Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloweens of yesteryear: 2009

Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?

Let's bring it up a notch from "Sad month of 2008" Halloween. Ricky and I decided that we wanted to dress up in a couple costume as well as do something fun from our youth. We decided to do Back to the Future. Originally, I suggested Ricky be Marty and I be Jennifer or Lorraine, and then Ricky one-upped it by saying I be Marty and he be Doc Brown. Brilliant.

2009: Marty McFly (with Doc Emmett Brown)

This was both an easy and a difficult costume. It was easy, because the parts are quite recognizable (red vest, jean jacket, aviators... duh, Marty) but also a little difficult because when you need these items, Murphy's Law dictates that you cannot find them anywhere. The thorn in my side was the jean jacket. I already owned jeans and sneakers. Target provided the vest, plaid shirt, and aviators. Then a trip up the line to Salvation Army on Rt. 1 gave me the jean jacket for dirt cheap. Thank you, Salvo.

Me in all my Marty glory.

I basically just put my hair back and tried to look shocked or cool all night. It worked well. I also am happy to report that, just like the prom queen outfit, I've worn all the pieces again... just not together. That jean jacket is great for going to work and trying to look cool.

Ricky got a painting suit, an old man wig, and goggles. He borrowed a Hawaiian shirt from his friend Patrick, and had his friend Emile paint the nuclear symbol on the back of the painting suit. It worked out quite nicely.

Me and Ricky in character. Please note that he's not really wearing a watch, so that's pretty good acting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloweens of yesteryear: 2008

They're all going to laugh at y... oh wait, never mind. Wrong prom.

Oh, Halloween 2008. While I like the results from my costume from 2008, the logic behind it is a little sad. I was telling Ricky why I picked this costume this morning, and he thought it was a little heartbreaking.

Early readers of HPFS will remember that at the beginning of that month, my boyfriend Justin broke up with me out of the blue. I now realize that it was for the best and lead me to Ricky, but at the time it was quite unexpected and very hard. It was also hard because all of my core group of friends were in happy and healthy relationships and spending a lot of time with them. My roommate was dealing with stresses at work in a very unhealthy way (she stopped eating) and much energy was being spent trying to help her out. I didn't really like my job. All of this leads to me not feeling in the brightest of spirits, very lonely, and even somewhat unattractive.

When it came time for the Halloween party, I decided that I wanted to feel very pretty. No blood, no being a dude, just pretty. So I thought... when is the one time when a girl is young and they feel the prettiest and most special in their young lives? Prom.

2008: Prom Queen

This is the only year as of recently that I didn't do a specific character, just more of an idea. This was also my most expensive costume to date, but I've worn the pieces several times since, so I'm okay with this. I found a really pretty green cocktail dress at a consigment shop (even though Prom dresses are usually longer, I decided to go for a cocktail dress to increase my chances of wearing it again and also increase my mobility for the night) and some vintage and sparkly jewelry. It all went together, to give the look that I planned this part of the outfit well before being crowned queen.

Next, I went to the Liberty Tree Mall (aka sketchy mall) to get materials for a boutenierre and a crown. Claire's jewelry and accessories was up first. I hadn't been there since my own prom (2002) so it was a bit of a time warp to be back. I was also BY FAR the oldest person there. I found a sparkly tiara that had combs in it -- key, since I wanted it to sit in my hair all night -- for a decent price.

Then I went to AC Moore and got ribbon and some fake flowers for my boutonniere. I based the look and colors on what my own boutonniere looked like in high school, as I wore a green dress to prom. The morning of the Halloween party, I spent some time shaping flowers and glue gunning together the piece. I also used a hair elastic to keep it tight on my wrist, as the ribbon itself was making it kind of flimsy.

My boutonniere! Some soft pink roses and baby's breath.

I made up my face a lot (lots of sparkles and green eyeshadow) and gave myself poofy hair. This made my hair look prom-y, but also gave the tiara something to sit on. Getting ready was quite easy, and it was nice to make myself look extra pretty for Halloween.

Gotta have a prom photo taken if you're prom queen!

I like the results. This probably isn't my favorite costume, because it's not a character and I think the inspiration comes from a sad place, but I do think it turned out well. I couldn't find a picture I liked from Dianne and Danielle's party, mainly because I got a little drunk and so I look beet red in all of the shots. I wore this costume again to my friend Jaime's Halloween party on Halloween night, so it was good to wear it a few times since it was so pricey.

Me being crowned queen and my friend Jaime (as a Celtics cheerleader) cheering me on.

And as hoped, I wore the dress again to my company work party that year. To make it less prom-y and more work party-y, I just had my hair down, softer make up, and then pearls that weren't blue and green to match it exactly. And no one even guessed I wore it to Halloween a few months earlier. I also have a feeling it'll make an appearance at a wedding in the coming months. (probably Dianne's?)

Me and my coworker Bryon at EBSCO holiday party 2009.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloweens of yesteryear: 2007

Hey! Ho! Let's go!

2007 was an odd Halloween party for me, but that's neither here nor there. I also wasn't sure what I'd be for Halloween until a few days before the party. I was watching an old Homestar Runner cartoon when I saw the character Marzipan was dressed up as Joey Ramone. So I thought... why not? Easy enough, right?

2007: Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone was a very easy costume to pull together, which is good because I didn't have a lot of time to do it in. I had a Ramones shirt on hand, which was good, and then I borrowed a pair of pants from my brother that were ripped. (fun fact: I fit into my brother's pants without needing a belt) I had ratty pair of Chuck Taylors that I use for when I'm painting. I then went to a Halloween store and bought two cans of spray dye. I couldn't find a pair of sunglasses that looked like Joey's ubiquitous pair, so I just used my own pair instead.

The leather jacket was the hardest part, since they can be pretty expensive and I knew I didn't want to blow a lot of money on a leather jacket for a Halloween costume. I was also filling to find just a black jean jacket if it came down to it. Fortunately, I found one for $20 at a consigment shop that fit decently.

The night of the party, I spent about an hour teasing my hair with hairspray to get more volume/mess to it and then dying it black. This was also the year I was donating my hair to Locks of Love, so I had a lot of hair to deal with. The results, I thought, were pretty good.

This is my and my friend Becca. I spent a lot of the party just looking a little pissed off, in order to embrace my own inner punk rocker. I believe she's supposed to be a punk rock fairy, so it's fitting.

And me and Erin. Erin was also growing out her hair for Locks of Love at the time, so she was dressed up as Leela this year. She had a ton of hair, and it was in a long ponytail and bright purple.

And a note about that spray dye. It's amazingly good at dying your hair for a night, but it makes your hair essentially a shell of color. It took me at least an hour and multiple shampoo rinses to get it all out and to have my hair not be crunchy again. I'd use it again, but definitely be aware of the consequences.

And in closing, here are The Ramones singing Judy is a Punk at the late and dearly missed CBGB:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloweens of yesteryear: 2006

I keep telling you, this isn't 'a few birds'! These are gulls, crows, swifts...!

My friends Dianne and Danielle throw a big Halloween party every year. We love costumes, dancing, jell-o shots, and good times. It's also the kind of part where you put a lot of effort into your costumes. We're theatre people, we don't half ass costumes.

This year marks the 5th party and I'm busy sewing and prepping for Saturday. Ricky and I will be going as a couple party, but I won't say what until Saturday when I post pictures. For now, let's remember the last four years of costumes.

2006: Tippi Hedren from "The Birds"

This is a costume I did in high school as well, but when I brought it back I stepped up the effort a little bit. I had a green suit I bought at Bananas in high school, then got fake blood and birds, and applied to my hair, face, and coat. I put my hair up in a poofy 60's do and wore heels. I spent a lot of the party pretending to scream.

Here I am in my old apartment (always weird seeing my first apartment since I haven't lived there in years!) pretending to scream.

And here's a picture of me and my cousin Jennie.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Walkman 1979-2010

That's the punchline, that's the way it should be...

I read today that Sony is no longer producing the Walkman in Japan. While they are still being made for the United States, I can only imagine it's just a matter of time before those factories stop producing them as well. I definitely had at least 1-2 in my day. I got one a year or two back when I needed to listen to a tape. Always strange when something you grew up with is discontinued for being obsolete. Like Kodachrome. And being able to easily purchase VHS tapes. (I realize they still exist... but when was the last time you saw a new movie being sold on VHS?)

The kids will remember the Walkman being used in a memorable scene from Back to the Future when Marty tricks George into thinking he's an alien in order to have George ask his mom out to the dance. (that being said, even though that movie is now 25 years old, in my mind it's both dated and timeless all at once)

I also definitely remember the joys of being able to listen to a tape quietly while trying to fall asleep as a kid. I think I had one that was yellow (canary, canary yellow) as a kid with matching headphones. Gotta love being subtle, Sony. Considering I still have my original iPod (what up, 2004!) I have a feeling if I still had cassette tapes, I'd probably still be using a Walkman regularly.

And in honor of the Walkman, here's an old Walkman ad. Note that it was considered a DEAL at just $100... that's just craziness. I think I bought my most recent one for $30.

And a video from The Walkmen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mittens Mittens Mittens

So I'm blogging on a sick day. Long story short: went to a housewarming yesterday, I think some food didn't sit well, was up last night from 2am on unable to sleep and there was no way I could work on an hour of sleep and the spins. So I am checking emails from home, drinking coffee, and trying to have a low key day.

I figured it would be a good time to show off my latest FO that I am super proud of:

The bird in hand mittens! I started these bad boys in February, but other knitting projects and not wanting to sew in loose ends delayed finishing it. The pattern also calls for embroidering wings, feet, eyes, and a beak for each bird on the thumb (get it? bird in hand?) so that also delayed me finishing them. It was rough getting into such a small space, but the results are quite cute (see below). Fortunately, the cold of October in Salem almost forced me to finish these mittens, so my hands would be protected when walking to and from the train. I really love the colorwork on them, and how the gray pops.

They're also super warm. Probably because it's essentially lined with another yarn. I chose Rowan Felted Tweed, which is great. The flicks of color make it. A bit pricey, but so worth it when you see the results.

When I bought the yarn for this, the person who was working advised me to buy two skeins of each color for the mittens, but that is waaay too much for Rowan Felted Tweed. I used maybe half of each. This just means I'll have to make another pair of mittens in Rowan. :)

I strongly recommend using the pattern, as it's adorable, as well as using Rowan for a project. You get great results.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rough week for TV parents

Tom Bosley, aka Mr Cunningham. Ritchie's dad and Fonzie's... foster dad? Surrogate dad? Guy who feeds him? (unrelated... so glad Fonz was on every episode instead of Potsy... because really, who liked any of Ritchie's friends?)

I also fondly remember Mr C as David the Gnome growing up, that show that was on Nickelodeon back when I was a kid, where he kept the woods safe and rode on the back of a fox. And then more recently, roughly, was seeing him as the Sea Captain when my grandparents took me to see Show Boat in Boston when I was about 12. I think I still have somewhere the ad I cut out of the Globe when I knew I was going with my grandparents so I could remember the trip. (no, he didn't really sing. The big song from that is Old Man River)

Here's Mr C enjoying that new hip band Weezer (having a hard time finding straight up clips from Happy Days!):

And then Barbara Billingsley, aka June Cleaver. I admit, I don't have many memories watching Leave it to Beaver, but even so... we all know that the most wholesome family on tv is the Cleaver family. And if you ever want to learn a lesson neatly tied up into a 22-minute tv package, you go to the Ward and June. I do know that when I was dressed for Reunion and finishing making muffins while wearing pearls, heels, a dress, and an apron, I commented that I felt very June Cleaver.

Despite this, I better remember her as the greatest movie interpreter of all:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Alva the fish*

*aka, how we got fleeced by the Topsfield Far

A few weekends ago I went to the Topsfield Fair with Erin, Matt, and Bob. There was a booth where you could win goldfish, and despite my questions that Ricky could win there... he did on the first ping pong ball. So we found ourselves with a fish named Alva (after this awesome guy).

For a night, Alva lived in a tupperware container because by the time we got back, it was too late to get him a house. The next day, I spent $30 on a 1 gallon tank, some rocks, a plant, and food. When he didn't like the food, I then went to get another thing of food ($4).

(Alva, in home #1)

Alva seemed happy for a bit in his new home... well, for about week. Then he sat on the bottom of the goldfish tank staring out as us sadly. He hid underneath his plant. And, worst of all, his fins started turning brown at the tips. Oh great, he's moody or sick. I compared him often to Beatrice in Best in Show, and wondered if I should get him a busy bee to cheer him up. (we didn't, but we did spend some quality time shopping in catalogs to makes us feel better about ourselves)

Last night, Ricky and I decided to get some medicine for him to fix his fin. Because we had no clue what to do, we asked the experts... who told us he was dying. It turns out goldfish create the most waste of all small fish and so he's living in tons of his own waste and poop. Goldfish's organs also keep growing, so the pressure of only 1 gallon of water is pushing on his organs, which is causing duress. They then told us we'd need to drop at least $100 that night to get him the right digs. Ricky said no, which I agreed. At this point, I was so annoyed I walked into the cat toy aisle.

After some intense deliberating and negotiations, we settled on a 10-gallon tank, a filter, more gravel, and another plant... for $50. We came home and spent an hour setting up the filter and filling the fish tank with water. Alva seems happy now, and is actually swimming and eating.

(Alva in his new 10-gallon tank. That wine was not consumed last night... but it was seriously debated several times.)

In case you were keeping tabs, this $2.25 fish has now cost us... $84.

That being said, Alva seems a million times happier in his tank. He's enjoying swimming around, playing in both plants, and not sitting in his own poop. I also put a small gnome in there (a house is not a home unless you got a gnome, says the wise Michnya) to encourage him to not die for at least 6 months.

He looks glum, but that's because the other pictures he was swimming too fast.

Rhinebeck recap!

Last weekend, I went with some knitting friends to Rhinebeck, as discussed earlier. It was fun! Much like my fellow knitter who I went with, I'm going to break it down into a numbered list:

1. Hudson Valley in the fall is beautiful, and I strongly recommend anyone to check it out. Hilly roads, foliage... it's what Fall is made for.

2. I enjoyed it, but I feel like I could only go once in my life and be fine. The crowds got to be too much, to be honest. You couldn't get into any booths and see things on Saturday because it was a cluster fuck. I purchased a few things on Saturday, but the bulk of my purchases were on Sunday when the crowds were significantly smaller.

3. I loved the variety of breeds in sheep being demonstrated. I feel like I sometimes get into the trap of not realizing just how many kinds of sheep there are, and that each sheep produces a completely different kind of cool. Because this is a "sheep and wool" festival, fortunately the sheep were repping hard.

4. The antiques barn was a nice break from the crazed knitters. Always cool to see old stuff, then travel further up the hill to look at the one-room school house.

5. Rhinebeck the town is wonderful, and I plan on returning next fall to show Ricky. It's cute and sweet, with an amazing restaurant next door called Terrapin. We also went to James Beard-winning Calico Patisserie... to die for. I had a brown butter and plum tart... mmm To the right you can see our foods. Crystal got a pumpkin tart, I got the brown butter plum tart, and Erin got a vanilla banana chocolate confection that looked great. It was nice to have a quiet moment of civility and tasty treats in the middle of the weekend of crazy times.

6. On the way to Rhinebeck, we passed Hyde Park... aka home of FDR. This is also why I'd want to bring Ricky back, because I know he'd love going to the presidential library, both of FDR's homes, and Eleanor's home. The Vanderbilts also lived up the street.

7. As mentioned with the scenic views, there are also many nature trails that I bet are quite lovely.

8. The Culinary Institute of America is also in this area. Mmmm

9. I guess I should mention the things I got, since someone may be interested. First, I picked up the November 2010 Issue of Martha Stewart Living. Pies! Pets!

...and that's it.

Just kidding! I also got a skein of sock yarn, a button, and a vase from a potter called Jenny. This was the only booth I really splurged in and picked up stuff on the fly. First it was just the vase. Then oo button! Sock yarn's pretty! And I had to get them all. Plan on looking up a knitty pattern for the socks, and who knows with the button. The vase will hold flowers in. Because that's what vases do. Duh.

Then got a skein of beautiful alpaca from a farm in MD. I love the colors and wisps in this one. No clue what this will make. May consult the powers of the knitting group for ideas. It's so soft and warm!

And then a skein of silk yarn from another independent farm in Texas. LOVED the colors of this one. May may it into a long cowl of some kind, the ones where you can leave it long or twist it twice. The owner of the farm waited on me, and was quite nice. He also called me ma'am, which I always think is sweet.

And then a drop spindle. My knitting group has decided that I should start to spin my own yarn. I'm very hesitant for a variety of reasons, but I did get a drop spindle to try it. Moderately priced, but I love the grain of the wood and the ridges.

All in all, a nice weekend. A good experience, though next year when I return I plan on it being a not Sheep and Wool festival weekend so I can soak up more of the area.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Escape the Great Escape

If Steve McQueen were still alive, he'd also try to escape this restaurant.

It's been busy weeks for both me and Ricky at work, and I am leaving in a few hours for my trip to Rhinebeck. So Ricky, being the dear that he is, said we should go out to dinner last night before I run the million errands I needed to to get ready for this trip. We decided we'd be brave and check out The Great Escape in Salem, the new Italian restaurant that's built in the old Salem jail.

Much like the Boston's Liberty Hotel, Salem has turned their old jail into luxury condos and a bar/restaurant that still has a lot of the old architecture and feel of the old building. I've seen pictures of the Liberty Hotel, and had heard stories from friends of the opulence there, so initially, I thought that it would be similar in Salem. However, thanks to some friends in the know, I had also heard that the team running the show also owns a low end Italian restaurant on Rt. 1... so then I began to get concerned.

Let's just get this over with: The Great Escape is NOT The Liberty Hotel. At all.

One of the biggest problems The Great Escape suffers from, in my opinion, is identity crisis. When the "coming soon" flyers were up, as you can see below, it advertised casual American cuisine. Somehow, this turned into "high end Italian". And while this is what they're trying to accomplish with the menu, the restaurant itself doesn't seem to match that with looks. Much of the original iron for jail cells is still there, and between the walls are large pictures of old jail items, and comically cheesy and bad posters with sayings like "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". I feel like the designers couldn't commit to a look, so instead of making a decision, they just did a little of both.

On TGE's Facebook page (it doesn't seem to have a website yet) a photographer posted photos of the jail how it looked before the renovations. These images are quite textured, graphic, and haunting. If they had just blown up these images and used that as decor, it would be far better than the aforementioned posters. Or even (as there's also a poster of the movie it borrows its title from) old movie posters of movies that take place in jail. I thought of easily 4-5 movies, and even that would go better with the food. Or if you do want a bit of cheesy fun with the idea of jail, don't have high end Italian food.

The menu also has a failure to commit. While very limited (other than 2-3 salad options, there were scarce options for vegetarians or those looking for lighter fare) it seems that they named maybe a third of the items after jail-ish things. I say jail-ish, because while there were menu items like "Al Capone" and "Alcatraz" there were also some called "Al Pacino" and "Jack Bauer". Not only was it disconcerting having only a few menu items with this theme, the idea of high end Italian food just doesn't go with that camp. If you're going to have fun names for your dishes, have them all have fun names. It's just weird.

Service was mediocre at best, but seeing as they just opened less than a month ago, I'll let that pass. The waiter was nice enough, though he did forget our bread (which were small rolls and left us unimpressed). Once he realized we were none too pleased with that, I think he began to hover a bit too much to try and save the meal.

And onto the meal... Ricky got a chicken dish with prosciutto and cheese with roasted potatoes, and I made the mistake of getting the scallops cooked in dijon over risotto. Ricky's meal was fine. It was tasty enough, filling, but nothing special. We both agreed that it was not well made enough to be in a "high end Italian restaurant" and severely overpriced at $18. Then again, the whole menu appears to be overpriced by the quality of the food.

And now my mistake order. I say mistake because this was, unequivocally, the worst meal I've ever had out in a restaurant. And, from the looks of Yelp, I am not alone. The description sounded intriguing: risotto, spinach, cheese, and scallops seared in a dijon sauce. What I got was a white mess that had the same consistency of hot breakfast cereal. The risotto was undercooked, and spinach underwhelming, and the scallops were just off. What was worse, the dijon mustard sauce overtook EVERYTHING. And when I say sauce, I'm being nice. It was more like Grey Poupon smeared over everything. The dairy flavors with Grey Poupon was just bad. I couldn't finish my meal. Ricky offered to switch meals with me, and agreed that it was a bad dish. It did not sit well in our stomachs the rest of the night.

We opted not to get coffee or desserts, but instead to just get out of there as soon as possible. I was sad that such a cool venue is being wasted with TGE. I also think it needs to seriously reconsider its menu and decor if it wants to survive in a town with such far superior dining options. First, make a decision with the decor and menu naming. Second, expand for patrons who don't eat meat or instead want a sandwich. (What? No jailbait burger or Capone chicken parm? Come on!) Third, fire the chef and make your food better. We both agreed that unless any of these things happened, it seemed highly unlikely we'd be returning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fun weekend trip coming up!

Next weekend, I am embracing the knitting nerd within and going to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sheep and Wool Festival with my knitting group. I plan on watching herding demonstrations, sheep, alpacas, rabbits, and buying some great yarn. Oh, and eat a fried artichoke. I'll have lost of stories and photos from the event, especially since it'll be Fall in New York state and it'll be beautiful and great.

Sadly, I don't think Chelsea Clinton is still hanging out there from her wedding this summer. How are we supposed to discuss how to style curly hair and embrace being awkward teenagers??

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy 70th...

to John Lennon!

That's one of my favorite songs, but so we don't end on a sad note for his birthday:

And one from the Beatles...particularly Yellow Submarine, which was essentially my introduction to the Beatles:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I realize that everyone is posting this...

...but it's too awesome to not.

Makes me love JT a bit more than I already do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The other burrito joint in Salem: Comida

This is not a burrito from either restaurant, but it sure looks good.

Ever since the signs were put up, Ricky and I have been waiting patiently for the opening of Comida. Side note, back when we were moving, we looked at an apartment above Comida, so we're both very relieved that we opted not to live above a burrito joint. Anyways, ever since seeing the signs, we've been debating which one would be the better place: Howling Wolf or Comida? Which would be our jam? Which would reign supreme?

Let's break it down.

--Convenience. Comida is cash only, and in this day and age, it is both annoying and lame. I realize it's meant to be a cheap burrito place, and that each time you swipe a card they charge you, but it's more annoying for me to have to go to the ATM and get a $20 on the other side of town than it is to swipe my debit card and have food. Howling Wolf accepts cards. Also, Howling wolf has ample seating to allow you to hang out and enjoy your food, whereas Comida has one bar you share with condiments. While sometimes it's nice to grab and go, the option to grab and eat there would be nice. Winner: HW

--Portions. When we've gotten chips and salsa/guac/queso at Howling Wolf, the chips are nicely salted, come in large portions, and you get the equivalent of a cup of soup worth of sauce. At Comida, you get a small bag of about 15-20 chips. They are dry and not salted enough. As far as sauce, you get small side cup. Maybe 1/3 of the Howling Wolf portions. Both times we've gotten a side, we've run out of sauce/dip before chips, and are left with about 9 chips we don't want to eat. Winner: HW

--Flavors. The first time I went to Comida, I got a pork burrito, an the second a chicken burrito. I got roughly the same accouterments each time. And I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the burritos. Comida says that the meats aren't seasoned in anything too overpowering (i.e., the chicken isn't super spicey and the pork mild), and that the sides exist to boost the flavors. Well, it worked, because each time I tasted a meat, though I had no clue what that meat was.

That being said, the number of extras you can add to your burrito, both were about the same. Both offered the standard fair, including several tasty homemade salsas and a pretty great guacamole. Comida's guacamole tastes quite fresh with ample amounts of cilantro, and their mango salsa is equally tasty. On taste alone, the Comida guac/salsas may eke ahead. Meat winner: HW. Side Winner: C

--Deal. Portions and convenience go to Howling Wolf. The meal comes to usually over $10, but I feel like I get a better deal when I go to Howling Wolf only because of the size of portions. Both burritos were filling, but not huge, whereas Ricky's burrito has broken with the size of it at least once. You also get complimentary ice water at Howling Wolf. And seating is available. Winner: HW

Overall winner: Howling Wolf.