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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Because I don't spend enough time online...

I have discovered some really fabulous blogs. I know my productivity has decreased a bit since I took up blogging, but c'est la vie. Don't worry, I have to go back to work in three weeks! In the meantime, I will be browsing through these beautiful blogs.

Gypsy Purple:

Faye and Greer:

Aquarian Thoughts:

Designers Block:

Mary McDonald Design:

Cupcake Couture

I was recently on a cupcake kick (I even made some chocolate cuppies with Magnolia Bakery butter cream frosting) and stumbled across Kylie Lambert's beautiful creations. I think her bakery, Le Cupcake is based out of Australia, so if Meredith and Allen ever move there, we'll have to get some when Fabian and I visit. They are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

See more:

This Week's Quote

Part of the reason I dislike living in the suburbs is the fact that the monotony of it all can be so stifling. All of the houses look the same, the stores and restaurants look the same, and the people are all so alike. My suburb is a very homogeneous one, but beyond the suburb thing, I think most people tend to fall into a comfortable rut after a while. I know I certainly have this summer, so this quote will be my inspiration to shake things up!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Secret World of Haute Couture

Haute couture is a phrase that many toss around carelessly. Some of my students foolishly think that a denim mini skirt from Abercrombie can be considered haute couture so long as they think it's cute. However, "in fashion parlance, haute couture is something very specific: A garment that is completely custom-made, from impeccable lining to hand-stitched hem. Not only is the dress bespoke, the fabrics and embellishments are of the highest quality, and the tailors, seamstresses, embroiderers, lace makers and other craftspeople who spend hundreds of hours assembling these pieces are the most skilled in the world." These beautiful works of art can cost up to $100,000, though you shouldn't expect the design houses to give you prices.

Last night, PBS aired a documentary called The Secret World of Couture in which a British journalist tries to infiltrate the very elite world of haute couture. She travels to Paris, New York, and Los Angeles in hopes of finding one of the 200 members of a very exclusive club of haute couture lovers, from both old and new money . The club is more of a secret society with its very hush, hush nature. The designers featured in the documentary, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, John Galliano of Christian Dior, Valentino, and Christian Lacroix refused to disclose any details about their wealthy clients, adhering to a type of doctor-patient confidentiality.

One of the club members who agreed to be interviewed is fellow Houstonian, Becca Cason Thrash, wife of multi-millionaire doctor and oil fortune heir, John Thrash. She is known for her posh parties and amazing couture collection. If you must ask, no, we don't run in the same circle. Becca guides the journalist through the arduous process of becoming a member of the haute couture club. According to Becca and the other women in the documentary, once you go haute, you never go back. The ladies all feel that their love for the art form is a bona fide addiction. Each season, they absolutely must flock to Paris to add more designer creations to their collections. It's an impossible habit to break, though they aren't trying.

Personally, I love flipping through the pages of Vogue admiring the beautiful creations, but that is probably as close as I will get to the exclusive world of haute couture-wearing women.

Blogging is the New Black

I decided to start blogging out of boredom. I'm a teacher, so I'm off for the summer and thought "Why not give it a try?". Slowly, but surely, this has become my newest addiction. Writing my blog entries is theraputic in a sense, as I get to share my experiences and opinions. I can only hope that you might enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. I don't know why it took me as long as it did, but I've recently discovered some great blogs. I am able to read about food, architecture, design, fashion, travel, photography...the list goes on. Check out for a great collection of blogs categorized by topic. It's like a virtual yellow pages for blogs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dude, where's my car?

I had a doctor's appointment this morning and was pleasantly surprised when I was in and out of my doctor's office in thirty minutes. That almost never happens! I usually spend about forty-five minutes in the waiting room, but not today. I checked in at 10:05 and was on my merry way by 10:35... or so I thought.

Fabian and I dropped my Pathfinder off at the Nissan dealership this morning because it has been making a squeaking noise, so I took him to work and drove his Acura all day. My doctor's office is in the new professional building at the hospital and I had to park in the new seven-level parking garage. This seemed easy enough until I had to find the car after my appointment. I literally walked up and down six flights of stairs (I didn't check the roof) eight times looking for the car!

I tried hitting the panic button so that I would hear the car's alarm. That didn't work. I would later find out that you have to hold the button down for a couple of seconds. Locking the doors didn't work either. On my Nissan, the horn toots pretty loudly when I lock the doors from my key fob, but not on the Acura. The TL makes a low, unobtrusive noise. Didn't the people at Acura foresee moments like these?!

Finally, after about twenty minutes of searching, I paged security from the emergency box with the flashing, blue light. I let them know that I couldn't find my car and the operator assured me that a security guard would come get me and take me through the parking garage in his golf cart to find my car. Fifteen minutes passed and I never made the acquaintance of this so-called golf cart driving security guard. Frustrated with my ridiculous situation and the fact that I had been baking in the 97 degree heat for 40 minutes, I decided to give it one more try. I climbed the stairs two more times going up and down and checking every level until it dawned on me to go right at the top of the stairs instead of taking a left. I hit the panic button and there it was! After nearly an hour of searching, I had found the car. Next time you want to mix up your work out routine, just have me hide your car in a parking garage.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Quote of the Week

I've always enjoyed collecting quotes, so I am going to start posting a "Quote of the Week". We'll see how this works out. I may post them more frequently.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

You Can't Stop the Beat!

Fabian and I saw Hairspray on Friday night and both loved it. It was such a fun movie! I was pretty sure I would like it because I've seen the original, but I felt bad making Fabian see it because he absolutely hates musicals. Much to my surprise, he laughed the entire time and said that he really liked it. This was a remake that actually worked!

John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer are great in their roles. The rest of the cast does a wonderful job as well, but the true star is newcomer Nikki Blonsky, who plays Tracy Turnblad. She was phenomenal in the role. Much to my surprise, I found out that this is actually her first professional acting job. Before landing the lead in this movie, she was serving up ice cream at Coldstone Creamery. I hope the future holds great things for Nikki.

Urban Beauty

This past week, I took a course at Rice University and was able to drive through my favorite area in Houston on a daily basis. Two of my favorite neighborhoods, Southampton and Boulevard Oaks are located here. To most people, these neighborhoods are seemingly one in the same, as they don’t have huge stone signs flanked by waterfalls at their entrances like the neighborhoods in my two syllable suburb do.

I am completely enamored by the fairy tale streets lined with majestic Live Oak trees. I love the image of stately homes from the 1920's - 1940's cohabitating peacefully with modern mansions. This jewel box of an area is a true oasis. Peaceful, beautiful, and dignified, yet urban in every sense of the word. Its residents post signs saying things like "War is not the answer" or "Poets for Peace" in their lawns. To me, it seems as though every house has its own story. If the walls could really talk, I would sit and listen intently for hours.

The Live Oaks, which I mentioned earlier, are what makes the area so special. Their canopies shade the streets from the blistering Houston heat. They add a sense of romanticism as their branches contort gracefully down the esplanades on North and South Boulevards and throughout the rest of Boulevard Oaks. A writer from The New York Times once wrote:

"To stand at the foot of South Boulevard in Houston is to look down what
is perhaps the most magnificent residential street in America. Staged rows
of soaring live oaks form the vaulted arches of a great Gothic cathedral over
a grassy esplanade, lined with imposing yet graceful mansions from the 1920s by
such eminent architects of their day as John F. Staub and Birdsall P.Briscoe."

Yesterday, Fabian and I spent a couple of hours strolling the the area and took a few photographs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

101 Simple Meals in 10 Minutes or Less

A friend recently posted this article from The New York Times website and I thought I would pass it along. It has 101 great ideas for quick and easy meals. Beat that, Rachael Ray!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mini van cabs only, please.

Many of my guilty pleasures are of the televised variety. Among them, is Discovery Channel's fabulous Cash Cab, a show on which unsuspecting New Yorkers hail a cab and soon find out that they are in for the ride of their lives.

The passengers are greeted by flashing LED panels in the mini-van's ceiling and cabbie / comedian extraordinaire, Ben Bailey. If they agree to be on the show, they are asked a series of questions, each of which is worth $25-$200. The players are asked a multiple choice question and are given 30 seconds to answer. They also get a mobile shout out and a street shout out. In the end, they are given the option of walking away with what they've won or they can answer a double or nothing video question.
A group of professors recently won $1,500 and then doubled their money! Can you imagine winning $3,000 during a cab ride?! There have been so many episodes during which I have yelled out answers at my t.v. and cheered for the contestants (or cursed the dumb as rocks bastards who didn't deserve to be on the show), wishing that I had been the one taking a cab from the East Village up to the MoMa. I even won $1,400 once! Well, I didn't really win the money, but I would have if I had just been in the damn cab.

Fabian and I are heading up to New York in a couple of weeks and you'd better believe that I am dragging his ass into every mini-van cab I see until I am startled by flashing lights and hear the sweet sound of Ben Bailey say, "You're on a Discovery Channel game show called Cash Cab".

Check out a few clips from the show:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot Tamales

Mmmmm...tamales. Those delicious little bundles of corn masa, or dough, filled with delectable, savory ingredients like pork, chicken, cheese and peppers or sweet ingredients like raisins, sugar, and coconut. This dish is a labor of love as it takes a very long time to make. Tamales have existed in Latin America for over 5,000 years and are prominent in many parts of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and as far south as Perú and Colombia.

Whether you've had tamales wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, I'd like to let you in on a little secret. The singular form of tamales is not tamale, it is tamal. In Spanish, singular words ending in vowels are usually made plural by adding an "s", while plural words ending in a consonant become plural by adding "es". I hope you've enjoyed today's lesson. Now go out and get yourself a delicious tamal. ¡Buen provecho!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Do they speak Spanish in Spain?

I am a high school Spanish teacher. While my job can be really fun at times and was rewarding and fulfilling before I transfered to the suburbs, there is only so much ignorance one can stomach. Now, I have many, many stories from my adventures in teaching. I'll have to fill you in on them in August once I am back in teacher mode (I've checked out for the summer). Until then, I'll leave you with a delicious, little amuse bouche to whet your palate.

This past year, I had my Spanish 3 students put together a travel presentation on a Spanish- speaking country of their choice. As they were signing up for their countries, I had a kid ask "Do they speak Spanish in Spain?". Hmm, español… España. Do you sense a connection? Yes, I am serious and I'm afraid he was, too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stranger Danger

As most of you can imagine, being one half of a young twenty-something, childless couple in the suburbs can be absolutely exhilarating. Right. In addition to the joys of limited quality eateries and a plethora of banks and nail salons are the inevitable run-ins with other people's bratty children. I know what you're thinking. Why would I say such a thing? After all, every child is a little angel. Well, apparently you don't live where I live.

Case in point: I go to Jamba Juice after each work out at the gym and order their delicious Strawberry Nirvana smoothie, with a protein boost of course. It is a little ritual I have come to love. However, a recent trip to my favorite smoothie joint was a bit disarming. I walked up to the counter, ordered my drink, and planned to sit on one of the stools while I waited as I had just had my butt kicked by my trainer. There was a nice lady standing next to the other stool and her cute little boy, who must have been about five, was sitting in said stool. I smiled politely and sat down. Well, apparently, no one bothered to tell me that I bear a striking resemblance to the boogie man. I've been compared to several celebrities, but he has never been one of them. As soon as I sat down, the boy made a horrible face and shrieked out "Mommy!!", then said "That lady is sitting there. I don't want her to sit there!" Now I understand he is just a kid, but I was more put off by the fact that she pulled him off of the stool, looked at me, pursed her lips and said "Stranger danger". Believe me lady, I don't want your little gem! While I think it's great that she is teaching him to beware of strangers, it might be helpful if she took a refresher course in manners and social tact.