Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Linda Grant at The Thoughtful Dresser has tagged me for a meme, Six Random Things. In no particular order:
1. I'm a fifth-generation Californian. My dad's ancestors were Scottish and Welsh miners who came during the gold rush of 1849-50.
2. When I was 18, I broke my pinky finger on my left hand by smacking into a concrete wall during a charity fundraiser roller skating marathon. I didn't realize it was broken, skated for another 6 hours afterward and never had it set, and now it's permanently crooked.
3. I don't like sweet drinks, the solitary exception being root beer.
4. I'm terrible with remembering names of people I've just met. But if they tell me their birthday, I can remember that hours later.
5. I have no known allergies.
6. My first car was a '67 Mustang.
Tagging: Duchesse, Belle de Ville, Meg, Ashe Michief, Nancy, and Miss Janey.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
No, une femme hasn't been hunting stag in the Earl of Wibberley's forest again. I'm referring to poached eggs, a skill which I've only recently mastered.
Mon pere ate two soft boiled eggs for breakfast almost every morning, so I'm no stranger to runny yolks. Our cat used to sit in my dad's lap while he scooped his boiled eggs out of the shells and chopped them up, and would periodically flick his paw out and scoop up a bite, so Dad begain making him an egg of his own periodically. Lawry's Seasoned Salt was (and remains) the condiment of choice on soft cooked eggs.
A few years ago while playing "food anthropologist" with my own eating, I realized that having some protein (and fat) with each meal prevents those between-meal blood sugar crashes, and eliminates that hunger-driven "when-am-I-going-to-eat-again" brain static. But making a soft boiled egg on rushed weekday mornings often feels like too much of a project, by the time you boil the water, cook it (4½ minutes), cool it, scoop it, chop it. Plus, soft boiled eggs don't work so well on toast. I have a microwave egg poacher, but the results have been wildly inconsistent and it's tough to get that perfect result of fully cooked white and runny yolk. A few months back with the help of our friend Google I started experimenting with poached egg methods. Here's the one that works best for me:
Fill a small saucepan with water at least 3" deep, bring to a boil. Crack an egg into a small cup or bowl. Once water is boiling, reduce heat until you get a medium simmer, salt the water. Slide the egg in gently, set timer for 2:00. When done, remove pan from heat, lift egg gently out of the water with a slotted spoon, drain a moment and enjoy over toast or alone.
Don't forget the Lawry's!
Monday, April 28, 2008
The Banana Republic blazer that coordinates with the trousers I have is nice and classic, but a bit boring. Still, I can add some interest with scarves or jewelry, so it's a possibility, and worth a try-on. I'm not seeing much else on their website that would work with those pants.
While most of JCrew's styles seem to be targeting a much younger demographic than une femme, a few of their jackets have appealed to me in recent months. I like the stying (and the bracelet sleeves!) on this one:
But the color is just too much. Wait, they have it in navy, which might work with the taupe trousers, and could be potentially Paris-worthy (worn with dark wash jeans, non?):
Here's another one in Navy (not my favorite color, but it seems to be unavoidable this season): I'm a little uncertain about mixing wools though. And this one is pricey for a color I'm not in love with. Everything else I'm seeing on their site is either too ruffly or too fussy. (Why must everything be wrapped/tied at the waist? Does no one consider the mechanics of putting on/taking off a jacket during a business meeting in a conference room with a bi-polar air conditioner?)
While in the past I'd purchased several Ann Taylor suiting pieces that worked very well (am still wearing and loving a wool tweed jacket picked up on sale there over five years ago), lately their jackets and suits collections have been missing the mark for me. But ohlala! this has potential!
Friday, April 25, 2008
First The Manolo predicted their imminent demise a few months back. Yet the heels grew ever higher, and the designs more fetishistic with each new season.
Now, via Linda Grant at The Thoughtful Dresser, another death knell rings for the über high heel.
Une femme says, enough already. Die you crippler of women, you harbinger of bunions! We express horror at the concept of foot binding and think we've come so far from the days of whalebone corsets laced so tight one could not take a deep breath, yet the underlying premise of "that which most incapacitates the wearer is most desireable" remains. And that's really what it's all about. You can talk about how heels make a woman's legs look longer, blah blah but when you get into the arena of 5 inch, 6 inch, 7 inch heels, it's really about rendering the wearer useless, purely ornamental. Aren't we smarter than that?
Now before you grab your torches and pitchforks, I'm not suggesting that we all must plod around in Birkenstocks. There's nothing shlumpy about a nice 3 inch heel. Why is it so hard to find heel heights available in between earth and sky? It's time to get our heels out of the stratosphere, and rediscover the concept of walking.
The Grove is everything that is horrible and spectacular about our brand-saturated American lives. It’s a living version of every pretentious theory you may have read back in grad school: a facsimile of a space, a scripted zone, a generic city, a vituperative quote by Baudrillard or Deleuze. But it’s also totally great!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Happy Pesach to those who celebrate!
MIL hosts the big family Seder. Each year she tries to cut the number of guests down, and each year last-minute invitees bring the number back up to around 30. MIL makes The Best Matzoh Ball Soup On The Planet. My assignment each year is to make the apple kugel. Here's the recipe for anyone who's interested:
Passover Apple Kugel:
1-1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 sticks butter or margarine
Grease an oblong baking pan, preheat oven to 450.
Beat eggs, add sugar, vanilla, butter, lemon zest (OK if the butter is chunky)
Run matzohs under water for a few seconds to soften.
Layer matzoh, apple, egg mixture, repeat until you run out, probably 2-3 layers of each
Bake 450 for 15 minutes
Cover, reduce to 350, bake another 40 minutes(You can also add some golden raisins to the egg mixture if you like them.)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"People definitely do it all the time," says Shopbop spokeswoman, Alle Fister. "It's click, click, click after a few cocktails."
Actually, une femme is less susceptible to SUI (Shopping Under the Influence) than SWB (Shopping While Bored). It's those SWB hangovers that I wake up to and find myself buried under boxes of floral skirts, a half-dozen lipglosses, overpriced leopard print sneakers, and the same pair of jeans in four different washes. Thank Heavens for liberal return policies and pre-printed shipping labels!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The one I purchased a couple of years ago in Palm Springs, and loved like no swimsuit I'd had in decades, has given up the ghost. It's faded, stretched out, and the bottom is pilled and worn thin from pool chemicals and rough concrete steps. This suit shouldn't have been so flattering, there were no "slimming panels" or ruching, or v-necks "creating a more vertical line." There was no clever color blocking or underwire. It was a simple, brown tank with a soft cup bra and thin straps, and looked fabulous on. I started looking for its replacement last year with no luck.
Prior to my PS Perfect suit, I'd had pretty good luck with Land's End swimsuits. I should mention that a) I'm not a beach bunny or lounge-around-the-pool type (my family's proclivity for skin cancer means I'm a committed Siren of Shade, including the big hat, cover up and sunglasses in addition to my 50+ SPF sunscreen), and b) as with my clothes, I prefer my swimwear without a lot of gimmickry. I need something basic, comfortable, and flattering that's actually designed for swimming.
I'm also adverse to trying on swimsuits anywhere except at home. There's something about the lighting in most dressing rooms that highlight all of the features of my physique I'm less than enamoured of. Every bump and roll seems to be magnified in that fluorescent glow. So online I go. Let's see what's out there in one piece, V-neck styles.
Nordstrom's carries the Miraclesuit brand, which I've read good things about. This one is kind of cute, but the top looks less than secure, and brings back some embarassing memories of an accidental Girls Gone Wild moment after my Olympic-calibre jackknife from the diving board.
Option #2 meets my basic requirements (v-neck, simple) but is just a little too "boobs in bondage."
I'm all for a little animal print, but this one just screams Cabana Cougar.
Ouch. This is traumatic just to look at. Flashback to childhood summer swim lessons and the Fat Girl suits my mother made me wear (not to mention the swimcap adorned with multicolored rubber flowers).
Halters usually are flattering. Here's a possibility. The description says "underwire" AND it's available with a D cup...
Love the styling on this one, but the polka dots remind me of a dress my grandmother had circa 1965... On to Land's End. here's a one-piece that's not too stodgy, but I'm iffy on the shirring at the waist. sometimes when it's straight across like that it bunches up and creates the effect of an overly tight belt. If you want to rock a Betty Grable look, this little number is surprisingly flattering. It actually looks better on women with more curves than the model.
I've had Land's End tankini's in the past, and while they're not as flattering as a one piece, it's nice not having to peel out of and then back in to a tight, wet suit when you need to go to the bathroom. This halter tankini top might be worth a try (with bottoms here).
My pals at Travelsmith also offer some swimwear, and this style (also by Miraclesuit) is one of the more promising.
I'll let you know which I ultimately end up with, but will not be uploading any modeling pics.
Monday, April 14, 2008
I'm holding off on both for now, but DAMN.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Materfamilias briefly mentioned in a post from last weekend that I don't usually show my face when posting pictures of my scarves or clothes on this blog. This isn't due to any deficit of narcissism on my part, but rather because I tend to freeze up when a camera is pointed in my direction, and the look on my face is strained to the point that a viewer might reasonably be led to believe I'm in thumbscrews. If I try to smile, it's worse.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." Well, dear readers, I think I have found my lever and fulcrum.
"Would I wear it in Paris?" It's clear, it's concise, and it shall become my wardrobe mantra. Managerial and motivational textbooks stress that success comes from goals that are clear and results that are measurable. And lo! the yardstick has appeared.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
1: something that is vain, empty, or valueless
2: the quality or fact of being vain
3: inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance
Vanity as defined above has always had a bad rap, and probably rightly so. But a lot of what drives vanity is, in une femme's opinion, not an inflated pride, but rather a deep insecurity about one's own appearance or talents, and the constant need to puff oneself up to feel validated. (Case in point: the vain and wicked Queen in Snow White.)
In the manner of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, our culture has tended to label all concern with appearance as "vanity" and condemn it as vapid and shallow or even sinful (while at the same time, expecting women to effortlessly look like they could grace a magazine cover). Yet there is a positive aspect to taking care with how we look, one that indicates a healthy self esteem, a respect for others and a desire to present our best selves to the world. I can think of no word in the English language for this flip side of the vanity coin, and there should be.
Care with appearance is, in the greater sense, a small piece of the essential human struggle against chaos and entropy. On those days when we're feeling blue or dog-tired, making the effort to wash our hair, or using a bit of concealer, or resisting the call of the ripped sweatpants are all small ways to show courage, and perseverance in the face of all that would keep us down. Maybe that is vanity after all, a way of inflating ourselves, and maybe it's not such a bad thing. When we're in good spirits, putting some energy into our appearance feels like a natural expression of that sense of self-worth, and a polite nod to those we come in contact with.
I think of the last time I visited my grandmother before she died at the age of 93. She'd always been well put together, and when I saw her that day sitting in her wheelchair at the lunch table, her hair was freshly coiffed and she'd applied her usual red lipstick. It was her way of saying to the universe, "I'm not done yet."