November 30, 2010

Movies I Look Forward to

There are two movies coming out in the next month that I am sooooo excited to see on a date night with my honey.

Black Swan, out this Friday:

And, most of all, Somewhere, out December 22:

November 29, 2010

Money Blows, Crafting Rocks.

On Saturday, Nekos and I had a come-to-Jesus talk about money. It went something like this:

Nekos: We are both really bad about spending money. Like, really f***ing bad.

Ellen: You're so right. S***. We should probably make a budget or something.

[An hour later, after an honest and fearless review of expenditures ... ]

Nekos: Oh. My. God.

Ellen: We are total idiots. What were we thinking?

The realization that we are bad with money wasn't so much a realization as an admittance. We've known that we were bad; we just didn't want to deal with it or say it out loud. And it's sort of like, "Well, Ellen spent $60 at Anthropologie, so I can spend $60 at Grimey's." It's an equal opportunity arrangement for financial peril. The great thing is that Nekos doesn't give me hell about what I spend money on, and the terrible thing is that Nekos doesn't give me hell about what I spend money on.

So, we set some guidelines, like eating out only once a week, instead of three or four times. And that means Nekos packs his lunch most days or comes home for lunch. I've been clipping coupons for months now, but too often I feel compelled to use them to buy things I don't necessarily need just because I can save $2 on that thing I don't need. I have to get better at this. My friend Laura has a blog where she explains how she uses coupons to get overages. As in, the clerk hands you money back and you walk out the door with the merchandise. This is actually legal.

It's not that I want to broadcast my finances online; this is more like when you go on a diet and you have to tell people that you're going on a diet so that you actually can't eat Snickers bars in front of them anymore.

So I'm telling you people: During the month of December I'm not spending any unnecessary money on myself, Nekos, Tessa, or our home. But, guys, that doesn't mean my love of pretty things just goes away. So I've devised some ways to get a month's worth of "new" pretty things by using my old pretty things. I've also been thinking crafty thoughts about Christmas presents for my girlfriends this year. Here's what I've got in mind to fill the void while there is no Newness.

1) Take too-small Tessa clothes to consignment and get just-the-right-size Tessa clothes for free. Today I started sorting Tessa's clothes into piles: one pile for her one-day little sister (who I want to name True, even though Nekos doesn't), one pile for consignment, and one pile for trash (because of stubborn baby food stains). This is a task. The kid has already grown out of three-fourths of her clothes. Next step: Find a consignment store where I can trade in these little outfits for slightly bigger outfits.

Consignment ready!
2) Repair the necklaces that have been sitting, busted, on my dresser for months. This will be like having three new necklaces, right?

3) Make this necklace. Speaking of jewelry, have you ever seen anything more amazing than this doily Anthropologie necklace? The Bleubird Vintage blog shows step-by-step how to tackle a DIY version. I'm on it. Continuing with the Anthro necklace craze, my friend Blair gives a great DIY for their A Fine Fete necklace on her blog A Case of the Mundays.

4) Turn my oversized vintage tee-shirts into something fitted and wearable. I saw this picture the other day and got inspired.

I've been hanging on to these two tee-shirts of Nekos' for years. When we first started dating, I would fish them out of his drawer and sleep in them because they're so soft. Now they're even softer because I've been sleeping in them for eight years. But they swallow me. How cute would it be if I clipped them and stitched them to fit like this Harley Davidson tee?

5) Make handmade Christmas presents. The Ever So Lovely blog recently lit my latent love for all things cross stitch and embroidery, and I decided to hand stitch my close friends and family personalized gifts for Christmas. Close friends and family, look away. I especially love the stuff from this etsy shop called Rugglesstitch. Here are some of my favorites from the Rugglesstitch lady:


And ... here's what I've done so far (while Nekos watches football). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

I also love the idea of stitching fabric to plain notepads. Cheapo but super cute and good for my arty friends. Got this idea (and photo) from the Honestly ... WTF blog.

6) Lastly but not leastly, something for the home. About a month ago, Design Sponge featured this from artist PerlaAnne. No offense to PerlaAnne, 'cuz her stuff is so super fly, but I feel like this "LOVE" could be easily recreated using a black pen, some resume paper, and a few of the many picture frames I have lying around. I want it on my mantle to set the vibe for the whole house upon entering. :)

So, the challenge is on. I'll knock out these six projects (at least) and keep the blog updated about my progress. I love blogs that set challenges. My sweet fashion stylist friend Kimberly took on a hairstyle challenge on her Style Me Kimberly blog, and the adorable Jen Loves Kev blogger is posting photos of 30 days worth of outfits pulling from 30 items in her closet.

November 27, 2010

Hair Peace.

In honor of the holidays, I'm pausing to ponder Hair Peace. I've definitely been a fan of long, messy hair with blunt bangs the last few years, but I still have fantasies about the perfect bob. I'm thinking hair because I just dyed mine "Dark Brown" out of the Clairol Perfect 10 box. I like going a little darker during the winter because it looks better against my pale skin. When I do go seeking real, true hair peace, I go to Brandy White at True Blue Salon. She knows how to do a haircut that's more edgy than pretty and she's just plain awesome. Mostly, though, I just go to Super Cuts every six weeks for a bang trim. The hairdresser's fingers smell vaguely of cigarettes, but really who can beat good bangs for $6?

Happy hair everyone!

Kate Moss

 Liv Tyler

Rachel McAdams
Kirsten Dunst
Jessie Baylin
Amanda Bynes
Brigitte Bardot
Kim Kardashian
Free People catalog
Vogue model 
Zoey Deschanel 
Agyness Deyn
Laurie Bird

November 25, 2010

Happy Turkeys

At 6 a.m. our alarm clock went off. Nekos, Tessa, and I met my mom and started the day along with  8,000 other Nashvillians in the Boulevard Bolt, a five-mile "race" down Belle Meade Boulevard. It benefits the homeless, which makes it sort of ironic that the Bolt is on the ritziest street in Music City. It was 65 degrees when we parked the car, and there was a breeze. Holidays tend to make me gloomy, but I liked all the activity and people. And I got to wear my Michael Jackson tee-shirt in November. 

Tessa started things out on Nekos' shoulders, but she fell asleep up there. We moved her to my Ergo Baby carrier, and she slept on me for the next four miles. Nekos wanted to run the last two miles of the race, but mom, Tessa, and I just walked and talked, gawking at the mansions and stopping every so often to admire a sleeping Tessa. I think we finished maybe 7,999th of 8,000 people. We weren't last, but we were close. There was an ambulance driving really slowly and insistently behind us for the last mile. 

I'm just thankful that my 61-year-old mom can walk five miles with us. I'm thankful that Nekos and I could walk five miles, too, and that we could bring along our beautiful, healthy little girl. 

When we got home we heated up the Thanksgiving dinner Nekos had ordered and picked up from Mitchell Deli. It was ridiculously good, and we didn't have to shop, cook or do much clean-up afterwards. I normally have some cooking or cleaning related anxiety attack around Thanksgiving, so this catering thing was nice. 

I did make a pumpkin pie last night. Nekos has Type 1 diabetes, and this pie was from some diabetes cookbook I've had for years. It was good, not great. Tasted a little diet-y. But I guess we needed a little diet-y after what had just happened. 

Our Cajun fried turkey
We started Tessa off with some sweet potato. 
Then a bit of turkey, some wild mushroom dressing, and more sweet potato. 
She promptly passed out in her high chair, and I carried her upstairs to her crib for a long nap. 
Tessa and Nekos after her nap

While Tessabean was sleeping, we put up our tree and decorated it so we could surprise her when she woke up. She's trying to eat Hattie in this picture. She tries to eat everything.

I'm so thankful that I got to spend the day with people who I love so much. 

November 24, 2010


at Bonnaroo 2009
At the end of the week, my best friend is turning 30. I've been thinking about her and about friendship in general. She, by the way, isn't sweating the turning 30 thing. I'm the one who's lying awake at night thinking about wrinkles.

The year before I graduated college, I met Molly among the cubicles at Metro Pulse, the alternative weekly newspaper that we both wrote for in Knoxville. At the time, she was the secretary, and I was the intern. Then she became a staff writer. Then I became the secretary. Then I became a staff writer. We were staff writers together. Then I got fired. But that's another story.

This story is about Molly. And about friendship in general. 

I was intimidated by Molly because she seemed so cool and smart and motivated about things. I'd been hanging out with stoners for a couple of years and had sort of forgotten what that was like. She's the type of girl who made straight A's in high school and didn't sleep through any of her classes in college. She'd traveled the world by the age of 20. She moved to New York City on a whim. She came with two duffel bags and her Boston Terrier, and she slept on the floor of a friend of a friend until she could figure out what she was going to do. She's always doing stuff like this. Now she lives in Tucson, where she's renting an insanely adorable house from Neko Case and going to law school so that she can one day fight to protect immigrant rights

in Tucson, 2010
Molly has two sisters, and the three of them are all different variations on the word beautiful. These sisters are sort of like The Virgin Suicides without the suicides. I'm an only child so when I first met Molly and everyone was still in Knoxville, I rolled around in these sisters — their love for one another, their vicious fights, the meals they made — like a puppy. Molly and I have had vicious fights of our own. Neither of us are short on opinions or shy to express them. I don't like to think of them, but when I do, I like to think that our fights mean we are like sisters. 
in Cookeville, 2008
I value different things in a friendship than a lot of people. I feel like most people put loyalty and trust and comfort and conversation at the tops of their lists. I like all of those things, too, but the two things I really can't live without are respect (as in, I need to respect my friend) and inspiration (as in, I need to feel inspired by my friend). Molly does all of this in spades. She also does us both a favor by living in cool places where I want to visit. 

When she lived in New York, I went to see her every few months. For so long I had dreamed myself of living there, and I felt electric to be rattling around on the subway, cramming into tiny restaurants, and meeting Molly's friends at rooftop parties. 
New York, 2007
After one visit to the city, I got home to Nashville and immediately wrote some terrible essay trying to explain what it felt like to have a cab drop me off in front of Molly's grungy apartment building. To see her come banging out from some unsuspecting warehouse door, looking impossibly luminous in a little bohemian outfit, embracing me, taking me up four flights of stairs to her charming, un-airconditioned apartment where we ate expensive cheese and drank wine over a floral tablecloth and looked out her window at a wild city garden below. The essay was ridiculous. I never finished it. It was too gushy. I sounded like some sort of lesbian. 

But the truth is that the way I feel for the women who I love is almost as complex and as simple as the love I feel for Nekos. Molly was my maid of honor at my wedding; she held my bouquet while I told Nekos I would love him forever. The evening Tessa was born she was one of the first ones there, bursting through the door to my hospital room with an armful of yellow flowers. 
my wedding, 2006
March 23, 2010: Tessa Jean arrives!
When I picture Molly, it's aproned with a wooden spoon in her hand, stirring a pot. I don't know if she actually uses wooden spoons, but it doesn't matter. She cooks with relish. I cook to get it done, so I can get to the wine drinking and the dinner conversation. But she actually, really likes to cook. 

I was looking around for some but, there aren't very many pictures of me and Molly. Mostly just the ones I posted here. The only thing I can figure is that we're too busy talking to take any pictures. 

November 23, 2010

8 Months Old.

you can sort of see the first tooth in this photo. this was a few days ago and it's emerged a bit more now. 

Tessa Jean is 8 months old today. Right now I hear her in the kitchen clanking the ceramic dog bowls against the tile floor and squealing, "Daaaaa!" That's a good thing. When it gets suddenly quiet, my heart stops beating and I barrel into whatever room she's in to make sure she's not outsmarted my childproofing efforts. Her personality is out. It's too soon to tell some details--like whether or not she's particularly girly or a tomboy--but she is extraordinarily independent and very social. Her first word, officially, is "hi." She spies strangers in the grocery store, waves an arm wildly and says, very happily, either "hey" or "hi." She doesn't laugh very much but she's almost always beaming. A wide smile that makes me laugh out loud even if she's just spat her made-from-scratch butternut squash right in my face. Tess will let anyone hold her, kiss her, cuddle her. She likes me well enough, but she's not overly attached to either me or Nekos, which is sort of hurtful but mostly just convenient. She's used to the love coming from all different directions because she stays at her grandma's house overnight once or twice a week. She won't eat anything that's not pureed into oblivion, and even that stuff doesn't always go over well. (See peas above.) Even bananas have to go into the blender. I've been amazed lately at the items I'll allow her to put into her mouth just to keep her from crying. Filthy keys, my wallet, yesterday even a mop handle--whatever's handy.

November 21, 2010

The Handsomeness.

My mom has the baby. Last night, while Nekos was at the football game, I got a latte, got my bangs trimmed, got a Lincoln Park After Dark pedicure, spent a luxurious amount of time in an aisle of CVS considering which face wash to buy and which teeth whitening strips. 

Then I met a girlfriend at Rumours for red wine. She's six months into a relationship and thrilled that her feelings for her boyfriend aren't dulling. They have baby names picked out and the floor plan for a house. Being with him is just as comfortable as being alone. She says she's the girl who cried love but this time she really means it. 

She asked about me and Nekos. Eight years into the relationship, and now with a kid, how's it all going? Thankfully, better than ever. We want to frame a picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and hang it over our bed: Hair Peace. Bed Peace. I'm pretty sure John cheated on Yoko towards the end, but we're overlooking that. 

When my phone rings and I look down at it and see "Nekos Barnes," I still feel 19. I'm still the girl who worked the front counter at the Knoxville deli and fell in love with the cook in the back. There's no one else. 

In Henry and June, Ana├»s Nin says, "There are two ways to reach me: by way of kisses or by way of the imagination. But there is a hierarchy: the kisses alone don't work."

Things are never boring with Nekos. That acronym ROTFL? I really do that in real life. Lie on my kitchen floor and laugh. 

When I got home last night, I noticed Nekos had left his wedding ring on our desk. He always forgets his ring. It makes his finger itch. 

eight years ago
Earlier this week. I took pictures of him before he left for work because I thought he looked so fly. 

November 20, 2010

I Love This Outfit

Combat boots with a velvet mini dress and a little leather jacket? Looove. I'm always looking for a dressy outfit that doesn't have to involve high heels, and this one does it for me. Lauren Conrad's the November cover girl for Women's Health Magazine; on the cover she's wearing a typical red dress, but this rad ensemble can be found inside. I don't actually own combat boots anymore, but I sure did in high school. Two pairs of Dr. Martens, which I interchanged daily with Adidas Sambas that had every stripe inked with a different color magic marker. Back then my fashion gods were Angela Chase and Kurt Cobain. 

Photo Credit: Women's Health Magazine

November 19, 2010

I’m Only Good at Being Young

I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older. I haven’t been thinking good thoughts about it.

It started, I think, when I had Tessa. I stopped sleeping. Even when I do sleep, it’s not good. I’m in a war zone; at any time, a bomb could explode. (Meanwhile, Nekos sleeps like a dead man.) Some recent study determined that new parents lose six months of sleep in that first two years. That’s sort of hard to believe, but maybe I just don’t want to believe it. The bags under my eyes say, Believe it.

All of a sudden, when people look at pictures of me from a few years ago, they say, You looked so young! My own mom says that sort of stuff to me. I’ve started using eye creams, dabbing and dotting them on—not rubbing—like the sales ladies say. One cream for nighttime and one cream for in the morning.

It’s not just the eyes. The fact that I’m a parent just makes me feel older. During my pregnancy, I thought, Well this is it. From now on, I’ll always have a kid. Any time a guy ever thinks of me in a romantic way, he’ll think, Nevermind, she has a kid. Gross.

There’s this Cee-Lo video that I love where he’s covering a Band of Horses song that I also love, but the video makes me feel old, too. Because I’ll never get to take a road trip like this, not ever. There won’t be skinny-dipping or tangled hair convertible rides or cliff diving. I have a kid to take care of. On my road trip, there would be a kid strapped into her car seat screaming her head off. I watch the video and think: Must be nice.

Coincidentally, my mom gave me Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman (which I actually gave her two Christmases ago, which she didn’t remember my having done, because she is old). Seriously one of the best book titles to ever happen to a book. In the title essay Nora says, “Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever’s writing it says it’s great to be old. It’s great to be wise and sage and mellow; it’s great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life. I can’t stand people who say things like this. What can they be thinking? Don’t they have necks?”

This book is rocking my world. On the back cover, Nora has a turtleneck pulled up to her nose, peeping over it. She’s in her sixties, so she’s dealing with some far more troubling age issues—like watching her dear friends die. But still, in the end, she determines: “Of course it’s true that now that I’m older, I’m wise and sage and mellow. And it’s also true that I honestly do understand just what matters in life. But guess what? It’s my neck.”

I feel like I need to add a million disclaimers to this. Like, I know I’m not really old. I’m only 28. And why do I need men to think of me in a romantic way? I’m happily married. I love my kid, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything and blah blah blah. It is a good life. I am happy. I just wish my eyes weren’t going to hell.

Also, the title of this post comes from a John Mayer song and I’m not scared to say it. I Like John Mayer’s Music. That probably makes me sound older than anything else I’ve said here. 

November 18, 2010

Tessa and the Tub: Another Love Story

Tessa is in the big people tub now. This morning she stayed in until her toes wrinkled. She likes to slap her palms against the water and gnaw on her bath toys. She crawls around in there, stands up, hangs onto the shower curtain for dear life, and often slips and falls, surprisingly gracefully and without any tears. I love taking pictures of her in the bath because when her hair is wet she looks like a different baby.

She's going through an Albert Einstein phase with the hair these days (which is far better than the Danny Devito phase from a few months ago), and I'm trying different techniques to "style" her curls. We use Johnson's leave-in conditioner and I comb out her tangles/dreads and scrunch her hair. Today I got her with my blow drier while I was drying my own hair. She loved it. When she's older and doesn't need the tear free formulas, I want to try the
Mixed Chicks products on her.

Speaking of "mixed" babies (I usually say "biracial" because I like sound of it better), Tessa has just about every tee-shirt from this website called
Swirl Syndicate. One shirt that says I'm Swirled (with a chocolate and vanilla ice cream cone), one that says I'm a Little Bit of Everything (with a blender) and one that says Mixed (with a cassette tape). I actually got the first two shirts for her five years before she was born. Nekos and I weren't even married yet, but I saw a Tessa in our future. I want to teach her to be proud of her heritage and to have fun with it, just like Nekos does. Almost everything can be funny, depending on how you look at it.