Friday, September 28, 2012

Closet Fashionista

Very few people know this, but I follow fashion. I pay attention to the design news, I have favorite designers and track what's in and out. (Metallic studs are in for accessories this fall - pass it on.) I wouldn't say I'm cutting edge, but I'm relatively well informed.

This is only a surprise to people because very little of this is reflected in what I wear. The problem with most fashion is that a lot of it is designed for the slender of hip and small of bust (unless it's lingerie -but that's a whole other category). I don't fall into this body type. Even in my skinny phases (which I am not currently in, alas!) I am still a curvy girl. 

This is not a post hating on the skinny. If you fall into the blessed sizes, more power to you. I get a lot of enjoyment watching from the sidelines. For instance, I think this is witty, but on me, it would look like my boobs were winking at passers-by. (That could have interesting ramifications - but I definitely couldn't wear it to work.)

My uniform is neutral trousers, a long sleeved top, and fabulous earrings. Sometimes a scarf or jacket if it's chilly out. It's pared down, it's appropriate, it's practical, but I long to be able to go crazy and wear something as glam-rock as these boots.

But common sense (where could I wear something like that?) and mortgage payments (Jimmy Choo Dalia Tall Boot, $3,495 - Yowch!) compel me to quieter, practical clothing.  Sigh. Does anyone else feel stifled by their wardrobe?

Friday Feel-Good Video
If this doesn't make you want to move your feet, you  are probably dead.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

30 Day Exercise Challenge: Summary

It is done. As of last Friday (September 21st) I have exercised 30 minutes a day, every day, for 30 days.
I sleep better – My problem has never been getting to sleep, it’s been staying asleep. I tend to wake up at 2 in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep, and when I do I wake up again at 4. It hasn’t eliminated the problem, but it doesn’t happen as much.
My complexion is better – not a major issue, but sweating regularly seems to make my complexion a little brighter.
My general mood is better – this is probably related to getting enough sleep.  I’ve always been an 8 hours of sleep a night girl, and I’m cranky when I don’t get it.
Discipline - For some reason, doing this made it much easier to eat healthfully.
Will I keep doing it?
Not every day.  My plan is to hit the gym after work (it’s on the way home).  I’m not going to worry about weekends, I’m more active on weekends anyway. It’s counteracting the 8 hours sitting in front of a computer that I’m worried about.
However, I will not be doing step-ups in my living room at 11:30 pm just so I can get 30 minutes of exercise in before the day is over.  If I miss a day, I miss a day.
Now for the interesting question: what to do for the next challenge? Hmmm….

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Things So Do In Suburbia: Craft Fair

Still wandering aroud my new town. This past weekend was the Atascocita Arts and Craft Fair, held in the parking lot behind the 24 hour fitness.

I go to these things not to buy, but to see what people come up with. I am always impressed by creativity, I may not like the objects themselves, (I have no desire for maribou pen toppers) but I applaud the spirit.

It was mostly the usual things: scented candles, beaded necklaces, the aforementioned feathered pens, plywood yard decorations (all Halloween themed). One man was selling crosses made by wiring together various rocks. One of the more inventive (and with a big sign saying No Photographs) was a woman who made handbags out of old pairs of jeans. Not something I want now, but I would have been all over those when I was 14.

The most traditionally artistic booth was a man who makes pencil sketches of cowboys and Texas history

But the most interesting was a woman who made cactus sculptures. I have eaten nopales, seen them used as fencing, and as low water-use landscaping, but this is the most inventive use of prickly pear I have ever seen.  And they were selling - half her stock had 'Sold' signs on them, and the fair had only been open an hour and a half.  After all, who doesn't need a T-Rex cactus in their life?

After the fair, I was driving around and found a house with what has become a common problem since last year's drought: a dead tree in the front yard.  Most people cut the tree down; the thrifty save the logs for firewood, the more inventive make furniture, but these people were a LOT more imaginative than that. 


They made a totem pole! 

And people say the suburbs are boring.

Friday, September 21, 2012

It is too beautiful a day to stay inside and type. I am going to enjoy some chilled vino verde on my patio. I still find it hard to believe I have a patio. Isn't is great? The picture does not do it justice. Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Arrr! but I've got blubber clogging me brain pan. I almost forgot this most sacred and important day. And that would mean no rum! Arrr!

Pirate lingo can be tricky, so to help everyone out the Pirate Guys have made this helpful video. Arrrr!

Yo-ho-ho me hearties!

Recipe Review: Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake

I like to cook, and because I like to cook I have a folder stuffed with recipes that I found interesting and keep meaning to try. So I'm adding an occasional feature to this blog, Recipe Reviews, which will happen whenever I feel like trying something out. (about every 2-3 weeks)
This recipe: Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake, comes from the Wall Street Journal. I like plums, I love rosemary and cornmeal makes a nicely textured cake. So I bought some plums and this is the result.

Isn't it pretty? The carmelized fruit contrasts beautifully with the nicely browned cake. Icing would be a complete waste of time.

The problem is that it's looks better than it tastes. There is a lot of fresh rosemary in this cake, and the herbal aroma of the rosemary combines with the sweetness of the plums and gives off the unmistakable odor of cough drops. Not something you want in a cake. So I will not be making this again, at least not without changing the recipe a lot.
On the positive side, the recipe made a lot of carmelized plums, far too many plums to fit in the cake. But leftover plums make a wonderful yogurt topping.  Plain yogurt and carmelized plums - yummy!

Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake
  • ½ pound unsalted butter, plus more for buttering loaf pan
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (or any brandy)
  • Prepared plums (recipe below)
Note: All ingredients should be at room temperature.
1. Butter a 5½x10-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter paper. Set pan aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt.
4. Cream together butter, rosemary, lemon zest and sugar until very light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with cognac, just until well-combined. Spoon 2/3 of batter into pan. Evenly distribute one-quarter of prepared plums over batter. Add rest of the batter. Spread remaining fruit over the top and, using a spoon or fork, push pieces down a little.
7. Bake for 60 minutes or until done, testing with a toothpick after 50 minutes. Cake should be nicely brown, pulling away from the edges of the pan and not too dry. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto your hand or a rack and quickly re-invert it onto another rack.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The cake is also delicious sliced and toasted.)
Prepared Plums
  • 6 large plums, pitted and cut into 6-8 wedges each
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (or rum or any brandy)
In a medium saucepan, cook plums with sugar, salt, lemon zest and rosemary over medium heat until fruit is very soft but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cognac.

Monday, September 17, 2012

30 Day Challenge - Additional Motivation

I wasn't completely honest about the 30 Day exercise challenge. I said it was about health and trying new things, but it is also about the charity 5k I signed up to do in November.  I haven't done one in a long time, and I really don't want to be the last person crossing the finish line. 

I know that the purpose is to raise awarness and money for Leukemia research ( a very good cause - and if you want to help, there's a donation widget on the right - thank you) but it's humiliating to be the slowest person out there. Besides if I'm advocating for health, I should try to be healthy, right?

And progress is being made. I am getting a little faster. My legs don't hurt as much now as they did in the beginning. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to start tracking my shoe mileage and worrying about lactic acid build-up in my legs anytime soon. (I know some serious runners - they keep telling me this stuff.) But I want to finish a 5k without completely embarrassing myself. A modest enough goal, don't you think?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Current Events

All I can think of right now is the protests going on in the Muslim world.  I'm wondering how much of it is really about Islam. Can people really get this upset about a badly-made film, produced on the other side of the world, that almost nobody has seen? The protesters have publicized the film far more than the makers managed to do.  Or is it really an excuse to yell at Americans?

If it really is about blasphemy, wouldn't it only really matter if the people making the film were Muslim? But since the people making this film are infidels who by definition are going to hell anyway, what does it matter? Doesn't Allah have the muscle to stand up to a few idiots and a bad movie?

It's like being upset that somewhere, someone is not thinking the way you do. And that's a given, even among the faithful, since everyone hears a message in their own way. The only way to be certain there are no dissenting opinions is be the only person on the planet. And that would be pointless.

If it's an excuse to yell at Americans, it's an unfortunate choice, because attacking embassies and killing ambasadors over a movie makes them look unbalanced. I'm not saying there aren't reasons to protest American involvment, there are, but this is a lame one.

Anyway, sitting here typing isn't going to solve anything. Back to our regularly scheduled happy fluff next week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

80's flashback

I have nothing to say today, so I'm just going to leave you with a joke.

If you don't get this, you are too young.  For the original click here.  Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Playing with my camera: The Orange Show

If you live in Houston, you've heard of The Orange Show, one man's incredibly quirky, theme park tribute to his favorite fruit.

It's been about a decade since I last visited. It's basically the same. Brightly painted, full of odd remnents and self-taught welding.

He obviously never met a tile remment he didn't like, or a tractor seat.

It's oddly romantic, filled with hearts and even a wishing well. (No. I won't tell you what I wished for. It won't come true if I tell you.)

But the real news is that on the land next door, they are building Smither Park, which looks like it's going to be The Orange Show to the 3rd power. It is going to take a while to finish (mosaic is not a rapid process), but I had a blast looking around.
This is going to be unbelievably beautiful when they finish.

Love the cat at the angel's feet, and that the wings are covered with keys!

I'm not sure what this little creature is, but I love the way they used pool balls for eyes.
I was speaking with one of the volunteers/artists and they do accept donations, so if you want to help build the park, go to their website:

Friday, September 7, 2012

An anniversary

Today is the 47th anniversary of that most iconic of television shows: Star Trek.

I love Star Trek. I am not the kind of person to make costumes and hang out at conventions (although I would love to have my own tribble) but I just love the show, in almost every version (DS9 - meh). I love the optimism, the humor, the technology, the thrill of the unknown, it's just so freakin' cool. Stephen Fry has said  that "most of human history and art can be expressed through Star Trek plots." (link here) and I quite agree.

Even better, there's going to be a new movie in 2013! and Benedict Cumerbatch is playing the bad guy! The Star Trek movies are notoriously uneven, but even at their worst they are not as ponderous as Lucas's re-working of Star Wars. (way to kill a good franchise, George)

Google seems to share my sentiments, making their doodle for today an homage to Star Trek. 

 Fun Fact: Brent Spiner (Data) is from Houston, Texas.

Live long and prosper y'all!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Update: 30 Day Exercise Challenge

Two weeks ago, I said I was going to exercise every day for the next 30 days. I know you are just quivering with anticipation. Did she do it? Did she lose momentum over Labor Day weekend? Did she sit on the couch and watch bad movies instead? And the answer is...
I have exercised for at least half an hour, every day, for the past two weeks. I know, this is only the halfway point, but still. I have exercised every day for two entire weeks. I am committed.

Do I enjoy it? No. Every time the way-too-cheerful guy at the gym wishes me a good workout, I want to kick him. But I still go. Partly because I swore I'd do it and partly because I'm trying to change the way I look at exercise. I've stopped trying to think of exercise as "fun".

Stay with me. The gym I go to, like most gyms, is covered with inspirational pictures of incredibly fit people climbing mountains and running marathons, with slogans like "Find your inner athelete".  The problem with that is I don't want to be an athelete. I just want to not be in a wheelchair when I'm in my seventies.

It's not like I haven't tried. I have taken part in a few of these endurance events over the years (the MS 150 bike ride, a half marathon, a century ride, competitive swimming) and to be completely honest, for me there was no glow of acheivement when I crossed the finish line. My thoughts were more along the lines of "Thank goodness that's over. Where are the showers?" (And can someone bring me a really big margarita?)
So I'm trying to mentally reframe exercise as the equivalent of flossing. You don't floss because it's fun, but  because you want to have teeth when you're older.  I find if I think of exercise as good hygiene and not something I'm expected to enjoy, I'm more likely to do it. 

It may not work for anybody else, but that is what gets me in the door. That and the thought of a big frosty drink afterwards (a girl's got to have some fun).

Monday, September 3, 2012

Praising the chorus

Today is Labor Day, a day to honor the contributions of the everyday working man and woman. So what better time to write about the workhorse of the floral world: baby's breath (aka Gypsophila or soapwort).
Baby's breath looks like an airy bush full of teeny, tiny carnations.  It is often used as "filler" to bulk out a composition of more expensive flowers, like roses, and because it is inexpensive, it's gotten a reputation of being tacky; a bouquet with a lot of baby's breath is a way of saying "I'm cheap".
But that is like saying only the stars of the movie matter. If the supporting actors, CGI, makeup artists, etc. aren't there, who do the stars interact with? What shows the stars off and gives depth to the composition?  People may go to a movie to see the star, but it's the supporting cast that allows the star to shine.
I have a love of "filler flowers" The overlooked, the workhorses. They are easy to find, they work with any color scheme,  and if you let them, they shine all on their own.
Seriously, who wouldn't love an airy cloud of white blossoms on their dinner table?  

Happy Labor Day everybody.