What I’m wearing to . . .

I’m going to a wedding in October, the first in my adult life for which I’ll have full creative control over my wardrobe.  So, even though everyone will be looking at the bride, as well they should, I’m putting a lot of thought into my ensemble.  This is what I’ve come up with.


I bought this dress on the whimsiest of whims last winter. I found it on the wrong rack—a petite size far from the petite section—and it was marked down so far that I knew it was the last one of its kind.  But, it was a size up from what I normally wear and the petite size conversion rule turned out to be true!  At the three-way mirror in the fitting room, I had to use a clothes hanger to fend off a few admirers who would have stripped the garment from my body for themselves.  I escaped with the dress and I’m so excited to finally wear it!  Maggy London’s Fall 2009 collection is online here.

Can a girl go wrong with Tiffany?  Of course not.  I don’t think the silver beads get enough play.  They’re darling; the fine metal equivalent of pearls.  The bracelet was a gift in high school; the earrings were a little gift to myself after I got my second job.

I detest heels.  Really.  Partly on principle, but mostly because they hurt me.  But my Maid of Honor dress at Jill’s wedding in July was tea length, and I couldn’t get away with silver Birkenstocks in the church anyway, so I picked out this pair of sandals from Naturalizer’s N5 Comfort Elements collection.  These heels are amaaaaazing.  I made it down the aisle and back and through a night of dancing with the under-10 crowd at the wedding in these shoes, and in the morning, when I went back to the hotel to pick up Jill’s dress, I put them back on, just for kicks.  I think it was clear, when I walked into the hotel dining room that morning in a commemorative t-shirt from the 1984 Olympic games, madras shorts and silver heels, that my principles were out the window.

Thank you, Grandmom, for outfitting me with such an extensive dress-up collection when I was a little girl.  Thank you, too, for including items that could translate from pink plastic dress-up suitcase to special occasions in my adult life!  I’ve always loved the snap that this faux leather clutch makes when it’s snapped shut.  I’ll have to resist opening and closing it throughout the wedding ceremony.

I found this lovely violet silk flower among many effortlessly enchanting floral accessories in an Etsy shop called East End Home Arts.  I browsed the heck out of Etsy on a quest for silk flowers, and the selection in Suzy’s shop is unique, feminine, and affordable.  Her customer service is fantastic, too.  I my first order with her (for one of these peach cosmos) on the night before she gave birth to her first baby, and the new mom still managed to deliver within a week.  She told me that custom orders are her favorites to work on, so if you’re in the “flowers in your hair” mood, get in touch with her.  And if you’re not in the “flowers in your hair” mood, please take a good hard look at yourself and get back to me when you’ve sorted yourself out.

I’m ready to get dressed for this wedding now.  Where is my pink plastic dress-up suitcase?

How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Flask

. . . That You Really Love Because You Got it in New Zealand

1. Text your friend, Lil’ Jay, with whom you have been discussing flasks: My flask smells revolting. How do you clean a flask?

2. Wait for her reply: [My fiance] says, “What do you mean ‘how do you clean a flask?’ You Google ‘how to clean a flask!”

3. Wait for the addendum: He Googled it for you.  Salt water or a little bleach in water.

4. Leave putrid flask out on the kitchen counter for one week, or until your roommate asks if there is any particular reason that your putrid flask is out on the kitchen counter.

5. Poke around in the cabinets, trying to remember what Lil’ Jay’s fiance’s Google search results suggested, until you find some white vinegar and baking soda and think, “Oh, yeah, that might have been it.”

7. Dribble some vinegar and a little bit of warm water into the flask.

8. Use the heart-shaped teaspoon your grandmother gave you for Valentine’s Day to scoop 1 tsp. baking soda into the flask.

9. Screw the cap closed and shake vigorously.

10. Listen to the fizzing.

11. Shake vigorouslier.

12. Listen to more fizzing.

13. Empty the flask. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

14. Check old text messages and see that Lil’ Jay’s fiance actually suggested salt water and bleach, not vinegar or baking soda.

15. Google it yourself and find these great instructions for cleaning a stainless steel travel coffee mug (almost the same thing, yes?) with baking soda, boiling water, and white or cider vinegar on Good Housekeeping‘s website.

I bet Lil’ Jay’s fiance hasn’t even heard of Heloise and her hints, hmpfh!


16. Take a picture to show how well your sparkling and squeaky clean flask fits in the pocket of your pajama pants!

17. Feel silly.

18. Post it on the internet anyway.

What my mama gave me (besides the straight eyelashes)

Earlier this month, my mom and I went to a bridal shower together. We were one of several pairs of Mother & Daughter, but it was the first time I’ve ever attended an event with my mother and not felt like she was only present because I was or the other way around. She wasn’t there to be my chaperone. I wasn’t there because she didn’t have time to drop me off at home first. We received two separate invitations at our two separate homes and brought two separate gifts accompanied by two separate poems (the poems were Mom’s idea).

I’ve heard my mother called by her own name by other adults my whole life, but it totally threw me off to hear us introduced as “Emily” and “Elizabeth” and not “Emily and Elizabeth” or “Elizabeth and Emily.” The other guests kept talking to us like we were two separate entities, two separate people. Was it not clear that we were together? Maybe I should have pointed out that we arrived in the same car.

It was a bridal shower game that outed us as “Emily and Elizabeth,” unmistakably Mother and Daughter. Each guest dumped out her purse and tallied up its contents according to a list that gave a score for each item. Stamps, pens, mints, pain killers, lipstick, sunglasses, the keys to someone else’s house, and the like were all worth 5-25 points to the person hauling them around.

After taking inventory, we started scoring with a show of hands: “Who has 10 points? Who has 20? 30?” Hands started to drop as the total climbed past 70 points. Only four or five women had 100 points-worth of stuff in their bags. The last three standing were the bride’s grandmother, my mom, and me.

“Who has 130?” Grandmother-of-the-Bride lowered her fingers. A knowing groan rolled through the room as my mom and I stared each other down.

“Anybody have more than 140 points?” Mom couldn’t hack it. She dropped her arm as I raised my other one in victory, waving my winning item like a trophy.

My eyelash curler was worth 50 points and it was the only one at the party.

“You carry that with you everywhere?” Not even my own mother could believe it.

When we got in the car to go home—together!—my mom said, “I don’t know why I bothered to dump out my whole purse. I knew exactly what was in there.” I think I could have guessed the contents of my mother’s bag, myself. That’s where I get all my stamps.

You wanted me to write something

So, I wrote down (and photographed) the contents of my bag!


Last week’s New Yorker
Violet sunglasses
A few Equal packets
LG Plum cell phone
Card case for business cards and coupons
Make-up bag (its contents could be a-whole-nother photo)
iPod Classic
Notebook, two pens, Chapstick, and C.G. Bigelow Menthe Lip Shine
Sephora by OPI nail polish in Caffeine Fix
Purple wallet
Inside a royal blue hobo

Happy now?

Humming “All Things Bright and Beautiful” all the while

Part I We humans call that ‘perverted’

Part II

My high school Biology teacher had a repertoire of anecdotes, and it was clear which were his favorites.  There is one story he told half a dozen times throughout the year, whenever the situation called, ever so faintly, for a yarn about the dissection of common household pets.

Back when he himself was a Biology student, his own teacher told the students (all boys) on the first day of class that they’d spend the whole year preparing for one a major dissection lab assignment, the culmination of their high school science education.  On a deeper level, it would represent a coming of age, for each student would be asked to supply his own specimen.  “Gentleman,” the teacher said, “go out and procure yourself a cat.”

In a way, that is exactly what I did.

On the day after the Mus walked in on me in the bathroom, I went out and procured myself a mouse trap.

I hoped it wouldn’t come to that.  I resisted the idea as I crouched on the bathroom floor, still wrapped in just my towel, head cocked to peer after the flashlight beam I shined under the sink.  I resisted the idea when the dust layered there distracted me.  I resisted the idea as I collected the vacuum cleaner and assembled the hose extension.  A mouse trap was the farthest thing from my mind as I jabbed the power switch and aimed the hose.

But then, that slim furry body shot out from the corner under the sink, veered halfway under the toilet, and darted under the radiator, hovering just beyond the end of my vacuum hose the whole way.  I wasn’t aiming for it, I swear.

Caitlin said the pitch created when my shriek combined with the moan of the vacuum probably scared the mouse to death, but I made up my mind right then.

I selected my weapon the way I choose everything else: I shopped online.  Home Depot offered some intriguing options.  Poisons and traditional, Tom & Jerry style mouse traps, as well as contraptions called Havahart traps were all possibilities, but to be honest, I was less concerned about the humanity of the demise than I was about my own sanity.  I did not want to face this creature again, dead or alive.

So that left the mouse trap supreme, the Boss Level equivalent of small rodent extermination, the well reviewed Victor Electronic Mouse Trap, Model No. M252.  Powered by four AA batteries, this baby is equipped with two metal plates that deliver a 4500 volt shock when the electric circuit is closed.  It also features a status light that blinks when an intruder has been apprehended and a hinged lid that flips open for quick disposal.

I spent $19.99 on this mouse trap.  Plus tax.

And I bought batteries, too.

At home, I poured a glass of wine and spread a dab of peanut butter on a Cheerio.  The wine was for me, the peanut butter was for my little friend.  I set the trap near the bathroom radiator, where my target was last sighted.  One review on Home Depot’s website reported results within the hour.  I put my feet up while I waited.

Twelve hours later, I woke to a blinking light.  Three hours, two phone calls to my parents, and a cup of coffee later, I stood over a tall garbage can wearing boots, long, green rubber gloves and my coat, with my house keys in the pocket.  I squeezed my eyes shut and hummed at the top of my lungs as I picked up the little black box, loosened the top, and turned it over above the garbage.  I was singing so loudly that I couldn’t hear anything land in the trash bag, so I gave the trap a vigorous shake, just to be sure.  Without breathing, I tied up the bag and Baywatch-ran (you know, high knees?) down to the curb to dump the body.

I mean, to dispose of the evidence.

I mean, to take out the trash.

That night, my roommate and her boyfriend and I made dinner together.  They got back to the building with groceries before I got home from the liquor store, and Caitlin had forgotten her keys, so they went to ask our super for the spare set.  The super opened her door and before Caitlin could say a word, said, “I know just what you’re looking for, you don’t even have to say it!” and handed Caitlin a shrink-wrapped package.  Bewildered, Caitlin wondered, what do you think I’m here for? and looked down at the rat poison in her hands.

Apparently, other tenants have noticed the mice, too.

“Actually, we’re just looking for your spare keys,” Caitlin said.  “But yeah, how ’bout those mice?  You know, just yesterday, Em went out and bought herself a trap, and she caught something this morning!”  Like, next I might go out and catch myself an urban squirrel.  And then I’ll go after a park raccoon.  And next thing you know, we’ll have a wall covered in stuffed game heads.


I set the mouse trap again that night, but it was empty in the morning.  I did have one more sighting.  I was sitting in the dimly lit kitchen a few evenings later when a mouse came out from a tiny gap in the baseboards.  It stopped short in the middle of the floor, rose up on its hind legs and leaned toward me, and then scampered under the oven, apparently uninterested.  It was as if it said, “Oh, it’s just you.  I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”

I moved the trap into the kitchen that night and the mouse had the nerve not to be caught dead in it.  That’s the last I’ve seen of them.  I can only assume the rest have all been poisoned by my neighbors.

I really hoped to eliminate more than one mouse in my $20 trap, even if only to reduce its cost per use.  With every catch, I could have cut the life cycle expense in half.  But for now, that one mouse rings up at $20, and I guess that’s not a bad thing.

Now that I think about it, I never did find out for sure if that cat dissection story was true.