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Posts tagged ‘portlandia’

how to dress like a hipster

In advance of my kids’ school auction, I was asked to write a little something for parents about how to dress for the event. The theme of my kids’ auction this year is Portlandia, as in, the TV show.

In any given year, dressing for the school auction is anxiety inducing, because parents at my school, being involved and enthusiastic Montessori parents, actually dress up according to each year’s theme.

That’s a problem for me because I hate costumes. I hated costumes long before married friends of ours suggested that the four of us dress up for Halloween as the gang from Scooby-Doo. “We can be Daphne and Fred,” the wife half of the couple chirped. “Tom can be Shaggy, and you can be Velma, Yoona. It will be so perfect!!” Perfect for whom? Daphne and Fred were hard-bodied and attractive. Tom is tall and white and could conceivably be made to look like Shaggy, but Tom was deeply offended by the suggestion. And me! Velma is the nerd who wears a baggy orange turtleneck sweater and knee socks. Why does the Asian always have to be the nerd? It all seemed so unfair, as if they’d suggested that we dress up as characters from the Lord of the Rings and then suggested that I’d make the perfect Gollum.

But this auction is for my kids. I’ll do anything for my kids, except wear a tankini. Portlandia means hipsters. I could throw something together, but what about Tom, who wears suits five days a week? I had never really thought about the components of a male hipster outfit. I started with online research, and found a Wikihow page called “How to Dress Like a Hipster” that included helpful tips like “Be under 30 years old.” Anyway, here’s my take.

Step 1: glasses


In case it’s not evident from his expression, I had to blackmail Tom into participating in this post. The blackmail went like this. Yoona: “Tom, I’ve fulfilled 12 volunteer hours for the school this year. How many have you fulfilled?” Tom: “I brought the guinea pig home that one weekend and bought the guinea pig supplies.” Yoona: (penetrating stare).

Anyway, hipsters love glasses. The more awkward, the better. I bought these for ten dollars at Lloyd Center and wore them religiously for two weeks until someone at work asked whether they had prescription lenses in them. I would have lied but I was worried that some jerk would snatch them off my face and look in the lenses to discover that not only were they not prescription, they had a cheap film over them that actually inhibited vision. Once people found out my glasses were fake, I got all sorts of unsolicited opinions. One partner was borderline distressed about it. “Why would you wear glasses if you don’t need to wear glasses??” When put that way, I felt sort of dumb about them. But glasses are a solid first step to hipsterville.

Step 2: plaid button down


Every waiter in town wears one of these. Usually they are buttoned up to the neck and tucked into a pair of high-waisted jeans, but Tom refused to do that. Anyway, the tighter the better. I think the one here is three sizes too small.  Straining buttons are great.

Steps 3, 4, and 5: the hoodie, the hat, the ‘stache


I wasn’t present when these photos were taken, as I was out of town. I gave Tom and Cuz my instructions and they did a bang up job, but Tom started getting upset so Cuz made the decision to fast forward from Step 2 and started piling everything on at the same time. The hoodie is de rigueur. The hat is usually of the skull cap variation, but you might go indigenous with a highly patterned number. Anyone who doubts my love for my kids should know that I had to visit the costume place on Hawthorne to procure this moustache, and that place scares the bejeezus out of me. For starters, I hate costumes. Also, it’s really cold in there because it’s staffed by vampires.

The moustache cost me $14.00 and is made out of someone’s real hair. Thinking about that for too long makes me want to vomit, but at least you know it’s authentic.

Step 6: the skinnies


Skinny jeans are a hipster must. We ran into some regional issues with the skinny jeans, as Cuz is from NYC, and apparently in NYC the hipsters only wear skinny black jeans. We tried to buy some from American Apparel for this shoot but NEWS FLASH you can no longer return items for a refund at AA. There goes everyone’s Halloween, I guess.

In Portland you see skinnies in all colors. I am particularly impressed by skinny jeans in raw denim, as they look spectacularly difficult to pull on. These are Tom’s own skinnies but as skinnies go, they aren’t that skinny. Still, every time I ask him to wear them he complains that they hurt when he eats. When you can’t feel your legs or your reproductive organs, just remember that it’s for a good cause. It’s for your kids’ education.

Step 7: put a bird on it


The joke goes that people in Portland like to put birds on things. We didn’t have any birds in the house except some chicken breasts and this Korean wooden duck but you get the idea. You might even get other animals involved. Like so.


So there you have it. How to dress like a hipster in seven easy steps. Any questions? I’ll refer you to Cuz.

Tom can’t wait for this auction.

thar she blows

I’m sorry if the title led you to believe that this post is about pirates. Or about blow jobs. It is about neither of those things. But stay. Because this post is about something a lot more scurvy and dangerous than pirates or blow jobs. This post is about home canning.

Every few years, I dive headfirst into a hobby. The more expensive and time-consuming, the better. I buy all the stuff, and then I become mired in it to the point of exhaustion. That’s how I was with scrapbooking our travel photos before our kids put an end to both travel and leisure time. That’s how I was with knitting. Sweaters and drawstring pants for baby, hats by the dozen, scarves by the yard. And then one day, after buying twelve skeins of yarn to knit myself a sweater, I had a rare moment of clarity and realized that my $140 yarn would inevitably produce an ill-fitting woolen poncho that would look like something I bought off a yak during a hike to Macchu Pichu. Something so ugly that it would be ridiculous to say that I knitted it myself, because it would be patently obvious. What’s the point of knitting something if you can’t tell someone that you made it? Yeah. I don’t know either. I put the knitting needles away, and haven’t looked back since.

I’d been tempted to try canning for years. I always lacked the time, and the equipment. But last weekend, half my family was away in Michigan, and I had gobs of time to fill. So I gave it a go.


I think canning could stick. For starters, canning appeals to my myriad anal retentive qualities. There’s the measuring. The sterilizing. The timekeeping. And the sealing (hermetically). Even better, the stakes are high if things are done wrong. I work best under pressure. And there’s nothing to make you feel alive like knowing that if you gift someone food that you’ve canned wrong, they could die of botulism. Or, there’s nothing to make you feel alive like a capsaicin burn from cutting three pounds of jalapeno peppers for your pickled escabeche.

But all that is kids’ stuff compared to the most dangerous thing about canning—the boiling of the canned goods. Reading the instructions in my canning book, I felt the disconnect that results when you read something crazy and your common sense screams at you that the writer got it wrong. Incidentally, this happens to me every time I read an article about applying eye makeup. Anyway, my canning book (Food in Jars) instructed me to stuff a hot glass jar full of hot jam, seal it up, and then drop it into a pot of boiling water. I’m no scientist, but I learned a couple things in 5th grade that have stayed with me through the years, and one of those things is that sealed objects in high heat will explode.

But I’d come this far, and spent a lot of money on produce. I looked down at Tate, who was sitting on the kitchen floor making a salad of wooden vegetables and monopoly money. I picked him up and moved him into the living room. Then I dropped the jars into the pot, and ran for cover.

Peering into my kitchen at the sealed jars boiling away on my burner, I felt the thrill of living on the edge. The cans did not explode! YES. I win canning.

The best thing of all about canning is that I didn’t just create something ornamental. I created food. I’m giving LIFE. I’m a provider, putting up my pickles and jams, which I’m 65% certain are sealed properly. What’s that about the apocalypse? I’ll be in the basement sprinkling jalapenos on my fish tacos.


Canning labels and gift tags, Jigsaw Graphics

downers: composting

Six months ago, as part of its ongoing bid to secede from the United States and get annexed by Scandinavia, Portland instituted mandatory composting. The city provided every house with a cute 3-gallon composting bucket, and began picking up garbage bi-weekly, instead of every week. The second move was a brilliant piece of brinkmanship, as it forced recalcitrant families to compost into their yard bin, in order to save their now-precious garbage space for primo trash, like diapers.

Compost bucket

composting as nature intended: full of healthy juicing scraps. bin and photo, Grant Us the Luxury

As with other nature-related things (e.g. camping, the ocean, birds), I love the idea of composting more than I love the reality of composting. I mean, I support the idea of reducing waste–if you can’t get behind that, that’s weird–but the reality of composting has added a layer of stress to my already stressed-out existence. And sometimes, it’s not even just stress that’s added, but abject fear, and horror. And those are emotions I shouldn’t have to deal with in performing a household chore, unless I’m cleaning my boys’ toilet.

Why the fuss? If you don’t compost, let me lay some groundwork for you. The cute little 3-gallon pail sits on your kitchen counter, and you fill it with table scraps. Any kind of food scraps, including meat and fish bones. Once that bucket fills up, you transport it outside, and dump it into the curbside yard waste bin, which gets picked up every week. The first issue is that table scraps–especially when mixed with other table scraps–are gross. While it may not be ecologically sound, the beauty of putting table scraps down the disposal is that once they are disposed of, you don’t have to look at them again. With composting, you are confronted with what you had for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, over and over again, every time you open up that pail to put more scraps in.

So why not just empty the pail more frequently? Because emptying it more frequently would mean more frequent trips to the curbside bin. And what lies in wait inside that green bin, simply put, is some scary-ass shit.

Not even the fecund mind of Stephen King could do justice to that green bin and its contents, but I have to take a stab. The bin gets food waste dumped into it every day. For a full week, the food waste sits there and does what food waste does, which is to rot and attract wildlife–and I’m not talking about puppies and kittens. I’m talking about the kind of animals that are more properly characterized as vermin. In the winter, it’s not so bad, because the food just rots in the cold. But now that we’re getting into summer, the things happening inside that bin are downright primeval.


Unfortunately, as it turns out, you can’t transfer scraps to the bin without opening the bin. There’s a lot to deal with once that lid is open, so it helps to have a game plan. Here’s mine. First, stop breathing. The noxious odors and gasses coming from the inside of that bin are most certainly poisonous if inhaled. Best to close your eyes too, because the one time I opened them I swear I saw movement inside, and that movement may have been maggots. As a child, I was scared of two things: nuclear war and maggots. So it’s a real thing for me. Third, close your mouth. You have to open the bin with your mouth closed, or you may accidentally ingest one of the 100 flies that will fly into your face. Fourth, and this is the important one–for God’s sake make sure it’s light out. At night I get so jittery and panicked that I might encounter a rat, that I have missed the bin entirely when dumping out the contents of the pail. It makes me sad when Tom has to pick spaghetti and meatballs off the driveway on his hands and knees, in the dark. Especially because there may be rats out there.

I suppose there’s a chance that time will take the edge off of the composting. But it’s been six months, and it’s still scary.¬† I get the value of composting, like I get the value of carrots, and math. And being forced to compost has made me a lot more mindful about not cooking excess food–which may, ultimately, be the real benefit of composting.¬† So I’ll continue to compost.

But no one, not even the City of Portland, can force me to like it.