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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fake word to hate: "Recessionista".

I'm not a fan of any invented word, since it cheapens the language and leads to misuse of root words and suffixes. I really hate it when Miriam-Webster's liberal editors throw words like "woot" into the latest dictionary edition, or credit wrong word usage as "colloquial" or "popular use" (Case in point? Nauseous. It means "To cause nausea" yet most people use it to mean "To feel nausea". Recently MW allowed that definition as a popular usage. I find that disgusting...I feel like it's giving in. We don't give in for math or history and allow people to believe the French and Indian War is the same as the Boer wars, or that four is a prime number, so why do we give in on grammar and English?).
Ahem. Allow me to step down off this soap-box.
Anyway, my most recent hated made-up word is "recessionista". I hate this word for several reasons. The first is that it is a made up word, and tacks the silly suffix "ista" on to the end for know apparent reason (try tracing the etymology of that one, future generations!). The second is that it uses a negative connotation to describe smart shopping, dressing, and living that should be a part of every day life, not just life when the economy is in the dumps. It implies that someone is wise for making money-saving choices, since we are in this nasty recession. What we need is a word for someone who wisely makes good financial choices all the time, so that cutting back is not such a necessity - nor such a huge jump - in times of economic duress.
My last reason for hating this word is purely personal: I keep getting lumped into this category, and it's getting crowded. It used to be my secret little thing to shop at thrift stores and buy accessories at Super Ten. Now that everyone's doing it the Goodwill racks are looking a little picked-over. So back off, all you "recessionistas" and let me get first dibs at the new arrivals at the Salvation Army. I was here first!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Found: super comfortable boots!

I just bought a pair of boots at Target that are truly comfortable as well as cute. The trick is the low wedge heel - it gives just enough support and adds a little height as well. Another great feature is the little buckle in the back that lets you adjust the calf size. Since I have skinny calves I tightened it up to prevent sagging and slouching. I actually wore these to work for 8 hours and wasn't even aware that I HAD feet (but I was still painfully aware of my knees...).
Check out how cute they are above, and see my outfit for running errands (plus, examine my beautifully distressed Victorian era hardwood floors. Geez, they're showing their age!). I walked like 7 miles in those boots and they felt fabulous!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brilliant me, vanity gave me a knee injury

One day the hubby and I were returning from a run when my hubby informed me that my feet turned in. "You know, that can't be good for you," he said. I barely cared about the good for you part...I was too concerned about the turned in feet part. I began over-analyzing my stride, and noticed that my foot rolled in sharply as I ran. I decided that I was an over-pronator,and immediately sought shoes to rectify my gate issue (mind you...I'd never had a smidge of pain running before or noticed any issues like severe wear to one side of the shoe). My hunt for shoes was complicated by the fact that I have extrememly high arches. Super high. Skyscrapers. However, pronator shoes are all made for low arches! I actually have both high arches and a tendency to roll in onto my toes - simply because the arch is SO high that I otherwise have nothing to roll to at all. Basically most people hit on the heel, roll through the arch (or arch support of their shoe), onto the ball of the foot, and push off for the next step. I don't - I go directly from heel to toe in a kind of rough transition. So in all my heady knowledge on the topic (um, none), I decided to buy the the Brooks Ariel, a massive, heavy, stiff shoe made for people with no arches and crazy pronation. Nine months later I am in the doctor's office with excruciating runner's knee. It turns out I have a normal gate with healthy pronation - I just needed a little more arch support. Normal pronation actually protects the knees. In other words I had selected exactly the wrong shoe, forcing my knees out of their natural "track" and developing all the wrong muscles. Now I am in therapy. Moral of the story? Don't let your vanity sway you to make stupid choices, and don;t listen to people who know nothing about a sport and want to give you advice! And for me, that includes me :)
PS - I have a great sports med doctor and great new shoes now!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Foody Friday: Coquette (NOLA)

For those of you who are in the New Orleans area, may I recommend Coquette, a restaurant and wine bar on magazine street? The ambiance is adorable (but - warning - loud!) and I like the options of large plates or small plates. I chose two small plates, the salad with pecans and goat cheese and the venison with foi gras. Now it would be hard for me to say anything against foi gras under any circumstances, but this was especially delicious paired with cherry and satsuma sauce. I did not share.
When you go, go on a Thursday: it's $5 cocktail night and they have some amazing ones! I recommend the satsunami, a clever creation that pairs satsuma juice with flavors of cocoa and cashew. It sounds strange and too sweet, but it is actually much more masculine than I expected.
Reservations are definitely recommended - I have actually called a few days in advance for reservations for a Friday night and was told there were no availabilities.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Loose ends: atheism and unfriends

Let's catch up on some serious issues that cropped up in the past few months.
Issue number one was the sudden atheistic views of my little brother Joey. As you may recall, he made an about-face from conservative Christian to adamant atheist, and stopped speaking to the rest of the family in the process. I was pretty sure that I just needed to give him time to get over his college-freshmanitis before approaching him. I hoped to contact him again in a calm manner, making sure he knew my feelings weren't hurt and I wanted to "stay friends". Well, he actually beat me to this one: he called me out of the blue only a few weeks after the storm started brewing. Since then he simply hasn't mentioned the topic, and I haven't either. But I did hear from another family member that there was more to the story: Joey's employer was his pastor's son, and they had a big falling out over working conditions and favoritism. So the sudden bitterness towards Christians stemmed from a bad experience in which Christians acted like selfish idiots. In the past few months Joey has been slowly easing back into normal contact. Phew.
The other issue I have been facing is that my husband has a friend who is a big jerk. I took your advice and unfriended him. However, my husband is not playing along! In fact he is flying to his out of town wedding! Of course I think this wedding is a big sham: his fiancee happens to need a green card, and the wedding invitation arrived in the form of a facebook invite (I am absolutely telling the truth). Basically this is a big ploy for gifts - as evidenced by the Vera Wang and Kate Spade china the couple registered for (I bought them a nice gift off there registry, but they don't need to know that it was on sale the week I bought it AND I had a 15% off coupon). The funniest thing is that the groom sent out an email notifying guests that the time of the ceremony had changed by an hour...a week before the wedding. Doesn't this just sound like we are all being scammed???

My happy nail polish accident

Last week I purchased a new nail color off a Halloween beauty rack (the things one finds at Walgreens...). All the colors in the display were garish neons, and the bright fuschia appealed to me. Alas, all that glitters is not gold, and all that glows in the bottle does not glow on the fingers! To my surprise the polish dried to a soft matte finish - almost a satin finish. To my greater surprise, I kind of liked it. The only problem is that adding a topcoat ruins the matte effect, so you either have to skip the topcoat (and this polish is kind of cheap, so it sort of comes right off that way) or buy a matte topcoat, which I hear are out there but could not overcome my ennui enough to purchase.
The polish is something called "Sinful Colors" and is part of Halloween displays, right along side glitter pens and face paints.
My ragged fingernail above demonstrates one flat coat...the color deepens with a second coat of course.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Website you should check out

If you run, jog, or walk in your neighborhood and get sick of the same old path, check out this website. It allows you to find running maps in your neighborhood and upload your own route. I love it for training for a long race, because otherwise I get bored going the same way every day.

Ten things I just cannot do right.

1. RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS ON TIME. I live at the library. You'd think I could remember to bring my finished books with me for my almost daily trips! What is wrong with me! And why is the library assistant always snickering?! I'm pretty sure my fines have paid for a brand new air conditioner at my local branch.
2. Trim my bangs. I know what they are supposed to look like, and I feel as if, as an artist, I should be able to direct my hands to perform the snips required to obtain that look. Instead I have this really alien angle to them.
3. Drink a Starbucks frappucino drink without dripping. I can't do this because it is not physically possible. I dare you, go buy one of those ill-designed glass bottles and just TRY not to dribble on your crisp white button-down.
4. Take medication. You know, if I was an organ transplant patient, I would just have to die, that's all there is to it. I simply cannot remember to take prescribed medication. I hate to admit how many bottles of unfinished penicillin are in my medicine cabinet (and I sure ain't telling my dentist). And I'm a pharmacist!
5. Take vitamins. Same story here. I have a bottle of 90 multivitamins on my desk and I just glanced at the half-full bottle and noticed that the price sticker is from a store in a city I lived in four years ago. It took me four years to take 50 vitamins.
6. Cook turkey bacon or sausage. I zealously add microwave minutes, trying for a golden brown. I simply cannot figure out that turkey sausage is supposed to be a lifeless gray resembling the fingers of a drowned corpse. Therefore I end up with turkey briquettes instead.
7. Paint the nails on my LEFT hand. I'm right-handed, so this should be easy. It's not! I always have colorful cuticles though. Maybe I can start a trend.
8. Feed babies. I give them colic. Moms hate me.
9. Get off the escalator gracefully. I dread that last step when I trip on my toe.
10. Water my plants. They all die a dreadful death in about 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Exercise solutions when it is pouring rain

It has been pouring, pouring, pouring for a week and a half here (NOLA has also been boasting record-breaking temperatures for October - this is making running a chore instead of a pastime).
It's tempting to skip your exercise when it rains, opting instead for a good book and a fat-laden snack. But here are a couple of ways to work in exercise despite the weather:
1. Perfect time to go to the gym or an exercise class. Shower at home so it won't matter if you get rained on running to your car!
2. Break out the exercise mat and old exercise video!
3. Do the stairs. Jog up and down your stairs for half an hour you'll definitely feel like you got a full work out!
4. Make today an "abs" day: do a series of sit-ups, crunches, and other ab exercises: all of which you can do with minimal or no equipment.
5. If it's a light rain, put on old shoes and go for a run in the rain. It can be refreshing.
6. Create your own boot camp by spending 15 minutes each on hard and fast cardio, weights, and stretch and strengthen exercises. I usually start out with several abs exercises, squats and lunges, and pushups; then do cardio (exercise bike, stairs, running in place, etc); then finish with weights.

Complicated birthday party

Is there someone in your life who manages to take every situation overboard? Most of my friends agree that's me. No, just kidding. But I have a semi-relative (through layers of marriage) who turns every little get-together into an insane party. For example, if a group of people decide to play cards on Friday night, it turns into a giant game night with 50 guests. If we are planning to watch a movie together, she suggests a movie marathon in to the wee hours. In this instance, our laid-back birthday dinner we had planned for my mother in law has turned into an elaborate affair with - wait for it - four desserts. As if anyone needs more than one dessert, let alone four. Isn't that just the epitome of the fat American lifestyle?
FYI I got roped into bringing a soup and a salad. We are also having appetizers, main course, and side dishes. I already feel the need to have my stomach stapled.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

sad lady at the park

Last year when I was training for a half-marathon I was spending a lot of quality time in Audubon park. I often passed a very old couple teetering along together. What was so cute was that even in moderate weather they were completely bundled, head to toe; and the husband always helped his wife over ruts, roots, cracks, and bumps (the track ain't what it used to be). Sadly, I didn't see them this spring, and this summer the woman reappeared but without her husband. She started taking walks alone (the strange thing is that she seemed much LESS frail by herself!). I couldn't help but be saddened - they were so cute together. However I am happy to report that on my recent runs I've seen her with a beautiful greyhound, so I think she has found some sort of companionship again!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My birthday perfume substitute

I replaced the perfume my husband got me for my birthday that I didn't like (I can't tell you what it was because I find it disgusting, but it is a kind of popular scent so I don't want to offend. Bet you're dying to know now, too!). I ended up buying Burberry Weekend, which has a surprisingly rich scent (you'd think "Weekend" would smell country, or sporty, or relaxed...). I like it, but I have one complaint. The scent vanished in about an hour! As in, no trace! I like to be able to catch a hint of scent even towards the end of the day - say, when I take my hair down or as I am undressing if I got a little on my shirt collar. That's the idea - a nice smell that stays with you. I feel like I'd have to re-apply this one, and with my spasticity I don't dare bring perfume with me: I'd surely break the bottle in my purse.
But if you have a one-hour date coming up, I'd recommend the scent!

making a fru-fru bow headband

If hard plastic headbands hurt your tender temples, you're probably all disappointed that you can't wear all the cute headbands for sale now - the ones with big colorful flowers, bows, pearls, whatever. I kind of am. I say "kind of" because part of me thinks the only people who should wear flowers glued on headbands are bald infant girls. However, succumbing to the trend, I made my own version. I used a soft stretchy band since it is gentler on my oddly shaped skull.
You need: an elastic hairband, lace, and a needle and thread. I used lace to add texture and interest; it is also a good choice because you don't need to hem it, making this an easy 2 minute project.
Simply cut a strip of lace twice as long as you want the bow to be, then fold the edges in to the center of the bow. Position the lace on the headband (I put the center of the bow over the metal piece to hide it); stitch in place making sure you sew through all layers of material. If you want to hide your stitches, cut a tiny strip of lace and wrap it around the middle of the bow, sewing in place in the back. You can also see in the picture that I stitched the bow down on the ends, too, going through the back layer only. This makes the bow lie flat against my head instead of sticking out childishly.
I like to pair this with a plain pearl necklace for a look that screams, "I drowned on the Titanic".