Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Other Book, and The Journey Ahead


So, yeah, I did finish that other travel book. The one that I've been resisting to read.

And now that I've finished reading it, I can't bring myself to be snarky about it at all.

Maybe it's because of all the things that have been on my mind lately with this trip, and my teaching, and turning 30 this year - which, I have to admit, I wasn't able to acknowledge as properly as I should have - but now that I've finished this book, I feel very inspired, like I've got the rest of my life ahead of me.

Never mind that my journey is taking me to San Diego instead of Bali, or to spending 15 weeks teaching in a classroom in the middle of Oahu instead of a meditation retreat in the middle of India. I understand that it's such a massive cliche to say something like "This book spoke to me, people," but it did.

I feel like I've emerged from a deep sleep, looking at the world with new eyes. (As I am typing, I am looking over my shoulder and noticing the orange sunset outside my window - is that so wrong?) Instead of feeling like I'm in a rut, I look at everything around me and think: Man, oh, man, there's so much of the world that I really have to see, and see now.

It's not like I have much time to waste here waiting, really. I'm looking at making a fresh start, and starting right now, just to make sure everything goes forward from here onward. Even the mess in my apartment - the initial inspiration for calling this blog Domesticity - is begging to be shaken up and turned upside down.

It's going to be a great year ahead of us, folks. Until then, I'll see you all after New Year's.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the High Horse

One last post (and not counting whatever book I'm reading now) before I go on my winter trip to San Diego this week:

If I haven't posted any beauty related content on this site for a while, that's because I'm deathly tired from everything - work, school, starting a new teaching position next semester - that I don't know if there's anything left for me to say, or try.

Those of you who have followed this blog since the very beginning know that I take a lot of breaks from blogging, precisely because of the very things that keep me busy in real life. I keep mentioning this on and on, but it's true - I am a graduate student, I don't have much money (apart from however much I'm getting paid at my part-time job) and I don't have any pretensions of becoming a real beauty journalist any time soon. So it makes my blog a bit of a mess -- so what? I write what I want to write, what I like to write, and I don't have to fear any recrimination.

In contrast, I've been deathly disappointed with some of the commenters on the blogs I frequently read, because it seems to me that every other blog, every other day, is involved in a flame war. Let's be frank here: I don't have to read it if I don't want to... but, for crying out loud, blog-reading has been my morning habit for the last three years, and the last thing I want on a morning when I could be facing a rough day at work or school is an even rougher argument initiated by two people who have never, ever met each other in real life. I want beautiful words and beautiful pictures with my morning coffee, dammit - not badly-spelled arguments and uglier name-calling!

Believe me, there is nothing you want to see any less than yours truly being tempted to writing death threats to people I have never met, for no good reason than ruining my morning. It's already bad enough that I see this on the political and showbiz blogs... but on a beauty or fashion blog? I don't care how stressed you are this time of the year, or any year, because - and pardon my French here - that shit ain't right.

With that said: I already mentioned that I will be student-teaching next semester, and carrying a full academic load while doing so. That means waking up before sunrise every morning for the next four to six months, so I can make the trek all the way across town to work with children. This is the reality I will be facing for a good chunk of 2008, which means that some of the content I might end up publishing here will reflect that significant reality. I'm not saying I'm going to change the content or theme for this blog - hey, if I write something about shoes or makeup that can stand seven hours' worth of teaching time, so much the better - but that also means I won't have the same amount of free time that I would have had if I didn't have this assignment. If I don't read a blog at this time, don't take it against me; if I don't post a new entry, don't make it an excuse to bomb me with death threats. All I'm asking for is a little understanding on everyone's part, because it's about time at least one of us finally grew up for a change.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Honeymoon on Hardcover


So you're looking at this and you're thinking: Great, another travel book by an upper-crust, broken-hearted American who can afford to chuck the dead-end job for months and months of long-term travel, with all sorts of Oprah-worthy Finding My True Self Among The Poor Little People in the Third World epiphanies along the way. Come on, Mei, haven't you read that other memoir about chucking it all to travel the world - the one that actually has a longer chapter about Indonesia?
Okay, I'm not trying to diss Eat Pray Love here - in fact, I read Honeymoon with my Brother as a way of preparing me to read that book. (Also, Franz Wisner was on Oprah at around the same time as Elizabeth Gilbert.) And yet, Honeymoon had already been in my possession (neighbor gave it away - don't ask) for months, waiting to be read. It didn't take too long for me to break down and read it.
Those of you expecting some kind of "woe-is-me" pity party-turned here would be disappointed, because Franz Wisner writes in a way that doesn't make you want to feel sorry for him. Yeah, yeah, we know that he got dumped at the altar and demoted from the corner office, blah blah yada yada - in fact, the parts where he talks about his life post-dumpage will make you want to say, "Yeah, I hate your life, too." He's equally unapologetic about making fun of hippie backpackers, Lonely Planet guide books, Ugly Americans, crazy Third World taxi drivers, and occasional side trips into HoYay territory. And he definitely does not want our sympathy when he drags his younger brother along on his travels, in the hope of developing a better filial relationship that does not involve one carrying the other over a threshold.
Hemingway, he's not. But those of you hoping for Mitch Albom-style fuzzies will be horribly disappointed, because Honeymoon is not that kind of a book. True, the Wisner boys do end up bonding with each other and becoming Better Men at the end, but that doesn't mean you can't have a laugh at their expense over their adventures, where they stumble through continents like clueless party boys. It's a real-life version of The Darjeeling Limited, stretched out over 53 continents, but without the Freudian psychodrama or the designer luggage.
You'll read this and realize that, darnit, this is how straight guys travel the world: chucking guide books in the garbage can, enduring day-long flight delays, traveling great distances for weird-looking animals and amazing beaches. You'll snicker through stories of questionable sex, crashing with friends, and the things that go terribly wrong with your house while you're away. You'll laugh at the moments when they walk into a supposedly "un-touristy" restaurant and find themselves surrounded by fellow haoles who found the same restaurant through their guide book. You'll wade through pages and pages of horror stories, hoping somebody would hit them over the head and say, "Dammit, can't you find anything good to say?"... and then, as soon as they get on the departing flight, you'll find yourself empathizing when they tell you how they finally realized that they'd fallen in love with this crazy country, warts and all.

And as somebody who has managed to spend the first 2/3rds of her life in the Third World, I can tell you: they sure managed to get all those parts right. Especially the part where they don't want the whole ride to end.
A note: I recently read that not only are the Wisner brothers working on Book Part Deux (coming out in '08), but they now have a movie deal for this one as well. Sweet! I won't even mind them recasting the parts of Franz and Kurt Wisner so it won't look like them. Hint, hint, hint... um... hell to the no.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Wha-evah you liiiiike, we do fo' you!"

For those of us who like to get our mani-pedis at the neighborhood salon... here's Anjelah Johnson riffing on getting your nails done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holidays in Red

Nope, this isn't another post about Gap. It just so happens that my Lane Bryant/Cacique purchases just came in this morning... and didn't you know that they're having a sale right now?


So without further ado, I just want to share what I'm wearing right now, straight out of the box.





Red flannel! Gold stripes! A darling satin ribbon for a drawstring! Not to mention the right amount of roomy fit. Could I be more in love with a pair of pajama pants right now? The color scheme might scream "Christmas!" but I could see myself wearing this all year, even on a coffee run. I'd even wear this with my red suede platform wedges and a white tank top... that is, if I felt like "entertaining."

And for those moments when I don't have to make a lot of sexy time (which is, um, most days of the year), I have this other red number from Cacique to keep me company...



Perfect for those cold nights in where all I need is a cup of cocoa and my laptop to help me sift through my paperwork. I ordered this in a 14/16 - otherwise I would've drowned in the next biggest size - and it fit me like a dream. It's way too much with the pajama pants, but it does cover enough of me to be modest if I felt like doing my laundry in it. Plus the snowflake print is subtle enough to not look like a holiday leftover.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Domesticity Retail Mini-Roundup: Post-Black Friday Edition

Another year, another Black Friday passing with me in the red. The only "malling" I've managed to do so far was to pop in and out of stores to grab things that were already on my shopping list, like gifts for my family, school supplies, and the occasional fancy ingredient for the holiday meal. That said, here are some pleasant surprises I've found so far...




- Remember what I said in the last entry about the new Eau de Toilette collection from Gap? I finally got to sniff them today, and boy was I pleasantly surprised. My absolute favorite of the group so far is Velvet Bloom - the notes listed are muguet (lily of the valley), osmanthus (which I know is supposed to smell like fresh pineapple), musk and sandalwood, but to me it smells almost like a spicier version of Mukki by Fresh, with the chocolate-nectarine undertones. It's definitely a "casual" scent for those of us who, like me, are very much into oriental-floral fragrances that smell like exotic desserts. My other favorites in this line are the Mandarin Jasmine (citrus-floral, very feminine) and the Lavender Tea (crisp and clean, like a good Gap shirt). If I remember correctly, the one I really didn't like was White Amber - I think that was the one that smelled like bug spray to me.


- Speaking of scented stuff, I got this gift idea from one of my undergraduate co-workers at the school bookstore: It's not a bad idea to get a room fragrance for the college student in your life. Yes, it sounds like I'm advocating something something illegal here, but hear me out - I was in college, too, so I know that the day does come when your dorm room or dwelling of choice will inevitably start smelling like dirty socks. In my co-worker's case, he was getting tired of spraying Febreze, and he was living in a building where incense was banned (fire hazard) but candles were OK. It just so happened that I had a Glade Scented Oil Candle burner at home, so I grabbed that and a box of Apple Cinnamon-scented refills for him. Needless to say, he was thrilled by the thought - and it helped that the apple scent made him think of his home in the Northeast. For those of you who are not into Glade or apple-scented anything, you can also get guy-friendly candles and reed diffusers from Pier 1, Yankee Candle, Target, and Banana Republic.




- Books are also a no-fail gift idea for kids, especially those who love to read books. During a recent Scholastic Book Fair, I managed to snag a paperback copy of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid - the situations may be above and beyond the younger ones, but I like the fact that it's printed to look exactly like it was written by an actual kid on composition-book paper, so that you could use actual sentences from the book as samples for penmanship. I'm going to pack this with me as an alternative to the Nintendo DS for the nephew.


- And because it can't be said enough: GO BOWS!

Friday, November 16, 2007

So Hurry Down the Chimney Tonight

Yay, new Gap Holiday ads! (And you can find them here on the Gap Image Library.)


Aw, man, as if I needed any more motivation to post more photos of John Krasinski on this blog. Doesn't he look ripe for snorgling right now?





And speaking of snorgling... When I saw this photo, the first thing that came to my mind was, "Why the heck is Amy Poehler snuggling up to Patrick Wilson?" And then that's when I realized that the hottie in question was actually Will Arnett, which only makes their pictures together so funny and sexy at the same time.



And now for an honest-to-goodness review of Gap's unisex Individuals fragrance line. I'm not much of a fragrance reviewer myself, to be quite honest (I don't like to spritz myself sometimes) but I really was bowled over by these fragrances. My favorite is The Lover (red), a rich oriental that reminds me of the Product RED candle, but if I were to smell The Original (black) or The Natural (green) on a guy I liked, I probably wouldn't stop sniffing them at all. The new Bath+Skin line is also pretty good, too (I love, love, love Island Hop) but I may have to give the new EDTs a second sniff, since I felt like they were way too girly for me compared to the richness of Individuals.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

...No, I am still not feeling the Christmas spirit that everyone else is feeling - not when it's still November, even with the tradewinds coming in and the sweatshirts coming out of the closet. But how could I run a blog without mentioning the Fall sale that's going on at Payless this week? Especially not when the boots are going on sale - and Lord knows that I could really use more boots in my closet.

That said: I really shouldn't be talking about boots at all, and not because of the whole "living in a tropical climate" deal that I have going right now. Fact is, I usually can't fit into most boots because of my calves, which are really muscular up top; because they're pretty wide, I have problems zipping up most boots, especially since said chunky calves taper down to a considerably narrow-to-average ankle. What's even worse is that the boots that do fit me give me serious cankle action, and cankles only make me look more like a Yeti than I already do.

So imagine my shock when I tried on my first pair of cankle-proof boots at Payless this morning:


Don't let the "low boot" moniker fool you; on me, these came up to a few inches below my knee. And when I say "cankle-proof," I mean it; the pouffy, it-only-looks-like-a-drawstring pouch top does break at the exact point where my natural calves start to taper to my ankles. They're actually sexier in real life, but I did have a few problems with this boot - in particular the narrow pointy heel (which is as delicate and dangerous as it looks here) and the lack of a back zipper, which puts me at the risk of actually injuring myself if I take them off after a long day. Not to mention that, if I had worn these with the blue Old Navy dress I mentioned in my last entry, I'd feel like a gigantic parachute.

(And seriously? I was planning to wear that dress to Christmas with my parents, so pairing it with these boots would only give my Mom a conniption. Remember, this is the same mother who once warned me about going around town in tall pointy boots... without realizing that said boots belonged to my older sister. Make of that what you will.)

I put those seriously hot black suede boots back on the rack, although at the seriously low Payless price I knew I could still come back and snap them up if I wanted to. That's when the other pair caught my eye:


You'd think that the Airwalk Pine Boot would give me cankles just by looking at them, but I was surprised at how un-Yeti-like I look in them. Credit goes to the construction of this boot, which gives us the desired curvy seams and gathers where I (and most women) need it most around the ankles. They're flat, so I won't have problems walking around, but they're also 1) tall and 2) suede, which makes them fashionable enough to still make Mom wonder what has gotten into me if she sees me padding around them on Christmas morning. Heck, I might even end up ordering these online with the extended calf size so I won't have to worry about not giving my legs enough ventilation if I do end up wearing them on a non-winter day.

...Or I could just sit and wait, so I can spend the money on heels and save the boot aspirations for hiking. Which should really send my Mom into an absolute tailspin.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Domesticity for the Men: The Case for the Makeover

No, I'm not talking makeover as in "Ooooooo, you clean up sooooooo well." I'm talking about makeovers of a more subtler kind, where a simple change - like a buttoned shirt or a well-tailored pair of pants - can actually make a difference in changing one's image, even if it means going from "meh" to "kinda cute OH YES I SAID IT SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP."

Consider the following, for your examination; note that this only means that I find both men a little less annoying/ scary/ difficult to picture without their clothes after the makeover, and does not constitute automatic entry to my personal harem of celebrity boyfriends.

Exhibit A: Jermaine Clement

Before:


After:


*****

Exhibit B: Jonathan Papelbon

Before:


And still a before:


And now, the After:

Domesticity Retail Roundup: Clicky, Clicky



Before I begin: I just came back from the new Walgreens on Keeaumoku Street. I can't help but have mixed feelings about this place, actually, since 1) this stands on what used to be Tower Records and 2) I was expecting a more diverse line-up in terms of the makeup and bath lines. (Yeah, I know - I should've just waited for the Tarjay if I knew Wal-Mart was going to beat Walgreen's in that department.) But I don't think it's that much of a bust, if you ask me, because I have to admit that the bargains are crazy - really, how great is that "buy 1 get 1" deal on L'Oreal and L'Oreal HIP lip colors? - and I found a really nice coconut-lime body butter there that smells fabulous. And I have to admit that I love how the place smells as soon as I open the door: it's got that "new-store smell" that reminds me of the first time I came to the States - the best way to describe it is a light but un-obnoxious combination of candy and cheap perfume, a little floral but not too cheesy.

That said, I couldn't help but crack up when I saw the "holiday" shelves (hello, can we defrost the turkey first before we bust out the "Mele Kalikimaka"? Please?) and it was all filled with box upon box of celebrity-fragrance gift sets. Seriously, the box for the Antonio Banderas fragrance collection must be seen to be believed.

****

As somebody who does a lot of work at home on the computer, I know all too well about the pitfalls of Internet shopping. It's dangerous because unlike many of the online shoppers that I know (*ahem*mostly free-lance writers*ahem*) I don't have enough money - not even from my semi-decent campus bookstore job - to justify the time I spend browsing through the electronic stores.

So imagine the guilt when I realized that I had finished clicking through the Old Navy web site and ended up about $65 poorer. Yes, I could've bought a lot of groceries with that money, but I also knew that the refund policy wasn't going to cover me if I ended up not being happy with my purchases. What's a girl to do?

Luckily for me, the Famous $5 shipping didn't let me down, and when I saw the package waiting for me on the doorstep - a mere 4 days after that short, sweet moment of clicky-clicky - I was all too happy to rip it all up and try it on.

First up: the women's mid-rise, boot-cut dark rinse jeans, in the style known as "The Flirt."

I have to admit that I must've gotten spoiled from buying my jeans at The Gap - I was expecting these to come in a heavy, indestructible twill, but the first thing I noticed when I had them in person was that the fabric was a little too thin. I wouldn't necessarily call it a cheap move, since the construction is actually pretty decent - but considering that my last pair of jeans from Old Navy are still holding up after two years, I'm a little concerned about the durability. And also: SHORT jeans? Please. I'm definitely going to have this hemmed for 2 inches, at least.

Apart from that, though, I love how these jeans fit me. Since it's a mid-rise, the pants don't give me the same issues that I'd get from other pants: my stomach stays flat without the dreaded "muffin top" pouch on the waistband,and the front is roomy enough not to give me polterwang. Add the dark rinse to the mix and we've got jeans that can pass for men's-style work pants while still respecting the integrity of my round booty. Once I get these babies hemmed, I can break them in properly and go to town.

Speaking of going to town... how about a nice little wrap dress?

Oh, my, my. Where do I begin with this Women's Plus surplice wrap dress? I love that it's long enough not to make me look like I've been cut off at the knees. I love that I can wear this with heels or boots if I want to, and I can dress it up for dinner and tone it down for work. I love that it's wrapped and pleated in the front, and Empire-waisted, but not so much that I look pregnant. I love the "true blue" color - not quite navy, not quite cobalt. I love that it's made out of T-shirty material, so I can pack it for my upcoming Christmas trip and not worry about ironing. And I love the fact that I can avoid any potential bra-showing issues up front by wearing this with a long necklace - preferably one with a heavy pendant or chunky beads - to close up the mid-surplice gaps. In fact, this reminds me so much of that one Igigi dress that Plumcake raved about not too long ago - and the fact that the blueness goes great with my dark hair makes this dress even more so. Also, since I bought this from the women's plus section of Old Navy, I didn't have to worry about the fit, considering that their 1X in the plus section is closer to my actual proportions (18 top/16 bottom) than the XL size in the regular women's section.

What don't I love: the elastic on the wrists, which makes me look like I'm wearing a gigantic windbreaker. One more thing for the tailor to take care of, to be quite honest with you, but that can be dealt with after the Christmas trip.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Gimme Gimme Shoes

First Kristen posts the original video for "Shoes" on her blog, then Marge posts a link to the inevitable mashup... and now, strap on your Mary Janes, cuz I've managed to embed this.

Behold: Britney vs. Kelly, "Gimme More Shoes" - the video!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's Your Fantasy: The Office Edition

I don't know about you, but after I admitted to bingeing on romance novels I wasn't really expecting some of my dirtier, bodice-ripping dreams to include THIS guy:



John freaking Krasinski? REALLY? Heck, I've only seen bits and pieces of the last season of The Office (US) and I thought he was endearing, but not enough for me to start watching the show obsessively. And yet, here he is in my subconscious mind, sitting in the world's most ergonomic executive chair and waiting for me to walk through that door so we could finally [censored for unsuitable erotic content*]. Jim and Pam who?

And he's not even the biggest crush I have in the Office-verse. That honor goes to the original-recipe British version, embodied here by one Mr. Martin Freeman.

No, I'm not expecting of them to duel for my hand in marriage. (And considering that both of them have played boyfriends to Mandy Moore in two different movies, I doubt that's going to happen any time soon.) And I'm not going to ask them to resolve this with a Halpert-Canterbury sandwich, either. But, really, though, it can't be all that bad, right?

*EDITED to add that the best way for me to explain what I had cut out of that paragraph is contained in this video, which I ganked from YouTube via Cute Overload. Of course, if you had John Krasinski purring sweet nothings in your ear like the kitteh on the left seems to do, you'd be convinced to break a few policies yourself, right?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This Song Will Be Lodged Into Your Head Till Christmas

Seriously. It's been 24 hours since I've been introduced to "Apologize" by OneRepublic, and already I've played it a million billion times on iTunes. If it gets lodged in my head, it will get lodged in yours, and it will stay there no matter how many times you try to get another song in there. I guarantee that.

That said, I have to admit that the song is ten million times better as a Timbaland remix. The original OneRepublic song, unfortunately, is way too meh for me; if it wasn't for the Massive Attack-meets-flamenco-beats, it might as well be a song by a band called My Frayed Chemical Maroon T's. And the "official" "video" that actually came out for the version they did with Timbaland... OY. Methinks that the Universal Music Group made a wise decision to not let hoi polloi like me embed this filmed piece of heinousness from their YouTube account.

Thank goodness, then, for whoever it is who did this mash-up of Timbaland's remix over the original video that Adam Platt did for the song. Because, really, it's stunning.


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Case for the Bodice Ripper, Part 2

After realizing that I had a few brain cells to kill this week, I went on a romance-novel reading binge. Mind you, I don't always read them for the plot (hah), the dialogue (I've read department memos with more heartfelt passion) or the characterization (if I wanted pretty, perfect characters whining about the same damn thing over and over again, I'd watch a marathon of The Hills). That leaves us, however, with the only other thing that's worth reading in romance novels: Teh Sex.

Now, before we get into the discussion of what a dirty old woman I've become, let me explain. I'm not saying that romance novelists don't know how to write about sex. A good number of them actually do, in fact. And we're not talking softly-lit, well-choreographed Mary Sue sex, or so-dirty-I'm-surprised-Jenna-Jameson-hasn't-bought-the-film-rights sex. I'm talking the kind of sex that these books are supposed to be about in the first place: messy, spontaneous, combustible - the kind of sex that affirms your life and tests your limits at the same time.

But let's face it - as I mentioned in my first "bodice ripper" post last summer, many sex scenes in these novels are actual sources of unintentional comedy. And even the good ones follow the same format as the bad ones. The way I see it, if you are spending upwards of $7.99 on a romance novel, you are actually paying for an average of three sex scenes per book. And if your book contains the requisite three, they should be in the following order:

#1: First Contact. Clothes drop, bosoms heave, Tab A goes into Slot B. This should happen around 1/4 to 1/3 the way into the book. The sex must occur as a highly spontaneous coupling where one does not realize that s/he has silently consented to do the nasty with the partner initiating the contact prior to the scene itself. Readers of historical novels should know that the first sex scene is always a tip-off: If the rumpy-pumpy occurs in the context of the male coercing himself onto the female - or his preceding "foreplay"-like actions may be construed as illegal under international law - you are definitely in the hands of a bad writer.

#2: We're Bored, Let's Pad The Book. Usually happens if the plot is going nowhere. In contemporary romances, Sex Scene #2 is the tip-off to the writer's flaw, because this is where the usual Something Interesting happens, no matter how long (or short) it takes. Take note: If Sex Scene #2 leads to 1) the female lead having the orgasm that she has "never felt before", 2) one or both leads realizing something integral to the plot that they never realized until recently; or 3) both ("I've never felt like this before! Wait, I just realized something"), the gig is definitely up - and unless the writer can come up with a disingenuous way of convincing us with the mind-clearing properties of that sex, put the book down and walk away.

#3: Let's Make Looooooove, All Night Loooong! ! And to get the full effect of what I'm talking about here, imagine Faith Hill and Tim McGraw singing the last sentence to each other. Why? Because this is where our characters take their clothes off a little slower, touch each other more tenderly, kiss each other in various places (and often with varying amounts of tongue - in some cases, this is where your heroine learns to Get Real Freaky After All and "pleasure the man"). And you'll know it because it will take two to three pages, max, before the author summarizes it with some BS line about how our Intrepid Hero and Brave Heroine made love a few more times that night, over and over again. Most times, the sex is also intertwined with the penultimate I Love You moment, where one or the other realizes that they are Meant for Each Other. But often the prolonged sex will be treated as some kind of bittersweet metaphor about death, since it will be followed by an inevitable separation that keeps them apart for the last few chapters. But not, however, before they have this post-coital conversation:

Guy: Marry me.
Girl: I can't.
Guy: Why?
Girl: (comes up with sad, pathetic explanation of why she can't be married to him because she's unsure/ unsuitable/ broken/ yada yada; in some contemporary novels, this is also where the girl explains the Reason Why I May Never Have Children Again Unless That's What You Want Because Otherwise I'm A Broken Woman Like That).
Guy: I don't care, I love you. That's all that matters.
Girl: Then why are we not going to see each other again for the next few chapters of this silly novel?
Guy: ...Oh, yeah, you're right. But it's our book, remember? It's not like we're never going to end up together.
Girl: But I love you. (cries)
Guy: Aw, sweetheart. Here, let me hold you one last time while I get horny thinking about some way for us to get rid of that one last complication in the next few chapters.

Again, I'm not saying that all romance novelists follow the same formula. Sometimes there are authors who will add more than one scene - usually Scene #3 for the inevitable "makeup sex" that happens, or Scene #2 to test out the author's knowledge of awkward positions and/or lingerie product placement. Sometimes the kinkier sex happens first without the characters even so much kissing each other or giving out their last names/ phone numbers/ Social Security information. Sometimes the sex doesn't even have to happen with the same person. But if you know the MO, and still the book doesn't give you more bang for the buck (ahem), you might as well hold out and find yourself a real book.

Say, Love in the Time of Cholera is beginning to sound like a really good book right about now...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Obligatory College Bookstore Entry

Okay, so I'm obviously not getting paid (enough) to plug this sort of stuff... but after six months of working at our college bookstore, I found myself drooling over some of the new jackets that came in from Jansport. Yes, the backpack people. It's too bad that they don't have examples of their clothes on their website, though, because some of the logo hoodies and jackets we've received are at once lightweight and sporty - just the way we like 'em when we need something to throw on for coverage when we're sitting in the air-conditioned classrooms. And we're not even talking baggy, shapeless hoodies here - the JanSport women's jackets I've seen on our racks are cut close to the body, and even come in cropped, motorcycle-inspired styles.

See this Nike Women's Max Relax jacket? It's on sale for $39.99 - almost as much as you'd pay for a similar Jansport style at our store. I don't know if you feel one way or another about school spirit, but I'm still biased towards the Jansport ones because (in my not-humble opinion) I think it's made of sturdier material, and the tailoring is excellent. Plus we have this hoodie in colors other than baby pink or blaring fucshia, too!

The only complaint I can lodge against Jansport, however, is reserved for their lightweight women's tees, and especially the ones that come in junior sizes, which are made of tissue-thin material. Easy to pack? Yes. Easy to layer? Definitely. But enough to cover your modesty on their own, even with the best bra in the world underneath? I have my doubts. Also, I've gone on the record in this blog about being against the fake-layered look, so imagine my horror when I saw what I basically call the Frankenshirt: a regular lightweight T-shirt with longer, contrasting sleeves stitched under the seams, to create the look of layering a shorter tee over a longer tee. Ew! It's no wonder the Frankenshirt is one of our slow movers at the store; we're just waiting for somebody to buy out our stock of those shirts so we could put the newer, cuter tees on the hangers.

Anyway, Jansport still continues to turn out great backpacks and messenger bags (and here I'm definitely biased in a non-bookstore employee way, after slogging through the '90s era of overpriced yet not-sturdy-enough nylon packs - Eastpak, I am looking at you), and even their rolling bags have the right mix of function and whimsy - seriously, I've seen folks from university admin going all "ooh" and "ahhh" over the Hawaiian and fake-Pucci prints on some of the rollies. It's not Prada or Tumi by any means, but if you're going to spend a reasonable amount of money on luggage anyway, Jansport is a pretty good investment.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Randomesticity: Mynah Mynah




The title of this story comes from a Cane Haul Road shirt that I bought from Mango Season on S. King Street. I bought the shirt because I thought it was a Hawaii pun on "Mahna Mahna" - until the saleslady told me it was a pun on the word "minor" - pronounced, as locals usually do, as "minah." So when locals say "minah minah," it usually means "don't sweat the small stuff."
But then, minahs is what we're dealing with right now on this entry, so... (doot doo dururoo) MINAH MINAH!
- So I got my hair cut super super short last week, which was the result of me dropping in on a beauty school at lunchtime on Friday. It could've been a major disaster (and at $5.50 with a novice haircutter, probably expected) but it was remedied at the last minute. I still think it looks like a cut that belongs to a skinnier woman, what with its overall shagginess and the near-mullety length in the background (owing, according to my haircutter's primary instructor, to the fact that my hair in the back grows downward... not a bad thing, actually) but now I'm beginning to like it a lot more, especially now that looks like a cross between Jane Fonda and Pat Benatar. Added bonus: Because of this cut, my hair has started to adapt towards a side part, so I don't have to look like Alfalfa any more.
(And yes, I'm working on getting pictures!)
- Because of the shorter hair, I also noticed that I've changed attitude-wise, as well - now I've turned into a no-BS, no-sugarcoating tough gal at work, which isn't surprising considering that I could belt out "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" at any minute. And I've been dressing sexier too - or at least trotting out the mid-length shorts more often. Funny.
- Random movie-related comment: Am I the only one who thinks that Rendition looks like crap, judging by the trailer alone? Even the presence of my perpetual movie boyfriend Peter Sarsgaard isn't even enough to save me from disappointment. (And, Pete: Seriously, if you're going to make movies for cash anyway, would it really hurt to cast yourself in a comedy right now? Even if it means spending an entire movie wearing a head bandage?)
- Current fragrance: Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Vanilla alternating with Aura Cacia's Natural Perfume in Root. Someday I will get away with layering these two together.
- No other obsessions right now, although right now is the time of the year when everybody at work is talking about getting new handbags and stuff. Maybe when I'm not as harried as I am this month, I'll start talking more.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Obligatory MTV Video Music Awards Post (100% Britney-Free!)

If I end up coming in late for work today, please do go ahead and blame these videos! (All footage from MTV.com)

Rihanna f. Fall Out Boy - "Shut Up and Drive" (my favorite R&B song of the year backed by the band of the moment! Plus Patrick Stump action! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!)

Kanye West, "Stronger" (would've been better if he'd had Daft Punk with him)

That said, I still can't wait for the rest of the VMAs to get blogged to death...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Obsessions for This Month

The Meimei, she is homebound and sick again - brought down by a final project, stress at work, and a viral infection that Won't Go Away (though it has been downgraded to "common cold/ stress-induced asthma" at the last visit to the doctor). That doesn't mean I have a few things occupying my time while I'm home lounging in my pajamas...

- A $7 cotton top I got from Ross (Empire waisted but low cut, so I need to wear it with a cami underneath) and a V-neck tee from Nordstrom Rack that cost me... dun dun dun... all of $0.01, due to an unexpected computer glitch that everyone else let pass while I was there. Whee!

- The blind item section on Crazy Days and Nights. I could not care less about "Timmy," but I like how some of the more current-day ones actually have some pretty good reveals. And lordy lordy, do I ever laugh so hard when I read those reveals.

- Safeway's house-brand "healthy" food. I am crazy-addicted to the O Organics Golden Flakes Medley with Flax Cereal (it was on sale, too!) right now; before that it was the Eating Right Vegetarian Masala. As much as I shouldn't be patronizing the big-box stores, God help me if they weren't turning out such good stuff on my budget!

- And speaking of great stuff... the Foodland near my house not only has Ezekiel 4:9 bread, it also stocks a pretty good (though more cardboard-flavored) sprouted-grain loaf at a fraction of the cost of the original Ezekiel. I like to make grilled-cheese sandwiches with this using low fat cheddar, smoked turkey, and mango chutney.

- Boosting up my usual hot-salt-water gargle for my sore throat with tea-tree oil - a handy tip that I got from an alternative-medicine practicioner friend of mine - to kill more germs. Still doesn't make the whole thing tolerable, but I find that I've sounded less froggy since I started doing this. Aromatherapy with the tea-tree oil also helps for those moments when I'm too wheezy to deal with my inhaler.

- Speaking of tea, my beverage of choice during this time is hot ginger tea, made with straight-up fresh ginger (not candied), hot water, and some honey - I've found that the combo really works wonders in keeping laryngitis away. In the past I've boosted this up with cinnamon sticks and lemon; however, since it's still way too hot outside for me to turn the combo into a real Hot Toddy, I've added chopped apples to the ginger instead.

- Probiotics. I swear that my throat and lungs (and the rest of me) would never have gotten better if I hadn't started myself on those acidophilus capsules to make up for all the antibiotics I got from my other doctor.

- During the moments when I stop wheezing, I've started taking stock of my makeup box again, and I must say this: I have way, wayyy too much shimmery brown eyeshadow. It's a good thing that my friends and I are planning a Makeover Night pretty soon, because as much as I can't keep them, I couldn't let a good thing go to waste.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Feel P(r)etty, Oh So P(r)etty

Dear Colleague:

I just want to let you know right off the bat that I don't think you're a bad person. Really. In fact, I actually think that you're fun to hang out with outside of class. Lately, however, I was beginning to worry that you've become quite a pill. I understand that you may actually have a legitimate reason to be frustrated. I also understand that it's OK if I don't seem to agree with you about everything. But I think I've finally hit on the real reason why I've been frustrated with you lately:

YOUR EYEBROWS.


Sure, maybe you do think there's nothing wrong with your eyebrows - but let's face it, your eyebrows have been arched quite severely, to the point where they do make you look angry and in major need of Botox. Not to mention that they've been colored in such a way that they almost - ALMOST - look tattooed. It doesn't make you look sexy so much as it makes you look like an angsty drag queen.
Which is even more sad, considering the field that we're in as teachers. Our students aren't asking us to be model-perfect every time, but they're pretty good at reading faces - and if they can look at you and see somebody they can trust, the satisfaction you get from that is almost as good as a salary raise. Many of the teachers I know - and some you probably know as well - have built careers out of creating that kind of connection with their students, even if they sometimes suck at creating the same relationship with their peers and administrators. So when you find yourself in a class where you think you've got a good classroom going, and suddenly you get a picture of yourself as the Wicked Witch of the West... it's heartbreaking.
So why your eyebrows? Because, combined with your personality, your features, and the way you carry yourself, they seem to put across a very negative image of yourself. Come on, you say, I've seen teachers with worse eyebrows than me and they have a better time than I do. That's true... but these same teachers also make a point to smile once in a while, make a few jokes, and don't always come across as whiny even when they do have negative things to say. And I know you're going to bring up the "just-because-I'm-not-local" point once again, but again: irrelevant. And all because of an aesthetic decision that, literally, makes you look like a very bitter haole.
That's why I have to break the news to you. That's why I want you to go above and beyond what you're already dealing with on the eyebrow front. If they're all your handiwork, you'll need more than the $10 job that you're likely to get at Supercuts or the nail salon. You'll need an honest-to-goodness makeup professional to look at you - seriously - and tell you what you really need to do with those eyebrows. Or if you think you can't afford to have that kind of service, haul yourself to Sephora and get yourself an eyebrow kit - the store's house brand has a decent eyebrow kit for $35. Come to think of it, while you're out there, go grab yourself a bronzer and a lip gloss to perk you up a little bit. There, there, isn't it all better?
Take care now,

Me

Friday, August 10, 2007

Domesticity Retail Roundup: Or, Thoughts on the Ongoing Neiman Marcus Shoe Sale

Before I go into another litany about Shoes I'll Never Buy While I'm Still A Little Broke (and suffering from foot blistering) let me say that there is nothing in the world that makes me smile like the pretty, pretty shoes. So it's no wonder that wandering into Neiman Marcus' sale made me happy.


First of all, is it me or are we going through a moment for red patent leather? These wedges (Tulam by Robert Clergerie) reminded me of something I'd definitely find in Margie's closet (although I have a feeling she would've wished they were pumps). I got to try these on, and they were quite comfortable on my tootsies - though I wasn't sure about the ankle straps, which don't seem to hit me where my ankles are at their thinnest. I swear, after I saw these, I went out looking for red patent shoes at Payless and Slipper House.

I also fell in love with these sandals from Kork-Ease...

..but then I could so totally hear my mom and my sister chirping, "Didn't you ALREADY have those in your closet?" And now that I think of it... well, yes, I did, about five to ten years ago, when I wore maxi-skirts and hippie dresses without a care in the world. And those sandals may have cost me less than $100 from Nine West, which is renovating as we speak. But then I wasn't going to school on a campus built on a steep incline, and I didn't have a job that involved hauling 30 lbs. of school supplies back and forth.

Which then brings us to this spirited update of an all-time favorite...
Thank goodness Converse had the good taste to snag John Varvatos as a guest designer. This shoe in particular stood head above shoulders over the other wannabe Chucks in the shoe aisle (I'm glaring in your direction, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu) for being comfortable and stylish. I mean, look at the way the grommets are arranged for the shoelaces - don't they remind you of little champagne bubbles? And the laces themselves are made of superstretchy, bungee cord-like material. But even if I had the $47 to spare that day for these lovely babies, it just wasn't meant to be... because these Chucks did not come in my size, unfortunately, and the ones I tried on were either too short or too big.

****

Speaking of feet: I'm still looking for the Band-Aid Active Flex Blister Block Stick, which is supposed to go on your feet to prevent blistering without being slippery. After looking at the ingredient list, though, I realized that maybe it's not such a bad thing that I couldn't find it in stores - especially since I'm putting shea butter on some of the more tender, tortured parts of my feet before I go to bed, which helps a lot.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Underneath It All

This morning I finally went out to the post office to pick up my package from Lane Bryant, which was a pleasant surprise for me - imagine, all these years of shopping on the Internet, and it's only now that I've received a package in less than a week, from a Mainland merchant with no retail outlets in the Islands. Awesome.

And if you thought the service from LB was awesome, imagine my delight when I got to wear what was inside the package itself:

This, my friends, is the stretch-cotton, full-coverage underwire bra from LB's Cacique line of underthings. Say what you will about Lane Bryant, but I can't think of any other brand or merchant that does affordable, high-quality bras for the generously endowed among us. I did order the style pictured here in the "Fresh Floral" print, which in reality is a riotous '60s-style floral print on an avocado-green background with hot pink trim. Pretty wild.

And because this bra was on sale, I also didn't resist buying another bra in the same style during this sale, this time in what Lane Bryant calls "Rockstar Yellow" - though quite frankly I'd rather think of it as the same shade of yellow as the Beatles' submarine. This yellow bra was the one I wore to work today, and I have to say that it's one of the better bras that I've tried. It's not exactly The Bra That Will Change Your Life, but it's soft and comfortable, generously lined (no more peek-throughs under tight shirts!) with a good measure of support from the underwire to keep "the girls" in place all day without pinching. At the end of the day, I didn't even want to take my bra off - it's that good.
In any case, I can't recommend Lane Bryant enough for coming through on this so beautifully, in every single way. Excellent!

Monday, August 06, 2007

This Month's Makeup Bag Contents

For some reason I still have most of the makeup I carried in this bag for months, especially the eye and lip pencils. But recently I made a few changes in the existing makeup bag not only to reflect my new retail job, but also to fit my newly literal get-up-and-go schedule. (Seriously: I have to get ready as soon as I get out of bed!) Some of these additions are actually new to the bag, so there you go.

- Physician's Formula Solar Powder SPF 20 in Translucent: I do a lot of walking outdoors for work, and this covers all the bases that my usual everyday sunscreen doesn't.

- Physician's Formula ColorEyes stick eyeshadow in Champagne: It was only $2.99 at Longs. It might have been discontinued. The consistency is more crayon-like than creamy. So why do I have this? Because when you only have mere minutes to go before your shift and you want to look presentably awake, the precision of this stick eyeshadow is exactly what you need.

- Cover Girl Volume Exact Mascara in Black: I just tried this one today, and... what can I say? It's everything I loved about CG's Lash Exact mascara, but with greater ease when it comes to reaching all those tiny lashes in the corners (thanks to the pointy brush end). This mascara delivers as promised, with staying power to boot. No clumping, no drag-queenish spidery mess - and my lashes were nicely curled, giving me a wide-awake look.

- Maybelline ShinyLicious Lip Gloss in Cola Float: This looks bronzy in the tube, but on the lips it comes off as a frosting-like lip color with serious sheen. Not that it's a bad thing, because on me this turns into a peachy-bronze nude shimmer that's incredibly sexy, especially with not much else on the face. (I call this the "put me on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue" lip gloss for that exact reason!) Note: Unlike most glosses, the Shinylicious works best with the sponge tip that comes with the tube; I tried using this with another applicator and I wound up with way too much gloss.

- Bronzer. Rimmel for everyday; Bare Minerals for the "why, yes, I did have a good weekend - why'd you ask?" look.

- Fragrance. Or at least something that smells great on me, so that I'm not repelling any customers (or co-workers) while keeping my spirits up.

****

In other shopping related news: I just ordered some lingerie from Lane Bryant, and it looks like it might already be here. Will keep you posted as soon as it arrives.

Friday, August 03, 2007

If I Was a Dancer

Today I had a moment of weakness where I - struck by my usual bouts of indecision - found myself at a dance store on University Avenue, browsing at ballroom dancing shoes. Granted, I was still stewing over my decision over whether or not to take the salsa-dancing classes I keep putting off for the longest time (stupid, sexy budgetary restrictions) but something compelled me to start browsing for some decent leather-toe shoes.

Luckily for me, the lady who ran the dance store was super-gracious and really nice about recommending shoes for me - not only did she get that I have wide feet (I blame Dad for that), but she was able to recommend a good sensible shoe for this beginning dancer. Something along the lines of these...



Don't be fooled: The Capezio Student Footlight may not look like much in 2-inch heels and tan leather (though they also come in white and black), but they are supremely comfortable. Not that I suggest you walk in them (best to ruin that leather sole on a proper dance floor - and I speak as someone who was initiated on salsa dancing while wearing wood-platform sandals at a darkly-lit dive bar in Aiea) but this is a good shoe for ballroom-dance beginners who only need the requisite leather shoes for proper initiation to technique. Best of all, they come in wide widths; my 8.5 feet fit effortlessly into a 9W without any shifting or bulging. Zappos sells these for $61.95, but the dance store sells them for $57. A good thing to remember, especially after you've looked at the sparkly, stiletto-heeled professional-dancer shoes with suede soles and narrow sizing.

As for my ballroom-dancing aspirations... well, I don't want to say that they're still on hold, but I'll get around to it. Someday.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Delicious Apple

Inspired by Manolo for the Big Girl.

Don't be fooled by the Bratz-ish avatar I always have up on this site: In reality, my body is quite top-heavy. "Apple-shaped," as they call it. I have broad shoulders, D-cup boobs, and a belly pooch that, strangely enough, also has the middle "cut" signifying that, if I ever get the chance to work a lot harder on my body, I might be able to sculpt out some flab. I also have some seriously doughy upper arms, cellulite-ridden thighs, and a rear view that can be best described as "semi-perky" (read: not too cushioned, not too flat, but could definitely use the definition). And while my reflection in the mirror is good about pointing out the angular structure in my chin and cheekbones, my face has shown up in recent pictures as a round, overstuffed moon pie.

Which is not to say I hate my body. On the contrary, I am surprisingly agile, and can perform an entire yoga sequence from a video without the need for a spotter. I may lose my breath easily on long hikes, but that doesn't stop me from pushing myself further and working every muscle. While my legs will never be mistaken for Heidi Klum's, I've found that I can get away with wearing heels and a short skirt without looking trampy or doll-like. And just try to keep up with me when I walk - I've been known to dodge blind spots and changing signals while crossing the street.

So of course I'll have problems finding clothes that fit - and more so, since I'm all this and only 5'1. That's why I have this wish list for things I hope would work for me.

1. Pants that don't sweep the floor. Like many a juicy babe, I have nothing but unequivocal praise for Gap's Curvy Pants. I own a pair of Curvy jeans (size 16 petite) which I adore a lot, even more so now that I've lost the "muffin top" that threatened to deviate from the way my butt looks ten times better in said pants. If only the rest of my pants would follow likewise! Yes, it sucks to not have the budget to distinguish between pants I can wear with heels and pants I can wear with flats. Yes, I know I should drag my Old Navy pants to the tailor now that the hems are getting stepped on when I walk to school - but do I really want the tailors to tinker with them and leave me with (gasp) high-waters that break before they cover my shoelaces? The last time I had a decent pair of "flats" pants was a pair of Levi's I got at Ross for $9.99, and even those didn't last on me. Waaah.

2. A decent top for sports. I love V-necks, especially the ones that are cut low enough to show off my collarbones without plunging into scandalize-your-mother territory. Same thing goes for collared shirts, as long as I can keep the top unbuttoned without exposing my bra. But put me in a crew-neck T-shirt and I will look like a barrel... and if that crewneck has one of those waist bands at the hem, there's a guarantee that I will look like an especially puffy barrel. At this point, I'm this close to giving up on shopping in the men's department because I cannot stand seeing myself looking like I've thrown a bag over my body. So if anyone here knows where I can get a hoodie or rash guard in my size that looks more sporty than tacky, let me know.

3. Shorts! Too long, and I risk looking like Kevin Federline; too short, and I risk chafing myself in all the wrong spots (not to mention being one pole-dance away from Amateur's Night at the gentleman's club). Also, they must be in a material other than denim that drapes nicely around the belly-button area (no super-low rises), is soft enough not to chafe, and won't fall apart after three washes.

4. Knee high boots that are not Uggs. I have no luck with these whatsoever. Even when I went to Las Vegas and saw "full figure" boots that were supposed to fit. I'll say it again: It's definitely hard to have muscular calves and narrow ankles. Weirdly enough, however, I have better luck with calf-length boots - but still, if I ever find a pair with two-inch heels, I can totally rule the world.

5. A dress that isn't matronly. Dresses are especially problematic for me since I seem to be two different sizes on top (US 18) and bottom (US 16); what I really need is a dress that fits up top, doesn't bunch around my midsection, and/or doesn't tent out all around. I've already been reminded several times to buy a body shaper, but I feel that getting a dress that circumvents all the problem areas is a lot easier than squeezing myself into a piece of Lycra that I may never wear again. It's only now that I'm being introduced to online outlets other than Lane Bryant, Torrid, or the other retail staples for these sorts of things.

Nonetheless, here's what always works for me:
- Empire-style dresses and tops (oddly enough, I can wear these without looking pregnant)
- Tunics
- Scooped yoke tops for blouses and mu`umu`u
- Sweetheart necklines
- Tanks and camis as support wear under blouses or skimpy shirts
- Low-rise pants (they always come up to my belly button, more often than not)
- A-line shifts, skirts, and maxi-dresses
- Not tucking my shirts in
- Jackets with darted seams
- Underwire bras and low-rise undies
- ...and, of course, confidence!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Believe in Miracles!

Five words: Manolo for the Big Girl. Finally, a fashion blog for those of us on the chunky/curvy side.... and I can't be happier.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Domesticity Retail Round-Up, Summer 2007 Edition: Dragons and Tigers and All-Stars, Oh My!

The bad news: I went through another brain fog moment at Ala Moana Center this afternoon. Perhaps it was because I was rushing in and out of stores, trying to figure out what I wanted and when I was coming home, but that particular moment resulted in the loss of my beloved old Islanders flip-flops, as well as the can of sneaker shampoo that I purchased at Longs for the purpose of laundering my beloved Reebok runners.

The good news: Said Reebok runners have been laundered - finally - with the use of a cloth rag dipped in a heinous mixture of water, dishwashing liquid, and OxiClean, which I then wiped all over the shoe (it even got rid of the leftover tree sap that got stuck to it eons ago). Now the shoes are happily drying out in a sunnier part of my kitchen.

Meanwhile, I did manage to go to Sears and buy these babies...

Those of you who know me know that white shoes don't always get along with me. But it just so happens that these Reebok Trail Wave Slip-ons were not only on sale ($39.99) but they actually fit me... in one size smaller than what I usually buy! I figured that, with my schedule of waking up early for school/work/whatever, I could really use an athletic shoe where I don't have to fiddle with the laces, for a change. And since I won't be doing any significant run/walk races at this moment (not unless I end up registering my lazy butt for Great Aloha Run or the Honolulu Marathon 10K Walk one more time), these shoes should serve me well on my regular "hikes" through Saint Louis Heights.

I also walked into Journeys for old times' sake - not that the store was there when Margie and I used to ditch class (and grocery shopping) for shoes, but now that I'm a student again I couldn't help but go in there and pore over their selection of Rocket Dog flats and Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. That should wean me off my fiending for the Sanuk slip-ons I posted earlier, even though I was bummed to not find any of their lovely shoes in my size.

Also, a quick trip to two branches of Ross Dress For Less revealed that they not only stocked up on cute Chuck Taylor All Stars from several seasons ago - now selling for half price - but it also looks like the sizing charts for Chucks are different for my feet. The high-tops I tried on were size 7 men's/ 9 women's, which meant that their sizing runs a half-size smaller for my otherwise wide and stumpy feet. Personally, I'm a little too late on the Chuck Taylor train (and even then, I'm more of a low-top girl myself) but those babies fit so well that I'm practically kicking myself for not going on them sooner. Now, if only I could find a shoe store that stocks up on Jack Purcells...

*********

On non-shoe related news, I bought a Roald Dahl book for my nephew, who has just started reading. No, I didn't get any of RD's scarier works, but I figured I'd get him started on this since he's been getting into a lot of adventure-series books (he just started the Deltora series during his summer vacation) without plunging him straight on into the scary, murky stuff. He's a sensitive boy who gets easily scared, so Harry Potter, Eragon, and Goosebumps are all out of the question for him; in addition to that, his sister already got the full set of Narnia books two Christmases ago, so I didn't want to repeat myself.

Now, if only Conn Iggulden would just hurry up and release a grade schooler-friendly version of The Dangerous Book for Boys on paperback...

********

Finally, after months of gawking, I finally bought something from La Palme D'Or Patisserie. Granted, it was a single cookie - but what a cookie it was! Their Encore is a grown-up version of the classic Toll House chocolate-chip cookie, but fluffier and lighter on the inside than what most of us cookie freaks are used to. I could eat just one ever so slowly and still be happy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Speaking of Shoes...

I usually don't apologize for putting comfort over cuteness when it comes to shoes, but between my work at the bookstore and the running-around I do for class, comfy shoes are all I have to wear at this point. And trust me, speaking as somebody who recently ruined an otherwise beloved pair of leather flats after 7 hours on my feet, I can't afford to have anything else on my feet.

So I've been doing a lot of outdoor stuff this summer because of my Environmental Science class. Most of our work requires "covered shoes," and for me that means sneakers. (Yeah, like I'll ever get away with sullying my beloved suede wedge loafers, right.) Unfortunately, however, my one lone pair of running shoes got sullied after a particularly trying day out in the field, and until I can find where I put my sneaker shampoo to clean off all traces of red dirt and the occasional speck of horse poop, I'm afraid that I'm going to be on the market for new running shoes.

In the meantime, however, I've started drooling over my classmate's Keen hiking shoes, and since I can't find the exact model online any more, I thought I'd share with you the next best thing:









Ladies and gentlemen, the Keen Targhee II, available now at Zappos.com and shoes. com. I'd buy this right away if it weren't for the fact that I just blew the exact same amount of money on my Science textbook alone... which means that the next next best thing for me would be to go out to Sears or Lady Foot Locker for another pair of dirt-worthy running shoes that I can also wear to (and from) work.

And speaking of covered shoes...







I saw these Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers at a surf shop (Margie, if you're reading this, it's the surf shop where Cheapo's Books used to be on Puck's Alley) and when I tried them on I was practically in heaven. I mean, think about it: the casual look of a loafer, the feel of a broken-in pair of Vans slip-ons, and the cushy sole of a rubber flip-flop without the annoying thong? For $59.95, I would've been so there... but then again, you know me - always spending my hard-earned money on those damned groceries.

Then again, that shop doesn't even have the women's versions of the Sidewalk Surfer. Because if that were the case, these babies would have been mine...


Must. Wait. Till. Next. Paycheck....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shoe Blog Plugging (say it three times fast)

My friend M., who I've known since high school but is now based in Cleveland, just started a new blog devoted to some seriously gorgeous shoes. It's called A Shoe Acquisition - the shoes are hers, the photography is her husband's, and to be quite honest I believe she's going to be a great fashion blogger in her own right.

Please do go ahead and show her a little love at http://acquisitivefeet.blogsome.com/ - and do say that I sent you!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Clip Job

Hey, remember the time I got my hair cut really really short in the Philippines, right before I left for Hawaii?

Well, guys, it's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Okay, so I didn't plan on going so short, but it just so happens that the lady who cut my hair at the Neighborhood Chain Salon kept misunderstanding me when I pointed to several pictures and said "I want my bangs like this, and I want my hair this short." Apparently lady kept pointing to her soccer-mom helmet and asking me "You want your hair like me?" and I kept saying no, hoping that she'd give me the Jane Fonda-esque shag that I wanted. (Also another consideration: Lady wasn't using a razor. But hey, I get what I pay for, especially since my last trip to Lexus' chair nearly broke my grocery budget.) Eventually I thought to myself, the heck with it - but there's no way she's going to cut my bangs short, nuh-uh, not on my watch.

The resulting haircut looks almost like the one my avatar is sporting - short in the back with long sweeping bangs (almost cheekbone length) swept off to the side - but since my hair's been kind of temperamental lately, I can't wear it without product, or I'll end up looking like the love child of Dorothy Hamill and Pete Wentz.

So yeah, I have to keep tucking the whole thing behind my ears, and I have to wear thickening lotion so it wouldn't mushroom. It also helps to know that cutting my hair short was the only way for me to prevent the thinning and breakage that was already starting on parts of my scalp, made even worse by constant combing.

But you know what's ironic? I'm a lot more feminine with the short hair, especially since the cut is what I'd look like if I tied my hair back loosely. With long hair I always had to wear more makeup and product because I always risked looking boyish - but the short hair with the long bangs bring the attention back to my eyes and cheekbones, especially now that my face isn't as puffy as it was ten years ago. And it's also appropriate for me, since I've been doing a lot of working out lately and it's a good thing for me to not have so much hair flinging about when I'm doing yoga. So it works.

****

Which reminds me: Right before I started typing this entry I'd just finished watching Against All Odds (sing with me, people: "Take a look at me nowwww, well there's just an empty spaace...") and I couldn't get over the fact that Rachel Ward looked all sorts of hot in this one, even with the shorter hair. True, she was sporting the Sheena Easton-esque short puffy curls in this one, but I spent the movie ignoring the dialogue and trying to imagine what she would've looked like if she'd worn a hairstyle that didn't seem so stuck in a time capsule. Granted, girlfriend was pretty slim in this one too, but with longer hair she would've looked way too much like Parker Posey... and considering what the rest of this movie was trying to accomplish, that would've killed a little bit of the sexy.

Now that I think about it, the rest of the folks in this movie have probably aged for the better as well: For some reason I think I like Jeff Bridges a little better the way he is right now, especially with the quirky-paternal thing that he's got going on. Same with James Woods - okay, he'll always bring the sleazy to me, but comparing the regrettable '80s mullet-crew he had here to the Pantene-worthy shag that he's sporting in Shark, I'm just glad that he's not walking all over the place looking like he'd been going to work every day like it's El Dia del Muerto.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mei's Red Beans with Sausage and Rice

Okay, so this isn't *real* red beans and rice, but I thought it'd be a good idea to share this recipe...

PART 1: BEANS FROM SCRATCH

I like to use beans from scratch because I'm watching my sodium intake and I'm a little wary of the sodium levels posted on most canned beans.

For this you need 12 to 16 oz. of dried red kidney beans which should be soaked overnight in 6 cups of water. I came up with the guesstimate because I started with an entire package of dried beans (16 oz.) but took out so much gunk and bad beans from the pot that I ended up with 3/4 of the package as my final product, so you may need to be very vigilant about taking out the bad beans. They will be easy to spot because 1) they will float to the top immediately and 2) their skins will start breaking as soon as you add the water. Also don't forget to take out any stones or impurities that may come with your bag of beans.

If you have no dried kidney beans, use any kind of dried bean you may have on hand - I think this would work with black beans or garbanzos.

Soak them overnight without any salt or baking soda. If you want, go ahead and soak the whole deal in the fridge as long as possible. When you're ready to use them, don't drain them yet - let them sit for a while.

PART 2: THE SAUCE

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat about 2 tsps. of canola oil and saute about 10 oz. worth of Portuguese (linguica) sausages - in Hawaii that's about two 5 oz. packages of the skinny ones - sliced to pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Saute the sausages until they are golden brown and have rendered up to 2 tbsp. worth of fat. Set the sausage aside and drain, but leave the remaining sausage fat in the pan.

To the sausage fat left inside the pan, add the following vegetables:

1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, diced and seeded (or use a whole fresh poblano if you want)

Saute everything until vegetables are tender: you will know it when the onions and the celery become translucent.

As soon as the vegetables are ready, add the UNDRAINED beans to the pot with about a cup or two of the soaking water. Bring the whole pot to boiling, then cover and reduce heat to as low as possible in order for the beans to cook thoroughly, about 30 to 45 minutes. You want the beans to be soft enough to cut in half with a spoon, but not too soft that they're practically mushy.

Once the beans are cooked the way you want them to be, add the sausage that you have set aside back to the pan. To this you also add 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes and let simmer for another 10 minutes - this way the acids in the tomatoes don't slow down the cooking process from the beans. The sauce will eventually thicken up on its own once the tomatoes break down and the beans cook at their own pace.

Serve with hot cooked rice.

This recipe makes about 4 to 6 generous servings, or about 2 to 3 days' worth of lunch and dinner for a hungry graduate student.

PART 3: RECIPE TROUBLESHOOTING

Not spicy enough? Assuming that you've used mild ingredients in the first place (no poblanos or "hot" Portuguese sausage), serve the recipe with extra hot sauce on the side.

Beans not cooked all the way through? If you've already added the tomatoes and the beans are still too hard, turn off the stove first. Then put the sauce in a freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 2 days; there's something about the freezing process that breaks down the beans and turns them into mush. When it's time to reheat, you can defrost the sauce in the microwave and cook from there, or you can do as I do and chuck the whole frozen chunk of sauce into the pot with exactly 1 cup of water. Cover and leave on low heat for at least 1 hour or until completely defrosted.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Guava Jam and Other Delights

This week I'm on a fruit spread-and-cheese kick.

It started with me inheriting a pack of Wasa Multigrain Crispbread from my neighbor, which we both agreed was basically nothing more than edible - albeit good for you - cardboard. So I thought I should use what's left of my Fig and Orange Spread by eating it with the crackers.

Seriously, guys, the Fig and Orange Spread is the bomb - alone with the crispbread, the soft-and-crispy textures are just out of this world, and the flavor of the spread is so indescribably rich that it goes beyond sweet. It's a pity that this stuff is so darned expensive in the store... it's the kind of spread that just elevates practically anything and everything.

The only problem I have, however, is pairing the fig spread with cheese - which is my own problem, because I end up purchasing the Kraft Extra Sharp Cheddar when I should be springing for aged gouda or goat cheese. Yeah, I know, I ought to live a little (remember, I used to be the person who lived on pate and Brie as a college freshman) but my priorities just aren't the same this time around. Anyhow, every time I pair the fig spread with the cheddar it's the opposite of a taste sensation - the tartness of the cheese always competes with the bittersweetness of the figs - so it was more of a letdown when I put them both on the crispbread.

Now, to compensate for my loss of the fig spread (and in keeping with the broke student theme) I bought a jar of Hawaiian Sun Guava Jam, which was on sale at Foodland. (Technically, it's the Hawaiian Sun Lite Guava Jam, with reduced sugar, but I digress.) So for dinner I paired the guava jam with the cheddar, sliced extra thin with a tiny sharp knife, on top of the multigrain bread.

Again, the bread did nothing for the flavor, although the texture remained pretty crisp. The sharpness of the cheese was still pretty tart. And yet... the contrast of the creamy cheese and the stiff cracker ended up putting the focus back on the guava jam, which turned out to be especially decadent. As much as I used to hate anything related to spreadable guava (it used to get under my skin when Lady's Choice in the Philippines had peanut butter with guava jelly stripes), this combination of guava jam and cheese was pretty unbelievable. I understand that the combination isn't exactly original, but... still, it was so decadent that I almost passed up on dessert.

(Speaking of dessert: Dried apricots + Chips Ahoy = yum. No, I am serious. If you'd told me this combination worked wonders ten years ago, I would've thought you were way, way too high.)

For sure I'm going to have this combo again for breakfast tomorrow - maybe skip the cheese and go with the guava jam alone first - and if I ever run out of the crispbread I'm going to see if I could invest in a better-quality loaf of whole grain bread, or at least a good sourdough. But it's making me think about other combinations, too. (Guava jam and... Brie? Edam? Manchego? Feta? Pepper Jack? PARMIGIANO REGGIANO!?) At any rate it shouldn't hurt to be this adventurous, right?