Friday, October 29, 2010

Goats 'n' Honey

Is there anyone who doesn't like the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer? It's so counter-intuitive. I mean, when you think about supermarket flyers it's all big pictures and bright colors; sale prices in 32-point font and no concepts more complicated than "pork butt." But none of that for TJ's. No, they put out a multipage, two-color opus of dense text and occasional line drawings. Essays on the spice trade! Treatises on meatloaf! And people read it!

Well, I do, anyway. And it works, because after I have read it, I want a lot of the things they list in it, which is the point of an advertising circular, after all. Which goes a long way towards explaining why I showed up at writing group this week with (among other things) a bottle of seven-dollar pinot noir and a log of honey-infused goat cheese.

Which was every bit as tasty as promised in the flyer, consumed by the majority of the attendees (including one alleged vegan) and is now sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to come home and calling softly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whinesday: There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio*

Buckle up, guys; we're getting extra-whiney this week.

As a Californian, I have a special bond with my car. It's part of my life, a constant that I can turn to that helps me and helps to define me.

It keeps me from having to take public transportation.

But all that has been lost to me for the past two weeks, as my car-- the nice reliable little Japanese compact I got after my ever-so-cool but entirely unreliable old Porsche finally gave up the ghost five years ago and I vowed that this time I would get something that didn't give me that kind of trouble, even if I had to take a major hit in the cool department-- that car is in the shop getting the second new engine of its young life.

I will admit, the first one was kind of my fault. Not entirely, because I couldn't have known about the fault in the engine that was making it burn oil, or the fact that the oil light would never turn on, no matter how bone-dry the crankcase. But partially, because by not getting regular oil changes I violated the warranty, allowing Mazda to take no responsibility for the cost of replacing the engine after I drove it with no oil in it at all, causing it to make some truly unpleasant noises before dying in a very final way. Which is why, to save money, I took it to a shop in Berkeley to get a used replacement engine, rather than blowing the money on a new one and dealer service prices.

My first clue that this was not the greatest-ever idea was the number of issuesI had with the car after I got it back from the shop. Check engine lights, timing problems-- I finally got fed up with hauling it over the bay to have them fail to fix it and took it to the dealer in Burlingame, where they actually (miracle of miracles!) fixed it so it would run well.

But it was still going through oil.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoesday: Better Red Than Wet?

I'll admit it, these boots are a bit of a What Was I Thinking moment for me. They seemed so cute in the pictures! They were on sale! I didn't really have any rain boots! But the fact of the matter is, when they arrived and all of that red was staring me in the face, it occurred to me that these were going to be a little tough to, you know, actually wear. I mean, this is a lot of red. They would make a good piece of a superhero costume, if I wasn't far to lazy to ever wear a costume more elaborate than "witch hat." And they're certainly wide enough to tuck my pant legs into, which might come in handy in the event of a deluge. But otherwise all I see happening with these boots is that I wear them to work and everyone, without exception, stops, looks at my feet, and says, "Wow, those are some. . . red boots."

Still, it could be worse. At least I didn't go with the yellow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Consumed Tomatoes

One thing about growing tomatoes; at some point you're going to get to eat them. Even, apparently, if you make as many mistakes as I have. Which is a comfort, really. It gives me hope that even at my core level of competency I can grow food that I can eat. Given, of course, easy access to a garden center, running water, pesticides and fertilizers, but still.

In this case, I ate them with half an avocado, some slightly stale ciabatta (cubed) and my favorite bottled salad dressing.

I'm coming at this whole self-sufficiency thing slowly. No sense rushing into it.

Bouchercon Baby Gone

Saturday and Sunday-- Let's put this one in the books.
I said I was going to bring my boots, and I did. (I tried them with some floral patterned tights, but in combination with the floral dress I had (Target!), it seemed like a little bit much.) And despite an array of very interesting looking panels, something, possibly related to the open bar on Friday, but I am making no accusations. My apologies to the people who spent great time and effort in constructing and organizing their morning panels, but if it's any comfort, I probably would have just fallen asleep anyway.

While I was lying in bed, nursing my inexplicable headache, Cameron was out running sixteen miles. Just thought I ought to share that.

In the afternoon, Karen and I attended one panel, along with her three-month-old daughter, Kate. (More on this interaction later.) Moment of the day: When one author started an anecdote with the phrase, "When I was on tour in France" and Karen and I turned to each other with the simultaneous, unspoken thought: "I want to go on a book tour in France."

Which I'm sure we are both going to do, assuming the people of France have any interest in land-based cephalopods.* Hey, they like Jerry Lewis; anything is possible.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bouchercon For the Money

Because it was a great location, but I have to say, that hotel room was not cheap.

Day 2, Shoe 1:
One problem with my shoe-centric convention plan was that it was kind of incompatible with pants. Which is too bad, because I'm a big fan of pants. But these are the kinds of sacrifices we have to make if we are going to go around using our material possessions in our desperate bids for attention. Which is a long way of saying I spent a lot of time in skirts, with a heavy reliance on pieces from the last Target designer collection.*

I tried to wear my cut-out booties to Cornelia's panel ("Nancy Drew Was a Cosmo Girl"***), but it was so crowded I would have had to spend the entire time crouching on the floor. So I took myself off to the Sisters in Crime-hosted hospitality suite, for some of the generously provided snacks (best acquired when panels were in session,  due to the lack of competition).

Besides, I needed the sustenance for the next panel I attended (and got an actual chair! kind of had to fight for it though), on Ancient Greek and Roman-set mysteries, featuring every heavyweight**** best-selling author in the genre, plus Gary Corby, my twitter pal and a debut author, holding down the Greek end of things. I'd have to say it was the best panel of the convention, as measured in the number of wacko stalkers who turned up during the Q&A period (two).

By the way, I feel like I should mention that while all this was going on, it was also my thirty-third birthday. I am now firm in my belief that all birthdays should be celebrated in the company of 1400 mystery authors and fans. Also, Cameron gave me a mini video camera, and as soon as I figure out how to work iMovie it's going to be all cat videos, all the time around here. You have been warned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bouchercon and Done

You want to make a bad business decision? Try hosting a convention of writers in your hotel and closing the bar at midnight. That should do it.

Last weekend Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, was held in San Francisco and, aside from the management's lack of vision with regards to beverage profits, it was an exceptional experience. I could tell you all about the panels, the authors, the massive bag of free books and/or the very stylish but completely impractical design of the hotel,* and maybe I'll get to that. But first, let's talk about the shoes.

The Puccis I Didn't Pack
My shoes, of course. As promised, I packed an entire separate suitcase for them, plus the overflow that made it in the main suitcase. I had to make some tough calls, like leaving behind my beloved Puccis, and most (but not all) of my boots. And, of course, anything with any claim to sense or comfort.

Would have been perfect, if I didn't have heels
Actually, that's not entirely true. I did try (and fail) to have comfortable shoes, by wearing my black flats for the trip over. I had to do something, because the first part of my plan was to drop off my car at the shop in SOMA where it's getting a new engine (long story**), walk from there to BART and take the train to the Embarcadero, where the conference hotel was located. Unfortunately, what I had forgotten was that I didn't have heel padding in those flats, which meant that my freakishly nobby heels rubbed with every step, which meant that I was blistered before I even started.

This shoe thing, you have to be tough.

(Continued after the jump.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Today's Cafeteria Menu

I like my nitrate with just a touch of bacon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good To Know


Strawberry Fields for Breakfast

If you ever find yourself driving on 101 north of Hopland, and you have a minute to spare, I highly recommend that you stop at the Saechao farm stand (on the left side if you're heading North, on the right if you're going South*) and buy some strawberries. They are not supermarket pretty, but they are some of the sweetest, tastiest, most strawberry-flavored strawberries I have ever acquired from a commercial establishment.

*If you are going East and/or West at this point, you have your own problems, mostly to do with driving through vineyards.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shoesday: Gang Aft Agley

This week, Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, is coming to San Francisco for the first time in years, and I have been looking forward to it for months. I booked a room at the convention hotel, so I wouldn't have to schlep back and forth from home, and I've been giving serious thought to what shoes were going to make the cut for the second suitcase I've been planning to pack for that purpose. These boots, obviously, made the cut.

But Life isn't always nice about these things. My grandfather had a serious stroke yesterday, and right now there is a big question mark next to a lot of things, with Bouchercon landing somewhere down on the list. I hope things will turn out well, and I will still be able to be there, at least for part of the time, but if I don't make it I would just like to ask that someone have two or three too many lemon drops and say something highly inappropriate loudly in a crowded bar, for my sake.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Shoefinder: Sophie's New Book

 Shoefinder: It's Not Just For Shoes Anymore

Today we have our first repeat visitor to the Shoefinder world, and this time we are going Beyond Shoes*. Sophie Littlefield, cross-genre author extraordinaire, has a new YA book coming out and we are going to help her develop a look to go with it.

The book is called Banished and is about, according to the description,** a sixteen-year-old named Hailey Tarbell, whose only aspiration is to get the hell out of her dead-end Missouri town until she discovers that she has awesome and scary healing powers, which make her a person of interest to people who may or may not be interesting, but definitely have guns. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Also, I have it on good authority that there may be zombies.

So you can see the styling issue here. On the one hand, this isn't the sort of thing where you can show up at a signing in a floral twinset and eyelet skirt; but  you don't want look like you went all supermarket-spree on a Hot Topic either. I think the look to go for here is kind of "upscale goth"-- ideally to look like the kind of person the be-eyelinered and parasol-carrying gothlings can look at and aspire to be when they grow up.

Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that all of these items are to be worn together. That would be a little much, in terms of look. Plus, you would be wearing two pairs of shoes.

First, the jewelry. It's tempting to go full-on skull ring, but that's a little obvious, don't you think? Not that I have anything against a skull, I just like it better when it's done with some wit, like in something like this.*** Or, even better, this one, which is really quite beautiful, and it's only when you get up close that you notice the skull in the detail.

(Bonus: Sword earrings from the same store.)

[fang necklace]Another unexpected touch? A fang necklace in oxidized silver. And don't tell anyone I told you this, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it come up for cheaper on Gilt Groupe.

And yes, I realize I may be overdoing it a bit on the skulls thing (you aren't supposed to wear these together, remember?) But I just have to include these, because they're just that amazing. He has a rose between his teeth! They're on sale until Monday! What more could you possibly ask for?

Well, okay, maybe you could ask for some crazy over-the-knee, lace-up-the-back boots. But that's really it.

And while we're on the subject of accessories, let's talk purses. I like the of something in a snake print here, and I have to admit that I am kind of taken with this one, despite the fact that it's a completely obvious rip-off of the Valentino version, which was apparently itself ripped off from a YSL design from '03. Also, it would get completely squished in the car, and probably be really uncomfortable to carry under your arm, but I try not to let my self be restrained by reality here.

On that note, how about a leather dress? Yeah, cost, cleaning, breatheability, whatever. I've just got one question for you: Is it awesome?

Yeah, I thought so.

But I've got something even more awesome here:

That's right, it's a jacket with feathers on the shoulders. Feathers! Could anything possibly be more high-end gothness than that? Plus, unlike fur, you're very unlikely to have people throwing red paint on you, which is a good thing, because that can really ruin a look.

So, what do you guys think? Any suggestions?

*Which is kind of like being Beyond Thunderdome, only without the awesome Tina Turner song.
**Which I refer to because it will not, technically, be published until Tuesday.
***Extra creepiness points for being from the skull-heavy collection he designed before he died.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thurscheese: The Unexpected Combination

You can learn interesting things when from leftovers. For example, you can learn that orange juice has an expiration date for a reason, and not all Chinese take-out can be resurrected by stir-frying. But sometimes you learn good things too.

For example, did you know that if you take some whole wheat pita bread:

Cut it into sixths, toast them and split the sides apart, you basically end up with pita chips:

Which serve very well as a base for Cowgirl Creamery Triple Cream "Mt. Tam":

Which makes a very nice counterpoint to Amy's Kitchen organic vegetarian chili*:

And you have a dinner that is not bad at all? 

Well, now you do.

(You also know that we are a household of obnoxious yuppies, but I'm guessing you could have probably figured that out anyway.)

*Not leftovers, but bought by the case at Costco for easy dinner-making. Some days you just don't want to try.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Shoesday: Twice As Nice

So, I'm not sure if I've mentioned anything about this, but I've been suffering from some muscle pain in my legs lately. (You had no idea, right?) And along with giving me an excuse to skip the gym for a couple of days this has caused something unprecedented to happen: I have worn the same shoes to work for two days in a row. I know; I can barely believe it myself. But with any kind of heel being out of the question, and most of my flats being kind of short on padding, I find myself turning to these for my sore-legs needs. They're Faryl Robin, which means they're cuter than anything this comfortable has any right to be, and hey, metallics are neutrals, right? So they go with anything.

I'm thinking I may wear them again tomorrow.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Day at the Races

If you were to see me today, you might notice that something is a little odd. "Why is she walking like a brain-damaged penguin?" You might wonder. If you had some free time, you might even ask me, "Hey, what's wrong with you? Did you lose a fight with a thigh-high bulldozer? Is it even possible to win that fight?"

"Actually," I would say, "I ran a half marathon yesterday. Do you want to hear about it?"

"No," you would reply.

"I'll take it from the beginning," I would go on.

5:30 am: Alarm goes off. Briefly consider throwing it across the room, but decide against because it's also my iPod. Stagger out of bed wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea. Dress in the running clothes I had laid out the night before (magenta quick-dry shirt, gray cullotes w/ yellow knee ties, plain but functional sneakers, blister-preventing socks, clips to keep my hair out of my eyes). Figured out (with help from Cameron) how to use the "lap" function on my watch. Ate a granola bar, drank some sports beverage. Wondered who I was and what I had done with Daisy.

5:52 am: Relayed the critical information that I was about to run a half-marathon via Facebook and Twitter.

6:15 am: Left for San Jose. We knew the way, and besides, the freeway signs are well-marked. I don't know what the big deal is about that.

7ish: Parked at HP Pavilion. Marveled at the percentage of females in the crowd. Apparently, if you think you never see women in the South Bay it's because they're all out distance-running. Walked over to the start area, decided to use the porta-potties before they got too nasty. Checked in gear, stretched, did a warm-up jog, realized we needed to use the porta-potties again. They had gotten nasty.

7:55 am: Ate a packet of mint chocolate gu. Not entirely disgusting. Said temporary goodbye to Cameron as we split off into our respective start groups.

8:00 am: Race starts!

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Six-Dollar Question

One of the things I love about Twitter is the opportunity to have silly and pointless conversations with other people who would rather have silly and pointless conversations than get their work done. Also, without it I would never have known that you can get someone to draw you a terrible logo for $5.

Which brings me to my point, such as it is. Last night I was avoiding working on one of the non-squid parts of Land Squid (now under construction, with 90% more city council meetings!) when Sophie Littlefield tweeted that she was liked these nails and asked rhetorically if there were worse ways to spend six bucks. And since I never met a rhetorical question I didn't want to answer obnoxiously and at length, I did, and she turned my late-night ramblings into a very funny blog post.

But, of course I couldn't leave it at that. Not when there are so many things around that you don't want to spend six dollars on.*

For example, you could have a corner of track. It's so corner-y!

Or rubber bands in shapes vaguely relevant to the New York Giants? I think you're supposed to wear these as bracelets. I don't understand.

Stylish Mustaches for Girls? Why not? Well, I can think of a few reasons. For one thing, pink? You can get the same look by slapping a wad of Dubble Bubble on your upper lip, and you can get a whole pound for half the price. For another thing, well, all the other things.

And then we have the 

Clown Music Box w Puppy Rotating , Send in the Clowns. I don't think I need to say any more.

I realize these Squirrel Underpants are sold as a joke, but $6.50 still seems like a lot, especially considering that the squirrel isn't included.

And finally, a purse made from Capri Sun packets. . .
. . .
I don't even know what to say about this. There doesn't seem to be any sort of mocking comment I can make than to point out that: This purse. Is made. Of soft drink packaging. I don't think there's enough irony in the world for someone to carry (ha!) this off.

*These would have accompanying pictures if Blogger was letting me upload them, which it isn't. Maybe someday.

What I Love About Country Music

The way it expresses subtle emotions:

Joey + Rory, "Cheater, Cheater"*

I think the errors add a certain je ne sais spelling.

Danielle Peck, "I Don't"

Not the greatest song ever, but with one of my favorite lyrics of all time in the chorus.

Speaking of which. . .

Hayes Carll, "She Left Me For Jesus"

All of which, of course, just leads me back to a classic:

Mary Chapin Carpenter, "The Bug"

Have to say, never really thought of Xena when I heard that song, but I'm sure I will now.

*What, exactly, is the point of posting a video on YouTube and disabling embedding? Do you not want people to do your promotion for you?