Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Honor of "What The F#ck Should I Make for Dinner?"


I'm a big fan of the innovative and interactive foodie website, "What The Fuck Should I Make for Dinner".  It gives you many different dinner options and links to the recipes, based on whether or not you're a vegetarian. It will keep searching for appropriate links until you find something interesting to cook. Totally cool and useful!

However, the coolest thing about it is the liberal use of curse words to describe a meal and/or its cooking process.  You might think that reading recipes or descriptions of food with many off-color words sprinkled throughout would get old or offensive, but it just punches up the energy of every entry.  I find myself laughing out loud a lot as I peruse the site's Facebook page.

Many moons ago, I used to swear like a sailor who hasn't gotten laid in months.  I cleaned up my act, because, frankly, it's not the same cursing in Spanish (even with an exaggerate "r" in "reputissima madre" for example) or using more benign, polite phrases, like "darn it all" or "crap".  Ideally, the colorful and meaty English counterparts give emotional gravitas to that thing or action to which you refer, which means that writing a piece or delivering a line peppered with offensive language is challenging.  It has to be coherent, keep the piece moving, and be entertaining at the same time. This is easy if you're Annie Wilkes in Misery:

But what about the normal locos, like me?  "Cockadoodee" just wouldn't capture the violent eruption of emotion I would feel, say, when I realize 30 minute into cooking that I forgot to change farenheit to celsius, or that I added 1 cup of salt instead of 1 cup of sugar. These events beg for a long string of swear words like, shitfuckdamncocksucker, don't they? 

Now, you may wonder, "Why a cooking reference tool with curse words?"  I say, "Why the fuck not?" The world is filled with pointless, uncomical things, like Carrot Top or the Teletubbies.  Why not create something that is funny, totally original, useful, and trashier than Rachel Ray or Jamie Oliver?

Here's my attempt at a WTFSIMFD post based on a Maple Blueberry Parfait I made for my friend's housewarming party last night.  Enjoy! 

Throw 3 fucking cups of fucking blueberries into a pot with about 1/2 cup of B-ass grade maple syrup.  Cook that shit  up over a medium flame until the bitches start popping--about 3-8 fucking minutes.  Now, take it off the damn fire and throw that shit into the fridge to cool the fuck down and thicken a little bit while you're making the fucking whipped cream. You're not going to rely on that skanky-ass store bought shit because you're not a pussy.  You're fucking making it homemade.

Take about 2 cups of fucking cream. Whip that bitch up with about 1 or 2 tablefuckingspoons of maple syrup (to taste, really. Depends on whether or not you have a fucking sweet tooth) until it starts forming stiff peaks.  Get your fucking serving cups.  Start layering those bitches with the maple-blueberry shit first, then throw some crumbled vanilla cookies or any kind of sweet cakey shit you have lying around, then the fucking whipped cream.  Keep fucking layering the glasses until their goddamn full.  Don't be an asshole and skimp on that shit. This is a fucking dessert, after all.  Throw some fucking fresh berries on top to make things pretty.  Serve the bitches immediately, and fucking enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

I really miss the holidays at home.  In my northeast US holiday fantasy, it's cold, I'm wearing a great outfit that keeps me warm, there's a dog running around in the yard, a tree that has been recently decorated, and a meal about to be put on the table by a super talented cook.  

When I moved here, I decided to begin my own Thanksgiving tradition by hosting a potluck at home.  This year?  Nah.  Too freaking lazy.  We're going to an Italian restaurant that we've recently discovered in Barrio Norte, and I'm having octopus carpaccio and a plate of roasted Patagonian lamb.  Why stress by having to entertain and feed people when I can be entertained and fed? 

Still, it's always nice to stop and count one's blessings, which, in my case, have been many.  Here are my top 10 reasons why I'm grateful this year, in no particular order:

1) Discovering that I feel sooo much better without eating wheat products.
2) Marcelo.  Great guy, very supportive, just what I needed to become the person I am today.  Sometimes, he drives me crazy, but I've learned about committment and love with him.  Can't beat that.
3) My Dad. This is going to read kind of twisted, but if it hadn't been for my parents' divorce, I would have never gotten to know the great person that is my Dad.  I just love him so much. 
4) My analyst.  Because I'm crazy, and she's been there for me for the past 9 freaking years.  I couldn't have done half the crazy things I've done if I hadn't known she was going to be there to still think I was still loveable.
5) Organic butter.  I've missed you, and I'm so glad I've found you again! So nice to eat it and not feel guilty anymore. 
6) Not having to worry about money anymore. 
7) Learning that, even though I don't have to worry about money anymore, I don't have to give into the impulse to spend it.  BIG ONE.
8) Being a property owner.  Having my name on something as big as an apartment is pretty darn cool. 
9) Being a few months away from getting my permanent DNI!!!!!  At freaking last!
10) Learning how to let things go that don't  work for me anymore. 

With that, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When I Grow Up...

I want to look like this woman, blogger Judth Boyd of Style Crone, and her fabulous coat-o'-many-colors. I found her featured in one of my favorite style blogs, Advanced Style, by Ari Seth Cohen. Clearly, this is a case of wisdom meeting confidence and birthing fierce style.  Isn't she just so freaking sassy? Kills.  

If I continue dressing the way I have been, I don't think I'll be too far off the mark!  Love it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Discovering My Style with

I checked out after I read about it on the Six Items or Less Collective, and I blogged about my experience on The Great American Apparel Diet today. Check it:

Have I Entered A Danger Zone with

Overall, I think it's an excellent website, and I learned a thing or two about how my style has evolved. In my teens and 20's, I was pretty much into anything colorful. In my 30's, anything affordable, really, especially vintage. Now, in my 40's, whcn I can afford to shop, I'm thinking more higher end pieces that'll last, and vintage sillhouettes that will stand the test of time and style. The cool thing about this site is that you can choose the styles that you are most fond of, and they cull items from across the web universe for you to check out and buy.

Of course, I didn't buy. I'm sticking to my committment to not purchase anything for a year, but that doesn't mean I can't look, right? right? And a little shopping planning can only do me good when I'm finally allowed to make purchases. I'll know exactly what I'm looking for, so I don't go off on a tangent and buy something ruffled and pastel-colored when I'm having a bad hair day and PMS-ing. So, for right now, I'm into wrap-dresses (faux or real), easy shift dresses, and architectural pieces that fit my "casual chic, edgy" style blend. I discovered that I'm not into Ralph Lauren, Bebe, or French Connection--styles that I dug in my 30's.  I've also discovered that I've fallen in love with Alexander McQueen, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, and Matthew Williamson. Clean, funky, structural.  Good to know! The fact that the could define the styles that work for me is a relief since I tend to have fashion ADD. The questionnaire they ask you to complete for your profile forces you to think about the colors and sillhouettes that you like and that work for you (I think Boutiques is most helpful when you already know what works with your body type), so everything they pull fits into that profile.

This was an excellent find, and I'll probably be adjusting and refining my style throughout this clothing regime challenge. When I'm ready, I'll be more focused when I shop to update my wardrobe!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Was Quoted!

When I read the quote posted on the Six Items or Less Collective website, I thought, "God, this is good advice. Sounds familiar." Duh!  It's part of what I wrote in my first blog entry for The Great American Apparel Diet.  It's nice to discover that I can be kinda brilliant and insightful!

Snaps for me!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First Blog Post on The Great American Apparel Diet Website

Well, I am officially on the roster of participants for The Great American Apparel Diet. I'm really excited about joining, and am looking forward to seeing where all this leads. Here's the link to my first post on the GAAD website:

Hola from Buenos Aires, Argentina (by way of D.C. and L.A.)

I am enjoying reading the posts from other readers on the diet because I don't feel so alone. There are other people in the world who buy way the hell too many clothes! It takes the guilt away. I've found that guilt makes me feel worse about myself, which makes me want to shop as a way to lick my wounded ego.

Another thing that came up for me is the whole "diet" idea. Again, another way to feel guilty. Seriously, who loves dieting? Who thinks it's fun? How sustainable is it throughout one's life? I prefer to call this a cleansing exercise or regimen, or maybe even a gratitude exercise. Gratitude for the abundance you already have.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Few, The Proud, The Recovering

Turns out there is more than just the Six Items or Less movement and The Great American Apparel Diet (GAAD). There's the Thirty for Thirty challenge, and Week without Stuff .  Frugality is now chic, but I think that there's something in the air that is making many people--in the States mostly, it seems--re-evaluate their relationship to their stuff, whether it be clothing, in my case, or just over-abundance in their homes, in general.  This heightened awareness currently prompting people to try these material diets on for size can be exciting and fun, even for people who don't have to be on a limited budget.  I believe it gives people who were once, or have a tendency to be, spenders and over-consumers the opportunity to exercise their creativity and to be grateful for all that they already have. Of course, I say this now, as I'm in the throes of a consciousness love-fest.  Talk to me when I happen to be in the States just in time for a Nordstrom sale.

I've taken this just a little bit futher.  In addition to applying to be a part of the GAAD yesterday, I also signed up for the on-line Spenders-Debtors Anonymous, and am looking forward to attending face-to-face meetings when I'm back in the States.  I like the whole Anonymous movement, and the idea of surrendering and seeking strength through a Higher Power--however He/She/It may look--jives with my Roman Catholic upbringing, even though the Church as an institution has long lost its appeal.  Also, my experience as a tag-along with an Alcoholics Anonymous member and my own experience in Sexual Abuse Survivors in Recovery Anonymous were nothing but positive and motivating. So, I figured that if I were really serious walking my psychotherapeutic-clean living talk, I should really get all areas of my life together, even the parts that I am most reluctant to acknowledge to myself. 

I have been a debtor, meaning I possess the ability for amassing enormous amounts of debt within a short amount of time  I am also, mostly defnitely, a champion spender, a gold-medal consumer.  Although, my spending won't be setting any records, the fact that my habits are not giving me the rush that it once did suggests strongly that I've crossed the line somewhere between my last Calvin Klein dress and my fabulous 30-dollar, vintage 70's leather trench coat aquisition from the Goodwill. And, yes, just because thriftstores are my regular stomping ground doesn't mean that I'm any less of a consumer. Thrifting can add up very quickly, especially when you can spot an incredible, vintage 80's Valentino blazer for ten bucks from across the parking lot at the Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles (Yes, my radar is THAT good.)

So, how the hell did I get this way? 

After hundreds of dollars and hours spent (wisely--really, probably THE wisest purchase and best investment I have ever made) in therapy with my amazing psychoanalyst in the States over the last 10 years, nights of journaling and dreaming, and journaling my dreaming, I've figured out a thing or two: 1) Instead of saying apologizing for any hurts, just buy something, and 2) To avoid any kind of confrontation or war, go shopping.  In a nutshell, this has been my dynamic with my mother.  Since my mother and I have been on the outs in the last year, and since my family of origin has been reconfigured, guess what?!  I went shopping!  They don't call it Retail Therapy for nothing!

The good news is that after getting myself out of a credit bind several years go, I requested a relatively manageable credit level, just enough to buy an economy class plane ticket back to the States in case of a family emergency.  The bad news is that every purchase pushed me further into the Black Hole of Shame and Self-Loathing (not to mention limiting greatly my ability to see exactly what was in my bloated wardrobe). Been there (one too many times), done that, and am ready to move on to being grateful for everything I have.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Narrowing Down the 6

I spent this Sunday morning trying to figure out how to look cute for a month, using 6 pieces of clothing.  I am stumped. 

Previous participants and many people who have signed up for the next round have settled for a color uniform of black and white, or neutral colors.  I am not a neutral person.  Orange makes me happy.  Turquoise is one of my favorite colors.  Emerald green is gorgeous.  Strong colors look best on me, and I'd rather die than wear beige.  Black is always beautiful, but I don't want to feel like I'm going to a funeral for a month. How do I choose??? 

Assuming that this challenge will begin in December, how can I manage to create a 6-piece wardrobe that is festive, travel friendly, and good for multi-weather situations?  We're just entering summertime here in South America, so I want something comfortable and light that I can also layer to keep me from freezing in air-conditioned restaurants and movie theaters in Buenos Aires.   However, layering these pieces really won't give me enough protection against the elements, should our Christmas holiday road trip take us to Calafate to see the famous Perrito Moreno, the Argentine glacier, for example, where temperatures vary currently between 2 and 20 degrees celsius. I will freeze my balls off.  Two layered sundresses and a pair of jeans isn't going to cut it there, even with a thick jacket, and adding a thick sweater to my pile of everyday-wear will prevent me from including something I really need and want to have for the whole month, like a colorful t-shirt.  A puzzlement indeed. 

The good thing is that I can accessorize to my hearts content.  I have my trusty multi-colored orange scarf I always manage to bring with me on trips to use as a cover-up, shawl, or scarf, and I've already set aside a bunch of colorful baubles and funky belts to jazz things up.  Looking at this selection made me think that I could probably recycle or regift many of the accessories I've accumulated.  But...I'll think about tomorrow.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Becoming a Sixer

I have way too many clothes.  Like, can-barely-close-my-closet-doors too many clothes.  I love fashion.  I love style.  I love looking at fashionable people. I love the craftsmanship that I see in a beautifully-made garment, and if I can get it at a discount (or can grab a really decent likeness of it at an H&M, Forever21, or thriftstore), you can bet that puppy is going in my closet. 

Clearly, my love for all things sartorial is boundless, but my closets are woefully finite. What is a girl to do?  Same thing I do when my jeans are getting a wee bit snug.  Restrict myself for a time.  Not punishment, mind you.  Just an exercise in self-control, keeping in mind that at the end of the, I'll look and feel better in my clothes.

So, I've been checking out the Six Items or Less and the Great American Apparel Diet for the past couple of days.  I really should take the leap and do the apparel diet that forbids indulging retail therapy for 1. Whole. Freaking. Year. But, you know, Christmas is coming up, and I'm going to the States in February, and...well, I am, fo sho, going to fall off the wagon because I have ZERO self-control. 

Living in Argentina should be fantastic for my pocket book because the clothes aren't well-made, aren't my style, and tend get ruined after a few rounds in the washing machine, even in the cold, gentle cycle sans dryer.  But going back home, well, it's like holding a big chili burger from Tommy's under the nose of a vegan. No matter what my good intentions are, I'm going to fall off the wagon and have chili dribbling down my chin in 2 seconds. I've become an even bigger consumer since I started living here, and all the .com shops have become my closest internet companions.  Not. Good. 

Six Items or Less, a challenge started by two friends in the States earlier this year, seems to me a way to take stock of my consumerism and fashion addiction on a limited scale.  Check out this video the NYTimes on Six Items or Less:

I can do 1 month with a mere 6 articles of clothing. I can do anything for a month!  I'm no wimp!  I am woman!  I'm stylish!  I can accessorize! 

One of the requirements for signing up to be a Sixer is to blog about my experience on their website, so stay tuned for my briefs (which, thank goodness, are not limited!) 


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Review of Salutation Legging

Originally submitted at lucy

The ankle-length Salutation Legging features stylish center back gathers and flat locked seams to discourage skin irritation. Leggings like the Salutation are ideal for yoga; with a sleek silhouette, your instructor can ensure the body is in proper alignment.

  • Inseam: 27.5" ...

Comfy leggings!

By doctore ie from Buenos Aires, Argentina on 6/15/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Comfortable, Allows Free Movement, Don't cut into my waist

Best Uses: Yoga, Gym, Casual Wear, Cold Weather

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

I'm always wary when ordering pants/leggings on-line. These, though, were fit perfectly right out of the bag!. I got these in blue and black in a Small. They're very comfortable, and the waistband doesn't dig into my waist to give me a muffin top. Always a plus in my book. It gives me a nice smooth look. I like the ruching at the top of my butt and the ankles. They are maybe just an inch too long to see the ruching at the ankles, but that's OK. FYI, I'm 5'3 1/2" with a 28 inch waist. I usually wear an XS/4 in Lucy bottoms. Great basic piece, decent price.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Just When I Thought I Was Over You...

So, I just spent about 5 minutes cruising through Zappo's bag selection to calm my nerves.  There's nothing like a little bit of retail therapy, even if it's window shopping, to temporarily soothe my soul. 

Who has ruffled my beautifully preened feathers, you ask? Who has raised my hackles and made me bear my claws and fangs, you wonder?  My ex-husband of 9 years.  I've done my "work" and paid my dues as far as my ex-marriage is concerned. A couple of years of intense analysis, sifting through parental issues, playing the field and replaying the same patterns in new relationships, journaling, keeping track of my dreams, bitching to girlfriends, wishing my ex peace and happiness, and letting him go, and, of course, googling him and checking out his Facebook page (closed to non-friends, of course...oh, come on, I know you've check out your exes FB pages.) to see if he managed to survive and thrive without me. Dude. I've been there and done that, and I was sooo way over it.

So, it surprised me how irritated and angry I became when our "escribano" (sorta like a lawyer/notary/witness/know-it-all here in Argentina) mentioned that I needed to provide the name of my ex-husband and copy of our divorce decree so he could finalize the documents for this new pad I'm buying here in Buenos Aires. It's my very first piece of property ever, so you can imagine my excitement when I signed the first batch of papers.  I didn't know that my little piece of security and independence way the hell down south of the equator would be forever linked in permanent ink to a man I divorced 9 years ago.

The purpose of all this exchange of info is to state formally and legally that we don't owe each other anything because we're through with each other.  Intellectually, I get the point, and find it reasonable to a very limited extent.  However, the thought of seeing his name on a document that entitles me to my first piece of property, even if it is just an apartment from the 1970's that needs a serious paint job (but has a fabulous view, 1 1/2 remodeled bathrooms, and other wonderful possibilities!), irks me.  It's like he's trespassing on my property, and the only thing I want to do is to unleash my 10 big, hungry dobermans and breakout my shotgun. I know it's totally un-zen of me, and I need to, you know, go do about an hour of yoga, perform some kind of active imagination-letting-go ritual, and probably shell out some money to talk to my analyst to process this stuff...again...but, damn, I need to check in with this bitchy, territorial side of me 'cause she needs some air time.  

Sifting through all the divorce papers and having to scan them in one by one to send to the escribano was like opening an old wound and inadvertently getting some salt in it.  Sucks, man. The thing is, I don't really harbor any anger at him any more. We just weren't right for each other (OK, and how many people were, like, "Are you SUUURE you want to marry him?" before I married him...note to self and future generations: if most of your good friends and acquaintances are asking you stuff like this, you probably want to start re-evaluating your decision.), and now he's remarried to someone who fits the bill. 

So, if I'm supposedly at peace somewhat with all of that, what's with the anger?  I didn't get a fancy degree and go through years of therapy to not know, y'all.  I've realized that I didn't have the energy, money, or balls at the time to undergo a legal battle with my ex, who is a lawyer and whose lawyerliness came through loud and clear during the last few weeks of our short-lived marriage.  Because of the guilt I felt for what I did and didn't do, and because of the guilt I felt for being relieved and so darn excited about the possibilities my new life as a singleton would hold for me, I believed I didn't rate what I was legally entitled to, which remains a mystery to me to this day.  If I asked around, I'd probably discover that I just walked away from a decent-sized chunk of a settlement without a sound.  It wouldn't have been a lot, but, most likely, it would have been a bit than what I ended up getting, which amounted to roughly $9,000. 

The nice, guilt-ridden, Catholic girl in me asks: Did I deserve what little I got?  Was he right for not giving me more?  Maybe he WAS being generous.  Maybe I didn't deserve anything at all.  But the clawed and fanged part of me, the part that, thankfully, always helps me see through my own crap and opens doors for me answers:  Oh, HELLLLLLS NO. 

One of the things that my ex got out of the he got almost everything...were 2 Greek icons painted in the traditional style with egg tempera and gold leaf.  We had gotten them on a trip to Greece, and they had cost quite a lot.  They were two of the pieces that I really loved in our house full of art that we had bought in our 5 year relationship together.  I remember going back into the house after I had moved out to take one of the icons--the one of Eve stepping out of a sleeping Adam--but I stopped myself because, of course, I felt guilty. Man, guilt just puts a damper on all the fun, doesn't it? 

6 years later, I found myself on the same island in Greece where I bought the icons.  I told my partner (who is, thankfully, still my partner!  Yay!) that I was on a mission to find this workshop and buy something, anything, from it.  So, I walked and sweated for an hour or two until I turned a corner and found the little studio where they continued to create those beautiful icons.  I bought the least expensive, but most beautiful one I could find (a whopping 70 Euro...dang, they're expensive), and felt vindicated.  This one, this little 4x6" icon of an archangel, is mine and no one else's.

It's the same feeling I know I will have when I sign these papers. This property will be mine, and mine alone.  Even though my ex's name will figure somewhere in the deed, maybe--because I'm just too lazy to read through all the legalese in Spanish--I'll just reimage his name into a sort of benchmark or sign post.. It would be as if it were saying, "See your ex's name? This is where you were and what you had with him. Now, see your signature at the bottom of the page? This is what you have without him...and it's a whole heck of a lot more than you could ever have imagined." 



Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Review of Walk About Short

Originally submitted at lucy

The popular Walk About pant now comes in a short length! Made with the comfortable stretch-woven lucy flex™ fabric, the durable, quick-drying Walk About Short provides a wide range of motion. Features plenty of pockets for hiking essentials—and is anti-wrinkle for avid travelers. <...


By doctorevie from Buenos Aires, Argentina on 6/13/2010


5out of 5

Waist: Feels true to size

Length: Feels true to length

Pros: High-Quality Material and Stitching, Comfortable, Breathable, Lightweight

Best Uses: Casual Wear, Running/Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Travel

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

I bought these shorts on a very hot day, and it was a perfect fit. They're a very clean design, lightweight, and no-fuss. And they make my butt look good! I need to buy more.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Review of Q

Originally submitted at Timbuk2

Our smallest pack with built-in laptop protection.

Great, compact pack!

By doctorevie from Buenos Aires, Argentina on 4/22/2010


4out of 5

Pros: Durable, Comfortable, Lightweight, Attractive Design

Best Uses: Books, Computer, Travel, Commuting

Describe Yourself: Practical, Stylish, Modern, Comfort-Oriented

Primary use: Personal

Got this back last week, and used it for the whole week I was in California.

I really liked the compact style...compact, meaning, you can't really squeeze a lot into this sucker, but I packed a notebook, journal 2 medium sized, non-text books, apple, mandarin, and a scarf into the main compartment, and it still had some room to spare at the top. I didn't like not having total access to this compartment. It only opens up part of the way, which is kind of a hassle.

The middle pocket in front, that zips open or closed like a book, is great, but this compartment opens TOO much. So, my 2 mini bags with my pens and my cosmetics were always in danger of falling out if I zipped it out all the way. I tried sticking both into the pocket inside, but the pocket isn't deep enough. I really liked the other pockets inside this part, and used the zipped up section for my camera and ipod.

The very front pocket I used for stuff I needed to grab, like my wallet, hotel key, car rental key, and passport. That was really helpful.

The bottom pocket was great for carrying my house keys. I imagine I could use that for computer cords and plugs.

Other things I liked: 1) Small, zippered pocket in the back; 2) small, but comfortable straps (m 3) compact size - Most packs look huge on me, and they make me hunch over, 4) computer section for my ASUS netbook was roomy and kept it safe; 5) doesn't take up much room in the seat in front of you on the plane; and 6) worked great with Timbuk 2s Shag Bag, where I kept my phone. Very handy!

Things I wish they would improve: 1) Put some kind of mesh or some kind of fabric contraption so my stuff doesn't fall out of the middle pocket when I unzip it all the way. 2) Total access to main section of pack, so it would be easier to see and get to gear, 3) colors are very...utilitarian. Maybe I'd try the one with the red next time.

Very useful, compact bag! Would buy again.


Monday, March 15, 2010

And I'm Spent...Kitchen Cure Cramming

True to form, I left everything until the 3rd week of the Kitchen Cure program.  Hey, I had things to do!  Like plan the demise of my partner's ex-wife (meeeooooowww...), create a newsletter from scratch, start another blog, and keep up with my classes.

True to form, though, I am up to speed with the program, and my kitchen is the cleanest and most organized it's been in...geez, I can't remember when.  Most of my friends know me as crazy disorganized, but when I clean...I CLEAN.  The problem is that I set such high standards for myself that it takes a lot of energy to get things to where I'm satisfied, so I don't even begin.  Why start if you're going to do a half-assed job?  This weekend, though, I had had enough!

Since we fired our last housekeeper on Thursday, I've had the freedom and space to tear up the place and put it back together again. I just can't do that with someone around. I really go mental. So, starting at 8 a.m. last Friday, I popped in the soundtrack of Boogie Nights (one of my all-time favorite movies that happens to have one of the kickin'-est soundtracks ever) and started slaving away until Sunday afternoon. (Apologies to Marcelo for waking him up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning with my can-throwing, backdoor-slamming, and k.d. lang-playing.  I'm telling you.  I get obsessed.)

About a year ago, I had started labeling all the shelves to try to keep everything organized. The upper shelf is all ethnic. You got your Pinoy shrimp fry, miso, mango sauce going on up there.  Lord knows what else was in there.  Then on the lower shelf, I had my canned and whole beans with some canned tomatoes.  These shelving units are so deep that it's easy to lose stuff back there. 

Our placemats and napkins drawer.  From hell.  Why do we even need freaking placemats when we use a tablecloth?   Just seems pointless to me. I never grew up with placemats, and turned out alright. 

Again: From. Hell.  I had purged this drawer a year ago, but there's just too much stuff. 

Under the sink. 

Cupboard under the oven.  Pastas, canned fish, and some sort of canned, fake juice syrup for making alcoholic drinks that we never used, different grains from who knows when, noodles. There were some teeny black bugs lying dead around a thing of white rice. They had gotten in there and had basically pulverized every grain.  SO GROSS.  (And the 3 empleada domesticas that we've had never opened this bottom cupboard, so who's left to do it?  Me! Why are we paying these people to do something I could do myself?  But Marcelo needs his housekeeper EVERYDAY.  I just don't get it.)  Anyway,  I unearthed some groovy, circa 70's, ceramic cannisters though.  I was all over those.

I can't even begin to tell you how many grocery bags full of half-used or expired food products I threw out.  It just made me sad and ashamed to see all of that go straight into the garbage.  What was I thinking?  Problem was that the cupboards and spaces were just full of disorganized crap that I couldn't see anything. And because I couldn't see anything, I kept buying stuff.  Like, I had like 3 packets of ground ginger, 4 bottles of apple cider vinegar, and 3 bottles of mirin.  WTF?!  Look at this horror...

One of the MANY plastic shopping bags of stuff I threw away.  Dried mangoes from the Philippines (totally way expired) and a box of See's Peanut Brittle were among the nixed.  SEE'S!!!!  It's a crime, I tell you.  When you start throwing away the See's, it's the beginning of the end.

My kitchen in the middle of the purge...Doesn't look to disasterous, but I guess you can't see the stuff strewn all over the floor where I was standing taking this pic.

Here come the "after" pictures:
Just down to the essentials...

These are two areas I think I still need to work on, but they're a lot better than what they were.  I pulled out the utensils I use all the time, and put them in one of the groovy ceramic containers that I placed on top of the stove.  They're easier to get to now.  

The middle shelf is where we keep all our teas. That plastic container is a little bit of an eyesore, but it does keep all our miscellaneous tea bags in one place.  It works for right now.  I REALLY need to stop buying cookbooks, though.  Half of those books are mine...the pretty, big ones to the left. 

The former Asian section now holds a lone bottle of oyster sauce (too tall for anywhere else) and 2 things of pasta.  Bottom is all my canned fish, canned tomatoes, and ethnic sauces. 

Under the oven!  Serving platters and stuff we use once in a while:

Remember how the only thing that was organized in this cupboard was the alcohol?  Now lookie!  All my nut butters together, chocolate front-and-center in case of emergency, energy bars in a container...

Silverware drawer.  Even Marcelo contributed by replacing all the crappy silverware with the nicer stuff we had stored. And then he went back to watch soccer.  I appreciated the contribution, though!

This is my favorite part of the whole job.  The vintage cannisters are right in the middle.  So very Marcia Brady with it's floral theme in brown, orange, and lime green.  They coordinate with all the spices and beans, too!  I got the spices all labeled and almost all matching.  I like the idea of having containers that don't match and are all funky, but if I look at it everyday, I know it's going to drive me crazy.  I'll see the containers and not the stuff I need. Plus having them displayed and labled like this makes me feel and look like I'm a cook, like I absolutely need to have ALL my spices organized for when I whip something fabulous up with 1 ingredient.   

The last part of the Kitchen Cure is just to beautify.  I've got plans to paint an accent wall to bring some life to the otherwise non-existent kitchen decor. Maybe a funky yellow or even a crazy orange. 

Important lessons I learned:
1) Keep things organized (so you...)
2) Don't buy doubles of things
3) Only buy when necessary
4) Eat what you got (man, I made so many freaking smoothies trying to use up all my veggies and fruits...Healthy, though!)

Good program.  I'm really glad I did it!  I'm going to tackle my office again!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Kichen Cure Spring 2010

So, some of you know that I've enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to pursue my certification as a Holistic Health Counselor.  I'm learning oodles!  (Beware: Shameless plug...)To learn more about what I'm going to be doing, check out my personal IIN website!

Part of our education is getting back into the kitchen to learn how to prepare wholesome, healthy food for myself and for Marcelo, but how do they expect me to do this when cooking is a serious source of stress for me because a) I'm missing the domestic gene, and b) I get easily distracted by emails and CNN when I do anything involving the oven.  So, when I found out about this free-a-licious Kitchen Cure program in my inbox, I signed up right away.

I had actually read about this last year, but didn't sign up.  Ha!  I have a housekeeper (as many people do here in ol' Argentina)!  Why would need a kitchen cure?!  Actually, the housekeeper is making my life hell, as nice and helpful as she is in mopping up the floors and doing stuff I hate like ironing, because she just doesn't know where anything goes.  And if I tell her, she turns around and puts it somewhere else where I can't find it. So, my nuts are going in the baking supplies instead of the fridge where they won't succumb to this awful Argentine humidity, my square rubber jar-opener thingie is hanging out with the coffee bean grinder and hand blender. 

And then, there's domestically-challenged moi.  How do I arrange my fridge?  Where do I put all my organic peanut and almond butter I brought back with me from Trader Joe's?  How can I avoid buying 20 jars of turmeric and 15 jars of garlic powder? What the hell is that curled up brownish-orangey thingie in the back of my crisper? And why didn't my crisper keep the thingie crisp? I'm guessing this Kitchen Cure will the be perfect complement to what I'm learning at IIN, which is basically about taking care of yourself inside and out. 

Here's how the monthlong challenge is organized:

Week 1: Clean out Pantry
*Seriously, ask me if I know what is all in here, and I'll tell you that I haven't got a clue.  But isn't the wine area all nice and organized?  :-)   Gotta make the alcohol easy to get to. 
Below is PART of my spice and sauces and other-stuff-I-haven't-labeled-and-can't-reach area.  I've got 2 of everything in here.  Help. 

Week 2: De-clutter equipment.
'k, so I cheated a little bit and organized the top right part of the photo where my pans are before I took this picture.  The housekeeper had the tops crammed in there all together, instead of nice and anal-y organized in the slots of the handy-dandy organizer I brought with me from Ikea.  But the tool drawer is unedited.  It drives me crazy to just look at it, let alone try to find my pretty olive wood spoon and spatula I got from Greece.  

Week 3: Deep clean and Beautify
Well, it's alright.  The depressing light gray floors, cheap-ass wood laminate cupboards with their crappy plastic handles are utilitarian at best.  I just repainted it white to hide the 12 years of light yellowing , but it definetly needs some color.  I got the bright yellow colander (sp) to add a splash of something to this dreary place.  It's relatively clean.  To get it really clean the way I want it, I'd have to hire 3 housekeepers...or just do it myself...the Filipino American way.  And then you'd be able to clean off the floors.  Until then, here's what it looks like -

Week 4: Restock
Can I fit anything else into my fridge?  That's a negative.  There has got to be a better way, but with the humidity here, things go damp and yucky really easily. I just throw everything in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh.  It just makes me want to tear my hair out.

That's basically the program!  I can't wait to get my (kitchen) life organized!  I'll be posting every week with my progress.  Join me in the fun, if you want!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Review of Clear Flex Pack

Originally submitted at Timbuk2

Impossibly useful clear zippy pouches in 3 sizes.

Keeps my junk organized in cuteness

By doctorevie from Buenos Aires, Argentina on 2/17/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Attractive Design, Compact

Best Uses: Girlie stuff organization, Tech stuff organization

Describe Yourself: Quality Oriented

Primary use: Personal

I'd been using flimsy plastic, reusable bags that were originally found in my old suitcases, etc. Useful, but unattractive, and way too big. I couldn't find any of my stuff because it was too large. Enter this small pouch in funky lime-aide! Lovely design, the plastic and zipper feel durable, keeps everything compact and organized. I was able to keep my netbook and ipod chargers, my little ipod, 2 sets of earphones, and my two cell phones in there with a camera battery charger. Lots of stuff! I love this product. I'll probably get a larger one to house my old school CD player, Energizer battery charger, and camera with charger.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Junking Relationships

This one's a tough one.

Over the years, I've developed a mantra for relationships that have become too toxic: Love them from afar. Seems cold, right? Doesn't loving your neighbor mean holding them emotionally close to you? Giving them your time, lending them a hand, turning the other cheek? What if, at the end of that meeting, you just feel as if you've been puked on? And what if that person turns out to be the one you're supposed to be closest to, say, a parent, aunt, child, friend? What if you've exhausted all options to improve that relationship, like therapy, talking to them, letter-writing? Turning the other cheek one too many times can quickly lead to an abusive and/or masochistic situation. I mean, you deserve love, too, right? You are your neighbor.

My psychoanalyst gave me a good exercise called "active imagination" to release myself of a toxic relationship. This exercise will be different for every person, but basically, it's imagining that person in front of you, ready to listen. Then, you talk to that person from the heart as if that person were actually there, and telling them your intention of letting them go in peace. Pretty woowoo California, but it has allowed me to move on with my life. I felt at peace afterward.

One of the most helpful things anyone has ever told me is, "I don't have to like everyone." For some reason, that was a lightbulb moment for me. I don't have to like everyone! It's so liberating! I can love someone from afar, wishing them well as a fellow human being, and still keep my dignity by loving myself enough to let them go on their way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The (Virtual) Junk in My Trunk Part II...E-mails and Projects

Dude. I've got some clutter goin' on everywhere.

The great thing about Gmail is that I can usually find old emails with ease just by doing a search by a person or by subject. Still, I have stuff in my inbox from 2005. Why? I mean, do I really need to keep that delivery confirmation for a book from Amazon? There are some messages that I'd like to keep, but I suppose I could print those out or put them into a file on a pen drive. It's so easy to clean out my in-box. Just highlight all of the entries and hit delete. If only cleaning out hardcopy were that easy!

Now, I always have ideas for projects. I have a ton of beads and wire for my jewelry projects, vintage clothing for my on-line vintage clothing store, my dissertation still waiting for me to edit and publish, scores and background music for my voice lessons and future voice recitals, two blogs, and, now, books and articles about health and nutrition for my courses leading to certification in health counseling. I have TONS of interests. I always think it makes me an interesting person. For the most part, I'm pretty good at everything I'm interested in, but there are so many hours in the day to do all the things I want to do.

So, I've been trying to re-evaluate whether or not these projects still have value in my life. I know without a doubt that my voice classes and jewelry-making are hobbies I'd like to keep. They give me joy, and give me an outlet--along with writing--to express myself in different ways. However, what about my other activities?

Doing the vintage clothing business was fun, but what do I do with the clothing that I don't sell? Hunting for them, transporting them, cleaning, displaying, and photographing them takes up a lot of time, money, and space, so that is going to have to be shelved. However, that doesn't mean that I can't celebrate when I find a vintage piece that is perfect for me.

The dissertation is tougher. I think there are some good chapters in there, but for the most part, who I was when I was writing it is not the same person as I am now. What I want to say is similar, but deeper and maybe more complex that what I am interested in exploring at this point in my life. Having it sit for a while was necessary, though, after having lived and breathed it for 2 years. I just needed a break and a life. Now that I've moved on and have had experiences that have started my asking questions that are along the lines of my topic, it may be time for me to start on it again in earnest.

Last year, I decided to leave psychotherapy permanently because it didn't feel right to me anymore. I still love the theory, exploring it, playing with it, connecting it to different ideas, but I never loved doing psychotherapy, which, I'm sure, contributed to my feeling like a fraud. I felt that it was best for me and my clients to leave. However, once I found this program on health and wellness at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I realize that I don't have to give it up completely. It can just transform itself into something that feels more complete to me. I can't wait to start working with people now.

Keeping my life free of virtual, as well as material, clutter is a daily challenge, but one that helps me maintain a base level of sanity in my over-active mind.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Junk in My Trunk..and Closet, Desk, Kitchen Drawers, and... Part I

Clutter is in my genes.  For better or for worse, this habit has been gifted to me by parents, whose proclivity for acquiring stuff without purging has seemed to be growing every year.  Friends of mine have been witnesses to my own clutter and disorganization, which reached its zenith the few months before I moved to Argentina. 

Like a good American, I am very good at amassing things I really don't need.    My closets are bursting, and I'm positive there are a few things with tags still hanging on them that I would love wearing if I could only get to them.  I have shelves full of books that I keep restocking through Amazon (that I send to my Dad's house in the States, thereby adding to his disorganization and clutter), because a) I love reading; b) there's always something I'm curious about; c) I hate reading in Spanish; d) I will NEVER exchange the comfort of holding a real book in my hands for Kindle.   I've got papers and articles from research papers past that I can't seem to let go of.      

I have implemented a couple of solutions to help beat the clutter monster, though I haven't quite mastered not adding stuff to my virtual shopping cart.  Unsubscribing to all my favorite on-line stores' update emails would probably nip the problem in the bud, but...but...I'll get around to doing that.  Besides, I enjoy seeing what Amazon recommends for me, and I love seeing JCrew's new line. 

In the meantime, I have gotten pretty good sticking with the "One In, One Out" rule.  So, for example, if I buy a new pair of shoes, I make sure I take one out of my closet to give away.  Same goes for the books and the clothes. I also end up recycling any mail I have by reusing the clean backs of letters as scrap paper in the makeshift notepads I keep on my desk and on the table near the front door, or for printer paper. Usually, I end up recycling more than one article, which is always good for fighting the physical clutter in my life.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Does This Relationship Make My Butt Look Big?

The New York Times cited an article, published in the January issue of The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, that linked gradual weight gain in women with being in a relationship.  Researchers discovered that over a span of 10 years women with a partner and a baby gained about 20 pounds, whereas women with a partner gained 15 pounds.  Findings also suggest that this shift is due to "social and behavioral issues" rather than physiological issues, though they also admit that having a baby can also affect a woman's metabolic system. 

So, should we blame our partners for having to break out our fat jeans? 

I've gotta admit, there is something about being in a relationship that makes me want to break off pieces of that bar of Italian dark chocolate that's sitting in the fridge and cram it into my mouth. A committed relationship, whether gay or straight, is a warm cocoon of familiarity and safety, whether or not there's a baby.  The feeling is akin to being nurtured by a mother figure, the relationship being the mother.  Ideally, it keeps you all warm and snuggly in that nest o' love you build with your partner.  Ideally, it also accepts you just as you are, even as you're helping yourself to a second round of chicken cacciatore at the table.

Breaking bread--and pasta and dessert--with your partner or your family is a manifestation of that security and comfort one feels.   I mean, think about what women are like on a date.  More than likely, (if you're not me), you don't eat like a line backer on your first couple of dates.  There's a kind of mystique many seem to want to portray to their prospective lovers.  Maybe eating like a lumber jack just isn't attractive when your courting.  Maybe it would be like hanging out with a buddy, and who wants to roll in the hay with a buddy? (OK, don't answer that.) Then again, maybe it's just because we're nervous, and can't eat.

However, once that ice has broken, and the relationship has been established, something else happens.  We don't have to "behave" anymore.  We've got that person hooked.  Sharing curly fries with one's partner is sharing your love with him or her.  And if you have lots of love to give, then maybe that regular order of curly fries becomes a large order with two chili burgers. (Mmm...chili burgers.) Besides, eating is primoridally sexacious, an utterly sensual experience that could make for a very nice prelude to a post-prandial, horizontal workout.

The danger, of course, is complacency.  The truth is that people tend to slack off and begin taking their partners for granted after a while, which is not a good thing for keeping the passion in the relationship.  In the beginning, the prospective partner isn't yet there to take for granted. One is still in the process of wooing--isn't that just the coolest word?--the other, ergo, one tends to be on one's best behavior, to present one's best side, unless you're like me and decide to warn your prospective love muffin from the beginning that you tend to go a little homicidal once a month because of those wonderful female hormones.  The exception, of course, is when you start out as friends, or just don't give a damn, in which case that other person already knows or will know, damn it, that you like to eat Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream straight out of the tub in the middle of the night.

In my case, I've never had qualms about showing my partners how much I eat, or how often I eat.  Filipino blood dooms me to frequent meals, and large quantities of food, both of which are thankfully tempered by years growing up in California; hence, frequent meals become snacking every two hours on fruit or nuts (and don't be anywhere near me if I'm feeling hunger pangs because it will get ugly), and the large quantity of food consists mainly of vegetables and whole grains.  My downfall is pasta, which, if you live with an Italian in Argentina, is hard to avoid. 

But pasta is comfort food, and growing up in a Filipino household, spaghetti with tomato sauce was mysterious and exotic to me.  So, imagine free access to something mysterious and exotic, and you have a pasta whore.  It's like going to a secular, mixed-gender university after spending elementary school and high school in all-girls, Catholic schools.  You tend to go a little crazy.  And when my partner enjoys his pasta, and I enjoy my pasta with him, well, geez louise, it's just so much fun.  He also enjoys watching me have dessert, too, and, though he'll only have 2 forkfuls of a cake I'm eating--he's way more anal when it comes to sweets because of a history of diabetes in his family--, he gets his kicks from seeing me scarf that sucker down.  Eating together is a celebratory experience. 

The strange thing is, contrary to the journal article's conclusions, I have lost weight in this relationship.  One of the reasons is that my partner likes me at the the 52-55 kilo range.  He gets downright horny.  But before you think I do a weigh-in every morning,   After living in hyper-self-conscious-bordering-on-neurotic Buenos Aires, one can't help but feel overt or covert pressure to look a certain way, which is tall and skinny. To combat this, I realized that it would be to guage my weight by how I feel about myself, and how I look in my clothes, rather than what any person, culture, or clothing tag says.  As a result, I've become conscious about what weight feels comfortable to me, and, luckily, it hovers around the same range.  Anything less than 52 (quite low for me), and I look "peaked", a comment I got from someone when I lost poundage because I was going through some emotional drama. Anything more than 55, and I feel like a sausage in my clothes, and my face becomes a giant moon pie.  Besides, when stay within that range, I don't have to buy a whole new freaking wardrobe.

Most importantly, I feel good and healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I feel sexy when I take care of myself for myself, which makes my partner feel sexy, and makes him want to continue to take care of himself.  In the end, whether or not Argentine or North American society thinks I'm fat or average or skinny, or whether or not I have a partner, or whether I fit or don't fit into my "skinny" jeans, what matters is remembering to care for myself, and how I feel doing so.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Resolutions for Twenty-Ten

My partner and I were sitting in a restaurant in Rome on December 31 with 2 of his friends, and he made everyone go around to talk about his or her resolutions for the upcoming year. When my turn came, I admitted that I hadn’t really thought about my resolutions for the year. I told him later that I lived most of my life meeting deadlines and goals (usually met…a few by seeking extensions, like when I was half-way through my dissertation writing when my dissertation clock’s alarm was about to go off), and I didn’t want to live with deadlines or goals anymore.

Now, I realize, it makes me sound like a total slacker. However, what new resolutions would I actually need to list that I haven’t listed in New Year’s Eves past? I think I could boil all those resolutions into these few, simple bullet points:
  • Be a good person.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • Exercise and eat right, but save room for the occasional scoop of ice cream or slice of cheesecake.
  • Love big.
  • Clear the clutter.
  • Save some money.
  • Be happy with what you have.
  • Be happy with who you are.
  • Be thankful.
  • Be kind to others.
I guess this would be my list for this year, except that these are things I try to do everyday. I guess I don’t think of them as resolutions. I think of them as my life’s guiding principles, most of which I fail to uphold most of the time. (Then again, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so maybe I’m doing better than I think I am.) But try, I do, and continue to try, I will. As the years go by, as I keep chipping away at this list, I’ll become a more perfect, imperfect moi.

Have a great 2010, everyone!