Archive | June 2013

Stay Cute Mondays – On Tuesday! The Outdoorsy Edition

As a disclaimer, the storm knocked out my internet yesterday, but it’s up and the post is done.

This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to the Capital Jazz Festival (more to come). I swear getting ready for a two-day (it’s actually three but if I tried that I would pass out) outdoor music festival is a serious process. There are tons of these things: Bonarroo, Coachella, Rock the Bells. I think it is because I am a super J on the Myers Briggs scale and I put a lot of effort into preparing for this event. I wasn’t always a J. I used to be solidly in the middle of P and J but my family is comprised of mostly P’s and someone needed to create some semblance of order. Below are my tips to properly prepare for summer outdoor events.

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This year I gave in. Every year, it rains (to quote Mary J). And every year, I wear cute sandals that make my feet disgusting or cute sneakers that get ruined. I sacrificed my adorable Nike ballet slippers on Saturday and finally gave in. I wore rain boots. Boy, did my little feet feel protected from the evil elements and potential trash. I always see some ridiculous celebrity at Coachella in shorts and cowboy boots or something similar. I think, “Who wears shorts and boots?” Me that’s who.

I love a cute flirty dress. Outdoor concerts are not the place for a cute flirty dress because of sheer logistics. You are carrying chairs and coolers, sitting low to the ground and surrounded by mud and dirt. This is all negligible if you are in the premium seating. But ten hour concerts are not conducive to straight back seats, which is why I do lawn. I usually opt for a dark pair of capris or shorts (I wore white once and it did okay). I also opt for a simple shirt: either a polo or razorback tank. I see the cutest clothes at the event and think, nice but no. There are opportunities to be rain soaked, grass rubbed, food spilled and it’s best to stick to basics.

Of course, you must pack a lunch. With this I struggle. I can never figure out what to eat and am obsessed with not having my food spoil in the sun. Cooler or not. I stick with lots of snacks, fruit and salads: pasta, chicken, tuna. I really like a spicy Thai tuna salad that is available in a can. A can.  I usually raid the salad bar at Whole Foods but decided this year to make my supper. Boy did I want fried chicken. Man, I cannot make proper fried chicken. It is the quintessential picnic food. I attempted some Safeway chicken that made my stomach angry. Typically, I usually buy frozen Chicken tenders, bake them in the oven the night before and pack. Amazingly I like Safeway brand the best as it lacks that floury taste frozen tenders usually have. My mom has the palette of an eight year old, so we tried many frozen tenders before finding the perfect ones. Otherwise, don’t do as I did. Buy fried chicken from the deli in the afternoon when it is freshest and refrigerate immediately. I purchased mine in the morning and it probably sat too long.

ice blanketPro tip: I hate filling my cooler with ice because when you reach in it makes your hands cold. I buy ice blankets that can be frozen the night before. For my mom’s trick, I also freeze a couple of bottles of water and place in the bottom of the cooler. I place stay cold items on top and cover with the ice blankets. My items stay cold and by the end of the night when the water melts and the food is gone, the ice bottles turn into cold, refreshing water.

So what you take for a weekend in the sun, according to me:

  • A zippered tote. I got mine from a tradeshow as I was once a booth diva (babe is so degrading). However, the ever popular LL Bean makes ones that can be monogrammed and customized.tote_bag
  • Lots of plastic. I am talking about tablecloths, tarps, clear furniture covers. This will sit on the ground underneath your blanket for minimal cleaning and cover you in the event of rain.
  • Insect repellent arm bands. My latest discovery due to a friend’s addiction to Groupon. They sort of work and keep you from being stinky.insect repellent
  • A cute rolling cooler. I decided that I am upgrading soonest because carrying my cooler gets exhausting. So exhausting.

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  • Lots of paper towels, plastic and paper utensils if you like them. I don’t care about the plates and cups but others must have them.
  • Wipes. I adore individually wrapped wipes. I usually stock up when I am in New Jersey because there’s a Bed Bath and Beyond in Menlo Park that has an entire section devoted to tiny toiletries. I have yet to see a similar set up in the D.C. area. My wipes are sanitizing wipes, Cottonelle wipes, glass lens wipes, and face wipes for sweat.
  • Miniature bottles of wine and liquor. Of course this is only if allowed in the event. Pack straws to stay classy.
  • Lots of store plastic bags. This came over time when I realized that I would stupidly stuff containers and food back into my cooler.
  • Sunscreen. I often forget it and then my skin hurts.
  • Towels. I usually use my really raggedly Wal-Mart ones. Seriously, never buy them for actual bathing. They can be used to protect your car, wipe off sweat (though I hate this usage personally) or dry off from the rain.
  • A big blanket. I scored a really durable canvas one from Target in the clearance section one fall. However, if you are cheap like me and don’t quickly find a $7 one, head to Ikea and purchase some $3 fleece throws.throw
  • An umbrella. For rain, of course.
  • A nice outdoor chair with a roof. I still remember the first year that I saw them at Capital Jazz. I was instantly jealous and needed one immediately. In fact, I headed to Sports Authority that month and copped one on sale. That chair is my outdoor everything.

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What I know I need next: the aforementioned roller cooler in an adorable pattern. And, a portable phone charger. After 11 hours outdoors, my iPhone is usually on 5% and that’s only by charging it until I reach the venue with no interruptions, ignoring calls, texting only, not playing games and sending a tweet an hour.

I am also considering carrying less food. I always have leftovers, which I discard. I am completely fascinated by friends who come to these events with a deli sandwich, big bottle of water, chips and a cookie. They are so unencumbered. I once attended an all day wine festival with stuff I already had in the kitchen that included: three bottles of water, a fruit cup, strawberries, grapes, chicken tenders (from frozen), chips, cheese, crackers and a chocolate chip granola bar. In fact the entire thing fit into regular lunch bag. I wonder if I could make that happen again. No trips to the grocery store, no fixing pasta salad. Just ease. But I am a J, so I am sure that won’t happen.

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Memorial Day Editon – All Kinds of Late

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This post is late. I dislike being late. This does not mean, however, that I am never late. In fact, I am often late. In my vast experience with habitually tardy folks, people are late for one of three reasons:

 

 

  1. They move unbelievably slowly. Members of my family suffer from this affliction. I once watched a member of my family take close to an hour to make breakfast. This included from the time she announced that she was making breakfast. Then, deciding what to make. Next taking custom orders.  Finally chopping and cooking at the kind of glacial pace that makes you wonder if you are on some kind of prank show. These slow movers rarely account for their snail-like pace to properly plan for how long it will take to get ready. They wrongly think it will take 60 minutes when it takes 2 hours.
  2. They attempt to do too much. My coworkers often demonstrate this behavior. They think to themselves, “Hey, I have 8 minutes before my next meeting. Let me answer three emails and make one phone call before I am out of pocket for an hour.” This, of course, is a horrible idea. I sometimes do this myself. I will quickly take out the trash on my way to meet someone and then realize that trash bag has a hole, which causes a mess that needs to be mopped.
  3. This leads me to the final (and my most typical reason for lateness): They don’t account for mishaps. I typically give myself 20 -30 minutes to get everywhere. This is terrible! I have a coworker with the odd ability to get anywhere in the suggested time. If Google Maps says, 18 minutes. Well, she is there in 17 minutes. However, even if by some miracle I arrive at my destination in the allotted 20 minutes, then I cannot find parking.

I once made a new year’s resolution to be on time for every event and occasion. What a lonely, hungry year that was. With my new found timeliness, no one arrived on time. Once, I was the first person to arrive at a birthday at Chuck E Cheese. Now look, I don’t have kids and I was planning to make an appearance to be nice. There is no reason for me to be at Chuck E Cheese alone. Slowly, but surely, my timeliness slipped away.

Flags and Bunting at GraveOther than the lateness of this post, Memorial Day weekend was great. Drinks and random conversation with strangers on Friday. I went to a friend of a friend’s annual Memorial Day block party on Saturday. I adore cookouts. This is amazing because I hate the outdoors and view any reason for being outside (save a lovely concert) as a punishment. I do not hike, or canoe, or experience nature. Cookouts are different. Maybe it was my upbringing. Every Labor Day my grandfather would have a huge party with a ton of food, an old fashioned jukebox and lots of happy people. I was shocked when I discovered that two of my good friends do not like cookouts. I spend most of my summer looking for cookouts. Back in Michigan, this is easy. I kinda just walk around the neighborhood, hold a few chats and….barbecue in my belly. One year, I went to three cookouts on Memorial Day alone! I will admit I was invited to three cookouts on that Saturday including the strangers I met on Friday.

According to a nice Belgian gentleman I met at a cookout several years ago, this was a uniquely American experience (to him). I don’t have much experience with personal socializing outside of America, but that sounds interesting. Hamburgers and hot dogs (which are served too frequently at DC area cookouts in my opinion) really symbolize the core of American identity. So maybe cookouts are my form of patriotism.

Sunday, I was officially ill. I decided to go to prom anyway – the 80’s theme prom by Axel F. The outfits were awesome. I did not dress up. I mostly stood in a corner and watched the action unfold. This was definitely out of character, but I everyone else seemed to be having a ball. After that, the actual holiday was uneventful. I dragged myself on errands. Then back to my couch.