Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Road Trip! Packing


You'll never guess where I am headed...well, ok, maybe I gave you a teensy-weensy hint up there.

The irony is that although we're going to Vegas, we might never make it to the Strip because we're not going to gamble or get married or see a cool show or go shopping or eat in a fabulous restaurant...we're going for a family reunion.

Luckily the in-laws live in a lovely home with a swimming pool so I plan on spending my time lounging around the cement pond while the family catch up with each other. Sun, swim, great food - I won't even miss the wedding chapels slot machines amazing shows.

I often read articles with tips on how to pack like here and here or here and one of my favorite blogs - The Daily Connoisseur - has a few helpful posts about The Art of Packing. Yes, there's inspiration everywhere but sometimes you just have to jump in and get your hands dirty to really learn how to do something.

Here I go.

Now this isn't going to be one of those preachy little posts about how I'm an expert packer and you're not, so you should just do everything I do. This is going to be more like - I'm going to pack all this stuff and when I get home I'll tell you if I scored or I totally screwed up. That's much more my style.

It is going to be a 4 day trip to a hot (150 million degrees in the shade) climate so I'm just taking a carry-on and in it I'll put:

2 skirts
3 shirts
2 swimsuits
1 swim cover-up
1 dress for family photos
And that's it, that's all I'm taking...and that scares me. What if I regret not taking more? What if an unexpected snowstorm comes through and I wish I had a sweater...or a parka...or boots? Or even worse, what if I run out of clothes before I run out of days?  And yet, I know I'd rather have too few clothes and have to wear the same thing twice rather than have to drag huge suitcases through the airport. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
Have you ever seen the scene in Titanic where Rose and Cal show up at the dock and they have an entire car full of trunks to take on the voyage? Now that's one girl who never had to worry about having enough to wear. The clothes horse in me would kinda love to travel that way but since I don't have any staff to travel with me and deal with the headaches of all that luggage, I guess I'll have to content myself with stuffing everything into this cute pink suitcase.
I read somewhere that you should roll up your clothes when you pack them, they take up less space and it cuts down on wrinkles. I agree that it seems to cut down on the amount of space used but the jury is still out on the whole wrinkle thing. I'll let you know.
rollin' rollin' rollin' - keep those clothies rollin'
All the clothes are rolled tight and packed...plenty of room for the real essentials - accessories! Tune in tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WTF: chocolate croissants

One of the nicest parts of having a husband that grew up in France is that he frequently craves the food of his childhood. A few weeks ago it was Bastille Day and he had a craving for a chocolate croissant (or as Mr. French likes to remind me - petit pain au chocolat) and he couldn't find one at any of our local bakeries. Not one to take no for an answer, he proceeded to figure out how to make them for himself.

I took pictures of the entire process to share with you. They are really easy to make, I figure even I could do it...but why would I want to when I have my own personal French chef? ;-)

just a few ingredients away from warm, melty, chocolate croissants!

Lightly flour your surface, unfold the puff pastry sheet and then cut in 3 pieces by following the fold lines

measure about 7 inches and cut the rest off to use for something else

fold over a little at the top

brush on an egg wash at the bottom. this will be your "glue" later

line up your chocolate chips, keep them in the middle when it's all folded over

fold over and press down just a little on the bottom where the egg wash was brushed. don't press too much or it won't puff up in the oven

preheat the oven to 400

set the timer for 20 minutes

put those babies in the oven
about five minutes before time is up, pull them out and quickly (and lightly) brush the entire croissant with egg wash, then put them back in the over for the final 5 minutes

DING! They're done!

Make sure you let them cool down a bit before devouring or else you'll burn your mouth...then again, maybe it's worth a little pain.

Now Wasn't That Fun?
and yummy too!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WTF: what I wore today

I had another post in mind for the 2nd edition of WTF, really I did. I have a fabulous post in my head about a fun and easy way to make chocolate croissants complete with detailed pictures of the process. It was the most delicious research I've ever done. Unfortunately writing that post is taking longer than making the croissants ever did so today's post is going to be about what I wore to work today. Fun, right?

This is pretty typical of my style. The skirt is brightly colored so that it can go with a variety of tops. It's just the right length and I would much rather wear a skirt than a pair of pants, especially in the summer. I know that in the past skirts and dresses have gotten the reputation of being more for dress up but I think they're perfect for running-around casual wear and it's nice to see them coming back into popularity in the stores. In hot climates they are much more comfortable than pants or even shorts.

 I've paired it today with a new lace top. I love to wear a little lace for that vintage touch without looking like you're trying to recreate another century. The top came from an online catalog shop that I've recently discovered - Monroe and Main. What I really like about their clothes is that everything comes in plus size which is really nice because it's no fun to see a really cute outfit and find out it's not available to me.

On top of it all I have added a little cardigan with a ruffle trim. I wear a LOT of cardigans because it's always jacket weather here.  Luckily I love cardigans and they've been pretty popular in the stores for a few years now so I have built up quite a collection. I try to find ones that have interesting trim, ruffles or flowers rather than go for a plain, boxy style.
No outfit is complete without accessories and that's usually my favorite part of getting dressed in the morning but I went a little minimalist on this outfit, only a little white belt.
I finished it all off with my favorite yellow flats that have a peep-toe and a little flower accent. I have these shoes (from Payless) in yellow and navy blue and I have worn them non-stop in the summer for 2 years now because they are perfect for both pants and skirts.  I do a lot of walking during the course of my day, up and down stairs, so heels are out. I love to find cute little flats. Like my cardigans, most of my shoes usually have a bow or a flower or some little frippery to keep them from being boring. I like shoes but I'm not shoe crazy like my mother...although I do see leanings in that direction from time to time. Luckily I wear a perfect size 8 so shoes are pretty easy to find in my size and I limit my shoe shopping to discount places.
I was having a sort of trial run with this outfit, I've never paired these particular pieces together before. I want to wear this on the plane to Las Vegas next week when we go for a family reunion. The great thing about this top is that it's sleeveless so I can ditch the cardigan when we get there and it'll be perfect for the 110 degree heat.
Of course lace tops and little dog toenails don't go together so I changed into my play clothes when I got home from work

We're having a mild day here (although no sun, just clouds) so I am rocking the capri jeans but note that I still have a cardigan on...I just can't get away from them.
Please excuse the spots on the mirror in the home-style picture. The cleaning person obviously hasn't cleaned the mirror ever in a long time. I'll have to have a talk with her. It looks like she didn't make the bed either. Sheesh
So that's my Wednesday in just a couple of pictures. I know it wasn't as good as a chocolate croissant but
Wasn't That Fun?

Saturday, July 20, 2013




As 3 of my favorite fellows would say - you've either got or you haven't got it.

I like to think I have a style. I don't really follow current fashion but I adore retro/vintage looks and I try to buy only classic styles of clothing that look like they could have been found at a local vintage store. I would buy vintage but there just isn't a lot of it in my size so I have to make do with what's out in the stores. Sometimes it isn't easy, some seasons I hate everything I see but usually, with a lot of patience, I can find the one gem in a sea of crap.

Some years I'm really lucky and vintage is IN so there's a lot out there that appeals to me. Of course then the contrary part of me kicks in and grumbles about trends and looking like everyone else out there. Part of style, for me, is being just different enough so that I don't look like I'm following the crowd.

All this stylishness can be a lot of work. I actually have to think about what I wear in the morning. Some days I leave behind a pile of discarded clothing on the floor because the outfit I originally planned to wear looked better in my head than it did on my body. I suppose it would be easier to throw on a boxy t-shirt and sweat pants but I just can't imagine walking around like that all day so I keep trying things on until I get a look that makes me smile.

To each his own, I'm not telling anybody else what to do (although I'd dearly love to) but, for me, it's worth the extra time it might take and I thoroughly enjoy any compliments that come my way. I know I'm doing something right when I hear words like elegant, cute and fun.

So, because stylish stuff is a big part of my life, from time to time I'm going to write about clothing and accessories I've found that fit into my style. I hope you'll like them too and maybe it'll inspire.

You've either got or you haven't got style - I know which side I want to be on!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WTF Wednesday

Welcome to a little feature that may or may not appear here on Wednesdays - I call it WTF. Sometimes I'll feature a recipe, some days I might take us sightseeing, every once in a while I might even bore you with show childhood pictures but at the end of it I promise you'll say - WTF?

Does your family have any little traditions? Something I've always liked about the Betsy-Tacy books was the tradition that the Ray family used to follow called Sunday Night Lunch - Betsy's friends would gather at the Ray house every Sunday evening for singing and dancing and Mr. Ray would make onion sandwiches for everyone. The whole thing started because their cook needed the night off and the poor Ray family had to fend for themselves. Apparently none of them could cook so the best they could do was slice up raw onions and slap them between two slices of bread but the crazy high school crowd loved it and a weekend tradition was born!

My family had similar traditions and they all revolved around food. Every Friday night my dad made popcorn on the stove, for Saturday supper my father would grill hamburgers, Sunday breakfast consisted of Pillsbury biscuits and honey and Sunday lunch was always steak, also grilled by dad. Truth be told, my mother had come up with a brilliant scheme so that she never had to cook on weekends.

Saturday breakfast was my favorite. My father would bust out a can of corned beef hash, fry it up with some chopped onions and top it all with perfect eggs - sunny side up, of course.

Saturday mornings were just the best when I was a kid. I got up whenever I wanted and I could spend the entire morning watching TV. There were chores waiting for me for the afternoon (and as the only child at home, I had ALL the chores with no one to trade with...ever) but the morning was mine. In the midst of this orgy of cartoons, my father would start cooking and the house smelled amazing. I mean, is there anything better than the smell of fried onions? He would bring me a plate and we'd sit together eating this ambrosia while watching a cartoon...or he would try to talk me into switching over to a cowboy movie. It was bliss.

Every once in a while, when I'm feeling nostalgic, I recreate these perfect Saturday mornings and I thought I'd bring you along today.

It's a complicated process with lots of ingredients so start taking notes now. You need 3 things - a can of corned beef hash, onions, and eggs. Got that?


Chop up an onion and start cooking. At some point, doesn't really matter when, you can open the can and scoop the hash into the pan. Mix together with the onions and cook until everything is hot.

Crack a couple of eggs in a different pan and fry them.

You really should be writing this down, I told you it was complicated.

When the eggs are done you spoon the hash out onto a plate and top it with the eggs.

The perfect plate of corned beef hash and eggs

If you are very lucky you will end up with eggs that look like this

Unless, of course, you don't like runny yokes in which case you might want to cook them longer but I don't see the point because corned beef hash tastes best when mixed with runny egg yoke. That's just how it is.
If you follow these simple steps you will have the building blocks for a perfect Saturday morning. Go turn on those cartoons and enjoy! If you're really nice I might loan you one of my H.R. Pufnstuf videos so that you can have a truly authentic experience.
Now Wasn't That Fun?

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Do you know what this is? Of course you do. Everybody can see that it's an empty paper towel roll.

And do you know what to do when you use the last paper towel and the roll looks like this?

Apparently I'm the only person in my house that knows that little piece of information. It's kind of like being the only one with access to the secrets of the universe, I guess...if you are the only one who knows the secrets, you are the only one capable of saving the world when it's faced with imminent destruction...or you're out of paper towels.

In my uncharitable moments I think that I must be the only one in the house with a fully functioning brain but I don't say that out loud because people (and by people, I mean husbands) don't tend to appreciate this logic. Guys are funny that way.

On the other hand, the paper towel roll probably got that way because someone else was cleaning up the kitchen last night after having cooked dinner for me and both dinner last night and a sparkly, clean kitchen this morning are pretty nice.

So I guess the real answer to my first question - do you know what this is? - is love.

Friday, July 12, 2013

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Has anybody else run across this - you have lots of really supportive and loving friends and family that make you feel secure and loved no matter what but there's this one person that always seems to be there with a well placed word or subtle insult to try to make you feel ugly, clumsy, stupid, not good enough? The irony is that this isn't an enemy, it's someone that probably loves you but either they're not very good at showing it, they have a really immature sense of humor or they have unresolved anger issues and they're taking it out on you one snark at a time.
I have such a person and it's been going on for years. It's not constant, many times they are wonderful but then they slip these zingers in there - a little comment about my looks or teasing about some silly thing, a veiled insult that might not garner notice from anybody else but I know...and they know.
I try to remember Eleanor's wisdom and I don't give my consent but things add up and all the little rocks thrown my way have created a bruise that I can't quite ignore.
Luckily the sting is only momentary because I know how super awesome I am. I don't know why this person feels the need to take me down a peg every so often but it's their problem, not mine. The choice I get to make it where to spend my time and I'd rather spend it with people that actually like me. It's sad, though. I wish things were different.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Whom should I write for, dear, but for you? Two years
have passed,
The wound is bleeding -- new and will never heal.
I used to write for you, and give you the poem
When it was written, and wait uneasily your verdict . . .
but now, to whom?

As for you,
You have a better life than to read my verses.
You have gone up with the flame to the high air; and that
pitiful bone-ash,
Not buried deeply, lives in bright flowers
In the garden you loved. -- As for the precious
consciousness --
(Yours was most precious to me, not mine, nor theirs)
I think it is taken into the great dream of the earth; for
this dark planet
Has its own consciousness, from which yours came,
And now returns; as the Earth's consciousness,
Half-separate for a time, will return at length
To the whole galaxy; and when that perishes
To the whole endless universe -- that is, to God,
Who will make all things new.

But for me, here, the
momentary loneliness
Is hard to bear.
Robinson Jeffers

Monday, July 8, 2013


Sometimes there's nothing better than a long holiday weekend getaway, especially when you can go to your favorite place for good food and plenty of sunshine and relaxation.

Here's my Fourth


Saturday, July 6, 2013

trouble trouble trouble

Sometimes past issues stand in the way of happiness. Issues not dealt with become roadblocks even when we don't realize it.

There is no denying that everywhere I look lately I see people around me experiencing troubles. One friend just lost her beloved dog who was her constant companion for over 10 years whom she looked upon as a son. Another friend recently lost her 18 month old daughter to an unexpected heart condition and her grief and guilt are heartbreaking. Another friend was recently diagnosed with an unusual lung condition which requires her to get a lung transplant but she's also planning for what might happen if she doesn't get it in time. It's chilling to watch her "pin" items about DNRs and living wills to her Pinterest board and know that her biggest concern in all of this is how it's going to affect her 10 year old daughter.

I know several people dealing with the death of a spouse, a process that's longer than you would imagine and seems to pull you back into despair just when you think you've finally stepped into the sunlight.

When I compare my life to theirs, I know that whatever issues I'm facing aren't nearly as severe which sometimes makes me feel guilty about complaining or feeling frustrated and angry about things that might be happening to me. So clearly I should just suck it up, paste on a happy face and always look on the bright side of things, right?

I don't think so.

I certainly don't want to be one of those people who is always negative about life (I've seen how that can waste a life) but I don't want to ignore my own issues either just because somebody else might have it worse. I don't see how either of those options is healthy.

Life is often sweet and it's always fun to throw some spice in but each life has its share of bitterness and sorrow and that has to be acknowledged and honored not just swept under the rug or ignored.

I'm pretty sure the key to life is balance. Grieve for the losses, experience that fully and don't repress it but make sure you don't dwell on it to the exclusion of everything else. Don't listen to people who try to make you feel guilty for feeling sad or angry, no one has the right to minimize your feelings just because it makes them feel uncomfortable but be open to wise counsel whenever you hear it. You'll know if someone is truly interested in helping you or if they are just trying to control you. Even people who love you resort to control if they think it'll make their life easier.

And when it all gets to be too much, take a vacation even it's just a mental one.  Read a good book, sit in your car and cry, take the dog for a walk. Above all - be kind to yourself, your happiness depends on it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

pursuit of happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas Jefferson
The pursuit of happiness. On New Years Day I resolved to spend this year being happy. Then I promptly forgot about that resolution so that I could spend the first half of the year worrying about stuff that hadn't happened yet. Yep, I'm that cool.
Now that the stuff has actually happened despite my very bestest worrying (it's a word), I guess I'm left with 2 choices. Continue to worry about things which I clearly don't control or go back to the whole pursuit of happiness thing.
Back in January I thought travel might be the path to happiness and I had all sorts of plans. That reminds me of the Yiddish proverb - Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht which translates to Man plans, God laughs. Hey, maybe that's a profession for me - God's comedian. ;-)
Anyway, travel probably isn't in the cards for this year as much as I'd hoped so I guess it's up to me to be more creative to figure out this happiness crap stuff. And after I master happiness I think I'll try to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to everybody out there.

"Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." Nathaniel Hawthorne, b. on Independence Day, 1804

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


It's that time of year again, time for all sorts of anniversaries - most of them are ones I would rather not remember but at least one anniversary involves cake (hopefully) - today is my 27th wedding anniversary. I can't even wrap my head around 27 years - I've been married longer than I was single. Freaky.

Because of work commitments we aren't even together today which is the first time that's ever happened. That's one of the reasons that I chose July 3 as our wedding date all those years ago, because it was right before a holiday so we've usually been able to take a few days off and go somewhere. We'll still get a long weekend but it just won't happen until the anniversary is officially over. At least we didn't have to cancel a party this year the way we did the last 2 years. As much as I dearly wanted a party and love the idea of having one, I don't think I can bring myself to plan another one.

27 years ago I never would have imagined living in California nor could I have imagined the twists and turns that life has taken. I guess that's what keeps it interesting.