Category Archives: fancypants

And We’re Gonna Be Royals (an announcement by Lee)

Peasants:

Today I made a wonderful decision while my colleagues were out of the office. I became nobility.

Here’s the deal.

During the Second World War, the UK built illegal fortress islands in the North Sea’s international waters to prevent German invaders. In the 1950s, as these fortresses became obsolete, they were pulled down.

All except for one.

This singular fortress—captured by Roy Bates, of Pirate Radio fame—became a sovereign principality in 1967. He named it Sealand.

For a nominal fee, one can pay to earn a noble title from the Principality of Sealand.

My subjects, I paid this nominal fee; I am now Baroness Lee of Sealand. I cannot promise to be unaffected by this—indeed, I may only become even more insufferable, should that prove possible—but I vow to use my title for the greater good.

Sincerely yours,
The Baroness

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A Guide to Surfing (a post by Anna)

Step-by-Step Instructions for Surfing in Montauk, NY:

Surfin USA

Surfin USA

Step 1: After a long work week, hop on The Cannonball train (a service of the Long Island Rail Road). You will be surrounded by fancy Hamptons Weekenders, and the journey will take a full three hours.

Cannonbaaaaaall!

CANNONBALLLLL

Step 2: Start your day early on Saturday, to ensure a good spot on the beach. Have your friend Lynda set up a surfing lesson and gather up gear (wetsuit, booties, board, etc). Lynda will know what’s best and have your back throughout this process.

Living the Dream

Living the Dream


Step 3:
Once at the beach, it’s time to wetsuit up. Prepare for some difficulties that you maybe don’t see coming. You will be surprised to learn that your entire body is supposed to fit through the neck hole, as there are no other zippers or openings.

The struggle begins.

The struggle begins.

Step 4: Even though you’ve been tugging at the ankles for more than 10 minutes, do not give up. The process of getting this sucker on will become the best workout you’ve had all month. You will pull and pull and pull, and the wetsuit will still be at your ankles. Keep pulling. You will most likely give yourself an accidental wedgie at some point during this process. (Someone will later tell you a wetsuit is easier to put on if you’ve been in the water, but it will be too late.)

20 minutes into The Wetsuit  Challenge of 2013.

The Wetsuit Challenge of 2013

Step 5: Do be aware that it’s 95 degrees outside and sunny. As you keep struggling, you will begin to overheat. Don’t let this bring you down. Your body may start to feel like jello, but persevere!

Step 6: Once you’re suited up (and you’re so hot that you might pass out), put on your booties. They will keep your feet from getting sliced and diced by the sharp rocks you’ll later find everywhere in the water. Good luck getting your toes into their respective toe holes.

It's bootie time!

It’s bootie time!

Step 7: Once you have your wetsuit and booties on, which will likely take you 28 minutes longer than you expected, go meet your surfing instructor. (Expect to be miserably hot at this point.) He will be a buff, blonde, blue-eyed dude named Tom, and he’ll want to teach you all the basics of surfing, while you stand on the sand in the sun. You will soon learn, while wearing this full-bodied wetsuit, that surfing is a lot of push-ups and balancing routines. Expect to lay on the surfboard in the sand for a bit, repeatedly practicing your transition from horizontal to vertical.

Tom's Tutorial

Tom’s Tutorial

Step 8:  When you finally get the go-ahead to enter the water, you’ll be carrying what feels like a 100 lb surf board. The ocean will  be filled with algae-covered rocks. You’ll go out pretty far in the water, using your arms as paddles, and Tom will tell you when to stand up on each wave. Thank God for Tom.

That's me, somewhere out there!

I’m somewhere out there.


Step 9:
 You and Tom will spend a couple quality hours out in the ocean where you’ll master The Flailing Fall. Your surfing talent will likely surprise you, and you will actually stand on the board more than a dozen times while it skirts along the top of a wave. People may mention that your beginner’s surfboard is impossible to fall off of. Others may note that there’s zero wind and today’s waves are tiny.

Step 10: Afterwards, you’ll learn it’s way easier to take off a wetsuit than you expected. You have pondered the fact that you may be forced to live in the suit for the rest of your life, but that won’t be the case.

VICTORY.

VICTORY.

Step 11: You’ll go home and celebrate your surfing experience with a glass of red wine.

DCrit bonding!

DCrit bonding!

Thus concludes my step-by-step guide to surfing. For further information, check your local library.

Surf Lit

Lynda’s Thesis Research

[All photos are compliments of my loyal friend Anne Quito. A big thanks to Lynda for making my dreams come true.]

Academy Awards 2013 (a post by Lee)

IMG_5815-001

We’ve talked before about how much I love the Oscars (in case you need a refresher: I LOVE THE OSCARS). And, y’all. Sunday night was an exceptional ceremony.

I must admit that I had some reservations going into this year’s Academy Awards. I’d only seen 3 of the 9 Best Picture nominations; I slept through 2 of them. I’m not a huge Seth MacFarlane fan, although honestly I think the host is a fairly negligible presence at these events anyway. And, most alarmingly, I really struggled with this year’s Best Picture nominee-themed food puns. Luckily for me, I had a wonderful and remarkably patient co-hostess, Sarah. Six days before Oscar Sunday, I sent her a super-panicked email with an inchoate list of potential ideas. With her help and soothing, we were eventually able to generate pretty solid Oscar foods. (I’m still a bit sad I couldn’t make escARGOt happen, but that would have been a) a major budget-buster and b) totally disgusting.) Without further ado, I’m proud to present this year’s Oscars Extravaganza menu:

Amour: S’Amours [Insider Tip: You can roast marshmallows in an oven. Doing so will cause the fire alarm to go off very 3 minutes, enraging your neighbors, but YOLO or whatever.]
Argo: Argo-choke Dip
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Beets of the Southern Wild [Sarah thankfully talked me out of Chicken Breasts of the Southern Wild.]
Django Unchained: Djambalaya Unchained
Les Misérables: Les Twizzlérables [My personal favorite pun.]
Life of Pi: Life of Pa-Pi-Ya [I’ve never dealt with papaya before, and I never will again. It’s slippery and tastes like fish. This was a wildly unpopular dish, and probably I should have gone for the obvious Life of Pie joke.]
Lincoln: Drink-oln
Silver Linings Playbook: Silver Wine-ings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty: Zero Dark Thirsty [A spiced rum punch that almost wasn’t. For some reason, I kept pushing Zero Pork Thirty, which doesn’t even make sense.]

IMG_20130224_181609

And, y’all, the show itself was amazing. Because I never act with any forethought, I accidentally invited people over an hour before the ceremony began. But this ended up being a blessing in disguise, as that meant guests had the opportunity to watch the red carpet show. That’s never really been of interest to me, but it was fun (albeit slightly bewildering) to watch Kelly Rowland maintain relevance (unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Destiny’s Forgotten Child, Michelle Williams). Seeing Kelly work it filled me with the false hope that maybe Beyoncé would grace the Dolby Theatre with her presence. She didn’t, which would have been highly disappointing had it not been for Catherine Zeta Jones’s FANTASTIC surprise performance of “All That Jazz.” That coupled with Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” (featuring my new favorite lyrics: “He loves gold. He only loves gold. Only. Gold.”) pretty much made my life complete. Then Meryl Streep sealed the deal by announcing Daniel Day-Lewis as the Best Actor winner WITHOUT EVEN OPENING THE ENVELOPE. Meryl, you are a national treasure. NEVER CHANGE, GIRL.

I’d reflect more on what transpired, but after Googling “Meryl Streep gifs,” I stumbled upon this fan video for Meryl Streep and her husband that is having the strange and conflicting dual effect of weirding me out and making me misty-eyed:

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It: Lunch Edition (a post by Anna)

So last Friday, Bobby got me on The List for some swanky lunch break dance party. He told me in advance that a bunch of young professionals would be gathering on the rooftop of The Standard Hotel, where we’d be greeted with drink tickets, free food, and a DJ/dance floor. Because apparently having a dance party at a popular club during your lunch break is normal in NYC?!

(After some research, I learned that Sweden beat us to the punch.)

Check out that skyline.

The Standard Hotel is known for its architectural design and stunning views of NYC, among other things. Sure enough, I found myself in the middle of a dance party at 1pm on a Friday. Directly next to the dance floor was a hot tub. (Apparently a business lady fell into the hot tub during the same party last week.)

If only I had an animated GIF.

We spent a fair amount of time taking model shots in the fancy chairs.

How Not to Mingle / Make Friends

We ascended to the rooftop to check the view and fake grass. I was too busy living the high life to remember to take photos (what has gotten into me?!), but the view truly was spectacular. We even made it on their Facebook page:

Photo by Jasmina Tomic

As though this experience wasn’t bizarre enough already, the rooftop featured a crepe stand. Here I found more Nutella than I’ve ever seen in my life.

See those VATS OF NUTELLA?!

By 2:30, the lunch break dance party was over. The place cleared out, and everyone headed back to work. Needless to say, this Flavorpill lunch really raised the standard on all sorts of levels.

All Good Days End with Dream Phone (a post by Anna)

When friends visit Houston, we sometimes pretend we are extremely classy. Lee’s pen pal Alix was in town last weekend, so a trip to the Houston Polo Club was in order. We brought out our inner southern belles by suiting up in sun dresses and hats, hoping to give off an air of high society. Based on our last experience at the polo club, we were dressed for success.

Now try to imagine the surprise when, en route, our friend Meredith called to say The Sport of Kings had been canceled due to the prior week’s flooding.

So much for ponies and chukkers and stomping divots.

But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Considering our attire, we briefly brainstormed upper-class activities. We are also extremely cheap frugal, so our choice needed to be practically free. Which is why we decided on croquet.

I've heard this is how people go shopping in Dallas.

Once arriving at our humble abode of mismatched furniture hand-me-downs, we made mint juleps and snacks from supplies found living in our fridge.

Lee is a very hands-on helper.

I tried to quickly rectify the porch-chairs-covered-in-pollen situation so that we could leisurely drink from from aged tea cups and reap the benefits of Alix’s impromptu culinary creation, rum cake!

Here we are having a blast.

The afternoon progressed to include a lovely game of croquet in our park. Due to our croquet inexperience, the wickets were arranged in terrible positions that unexpectedly required impossible uphill putting and constant changes in grass texture. If nothing else, this magnified the challenge of the match.

Lee demonstrates perfect form with her mallet.

Acknowledging the fact that the only type of games in which I excel are board games, I trailed behind my opponents who continually made impressive comebacks to lead one another. I spent most of the experience fair-weather-fanning the current leader and tapping my poor little croquet ball far behind the rest.

The Serious Competitors

Unrelated to our upper-class evening theme, we ended the night with a blast from the past. Dream Phone is compulsory to a successful evening.

He looks good in whatever he wears.

I <3 Awards Ceremonies (a post by Lee)

So last night was the 84th Annual Academy Awards, more widely known as Lee’s 3rd Annual Academy Awards Extravaganza. It was a big night for me, for so many reasons. But first! Let’s go back in history and revisit the past two parties.

The first iteration of my Oscars bonanza took place in 2010. I only had 3 friends kept a very exclusive guest list, so only Jordie, AM, and Kate attended. While I was actively engaged in the ceremony to the point of near-riot when they cut Patrick Swayze from the In Memoriam section (I AM STILL ANGRY ABOUT THIS), Jordie read files for work, Anna Marie tied ribbons, and Kate actually had her back to the TV the whole time. I swore that never again would I host an event that would allow for such blatant disinterest.

The next year I sent out an invitation to about 40 people, heavily encouraging costumes and promising food inspired by the 10 Best Film nominations. Because I’d actually seen most of the nominated films, it did not seem too difficult of a charge. The menu was:

True Grit: true cheese grits [apparently I was not particularly witty in 2011]
The Fighter: punch
127 Hours: trail mix
The King’s Speech: Royal-tea sandwiches
Inception: 3-layered dip [in honor of the 3-level dream ]
Toy Story 3: alien cupcakes
The Kids Are All Right: Nic’s Tomato Salad is All Right [inspired by Nic’s/Annette Bening’s line, “If I hear heirloom tomatoes one more time, I’m going to shoot someone.”]
The Social Network: Mark Zucker-burgers [my first attempt at black bean burgers; I failed remarkably]
Winter’s Bone: coconut pie [crystal meth looks like coconut to me, is what I was going for here…]
Black Swan: swan wings

All was going well until that very last dish – the swan wings. I had never even held a chicken wing before, much less made them. It was a scarring experience. If you’re wondering, to make wings you have to cut through the bone in two different places in order to remove the wing tip. It is a vile procedure.

By the grace of the Oscar gods, somehow the food was ready by the time folks started showing up. Something I hadn’t taken into account is that our apartment, while spacious for intimate gatherings and dinner parties, is not the greatest venue to host 30 people for a sit-down event – especially because we only have one couch. That coupled with the fact that we are the proud owners of the world’s smallest TV meant that we all got to know each other real well real quick.

Anyway, the party went off without a hitch (except for the part where NATALIE PORTMAN ROBBED ANNETTE BENING OF HER OSCAR, DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN!? On a related note, I am way too emotionally invested in the Oscars.) and a few people even wore costumes! Costumed people are my favorite people.

So now that I’ve rehashed the past couple of years, let’s talk about the 2012 Oscars. First of all, you guys, the party almost didn’t happen. I KNOW! Sadness and devastation! A few minor issues prevented me from organizing the party, but most problematically, we were having issues with Comcast. In that our cable had been out since mid-December and Comcast wouldn’t send a technician out to fix it. And then Anna Marie bestowed upon me a most glorious gift: she negotiated (read: bullied) our leasing office in to letting us use their clubhouse for the Oscars, without charge!

Here’s this year’s pun-heavy menu:

The Artist: The Tartist [apple tart]
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Extremely Lard and Incredibly Toast [buttered & toasted sandwiches]
The Descendants: The Desandwichants [a stretch of a name; Hawaiian sandwiches]
The Help: The Help Yourself to Some Sweet Tea […sweet tea]
Midnight in Paris: Midnight in Pear-is [roasted pears]
Moneyball: Honeyballs [self-explanatory]
The Tree of Life: The Brie of Life [this is the one menu item Anna Marie contributed, and she admitted to stealing it from a blog]
War Horse: War HorSeeds [this was… just a bowl of mixed nuts… I’m not proud]
Hugo: HUnGOver [This was the drink station. YOU GUYS. I feel like this is some Will Shortz level of brilliance.]

But, really, who cares about all that because guess what happened? MERYL STREEP WON! Fun fact: Meryl Streep graduated from my podunk New Jersey high school way back when, so I am disgustingly loyal to her. VIVE MERYL!

Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong and Anna Marie’s trip to the zoo. (a post by Anna)

Last Friday we attended Feast with the Beasts at the Houston Zoo. As the name suggests, it was a night filled with good eats and animals. One of my favorite aspects of this evening was the humans dressed up as animals.

Lee made a friend.

Pretty sweet giraffe costume, eh?

I’m not sure if it was the massive crowd or darkness, but as soon as we entered the zoo, I lost all sense of direction. Luckily our treasured friends Betsy and Lee are zoo experts and were able to lead us to both cuisine and creatures.

Food samples please me to no end.

We had an awesome time hanging out with animals. What we didn’t realize until we later checked our camera was that Lee and I somehow caught a case of crazy eyes.

Crazy Eyes Mimms with a chinchilla.

Crazy Eyes Smith with a giant rabbit.

Crazy Eyes Mimms and Smith unite among the giraffes.

Crazy Eyes Mimms with the American kestrel.

All crazy eyes thankfully subsided when elephant impressions began.

After successfully gorging on food samples and petting various animals, we headed towards the main event: a performance by the Spin Doctors!

Turns out we were the only people freaking out about the Spin Doctors. Luckily we were able to cut a rug and show the crowd how to enjoy 90s music.

Lee couldn't contain herself.

There, in the middle of the zoo, the Spin Doctors didn’t let us down.

Two Princes!

Needless to say it was a memorable night at the zoo!