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What’s for dinner? Late summer cucumber salad

IMG_2053Summer slacker girl is in full swing.  I’ve been crazy busy with work stuff (and conversely, not very busy), but at the same time trying to really enjoy the summer. We eat totally differently in the summer — particularly in the late summer. We go to the farmer’s market a lot. We eat a lot of mushroom-based meals, because our mushroom vendor is amazing at the farmer’s market. Last month, Esteban decided that we really needed a Weber grill.

Personally, that’s the only kind of grill I ever had growing up, but his was a gas grill family, so gas grill we had for all of these years! And you know what? Charcoal grills are awesome. I’m glad that he deals with all the mucking about with the organic wood charcoal crap, though. Best of both worlds! He gets the fire stuff ready and then I come out with the various grillables, take over and then go back inside with the foods when it’s done, and then he takes care of everything else! Perfection.

And with grilling, you want something crispy and cool to go alongside whatever it is you’ve just grilled. I typically make this super delicious cucumber salad because it comes together in about five minutes and it keeps for several days covered in the fridge. It’s one of those things that just tastes good. Sure, it’s gluten free. Sure, it’s vegan. But you know what? It just tastes like summer. The toasted sesame oil gives it some body and tempers the rice wine vinegar — you need it.

You could use avocado oil if you’d prefer, but I really do think the magic of this salad is all in the sesame oil.

Just do it.

(Continued)

Insert summer here

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Once a year, Esteban and his dad go camping with a bunch of our friends. Our male friends. I won’t even go into the reason why this is an all male weekend — well, I may if you and I ever find ourselves in a dark corner of a very loud club where I’d be happy to indulge your curiosity — but it makes them happy.

And that makes ME happy.

Esteban’s mom, June, and I have our own little weekend in their absence. We don’t “camp” per se– but we do a lot of swimming, eating and sitting around doing fuck all, so other than the lack of mosquitoes and chiggers, it’s EXACTLY like their weekend. Only we don’t rent a camper or drive four hours north to do it.

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Sometimes our friends take that opportunity to visit and hang out with us, too, which is always extra awesome. So we drink all the wines, and also margaritas and sweet tea vodka mixers, and eat pretty much 10,000 calories a day.

It’s a good time, as you can imagine.

Also, we don’t discriminate by gender.

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Zuzu’s condition, unfortunately, prevents us from doing any significant day tripping — Zuzu now requires a mid day dosing of her medication as well as the typical morning and before bed doses. I really don’t feel comfortable leaving her at boarding, where she could be having a seizure in some dog run without anyone realizing it.

So we hang close to home base, hit the farmer’s markets, go vintage furniture hunting and in general, do whatever whim strikes us at the moment. We decided the theme of the weekend was “follow your bliss”. I believe all of us managed to follow our bliss into a nap at some point during the weekend, so personally? That’s a damn fine weekend right there.

Did I mention the wine? Because there was wine.

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(And sometimes when we had no more wine to drink, we drank Not Wine.)

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As I’ve mentioned, it’s been over a year since I “ended my relationship” with my previous employer and hung out my own shingle. It’s still a bit of a mental transition to take vacation days. I don’t have to clear it with anyone, but I find myself declaring that I will be on vacation, but then still too worried about disappointing a client to actually stick to it. I managed to be “on vacation” without really impacting any of my clients, except for the ones that still owe me money for work I did months and months ago, so I don’t feel too bad about shutting off the firehose of awesome for a few days there. Still, it’s a weird feeling, knowing that emails were coming in and I don’t have any co-workers to pick up the slack and deal with it.

And so we beat on. Esteban had a fantastic time at his camping trip and came back smelly and with a million bags to unpack. Our friends went home. I have a ton of laundry to do, but other than that, we’re back to even keel. Until then, I have these awesome memories and images to remind me that sometimes quiet time is pretty damn important too.

 

 

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What’s For Dinner – Ten Minute Rock Your World Asparagus

 

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We’re headlong into asparagus season. A good life rule is that if you see really good looking asparagus, you should buy it. You know the stuff: where the stalks look perfect, not woody, and the buds are completely closed tight. With the advent of the Coldington farmer’s market, I’ve been scooping up a pound of asparagus every weekend.

I had intended to make a brie and asparagus omelet this week, but last night, Esteban made a fantastic mushroom risotto with king oyster mushrooms (which sliced into coins are very reminiscent of scallops) and it was imperative that we have a nice bright green asparagus pairing.

Since Esteban was occupied at the stove, in the ten minutes of risotto resting time, I could pull together my Go To asparagus recipe. Anyone who has ever eaten dinner at our house during asparagus season has probably eaten this dish, in one form or another, because it’s seriously the easiest thing in the world to make and everyone loves it, even the people who say they don’t like asparagus. This recipe has several delicious iterations that can please vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

I got this technique from a former coworker who is one of the healthiest eaters I know and the only person to ever visit a nutritionist who replied “Yep, you’re eating better than I do.” As it stands, it’s a vegan recipe. Of course, it tastes even better the less healthy you make it. The addition of the chevre option came from (I think) Tom Collichio but it might have been Nigella Lawson, and the addition of the bacon was inspired by another dish I had somewhere that featured big time chevre, bacon and artichokes.

You can make this in about ten minutes but it only takes that long because it takes five minutes for the broiler to heat up.


 

Rock Your World Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • Asparagus (1 lb or so should do it)
  • Olive oil mister/sprayer or 1 T olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper to taste or spice mixture of your choosing
  • Optional: Juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crumbled Chevre goat cheese
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crisped bacon

AsparagusStep one: Preheat oven broiler to 500 degrees or “HIGH”. Wash asparagus and bend off the woody stems at the snapping point.

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Step Two: Lay the stalks into a single layer with the thicker ends pointing out and the tender bud ends in the middle. This seems a little fussy, but it ensures that the stalks will cook evenly and you won’t overcook the tips. These little asparagus are going to be blasted under the broiler and burning can happen so fast that you really want to give them some attention before you stick them in there. This is the most annoying part of the recipe but the side benefit is that it allows you to scoop them off the pan and have them all facing the right direction on the serving platter later, which is uber impressive.

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Step Three: Spritz asparagus spears with olive oil mister, or if you don’t have an olive oil mister, drizzle olive oil over the asparagus evenly. (You could also throw them into a bowl and toss with the olive oil, but that’s just another dirty dish and honestly, the olive oil is mostly to get the seasoning to stick to the asparagus and crisp up under the broiler so it’s okay to be a little slapdash about it.) Then sprinkle with your seasoning of choice.

A note about seasonings: You can really get away with anything here. I’ve done it with just salt and pepper with a little shallot salt. I’ve also done it with that crappy lemon pepper that you see for 99 cents at the grocery store or Mrs. Dash. My favorite scenario for this is something called Florida Seasoned Pepper from Penzey’s or The Spice House. It’s a salt-free seasoning that you’d swear has salt in it. It’s got a touch of garlic and onion powders in it, plus the expected peppers and citrus. It’s really killer on this recipe (and strangely enough, delicious on popcorn).

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Step Four: Throw pan under broiler and DON’T WALK AWAY. It’s going to cook much faster than you realize. After about a minute, the stalks will start to turn bright green. Remove from the oven when you start to see darkening spots on the asparagus, which should be between three and four minutes. It will look like this:

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See the darkening bits? See how the oil is just starting to sear the stalks with a little crispiness? That’s what you’re looking for. (BTW it was REALLY hard to take this picture because the pan was fresh out of the oven and my lens kept steaming up. )

Step Five: Plate and serve. By using tongs, you can grab one half of the dish, plate it, and then grab the other side, and plate it in the same direction as the other side, so that it looks pretty on the plate.

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OPTIONAL: Toss with the juice of half a freshly-squeezed lemon. I debated marking this as optional, because we pretty much do this every time. If you have the lemon available, trust me, just hit it up. (STILL VEGAN FRIENDLY)

OPTIONAL: Toss with 1/2 cup of crumbled chevre. The chevre will instantly melt and bond with the spices and lemon juice to make this amazing sauce. By doing this, you also create a future leftover asparagus salad that’s fantastic cold the next day. (VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY)

OPTIONAL: With the above, add crumbled cooked bacon. Suddenly even avowed vegetable haters will nom nom this dish because bacon. (BACON FRIENDLY)

Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

What’s For Dinner? KFC Crock Pot Chicken

Bix Brunch

After six months of subsisting on Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, once Esteban could finally eat regular food, he took a lot of delight in trying new recipes. He basically cooked All The Things over the last six months. Some of these things were super winners — his beef stew is one of my favorite dishes, but it’s so hard to pick, since his taco short ribs are TO DIE FOR. Some of them (*cough… tavi kosi *cough) never need to be attempted again.

Strangely enough, when you are trying lots of new recipes, you’re less inclined to want to go out to eat. That’s a side benefit, because with my irregular income and the double mortgage thing, I feel better with a little cushion in our bank account.

It’s not like I really understood that we were in a recipe rut before his surgeries and hospital stay, but we certainly had nights where the idea of another bowl of chili was pretty damned uninspiring.

Plus, sometimes I’d make something and it would be delicious, but then two weeks would pass and it would kind of fall out of our memory. But when Esteban started experimenting, he approached it like a true experiment and took notes. Lots of notes. He then encouraged me to start noting all of the recipes that live in my yed.

One of those is KFC Crock Pot chicken. Inspired by Stephanie O’Dea’s recipe, I have been dutifully noting and tweaking the ingredients until I’ve come up with something that might even be a match for Thomas Keller’s Per Se fried chicken — only healthy-ish.

Plus, you cook it in a Crock Pot, so it doesn’t heat your entire kitchen up. The only downside is that it cooks pretty fast (at least in our Crock Pot) so you can’t start this one before you go to work in the morning because it will be annihilated by the time you get through rush hour traffic.

I like to serve this with instant mashed potatoes and corn on the cob to complete the fake KFC experience.


 

KFC CRACK SPICE MIXTURE

(Makes enough for 6 chickens, or 3 chickens in brine)

2 T paprika

2 T garlic powder

1 T kosher salt

2 T onion powder

2 T sugar

1 T ground thyme

1 T dried oregano

1 T ground sage

1 T ground black pepper

½ T ground ginger

½ T  dried marjoram

½ T  celery salt

½ T  ground cardamom

 

Brine (Optional)

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup kosher salt

6 cups water

1/4 cup of KFC CRACK SPICE

One 5 lb chicken, whole.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker.

Brine the chicken (optional):  Place the chicken, breast side down, into a large ziploc bag (gallon size). Place the bag into a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix brine ingredients together until the dry ingredients are dissolved, then pour over chicken. Refrigerate in brine for at least two hours, up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, remove chicken from brine and discard the brine.

Place the chicken into the Crock Pot, breast-side down. Rub 1/4 cup of the KFC CRACK SPICE stuff evenly all over the bird, inside and out. Don’t add any liquid. I know that you’re worried, but trust your bird. It will be fine. Cover, and cook on high for 2 to 2.5 hours or on low for 5 to 6 hours or until a temperature probe in the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees. Hotter than 180 will mean the breast meat will be dry and starting to get mealy.

The pan drippings are very flavorful and make a fantastic pan sauce. You can also throw it into your pot of boiling water if you’re making accompanying pasta.

A note on the spice mixture: I consider our spice cupboard to be pretty damned impressive and even we didn’t have everything we needed to compile this mixture. I doled it out the first few times but then I decided that we’d certainly make this again and again, so it just made sense to throw together a big batch and keep it in a sealed Mason jar. If you have to buy the spices for this anyway, trust me. You won’t waste the spices and you’re going to end up making a huge batch to keep around anyway, so just do it right away and save yourself the trouble down the road.

A note on the chicken: I’ve done this before with a chicken cut in half and that worked great. I also did it once with a quartered chicken and it was really difficult to position the pieces so that the dark meat was on the top, and also, it ended up overcooking the breast meat to a pretty high degree that way. So if you only have quartered chicken pieces, definitely keep an eye on that temperature probe because it has a tendency to overcook.

That’s it! Let me know if you try it and also, let me know if you like seeing recipes on this page. We have a lot of them to share, but I don’t want to be All Recipes, All The Time girl.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild. Life.

 

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We fired our realtor this week.

Nine months with no real action on our house and it was time to let someone else have a chance. I get that we listed late in the year because of the realities of Esteban’s illness and that we then experienced the worst winter the Midwest has had in decades, but it’s been warm for awhile and still, nothing. Life would be a whole lot better for us financially if we could a) only pay for one mortgage instead of two; b) no longer pay to heat and cool an empty house; and c) free up all of that equity cash to, say, replace the leaking skylights in my office or paint, my god, paint every surface in this place.

IMG_0215Sometimes I miss Casa Bix. The photo above was our kitchen. This was my office, with the brand new sustainable cherry flooring that I  paid for with freelance money. I love my new office but I really really loved my old office. It’s cute, though, right? You’d think we wouldn’t have a problem selling it, right?

(Maybe it would be easier if, say, the realtor mentioned ANY of the great stuff in the ad, instead of using the word “updated” six times in the span of 50 words. Seriously, that’s a weasel word, right? When you hear “updated kitchen” on a 60 year old house, do you think “Oh, so they put in new cabinets in the 70′s and they’re horrible” or do you think “They put in new granite countertops and an undermount sink last year”? The first one, right? Words. This is why words are our friends.)

We met with a new realtor this week. She had an interesting spin on how to strategize and market the property. She’ll have her plan of attack next week, so at that point, hopefully there will be some forward movement on Casa Bix and we can put all of our energy toward maintaining and improving the Bix Chalet.

In other news, we now have baby bunnies living in our front bed. They decimated the heirloom lettuce I had planted in containers on the front porch. They’re lucky they’re so damned cute. They’re also lucky that I had already decided that the lettuce plants couldn’t possibly keep up with my summer lettuce demands, so I’d end up buying lettuce at the farmer’s market anyway.

They’ll also probably be unlucky soon. When we moved in last summer, we were surprised to not see any rabbits around the house. We had every other form of wildlife but no squirrels. Then we heard the owls. We have one owl living in a dead tree in our backyard (probably a barn owl) and another one living in the neighbor’s yard (probably a great horned owl). I’m trying not to get too attached to adorable tiny rabbits.

Also, a deer went into labor about 30 feet off our deck which was crazy. I think it was the mom of the twin fawns from last summer. I spotted the twins without their mom for the first time last week, so I suspect she gives them the boot when they’re about to be replaced. I’m hoping to share lots of baby deer photos in the coming months, because our yard is pretty much the mom’s favorite place in the world. Mostly because she’s slowly consuming the entire 50-foot circumference currant bush, limb by limb. Mmm... delicious currant bush. Fuck this hay shit.

Also, I haven’t seen or heard any turkeys in the last two weeks. I suspect that it’s brooding season for them. The cuteness that is baby turkeys will probably make my head explode.

Also, we have at least one toad living in one of the gardens. It seems contrary, but I super love toads. When I was a kid, they were the only pet I was allowed (aka I didn’t ask permission and just found toads, stowed them in containers for a day and then set them free after a long story about their new mission statement, which was to stay in school and live a good life). I would like to put a toad house in that garden bed, but Esteban has vetoed, as he is chief lawn mower, and doesn’t want to paint the lawn in toad guts. I believe toads are smarter than that, honestly, and lawn mowers aren’t exactly quiet. But then again, I managed to catch an awful lot of them as a five-year-old, so that doesn’t say a lot about the toad sense of self-preservation.

 

 

 

Flying solo

Pelican taking off

(Sorry about that big copyright on the image above. I had to put it on there to post it somewhere else where there was a high liklihood that someone would steal the image, and I’m too lazy to find the original image to post here. So it’s copyright, bitches! Every single photo on this blog is copyright Wendy Bix photos, actually. I just don’t like to rub it in, but apparently sometimes people need to be reminded.)

For almost a year, I’ve been my own boss.

So that’s weird.

In case you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, I can tell you that they only way you’ll be successful at it is if your boss is kind of boss that you never want to work for. Like, your boss has to be unwilling to hear excuses for why you can’t make a deadline, and your boss makes you work late and on weekends (even holiday weekends) when you had other much more fun plans. Yup, my boss is the biggest asshole.

When you’re your own boss, it’s weird to take a vacation day, because if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. As such, I went from having four weeks of vacation a year to maybe taking a week of vacation. I also have to remind myself that no one is going to yell at me if I’m not at my desk at precisely 8 am. A year later, and I’m still afraid of looking like a slacker to my coworkers (Joke’s on me, my coworkers are a pug and a French bulldog).

Bad boss aside, I’m pretty happy as things have turned out. I always suspected that I’d be okay at being a freelancer and if my In Box is any indication, no one has caught onto the fact that I’m a big faking faker. (Yes, I super suffer from imposter syndrome).

As such, when people ask me if I’m available in the middle of the week, I always have to remind myself that I don’t have to request off or ask permission. I can just DO whatever it is, as long as I don’t have a conflict. It’s all good.

A few months ago, Poppy asked me if I wanted to go see Vampire Weekend with her, only it wasn’t on a Weekend, but in fact, in the middle of a Week.

After getting over my working class guilt, I agreed. Then I had angst over it. It felt irresponsible! It felt weird! Also, how pissed would my asshole boss be if I missed a deadline because I was at a Vampire Weekend concert?! Super mad!

I sucked it all up and totally went to Milwaukee in the middle of the week ON A SCHOOL NIGHT to see a hipster band with my friends.

And it was freaking awesome.

And it wasn’t even a big deal either! I don’t know what I was freaking out about. I finished up my work for the day, made a hotel reservation (because I really didn’t want to deal with driving back from the hours of midnight to 2 am) at a cheapish business hotel with free parking, enjoyed the hell out of concert, slept an extra hour (thanks to no 6 am dog wake up call) and still made it back to Coldington in plenty of time before my first meeting of the day. And I even had time to hit Whole Foods to stock up on some N.O. Brew Storyville Mocha coffee concentrate for my summer iced coffee habit.

I still feel like I’m getting away with the biggest heist ever.

 

Short circuit

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“I miss online journals.”

I hear that a lot. I miss them too.

I promised Bex that I’d write an old-fashioned blog post this month. It’s still this month, right?

I’m resisting starting this with “It’s been a year since our lives were basically rebooted.” It has, but let’s not turn this into a sappy weird thing, okay? You’re with me on this? Cool.


 

After what was basically the world’s worst winter and most wintery spring, we appear to have plunged headlong into summer. Solid slap your ass summer.

I like summer, but I have officially broken up with capri pants.

Why? Because there are exactly three body shapes that look good in capri pants – six-year-old girls who are just hitting that one growth spurt where their legs are way longer than their bodies; eighty-four-year-old women who usually wear elaborate printed capris paired with sleeveless button-down shirts, allowing their fabulous underarm wings to give a tremendous “Fuck you, buster” to the entire patriarchy; and finally, Audrey Hepburn. Well, and women who are proportioned like Audrey Hepburn.

Do you doubt me? People, for the love of god, look at Mario Batali. Now take away the beard and the Crocs and basically that’s what I look like in capris. My big ass makes an inverted triangle with the tiny-cropped hemline. And if that weren’t bad enough, the entire thing cuts eight inches or more off your legs visually, so if you’ve got a proportionately long torso (like I do) then you’re looking at an end game with no win in sight. Just stubby ridiculous legs and an inverted pyramid shape that shines a giant spotlight on your big ass.

To be clear, my big ass and I are friends, for the most part, which is why I protect it from its frenemy, capri pants.

(Can I vent a minute? I loved watching What Not To Wear when it first started, because I was like “Oh yes! HELLS to the yes! Sing it about the bras, sista!” but then they took a lady who was pretty curvy and put her into a Lane Bryant capri Garanimal situation and explained why it made her look more petite, and it was SO many shades of wrong. Like, they were showing the before and after and she CLEARLY looked better in the boot cut jeans! And I felt like everyone on the show had lost their ever-loving minds. Or maybe I was the crazy one? But no, I just think Lane Bryant sponsored the show and Clinton and Stacey were trying to justify what they were told to spin by the producers. Total man-behind-the-curtain moment and I never looked back.)

Now, shorts are another matter. I will tell you this thing: I was regularly ridiculed as a child for my appearance in shorts. It was so bad that I would wear jeans on 100 degree days, and then stay at my grandmothers’ houses, who each had air conditioning, where I’d have to listen to constant reminders that I’d feel better if I took off the jeans and put on shorts. I own probably four pairs of shorts and I can’t bring myself to wear them out in public (they are, however, fabulous to sleep in). Clearly, I have other issues at play, but suffice to say, shorts? Shorts are my trigger warning.

Also, what am I going to wear, short shorts? Bermuda shorts? There is no final strategy for shorts.

So that leaves one thing: Dresses.

I’m a fan of the dress. We’ve discussed this before, in fact. I always wear them whenever I go to Vegas, because it’s actually cooler than wearing shorts (less bunching of fabric around the waistline) and you can go out to dinner at a nice restaurant without feeling like a hobo.

But? I feel weird going to the farmer’s market in dresses. All it takes is one ill-timed gust of wind or one overly aggressive hornet and you’re resenting the entire dress industry for the rest of your life. Also, I have a hard time working outside in a dress, because when you bend over to pull a dandelion out of the flowerbeds my friend This Fat Ass likes to peek out and say “Hallo!”

So, I’m back to the entire short pants oeuvre. My favorites are actually shitty Avenue yoga pants that shrank in the dryer. They still fit everywhere else, but they just start shrinking upward. Eventually, they shrink so much that they transform from “high waters” to “cropped yoga pants”, in theory hitting at the perfect spot on the calf (instead of higher up at the widest part of the calf, which is just basically a loose capri and causes me to faint.) Of course, I could probably expedite this process by whipping out my sewing machine and actually hemming a pair of pants, but then I’d be freaking Donna Reed and THEN this blog post would be about finding the right gauge pearls to go with my shirtdresses.

By the way? I love a good shirtdress.

So, there’s an exception for the larger lady with the shorter pants, but it only works if you have a single color so that you make a long line that’s uninterrupted.

(Melissa McCarthy and I are very similarly proportioned (although she’s probably a size 16-18, whereas I’m a 26 and have a good six to eight inches of height on her). She’s kind of rocking the cropped pants here but she only gets away with that inverted triangle by making it into a very elongated shape. Here, she’s wearing almost the same pants, but visually it’s an entirely different story.)

I’m about thisclose to buying a skort, by the way. For some reason, in my head, skorts are okay but shorts are not. I…. I don’t understand why that is and yet it is so. It’s kind of like how it’s obscene to walk around outside in just a bra and panties, but it’s totally okay to wear even less fabric and covering on the beach in a bikini. Or how we get to see Amy Adams boobs in movies but I still haven’t seen Hugh Jackman’s junk. Not even once.

Okay, I’ll make you a deal: Hugh Jackman shows off his junk in a movie, I’ll reconsider my stand on the capri issue. Deal? No take backsies.

So tell me, ladies of That’s My Bix! land. What are your summer fashion strategies? How do you deal with the heat while still looking like the fresh fashionistas that you are? Or how do you NOT deal with it because life is too short to eschew comfort for style? Sound out in the comments! I need your coping strategies!

The IGIGI Neve wrap and Nencia cocktail dresses — And a free giveaway!

 

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So, you voted on which dress I should wear to Weetacon 2014 and IGIGI listened — boy, did IGIGI listen!

They sent two dresses! Oh my lord. Two dresses! Happiest girl ever!

Full disclosure: IGIGI sent me two dresses in exchange for writing this honest review. It is, in essence, a sponsored post, but IGIGI does not have any discretion about what I write and has encouraged each Weetacon participant to be very honest in their descriptions of their review garments. So, now you know.

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When you guys voted on your choices for garments, the one that I loved the most (the Neve wrap dress in Abtruse Dot) was actually in last place, but it was the one that I wanted the most. Poppy was right in that I DO have several black and white IGIGI dresses in my closet — that’s because I’m a black and white print ADDICT. For real, if I could live in black and white for the rest of my days, I’d be happy. So I was thrilled to open the IGIGI Weetacon 2014 shipment and see the Neve with my name on it (well, two Neves with my name on it, as my fellow Wendy  reviewed the Neve in Abtruse Dot too!). Plus, this black and white print is a WRAP — a true wrap dress in fact. I heart me some IGIGI wraps! I can never have enough of them! I have a really small waist that gets lost in all this hourglass, so anything to help with the definition is a good thing. I tend to tie them up higher, though, creating more of an empire waist wrap, because it seems like it suits me better. Also, if I were to tie it at my natural waist, it would fall open and my bosoms would fall out.

One nice thing about being a frequent IGIGI shopper is that I know which of their designs work and which do NOT. The Neve wrap dress works for my hourglass shape. It’s incredibly comfortable and I can basically wear them on a coast-to-coast flight and be absolutely comfortable. The material is soft and at least twice in my life, I’ve gotten upgraded because I checked in wearing a nice outfit. Take that, people who fly in pajamas!

The Neve dress is fully lined and has two very long ties that weave through openings under the arm (ala a vintage DVF wrap). The ties are more than long enough to wrap around yourself at least once, twice if you wanted to avoid long ties. I kind of like the long tie, so I tend to leave it wrapped once and then let it hang a few inches above the hemline. Both dresses I reviewed are size 26/28.

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Esteban was so kind to take these photos for me on a very windy day. I braved the Wisconsin “spring” without tights or leggings and just paired it with my trusty Tieks (I wish I could say that I was wearing a pair of white tights but no… alas, that is my real actual Victorian pallor). At Weetacon’s cocktail party two weeks ago, it was considerably colder and I chose to wear a long-sleeve v-neck shirt under it (when it’s negative 10 degrees outside, you must pair fashion with common sense) that was barely visible under the neckline and I also wore a pair of purple leggings with a pair of black leather riding boots (You can get an idea in the background of the beautiful Shae’s photo). 

This is one of IGIGI’s classic wrap dresses that I already know is going to be in my closet for a decade in heavy rotation. How can I predict the future? Because the first four IGIGI wrap dresses I bought are now more than ten years old and I still wear each of those bad girls to death. IGIGI has some kind of magic fabric for their wrap dresses that seems to never age, shrink or fade, plus you can wade it into a ball in your suitcase and it comes out looking flawless.

Also, I got a random compliment from a college girl in a gas station on my IGIGI Neve dress in Abtruse Dot.

Keeper. Total keeper.

bix reviews IGIGI's nencia cocktail dressThe other dress I received was the Nencia lace cocktail dress in flamingo. Annette liked the combo of the teal and the pink — and I have to admit, I like how fashion forward it is. So many plus sized designers kick out safe stuff — and as someone who basically would be happy in black and white for the rest of my life, the Nencia was decidedly outside of my comfort zone. To move from the Neve to the Nencia is like the scene in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy throws open the door and finds herself in technicolor.

Goingloopy said that the Nencia was on her “drool list” while Kris said that the Nencia was “probably a tiny bit, um, “optimistic” for March in Wisconsin.” Holla, Kris, it was definitely chilly taking these photos in March, despite finally having a day above freezing for the first time since October! I had been concerned about the arm situation but the sleeves were definitely not an issue. Lots of coverage to quell my arm self-doubt.

But I did really like how it looked when I wore it with a black cashmere cardigan (also, it was warmer… do I look cold here? It was very cold.) I’d probably steal a page from Kelley, who also reviewed the Nencia, and throw a wide belt over the cardigan next time I wear this.

The lace is surprisingly soft — and I have to say, this is my third or fourth lace dress from IGIGI and they’re really good about using non-scratchy STRETCHY lace. I really like the pop of color on the lining showing through the teal lace. However, you should note that the lining is basically a tank dress under the see-through lace. It’s pretty bra-friendly and you can see that you get plenty of length (I’m 5’9″) so you don’t have to worry about showing too much thigh but the sheerness along the shoulders is a pop of sexy that probably wouldn’t be doable in most office settings.

Unfortunately, unlike the Neve wrap dress, the Nencia lace cocktail dress is not one of the kinds that you could just wear out of the overnight bag — it came out of the packing bag wrinkled, but steamed out very easily. The other thing that I wanted to mention was the static. Part of the clinging that you can see in this photo is that it was very windy and we took this photo on a bluff above the Bay, but I did notice some static while wearing the dress around the house and getting in and out of cars — to the point that I was actually looking for some static spray. I think it wouldn’t be an issue in the summer when you’d be wearing this dress, but for a very chilly March day in Wisconsin, it was definitely an issue.

In the future, I’ll probably find a pair of flatter shoes to wear with this because the shoes I wore for the photos look cute, but I forgot how much I hate them. I super hate them. Looks like a good excuse to buy another pair of Tieks (alas, my teal Tieks don’t quite match the teal of the Nencia dress). Does anyone want a pair of size 12 Steve Madden platform peeptoe slingbacks?

This feels like a more formal dress somehow than the wraps. Maybe I’m just so accustomed to integrating wrap dresses into my lifestyle, but this definitely felt like a dress you’d wear to a spring wedding or fancy occasion, whereas the wrap dress is something I’d probably wear to the office or just out and about on a weekend (but then, I’m oddly formal sometimes). I think the cocktail dress screams for more jewelry, whereas the wrap dress seems okay without it (I actually forgot to put on the necklace I wanted to wear in the above photos in the excitement of taking photos and trying to stop the wind from blowing the dress up ala Seven Year Itch).

My favorite look for this dress is paired with a pair of funky shoes, a cardigan (again, needs a belt), and some kind of statement jewelry. I used my great grandmother’s necklace and her wedding earrings, plus a vintage beaded bag, kind of riffing off the little old lady vibe that I tend to get off of lace dresses (Do not be confused — there is nothing whatsoever matronly about this dress).

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By the way, my IGIGI drool list is growing. I totally want the third dress on my list – the Neve in Creme de la Violette. And after seeing the other ladies of Weetacon in their garments, I’m also lusting after the Isadora dress (check it out on LisaMarie) and the freshly released Deora dress (yup, another black and white print — surprise surprise).

Now it’s your turn.

Do you have an IGIGI drool list too? You’re about to get the #IGIGIWeetacon hookup!

First, go to the IGIGI website and pick out your ideal dress for a special occasion, important business meeting, date night or supreme court swearing in ceremony. Then leave a comment on this page, telling us which garment YOU want and where you plan on wearing it. That it’s. One of you will get a free $50 gift certificate to shop for your own fashion montage at IGIGI.com.

But wait! That’s not all!

You can increase your chances of winning IGIGI gift certificates by leaving comments on each of the other Weetacon IGIGI reviews at this page.Comments must be received by April 20 at midnight PST. Winners will be notified and announced on this page and the IGIGI at Weetacon 2014 page by April 25th.

Go! Go! Go! Dream pretty! Then come back here and share your ideas with the class. Don’t forget to leave a valid email — I can’t tell you that you won if you don’t.

And the winner is Jerri! Congratulations! IGIGI will be in contact with you shortly with your $50 gift certificate!

Wendy Bix IGIGI 2014 random winner

Help me pick out my IGIGI outfit for Weetacon 2014!

Weetacon 2014 IGIGI event which dress

As you might know, I throw a little shindig every year called Weetacon. Weetacon 2014 will in fact, be the tenth year we’ve been doing this. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we’d manage to attract people to the wilds of Green Bay in March every year, but it seems to sell out every year just the same. Amazing.

A lot of cool things happen at Weetacon — basically it’s like I force 50 of my closest friends to do a bunch of things that I think are fun. You should throw your own ‘Con, you guys, because it’s basically like having Oprah’s Favorite Things show, only around your own little psyche. Private karaoke show? Check. Sappy tributes at the end of the weekend? Check. Pineapple fluff? CHECK CHECK CHECK.

And my very favorite thing is that each year, my favorite plus-size fashion designer, Yuliya Raquel, turns to the plus-size ladies of Weetacon and lets us play dress up. AMAZING, no? She gives us basically our very own trunk show in exchange for reviewing the garments and hosting IGIGI giveaways (Yup, that means more gift certificates will be coming your way next month.) We’ll each be wearing our garments during the evening events at Weetacon — specifically the cocktail party reception on the arrival night, the karaoke party after the sleigh ride and the group dinner on Saturday night.

But… here’s the killer part. This year, IGIGI wants YOU to pick our garments for us.

Okay, we get to suggest our top three choices to you, but our blog commenters have the option to go to the IGIGI website and “go off book” so to speak. Before you mount a campaign for one of the arm-baring evening gowns, I have opted for designs that I know already work really well with my body type. Or, as Kate Harding told me at a wedding, “Does IGIGI just design DIRECTLY for you now or what?” I WISH! But by following their shape guides and through more than a decade of patronizing Yuliya (can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t), I know what works for me. When you find a style that works for you, you rock it, baby.

You probably won’t be surprised to notice that I picked not one but two IGIGI wrap dresses. Why? Because I wear IGIGI wrap dresses all the time. They are super comfortable, but transition from business to evening wear in a heartbeat. My collection of IGIGI wrap dresses are the go-to staples of my wardrobe. It is no coincidence that I wore an IGIGI wrap dress to the very first Weetacon ten years ago! And of course, my wrap collection has made their debuts at several subsequent events. The IGIGI wrap is as timeless as a Diane von Furstenburg, plus they last forEVER.

The first dress is the black and white Neve Abstruse Dot wrap dress. Every season, IGIGI manages to have one dress that looks into my soul and screams “Take me, I belong to you.” This is that dress. I love black and white so much, and combine that with a wrap dress? Be still my heart. It’s no surprise that many of the Weetacon 2014 ladies have this particular dress on their IGIGI wishlist.

The Nencia dress is the teal lace with the flamingo pink sheath under it. I like the fact that it has sleeves to address my body issues with my upper arms, but you still show a little skin. Honestly, this one is pushing me a little out of my comfort zone. I really love lace, but I almost never wear it (because of issues deeper than we can discuss on this blog). I especially love mixing hues (one of my favorite scenarios is to wear a baby pink dress with a pair of Tiffany blue Tieks), but I play it pretty safe most of the time. This one combines my two favorite colors and is really fashion-forward. Love this for spring parties! I really could see this becoming one of my favorite dresses because it’s unlike anything else in my closet. 

The last dress on my wish list is another version of the Neve dress, only this one is in Creme de Violette. This is girly and springy and of course, another wrap so I love it with all my heart. I’m a big fan of pinks and purples — let’s face it, when you’re a pale winter, you learn to rock the jewel tones. This is one of those garments that I can see having for twenty years and it will always be in style.

So, friends and family of That’s My Bix! now I need your help: Which one of these should I wear to Weetacon 2014? Vote in the comments. OR, should I have gone with something else entirely? Am I playing it too safe with the wrap dresses, since I already have probably a dozen wrap dresses hanging in my closet? Unleash your fashion advice in the comments! Channel your inner Tim Gunn and help me make it work!

Oh! You’ll be able to see the garments in real time over Weetacon 2014 weekend via social media, on Facebook, Instagr.am and Twitter by following #IGIGIweetacon hashtag. In case you want more ideas, here’s what some of the ladies have on their wishlists!

 

Don’t spare the fashion advice, gentle reader. My dress is in your hands!

Espresso vortex

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Our Chalet Bix espresso machine just celebrated its third birthday.

It’s been three years since I worked in an actual corporate office, which is kind of awesome in itself. When I made the jump to working 100% from my home office, we realized that it was just silly going out and driving to Starbucks to get our preferred espresso drinks, then driving back home to drink them. Plus, it was expensive. And it also made us feel like super assholes.

But the problem is that I don’t actually like regular coffee. I like espresso drinks. I like mochas. I like lattes. Basically, if it has a bunch of steamed milk and syrup, I’m your girl.

We bit the bullet and had the grand Home Espresso Machine Experiment, and $800 gamble on trying to save money and time and — let’s face it — actual fossil fuels wasted driving back and forth to Starbucks for no good reason.

As it turns out, the DeLonghi Magnifica was a good gamble. Our old habit of two Sbux espresso drinks per day was about $10 per day, or approximately $300 per month (more really, because we tip the baristas). We don’t shun Starbucks even a little, but about 80% of the coffee we drink now comes from our own house. The Bix DeLonghi paid for itself in well under four months (even when you consider the cost of coffee, milk, syrups, and the stuff to clean it). That means that we’ve saved about $7000 in three years by making our own lattes. Plus, that’s not considering the fact that I now usually have a second latte mid-morning, which I never did before (because it’s one thing to have a five dollar a day personal coffee habit, but it’s another when it becomes a $10 a day habit — Christ, what an asshole!) and also requires you to get up off your arse and go to Starbucks to face Laura the barista who will say “AGAIN!?” and I’d have to make up a lie about spilling my first latte.

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But one of the biggest things about having our own espresso bar is that we haven’t had to go outside, except for quick two minute bursts to let the dogs make yellow snow. You might not have heard, but it’s been cold in the Midwest. Ridiculously, science-fictiony, cold. It’s the kind of cold that gives you an ice cream headache after two minutes exposure — and you’re not even eating ice cream. In fact, you don’t even have your mouth open. The ice cream headache is just drilling into your skull from your exposed forehead. It’s so cold that when it was negative 20 with the negative 45 windchill, I’d walk outside and my hair actually turned white instantly (it goes away as soon as you get back inside).

It’s so cold that Zuzu sometimes forgets what she’s doing outside and just runs around, worried that she’s freezing to death. Avi just cowers and gives me looks like I’m beating her with invisible ice fists.

The other notable milestone passed this week is that it’s Avi’s fifth birthday! It’s also Zuzu’s one year anniversary of coming to live with us. For an entire year, we’ve been medicating this dog twice daily, holding her through seizures and trying to get her to connect with people. She now looks at us and craves attention, which is just the sweetest thing ever. Mission Bulldog has been deemed a success. Now if only she’d stop pooping in the house. Baby steps, I guess. At least she’s gotten the idea of using piddle pads down.

As for me, I’m still working from home, although in a different manner than what I assumed when we bought the espresso machine. We decided that until I find just the right full time position, it makes sense for me to pursue my own consultancy. Now I have clients and have to manage my own time and also, send out invoices. It’s weird, this being responsible thing, but it’s been super fun. Also, I get to play with making charts again.

It turns out that my super powers involve Excel pivot tables and writing a search engine-optimized headline that feels natural. Lamest superhero ever.

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