Thursday, March 31, 2011

Being noticed but not Eccentric

Yesterday Duchesse invited readers to offer clothing or accessories for us 40/50-something women who want "Clothes that get you Noticed" while avoiding "advanced eccentricity." I prowled Etsy for some handmade items by entrepreneurs--here are some results.

Warning: I got a little carried away.

Milo Creative Studios: lots of delicious things here.

Mia, wrap top at $78

Marnie, stretch top at $58

Lirola: located in Israel, this shop features dresses and tops with soft shaping.

Wrap Dress, $98

Soft Cowl Dress, $95

Tuhkimo Shawls: hand-crocheted shawl-cardigans, available in multiple colors at $167. I don't know why I picked this shot--the others, with brighter colors and better angles on the cardigan were obviously better.


Custome: a dressmaker from Shanghai.

Brown Cotton Dress, $59
Red Flax Coat, $79

Wild Ginger Silk: scarves and shawls that are amazingly dyed!

Cobalt and Plum, $75
Joyfulknitting:

Cobalt Cardigan, $80

yy studio: stunning couture-style suits, coats, blouses, skirts... simply delightful!

Black White Wool Lace Skirt, $166.60

Pure Cashmere Retro Lady Coat, $398

brightstreet: embellished sweaters


Forget Me Not, $39.00
Prairie Girl Couture: From Alberta, organic cotton clothing.

The Juliet Tank, $44.00

Silvia66: hand-knitted sweaters from Italy, and this one I featured before:


White, $250

Any of these things would work for us 40/50-something woman without either shrieking to the heavens "Look at me!!!!!!" or relegating us to "Quietly on the Shelf." They also have the virtue (for me) of being affordable, handmade, and unique; living in a town where the chain store is worshipped, the last one is especially relevant. Each shop also presents the work of an independent designer-artisan-crafter, which is again important to me.

20-Piece Wardrobe -- Seasonal Changes

I am wondering how this will work -- my 20-piece wardrobe -- in spring/summer Dallas, because the heat is so gruesome that either I will have to launder more frequently (not a terrible idea, since I now have a washer-dryer in house) or radicalize my thinking... not my strongest suit.

Here's a first pass:
  1. white button-front shirt (same as cold weather)
  2. blue button-front shirt (same as cold weather)
  3. pink linen shirt
  4. green linen shirt
  5. aqua linen shirt
  6. peach linen shirt
  7. white embroidered tunic
  8. white v-neck tunic
  9. white tunic with blue embroidery
  10. t-shirts
  11. black cardigan
  12. red cardigan
  13. jeans (same as cold weather)
  14. linen trousers (black)
  15. linen capris (black with flowers)
  16. linen trousers (tobacco)
  17. steel blue gored skirt
  18. rust gored skirt
  19. red/batik wrap skirt
  20. black polka dot dress
T-shirts encompass a category with mostly white, gray, and black tissue-weight t's that go under or with everything. The linen shirts (as you can see) should constitute a category, as I have about 6, all the same style, in summery shades: they, too, fulfill a variety of needs as regular shirts or overshirts for freezing-cold malls and theatres. Because summer is mostly non-teaching time, I need clothes I can wear around the house daily as well as out.

To accessorize, I have summer shoes (flat silvery sandals, 1" heeled black sandals, ditto in brown, 2" heeled black, 2.5" heeled nude open-toe pumps, ditto in red), lightweight jackets in white and khaki, a linen jacket in black, a red denim jacket, hats, and, as usual, lots and lots of scarves and wraps.

Some of my don'ts, based on figure and personal choice: no shorts, no sleeveless items, no minis. I can do capri pants, but because I am short, most capris come to my ankles--fine with flats.
Again, in summer here, the heat is gruesome outdoors, while the indoors is freezing. Any wardrobe has to reflect this. I include cardigans, lightweight jackets, and shawls for theatres, malls, and restaurants. I also add color in summer, bright sherbet colors, which my winter wardrobe doesn't have. In the new apartment, I have a closet that I can use for just the 20-piece wardrobe, which makes everything even easier. It will also enable me to give away or sell everything else, which is currently residing (and unused) in the smaller closet. Of course, I can also store the winter part of this wardrobe in there.

I am also thinking about the closet in general: I would love to paint the interiors, make them more colorful. I saw a picture of one that was a bright turquoise inside, with white shelves. Pretty stunning. And it would beat the slightly dingy white that resides in there now. A nice apple green would be good, too. I found a wonderful shelf liner paper that is apple gree with a white paisley pattern: very nice!

A painted closet would look something like this:


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday = Bike Day #2

Rode Bella in to work today... not so bad today I wanted to die. Now if my helmet didn't make me look dorky and my hair didn't end up "helmetty." Ah, vanity!

My morning ride, Bella

Gratitude

Yesterday I got a valuable lesson: gratitude.

I went to dinner at my favorite restaurant, a place I've been eating at almost weekly since last fall. For a Tuesday night, it was bustling and hustling. My favorite waiter sat down at my table and told me that as of this coming Sunday, the restaurant was closing. Forever. The owners have sold the entire building, which is fairly old and needs serious upkeep -- the restaurant has been in place for 35 years.

The really shocking part--aside from the disappearance of my avocade burger and top grade martini--is that the entire staff is now, suddenly, scrambling for work. It sounds as if the owners did not warn the staff, despite many of them being part of the place for years.

Wow. As he told me, in this economy, even service jobs that only a few years ago were thick on the ground are gone, so finding a wait job is lots harder than it used to be. He has nothing lined up yet.

Hence, gratitude.

Yes, my job has problems. Some days, lots of them. But I have a job that I like at least 50% of the time and one where I have a lot of say in how and what I do. And a stable paycheck that is enabling me to pay off my debt, save for retirement, and buy catfood.

Sometimes I think people to tell me to practice gratitude are also telling me to shut up and take it, whatever "it" is. Be grateful and don't rock the boat. But right now, thinking of those waiters and bartenders out of regular paychecks and a place to go with a community, I really feel grateful.

Five things I am grateful for today:
1. My job, which includes opportunities for creative and intellectual endeavor
2. My new apartment, which is 50% larger and has a private patio
3. The return of cool weather, for now, to the Big D
4. My Nook, which enables me to carry many books anywhere
5. My Bialetti, which I had forgotten I owned until a reader reminded me--good, strong coffee!  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday = Yoga Day

Today is the first of three weeks I am extending my yoga class for free. Yay! Just by asking, I discovered that the school offers a one-time-only three-week extension for each student: using mine! I also still have my birthday certificate for a free drop-in class... and both the beginner's classes I like ahve been transformed into drop-in classes. So--yay me, twice.

This weekend I did a pretty good shopping job: $33.90 for the week's fruits, veg, and dairy (saved $46.10). I already cooked the chicken with salsa and lemon, which I am eating with brown rice to stretch it out over the week.

Writing in April: 100 pages in 30 days

I just signed up for something called "Script Frenzy." The challenge is to write 100 pages in 30 days: so every day in April, I need to write between 3 and 5 pages, which will certainly get me on track with my current play.


This is not to say that the pages will be great, but my basic goal is to GET IT DONE! Have a completed script between 90 and 100 pages by April 30, with the summer to get it in better shape.

And I'll get a certificate!

The point is that I need to get myself back on track as a writer, now that my students' work is completed and up. I am incredibly motivated right now, and this seems a very good notion. I like routine: settling in to work at the same time, under the same conditions, with the same music playing.

Here's a sidenote: yesterday I was talking to my master class students (the senior undergraduates who just finished their reading project) and told them about this as an opportunity to start the new project they claim to want to write. They asked what was the pay-off--and hearing that simply completing 100 pages in 30 days was it, they shrugged it off as something they "could do anyway." When I asked if it would motivate them to write this new project they are all kicking at me about, they blinked at me. Ah, to be young!

I wish I had their confidence in a writer's discipline. Like, mine!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pantry Challenge, This Week

This past week, I cooked or baked:
  • Banana Bread (The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • Cranberry-Citrus Muffins (Cooking Light, 1997)
  • Chicken with Salsa and Lemon
  • Skirt Steak with Shallots and Butter
Tonight I'm making an omelette with cheese, plus lots of romaine salad with homemade oil-vinegar dressing. I bought the salad "made" from a fancy grocery store here, but the Caesar dressing was soo heavy and salty, as was the parmesan shreads. Wow! Huge shift in my tastebuds, but the salt was somehow extra-salty.

In today's grocery store run, I bought only fruits, vegetables, a block of cheese, and sliced ham for lunches. I have so much food still in the pantry and freezer, that only needs imagination for really good meals.

This week I'll finish the chicken, and probably thaw something like fish later on.

Plans for this coming week

I hope to get back into a routine of early a.m. wakeup, shower, coffee, and breakfast... helps me start my day off right.

I'd also like to photograph and share the signs of spring's arrival here in the Big D with you, once I get out and about on my legs and bike. Some pretty things are bursting out all over, here in town.

Friday, March 25, 2011

If I were in Paris... Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring is nearly here in Paris, but not quite...

Today I would wander over to the 15th arrondissement--not an area I visit too often--for two interesting exhibits.

The first at at Musee de la Poste, titled "Carnets du Voyage -- la monde au bout du crayon." besides their permanent exhibits about the history of the mail service (!), this exhibit features 600 drawings and 200 excerpts from travelers' notebooks. The museum is as 34 blvd. de Vaugirard, open Monday to Saturday 10-6, through April 23. If you love travel--and I do!--this sounds like a lovely exhibit. And, damn! they just closed (12.3) and exhibit on Calamity Jane!

Then, not too far away, is an exhibition devoted to Madame Gres, in connection with the Musee Galliera, the major fashion museum of Paris. The show actually opens today, so it might be a wee crowded. Madame Gres, nee Germaine Emilie Krebs (b. 1903) trained as a sculptor and always referred to herself as such. Her dresses were indeed scupltural in detail. She was one of the last great couturiers to establish a "ready to wear" collection (eh!), and she dressed every one during the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, including Jackie Kennedy. This exhibition will include 80 pieces from the museum's collection as well as private owners and collectors. Just a taste of her style:



Oops, no, that's the Elgin Marbles... but you'll see what I mean.







And the lady herself --


Then, just for fun, I might walk over to the Musee Pasteur, a nearby site dedicated to this amazing inventor/doctor/scientist... oh, but not until April 1, when the museum opens again (only open during warm weather months, accrding to its site!).

Then I would undoubtedly journey to La Route du The Paris 15, a shop selling teas from around the world as well as tea products. Although I am a huge fan of Mariage Freres, I am simply a fan of tea boutiques as well. This one looks good.

For dinner, I would be tempted to try Je The... Me, a neighborhood restaurant with 5 stars on Yelp and a yes! from Anthony Bourdain. The descriptions posted by enthusiastic traveling diners makes me want to run right there for lunch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coffeemaker Debate

Hola! I need advice.

While I bought my dream coffeemaker a couple of years ago, I am now unsatisfied wiht the quality of my monring coffee. Yes, I use filtered water. Yes, I use high quality ground coffee. Yes, I keep the unit cleaned and replace the water filtering device inside. But the coffee still has a flat flavor when it comes out.


This is it, my dream machine (this isn't a picture of my actual one, but the same make and model).

I have been thinking about buying the same kind of Senseo coffeemaker that I had while on sabbatical.



This is a pod coffeemaker but a lot less fancy than most of the ones on sale right now. Basically, it gives you one espresso cup (one pod) or one mug (two pods) per use.

Pros: I found that rather than drinking three mugs in the morning, I was satisfied with one mug full of deep, rich flavor. (For me, coffee is all about the flavor, not the buzz, which I don't get. Yeah, I am addicted to caffeine but immune to the effects, nearly always. Weird.) I would stop buying Starbucks (or anyone else's) ground coffee.

Cons: Pods create more waste. Pods for this have to be ordered because my local grocery stores don't carry them. (Pro: Amazon has a subscripton service that I could set to 2-month regular delivery at a discount: never think about it again!). I won't be able to make a thermos to take to work, so might end up buying coffee there later in the day (which I do now, anyway).

My dilemma is this: is it a financal waste to buy a new coffeemaker when the one I have works fine and the coffee, while not great, has been okay? Is there a solution to the current machine that I am overlooking?

My gut says, buy it and sell the other one. Get yourself some great coffee. My head says, yo! save the money! Now and later, with the pods.

And I found a machine on Amazon at 45% discount off an already discounted price... Help?

Express Checkout Experiment--Uh-Oh

This week, post-Spring Break, has been a bit of a failure in the "dress me" area.

Both class days, I fell back on old uniform of jeans, button-up cotton shirt (Monday blue, Wednesday white), boots, and socks. Not even interesting accessories were selected.

Tuesday, I went out in yoga wear, given that I was going straight from haircut to yoga to moving a carload into new apartment.  At least the clothes were all clean: that's my disclaimer.


A couple of things occur to me. First, possibly an excuse, moving has disrupted my regular rituals of dressing. Now, a closet full of things (not my 20 items, of course) are at the other place, waiting on my actual installation. Second, the weather is topsy-turvy, moving from a muggy hot day to a cooler, windy day. That always leaves me wondering what will actually work out for all-day wear, even indoors.

These are small issues, which will be dealt with by time and the certainty of the coming Texas summer.

Larger issues are these: first, working out of the house (and thus having a set schedule) only two days weekly is not good for my wardrobe. Second, I hate Texas summer and the switch to summer clothes, primarily because I am overweight and embarrassed to expose that with lighter, barer clothes.

Both are workable issues with solutions. (Except that  will continue to hate Texas summers: ugh! Worst weather I've ever lived in!) What both pointed me to was that I am actually now in the middle of the move--living 'twixt and 'tween and that is having a bad effect on my moods.

I am a nester, despite my consistent living in apartments, and having effectively relinquished this apartment and not being yet into the new one is a negative situation for me. So, yay, self-awareness... now get this wagon train moving!

And I've got to switch out 20 winter pieces for 20 summer ones.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frugal eating

Now that the living situation 2011 is more or less completed (well, still "moving" but lease signed on new apartment and I am in transition through April), I am moving on to improving my health 2011 in a more fcused way.

Oh, and because the all-consuming student project is over and the alternative is doing my own research... wow, distractions masquerading as health concerns. Good for me!

Today:
  • I will sign up for a new series of yoga classes (8-10 weeks)
  • I will make certain to ride my bike to school twice weekly (which means pre-planning my a.m. adventures) or three times total for 30-minutes each
  • I will embrace 3 meals/2 snacks a day, including high protein, no alcohol, fresh fruit & vegetables menu plan
I want to improve my basic physical health and get on the way to losing twenty pounds or so. I am most concerned, really about my joints and lung capacity more than anything. My heart, cholesterol, and moods are good and strong, so it's mostly about maintaining my independence by keeping able.

Thee's suddenly a lot of buzz on this side of the ocean about the Dukan diet, because it is being "Americanized" -- meaning published by Crown. On sabbatical in Fall 2008, I got interested in the Dukan diet and, between August and December, lost fifteen pounds, tightened up my flesh, and came home looking and feeling so much improved people commented on it for two months... but by summer I was back in the same kinda lousy shape.

What did I like about Dukan's diet?
  • focus on portion -- which is easier in France than here (no "all you can eat" buffets, no super-sized servings). In France the only thing that gets served in heaping portions is salad.
  • focus on lean protein, fresh (meaning organic) vegetables and fruit
  • integration of both oat bran and water
  • elimination of sugar including alcohol (even wine!)
  • intelligent, mindful eating that sets up a lifestyle, not a "diet" as if it is over once I hit a number on a scale
Why is this about new frugality?

First, taking care of my health saves money down the road by keeping me active, happy, connected, and upright keeps me out of the hospital, doing my job, and well, happy. Happy for insurance, happy for me.

Second, eating like this -- even with a focus on fresh, organic vegetables and organic, lean meats and fish -- again saves money in the long run because I eat less but better food. It requires cooking -- no fast food or processed food -- which again requires more mindful planning and eating. But better ingredients in, better life out.

Third, abstaining from alcohol will definitely save money. I drank wine at home and cocktails or beer at restaurants, which regularly ran me $6 to $20 per meal. While drinking more water will improve my skin, my hair, and my whole system... and it's free. In fact, drinking cold water burns calories.

Fourth, Dukan's diet builds on moderate, daily exercise in your routine, like walking or biking, cleaning, carrying groceries. Parking farther away at the grocery store, biking to the grocery store (easy in the new apartment!), and this again initiates a pattern of consistent, engaged exercise. An evening stroll. Yoga classes. And free exercise -- like walking or biking -- improves my health and saves money.

Dukan does build in pleasure, as well. Once you've established a "lifestle" of healthy, mindful eating, there are two meals weekly that include "all you can eat" and wine and sweets. What I loved, however, was that I quickly grew out of wanting the carb-loaded pasta, bread, or wine I had been downing and felt both full and replete without a sugar craving. I literally stopped buying or drinking wine, bread, pasta, potatoes, pastries, candy and anything else that had these ingredients. I felt satisfied and fueled, had energy, lost weight without gym humping, and the only thing I didn't ever enjoy was the French version of cottage cheese, which is more like a "light" sour cream. Ugh.

Overall, that's the end result. Improving my health and, as a side bonus, saving money now and when I'm 70 and still have the same hip/knee/shoulder joints, am mobile -- which for me means walking, not riding a moto-car because of weight, overburdened joints, weak lungs. Not paying loads of money for prescriptions for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., etc., etc.. Right now I am lucky: a middle-aged woman without daily medication, no serious conditions, and good mental health. I want to stay that way, especially as my baby-boomer peers continue to age right alongside me while the monies for public health care dwindle.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sprinkles for Japan!

On Tuesday, March 22, buy a red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles and they will donate 100% of the earnings to the Red Cross for Japan.



Win/win: red velvet cupcake + Red Cross!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Job

Yesterday I had a phone interview for what might be the perfect job... not to jinx anything, which I definitely believe in. (After all, look what happened when I asked the universe to get me thru to Monday with the car!)

I say "the perfect job," but I have learned in my life that no job--like no man--is perfect. Just maybe "excellent" or "intriguing" or "compatible" are good, at times. Yes, you want the zing but you also want the substance... sigh.

Substance?


Zing?

Dude?


Baker Boy?

I think I got off-track... and while Michael Kitchen's Christopher Foyle is definitely substance he certainly has zing, or at least sizzle, while Depp's bad boy zing has given way to... substantial settled-down Daddy? And who could complain about a Baker Boy who grows up to be The Dude... or is it the other way 'round?


And this was the guy I first noticed--remember him, in that truly terrible KING KONG?--caught my eye as an early version of The Dude. So cute. Seriously.

Wow, I am waaay off-track!

What's so great about this possible new place? Location and size, first of all. Engagement and politics, for second. The possiblity of teaching everyone from undergrads to doctoral students. Taking my "show" to a new location and crowd and trying it out, after a few years of not being quite so appreciated.

How did it go: I would give myself a B+/A- (but I am a hard grader, after all). They had five questions which were more creative than I expected--which was a bonus in my column. That's not a reflection on them or my opinion of them--just an observation that most phone interviews are as interesting as white cheese.

Cross your fingers, and hope that I get a callback.

My Favorite Things: Pandora

Right now I am listening to the Johann Sebastian Bach channel on my Pandora site. Thru my television.


"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." "It's like living in the future..." (name that movie and TV show!)

Seriously, I love that I can identify one artist or composer, and Pandora creates a playlist for me. If I don't like an artist, I can skip or dislike, and refine my own soundtrack. Yet another way my vinyl records are more and more obsolete.

But I like Pandora. In a movement toward minimalism, Pandora allows me to eliminate vinyl, tapes, CDs, and even the iPod, if I want. Of course, one does need a/ a computer with speakers/sound or b/ a Roku player synched up to both wireless and a TV to receive the music... There is less control than an iPod, which contains all your musical holdings/desires and plays them with with a flick of the finger--because I must react to whatever Pandora serves up under my title/rubric--but I actually like that for the most part. The fun of FM radio, for example, is the choice factor of what will a particular DJ play; you can only choose the type of station (classic rock, country, classic, alternative rock) but the DJ chooses the cuts.

And filling my house with endless recordings on my Bach channel or Mozart channel or Creedence channel or French Cafe channel for a couple hours without having to do anything more than turn it on... a pleasure.

And, well, free. Sort of--after the Roku player, wireless monthly charges, and electricity charges.

Friday, March 18, 2011

By the way...

While I am on break, I am sending good thoughts to the people of Japan, the rebels of Libya and Yemen (yes, Yemen, too), the revolutionaries of Egypt (still have a ways to go), and our own government of state and nation that are still trying to figure out whether a woman is a person...

Sigh.

Spring Break, Day Seven

Yesterday was a big day! But today...

10 am -- car inspected (yeah, didn't happen yesterday!)
10:30 am -- feed friend's cat
11 am -- Target (new apartment stuff)
1230 pm -- Load #4 to new apartment; take time to vacuum, dust, wipe
2 pm -- work at home!

Ok, yesterday: had the phone interview (my first in a while) and thought it went well. We'll see. In any case, it was fun and fast: a committee of about 8 with 5 questions, plus my own.

Then I submitted a monologue to one site and a short play to another. In each case, I spent about an hour revising the piece before submitting it.

Then packed up the car and went off to new place to unload. Every little bit helps, as they say!

This is not a glamourous stay-cation, but so far has been productive. Moving, interview, submitting plays, cleaning, and getting the car in A-1 shape. plus sleeping, reading, napping, and catching up on TV.

If I were in Paris... Favorite Paris blogs

From the time I started this blog (August 2008) I have been following several/many blogs about Paris, sometimes written by Parisians but most by expatriates. I've managed to find several/many in my areas of interest, and below are just the ones I have continued to follow or consistently followed while others have fallen by the wayside.

Chocolate & Zucchini -- This blog is about food, restaurants, cooking, and generally eating in Paris.

A Femme d'un Certain Age -- This blog covers fashion, style, and the difference for women over 40, using French style as the foundation.

The Daily Connoisseur -- This blog is written by a young woman who livedin Paris for some time, and uses the lessons learned from her two families there as guidelines in terms of fashion and life style. Usually takes one idea and works it thoroughly through her perspective.

Maitresse: Academe -- Ths blog follows the adventures of a female academic living and working in Paris, enjoying all the intellectual treats of the city.

Just Another American in Paris: This blog is by an ex-pat woman living in Paris and learning all about French life. On her fourth year!

David Lebovitz -- this is another food, cooking, and eating blog. This is where I found Grom!

Paris Daily Photo -- This blog features "one daily photo" from Paris, something seen in the city, usually described and contextualized. A lovely shot of Paris each day for those of us who yearn.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Apartment photos

Looking from front door to dining room window. This picture mostly showcases the great condition of the hardwood floors, which are original, not new laminates.

Looking from dining room window to front door. The windows are larger than in the old place, as are the rooms. This is an overcast afternoon, about 5 pm, and you can see -- lots of light! The downstairs wal;s are a kind of boring taupe, but the molding and floors are lovely. With curtains and furniture, it will look less beige-y and very nice.

The wet bar. Swanky, n'est-ce pas?

The kitchen. The walls are a yellow-y tan but everything is in good condition, and it is twice as large as my current kitchen. Counterspace, a double sink, a pantry closet, and (where I am standing) room for a chair, rolling kitchen cart, or storage shelves. And plenty of outlets--deal-breaker, since I am currently in a kitchen with one outlet and a bathroom with one outlet.  More outlets, pleeeze!

Standing in the far corner of the outdoor private patio. Enough space for two chairs, a small table, and lots of potted flowers. Morning reading/coffee space. Oh, and bike storage! I want to add a bird feeder, too, so Jack can sit in the dining room window and get some eye candy.

Outside storage area, on patio. Right now it is filled with "stuff" left by my friend, the owner. Not for long! Looks to be a great place to "store" patio chairs during winter, potting/plant materials, car needs, bike needs.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post the upstairs photos of the bedrooms and bathroom.

Spring Break, Day Six!

Today will be interesting:

12 noon -- phone interview
2 pm -- take load #3 to new apartment
2:30 pm -- car inspection
6:30 pm -- feed cat for friend (do another load of laundry? Dare I?)

Plus miscellaneous grading/noting/reaidng of student work. I completed Book #3 of my week, this time an audio-book.

Yesterday: I rode Bella throughout the 'hood, and it was grand. Perfect weather, little traffic (at 1030 am on the mean streets!), and easy going. Today plan to ride again, farther. I also took a load to the new place as well as photo'd it. Bumped the bumper of a parked Lexus, left my number and name--he called me this mroning to assure me there was no damage and to welcome me to neighborhood! Well, how nice! And good karma for my interview, I think: the universe is watching!

Felt sleepy all day yesterday--which was why I took an impromtu bike ride! I still have so much to get done by Sunday night, but am glad I changed my plans to visit a friend in DC (talked to her and hope to god later in April; good news about her mum as well!), to do the Big Move early in the week (really happy about that one!), and general slow-down on move.

Since I am decluttering while I move, filling the car to haul stuff from here to there has to be a more thoughtful process than previously, when I was doing it all in a couple of weeks, prior to the move of the "big stuff". This is a more civillized practice, forcing me to examine everything prior to a/ moving it, b/ moving it into the new place and finding it a place, and c/ helping me make the new place home as I move, rather than simply slinging it all into the space, as I did five years ago when I moved into this place.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Break, Day Five

Hump day! Planned schedule:
  • 630 am -- writing
  • 12 noon -- feed cat, laundry
  • 130 pm -- move #2 into new apartment
  • 230 pm -- editing/annotating student work
  • 6 pm -- working on May paper
I actually spent the mornign sleeping... somehow I was too tired/not in the mood for anything but coffee and nap. I did ride the bike, too, for 30 minutes, which was great.

Yesterday I managed to move one load into new apartment, handle email/on-line stuff, feed the cat.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weekly Frugality Report

Not too bad.

Downside: I managed to acquire another ticket, but one that goes away once I show up at court with confirmation of my 2011 inspection (tomorrow's to do list).

Upside: spent $108.79 at drugstore and grocery store; saved $30.28 on coupons and sale items.

Yesterday, I ate lunch with one friend and paid (she misplaced her debit card) and had dinner with another (this time I mislaid my card, but had a $20, which paid for 2/3 of my share). This is officially week two of the month, and I am admittedly behind. However, I still have a pantry full of stuff, a freezer full of stuff, and a fridge full of slowly aging stuff.


Plus, I may have come up with a way to salvage my summer class, I've started to put my 2010 taxes in order for Tax Man visit, and consignment and vintage visits are on my calendar for this week... Hopefully that will translate into money in my pocket. Whoo-hoo!

Update: Just "bought" 6 new books on Audible.com with my 6 credits (I pay monthly and earn 1 credit per month). I also "earned" $10 in credit for downloading 4 or more books... which means I can "buy" 2 $4.50 titles. Three books are on my "to read" list for 2011, and 3 more are catch-up titles in the J.D.Robb series. In any case, lots of music for biking and treadmill/gym time.

I've also earned a few more dollars at eBates this week, by buying online; this is a great site to save even more when buying frugally online (like at drugstore.com!).

Spring Break, Day Four

Planned schedule:
  • 630 am -- writing, email, blogging
  • 10:30 -- feed friend's cat, laundry, Target run (pick up things I forgot yesterday and Sunday--yikes!)
  • 12 noon -- yoga
  • 1:30 pm -- load car for move, including vacuum, cleaning supplies
  • 2 pm -- move #1 load into new apartment + clean + photograph new apartment just for you!
  • 5 pm -- feed friend's cat, then dinner out
Other: editing/annotating student work, de-cluttering study, May project. Reading. Napping.

Catching up on Day Three: yesterday I got lots on the schedule except the car's inspection. I had the idea I couldn't get the car inspected at the same place I get all my garage needs fulfilled... and I was right: my car is so old their equipment won't work on it (think about it!). So inspection will take a second stop.

But I got everything else done (no more stops for brake light short!), met one friend for lunch and another for dinner, but did not move load #1 (see above). Day's too short!

What did I add in? Cooking potato-leek soup, cooking apple butter overnight in the slow cooker, baking banana bread. Cleaned out refrigerator. Oh, yeah.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Appearances Matter

No, today I am not talking about my physical appearance, but that of my car. For the fourth time in 6 weeks I was stopped Saturday for what I term "driving while poor."

My car is a 1993 Escort station wagon. Currently, it needs a good wash. I live in one of the most upscale areas of the Big D, a township with its own police force. Not like last week when I was stopped by the Anderson Cooper-clone policeman (when I actually did something to get stopped, completely cop to it, and he was totally polite), the other three times I have been stopped because my car sticks out like a sore thumb among a sea of Lexus, Benz, and Range Rover glossiness (think Twilight's vampire glowy-ness compared with regular human appearance and you've got it).

How do I know?

1. The policeman's attitude changes when he realizes he's pulled over a middle-aged white woman (no, I mean seriously shifts to embarrassed over-politeness or bordering-on-rudeness warning!).
2. When he finds out I work at My U, his attitude shifts again--even more positively--to the point where one policeman today stepped back two steps and apologized.
3. I get only a warning or minor ticket... accompanied by self-conscious awareness of "mistake." (Was it?)

I have been stopped for a non-working brake light, inspection stickers just over the limit (or not--more about that!), registration stickers, and nothing.

First cop followed me into the drive to the parking lot in the rear of my building. I parked, got out, and saw him. He was backing up, then stopped and got out, walked over and looked at my registration sticker and said, "I thought it was out of date." Since he picked me up at the corner and was behind me the entire time, how did he see my sticker in the front corner? Got in his car and left immedately.

Second cop gave me a warning for rear brake light--which has a short--and ended the encounter quickly once he walked up to my window.No ticket or warning.

Third cop (today) called two other cops, took my license and insurance, told me about rear light, outdated license plates, and inspection sticker. I told him yes, on spring break and Monday was day I planned to get short looked at, new plates on, and new inspection. Explained about everything. Second cop--in this encounter, there were three cars flashing at me--picked at my registration, told me there were two there, and that was the sign of a stolen car. I said, call it in. He did... oops. Then he said, "Well, you did a bad job of removing the old one!" I showed him my new plates, explained (again) about the short, spring break, etc... and he took two steps back. Then, the second and third cars drive off, no lights... and I got a warning about the late inspection which won't even be a fine if I bring evidence of current inspection as well as an explanation of why he had to pull me over.

Which is not only insulting but ridiculous: he saw me in the driveway of my building and pulled over, waited until I passed him, and pulled out behind me, lights flashing. So no inspection sticker--he wasn't close enough--no brake light--until he pulled me over--just "driving while poor."

Sigh.

Sadly, given the policemen's attitude, I guess this might end differently for people who are neither white nor work at a white collar job (like professor). While I admire policemen and believe most of them do a great job and keep us safe, are worthy of our respect for doing a tough job that makes our lives simple... wow!

Appearances seem to matter in so many ways.

Spring Break, Day Three

Planned Schedule:
  • 630 am -- writing
  • 730 am -- car to garage for repairs/inspection
  • 1 pm -- lunch with former student
  • 230 pm -- work on May conference paper
  • 430 pm -- move load #1 to new apartment, laundry
  • 630 pm -- dinner with friend/colleague
Other than that: de-clutter study/papers, ride bike, edit/annotate student plays (2), edit/annotate student scenes (5)

Catch-up on Days One & Two:
  • Day One was completely successful: coffee date, committee, movies, etc.
  • Day Two was completely successful: read slept, played with Jack, and did 2 more loads of laundry
    • Read an entire book!

Spring Break, Day Two

Planned schedule:
  • 7 am -- Breakfast out, as usual, followed by grocery shopping & feeding friend's cat
  • 10 am -- Napping and reading
  • 4 pm -- 2nd feeding of cat, plus laundry
Cleaning house: seriously. Cooking. Huge de-cluttering of papers. Packing.

Finished Book #1: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Break, Day One

Planned schedule:
  • 8 am -- meet friend for coffee, talk, writing
  • 1030 am -- meet search committee for job
  • 2 pm -- meet friends for movie (tickets bought online)
  • 430 pm -- laundry and feeding a friend's cat (whee!)
Since the movie is at one of Big D's many malls, I also plan to replenish my perfume, look for a new black ponte knit skirt and nude pumps.

Beyond that? First day off since 2.27, so I want to clean house, relax, and de-clutter my study. Watch TV and read. Breathe.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Final day, Final performance

Well, my students' "7 plays in 12 days" is coming to an end...

I am ready! Spring Break starts tomorrow, and I can enter it with the distinct satisfaction of successfully shepherding seven playwrights through the revision/performance process to completion.

Meaning: a return to my own work!

I plan to start with a return to routine writing times throughout the week, with simple daily goals.
  • writing 5-6 pages daily on my novel-in-progress
  • drafting 2-3 abstracts for autumn conferences
  • outlining and researching the paper I am giving in May in Boston
My plans for the break seem ambitious, even to me. Since I am building in naps (lots of naps!), reading for pleasure (lots of pleasure! Lots of reading!), and exercise in the forms of walking and biking, it also seems do-able and sane.

If I were in Paris... March 11, 2011

And it could happen! Just got an email with ridiculously low fares round trip: less than $800.00. Of course, hotel, transpo, food, shopping... sigh. New apartment says NO! But it was a nice fantasy for five minutes...

If I was in Paris today... I'd probably take in one or more of the following exhibits.

Photos/Femme/Feminisme: this exhibit of photographs dated between 1860 and 2010 is full of material drawn from the archives of the Bibliotheque Marguerite Durand, where I have worked quite a bit. It is a lovely, tiny library near Tolbiac. The exhibit looks delightful, and it is located in the 4th arrondissement, at 22 rue Malher (M: Saint-Paul) at the Galerie des Bibliotheques. Entrance fee is 3 euro, and it closes on Sunday. This link also enables you to open the brochure and see what is on offer (very cool!).

Jossot, Caricatures de la revolte a la fuite en orient: exhibition: This exhibition, also sponsored by the libraries of Paris, offers a selection of cartoons by the caricaturist of the late 19th century as well as some of his poster designs. As a bonus, this is at the Bibliotheque Forney, in the Hotel de Sens, 1 rue du Figuier, again in the 4th arr. This is now an arts library, but is also one of the remaining three medieval residences still present in Paris. It is magnificent. The exhibit is 6 euros.

Herve Guilbert, photographe: at La Maison Europeene de la Photographie is an exhibit on this photographer, who is perhaps better known as a novelist and playwright. Address: 57 rue de Fourcy, 4th arr.; entrance to the site is 7 euros, but gets one into all the exhibits.

Société Réaliste: "Empire, State, Building": at the Jeu de Paume, this exhibit built on The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand's novel and its film, examines 20th century design. It just looks fascinating. This exhibition is at the museum, located on the Place de la Concorde.

Finally, I think I would like to finish my day by hearing the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France play Beethovan's 5th concerto and Alban Berg lieder in the Salle Pleyel.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Express Checkout Experiment -- Tough Week!

Like everything else during the past 10 days, my wardrobe has fallen on hard times. Especially since I've had to dress up every night (and twice on Saturdays!) to greet audiences and conduct talkbacks. This has demonstrated to me that I need to have a solid, 20-piece wardrobe with no holes in it for such an event.

Strengths:

Black dress.

This dress--picture it in black--was purchased two months ago as a replacement dress. It has been fabulous! I have worn it to the theatre 4 nights during the 12-night event, dressed up with different accessories and shoes. Not only do I look put together in a great way, but I received complements from colleagues and students (some with surprise in their voices!) at my great look. 

The dress washes and dries overnight--perfect for laundry-challenged folks--and can go with anything. The neckline is perfect for me, and in petite sizes works for my height. I am considering buying a second, in either the plum or the red. Simple, elegant, and useful.

Black pants.


I bought these pants a while ago and they are great. Unfortunately, the company is discontinuing them; I bought two new pair as a precaution. I can dress them up or down, match them with nearly anything, and they are a wonderful multi-season fabric I love. They are dressy enough for the "event" but casual enough that I can wear them with nearly everything I own.

Black turtleneck. I have two: one lightweight spandex fabric that goes well under sweaters and one cashmere that stands alone. I have been alternating them, layering jackets and sweaters and shawls over them.

What I have discovered: when I have several days without extra time, the rest of my wardrobe falls apart. My red silk top is frayed under the arm, where I don't believe it can be repaired. My striped trousers need a hem repair. Black ponte skirt, ditto. My white shirt lost a cuff button. Jeans can only be worn (by my figuring) for casual matinees, and they're past. Crisp cotton shirts can only be worn once, then must be washed... a task for tomorrow afternoon. And, frankly, standing onstage under bright lights makes me conscious of each outfit in a new way (which I think if actually good... but not this week!). I have been and continue to work my jackets (over the black trousers and turtleneck), but it feels stretched thin by day 10.

Tonight and tomorrow are the last days; we have strike after tomorrow's show, so I will wear jeans to that event (with a nice jacket and turtleneck). Tonight: black pants, black thin turtleneck, and green raw silk  jacket (from Paris) with black boots and gold jewelry.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weekly Frugality Report

Not a great week for frugality, last week, which I blame on being smack in the middle of the current intense student project.
  • From the $80 I withdrew for groceries and meals out, I did have $3 left over, which went into household cash
  • $15 deposited in savings account, based on coupon/sales savings
  • The increased retirement savings went into effect, which put $250 extra into my future every month
  • I acquired a traffic ticket, which will cost me money
  • I missed a yoga class, which was #7 in the series of 8; time to pay for a new series


Unfortunately, when this project crops up annually, I find myself running from class to performance to rehearsal every day... which certainly affects how I eat and spend. The added complications of guest artists and job candidates just play with my time further. This week will probably be the same.

Next week is Spring Break, and I'll literally be able to go on a spending and food diet.

Spring Break Plans 2011

  1. Start moving into new apartment. Which means cleaning new apartment first... since it's been empty for some time, it needs a bit of a freshen-up all round before I feel okay putting things on shelves, etc. I'll be buying and laying out new shelf liner paper in the closets, bath, and kitchen; hanging a new shower curtain; moving my clothes and coats into the space. I'll also be photographing the empty space -- because I know you're interested in seeing the "before" and "after."
  2. Read 3-5 books on my 50/2011 list. Yes, I said 5 for the whole month, but I am ambitious. Turn off Netflix/Hulu/DVDs and turn on Nook and books (a pile!)
  3. Ride the bike. The new apartment is 3 miles from campus (at most) which is a stretch for out-of-shape me. Time to get on the bike and work up to the 30-40 minute ride it will be. 
  4. Get back into my own writing timetable daily. Not just the blog but the research/historical study and the play.
  5. Take the car into the garage: oil change, inspection, faulty brake light, headlight, new license plates.
  6. Nap every day.
  7. Play with Jack. In fact, drive him crazy with attention!
  8. Go to the movies with friends. Probably Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, Just Go With It.
These are humble, happy plans. Lots of sleep, lots of cooking, lots of good food and friends.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My minimal dream come true...

The writing sheds of famous folk, brought to you by Apartment Therapy/ReNest:

http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/email/famous-writers-small-writing-sheds-and-offthegrid-huts-140587

Go there and enjoy. I think my dream was Thoreau's "cabin" or closet... what you will.

Frugal Pantry Challenge, Week 4

This week I cooked (and thus ate) lentil soup with bacon (Moosewood Cookbook recipe with added bacon), chicken breasts with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and green olives in a yogurt sauce (my own made-up recipe I'll share), and banana bread. One night I cooked Annie's organic white shells in cheese sauce; that night, I nearly ate it out of the box, I was so hungry and stretched thin for time...

As I thought, there was too little time to cook or eat at home most nights, so having something prepared was smart. Having something to come home to at 11 pm was even smarter, as after rehearsals I have a terrible desire to nosh and snack and stuff myself with empty calories.

This week, I will cook the potato-leek soup, the cranberry muffins, and something defrosted from the freezer... maybe. All of it is pantry-ready, with no extra stuff. My grocery lists have been limited to fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and cat foods. Oh, and wine.



My students' plays run through the week, till Friday.

Then, starting Saturday, I'll be on Spring Break. And I'll moving to the new apartment in dribs and drabs, starting with clothing. I'm going to use my spring break (9 days!) to simultaneously move and de-clutter once again. Clothes, kitchenware, paper records, and household goods. I'll be back to cooking and living like a regular person, not a theatre person.

Unfortunately that means I won't be visiting my friend in D.C., but I do plan to schedule a three-day weekend with her soon.

Crazy Week--not done!

Well, yesterday was a long day, but I did manage to get everything done I had to do and then some. Today includes performances of two plays (one at 2 pm and one at 8 pm), and, prior to that, seeing rehearsals.

Last night I dreamed a minimalist dream. I was living on a long corridor of apartments--really, rooms... well, really, closets. A long corridor of closets used as apartments. It was like a 5' x 8' space that was my living room/kitchen/library/bedroom/closet in one.

Perhaps I have been thinking and reading too much about minimalism, or perhaps the new apartment and the old apartment are weighing on my mind (moving!), or perhaps it was just a dream.