Holiday Shopping With a Bang

Despite having family and friends who are into hunting for both sport and sustenance, I am not a fan of guns. Like, at all.

I’ve seen firsthand how guns can be used as weapons of intimidation in domestic abuse situations. There’s nothing that will cool your feelings on guns like seeing a supposed “head of household” brandishing a deadly weapon when he feels he’s been disrespected by his minions who were putting away the dishes too noisily.

Or, let’s say you’re a young girl and your primary caregiver keeps lamenting she doesn’t want to live anymore and you know for a fact that she has a gun stored under her bed (for safety, of course, although who would have wanted to break into our crappy trailer and what the hell would they have stolen? That horrible collection of dreamcatchers purchased at truck stops on Mother’s Day and birthdays? I think we’d all would have been better off if those would have disappeared.)

Anyway, scenarios like that will give you a lot of sleepless and insecure nights, let me tell you.

So yeah…me and guns? No thanks.

Therefore, it is with GREAT interest that I peruse a particular catalog we receive around here at Christmas every year.

Behold: The National Rifle Association Store Catalog.

NRA Christmas Catalog

It obviously is not addressed to me. But another person in our household is a lifetime NRA member, thanks to a grandparent, I think.

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These are “tactical Christmas stockings,” by the way. They have “MOLLE webbing where you can hand additional seasonal items, such as knives.

There is major theme I noticed in the 2014 catalog: concealment. Weapon holders feel very insecure about their weapons. They want to hide them, conceal them and transport them. A lot.

They want to hide guns in their homes.

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“Personal Security at your Fingertips.” Unless, you’re Jose Canseco and you shot off your fingertips. In that case, you’re screwed.

They want to hide guns in their briefcases and iPad cases. In clocks and in fake books.

The leather portfolio second down on the right seems appropriate for job interview situations.
The leather portfolio second down on the right seems appropriate for job interview situations.

They want to hide guns on their bodies. And on their ladies’ bodies.

gun boobies.

They want to hide guns in their cars.

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And they want to take all of them, all of the guns, ALL OF THEM, to the shooting range. In disguise as a backpack of course.

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I’m actually surprised and maybe a teeny bit disappointed that they didn’t have any pet holsters available.

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(How are you going to say this item is “remarkably versatile” when it has a foam core in the shape of a gun? Remarkably versatile provided you are trying to transport a large shotgun and/or rifle. Transporting soccer balls? Not so much.)

I also noticed that the NRA isn’t just for gun lovers. Oh no, no, no. It’s for historians and interior decorators. Who want to store and hide their guns.

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And doomsday preppers. Or other people concerned about water quality.

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The NRA Store is also seeking to appeal to fashionable ladies. Particularly fashionable ladies that need to conceal their weapons. Apparently, a regular purse just won’t do. Because I absolutely hate it when I reach into  my regular purse for my gun and come out with just a tube of lipstick. Uuuuugggghhh. Am I right, ladies?

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So really, there’s something for everyone at the NRA store. Yep, one-stop Christmas shopping at its finest.

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For the gun-shooting beer lovers in your life.

I can’t wait to see their Easter catalog.

Ammo, ready to be buried and resurrected.
Ammo, ready to be buried and resurrected.
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Friday Links: Fall Blows Edition

Fall is the worst
This picture of one of the Broderick twins crying with a leaf shoved in her face never fails to crack me up.
  • I’m on a bit of a self-imposed shopping hiatus right now, but if I weren’t, I’d be plunking down some cash for the burgundy version of these wedge booties featured on Cardigans and Couture this week.
  • This post from last year continues to perform really well on thePoeLog. I believe that it’s because it contains the words “Fall sucks.” Yes, I hate fall. But maybe not as much as John Oliver who had this fantastic rant about that most vile and eagerly awaited of seasonal drinks: pumpkin spice latte. Yep, tastes like a candle.
  • Here are a few Buzzfeed listicles about why fall sucks. Yes, I am unfortunately unable to master the art of layering without looking frumpy, and I get lipstick all over every scarf that I try to artfully wrap around my short neck/large bosom area.
  • We’re going to Singapore next year and this helpful article from CNN might save me from spending the trip hanging over a toilet. I can’t believe there are TEN gross foods I need to worry about. At least.
  • We’re actually using miles to fly Singapore Airline’s first class suites, which Paula Froelich of Yahoo Travel jokes “ruined her life.” I’m willing to chance it.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, a new airline will be offering unbelievably cheap flights to Iceland and Europe beginning in March. Of course, it will probably be standing room only and no baggage fees because you aren’t allowed to bring any luggage. Also, I would bring my own safety equipment if I were you.
  • Presented without comment: Wild hogs on the hunt for candy may force town to cancel Halloween.
Skull shirt says Happy Halloween
We have a very lax dress code at Poe Industries. And a hamper of dirty laundry. 

Now I Understand Where Cruella Deville Was Coming From

(We interrupt our Spain reverie for a very important issue)

I recently went coat shopping, which is sounds like it’s no big deal, but of course, for me, was a very, very big debilitating deal.

Warm and stylish. I'll take it.
Warm and stylish. I’ll take it.

I had to undertake this dreaded exercise because 1) I live in a cold place where I have to wear a coat for at least 96 days of the year; 2) one of my winter coats was six years old and looking a bit beat; and 3) apparently, all my clothes shrunk while I was in Spain.

OK, it’s not fair to JUST blame Spain. Turning 40 has made me slightly more Rubenesque.  (Seriously, I do not know where my metabolism went, but the day after I turned 40, it packed up it’s little “Flirty Forty and Feeling Fine” suitcase and said, ‘see you on the flip side, loser.’)

Anyway, my six-year-old winter coat was feeling tight, especially over my multiple layers of sweaters and blazers.

(Just the other day, I was in the bathroom stall at work – I swear, this isn’t going down the TMI path – and caused the automatic flusher to go off five times while I organized my various layers of tights under slip, shirt tail over slip, skirt over shirt tail and slip, vest over skirt. It was a seemingly endless and complicated outfit for a Thursday, and quite typical of my winter workday outfits.)

I have, obviously, more than one winter coat. I actually have three. And I’m not even getting into the myriad of fall trench coats, leather jackets, capes and other accoutrement necessary to navigate the five miles between my house and work and all the activities in between.

No, for winter work navigating, I just have a mid-thigh black coat to wear with pants, a colorful longer coat to wear with dresses, and an incredibly warm, but slightly casual-ish duffle coat for really cold days and weekends.

It was the colorful coat that needed replacing, which caused this whole extra area of consternation. Here’s a taste of the internal dialogue running through my head:

“What color should I get? Maybe I should go with a plaid? I like this hot pink Cole Haan one, but I can’t really wear hot pink with my red hair without looking like a Muppet or something, and isn’t that just a bit obnoxiously bright for DC, where one is surrounded by a metro platform sea of black and gray? How long do I need it to be, exactly? My last coat (a nice, non-obnoxious olive green) was just past knee length, but maybe I should get something a bit longer; ie: warmer? Oh wait, there’s quite a few of those mullet coats (longer in the back, shorter in the front). How does that work? What size am I now? Should I get a wrap coat with a belt so I don’t have to worry about sizing at all? I definitely need some sort of waist definition, but would an inset waist be enough? What kind of collar do I need? These funnel collars seem nice, and I wouldn’t need a scarf, but they swallow my face. But I have a weak chin, so maybe that’s a good thing? This one has a very glamorous fake fur collar, but maybe it looks too cheesy? Why are all these sleeves so incredibly long on my tyrannosaurus rex arms? And tight! Why are these sleeves so tight? I’m not even wearing a sweater today! Why didn’t I wear a sweater today? How am I supposed to wear a sweater under these tight sleeves? Maybe I should come back on a day I’m wearing a sweater. What’s the deal with these buttons? They look kinda cheap. Maybe I should get a coat without buttons….sort of like some muumuu cape thing. What material should the coat be made of? This one says 60% wool, this one 70%, this one 80%. Which one will be warmest? This one is mostly polyester….that doesn’t breathe, so maybe that will be warmest? This one doesn’t feel very heavy, does that mean it won’t be warm enough? I’ve been trying on coats for two hours now and I’m sweating, so how am I supposed to tell which one is warmest? Maybe I should wear it outside the store first. They won’t mind, right? Is this blue or purple? I can’t tell under these lights! I’m getting lightheaded….”

This is totally practical.
This is totally practical.

Shopping for a bathing suit is actually much easier: Does this sufficiently cover my bits for a period of approximately four days around total strangers I will never see again? versus: Does this keep me warm and professional looking for a period of approximately three months around people I see every single day at work or on the subway or at the coffee place?

Finally, I found a beautiful coat that I liked. It was a lovely shade of not-too-bright teal, with adorable little gold toggle closures (instead of large cheap plastic buttons), an inset waist and a small rounded collar (but not too small). It was the perfect length, the sleeves ended where they were supposed to, and it was, I think, the right amount of wool (I honestly couldn’t tell after all those hours of trying stuff on at two different stores).

But did I leave the store with said perfect coat? No. Why not, you might reasonably ask? And to which I have a very unreasonable answer: Because it was a Jessica Simpson coat.

I know it seems ridiculous. But honestly, I would have been too embarrassed to wear the coat. Which is how I know that now, in addition to having short arms and cartoon character hair, I’m a total elitist snob.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate J. Simps or anything, (although I do think getting pregnant again just moments after giving birth to your last baby is a pretty lazy way to get out of your multimillion dollar Weight Watchers agreement). It’s just that I think she’s kinda stupid and famous for dumb reasons, and therefore, I just don’t want to give her any of my money. I can just imagine if someone asked me if my coat was from J. Crew or Kenneth Cole, and I’d have to mumble under my breath, “Uh, no, it’s from that world famous fashion designer and tastemaker aka lover of mom jeans, Jessica Simpson.”

I just couldn’t bite the bullet. So, I went with my second runner up: a navy-but-in-certain-lights-purple, mullet-skirted, funnel-collared, sleeves-just-slightly-too-long, suffocating-ly-warm, belted Steve Madden number. Which I hope, I won’t be too embarrassed to admit I own.

I was right. That fur collar looks ridiculous.
I was right. That fur collar looks ridiculous.

(Addendum: I saw a few online reviews in the last couple of days that suggests that the J. Simps coat would not have been warm enough for a DC winter anyway. Bummer).

Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Coma Activities

I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Thanksgiving my favorite holiday. Quite a controversial statement, I know. Hopefully, Olivier Martinez doesn’t come over and give me a turkey day whooping for uttering such a contrarian viewpoint. (In his defense, he’s French, so he probably doesn’t really respect the whole Thanksgiving dealio. Come to think of it, Gabriel Aubrey is Canadian, so it was probably just another ass-kicking day for both of them and not the holiest of eat-fests).

“We are for-hen….we do not care about your stuh-pid holidays. We only care about our manliness and fighting over who wears zee summer scarf better.”

Actually, I need to amend my earlier statement – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday after my birthday month, which is, quite clearly, my favorite holiday of all. I have no idea why it hasn’t yet been declared a national holiday.

Anyway, there are, obviously, many, many reasons to love Thanksgiving. When you combine stuffing your face, stuffing your shopping cart, and all day reality TV marathons, well, you sirs, have the makings of a PoeLog trifecta of awesomeness.

We actually kicked off this year’s festivities with Greige Tuesday. Oh, you don’t know about Greige Tuesday? Well, it’s kinda like Black Friday, except its Tuesday. It’s the day you REALLY get a jump on the shopping crowds by battling the after-work, get-a-jump-on-Thanksgiving-traffic-travellers and driving out to the outlets to load up on Brooks Brothers deals (suits for my prepster-for-life XFE, non-iron button up shirts for lazy me).

This 40-percent-off extravaganza is followed by wings at Hooters. It’s a Greige Tuesday tradition. And, pretty wild for a school night. This year’s Hooters entertainment was provided by an approximately 4-year-old boy who appeared to be the son of one of the Hooterettes and was running wild around the restaurant way past his (and my) bedtime.

It’s always so much fun to watch young women in tight orange shorts twirl a child around dangerously close to my beer.

This just seems wrong.

We’ll skip Hallow Halls Wednesday (where one spends the day surfing the Web looking for upcoming CyberMonday deals and waiting for early release from work), and get to the main event: Thanksgiving.

One of the things that makes Thanksgiving so dang awesome is that we spend it with friends. And lucky for us, our hosts, Matt and Melissa (the M&Ms), do all the work. All we do is bring some booze (gin, usually) and wine (couple of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, couple of bottles of Langmeil’s Hanging Snakes Shiraz). That’s it. Melissa does pretty much everything else (this year, she allowed our other friends Troy and Eddie to bring pies).

It’s our seventh year over there, and the M&Ms always lay out quite a feast – 20 lb turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, gravy, rolls and two types of cranberry sauce, including the jellied kind out of the can for us white trash nostalgics. I swear, cranberry doesn’t taste right unless it’s got ridges in it.

Of course, it all kicks off with tons of drinking options (sangria, pineapple infused vodka, about 4 kinds of gin) and snacks, including my favorite: pigs in a blanket.

After stuffing our collective faces and livers for hours on end, we attempt to play a board game. This year it was something called Apples-to-Apples. I couldn’t possibly explain it, but let’s suffice it to say, I tried far too hard to be clever with all of my answers. If you have to explain everything with, “See, what I did there? It’s a joke. It’s meant to be ironic,” you are not going to win.

But, the very, VERY best part of spending Thanksgiving with the M&Ms is that they don’t eat leftovers. So we actually bring empty Tupperware over and they fill it up! It’s freaking awesome. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle.

My personal chef XFE turns the turkey into amazing open-faced sandwiches with avocado and provolone on sourdough bread that we then eat for several days. Served with leftover side dishes, of course. They’re already perfect and don’t need to be adapted into anything else.

We had managed to stay away from most-shopping related activities after Greige Tuesday, but finally succumbed a bit on Sunday. Let me tell you something, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is an AWESOME time to go shopping! Nobody is out! They’re all worn out from chasing down deals on Black Friday and Small Business Sunday. We cruised right into Best Buy (where XFE bought some video game) and had the run of both Trader Joe’s and DSW.

None of these people were out on Sunday. Maybe they were all recuperating?

About that DSW: a simple window-shopping trip for casual shoes for XFE turned into us walking out with nine pairs of shoes. (To be fair, two pairs of “shoes” were fancy new house slippers for each of us, and another pair was flip flops for me. Hardly shoes, really. More like “minimal coverings for the bottom on one’s feet”). But that doesn’t excuse the rest of that shoe shopping spree.

It was probably more than either of us would have predicted going in. I guess we were lulled by the ease and emptiness of the place. Either that, or a turkey-induced shopping coma. And for that, we only have the M&Ms and all their delicious leftovers to blame.

So, to sum up, this post-Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for:

  1. Super clever boyfriends who win at board games (winning phrase? Britney Spears. Nicely done, hun);
  2. United Airlines miles that let us fly all over the world on fabulous vacations;
  3. Chubby cats who sleep with you in the winter and keep you warm;
  4. Fantastic friends who let you come over, eat all their food, stay overnight safely in their house when you’ve had too much to drink; and send you home with a week’s worth of leftovers;
  5. And, shoes.

*Not an exhaustive list by any means.

Book Clubbing (and Who Do You Think You Are, Anthropologie?)

Can we be uber-lame (besides just using the term “uber”) and start a blog book club?

You might think that such an idea was inspired by the Great Poe (not me, the other great Poe, that Edgar dude) or by the fact that I am, technically, a writer (as in: somebody actually pays me a wage based on writing. I know. Crazy!). And therefore, you might think that the first book of this new book club would be somehow Poe-related. But no. You would be wrong on all counts.

THIS is what has inspired my desire for a book club:

I’m not intrigued by the title, per se. Although, it is quite tantalizing. I need to lose a few myself, but I’m already familiar with how drinking can lead to weight loss and I’m really not interested in hugging toilet bowls, thanks.

No, I’m intrigued by the fact that Lady Gaga’s ex has a book out.

My first thought was, “Oh, it must be a pamphlet or a coloring book. Just look at his lovely outfit. That will definitely teach kids how to color within the lines.” But again, no. It’s apparently, 272 pages long!

AND, it’s about losing weight by running! In marathons!

Wait a minute. He’s a runner? I’m a runner! Mind? Blown.

The book came out on March 13 and he already has 41 reviews on Amazon, mostly full of praise. Here’s one of my favorite, less-favorable ones:

I’ve read the book and I know the author personally. I used to drink at the bar he worked at. He had a beer gut. He was maybe 20 pounds overweight. He wanted to look like his emaciated skinny-jeans-wearing clientele. So he cut way back on his drinking, and started exercising and eating better. Is that really book worthy? I mean it’s not like he’s Jared Fogle (the subway guy) and he lost 245 LBS. It’s not even really a “drunk diet.” About halfway through the book he concedes that he cut way back on his drinking. The only reason this was even published is that he used to date Lady Gaga.

He does look a bit chubby in this photo. But it could be the skeevy face pose.

I love the fact that that reviewer is (1) not at all impressed; (2) holds Jared Fogle up as a fitness guru worthy of following  (which he may be, but I still think it’s a funny criticism of Luc) AND he knows exactly how much Fogle lost; (3) thinks this guy only got published because he used to date Gaga (which was also one of my first thoughts); and (4) is offended because this isn’t really a “drunk diet.” Yes, sir, you should be ticked that he does not offer tips on how to drink your way to thinness.

So, color me intrigued, I’m ordering the book.

SIDE RANT: Anthropologie, we need to have a talk. I have a gift certificate for around $50. Anthropologie has many, many cute things, mostly for women much smaller and more Zooey Deschanel-ish than myself.  I saw someone today at work wearing a cute necklace that she said she’d gotten from Anthropologie a few years ago. “Hmmm, I thought. That’s a great idea. I should see if there are any accessories that catch my eye.”

Oh, they caught my eye alright.

What the hell, y’all? This necklace is $498 dolllars. That’s dollar bills for those of you who missed it. As in American money units.

Oh, I think to myself, why it must have super-rare precious stones with magical boy-catching powers and high-faulutin’ metals taken from the hot core of the Earth in a dangerous extraction process that kills those who even attempt it. Why, it must be one of those “blood necklaces.”

It says it’s made of brass, resin and horn.

OoooooooooooK, so it must be made by some poor indigenous ladies in Africa or Southeast Asia or something and that price tag would support her whole family for like five years AND help the village build a much-needed well and avoid malaria through clean drinking water (Disclaimer: I might not have that right. I might be confusing mosquito-borne illnesses with water-related ones).

No, it says it was made in Belgium. That $498 goes to some pomme-frites-and-mayo eating (yum) hausfrau scratching out a living in the hard-tumbling country of BELGIUM.

Seriously, Anthropologie. What’s up with that? Who do you think you are? (By the way, it’s not even a cute necklace!! )

Buy Some Crafts, Save a Life

I got this flyer in the mail the other day. At first glance, it seems like a nice, innocent marketing flyer announcing the imminent arrival of spring and urging residents to consider shopping at some of the nearby shops (as if I need urging).

There’s some flowers blooming, but instead of flower heads there’s some blown glass, a pendant, some other arts and crafts items. Everything is bright and lovely and spring-like. Until you turn the flyer over.

What the what??

What the hell is that? Is that a stuffed animal? Is there a taxidermy shop in Old Town that I don’t know about? Because if there is, I’m very interested. I’ve been on the hunt for a stuffed armadillo since I read “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”

Then I realized it’s not a stuffed and posed animal. But I can’t say for sure exactly what it is but it is awesomely hideous. What kind of animal is that? It’s holding another similar animal so perhaps it’s a kangaroo and her joey?? But why would she be holding her joey? Wouldn’t he just be in her pouch?

It kinda looks like a cat, but I’m just not sure. And, while I am just one boyfriend and a Golden Girls caftan away from being a cat lady, I’m not ready to go down the “collecting cat figurines” route.

Then I started to figure it out. There’s something much more sinister at work here. This is quite obviously a warning from the Old Town Craft Mafia.

This gang of ladies gather at different shops around Old Town, knitting scarves, selling hand-crafted soaps and gathering glass beads, and generally, just displaying thuggish behavior.

Oh sure, they crouch their language in things like, “one-of-a-kind gifts,” and “fair trade handcrafts,” but what they’re really selling is fear.

Look at their description of one of their “stores” (an obvious front for illicit folk art activity):

“A diverse range of artwork from more than 300 local artists.”

See? They’re trying to show you, they’ve got numbers.

Look at this one:

“Three floors of open studios and galleries of more than 160 artists working in a variety of media…”

Would one of those media include human blood? I mean, it’s so obvious what’s going on here.

This decorative (?) animal (?) is quite clearly the equivalent of a horse head in the bed. They’re marking their territory, letting all the residents of Old Town know what’s up. If you don’t buy their goods or take one of their crafting classes or buy art supplies at their stores, you will find large-eared, snarling, shifty-eyed figurines in your mailboxes.

And if you want protection, say from an indigenous Indian wind catcher, you better start opening your wallet.

Well played, OTCM. Well played.

Don’t Cry for Me, Istanbul: Shopping Part II

Before we all start crying into our luxurious Turkish carpets because I missed out on the Mother of All Shopping Meccas, please know that while I did not purchase tons of trinkets at the Grand Bazaar, I did come back with an overstuffed suitcase.

In addition to buying possibly-illegal-for-export sahlep and ceviz receli, and, the aforementioned carpet and a Turkish tea stand, I also bought a few decorative bowls at the Kadikoy Market on the Asian side of Istanbul and some evil eye medallions at the airport shop on my way out because I had suddenly decided, after DAYS of walking past them disinterestedly, that I absolutely could not even fathom leaving Istanbul without buying an evil eye. Head snapping decision making at its finest.

We also hit a couple of shopping areas, including Istiklal Cadessi and the City’s Shopping Mall in the Nisantasi neighborhood, and hit the jackpot.

My personal stylist XFE and I saw this dress at a store called Kotton in on Istiklal, but we kept walking. Then, our last night, while out grabbing our gigantic Ali Babba kebab feast, we saw another Kotton and saw this dress again and decided to buy it. Unfortunately, it was snowing and we were pretty wet, so I didn’t try it on. We figured that for $20, it was worth a shot. You can’t tell from the photo, but it has this adorable little keyhole at the top, and then the arms of the dress have similar keyhole openings along them. And, of course, it’s too tight in the arms.

So, Operation Michelle Obama Arms has begun again in earnest (this is version 4 for those keeping count). It involves lots of pushups, planks, and tricep dips, but honestly, I may have to take this to the tailor and get it made into a sleeveless dress. I’ve never had any success with Operation Michelle Obama Arms.

Moving on. Somehow, despite the lack of planning on my part (I swear), we just happened to stumble upon a Mango on Istiklal. I love Mango. It’s almost impossible for me NOT to find something to buy at Mango. And the European counterparts carry enough different stock to always make a stop worthwhile.

But we didn’t find just any Mango in Istanbul, we found what we think was four floors of a Mango outlet! Which meant some off-season stuff at around $10 an item. I stocked up on some summer stuff for the upcoming trip to Australia.

I got this lightweight button up camp shirt in a light pink and a light gray, which you can just see peeking out of the back there.

This is probably the most “Turkish” looking thing I bought. But I did notice that they had a lot of very Turkish or gypsy looking stuff. Lots of full skirts and peasant tops with embroidery and sequins. It was pretty interesting. Almost costume-y.

Two pairs of shorts: the front pair are dark brown linen with a cuff and a paperbag waist: good for hiding large stomachs after gorging on Australian barbecue, I’m sure. The other pair are a dark gray with a very faint glen plaid.

But, the piece-de-resistance is an item we found at the oddly named “Pologarage” in the City’s Mall. Pologarage was a very cool, hip store, with low lighting and lots of dark wood. But they had very affordable prices. I bought a very cool long brown leather and chain belt that has a leather tassel on the end (I forgot to snap a picture — trust me. It’s cute.).

But this is the real steal.

We saw this awesome clutch at another super chi-chi store in a fake ostrich-type gray leather for about $200. I was not at all prepared to shell out that kind of money, but I did love the clutch a lot and almost talked myself into going back and getting it. Do you notice the built-in knuckle ring on the clasp? How cool is that??

Then we saw an almost identical version on a table at Pologarage, in all black for about $60.  I snapped it up and held it to my chest, barely letting go so the sales girl could ring it up.

It’s got skulls, y’all. And some other slightly sinister stuff. It’s totally over the top and gothic and ridiculous and a conversation started and I’m absolutely obsessed with it. So is Petunia. That cat has such good taste.

At Least We Didn’t Bring Home a $24,000 Rug: Shopping in Istanbul

I’m not even going to pretend that I am ambivalent about shopping. I’m the furthest thing from it. I shop quite a bit. Some might even say I shop more than my fair share. Other’s might suggest that I shop enough to keep a (very) small economy going. Perhaps something along the lines of self-proclaimed micronation Seborga. (While we are on the topic, I’d like from here on out to be referred to as Her Tremendousness Poe. That really does have a nice ring to it)

So when this happened on the day my shopping-buddy for life, XFE and I tried to go to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, I was extremely devastated:

 “On Saturday, Istanbul — a city of more than 12 million — was left without heating or electricity for several hours, and its subway and tram system were closed down.”

OK, yes, people were left without heating, electricity or anyway to get around, but what about the real tragedy here? Ie: I could not shop. You see, the Grand Bazaar is a COVERED market. A little warren of more than 58 covered streets and over 4,000 tiny shops tucked in next to each other. They all had one thing in common: they rely on electricity and light for perusing of goods.

Looks nice and bright, doesn't it? This is not my picture.

Continue reading At Least We Didn’t Bring Home a $24,000 Rug: Shopping in Istanbul

Fried Chicken, Towering Heels, Massages: How to Recover from a Race Disaster

I woke up the day after the half marathon STARVING. Not surprisingly, since I hadn’t eaten the night before. There was only one place that I wanted to go: Hash House A Go Go. And the nearest one was at the Imperial Palace about two casinos away.

Is that a stairway (ok, escalator) to heaven? Why yes. Yes it is.

This place (which the famous M&M have been begging us to go to forever) is famous for its humongous portions of down home grub. With empty stomach a grumbling, I felt pretty confident that I was about to take down some unsuspecting food. Somebody bring a bib.

I started with a pint glass sized bloody mary. After all, I was probably electrolyte depleted, what with all the running and whatnot. I needed that salt.

I went with the sage fried chicken and bacon-stuffed waffles, which were phenomenal. It came out stacked like a tower of sweet and salty goodness. The chicken breasts were savory and juicy. The waffles were dense and delicious. The fried leek strips gave each bite a slightly onion-y flavor without overwhelming. The syrup reduction was sweet and salty. My one note is that there could have been a lot more of the syrup.  But I was far too busy stuffing my face to even request a side of syrup.

Bring. It.

I ate an entire large fried chicken breast and a little more than half of the other one. I inhaled two of the four enormous waffles. I left Hash House A Go Go in pain.

Next time, chicken and waffles, you better bring it harder.

In fact, I was so uncomfortably full, I took a cab about 4 blocks to Neiman Marcus to go shoe shopping. Don’t judge. They were long(ish) blocks. AND, I just remembered, it was totally freezing! So all my blood and heat were diverted into heavy breakfast digestion mode, making me even colder. It really would not have been safe for me to walk those four blocks. (Does anything feel more pompous than driving up to Neiman Marcus in a cab? Maybe showing up in a limo or valeting?)

There was a promotional catalog/advertisement of sorts in our room that had a pair of burgundy suede Rachel Zoe heels. My personal stylist XFE really, really liked them. He must have mentioned them about 4-5 times. Finally, he told me to go the Neiman’s and buy the damn shoes.  They’re hot and totally impractical and impossible to walk in. But they’re hot.

Next year, I'm just going to skip the half marathon and do the stiletto dash. I'm ready.

So they came home with me (good thing I always bring a half-empty bag on trips. Between scuba masks and shoes, I was sitting on bags to zip them up).

I studiously avoided looking at anything else. With the exception of the Kiehl’s section which was right next to the shoes. An additional $50, but this time out of my own pocket, not XFE’s.

Damage done, I went back to the Venetian for my massage at Canyon Ranch SpaClub. CR is kinda famous, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Massages and other services in Vegas are hella expensive, so I just went with a basic massage.

I went early so I could enjoy all the facilities. They had a sauna, steam room, herbal laconium, hot tub, the usual. The sauna and laconium (another type of sauna) were nice, but not hot enough. I like to scald my skin. The steam room was nice and hot though, with twinkly lights in the roof. I laid in there forever.

The hot tub was the usual. Nothing unexpected there. And, for the reason that will soon be apparent, I did not stay in there very long.

Ladies, when a spa says clothing optional, the option there is always, always, always opt for some sort of clothing. It’s not that big of a deal in the sauna or steam room when you have a towel wrapped around you. BUT, it’s a much bigger deal when you and I are sitting in a roiling cauldron of hot water and your pubes are on display. For example: I always bring a swimsuit when I travel, just in case. It’s small, doesn’t take a lot of space and then if a hot tub situation arises, you’re ready. Nobody wants to see your ass naked.  It’s the quickest way to send sensible women retreating. So if your intent was to have the whole damn 12 person hot tub to yourself, well played.

After that trauma, I went into the lounge area to await my masseuse. The lounge area was awesome. All the latest magazines. Lots of chaise lounges, and big round circular bed/lounging things piled with pillows. I rolled around on one of those until I was called in for my massage.

The massage was pretty basic. I don’t like deep tissue massages, so this was more about relaxation than working out any kinks or issues. I felt calm and relaxed. My technician was good and not too talkative, which I always appreciate. She gave a great scalp massage, without tugging on my hair. I’m very tenderheaded and when masseuses do that at the end of a massage, it totally hurts and undoes the whole massage. It’s the WORST.  But this girl (Nia) didn’t do that, so we’re all good. Also: it gave me the best idea for a special massage business. Just scalp and foot massages. I’d call it something cheesy like “Tops and Toes” or something lame like that. I could honestly be quite happy just having my feet and head rubbed.

OK, yeah, that's a good start, but what about the head?

The one odd thing about the massage was that you pay for it up front, which is kinda nice because then you can just breeze out after your post-massage shower. But it becomes awkward when it’s time to tip. You’re like, “uh, ok, I already paid. Do I really have to stop back by the desk to tip?” The answer is yes. And they have tipping envelopes, obviously.

So that was my last full day. Oh, I did have dinner that night at Nobu at the Hard Rock, which was amazing! XFE had a work function that night, so I went with my running friends and their families and we had the best meal. Sexy space, great food, good service.  The lotus chips with tuna, yellowtail sashimi, the sea bass and, especially the sake, were particular standouts. Last by not least, the flourless chocolate cake “bento box” was the bomb.com/kickass. I swear, I could eat sushi every damn day.

And no, I did not wear my new ridiculously tall shoes. XFE gets to see those first. And, my feet were killing me after the race.

We asked our waiter if anyone famous frequented the restaurant, and he told us that Jesse James (that cheating asshole) had been there the night before.

Also: I just heard that Kate Gosselin ran the marathon! Dangit! I missed all my potential celebrity spotting opportunitities! If I had known, I totally would have looked for her and heckled her with something like “Get a job,” or “Go home and take care of your kids!” But that would have been a bit mean, so maybe better that I didn’t know.

At Least They’re Providing Lunch

I received a disturbing email in my inbox at work last Friday. No, I have not (yet) been fired for taking too many vacations. (Hey, at least I’m not out having babies or something else really time consuming. Remember? I’m a great employee!)

No, the email was to inform me that CIGNA would be conducting a course on “Holiday Survival Skills.”

This is where you stash the fifth of whiskey and earplugs.

What the what? Are we talking like, how not to kill your relatives during the holidays? Or, the best place to park at the mall on Black Friday?

Here’s what the email said: 

“Peace and joy this holiday season can be yours by following a few easy holiday survival tips. Make the most of your time and budget to satisfy everyone on your holiday list and you, too!”

Peace and joy? And what’s this “budget” thingy? Is this work code for “don’t expect bonuses this year?” Oh wait. I don’t receive work bonuses. Dang.

Join representatives from CIGNA as they present a winning formula for a stress-free holiday season. Their holiday survival skills seminar will include how to:

  • Prioritize your time to complete all holiday tasks;
  • Set and manage a holiday budget; and
  • Prepare for holiday shopping.

Again with the budget thing! And what are all these “holiday tasks?” My holiday tasks involve eating too much and opening presents, and I don’t really worry about “prioritizing my time” on either task. They sort of take care of themselves.

Wait…..is this a suggestion that we NOT online shop at work during the holiday season? Are the fine people in Human Resources worried that I might ‘prioritize’ shopping over work during this joyous holiday season? Touche, HR, well played. Let me assure you that for me and many of my female co-workers, shopping is always a priority – holiday or not.

I also love the “prepare for holiday shopping” bullet. Is this perhaps something on the best type of steel-toed shoes to wear to stampede over other people when rushing the door at your local Wal-Mart?

"Weren't the sales just great. I'm so glad we decided to tailgate at the outlets this Thanksgiving. Thanks for the tip, CIGNA!"

What, pray tell, will this “winning formula” include? Will they suggest, perhaps, making time for yourself during the hectic holiday season? Because, that’s not really a problem for selfish little ol’me.

Perhaps the winning formula involves giving the boss a bottle of whiskey while asking for additional days off? That might be a helpful tidbit…..Or the best gift for your picky boyfriend/life partner who buys himself any damn thing he wants when he wants it and doesn’t leave anything for anyone else to buy for him on special occasions?

Maybe Petunia needs some help. Currently, her holiday and every other day survival strategy is to hide away until people leave. This website has some great survival skills for cats, although I really cannot agree with them that you should, “Resist the urge to tie a pretty bow around Kitty’s neck.” It’s pretty! How can that be bad? Petunia would look adorable with a saucy tartan bow stuck on her head!

Petunia would scratch my corneas if I tried this on her.

I suspect Petunia ghost-wrote this one: “Remind guests not to offer ‘people’ food to your pets. And have some of your cat’s favorite treats on hand – just in case.” Yes, please give my Rubenesque cat more treats.

My friend and co-worker Katie summed things up pretty well: “Unless someone is going to teach me crowd fighting tactics like the art of throwing ‘bows and escalator domination, I can’t imagine anyone needing this.”

She’s so spot on.