Friday, February 25, 2005

Mormon Mochaccino or Mockaccino if you will…

Are you a Mormon who loves coffee? The first and only time I have ever drunk coffee was when I was 5. I was at the realtors with my parents (a common activity) and I sneaked into the dark kitchenette (a closet with a coffee maker) and spied the pot on the burner.

Now as practicing Mormons, drinking coffee is strongly discouraged. It is common knowledge that too much of anything is not good for us, but coffee tends to be slightly addictive and a natural stimulant and therefore shunned by Mormons doctrinally.

I knew this at 5. But I LOVED the way it smelled when we went to the realtors or to friends’ houses… So I took my chance… The kitchenette was dark and I slid in and closed the door behind me. I made sure the pot wasn’t hot, I picked it up and took a couple of swigs of COLD, bitter, black coffee. It didn’t matter, I was hooked.

See, I have an addictive personality. I think I was born into a family and religion that shuns addictive behaviors because God knew I would have no chance out there in the “real world.” I needed a little protection.

I never drank coffee again, but I LOVE coffee flavor to this day: coffee candy, coffee smells (I just bought a coffee candle), and holy cow coffee ice cream (Starbucks makes a Mocha Chocolate Chip that they sell at Costco…sold in bulk and SO yummy…). I also like rum flavor, but that is for another time.

My mom (Mo) always had Postum in the house. She liked it and therefore I liked it. It is a “coffee substitute” developed for the “hot drink drinkers” who don’t want the negative side effects of caffeine and stuff. If you are a regular coffee drinker, it’s not much of a substitute, but if you are a closet coffee lover (no pun intended), then this might do the trick.

My mother-in-law taught me a nifty trick. She adds one spoonful of Postum, one spoonful of plain cocoa, and a couple of packets of Splenda to hot water and tops if off with a splash of milk, hence Mormon Mochaccino.

I drink this stuff in bulk, so a get a big bowl and add equal parts of all the ingredients including an equal part of coffee creamer to give it more of a creamy mocha effect.

I’m just throwing this out there. Not to jump on the recipe bandwagon, just because I know there are other secret coffee lovers out there like me. If you feel like a cup o’ mockaccino, I keep the pot on the stove and the door is always open…

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Seriously, Activity Days is pure blogging fodder…

So this month’s theme is Service, and the girls have been begging me to do a service project for a lovely house-bound lady in the ward. You may know her from Kacy’s blogs; it is none other than our dear Sister C .

We decided to combine two skills: service with learning to cook. As the date drew near, I had to think hard about what 7-10 ten-year-olds could handle cooking, together, with heat, and knives, and other various sharp and hazardous objects… And what do old ladies like to eat?

Mo suggested meatloaf. A classic. A favorite of generations past. Easy for old teeth and dentures to chew. And Mo’s meatloaf is to die for…

So after the safety lectures and the rigmarole of thorough hand washing (everyone was made to say their ABC’s as they “scrubbed up”), chopping, crushing, & mixing ingredients…the girls were allowed to mix the 5 ½ lbs. of meatloaf mixture in a HUGE bowl with their hands.

Little K, or Mrs. Harry Potter, came up to me just as I was putting the pans in the oven and said rather casually, “All of this is irritating my ringworm (shows me eerie circular rash on her upper forearm…). It’s really acting up…”

What to do? Do I trash the whole batch? Or do I pray that any possible contamination gets “cooked out”? At the very suggestion that we “don’t have time to take the meatloaf over to Sister C’s house tonight…” 7 ten-year-olds tear up and start whining, “But we LOVE her! We HAVE to take it over!”

So I cooked it at like 500 degrees.

I have not heard anything bad as of yet. Sister C is still alive as far as I know, and ringworm free. I have learned a valuable lesson. Ten year old girls are ravenous beasts, they will eat potato peelings if you let them…they sometimes carry strange diseases…but I can’t imagine ANYTHING giving them as much pleasure as bringing a warm dinner in to a very touched and grateful Sister C did. Bring on the service projects! Just please don’t notify the Health Department…

Mo’s Meatloaf

Makes 10 small servings or 5 regular servings

1 ½ lbs ground beef
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
½ cup finely crushed saltine crackers
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped green pepper


½ cup ketchup
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard
4 Tbsp brown sugar

1. Mix meatloaf ingredients by hand (sans-ringworm is best) this mixes the ingredients super well and breaks the meat up better than a spoon…really squish it between your fingers good…
2. Mix topping ingredients together…this is best done with a spoon…no real reason to use your hands unless you really want to…and I don’t want you to…
3. Bake meatloaf for 1 hour at 350 degrees (or until it is no longer pink and cooked completely through). Topping may be put on top of the meatloaf before baking, or during the last few minutes of baking time. I like to put ½ on before cooking and then the last ½ for the last 15 minutes…

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Job Resume (just in case you’re hiring…)

I have been fascinated by what you can learn (or imagine) about people by knowing their job history. So I will join the likes of Kacy & Kaycee , and share my vast experience of menial labor…

1985-1993 Babysitting…I HATED it generally. We always lived next door to the NICEST people who salivated to see a family of 5 girls move next door. I babysat for family and neighbors (from before I was really competent) through high school.

1991 Nanny— Summer Job -- I was a nanny for an awesome family in Natick, Massachusetts. They were Jewish (ALL the Jewish families had nannies, it was cultural…it wasn’t a rich thing or a “both-parents-work-thing”). Luckily, I didn’t sleep over. But the kids were adorable and easy to play with. All I had to do was watch Superman in the morning, make lunch, and draw Superman in the afternoon. I even got a week at Cape Cod in a beach house. Swimming all day, restaurants at night… I was SUPER lucky. Amy Lynn needs to blog about the family SHE nannied for that summer…

1992-1993 Office Assistant – Medfield, Massachusetts -- My first real job was found in the newspaper, and was for a couple who had started an energy efficient lighting company out of their basement. They were hippies and the lady didn’t shave either her arm pits or her legs. But they were nice, and I learned some mad office skillz.

1993 Sales Associate: Intimate Apparel – Natick, Massachusetts – I was a certified bra fitter (I even wore a tape measure around my neck) and I know more about foundation garments than I ever thought possible. I can spot your bra size at 15 paces, and I can make an educated recommendation. I really liked this job. LONG hours, but fun customers… I saw more breasts that summer than I care to count (I stopped at 13…Simpson’s reference)… Some people are just exhibitionists!

1994 Lifeguard – Houston, TX – I “tried out” for this job after 30 days of mono. I was super weak and almost drown during the “auditions”. (Life guarding is a much sought after, cushy summer job in Houston…) I was assigned to a pool in a brand new neighborhood. I doubt there were 20 houses yet. And since most houses in Texas HAVE pools, not many people came to my pool. All I had to do was sit there and get wicked tan. And if no one was there, I could get off my stand and read, or work out… I think I read like 25 books in a 3 ½ month period…books like “Roots” for crying out loud…

1995 – Dance Instructor – Rexburg, Idaho – My ballet teacher had a baby during the semester, so she paid me the ULTIMATE compliment by having me teach her classes in town. She taught at Rick’s College but she taught 5-14 year olds in a studio “down town.” It was child’s play…literally…not exactly serious dancing.

1995 – Private Cook – The Roney Family – Provo, Utah – This was a cushy job. My roommate was the nanny for the president of NuSkin. The mom had 6 kids under 12 and hated cooking. She was a very good, attentive mom, she just had a lot of kids (hence the nanny) and hated cooking (hence the cook). Since I briefly studied culinary arts at Rick’s, I got the job. My “audition” meal was prefaced with the statement that they had fired two cooks already…I passed, phew! They have an AMAZING house with an AMAZING kitchen. So fun…so easy… She said I could come back and work for them after my mission, but I chickened out.

1995 & 1997 -- Server – La Dolce Vita – I really liked this job and had it before and after my mission. I loved the family, and I loved the food. My best friend at this job was a little Bolivian woman who had lived in France for 18 years. She had managed to pick up flawless French, but had a HUGE problem mastering English. Between her bad English and my bad French, we struck up quite a friendship. I miss Rosie…she moved to NYC.

1997-2000 – Cook/Server – Brick Oven Pizza & La Dolce Vita– Provo, Utah – I don’t know what possessed me to apply to be a cook at the Brick Oven, but I got the job and worked in the kitchen for over a year and a half…it might have been longer. I moved over to serving because I was also in school full time and I was tired of smelling like cheese.

1999-2003 -- Del Sol – Retail Design & Merchandising – As I was finishing school, I got the opportunity to do some designing for a start up retail company based in Utah. They market strictly to the tourist industry, hence the reason there are not stores in Utah. But I designed or assisted on stores in places like Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Alaska, Cape Cod, Cozumel, Acapulco, etc. I loved this job, but after almost 5 years (and a lot of being away from home), I announced my retirement and looked for something new and local.

2003 – 2004 – LoveSac – Retail Design Manager – This was supposed to be the perfect solution. A local company with NO CLUE what they were doing. They thought I was some big shot designer (boy I had them fooled) and hired me without knowing exactly what I would ask them to do (start spending money on store design). They are a company with no plan, and I gave them a plan, and they took me to China (SO fun…). But once they got the plan, they didn’t want to pay my salary anymore (a lot of people there work for free basically and are expected to do so out of loyalty) so I got let go. I wouldn’t work for free….selfish me.

2004 – 2005 – Woman of Leisure/Retail Consultant – So I was thrown into my life of leisure… I am REALLY enjoying it. I thought I would be CRAZY without gainful employment, but I have managed to stay quite busy. I am a retail consultant for Del Sol, and when they get swamped, I take on a store or two for them which means I get a few weeks of stress and then a trip somewhere nice, and then it’s over.

My working days are not over. I am still figuring out how to rule the world in a safe, non-dictatorial, high-style sort of way…and to get paid lots of money for it…

Sunday, February 20, 2005

We Are Socially Awkward or the Worst Ward Party EVER

Todd and I are not the most graceful people socially. We are shy, and so sometimes we fall short in the social pleasantries: saying hello to people we know, making an effort to meet people we don’t know, helping other people feel comfortable by talking to them, making chit chat…

We know this about ourselves, so we make an effort to BE social; we go out of our way to make this weakness a strength.

But here’s why we didn’t last 10 minutes at the church party/dinner:

1. When we got there, the tables were either completely full or completely empty. We sat by ourselves. We watched as others came in, looked for a table, looked at us, and then looked for another table.

2. When Bro M came into the room, slowly pushing a cart of food, he looked right at me, and I smiled and was about to say “Hi!” when he quick as a flash averted his eyes and his smile and looked at nothing and pushed the cart on by. I then felt stupid saying “hi” and didn’t say anything. (Why do I have to be so shy?)

3. As we got up to leave, we noticed that the service project (assembling book bags of school supplies for Tsunami victims) was finished and the only note books left on the table were the ones we brought; the ones with the cool holographic covers. Everyone else’s notebooks had been plain. Ours were different and therefore shunned. If I were a Tsunami victim and 10 years old, I TOTALLY would have wanted a cool purple covered notebook with holographic concentric circles…Tsunami victims need a bit of glamour, too! They lost EVERYTHING! Including things they might have owned that were sparkly!

4. As we were sneaking out, Sis J stopped me and asked me if I were sneaking out. I said yes, and before I could provide a valid explanation (it was our anniversary), she said, “I know you, but you probably don’t even know my name.” Just the thing to say to a shy person. But before I could ask her what her name was…

5. Sis S walked up looking frazzled (as usual) and went into a monologue about her car problems, which then turned into a diatribe on the fact that “there were SO many Mexicans at AutoZone today.” I was FLABBERGASTED…the only thing I could offer was, “Well, it IS Saturday…” and then…

6. Sis J said, “I know…I was at Macy’s today and they were having a sale on milk so you KNOW the whole place was just packed with them, and they were just jabbering away…blah...blah…blah…I always wonder what they are saying about me….”

7. And Sis S added, “I know! Once I was at Wal-Mart and a group of them was following me around going blah blah blah blah…and finally I turned around and said ‘WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?’ I mean, you have to catch me in a mood, but I was just in no mood for it!”

I was pretty dumbfounded. I kept looking at Todd and he kept looking at me, and these two ladies just kept going. I felt like I was under a spell that kept me standing there until I could ask Sis J her name.

8. But to be polite, although I had never spoken to Sis S, I did know her name so I felt compelled to say so. But in doing so I TOTALLY mispronounced it. She actually got annoyed both visibly and audibly. She explained it this way, “Although I had English teachers all my life tell me that my parents misspelled my name the way it is pronounced, do people really think my parents would be SO DUMB as to mane me ******?” I don’t know, I thought, you have some pretty dumb attitudes toward Mexicans, the possibilities are endless…

So we left it on that awkward note. I just know that I will be called to the activities committee sometime to pay penance for all the ward parties I’ve skipped out on…But this one was justifiable, wasn’t it? Please validate me….

Thursday, February 17, 2005

NOT My Finest Hour

Have already a MAJOR complex about my dirty house. I am a very distracted housekeeper. I am the typical right-brainer who gets distracted by the small details and overlooks the bigger, messier picture. For example, I will spend hours re-organizing my pantry labeling all the shelves and making all the can labels face the same direction, but not do the dishes for a week.

I also have dogs; inside dogs. They do not help my house stay clean. And they don’t lift a finger to help out come to think of it.

The other day, I interrupted the dogs regular schedule of going outside THEN eating and let them eat first, which caused the 13 year old dog to eat and then promptly poop on the floor (my back was turned for like TWO seconds...). Luckily, we purchased a steam cleaner the day after we purchased the dog, so I took all the necessary precautions and thoroughly cleaned it all up and disinfected said soiled area.

Later that day, I was still in my PJ’s because it was Saturday and I had slept in til 10am. So when a friend knocked on the door, I was a little embarrassed by my disheveled state. I had been reading and responding to blogs all morning, of course.

I invited my friend in and we chatted for a bit and then I ran up stairs to fetch something for her to take with her. When I came back down, she was on the bottom step of my stairs looking at the photos on my wall with apparent interest, but the first words out of her mouth were hurried and awkward and had nothing to do with the pictures she was just looking at.

So we wrapped things up and said good-bye and I turned to go back upstairs when I stopped dead in my tracks. There on my stairs, directly at eye level, was a slightly dried and linty piece of dog poop.

My friend had undoubtedly seen the “object” on my stairs and had gone in for a closer look because “it couldn’t be poop.” Oh, yes, it can… Obviously the dog had not been finished as she waddled down the stairs to go outside and had just finished there. I had practically caught my friend in the act of investigation, and she had smoothly pulled off an “I’m just looking at photos” pretense…

I am still mortified. I can’t imagine what she thinks. Luckily, she’s not the type to gossip (I hope) or else I will never be able to show my face at book club again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Adult Ballet 101: Part Deux

So I need to tell you about the “dance studio”.

My classmates and I were instructed to go ahead into the slightly humid studio room and find a place at the barre. The room had an eight foot ceiling minus the height of the slightly raised floor. There would obviously be no jumping in this room.

The floor was unfinished chip board; a strong but low-grade plywood. The barre was a closet rod that was mottled gray from lots of use and human hand oil. Eew… And the mirrors were so smudged that my reflection from pelvis to knee was obscured and blurry (thank goodness…it’s a real “problem” area…).

Has my germ intolerance level increased since my youth?

I have a friend who contracted a HORRIBLE case of athlete’s foot from a studio floor where they were encouraged to dance barefoot. The pills to cure her cost $6 a pop… I am sure this room is full of bacteria and fungus, and I don’t have insurance.

So the instructor finally came in to begin class. We’ll call her Sam.

Remember how I said that I reconsidered my career in dance after deciding that there are some aspects of the dance world that I was unwilling to put up with? Sam epitomizes my reasoning. Let me explain…

There is a developed personality prevalent in the dance world (especially by the “retired” dancers who now teach, whereby you are sensitive (due to years of bad body image and eating disorders), defensive (having to constantly battle bossy dance directors and your place in the company), catty (so that you can bad talk the principle dancers you are jealous of), loud (because you are a “creative person” and therefore MUST be boisterous), egotistical (because you used to be 85 pounds and could do the splits), and talkative (because you have a captive audience who has PAID to be there…).

I forgot about all this…

Some of the greatest teachers have had decent careers, and have retired to teach the up and coming generation their skills. Then there are the teachers who are slightly bitter, retired dancers who never really made it, and who sometimes act as surrogate stage mothers.

The class is supposed to go for and hour and a half. We spend an hour “dancing” and half and hour listening to every medical malady Sam has ever endured, including the lawsuits that have ensued.

Sam is a nice person, but I just can’t tolerate the “dance personality”’ like I used to. She tells A LOT of stories where the punch line is when she tells some one to “Shuuuuut uuuup! Quitcher whining!” We all laugh politely and silently beg her to move on. I have to keep myself from rolling my eyes constantly, my eyes being big and somewhat protruding…it would be noticeably sarcastic and cheeky.

I know I am sounding really negative here. I’m really easy going, I promise. I only think briefly about the negative stuff, and then move on. Sometimes I blog about it, but only if I think it’s good for a laugh.

The class is OK. It is slow. I am used to something a little higher caliber, but my body isn’t. This class is the perfect level for my now un-athletic body. I can barely touch my toes. I can barely jump high enough to get my toes pointed underneath me before I plop back down on the plywood. Although the class doesn’t make me sore in general, there are apparently muscles that are only used in ballet and in nothing else. Those muscles hurt bad.

I would encourage any of you who are dreaming of being a ballerina a little bit to come and join me. I would love some company. I will even make you a little ballet skirt to match the one I made for myself. It is only semi-see-through with a flocked rose and leopard pattern on it. It sounds way tacky to describe it like that but I promise it’s way chic. It’s yours…if you’re not busy on Wednesday nights…just keep in mind that if you don’t come, you will be mad at the fact that your body could have been as slim and sinuous as mine (will be…).

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Adult Ballet 101 or a Lesson in Humiliation

So I signed up for this UVSC Community Continuing Education Adult Ballet class.

Now I was a dancer growing up, a ballet dancer. I almost wrote dancer in quotation marks, but I’m serious. I thought I was going to pursue a professional career. My sister and I danced with really good studios, not fancy, but serious.

But as I got older, I began to realize that dance is a world unto itself, a world I was not so sure I wanted to be a part of. Dance people are a separate breed. So I took a couple of years off, and then resumed dance in college as exercise.

Well, thanks to the magic of metabolism that is marriage, I weigh a lot now. I am out of shape, and have been looking for a way to reclaim the body that once was me. I’m terribly lazy, so it had to be exercise that is FUN. And, it had to be something that I do with other people, I cannot work out alone or without obligation…some level of competition is a very motivating thing….

So I bit the proverbial bullet, and signed up for a community class. But I had certain criteria:

…this needed to be a class for ADULTS. There had been various adults that had tried to “come back” to dancing and joined the studios for a short time. They were old (over 30), and fat (over 125), and inflexible (could touch the ground but not with their elbows or do the splits nine ways). It was awkward for them to be in a class with limber, fit teenagers, and it was awkward for us because, frankly, we felt sorry for them. They would last a month and we would never see them again.

…the dress code had to be somewhat lax. The ballet dress code is and will be forever…pink ballet shoes, pink tights, and a black leotard. Once I got to college I was allowed to wear a skirt, but even this was frowned upon. I needed a class where I could shamefully hide the “extra” me, that “additional person” or “fourth-grader-equivalent” that I was smuggling into my leotard…

…it had to be somewhat serious ballet. Ballet is not a “hobby” for me. I still take the it and the technique seriously. There is a right way and a wrong way, and I wanted a class that would kick my…

Ask me how the first night went…

Well, I had made an effort to APPEAR serious by going to the local purveyor of dance wear and purchasing new ballet slippers, pink tights, and a black leotard. The sales lady diplomatically explained why she was giving me the LARGE tights, “because you seem tall and a lot of the girls like them to fit comfortably.” I’m 5’5”…but thanks anyway. And I guess it’s hard to find an XL leotard because, honestly, not a lot of girls my size are dancing. So I settled for a Large, and took my purchases home.

I got into the tights, the shoes, and the leotard and went into the family room to show Todd. I thought that if I came into the room doing a funny walk it would alleviate the awkwardness that we both were sure to feel. So I made my grand entrance doing an exaggerated ballet walk, and sure enough, the laughter dispelled the shock of the sight of a fat thirty-year-old in ridiculously juvenile looking pink tights and leotard.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Todd asked. He was very doubtful of the costume, or of my “guts” to actually wear it in public. He seemed very relieved to know that I planned on wearing my sweats over it.

So I showed up for the first night… I didn’t know where to go, but I spotted pink tights under black pants and I followed them. I was led down the stairs to a low-ceilinged, slightly damp “studio” in the basement of an office building. Upstairs is a permanent cosmetics company, so if ballet isn’t working it for my self esteem maybe some permanent blush will.

The first thing I instinctively did was check to see if I was the fattest one in the room; bad habit from the old days… Luckily, I wasn’t. There was an “older lady” there who immediately started talking to me and showing me pictures of her missionary son. She is 60 and hasn’t done ballet for 43 years. Crazy.

This nice lady also immediately confides in me her weight. I will give you pause to let that sink in. SHE TOLD ME, A STRANGER, HER WEIGHT. To me that’s like giving out your ATM pin.


To my utter shock and horror…IT’S MY WEIGHT, TOO…. Let me give you pause to let THAT sink in… Remember how I said I was relieved that I wasn’t the fattest one in the room? Yeah, I had no idea that that’s what ***lbs looked like. No idea at all…

Then the class ahead of us finished, and we met our instructor…


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Reasons Why I Did Not Tryout for the Apprentice

In case you haven't heard, Martha Stewart is working with NBC on an "Apprentice" franchise. It will be patterned after "The Donald's" show, but it will be to work for her. It sounds dreamy to me, and all the "carrie ann validators" out there have suggested that I go for it. Here's why I'm not...just in case you're interested or hoping that once I become rich and famous I will remember you...:

1. I'm getting self conscious of people knowing that would subject myself to trying out for one reality show let alone two others: Real World (I would have been SO much cooler than that Julie chick who had NO concept of her own religion or how to deal in the real world...) and Wickedly Perfect (ah well, I'm not 100% positive I wouldn't have cracked under all that sleep deprivation...or girly backbiting...)

2. Have you seen the clothes those people wear? Not every one, but most of them dress pretty well. I don't own a suit, and I think that show would require one. It would cost me a pretty penny just to get outfitted for the show. (I spent over $200 just on my interview outfit for WP...'nough said...)

3. As I talked to my dad about this and he asked the obvious question, "Why, exactly, do you want to do this?" all my answers seemed so silly when articulated out loud (and to a man...) that I could barely get them out of my mouth. "Because I believe that women watch these shows to better their lives and the lives of their husbands and kids..." "I want to help women improve their skills at the home arts which have been largely forgotten but seem to be experiecning a renaissance of sorts..." "To share my talents with the world and make a difference..." "To make bucket loads of money..."

4. People aren't nearly as enamored with my talents as I am.

5. I'm too fat for TV. (Let's not argue this point, please. I'm not an idiot. With the poundage the camera would add, I would be SO far into the tabloid-fodder catagory...)

6. I would have to be away from the one stablizing force in my life: Todd. I would HATE to be without him while I was experiencing trauma, drama, and sleep deprivation. Oh wait, that was my JOB for 4+ years...

7. My feelings would be SO hurt if Martha overlooked my vast potential and didn't want to be best friends with me.

8. My pinking shears might slip and "accidentally" cut her bangs.

9. If I got voted off, I would feel so bad for all the people who might have been rooting for me (all 7 or 8 of them...).

10. I honestly didn't have the energy to make another awesome audition video.

So even though there's nothing like being the "first" on a show like this...maybe I can watch all these poor saps work out all the bugs for me so that I can go on next season and rock Martha's world. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Courtesy & Manners for 10 Year Olds

Any excuse to throw a party... Last night's activity was a formal dinner at which we would discuss and practice good manners and courtesy.

I set the table with flowers and candles, two forks, two spoons, goblets, the works... We all came dressed in our Sunday best. We had a 4 course meal with soup, salad, raspberry chicken, and chocolate cake. The girls loved it. Granted, they did not eat a lot and I was pushing culinary envelop for 10 year olds by serving minted carrots, but they ate up the whole idea (pun definitely intended).

We practiced eating "American Style" and "European Style", tore our bread before we buttered it, and discussed their favorite topic: boys. I told them how my grandmother grew up on a farm, and ended up with a knighted husband who regularly hosted ambassadors and other sundry VIPs. She had perfect manners and was a perfect hostess. Boy could she throw a dinner party!

I pointed out to the girls that you just never know what will come your way in life, and I did not want them to be the one at the table in the comedy who doesn't know which fork to use and who drinks out of the finger bowl. Parties are way more fun when you are not being humiliated.

After the gate ritual, we piled into the car where I was blamed at least 9 times for "making" them hyper. I didn't get any irate phone calls so I assume the sugar high wore off before bed time.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Fake Purse Ninjas: Part Deux

How do you feel about fake purses?

Here’s how I feel about it: if it looks real enough to pass, it’s fine, if it’s an obvious attempt to badly plagiarize a designer, it’s not only not worth it, it’s down right wrong (fashionably speaking).

But let’s be clear…it’s not about the NAME BRAND. I am super opposed to blatant free advertising for the designer, or having a brand emblazoned in any font that is visible at 4 feet. Seriously… Didn’t we suffer enough as junior high wannabes only wearing and paying for Guess jeans and making sure the triangle was ALWAYS visible? Enough, I say! Don’t be fooled! Just because you can see the name doesn’t make it cool.
Bad Screaming Designer

I love you, Isaac Mizrahi, but I don’t want your name all over my tote… it’s a cheap trick.

It’s about the DESIGN, you see. It’s about timeless pieces, pieces that will be timeless for about 2 years, and classic design. I think that most people would want to be perceived as being intelligent and savvy right along side “fashionable.”

Here are the originals. You have seen these patterns knocked off 10,000 times. If your pattern doesn’t match these exactly, you are wearing a fake, and does the thought of that make you feel good? To be a faker? Best to just be original.

Authentic Fendi
Authentic Gucci
Authentic Coach
Authentic Louis

It’s tricky to go for the “logo-ed” bags. There are just too many imposters. If you are interested in a designer bag like this from e-bay or the brand retailer, do your homework first. In Houston, there is a section of town known as “Harwin”. This is where all the Asian import stores are. It’s LOADS of fun. After the recent federal crackdown on fake purses (not kidding), it’s harder to find the good “fakes.” If I do my homework before I go, I know what to look for. I can look at e-bay or Bergdorf-Goodman to find what the original looks like then buy the closest thing to it.

Stay away from bags that look like this. It's not the color or's the logo.

Fake 2
Fake 3
Fake 1
Fake 4

I almost made a HUGE mistake once. When Coach came out with their “C” logo line I found a bunch at Harwin. But there were also identical bags with “G’s”. I couldn’t remember if the bag was a Gucci or a Coach and I ALMOST bought the imposter “G” bag. I hadn’t done my homework, and I might have ended up with an embarrassing fake. Horrors… My advice is that if you are not so familiar with the big designers logos and styles, stay away from that type of bag.

Here are some basic bag categories. Let’s look at some DO’s

…for the professional…

If you need to carry a lot of papers and binders and stuff you need a “briefcase” type solution. This bag could be leather most of the year with a FEW good canvas bags that can be used during the appropriate warmer weather, or if treated properly, the canvas can be “dressed up” and used year round. But with a canvas bag, it must be kept impeccably clean. And just because a bag is leather doesn’t mean it has to be manly or NOT fun… Although black and brown ARE versatile, try a camel brown or a wonderful texture such as crocodile in any color… yummy. Snake skin is very fun, but too “fancy” for everyday (remember to keep some things special…). Besides, strippers usually don’t carry laptops to work. Save the snakeskin for your small bags and shoes.

Favorite picks: if you are a weathly heiress, socialite, or celebrity I would recommend the Hermes Birkin. Classis design and styling that has already been around for years and will be classic for years to come…if you’ve got $10,000 that is…
Birkin 40 cm
Birkin 2

If you are a regular person, try the new laptop bags from Target. They don’t necessarily fall into the professional category they might be designed more for students, but they are classy and passable. They are super fun and simple. And affordable…
Canvas Laptop tote
Laptop 2
Laptop 1
Laptop 3

…for the Mom…

For those of you with diapers and wipes and toys and a change of clothes, you all probably went through the right of passage that is a “diaper bag.” With the first child you were ready for interstellar travel with all you were carrying “just in case.” With the second or third child, you have nailed down what is truly essential, and you are ready for the NEW diaper bag…the one that looks like it doesn’t actually have diapers in it… I laugh when I see designer come out with “The Diaper Bag.”
Kate Spade Diaper Bag

It may have all sorts of logos and bells and whistles, but it still looks like a diaper bag, and can often lead to the “harried” effect if you are ALSO carrying a purse and pushing a stroller.

Fave picks for the “new diaper bag”:

UGG makes a shearling bag that would be darling as a diaper bag. If you are annoyed with the prolific ness of all things UGG (like I am) and you don’t want to give any money to the UGG empire, go for one of the UGG knockoffs at Target. They are cute and affordable, and make a great winter “mommy” bag. Think pouches in the diaper bag, ladies…
UGG diaper 250
Medium 7

Nordstrom has several clever bags that AREN’T BLACK and are cleverly disguised diaper bags. Target also has many bags to choose from. All of these are chosen from the diaper bag section from both stores, but keep in mind that MOST cute bags can be used as a diaper bag if you keep the load simple and use the pouch rule.
Manly diaper bag
Cool diaper bag 1
Cool Diaper bag 2
Cool diaper bag 3
Cool diaper bag 4
Mini diaper bag

…the evening bag…

An evening bag should be small. No one is going to expect you to have a past receipt, a coupon, a change of clothes, formula, wipies, or a full scale hair brush while you’re out on the town (unless one or all of those items have been discussed ahead of time…). Keep it simple: face powder, lipstick, some cash or a card, ID, a key or two (you don’t have to take the WHOLE key chain you know…so noisy!), perfume (sample size), etc. Evening bags tend not to have straps. Handles, yes, but not usually full-on shoulder straps unless they are thin and delicate. Clutches are very popular these days, but perhaps you need something you can sling over your arm.

Fave picks for the evening bag:

Evening 1
Evening 2
Evening 3
Evening 4
Evening 5
Evening 6

Nordstrom has a ton. I am in love with the iridescent snakeskin because it is SO special. The evening bag does NOT NOT NOT have to match your dress or your shoes. Your shoes do NOT NOT NOT have to match your dress or your handbag. A less-expensive retailer such as Target will not have as nice evening bags and the ones they do have might look cheap. Ask Grandma if she’s got a nice vintage beaded thing lying around. I’ll bet she does…

…the basic purse…

Today, we have many styles of purses. I could not even begin to cover them all. So I will stick with some basic, but current styles and divide them in to large, medium, and small categories. Remember the Don’ts! I will also try to give a range of products and prices. If you click on the photos, you will be linked to the site where such items may be purchased. (I receive no commission, but am working on that…)


Only if you need it, ladies… or if you must escape from a wicked lover and a suitcase would be too conspicuous…
Large 1
Large 2
Large 3
Large 4


This is the standard, everyday size. Much to choose from… Don’t just think color. Think texture and shape, too. Todays styles are all about structure. The more “with it” purses are solid looking and have a definite shape. This is not the age of the cloth satchel with organic lines, but the leather satchel with definite shape metal hardware…Also, never chose a bag that is hard to get into, or that has difficult hardware. You will regret it all your days. My lovely “Gucci” has an aggravating clasp, and even though it is blood red crocodile, I am loath to use it… quelle triste!

Medium 1
Medium 2
Meduim 3
Medium 4
Medium 5
Medium 6
Medium 7
Medium 8


The small purse is the law of parsimony in action. I admire a woman with a small purse. She’s got her act together and she’s no nonsense.

Small 1
Small 2
Small 3
Small 4
Small 5
Small 6

A quick word about wallets…

Women have HUGE wallets. I personally liberated myself from the large wallet years ago and have never looked back. I use a slim line wallet from J.Crew and a coin purse. Not only am I forced to DO something with all the receipts my wallet and purse accumulate, I also tend to leave non-essential cards and such at home, relieving me of any temptation that an “emergency” card might afford.
J.Crew Wallet

Again, the disclaimer, this is about personal style. If you did not see a bag you liked according to MY guidelines, I will not disown you as a friend. I might pity you or feel sorry for you, but I will NOT dislike you. You do your thing. Just keep in mind that what YOU think is fashionable might have changed in the last few years (months, days, minutes…). Being fashionable is not going to determine your salvation, or life form in the next circle of life…

If someone is dressing nicely they are being considerate. They are thinking of me by not making me look at their ugly clothes. A nicely dressed person is a person who looks outward, not inward. They take notice of the world around them, and they are keeping up with things.

Check out other great bags at J.Crew, Gap, and the Banana Republic. EBay also has nice bags, but keep in mind the following: if it says that the bag is authentic, but it only costs $18.95 and it hails from Beijing…it’s probably not real. If you are buying a designer bag, look for proof of authentication: photos of details (zipper pulls, linings, rivets, etc.), authentication certificates, and registration cards…
Purse with Credentials

Gook Luck, ladies… please feel free to add your tips and two bits…

Check out bags at these other sites...I promise you won't be disappointed...

Bergdorf GOodman
Kate Spade
Banana Republic
Old Navy