August 31, 2015

Let's talk about boobs! Well, bras. Boobs in bras.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing Cake Wrecks when I saw a link to a old post on her other blog, Epbot, called Everything You Never Knew You Needed To Know About Bras. If that's not an intriguing post title for someone who owns breasts, I don't know what is. So away I clicked.

WELL. To say that this is an informative blog post would be seriously and severely underselling it. Ladies: you probably want to go read it. And then you probably want to read through several of the links she provides. And then read the comments on those links. I spent probably a good hour going down a wormhole of bra and bra-fit related information.

The basic gist is this: we have all heard how, like, all women on earth are wearing the wrong bra size. I too had heard this, so a few years ago I dutifully went to Nordstrom and got a bra fitting. I was told there what I had been told before: I'm about a 34C. Occasionally those get tight around the ribs so I would bump up to a 36B since that is a "sister size" to 34C, although those never seemed to work very well for me.

One of the most interesting things I read while in this bra-sizing wormhole, though, was how a huge swath of (American) women are told they are between a 34B-36C, because that's more or less the "vanity size" that bra manufacturers (coughcoughVictoriasSecretcough) and women's clothing manufacturers have decided are the best "sounding" sizes. Except that most women do not fall into those sizes at all.

I had a general understanding that a C cup was not an actual size in and of itself: that the size of a C cup on a 30" band was not the same volume as the size of a C cup on a 38" band. (Since "sister sizes" are one cup difference / one band size difference, it made sense: if I could fit equally into a 34C and a 36B, it meant a B cup on a 36" band was close in size to a C cup on a 34" band.) What I didn't realize was HOW DIFFERENT the cup sizes were in relation to the band size they came with. Here is a handy visual from the Epbot post that helps to explain it:

Turns out the size of the cup you should be wearing is quite simple math: it's the difference in inches between the circumference of your ribs vs the circumference of your boobs. If your ribs are 34" around, and your boobs are 35" around, you are a 34A. If your ribs are a 34" and your boobs are a 36", you're a 34B, etc.

The trick is in how you do these measurements, though. The actual way to measure your boob circumference, very nicely described here, is... well, unattractive and sobering. I can see why they don't do it in the Nordstrom fitting room. Basically you lean over so your back is parallel to the floor, with no bra or anything else on, and let your breasts hang all natural and... well, pendulous. Then you measure them in their droopy, pendulous state. It it not awesome. But it does give you the actual full circumference, as opposed to the circumference when you are upright, while they are already smooshed against your body and mushing into your armpits.

Because! That is what is happening, apparently! Do you have that smush of armpit fat that pops out of tank tops? Back fat around your bra band? That means your actual breast tissue is being pushed around because your cup size is not large enough to contain it. I KNOW. OUR POOR BOOBS, you guys.

Anyway, I am doing a half-assed job of explaining this, and I really just cannot recommend enough that you go read Jen's post and follow any of the many links she provides which look interesting to you in particular.

But back to my boobs. I found all of this fascinating, but figured that I was not actually dramatically mis-sized with my bras, because I don't have things popping out or gapping all over the place, and plus I'd been fitted already. But I took my measurements myself, and popped them into the bra size calculator anyway, for funsies.

You guys. According to that, I am not a 34C. I am a 32DD.

After my initial reaction of immediately dismissing this, because HAHA DD HAVE YOU SEEN ME, I am not a DD, I started thinking about it.

I am fitted into 34Cs most frequently. I used to be a 34B but was seriously popping out of those cups, so was upgraded to a C. Except sometimes those are too tight, so I would get a 36 to be able to close them.

The actual measurement of my ribs is 33". Wearing a 36" to fit means that I was not fitting my ribs; I was fitting my ribs PLUS THE BOOBS that were not contained in my cup. That is... terrible.

I sent this link to a few of my girlfriends, who were equally fascinated/skeptical. Then we had a few drinks the other night and I forced them to go self-measure themselves and figure out their "new" bra size. All of us were hilariously off on our bra size, if the calculator was right. Which I mean, how could it be right? DD?? ME?? We figured there was only one way to find out... so we made plans to go to a real bra shop this weekend to try on All The Sizes.

Yesterday, that's what we did. We learned that the self-measuring + online size calculator gave us a far more accurate size than we were each wearing, but that it's still nowhere near foolproof, because just like every other freaking article of clothing, bra sizes vary insanely between not just manufacturers, but even between styles in the same line. I tried on some 32DDs where I thought my ribs might break due to how tight they were, and some 34Ds that were so loose I could fit my entire fist under the band and still have room. But bottom line, I am not a 34C. I really am a 32DD or a 34D, depending on who makes the bra.

It really, REALLY helps to go to a real store with people who actually know what they're doing - if you are local to Northern Virginia, I cannot recommend Belle Mode Intimates highly enough. They are Won.Der.Ful. Super patient, super knowledgeable about the various fits of different bras from different manufacturers, and yet super non-pushy about getting you to buy anything. (All three of us did buy bras, because how can you not when you finally try one on in the correct size?! But it was not at all due to feeling pressured from a sales associate, which is amazing considering the amount of work they put into bringing you bras until you get one with the right fit.)

So. That was a lot of info about bras and boobs, and there is far more on the Epbot post. Go learn about bras! And let me know if you do a self-measurement and find you're way off, to make me feel better.

August 24, 2015

Rug decision!

You guys are all wonderfully helpful! Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who provided advice & opinions on rug size and placement. I cannot move forward in most areas of life without group input, it would appear.

An extra special puffy-paint, sparkly, all-caps thank you goes to our friend Mike, who noticed the post and sent me these, unbidden, out of the goodness of his heart since he thought it would be easier to make a decision if we could see what an actual rug would look like in the space:

HOW AWESOME IS HE? So very awesome! And also correct: seeing a "real" rug in that space WAS in fact super helpful.

So we pulled the trigger that very night, ordering from Rugs USA since they were having a 70% off sale the moment, and all decisions are easier to live with when they cost less than 1/3rd of the normal price.

Here is a terrible picture of the new rug in place. We went big! Someone please make me stop taking photos with my super crappy phone all the time!

Here are some pictures of the cats modelling with their new floor accessory, which they now apparently feel compelled to be touching at all times:

And lastly, this isn't specifically of the carpet although it does feature nicely as a backdrop. No, this is a video of my idiot cat who wanted the doughnut crumbs at the bottom of this bag so badly that he repeatedly shoved his head into the bag until it got stuck there, then freaked out and tried to remove the bag by walking backwards out of it.

This video was the second of three times that he did it within a span of five minutes. He's special. 

August 16, 2015

People with taste! Rescue me please!

I am many things, but talented at home decor / interior design I am not. I don't have a natural eye for it, I don't know how to use a space properly, I don't know how to bring textures and colors together... basically none of it.

But so many of YOU are excellent at it! Please help me!

We've been thinking (for like, four years) that we should get an area rug for our general living space. I've been paralyzed by the variety of colors, patterns, styles, and shapes available every time I've looked so far, and my brain more or less short circuits and I shut down the browser and give up. However I'm determined this time! I don't know why! But a rug will happen! Maybe!

The current issue is that I realized I don't even know what size rug I need.

Here is my living room, with tape measures on the floor to approximate a 5x8' rug:

(Also some cats, both cat and dog toys, and pillows I maybe should have arranged on the couch first. OH WELL, no going back now!)

I know you're supposed to put the edge of the rug under the legs of furniture (...right?) so I assume I need to start there, by having two edges fully under the couch.

But then! With that narrow little sort-of-hallway section leading to the deck door, do I... leave that clear? Will it look weird to have the rug just sticking out like 2 inches past the sofa edge next to the door?

OR do I make it less of an area rug, and more of a ROOM rug, by extending out toward the fireplace?

That is about 7x8', which now that I type that out, I am thinking is probably not actually a common rug size. Drat.

OK, *this* is now 7x9' since that is a normal size:

(I have no idea why my phone colored this one dramatically differently, despite being taken just 5 minutes later. Whatever, phone.)

That is giant! Is that really the way to go?

Or maybe just a wee 4x6 rug, just in the nook of the couch?

As you can see, I NEED HELP. Please help meeeeeeeeee.

August 11, 2015

With great power comes the great opportunity to scare the crap out of people

This past weekend, Chris and I went to Toronto for his grandmother's 80th birthday. It was a very sweet event that brought four generations of her offspring together - four of her five children; all eleven grandchildren; and all 6 great-grandchildren (plus a ton of us significant others!) all together in one room.

The one downside is that we got back quite late on Sunday night, and I had to get up early on Monday to take the metro to work, since I'd left my car there on my way to the airport the previous week. Which is how I ended up blearily stumbling out of my parking lot on foot, only half awake, through my quiet and nearly deserted neighborhood.

A sudden movement from behind a tree caught my eye, and I turned a tired glance to the left to see what it was.


To be clear, this is a LIFE SIZED SPIDERMAN, CROUCHED BEHIND A TREE, LOOKING AT ME. And twitching slightly. At 8am, in my residential suburban neighborhood.

Obviously, my first thought was that I was going to die, because what sort of sick fuck puts on a SPIDERMAN OUTFIT and creeps around the suburbs in it? WEIRDO FETISH MURDERERS, that's who.

(...I, uh, watch a lot of crime dramas.)

However, after a few highly panicked and startled seconds, I realized it was probably a balloon. A life-sized, lurking, Spiderman balloon that must have lost most of its helium, that for some reason was on the sidewalk in front of my house.

It must have been slightly caught on something in the grass though, because the gusts of wind would just make it twitch or duck its head (IN A VERY DISCONCERTINGLY HUMAN MANNER) rather than move the entire balloon. I rapidly went back and forth about 5 times in my head trying to decide if it actually was a balloon, or if it really was a person in a costume. Every time I'd decide on balloon, it would move in a way that seemed distinctly purposeful and human-like, as if crouching in that position for so long was getting uncomfortable.

It was at about this time that I also started wondering if I were on some sort of hidden camera show. And if I were, whether it was more likely that they'd plant a life-sized balloon to startle people, or a person who would lull you into thinking it was a balloon and then jump out at you when you passed to scare you even more.

So. I'm pretty sure it was just a balloon that somehow escaped some child's birthday party and was stuck there. I didn't get any closer than this though just in case.

July 31, 2015


Back on my Very First Ever date with Chris, he asked what my weekend plans were. "Oh, I'm headed to Chicago," I answered. "What for?" he asked, completely reasonably, but I flew into a small internal panic. Because I was going for BlogHer, which I was very excited about, and it wasn't a secret or anything, but this was a first date and it had been going very well up until that point, but not everyone *gets* blogging - especially not back in 2009! - so announcing that not only was I a blogger, but the kind of blogger who attends conferences about blogging seemed like it might be a little much on a first date. Yet on the other hand, I am a terrible, terrible liar.

"...ah.. for, um, a blogging conference," I muttered/replied, internally wincing.

Chris, to his credit, took it in stride. And aside from a few follow up questions - presumably to suss out exactly HOW crazy a person who goes to blogging conferences might be - let the date continue on as if I was mostly normal. (I later learned he really did think it was VERY VERY WEIRD, and had Concerns, but luckily I must have charmed myself past those on subsequent dates. I like to tell myself that anyway.)

ANYhoodles. I was reminded of that incident this weekend, because I found myself back in Chicago for my brother- and sister-in-law's baby shower, and I used my time there to try and meet up with every possible person I know in town... virtually all of whom I met through the internet, and many of whom I met up with back at that 2009 BlogHer.

My first stop upon landing was scooting downtown - because even though @pseudostoops had like 3 other lunches to attend, and was leaving straight from work to catch a flight, she STILL made time to meet me for lunch because she is extremely lovely.

The next day was pretty epic, in terms of meeting up with internet friends. I started with Dasi (or is everyone doing real life names now that hardly anyone still has a blog?) who - and I just went back through all the comments on my blog to verify this - I have "known" through blogging since TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE, and I *think* met in person for the first time in 2008. (Oh! Yes, indeed 2008 it was, and turns out I could have just referenced this post recapping that 2008 meeting for another all-caps exclamation of how long we have blog-known each other.)

This is obviously a turrible picture, but pretend I am not this bad at phone selfies, if you would be so kind.

We had a totally fabulous breakfast, where I only once threw my arms violently into our waiter while he was attempting to set drinks for me down on the table. Am very good at restaurants.

D, I am going to need an update on the dating situation, stat.

Next up was lunch at the best-named-restaurant ever, the Slurping Turtle, with a special guest appearance by Melissa, who remains as pocket-sized and adorable as the first time I met her.

I am like 4 feet taller than her. The first picture was even MORE awkward as a result, which I realize is hard to believe.
Then, interesting fun fact that I just learned last weekend: happy hours have been banned in Chicago since 1989. I KNOW! What kind of tyranny is that?! But right before we arrived - like, just in June - this ban was lifted, I can only assume with accompanying angelic fanfare, etc. 

Or, you know, accompanied by SUPER INSANE HAPPY HOURS to celebrate, like the one I hustled my butt to at the Godfrey Hotel, where for one hour Veuve Cliquot Rosé was $0.89 a glass. 

The silliest bar total ever.
And THEN look who trekked all the way over to meet me because they are also lovely? (I am sensing a theme, Chicagoans. Why you so lovely all the time?)

Kristin and Sara! Best happy hour!

It was SUCH a fabulous weekend. I also got to fit in a visit with some college friends I haven't seen in nearly a decade - and their two children! which they now have! - as well as eat and drink at some of the most fantastic venues with my in laws. (Little Goat Diner, Sunda, The Aviary... all so very, very good.)

Chicago never stops being awesome. And filled with awesome folks. The two may be connected.

July 21, 2015

It's been a while since I posted a nice embarrassing story about myself

Back in October, after a long and wonderful 12 years, I bid farewell to my much loved and faithful 2001 Honda Civic and bought a brand spanking new Honda CR-V.

I had been resisting the upgrade, because a) I loved my Honda, b) it had been completely paid off for years, and no car payment is niiiiice, and c) there was nothing *technically* wrong with it, despite the fact that it had earned the nickname "Hobo Wagon" due to its rapidly deteriorating aesthetic appearance.

And then I spun out across 4 lanes of traffic on a highway during rush hour. Which, you know, not exactly my car's fault, but did indicate I needed new tires... and I wasn't sure the value of the car was more than a full set of tires.

And then a piece of my car literally FELL OFF in a carwash.

The jig was up. I capitulated and let my civic go to the great car farm in the sky.

And I actually love my CR-V! It is a great little mini-SUV and I am super pleased with the upgrade. The only problem is it appears that about 1 out of every 5 people in this region felt the same way, because this car is evvvverrryyyywhere. Any time I look around me I can spot like 5 other CR-Vs within a 100 yard radius. Which, I mean, isn't really a PROBLEM per se.

Unless you are me! Naturally!

Yesterday I was coming out of a store and sauntered up to my car, which was sitting exactly where I'd left it in the parking lot, as it should be. I did the little remote clicky thing to unlock my doors when I was about 20 feet away (sidebar: HOW GREAT is that little remote clicky thing!!? I had a REALLY OLD car for a REALLY LONG time. The upgrades that, like, every other car now has? They continue to delight me on a daily basis!).

Anyway. I get to my car, open it up, and start to get in... when I notice some rags tucked under the seat. I could not for the life of me figure out what they were from or when they would have gotten there. I hadn't gotten the car washed recently... I definitely hadn't put them there myself... was it possible they'd been there since I bought it and they had just slipped out from under the seat now....?

And actually... why was there a glasses case in the cup holder? Covered in leopard print...?


As panic started to rise with this realization, I went to quickly close the door and back away... but before I could even get the door shut a woman appeared next to me and cheerfully commented "I think that's my car!"

At this point I basically died on the spot. You are hearing this recap from my ghost, because I melted into the pavement from sheer mortification and ceased to be.

"I think your car is, like, three down from here," she continued kindly. "I totally thought yours was mine first, too!"

"q987hwf;m 8i7ey0kdn loiasueugyqe," I stammered, turning what I can only imagine was a truly impressive shade of magenta.

"We both have good taste in cars!" she joked.


To sum up, it might be wise for me to slap some obnoxious bumper sticker or something on my car to make it stand out in a crowd.

July 16, 2015

Summer days, boozin' away

It's been such a busy summer already! We've been out of town nearly every weekend so far - and the weekends for the foreseeable future all look about the same - but it's always doing pretty fabulous things so I'm not complaining.

Shall we have a picture round up? Let's have a picture round up! I've put my photos in collages to make it seem like I have fewer, but it will not fool anyone!

So, back in June, our friends in Maryland organized a MD Beer (and Mead!) Crawl as a brilliant way to lure us into their state.

We started at a pretty small brewery called Jailbreak, which does interesting, all-natural small batch beers. They were DELICIOUS. I highly recommend.

Next up was a pretty unique stop at Charm City Meadworks. It was in the least obvious place ever - down amid the rail yards of south Baltimore, in an industrial garage next to lots of rusted out semis. You know, your normal tasting room location.

But it actually worked pretty well inside, in a bare bones kind of way, and they did a good job of keeping that space relatively cool considering it was about 200 degrees out that day. I think I've come to the conclusion that I just don't love mead, though. For me it hits a similar palette as sour beers, which I similarly can't seem to get into. If you're a local mead fan, though, this is a place you should for sure check out.

We rounded out our day with a favorite stand by for many of us, Heavy Seas. We got a pretty neat tour there, since one of our group is friends with an Actual Employee, so we were treated to the personalized super secret tour.

I did not take great photos that day, as we can all see. I blame the oppressive heat which apparently wilted even my camera phone.

Two weeks later, we decided it was time for something thoroughly and completely different... so we drove down to Charlottesville, VA to tour cideries and vineyards with my wonderful college friend Shannon and her husband.

(Totally different, obviously. We went south instead of north, for one! And cider is SO TOTALLY not like beer, duh.)

(Actually, the reason we were at cideries in the first place is because Shannon's husband Bret is gluten intolerant, and was very very sad to have to give up beer as a result. Cider has been a welcome replacement to fill that hole in his heart liver.)

So! We started at Castle Hill Cider at 11am on the dot, when they opened, because we are dedicated to our craft. This place was AWESOME. The selection of ciders was SUPER diverse - it had both my favorite cider of the entire weekend and my least favorite that I've probably ever tried, but the quality was undeniable and the ones I loved, I LOVED.

They had a gorgeous outdoor space as well, but it was pouring rain at the time. We bought a bottle of cider anyway and sat on their porch to drink it and plan out the rest of our weekend itinerary.

Next up was a vineyard, Keswick. I hear this place also has a lovely outdoor space, but if it was pouring at Cider Hill, it was MONSOONING at Keswick. So we just scooted inside and were happy to remain at the tasting bar inside the entire time.

I am notoriously hard on Virginia wineries. They have been getting increasingly better over the ::coughcoughmumble*many*cough:: years I've lived here, but there are still some major quality and consistency issues, in my opinion. I thought Keswick was... OK. I did actually buy a bottle of their V2 white - a viognier and verdejo blend - but I just couldn't get into their reds.

By the time we got to Pippin Vineyards, the rain was stopping and our stomachs were rumbling (and some of us were getting a weeeee bit tipsy). I don't really remember the wine here because I was far more focused on putting delicious, delicious food in my gaping facehole as quickly as possible.

I succeeded in that, and holy cow was the food fantastic there. The views were also AMAZING, despite the fact that it was still completely overcast. I imagine a sunny day here is nothing short of breathtaking.

Last up (....for Saturday...) was another cidery, Albemarle CiderWorks. It's possible some of us were still a little tipsy for this one as well, but I do recall the cider here being quite nice, if generally a little on the sweeter side for me.

Interestingly, almost everything we tried the entire weekend was "dry" or "off-dry" - meaning "not at all sweet" or "just barely sweet" in cider terms - but I like my cider SUPER SUPER DRY and even the off-dry ones I generally could only enjoy in small quantities.

After Albemarle, we definitely did not go back to our hotel and drink two more bottles of cider while playing board games, then go out for dinner and further drinking.

(...Of course we did.)

The next day was GORGEOUS. Brilliant blue skies; puffy clouds; beautiful weather with almost no humidity (at least up in the hills!).  Our first stop - after the most perfect diner breakfast ever- was Bold Rock Hard Cider.

OH MY LANDS. I could have stayed here for the entire day. The set up is WONDERFUL - they have a huge, lofty tasting room, but an even larger and more expansive outdoor space that overlooks a picturesque river valley. Their cider was all on the sweet side (for me), but I didn't care at all. I would spend A LOT of time here if I lived in Charlottesville.

After peeling ourselves away from the Bold Rock patio, we switched back to wine for a stop at Flying Fox Vineyard.

So, if I don't tend to think Virginia does reds well, I tend to think they do rosés terribly. Not here! I was entirely charmed by their rosé and left with two bottles of it.

Our next stop was a bit of a dark horse - a brand new distillery that popped up in 2014 along the VA wine trail called Silverback.

YOU GUYS. It was phenomenal. I am not usually a gin person because... meh. Gin. Also I strongly dislike tonic, which seems to be the primary vehicle for consuming gin. This gin though! I tasted it straight, and I LOVED IT. They suggested pairing it with a pink lemonade, which... oh my. Yes. Go buy this and do it and let me know if it's as good as I'm imagining.

And then, to round off stop #8 in 2 days, Michael Shaps Wineworks. Their tasting room is a bit of a work in progress, but honestly you don't need a lot to keep us happy when you are also pouring many kinds of wine.

This was a favorite of friends of Shannon & Bret, and I can see why. It was not my cup of tea, but it most certainly did not taste like a Virginia wine (...which is a complement :) ).

I guess what I'm trying to say here, is find some friends and make a weekend of tasting booze. It's hard to go wrong with that plan.

OK, this post was going to cover 2 additional weekends in the wrap up, but I think we can all agree this is plennntttyyy for now. Everyone go drink some booze to celebrate making it through this post.