Tuesday, March 30, 2010


How apropos! Slate.com has an article today about lunchboxes. The five they tested are not quite as cute as the ones I featured on my most recent Friday Fashion, but I suppose if you're looking for boring old utility and value, it's a great case study. I do like their number one pick, however, but mostly because it has polka dots. Because I am a practical person.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fashion: Lunchtime

Before I regale you with my witty commentary and stunning insight about lunch boxes, let me first send a giant, well-designed thank you to Philboy and his beautiful and charming girlfriend (who has the absolute cutest and most consistently perfectly coiffed haircut on any girl ever, if I might add). They took pity upon my plight and gave me a set of dish towels featured recently on my blog after they took a spontaneous trip to heaven an Ohio Ikea. I love them. (The dish towels and the couple. I refuse to reveal which or whom I love more...)

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Husband and I take our lunches to work about four out of five days per week, if we're lucky. It saves money and probably a few calories. Husband's bag is adorable and, appropriately, from ThinkGeek.com.
One Bawls in the Side Pocket, $12.99. We even bought one for his brother for Christmas.

My lunch box is, shall we say, not so cute.

It is bright red and very large and very square. Just a few years ago, I would have been mortified to drag my lunch with me in such a monstrosity. But I don't have many people left to impress these days. I will have had the lunch box as long as I have had my job at Big Fancy University (two years in June), and the inside is starting to become rather beat up thanks to unsheathed knives and pointy forks. So perhaps it is time to invest in something new and just a tad bit more appetizing.

Oh, hey look, adorableness:
I know, right? This supposedly can hold a sandwich, small snacks, and fresh fruit. I'll take their word for it. I don't know how much insulation this would provide, but it is darn cute. The Web site where this is offered is apropos: Totally Funky. Apple Lunch Box - Green, $9.99.

Speaking of apples... As long as this lunchbox doesn't have a sound component that proclaims "Lunch sent from my iPhone" in an annoying, nasally voice, I'm okay with it. If you're a Mac person, I'm sure you would be the envy of all your iPhone-bearing friends, so long as they take the time to look up from their screens long enough to catch a glimpse. Posh Apple Lunch Box.

Arr, matey! Husband would love this lunch box. What a jolly Roger! Maybe he can get this one, and we can trade, so I will have his cute "Nom Nom Nom" one, eh? Pirate Lunch Box, $19.99.Let's say it all together: "Awwww!" These lunch boxes are customizable with any image you upload. These would make wonderful gifts for a child or an adult! If I had a pet, that's what would be on my lunch box. Oh, you know, or my husband. Whatever. Photo Lunch Box.
Too cool for school. These Airstream Lunch Boxes aren't for sale, but I couldn't resist sharing this wonderful online find! You could probably make something similar yourself with the instructions provided in the link!Finally, I couldn't find these actually for sale either, but it was just too lovely (and, again, potentionally something you could make yourself with the right amount of time, patience, and skill). It is a Tapestry Lunch Box made from vintage tapestries. It even folds flat, and since the material is vintage, they are one-of-a-kind!

Happy lunching!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting Revenge

I finally decided last night: Husband and I have a penchant for revenge movies. If the main character's family member(s) are kidnapped/raped/murdered, leading to a bullet/car chase/explosion laced revenge spree, we are right there with our popcorn.

Last night we watched Taken, in which Liam Neeson's annoying seventeen-year-old daughter is kidnapped in Paris while following U2's European tour (I know, lame, right?). Thank goodness her step-father just happens to be a millionaire who can immediately call up his private jet and fly her ex-government spy biological father to Paris to commence annihilating a group of nasty Albanians who peddle young female travelers for the sex trade. Oh, and her mom is Phoenix from X-Men. So, you know, that's cool.

It was one of the better revenge movies we have watched, of late, though nothing compares with the ultimate revenge franchise, Death Wish, with the immutable hellion Charles Bronson. He kicks inordinate amounts of ass from Death Wish 1 through 5, stopping only, perhaps, to groom his perfect porn star mustache.

Could watching all this revenge-fueled killing be bad for Husband and my collective psyches? I don't know.

What I do know is, I wouldn't try breaking into our house if I were you. You will probably climb through a window only to land on a long piece of wood studded with sharp nails, and I really would prefer you didn't get blood on my new hardwood floors.

Just wow.

Are you in love with Adobe Creative Suites as much as I am? I use CS3 at work, CS4 at home, and soon my platform will once again be obsolete. Behold, the incredible CS5 (skip to 2:50):

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Because Husband continued his one-man symphony of coughing, nose-blowing, and general moaning over the weekend, we had to cancel dinner plans with friends on Saturday. Instead, I went to help clean my grandparents' house.

I am a terrible granddaughter. I never call (even though I think about doing so on a weekly basis, right before wandering off to do something far more time-intensive and far less important, like finishing Season 8 of "Murder She Wrote"). I write notes only sporadically, if I've heard one of them is ill. They only live a half an hour away, but I never visit (again, J.B. Fletcher calls my name...). So taking the time to go with my mother to their home and work up a sweat, elbow deep in Clorox, made me feel slightly less like a terrible ingrate.

In fact, I hadn't been to their home in so long, that it was really quite shocking. While their home has never been a particularly peaceful sanctuary, it was always filled with fresh-baked goodies and familiar tchotchkes. I spent many days there as a child playing with my female cousin, celebrating family birthdays around the dining room table, canning tomato juice in the summers, and pulling taffy in the winters.

But now their home has become a reflection of their deteriorating minds - cluttered, illogical, frightening. My mother and I did our best, but we only managed to clean and organize three and a half rooms. As my grandmother once again wandered off, distracted, and my grandfather struggled to get up from his recliner, I wondered how much longer they could go on living independently.

While I do earnestly wish they would move to an assisted living facility for their safety and well-being, I hate to think that our family will never again sit looking at photo albums around their dining room table, cut into a beautifully frosted cake while singing "Happy Birthday," or pull taffy in the kitchen.

I do so hate change.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fashion: Beauty rest

I crawled out of bed at 5:45 this morning and headed off to work, leaving Husband behind to battle some new plague he has recently acquired. Oh, how I miss my bed Husband!

Husband and I own exactly one single set of sheets that fit the king-sized bed we purchased right before moving in to our newly-renovated home. This doesn't bother me much (look at me! am environmentally-friendly low consumer! ta-daaa!), except that I do appreciate a little pattern in my life. The sheets we have are white with white satin-looking, texture-contrasting stripes. One might call them elegant. Another might call them boring.

In honor of getting some beauty rest, I bring you a sheet-centered Friday Fashion.
A different take on stripes...a bit more exciting than our personal "white on white" striped motif we currently employ. Blue and brown are such a lovely color combination, and I appreciate that the stripes appear in contrasting sizes also. Havana Stripe, $35.99-%53.99.

I zeroed in on the yellow/green color, but any of these would look lovely in a number of situations, from a couple's mattress to a child's bed. I adore the intricate pattern, but soft overall look. "Genevieve" Sheet Sets, assorted pricing.
Another intricate pattern, but slightly bolder this time. Constanta King Sheet Set, $129.99.

This is all me. Stark black and white, a bold graphic pattern, what's not to love? The edging is delicate, but contrasted by the oversized polka dots. I didn't used to like polka dots. In recent years, I have turned to the dark side. Shame be upon me. Blissliving Home Ayanna Black Sheet Set, assorted pricing.

Ahh, my favorite - an organic print in a beautiful and bold yet soothing color. These belong in the Caribbean, but I would feel right at home snoozing on that pattern. And no wonder, it is by the always well-designed Marimekko. Madison Green Sheet Sets, $34.95-$124.00.

Sleep in style, my pets!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Friday Fashion: Part 2

Welcome back to part two of my nail polish-inspired Friday Fashion. I hope you enjoy my little corner of insanity. Feel free to visit anytime. It's nice here. There's candy.

Today's color choice: Dominant Jeans, $13.I love the nail polish color because it reminds me of the surf and sky. The color would accent this dress perfectly - see the tiny blue dots? And I just know those ruffles would enhance some of my...err...parts that need enhancing...and camouflage the rest. The name of this dress is the best, though: Come Rain or Shine, $69.99 (hey, that even rhymes!).I had trouble resisting these shoes in light blue, but I want to stay away from getting too matchy-matchy. Complementary pieces are much better. I won't pretend I don't hear Stacey and Clinton from "What Not to Wear" remind me, "It doesn't have to match. It has to go." Blowfish Shoes, Cruise Flats, $39.

How spring-y and lovely are these? I have coveted these earrings (and/or matching pendant) for a long time. Anyone out there who wants to go ahead and purchase these for me is more than welcome. Butterfly Wing Earrings created by Simone Walsh, $66.

Friday Fashion: Part 1

I have been remiss in posting lately, dear reader, even skipping Friday Fashion in favor of staring blankly at a wall for a few hours. But I will rectify my sloth.

This week I have taken a renewed interest in nail polish. In my youth, nail polish was an addiction. Seriously. I went to rehab. Mine was a special case.

I still own a large blue plastic tub that holds my old bottles of nail polish. It continues to reside at my parents' house as it is has grown too heavy for a human being to pick up and move.

In grade school, I would paint intricate designs on each nail using toothpicks and a rainbow of hues. My left pinkie was always a different color. I apparently had a lot of free time as a kid.

I fell off the nail polish bandwagon during college when I found that, instead of personal grooming rituals, my time was better spent napping and scarfing bags of Lays Barbecue Chips. I apparently had a lot of free time as a college student.

But for Christmas, from Husband's aunt, I receive six tiny bottles of OPI nail polish in various colors. Earlier this week I wore "Viva Pink." Today I am wearing metallic silver. Tonight I might just change to a dark purple. I apparently have a lot of free time nowadays.

In honor of spring, I thought I would present a two-part, two-day series inspired by two bright, beautiful lacquer colors, with corresponding outfits. Because everyone should base their daily ensemble on what color their nails display.

Today's color choice: Love to Make Up, $13.

Such a bright, bold color deserves a gorgeous dress, and I think the contrast of the sharp pink and old-world lace charm would look just lovely. How adorable is this Birch Lace Dress, $62?The pink will really pop with matching Aphrodite Heels, $64.99. Even the sweetheart neckline of the dress is reflected in these shoes! Love them!And don't forget to grasp a cute clutch in your perfectly manicured hands. Lulu Townsend Pleated Satin Clutch, $26.95.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In honor of spring

Husband and I took a wonderful lunchtime walk. The rain hasn't started yet, and coats were optional. I could smell spring in the air. The soft breeze, the fresh scent, the warm sunlight-it does nothing but make me yearn to be someplace else. Away from work and daily responsibilities, enjoying unscheduled days and carefree outings.

The place I yearn for most of all, probably simply because it is the most familiar of summer destinations for my family, is my lake. My lake. I was named after the lake. My grandparents began the tradition of vacationing in Wisconsin when they purchased a cabin on the lake, and my own little family visited every single summer until my teenage years waned. It is where I advanced my fledgling swimming skills, learned to bait a hook and cast, made memories with my parents. It is a safe place, familiar. It is hard not to feel a sense of ownership.

We drove the exact same route each year, stopping at the same gas stations and restaurants and midpoint hotel in Janesville. After my parents sold the cottage, we still returned to the same lake each year in a new cottage rented from family friends.

When we arrived, the first thing I always did was hop out of the car and run down to the dock, dipping one hand in the water, greeting my old friend.

Mom and I spent mornings sleeping late while Dad went out for bait and a newspaper. We let the day decide our plans. If it wasn't raining, we went fishing from the boat or drove to Little Tomahawk or the Willow Flowage to fish from the banks.

This is not me. Just pretend. Of course, if it was me, the fish out be larger...

If the skies looked threatening, we went shopping downtown, eating at our favorite places, like the Polecat & Lace (where, like clockwork, Dad always got a spinach salad and French onion soup), shopping at the five and dime store that sold faux moccasins and little glass figurines of animals, and stopping at Dan's Minoqua Fudge for freshly made taffy. When the Warbonnet Zoo closed, we continued going to Jim Peck's Wildwood Park to let free range goats and deer eat corn from our hands. There was plenty of time to read or take naps or walk along the quiet road, picking up pine cones under the dim light allowed by the thick trees.

Summers will never be like that again, of course. I have a husband now, and someday we will have our own children and establish our own favorite vacation spots. My father's new physical limitations will never again allow him to carry a motor to a boat or stand on a dock at midnight, fishing for walleye. He may never even return to the lake. But my parents will adjust. They will make new memories. And so will I.

But we will always have the lake.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Because, lately, life feels like one big pile of laundry...

Because the sun started shining, but now it's scheduled to rain until the Apocalypse...

Because my house still doesn't have a master bathroom mirror or a working garage door opener...

Because we still have a toilet sitting in our backyard...

Because I am completely out of oatmeal raisin bars...

Because my fresh coat of "Viva Pink" nail polish is chipping...

Because my alarm didn't go off this morning...

Because I don't know how to cook asparagus...

Because our cars both need oil changes, and the oil change place closed down...

Because my landscaping is nonexistent, and I have yet to purchase seeds for our garden...

Because we don't yet own a lawnmower, but the grass is beginning to look suspiciously alive...

Because The Ladybugs are back...

Because you can purchase this print for $19...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Death and our remote control

Lately Husband and I seem to have a preoccupation with television shows centered around death. First we plowed through the numerous seasons of "Dexter," named for the title character who is a crime scene blood analyst/family man by day and serial killer by night. Now we have become hooked on "Dead Like Me," about an ambivalent girl who dies by flaming toilet seat and unwillingly becomes an grim reaper, charged with releasing the souls of the recently deceased and ferreting them to their final destination. We even supplemented our death line-up by finishing the most recent season of "Weeds," the finale of which saw - spoiler alert - fourteen-year-old Shane bash in the head of a high-powered "Mexic*nt" with a croquet mallet.

I don't know that we gravitate toward these shows for any special reason, other than they come to us highly recommended. We could have just as easily started in on seasons of "Mad Men" or "The Tudors," which have also been recommended to us. It is just interesting how many shows focus so heavily on death. Even my beloved "Murder She Wrote" would be for naught without the central, formulaic theme - you know as soon as J.B. Fletcher appears on screen, someone's about to die.

Americans, in general, are uncomfortable with death. We don't know what to say to someone who is dying; we don't know how to respond to those who have lost loved ones; we fruitlessly search for the magic elixir of eternal life. This is probably the reason that this fear is represented so heavily in television and film. Violence, homicidal criminals, horrific accidents - death makes for a good story, good drama (or in the case of "Dead Like Me," good comedy).

I would recommend any of these shows to you, dear reader, to fill up your free time. Just remember not to get so wrapped up in televised death that you forget about the life you are living. And if you have a thing against blood, you might want to focus instead on something a little lighter, like "Barney."