Sunday, March 27, 2011

What I'm Reading

Roses by Leila Meacham

This is really quite a large book, 600+ pages, though it didn't add any weight to my Kindle. :)  It's a multi-generational family saga set in Texas circa 1914-1985.  It's not quite "Dallas" but there is a certain way of life that comes from living in the south and being wealthy.  You have to be okay with reading about that to read this book; it's not about equality for the classes, etc.  These are the kind of families who do not disclose the contents of their wills until they are dead and gone for they know their family members will be shocked and unhappy with what they want. 

It's called "Roses" because two of the families can trace their roots back to the English royal warring houses, the Yorks and the Lancasters, and The War of the Roses.  "Out of mutual dependence, the two families had buried their ancestral differences, retaining only the emblems by which their allegiance to their respective houses in England were known - their roses.  The Warwicks, descended from the House of York, grew only white roses in their gardens, while the Tolivers cultivated exclusively red roses, the symbol of the House of Lancaster."  When founding the town of Howbutker, the DuMonts convinced the Warwicks and the Tolivers to grow both colors of roses as a sign of unity.  They also decide that they will send a red rose to ask forgiveness, if ever necessary, and a white rose will be returned to say that all is forgiven.

I'm only a few chapters in, but it's really quite addictive reading.  And it's nice to take a break from all my witches and vampires and post-apocalyptic worlds to read about "real" people and family drama.

This is one of the reviews on

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the small east Texas town of Howbutker is run by two families. The Tolivers preside over the massive cotton plantation of Somerset, while the Warwicks possess acres upon acres of timber. The children of the families, pretty and stubborn Mary Toliver and suave, strong Percy Warwick, are like water and oil. Percy insists that Mary will eventually marry him, and Mary is adamant that she will never have room in her heart for anything but Somerset, yet their undeniable attraction pulls them together. Through a trick of fate, Percy and Mary are forced apart. The consequences of their separation vibrate throughout the years, giving rise to lies, deceit, secrets, and tragedies that their families must suffer through, until, ultimately, they just have to leave it to Percy, Mary, and plain fate to see if they can make things right in the end. First-time novelist Meacham’s sweeping, century-encompassing, multigenerational epic is reminiscent of the film Giant, and as large, romantic, and American a tale as Texas itself. --Hilary Hatton

I can't wait to get to the meat of the book to see if this review is true.  But I do have to say that he is wrong in saying that the town is run by two families, the town was founded and is run by three families - the Tolivers, the Warwicks, and the DuMonts. 

I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.  Happy reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm In Love!...With a Closet

Since the date didn't happen and isn't going to happen (and that's all I'm going to say on the subject), I've decided to covet a closet instead.  Yes, a closet.  All the other shoe whores out there will understand when they see this...

This is a rolling, double bank of custom-made "egg crate" shelving.  Not only do I love the little cubbies and would kill to have this in my closet, I want this woman's shoe collection (and budget!).  Though you'd really have to dust them all a lot.  I guess if you can afford this, you have somebody to dust for you! Designed by Simon and Hugh Jacobsen for Dr. Tina Alster's historic Washington, D.C. residence.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Dating Game

I have found that it is incredibly difficult to meet datable people in this day and age.  I am not a clubber or bar-goer, most of my friends are married with children and know no single men with which to set me up with, my work life is filled with women and gay men, so really that leaves.....the internet.

According to the media I've heard, 1 in 5 relationships now come from online dating sites.  I actually believe it.  One year I attended four weddings.  3 of the 4 couples met online.  To be honest, I've tried it before.  I went out with three people, the third guy stuck.  It resulted in a 3-year relationship.  After that relationship ended, I tried a few set-up's that weren't so successful and then decided to take a break from it all. 

With my advancing age (34!) I decided that if I ever wanted to get married and have kids, I needed to get out there again.  Last time I did; this time I tried eHarmony.  I honestly haven't really liked how this site works.  If you use their "guided communication" steps, it can take forever to get to the point of actually talking to or emailing with a match.  And I don't truly believe that I "match" with 8 people every day (they send you your daily "matches").  I especially didn't match with the 5'4" guy who is a janitor, enjoys dungeons and dragons, metallurgy, and collecting coins.  I mean, really?!?!

But lo and behold, I'm finally going to meet someone that I met on their website.  And I am freaking out about it.  It has been so, so long since I went out on a first date.  I can barely believe how long it's been.  I used to date a lot.  It can't be that hard, right?  But the thought of putting yourself out there to be rejected by someone scares the bejesus out of me.  I think that's why I've waited so long to do it.

The last time I did the online thing I wasn't so scared about meeting who is essentially a stranger.  But that was 6+ years ago.  Since then I've heard so many awful stories about horrible things that happen to people in these situations; the world is a scarier place.  But I'll be safe.  I'll make sure someone (Michelle) knows who I'm meeting, where, and what time.  I'll call her afterwards to tell her I'm okay.  It'll be fine.

I'm very excited to meet this guy.  I hope I haven't jinxed it by writing about it.  And now I just hope I don't have an anxiety attack before then.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meet the Neighbors

A few years ago my ex and I had been planning to buy a place together, but when we broke up I put that on hold.  After a while I decided that I could and should do it on my own!  At that time there were many foreclosures that the average person still had a chance to buy.  So, off I go with my realtor (a friend's husband) checking out some of the crappiest houses in Denver.  Finally we came across one that was leagues above the rest!  It was relatively cute, didn't need tons of work, and was a great price - under $100K.  Unfortunately someone outbid me.  Back to the search.  Then I found a house my realtor was extremely skeptical about.  It looked fab in the pictures, had more square feet than the last one, and it was only $64.000!!!  We looked at it the second day it was on the market.  Upon review we found that there had been a fire in the kitchen so it needed replacing.  But there was no structural damage, so that was good news.  I'm an interior designer and my mom is a kitchen designer, so replacing a kitchen was not daunting to me at all.  Actually it seemed kind of fun!  I could do some really cute things in there and arrange it much more efficiently.  We put in an offer immediately, above what they were asking.  I didn't get it.  :(  Someone else offered exactly what I had, but they had cash, while I was financing the purchase. 

We went back to the drawing board but then I lost my job.  No way was I going to buy a house when I had no income.  I was quite fortunate that my parents let me move in with them while I got back on my feet financially.  But how embarrassing to have to live with your parents when you are 30-something!  When I felt more stable, I moved out, but only to an apartment.  My job market is still a little unstable so I didn't want to buy something just yet.  And it seemed harder and harder to pick-up those great priced foreclosures that are fewer and further between now.

Long story to get to what I wanted to talk about!  So here I am now at my apartment.  It's an okay apartment, not a great apartment.  But I'm fine with that for now.  I needed SPACE after living in one room at my parent's house.  I wanted ALL of my stuff out of storage and lots of closet space.  I have that here.  I have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 950 sq. ft. apartment with an east facing balcony and TONS of closet space.  I love the morning sun that I get.  I have a wood-burning fireplace and a dishwasher (live without one for 3 years and you'll realize what a luxury having one is!).  I don't have a washer and dryer, so that sucks, but I can live without them for time being.  I also have quite a cast of characters for neighbors.

There are six apartments that are accessed through same lobby as my apartment.  First are the stoners that live below me, who I've mentioned before, the guys that own Kitty.  I think there is actually only one guy living there right now.  I keep hearing the one guy screaming at the roommate and then the roommate is never here anymore.  This has happened with a couple people already.  He must be really hard to live with.  He also smokes.  Constantly.  It's disgusting.  He recently had a horrible cough that sounded like he was coughing up a lung, but he was still smoking.  Smart.

Their neighbor is an Indian woman who is scared to death of Lulu.  Really?  Lulu's a 20 pound white dog who perpetually looks like a puppy.  But she has literally walked around the entire building to avoid Lulu.

Then there's my immediate neighbor - a young Indian couple.  I think she's just learning how to cook because she burns things all the time.  She is constantly setting off the smoke alarms and opening their doors to let the smoke out.  Sometimes she makes something that smells really good, but usually I just smell a lot of onions and garlic.  She never leaves the house.  I think she cooks all day.  He must be learning how to do laundry because I've seen him in the common laundry room with a mother-figure directing his laundry-doing.  They never say hi to me. 

Above me is a sort-of-nice couple.  They're not looking to be friends or anything, but they at least occasionally say hi.  They, and their cat, are incredibly heavy walkers.  They are up at all hours of the night, keeping me awake with loud thumping over my bedroom.  She is also a clean freak.  She vacuums ALL THE TIME.  I swear, almost every day.  For long periods of time.  At 2 am.  Seriously.  Even her license plate says CLEAN.

Their neighbor is a middle-aged woman who is stuck in the 80's.  On Friday nights (and only Friday nights) she blasts mournful 80's music in the dark. 

It's quite a cast of characters.  We're never going to be the kind of neighbors that hang out together, but that's okay.  I do wonder, though, what they would say about me?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I'm Watching

This is Being Erica.  I love this show!  Love LOVE LOVE!  It's smart and funny and addictive.  It makes you think, it makes you cry.  Being Erica is from Canada, shown on the CBC Network.  It's currently in it's third season, but you can find seasons 1 and 2 on Hulu.  After it airs in Canada during their regular season, the SOAPnet Network airs it.  (For those who don't know, that's the network that shows all the daytime soaps during the evening and weekends, etc.)  Being Erica isn't on until midnight on Wednesday's (on Comcast; on satellite it's a better time slot), so I don't usually get to see it then.  But I did find it on Hulu!  (Thanks, Kate!)

Here's their description:
"Erica Strange is 32 years old, perpetually single, and stuck in a series of dead-end jobs.  But she's been given an amazing gift:  the opportunity to relive regrets from her past, enabling her to change the present.  Guided by the mysterious Dr. Tom, she weaves through present and past, realizing she needs to take control of her own destiny."
While that is a good description, I also like how they describe it in a commercial:
"This is Erica.  Your average, complicated, 30-something in therapy with a not-so-average therapist, Dr. Tom.  His specialty - time travel therapy.  Erica doesn't talk about her past, she relives it.  Literally."

The show stars Erin Karpluk as Erica Strange (see picture).  She is so relate-able.  She's not perfect, she messes things up, she doesn't have all the answers, she gets embarrassed, she gets drunk, she picks the wrong guy, she gets frustrated with her therapy and her family and friends, though she loves them.  She's quite real. 
Michael Riley is Dr. Tom (he's on the left in the picture).  He likes to quote everybody from singers to philosophers, anything that relates to the current crisis. 
Erica's new love interest and partner in therapy is Adam, played by Adam Fergus.  He is HOT (he's on the right in the picture).  He is Irish (for real and in the show) and has an adorable accent.  He is very fun to watch.  And it's great to watch him and Erica fumble around in the beginning of their relationship just like real people would, not like typical tv couples. 
Erica's business partner, Julianne, is played by Reagan Pasternak.  She's great and grating.  She is un-apologetically demanding in business and uses air quotes liberally and text language in real life.  For example, when asking a waiter to hold their table while they go check an email, she actually says "we'll BRB" (be right back). 

On the most recent episode, Erica had to deal with an old friend, Jenny, and how her mishaps had altered Erica's life.  And not for the better.  Erica's therapy helped her to realize that maybe being friends with Jenny wasn't in her best interest at this point in her life.  How many of us haven't been faced with a similar situation?  At the end of the episode, there is always a summary of sorts.  This one was:
"Friendship...  It begins when two people choose each other.  But what happens when we outgrow the choice?  When little by little, our paths diverge, our needs change.  And one day we wake up and realize that we need to choose something different?"

Another episode ended with:
"Thoughts become words.  Words become actions.  Actions become habit.  Habits become character.  And character becomes destiny."

It makes me think.  I hope you all check it out.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What I'm Listening To

Although she doesn't need me doing any marketing for her because she's everywhere right now, I am so in love with this album, Adele - 21.  She has an amazing soulful voice, wonderful range, and her lyrics touch my heart.  And she's only 21 years old!  (Hence the name of this album.)  Apparently this album is in reaction to a bad break-up and that's obvious if you listen to the lyrics.  Someone seriously broke her heart.  I HIGHLY recommend this album and her first album, 19.  (Which came out when she was 19,)

One of my favorites is the one they're playing on the radio right now - Rolling in the Deep.  Here are the lyrics of the chorus:
The scars of your love
Remind me of us
They keep me thinking
That we almost had it all
The scars of your love
They leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could've had it all

Another fave is her remake of The Cure's Lovesong.  It's really beautiful.  And yet another stand-out for me is Someone Like You.  Again, the lyrics are so touching.

I'm also listening to Amos Lee - Mission Bell.  I heard him live on KBCO playing Windows Are Rolled Down and loved it.  To me the album is hit or miss, some songs I love and some are okay.  He partners with Lucinda Williams on Clear Blue Eyes and Willie Nelson on one version of El Camino.  I think the pairing with Lucinda is quite successful and their song is really beautiful.  While I don't mind the Willie version of El Camino, I prefer the solo-Amos version.

Somehow I missed this album when it first came out, Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown, but better late than never!  As with Adele, I love the entire album, but stand-outs for me are Back Down South and Pickup Truck.  Another one I highly recommend.

I've been playing these albums over and over instead of listening to the radio.  Even my boss likes them all.  Try them out!  Happy listening!