Monthly Archives: September 2010

So Wicked

Wicked

What are you doing this weekend, my dears?

Ryan and I saw Wicked last night as one of our last Madison excursions. It was beyond good, particularly because the woman who played Elphaba had an amazing voice. Do you like Broadway shows? We have so much to do for the move and work and life that before the show I was willing to cancel our date and pack. Or sleep.

But Ryan insisted we go – even though the poor guy is just as stressed – and I’m glad we did. I was bouncing off the walls when we returned. Sometimes we forget how essential a bit of fun is for energy.

This weekend, we’re going to visit my mother while we’re still in the Midwest, and I’m excited for some poodle time… and some sleep. Next week, we’ll get back to packing and then the big move – whee!

The Handmaid’s Tale

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When tragedies occur, when things are too big to bear, I shut myself off and then down.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale on the way to California last weekend and finished it on the way back. Originally, it was my friend Ellen’s book club selection. I never made it to book club, but am glad I read it anyway.

The book is the memoir of a young woman set sometime in the future when the United States no longer exists, and the Republic of Gilead has taken over and “far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government.” In other words, a feminist’s nightmare.

But I delved into the politics bit after I was finished reading. While I was turning the pages, it was more about the main character, known as Offred, and the relationships this new Republic kept hidden – her husband, her daughter, her best friend. The way in which Offred compartmentalizes these struggles reminded me of myself.

Offred’s painful storage of the loss of her husband and daughter only gives us glimpses into the memories of these relationships.  If the words were visual, I can imagine much of Offred’s mind resembling the cinematography of the French film Bleu. It was easier for Offred to speak about Moira, her best friend, and I especially liked learning about their relationship and how Moria was Offred’s strength, since I’ve often felt the same way about my best friend.

There is humor – it’s not all drab clouds in The Handmaid’s Tale, but also the story is gripping and not to be missed.

Bye, Bye Condo

What I think I’ll miss most about Madison is my condo. It’s 651 square feet of mine and I loved pulling it together over the past two years. Not to mention Ryan and I have many of our beginnings here (our first kiss! our first home!).

Front of condo building

Our condo is one of the smallest in the Capitol West building (and also the cheapest – hooray!). Prior to my condo, I lived in an apartment that was about 500 square feet so the extra space was luxurious. I didn’t want something much bigger for one, because of the obvious pricing reasons, and two it’s much harder to clean, and finally, environmental concerns make it important for me to live in a small footprint.  The space has a gorgeous view of Lake Monona  since Madison is built on an isthmus. I will miss that a lot.

I bought the place before it was even built so it was pretty standard when I moved in. Here are some pictures from the day I closed on the condo:

Living room and kitchen

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Living room looking into kitchen

Once I moved in, I was having a hard time coming up with wall colors – most seemed far too boring. I knew I had chosen some great and versatile furniture pieces… I just needed the color to make them pop! Since it’s a small space however, I didn’t want a bold color to be too overpowering.

Choosing Colors

New Couch

Finally, I happened upon two photographs that served as inspiration. One featured a half wall of paint that mimicked a modern chair railing, and the other contained a wall color that was so exactly what I never knew I wanted.

I thought this was a good solution because it allowed color to come into the space, while still allowing the space to breathe and for the focus to remain on the view.

wall inspiration

And so the taping and painting started:

Painting

Aye! What a mess!

Painting

Painting

I was so anxious to see how it looked, I wasn’t willing to let it dry… good thing for plastic!

Almost done painting

Looks good, except for that corner… hm…

Taping the corner, switching table bases

Taping the corner

Ah, better! Ta da!

Corner done

Next, a little rug and some throw pillows to cozy up the joint:

Rug and pillows

Rug and pillows

And curtains… oh how I love floor to ceiling curtains…and see how the wind is coming in from the window there? I love that.

Curtains

The beginnings of my modest art collection and some family heirlooms:

Frame arrangements

Wall Art

Artwork

Starting to feel homey, eh?

Artwork

This is my favorite shot:

Artwork

wall art 2

Let there be light! A pretty light!

Light

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I hung the flat screen TV when Ryan moved in all by myself… big holes with big toggl bolts. Quite terrifying.

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Don’t look at the mess. Look at the art! More great art!

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A balance between screens and books… see how I sneakily hid the TV cords? YouTube taught me that.

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TV Wall

We also painted the bedroom “Ashley Gray” when Ryan moved in. It made a huge difference.

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And hung some more floor to ceiling curtains… this time in luxurious velvet! We should be able to wrap ourselves in velvet, don’t you think?

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Here’s my legendary library card file that holds all of our little things:

Bedroom

This is a wine rack that Ryan got me for my birthday last year. Isn’t it cool? I had a little trouble hanging it straight, but once I got that settled… wow!

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TV wall  -Wine rack

And finally, those finishing touches. Do you see my cute little wall lamp?

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Here’s where I got all the loot:

Arlington Sofa, Pottery Barn.
Arlington Ottoman
, Pottery Barn.
Peyton Curtain Drapes
, Pottery Barn.
Voile Sheer Drape
, Pottery Barn.
Quinn Felted Shag Rug
, Pottery Barn.
Formosa Tray Table
, CB2.
Retro Metal Wall Lamp, West Elm.
Silverado Dining Table
, CB2.
Icon Dining Chairs
, Callagris.
IQ Hanging Lamp
, Century House.
Velvet Drape
, Pottery Barn.
Organic Carved Circles Duvet
, West Elm.
Organic Percale White Sheets
, CB2.
Parsons Console Table
, West Elm.
Rosendahl Wine Tube, Century House.

For my birthday this year, among other gifts, Ryan got me this coat rack. I didn’t get to hang it yet because well, we’re moving to DC! I think it would have been the final touch, so perhaps it’s fitting that we’ll get to take it to our new place.

I’ll miss you, home sweet home:

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Mighty Summit

Here are some photos of my time spent at the Mighty Summit.  Since some of the top lifestyle bloggers and women in media were in attendance, it was important to me that Alice.com do something unique as part of our sponsorship.

The women at the Mighty Summit had all put together life lists of the things they want to do before they go. Having read many of the lists and been inspired and entertained, we decided it would be great to do something that paid homage to their goals and their wit.

I worked with our Creative Director to create the limited edition prints you see below. The woman’s silhouette contains items from across all the different life lists as an artful reminder. The prints were a huge hit! I saved one for myself too and plan to put it up next to my desk.

Of course, we’re also providing the fabulous women gift cards to Alice as well. We don’t want them running out of toilet paper on their journey! A big thanks to all the amazing bloggers and women I met, as well as the Mighty organizers and Allison and Nathan from Fishbone Marketing.

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Moving to a New City

Airports are particularly filthy places, no matter who you are. No matter what seat you’re in on the plane, everyone has to sit on the same toilet seats in the airport. Or hover, if you’re smart.

I’m not a germaphobe by any means, at least not yet, but airports get to me in a way that other public transportation doesn’t. I’m always looking to count on the goodness of my fellow travelers; but it’s usually about a fifty-fifty split as to who surprises me, for better or for worse.

One of the ideas that I put out there at the beginning of the year was that I wanted to travel more, and indeed, I have taken more trips in the last year than I probably have in my life. And each time, I feel all that is more around me, all that is bigger than myself, and it makes me want.

I get that you can make any city work for you. I’ve been making Madison work for me for almost ten years (oh my lord). And when others would complain about Madison (which they did a lot), I was the one to persuade its virtues (which I did a lot).

So no, this was not my first choice. Or second. Or even third, really.

Following my boyfriend for the good of his career is not my dream. Countless friends have been picked off the career ladder for just this reason and I have always held fast to my ambition during the barrage.

I’ve never had any intention of leaving my career – or my home. But as months, and then years started to separate me from my idealism, I saw in ways that I didn’t understand before how easily people can settle. How it wouldn’t matter much what the next job was because the trappings of work would still be the same, so you settle. Really great positions and ideas and causes can supersede the trappings, but still you come to rest.

So in less than two weeks, Ryan and I have settled everything, but in a different manner entirely.  In two weeks more, we will have moved and all the way to Washington, DC. I will work remotely – Alice.com is graciously letting me keep my position. I’ve rented out my condo. Ryan will open a new Brazen office. And we’ve found a great new place to call home. Ryan has lived in DC before, but it will all be new to me.

As I write this, I’m no longer in the airport, but on the plane. It is the time on the flight when everyone is curiously quiet – the babies are suckling, the old men are sleeping, and the young women are reading. Outside the window is a bit of how large the world is, and then, as the aerial views are covered with a blank slate of clouds, how large it could be.

We won’t be in DC long – I’m still holding out for my first choice, after all – but we will be there long enough. Long enough, I think, for an adventure.

Take a Walk Through the Woods

I had such a good time in California’s wine country this weekend for Alice.com’s sponsorship of Mighty Summit (Summit photos coming soon). I haven’t traveled alone in some time and was quite nervous. But I found that once I got off the roller coaster that is California’s highway 101, I gained some confidence in doing it all by myself.

It was so restfully quiet during the weekend as well… particularly along the Russian river and in the Armstrong Redwood State Reserve where my footsteps sounded like fireworks on the forest floor.

Won’t you take a walk through the redwoods with me?

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Arm Wrestle a Bouncer in DC? Check.

What are you doing this weekend, dear readers?

Last weekend, Ryan and I went to DC (more on that later), and I arm wrestled this bouncer. Seriously, the guy was huge. I am happy I won.

This weekend, I’m going to California’s wine country, since Alice is one of the sponsors of Mighty Summit. I get to meet some of the most amazing bloggers from sites like Dooce and Chookooloonks and Knotty Yarn and the Spohrs are Multiplying. Whee! I’m so excited.

It’s fitting to talk about arm wrestling bouncers because the bloggers have all put together life lists of what they want to do before they go, and they include all the normal things, but also things like “Have a giant food fight,” and “Wear a sequin bikini to Carnival in Trinidad.”

I think I’ll fit right in…

My Sister’s Keeper

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When a book is really good, you don’t want to give it back. You want to hold onto it’s characters and the story like it is your own life. That is the way, unlike Almost Moon, that I felt about My Sister’s Keeper. Another borrowed novel from my best friend Belle, I was going to hold onto it and sneak it away into my collection, but alas, she came over last night and I went ahead and returned it to her. Darn morals and values.

Anywho, give My Sister’s Keeper a read if you want a novel that reads like a big comfortable couch with clean lines next to your favorite girlfriend.  The plot is tragic, but in a way that you want to cozy into it.

Heirloom

Heirloom

Heirloom

Tomatoes are by far one of my favorite foods, and lately cherry or grape tomatoes, which I cut up and put into all sorts of everything.

Try one of our favorite dishes for these little guys. While your favorite pasta is cooking (linguine is good and I like DaVinci’s Flowers a lot), fry up some grape or cherry tomatoes, then add your cooked pasta, a jar of pesto, handfuls off fresh spinach and top it off with cheese. When Ryan and I cook it together, chicken is also thrown in, but I’m partial to the dish without any meat myself.

Served with a sprinkling of salt and ground pepper is also recommended.

Taste of Madison

I refuse to accept that it is Fall in Madison, because that means Winter is on it’s way. But yesterday Fall was trying real hard and it was a beautiful crisp and cold day for the Taste of Madison. I was a bit under the weather, but after being a hermit all day, I had to get out. Particularly because I spent most of the day watching all the people out our window migrate en masse to the Capitol Square. Ryan and I were planning not to eat anything – just go for a little walk – but oh the smells…

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There was a lot of these sights and aromas floating directly to your nose and stomach.

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The Capitol came out to play.

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These were quite the tasty kebabs.

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And these, these cinnamon roasted almonds were warm delicious goodness.

If you’re in the Madison area, the Taste continues on the Square from 11 am to 7 pm today. Definitely get the almonds.

Zuchinni & Almond Pasta Salad

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What are you doing for the labor day weekend? Ryan and I are going to have a staycation for once since we’ve been doing so much traveling and have more to come this month. I’m really looking forward to kicking back and cozying up with a good book. If you’ll be running around, here’s a good pasta salad to take with you.

Zuchinni & Almond Pasta Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 zucchinis, halved lenthwise and very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon, garlic and oregano feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of basil, thinly slivered
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation Instructions

Toss zucchini slices with one teaspoon salt in a large colander set over a bowl or in sink. Let drain 20 minutes. If they taste too salty to you, rinse and drain them again (I didn’t have this problem  and actually added more salt). Boil the water for the pasta and while you wait, place the almonds on a pan in a 300 degree oven for 8 minutes to toast. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice, seasoning generously with one teaspoon red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt to taste. Add the red onion and basil to marinate.

When your pasta is cooked, drain and toss it together with zucchini, feta, almonds, and dressing. You can eat it while it’s still warm or cold as a pasta salad the next day. If you’re Ryan, add some pan-fried chicken.

Visit Paddy’s at Misqaumicut Beach

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Before celebrating Barbara’s birthday, we all came to the Misquamicut Beach on Rhode Island to relax. So if you ever find yourself there, you absolutely must go to Paddy’s. Besides having some of best lobster risotto ever, they also serve drinks in these delightful glasses… that you get to keep! I can’t wait to use Mr. Monkey again.