Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fashionably Late Post

So my UBER talented sister, Jessy, showed her designs at Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week 2013 (NWAFW).  They started doing this a few years ago and it keeps getting bigger and fancier, with big-name sponsors (Mercedes-Benz & L'oreal this year).  I can't emphasize enough how proud I was of my sister.  One small critique is how the shows were organized.  There were shows every night from Thursday-Saturday.  It seemed like a mix of local designers showing their collections AND local boutiques showing looks.  I have no problem with stores wanting to show cute looks all put together like that, but I don't think they should've been mixed in with the designers' collections.

There's just a huge difference between showing clothes that were most likely made in a factory in another country and HANDMADE designs.  Every single stitch of these dresses was done by Jessy's hand.  In keeping with her philosophy of natural, sustainable, fashion that looks good and feels good to wear, the fabric she chose was all organic.  It felt incredible to the touch, smooth, just the right amount of sheen.  Gorgeous.

I was my usual manic, stressed-out freak that night.  I went directly from a farewell dinner for my students to this show and of course had worked all day so I didn't have time to get situated and get my camera set up right so these photos are blurry and the color might be a little off.  However, as you'll see below, after the show I got Jess to pose with her models.

My sister owns a small boutique, Good Things, and has a great eye for design.  It was what she was trained and educated to do.  But she's focused so much on the marketing and merchandising for her store that she hasn't done any MAKING in a long time so this was a huge step for her and I really hope it's the beginning of a new, creative chapter for her.  I think she'll start designing and making more and more of her own clothes which I fully support!  Even if she weren't my sister I would shop at her store and want her clothes.  She reminds me of Eileen Fisher in that her selections are classic, timeless, gorgeous pieces that will last you forever.

So, without further ado - J Lang Designs Spring 2013 Collection! 

Every detail was attended to - love that little pintuck in the back.

There is a thin strip of sequins and netting down the front of this dress.  You have to get real up close to see that it's actually kind of racy!  Just the tiniest sexy strip.

That's Jessy in the black dress

This model's hair and coloring were so beautiful - and I absolutely love it with that pearly blue dress

After the show - the models were starting to change when we stopped them for a group photo.

We couldn't find Greenley so her photos were taken later.  That capelet is so cute!

Love Jessy's style as much as I do?  Tell her!

I had to add this last photo because you can see my crazy ass back there taking the picture.  I was trying to get these little aproned-up dolls together for a photo

Friday, March 22, 2013

This Spring feels incredibly sudden.  Everything happens so quickly.  It feels like tomorrow Stella will graduate, the week after that my sister gets married, then in the blink of an eye Stella will be moving to Colorado for college and I will begin a new chapter. 

How can I slow it all down when I'm falling asleep on the couch in my work clothes and have a to-do list as long as my arm? 

There a lot of you reading who probably are as shocked as I am to digest the fact that Stella is about to graduate from high school.  This girl....she's one of my favorite people to spend time with.  That is the biggest perk of parenthood - there is another cool person in this world and I'm gonna take partial credit for it! You'll remember from my letter to her that this was my only goal as a parent.  I just love being with her!  Last weekend we planned to go to the movies but I am a dumbass who doesn't read closely (blame it on the Fandango app, Alannah.  Way to go).  We got to the theater for the 1:10 showing of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone but that time was for a different theater and we wanted to see it in the good theater....and that showing wasn't until 2:30.  We didn't WANT to go to that late of a matinee.  Jesus Christ.  I'm reading this as I write it and I'm convinced it's THE First World of First World Problems.  Forgive me...the point of all of this is that my daughter and I were faced with an unplanned afternoon.  We went to Ulta and played around with makeup and lotions.  We went to Goodwill and scored big time.  I love that Stella gets the same electric thrill that I do from finding gems at thrift stores.  She found the softest of soft, thinner flannel shirts in the Men's section.  It will be perfect over leggings w/ boots. We just had a great time - the two of us, tooling around on a cold, dreary Sunday.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Untitled, Unplanned, Unnamed Characters

Oh hell, you guys.  I don't even know where to start anymore.  Looks like I've got to start looking for a new place to live.  It's kind of complicated but right now we're renting from a friend of mine.  He put in a lot of work on this house and it's very cozy and has great features.  Except now he's ready to move back in.  He assured me we could stay until Stella's graduation (May 16) but I just found out he wants to move back in May 1.

Work has not been good.  Overly stressful.  This last group of students, from the program I was first hired to oversee, has been extremely needy and full of emergencies and problems.  They can't help it...the health scares and family tragedies and general culture shock that causes physical symptoms...but I'm pretty much the only person who can deal with these things.  I delegate as much as possible but it's still mostly my responsibility.  It's beyond taxing.

But I don't want to give it up, despite it being the primary cause of my back pain - this stress.  I've been making an effort to do yoga regularly and this past week I got in at least an hour of heart-rate-increasing walking on three days.  I need to give up my gym membership.  My gym is all the way back uptown and when I get home from work the last thing I want to do is drive back up that way.  So when the sun is out, no matter how cold it is, I love to just head out the door with my earbuds in.  Sometimes I like rowdy hip hop, sometimes dance music, sometimes nostalgic songs from the 80s & 90s, sometimes podcasts - as long as I've got something good to listen to I can walk and walk and walk.  I've been trying to challenge myself - to pick a landmark and run to it.  Then I go back to walking until I've caught my breath and then find another landmark to run to.  I'm grateful that my walking route is not a popular one.  No one sees my sad and slow running/panting. I focus intently on the ground at my feet.  When the sun is out I'll lift my face toward it and close my eyes, but I usually prefer to look down.  This has served me well over the years...I've found all sorts of interesting things, including cash. 

Exercise helps my back pain and stress.  If it doesn't directly help my back, it helps my brain that must process the pain.  It's nearly impossible for me not to feel resentful toward my job when I work 6 Friday nights in a row or go all day without a break for any personal time.  On the other hand my job is keeping my head above water, financially speaking.  My job is interesting, just challenging enough, and, most importantly, personally fulfilling.  I feel like my work creates good in the world, and that's extremely important to me.  But I have to find a way to tip the balance of work/personal life back in my favor or I will LOSE MY FUCKING MIND.  Not kidding.  

Two weekends ago, when I visited Ai Lien and Andrew, I was talking with them about my personal life.  I started to say that being single sucks but corrected myself.  "Being single doesn't suck,"  I realized out loud, "It's great actually.  I love my life and everything I have going on.  It's dating that sucks!"  As soon as I start to think about, or tentatively try, dating, everything goes pear-shaped.  I am pretty satisfied with my life in general.  I'm in that sweet spot where I recognize and appreciate the good parts of having (next to) no one to answer to or for, where I can do whatever I dang please.  I can eat cheese and crackers for dinner.  I can leave clean laundry on the couch for a week, stretching the definition of "clean" about as far as it will go.  I can sleep with half my bed covered in books and magazines.  All that is GOOD.  But it's the very mention of trying to find a partner that screws everything up.  Guys who I thought were very good friends turn out to be emotionally bipolar.   The online faction is even worse.  Liars, creeps, and the overly confident seep out of every nook and cranny of the internet. 

I got a terrible phone call the day before's taking me days to write this post, so if you need reference, I mean this past Friday, the 15th.  My ex-sister-in-law/beloved forever sisterfriend Angie called me, sobbing, to tell me that her mother, my daughter's grandmother, was in the ICU and had had a probable heart attack.  Sudden tragic news is never welcome, but this timing really hit us hard.  Stella hadn't been able to see her grandmother in a while, more than a year, so I knew she would feel awful and guilty when I told her, even though it wasn't Stella's fault that she hadn't seen her grandmother in so long.  It just feels like so much is happening so fast or all at once - it's too much to even process.  So far she's improving.  She is out of ICU and in a regular room.  Stella and I may have to drive over and visit her.  Even though she also lives in Arkansas it's still a 3.5 hour drive and will take up an entire day going over there and back.  Time is something I just don't have right now.  But she's family - we'll have to do it.  I don't THINK we will risk the chance of running into Stella's father.  He's so far off the deep end of irresponsibility and loser-ness I honestly don't know if he'd make the trip to see his own mother in the least I don't think he would but this is all conjecture.  We have not had any interaction with him in many, many years.  But I like to think he still would be the kind of man who would visit his mother under these circumstances.  It's not like I'd be so cruel or petty as to confront him on the (AHEM) nearly $30,000 in unpaid child support if I were to see him.  It would be weird, sure...but I know better than to...what's the phrase?....try to squeeze blood from a turnip?  Yeah, I won't do that. 

This is a sampler of what's going on with me, an emotional smörgåsbord, if you will.  I didn't even touch the dietary mental illness I am working to understand so that I can overcome it, the excellent novel I just finished, written by my Junior year homecoming date and college housemate, my sister's fashion show, or a few other exciting experiences I've had recently.

I hope you're still coming back to read.  I'll keep coming back to write and dream of writing with the frequency I once wrote.  It makes a huge difference, knowing you're reading.  Please comment, let's have dialogues...tell me what's going on with you too.

Today I decided "F*** it, I have piles of laundry to do and a barely acceptable house but I need to go out to the river."  So I drove over this evening and made a delicious dinner with Carmen.  I held baby Samuel and sat on the screened-in porch as the rain pounded down.  It's so good for my soul to spend time with Jude.   Right now I'm lying on her Tempur-Pedic bed, listening to the shrieking of the coyotes. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Week Late

No, not the exciting kind of "week late." Just my report from LAST Saturday.

The plan was for Stella and me to drive to Little Rock and then Hot Springs with Ai Lien and Andrew to go to the races at Oaklawn.  We did this last year and had so much fun.  But then my daughter up and got herself a boyfriend and now doesn't want to give up an ENTIRE WEEKEND, MOM to hang out with old people.

But do old, boring people do awesome stuff like THIS?!:

Line up beautiful lipsticks to marvel at how close our preferred colors are

Set up still life scenes before meal prep?  This will be an arugula/shaved fennel/green apple w/ warm shallot vinaigrette salad.  AND IT WILL RULE.

Capture the first steps in making homemade pasta!  Did you get a load of all those olive oil & vinegar bottles?  We went to a store that has nothing but great oils & vinegars and lost our minds.  I'm not sure I can ever buy grocery store blended cheap olive oil again. 
Pasta dough blending

Feline interpersonal dynamics are endlessly interesting to me.  SOLO crying for wet food, Hot  Dog patiently in the back, knowing his place, waiting to slurp up the leftovers. 

Step one

We're just getting started

I like this wine.  And closer view of our beloved oils & vinegars. 

ATM was taking photos.  I hate my camera's internal flash so I'd rather just deal w/ blurry photos.  This is me, rolling dough through the machine. 

This photo ALMOST captures how lush and bouncy Ai Lien's hair looked. 

Shit!  No!  The dough is buckling and then it'll catch inside the machine and get gunky all over. 


This one makes me laugh
Rollin Dough and a close-up of my everyday left arm/hand decoration

Thinner and thinner

From Up Top

Nearly translucent

This is it.  Ai Lien and I are both arms of the pasta-making beast

The blur makes my face completely insane but I had to include this one of the final results!

Drying on cookie racks

Then into salted boiling water for only about 5 min for perfectly al dente

We just took the carbs and RAN with them.  Uncle Jesse's Roasted Garlic bread from Little Bread Co., that oil & vinegar from Strippagio. 

I love the patterns in A & A's living room. Not really this yellow.

Taking the over-the-topness of the evening over the top was when we read poetry to each other.  For real.  

My point is:  I love those two.  And love our no-firm-plans weekends and I always leave their sweet home, that feels 100% like a HOME and not a "curated residential scene" feeling invigorated, inspired, validated, and reassured that I'm doing the right thing by staying here in this progressive-resistant state and working to improve from the inside.

How were your weeks?