Leaving This Face

Dear sweet Butter was particularly dear and sweet at the beginning of last week.

After Conservative Hubby was already in Georgia golfing and around the time I started packing for my travels down south, Butter put on his angel face.

He knew somehow--even before he spotted my suitcase--that he was getting left behind.

But rather than his usual mournful gaze and puppy pout, he decided to woo me with his big eyes and most serene poses.

And goodness, it almost worked. Had I not been flying, I may have scooped him up and taken him with me.

Instead, he was stuck at home all week. Lounging in the sun with his dog sitter, who no doubt lavished him with all the attention such a sweet little pooch deserves.

So don't feel sorry for him. Not this time anyway.



Remember this dress?

And this tie?

And this little piece of paper?

That's right, friends and family. At this time last year, Conservative Hubby and I were getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner and the big (er ... little) wedding.

In fact, right about this time on this day last year my mom was making last-minute alterations to my dress. She did a better job than the seamstress who did the original alterations, even with the rather unfortunate travel sewing kit she used.

This year: No alterations. Plenty of time with family. And a few memories of last year's excitement, of course.

Apple Pie

It's Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means ...

It's time to think pie. Turkey. And more pie. (Oh, and mashed potatoes too, of course. I can't ever forget those.)

To get Thanksgiving week started off right, I made an apple pie last weekend. Only it really wasn't in honor of Thanksgiving at all. I made a pie because (1) I had time, (2) I had some local apples left in the crisper I wanted to use, (3) I finally spent a Williams-Sonoma gift card and so had a lovely new pie dish and some leaf-shaped cutters I wanted to try out.

Now if that isn't enough reason to make a pie, I don't know what is!

And so I made an apple pie.

And then proceeded to not eat a single piece myself. Instead, I gave away pieces to all the (many) wonderful people in our neighborhood and in Conservative Family who helped out with Butter this week.

Don't feel sorry for me. Just because I didn't eat a piece doesn't mean I didn't have any. I'm awfully bad at removing pieces of pie from the dish, so I had my fair share of bites from what was left behind.

Besides, I think I'll have plenty more opportunities for pie-eating this week, don't you?


The Book List

Wow, I should ask for your recommendations more often. What should I wear tomorrow? What should I eat? Where should I go on vacation? Based on the responses for my reading list request, I think you'd guide me pretty well.

Well ... most of you.

I thought I'd share the master list with all of you, in case you're looking for something to read too.

I must say, there's quite a variety of books here. Something for everyone, I guess you could say. Or at least a whole lot of variety for this reader.

I can't promise I'll get to every single book on the list. There may even be a few (I bet you'll never guess which ones) that I intentionally skip. Some I just may miss because I get distracted by other things (what? me? never!). But I'll do my best. Promise.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are the book recommendations I received in the comments and through email.

Happy reading to me!

Lucy by Laurence Gonzales (I started reading this the other day and am enjoying it so far)
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (and the whole series)
Room by Emma Donoghue
Deception Point by Dan Brown
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Decision Points by George W. Bush
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge by Patricia Duncker
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (recommended twice)
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss


Your Book Recommendations

Once upon a time I needed some new music. And so I asked you what music I should listen to.

The result was a whole list of great songs and artists, many of whom I still listen to regularly.

So now that I've cut back on the freelancing (finally!) and am only a few days away from submitting the last of my thesis revisions, I've decided to stop over-committing and to cut back on the to-do list making, even just a little bit.

(I know, I know, most of you don't believe me. I've said this sort of thing before. But I really am trying!)

I'm going to spend more time relaxing, more time hanging out, more time doing things I really love.

Like reading.

You know how infrequently in the last couple of years I've read for pleasure? Aside from cramming in as many books as I can on occasional vacations (when I'm usually still trying to cram in freelance work)? Not at all.

I'm going to change that.

But first, I need your help. What book do I need to read right now? What's at the top of your to-read or have-read list? Any genre. Any topic. Any author. Just tell me what I absolutely must read.

And then I'll do my best to tackle your recommendations.


A Halloween Bash

Last weekend, some of our friends made the trip from Des Moines for a visit. So, in honor of their presence and the fact it was the end of October, we threw our first-ever Halloween bash at our basement bar.

It was a good time, with plenty of entertaining costumes. We're talking bounty hunters, Dexter, rodeo queens, the cast of Grease, a beer bottle, a pirate, some fellow from the Swiss Alps, a referee, Joe Dirt. And that's just a random sampling of the crazy characters we had on hand.

(Even Mario and Luigi hit a Warp Zone and made an appearance.)

To go along with the costumes, we put out a few creepy decorations here and there.

Nothing too crazy ... besides, everyone has a graveyard in their basement, right?

Naturally, we served a few treats as well.

I put together a spooky little spread, including pumpkin cupcakes, brownies with Reese's peanut butter cups, caramel apple dip, and more.

And that about sums it up. We ate, we drank, we hung out around the bar. What else is there to do on a Halloween weekend Saturday night?!


The End of Living Loft-Style

I know you're heartbroken, devastated, absolutely torn apart about the title of today's post. "What?" You're crying out, no doubt. "How can this be the end?"

Alas, it is the end because I have exhausted all the photos I took of the loft to end all lofts. Plus, remember it is a loft. In the upstairs of a building in downtown Laramie. In other words, it's not a mansion people. And My Parents only need so much space.

So let's get to the last--but certainly not least--of it.

The kitchen.

And oh what a kitchen it is. Huge and open, with professional-grade appliances and, naturally, a few quirky accents.

The appliances might look black in the photos, but they're actually the color of eggplant. And, as you can see, even the cabinet inserts take an artistic bent. I may not have picked those inserts if this were my kitchen, but they look lovely and they do grow on you when you linger in the room for a while.

Besides, how could you ever complain in this big of a cooking space, with a great layout and room for pretty much every kitchen gadget known to humans?

Had I stayed longer, I would have whipped out the ice cream-maker and pasta-maker and this-maker and that-maker and used it all. But, given time constraints, I had to settle for frying bacon and making pancakes on the built-in griddle on the range. And I had to use the oven and the KitchenAid Mixer to whip up some cookies, which we enjoyed as dessert after a feast of Thai takeout in this cute little dining area.

In the kitchen, once you look past the gadgets and beautiful countertops and colorful appliances, you'll notice a number of interesting details.

Like Buddha sitting on top of the china hutch and other sculptures tucked in nooks in the cabinetry.

Like a telephone on the wall painted in crazy swirls of color.

Like a planter shaped like a woman's head on the windowsill and a Homer Simpson cookie jar that grunts next to it (you can sort of see them in the top photo, though they're awfully hard to make out).

On a side note, should you ever visit My Parents, be warned: Simpsons paraphernalia pop up in the most peculiar places. And no, it's not their personal collection. It came with the loft too.

The end.


Living Loft-Style Part V

Despite my temporary absence, the loft tour isn't quite done yet. Today we're moving on from the media room to some more intimate spaces. They include ...

... My Mom's giant dressing room

... the half bath in the hall

... and the master bedroom,

with a bed so tall My Mom needs a stool to get onto it.

And, perhaps most impressively ...

... the master bathroom.

What a luxurious (and playful) spot to bathe, eh?

(Pardon the photo quality--some snapshots were taken with My Mom's cell phone camera!)