Sunday, October 31, 2010

Boo - Circa 2006

Just tell me this...

Why does Sarah's interpretation of The Lady in White look perfectly eerie...

And Stephanie's looks teen horror-flick campy, complete with stylish earrings...

But mine just looks - frightening? And not in the good way?

Must be those danged claw hands.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rolling With My Homey

This weekend, Cory and I had 24 blessed, childless hours.

I'm a big fan. I'm a real big fan.

There is something about connecting alone that cannot be precisely replicated in the presence of small people requiring assistance with tasks such as mealtime, bathtime, bedtime, everytime, anytime, and wiping.

There is much to be said for tending only to one's own needs, even if just for one brightly lit moment in time.

We didn't take a single picture, but being creatures of habit, our archives are fully able to pinch-hit.

As with most of our dates, this one began with Mexican food.

I wore this hat.

We thought we would split a mango margarita, but it arrived looking like a goblet of nacho cheese, so Cory had it all to himself. In lieu of a date-night beverage, I hooked up an IV to the salsa bowl and teetered out of the joint in a self-imposed tomato stupor.

From there we found ourselves splitting up for a half hour. One of us found a TJ Maxx. The other found a camera store, serendipitously right next door. The together-but-not date. I don't recommend this arrangement for the entire date, but history has taught me that racks of tank tops and Cory do not mix.

Having had less than three hours of sleep the night before, I fell asleep not once, but twice on the way to the movie. Both times Cory jolted me awake with what seemed at the time like very nonsensical questions. I felt like I was back in study hall, trying my best to look like I hadn't been sleeping with my face smooshed into my physics book when the bell rang.

The Social Network lived up to the hype in a big way. I loved every thing about it, and as my friend Holly said it best, it made our college years look like Vacation Bible School.

Back at the hotel, we were asleep by midnight (minus the kid, of course).

Scratch that. One of us was asleep by midnight. The other was saying things like, "Hey Honey - why do you think they titled the movie 'The Social Network'? Do you think it was a legal thing?" and "Did you think that Stanford girl was sort of strange looking?" and "Why do you think they went to such great pains to make ______ appear crazy?"

After three unanswered questions, I took a hint and drifted off into the blissful sleep that only comes when you know you will not be stripping bloody-nose sheets at 3 AM or making a bed on the couch for "I got a bad dweam" boy at 4 AM.

I dreamed that we were vacationing in Nassau, Bahamas. I have never been there, discussed being there, or even hoped to go there, so I have no idea where such specificity came from, but I can tell you this - It was dreamy.

We did not get out of bed until 10:30 the following morning.

Lunch was bowls of soup and that salad. You know the one.

Then the outlet mall, where I spent an entire hour in one store and lingered up by the cash register just to hear the totals racking up for the ladies with the high heeled boots and high maintenance hair.

I walked away with my new favorite sweater - dove grey, adequately gramps-ish and most importantly? On clearance.

Another stop at a camera store gave me a chance to sit in a quiet car and read.

It was a perfect day. We pretended that we're going to do this once a month, and even though we both knew it wasn't true, there's no one else I would rather dream big with.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Instructions for Fall

How To Eat An Apple

How To Look Cool Without Even Trying

How To Hatch An Escape

Enjoy this last October weekend, friends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beauty in the Falling Away

I look around, bundled in a new day, and then the next. With each one that passes, a little more color drains from my world. The saturation bleeds, circling the drain. The pink and gold crackles and browns and I drum my knuckles mindlessly on the pane. Can I do this Winter thing again? Can I embrace the utter absence of color that stretches out until I just really can't take it anymore, and then stretches a little more, just for spite?

At first glance, I somehow miss the vibrant sky only pretending to play second fiddle to the blooms.

I don't notice the beauty. I see sadness and loss. I see looming months of white.

But then, I lean in for a closer look at beauty marred by decay and I see myself. I see you. I see us. I see humanity unfurled, a rose so lovely not in spite of the spots, but because of them.

Lessons learned leave visible reminders. Poor choices are permanently marked by redemption. Uncertainty is overshadowed by what is known and true.

I see a choice, every single day - "whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy." (James 1:2)

The words beat like timpani in my soul and so I go out and clip that which has fallen away. I drop them into a beat-up bucket that probably never turned a single head and from the corner of my eye, I see beauty. I see joy shining bright over a bucket of blues. I see opportunity sprouting new life.

The air around me cools, but I shed no tears for my zinnia friends fading gracefully into their destiny. Some linger, stretching their necks toward the sun.

I think they know something I still struggle to learn.

They're not wasting time begging for one more day, one more blessing. I think they're spending every last moment in adoration, faces blazing glory. They may feel a shift in the air, a nudge toward darkness, but they clasp opportunity tightly, holding on just long enough to warm their hands. Then they unleash wide-awake, petal-pink JOY.

And if they can do it?

So can I.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Falling

We stretched out our hands and snatched up so many gorgeous October days that they spilled through our fingers a little.

Leaf throwing in short sleeves. You cannot top it.

At least not in October.

In keeping with Fallishness, we've hauled out the flannel shirts and the water resistant eyeliner.

I asked my girl if she wanted to be a Princess for her Fall party. Or maybe a bride!

I asked late in the day, the party just 15 hours away. I was confident that one of these girly options would strike her fancy. I was hoping one would stick, because those were the only girlish dress up options to be found in this here house.

She shot 'em both down.

Homegirl had her sights set on working the land.

She rocked those overalls. Cutest farmer I ever did see, no offense to the locals.

Then there's this guy.

The scarecrow.

God bless Scarecrow Day for kindergartners. These dress-up days can cause much consternation for us mean no-Halloweeners.

But give us a specific dress-up project, and we'll work it out. It will probably be last minute and the patches on the jeans will be taped on, not sewn. We will ultimately decide that tennis shoes vs. hiking boots is not a battle worth waging.

We will kill that scarecrow costume.

Well you know, we won't literally kill it.

I don't know what's gotten into me with such gruesome language!

Must be the whole Halloween thing.

But I'm no hater.

No way, Jose.

{dramatic pause}

I may even prove it come Sunday.

{dramatic and abrupt exit}

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quick Monday Bits

Quick bit numero uno:

My sister-in-law posted pics of her entirely dreamy, deliciously vintage kitchen make-over. They did such a fantastic job! Go take a look.

Quick bit numero dos:

Lord have mercy, I just discovered that I won this giveaway!

How will I ever choose among all of this swoonery? I need to clear my head once and for all of any lingering Nyquil fog. There are important decisions to be made!

That is all. Please feel free to return to your regularly scheduled Monday broadcasting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Six On Sunday - Supermodels

You heard me.

I've been in a bit of a Nyquil fog this weekend. Those eerie, green horse-pills do strange things to me... They keep me up at night when I'm begging for sleep. They topsy-turvy me.

All night long I did the Sleepless Jig - turning, turning, turning. (And blowing my nose every 15 seconds, but that's not quite as book-worthy.)

I thought about what I would wear to church in the morning (my Rudolph-nosed self ended up staying in bed), I thought about our dinner menu for the first week of November (it's a sickness I have) and then I remembered that the next day was Six On Sunday day, and all I can tell you is that it came to me like sunshine on a cloudy day - Supermodels!

I think I've already shared my early 90's obsession. It was legendary. It was mostly secret, but it was still legendary. At least in my mind.

So, here they are - my top six runway broads (because I know you're just dying to know):

Helena Christensen
Homegirl was always my favorite. If you don't believe me, just ask Sarah. There was something about her face that was a bit otherworldly, in a good way. She was also just aloof enough to be a bit enigmatic, maybe a bit of a loner, and that always speaks to me. Plus, I like the name Helena. So there.

Christy Turlington
Turly, as they (and I - duh) called her, was one of the Big Three, back in the day. She was the nicest. And the most humble. And maybe the prettiest. Rumored to be included in the "we" of Linda Evangelista's infamous quote, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day", she was the very essence of Supermodel. She rocked a multitude of hairstyles, dated moguls and rock-stars, and breezed quite gracefully into post-Supermodeldom. No scandal. No hullabaloo. She's the teacher's pet of the whole lot of 'em. I'll bet she never even did drugs. (Not that any of them did...)

Kristen McMenamy
K-Mac emerged at the tail end of the reign of the pretty, curvy girls. All straight lines and scowly face, odd hairdo and piercings, she was the sour pickle to their cotton candy. She raged in with the Grungy girls and gave a whole new meaning to the catwalk stomp. I loved her for the fact that she was living proof that a girl with a very, ahem, unconventional look, could still be seen as beautiful. She created a ruckus when she shaved her eyebrows off and recently did it again when she emerged from "retirement" with naturally grey hair down to her booty. She's a rule-breaker. She defies convention and even today, refuses her spot in my center-aligned, single-file line. It's all good, K-Mac. We would expect nothing less.

Trish Goff
This cat stayed mostly above the fray. I can't recall even a morsel of juice about her. What I can say is that she was scrawny and brown-eyed and not especially striking, and I liked it.

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks

Keep in mind - these are my favorite Supermodels. Not my favorite talk show hosts. Not my favorite reality tv hosts. She was beautiful and a little exotic. She was also the rumored subject of a vicious rivalry at the hands of fashion's Loosest Cannon - Naomi Campbell, and we all know how I feel about underdogs...

Niki Taylor
My love for Niki goes way back to her first fashion cover - Seventeen magazine. Although it did always cause me a small measure of distress that she was just one year older than me, I faithfully rooted for her success. She was the quintessential American girl and made Cindy Crawford's mole seem almost garish in comparison. I still remember where I was when I heard the news that her younger sister, and fellow model, Krissy, died unexpectedly. They were like sisters to us. (Sort of.)

Honorable Mentions:
Claudia Schiffer - Guess jeans. 'Nuff said. In the end though, she dated David Creepyfield and that just says something about her.

Stephanie Seymour -A classic beauty with an air of mystery. And she rocked that wedding dress in the November Rain video. (We'll pretend that Stephanie's volatile, throwing-large-breakables-at-one-another dalliance with Axl Rose says nothing about her, just for the sake of the argument.)

So, there you have it.

I'm sure we'll all rest better tonight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Fairytale

I love this house. It speaks to the rescuer in me. I just know it would blossom under the watchful eye and loving hand of one who appreciates its tumultuous past, yet who also sees the glory of its future.

Redemption is what it needs.

Oh, and big suitcase full of cash, but this is a fairytale and fairytales have no standard for currency, as far as I've seen. Maybe a pot of gold?

Sure, a pot of gold.

So, if someone could hook me up with a pot of gold, a big metal bucket and scrub brush (borrow one from Cinderella?), some magical trees from the enchanted forest and maybe some talking critters, well, that would be great.

I don't know what it is - My fairytales don't include a castle.

They include busted-up folk-artish dwellings.

Like this.

This is where we would go to church. Of course, we would walk there.

Scratch that - we would skip.

We would skip from that house to this church, every Sunday and once in between, just because we are quaint and good like that.

I would braid wildflowers into my thick, lustrous hair.

My kids would wear brown shoes and no one would complain about it.

Twice a week, we would stop here for lunch. Free lunch. Free lunch served in a brick house with loads of Gingerbread trim.

A lady - Marjorie - with a soft belly and kindly eyes, would serve us soup and crusty bread. And lemon meringue pie.

And coffee, for Cory.

Because he'd still be my Prince, you know.

Only he wouldn't wear those unfortunate stocking-things like Princes are known to do, he would wear his cowboy boots. And he would be clean-shaven and he would always, always wear a blue shirt so that I could more easily moon over his eyes.

We would waltz all the way home, because this is a fairytale, and in my fairytale, we're really good classical dancers.

We would also sing.

My voice would sound like Alison Krauss, not because she has my favorite voice, but because she has Prince Cory's favorite voice.

His voice would be Brad Paisley.

We would not sing whiskey lullabies, because that would just be depressing and lame, in a fairytale.

Our kids would hold hands the whole way home. They would pick me bouquets of wildflowers as big as their heads. They would call me "Mummy". Why not?

We would read a book at the hearth and the children would smile all the way up the stairs to bed.

And naturally, we would live happily ever after.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taylor Swift and Apple Dip

Here's the reality of my life at this exact moment: I want to talk to you about caramel dip. I really do. I already loaded the picture and everything, as proof.

The problem is, I am presently and overwhelmingly scandalized by the news that Taylor Swift reportedly wrote a song "to" John Mayer on her new album.

Story photo: Report: Taylor Swift Reveals John Mayer Romance On New Album

Ain't no love song.

It seems Vile John is up to his usual tricks.

But Taylor Swift? Reigning Princess for the Junior Prom court of the world?

And incidentally, what would you do if your 19-year-old daughter started "dating" John Mayer?

Pardon me while I go scrub my brain with bleach...

On one hand I'm proud of her for the public slamming.

On the other hand, I'm sad for her.

But on the other hand, she's ended up with the last word.

But on the one foot, she's so young.

And he's not.

But he is creepy.

And vile.

And I'm sure he'll take this as permission to start dogging her in the public square.

Not that he's ever asked permission in the past.

It's true, I care too much about celebrities at times.

I tend to think that I really know these people whom I've never met.

I blame you.

(dramatic pause)

I'm wringing my hands over here.

Can you hear it?

Can you feel the tension all the way from there?

Please make better choices from now on, Taylor Swift. Please go back to dating that nice boy from the Frankenstein movies.

And now: Caramel Dip

My sister-in-law made this for our recent movie night and it was all I could do not to swipe the bowl clean with my finger, rubber spatula-style.

Soften 1 package of reduced-fat cream cheese to room temp (I leave mine out overnight. Is that ok? Oh, it's not? Well, pretend I never said it. Especially if I serve you softened cream cheese sometime in the future.)

Add 1/4 cup white sugah
3/4 cup packed brown sugah
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat it with an electric mixer until it yields entirely to your will.

It should look gooey when it's done.

And it should smell like a bowl full of heaven.

Slice up some Honeycrisps (totally splurge-worthy) and thank your lucky stars that your daughter is not dating John Mayer.

The end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Post - Pretties and Posies

I'm guest posting for Melanie today over at Pretties and Posies.

Stop by and say hello! And while you're in town, be sure to check out Mel's fantastically beautiful home and even lovelier heart.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Six On Sunday - Fiction

I get a little jittery when pressed to name my six favorite anythings. I don't like being tied down to my answers, because what if I'm wrong? What if I think these are my six favorites, but in reality, I'm forgetting the very best of all?

So, these are most certainly not my six favorite books, but they are six that are burned into my brains. They are fantastic enough that I own my own copy of most. It comforts me to know that they're up on my shelf, tucked in like permanent overnight company. They are so good that I have read some of them more than once, and being a girl wired for surprises, well, that's just not like me.

Law, this book changed my life. I am only a little embarrassed to say that I caught myself thinking in Aibie's dialect. It couldn't be helped. I was in up to my eyeballs. This book moved me every which way but wrong. Throughout the book, I would say to Cory, "This is why I could never write a novel." It is sublimely well-written and pieced together in a way that I cannot comprehend putting down on paper. It makes my noggin hurt a little just to think about it.

This is a much-hyped book that just so happens to meet expectations. Do yourself a favor. Read the book.

I read this several years ago, but it goes down in history as a classic. I remember cranking up the electric blanket in my old house and whiling the whole evening away. I think I may have even kissed the cover of this book, which I am known to do when the situation warrants it. (Cory thinks it's funny, but I just think it's pure instinct.) I fell hard for the way this story was written. It was entirely captivating and read almost like a song. It mattered to me. I rued the day that I turned the last page.

It's true, I'm a bit of an Elizabeth Berg fiend. But hey - there are worse things. I have read every novel she has written with one exception, and I'll leave that up to you to figure out. My girl Sarah introduced me to Berg back in the day, when I manned the rental car desk at the airport. I'll be darned if I didn't read a book a day under the fluorescent glare and baggage claim buzz.

I have relished every book but one (not mentioning any names) but this one is a stand-out. It is written from the perspective of 13-year old Katie Nash and let me tell you - it takes me right back to the blushing awkwardness and achy melodrama. It tells the tale so well of teetering along that wobbly stretch between child and adult. It's spot-on and wicked funny and heart-breakingly poignant.

First of all - beautiful cover, no? I have always and will forever continue to judge a book by its cover and this one was both haunting and beautiful. Although it has been several years, I remember this not being a light, breezy read. It required more effort than some, but paid off in spades.

A good book, in my mind, is more about the characters than the plot-line. I fell into this story and didn't surface until I had devoured it all. The honeybee imagery was a sweet note lilting about throughout this touching book. You will smell the sugar from the very first paragraph. Your heart will be bruised and mended and wrapped up like a warm biscuit. You're allowed to watch the movie, which I also loved, but read this first.
Julie Buxbaum made me cry. She made me laugh and laugh and laugh, but in the end, I was on my couch, in the quiet of the night, boo-hooing to the crickets.

I loved this book so much, I emailed the author.

I am 31 and an avid reader of fiction. I finished your book, The Opposite of Love, over a week ago and am now accruing late fees at the library just so that I don't have to return it quite yet. I have never felt compelled to contact an author before, so this is a first for me. I loved your book. I have been raving about it. I sent my best friend on a mad dash to "Go, find the book! Hurry!"

It seems to me that well-written, engaging books about women like me (at least in some capacity) are hard to come by. I am turned off by chick lit - the kind that makes me feel as though it was churned out in a factory where they dump in several attractive, semi-witty characters and a few plot twists, scramble them up, and print a different combination out every few months. Your book was a breath of fresh air. It was compelling, interesting, funny, intelligent, well-written and in the end, made me cry fairly hard, which is always a sign of goodness, in my view.
She returned my email and sent me an autographed name-plate, which made me love her even more.

This book, more so than the others, is definitely rated PG-13. Don't say I didn't warn you.

So there you have it. My Six on Sunday. I may very well need to do a Part II as I remember more literary gems. (What am I missing, SJH?)

In the meantime, I'm reading this.

Stay tuned!