Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dining In

The other day we were talking about the menu for the upcoming week and I said, "Oh, and by the way, you're cooking every other night this week". And The Spouse said, "Sure".

Because, you see, it's not that he doesn't want to cook or that he won't cook or that there's some tacit expectation that I'm supposed to do it all. But sometimes it seemed easier to just plan the menu and do the cooking and let it go at that. And sure, maybe he could have said, "Hey, you're doing all the cooking. That's not fair. Share the load". But I've learned, after 18 years of marriage, that if I want something I have only to ask for it. Dude's not a mind reader.

Of course, when he cooks it means that the process will involve lots of singing, dancing and inappropriate quotes from "South Park" but it's a small price to pay to have every other night "off".

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday Evening

Oh my Yord!
It is almost 8pm.
Dinner is still cooking.
What the H?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Mother Daughter Fashion Show I Mentioned

It wasn't, strictly speaking a mother-daughter fashion show; mothers and daughters didn't walk down the runway together. But there was a tea or something at school and the organizers thought a fashion show would be fun (and also, I realize, terribly ironic when you consider where I grew up and that "fashion" was not something that was remotely connected to our daily existence). There were some grownups involved (but not Dame Judi) and then there were some kids. And it was an all-volunteer army because I was in the fashion show and let me assure you, the only way I would have gotten into a fashion show was because I raised my little hand.

I was not an attractive child. I don't say this to be modest and self-deprecating. It's the truth. I was veryvery skinny, had scraggly hair that absolutely refused to be shaped (despite Dame Judi's efforts with annual Toni perms and weekly hair rollers) and I wore very thick and unattractive glasses. I also had all the self esteem of a lox. Whatever possessed me to think I could be in a fashion show is absolutely beyond me. Gangly and ungainly, all knees and elbows...."grace" is the last word you'd have associated with me at the time.

But volunteer I did. So I was in.

One afternoon all the models went into "town", to a dress shop that I never even knew existed. Dress shops were not a part of my culture. Our clothes were either sewn by Dame Judi, purchased from the Monkey Wards or hand-me downs from cousins. There was not time, money or interest in anything so specialized as a "dress shop".

I never thought of it before, but it's possible that little outing changed my life.

It wasn't a large shop but it sold, exclusively, clothing for women and girls. Racks and racks of pretty dresses, shelves of shoes and handbags. It had the feel of a candy store except that you got to wear the candy. We were instructed to select 2 outfits a piece, which would be loaned by the shop for the occasion. I cannot for the life of me recall my first selection but I can see the second dress in my mind as if it were hanging in front of me: a straight dress with short sleeves; lime green with some sort of pale ecru pattern on it that gave the suggestion of lace. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I tried it on and in the mirror of the dressing room I saw, not an awkward, skinny kid but a woman transformed. You think I'm exaggerating? The only other time I have ever felt that mystified and awed by my reflection was when I tried on the dress I would choose for my wedding.

I handed the dress over to the shop lady, who affixed a little paper label to the hanger and added it to the rack of show clothes.

When the day of the show arrived we were all herded into bathrooms behind the school cafeteria. We put on our first outfit and lined up in the hall; some woman stood at the doors peering through the windows to give us our cues. I walked my first forgotten look and went back to the bathroom to change into The Frock. The same magic came over me, transforming me into the elegant swan that clearly lurked beneath my ugly duckling pin feathers. I was the last model to walk. I entered the cafeteria, shining (I knew) with the beauty that the dress had bestowed on me. I walked slowly, graciously...stopping in front of the first row of assembled chairs to twirl while the MC read a description of the dress, then walking slowly down the aisle so everyone could get a gander at this miracle of fabric and thread. Then I loped back to the front for another twirl before elegantly exiting the room.

Later Dame Judi told me I had lingered too long. The MC was done with her description and I should have been long gone before she thanked everyone for coming. I couldn't tell her then how important it was for everyone to be able to really see the most gorgeous dress ever made, how the applause I heard had taken me, at least for a minute, into another world, a place I didn't even know existed, where being pretty and graceful had some merits.

I had never felt like that in all my young life. (What was I, 12?) I wasn't going to feel that way again for sometime. But while I was in that magic bubble I had to enjoy it, even if it meant throwing off the timing of the show.

I ended up buying the dress. I don't remember the exact circumstances. Maybe Dame Judi put it on layaway. (It was terribly expensive....something like $20 dollars). Maybe I saved up my berry money and bought it in the summer. But I did eventually own that dress. And every time I wore it I felt beautiful and invincible.

Don't ever underestimate the power of a pretty dress.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Heidi tells our designers that they will be working with new models this week and that while they are "inexperienced" they are an "attractive little group". And then out toddle 11 little pumpkins, none older than probably 8, who sweetly lisp the name of the designer with whom she has been paired. Meanwhile, the designers are alternately entranced or panicked. (Jesse says, "Oh crap!" and the stink of fear is so thick around Jonathan that smelling salts must be handed out to passersby).

The challenge is to create an age appropriate kid look (no slutty babies, please) that is fashion forward. Seth Aaron who, surprise surprise, has a daughter, is on top of this challenge like Seigfried on Roy. He knows kids, you see. He knows what they want, what they like and what they will wear. Houndstooth is involved. Amy, too, is particularly delighted with the challenge as she enjoys "mini clothes". Anthony, on the other hand, is befuddled as to how to make clothes for people lacking "bootie or breasts".

Emilio has decided that he's going to stand out from the pack this time by not being fashion forward and is making a pretty little dress just exactly, btw, like the pretty little dresses I saw hanging on a rack at Costco the other day. Ooh, looky! Jay is working with a combination of plum and navy fabrics! Yummy!

Jonathan has recovered enough from his fear of children to deliver a spot on impersonation of Michael Kors. (If the designing thing doesn't work out he and Santino could get together and take their PR schtick on the road).

Mila is color blocking. Again. Emilio (who really seems to believe that he is, in fact, all that and a bag o' chips) is snarky about that. The other designers, however, engage in playful banter with Mila about her signature. Because, as she informs us, she gets along with everyone.

This challenge is definitely breaking out along very clear lines. Most designers are embracing the challenge but the haters are clear.

Kid Hater Theater

Emilio: "If I get eliminated because of a kid..."

Jesse: "That's what I'm saying..."

Oh, hey, I forgot to mention; Portland has a husband that she misses veryvery much. She's really pretty. I bet her wedding photos are stunning.

As the day ends Tim arrives to announce a "nice surprise for you!" Is it money? Champagne? Dinner with Donna Karan? Of course not, silly. The designers are being given another day and $100 to make an adult companion look. And it is not, Tim stresses, to be a "maxi me from mini me". They must innovate from the child look.

Seth Aaron is so clear about his vision that he doesn't even bother to sketch anything.

After a trip to Mood and a contest to see how long Anth-annoy can keep his mouth shut (14:56), Tim comes in for a walk about.

He tells Jonathan he "loves what you've done here" but warns Portland that she is "really rocking Halloween here" and warns her to "be prepared for a response to that". Portland is mystified by this remark as she hates Halloween. But it is pretty orange over there.

Amy is composing pants out of many, many petals of fabric and Tim tells her it will either "stop the show or be clown clothes".

As for Seth Aaron, who has never wavered from his rock solid vision for this challenge, Tim is "really excited" and "profoundly wowed".

When our models come in for fittings there is a smidge of kid chaos (and Jonathan says the workroom is like "Romper Room on crack") but I must say, the children in question seem to be very nice little girls....not to diva-like or anything...just ordinary little kids who get to play dress up. (Which totally flashed me back to my one experience with the runway....a mother-daughter fashion show for the PTA. When I was in 7th grade. Remind me to tell you about it sometime).

The Runway
Tory Burch is the guest judge.

All of the designers manage to achieve distinctive kid and adult looks; nothing is matchy matchy. Some are cute. Some are boring (like Ben's...because Ben is a bore). Sometimes the adult look is better than the kid look and visa versa. But one thing is certain: Seth Aaron hit it out of the damn ball park. And we like Amy's fluttering mommy pants.

Top Three/Bottom Three

Jesse's kid dress is asymmetrical (and a little disconcerting in that, if you ask me-forced whimsy isn't whimsical) and Heidi says she would have preferred if he'd made it straight. But Tory likes that he used grey for a kid look and Nina found the whole thing "adorable" and adds that "the model mom looks pretty good".

Seth Aaron hears nothing but praise as both looks are equally wonderful. Kors calls them "super and strong" and Nina loves that he thought about every element, down to the little purse for the kid model to carry. (Apparently his daughter owns over 200 purses. And she's not a grownup. That's not judgement, btw. More like jealousy).

Jay is praised by Heidi for the obvious thought that went into his looks. Kors refers to them as "really chic" and Nina declares them "really striking, modern and urban". (And did I mention how much I personally adore the plum/navy combo?)

On the other side of the coin, we have Nina telling Portland that she doesn't like that everything is too plain. Heidi goes farther, declaring that the kid look is like a "cheap mall outfit" (although she is careful to use her best mommy voice and tell the little model that she, personally, is adorable). Kors dismisses the mom jacket as a a "home ec" project.

Heidi tells Jonathan that his kid outfit looks "uncomfortable" (which the little model confirms when asked..."it is sticking me a little") and Nina complains that it is all "too sophisticated, too conceptual". Kors likes it even less, claiming the models look like they were caught in a "tornado of toilet paper".

Poor Amy, who decided to go out on a limb finds said limb crashing to the ground. Kors says the kid look suggests the house was on fire and the little one just threw on whatever she could find. (The kid likes the outfit, especially the sweater...which is kinda ratty and kinda cool). And he calls the pants a "train wreck". Nina finds the looks "confusing and circus-like" and Heidi just calls it all "hideous". Now mind you, The Neighb, MAB and I all like the pants. We can only assume this is one of those "must be something in real life that we just can't see" deals.

When we take our own vote we are quite sure of the outcome. Seth Aaron will handily win and Amy will be spared because she is a good designer and one miscalculation will hardly be her undoing when Portland has so consistently been a big "meh".

And we were right. Seth Aaron is the winner for creating something "chic and polished" for the adult while perfectly meeting the initial challenge of something "age appropriate and fashion forward" for the kid.Photo courtesy of Lifetime Networks by way of Blogging Project Runway

And Portland's aufing includes the dreadful judgement: "you bored us". But after the auf Portland declared that she wasn't going to "stop just because Heidi Klum said she wouldn't wear any of my pieces". And you gotta admire Portland for that. Because the truth is, Heidi Klum gets it wrong easily 50% of the time. You want proof? How about that horrible toga she wore tonight? Eewww.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Checking In

I wore a little black Calvin Klein number to work today. It was just a little basic black dress, the sort of thing that is appropriate for work or for a cocktail. But the real significance of this particular wardrobe choice was that I haven't been able to fit into that dress for six months.

Can I have an "Amen"?

Also, for those of you who were wondering, the PR recap will appear tomorrow....I had a project at work that I really felt compelled to finish so I didn't exercise my "Come In Late On Fridays" card.

Now I'm off to enjoy some black bean tart and a movie with the family. Assuming, that is, that said family can stop bickering long enough to enjoy dinner and a movie.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just Like Starting Over

Funny thing about blogging. When I first started (nearly 5 years ago - yikes) I told a handful of people, for the purposes of accountability. Never dreamed that at my peak I'd have over 100 daily readers or that so many of them would become real and true friends (waves furiously at all the real and true friends). I never once thought that anything much would come of it, except for the daily discipline of writing which might lead to something. (It didn't, really, except for that one piece in that one journal that was published once). But it lead to many friends (throws kisses in their direction) and satisfaction and even joy so it was all good.

Then The Job - the most wonderful, awesome and fulfilling (paying) job I've ever had came along and some things had to give. Including daily blogging. Not that I wanted to slow down or stop (although I entertained the notion). Nor did I want to slow down or stop reading other blogs (even though I reluctantly have). It was just something that came with the working woman package (along with undone laundry, dusty mantels and not volunteering at school. Wait. That last one is a plus). Point is, I still don't want to stop blogging. Still not entirely sure why. Because if the initial point was to, as I said, build the discipline of writing into my life, well, the truth is, I write on my job. Not daily and not always the sorts of things I really truly want to be writing but the fact is, I've been published exponentially more since starting The Job than in all the blogging-every-day years. (Plus I develop virtually all the content for our website and THAT is a joy. It is also why I'm going to be presenting at the annual Managers' Conference on how to make your website superfantastic. Chortle).

Anyscribe, I decided that one thing I would do in Lent is focus on my blog and do so for the original make time for that daily expression. Not because it's always literary gold but because when it hits, when that one good phrase or coherently expressed thought reveals itself it is sooooo satisfying. And I'm not going to work for the government forever but I have been, since I first learned how to make letters on a tablet, a writer so I might as well keep my hand in.

But you want to hear the funny thing? All this last year when I was working and barely blogging I still got at least a comment or two a day from the faithful and the few. And that was both humbling and awesome. But yesterday I didn't get a single comment. (Or at least I hadn't by the time I started writing this). And it was OK. Because, for one thing, fair is fair and for another, well, it was almost like when I was first blogging, before anyone knew I was here. And it occurred to me how appropriate that really was...with me sorta reclaiming the purpose of my blog and sending these first posts out into a void without expectation that anyone is going to be coming by....doing it for me, because I want to and also because, strangely, I still feel like I need to.

And I think that's just about enough navel gazing for one blog post.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes, Ashes

Ah, Lent. Permission to slow down, unplug, eat less, pray more....I need the formality of such edicts to do what it always makes sense to do.

This year I'll be praying for 2 friends on difficult journies and hope to enter in with them, to help share the load, to - as we Catholics like to say - be Christ to them. Because sometimes people need that.

For myself, I'm going to focus on being more, uh, focused. Perhaps "attentive" is the better word. Attentive to others, to the important things, making time to do what improves and stimulates me rather than just plugging into the mindless things that divert attention from doing. And I'm giving up sweets. Because I like to think that I'm not much of a sweetie person but I am and I'm still trying to get more svelte for all my big events in May, which now include The Child's confirmation and attending the Carole King/James Taylor concert with MAB. My trip to Omaha is officially firm and a'happenin', which delights me no end. A weekend in Omaha with JP is like going to a spa. Seriously.

So there you have it. I will be making an ash of myself later in the morning and then the season will officially begin. That makes me happy.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


This has been a weird week.

I didn't work out one single day (and now have to make a new Mii because you have no idea how snarky that Wii trainer can be if you miss even one day, let alone a week. I'm too fragile. I can't take it).

It was really super quiet at work all week.

I started the week finding out that a friend may have cancer and ended it finding out that another friend does have cancer. And they are both too young. Even though I'm sure it was caught early enough and they'll both be fine because the fact is, just about everyone, it seems, eventually ends up getting some damn cancer or another and most of them live to tell about it. In fact, of all the people known personally to me who have had a cancer diagnosis....I mean really close to me - only one didn't win. So that's pretty good odds, right?

Plus I've had a bunch of stuff I've wanted to write about but I couldn't muster the will. I guess I've been wandering in a bit of a miasma of something or other this week. Maybe it's just February.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On the Cover

I had to ferry The Child back and forth to confirmation class, MAB had a dinner date and The Neighbor was singing in a concert so I had to watch PR by myself this week. Which is always dangerous because I sometimes fall asleep during "30 Rock". Which I did. And then The Child came in a little after 10 and woke me up (bless her) but then it took a little time to change the channel to Lifetime because we have 4 remotes and you have to have a degree from MIT to get them to do what you want. Fortunately, The Child has mad techno skillz. But I missed whatever it was Heidi said to the designers. No matter.

When I arrived, they were all gathered 'round with Tim and Ms. Joanna Coles, who is the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine. The challenge is for the designers to create a look for the April cover of the magazine and the look will be modeled by none other than the Great Fertile One herself, Heidi Klum. The designers are all in raptures at the opportunity. Ms. Coles gives them some important instructions. They should bear in mind that the photo will likely be cropped so if they are going to have details they should be toward the top of the look. Color is good and black is a no no. Finally, they need to remember that the look can't make it difficult to read the type that will be laid over it.

They sketch a bit (Gay Ghetto says he is going to do something "form fitting and short but not slutty") and then Tim takes them off to spend $150/ea at Mood (where Janeane, who only has the vaguest of ideas about what colors she wants is just "grabbing, grabbing, grabbing" fabric).

Back at the workroom you could hear the proverbial pin drop, so intent are our designers on their quest. Except for Seth Aaron who has the annoying and juvenile habit of singing and dancing while he works. Which makes all the other designers want to skewer him with pinking shears. At one point Gay Ghetto asks, "Did you smoke anything else when you went outside for a cigarette?" Seth Aaron says 'no' and Gay Ghetto dubiously replied, "I'll take your word for it".

Janeane is concerned that her look is going too "bridal" and she doesn't do bridal and her instinct is telling her to watch it. She then utters one of the best lines ever in the history of PR: "I'm trying not to emote the dread I'm feeling". Good girl. Stay on the meds.

Tim's Walk Around
Tim is worried that Gay Ghetto's look is "gimmicky" and GG takes that to heart. Several times he tells us that he is really listening to the critique of the judges and wants to incorporate the lessons he learns from them.

Mila's "signature" is apparent to Tim and he passes on (though Emilio later snarks that Mila has a one note talent for color blocking and that's it). Janeane, meanwhile, tells Tim that she is doing something with layered ocean-y colors and he muses that she doesn't want the end result to "look like clown clothes".

Ben has some Madame-Butterfly-on-acid theme which Tim likes very much but warns him that plans for a patent leather belt could cheapen the whole thing and make it "look like a joke".

Anna, who is really in the weeds, is cautioned to not lose her editing eye and Tim worries that whatever "wow factor" Emilo may aspire to will be compromised by the fact that time is running out. (He's doing some lacing with ombre that provides a nice detail but is very time consuming).

Tim leaves and we get a nice dose of both worry and snark from the designers. The group has dwindled enough that they more easily pick apart each other's POV or lack thereof. Later Tim reminds them that this is the "biggest challenge in the history of PR". Because they aren't under enough pressure. Gay Ghetto, however, takes it in stride. Like the other designers he wishes there were more time but, he opines, "Life isn't fair; why the hell should Project Runway be?" I admit it. I like him more than I used to. His affectations are a little over the top but brother has a great attitude.

The Runway
Joining our regular panel is Ms. Coles. Which is appropriate. It's her cover.

Amy's dress is great and looks like something Heidi would wear. Amy, I suspect, will go very far in this competition. She is consistently good except when she is amazing.

Seth Aaron constructed a very attractive suit but I don't see it on the cover of a magazine. And it is too dark.

Jesse made a nice dress but it is way way too short.

Anna's ensemble was pure and simple nasty. The shorts were too short, there was a weird and pointless bolero and the whole thing just looked yucky.

Anthony (see? I really do like him more now) sent down a very sophisticated and pretty blue dress with a lovely ruffle detail that wasn't exactly a ruffle that ran from the shoulder to the bodice. A pleasant example of what someone is capable of when that someone is willing to learn. Historically in PR, the designers who come in with a big costume sensibility are never able to learn how to ratchet down the hugeness of costume design to create sophisticated coutoure. Anthony appears to be making the leap. Good on him.

Janeane's dress has but one message: she has ideas but they are not original. Mila's outfit makes me go "blech", Emilio's look is very pretty lingerie, Jay's dress is dramatic and beautiful and Jonathan sent down a romper. Really? Eeewww. Maya was kinda boring and Ben's dress was quite ugly. I quite hated it. The colors made my skin crawl, the cut was very severe and frankly, I've seen prettier potholders at craft fairs.

Of course, that's just me. The judges were delighted with Ben's dress. MK said it would "cut through the noise on the news stand" and Nina said it was "beautiful front and back".

Anna was reamed for a look that Nina said had "no shape or silhouette". Ms. Coles cruelly announced that it was "three ingredients in a dish that makes you nauseous" and that Anna totally misread the typical reader of Marie Claire.

Kors gleefully tells Anthony "The costume drama is over!" and Nina tells him that she liked the dress very much for Heidi and celebrates that he was one of the few designers to embrace color. Heidi, who will be postpartum by the time she wears the dress, remarked that it was "very slimming".

On the other hand, Heidi tells Janeane that her dress is "not fashion forward" and dismisses it as "too sweet". Ms. Coles says that she is "not getting the sea reference....unless it's a polluted sea with plastic bottles in it". Wow. Miranda from "Devil Wears Prada" anyone?

Mila has missed the mark. Kors tells her that the peach color she chose reads like "an Ace bandage". Nina too hates the color and tells her the dress will "crop badly".

Emilio wins praise from Kors for taking jersey, a fabric that does not want to be structured, and crafting it into submission. But Nina declares that the ribbon-y straps are "too junior". The judges make him cut off the straps and take out the model's ponytail and then they like it much better.

I pick Janeane to be out, only because Anna got snaps for doing separates and crafting her shorts well, and Anthony for the win. Oh, and because the reward of this challenge is so huge, the winner won't have immunity.

And the winner is...Anthony! Who is very "oh oh oh" at the news. Heidi tells him that she can't wait to wear the dress and off he happily skips.

(Photo courtesy of

Janeane is tsk tsked for a look "more bridal than fashion forward" but it is Anna who is aufed for a "forgettable look that wouldn't stand out" on the news stand. Janeane cries for her friend. There is some sadness and woe in the green room because Anna is a nice little thing but she is also only 23. She has plenty of time to find her voice.

I'm not ready to pick the designers that'll be showing at Fashion Week but keep an eye on Amy, Emilio and Jay. And unless something amazing happens soon, Janeane is not long for the competition.


Friday, February 05, 2010

I Like Soup

Heidi, wearing a very unfortunate muumuu thing, informed the designers that they would be designing a look for a Fashion Week gala and would be introduced to a group of "very inspiring" women. Tim further clarified the challenge. Campbell's Soup has an "Address Your Heart" project raising funds and awareness for heart related illnesses and the look in question would be worn to their big event. It had to be red and it had to incorporate the Campbell's soup branding. (We all immediately thought of Andy Warhol).

The inspirational women? Ladies who had been impacted by various heart conditions. They were also real women of different sizes, colors and ages. Winner of the challenge would accompany his/her "muse" to the event and the dress would have a limited production, to be sold on, to help raise funds for the charity.

So we have our feel good challenge and are treated to the designers talking with and being moved to tears by their models and their stories. Except Seth Aaron, whose model has very strong ideas about what she wants, which could lead to trouble. There is a lot of bonding with models, especially between Jesus and Gay Ghetto.

$100 dollars and 1 day to create, plus Campbell's has provided a bunch of logo fabric.

One of the issues that becomes immediately apparent for nearly all the designers is working with new models who are not models. As Seth Aaron delicately put it, this was the "largest challenge" he'd ever faced as a designer; meaning his model was not a size 0. Pft.

MAB notes that Jesus has hair like a Chai pet.

Seth Aaron's model wants something Grecian and he goes along because she is the client, but he's not convinced. Janeane is still using the good meds because she doesn't fall apart when she drops her fabric into a bucket of water that is inexplicably standing near her ironing board.

Tim's walk around is uneventful except to tell Snotty Jesse that his look doesn't have "much in the way of fashion" if one disregards the jacket he's working on. He muses with one designer that the challenge is a "good lesson for all of us" in having to work with "real women". (And let me just say that while some of the ladies are of a size, it's not like they are working with tubs o' lard. This whole thing really points to the bias of the fashion community against anyone with boobs or hips and makes me a little sad because these are, for the most part, young and unformed designers and even they already resist womanly shapes).

Tim is all astonishment at the Grecian thing, noting Seth Aaron is the last designer he would pick as the creator. He doesn't hate it, per se, but it gives rise to the obligatory "don't lose yourself as a designer in order to please your client" speech. Which results in Seth Aaron beginning to completely remake the dress with only hours left.

In this regard, however, he is not entirely alone. Amy notes that she has about 70% of her dress left to make and most of the other designers are similarly struggling to complete their ensembles.

The Runway

Guest judge is Georgina Chapman. (That's ok. We'd never heard of her, either).

Some of the looks that come down the runway are notable for their ugliness. Maya has done something that puts The Neighbor in mind of Miss America. There is "draping" to create the illusion of a heart but it is very heavy and stiff and the gold sash-y thing, in our view, does nothing for the dress or its wearer. Amy sends down something very pretty and flowy although there is a lack of obvious branding. She is not alone in this, however, and of the designers who do use the logo fabric, it is only as trim. The exception is the immunity bearing Mila, who has used the Campbell's star as the inspiration of her dress. Conceptually this is quite clever but the execution, in our view, has resulted in a very hideous flag which reminds MAB more of Macy's than Campbell's.

The Neighbor is not impressed with the little confection that Janeane has whipped up. MAB and I mostly like it, save for the underskirt which should have been more flow-y or made of tulle or something. But still. Seth Aaron's model worked her dress and it has a more fitted and "designed" look than the original.

Top Three/Bottom Three

This is the point where the 3 of us enter a parallel universe, where nearly everything we hated is lauded by the judges and nearly everything we loved is loathed by them. "Well, remember, we aren't seeing it live," says MAB. True that. But really? On what planet is the flag gown "fun" or deserving of a "job well done?"

Anysoup, Mila's flag is in the top, as is Amy. Nina loved the fabric and movement, Chapman found it both "ethereal and confident" and Kors deemed it "elegant but modern". And Maya too is in the top. Heidi finds it "interesting" and notes "the design in there". Nina applauds the effort that went into the draping and at this point MAB says, "I have lost my mind". (Honestly, the front of this dress is sooooooo heavy and sooooooooo without movement it strains the boundaries of credulity that the judges could truly admire this dress without benefit of psychotropic drugs).

The bottom 3 are Jesse (Kors said it looked costum-y and he should have used another fabric. Nina is unimpressed with the pocket square he did of Campbell's fabric) & Anna (Nina likes the bottom of the dress but not the racer back and Chapman says it doesn't "feel like evening"). But the most stern comments are reserved for Jesus. Given that the only time he hasn't been in the bottom was the one time he was lucky enough to partner with a talented designer, this is no surprise. Kors is flabbergasted and says, "Where do I start?" then accuses Jesus of making a checklist of every tacky element in the world and then proceeding to make sure it was all incorporated in his design. Heidi concedes he has excellent construction skills but notes his lack of taste.

We all agree Amy should win and that Jesus should be out and that is exactly how it played out. Amy won for her dress which "moved beautifully" and in which her model looked "happy and elegant".

Jesus fundamentally was sent away because, as Kors said earlier, "Taste is not something that can be taught".

Jesus was remarkably perky after the aufing, even saying "Cool" when Tim sent him to the workroom to pack up. And that was nice. With any luck he will be hired by a good design firm where he can employ his construction skills to good effect.

Now, quick show of hands: when listing your top 5 comfort foods, how many of you include Campbell's tomato soup and grilled cheese sammies? Me too.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

The main thing to accomplish for The Child's Sweet 16 party was her cake. Which she envisioned in her chosen colors (chocolate brown and pink). Polka dots were involved. Despite my noteworthy stint as Worst Mother in the World, she seems to believe I can do anything. Like make a cake worthy of Duff Goldman. 'Cept the truth be told, I can barely ice a cake without embarrassing myself. (Reason number 13 Why I Love Pie: You don't have to ice it). But The Child, you see, wanted fondant. I knew exactly what she had in her head. I could see it, too. Just not so much with the execution. Also, I worked with fondant maybe a dozen years ago, in an effort to make "ribbons" for a cake for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary or something like that. And I had help. And it was just a decorative touch, not the entire set piece. Are you getting the picture?

First thing I did was buy fondant. I've made it. It can be made. But really, why would you when someone else has done the work already? That's right. And the woman who was selling the fondant had some in very hot pink. Which could be muted with some of the pure white fondant, thus saving me not so much time (still had to knead the stuff) but mess (like when I had to dye AND knead the brown fondant).

Here's the fondant in its larval state:

And this is how the pink turned out. Much toned down, right?

My original plan was just to cover each layer in fondant, decorate with the requested polka dots and let it go at that. The first layer of brown fondant was easy enough. But when it came to covering the round layers I was suddenly confronted with engineering issues. Like, how do you make the fondant all straight and flush to the cake when what it wants naturally to do is drape?

Well, if you're anything like me and you really don't have time to research the problem, you use your imagination. Hey! That looks like a skirt, doesn't it? A few polka dots, a nice bow at the back...

From a distance, and with plenty of distracting gee gawgery, it didn't look half bad.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Can't See My Shadow

I told myself this morning that I was going to download the pictures from The Child's Sweet Sixteen bash and get blogging about it. But then I discovered how many pictures were actually taken and now I have to go sort through them all and find the ones that best tell the story so that report will have to come tomorrow.

But suffice to say, it was a good party.

And also, I went to my first roller derby bout this weekend. One of the teams was skating to benefit The House so MAB and I went. That is a whole other blog foddery tale.

But suffice to say, I have decided that my roller derby name would be Julia Riled. I would wear pearls and an apron and whenever I blocked a jammer I'd trill "Bon appetit, suckah".

I wounded myself the other night while grating cheese. We've all done it...scrapped a knuckle on the grater. Hurts like H, bleeds like a stuck pig, takes forever to heal because the wound is on a bendy place.

Suffice to say, I won't post any pictures of that.

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