Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Some of the sufferings we undergo in Minnesota.

We thought this car in bad shape.

And then we saw this car.

All on our quest for wine to warm our spirits.

Snow fort!!

Snow seat and shelf

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fashion photo

I've followed the thesartorialist.blogspot.com for awhile now and love the styles from around the world almost as much as the photographer's apparent ability to get random people on the street to stop and pose.
This photo was from a couple weeks ago, aside from the hair I want to immitate this whole look. 

However, before seeing this picture I would have made fun of this skirt if I saw it by itself.  Probably with a snide comment about non-magazine readers from the early 90s. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Now and then

Sometimes memories from childhood are belatedly realized to be hilarious.  These memories are always my favorites.

My young friends and I were quite cultured.  Our favorite movies were Shakespeare and Jane Austen adaptations and we read books like A Tale of Two Cities and Crime and Punishment at astonishingly young ages.  So, it was quite in character for us to find repeatedly belting out the opening song from Much Ado About Nothing to be acceptable middle school slumber party entertainment. 

After a riveting reenactment of an Anne Frank rescue, eating loads of delicious health food and jumping on one of those nice big trampolines, I vividly remember all of us laying in Macala's pop-up camper, set up in their barn, singing the following:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh nor more;
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never;
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into. Hey nonny, nonny.


Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
Or dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into. Hey, nonny, nonny.

Evidently we were unreasonably disillusioned children. I say unreasonably because at that same slumber party I also recall an extensive conversation regarding nicknames for 'men' we 'liked'.  And by 'liked' I mean 'saw around town on a somewhat reliable basis'.

Kids' silliness is, without a doubt, one of the best things in life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm a published author!!!

Today in the mail I received copies of ON Magazine containing two articles by me.  Seriously.  At the top they say: By Lauren Viner.  This is the first time I've been paid to write anything, it was fun and seeing something I wrote in print was exciting.

Until I re-read the articles.  You often hear about drama queen writers with pathetic, crippling insecurity being overly touchy about 'their work'.  Everyone around them is thinking, 'get over yourself, it's fine.'  Well I was not prepared for this.  Interviewing someone, summarizing what they say and organizing everything into a cohesive, educated sounding article was kind of hard.  I found doing things like making sure I was quoting accurately to be a hindrance on my writing style, which normally consists of making up stuff.  Also not helping is the fact the magazine was mailed to subsribers a week ago and I have yet to receive any type of recognition.  Like a book deal.

So the articles are ok, but I want to re-write them so they're more creative sounding.  Don't you wish you could read them?  Well you can't because after 3 fruitless minutes of trying to find a free online writers portfolio I stopped looking.  Another 2 minutes on Google docs were also unsatisfactory.

Plus I need some practice.  So when I write something good, maybe you can read that.  The magazine is fun and has some stuff online which can be seen here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A few fun things about Alaska

Anything is valid yard decoration.  Praise an Alaskan's junk collection and doors will open.

The pipeline, an amazing feat of engineering, stretches from the north to south of the state.


Animals in Denali Park!

Beautiful scenery in all directions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Everybody's working for... their 401K payout

On the whole I like having a job. I'm not productive without one and unemployment is unhealthy. In general I also like being young. I don't want to be old, I'm not in a rush to retire.

Calitri, Italy
Population: 5.685
Southern Italy, close to Amalfi Coast, scenic vistas.

But on days when you wake up, trip over your laundry basket, drop everything you pick up at least once, spill coffee on yourself, have nothing good for breakfast, break a shoe and realize there's a bunch of stuff you forgot to do the day before... the benefits of work are less clear. When trapped in the above scenario the unemployed or retired aren't forced to persevere; they can go back to bed and try things again in a couple hours.

Istria, Croatia
Population 206,000
On the Adriatic Sea, mountains, like Tuscany but not touristy

So reading an article called '8 Cheap Spots for Retiring Overseas' was both inspirational and torture. I can't wait to retire overseas. In 30. long. years.

These pics are my top 3 choices. I found I was drawn to the smaller, more out of the way places rather than huge cities. Evidently my urban loving-small town hating persona is a huge sham.

Cuenca, Ecuador
Population 467,000 (ok so not that small)
Rivers, nice weather, Spanish

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why We Love Dior. Part 2.

We love Dior for color, extravagance, being exciting, being interesting and for making things that are simply oh so pretty.

Usually I wear things that are more classic, darker colors, etc. Which is why I would be satisfied with owning just one of these Cinderella-with-edge dresses.

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book And A Movie

Lonesome Dove, Pulitzer prize-winning western novel by Larry McMurty and one of the best books I've ever read.

Brief synopsis: a group of cowboys herding cows from Texas to Montana. A journey that will matter-of-factly destroy any reader's small, cherished delusion of a romantic wild, wild west. Life threatening, and ending, situations are concisely described in less than a paragraph, leaving you with a punched in the stomach feeling.

They make it. Sort of.

Of course the book is better but I won't waste time comparing it to the movie, which is, on its own, excellent. Robert Duvall steals the show as the philosophizing Gus. Tommy Lee Jones is alright as Call, but -ok one comparison- he's a little doofy and not quite the stoic, competent leader of the book.
I'd suggest read then watch. Or you can watch than read. Whatever, it's your life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Times in the hood

Grand Old Day- Grand Ave St. Paul Minnesota. A state fair teaser, but since it's Grand Old DAY (singular) you have with comfort of knowing you're not getting food fried in week old grease. Fresh-grease fried mini donuts.

Since I live a block away from Grand I decided to go for it and do everything, starting with the 5K. I discovered running with a big group of people is fun, and cheering spectators are a helpful feature that should be installed along all the cities' running paths. Also helpful when running races: training. I left that part out... but, whatever. Formal registration ensured I was up and going at the unthinkable weekend hour of 8AM.

The other wonderful part about Grand Old Day is the collection of music tents that allows you to stage-hop down the street and check out tons of bands. Outdoor music is great because it's always super fun, regardless of quality.

One band was some kind of rap group that tried to establish gansta' street cred by taking the stage and immediately shouting, 'We're from mother f---in St. Paul!' This attempt failed because they pointed out they were from St. Paul. They probably rode their bikes to the concert venue, stopping for lunch at the local food co-op. Another band, 'Iron City', was better despite a tendency to convert 5 minute songs into 15 minute self-indulgent ballads. Rain, unfortunately, put an end to their iPod shuffle playlist of Prince, Bob Marley and Johnny Cash, so we had to buy some cheese curds and make a quick exit.

This type of thing always makes me excited for the State Fair. Last year, probably due to misguided ideas about wise usage of time and money, I didn't go. This year, I've recovered and will go twice.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Because no one wants to be TOO nice...

Sometimes I worry my level of snarkiness is getting out of control. Fortunately whenever this happens something always reassures me I'm just a novice in abrasive sarcasm. In this instance it's an e-card site full of delightfully caustic messages forwarded to me by Sal, fellow web-browsing-while-at-worker.

Site: someecards.com

Some favorites:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stuff I like Part 2

I'm still pretty into all the stuff mentioned in Part 1 (which you'll have to view at www.myspace/iowafarmgirl.com) but during the past year I've discovered some new stuff.

One: Cathedral Hill St. Paul, MN.
The address is quite self-descriptive and for the past year I've been lucky enough to live in this historical neighborhood. Selby Avenue has the vintage, hand-painted-wallpaper-glamour of my favorite restaurant, W.A. Frost, situated within old brownstone apartments. A block over is Summit Avenue, where I live, a street lined with old houses that all have ballrooms and secret passageways. These are not (*eye roll*) mcmansions but unique, fantastic examples of great architecture.

Two: Beethoven. In high school I learned part of Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, recently I decided to learn the entire piece. At first I thought I could do it in a year, then I listed to a recording of the work and realized I'm way out of my league. It's totally fine for you stop reading, listen to a sound clip of the Rondo, Allegro and laugh hysterically at the futility of my endeavor. The one year time table has been multiplied by about 40. This will be just in time for serious nursing home stardom.

Four: I've fallen back in love with the public library. I still believe in building a personal library, but bad memories from a recent move leave me reluctant to buy more heavy objects.
Plus the library is f-r-e-e and when I'm looking at all the available books, CDs and movies I get the same feeling I have when I'm about to spend too much money on shoes. I regularly scour the music section for recordings of upcoming MN Opera productions and can now say a couple things in Russian thanks to some language CDs.

Ahem: Trashy food! I love beef jerky and corn nuts. You wish I was kidding. Fortunately for bystanders, I also enjoy mints and gum.

Punctuality. On average each person spends 42 days of their life waiting for someone else. Yes, I just made that up but any amount time is too much. People making other people wait around is rude and being late is stressful. So we should not do those things.

Six: The Minnesota Opera has a young professionals club called Tempo and last year I joined the board. This is completely fun. We plan all kinds of great stuff, like Opera Taste- a mix of opera and wine tasting (get ready to put it on your calendar!!), and get to hang out at after-parties with singers and artists. With my characteristic flair for moderation I'm now on every possible committee.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An ode to the house party

I'm in a bit of an anti-restaurant/going out phase. It will probably end soon. But remember a long time ago when people had dinner parties and dances? Instead of complicated evenings spent gallivanting about town, people opened their homes to friends for evenings of socializing, sharing of musical gifts and buffalo wings. According to the following case studies we should do more of this.

Recently I attended a Mexican food night. Our lovely hostess provided delicious strawberry margaritas, several people participated in themed apparel - complete with mustaches, and I was a key player in a game of domino setting up and knocking over. I also learned how to play 3 chords on the guitar.

This other time, not too long ago, I was at this apartment. APARTMENT. Here's a picture.
Stealthy eavesdropping reveals a couple bachelor lawyers gutted about 1/4 of an apartment building (floors 1-3) and created the coolest, retro tacky fabulous place in existence. They have a bandstand- with overlooking balconies, a water fall and a bridge.

At this one Oscar party I went to the hostess provided so much wonderful food I felt a little guilty. Plan to reciprocate. Yay! Another party! And not only did I win the Oscar pool, I didn't need to eat the next day.

As you can see, hanging out at someone's house is fun! And more relaxed. No restaurant stress with reservations, space, lingering too long, grumpy waiters, timing of the bill. Yeesh. Who does that? Hosting can be very low maintenance. Consider the following invitation:

Friend: Hey do you guys wanna come over.
Group of friends: Sure.

This is pretty conclusive evidence. So until I feel like going 'out' again, please invite me to your place. And of course I'll host something too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Recuerda que a veces, no conseguir lo que quieres es un maravilloso golpe de suerte.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Fashion photography!

This ad for Akris is super sharp.

Friday, February 12, 2010

News bulletin

Thursday marked the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. In celebration of the anniversary Iran is enriching some uranium! But just to 20% purity (90% is the benchmark for nuclear weapons) for use in a medical-research reactor- so it maybe doesn't really count. Mr. Ahmadinejad wants recognition of Iran's contributions to the medical field. He has stated 'my favorite TV show is CSI. Seriously. I just really care about science'.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Highbrow popcorn

For the 4th season running the MET in NY shows why it's one of the best in the world by broadcasting select productions in movie theatres across the globe! Yes, you can see a real live opera, in HD, at the cinema.

Leaving the flashy AMC concessions stand to join the opera audience in the theatre feels kind of funny. It may be a movie theatre but the people that go to the MET in HD are the true opera- goers with all the manners and slightly type-A niceness of the fine arts crowd.
At the same time, everyone is social and touched by the spirit of common interest, audience members visit about who met who after the 1962 performance of this or that. The whole production has something of an exclusive feel. During intermission, artists from the opera are interviewed and it's exciting to be at a performance of 'Carmen' that is sold out both at the MET itself and several movie theaters.

The great thing here is that great opera is more accesible. So check it out. You'll probably become a huge fan and put the performance dates in your calendar, eagerly anticipate each one and get overly excited the day of. And before each show you'll go out for brunch. And get mimosas during the intermissions.

Just in case you were wondering:
3-27 Hamlet -Thomas
5-1 Armida -Rossini