Best of 2009: Shop

Best of 2009Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your money this year?

I have been meaning to write a review of my experiences with IndiDenim an online custom jean shop. Well actually, IndiDenim also has a brick-and-mortar store in California, and they sell not only custom-made jeans for men an women, but also custom men's shirts.

A pair of made-to-fit jeans from IndiDenim runs a steep $150 plus, but can you really put a price on jeans that don't gap at the waist or smash your booty?

The ordering process was made as simple as possible by a very easy-to-use series of order form pages on the IndiDenim site. Despite the written and pictorial instructions, I still had a hard time taking my rise and inseam measurements. I way, way, way over estimate my inseam measurement for the first pair of jeans I ordered--Luckily, they were very easy to exchange, though I did have to eat the extra shipping costs. If you can, I would recommend going to a tailor to have your measurements taken. If not, and you do botch the sizes (like I did) th first time around, at least IndiDenim's return/exchange policy allows for some wiggle room, pun intended.

Anyway...I ordered two pairs of jeans. Designing your own jeans using all of IndiDenims stiching, embelleshing and other design choices is fun, but takes some practice. My first pair of jeans, are a little too mom-jeans for my taste (at no fault of IndiDenim), but my second pair turned out perfectly. They are dresssy enough for casual days at the office, for work happy hours and for family dinners, yet they are super comfortable and stylish.

Though I've only worn and washed my jeans so many times in the few months since I bought them, they seem to be really durable. The fabric is quality and the stitching well-done.

It took a long time to get my new jeans--especially the ones that had to be exchanged, altered, and re-shipped--but no longer than the IndiDenim site indicated.

Also, they save your measurements and designs, so reordering is easy. This will certainly come in handy the next time I order from IndiDenim--and there will be a next time!

I was going to include pictures with this review, you know, of me all bent-over, showing off my no-gap, but then I decided against it.


Best of 2009
Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____.

I spent my early teenage years pitted against the world, in some sort of teen-angst filled rebellion. I didn't really know who I was or what I wanted from life, only that I wanted to go against the grain. I died my hair purple, lime green and array of other colors. I wore combat boots, fishnets and pleather skirts. I played bass guitar and talked like "one of the guys." I didn't want to be pretty. I denied my heritage. I quarreled with my mom, snuck out regularly and found myself explaining that "I didn't do it" to the authorities a number of times. That period of my life was about defiance.

Then, from about age 16 to 22, I just wanted to have fun, to love and be loved, to be a grown-up. I worked hard and played hard. My energy was limitless--I could go to class all day, waitress at night and party into the wee hours of the morning, all while keeping a 3.8 average. I didn't know how special a person I was. I trusted people who didn't deserve my trust. I assumed all people were like me, harmless, kind and looking for fun. My trusting nature led me to a lot of frightening situations (like the time I found myself with my hands behind my head at a busted warehouse party, or the time I had to sleep on the beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica), but my outgoing, and admittedly naive, nature also led me to a lot of good times. We'll call these my experimental years.

My mid-20s have been equally as adventurous, only in a different way. In my mid-20s, I became a professional, career woman, I bought my first house, and I started saving and planning for the future. At first, I did not recognize how exciting all this really was. These important steps in my life felt like little more than "doing what I was supposed to be doing. I found the humdrum of the 9-5, mature-and-responsible-adult life to be completely depressing, and I longed for my days backpacking through Latin America. I spent most of my mid-20s overwhelmed with the contradictions in my life.

In 2010, I will officially be in my late-20s. For me, 2009 has been a year for transition, for change, both tangible and emotional. Maybe that's what happens when you hit your late 20s. Or, maybe it's just a coincidence, but whatever the case, the word that best describes my 2009 is transformational.
I took a life-altering trip to Israel.

I got in touch with my geeky side and started a new career as a web content manager. I've already launched three web sites since taking the job! Designing and developing for the Web is a fun, new challenge new challenge for me. I have to admit; I've enjoyed poring over code and learning new programming languages. I'm (not so) secretly a big geek like that.

Jack graduated college and started a career as a teacher. It's wonderful to both have interesting, respectable, secure jobs and to be on the same schedule.

New people I'd met when I first moved into the new house have turned into real friends. I have regular hang-outs, where I see people I know and who know me. I can tell you where to get the best breakfast, the best chicken, the best Greek food, and the best canolis...or is "canoli" both singular and plural? Anyway.... I've gotten used to making small talk with strangers (damn southern kindness) and learned to stop for yellow. Baltimore has become more than the place I live, it's my home.

We demolished our basement (we're still working on rebuilding :), installed new handles on our kitchen cabinets, built a raised flower bed and installed a rain barrel, and I spent more money than I had ever spent at one time (well, except the down payment on the house) when I replaced my heating system.
And, I made a five-year plan and started saving for retirement. It doesn't get more adult than that.
This past year, my outlook has begun to change, and I actually find that being an "adult" is fun. I love that I can dress up in a suit and be a professional for 40 hours a week, yet on the weekends, I can still strap on my sneakers, slab glitter on my eyelids and dance the night away. I know where I want to be in five, ten, fifteen years. I've gotten much better at reading people. I enjoy working on my house, and I find satisfaction in my career choice. I appreciate my home, my job, my man, and my family. I am confident in the decisions I've made and my plan for the future.

Here's to an equally fantastic 2010--Salud! Cheers! L'chiam!


Best of 2009: Tea

Best of 2009
Tea of the year. I can taste my favorite tea right now. What's yours?

Tea? TEA? Tea is for sissies and British people....Just kidding. I love a good maté or a nice Chai with milk from time to time, but my heart belongs to coffee. I like it like I like my men, strong and dark with a little bite.


Best of 2009: Packaging

Best of 2009

Best Packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

I have not bought a singe gift bag, not one roll of wrapping paper, nor even just one gift bow in all my adult years.
Instead of wasting my hard-earned cash on frivolous shiny wrapping that is quickly discarded, I use recycled materials to wrap gifts.
When someone gives me a gift, I carefully open it in order to preserve the paper. Even small pieces can be reused to turn a plain paper bag into a festive, collage-style gift bag. Glitter, glue, stamps, paint and even pompoms and pipe cleaners, can be added to the blank side of cut and flattened brown paper bags to create one-of-a-kind wrapping paper.
Salvaged ribbons and bows make perfect recycled gift wrapping accessories, as do old buttons and lace from long retired linens.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.


Best of 2009: Rush

Best of 2009

I'm jumping on the best of 2009 blog challenge bandwagon...Today's prompt is Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?


The moments that make us feel truly alive
can not be trapped on film
or reduced to nouns and verbs.

I can tell you that my month-long trip to Israel was a life-changing experience.

I can show you photos of the sun rising over the Dead Sea,
the rays of light beaming from the sun,

I can describe for you what it feels like to bathe in the Red Sea
and to have a magnificent bottle-nose dolphin swim just two inches beneath your body,
with the stregnth of it's tail forcing currents around your body.

I can tell you how the Western Wall feels on your fingertips,
smooth and cool to the touch,

But I can't accurately portray what it feels like to walk the Snake Path,
to take that last step up from the ancient, eroding stairs to reach the top of Masada,
as so many have done before you.

I can't show you a picture of the sea sensations that invaded my senses,
the brilliant array of color and movement beneath the surface,
the shrill dolphin sounds penetrating my eardrums,
the taste of the salt on my lips when I came up for air.

And, a photograph can not capture the contradictions of time
realized standing in front of a seemingly indestructible
structure built thousands of years ago,
the transience of my own meager existence,
my lineage, a long line of history and tradition,


Happy Hanukkah!

-- Post From My iPhone


Day 2

This is my second day as a non-smoker.

I won't lie--It sucks.

I like smoking. I enjoy pulling the hot smoke into my lungs, gently taping the cigarette to keep the ashes from falling...ahhh, memories. My brain is split in two. There's a big part of me that says, "yeah, I know smoking is bad for me, but who cares? I will die eventually one way or another. Is lung cancer really that bad."

Yes, lung cancer is that bad. I watched my grandmother wither away to nothing in a hospital bed while cancerous cells devoured her lung tissue and eventually took her life.

I have been lying about my new-found smoking habit to my family and co-workers. I had to either come clean about smoking or give it up. I chose to give it up. I'm angry and annoyed. I just want a cookie, no, make that lots of cookies. I'm irritated. I can't keep my thoughts straight, much less write a coherent blog post.


On Paris...

A lot of people say that Paris is the most beautiful city on earth. It certainly is an amazing place--a bustling metropolis of phenomenal architecture, bright lights, sweeping views and a seemingly endless array of art. Paris certainly reflects the wonder and beauty of man's creativity, craft and imagination, but I have to say, I still think La Paz, Bolivia is the most beautiful city I've ever seen. It's set way up high in the Andes Mountains, with the central part of the city at the bottom of a sort of natural bowl lined with small, simple houses that blend perfectly with the color of the arid land backdrop. But I digress...

Our hotel in Paris was in what Parisians refer to as the bad part of town. We stayed at a very basic hotel on the Avenue de Clichy, three metro stops north of Place de Clichy, where the lights of Moulin Rogue sparkle brightly (not to mention the neon glare from the signs of the numerous sex shops and strip clubs).


If that Parisian neighborhood is bad, then Baltimore is a fucking war zone. The area was home to a mostly Arabic-speaking population (and a lot of kebab stands), and the French don't make it any secret how they feel about Muslims. I felt perfectly comfortable where we stayed--it was like being in Queens or Brooklyn or something.

French people have a reputation for being rude and hating United Statesians, but I found the complete opposite. (I hate using the term *American* for people from the US -- the term shows the self centeredness of our culture. But, again, I digress...) Parisians are like New Yorkers, they have a seemingly rough exterior but are really some of the friendliest people I've ever met.

We spent Thanksgiving day wandering the winding streets of Montmarte and exploring Espacio Dali and the Musee de Erotocismo. Our Thanksgiving meal consisted of cheeses, fresh baguettes, fruit and wine from the grocery store. A decent bottle of wine cost just 2.50 euros.

My travel partner and I are recently reacquainted friends--I've told you about her here before. In the years that have passed since our days as close friends and roommates, a lot has changed, or maybe nothing has changed. Maybe we were always very different people who were simply brought together by circumstance. I'm not sure it really matters. We had a great time together in Paris, and though are relationship will probably never be what it once was, I see more shared good times in out future.

Champ-Eleysee, arguably the most famous street in all of Paris, was lined with blue and white lights and vendor stalls selling mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, crepes, fine chocolates and more. From the Arc du Triomph, the view of this winter wonderland was enough to take my breathe away.

The museums in Paris put the ones in our country to shame. In addition to the Espacio Dali, we went to the Musee Rodin, Musee D'Orsay and the Louvre. It was amazing to stand before masterpieces by Vangough, Monet, Da Vinci, Matisse, Rodin..close enough to appreciate every brushstroke.


We spent an entire day at Versailles--once home to Marie Antoinette and King Louis XIV. The gold, the grandeur, I could barely wrap my mind around the idea of people living with that kind of wealth.

We met my Mom and her friend, who happened to also be visiting Paris, met for a fantastic meal at a fine dining restaurant. We had roast duck with a cherry sauce, escargot in a basil sauce, creamy goat cheese wrapped in puff pastry, rabbit in a delicate mushroom sauce, poached pears and a lovely bottle of Bordeaux.


-- Post From My iPhone


J'adore Paris!



Posting pictures using Blogger is a pain.
You can see more of my Paris pics on Flickr.