Monday, September 27, 2010
About a year ago, I went to Numero Water Boutique, a spa and tea house in Little Italy. One of the spas owners, Daisuke Muira, recommended I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. While he was preparing tea for us, I remarked on the decor in the tea room, and how much I loved the wood on the walls.
Mr. Muira told me the wood was reclaimed from the Panama Hotel, the hotel that is the centerpiece of the book. He went on to tell me the story of the hotel and it was so fascinating I knew I needed to read the book. I found it at my library's used book store a few months ago. I'm so glad I picked it up. It's a great read.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is set in Seattle. The book jumps back and forth between present day (1986) and the 1940's during World War II. The story centers around Chinese Henry Lee and Japanese Keiko Okabe, two childhood friends. They meet at Henry's school, the all white school on the opposite side of town from where Henry lives. The tension at the time between the Chinese and Japanese should have kept the two kids from becoming friends, especially because of how Henry's father feels about the Japanese, but over the course of the story the two go beyond friendship and fall in love.
The story opens in the present. Henry has heard that developers are renovating the Panama Hotel, and they "found something" in the basement. Hearing this brings back memories for Henry and sparks a little bit of hope that he may be able to keep the childhood promise he made to Keiko after all.
What I like about the book:
The story has just enough history and politics (FBI roundups, Japanese interment camps and the Seattle jazz scene) to make the story come to life, but not so much that you feel you're reading something bordering in non-fiction.
Knowing that the book is based on fact makes it even more poignant. The Panama Hotel is real. Japanese families did hide their belongings in its basement. Families were taken to camps. The reality behind the fiction is heartbreaking but sucks you into the story even more.
What I have mixed feelings about:
Since I didn't dislike anything about the book, I'll phrase this as ambivalence. I understand why Ford told the story using the past and present. I think it was necessary to weave Henry's present relationship with his own son in with his relationship he had with his dad. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the ages Henry and Keiko were during the jumps but knowing their ages isn't vital to the plot.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is such a good book. At only 285 pages, it's a fast read too. Be sure to read the interview with the author too.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Friday, September 24, 2010
One of the fashion trends I've loved is high end designers producing affordable lines for stores like Target, H&M and WalMart. I think the idea really blew up when Mizrahi started working with Target. Since then Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen and so many others have partnered with larger 'mass retailers' to bring fashion to us ordinary folk.
So far, it's been mostly clothing, but designers are also expanding into shoes and accessories. That makes me a happy girl! When I heard about Jimmy Choo's line for H&M, well I just about died. I hope the idea continues to catch on and even more designers hop onto the bandwagon. *bats eyelashes at Michael Kors*
Right now I've got my eye on a few really cute things for fall by couture designers at Payless. No, that's not a typo. Payless. Look at how adorable these are!
|Christian Siriano for Payless|
I'm not sure why, but of all the handbags I own, I have yet to buy this wardrobe staple, a basic black clutch.
|Lela Rose for Payless|
I absolutely love these. They're a neutral color and the zipper on the back is a great detail. These would actually tempt me to try wearing them with a skirt and tights. And I hate tights.
|Isabel Toledo for Payless|
The idea that being fashionable doesn't have to equal dollar signs is nothing new, but having designers whose aesthetic normally lean toward high end materials get creative with their designs and produce lines that have a couture look is. And I love it!
Have you seen any great affordable designer items for fall?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Last Friday I dropped Tyler off and came home intending to go for a long walk. I did some dishes, started laundry, answered emails and a few other things. For some reason, I was ridiculously tired. I thought I'd take a quick power nap and still be ready to leave around 11 which would be plenty of time for 6-8 miles. I fell into bed, fully clothed, a little after 10. I woke up at 2:30. Obviously, my body was trying to me something. Good thing I listened.
|Click image to donate!|
The Breast Cancer 3 Day isn't a race. There are no prizes for making it to lunch before 11 or back to camp before 3. Pushing yourself is not necessary and it's not a good idea. I think the lingering injuries I have from last year's walk are in part due to me trying to keep up with my mom (I'll say it's because her legs are so much longer than mine *ahem*) and not listening to my body.
Since it was my first walk I put a lot of pressure on myself to walk all 60 miles. It can be a little disheartening to see pregnant women or someone my Gramma's age pass you by. It's also hard not to get caught up in the idea that as walkers we need to push ourselves as some sort of symbol. One of the mantra's for the 3 Day weekend is "I may have blisters but it's better than cancer." I took that to heart too. It's hard to see people walking who are bald from the chemo and not think, "if they can do this, certainly I can too!"
I thought taking a sweeper van was a sign I couldn't cut it or that it would take away from the experience somehow. Not true! There are so many things that make the 3 Day so amazing. Sure, walking the whole thing is a great accomplishment but it's not the goal of the event.
Rest when you need to, ride the van when you need to. Take advantage of medical. You will not be letting anybody down. I give you my permission to not be so hard on yourself. Listen to your body!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I want to write a letter to Tyler's school but I want your opinion in case I'm making mountains out of molehills.
Tyler has been going to his school since kindergarten. On our first back to school night, his kindergarten teacher told us the school has a policy against sending junk food and candy in lunches. We were also not to send in sweets to celebrate birthdays. His teacher this year reiterated the point saying the school has really cracked down on the birthday treats and asked that if we want to celebrate we send in pencils or some other trinket.
This is an excerpt from the school's Policy and Procedures section on their website:
Students may eat a snack at the beginning of their morning recess and we encourage some type of healthy food, rather than what we refer to as “extra” foods, such as chips and cookies.
In accordance with this policy, we do not celebrate birthdays in classrooms with candy, cakes, cupcakes and sodas. Food and drinks are allowed at other celebration events, however they must follow the [school district] Food and Beverage Guidelines.
I haven't had a problem with either of these policies. I agree with both ad have tried to uphold them . I keep Tyler's lunch relatively junk free. I don't pick out the chocolate pieces in the trail mix and I have sent in Nilla Wafers or Teddy Grahams. I've never sent anything in for his birthday, trinket or otherwise. But, hearing the teacher strongly emphasize the point again at the same time the school brought back Popsicle Friday kinda pissed me off.
We parents can't send anything "extra" to school in an effort to keep the kids healthy, but the PTO can sell popsicles in front of the school every week? And don't even get me started on the crap the PTO allows at the Friday Assembly coffee cart.
I call Bullshit.
It's not that I want to see Doritos and candy on school grounds every day. I'd also rather the kids get one small cookie or cupcake on a birthday rather than have any more of the Party City junk continue to clutter up Tyler's room (though I do realize multiplying one cookie by 30+ birthdays can easily equal sugar overload).
But, if the school is going to create a written policy asking me not to send in sweets, why should their on campus fund raising be exempt? Two weeks ago I bought a popsicle for Tyler just to see if at least they were selling sugar free ones. Maybe some were but not the kind I bought*.
I don't want to be the buzzkill who put an end to fun on campus but it feels like a blatant double standard. So, am I making too much of this? Should I let it go or send a note to the principal?
What issues have prompted you to write a letter to your child's school?
*My frustration could also be over Popsicle Friday itself. I think Tyler has only had two because I always say no. I look like the ass who won't let her kid have any treats, which I'm OK with. But I've caught him sneaking money to school and that bothers me. I know I said I'd let up and be more of a yes mom, but I just don't think he needs the 'extra' sugar. There's plenty in his juice boxes, granola bars, fruit leather, peanut butter/jelly etc. etc.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tyler eats a lot. I mean A LOT. It bother's me that school has a morning snack, lunch soon after and that's all. I really think kids need an afternoon snack too, but that's another post. Anyway, because Tyler would be starving by the time I got through the pick up line, I started packing giant lunches. This way, he'd have enough for snack and lunch with a little left for after school while he waits for me to get through the pick up line.
The system was working fine until around the middle of the school year when Tyler started getting wasteful. I'd go through his backpack and all the 'side' items would be gone but his sandwich, GoGurt or fruit would be leftover. I also found out he'd sometimes buy lunch and not eat any of the things I packed. So then we had to have a talk.
I told him we couldn't waste food. He needed to eat the things I sent him to school with, especially the things that would spoil. We went round and round and I got so fed up I even took money from his wallet one day telling him he owed me for the groceries he wasted. I know. But rational is not my strong suit when I'm trying to make a point.
We got through the rest of the school year with no more problems. I didn't think we needed to have a refresher for this school year but I was wrong. Twice last week I had to throw away sandwiches and yogurt. I reminded him of last year and said again that we shouldn't waste food. He apologized and said he wouldn't do it anymore. Friday I opened the fridge and I saw this:
I think this time he got the point.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
For me, one of the most challenging parts of participating in the 3 Day has been the fund raising. If you ever want to know how much of a social media presence you *really* have, ask people for money. Ha!
Luckily, I have a partner this year to help with my efforts. Jessica Constable is the designer and owner of Jess LC Jewelry. Through her Pink Ribbon Ambassador program, Jess has graciously offered to donate 15% of all online purchases* toward my 3 Day goal!
|My favorite piece|
How you can help:
1. Place an order on JessLC.com.
2. After you order, send an email to email@example.com with the link to my 3 Day page: http://www.the3day.org/goto/melaniesheridan
3. Enjoy your purchase!
Easy peasy! Thank you, Jessica! I appreciate your generosity!
*Excluding the Soc Chic line
Saturday, September 11, 2010
|Ground Zero, New York, August 2010|
What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friday, September 10, 2010
Even though I don't wear them often, I love animal print and red. I think it's because I don't know how to wear them, and certainly not together. Both are supposed to be part of the trends for this coming fall. This convertible handbag I saw in O Magazine solves my problem perfectly.
The outer lining of the bag zips off and there's a great pop of zebra print underneath. The best part? It's on sale for $30!
|(also available in black with leopard)|
I definitely file this under 'why the heck didn't I think of that!' Think of all the color combinations: I see a purple bag with a Pucci style print or a camel bag with an orange safari-style print. The possibilities are endless!
If you're a Shop At Home member you can also get free shipping on orders $49+ and 5% cash back through 10/2!
Can you see yourself with this bag? What would you wear it with?
*Affiliate links used in this post
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I wasn't going to lace up my sneakers today. They're in the corner of my room, kind of hidden next to my laundry basket so they're easy to overlook without feeling too guilty for neglecting my 3 Day training. But then, I read my friend Debbie's post about her breast exam this afternoon.
Now I'm scared and sad and angry and anxious and I want to DO SOMETHING, anything, to help. But, other than be a friend, there's not much I can do. Except walk.
While I walk I will say a prayer for everyone who will receive a phone call from their doctor, who is sitting in a chair with chemo pumping into their system, who has made the decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy, whose hair has fallen out for the first time, or whose family is preparing to say their goodbyes.
I will put on my sneakers today and I will walk this twitchy, nervous energy out and with each step I will send Debbie all the positive energy and love I can. I will thank her mother for raising such a beautiful person and take comfort in knowing her spirit will be with Debbie this afternoon.
I love you, my friend.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
April 26, 1992
Hi, hon. How are you? I'm fine. I miss you though. Tomorrow is our anniversary and I really wish we could spend it together, I don't think I ever fully realized what a major part of my life you are until I went away to school. I've met so many new people and I'm having a great time, but there's always a part of me that wishes you could be here with me all the time.
There's always a part of me that really aches to see you. I can't wait until summer when we can spend every possible moment together. I hope the coming months are good ones for us. I'm sure they will be. I feel it in my heart. I love you very much. I miss you more and more each day.
My heart was right. It's been good.
I love you.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Between my husband's role in the military and us living in one of the largest military towns in the US, it's impossible not to be influenced and effected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our local news is full of stories about local troops coming home and being shipped off. When I go on base, I see handmade signs welcoming someone home or announcing a birth. The situation with our troops is something I feel all the time. But this past week the war hit even closer to home. My friend, Christine of Everyday Mama, lost someone in her family. A husband, father, brother-in-law and uncle.
Christine is channeling her grief into something productive. She's working with WitKids, a local organization, to host a Day of Service and Remembrance event this coming Friday, 9/11. WitKids will be collecting items to create Care Packages for our soldiers serving overseas.
In celebration of 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, WitKids will be hosting a family-friendly volunteer event on Saturday, September 11, 2010 in [San Diego's] Little Italy's Amici Park from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to collect items for military care packages. The event will be held in honor of Staff Sgt. Casey J. Grochowiak; a local Special Forces Army Ranger who was recently killed in-the-line of duty in Afghanistan.
At the event, Witkids will have on hand art supplies for kids and their parents to make “Thank You” cards for military men and women serving overseas to include in the packages. WitKids will also be hosting a donation bin where people are encouraged to bring items to donate to the military care packages. The most requested items include sunflower seeds, beef jerky, instant or ground coffee, travel-size baby wipes, liquid hand sanitizer, pre-paid phone cards and small flashlights.
Please help Christine and her family honor Staff Sgt. Casey Grochowiak. Take a moment to look over the rest of the soldiers' wish list. When I sent packages to my adopted soldier, powdered drink mixes (like Gatorade, Crystal Light and Propel) and summer sausage were huge hits. If you're not able to donate here in San Diego, there are plenty of organizations putting together care packages for our troops.
Please think of our men and women serving overseas today and every day. My thoughts and prayers are with Christine and her family.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I've been getting more and more deal and savings offers in my email. I'm guessing it's because of the grocery savings posts I've done. I've been hesitant to pass these on to you because I don't know if that's what you want. I'd only share the really good deals, like the one I got today, but don't want to go overboard if you all aren't into it.
I got an email from the folks at Groupon about a today-only national offer (their offers are generally regional). Shutterfly has posted their 8x8, 20-page photo book for only $10. It's usually $30. My neighbor always shows me the ones her grandkids make for her. They're really cute and the quality is great.These are the type of things I'd be sharing. Since the holidays are so close some of these will be great to take advantage of. (Christmas countdown = 109 days!) Can you please let me know in the comments if stuff like this is useful for you? Maybe I can make it a weekend thing?
*Photo from Shutterfly, contains an affiliate link.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Update 2/9/11 Welcome Googlers! I get so many people searching for a recipe that I've linked to a printable corn soup recipe at the bottom of the post. It's from one of the chef's at Disneyland. The soup isn't the same as Chili's but it's sooo good!
Writing reviews is not easy for me. At least, writing the type of reviews I want to write isn't. There's a balance that I need to have to write a review in 'my own way' but still please the client. I wish I was one of the people who write so well and subtly about something that the reader almost misses that they've just been "sold" on something.
So, I try to make a personal connection for you. I figure that has to be better than me posting an upchucked press release. This review, for Chili's, has taken me FOR-ever! (see, no subtleties here!) I love to eat, I love to eat out and love good food. It should not be so hard to talk about food! But, apparently, for me it is. I've written and deleted at least three of these review posts so far.
I should probably start at the beginning. I got an email from Chili's asking if I wanted to participate in their new campaign and try the new freshly prepared items on their menu. We love the restaurant so it was a no brainer. I told the PR person he "had me at hamburger." Phil and I mange to go out twice; first for lunch and again a few weeks later for dinner. At lunch I ordered sweet corn soup and a skinny margarita. The soup was so good I ordered it again when we went to dinner. I figured I'd make the post about our date nights and how the sweet corn soup is now in my list of Best Soups I've Had This Year.
*Aside: I love soup. I have a thing for soup.
So, I start to write about how I've had five soups this year that have rocked my socks so much I think about them often, including the sweet corn. But the post started veering more toward where I was when I ate the soups and less and less about Chili's and their new menu items. I scrapped it and moved on to a new post about how much I love soup (see aside above).
I wrote about fall and how it's my favorite season because of boots and sweaters and how awesome soup is on a cool night. I found a recipe for sweet corn soup that I was going to include along with photos of me making it at home but that didn't work out either.
|Chili's Skinny Patron Margarita|
|Chili's Shiner Bock Rib Combo|
So, back to the review drawing board I go. I guess I could apply the KISS method and straight up say, "we really enjoy the food at Chili's, especially their new freshly prepared items, and think you will too," but that doesn't seem nearly as personal as trying to come up with a great post about soup.
*This is an unpaid sponsored post. Chili's provided me with a gift card to sample their menu items. The opinions, as well as the complete inability to write reviews, are 100% my own.
*For those looking for a good corn chowder recipe, I posted one from the chef at Disneyland's Storytellers Cafe and included a link to a printable Google Doc.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I was a college freshman when Beverly Hills 90210 was in it's heyday. I lived in a dorm on the SDSU campus. There was always a fight over the common room TV on the nights 90210 and Melrose Place were on. It ended up becoming a Girls vs. Boys TV War. Someone would stake out the common room earlier and earlier to claim the TV. Sometimes we won, sometime they did.
It got so ugly that our RA finally stepped in and created a weekly TV schedule. He printed it on poster sized paper and hung it between the pool and foosbal tables. Oh the cheers when the girls were victorious! Thursday night was ours!
But the boys did not go down without a fight. Thursday nights became the perfect night for foosball tournaments, never ending games of pool and other forms of loud, frat boy behavior. They developed a knack for being their most obnoxious right before someone on the show was about to be kissed, killed or make some kind of monumental confession. We were pissed! No amount of shushing, cajoling, offers to bake cookies and, if I remember correctly, do laundry could get them to respect the TV Schedule. They were ruining our night and enjoying every minute of it.
Luckily, my parents came to my rescue. I asked for a TV and VCR for Christmas and I got both! I came back from Christmas break and surprised my friends.We were back in business. But, we didn't want everyone to know. Thursday night was strictly for me, my roommate, our friends and a chosen few. We'd pass each other in the hallways or meet in the bathroom and whisper, "are you watching tonight?" like we were planning something illegal. There would usually be about 10 of us crowded onto the beds and on the floor to watch the happenings at The Peach Pit and the Beverly Hills Beach Club. The scent of popcorn would usually bring a few strays.
Having something to look forward to and people to share it with made my freshman year a lot less awkward. Thursday nights were for pajamas, friends and laughter.
Where were you during Beverly Hills 90210's glory years?