31 January 2009

My new favorite thing to do....

...is to upload pictures.

This is from when I had tea while making a peach strawberry pie while sitting on the living room floor watching Lord of the Rings. Here's another one:

While I was doing that, my Kince was sitting watching me, like this:

And this is what he saw:

That was also the day that we had this for dinner:

Sorry if this results in a bunch of picture-ful but content-less posts. I'm having so much fun!


I can now post pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know that posting pictures is supposed to be normal and not a big deal, but it's just a big deal for me, right now. So excuse me while I put a ton of pictures into every post I've ever done. (not really, but almost.:)

I am so happy!!! :)

PS That's a picture I took of some trees that I loved at a baseball field we went to. :) They reminded me of the trees in the yard at my parents house.

29 January 2009

things I need...

I began this post one frosty (icy, actually) night when Steve was out for one of his rare poker nights, and I needed to get my mind off worrying about him and the ice.

Steve is out having a well-deserved good time playing poker, so I am here at home, and to keep from worrying about him (because it's sleeting outside!!) I was just pondering some things that I need. I mean, having already shopped til my wallet was empty at all the awesome January sales (hey, I should post about that so I'll remember all the things I bought!) I now have a list of things that, when I think about them, I immediately say to myself, "How can I get some money? Where? Quick! I just need a little more money.." but since I cannot keep doing that to our budget, I'll just have to dream on until February. It's finally getting close... (I know. I'm sad.)

So here's my list:

There's this eyeshadow at Sephora. It seems sparkly but really dark, too. I would buy all the colors if I could, but I'm really into gray right now. And into having money left over for a few other things.

Then, there's this:

A designer who apparently couldn't find what she wanted to wear in stores, so she started making her own stuff, which is what I want to do. Just for me though, I don't really have any business goals. It makes me want to go to thrift stores! Anyway, I love her distressed scarf, and her not-so-basic tee. These are probably not things I will buy, (actually, definitely not!) just inspirations. Although that tee is awfully tempting, because it's not so astronomically expensive as the scarf.

Also, there's this UK-based shoe store called Irregular Choice. I LOVE their shoes! Look at these, on sale for 29 quid.

(haha! Yes! I said "quid!" Well, I had to, my keyboard doesn't have a sign for pounds.) Anyway, all their shoes have like, ponies or unicorns or something beautiful or fun on the bottom and on the inside. I think I would wear these every single day!

Or these:

They used to have some wonderful black and yellow striped heels with plastic chocolate truffles and cherries on the front. Not too much, just some small ones. It sounds outlandish, but I promise it was in good taste. Yum. I'd have a picture, but that was a few days back when I didn't know how to save pics to my computer, and now they're out of stock, so no pictures. Oh well. :)

The problem is, I have sometimes tried on the few of this brand that Nordstrom carries, and they would all fit perfectly if my foot were, say, 3 and-a-half inches wider. Which kind of makes me wonder who they're marketing to. Is there something I'm missing here? Oh well. It makes me happy just to look at their shoes.

Speaking of shoes, I really do think I might get these for when we go to London and Paris. They are cute but practical, and leather, and on sale, and they are bouncy! They make me feel like I'm walking on air! I will get the green ones, I think. charm bracelet

Lastly, and this is possibly the most ridiculous thing I have ever wanted to spend money on, (I guess some may disagree, after seeing some of those shoes) but I just really want a Juicy Couture charm bracelet.

Maybe it's just the water here in Dallas, but I have wanted one ever since my sister-in-law and I dared to go into that shop one time, that pink-and-gold, syrup-y sweet, over-priced panties- and sweatsuit-selling haven for spoiled Dallas (or any city, I guess, but JC is one of the things in Dallas that screams "Dallas" to me.) middle school girls. And I loved it.

Their charm bracelets are the funnest things, and they really aren't that expensive! I'd get a gold one, and you can pick all your own charms. (that's what's in the picture at the very beginning of this post.) They have a cupcake charm, a piano, probably something about ballet, and I know there's a lollipop charm, and just all kinds of candy charms, which are the best. And there's an Eiffel Tower and a bicycle too, and high heels. It's like having everything you ever wanted, candy and otherwise, all on one shiny gold, twinkly-and-pink, wonderful bracelet around your wrist.

25 January 2009

secret bikinis and Mae West quotes

Since life has seemed so serious lately, well, aside from well-behaved puddings...actually I haven't blogged much about the seriousness, except to complain that I desperately need a break from life, but anyway....

In Rockport, the little beach town where I grew up, in the summers, I usually had to do schoolwork because I would put off so much of it during the school year that I'd never finish one grade in time to have a real summer. That is, if I wanted to go on to the next grade come fall. (If you don't understand this, you weren't homeschooled.) It was all my own fault of course, I don't know how I got into college. I never was the stereotypical over-achieving homeschooled child. Sorry. No, not really actually, because I just don't do guilt, and besides, I learned so much about being glamorous instead.

Since Rockport is always hot, and nearly always sunny, on "school days" in the spring and summer I would take all of my reading stuff, like history and english, and lay out in the backyard in my scandalous bikini. That bikini was scandalous not only because of its very existence as a bikini, but also because I'd secretly kept it out of one of the hand-me-down bags that passed through our house. Kristin and I got these bags of clothes regularly from a girl in our church who was a little older than us and a lot richer, and hence, cleaned out her entire closet every season. We'd get everything she didn't want or grew out of. The bikini was secret because in those days we would never have been allowed to buy one! Good heavens, no! ("in those days" sounds like I'm ancient, but really, times have just changed at my parent's house.)

But back to the reading, most of my reading of choice, I (sort of) regret to say, was biographies of old movie stars. I got them from our little small-town library. (the one where if you walk in 20 minutes before closing time, you are accosted by the librarians with upset glances and ferocious whispers of, "You don't have time to find a book! You don't have time!" "Come back tomorrow!") I could tell you everything about the lives of Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Vivien Leigh, Katharine Hebpurn, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Jones, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. What they thought, and what they did and what they wore and how they lived.

The lipstick, the shoes, the not-fair tiny waists, the gown
s, the champagne and romance, and, most of all, their hair. I wanted their hair so much! But straight flat hair, in the humidity of that terribly humid gulf coast, stays quite straight and most flatly flat no matter what you do or how much time it takes. Finish, look in the mirror, count to five and you're back to square one.

In essence, looking back, I was just stu
dying their glamourousness. Every aspect of it I obsessed over. I remember liking history too, especially my 9th grade history book, it was very interesting and I wish I had a copy of it now. It's probably at home somewhere. But I loved that time in my life! Of course, I was a teenager and didn't really like myself, I had straight hair and tons af acne and had "bloomed" way too much, I thought, (the only jeans or bras in the house that fit me were my mother's.) But it was so fun to think and read about those glamour queens and the golden age of Hollywood. I know for a fact that I wore far too much make-up (I would have worn false eyelashes if I had been allowed!) and bleached my hair quite badly, but for all that, I remember being quite happy then.

I am much better at balance now, and actually read academic things sometimes. I love being married, and I love my Steve and our life together. But th
ere is a lot of seriousness that goes on, and I think in a different way than I used to. One friend put it like this, when I asked her if I had changed a lot since I got married. She said, "Well, you used to be a bit more your martini-dripping self." I know what she means. I have not really changed, but my focus has somewhat. But I don't think I should be always stressed about things. It's become almost a habit, and it's my own fault entirely. Steve says I really shouldn't be as worried over things as I am, he wants me to be happy, and sing all the time like I used to when we were dating. So that is good to remember. But also, after 2 years of not quite having the energy to much care what I look like or what I wear to work (which I know isn't everything, and in the grand scheme of things, isn't anything, but all the same, you live your life in your physical self every day) it's refreshing to remember that I used to care, and that it was fun! And I do still care, but I just forgot for a while.

And the champagne-infused, black and white glamour of all the old Hollywood pictures is just uplifting somehow. So, that's what I've been thinking about lately. And so to end, Mae West has some glamourous thoughts about life for us:

~On Love~

Don't marry a man to reform him - that's what reform schools are for.

All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.

Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.

Love isn't an emotion or an instinct - it's an art.

~On Being True to Onesself~ (or something--couldn't quite make the right category for these)

Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.

I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.

I speak two languages, Body and English.

I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.

~Just Funny~

When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.

Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I'm tired.

His mother should have thrown him out and kept the stork.

If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning.

~On Life in General~

Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.

He who hesitates is a damned fool.

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

To err is human, but it feels divine.

The score never interested me, only the game.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

24 January 2009

The Ettiquette of English Puddings

That is the title of a small pink-striped recipe book I got for Christmas. Puddings (the British kind, which is more like a cake, if you've never seen one) are one of my fascinations. They are cute, usually small, homey, old-fashioned desserts. I guess British foods are known for being bland, and puddings don't seem an exception, at least the ones I've made, but the wine and brandy sauces might help that. Puddings are good though. Just simple and quite nice with tea, especially on cold, cloudy days.

Anyway, this morning when I got up, it was sufficiently cloudy and more than cold enough outside, so I picked out a recipe from my pink pudding book. It was called "Railway Pudding" and I chose it because the recipe went like this:

Mix well one tea cupful of flour, one tea cupful of sugar, half tea cupful of milk, one ounce butter, one egg and one teaspoonful of baking powder and put into a buttered tin, bake twenty minutes in quick oven, (which I guessed meant hot, after it baked 25 minutes at 350 and was still very mushy and doughy) cut in half, spread with jam, sprinkle sugar over.

That was it. I liked how it left me to figure out how big a teacup to use, what temperature to bake it at, and what kind of jam to use and all that. I used one of my actual tea cups to measure things, like the Fauna on Sleeping Beauty, (all I could find was spanish one :) only that's really what the recipe called for! After it baked, I turned it out onto a dinner plate and cut it so that it looked like a layer cake and put strawberry jam in the middle. It looked so cute and plummy and made me so happy. And the best thing was, when Steve woke up, and I showed it to him, he asked "Is it a well-behaved pudding?"

It is. I like it. If I ever learn to post pictures, I'll put one up.

21 January 2009

At the risk of sounding snobbish...

I have just been thinking about music. For a long time now, years, in fact, maybe all my life, I have not been able to define what kind of music I like. I listened to a lot of "classical" (romantic, actually) music as a child. My parents didn't make me, I just wanted to. I remember listening to The Moldau for the first time, with Kristin. That piece has ever since seemed like a discovery between us. I still think that it is one of the most impact-ful pieces I have ever heard. Then of course, Beethoven symphonies, Tchiakovsky ballet suites, Chopin, and even Strauss Waltzes, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit, were an obsession when I was about 14. And of course, because of my dad's influence, Handel's Messiah.

My childhood was almost completely devoid of any pop music whatsoever, except the occasional dose of classic country when we visited our cousins, and I developed my own style of improv on the piano pretty early. Unfortunately, that "style" has now become a bit of a rut, instead of a starting point, but that thought is for another day. I never purposely avoided other music, but by high school age, I just ended up never listening to much else but the things I wanted to play. "Classical" (still romantic, but I did finally warm up to Bach), some worship music, soundtracks, and random celtic things....

The effect is that now, I feel like someone who has dropped into society from another planet, and have no idea where to begin with modern pop music and culture. I actually learned a lot about understanding, listening to and interpreting jazz and alternative music from a friend when I first got to college, but that was a long time ago, and I still did not develop my taste much. Later, another friend introduced me to a band (which I think is just one guy actually) called The Magnetic Fields which I liked very much because it had interesting poetry, chord progressions and instrumentation. I don't think it is very mainstream. I suppose I like Queen, because they are very creative.

But they are so different. One can like lots of very different sounds, but, I don't know why it has taken me so long to realize this, but I have decided what kind of music I like: interesting music. I hate boring music. And honestly, the vast majority of all music I hear on the radio, including, and even especially the classical station, at any given moment totally bores me to tears. The problem must be with the people choosing the music, because, well, I don't know so much about other styles, but I know the classical station has so many options besides that baroque horn concerto they keep playing over and over and over. And over. And then the announcer always gushes over it, and it's conductor and it's soloist, and when they do that I'm always thinking, What do you know about it?

Not that all radio announcers are non-musicians, and not that non-musicians (I always want to say "non-music folk" like on Harry Potter when Hagrid explains muggles as "non-magic folk") cannot have opinions on music. On the contrary, many non-music folk I've talked to have super interesting observations. They somehow notice or express things that I've never even thought of! But I dislike it very much when someone takes an entire genre (like the so-called "classical") and pronounces it "relaxing" or "educational" or what have you. There is so much more to music than that, even the boring stuff! (Well, some of it, but I think most boring things can't be also educational. At least not very.) I cannot imagine how people generalize like that. They confuse boring and relaxing, I think. In our fast-paced world, that probably isn't hard to do. And those public radio announcers don't mean any harm. But not one of them would ever dream of generalizing paintings that way, or some other art. Oh, granted, of course they call the fast things "exciting" and all that, but still. In general, it's like it's supposed to be all the same or something. I could never stand just to have one radio station playing in the background all the time, and I have heard so many times lately on adds for the classical station: "I wake up to WRR, I go to sleep to WRR. I could not imagine life without WRR!" and I'm sorry but that just sort of disgusts me.

Of course, I think I am not-so-subconsciously taking this opportunity to complain about the Dallas radio stations, and I am probably generalizing way too much about them, just like I accuse them of generalizing about music, etc. But it has to be said. However snobbish, critical, or overly picky this may sound, I had to say it. For my sanity because I've been thinking it so long, and for me. To see what comes out when I try to answer the trite question "What kind of music do you like?" Not to bash that question either. Some people apparently do only listen to one kind. (given the lovely testimonials on the "classical" station website.)

Anyhow, I don't know why it's a relief to me to know what kind of music I like. It just is. Maybe I feel obligated to know all about it because I'm a musician. But my answer is not very helpful to anyone but me. I like interesting music. And, I hate to be negative, but actually it's more to the point to say that I really hate boring music. I would rather hear nothing at all. Which I guess is how I am different from the people who invented Muzak. For example, I can never, never understand the music in the grocery store. Who is enjoying it? If it is boring "elevator" ugly jazz music, who wants to hear that? And if it's regular pop music, who wants or needs to hear the ins and outs of some stranger's relationships as they decide whether or not to buy generic bread, or search and search and search for iron cleaner? Or of course there's always the option of the baroque trumpet concerto again... (no offense to horn-players, trumpet players, or lovers of baroque chamber music.) But that is one aspect of our culture that I have tried and tried, and failed to understand.

I told you this might sound snobbish.

20 January 2009


I am officially at the end of about seven weekends in a row that have been filled, respectively, with Christmas shopping, Christmas and New Years parties, recitals, house-guests, and wonderful visits with friends and family. All of that is the sort of thing that makes life special and memorable, well, not Christmas shopping, necessarily, but the friends and family part especially. I have had such a wonderful time.

We had several parties, an awesome choir concert, and my recitals before Christmas. And we had the most lovely Christmas time down in Houston with Steve's family, cooking Christmas dinner all together, and just hanging out, and making gingerbread houses! After Christmas, parts of my family were here with us each weekend, and since they live so far away, we were especially happy that they could come. :) Kristin, who I hope will get to move here someday, and Stephen, who got to come twice and is so interesting and artistic, and such fun to have in town, and my parents, who had never had the chance to come up here since we got married! I got to show mom my favorite cupcake shop, we shopped for clothes for all the girls at the Harrold's going-out-of-business sale, and we took dad to our gym to swim laps and sit in the hot tub together, and he swam a mile!! We got to take them to our favorite restaurants, and they got to see our tall skinny house, and what we have been doing with it.

So, this past weekend was the last of the "holidays" for us. There are seasons for things, I guess. We have just had a nice long season of seeing people and celebrating. And we loved it and wouldn't have traded it for anything. But I am also glad now to have a season of rest, and simpler things, more lonely things. Like sunsets and warm baths and cups of tea and reading. And not so much talking. But practicing, yes. I am going to need to put in a lot of hours if my one little Chopin etude is going to be playable by spring, not to mention Bartok and Bach and my other things I'm working on. Not that I don't enjoy family and friends, but I feel ("...like butter, spread over too much bread.") such a compulsion to be alone and not visit with anyone for a while. I just want to think.

About languages, about Steve, about finally making my own clothes--that is going to start soon. About really practicing again, about having ideas again, about our new president. I do not know why his color is such a big deal to the media. Color should not matter. I know, it used to, and that was wrong, so now it's a big deal that it didn't matter. But it is such a big deal that it doesn't, that it does. Or seems to. To some people. But I'm rambling. I guess that's allowed--it's my blog, afterall. What else would I do? There's my nod to Inauguration Day. It is a new season in our country as well. Every president's inauguration is historic and special. I congratulate President Obama, and our new First Lady and their little girls. The rest is for another post...

The bottom line is, I am exhausted and glad for a time of rest. So if I do not communicate very much with anyone in the next month or so, forgive me. I must take a break. :)

05 January 2009

figuring things out

Around new year's time, I do not usually feel much newness. I seem to think it's just another day, the only thing making it different is the number on the calendar. I don't set goals or try to ask anything more of myself for the coming year or anything like that. I know that I'm supposed to, and I might make resolutions just in case they come true, but I've never felt new. Part of that might be because of have super high expectations of what "new" might feel like, but I really never feel that into it. I always want to and usually sort of pretend to be into new year's resolutions and all that, but I'm just not, as a general rule.

Well, this New Year's Day, I expected to feel the same old cynical, anti-resolutions-because-I-won't-keep-them-anyway-and-it's-just-another-day attitude, but instead, I felt a weight off my shoulders, a fresh sort of feeling, with more energy than I have had in ages, which still is not saying much, by the way. But it is something. Anyway, so for the first time in years, I made new year's resolutions. So I thought that deserved a blog post.

Here's the first: I decided to stop being so concerned about pleasing everybody! I think I mostly please them all without trying anyway, but typically, in the event that I can't please quite everyone, I feel so wildly stressed and unhappy. I never thought I was a "people pleaser" type, but my husband has patiently proven to me that I am. I am determined to stop, so here is my new motto:

I am not going to try to please everyone anymore. They will simply have to find another way to be happy, one that does not involve me. I am not going to do it.

Now, that might sound a little selfish, on the one hand, because how mean of me not to care if people are happy, and conceited on the other, to suppose that anyone was depending on me for happiness anyhow. Well, about the first hand, people are responsible for their own contentment. I have to be responsible for my own, and no one else's. So that alright. And about the second hand: I am sure nobody is depending on me quite how I think, but it is really refreshing to be able to believe that I am not responsible for their reactions to me in any case.

I don't mean that I don't care about people, and their states of happiness, and I don't mean that I would not do what I could to help someone be happy. And I know that we are our brother's keeper and all that. But I felt an unhealthy responsibility to do everything that anyone wanted me to do, even if it was not in my power to do it, hence all the stress. I am rid of that now, and I feel so much better, just weightless!

The rest of my resolutions sort of flowed out of the freedom that gave me:

To do what I want in the mornings, before work, instead of feeling bad about all this free time because most other people can't have the mornings and early afternoons off the way I do. So, I am going to...

~sleep til 10 more often if I feel I need it
~ride my orange bicycle a lot more
~paint if I feel like it
~dance if I feel like it
~study a foreign language if I feel like it
~keep my closet gorgeous enough to go shopping in
~practice singing if I want
~read every day, my Bible and other things
~make clothes when I am inspired to do so
~study Arthurian legend
~cook if I feel like it
~see friends if I feel like it
and practice whether I feel like it or not.

Of course, there are chores and other things that come up, but being more relaxed about things means it will all get done and be okay.

Happy New Year!