Sunday, September 28, 2008

Perfect September Saturday

Let's start with a cup of French-pressed coffee in bed. Then, let's walk to the local bakery and weekly Farmer's Market. Here's what we find:Freshly baked pastries and a pot of Earl Grey on the patio:Take off in a top-down convertible, across the Prairie, to an Art Fair at a local winery:Buy a bottle of local wine (it's Illinois, so not too exciting, but hey we support our local small businesses!).

A beautiful weathered church along the way. (Actually I think someone lives there; a dog was peering out the window and barking at me when I stopped to take the picture.)
Local humour.
Cocktails on the patio, then, later, fried green tomatoes, fresh tomatoes with basil and mozarella, Ciabatta bread all washed down by some sparkling Prosecco.
Big Ten Football. We don't care who wins; we've degrees from both!

Ooooh, I've been Tagged...

By the beautiful Petunia In Paradise. Here are the rules:
Okay, here goes:
1. Since leaving home at fourteen to attend boarding school, I've lived in ten states: Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and California. I've lived in more than one city in Illinois, Pennsylvania and California. The best place I ever lived? Monterey, California.
2. I'm the youngest of five siblings. The eldest, my sister, is eighteen years older than me. Her daughter is three years younger than me, and she's like a sister too. In fact, we went to law school together (different schools, same time).
3. I went to four different colleges before obtaining my B.A. However, I received both of my graduate degrees from the same university.
4. So far, I've had the following careers: retail fashion buyer, attorney, professor and librarian. Really, though, I'd rather be a Lady who Lunches ;-).
5. I believe Bigfoot exists. It's okay, go ahead and laugh: my husband and sons think this is hilarious.
6. I'm afraid of birds, especially baby birds. But I'm okay watching watching the movie.
7. My first car was a booger-green '66 Plymouth Barracuda, purchased in Dallas. Here I am, with my husband and oldest son, while we were in college (my fourth and last college, I should add): I know I'm supposed to Tag others, but for whatever reason I feel a bit awkward doing that, so if you feel like playing please add a comment and consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Slim Aarons and the Revolution

My son was named after Robespierre and has a portrait of Che Guevara, which he drew, over his bed, and he loves the work of photographer Slim Aarons. I didn't know this until this past Christmas, when I received the companion volume to a Slim Aarons compilation I already had. I opened the gift, and he exclaimed, with a fervor atypical for a normally blasé teenager,"I love this guy!"

I was a bit taken aback; after all this was my little revolutionary. When he was living in Germany as an exchange student, for Christmas it was requested I send manifestos by Che, in deutsche of course. Now his new hero's life goal was to"[photograph] attractive people, doing attractive things in attractive places...." Interesting juxtaposition.

Thereafter I often found my Slim Aaron tomes amid a stack of books such as Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, Beowulf, Seven Plays by Sam Shepard and New Penguin Parallel Text Short Stories in German on his unmade bed. I was happy that he enjoyed them but I admit I was worried that he would rip the beautiful dustcovers. Teen boys don't really care about the dustcovers of coffee table books, just like they don't care about changing their bed linens on a regular basis.

Now he's away at college two thousand miles away and my Slim Aaron books lay neatly in a pile on the living room floor. What a great time in his life. Idealism--both for the Beautiful Life and for a world of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternity--can coexist and maybe even flourish. My son is, as Emily Dickinson wrote, dwelling in possibility. Carpe diem, Max.

Farmer's Market, Glads, Five Bucks

Oysters and Cool White Wine

We ended our two weeks of Fat Flushing [see below] on Thursday, but we didn't celebrate until Friday evening. Being that we live on the Prairie, we had to order our oysters ahead of time, which we did through our local grocer. There was some concern that somehow the hurricanes might affect one's ability to obtain raw oysters that were safe to eat. Nevertheless, on Friday we left work early and picked up two dozen East Coast Bluepoint oysters on ice. Earlier in the week we bought wine from our local wineshop, and we stopped in the bakery for a fresh boule. Armed with a Hendricks martini for me and a Manhattan for my husband, we started shucking.

I used our sole oyster knife (which has, before now, been used annually when my husband prepares Oysters Rockefeller on Christmas Eve) and my husband used a screwdriver and a butter knife, both with great effect. :-P I don't generally touch food, except to eat it (i.e., I don't cook), and my husband was amazed by my native shucking ability. Finally, all was ready:
Here I am sucking the marrow out of life:
DH adds some tabasco to his oyster:
All washed down with Muscadet:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fat Flush

Since the Friday before Labor Day Weekend, my husband and I have been on the Fat Flush Plan. It's a two-week diet "Boot Camp" that allows one to lose weight and simultaneously flush one's system. We've done it a handful of times during the last five years and it really works. I'm not overweight*, but I am over forty which means the "creep": three pounds becomes five pounds, then seven... Anyway, we like to take care of the extra poundage every so often and this Plan is really effective. My husband has lost 12 lbs and I've lost 8 thus far. And the real beauty of the program is that the fat, not only pounds, truly comes off: my husband has his six-pack back. :-)

This is not to say it's easy. Here's what you can't eat: carbs (read: bread and things made from white sugar), certain spices (salt and a number of others), nor can you drink coffee or wine/liquor (uncivilized, huh?). In fact all we can drink is Cran-water (a mixture of undiluted Cranberry juice and water) and , uh, water. The meals aren't bad, but the cravings are KILLING me. Luckily I have only four days to go.

My liver is SO SO happy right now: cleansed of toxins, flushing out all the bad stuff...

Sadly, we'll probably undo all this hard work this weekend. For starters, I am planning on having a Hendricks martini, followed by a plate of oysters (IF we can get them given the hurricanes), rustic bread with, naturally, butter, and a bottle of cold wine wine. And cheesecake, perhaps, for dessert.

*I read online that Cindy Crawford is 5'9" and weighs 130lbs. I am only 5'7" and I don't weigh anywhere near 130 lbs. So what I mean is that I am not overweight in the American Midwest; in Malibu it would be a different story.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bedside Books

At the risk of appearing shallow, I give to you my bedside reading shelf. These aren't the books I'm currently reading, but rather serve as "comfort" books: if I've nothing else to read, or am feeling sad/stressed, or simply want something to pick up and browse through until I feel sleepy, these books are what I turn to.
You'll see a few different categories. At the top, books on writing and girly beauty books (I just bought Nina Garcia's The One Hundred...not in the shelf yet 'cause I'm still reading it). The Preppy Handbook and its modern twin, The Filthy Rich Handbook. A couple of journals and The Artist's Way. Alot of Alexandra Stoddard; I first found her book Living a Beautiful Life browsing at my college's bookstore and she's been my authorial lifestyle mentor ever since. I think I have almost all of her books; not shown is her Book of Color.
Then we get to the Beauty and Fashion section, which includes a number of books about French style. Another life-changing book for me was Susan Sommer's French Chic. I bought it my last semester in college and it pretty much became my bible for dressing in the working world. It's responsible too, for creating my obsession with Hermès scarves.

Finally, the French language shelf. I've been trying to improve my French speaking and listening skills and I keep these reference books nearby to remind me to study! Also on this shelf are two random books, Victoria Intimate Home (it's just a beautiful little book) and A Reader's Guide to Writer's Britain (earlier this year I was obsessed with British literature/landscape connections and, as I couldn't be there, this book was the next best thing). Then there are the reference essentials: a dictionary and a thesaurus.

The Ladurée bag was given to me by my son, from a trip to Paris while he was studying in Europe. (I've never been there; how does he get to go when I haven't?! I stayed home and earned his tuition [eye roll].)