Perfectionism: A Worthy Goal or an Excuse to Freebase Chocolate?

Sadly, I think I've seen them in the Whole Foods on Magazine St.

The first step to avoiding the scourge that is perfectionism is to resist, no matter how hard, the temptation to match your hat and gloves to your maxi-dress while shopping....don't do it.  Remember, girls, co-ordinate, don't match....so much chicer.  All joking aside, perfectionism is nothing to joke about it (ha...that's kind of a joke...guess I'm on a roll.)

Seriously, I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I've just returned from vacation to find work deadlines looming, a major party to host next weekend (somehow I didn't realize Mardi Gras was so close to my vacation...Damn you February and your 28 days.....), plus friends arriving for the party several days ahead of schedule.  One of whom is partially allergic to pet dander.  Considering, despite my best efforts, that my house contains enough loose pet hair to make full body wigs for every hairless Chinese crested dog in existence, I sense a problem.  Making the situation worse is that another craft/design blogger may be coming to my house for the first time for the party.  Now, in addition to work and cleaning,  I want to whip the house into shape ( including touch up paint, new pillows, and painting furniture that has been in place and untouched since 2007),  artfully display  the food and drink for the party (not to mention finding time to shop for and prepare it), and re-landscape the front yard and back patio which have been neglected since spring 2010 (don't judge me).....well, you can see why I'm tempted to retreat  into a fetal position and a box of Russell Stover's.  

What I keep trying to tell myself is that there is no need for everything to be perfect.  The world won't collapse if Deyond sneezes and my coke bottles are stuck in a plastic ice chest and not artfully arranged in a custom painted metal tub surrounded by lemons.  It's hard to fight this desire for perfection, though, and I blame this woman:

Martha can kiss my lumpy, undercooked grits.

Look, I know Martha Stewart isn't REALLY the Anti-Christ, and I actually admire her and have learned a lot from her over the years, but she has contributed to our need for total perfection in the home. 

While there were chefs, decorators, and housekeeping experts before her, she is really the first to insist that all three areas must go together;  that it's not enough to bake a cake...that cake needs to be a  homemade cake...made from scratch, with seasonal, artisanal ingredients, appropriate to the occasion, location, and guests, served on THE appropriate plate (preferrably from a tag sale), with co-ordinating (but not matching ) vintage plates and hotel silver (all pulled from their perfect storage locations where they were labeled and appropriately protected from dust and possible damage), impeccable vintage linens (ironed with lavender water), and French press coffee (from whole beans of course) served in co-ordinating, but not matching paper thin cups.  

This cake must pass from your perfectly appointed kitchen with glass paned upper cabinets and white marble counter tops, through your beautifully decorated home, bathed in tasteful, but interesting, neutrals, and furnished with an interesting mix of antiques and quality upholstered furniture, including pillows and crafts that you yourself have made, though they are of high enough quality to appear to have been done professionally.  When the guests rave, you must act as if if all just happened naturally, with nothing but the slightest of efforts.

I've weighed my options, and I've decided to spend the rest of the evening curled in a fetal position, watching streaming Netflix, and freebasing chocolate...the house won't get any closer to perfection, but I'll feel a little better.


Yuengling, a Road Trip, and Jaclyn Smith: A New American Odyssey

I'm sure after my last posts,my readers, you precious unborn fawns, almost leaped from your seats with the excitement of a post from me breaking my long blog silence.  "Finally," you thought to yourselves, "my long time alone in the wilderness is over...I have a reason to live again."  Then, for the past few weeks...silence...no more sunshine, since I'm gone.

Fear not, gentle readers, I'm back, and ready to blog.  I've been on a road trip with Thomas, driving through Birmingham, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Mobile, and time away from streaming Netflix, email, and a constantly ringing cell phone is just what I needed to get my blogging juices flowing again.

It was a low-key vacay, mainly hanging with old friends, but the weather was spring perfect, the food was delicious (especially Dish and The Penquin in Charlotte...both were so good we made return trips.  Both were featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  I have to say this...i've eaten at 4 places featured on the show, and all four times I've been very pleased with the food.  Guy Fieri makes my slappin' hand itch, but I have to admit the show picks winners.)   But perhaps the best part...I tasted the nectar of the gods, Yuengling  beer.  It's not readily available here in New Orleans (though I've heard a rumor it's sold in Slidell); which is just as well.  I soaked up so many pints of that "local flavor" that I'm relying on Thomas's photos to show me the fun we had.

Perhaps, the best part for me, though was the chance to browse through used books stores.  I have, throughout various stages of my life, been a LEGO junkie, a china queen, and a clotheshorse.  These urges to collect have come and gone, along with the possessions.  What has never fluctuated; however, is my love of books--preferably old, and possibly smelly.  My favorite category of collectible book is somewhat unusual however; at least for a guy.  I love vintage beauty books---those how to glamour guides of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  If you have any fondness for these, check out Bonnie Downing's Peculiar Beauty Blog. This is where I've learned about some real gems, including these I found during the trip:

 A standard autobeautyography, but entertaining for it's early 70sness...including advice on rouging nipples.  Here's Ms. Downing's definition of an autobeautyography:

 "That's my name for the genre of literature created when eccentrics, often famous eccentrics, set out to write a helpful how-to on skin care, diet, and makeup tips, and building a wardrobe that works, and end up writing their life story by revealing insecurities and deeply weird habits, confessing various secrets and betrayals, and perhaps letting a giddy need for attention push them to far."  Article by Downing Here.

Another great beauty book, a dishy tell-all by make up man to the stars (including Marilyn and Ann-Margaret), George Masters:

All you really need to know:  his "SexCal" diet included large Scotch and waters.  Nothing beats a drunk hair stylist waving around scissors and straight razors.

And finally, and my favorite, Jaclyn Smith's Beauty book from 1985:

 Though my favorite Angel was Farrah, I always did think Jaclyn Smith was the prettiest one, and enjoyed watching her in various Sydney Sheldon TV movies in the 80s--Rage of Angels has to be one of the best titles ever.  Her book is not dishy, her habits are distressingly normal, and quite frankly, she comes across as very level headed, sweet, and normal.  That's not why I like the book though:  I like it for two main reasons.

1. It's a great time capsule of "tasteful" 80s style, especially home decor, as it's mainly shot in Smith's home.  lot's of rose patterned wallpaper, hunter green walls, and floral chintz.  Jackie was ahead of her time, though;  her bathroom features a beautiful antique buffet in lieu of a built in vanity, and it's topped with.....white carrerra  marble.

2.  The absolute best part of the book, though is it's bewildered tone.  Let me explain, during the 80s, influenced by the success of Jane Fonda's workout books, lots and lots of actresses came out with How-to Beauty books and videos (you owe it to yourself to go to youtube and search for Donna Mills's The Eyes Have It and Brenda Dickson's Welcome to My Home).  Obviously, as a famous beauty (spokesman for Max Factor) who had great hair (spokesman for a couple of shampoo lines), Ms. Smith was a natural to write a how to guide.  The problem?  It's obvious the woman was born beautiful and maintained it with no effort.  They have to interview various experts to deal with beauty problems because she didn't have any.
Example, in the diet section, she's pictured with a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, explains why a burger with extra tomato and lettuce is a sensible lunch, and has only one unhappy diet story to share---she was so thin as a teenager she had to drink special weight-gain milkshakes.

I'm picturing editing sessions like this:

Editor:  okay, let's talk hair.  What do you do for bad hair days?

Jaclyn, ripping off motorcycle helmet and tossing long luxurious chestnut locks that fall into softly gleaming perfection:   What's a bad hair day?

Editor:  Fair enough...we'll just call in an expert to interview about that.  Let's move on to weight control.

Jaclyn, daintily nibbling the large slice of mushroom and pepper pizza (actually promoted as a great diet lunch in the book) held in her perfect hands with delicate shell-like nails:  I'm sorry, I didn't hear you...I was wondering if this pizza needed extra cheese....when I tried on my Nolan Miller dress earlier, the waist was a little loose.....

All joking aside, (though I'm sure she's had more than a little medical intervention) the woman knows what she's talking about.  Remember, the woman in the following picture was born in 1945 (or 47 depending if you believe IMDB or Wikipedia):