Sunday, November 7, 2010

That Perfect Love Song Writer

Long story short, I'll try to update the blog more frequently for my loyal readership... but for now, you'll simply have to be sated by the following videos by King Charles, a musician I saw open for Mumford & Sons the other night. What a precious songwriter. He loves deeply, you can tell, and expresses it in such a genuine and quirky way. Absolutely charming. For that, I am crowning him That Perfect Love Song Writer. I hope these links work:

King Charles from Black Cab Sessions on Vimeo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

That Perfect Graffiti

I was just pumping gas into my car a little while ago, and I noticed something etched into the plastic face plate on the pump, hovering over the ever increasing digital tally of gallons and dollars relating to my gas purchase. There were quite a few nonsense-looking tagged etchings in the plastic that looked like they were scrawled messily with a relatively clunky carving instrument (this was no professional etching needle, of which I own 2 or 3 from my intaglio days). Maybe someone used a knife or a sharp key. I almost dismissed it upon cursory first glance but then, scrawled and imperfect as it was with its uneven squarish letters (because, of course, it's hard to carve letters with curves accurately with an awkward instrument), it caught my eye. Scrawled into this foggy, once upon a time fully transparent, plastic were the words "SUTKO HOUT." Without knowing it (I assume), the author of this graffiti, defacer of private property, has elegantly coined a name that would be suitable for an album, a fashion line, or a European diplomat.

While this graffiti gave me pleasant pause, I hesitate to call it "that perfect graffiti." But it was pretty good, you have to admit. It has, however, reminded me of some graffiti I saw a few months back, which I do wish to don with the title of that perfect graffiti.

One beautiful Saturday this past spring, my husband, son, and I were tromping around the grounds surrounding a local lake here in Dallas. As we walked, we came upon a wooden bridge over a large stream where lots of ducks were swimming. We'd brought some old bread with us (hoping to happen upon ducks), so we stopped to feed them. As we tossed our bread chunks over the side of the bridge to the swimming scavengers below, we noticed some Sharpie-written graffiti on the rail of the bridge.

"I love ducks."

Charming. Someone who (1) cared so little about his/her surroundings so as to scrawl on them in the midst of peaceful, clean, nature (2) was so enamored with the ducks that he/she felt the need to prominently declare it in permanent ink on the nearest thing he/she could write on. While I am often annoyed at graffiti (especially when it's not especially artistic, with my distaste being highly variable depending upon where the graffiti has been scrawled), I could not help but be ticked by "I love ducks."

Graffiti, inappropriate as it may be, can sometimes be a little star in the dark.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That Perfect Soap II

One of the things that inspired me to create this blog in the first place was L'Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Milk Soap. Indeed, it was the subject of my very first blog entry (for those of you who don't know the history...). Though I feel a bit sheepish, I am now moved to write a new entry amending that prior one. Do not misunderstand me - I still love the L'Occitane soap. I am just feeling a bit torn. You see, a friend gave me a bar of Aveda Rosemary Mint soap, which I just began using a few days ago... and whoa. This stuff is rich, smooth, exfoliating, and smells heavenly. While I won't elevate either of these luscious soaps to first billing over the other, I do feel the need to at least put the Aveda soap on the same pedestal as the L'Occitane. I've had ultra knotty and achy muscles for a while now, and in addition to the Aveda soap being lovely for cleaning and for luxuriating (odd, my spellcheck did not red-squiggly-underline "luxuriating")... it also works well to create a slick skin surface, making massaging achy muscles easy.

While I am feeling a little unfaithful to the L'Occitane soap, I just could not help but give the Aveda soap its due credit here. And, it's also a striking-looking bar on top of being functionally beautiful:

This soap is about twice the price of the L'Occitane. Even were it not gifted to me, I think I'd buy it myself. I'm sure I'll have to down the road, but luckily the bar is a mega-bar, so it'll thankfully be a while before I have to even think about that.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

That Perfect Cheese Enchilada

I almost always order cheese enchiladas whenever I visit a Mexican restaurant for the first time. If those are good, then I may just frequent the place. Indeed, good salsa and good cheese enchiladas are far and away the most important factors in determining whether I'll be a fan of a Mexican restaurant. And, those who know me well know I am always up for trying a new Mexican place. My poor family was subjected to Mexican food every (and I mean every) time the restaurant selection was up to me as a child.

The most important thing about cheese enchiladas is that the cheese has to be just right. What does that mean? It's got to be that perfect uber-orangey cheese that melts everywhere. While typically I am an advocate of eating real food and not processed what-the-hell-is-it-food... I make an almost sacred exception when it comes to cheese enchiladas. We've all got our demons, and I freely admit that this is one of mine. They also have to get the flavors in the sauce just right - I usually go for a good chili con carne, but I am a little flexible on the sauce.

As you can tell, I've sampled many a cheese enchilada in my thirty-something years, many of which have been lived in Texas, so I am quite the connoisseur. I will be having Those Perfect Cheese Enchiladas for dinner this very night. It's time to crown the winner of the best cheese enchiladas: Matt's Rancho Martinez, which, very happily, is a mere 5 minutes from my house in Dallas.

Here they are:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

That Perfect Dichotomy

Cold, hard, glass, steel, granite, stop lights, cars, power lines, concrete, busy, work ethic, drive, fifty emails and I just got here. A hug, warmth, a hand-written letter, an old photograph, a long evening of talking about nothing and everything, telephone calls, airplane rides, overdue visits, there's simply never enough time with the ones you love.

Seems a bit of a mish mosh doesn't it? Well, it's exactly the dichotomy that pops in my head every weekday morning, at least for now.

There is this billboard; well, maybe that isn't the right word for it since it takes up the side of a whole skyscraper. This billboard strikes me and moves me every weekday morning on my commute to the office. Amidst the towers that compose the Dallas skyline, this highly personal statement is boldly proclaimed and daily confronts those of us plodding to work in our ritualized commutes. I am moved by the irony of this simple yet touching statement hovering over and becoming part of a place dominated by business and busyness. It gives me pause to remember those who I miss.

And somehow I also like that there's a little distance between my building and this touching adage. I work in the one all the way on the right in the photo below, while the sign is a bit over to the left. In light of the sentiment, it seems fitting to me that it is situated that way.

And here's a closeup:

Monday, August 2, 2010

That Perfect Most Beautiful Place

I am not sure why my mind wandered today to this place where I wandered about, oh, twelve years ago. I took a solo backpacking trip to Ireland after I graduated from undergrad, and it was an amazing trip in so many ways. Being alone and independently traversing another continent was exhilarating. And beautiful. I filled journals, drank many, many a Guinness, and met the most fantastic people. Six weeks of bliss. While the whole of Ireland has a very special place in my heart and holds many joyful memories for me, the most beautiful place I have ever traveled was Dun Aengus, a ring fort sitting atop these grand cliffs off the western coast of Ireland. It was misty and raining a little the day I was there, and everything looked and felt very grayish warmish blue. I passed a cute little man sitting under a striking red umbrella playing an accordion on the way up. The grass along the path on the way was so green, as is everything in Ireland. You couldn't see the cliffs until you were upon them. And they were glorious. I fantasized about building a small house somewhere near them just so I could keep returning to them. There was something that called me to them. I can't quite place it, but the peace, the beauty, the calm, and the coolness there was just incredible.

I wikipedia'd Dun Aengus just now and found something I find quite charming that I didn't remember about Dun Aengus as well - that it is not known precisely when this fort was built. There is something charming and ironic indeed about the ancient lacking its history.

Dun Aengus is on the largest of the Aran Islands off of the western coast of Ireland - Inishmoor. When I went, I stayed in a quaint and lovely hostel there, and a friend and I hiked the entirety of the island in one day (it's that small). The only poor showing of this part of my trip was that to get to Inishmoor, you have to take a ferry from Galway. Galway is quite lovely, but the ferry and I did not get along. You see, if you're me, apparently riding a small ferry over large waves to a tiny island leads inevitably to becoming overwhelmingly sea sick. But, even with that, it was so worth it for the moments of staring into the ocean over the rocky, craggy edge of those cliffs. And, I am remembering some music I had in my headphones while I was there... Clandestine (very sadly, a lovely band that is no longer together), their album The Haunting. Dunlavy's Castle is sticking out in my head. It felt kind of like that. Beautiful. Beauty full. Full.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

That Perfect Bread

I am not a baker. But, lucky me, I don't have to be. I have found the PERFECT bread - That Perfect Bread, to be exact. It's Rustic Italian bread from Whole Foods. When I first moved to Austin, I could have mentioned Whole Foods to an audience as wide as my blog readership and most of you would have said Whole What? Nowadays, Whole Foods stores are all over the place, so you can all go get your own Rustic Italian, and I highly recommend you do so. I have two ways I especially love to eat this bread.

(1) In a grilled cheese. Instead of delaying your gratification, I'll go ahead and tell you how to do that while I'm here. (a) Heat pan. (b) Rub the end of a stick of butter in the pan until there's a thin, sizzling butter puddle about the size of the slice of bread. (c) Plop the bread down on the butter sizzle. (d) Add your favorite cheese - grated works best, and I usually use cheddar or something similar (or slices work well, too). (e) Add the top piece of bread. (f) When the bottom piece is getting there but not done, lift the sandwich up with a large spatula. (g) Repeat step (b). (h) Carefully turn sandwich over and plop it on the butter sizzle. (i) Grate fresh Parmesan (Reggiano is the best) over the top piece of bread. (j) When the now-bottom piece is getting there but not done, lift the sandwich up with your large spatula. (k) Flip the sandwich over, Parmesan side down. (l) Grate more fresh Parmesan on the side that is now face up. (m) When bottom side is done (browned sufficiently), flip the sandwich and finish the remaining side. (m) Enjoy your tastes-like-you-got-it-at-a-bistro-in-Europe-grilled-cheese. YUM.

(2) Grilled, as an accompaniment to other grilled items, with no butter, oil, or anything else smeared on it. Pure and simple. Grill slices until there are gentle grill lines on it. Once it's got a crispy texture to it, it's done. As a finishing touch, take one raw clove of garlic and rub it over one side of the bread. The bread will have a sandpaper effect and will get a fabulous garlic infusion simply from rubbing it with the clove. The best garlic bread ever, and still healthy to boot.

I am sure there are plenty of other fabulous uses for Rustic Italian - find your own, it won't be hard.

Here's how it looks in the store - there are two versions, well three, really. First is a pre-sliced sandwich loaf. Second is a mini boule, which, as you can see, is ONLY 99 cents. Third is a large boule. If you buy the boule kind, they'll slice it freshly for you upon request. We happen to have both the sandwich kind and a small boule at the same time simply because hubby and I went to Whole Foods separately and redundantly each bought versions of Rustic Italian.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

That Perfect Song for This Imperfect State

So this one is a personal one, so if you're looking for a tip on that perfect hot spot in Dallas, or that perfect thing to prepare for your guests at the party you're planning, this post isn't it. Try back next week, and I'll probably be in the mood to oblige. What can I say, That Perfect gets personal sometimes. You've been warned.

So I've been listening to this album in my car to and from work lately, and there's this one song that keeps just resonating with me. It's speaking to my two greatest conflicts lately, and so I just keep listening to it, allowing it to justify my feelings, almost.

There are two things that are bothering me in the most incessant way. Yep. I'm a little disappointed to be writing this post because when I set out to create this blog, I intended it to focus on positive things, in large part to help distract me from the first frustration I'm about to discuss. But it is what it is, and I am who I am.

Okay, so frustration number 1 is this insanity called thoracic outlet syndrome with which I've been recently diagnosed. To summarize, nerve pain, burning, weird coldness/numbness/strangeness, and insane muscle tension, which all varies in intensity, all through my left side from my ear on down, with the most troublesome spots in my neck, jaw, ribs, and shoulder. I am not sure what caused it - how I sleep, how I sit at a computer, how I snuggle my son when I rock-cuddle with him, how I do who-knows-what... or maybe it's a result of a number of mechanical imperfections in my posture... or maybe I was just doomed to it because of how my body decided to form itself. Who knows. What I do know is that for the last year, I've been fighting it, trying my damnedest to conquer it, or at least name it. I guess I have a name for it now (after thoroughly determining that I'm in quite lovely health otherwise). The worst of it is the nerve pain that no pain killer touches. Sometimes I can function through it, and sometimes it is the most painful trial to just be. When there's days I literally told my husband I could not take it anymore, guess what my choice was... take it some more or take it some more. So I did. I have. I am. I am trying to be normal, to be myself through it, but I liked the version of me better before this problem crept up on me. Nevertheless, I push through it all day everyday, which is the hardest when I'm at my job, in a suit, smiling, thinking intently, typing quickly, carefully deciding all matter of things. I thoroughly enjoy using my mind, stretching it, but I hate when my body interrupts that. So I continue to try to elevate mind over body. I was advised that surgery would probably be the best option at this point, but I simply cannot fathom nor accept losing body parts that would be required as part of that (a rib and some muscles)... cannot evict those parts of me. But, honestly, my first reaction to being told (a) there's a surgery for this and (b) that the doc recommended it was: GOOD. Finally. I'll feel okay one day. But, after sleeping on it (well, on the other side from it) a few nights, I resolved that I just cannot comfortably settle into the idea of surgery. I want relief, but not at that price. Not yet. Simply, I am trying everything else first before I go that far.

Frustration number 2 is that my son is now just over 2 years old, and I wanted him to have another sibling at least on the way by now. I do still intend to give him that, to grow our family by another little miracle, but I need to get frustration number 1 under control before I can do that. It's logical and responsible to wait until all the tests that need to be run have been run, all the xrays that need to be taken have been taken, all the medicines that need to be tried have been tried, before I decide to grow another little person. I loved being pregnant with my son. I mean, loved it. It was the most incredible, intimate, awe-inspiring experience in the world. The best thing I have ever done, hands down. I'm mentally and emotionally ready to do it again, but my body, failing me as described in frustration number 1, is making me hesitate. And I am approaching that mommy deadline - the point at which it becomes more dangerous to create new lives. I know people do it all the time, but I wanted... I planned... to do it before now to do it with as many odds on our side as I could.

So, you're probably wondering what in the world is perfect about any of this. Me too, in a way. Sometimes perfection strikes in the imperfect. Well, it does me, anyway. It's That Perfect Song for This Imperfect State.

My whole life I have related to song lyrics in a deep, resonating way. I tend to tie my experiences to songs and let them capture personal moments and tunefully personify the narrative I am living. It just happens, when I am not even looking for it. If the two frustrations didn't especially connect with you, maybe that act of bonding with a song will.

So this song that I've been soaking in, that hits those frustrations perfectly, is Have You Got It In You by Imogen Heap.

It takes a be always on form...
It takes a lot.
I may be not - all the time - all I've got...
Maybe not.

Been one of those days...
Safety first, don't push...what's the hurry?
One nerve remaining, waiting on one look....have you got it?
Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?

All at once, not a whisper, no word.
Then all at once...
Let me have it all, let me have it, battle on,
Easy target,
Look can we just...just get it over with.
It's getting worse, against all the odds...
It's getting worse.
Guard down, floor's yours, last man standing can we, just get it over with.

Been one of those days...
Safety first, don't push...don't push me...what's the hurry?
Cause there's one nerve remaining, waiting on one look,
One look now...have you got it?
Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?

Blue blue day make me blue...
Head down, quick! Take cover, big girl in a mood.
Blue you, make me anymore blue?
Long spin shout power clean right out of your suit.

One more, one more, one more, one more

Been one of those days...
Safety first, don't push...what's the hurry?
One nerve remaining, waiting on one look...have you got it?
Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?

Who knows how long this link will be good, but here is the song:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

That Perfect Night Light

Stubbing toes. Forgetting which doors were closed. Stepping on a Hot Wheels. Kicking the cat (causing the inevitable screetching cat yelp for which you feel so terribly guilty). Tripping on a laptop power cord. We've all been there... treading gently, slowly in the dark, trying to save our toes and moving along, ever so gingerly, in a thick blackened room so as not to wake anyone else up (especially the baby, if you have one - man, don't wake up the baby)... and boom. In the dark. In the middle of the night. Or maybe it hasn't even been a mere 15 minutes since you've first laid down. You've caused something to be either loud or painful. Or worse: both. And all you wanted to do was go pee. Or get something to drink. Or make sure the back door was locked.

We bought a whole slew of these cute little LED night lights, which come to life only in the dark, at Ikea some time ago. I just love them. They're subtle enough that you hardly notice them in the room generally, but they're just bright enough in the dark so as not to feel like a real light is on yet they guide your way like little whispering spotlights on the floor in the night. I forget how much they cost, but it's minimal -- something like 2 or 3 dollars. They look clean and shiny - almost like little robots - and they'll last forever since they're LED. Love em. Really, imagine a light whispering a clean little guiding whisper in the dark, and that's what these do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

That Perfect Margarita

I know you've been waiting for it: That Perfect Margarita. Honestly, not much explanation is necessary. Hubby makes these. They're perfect.

Step by step instructions:

(1) Start with a container that can be shaken.
(2) Add 2 oz. tequila (good tequila such as Sauza Hornitos or Patron Silver)
(3) Add 1 1/4 oz. Triple Sec
(4) Add a healthy splash of orange juice
(5) Add 6 oz. of Dr. Swami & Bone Daddy's Margarita Mix
(6) Add juice of 1/2 lime
(7) Shake vigorously.
(8) Rub Triple Sec on the rims of 2 glasses
(9) Roll edges of glasses in Kosher salt
(10) Fill glasses with crushed ice
(11) Pour frothy shaken margaritas into glasses and thoroughly enjoy.

Here's the one I had yesterday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

That Perfect Colored Pencil

I know most of my readers don't draw, but surely this post will stick in your head when one day (a) you're inspired to draw something (whether you show anyone else or not doesn't matter), (b) your child is so inspired (or at least has to color a map for a social studies project and then may decide to experiment with his or her drawing supplies after the homework is done), or (c) not sure... but this is worth writing about anyway.

That perfect Colored Pencil is unquestionably Prismacolor. These are awesome little colorful sticks of wonder. A beloved art professor of mine at UT creates the most detailed, amazing large-scale drawings with Prismacolors, and a visit to his home in my undergraduate years for a party introduced me to them and is what inspired me to buy my first Prismacolors. And now, I wouldn't use any others.

They are brilliant, true colors. And their blender pencil (which has a semi-opaque yet clear "lead") allows for awesome blending. I have learned over the years that if you buy cheap art supplies, they feel cheap: the colors are all wrong and the textures they have or create are flimsy, runny, or have some other negative quality you just can't work with. Another example is when I used to frequently buy oil paints. If you have any familiarity with oil paints, it's like the difference between napthol red and cadmium red medium. Or ultramarine versus cobalt blue. Or lemon yellow versus cadmium yellow light. (In each case, the latter is the really real color, and the former is the imposter.) Or, for those with slightly more basic art supply knowledge, it's like comparing the dime store crayons (or the freebie restaurant crayons) to Crayolas. I am certainly not an advocate of spending money where unnecessary; however, I will shout all day with all the enthusiasm in my bones about the merits of spending your money well - on quality things, on quality experiences. If you have any inclination to draw, the experience and the end result with Prismacolors will certainly provide the most quality for the time and money. Now, if only I had the time these days...

Here's a quick sample of a drawing of mine done exclusively with Prismacolors just to show you what you can do with colored pencils (they're not just for coloring maps in jr. high anymore)...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

That Perfect Hour

That Perfect Hour. Right about now: Around 10 or 11 among the evening hours. I can spin and focus and whirl and posit all day long. I can be so accomplished, I can achieve so much during the daylight hours. Or, I can waste the day not knowing what to do or not even considering such a thing - just letting the day pass me by. Regardless of how tired, annoyed, productive, independent, chained, or useless I've been all the live long day, by early evening, say 6 or 7, I feel worn and weary, having been at the mercy of things external to my soul. But, then as the hours grow later and darker, somehow at least some of the energy I'd lost, I'd released, I'd burned along the daily way... returns to me. No matter how tired I am from the trials of the day, I find myself contemplative, quiet, and yet so very awake at this hour. It's at this time of day I believe I am my best, my most true, my most - in general. Ideas lap over me like waves, colors and sounds inspire me, language strikes a chord within me. A night owl, some would say. Even though the day is nearly at its close, there is something large and yet quiet in the personal, real time. It is precarious, though; alas, the world, as usual, imposes its schedule on me, so this eveningtime-springtime is inevitably shortened, inescapably limiting the heights I can reach, at least for today. Tomorrow beckons, and lest I be all too useless to face it, I must go to bed in the coming hours before my mind is fully ready. Maybe that is why I always have such vivid dreams.

"And it's time, time, time that you love. And it's time, time, time." Tom Waits, "Time."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album

That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album. I am more often that not drawn to this kind of music, so it's incredibly hard for me to narrow this down. Exceedingly difficult. I figure, though, if I use specific adjectives that describe this album but do not limit my future naming of That Perfect ___ ___ Album(s) (which may also strike certain emotional chords on some other days), then I'm safe enough.

When you've had a rough day, and you really want to sleep, but you can't sleep so well... when your muscles just won't let go, and your eyes are meaninglessly open. When your heart feels a little sad, but you aren't sure why. When you long for something, but you aren't sure what. When you vividly remember things and forget some others. When you feel less than perfect. When you want to be moved. Listen to That Perfect Sleepy Sad Day Album. 9 by Damien Rice. In some ways it isn't as strong or as striking as O, Damien's first album (which made me cry time and time again when I first heard it), but 9 seriously grows on you. Where O ought to be on some best album of all time list, 9 is the one I want to write about today. Nine Crimes, Sleep Don't Weep, Elephant, and Accidental Babies are especially moving. Amazing songs. And Rootless Tree is great turned up loud, yet it still feels sad. Sometimes sadness is worth celebrating. It's part of life, after all.

I originally had a link to Amazon so you could listen to short snippets of songs from the album, but I decided that the snippets simply did not do the sublime songs on this album justice. Go buy it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That Perfect Stroller

I am not sure how many of you in my readership have kiddos, especially kiddos who are stroller-age, but I just can't help myself. When I was pregnant with my son, we researched strollers (along with every other baby necessity... looking for That Perfect everything...), and we were seeking a stroller that would (1) allow for the car seat to snap into it so as not to disturb our little one if possible, (2) be sturdy, and (3) be easily foldable/packable into the car. Oh, and cute also entered into my calculations. We ended up with this:

It's the Peg Perego Revi in orange with cute little polka dots. We also had the matching car seat that snapped into it. The trouble was, figuring out which lever or button did what was utterly confusing. It was actually overwhelming. When we took it for strolls, which a stroller is supposedly built for, it would catch on sidewalk cracks, sticks, and practically leaves, breezes, and small anthills. Really, the thing cost a lot of money, and I was just annoyed that we'd wasted our money on it. It was cute, but that was not enough. Additionally, getting the car seat snapped safely into it would inevitably wake up the baby, and was more of a pain to do than to just carry the car seat by its handle. Plus, turning around, and even simple turning, even on the smooth concrete floor of a mall, were clumsy endeavors. So, this very expensive but cute stroller sat in the back of our car gathering dust.

We finally wised up and bought a new stroller: That Perfect Stroller. What is That Perfect Stroller you ask? Well, a Bob, of course! It is a stroller of which all other strollers should be jealous. Seriously, this thing is amazing. It turns on a dime and glides over any surface (including the bumpiest of sidewalks, stairs, grassy hills... you name it). I can also fold it up and get it in the car in about 5 seconds - literally (it barely weighs more than 20 pounds, and it folds in half - that's it). All the key parts you need to (1) buckle the child in and (2) fold it up are red so you can't miss the important little pieces when you need to find them. The tires are like bike tires -- smooth and agile and can be aired up to perfection. It's also got large storage spots, so we can always have plenty of books, toys, and snacks at our disposal to keep our little boy entertained, and there's still room for my shopping bags and drinks for Mom & Dad, too. I've even seen someone in my neighborhood taking a stroll with her Bob with a car seat sitting in it -- we didn't have ours when our son was too young to be buckled in, but from the looks of it, they're pretty adaptable for even the smallest kiddos, too, who prefer to stay in their car seats outside of the car. Our Bob has a front wheel that locks in place if you want it to (for jogging), or it can be mobile for more agility and ease of turning. I really love this stroller. If you're in the market, it's a purchase you will absolutely not regret. In my neighborhood, which is overflowing with trees, kids, dogs, and a great park, you see more Bobs than any other strollers around here. And, I can honestly say, they're the most popular stroller for very good reasons. Others just don't compare. Here's ours - it's the Bob Revolution.

And here's the website for That Perfect Stroller:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

That Perfect ____

What's this? Two posts in one day? Well, I was inspired a little while ago to go digging in my plan file drawers -- these monstrous thin flat drawers made of oak (stacked about a foot taller and three times wider than I am) for storing artwork, which I was fortunate enough to inherit from G.P. (see earlier That Perfect Rum post) -- and I ran across many many many old drawings from when I was in art school. These date from 1995 to 1997 or so, when I was taking life drawing classes. For the elucidation those of you who had "normal" majors in college or didn't attend at all, life drawing classes (and all studio art classes, for that matter) at UT Austin (and elsewhere, I'd assume) consist of 4-hour class sessions twice a week (usually MW or TTh from 8-12 or 2-6) for three hours of class credit (yep -- so if you had a 12 hour semester, that amounted to 32 hours of class time, not counting outside work that was required, especially in the advanced classes). We'd spend the entire four hours drawing nude models. Oddly, you forget they're nude while you're drawing -- honest -- and just focus on the folds, wrinkles, lines, shapes, textures, and expressions. I snapped a few digital photos just now of some of the old drawings I did in my undergrad studies -- they're below. I'm not sure what That Perfect ___ this post is about, but there was a feeling of something perfect that swept over me -- either in the drawings or in my reflections upon them. Don't know what to call it, but something was perfect in that moment of my looking back at these sketches. I'm not including any of my "sophisticated" later work here... just some charcoal and pencil sketches. Some finished, some not, most done in life drawing classes, a few done just messing around at home. There's a million billion trillion miles between who I am today and who I was when I drew these, but I've been trying to narrow that gap as of late. I just dusted off my old prismacolor pencils, and it turns out that going through law school, being a lawyer, and being a pretty demanding toddler's mom hasn't made me forget how to draw after all. And so, since I don't know what That Perfect this post is about, it's up to you to fill in the blank this time....

That Perfect Summer Drink

Remember how I said it gets hot in Texas?? Sweltering even? Well, such cruel temperatures always start the resourceful wheels in my mind turning toward figuring out how to stay cool and clean. Cool and clean. Cool and clean. Even just typing those words together feels good. Those simple words also happen to describe That Perfect Summer Drink, which I made for the first time last summer. One day last summer, I purchased some fancy schmancy 16 oz fruit essence water at the local gourmet market -- no sugar, just fruit essence infused into the water. I tried the one with cucumber essence and fell in love with how clean, light, and refreshing it was. I was not, however, so enamored with the high price -- maybe it was two or three bucks. Too much for a single serving of water, to be sure. I won't be paying that again. Especially when water is free (or at least already paid for via my monthly payment to the city of Dallas for my running water), and fruit is also readily available fairly inexpensively any local supermarket. And it's so very simple to make That Perfect Summer Drink. (1) Fill a pitcher with tap or filtered water - whichever you prefer; (2) Slice up a whole cucumber; (3) Put the cucumber slices in the pitcher; (4) Refrigerate; (5) Once cold, drink lovingly (leaving the cucumber slices themselves in the pitcher). I tell you, this is the stuff you want on a really hot day. After I have made it through about 1/2 of the pitcher (which I leave in the fridge), I add more water. Depending on how quickly you down it, the same cucumber slices can be used multiple times. Keep adding water to be infused until you think the cucumber has surpassed its potential. Cheap. Easy. Most importantly -- cool and clean.

The plastic tupperware pitcher I use is not terribly photogenic, so I googled cucumber water just now to find a photo to use here, and, not shockingly, I'm not the first to come up with this idea. Here's a photo of some pretty grand looking cucumber water. Yours will taste as good as this looks, even if it's concocted in a cheap plastic pitcher like mine.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

That Perfect Sub

There aren't many sub sandwich shops that are really worth stopping to eat in. I mean, Subway and Quizno's are okay. So is Potbelly. Other chain sandwich places are ok, too. They're fine to pick up on a road trip or something or a quick bite when you need something easy and close. But they're not destinations. Dino's in Arlington, TX is a destination sandwich shop. My husband grew up in Arlington and LOVES the sandwiches there. I'm officially awarding them the title of That Perfect Sub. And they come "Dino's dressed" with the shop's proprietary mix of herbs, oil, parmesan, and not sure what else is in there, but, man it's good. Hubby's sandwich also always includes a marinated pepper tapenade of sorts, which I prefer to skip on, but, if you're into that sort of thing, it's very well done here. The sandwiches are dressed just right, and even the lettuce is cut perfectly in little shreds. All the meat and cheeses are cut fresh on site when you order, and the bread is also fresh. The attached photo is of us cheersing our sandwiches there on his birthday... it's what he wanted, and I can't blame him. I get the #10. Yum. Don't believe me? Here's some other reviews:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

That Perfect Weather - A Random Memory

You know the feeling. It's been hot all summer. I mean really f-ing hot. I've lived my whole life (apart from some fantastic trips here and there) in Louisiana and Texas. I know hot. I remember taking cold showers when the power went out just to stay sane. I remember lying face down on a cool waterbed mattress wearing as little as possible in a crappy house in Austin, where the landlord laughed at our, admittedly, laughable window air conditioning units, just to feel some sort of coolness. I remember walking through the freezer section at the grocery store for some authentic coldness when it was hard to come by where I lived. As I've had many different occupations, including that of a practically professional student for a number of years (four degrees later... seriously, I was a student for a long time), I've spent many years with little money searching out the cool when it was unbearably hot outside. I now have a good job and steady air conditioning, which only serves to remind me of how good I have it now. Ultra hot summers down here in the deep South are miserable. I just saw on the news that we're hitting triple digits this week. It's barely June. We're in for a long, excruciating summer -- I can feel it coming. How to remedy my dismay over the impending doom of heat headed my way? Memories of That Perfect Weather -- knowing it'll come again one day. A particular moment is popping in my head...

I remember living in Austin, while I was in undergrad, I believe it was late in the year 1995. I was driving to work in my 1987 gray Chevy Blazer (man, I loved that thing), which was plastered with stickers all over its backside, on the service road of I-35 somewhere near the intersection of 38th Street. I was driving along with my windows down, feeling COLD air. Naturally wind-driven cold air. My long crazy hair was blowing everywhere, and I was probably smoking a cigarette - which I did in those days - out the open window. I don't recall the music I was listening to, but it was probably something emotionally driven, and I am sure it was turned up LOUD. Cold air. Driving. Windows down. Feeling energized. If that's not a happy memory, I'm not sure what is.

My mother has told me that a cold front came through right as I was being born - a lovely fall day in an October many years ago. I guess I've always felt a very personal bond with a cold front that comes in and, at long last, relieves the relentless heat of its duties, at least for a while.

It's quite difficult to think of a picture that encapsulates the weather I'm remembering. So, I've just dug through some really old photos (quite fun, actually), and I found what I think is the only photo I have of my old beloved Blazer. Here it is for good measure:

Monday, May 31, 2010

That Perfect Bath

Ahhhhhh. Baths. Even my doctor spoke of the restorative power of baths and noted that people generally don't take enough baths these days. In the last few years, I've become more of a bath taker... a soaker, if you will. In that span of time, I have come to realize some baths are better than others (and some more extravagant than others). This post is dedicated to That Perfect Bath. In involves the sum of a few perfect elements to total That Perfect Bath. Step (1) The Lush Karma Bubble Bar. While I love many Lush products, this is my current favorite. It smells so very clean and somehow exotic at the same time. Perfect combination for a bath, yes? An honorable mention for Step (1) goes out to the Lush Ma Bar Bubble Bar, which I've happily used many many times Step (2) Evolution. Does the wine matter? Yes. You will never go wrong with this one. It is far and away my favorite. It probably deserves its own post, as a matter of fact. We'll save that one for another day. Suffice it to say, this wine is the best choice to comprise step (2) of That Perfect Bath. But, if you're wanting to spend a little less, here's a good alternative: Step (3) Your favorite current read, of course. I'm currently working on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Those of you who view my Facebook page from time to time know I recently completed The Fountainhead and found it to be a marvelous read. (Indeed, The Fountainhead took part in a number of Perfect Baths as I traversed its pages.) Atlas is proving to be a lovely read as well, though I'm only about 200 pages in (it's over 1000). (4) Any other bath products you like that won't fall flat in comparison to the awesomeness that is the Lush bubble bar you used in step (1). I prefer Brocato and Aveda products for the most part (there's a couple playing a bit part in the background of the photo). I'll spare the details on those products here as they, too, are deserving of posts in their own right. And, if you're in a boat like mine, start this bath in the evening AFTER you've cuddled your little one to bed, and it is a perfectly lovely way to end the day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

That Perfect Rum

So, a dear friend asked me to post about That Perfect Rum. I cannot do so without remembering who influenced my opinion most on this subject. My grandfather, Theodore Louis Drell, Jr., or as more affectionately known in our family as G.P. (Grand Pa), introduced me to Cruzan Rum some time ago. I believe he learned to love it on many visits to St. Croix in his earlier years (though I am not entirely sure if he began his love of Cruzan there or simply rum in general...). While he preferred to drink his rum in a Rum Old Fashioned, I did so only one time... with him... the day of my grandmother's funeral. I forced it down for the sake of living in that moment with him but did not partake in the second round. However, it was the Bitters in the drink that turned me off, not the rum. Cruzan rum, of which he often (always?) had a couple of jugs stowed away in the cabinet, was his staple rum. It's now also mine. In the years before he died, my husband and I enjoyed many moments sipping Cruzan with him when we'd go stay the night with him in New Orleans and spend wonderful evenings chatting for hours about art, life, and love. While Cruzan is easy to recommend because it is one of the more reasonably priced liquors, it's also got a sentimental place in my heart. It is probably the only liquor that does. When something is tied to the heart, it becomes a little more perfect.

Here's a photo of G.P. long before I knew him:

Nowadays, I like Cruzan with Coke (but, whoa, not Diet Coke), and it's also lovely in a mojito. Maybe I'll post a recipe for That Perfect Mojito sometime....

And here's the Cruzan:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

That Perfect Yogurt

I eat yogurt for breakfast almost every day. That is just how much I love it. But the disturbing thing about yogurt is that most of the yogurts at your ordinary every day grocery store are made of all sorts of things that should not be in yogurt... things that practically transform it from being yogurt into something else. Don't get me started on other dairy products at the store either... I used to use fat free half and half for my morning coffee, but when I read that label, wow. I threw out the quart I had and replaced it with the real stuff. (I used to buy flavored coffee to grind at home but don't do that anymore either since I learned they use propylene glycol as a binding agent in a bunch of them... we only grind plain coffee beans now.) But back to yogurt... Just stop and read the ingredients in yogurt sometime, and you'll see what I am talking about. You'll find all sorts of modified this and that, high fructose corn syrup, fake sweeteners, and loads of things that should not go into a body. In That Perfect Yogurt, the makers aren't trying to fill up yogurt eaters with useless sugary corn or chemical sweeteners. Instead, it's just the loveliest yogurt. Mmmmm. And the kicker? Eating the real stuff is more satisfying, so you eat less. Go figure -- not hungry anymore after eating real food. That's a novel idea for this generation. Ever wonder why you feel yucky but oddly not full after eating fast food? It's because they've sucked out all of the nutritional value from it and given you a shell of a meal loaded with fat and fat and fat and some salt. Same thing with yogurt... a low fat major brand of yogurt always left me unsatisfied, but I eat That Perfect Yogurt in the morning, and I am good for three hours before it's time for lunch. Try it for yourself, and you'll see. Brown Cow: That Perfect Yogurt.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That Perfect Lip Gloss

That Perfect Lip Gloss is actually Lip Glass. That's glass, not a typo. And this stuff really does make your lips look like glass that's just been buffed with Windex. Super shiny. I first learned of this stuff when I worked at the Gap back in the day and a girl who worked there with me had it on. It's rare that I'd notice someone's lip gloss, but Lip Glass is just that eye-catching.

As you can see, I tried to take a photo of myself wearing That Perfect Lip Gloss, and this poor shot was the best one I was able to take. It's pretty darn difficult to take a picture of lip gloss on yourself, but I think you'll get the idea. Trust me, this is That Perfect Lip Gloss.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Perfect Sofa

Although it's not too often that people are in the market for a new sofa, this one is so fabulous, I think it deserves a post. I have this sofa -- bought it last year after we bought our house. The photo is my That Perfect Sofa, in action. We sat on sofa after sofa after sofa all over Dallas, and when we nuzzled our bums into this one at our local Z Gallerie, we immediately fell in love. I think they were running a sale at the time, too, which made it that much more perfect. This sofa is stuffed to the brim with feathers, and your body just melts into it. And, you can seat four across it comfortably (our other couch, though comfortable of course, feels a little awkward with three). I've always believed, steadfastly I might add, that furniture must be COMFORTABLE, without exception. I am always astounded at how uncomfortable so much furniture is... beds and couches, especially, ought to cuddle you and not make you want to get up - ever. This sofa does just that.

Here's where you can get yours:

Monday, May 10, 2010

That Perfect Salsa

Amongst my nearest and dearest, I have become known for my salsa. Not dancing... the tomatoey loveliness that you eat on chips. People request that I make it for all kinds of functions and dinners. I literally never tire of good salsa. I am surprised this wasn't my first blog post, as a matter of fact.

Well, here it is - the recipe for That Perfect Salsa:

1 14 oz. can of tomatoes (buy the generic brand -- better than the costlier ones)
1 decent sized fistful of fresh cilantro
the juice of 1/2 of a lime
a very large garlic clove
1/2 of a poblano pepper
1/2 to 2 jalapenos or serranos (Depending upon how hot they are... I always make my husband try the peppers to gauge the level of their pain inducing heat. If they're too hot, they give him the hiccups almost immediately. In such a case, only 1/2 of the jalapeno or serrano. If he gives me a bored expression and a shoulder shrug, I may throw in a whole one or two of the "hot" peppers. Regardless, I always include the 1/2 poblano so that it still maintains a peppery flavor.)
salt to taste
(I used to add a smidge of white onion or shallot; however, lately, I've found that it makes the salsa too sweet and overwhelms the other flavors after the salsa has had some time to mingle with itself in the fridge, so I've been cutting this out.)

Blend in blender until the chunks are all gone.

That Perfect Salsa is best served immediately. And, though I considered drafting a separate post for That Perfect Tortilla Chip to accompany That Perfect Salsa, I'll just include them here - Xochitl Chips are the bomb.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

That Perfect Fancy Shoe

I simply cannot rave enough about Fluevogs. I have had crushes on so many pairs of Fluevogs and still do -- on the ones I have and many that I don't (yet...). I never understood why there are so many boring shoes walking around. It's so unnecessary when there are so many interesting shoes out there.

I've attached pictures of a few I'm currently drooling over. Not only do these look utterly fabulous, all of the Fluevogs I've ever worn are very comfortable (for heels anyway). I used to wear Birkenstocks and flip flops exclusively when I had jobs where I had to stand all day long (still wear them sometimes, of course, for pure comfort's sake), but now that I have to dress up for work, I've had to expand my footwear. If you've got to wear heels, at least make them cool.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

That Perfect Soap

My best friend once pointed out to me how brand-loyal I am... how much I love to share what I have with others... and how much I love to rave about something I think is worth raving about. This blog is going to do just that. I'm going to post, whenever the mood strikes me, about "that perfect [fill in the blank]." Let's begin with soap.

Just before I stepped into the shower last night, I opened a fresh bar of my favorite soap. It is perfect soap. It is mild and soft enough to use on your face, but it is also hearty enough to use anywhere else. Now, it doesn't have the grease-fighting action of Dawn (I'm not recommending this soap to clean paintbrushes or birds covered in oil in the Gulf, though Dawn could handle either of those tasks quite nicely), but this post is dedicated to that perfect body soap. You can't buy it in a grocery store, which is a good thing as far as I am concerned. (As an aside, I would certainly not recommend buying very many bath and body products at the same store where you can buy chicken, for instance... except maybe toothpaste or deodorant.) If you live in a small town (like the one I hail from originally), you will probably have to order it off of Amazon. If you're lucky enough to live in a big city like I currently do, you can hop on over to your local L'Occitane shop (or Sephora) to buy it for yourself. (I think the first L'Occitane shops I ever encountered were in Europe, which somehow tends to heighten my opinion of this particular soap, at least in some worldy sense. I've seen more Body Shops in Europe than in America, mainly in train stations, and somehow the products there are more appealing when overseas, as well. Funny that.) Back to the soap at hand.... That perfect soap is (drumroll please): L'Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Milk Soap. The bar smells sweetly clean and has a soft quality. Think milk + soap, in fact. Man, this is some lovely stuff. A giant bar of the stuff is $10.00, which may seem steep for soap (if you are used to tossing soap in your cart next to your dinner), or it may seem like a steal if you're accustomed to purchasing your soap at Nieman's or some other department store. It doesn't matter who you are, this soap rocks.