Lifestyles of the Destitute and Obscure

dazzling and interesting on a shoestring

Category Archives: holiday

Dazzling and Sparkling Wine Picks for the Cash-Strapped

This is a guest post, starring my dear friend, Kristin. This is the gal who taught me the nitty-gritty about blogging and has been encouraging me all the way. Not only is she a blogging babe and a belly dancing diva like myself, but she happens to be a wine maven extraordinaire and works as the event coordinator for a local posh wine club. Lucky us, she’s going to share a bit of her knowledge so that we can celebrate, polish up our wine panache and do so without adding to our holiday debt. So buy a bottle without guilt and toast to your new sophisticated palate and to our lovely Kristin! Happy New Year, y’all!!

There are many special occasions this time of year, when reaching for something with a stem just seems like the right thing to do.

ID-100278657Bubbly
Whether it’s New Year’s Eve or the season premier of Walking Dead, something in a pretty glass with tiny little bubbles is just proper. One of my recommendations for those, like myself, who are on a beer budget but have a taste for champagne is a sparkling Vouvray. Like it’s cousin, Champagne, it is also from France it is also elegant, but with a much lower price-point. One of my favorite sparkling Vouvrays, is from Domaine Vigneau. It usually retails for $20-24 per bottle. It has the complexity and brightness of true Champagne, but with a hint of honey on the finish. It looks and tastes “fancy-pants” without the strain on your wallet.

th-1Get Down and Snuggle
On a blustery winter night, sometimes you just get a hankering for a hearty stew in a hot bowl in front of the fireplace. When I prepare my Mama’s stew recipe on these nights, I grab a bottle of Don Miguel Gascon Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. I like the 2013 vintage, and all of the vintages that I’ve tasted I’ve been most impressed with this one. This bottle is usually under $20 at most stores, but tastes like a much more expensive bottle of wine. To me, it tastes like chocolate-covered cherries and has a very smooth and velvety finish.

Just ‘cause
Sometimes, you need a wine “just because”- just because a girlfriend popped by unexpectedly, just because you had a bad day at work, just because your kids are driving you bat-poop crazy! A perfect go-to for me is something crisp, light, white, and with a twist-off top. Why add stress and carpel tunnel to your world unnecessarily? I recommend Clos DuBois Pinot Grigio- retails for under $10 a bottle at most stores, has easy access (twist-off), and is so pretty and delicate with aromas of pink grapefruit and peach. It has lively acidity and a crisp finish, and it goes with everything! Brie, apples and peanut butter, popcorn and string cheese, Triscuits with cream cheese- anything can be quickly whipped up to set on the coffee table with this little hidden gem!

Impress the crap out of ‘em
Every once in a while, you have the need to impress the crap out of someone with a really damn good bottle of wine. Whether it’s your bosses birthday, your best friend’s 40th, or your anniversary, there are a few very impressive tasting, yet light on the budget wines that I would recommend. The first is the Prisoner- a red blend that is so incredibly palate-pleasing to so many types of wine drinkers. Very fruit-forward and jammy, yet silky and velvety- under $40 a bottle, whether someone is a “wine snob”, or just cutting their teeth on their vino repertoire, I’ve rarely met an individual who didn’t love this particular wine.

Another one of my prized picks is the Frank Family 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, around $50 a bottle, whether the recipient is drinking it now, or saving for a few years, it is an opulent, gorgeous Cab, with a beautiful label, and has the score of 92 points with Robert Parker.

thMy number one fave (I saved the best for last!), is the 2013 Cave Blend by Del Dotto. Not only does it have an absolutely beautiful Italian-styled label that looks like lace, the wine itself is so decadent and dark, yet supple and silky at the same time. Hailing from one of the most beautiful vineyards in Napa that I have ever visited, it is literally little drops of heaven in a bottle. If you have the chance to visit either of their locations, I highly recommend it!

I hope that you have enjoyed my vino recommendations, and wish to you and yours an incredibly fulfilling, scrumptious and prosperous New Year! Cheers!!

clinking glasses image courtesy of Stuart Miles

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Christmas From My Point of View

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A lovely classic masterpiece, though I do wish Jesus and Mary looked more like poor Middle Eastern people instead of wealthy Europeans.

First off, to me this is Christ–mas   I keep the Lord’s birthday in there. To even scrawl Xmas on a to-do list makes me cringe. Oh sure, many a movie or storybook likes to aim above the retail greed.

These guys only hint at the original meaning and celebration of Christmas, and I wish they went the extra mile. So we read these classics from Dr. Suess and Chris Van Allsburg and then we bust out the Bible for the original classic.9780394800790
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Well that’s true, but…
And from The Polar Express:
“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.” I do believe, but it’s not in Santa and a sleigh bell. The words of God ring sweetly for me because I believe.9780544580145

So these books and movies dabble in magic, shooting for the themes of love and togetherness. While they aim high, at least clearing the muck of consumerism, they fail to aim straight up. Look straight up to heaven for your meaning for Christmas and you’ll find absolution from greed, a reason for the season as well as your life and a love so big and so grand yet so tender and sweet that there is nothing in the world like it. It is only found in heaven, and it is given freely to everyone. Get this—all you have to do is (wait for it…) ask. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ—God on earth in human form, sent as a living sacrifice of love so that we on earth need not be separated from our God in heaven.

IMG_1278Do we believe Santa brings presents? Only if you want to, and then you can believe that Mom and Dad are masters of internet shopping. And once you move on from Santa Clause, you just nod and smile when your younger siblings ask about the big guy with the beard. (It could just be a picture of Daddy in his grunge phase.) After the obvious reason for the season and keeping it void of cliché and any agonizing and overwrought traditions, I certainly buy in to the retailers’ mission to overburden my credit card. But you see, I just love to surprise people. I want my husband to bask in the glow of books that he never knew he wanted. And my husband’s love of books is just beginning to bloom. He reads and speaks the language of music, which I listen to and adore. But I have not absorbed it as a native tongue the way he has. I on the other hand, could curl up in ecstatic bliss with the dictionary.

Does that make me easy to shop for? Yes, of course! I love socks, I love books and boots and funny t-shirts and scrumptious-smelling candles. But wait, don’t give me super heady floral candles. And I can’t stand t-shirts with standard necklines. My socks should be bright and colorful and limited on the synthetics. And please don’t buy me any books from the mystery or bodice-ripper genres. What can I say? I’m an obscure woman with discerning tastes.

We keep the Lord-Jesus-Christ-mas and we enjoy giving unique gifts if not the latest gadgets—no one in our house will receive a hover-board this year, or next, or the year after…And it’s always a great opportunity to bless members of the family with things they need to buy anyway. Last year, all my husband got was underwear, socks, t-shirts and pajamas. Stockings usually contain tubes of toothpaste, possibly because they also contain lots of chocolate.

So, I must confess that we spend too much but spend time together. And in January, we will spend time working hard, paying our bills, and knowing that all true blessings and gifts come from above with love.

For related reading, check out:
Easter in the Park

We Believe in Christmas

When a Woman Like Me Turns 40

Easter in the Park

DSC_1974

Big girl shows the little critters how it’s done.

Yes, we celebrated Easter last week, complete with eggs, bunnies, chocolate and not least of all, our Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for us and was resurrected so that we might be able to live in loving relationship with Him in Heaven. That said, we went to church on Sunday morning, the little people dressed in bright dresses and Mom and Dad in comfortable shoes—the better to chase around said little people. Church for us is two blocks down the street at the park. Blessedly convenient and fun, too. There were coffee and pastries and fruit, and the obligatory Easter egg ‘hunt,’ which really consisted of laying (pun intended) out a hundred or so plastic eggs on the grass and then saying ‘Go!’ to the kids—an Easter egg dash, to be more specific.  DSC_1967

Before church, there were Easter ‘baskets’ for all the kids. Since we can’t really afford cheap and breakable colored baskets, and I abhor that Easter grass that gets everywhere and sticks to everything, we improvised. I used paper bags, some nifty alphabet stamps, a few ribbons left over from presents and boxes of chocolates, and a sheet of repurposed yellow tissue paper.

Ms. Destitute does super cheap and easy Easter baskets.  Functional, personal and beyond cute.

Ms. Destitute does super cheap and easy Easter baskets. Functional, personal and beyond cute.

We bought small bunnies and a bag of chocolate eggs to split amongst the kids and called it done. Really, that’s all they need. The chocolate will be nibbled at for the next few weeks, and the bunnies will be beloved for a week or so before they are added to the motley family of stuffed animals that grace the bed, or the toy basket or the futon in the twins’ room.

And that was just in the morning.

DSC_1976

Thing two discovers an egg hiding in the bushes.

In the afternoon, Dad went for a bike ride, Mom worked on a school paper (boo) and the kiddos napped and relaxed. We do this everyday in hopes that Mother will stay sane. Just before the small people woke up, I wandered down to our lovely apartment courtyard, where everything is in bloom, and ‘hid’ about 20 plastic eggs containing absolutely nothing.

The kids didn’t care, or even, uh, notice. The hunt was the fun part. We met up with our neighbors, who just had to walk out their front door, and the smallest people wandered around looking confused, until a parent directed them to exactly where an egg perched in some foliage and then pointed to it.

DSC_1972

Precious neighbor.

‘Hunt’ isn’t exactly an accurate description, but fun was had. We sat on some steps and scarfed popcorn, pretzels, cheddar bunnies and raisins (Destitute Style Chex Mix, without the Chex) and drank a bit of juice before the younger kids ran around chasing the big one and managed not to obliterate the landscaping.

DSC_1981

Thing One finds an egg and manages to get it into her basket.

I don’t know what we feasted on for dinner, but it wasn’t ham. I made a call up to the relatives, talked to my uncle and to my dad and wished everyone a Happy Easter. Daddy-O and I put the kids to bed and watched some totally unrelated-to-the-holiday-movie—‘Catching Fire,’ I think.

Happy Easter to all and to us!

Further Springtime fun:
Spring Cleaning
Birthday Cake and Baking Mistakes

 

We Believe in Christmas

We're pretending we have a fireplace with a mantle.

We’re pretending we have a fireplace with a mantle.

How do the destitute celebrate Christmas? (That really depends on what they believe in.) At our house, we put up colored lights and decorate a Christmas tree. This year, it’s a tiny tree, because it has to be out of reach of four eager, uncontrolled and mischievous little hands. It’s festive, but not terribly fashionable. Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Ree Drummed nor Elle Décor had any influence on our choice of tree trimmings. Mine and my husband’s childhoods had the most influence—Jim Henson, Kiwiana, the grunge era and a love of jazz and good bass players. There’s nothing on my front door proclaiming, ‘It’s Christmastime and we know it!’ You can’t see our tree from the front window—in fact, you can barely see our tree from across the room. But we know it’s there.DSC_1834

I like to put on Christmas music, because despite the fact that I believe in the original meaning of the celebration (a day, not necessarily historically accurate as the 25th of December, to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Son of God, who was eventually crucified and rose again to save me from my sins and allow me to spend all eternity in heaven with Him when I die) it’s really the only time of year I listen to Christian music. That’s due to musical taste, not an aversion to the message.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas tunes:
‘Ave Maria’ by Chris Cornell and Eleven (from A Very Special Christmas Volume 3)
The tune is a familiar one, but the voice is unusual for what is usually sung in an operatic style. But being the grunge-child that I am, I love it. The song is a great tribute to the Virgin Mary, who is a minor star in this whole Christmas story, and being a mother, I cannot help but wonder at this young woman who gave birth to the Christ child in a stable, amidst rumors of scandal. What a woman. Chris Cornell’s voice gives the song the kind of grittiness that I think goes properly with such a birth scene.

‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ by Whitney Houston (from A Very Special Christmas Volume 1) This is Whitney Houston and modern gospel music at its finest. This was the kind of music she was born to sing, not sappy love songs for a scumbag like Bobby Brown. Brings tears to my eyes, not least of all because I will never be able to sing this great classic nearly as well.

‘O Holy Night’ by Tracy Chapman (from A Very Special Christmas Volume 3)
This is my favorite Christmas carol, regardless who sings it, or especially the red-headed woman named Anne who used to sing with the choir at church when I was growing up. If she sang this one at the Christmas Eve service, the whole evening was a hit. I love the lyrics to this song, by turns praising and in awe of such an event as the birth of Christ and then tender and sweet. Tracy Chapman’s sweet smoky voice and a simple guitar is all it needs.

bela.fleck.jingleBela Fleck and the Flecktones Jingle All the Way
This is a family tradition that my husband and I adopted all our own, because who doesn’t need a little throat-singing and banjo-playing to shake up the likes of Bing Crosby and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Give me Bela over those ol’ stiffs any day.

john.denver.muppetsJohn Denver and the Muppets, A Christmas Together
This album (and I mean LP, until it was replaced by a digital version in the new century, though we still have the slightly scratched vinyl edition) is a tradition from by mine and my husband’s childhood. John Denver can’t be beat for writing songs from the heart, and any time I hear ‘A Baby Just Like You’, I get all teary. Denver wrote it for his son, Zachary, thinking of Jesus as an infant and all that must have meant to both His father in heaven and to Joseph. It reminds me of my children and it reminds me of my brother, who was a baby when the song came out. My mother used to change the line Merry Christmas, Little Zachary to fit with her baby son’s name. I insert any or all of my children’s names, even if they’re not so little anymore.
And on a lighter note, the asides of Miss Piggy in ‘Christmas is Coming’, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ are hysterical.

What are your favorite Christmas tunes? Are they family traditions or ones you’ve started on your own?

New Year’s Resolution– Contentedness

Chickens-on-a-FarmI wish I lived in rural (fill in the blank: Tennessee, Virginia, Northern California, upstate New York) and had an old fixer-upper farmhouse with

  1. Chickens
  2. Goats
  3. Dogs
  4. kids
  5. All of the above

in the yard.
But I don’t.

We live in an apartment building in the middle of a built-up suburbs that borders on a small city.  We live in a neighborhood made for yuppies, not homesteaders.  My kids roam our balcony and walk to the ice cream place.  My husband rides his bike to work, and the closest thing we have to a pet are siblings and half a dozen musical instruments.  We rent instead of renovate.  I have to swipe my debit card to do laundry instead of hanging it out on the line to dry in the sun.  I try not to daydream of organic garden beds, and instead we shop at the farmers market.  Maybe I’ll put potted herbs on the balcony come springtime.

the extent of my flower garden, hanging on the balcony

the extent of my flower garden, hanging on the balcony

I long to write books at my desk in my study and stare out the window at the kids playing on the back forty, but I may have to content myself with the laptop on the couch and wondering at the guy sunbathing at the apartment complex pool in the middle of January.   At least that will be better fodder for novels.  Or perhaps I could start with simply cleaning off my desk, and enjoy the luscious potted plant that sits on the attached bookcase.

Like just about everybody else on God’s green/brown/icy/grey earth, I have to be content with what I’ve got—and I’ve got A LOT.

I have a family that is learning to love each other unconditionally, two babies that are learning to move and communicate, three kids and a husband who love food, cooking, baking, chocolate, fresh pears and the smell of cinnamon.

yep, my hubby makes sushi.

yep, my hubby makes sushi.

I have matching vintage green velvet chairs and a love seat that we worked hard to find and bargain for, and an extensive wardrobe full of adventures and memories.

This New Year, I’m going to strive for contentedness, and next month for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to fill it with more love.

I know, Fiest already sang it here, but…

Holiday Thank-you Notes

notes-anthroIt’s always okay to say thank you.  It’s always perfectly acceptable to be polite.  Start young and continue until your dying day.  You won’t ever be sorry that you had good manners.
We write thank-you notes (NOT emails) in my house.  My children write them for every birthday and Christmas present.

I started writing thank-you’s for my one-year old, as if the child was writing them.  Obviously, none of the words were belonged to the little one, but the sentiment was there all the same.  As my oldest began to develop some language skills, I began inserting cute words or phrases or funny things done or said about the gift.  When the child could form sentences, they dictated the letter to me (with some helpful prompts by Mommy) and now that they can write ‘love’ and their name, they signed the cards.

A thank-you note or card, does not just say— ‘thanks for the sweater.  It looks neat.’  No.  Express your thanks and then pick another subject, somewhat related to the recipient, such as, ‘it was great to see you over the holidays,’ or ‘we should get the cousins together to play this summer,’ or some such.  Make it personal.  It needn’t be an epic poem in rhyme but a sentence or two to let them know that not only are you thankful, but that you have some affection for them as well.

notes-animalsWith thank-you’s (as with most things in life) I like to get a little creative and add a little style.  I either make my own thank-you’s, or I buy them discounted at my favorite over-priced stores.  For example, Anthropologie has great little note-card sets.  Some of them can be ridiculously expensive, as if only rich ladies can afford manners or have enough money and time to send cards.  But found on the sale shelf or picked over carefully, one can find just the right card to express both gratitude and style without stretching the budget.  My rule of thumb is that cards should cost no more than a dollar individually, so I buy the lovely birthday and greeting cards at Trader Joe’s (while I stock up on yogurt and macaroni and cheese) or I buy boxes of note cards.  notes-thanksIf a box costs $12, then it must contain at least a dozen cards to meet my per-card requirement.  I buy unique cards at local, independent bookstores when I can, but I’ve also been known to give in and just go to my local Papyrus chain.  You can buy notecards online, but it seems a little silly to have cards mailed to you before you write them and then mail them out, no?
notes-kids cardsFor kids, there are nifty little kits like this one can help encourage creative little minds (and your kids’) and give you ideas to use for making your own from scratch.

Lastly, find your recipients’ addresses and send them.  I email my friends and request addresses that way, and then have a master list on an Excel spreadsheet—super-handy for the mass of invitations and thank-you’s I had to send for my wedding.  Sometimes I even remember to update it. You can get fancy stamps at the post office, or if basic efficiency over-rules that, you can always get stamps at the supermarket.  I like to try to stock up on the nature-inspired or ‘Love’ stamps the USPS puts out.

So, get to it, y’all (and that’s a reminder to myself as well)!  Send those thank-you’s and express your gratitude in style.  Who knows, for all your troubles, you might even end up on Santa’s ‘nice’ list next year.

Sexy Valentine’s Movies and Food for a Night In

Or how the Destitute get romantic without being boring or broke.
Warning gentle readers:
  The following post is Valentine’s Day- themed, but focuses on the more physical aspect of adult relationships—aka sex.  Be forewarned that this three-letter word appears liberally throughout the post, delving as far into the deep end as to use the word porn, though tempering it a bit here and there with the more palatable word love.  If thou thinkest you shall be offended, then check back with Lifestyles of the Destitute and Obscure in a few weeks when we shall return to the land of thrift stores and culinary craftiness.  But if you dare, read on and please allow yourself to be amused.  Kiddos, check this one with Mom and Dad; Mom and Dad (as in my parents) read on and please remember that I am an adult and well as your child. 

The calendar and American consumerism say it’s time to do something canoodling and romantic, but before you buy another dozen toxically sprayed inorganic red roses that will wilt momentarily (though Ms. D is whole-heartedly in favor of drying roses—preferably organic ones—and using them in a scattered Gypsy-era Stevie Nicks way to decorate the tops of bookshelves, bureaus and other dust-collecting spaces) make it an evening in (cheaper and no need for reservations or a babysitter) with a movie rental or two and a few well-chosen nibbles—think beyond microwave popcorn for this one.
Ms. D would also suggest for those entirely domesticated couples that everyone put in the extra effort to shave and put on a nice pair of underwear for the occasion.  But if you must be comfortable, go ahead and wear your sweats.  It is, after all, your house and your comfy hand-me-down couch.

Something to Nibble on, Besides Your Partner’s Ear

  • Mixed nuts, being careful of those that cause emergency-room-visit-caliber-allergies (not romantic)
  • Smoked salmon on your favorite cracker, paired with its cheap (and maybe a little bit sleazy) partner, cream cheese—a match made in heaven.  Though, do have a nice lemon or vanilla (a natural aromatic aphrodisiac) scented cloth to dispel any lingering fishy odor.
  • Exotic fruits, preferably bite-size, so as to deposit them in your darling’s mouth with your slightly sticky and completely lick-able fingers.
  • Splurge on a few pieces of really good chocolate—only 1 or 2 for each of you.  That’s enough.  No need to buy lots of cheap, waxy chocolate; it will only make you feel ill.  Spend just a few dollars and get a few pieces of the good stuff.
  • A glass of wine each.  This is not for drunken, lower-her-inhibitions purposes.  This is to savor, share with your partner and go with the chocolate.  Choose red or white or bubbly to suit your tastes, or go with a slightly smaller glass of you favorite quality liquor.  Remember, this is a special occasion, not a drunken orgy.  Thank you for hearing this public service announcement—now we move on.


Valentine’s Flicks to Spark and Smolder

This is not a list of romantic comedies, which in my opinion do nothing but inspire women to demand silly public displays of devotion and testosterone-fizzling pillow-talk.  Neither is it a list gleaned from the pages of Maxim, Playboy or Penthouse—this is not a list of ‘Best Sex Scenes in a Movie.’  I watched a few of those and was disturbed that many of the movies were meant to be disturbing/psycho-thrillers.  And so, I propose a middle ground: sexy movies that have romantic elements and require most of the actresses (and actors—this is an equal-opportunity flesh-fest) to be mostly naked.  There are sex scenes; there are no scenes of Meg Ryan weeping.  Men and women alike should enjoy most of these movies, and hopefully find them inspiring.  Because, really, does a box of chocolates in a frilly box make you want to jump into bed with someone?  No, but time spent together, enjoying a bit of culture can be the start (or the re-start, or the continual ignition) to something wonderful.

Belle Epoque
—This little flick, now almost a decade old, is directed by Fernando Trueba and stars Penelope Cruz when she was practically a girl.  It is a stunning romantic caper set in Spain.  Yes, you will have to read the subtitles.  A young soldier finds himself stranded in a small town, and befriends a local man while waiting for his train.  Upon hearing that the local has four daughters, the soldier ‘accidentally’ misses his train, therefore depending upon the older man’s kindness and hospitality.  Naturally, all four daughters are gorgeous in their own way, with Cruz playing the youngest.  The escapades that follow are both sexy and humorous, with enough of a central plotline and amusing peripheral characters to keep it from slipping into silly soft-core.  Plus, it’s all in Spanish, which keeps it just above cheesy, or at least an exotic imported cheese rather than American ‘cheese’ (which really isn’t cheese at all, but a highly processed dairy product).

The Lover— If you want a steamy locale and can handle a bit of French-styled forays toward the sexual exploits of the young that don’t quite dip into pedophilia, then watch this delicious and sexy story of the affair of a young French girl and a Chinese man that takes place in colonial Vietnam.  The movie is based on the book of the same name by Marguerite Duras.  Go ahead and read the book, too, which is still steamy, but melancholic and wrapped in that mysterious and sometimes incongruous French je ne sais quoi.  But for a two-hour foreplay-seduction-by-celluloid, watch the movie.  The setting is a little bit exotic, but always just a little bit raw and dirty (in both the literal and figurative sense) and the costuming is simple but alluring.  I love a man in a linen suit and I myself would love to look as beguiling in a simple tea-dyed shift, braids and a fedora.  Jane March would look only like a school girl if it weren’t for the red-stained lips of her sulky smile.


Crazy, Stupid, Love
— Yes, it’s American, yes it’s cheesy and processed.  But it is funny for both men and women.  There is just enough of Julianne Moore’s legs and plenty of Ryan Gosling’s chest (swoon) to make it sexy and there’s a whole lotta love going around in strange directions.  It’s not R-rated (PG-13, but probably not one for the kiddos) and a smart romantic comedy, without getting into Woody Allen-wackiness territory if that’s not your thing.  Think of it as a chocolate milk-type movie—sweet, smooth going down and sits comfortably in your stomach (unless of course, you’re lactose intolerant, but we don’t need to delve into the depths of that analogy).

Porn Star: The legend of Ron Jeremy— If you don’t mind a bit of porn, with high levels of humor and a whole lotta heart, this is a great film.  Yes, there’s pornography; they’re not just sex scenes.  But I stand by this film as worth watching and not just full of closet-sex-addict-porn outtakes.  Ron Jeremy, an adult film icon, is gifted with a few natural talents that make him perfect for his job—not the least of which is a sense of humor and playfulness in an industry that would do well not to take itself too seriously.  This porn-star wears his heart on his sleeve, which doesn’t exactly make him romantic (or even particularly attractive, though usually that is the job of his female counterpart) but it makes him wonderfully human and he is, in many ways, eager to please.  Ron Jeremy even dabbles in Hollywood— ‘real acting’— movies in an effort to become just a little bit more legit.  But he does his current job so well and with so much a genuine heart, which is next-to-non-existent in the porn industry, that he has become a legend in his field— if not necessarily a movie star.

Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona— Okay, so sometimes Woody Allen can be sexy.  I don’t mean him personally, unless you’re into that much-older-man thing, and I don’t intend to go there.  This one pairs nicely with Belle Epoque, getting to see Penelope Cruz mature— and go crazy—in an entirely beguiling and sexy way.  Scarlett Johannson  is cute, sexy and pouty in that wonderful way that only a naïve, idealistic American college student can be while travelling in Europe.  Javier Bardem gives us a lovely flavor of rugged, older Spanish man, speaking in poetry and smoky stares.  And you can’t go wrong with Mediterranean sunshine on red-tile roofs, especially if yours is currently covered in snow.

There’s my list.  Snuggle, partake, be inspired and feel the love.  Then share the love and send me your favorite list of Valentine’s movies—to be viewed any and all times of the year.  Though be warned, I may suddenly become deaf/blind to any Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts romantic comedies, and shame on you if you glean yours from Maxim.

Love and hugs,
Ms. D

Hearts photo by: Salvatore Vuono

how the obscure keep on keepin’ on.

AAAACK!  It would appear that I have not written in almost a month.  Graduation, summer vacation or an attack of killer tomatoes?  No, just life.  I got a job, sort of, and then I got heavily into the land of imagination and disappeared.  But the reality is that life—destitution and obscurity ever-present as always—goes on.  And therefore, so must the blog.
In the past few weeks, we here at L of the D n’ O have been cultivating lettuce and preschoolers and trying to figure out the motivation for some people to sell their trash on their driveways and call it a ‘Garage Sale’.  (A friend mentioned the term ‘box of socks’, and if there had been hosiery available for purchase, I might have been interested.)
The ‘job’ of sorts is a stint being a paid (marginally) blogger (!) at BayAreaMama as their residence Health and Fitness writer.  I’ve blogged there on raw milk, running for sanity’s sake and the in’s and out’s of sunscreens.  Please do check it out, and understand that I am blogging for 2 now, and may not quite hit weekly on both.

In the coming weeks, as both patriotism and barbeques ignite, I’m sure that there will be able opportunities to share how the poor and creative get down and dirty.  So here are a few suggestions for Independence Day:
1.  Turn east and somewhat north, depending on where you are in the US (and only if you are a citizen of the United States of America) extend your middle finger and aim.  This might be the true spirit of the holiday, excepting the fact that it’s a bit childish, and that the Brits have a different hand gesture for the same expression in their country.  It just goes to prove how really independent we are—we made up our own obscene hand gestures.
2. Okay, really.  Check out where your nearest parade is and partake in the scenery waltzing by, or join right in for a few minutes.  Most local parades include the high school marching band, a few fancy cars and lots of fun for kids.  I used to attend the Fourth of July Parade in Danville, California back when local men pushed their John Deere’s around in a choreographed routine as part of the Lawnmower Brigade (no one in Danville mows their own lawns anymore, but a bunch of guys still get together with their old mowers anyway) and the parade finished off with a troop of Civil War buffs firing off their rifles (I hated that part—too loud and scary… oh, wait—that idea is still loud and scary, and apparently, they still do it) but now it’s a little tamer with lots of Mercedes and real estate agents—still a little scary, but always good, campy fun.  And the vintage tractors in the second video link are pretty cool.  I have to believe that somewhere in the good ol’ US of A there’s a small town parade or two that still believes in charm and creativity.  The Midwest has got to be a hotbed.  If you know of a good one, let me know.  I might even make travel plans for next year.
3.  Don’t drive all over creation (or drive much at all on this drunken holiday) to go to a fireworks show.  You’ll spend most of your evening in the car, trying to park, trying to get out of the parking lot and trying to find it in the first place.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t try them at home.  At D n’ O, we love DIY projects, but fireworks are not one of them.  Climb up the nearest hill or roof and see if you can spot one or more from afar.  Or at the very least, walk or carpool. One of the best fireworks show I’ve seen was from my friend’s roof.  It was made more spectacular by the fact that my boyfriend at the time dropped his pants in the middle of the show to reveal his Stars-n-Stripes boxers and bellowed at the top of his lungs—‘I’m a g- -d-mn patriot!’  Brilliant, though it had little to do with the fireworks in the distance.  Still, it was in the true spirit of the Destitute and Obscure.
And lastly, uh, don’t drink and drive… really.  Don’t drive at all, if you can.  There are too many drunk loonies out on the road and you don’t need to hang out with them, or be one of them.  If alcohol is a necessary part of your celebration of Independence from the mother country, then please do so in a manner that keeps you functional and in the confines of your own neighborhood.  Please note: the fact that the words ‘functional’ and ‘alcohol’ appearing in the same sentence in no way advocates the ideas of ‘functioning alcoholic’—malarkey, I’m convinced.  Public service announcement is now, ahem, completed.   Thanks for your time.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for adventures in lettuce, moving, garage sale-ing, interior decorating and more book recommendations and recipes.  Shortly thereafter, it will be worth noting that most stores’ lines of swimsuits go on sale.  Conversely, the time to shop for jeans is in February.
And so, thus armed, I shall sally forth into the world, armed with ideas and an empty wallet.  Happy Independence weekend to all ya’ll Yanks and Howdy and thanks for your support to all ya’ll all over the world.
Cheery-o!!

(nifty flag photo credit)