Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fitting Room Failure

I usually shop by myself. I don't know if I prefer it that way or it just happens that way. Regardless, I'm not used to soliciting the opinions of others when it comes to what I wear. I usually trust myself not to look ridiculous.

This past weekend I went up to Park City with Lisa and Kelly for a "girls weekend." I like to call it a "get away" though because just about all my weekends are "girls weekends."

First stop: the Tanger outlets at Kimball Junction. We tried on a lot of clothes. My sister-in-law Kelly and her sister Katie have a number system when it comes to rating each other's appearance in clothes. It's basic, really: you rate each other on a 1-10 scale. There are no specific criteria or elements that skew the final number such as price or extreme lack of that particular color in your wardrobe. It's all about how you look.

I'm afraid I didn't score very high on my selections. Lisa and Kelly came out in their prospective purchases and it was all "Ooh! I really like that!" and "That's a great color on you" and then they smiled and retreated back behind their fitting room door satisfied with their options. But when I came out with something on it was, "Eh, it's OK." or "Hmm...I'm not crazy about that." Kelly gave some pants I tried on at J. Crew a "7" which apparently doesn't justify a purchase.

I did get a high score from both of them on a brown sweater vest which I bought, and some trouser jeans which I didn't buy (too expensive).

Here are some comments from my sister during our time at the outlets:

"That's too boxy"
"Don't get the white one. Get the black one."
"It looks like you taped your chest down -- like Cristina Ricci in Now and Then"
"No, Laura, don't even look at those shoes! Nothing with stitching on the toe"

Fortunately I can take it from her. I'll never forget last month when I met her at Fashion Place Mall. She called when I was trying on clothes at Nordstrom. I told her to meet me up there. When I stepped out of the dressing room she took one look at me and her face got all scrunched up and she said, "No! Laur -- not that shirt!" and I was like, "Um, I came in this shirt. It's mine." And then she had to check her balance before she fell over laughing. I'm not going to lie, I was laughing just as hard as she was.

The truth is, I would have purchased a couple shirts and some pants at the outlets had I not a personal shopper negating my choices. It makes me wonder if I walk around looking like a 7 and people just don't say anything. At least I know who to trust.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eight Things

This is only because I love you, Tara.

8 Things I'm passionate about

1. Food
2. Music
3. Certain Movies
4. My testimony of the gospel
5. Any calling I'm given in church
6. My blog
7. My family (including ancestors I've never met)
8. Traveling

8 Things I say often

1. 'n stuff (I hate this about me)
2. and things like that (when I catch myself wanting to say 'n stuff. No better really)
3. Are you kidding me?
4. Oh really?
5. Yay!
6. You're the best
7. Um...no
8. Sounds like a plan

8 Things I want/need

1. My car door handle to be fixed
2. New black heels
3. To learn how to use everything this computer does
4. My driveway to be repaved
5. A new cell phone
6. A car with power locks and windows
7. my workstation at my office to be more ergonomic
8. eight hours of sleep every night

8 Things I want to do before I die

1. Visit Italy (I just kept this from Tara's list)
2. Fall in love and get married (yes, it was necessary to put both of those on the same line. Is it OK to say I want this before I'm 35? And have a kid or two by then too)
3. Own my own pet (cat or dog, whatever)
4. Live in Boston or D.C. for a little while

That's it. I can't think of any more. I'm a simple girl, I don't ask for much.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Get Over Yourself

The letter I wish I could send:

Dear _________,

I received your print-out of the online application you attempted to submit for our annual art competition. I wish to address your hand-written accusation next to the field requiring your email address which read as follows:

“Requiring an artist citizen to have a computer and/or maintain an email account could be construed as a financial discriminatory act by the State of Utah against its citizens. **contact me by phone or letter via USPS as my computer is dysfunctional at this time.”

I find it hard to appreciate your concern when you seemed to have no trouble finding a computer to fill out this application in the first place. I’m sorry your internet failed and you were unable to complete the submission process. Because you chose to submit via our online process (as opposed to the mail-in process), we require an email address to send you a confirmation. You provided your email address, which I’m familiar with, as you and I have exchanged emails in the past.

The assumption is that most people who own a computer maintain an email address. I can appreciate the fact that many people (including artists) do not own a computer because of financial reasons or by personal choice. Those who don’t own computers typically have free access through public libraries and/or other associations. If you don’t have that access, we provide a computer in our office for our patrons to use.

As I mentioned earlier, we do have other forms of application that don’t require an electronic process. Our constituents are welcome to fill those out by hand, and those forms do not require an email address.

Although I admire your attempt to defend the financial rights of Utah’s citizens, I’m confused at your claim that we discriminate against “artist citizens” by requiring an email address. The online form also requires a street address and a phone number. According to your logic, expecting artists to pay a mortgage/rent not to mention a monthly phone bill would be discriminatory as well. If you were actually unable to pay a phone bill, computerless and homeless, I might take your accusation more seriously.

Oh, and your implication that artists have a special financial burden imposed upon them is both short-sighted and stale.

Thank you for your submission and good luck in the competition.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recent Acquisition

It started the first year I worked for the Utah Arts Council. It was August, 2001 and we did our annual statewide exhibition up at the Bountiful Davis Art Center. The theme was mixed media and works on paper.

I was immediately drawn to this monotype by Jason Jones and thought, “I should buy this.” It’s called Portal. The artist told me he painted it in Helper when he was there taking a series of workshops. If you look closely you can see a blue USPS mail box and a glass door behind it. I remember talking to Jason on the phone and I told him this was my first original art purchase. He said, “Congratulations! It’s addicting.”

He was right. That winter the Utah Arts Council exhibited the Utah Watercolor Society’s “miniature” show and I bought this piece by Steve Sheffield. It’s really small, which makes it affordable, but I love winter scenes and Steve told me he painted this particular piece up Millcreek Canyon and I love Millcreek. He was really nice at the reception and told me he didn’t like how it was framed and I should let him reframe it for me. So I bought it. My coworker Lila and I fought over this one a little bit and so Steve painted another one just for her.

The following summer (2002) my friend Ilene was visiting and wanted to get her hair done so I took her to Phil at Jagged Edge (if you don’t know this about me, my ability to recall detail is ridiculous. I can also tell you I was wearing a blue and white striped shirt I bought at “Next” in London earlier that spring which I have since handed down to my roommate Carri). Phil was bleaching Ilene’s hair so it took awhile. While I waited, I walked over to Utah Artist Hands on 100 South and saw this pastel piece hanging on the wall. It’s by David Maestes. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I think I really liked the blues and greens (it looks better without my reflection). It now hangs above the coat rack in my house. I used it for a Relief Society lesson once on the creation of the world. Thanks to my art history training I can squeeze meaning out of just about anything. It was actually a really good metaphor about how man can seem insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe, but how we really are God’s most important creation. I won’t get into it here, but you can ask me about it later if you want.

This is another piece I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of so after visiting it several times, I just decided to buy it. It hung at a show we did at the Alice Gallery in the winter of 2003. For a photograph, it was more expensive than I wanted it to be, but I like it (and the artist was really nice and gave me a deal). It hangs in our living room to the right of the west windows. It’s by Don Thorpe and yes, I know it’s blurry. He took it at Liberty Park. I love Liberty Park; and trees, apparently. You may start seeing a theme here.

One Christmas I was feeling generous and had some extra money so I thought it would be nice to buy my parents a painting and call it an anniversary/Christmas present. My parents once told me they have this goal to visit every Spanish mission in California. I found a painting by Wilson Ong of the San Carlos mission and I knew that’s what I wanted to get them. But then I saw this companion piece depicting a chandelier at the same mission. The owner of the gallery told me if I wanted to buy both she’d give me $100 off. So I bought this one for me.

I’m losing track of my years. I think this one was late summer 2005. Each year the Deseret News sponsors a landscape competition (well, they haven’t the past two years since MUAH closed because of Main Street construction) but I saw a couple pieces by my good friend Shawn Rossiter there. I bought a piece of his for my mom once, but never owned one myself. I kept coming back to this as I looked at all the paintings, so I emailed Shawn and told him I wanted it. He commended my excellent taste. I’m not crazy about the frame though. I keep meaning to have him reframe it for me. But he’s expressed frustration about how I write more for my blog than I do for his magazine. So maybe once I have an article for him I’ll be on his good side.

Ted Wassmer was the oldest artist in Utah until he died a couple years ago. I was lucky enough to visit him when he was well. I went up to his apartment with some coworkers because we wanted to buy paintings to give to our outgoing board members. Ted gave us each a small painting of his before we left. He has a whole series of ladies with hats. When I picked mine out Ted looked at me, smiled, and said, “She’s in Vegas.” It hangs in my bedroom. Last week Annie told me she thinks it looks like a lady whose head exploded.

I started this fundraiser for Utah artists. I invite a printmaker to create a print, commissioned by the Utah Arts Council to coincide with our annual arts conference. The artist makes an edition of 25 and then we sell them for $100 each – which is a steal. The money goes towards innovation grants for artists. Last year Sandy Brunvand made this one for us: Healing Branches II. She stitches layers of wax paper over a lot of her prints. I believe she had surgery on her hands and so instead of stitching, she started stapling.

And my most recent acquisition: de sein by Stefanie Dykes. She has amazing technical ability and was this year’s invited artist for our conference. What makes this print even more unique is how each print of the series has this red pattern painted across the front and each is different.

I simply don’t have enough walls in my house to continue this habit. But I doubt that will stop me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In with the New

I love my television programs. I used to have a lot more time for tv than I do now. Some shows became social events which made them even more fun: Rock Star INXS and Rock Star Supernova at Jon and Rhett’s; Lost at John and Josh’s – a few times anyway; Heroes at Crystal’s – which I rarely made it to because of FHE; 24 at Steph and Kristi’s – which I stopped going to because I just ended up falling asleep. Well, it was a good effort to make TV a social activity. But most of my shows I’m usually watching by myself – especially now that I hardly ever watch programs when they actually air.

Summer is full of REALLY bad television. More reality programming than I can stomach. Remember when they used to air reruns in the summer? Reruns would be way better than America’s Got Talent, Nanny 911 and Wife Swap. So when fall comes around I get excited for my shows to come back and sometimes I look forward to giving new shows a try.

TV shows I will continue watching:

Samantha Who? (ABC)
It’s sweet, funny and smart. Christina Applegate is great in this show, but the best character is her friend Andrea (played by Jennifer Esposito). She steals every scene.

Lost (ABC)
The premiere won’t air until late winter. I hate that about this show. But everything else I love makes up for it.

30 Rock (NBC)
Always funny. Can’t wait.

The Office (NBC)
After last season’s finale, I’m a little worried about this season, but we’ll see how it goes.

Heroes (NBC)
Again, I’m a little worried about it but I’m still looking forward to it.

TV shows I just don’t have time to watch, but would if I could:

Medium (NBC)
I really love this show. The mystery is fun and keeps you guessing. The relationship between the husband and wife seems real to me and their children are genuine characters too which you don’t see often these days. But I’m never home when it’s on. So I’ll have to watch it online when I have time.

House (FOX)

I think this show has great stories, but I don’t understand how three of the original cast members still have top credits but you hardly ever see them. Anyway, it’s on the same night I should be going to Institute. So if I’m not at Institute, I’ll probably be watching House.

TV shows I tried last season, but just couldn’t get into:

Pushing Daisies (ABC)
You’d think this is a show I would like – the characters, the style; I wanted to like this show, I just couldn’t get into it. I should give it another try.

Chuck (NBC)
I watched most of last season’s episodes. I really wanted to like this show so I watched several episodes online after the season was over. It was all right.

TV shows you’d think I’d like, but I just don’t watch:

Desperate Housewives (ABC)
I’ve actually watched several episodes and I enjoy it enough to watch it when it’s on, but if there’s something else on that I like, I’ll usually watch something else.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
It’s too soap-opera for me. Again, if there’s nothing else on – but I can’t stand Meredith.

Ugly Betty (ABC)
I think Lost went up against Ugly Betty so of course I never watched it. I did watch it in reruns. It was good. I’ll have to borrow Season 1 from Kristi and Steph and watch it sometime.

TV Shows I would LOVE to continue watching but can’t because network execs are sell outs:

Friday Night Lights
This is one of the best “family” shows on television. I was surprised at how much I liked it, seeing how it centers around football. The acting is good, the writing is good, and the story lines are believable. And critics love this show. I was never able to watch it when it aired, so I watched the first two seasons online, but I looked forward to it every week. I just went to the NBC page and it looks like they’re taking it to DIRECT TV. Exclusively. And then there’s a link to get DIRECT TV right below all the critically acclaimed reviews. That’s so disappointing. If I’m going to pay money to watch this show, it will be paid in rental fees when it comes out on DVD.

TV shows I can’t believe are still on the air:


Up until last week, I actually thought ER was canceled years ago.

24 (FOX)
I loved this show until after Season 4. Then it just got out of control. All my favorite characters were killed off. Once I stopped caring whether Jack Bauer got nuked or not, it was over for me.

Scrubs (NBC)
I never watched this until it was syndicated on KJZZ. I think it’s funny, but I watched the last season and I think it’s over.

One Tree Hill (CW)
I think I was in and out of the first season. The characters are lame. I can’t believe the CW got rid of Everwood and kept this one.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for me this year. And if I got my networks wrong on any of these, let me know so I can fix them. I kind of guessed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ward Recipes

I just put chicken enchiladas in the oven. Chicken enchiladas seem to be a common meal in my culture, yet I've never made them before. They're not like Mexican enchiladas that you'd order at a restaurant. They're casseroled and mixed with tons of cream of chicken and sour cream. I've eaten them plenty of times, but only when other people make them. I had 44 tortillas in the freezer, so I called my sister (who doesn't really cook) to give me her recipe since she said she makes really good ones.

Yesterday my mom gave me a copy of her ward's latest cookbook (she bought nine copies to give away as gifts). I think the last time her ward did a cookbook was over fifteen years ago. I know those recipes well and would refer to them often growing up.

I was flipping through this yesterday and found six variations on the chicken enchilada recipe. And then I began to wonder who edits this thing. The duplication is astounding, but I understand everyone needs to be represented; it's not like this was going through a publishing house or anything.

I don't use cookbooks very often – not since the internet really. And I found myself looking through these recipes and not trusting some of them (like what is “That Bean Stuff”?) and wanting to scroll down and read the ratings and reviews like I usually do when I look up a recipe online. But there aren't any. I think the idea is that they were submitted because they were good, and so I should trust them.

But here's my question: If I want to make an apple pie, do I make “Apple Pie”, “Mom's Apple Pie”, “Fabulous Apple Pie” or “The BEST Apple Pie?” I don't know. And can we talk about how many of these recipes have “Yummy” in the title? Yummy Rice, Yummy Tacos, and my favorite: Oklahoma Yummy. I love a cookbook where something as sophisticated as Baklava can share a page with Oklahoma Yummy.

My generation of cooks has joined the submission list and so some of these recipes will have the word “Awesome” in them. And then there's one that actually has an exclamation: “Yummy Dip!”

A lot of these belong to people, like “Mom's Apple Pie” or “Sherry's Salsa” or “Kathy's Best Bean Soup”. I wonder how many other bean soup recipes Kathy has. Well, at least she submitted the best one.

I remember my mom calling me several months ago to tell me her ward was doing this and she had some recipes she wanted to submit, but she wasn't sure whether it was appropriate to submit a recipe in a ward cookbook that has wine as an ingredient. I told her to do it. I'm not a rebel or anything, I just think people need to realize alcohol is a perfectly acceptable ingredient for a lot of dishes. I'm looking at my mom's recipes and she either didn't submit that recipe or she took it out of the list of ingredients. But you know what, Mom? Lori Burnett has a recipe in here with wine. That must have gotten past the editor.

I'm kind of excited to try some of these. Except the Tuna Ring with Cheese Sauce. I don't think I could eat something that involves canned tuna, an egg, cheese (variety not specified), water and Bisquick. It sounds like the most awful thing anyone could mix in a bowl, throw in the oven and then put in their mouth.

I think my chicken enchiladas are ready.

Monday, September 08, 2008

House Plans

Remember the Sears Wish Book? Back in the 80's that was my #1 reference for my Christmas list to Santa. I would look through that catalog dozens of times and circle all the things I wanted. Pretty normal for a little kid. But what may not be as normal was how I also looked at the section with all the appliances, lighting and furniture, and dreamt about my grown up house.

I remember telling my mom how it would be a good idea for me to start saving money for furniture for when I was grown up and married and had my own house. She didn't think it was as necessary as I did. Of course I didn't really put anything aside. I spent all my allowance on cassette tapes and candy.

What I did do was find some graph paper and I began to sketch a rough blueprint of my dream house (from a ten year-old's perspective). I had only seen one blueprint before, and it was the blueprint for the house I currently lived in. My parents had it built and my dad referred to the blueprints a lot and showed me how certain things veered from the original plan.

Anyway, when my cousin Liz came to visit, she and my sister started designing their houses too. Of course we planned to live on the same street because our kids would be best friends and play together every day. We sat in the living room and sketched our house plans. They were never very sophisticated, but still, I had my necessities (this blueprint isn't actually what I made. I wish I kept mine though):

1) There was a baby grand in a large living room. I think it sat on a level one step above the rest of the living room. I thought that would be a nice touch and give it a bit of a “concert hall” quality.

2) A grandfather clock was in the entry way. My parents never had a grandfather clock but my grandparents did. I loved that clock. That chime was an iconic part of my overnight visits to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

3) I was into bay windows. I think I liked the idea of sitting in a window with a lot of pillows and looking out at the rain. Come to think of it, I still like that idea.

4) For some reason, I drew a minivan in the garage. I guess I figured I would be a soccer mom with 4 or 5 kids. I also felt it important that the door in the garage lead directly into the kitchen because apparently I would come inside with a lot of groceries and wouldn't want to travel far.

5) The master bath was HUGE.

6) The dining room table sat 8 people. I loved the idea of family meals and having everyone at the table for dinner. Oh, and there was a bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room. I could see myself passing dishes from the kitchen to my obedient children who set the table for me. (It's amazing how these mental images from when I was 10 come back so easily.)

7) Last but not least, there were secret passageways (I think I got this idea from that show Webster). Not only did the passageways lead to other rooms in my house, I think my sister, my cousin and I had a collective idea to have the passageways lead to each other's houses. We thought that would be fun for the kids.

Now that I'm older, I have different ideas of what my dream house would be. The minivan, for example, has disappeared completely from my plans and desires. And I don't need bay windows. But I do have other needs. Some of these sound simple, but it's only because I don't currently have them.

1) I want a bath tub. I miss having a tub – especially when the weather gets colder. All I want to do is fill up a “bath with bubbles” (as my nephew Jack says) and get away from the cold. And you know what, even when I'm married I think it would be AWESOME to have my very own bathroom. Is that selfish? Extravagant? I don't know. Anyone seen that Everybody Loves Raymond when he lets Deborah have the bathroom? That's a good one.

2) I want a big pantry. I LOVE to cook. I love to plan what I'm going to cook. I love to open up a door and see a lot of food on a shelf waiting to be prepared and feel like I'm set for awhile. Today I looked in my pantry and saw nothing that could be turned into a meal.

3) I still want a piano. A baby grand would be great, but even an upright would be fine.

4) I still like the idea of having a large dining room table. Even though I probably won't end up having a lot of kids, I love to entertain. So my family of four could invite another family of four over.

Yes, these remain dreams. Some are definitely doable at this point in my life. I just need to make room for them. Or move.

I was at Sutherlands a couple weeks ago to buy some potting soil. Every time I walk into a home improvement center I gravitate towards the appliances and the lighting and pick things out for my future home. It's still fun.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I'm it.

I was tagged by my roommate Annie. She was sitting right behind me when it happened. You’d think I would have seen it coming. She even asked me what her quirky qualities were so she could put them on her own list (btw she didn’t use what I told her).

Here are six quirky things about ME. Forgive me if you’ve been reading my blog for over a year, because if you have, you’ve probably come across a few of these in a more comprehensive list found here.

1. I have to know what the weather forecast is every day. Well, I can function without knowing, but one of the first things I do in the morning is check my weather widget on my computer. I guess I just like to know what I can expect. And what I can wear.

2. I never order fries or soda when I go out to eat. But if someone is sitting next to me and has soda or fries, it's so tempting I usually end up picking off their plate and sipping their soda (depending on the person and with permission, of course).

3. The left side of the bed is my side. Even though I have a whole queen size bed to myself, I stick to my side. It’s not like I grew up sharing a bed and so I’ve become accustomed to it. Maybe it’s because all my pillows are stacked on the right side, I don’t know. Sometimes my legs will venture over to the right side, or I’ll cuddle with the stack of pillows over there, but I really don’t take advantage of my big bed like I could.

4. I tend to run down steps rather than walk down them (when I’m by myself). It’s more fun that way. I hope it doesn’t become the death of me.

5. I actually love playing the hostess, serving people and making sure everyone has what they need; it is second nature to me. But once it's expected of me I get a little annoyed.

6. I talk to animals. I'm also convinced they talk back to me.

Uh…this is the part where I’m supposed to tag six people. If I could add one more thing about me it would be that, like most people, I have a fear of rejection so I hate tagging people because if they refuse to accept my tag, I might take it personally.