Looking forward to fall!

Summer is fading, and I can totally feel it, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday. The sun is rising a little later, setting a little earlier. People are getting their fantasy football teams together. The snowbirds from up north and back east are preparing to migrate to Phoenix Metro. Soon, we’ll see them on their jaunty walks in their shorts and t-shirts (while we desert denizens put on light jackets.)

I love summer giving way to fall. We do have seasons here in the Sonoran Desert part of the Land of AZ… maybe not in the traditional sense, but we do. The desert just expresses itself differently. The desert is a season-rebel. It does not conform to the norm. You have colorful fall leaves? We have colorful, blazing sunsets. You have chilly, moist temperatures? We have perfect temperatures… dry temperatures in the 70-80-degree range.

I love the heat, but hospitable temperatures make certain things possible. At some point in the late summer, I start anticipating aspects of the fall, as I know everyone around here does. Some of them can’t come soon enough. Here are 10 off the top of my head:

1). Garage gym workouts.

Cooler weather will put our garage gym back into the equation of my combat-sports fitness training.

2). Opening the front door.

Sitting in the living room at dusk with the fall breeze coming through the screen door is one of my favorite things. In the world.

3). Roasting veggies.

Brussels sprouts. Broccoli. Sweet potatoes. Purple Peruvian potatoes. Onions. Garlic. Fall in our house smells delicious.

4). Pears.

We eat pears year-round, but they come into season in the fall, and they are rapturous.

5). Pomegranates.

Pomegranate season! The flavor of pomegranates also signifies fall to me.

6). This is Us (Sept. 26) and Stranger Things (Oct. 27)

This fall, the two T.V. series I’m anticipating are This is Us and Stranger Things. I’m seriously emotionally invested in the family members of This is Us, and, like all fans, I’ve been waiting forever to find out what happens next in Stranger Things.

I would normally look forward to American Horror Story, but its early start this year puts it more in the summer than in the fall, as far as I’m concerned. Homeland is another fall series that isn’t starting in the fall this time around. Seems that the new season won’t be out until spring.

7). Candlelight writing in the early morning.

There’s something about writing in the early morning dark with just the glow of a candle flame to illuminate what needs illuminating.

8). Fall cleaning.

I’m more eager to deep-clean the house in the fall than in the spring, and the house feels so good after it’s done!

9). Creative inspiration.

Maybe it’s from a lifetime of “back-to-school” mental conditioning, but I’m more inspired, motivated, and revved-up in the fall than at any other time of the year. This is especially good this year, as I’m working on the toughest part of my book right about now. The fall magic will arrive just in time.

10). An extra cover on the bed.

For me, a heavier cover at night somehow leads to a more satisfying sleep. (By “heavier cover,” I mean the bathrobe I throw over just my side of the bed at night.)

Nenette shares my enthusiasm. Earlier this morning, I talked to her about fall, and she looked out the window like “Where is it?”

 

Late summer Nenette, awash in the early morning light.

 

Happy weekend!

 

My College Survival Tips. (School is starting! Here’s how I got through when I was a student.)

Arizona State University, my alma mater and place of employment, starts its fall semester this Thursday. For me, being immersed in the university community, this is one of the most energizing times of year in The Land of AZ. The loudening crackle of the university gearing up for a new academic year echos around town like a catchy tune, everyone’s motivated as the heat starts to let up (or at the idea of the heat letting up), football season begins, Halloween approaches, and we look forward to the fall sunsets, which we know are going to be more glorious than usual.

 

And it begins!

And it begins!

 

School starting up always takes me back to when I was a college student. (Meaning, pursuing an undergraduate degree, for those unfamiliar with the American university system.) It was 20 years ago, but I remember with keen clarity some of the survival skills I’d developed. A lot has changed since then, but a lot has remained the same. In honor of this first week of Academic Year 2016, I thought I’d share some of my personal college survival skills.

Here’s how I survived when I was an undergraduate student at ASU:

1). .99 bean burritos “without cheese” from Taco Bell (no less than four packets of fire sauce) and Power Bars the rest of the day – stock up on Power Bars when they’re on sale. (Sidenote: Taco Bell’s bean burritos are now $1.29 on campus, and these days, I don’t eat Power Bars. Neither would I eat bean burritos from Taco Bell. But they saved me many a day when I was broke and late for my next class and needed to grab something cheap and fast.)

2). Work as a student worker on campus 20 hrs/week –

2a). Use workplace as a locker for storing stuff in between classes when off-shift.

2b). Study/prepare for classes during downtime while at work.

3). Emergency measure for Paper-Writing Procrastination (PWP, because I’m a vet and you leave the military with acronyms-as-language hardwired into your brain): Pull all-nighters in the Computing Commons on campus –

3a). Bring a light jacket or sweatshirt regardless of the time of year (or you’ll freeze in the A/C), your own water bottle, and Power Bars.

3b). Pick a work station and implement your strategy for camping out there all night. Strategy involves mostly just leaving all your stuff where it is to make it look like you merely ran to the restroom when in fact you went outside to eat your Power Bar and walk around to get the blood circulating in your legs.

3c). Finish and print the final draft of paper just in time to go to class and hand it in.

4). The “Study for an Exam” (aka “Cramming for a Test”) version of #3 is to do the exact same thing, except pull the all-nighter in the designated study section of the 24-hour IHOP that used to be across the street on 13th and Forest at the Twin Palms hotel (it’s now The Graduate Inn, and the IHOP, sadly, is gone). Venue-specific bonus: coffee all night!

5). Donate your plasma once a month or so for extra cash. The plasma-donating place on Broadway is still there. I don’t know if the phlebotomists who work there these days have vampire fangs attached to their canine teeth, though, or if that was just a thing of the 90’s.)

6). Get your teeth cleaned for super cheap by the students in the dental hygiene program at the local community college (in the 90’s, it was Phoenix College… not sure if any of the other schools in the Maricopa County Community College system have started offering dental hygiene curriculums.)

7). Wait until Friday to do happy hour with friends from work/class –

7a). Order one cheap beverage (I usually got iced tea) and shamelessly eat enough free happy hour food to constitute dinner. My favorite place for this was Macayo’s. I remember their mini-chimichangas and mini-flautas to be so deliciously satisfying! (Don’t know if they still are. Haven’t been to happy hour there in years, and I wouldn’t eat those things now, anyway.)

8). Get together with classmate who’s doing as well as you are after you’ve both finished your drafts of the next assigned paper; exchange papers, read, offer each other brutal but constructive criticism.

9). Caffeine. In my case, it was Diet Coke. I DO NOT recommend this. If I was an undergrad relying on caffeine today, I’d go for iced coffee or tea.

10). Join the Tae Kwan Do club on campus, which meets three times a week. (Used to, that is. It’s not there anymore. The Jui-Jitsu club is still there, though… it meets at the SRC three times a week, as well, I believe.) It’s free therapy, and it keeps you in shape.

On that note, you can consider yourself a seasoned Tempe-campus ASU student when you learn to recognize the juniors and seniors by how amazing their legs look after they’ve spent 2+ years running, power-walking, biking, roller-blading (which very few people do anymore) and/or skate-boarding around the country’s second- or third-largest campus to get to their classes on time.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-2015FallSemesterStartsASU-Devils

This and That

I have nothing to give you today, due to the fact that the saga of my new computer took up every last second of time between Friday and 11pm last night (when we weren’t gallivanting at Drag Bingo or working out in Body Combat class or doing laundry or actually working, that is). Guys, to give you an idea… a new episode of Homeland is available, and we haven’t watched it yet! That is our NUMBER ONE show this season, we’re utterly enthralled, and it’s been driving us crazy that there’s an episode just sitting there, unwatched. But we’re going to watch it tonight after grocery shopping (didn’t even get that done over the weekend) after work, so I get to look forward to it all day.

I’m extremely happy – I would even say thrilled – with my new computer (and this is the second one since the saga began – I had to take the first one back because of major issues), but I haven’t really used it yet. My amazing brother remoted in from California last night to help me set it up, and since then, I’ve been busy sleeping (a scant five hours) and showering, and now I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee and Callaghan next to me and the lights on in the deliciously dark early fall morning and the sound of the sprinklers on the lawn and kitties running around.

Speaking of kitties, have I mentioned that Ronnie James has a girlfriend? She’s an outdoor neighborhood kitty, and she’s adorable. She comes and sits on the table under the window, and she and the Wrah-Wrah gaze and bat at each other.

Aren't they a cute couple?

Aren’t they a cute couple?

Also, here’s a photo from Drag Bingo, which many of you have already seen on facebook. This was actually taken right before we left the house:

Callaghan and I didn't quite coordinate our outfits for the soiree.

Callaghan and I didn’t quite coordinate our outfits for the soiree.

Have a great Tuesday, All!

Our Halloween Laundry Room

On Friday, I wrote about the heartwarming qualities of a well-maintained, staffed Laundromat. It’s entirely coincidental that this morning’s post is also about a laundry space. On Saturday, before I’d decided what to write about for today, Callaghan and I stood in our new laundry room at home talking about the most important feature of that room, which is, of course, that it makes me think of the laundry room in the horror film Halloween. Because we all know that no laundry room is complete without the mental image of a masked killer standing outside of it, watching as you blithely go about the business of doing your laundry.

That original Halloween from 1978? Stands out in my memory as being the movie that sparked my interest in the horror genre, which has long since been one of my favorite film genres. I find the laundry room scene in that movie to be a wonderful scene, especially because it arrives at that moment.

You know that moment. It’s the moment in a cheesy horror movie wherein the tension gathers itself into a jagged-edged ball with frayed, stripped wires poking out all over the place before it begins its bouncing, chaotic journey downhill, picking up speed and snagging everything along the way until it slams to a halt with everyone (except that one, token survivor) dead at the end. (Long aside: It’s fun if the survivor is the one person that you’d predicted would escape. Sometimes, a horror movie starts and some characters have DEAD written all over them from the very beginning, right? We like to make predictions within the first 15 minutes. “He’s dead.” “She’ll be the first to go.” “That person’s going to be the one who stays alive.” It’s actually the most satisfying when we’re wrong, though, because being wrong means that the movie wasn’t as predictable as we’d thought it would be.)

Taken out of context, this scene from Halloween isn’t particularly creepy, but it’s brilliant in its place (no gore here):

 

 

I honestly don’t know why this came to mind on Saturday. Our laundry room isn’t especially creepy. Maybe it’s because the start of the fall semester means that fall is near, which, in turn, signals the approach of Halloween, bringing to mind the movie Halloween. Whatever the case, Callaghan and I had the chance to discuss the matter gravely.

“This reminds me of the laundry room scene in Halloween,” I said as we stood in the laundry room. It was empty. The washer and dryer were to be delivered later that day.

“What scene?”

“Remember that scene? The girl is babysitting, she goes out to the laundry room – it’s night – and the killer is there, creeping around outside. This is like that laundry room.”

We were having this conversation because our laundry room is only accessible from the backyard. It’s connected to the main house, but you can’t walk through. The only other time I’d seen a laundry room like that was in Halloween.

 

Our laundry room at night, not creepy at all under the patio's two bright lights.

Our laundry room at night, not creepy at all under the patio’s two bright lights.

 

“In this laundry room,” Callaghan said as he looked around, “the only place for the killer to hide is behind the door. So you enter it by kicking the door in really hard… and then there’s no more killer!” With his French accent, he pronounced it “keeler.”

But the killer would be wilier than that, I thought. I could picture how it would happen. The killer would crouch around the corner, or, if the patio lights were out, in the inside corner of the patio.

 

The laundry room in the dark.

The laundry room in the dark.

 

I’m not really concerned, though. The laundry room is spacious, but it’s narrow, and other than the one on the door, there are no windows. That means that I would have the advantage.

All of this makes me think of American Horror Story: Freak Show with increasing anticipation. We can’t wait for the return of Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulsen, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Even Peters, Emma Roberts, et al! October 8… only a month away!

 

 

What I’m Digging Right Now – October Favorites

Good morning! I thought I’d take a minute to highlight some of my current favorite things, because it is all about “the little things,” right?

1). The fall air, crisp and cool coming in through the open window at night.

 

Nounours and Ronnie James love the cool night air, too.

Nounours and Ronnie James love the cool night air, too.

 

2). Fall-scented candles. My favorite so far is Yankee Candle’s Autumn Wreath.

 

Cheerful during the day, spooky at night, and it smells wonderful!

Cheerful during the day, spooky at night, and it smells wonderful!

 

3). The current seasons of Homeland, American Horror Story: Coven and Hart of Dixie.*

 

The great trilogy - our favorite series this season

The great trilogy – our favorite series this season

 

(And the combination of those above three things? Sublime.)

4). My new necklace in the shape of the state of Arizona, which I ordered online (it was my October “mois-versary” gift from Callaghan).

 

State necklace from Baublebar.com. I chose Arizona and ordered it in tortoiseshell with a heart cut-out where Phoenix is, with a 16" sterling silver chain.

State necklace from Baublebar.com. I chose Arizona and ordered it in tortoiseshell with a heart cut-out where Phoenix is, with a 16″ sterling silver chain.

 

5). Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Luna Bars.

 

They were on sale at Sprouts (5 for $5.00), so I took advantage!

They were on sale at Sprouts (5 for $5.00), so I took advantage!

 

6). Thug Kitchen, a food blog whose recipes are creative, scrumptious, healthy, easy and fun to read (if you share my sense of humor).

 

CaptureThugKitchen

 

7). Elevation Burger.

 

Quick! Someone in Phoenix, buy a franchise and open it now THANK YOU. =)

Quick! Someone in Phoenix, buy a franchise and open it now THANK YOU. =)

 

They have a vegetarian burger and a vegan burger, and the latter is a feat of culinary kickass by anyone’s standards. Also, their fries are fantastic and cooked in healthy olive oil. Okay, I’ve just decided that I’m going to make a list of “Top Ten Things I’ll Miss about Austin,” just so I can put Elevation Burger on it!

8). It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin.

In this little bottle, we have THE ANSWER to my current First World beauty problem (that’s a redundancy, I know), which is that my hair is in an unmanageable stage of growing-out bangs and an awkward cut with even more awkward layers and over-texturized ends. I’ve recently started dealing with the whole mess by pretending that the bangs already don’t exist, and the result is a cascading achievement of blah. ENTER THIS PRODUCT.

 

It really is a miracle.

It really is a miracle.

 

I’d been stalking it for some time, but its price tag had deterred me… until I saw it on sale at Target last week. It was still expensive, but I felt less guilty springing for it when it was $4.00 off (and I got the small size – 4 fl. oz). Turns out, it’s totally the miracle product it claims to be, so it’s worth the expense, as far as I’m concerned. See how shiny, soft and tame my hair looks in the above picture? That’s because of this stuff. That’s all I put in my hair after I washed it that day, and I didn’t do anything to it after that… it’s air-dried and uncombed. Seriously.

9). Movies about Formula 1 racing.

 

thatasianlookingchick_com-Movies-F1300

 

10). This Matt & Nat bag I unearthed from a pile in a thrift store for $9.00, a rare find.

 

It's large, in perfect condition and probably originally cost between $150.00-$200.00. I thrifted it for $9.00!

It’s large, in perfect condition and probably originally cost between $150.00-$200.00. I thrifted it for $9.00!

 

What are you crazy about right now?

—–

*Since I posted about our Pretty Little Liars addiction, we’ve lost interest in that show! Writing about it broke the spell, oddly enough.

An Idyllic Fall Weekend in the Country with Family

Somewhere north of Dallas, about four-and-a-half hours away from here, there’s an A-frame house nestled on the side of a country road, surrounded by sycamore, pecan and walnut trees. Inside live my cousin and her husband. Their three grown kids have headed out to their respective urban pastures, but the kids’ personalities bound throughout the home with so much liveliness, you’d think they still live there! And that’s wonderful, because Callaghan and I missed them when we went up to spend the weekend.

 

We spent a perfect fall weekend with my cousins at their home in the country just north of Dallas.

We spent a perfect fall weekend with my cousins at their home in the country just north of Dallas.

 

So that is where we went when we took off early on Saturday morning, and where we stayed until late Sunday afternoon, and that is why this post is a day late – because of all the pictures! I took over 200, and it was revealed after the fact that somehow, the image file size setting in my camera had gotten bumped up to 16mgs, which made re-sizing them rather time-consuming. Add to that the usual selection process and some errands to run, and, well, here we are on Tuesday with Monday’s post. (Sorry about that.)

In addition to re-connecting with my cousins, the weekend involved fossil-hunting in their creek-bed (there’s a creek and a bridge on their property), a go-kart spin on their road, a visit to Ray Roberts Lake, a visit to my cousin’s daughter’s house (which was excellent, because we got to meet their new son-in-law, though their daughter couldn’t be there), and a visit to the University of North Texas, where my cousin’s husband works.  Most importantly, there was lots of conversation over great food. (Note to Self: ask cousin for the recipe for her delicious vegetable curry!) It all made for an interesting and fun and totally unique time that we wished could have gone on longer. We hope it isn’t too long before we can see them again.

With that, here’s a slew of photos, which fail to convey the splendid and unexpected fall magic that is fossil-hunting in northern Texas. Imagine going apple-picking for the rarest of apples in a privately-owned orchard! Honestly, though, I think the company we were in had everything to do with the marvelous time we had. There is nothing like family.

 

Fall is lovely in the country north of Dallas. This is my cousins' bridge. The creek lies beneath.

Fall is lovely in the country north of Dallas. This is my cousins’ bridge. The creek lies beneath.

 

 

A fossil amongst the fallen leaves in the creek-bed

A fossil amongst the fallen leaves in the creek-bed

 

 

Look what we found!

Look what we found!

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

Turning the bend

Turning the bend

 

 

A perfect little fossilized shell!

A perfect little fossilized shell!

 

 

I can smell the fragrance of the country fall air just looking at this picture.

I can smell the fragrance of the country fall air just looking at this picture.

 

 

Stories in the stones

Stories in the stones

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

The part of the creek that had water in it in spite of the drought....

The part of the creek that had water in it in spite of the drought….

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

In the creek-bed

In the creek-bed

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

 

 

Callaghan and me (with an ancient snail)

Callaghan and me (with an ancient snail)

 

 

Hidden corners...

Hidden corners…

 

 

The treasures we found!

The treasures we found!

 

 

Our collected fossils

Our collected fossils

 

Saturday night…

 

The Christmas lights they leave up year-round make the place even more magical!

The Christmas lights they leave up year-round make the place even more magical!

 

 

A little décor near the front door. LOVE IT.

A little décor near the front door. LOVE IT.

 

Sunday morning…

 

Callaghan on the go-kart!

Callaghan on the go-kart!

 

 

My turn

My turn

 

 

Pile on!

Pile on!

 

 

The four of us

The four of us

 

And in the afternoon:

 

Overlooking the beach at Ray Roberts Lake

Overlooking the beach at Ray Roberts Lake

“Her Perfume Smells Like Burning Leaves” (but she probably doesn’t wear a cartoon owl every day)

Fall is here, Halloween is coming up, and while we have no idea what we’ll be doing costume-wise, I can at least enjoy feeling seasonable now when I put on my Halloween t-shirt, which I got from Target several years ago and actually wear throughout the year.

I wore it yesterday:

 

The Halloween t-shirt too adorable to ignore three-quarters of the year.

The Halloween t-shirt too adorable to ignore three-quarters of the year.

 

Creepy/scary Halloween imagery usually appeals to me more than the cutesy variety, but this t-shirt was an exception. I couldn’t resist it!

I’m generally enthusiastic about wearing Halloween stuff year-round, but I know that when the late Peter Steele of Type-O Negative described the mysterious gothic vixen in his song “Black No. 1” and concluded with “every day is Halloween,” he probably wasn’t thinking of her wearing a t-shirt that says “I (heart) the night life” under an orange heart-feathered cartoon owl perched on a sparkly gold crescent moon. I’m just too lazy to be a gothic vixen every day, so I go with the owl.

Moving the same note along to our apartment, we’ve got our Fall/Halloween mantel décor up! PICS – because it happened.

 

Our Fall (Halloween!) mantel. Not a leaf in sight, but we've got candles; original traditional and bizarre art; an assortment of tools; an old brass key; a petrol lamp; a bronze clock; an antique candelabra and a silly stuffed owl.

Our Fall (Halloween!) mantel. Not a leaf in sight, but we’ve got candles; original traditional and bizarre art; an assortment of tools; an old brass key; a petrol lamp; a bronze clock; an antique candelabra and a silly stuffed owl.

 

Close-up of Callaghan's bizarre 3-D piece ("Antix"), the antique ice-pick and the owl.

Close-up of Callaghan’s bizarre 3-D piece (“Antix”), the antique ice-pick and the owl.

 

Close-up of the left side. The still life on the end is an original painting by Alerini, a French artist.

Close-up of the left side. The still life on the end is an original painting by Alerini, a French artist.

 

Close-up of the right side. The gorgeous candelabra is a gift from Dude in France. The antique brass key on it is a gift from Catherine, also in France. The art on the end is a framed set of rubber stamps designed and carved by Callaghan.

Close-up of the right side. The gorgeous candelabra is a gift from Dude in France. The antique brass key on it is a gift from Catherine, also in France. The art on the end is a framed set of rubber stamps designed and carved by Callaghan.

 

ETA: No leaves, branches, pumpkins or gourds were abused in the making of this display.