who always gives great girly gifts) which makes it even better because it is stupidly expensive- one of those things that you look at and think ‘I’d really love it but I cannot spend that much’. Getting it as a gift alleviates that guilt AND makes you feel like you are such a special person you can use wildly expensive lotion. I love those kinds of gifts (getting them and giving them)- something that someone really wants but won’t buy for themselves. And don’t we all like to feel special?

Here’s to my naran ji lotion and to your fabulous weekend. Find something you love and enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recent Reading- The Help

Important preface to this review: I am one of those people who doesn’t do well when faced with exhortations to view/read something widely and unanimously praised. Call it childish or perverse, I often find it that much harder to like or enjoy and certainly not to the degree everyone around me seems to be feeling. Several key examples of movies and books which I disliked in the face of adulation from the majority- Terms of Endearment, Black Swan, any of Lauren Hilldebrands’ against-all- odds books, Bridges of Madison County (I’m still freaked out by both the book AND the movie) and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

This leaves me in a precarious position with The Help. Goodreads, which is my go to book/reading website (lets you track what you’ve read and what you want to read!), has it rated 4.5 out of 5 stars based on over 100,000 readers! I rated it a 3. Scanning reviews show it is perceived as an amazing work of fiction and by many as a seminal work on race relations in the south. I’m sorry but this is not To Kill a Mockingbird. It is a reasonably good story with some great plot twists that happens to take place in the south. I didn’t dislike it but did not love it. Too many things got in the way of my immersion in the story; most notably, Stockett’s take on a deep southern accent. The use of ‘a’ and ‘on’ for ‘of’ and ‘going’ were so pervasive they were off-putting and made me feel as if the focus was on the dialect not the character.

That aside, my biggest problem with The Help may be not the book itself but the readers’ perceptions. Is this really so shocking- domestic help being subjugated and abused? It’s still going on today! Maybe not so much with one race but there are scores of women in this country who are here illegally and are being overworked and underpaid- in some cases even held hostage. Framing it in the South in the 60s made it easier for the reader to get worked up about the injustice but it is not a new or unheard of story so why such outrage? I’m sure Ms. Stockett did not intend to write a treatise on the socio-economic ills of the domestic labor market in the 60s so why such a widespread interpretation?  

I have more thoughts on themes in the book (women hurting women, gender roles) but would much rather hear from others who have read it. What did you think? Did I miss the mark completely?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Swoony- Todd Hunter

After almost 2 years in our house DH and I have finally hung every piece of 'art' we own and now I come across this. I'm in love and can't stop going to the gallery website despite the awful little 'sold' note under each painting (as if I could afford original art right now). 

It is a reminder to me of how art works. How visceral the emotions it evokes. It goes beyond just the colors and anything I can define but my response to each of these pieces was different. No more words....just look and love.

My thanks go out to Kristina at Lovely Morning for posting about Todd Hunter first.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Out to Lunch- St Honore Boulangerie

Depending on where you are in your unemployment journey Monday can be just another day or one that evokes a lot of emotion. Great if you’re still in severance pay this-is-really-a-vacation mode but not so much if you’ve moved into sweet-Jesus-I-will–never-work-again mode. I’m somewhere in between and have labeled Monday as my ‘adventure’ day. What this means is I will get off my ass, put on a bra, and a modicum of makeup and go somewhere in Portland I’ve never been.

Today I ventured south of the city to the ritzy town of Lake Oswego (known to many as Lake Ego due to the wealthy, conservative, homogenous nature of its population). They have a very small old fashioned downtown area and I wanted to go to some shops and get lunch. All good except the shop I most wanted to visit had closed so I guess the recession is an equal opportunity depressant.

I was left with mostly a lunch outing but in that I was richly rewarded when I decided to go to St. Honoré Boulangerie. After minutes standing in front of the case (shown below) trying to decide which option to choose (they’re well known for the authenticity of their Croque Monsieur) I stopped drooling and went with the Brie Bartlett panini.

I can’t speak to the rest of their menu but this was sublime. When it arrived at the table the sun came out and in Portland that is a good omen. A sumptuous, gooey, crisp concoction of brie, prosciutto, arugula, caramelized pears and onions on a baguette. The only thing that stopped my chowfest for a minute was a woman at the pastry case wearing the most amazing boots. The kind of boots that I think would completely remake my image if I owned them. Still, it wasn’t enough to slow my enjoyment of this sandwich. Besides, I always feel as if approaching a woman in public is weird despite the fact that I am a woman and not likely to end up being a serial killer. 

I digress. It was a great ending to a little walk around morning. In addition to the wonderful food you can get at the boulangerie they also make amazing breads and pastries so you can load up and feast at home at your leisure. They have two locations so if you’re averse to leaving the city you can go to the oh-so-hip Nob Hill area and enjoy there.
315 1st St, Lake Oswego
2335 NW Thurman St, Portland

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bella Luna

taken by whitehawk in Eugene, Oregon

Last night the moon passed 31,000 miles closer to earth than her normal orbit resulting in what is being called a supermoon. What that meant for us on planet earth was she appeared 14% bigger and more beautiful (I’m a bit of a moon freak). This is a rare occurrence and will not occur again until 2029.

I have always loved a full moon so last night was particularly exciting although with our cloudy skies in Portland I worried I would miss it. Thankfully, we did not but I don’t have a camera that could capture the beauty and just sticking my Kodak point and shoot out the bedroom window seemed a bit insulting. The photos below were taken by people across the U.S. When possible I attribute them. Enjoy!

taken by Jeri Jecminek

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aging and Acceptance

Recently my friend Amy was listening to NPR and called to tell me she had heard some author who writes books (yes, this is something Amy would say) talking about how 50 is NOT the new 30 it is only 50 and looking down the road to death. Her point, apparently, was that as women we shouldn’t try and be younger or lie to ourselves that our best years are behind us but should instead accept our age and focus on how to prepare for the twilight years. Basically, how to ensure that you don’t up in a state funded facility because your husband will go before you either deliberately (after sucking every last dime out of your retirement accounts for his top notch medical care which includes young Swedish nurses) or accidentally (about which I know nothing).

Amy found the entire concept novel as preparing for the future has never been her strong suit (unless you count her sending in an application to Hoarders to be on the show 10 yeas from now). For me, planning (and internally freaking out about the future) is second nature so I was more interested in the accepting part. This is another concept I don’t get unless it’s cash or jewelry. I’m much more of a fighter, which is not always the healthiest place to be. I am convinced that, environmental and genetic factors aside, my overly dramatic youth did not do much to protect me from multiple sclerosis. In fact, I'm willing to bet that walking home from a bar in Buffalo in January while it's snowing in nothing but your bra and jeans because your boyfriend grabbed you after you stormed out so you pulled off both winter coat and sweater and left him standing there stupefied (ha!) is not a healthful choice in many ways. At the time it made sense to me. Go figure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What I Love This Week

My dear friend Mark came to dinner last night and to open the door and see his arms filled with this lovely bouquet was the definition of joy. Is there anything (besides serious bling) that can bring a smile to a woman’s face as quickly as flowers?

We then got to sit down to an amazing meal (compliments of my DH) of chili marinated flank steak, steamed broccoli with lemon-pepper sauce, and the world’s best macaroni and cheese accompanied by an Alianca  vinho verde for Mark and a rich, warming pinot noir from Penner Ash for DH and me.

So, this week I’m cheating with not one but four things I love- dear friends, fresh flowers, a great meal, and good wine. A perfect night of relaxing, laughing, and pondering life's great issues (are we EVER going to be able to retire?, do men have midlife crises?, what makes you feel secure?, why didn't I make a dessert?). And this morning I got to come downstairs to a big vase of beautiful flowers. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Little Bits

Attended lecture at OHSU last night on the brain and the immune system in the realm of multiple sclerosis. I know, I’m a rock star. Most of you could not live at this pace.

The speaker was an academic researcher who has dedicated his life to finding answers about this wily disease and for that people like me are grateful. What made me want to charge the stage and beat the shit out of him was the fact he referred to MS no fewer than 5 times as “interesting”.

LISTEN TO ME. It is not “interesting”. It is a stupid, confusing, depressing, painful, insidious, incurable, ANNOYING disease. It will never be interesting to anyone who deals with it every day. Find another word or only use that word when lecturing to scientists and doctors. And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is 50 Now- Julianne Moore

So she’s never been in the sun and I used to use baby oil and iodine and lay out for 8 hours. So she has access to the best skin care, facialists, hair stylists, and colorists in the world and I recently covered my grey roots with mascara. So PhotoShop is a reality. She still looks amazing and is my 50-is-fabulous hero. Plus, I really want that necklace.....

Instyle, March 2011

“One thing a 50th birthday does say, All right, time is marching. You have these things you’re happy with and proud of. But if there’s something you haven’t done that you’ve been waiting to do, then by all means, don’t wait any longer. Do it!” Julianne Moore (Instyle, March 2011)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

Happy Monday! I imagine you’re all at work by now but sleeping in is one of the few perks of being unemployed so don’t hate me.  Instead, be happy because I’m about to share something that will make even going to work not so heinous. This smoothie is ice cream level yummy but so healthy and low fat you can be satisfied and virtuous- and how often can you say that?!

I know, a recipe from me- weird, huh? I’m not even going to claim ownership but I did feel it was too good to keep secret. My husband makes these for us every day (loosely based on a recipe from Alton Brown which he tweaked).

Anyway, one of the best things about this whole concept is that you put the ingredients together the night before and leave it in the fridge. Overnight the frozen fruits soften enough for blending so you don’t need to use ice which waters everything down and takes up space you can cram full with more vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. PLUS you’ve saved 10 minutes in the morning which is huge for anyone who loves their sleep. Blend, pack into a travel bottle and go!

One caveat (so you don’t fill this blog with complaints about a messy fridge): Set blender on top of a plate or paper towel in case of leaks.

The recipe is for one portion so we double it for the two of us (amount in photo). Also, you can easily switch up the secondary fruits to strawberries or whatever sounds good to you. The items you don’t change are: blueberries, yogurt, soy milk, and pomegranate/acai juice. These are the uber-healthy, super foods and are what will give you energy, may help you lose weight (feel full longer), and help you avoid the midmorning crash. Seriously, if you’re making that weird face that kids make over using soy milk let it go. You can’t taste it at all.

The last bit of awesomeness I’m sharing is: you can get all of the ingredients, with the exception of the POM juice, at CostCo. Super cheap. We have a small freezer in the garage so I buy 4 bags of blueberries at a time. And if you use banana, you can peel them, put them in a Ziploc bag and freeze them as well. Saving money on eating well means you can spend it on skincare or new shoes.

Now go, make a smoothie. Come back tomorrow and let me know what you think.

Super Smoothie
5-6 oz. frozen blueberries
½-1 banana (optional)
3oz non-fat plain, regular or Greek yogurt
4oz frozen mangoes, peaches etc.
2oz low fat soy milk
3oz pomegranate or acai juice (Acai is a little more tart and more expensive)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Little Bits

It was only after I finished tucking the Kleenex into the bottom of my sleeve that I realized I have passed right over those girlhood fears of “becoming my mother” and morphed into my grandmother.

Which is all right because, Kleenex issues aside, she was a pistol.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I Love This Week

I’ve been as big a fan of retail therapy as the next girl (as evidenced earlier this week) but I’ve also come to realize that often just buying something doesn’t mean you’ll end up using much less loving it. I posted about this (Decorating) a little while ago but have now decided I need to keep it in the forefront of my mind with a weekly mention of something already in my life that I love. You know- the whole attitude of gratitude thing only I don’t like to go on about it like that.

Our winner this week is a pro who has made my life so much easier and my reasons to whine less. For a couple of months now I’ve been having hair issues (about which I could whine a lot) but one of the ones that bothered me the most was static. You’d think it wouldn’t exist in a place where it has rained for the last 2 months but it does. Oh yes, it does. When you pull a sweater over your head, run a brush through your hair, live with central heating, it’s there.

I finally gave up and asked my wonderful hair stylist about it and when she found out I used an old plastic bristle brush when drying my hair she laughed and said problem solved.

Here is my new best friend (I told you I was lonely!). Officially he is known as the Conair Ion Shine thermal ceramic metal barrel round brush but I call him favorite brush #1. I don't get the technology but supposedly the ions are what help dry my hair smoothly and ensure that even on day 2 I don’t have jillions of tiny little hairs sticking up all over my head every time I move. I don't care how it happens it works! He may have only cost $6 but he gives me one less reason to freak out over my hair. And I have no idea why I say ‘he’ but there you have it. My little bit of sunshine in rainy PDX!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recent Reading- Freedom

Writing about this book is almost as difficult as reading it was. I finished it 3 days ago and have been trying to pull together my thoughts since then- with no success. Instead I am left aggravated and annoyed- a serious case of agita. It has only just occurred to me that this is probably exactly how Franzen wants me to feel in which case kudos to him but I don’t like it. Not one damn bit.

I approached reading Freedom with trepidation because I disliked The Corrections. I felt nothing more for those characters than irritation and disgust which is not what I look for in my fiction. Not only did I not care what happened to them I mostly wished they would just go away. I was afraid Freedom would be the same way but I’m grateful to say that this was not the case. Grateful not pleased. This is still not a book that will please unless you enjoy reading with a clenched jaw and indigestion. It is chock full of people and situations (middle age, entitlement, climate change, college student angst and arrogance, the Iraq war) who are designed to provoke and unsettle. There’s no middle ground here.

It is praise then to say that in Freedom I saw people to whom I could relate- even while I was uncomfortable. It felt as if Franzen had discovered his humanity and rather than mock it and poke it with a sharp stick until it collapsed he let it live.  Despite sometimes farcical situations there was the sense that life goes as it should and while there are dreadful people and situations there is also the possibility of change and redemption. In a word there is hope (for which I am a sucker).

The quote below is from Walter, a middle aged man who has always had ideals but is now finding that they can be tricky as is life itself. Maybe it’s only an age/unemployed thing but this resonated. Hard and uncomfortable but so true; one of my favorite paragraphs from the whole book.

He didn’t know what to do; he didn’t know how to live. Each new thing he encountered in life impelled him in a direction that fully convinced of him of its rightness, but then the next new thing loomed up and impelled him in the opposite direction, which also felt right. There was no controlling narrative: he seemed to himself a purely reactive pinball in a game whose only object was to stay alive for staying alive’s sake."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I realize that I just posted but I experienced that job stuff yesterday and made it all the way until this afternoon before giving into my feelings of worthlessness and depression by spending money I ought to be saving for the mortgage. But seriously, how much of a dent is $50 going to make on the mortgage and it made me feel SO much better!

And who else but Anthropologie wraps a magazine in tissue paper? And a cute cuff bracelet in its own little fabric pouch! These are exactly the kinds of things that release endorphins, helping to sustain a feeling of wellbeing in the face of severe trauma!

I've been looking for a cute silver filigree cuff for almost 2 years so this was meant to be, right?

I read about this lifestyle magazine and it seemed like the perfect balance to my superficial InStyle addiction. You know, buying things with meaning and all that.

Oh, and make that $100. I got my DH another of the NorthFace micro fleece pullovers he loves because I think I've been a little edgy lately and I'm hoping it distracts him.

The Unemployment Diaries- Take 1

Since my brutal removal from the world of work I’ve wondered how others are handling the same situation but a search of blogs turned up little or no personal exploration of this undesired status. There were plenty of mentions of not working or being out of work but no focus on how it actually feels or the personal impact. I have no such compunction and am more than willing to whine to strangers about almost anything. Is it still too much of a stigma? How can that be after national unemployment rates hit an all time high and the current unemployment rates in 10 states still hovers above 10%? Or is it simply not interesting to most people OR they’re afraid that reading about it could possibly rub off on them and soon they too will be unemployed? I'm sorry but there are too many of us out there for it not to be interesting!
I don’t have any answers (do I ever?) but I am going to start posting a bit more about my situation and see if there are any likeminded creatures out there. Don’t be shy- now is not the time to lurk! And if you comment anonymously you can say really bad things about former bosses and colleagues.
I have not begun my job search yet but do feel that after 15 years’ experience I want to stay in my field. And don't get righteous with me on that one; I've been in clothing sales, manufacturing, got a master's degree, worked in libraries, implemented library systems, designed scientific databases, and done research in the biotech industry. I've been flexible, OK? I've been open and explored new fields but for God's sake I'm tired and I want to stay with one thing for a nice long while. At least until said field proves barren at which time I will certainly be open to another new career.

Unfortunately, it is the perception of many that you should be in a state of utter terror at being unemployed and should gratefully jump at each and every opportunity that presents itself. Last week I had an interview for a job in a completely unrelated industry. I felt obligated to go because it was set up by one of my former bosses who is on the board. I went and was charming, full of questions- my usual great interviewee self (there are some perks to being laid off 3 times and having changed careers 8 times). It would have been a 100% effort on my part except that I could not enthuse about how much I have always wanted to work in this industry etc. I even admitted that I had not yet begun my job search and had not given much thought to working in their industry. So I was at about 85% enthusiasm but, at least for now, I have to be true to myself. The desperate whoring of my soul for even an interview will come 6 months from now.
All seemed to go well and I arrived to home to admit to DH that it could be interesting but I simply was not sure I was a) ready to head back to the workplace fulltime right away and b) head off again into the great unknown of a new career. No worries. I got two very kind emails from the people I interviewed with saying they enjoyed talking with me but that they were going to be continuing the process with other candidates.

Fine right? No. I’m a little depressed. Oh, I know why. It is the dumpee vs. dumper syndrome. No guy looks so good to you as the one who broke up with you before you could break up with him. I recognize this but it still hurts and my mind is now filled with the belief that this was indeed the perfect workplace for me, the only interview I’ll ever get, with perfect pay and perfect benefits, and cute fun co-workers who would become good friends (see things I miss). Why does that happen? And why is it followed so quickly by the overwhelming feeling that I need to buy something? That I’m so sad only a material item will make things better? sigh

Sunday, March 6, 2011


As promised here is a more frivolous post but no kittens!

I have a very active dream life. Freakishly so. I dream in color with dialogue a full plot and often with celebrity guest stars. I'm also able to recognize while dreaming that I am dreaming which is helpful when it's a particularly bad one. The only thing I can't do, which is quite distressing, is being able to return to the George-Clooney-wants-me dreams after my husband wakes me up with his snoring.

I thought everyone dreamed the same way but only yesterday I learned that my husband of 10 years doesn't have dialogue in his dreams which seems unfathomable to me. Or that blatently Freudian? Anyway, it did get me thinking- how do others dream?

Here's your chance to share. There's a poll to the right so get after it. Even better, feel free to elaborate on your answers in the comments section for this post. Anonymously share a little bit of your psyche with complete strangers.

10/28: The poll is long gone so please share your thoughts in comments!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Talking... or Not

What is it that makes most of the world’s greatest books or movies great? Costumes and gorgeous scenery always work for me but if you set those aside it’s dialogue. Who can forget “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”, “Fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy night”, “That’s all”, “Have fun storming the castle!”, and “Here’s looking at you, kid”. If you have a favorite movie then I’m willing to bet you can quote at least a couple of lines from it. If you’re like my husband and it’s The Big Lebowski then you can do the entire movie verbatim and to suit any occasion- which is a startling accomplishment from a man who can’t remember what we fought about at the Macaroni Grill in Denver on July 4, 1998 (I’m just saying).

Why then is dialogue one of the hardest things in real life? I’m sure there are massive groups of people out there who say exactly what they mean all the time (and not just the crazies, extremists, fundamentalists, haters etc.) but honestly, I don’t know any of them. When it counts we clam up. Not when it’s just a rude driver or inattentive waiter but when someone has hurt us or is hurting themselves. Why is it so hard to express ourselves to the people we're closest to?

Before you call my husband and tell him he's in trouble (like that's news) stop. This is not about him. We have very clear unspoken rules about topics for discussion. Basically, I discuss he ignores. It’s a guy thing and if you thought your marriage was going to be different then you should probably start a dialogue with your pharmacist or the wine guy at New Seasons.

This is about someone close to me whose behavior threw my entire life out of whack almost two years ago and who, while they may try and acknowledge their debt at times, still says things that indicate they have NO idea of the full impact of their actions. And yet, I say nothing. I have never told them exactly what I think about their behavior and the havoc it wreaked. I imagine there are a myriad of reasons, none of which are psychologically healthy (and are well beyond the cope of this little blog), but the greatest is most likely that it is easier to keep quiet. 

Sort of quiet. Posting something personal on a blog, even in the larger context of social relationships, is a bit passive aggressive. I'm taking my chances because I'm curious how others feel about the topic. How often do you say what you're really thinking?

And if you really hate this subject don't worry, I'll be posting something wildly frivolous next. Like photos of kittens in tutus.....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Not To- Cupcakes

There are a million blogs out there that can tell you how to do almost anything (OK, some places my mind simply will not go) but sometimes I need reality. I love perfectly done how-to tips accompanied by glossy well lit photos just as much as the next gal but honestly, how often does that happen in life? To be more accurate: how often does it happen on the first or even the first 5 tries?

In the spirit of helping others, I’m going to sacrifice myself for the greater good. The oodles of high end luxury goods advertisers who have been begging to advertise on my site are going to be put off by my mistakes, mishaps, screw-ups, and poorly lit photos. My poor little blog will not become the revenue generating powerhouse it was meant to be but my friends and family will have exponentially more opportunities to mock me. And really isn’t that what life’s all about?

Let’s be clear here- the embarrassment will extend only to the home arts- cooking, baking, decorating, crafty type of activities. There will be no dancing on a coffee table and having it collapse under my weight (two colleagues at work STILL watch this unfortunate woman and email it to me weekly), no bad perms or wardrobe malfunctions. Even I, lowly blogger that I am, have limits. Still, I imagine that some of these posts will be enough for the truly Martha Stewart types to email one another the link with all caps horror over some screw up and I accept that. For the rest of you it is an opportunity to laugh at what will be unfortunate blunders and that’s all right as well. What I’m hoping for is the one well meaning soul in a thousand who will leave a comment about how to fix it/do it better.

Let’s jump right in. You already know about my mini cupcake maker. Well, all of the recipes provided included things like jello and prepackaged mixes which creeped me out so I decided to find my own recipes (with help from a book titled 500 Cupcakes).  I went with the classic chocolate and chocolate buttercream frosting. Here’s what I got:

(Don’t adjust your screen- I bailed on the mini concept and made regular size)

Non-professional frost job aside these cupcakes are like eating whole grain bread- not chocolaty enough and DRY. Really dry. Please explain to me how 4 eggs and 2 sticks of butter when properly combined and baked can turn into crumbly blahness? Then there is the frosting (don’t think I believe this is pretty). Here there is a lesson to be learned and I can already share it with all of you. One, when a recipe tells you to sift the confectioners sugar don’t roll your eyes and think ‘it’s powdered sugar- duh- how much smoother can it get?. Apparently, lots. So sift the sugar because it gets tiny lumps which will never come out once you’ve added it to the other ingredients. Two, use only as much sugar as they tell you because what they will not mention is that ganache-like frostings will set up once they cool. So you’ve added the sugar to the melted chocolate and butter and you think it is too runny? Leave it alone. As it cools it will thicken. Add more sugar and watch it turn into fudge. Which is not a bad thing necessarily but doesn’t work well on top of a crumbly cupcake.

So there you have it. Any professional (or even reasonably accomplished) bakers out there who have a great chocolate cupcake and buttercream frosting recipe PLEASE send it on. I will make them (not share them) and post the results (with due credit)- all perfectly yummy creamy deliciousness. I’ll even use a proper frosting tool!

p.s. as you can see the failure of this mission did not keep me from eating all but two (OK, one after last night) of my cupcake disasters. OK, will be gone after tonight but it's about not wasting.
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