Friday, December 26, 2008

I am Lauren, stocking enthusiast

For some reason, this Christmas, every time I have either said or heard something about stockings (the Christmas kind, of course) images of translucent nude colored stockings seen only on the legs of little old ladies have come to mind. This is a new thing for me, and it has been slightly troubling. I have always been one to express my enthusiasm for Christmas stockings, so this year, every time I gush "Oh I just LOVE stockings!" I can't help but feel the necessity to clarify- Christmas stockings or stocking stuffers. Maybe it is just that I'm getting older and am more aware of the things I say, or maybe it has something to do with my awareness of the origins of Christmas stockings... but all of this is irrelevant to the fact that I just LOVE stockings! (this is just me clarifying my intended use of the word "stocking", and justifying/explaining this clarification...)

Anyway... I will say it again... I just LOVE stockings!! I don't know how stockings are stuffed in other households, but at my house, they are ALWAYS something to look forward to. Slowly unpacking a stocking, full of many miniature goodies, is, in my opinion, the best way to kick off a merry Christmas morning. One of the things that makes stockings so special in my house is that the majority of the stocking stuffers are wrapped, adding to the suspense and excitement.

Our stockings are stuffed with more than just pez dispensers and candy canes (though, throughout the years, these items have often been included). Anything small enough to fit into the stocking ought to be stuffed. Common stocking stuffers have included make-up, nail polish, tweezers, fragrances, socks, panties, pens, gift cards, cash, mints, gum, chocolate, and the like. Thrilling, is it not?

How are stockings stuffed in your home? Does Santa know you as well as he seems to know me? For some reason he always know juuuuust what to give me.

It occurred to me yesterday that stockings are simply too wonderful to happen only once a year. When I have kids, I am going to start a birthday stocking tradition! Perhaps, since birthday stockings aren't (yet) mass marketed as are Christmas stockings, we will have to use the old lady version instead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am Lauren, coffee enthusiast

Born of two avid coffee drinkers, and raised during the height of the coffee culture craze, I was predisposed to love coffee. My enthusiasm was sparked at a very early age. Every morning while my mom enjoyed her daily brew, I would snuggle close and beg for a coffee kiss. Soon the innocent lip to lip coffee tastings were not sufficient. Sips turned into gulps, and before long she was fixing me my very own cup of the sweet creamy concoction.

Ever since my dad discovered our shared love of coffee, he has taken it upon himself to foster and fuel my enthusiasm with countless coffee-shop outings. He made sure, early on, that I knew the difference between a latte, a cappuccino, and an americano. Like most coffee-shop goers, we sip our lattes and discuss current issues and such, but likely at some point our conversation will shift to the topic of coffee. My father and I discuss coffee as many discuss philosophy or religion. To us, it is not just a drink, but an artful delicacy to be carefully contemplated and savored.

I am willing to admit it... This attitude towards coffee has somewhere along the way turned me into a slight coffee snob. Whether it was boycotting a coffee-shop for not having whole milk (the only TRUE way to make a latte), or shelling out a lofty chunk of my savings in order to purchase THE ultimate espresso machine (pictured above), at some point during the past year I have been affirmed that my particularity about coffee is not the norm.

Not only am I a coffee snob, but I am also a coffee addict. If I do not have my 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning, at about 3 PM I get the most insane headache. Actually,these afternoon headaches are pretty typical. I usually take them to mean it is time for my afternoon latte, but on the days I have missed my morning cup(s), they are particularly insane. Yes, I am fully aware that coffee is a drug. I am certainly not one to condone drug abuse, which is why I prefer to attribute my frequent coffee consumption to my intense enthusiasm for the beverage.

Apparently, this love for coffee is nothing new. In the 1730s, Johann Sebastian Bach composed what is known today as the Coffee Cantata. It tells a story of a girl who refuses to marry unless she can find a man who will tolerate her coffee enthusiasm. I feel that I can truly identify with this young woman and what she has to say. She pretty much says it all...

"If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I am Lauren, scarf enthusiast

We all know those people. We don't actually know them, but they have somehow worked their way into our lives through no direct effort of their own- just by looking the way they look, wearing the things they wear, doing the things they do, or simply being who they are. Currently in my life there's Weird Hat Girl, Jesus (the shoe-less bearded fellow), and Renaissance Boy, just to name a few. And I can only assume that if I were to step out of my body and see myself walking around town on a regular basis, this me-less me would likely come to be known as Scarf Girl.

I am fully aware of the ridiculous frequency of my scarf-wearing. Some girls wear necklaces, some wear earrings, some wear scrunchies. I wear scarves. To me, scarves are the ultimate accessories- they (have the potential to) look fabulous AND serve a functional purpose. I guess some equivalent accessories could be watches, belts, and bags- all accessories that, when done right, can add a little something to a look without appearing superfluous. You are going to wear these necessary accessories anyway, so why not make them work to your advantage?

Okay, okay, maybe my scarves don't ALWAYS serve a purpose of warmth. I used to have a hard time accepting scarf-wear in warm weather, but I've recently deemed it appropriate to wear scarves in this not-so-scarf-worthy weather, just because I love them as accessories THAT much! BUT if your are going to try this- wearing a scarf purely as an accessory- it is crucial that you do it the right way. Scarves as accessories MUST be wrapped/tied in an appropriate fashion. That doubling over into a loop and pulling through absolutely will NOT cut it. Come ON! Be creative with your scarf! Try new things! Take risks!

Though I've acquired a number of scarves over the past few years, since the onset of my scarf enthusiasm, none have impacted my life quite like my green scarf... my staple accessory. This scarf has seen the world. We first met in London nearly 4 years ago and have been best friends ever since!

2005- In London, where we first met... the beginning of a beautiful relationship (PLEASE overlook my ignorance of the importance of creative scarf-wrapping)

Same trip. Now Mr. Green Scarf has the pleasure of experiencing Paris

Fall 2006- Blue Ridge Mountains (scarf barely visible but most definitely there)

Spring 2007- mountains again

Fall/Winter 2007- 2 of my very favorite childhood friends

Fall 2008- purely an accessory

So, as you can see, we've shared many fond memories, and there are surely many more to come!
Until next time,
(the fabulously unashamed) Scarf Girl

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I am Lauren, tights are not pants enthusiast

The wearing of tights as pants is an abomination.
sure in the context of sports, ballet, hair metal, and renaissance fairs, tights function as suitable leg coverings, but still they are not pants.
No. These are not activities that transform tights into pants; these are historically acceptable acts of PANTLESSNESS.
Tights as pants leave nothing to the imagination. Tights as pants are an affront to those of us who PREFER NOT TO KNOW the most intimate details of their neighbors' bodies.
Tights as pants are the fashion equivalent of Too Much Information. This gratuitous divulgence of assets repels where the tights-as-pants wearer presumably hopes to entice.
We have tired of tolerating attempts to force tights into this non-native garment category, and have decided to do something about it!"

I'm joining the movement.
Matters have gotten WAY out of hand and it's obvious something must be done. I was convinced the legging trend had died out at LEAST a year ago, but boy was I wrong. Things have only intensified. Not only are girls (of all shapes and sizes) still wearing these spandex ACCESSORIES under dresses, but faaaaar too many of these girls have somehow forgotten what an accessory actually is and have begun to wear the said accessory in lieu of pants! An accessory by definition is a subordinate or supplementary item. Tights are accessories and therefore ought to be worn in addition to something else (like pants....) is it really so difficult to grasp?

Yesterday, I found myself repeatedly disgraced and disturbed by the fashion choices of my peers. This says a lot, considering my relatively low expectations of girls my age. It was coooooold outside, and I saw at least 10 girls (I quit counting after reaching this ghastly number) prancing around with nothing but a layer of spandex suctioned to their legs. In that kind of weather, leggings ought to be worn in addition to pants, not instead!! I'm sorry, but this is unacceptable. You don't see men walking around in their long johns, do you? So why in the world do these girls think it's acceptable to walk around in their under-garments?? I will never, ever understand.

Like I said, I'm officially joining the Tights Are Not Pants Movement. I will post flyers, preach, protest- whatever it takes to knock some sense (and class) into these girls.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am Lauren, joint-popping enthusiast

This isn't even a confession; it's a well-known fact. Anyone who has ever spent more than 30 seconds in my presence has likely heard the sounds of my incessantly noisy joints. Notice, I'm not too quick to attribute this noise to my joint-cracking compulsion (of which I'm well-aware and to which I will readily admit). I pop both voluntarily and involuntarily. Whether or not my voluntary popping contributes to the involuntary or vice versa, I'm not entirely sure, but I do believe there is a difference.

Never do I intentionally pop my knees, but you can bet that every time I squat down to get something out of my floor-level cupboard (in the kitchen that I share with 6 others) the sound of my relatively youthful knees will be heard throughout the house. 19-year-old knees shouldn't be making that much noise- am I wrong? Well, whether or not they should, they do. Other joints that often unintentionally pop are my hips. But, I am guilty of consciously popping them as well; they seem to always need relieving.

My fingers on the other hand… these appendages I do intentionally pop (whether or not this is a conscious act, though, could be debated) constantly throughout the day. As it is for many, popping the joints in my fingers has become some kind of nervous habit or compulsion. It’s just something I do, without even thinking about it.

Does this worry me? In a sense, yes, because I know habits like this are rather repulsive to some and simply annoying to most. I should probably be more aware of those around me, and how my nervous habit is perceived. But the good news is, apparently I’m not popping my way to swollen knuckles and arthritis! On multiple occasions, my concern for this seemingly unhealthy habit has led me to various medical websites that have informed me that those are all myths; joint popping does not, I repeat, does NOT contribute to arthritis.

Honestly, I’m still not entirely convinced. I constantly feel as though my joints are begging to be popped. And the more I give into their pleas, the more they expect from me. When I pop out of physical necessity, the action/practice looses a little something special. I know, I’m kooky, but feel an odd sense of satisfaction when I get a good popping. When I first wake up in the morning, my neck pops like no other time in the day. And in the evening before bed, I get/ give myself a good back adjustment (the best of which come from my mom!)

Perhaps if I consciously cut back a bit on my habit, I might be able to better enjoy it when I do choose indulge. Who knows? Addiction is interesting. There must be motivation enough to quit/ cut back the habit, enough to outweigh the pleasure or satisfaction it brings. If the “myths” about arthritis were true, believe me I’d quit on the spot (or try to at least) but for now, I will continue to allow my popping pleasures to repulse and perturb those around me, but with an added slight consideration for those I sincerely love and respect, particularly repulsed roommates and perturbed parents.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I am Lauren, booty-shaking enthusiast

After saying our goodbye's, I hear my mom's voice quickly utter "shake your booty," and before I have time to make any sort of comment (which most likely would have been a "huh?" or a "moooooooom") she has already hung up.

Though the utterance caught me off guard, it wasn't entirely out of nowhere. I was headed, that evening, to a local event called Blume, at which art would be created, displayed, and sold. DJs would attempt to outdo each other on the tables while attendees of all kinds would attempt to outdo each other on the dance floor.

Upon entering the local gay club, Pantheon, for the first time, my friend Kristen and I surveyed the scene. There was a lot to take in. Paintings, photographs, and sculptures lined the walls, but what interested me most was the assortment people. This is typically the case for me in these types of situations. Sit me down in a corner and I'll be entertained all night long just watching people. Unfortunately, for me to do this and only this would be considered definitely antisocial and probably pretty creepy, so social norms force me to partake in an activity I sincerely dread, mingling. Since there were few people at the event we actually knew (though there were countless familiar faces) Kristen, Michelle, and I stuck together, wandering around the club, stopping at various spots to chit-chat (with each other, of course) in hopes of some good concurrent people watching, the best of which was indisputably found on the dance floor.

It's not unusual for me to feel uncomfortable in such situations. I see people out there shaking their tails, looking absolutely ridiculous, yet having the time of their lives. I know I'll have fun once I crack open my shell (a shell of self-consciousness, perhaps?) but the big question is, will I open up, and if so, what's it going to take? In this particular situation, it was my mom's voice resounding in my mind, "shake your booty." She left no room for questioning or comment. It was a demand, and being the obedient daughter that I am, I simply had to obey.

So I let myself get warmed up. I never want to get out there right away, because I know once I start dancing, I'm useless for any kind of conscious activity. Once I start to shake my behind, all cares and woes are forgotten. If I'm going to get up there and shake, let me tell you, it takes a lot of shaking to shake off all those cares and woes, not just a little bouncing up and down. For me, on the dance floor, it's all or nothing, and this particular night, I'll tell you, I gave it my all.

This was the best I'd felt in quite some time. Booty-shaking, when done the right way (partnerless and inhibition-free) is both an artistic exercise and an aerobic one. It was without a doubt the most I've sweat in quite some time, and by far the best workout I've had since I can remember. So, I've resolved that it is necessary that I make myself get out and go dancing at least once every other month. I advise and encourage you to do as I did, heed my mother's sage advise and "shake your booty."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I am Lauren, DIY enthusiast

The phrase "Do It Yourself," commonly referred to by the acronym DIY, has all kinds of crafty connotations. The term is often associated with the hippie-type folks who make clothing from recycled T-shirts and carry bags fashioned from duct tape. These people are supposedly trying to make a statement about consumerism and individuality, but my conviction is that once how-to DIY books are being mass marketed, the revolutionary nature of the DIY subculture is lost somewhere along the way to the Urban Outfitters bookshelf.

Though I have indeed dabbled in this type of DIY and am guilty of owning more than one of these how-to manuals (thanks to my super cool middle school self), the form about which I am so enthusiastic is something quite different. It's more of an inner mindset regarding the service industry than an outward expression against manufactured goods. Simply put, I prefer to DO things for myself. I prefer to paint my own nails, tweeze my own brows, cook my own food, decorate my own house, color my own hair etc. I don't do these things for myself out of rebellion or refusal to submit to the service industry, I just enjoy doing them and find it unnecessary to pay someone to do them for me. Okay, so maybe that means I am refusing to submit, just a little bit, but not to make some political statement. Remember, my type of DIY is a mindset, and is of a much more personal nature.

There are a number of reasons why I am this way, and I'm not really sure how to best comprehensively explain them, but I'll try.

- There's no use paying for something that I can do just as well... Yes I know, this sounds extremely selfish and arrogant, but let's be honest; I have faith in my skills and talents.

- Blame... if I entrust someone to do something for me and he or she screws it up, I'll have to blame them, and subsequently blame myself for trusting them and then brood upon it for way too long. If I do it for myself, though, and mess it up, I just think, Lauren you're so retarded, and get over it. If it's my fault, I can fix it.

- Trust... goes hand in hand with blame. You can't always trust people.

- I am extremely detail-oriented and a lot of people are not, meaning they don't pay attention to things I deem important. I'm weird, and I like things to be exactly how I want them to be. And typically, only I can make sure that happens.

- The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I feel upon finishing whatever it is I've done for myself is the encouragement I need to keep doing such things. When I do something myself, I am able to appreciate it on an entirely different level.

- I've learned SO much from doing things for myself. Trust me, I DO make mistakes! In 6th grade I started tweezing my nearly invisible blond eyebrows. I got a little tweezer happy and practically rid myself of the little brows that I had to begin with. It was pretty traumatizing, but eventually they all grew back. I am now confident, after years of practice, in my tweezing efforts and abilities.

By telling you all this, I am not trying to win you over to my DIY way of life. I know that it's not for everyone! That's why we have the service industry! In fact, my hope is that my passion for quality and detail will one day contribute to my own service-related pursuits and endeavors; I believe that the DIY people are the ones who have the most success in doing things for others!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I am Lauren, roundabout enthusiast

Every day on the way to work, I pass through this amazing circular intersection. The first few times I came upon it I thought to myself, "I don't even know what this is but I like it." It's not like this was an entirely new experience for me, I'm sure I've gone through one of these circles at some point in my lifetime, but I've just never encountered them with as much frequency as I have recently in Mt. Pleasant, SC. They seem to be everywhere... well I think I could probably name 3... but 3 in like, a 2 mile radius... that's pretty frequent, no? Soon, once the newness wore off, I began to notice the sign that reads "now entering traffic circle." Aha, traffic circle... that's what this thing is called. Well, not exactly.

Actually, after doing some intense wikipedia research I found that this circle through which I pass daily, is actually called a roundabout. Yes, there is a difference, apparently.
In traffic circles, entering cars have the right of way, while in roundabouts, entering traffic must yield to traffic already in the circulatory roadway. Though I have not noticed a sign with instructions on how to use the said "traffic circle," from my personal experience at this junction, I've found that, according to the distinguishing definition, it is a in fact a roundabout. It's a small circle, but cars fly through it, without much regard for the entering traffic.

Perhaps this is why I like the roundabout so much. It's like an intersection, but without the stopping. If you miss your turn, you can just make another loop. I wonder if people ever just ride around and around... just for fun. I would totally try it, but I get carsick VERY easily; that probably wouldn't be the best idea.

I'm convinced that there should be more roundabouts... everywhere. They're too cool NOT to be at every intersection. I don't know all the science and statistics about these junctions, but I feel that they are much more efficient and much less confusing than typical 4-way stop.

So there... I hope one day that you too will get to experience the joy of the traffic roundabout.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am Lauren, Q-tip enthusiast

I have a post-shower routine. Every single shower I take is followed by these simple, yet sensational steps.

After drying myself off and securely wrapping the towel around my torso, I reach for my black "wet hair brush" (you know the plastic kind, NOT the hairy bristly kind) and proceed to brush/ detangle my wet hair. Because this is the only time I really ever brush my hair, I take these few moments to enjoy the pleasant sensation of the plastic bristles on my scalp.

Unfortunately, my brush and I are usually interrupted by the tingle of my freshly shaven legs. So I put the hair brush down and quickly grab my Johnson's (you know the guys who make the baby stuff- SO soft) lotion and rub it in to ease the burn. If I were to use shaving cream/gel I probably wouldn't have this problem, but that stuff takes too long and is simply too messy; instead of preventing the burn, I prefer to relieve it with the baby soft lotion.

And now, the moment I've been waiting for... my absolute favorite part of the post-shower routine... Q-tip time! I can't even begin to describe what a crucial part of my day this is. We've all read the warnings "CAUTION: DO NOT insert Q-tip into ear canal- doing so could result in serious damage, such as hearing loss" or something of the sort. But I mean, come on, if I can't put the cotton swab in my ears, what else could it possibly be good for? Though the package will try to lead you to believe something very different, everyone knows that Q-tips are not make-up applicators, or mini cleaning tools, or whatever other uses are suggested. While Americans tend to call these cotton swabs by their commercial name "Q-tips," short for quality tips, they are known by users in other countries as both "ear buds" and "ear diggers." This, I believe, affirms my assertion that Q-tips were designed for, and belong in the ears, end of story.

I personally feel that those foreigners (wherever they may be from) who refer to these cotton swabs as "ear diggers" truly understand their intended use. Daily, I plunge one ear digger into each ear canal, in complete disregard of the warning on the box, and dig. I know this might sound gross. When people think of digging into ears, I'm sure all kinds of images of yucky yellow gunk come to mind, but let me tell you, for a Q-tip enthusiast, this is not the case. Those of us who use Q-tips on a daily basis have extremely clean ears, which means rarely do we come in contact with this icky substance.

The reason that I am so enthusiastic about this post-shower Q-tip time is because it can only take place within the first 5-10 minutes out of the shower, while ears are still wet. This is crucial to remember; jabbing a Q-tip into a dry ear could quite possibly be one of the most unbearable feelings ever. As a result of my Q-tip enthusiam (or obsession, as some might say) I absolutley cannot stand to have wet ears.

Not only do they keep my ears clean and give me great relief from uncomfortably wet ears, but Q-tips feel gooooooood. This is the most amazing part; it's like a massage inside of my head. There is something unexplainably pleasurable about digging around in a wet ear canal with a cotton swab... try it sometime and you'll understand.

My post-shower routine continues, but after Q-tip time nothing else seems to matter. Nothing quite measures up.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I am Lauren, restaurant enthusiast

It all began at

For those of you not familiar with OpenTable, while I pity you, I will glady explain how this incredible tool works, so that you might possibly share in my excitement. OpenTable is a free, instant, online restaurant reservation service servicing 8,500 noteworthy restaurants worldwide, and their 75 million+ restaurant goers. Diners receive points for every reservation made through the site and upon earning a substantial amount of points receive gift cards, which can be redeemed at any OpenTable-registered restaurant. Typically, diners receive 100 points for each reservation, but every now and then you'll come across a few restaurants offering 1000.

I'm never sure what to think of these 1000-pointers. I always kind of assumed that those were the restaurants that nobody went to. Like, instead of turning people away because they're so booked, they have to bribe people with dining points just to get them to come. Is that the kind of restaurant I really want to go to?

In quest of a quick and fabulous last-minute vacation dinner find, I found myself hesitatingly drawn to the 1000 point restaurants. Overwhelmed by the 700+ San Francisco restaurants on OpenTable, this was simply a measure taken to narrow down the never-ending list of mouth-watering options. I mean, 1000 points is pretty nice- just think, it would take 10 normal reservations to get that many points! But is it worth the risk? Well, if all the 1000 pointers are anything like Citizen Cake... yes, yes, YES, it is worth the risk, by all means!

For those of you who don't know me, I'll let you know that I tend to be quite the critic, especially when it comes to restaurants. Wrinkled table cloths, empty water glasses, thoughtless decor.... just a few things that automatically earn my disapproval. It's not that I look for the bad in everything, I actually try to make a point to do the very opposite, but I guess you could just say I have relatively high expectations. So, when a restaurant (or anything really, for that matter) exceeds my expectations, I am rendered beyond enthusiastic.

I was so enthusiastic about my experiences at Citizen Cake, my 1000-point risk restaurant of choice, SO enthusiastic that I reasoned it highly necessary to start a blog, a blog about such things that arouse me so. The entire meal, from the savory virgin vanilla mint mojito, to the clever tomato water shot, to the most sensational earl grey ice cream, was a true experience. There was nothing thoughtless or unintentional about this place.

Perhaps my most exciting moment of the evening, besides the exquisite cuisine, was my recognition of Executive Chef Elizabeth Faulkner. As I sat at the bar, sipping my mojito and awaiting the clearing of my OpenTable-reserved table, I glimpsed into the kitchen and got a sudden sensation that I was looking through the camera of some great cooking show, like a Top Chef or Iron Chef, you get the idea. I knew that lady with the short spikey blonde hair, I knew her from somewhere. Despite my enthusiasm for food and all that surrounds it, I'm not much for TV, and subsequently am not familiar with the characters/contestants of many FoodNetwork shows (now, Bravo, on the other hand, is a completely different story, but nevermind that). All I could think was I know that lady, I know that lady, I KNOW I know that lady, until finally it hit me.... the only FoodNetwork show I've ever seen, the FoodNetwork Cereal Challenge... Chef Faulkner was a contestant, my personal favorite (though not the winner), in a challenge to build a city skyline entirely out of cereal. THAT'S who that familiar lady in the kitchen was. Come to find out, she's also competed on Iron Chef several times. This lady is something special, and all it took was a 1000-point bribe for me to discover this.

In case you haven't gathered, I love love love coincidences like this (more on this topic, surely to come). What began with a frantic last-minute OpenTable restaurant search and 1000-point restaurant risk taken, ended with a delightfully filled appetite and recognition of an apparent food celebrity. And not to mention my rising accumulation of dining points... Oh the power and wonder of the free, instant, online restaurant reservation service, (Chef Faulkner's new restaurant, which I visited the following evening- every bit as fantastic as Citizen Cake)