*cold shoulders.

Last night, just as the temperature dropped into freezing territory, my furnace died.

Last night, after I cleaned out the air filter, I created a mud puddle in my backyard that led to in-house paw prints of epic proportions.

Last night, when I was trying to see if I needed a new fuse for the furnace, I dropped the existing fuse 5 feet down into the ductwork.

Last night, when I tried to buy a new fuse, the orange-aproned dude said, "What does this go to?" and when I said, "The fuse box," he made me feel like the idiot I clearly am.

This morning, I got yet another HAPPY DELINQUENT PAYMENT! card from my car-financing company.

This afternoon, I paid a very nice man from a heating-and-air-conditioning company $165 to tell me I'm a slob.

This evening, I drifted a little bit, into sadness and regret and worry.

But now, for just a minute, I kicked up my heels.

*the chips are down.

A wonderful thing happened to me today. I walked into the office, wobbly with fevered anticipation and smelling of eau de fear on each pulse point. And as I threw my "chik'n" patty in the communal refrigerator, I saw these.

POTATO CHIPS. FOR FREENESS. Just sitting there, waiting to be taken! Sure, they said, "100% Fat Free" and (more ominously) "It's a Revolution."

Sidebar: Does my lunch look like a third-grader's? Thought so, just checkin'.

But I am not one to look at gratis grub sideways. I grabbed them, fleetingly skeptical about the oddly punctuated "Better than 'Baked' ...Much better than 'Fried'..." claim on the label, making sure to pick the french-onion-and-garlic flavor. And this is what I was rewarded with:

NO. NO, bad photo. This does not do the hideousness justice. The evil nastiness was exposed when I read the label—turns out the way around baking and/or frying is to FREEZE DRY THEM—but how was I to know? I was horribly blind-sided! They were the color of fluorescent light bulbs, eerily translucent with a purple-white glow. The texture? Potpourri. The flavor? Armpit.

Someone. Must. Pay.

*economic futility.

Is it just me, or have these round-ups been coming in later and later in the week?

It's not just me. Stress levels and high-tide job-related sadness have conspired to drain me of my usual levels of crass wackitude.

See? That sentence was absurd.

I have had neither the financial wherewithal nor the energy to cook, because I've become hopelessly devoted to things that make me feel better. Those things usually come with tableside service and salt on the rim. But if I were rediscovering the joys of being in the kitchen, this would make me laugh every time I used it.

On my current All-Carb Diet (soon to be patented to the terminally thin!), 20,000 grains of rice sounds pretty appetizing.

Before I cooked it, though, I'd like to store the rice in this.

I have an unhealthy devotion to containers of any kind, and this one is pretty in its simplicity.

As is this.

It's like someone turned the perfect farmhouse kitchen towel into a casserole dish. I can imagine it filled with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and peas in a cream sauce, globbed with buttery biscuits.

Though there's a chance that might make me feel like a pig.

The look on that little piggy face just cracked me up.

This, however, made me a little misty.

I imagine it as the perfect gift for someone you love if you travel a lot. Or live far from one another. Or need to send the message that you'd like someone to move to a different time zone.

Which is what I'll be doing if I don't stay employed. Until then, it would probably behoove me to get to work on time, and I think this might help.

What now serves as the receptacle for all-things-sundry on the Woodside is the "dining room" table. Its position directly inside the front door makes it convenient, but also unsightly when piled with junk mail, handbags, dog leashes, and receipts. Because the Woodside is so narrow, the fact that it has space-saving capability makes it doubly helpful.

Speaking of saving space: This is the item that knocked my socks off the most this week.

My spices are a-jumble, but I couldn't believe when I saw this. Do a Google search and you'll discover what I found—there are a lot of heinous spice racks out there.

But this is the opposite of heinous.

It's tidy and useful, though I suspect even in it diminutive state it'd still be too small for the Woodside galley. Either way I'd need to find another use for that side feature. A bottle of wine does not last long around these parts.

Nor does a box of matches. My bathroom overhead lighting is hideous, so candles it is. I love this, but fear it's too delicious to use.

It isn't easy to feel motivated and inspired within the spectre of doom. It isn't even easy to feel awake when your anxiety dreams are laced with every fear your subconscious can conjure (including a few usual suspects who had until now stayed firmly at bay) and you're subsisting on a buffet of overeating and indigestion.

Which is why I found this firmly buoying.

Shit yeah.

*doggie distraction.

Regularly scheduled programming will return tomorrow, PROMISE. Until then, I'm going to make myself a cuteness cocktail.

Video chat rooms at Ustream

*lay off.

Enough already. This is EXHAUSTING.

No news from me, just sad puppy.

*no thanks.

It's a gorgeous, cloudless day outside, an incongruous landscape considering what's going on inside. Editor-in-chief gone—not a complete surprise but still panic-making, both for her and for a now-rudderless ship. There aren't enough life boats on this here Titanic.

And so I give you work-in-progress Thanksgiving menu (click to enlarge).

Here are the recipes:

Curried Calabaza Soup
Spiced Turkey Breast
Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Chives
Cranberry Lime Bellinis

The challah will come from a local bakery, and LSis has promised to make the pie.

What do you think? We're going to have to execute the whole deal off site, and with a really limited budget, so I wanted to keep things simple. But I'm not sure. Is goat cheese and cheddar sauce too much cheese? Is there such a thing as too much cheese? Anybody have any suggestions that would improve what I have so far?

One thing is for sure: I'm going to spend that day toasting all the things I still have to be grateful for, and sending good thoughts to the people who have a little less thanks to give this year.

Hold on tight.

*beagle and cheese.


*thank you note.

Thank you, LSis. I couldn't have asked for a better Happy Due Date present.

I am so grateful to have such a funny, kind, ridiculous, handsome family. In one night you and TFin managed to pick me up a 19-year-old, take me to the VFW, and crack up a whole team of cocktail waitresses. I loves yaz.



It is a universal truth that a bleary morning's avant-garde fashion statement is the afternoon's sartorial question mark. Note to coworkers: "Ooh! Look at you!" does not a compliment make. Particularly when accompanied by a look of confusion usually reserved for listening to Sarah Palin try to explain the military-industrial complex.

That what-the-hell-am-I-wearing epiphany, brought on by an angry encounter with the ladies' room full-length mirror, was only one in a long line of startling realizations yesterday. Sometimes there's so much lesson-learning in my life that I fear I'm part of some elaborate hidden-camera after-school special. "This week, on 'K Falls Down': K discovers that the disquieting tingling in her extremities is directly linked to her tights cutting off blood circulation."

So what's a self-pitying sausage to do? If you've been dutifully graphing my moods and culinary proclivities, you'll find a crowded square at the intersection of Cranky and Mexican Food (although frankly, a disturbing number of roads in my life lead to Mexican food).

We received our menus, at which point I was disappointed to find everything spelled correctly, and therefore not spirits-lifting.

The menu at La Paz has changed a lot since the last time I was there, and not necessarily for the better. It used to be that La Paz was the place to go for flavor combinations you couldn't find anywhere else. Now the options are truncated and the platings are far less inspired. White plate, white tortillas, lettuce topped with peaked tomatoes, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The kitchen is a little stingy with the chips, too, though the red and blue versions in the mix are a nice touch. They're delicately salted and not greasy, but they look a little like they ran through a rock tumbler before they got to the table. With the jagged crumbs you can choose between a red salsa (OK, but a little too sweet) and green (tastier, but the consistency of water, which makes dipping a Sisyphean effort).

MJ ordered the cheese dip, which is inexplicably trough-size. Seriously, you can wash your feet in this bowl. It's nicely spicy and chunky with onions, but it created a rather Alice in Wonderland–like table with all the confusion in scale—tiny dental cups of salsa and handfuls of chips next to a vat of melted cheese (downside: the queso came out with a skin on it, which was less than appetizing and seems like a pretty simple fix).

LSis ordered the tortilla soup, a meaty broth swimming with avocado and studded with white-meat chicken and tomatoes. She proclaimed it good but also "super salty" (I believe that was prefaced with the prediction that it would give me an immediate coronary event) and she noted skeptically that the chicken tasted peculiarly "gamey."

I don't think it knocked her pants off (that's right. What good is having your socks off?), because I caught her eyeing my plate. I ordered the burrito gordo. Memo to Mexican restaurants: I'm sure that word has another connotation, one that implies that you're getting a lot of really great stuff, but I do not like having to request a dish that has the word "fat" in it.

You can have the more-to-love burrito with chicken, beef, or spinach, rolled inside a flour tortilla with guacamole, pinto beans, and sour cream. I chose the spinach, natch. When it arrived at the table, I was pleasantly surprised to see the pretty presentation, but less thrilled to find the tortilla smothered in extraneous cheese dip. NOT NECESSARY. I just ate a bucket of the stuff; my arteries can't take anymore.

Really, though, isn't that pretty? It's an enormous portion, accompanied by mundane refried black beans and some confusingly seasoned rice (it came out crunchy, with the distinct whiff of heat lamp about it, and tasted like ... teriyaki?). Still, that's at least two solid meals there, if not three. I doggy-bagged the heck out of it.

The service was cheerful and relaxed, if lacking a little something in the pacing. When the plates are the size of planets, you probably want to give people the opportunity to take breaks between bites before you pounce on them with the check.

LSis was delighted to discover that her first wimpy glass of Chardonnay seemed to only get more full as the night went on. MJ was bouncily giddy to hear the decidedly early-90s soundtrack overhead.

The highlight for me, because I'm not generally a beer drinker, was the crisply chilled and effervescently carbonated draft ale (bonus: thanks to that night's specials, it only cost $2.00). Well that, and I was relieved it was dimly lit. I still have no idea what I was wearing.

La Paz
99 Euclid Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35213

*horror picture show.

Yesterday: Up until a ridiculous hour in the morning, giggling over Cabernet with ladyfriends.

Today: Running on very few functioning cylinders and recharging for tomorrow night's FIESTA with LSis and TFin (and JLB in spirit. Get well soon!).

Result: Brain cell depletion requiring haikus.

Oh delicious chips
Your low-fat dip delights me
Greek yogurt kicks ass.

Camera feature makes
diabolical taters
out of lovely spuds.

Accursed tofu.
Although you claimed otherwise,
you're not a burger.

Nightmarish photo
for the purpose of showing
the patties of doom.

Pretty autumn leaves
do little to distract you—
this post is crappy.

*economic futility.

This week's Things That Appeal To My Bizarre and Often Questionable Sense of Gadgetry and Knickknackery comes a day late and so, so many dollars short. This week has been unquestionably marked, carrying with it a pall of disappointment and fear.

Good news:

2. Finally hopped on board the Twitter train, allowing me to indulge in even more voyeuristic time-killing activities (suck on it, Facebook).
4. J has, due to non-use of heat on the Woodside, been ridiculously snuggly.

Bad news:

1. Formerly brilliant red/orange/yellow-green fallness outside my window has deteriorated to sagging brown levels.
2. Meeting with New York Honcho who decides our magazine's fate was peppered with "I really can't tell you" and "I can't promise you anything" and "[XYZ] is your title? What [the fuck] is that?" Luckily, my job didn't seem to stump him, though my attempt to deliver it confidently and without stuttering? FAIL. And I wasn't even intimidated by this joker. Just forced to be coherent before 10:27 am.
3. Co-pays go up 50% next year.
4. JLB is in the emergency room in New York and I'm worried for her. Nothing life-threatening, but we need to get her home, stat.

On balance, that puts my mood firmly hovering somewhere between "Meh. Whatever," and "Ooh! I found a quarter!"

I'd love to sneak into Online Editor's office for peanut-butter-cup pilfering, but maybe I should just get some of these.

The election collection is timely, but those itty bitty Thanksgiving birds are just too cute. I won't be eating any pea-brain poultry this holiday, but I can make an exception for truffled turkeys.

But with the death of 2008 comes the need to add to my list of resolutions I have no intention of keeping. And though my attempts at "healthy eating" are more along the lines of remembering that an entire sleeve of Thin Mints tastes a lot better than it feels, I think this could help.

I love Heidi's recipes, in part because they're sneaky. They manage to sound and look delicious, whilst containing old childhood enemies like butternut squash. Only she could get me to eat pumpkin seeds AND LIKE IT.

I also like this.

A lot. I would kill that green green grass before you can spell "pesticide personified," and I'm pretty sure J would (ahem) make it his own, but I appreciate the concept of a snooty umbrella stand getting a modern comeuppance.

Speaking of snobbishness, were I a person of either style or substance, I would have to have this.

It's called the "editor's suitcase," which I believe qualifies it as having my name written all over it.

As do these.

I can see loads of them filling up L Sis's china cabinet. Because her favorite color is red and her cabinet is Danishly Modern, not because she's a lush. Sheesh.

Why did no one tell me this happened?

The second I married myself to the notion of the Dijon Le Creuset, they went and made a set in that incredible cadet blue/gray. Of course, now that I think about it, a mixed bunch would be DIVINE. All right then, it's decided. I'll take both.

I want both of these, too.

I tend to think salt-and-pepper shakers trend too much toward silly and/or boring, but I like that these are low-profile and fun.

Unlike this, which is gilt and lovely and girly.

Regardless of my penchant for leaving dishes in the sink for a period of time usually reserved for elephant gestation, I think I need more plates. Especially when they're delicate and free-form and Tiffany blue.

But let's be frank. I am not, in fact, girly. I am wearing a dress and sitting Indian style right now, like a kindergartner. And because I have been on a hunt for the perfect lunchbox, I was overjoyed to discover this.

It's so "I superglued my hard hat to this here steel beam," don't you think?

I'm grateful to have a place to bring my lunch every day. A place that continues to supply me with mortgage payments, at least for now. And you can help. BUY PRINT.

Then put it in here.

Because if you're going to do a good deed, you deserve to buy yourself something pretty.

*six minutes of separation.

I know I won't be the first to post this. But find the time to watch it. These are the words behind my silent scream. The ones that fill my chest to bursting and seriously challenge my hate moratorium.

"This isn't about yelling and this isn't about politics and this isn't really just about Prop 8 ... This vote is horrible. HORRIBLE."

Luckily, the antidote to hate is love.

*make it work.

I know, you're jealous. Due to my ever-increasing fame, I fear I must remain anonymous in this photo of me, M, and my acerbic soulmate, T Gunn. I don't want to be photographed in my pajamas at airports or become increasingly inane or be forced to embark on a pseudo-lesbian relationship. However, M looks adorable and I give 10 points to my hair, which proved unusually cooperative.

TG was in town to emcee a Liz Claiborne fashion show, which was sort of cringe-making and long and peopled with an odd assortment of "just like you! models." Verdict? Oxymoron. Also, houndstooth appears to be "in," but the scale of the pattern is such that no one who has recently consumed a meal won't look like a sofa.

Our seats left something to be desired.

I can't bat my eyelashes at a style guru from that distance.

Having endured a solid hour of upbeat, inoffensive tunes (You make me feel like a natural woman! Turn the beat around! Vogue!) and a parade of allegedly sophisticated separates, they turned us loose for the Q&A.

Question: Should there be a category in hell for People Who Ask Questions That Are Not Interrogatory? ("I just love you and watch your show all the time and think you're so great and Project Runway is my favorite thing of all time and I want to become a fashion designer and so my question is shoes and belt.")
Answer: Ohholyjesusyes.

He did dish some dirt—favorite designers per season (Kara Saun, Chloe Dao, Laura Bennett, Jillian Lewis, and "Do I have to pick one?"—yikes) and least favorite (Wendy Pepper, Zulema Griffin, Vincent Libretti, Victorya Hong, and "bless her pointy little head ... KENLEY"), and most dramatic moments (Keith Gets Caught with Pattern Books, Laura Accuses Jeffery of Cheating). I was a little surprised not to see Jack Goes Home with Staph Infection on that last list, honestly.

But that was the highlight of the first part of the event, pockmarked as it was with co-commentary from a horse-haired twit of a marketing lady who more than once referred derisively to height deficiency as though it were a choice. On the subject of heels: "You don't have to be short, ladies!" No, YOU don't have to be short. Asshole.

Then we were set free to make our mandated purchases ($100 worth of Claiborne for the photo op) and started waiting. And waiting. To be fair, they did try to entertain us. We got some pointless swag:

Empty accordion folder meant for starting a "style file." All about how, in order to turn your day ensemble into night duds, you must carry half the contents of your closet in a very large handbag, if the "fashion" show was any indication.

Estée Lauder would make up your face for free so you wouldn't look pallid next to Timmy, but the whole endeavor seemed rather unhygienic. Watching those brushes go from face to face to face ... I don't think so. I'll preserve my pasty whiteness for posterity, thank you very much. And don't think I don't know you're sizing me up. I realize "Can I offer you some lip gloss?" means [SHRIEK OF HORROR AT HIDEOUS GLOSSLESSNESS].

I did attempt to look some combination of inconspicuous and stylish (snort!), but not everyone was so concerned. This was my line mate.

Honestly, that blur is all about guilt. Frankly, she seemed like a very nice woman, quite chatty and up for a bronzer touch-up and some conversation with the EL army. But this was her self-admitted "dressy game-day outfit" and I just ...

Straight to hell with me.

I shored up the best of my witty banter (T: "I'm flying back to New York tonight." K: "Lucky.") and abandoned it all immediately in favor of trying. to. keep. the. blush. down. A fruitless endeavor. I'm worthless around celebs. I'm afraid of being remembered as That Girl Who Tripped on the Velvet Rope, so I tend to stutter and ... trip on the velvet rope. Not that that happened. Ahem.

Post photo? Better swag. A full 365 days of Tim Gunn for my very own self.

2009 is looking up.

*son j sunday.

Currently: Bloated with fun, smelling of smoked ham, and mock strangling a Chihuahua.

Leaving: Little time for coherent blogging. Content yourselves with brown dog masquerading as hippopotamus.



Things that are harshing my buzz today:

1. The deathly pall that's descended over the office since the Chief sent out an e-mail announcing our meeting with the head honcho had (GASP!) changed times. People are liable to have a collective heart attack should she so much as sneeze, so everyone's muscles are cramping in this crouched-with-bated-breath position.

2. Weekend forecast: Freelance avalanche.

3. I recently discovered that my wallet's contents—copay receipts and an expired Blockbuster card—have no worth as currency.

4. A scheduled Sorry We Laid You Off; Here's a Quarter Inch of Wine! party in 45 minutes promises to be pained and sad.

5. Sometimes people who purport to be fiercely protecting their "values" put me on the outside. And even though raising the population in Judgment Town isn't my goal, it still makes me sad to see otherwise lovely people become snarly and insular.

(But! A coworker made me a CD, news from the vet's office says R has to lose no teeth—yay JLB!—and I found $0.58 I didn't know I had, so all is not yet lost.)

And it's a comfort to know that English as a Second Language and its corollary, The Confused But Well-intentioned Editor, can always make me laugh.

Someone tried to FIX IT! by turning "loes" into "loses," but I think the problem was purely a dyslexic one. I did appreciate the kindly accusatory tone: People fall down here. It's their shoes' fault. Especially because, without that warning, the likelihood that I would be one of those face-planted people is 100%.

Unfortunately, that accusatory tone permeated the meal, too. The general feeling of the staff seemed to be, "Why are you here, again?" We tried to explain that we were interested in lunch, but that only seemed to grumpify them more. Apparently the literal translation of "Can we get some more salsa?" is "Can we trouble you for a kidney?"

Strange, because the reviews say things like, "great staff" and "friendly wait staff" and "the atmosphere and overall feeling was intensely comforting." (Note: Oxymoron? I prefer my comforting to be more soothing, less intense.) I'm willing to wager that we just caught them on a cranky day, but the unappetizing combination of an inch of dust on the plastic greenery and the 20-gallon industrial tubs of margarita mix on the bar didn't appeal to me.

I've been disappointed in the food at Los Amigos before, but I was willing to give it another try. Purely based on adorableness, I wanted to order the Taco Salad.

It comes in a "flower" tortilla, you see. HEE!

But I lost control of myself and ordered the huevos rancheros at the last minute. It astounded even me. I did not see it coming.

And get this—it was delicious. The eggs had perfect runny centers, the rice wasn't greasy, and the sauce? Fire-breathing, just like I like it. It came with steamed flour tortillas, too, which was an unexpected—and welcome—twist. The softness soaks up the yummy yolks, as opposed to becoming chewy Frisbees, as the traditional fried corn tortilla is wont to do.

Verdict: Food spotty, service surly, floor slippery. Enter at your own risk.

Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant
3324 Clairmont Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35222



my foodgawker gallery



I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.