Thursday, March 30, 2017

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Lucinda Williams' self-titled album (1988) Haven't listened to it in a while and it is just so great.

image via Amazon

// Finally finishing The Royal We. It's a delightfully written book (by my favorite bloggers) but it reads like a screenplay and I wish I could have just watched the movie. That said, I hope it becomes a movie! My next read is Oryx and Crake, a Margaret Atwood novel my sister recommended while I wait for The Handmaid's Tale to become available - I want to re-read that before watching the Hulu miniseries that premieres April 26. (Earlier this month women dressed in costumes from the novel protested, silently, at the Texas State Capitol - a stunning and wordlessly elegant rebuke of measures being considered there. Go art! Go literature!)

// Wondering where I have room for a plant stand like this or this.

// This Skin Medica sunscreen is AMAZING. No white cast at all. Great finish for wearing under makeup or bare-faced (me this week).

// I'm making iced coffee now with this so-simple recipe. The other recipes I've tried have turned out too bitter or have too much particulate in them, necessitating rounds of filtering that I just don't feel up to in the morning. Lately I've been using preground Caribou Coffee Vanilla Hazelnut Dreamstate, because it was on the clearance end-cap and I like the name. I mix 2/3 of a cup of grounds with 3 cups of water, stir, let sit overnight, then press. No additional filtration needed. Splash of cream, dash of cinnamon, add ice. I like the commenter's idea of making coffee ice cubes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Marches, Monsteras, Movies, Mom Time

My parents picked up the girls for an overnight stay on Friday. I was done with work very early (a rare treat), went to the gym, picked up potstickers from Wonton King, and watched TV while sipping a light margarita and brainstorming my new project. A most excellent evening.

Saturday morning was an awesome workout with Courtney - 50 minutes of tabata. As I drove from Creve Coeur to the Central West End, my route took me through a part of St Louis I had not seen before (Page Avenue east of 170). I happened upon a march and as I was slowly driving by, I spotted a little girl on her grandfather's shoulders - and I recognized her as my friend's daughter! Only in STL can you be in an unfamiliar part of town and see a four year old that you know!

Brunch with Jenny at Cafe Osage...

... and plants plants plants in adjoining Bowood Farms. I bought this gorgeous monstera, ceramic pot, and some heavy-duty plastic saucers (so much sturdier and better looking than the flimsy plastic ones I have - my pots are on carpet and I have nightmares about moving the plant to reveal a sodden ring of mold).

At 3:15 my parents picked Luke and me up and we drove to Lafayette Square to have the girls' hair cut by Kellee. Once again --> hysterics with at-home hair brushing. In chair --> perfectly still. Kellee, you're magic!

We were too early for dinner at 1111 Mississippi and Texas Roadhouse was too busy so we ended up at O'Charley's for a bite. And malts at Steak and Shake proceeded by the ritual painstaking straw opening upon which Josie insists: I DO IT MYSELF.

Luke has started making the most delicious, low carb breakfast: cut-up sausage patties folded into soft curds of scrambled eggs made with plenty of cheese, often topped by a squeeze of these delicious creamy hot sauces. Here C cuts up the sausage with her surprisingly sharp child's knife.

We walked to a matinee of Beauty and the Beast; we watched the animated version the night before in the hopes the girls would be very familiar with the story and music. Usually they don't pay attention to live action movies. Well, they paid perfect attention and loved it.

I DISLIKED IT VERY MUCH. I thought Emma Watson was humorless, emotionless (no fear, no wonder, no rapture, no  nothing), and a barely so-so singer (they should have had Audra McDonald sing everything). I've never seen any of the Harry Potter movies or read the books so I don't have any of that other-franchise baggage: still thought she was terrible.

Instead of remaining faithful to the source material with the addition of throwaway lines to add a whisp of backstory, modernity, feminism, whatever, I would have preferred a movie that went in an entirely different direction. Actually, I would have liked a movie entirely about Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci's characters, who had more frisson and chemistry as pieces of furniture than Emma Watson and Cousin Matthew at any moment in the movie.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Making Me Happy This Week

👫  Having Luke back from a successful week of gigs in Texas. The rumble of Vanna White pulling into the parking lot is the sweetest sound. It was a bit of a chaotic week for me, work-wise, and my parents helped out a lot. Thanks, Gamma and Pop Pop!

🌀 A visit with cousin V. - here, they are transfixed by Moana. (pics by Susie)

🙌  InstaCart delivery of Costco staples - same day! $5.99 delivery or $99 annual fee. The shopper texted me during her trip to make sure she was buying the correct meatballs. The availability of this service is a fantastic development!

😀 Josie's spontaneous re-telling of a teachable moment at Grandma's house

🔪   Harissa-infused olive oil + carrots. My mother-in-law gave us a basket of food goodies (hot sauces, syrups, chutneys) and I've been roasting the carrots from my CSA share with a spicy olive oil. They are delicious!

🍫  Bissinger's dulce de leche bar: milk chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, and smoked fleur de sel

🏊  C's first dive (more like a push)

🎸 Luke reminded me of seeing David Ramirez perform "Bad Days" in Austin, pre-kids. It's such a great song.

⚡ This weekend's workout entailed a lot of box jumps, which one of the happened-to-be-wandering-by yoga instructors complimented me on then and later, when I saw her in the hallway: "There goes Box Jones!" (which is perfect given my previous post...)  BUUUT box jumps were/are so scary to me (envisioning skinned shins, broken teeth - I jump HARD, people) but I do them!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review: That Underwear Featured in Facebook Ads

Thinx underwear is menstrual underwear intended to save money (no tampons or pads) and the environment (no tampons or pads). As a woman who menstruates and who has been putting diapers into landfills for four years, I wanted to do something to right this balance somewhat, a tiny bit, karmically.

Enter Thinx underwear which I ordered after seeing Facebook ads for them all.the.time. When the package arrived and I explained them to Luke, unpacking and unwrapping them (my selections: the sport and the hiphugger):

Me: You just wear them, bleed on 'em, and then wash them with the rest of your clothes.

Luke: [only mildly horrified, because he's a woke bae] Like a diaper?

Me: Like an environmentally friendly diaper.

Now for the review: I think they're awesome. Comfortable. Not gross, if you were wondering. I love not putting extra trash into the world. If you have *very* heavy periods they may not work for you. If you have constant bleeding due to a uncommon IUD side effect like I did, you're going to like them a lot.

Some links regarding commerce, science, and the patriarchy:

Periods...They're expensive... Someone got real scientific about how much blood is lost (not nearly as much as you think)... Menstruation is a global health and education issue (see what is doing about that here).

Buying through the link above gets you and me $10 off our purchase. Thanks, sister! 
This post is unsponsored.

Monday, March 13, 2017

San Antonio!

Originally I planned a visit to San Antonio around a professional meeting there but the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to visit SA and not attend the meeting (I'm going to another meeting in November). The great part about this was many friends and colleagues would be in town too... while I had fun!

My trip kicked off with a two hour stop at work to sign out cases that were transcribed the night before - then on to the airport, where several of my colleagues past and present were on the same flight. Flight reads: Lucky Peach and recent issue of Bon Appetit.  I was in SA in the early afternoon, arriving to a blustery rainstorm.

First stop: Grove Hill.  Here I am with my girls Gretchen and Kay. So good to see them and I bought exactly what I came for: work pants (Elliott Lauren - they work for me) and a genius reversible no wrinkle hi-lo Elliott Lauren top and a olive drab half-peplum blouse. I love olive drab. And I love these ladies!

 I found my Airbnb next -- a casita in central SA, a quiet boho neighborhood tucked between the zoo grounds and a golf course. The Airbnb reservation didn't provide check-in instructions. I called the owner and knocked on the door ... she answered in a towel! We laughed and she showed me to the casita, a very comfortable space. Outside was a small manicured yard with a koi pond and Tom, the architect who "did all this" [my host gestured to the yard and casita] and lives in this cabana:

 This neighborhood was very fun, very artsy.

 Next stop: Pearl Brewery complex. I stopped into my fave stores there (Niche, clothing designed and manufactured in SA - I bought a cropped top in a watercolor print), The Tiny Finch (brought home a candle), Melissa Guerra kitchen goods, and the Hotel Emma gift shop where I finally bought some M Quan ceramic pieces that I've been thinking since we stayed there (NYE 2016). They make me happy, even installed next to that 3M adhesive hook.

 Dinner at La Gloria with the Browns and the Fudges! No photo except for this prickly pear margarita - for shame! They took such good care of us in SA - we reminisced about the time they took Luke to the emergency room.

Home early to sleeeeeeep (I was at work at 6:45 that morning!) and Taco Cabana flour tortillas - served so hot - for breakfast.

As soon as I decided to go to SA I wanted to get a massage at Woodhouse, a large spa chain that we don't have in STL. I kicked myself because I forgot to make an appointment until the Thursday before but luckily they had availability at 10:30 on Sunday. Perfect. The massage was fabulous and because I can't resist their gift shop of gadgets and gizmos and scented cachets aplenty I bought a foam roller (now it lives in my office).

My friend Michelle was in town for the meeting and she obliged me by having brunch at Central Market.

Hi Michelle! Thanks for humoring me and meeting up a grocery store!

After I dropped off Michelle at the airport, I drove by our old house. To everyone else this is just an overpriced rental but to me it's the first place I lived with my husband, where I leaned to cook, where we watched a lot of prestige television, where Luke launched his music career, where we brought two baby girls home. And an overpriced rental.

I sat here for a little bit, thinking, feeling.

Got a manicure, marred it within minutes, changed into dinner clothes, drove out to La Cantera. Dinner was at 7 so I had time to visit David at the Armani counter -- he is always so funny.

Texas -- where even the PICC line services are more fabulous. 

A FB pathology friend of mine was in SA for the meeting and her brother is the executive chef at a fancy restaurant - lucky us! He did a 12 course tasting menu for the five of us - old friends and new friends - which was absolutely exquisite and delicious.

Ascending the stairs to the restaurant, Sustenio.

The meal began with the waitstaff filling bowls of citrus and bay leaves with dry ice -- the scented vapor wafted over the table. I think I spontaneously started clapping at that moment and I hadn't eaten anything yet.

First course: cilantro cotton candy with shards of beef jerky.

From top left: strawberry explosion; sweetbreads with sweet potato puree; beef and charred romanesco; avocado-wrapped king crab with a curried burrata puff; honeycomb with frozen and pulverized skim milk; duck with celery root puree; sous-vide pork belly.

Not pictured: steak tartare with horseradish ice cream (loooooved it); cobia aquachile in a coriander broth that I drank from the bowl.


And one more dessert: a Samoa-inspired macaron, the chef's nod to his sister's favorite cookie. It was so special to be part of a family celebration 💗

I thought I would never eat again but lo and behold I wanted a hot breakfast the next day and went to Hotel Emma. Cornmeal waffle with a hash of lardons of bacon, brussels sprouts, and sweet potato.

For some protein: a chorizo-wrapped Scotch egg. Coffee with cream! The New York Times! I had the best vacation ever.

Somehow I found myself at the Pearl's shoe store LeeLee where I bought these Rachel Comey flats and a pair of made-in-USA mules. The weird perfection of these shoes has set off a frantic Internet search for "Rachel Comey shoes size 11" with fortunate/unfortunate results of scarce and never on sale.

Next stop: Alamo 180 to catch up with my coach Jeff and workout buddy who works next door, John. I spent many hours with those guys and they are so dear to me and it's wonderful to see everyone thriving and the studio expanding.

On to: Former workplace.

Until recently a driver's license shown to the gate guards would grant you access to the hospital complex. Now there is a visitor's center and one must register there. I went inside and produced my driver's license for the officer(?) - person in civilian clothes. I was making small talk, as the visitor's center didn't exist upon my departure seven months ago, and mentioned, "oh, so now you have register your ID here to get on campus." This man, not knowing that I was former active duty - visiting a gravely ill loved one -- here to fix a light bulb -- going back for a biopsy after an abnormal mammogram -- he doesn't know anything about me, barks:


There really isn't anything that makes me quite go as ballistic as mansplaining or a truly unnecessary bullshit attitude, which I encountered several (but not too many, and always with civilians not military) times during my time in the military.

"Oh," I said. "Right. I was active duty in this building for five years."

More ID processing. Then he tells me that my Missouri ID isn't in compliance, do I have a second form of ID? "Well, I have this expired military ID." - which I produce and they take from me, and do not return. They ask for my sponsor's phone number and fortunately I can recall Dale's office number from memory because I had submitted it on a peer recommendation form two days before. Finally, I have my pass.

The truly great part of this story is two days later when I receive a phone call at 7:04 am from this visitor's center. "Major!" they say. "We found your ID. It was left here."

"Oh, no, it wasn't left there," I say when I return the message. "It was confiscated when I visited on Monday. It was expired. And the officer was rude to me. Unnecessarily brusque."

"Ah," the officer says. "They didn't do the right paperwork. Who was it? [I describe]. I see, ma'am... you're not the first person I've heard that from. Would you like the number of the supervisor?"

YES I WOULD. And the lieutenant and I had a good talk.

This was a too-good, too-perfect bookend to the beginning of my active duty tour. Luke and I get married and drive to Texas two days later. We go to Lackland for new ID cards: dependent for him and active duty for me. Producing our marriage license and other forms, Luke is issued a dependent ID. The clerk turns to my ID processing.

Clerk: "The system is telling me you're still a reservist. I can't issue an active duty card."

Me: "But here are my orders."

Clerk: "I know, but I can't issue the ID because the computer system isn't updated and won't let me."

Me: "Ok... I guess we'll come back later? When it's updated?"

Clerk: "Yes."

Me: "May I have my ID back? I need it to get back on base."

Clerk: "No, because it's counterfeit now. You're active duty."

Me: [feeling vertiginous] "But you said the system isn't updated, so the ID is valid. And I need it to get on base."

Clerk: "I can't give it back to you. It's invalid."

Me: [feeling mystified and powerless and somewhat frantic and Catch-22'ed for what will not be the last time]: "How will I get on base to check if my status has been updated?"

Clerk: "Your husband's ID."

And that was how it came to pass that my dependent husband of less than a week - with his valid ID - had to drive me thirty miles roundtrip to grant me base access until my status was, one day, updated to active duty.

But back to this visit. I loved seeing my coworkers and BAMC is a great-looking building, always surrounded by an unbeatable Texas cloudscape. It was this rooftop view that I was taking in when I was ten weeks pregnant and hurrying across the parking lot to vomit in the first available receptacle, a open-lidded trash can by the elevators. I straightened my cap and strode into work, feeling much better.

Beautiful bougainvillea at Central Market, where I wrote on the blog for a bit and e-mailed a friend about places to go with kids in SA.

Dinner at Chisme, where at last I had some queso.

Dinner with the Crawfords and Sylvias. They have been such great friends and supporters of Luke's music. I take so much inspiration from their friendships, sense of community and family, and pursuit of fun. They really know how to party!

I was on the 5:30 am flight back to STL and at work by 8:30, telling everyone what an amazing time I'd had. Friends! Food! Shopping! Doing whatever I wanted! It was grand.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekend Update

We had a great weekend!

On Friday morning I made plans with Jenny to come over for breakfast for dinner and Josie was so overjoyed (about Jenny, about the pancakes):


Jenny came over, bringing the flour that I needed, and I made creamed spinach (from our hospital CSA) and buttermilk pancakes and oven-baked bacon and it seemed to take 90 minutes and at least 15 utensils, pots, and bowls. The girls watched Moana and we cackled over the possible matches on Jenny's Tinder and Bumble apps. (Gird yer loins, men of greater St Louis!)

Jenny stayed over in our studio space and in the morning we had scrambled eggs and more Moana:

Then I went to a workout with my personal trainer (hi, Courtney!) and on to Nordstrom Rack (returns) and Nordstrom (returns and oh a purchase or three).

The rest of the day I puttered around the house - laundry, Daniel Tiger, some reading, made caramelized onions (hospital CSA!) and served them with organic Costco hamburger patties retrieved from the depth of freezer prepared in the cast iron pan (followed these instructions; for the onions I turned to my fave all-purpose cookbook).

Josie and I discussed our visit to the Butterfly House. She's never been there (and I didn't explain what to expect) and she kept saying NO OPEN YOU MOUF [in the Butterfly House] and:

We had planned on watching La La Land but it still isn't available on iTunes so it was two episodes of Daniel Tiger and bedtime for the whole family -- we were exhausted. These days Luke is reading The Sportswriter and I've put down The Royal We for The Obesity Code.

My youngest sister sent this message to me and our middle sister this morning and I bark-laughed out loud.

Butterfly House with Gamma and Pop Pop.

Josie taking cover cracks me up.

Bob's into suspenders now.

Inspecting a gravel-colored butterfly.

The carousel at Faust Park. Indoor and empty besides us!

Cheesecake Factory for brunch.

My mom isn't wearing any foundation -- she just got BBL at Erickson Dermatology 💥💥💥  WOWZA! 

The girls didn't nap (DST is horrible) and finally C (who had changed into a swimsuit and smeared her legs with Aquaphor during her no-nap) and I went to the grocery store for the staples (pineapple spears, apples, pre-sliced mango, deli meat, carrots - crinkle cut, the better for scooping hummus, caffeine free Diet Coke (baby steps for me)). More Moana. Laundry. Planning our busy week ahead. Putting off folding all the laundry.

Off for cheeseburgerfreezerburger + onions for me and brunch leftovers for the girls. Have a good week!