Archive for April, 2011

There are days when I am struck with the undeniable impulse to shop – today was one of those days, and being that I’ve been practicing great restraint since my big closet purge last month, I decided I would allow myself a little retail indulgence this afternoon.  I hit up a couple of department stores down in Southcenter, hoping to find a cute top or two to wear on our upcoming vacation.  After several unsuccessful bouts in the dressing room, I had to ask myself:  what is up with the latest fashions these days?  It’s like clothes are intentionally being made to fit the female figure poorly – to bunch up in all the wrong places, with ruffles in unfortunate locations and fabrics that either rest on your hips like a cardboard box or find that one area of your body that you’re less than thrilled about and cling to it for dear life.  We’ve all had those strike-out days in the dressing rooms – I guess today was my turn.  So I wandered over to the undergarments section, thinking I could surely find something to buy there.  And I was kind of appalled by the fact that more than half of the items in that section were designed to squeeze, push, tuck, and hide, with comfort apparently being waaaay down on the list of selling points.  So I need a push-up bra and a pair of Spanks in order to wear that stylish new top that’s really just going to make people think that I’m pregnant, anyway?  Sometimes it’s hard being a woman.  Not to get all ‘woe-is-me’ – I know that I am blessed with a closet full of perfectly wearable clothes, but seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard for me to walk into a store and find a shirt that is going to reaffirm the positive body image that I’ve worked at for years.  I deserve to feel good about myself, and I deserve to actually feel good while feeling good about myself, rather than feeling pinched and squeezed and concerned about compromised blood circulation.  But I wasn’t going to let the man get me down, so I hopped back in the car and sought solace in the aisles of DSW, knowing that you can always count on a good pair of heels to come through in a clutch.  Strike three – apparently it’s sandals season in Seattle, as evidenced by three-quarters of their inventory.  And since my toes aren’t quite ready to make their Springtime debut, I left the shoe shore empty-handed.  In the end, I drove back home with a new pair of one-size-fits-all earrings* and spent the remainder of they day in my favorite sweats.  You win some, you lose some.

(*full disclosure:  OK, I also found a pretty flattering new raincoat, but my frustration seems so much more justified if I leave that part out…)

From the minute I rolled over in bed this morning and lazily opened my eyes to the sight of sun-shiny skies, I knew today would be a good day.  And indeed it was – full of so many small and simple pleasures.  It’s amazing the joy that can come with just a little bit of warmth after a long string of chilly days.  I wore a tank top outside for the first time since I was in Florida; Shane and I got our p-patch plot underway, with cute little tomato plants, lettuce starters, and beet seeds; I watched Shane play basketball with the neighborhood boys and smiled as the big kid in him made his Spring-time debut; I traded in my Cabernet for a glass of cold, crisp Riesling; I poached an egg for the very first time and served it on top of a perfect veggie-filled risotto dish…  We wrapped up the evening with dessert and a movie with friends, and I am falling into bed tonight with just the very smallest tinge of pink on my sun-kissed cheeks.  And all feels right with the world.

The sun has finally made an appearance in Seattle - the flowers are blooming, the trees are bursting with vibrant shades of green, and extended daylight hours mean that I am no longer making the trek to and from work in the dark.  After what felt like an exceptionally long winter (although if I say that every year, are any of them really ‘exceptionally’ long?), I am thrilled by the promise of Spring in the air.  But somehow, even as Seattle sheds its misty veil and shines in all its Springtime glory, all I can think about is getting out of town.  Maybe it’s a bit of travel envy – our friends Jack and La Verne have headed off on their 2-week voyage through China; and I just sent Brian and Nicole a list of Parisian sights to see, as they’re stopping in France on their way back from Africa.  Maybe it’s restlessness, as I’ve been spending my weekends cooped up in the living room or the print studio, working on my art.  Or maybe it’s the knowledge that this time last year, I was camped out under a beach umbrella in Mexico, reading David Sedaris and drinking margaritas; and this time two years ago, we were just returning from our romp through Paris and Portugal and Spain.  Whatever the reason, I am downright antsy.  Fortunately, we are just a couple of weeks away from our trip to Chicago/Minneapolis/Alexandria (Shane’s Minnesotan hometown), and thanks to my husband the trip planner, our Midwestern vacation is looking like it will be pretty fabulous, full of delicious food, artisan cocktails, good art, plenty of baseball, and some quality time with the family.  Can’t. Hardly. Wait.  But lately, I’m dreaming of places farther and farther from home.  First it was a long Autumn weekend in New York, where we’d frolic through Central Park and dine on patios in Greenwich Village.  Then it was a few days in a cozy little cottage on the coast of Maine, where we’d bask in the Fall colors and smell the ocean air.  From there, I progressed to visions of ringing in my next birthday in Paris, where we’d drink wine at sidewalk tables in the Marais and eat Nutella crepes on the banks of the Seine.  Then Shane started talking about a desire to see St. Petersburg and southern Finland, and my head really started to spin.  It’s hard to say where our Fall trip will take us – work schedules, rising ticket prices, and other priorities might mean that we end up settling for a weekend getaway in Washington’s wine country.  But for now, I’m going to let my mind wander, and remember those dreamy evening picnics on the Seine and that afternoon I dozed on a bench in the Jardin des Plantes…

As my next art show draws nearer, I’m beginning to feel the pressure to really get things done, so I purposefully set aside this weekend to 1) get creative and 2) get organized.  I was up early Saturday morning, and after whipping up a quick batch of blueberry muffins, I threw the mixing bowl and muffin tin into the sink and cleared the counters for a different kind of mess.  Our living room and kitchen became a temporary studio, as I littered the island with trace paper and photographs, taped sketches on the wall, and queued up a string of Friends reruns on the TV.

I hardly left the house all weekend, getting out only for a coffee date with a girlfriend, a short stroll around the neighborhood to take in a breath of fresh air, and a very rushed 15-minutes-before-closing run to the art supply store for more paper.  Thank God for the row cherry blossoms around the corner from us – a walk beneath their boughs was just what I needed when I started to feel cramped and cooped up.

It is both daunting and exciting to see things starting to come together – there are moments when I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work left to do and wonder, ‘What did I get myself into?’, and there are moments when I find such fulfillment in seeing a piece take shape that I wouldn’t trade my art-making for the world.  It felt good to be focused and productive, to be completely caught up in the act of bringing weeks of doodles and sketches into something that will eventually hang on the wall as a collection.  It might have been the first time ever that having a messy kitchen didn’t bother me in the least.

A few recent happiness-makers…

The Epicurious iPhone app:  I have come to discover that it’s not the act of cooking that keeps me from preparing homemade meals; it’s really the act of meal planning that I find so daunting.  I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities and the unknowns (c’mon Martha, demi-glace???) when considering what to make, and so I resort to the same rotation of stir-fry with store-bought curry sauce, pasta with store-bought marinara sauce, and soup that has “NOT HOMEMADE” practically printed on the label of the can.  But thanks to the convenience of having a number of simple, healthy, non-pretentious recipes at my fingertips via the Epicurious iPhone app, I’ve been on a cooking streak as of late.  I can scan their recipe collection on my phone while on my way home from work or while I’m lounging on the couch, tag a few favorites, make a shopping list and send Shane off to the store for the week’s ingredients, and voila!  Lots of hearty soups (we made this the other night and really liked it), veggie-filled pasta dishes (this one is on the list for next week), and plenty of muffin recipes to keep my baking streak on track.

Black Raspberry Green Tea by Republic of Tea:  I picked up a can of this at the Coffee Mill while I was back in Florida, and I have quickly become a believer in the difference between quality tea, and the cheap stuff that you pick up at the grocery store, just ‘cause it’s on sale.  Full of flavor and fragrance, and so, so good on a cold rainy night when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with Harry Potter and something hot to drink (I have had a number of these nights recently).

The new iPad:  I will admit that as with all things technological, I rolled my eyes when Shane started his sales pitch to me.  With two laptops, two iPhones, and a desktop computer in the house, I was hard-pressed to understand why we needed yet another gadget.  But dang, it’s pretty cool.  It’s going to be perfect for travel, considering the backache that usually ensues when I try to lug around my laptop in addition to my camera and Mary Poppins-esqe purse.  Super-sleek, super-light, super…Apple.  Kudos to Shane for not giving up in his tireless week-long hunt to get his hands on one so soon after their release.  Only strike against it is that it is so stinkin’ perfect for techie time-wasting: Angry Birds, YouTube surfing, Zappos browsing – I’ve been sucked into it all…

Survivor – Redemption Island:  It’s true – the latest season of this reality trash has me hooked.  Don’t judge.  Until you’ve bitten your nails throughout an intense Tribal Council, hoping that the nice guy will be spared over the back-stabbing hussie, you just don’t know how good it is.