Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Weekend Getaway

This weekend I'm escaping the cold by going to... well, a cold destination, but where The Hubs and I will stay inside all weekend long, hopefully by a warm fire and pretend we're in Malibu. Fiji. Maui. You get the idea. We're heading to a little inn in the country. It's just a short drive, but a total escape and I have been counting down the days ever since The Hubs gave me the gift on Christmas morning. The deal was that it would be a reward once I finished writing Book 2 and my editor accepted it. Mid-December, when my agent asked me how long I thought it would take to finish writing the book, I projected sometime mid-February. At the earliest. (I can't rush my muse, I argued!). But when The Hubs gave me the gift, I practically handcuffed myself to my pink computer to finish typing.

Then I spent the rest of the break finishing the book, and handed it in nearly a month early. Yay for being done! (Except, of course, for the million revisions that are likely to come, but whatever. For now, Yay for being done!)

Note to all aspiring writers, or really, anyone who wants to meet any sort of goal or deadline: PRESENTS ARE THE BEST INCENTIVE!!!

Especially when they involve a weekend away filled with nothing to do but indoor, warm activities. However, once we decided on all our warm activities, The Hubs said:

"What if they have snowshoeing? When will we snowshoe?"

If all goes well, in our minds only while drinking wine in front of a fire. I'm really hoping they're all out of snowshoes.

A few years ago I went to an inn in the woods where there were no TVs in the rooms because you were supposed to be escaping reality. Um, my idea of escaping reality is watching reality TV! But anyway... I didn't know what to do with myself but they had snowshoes so I decided to snowshoe as I've never gone before and it seemed like one of those things I should do in my lifetime. But you know what? It looks a lot more fun than it really is. I mean, you're basically just walking. Only it's totally impossible walking because you've got tennis rackets strapped to your feet.

Oh sure, you're in nature and all that, but you're going by the nature SOOOOO slowly that it's not that exciting. I mean, if you were cross-country skiing, you'd be whizzing by, and see a lot of trees and well...what else are you going to see in the middle of winter besides snow-covered trees?

Stare at this picture for 10 minutes. That's what it's like when you're snowshoeing. Nothing changes. Now multiply that by a bazillion.

So yes, if you were on skis, you'd see a lot of trees. But because you're walking, well, nothing's really happening, except you're sort of staring down a lot at your feet to make sure you don't trip over the tennis rackets and fall face-down in the snow.

Not that THAT happened to me. Um. I'm just saying.

Also, when I asked where I should go snowshoeing, the lady at the front desk said I should probably just stick to the backyard of the inn. The backyard? How fun is that? I wanted adventure! Woods! Nature at its most undisturbed! I wanted to see deer! Bunnies! An abominable snowman! So instead I walked -- er, I mean, snowshoed -- to the end of the property and then, instead of turning around and coming back, I continued onto a path. Only the path wasn't really a path, it was a road, and then that road turned into the highway, and the only way to get back was to take the highway all the way around to the front of the inn.

Okay, that wasn't the ONLY option. Obviously the other option was to turn around and backtrack. But did I do that? No. I didn't because I have this real problem with backtracking (Note: Backtracking=good. Not backtracking=bad because if you're like me you'll inevitably get lost). In the end it took me like an hour to get all the way around the inn to the entrance and I took the snowshoes off (because just a side note, there is NO point wearing snowshoes when you're walking on a gravel path on the side of the highway) and carried them back to the inn.

So technically, I could probably improve upon my snowshoeing techniques this weekend (especially because The Hubs is very practical and would always think to take the best route back, ie. the one through a snowy forest and not a gravelly highway and he probably wouldn't be talking to his snowshoes and scare away all the potentially live animals).
But now that there is actually a lot of snow outside, The Hubs has also lost interest in doing anything outside. Thank. God. Besides, we really can't cut into any of the really fun indoor, warm activities we have planned, like wine tasting, afternoon tea, and best of all spa treatments.

When The Hubs asked what I wanted to book at the spa, I told him a massage and a pedicure, which are my two favourite treatments. (One to make you feel relaxed and one to make you feel pretty.)

So then he booked both and the same for himself. Seriously, who needs to go snowshoeing when they have a boy who will get a pedicure with you?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Obstacles Get You Down

While cleaning the other day, I found a note that my dad sent me years and years ago, when I was floundering in life: I'd finished university but waffling, unsure what to do, knowing I wanted to be an author but thinking it was an unachievable dream, and wanting to work at a magazine but believing my instructors at university who told us that it was impossible to get a job on staff. Instead of telling me to get a secure job doing something--anything--that paid the bills, he sent me this inspirational article.

When Obstacles Get You Down

Is rejection part of your business life? Do setbacks and apparent failures destroy your self confidence? Do obstacles get you down when you're trying to get something done?

* After Fred Astaire's first screen test, a 1933 memo from the MGM testing director said "Can't act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.

* An expert said of famous football coach Vince Lombardi: He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation."

* Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, was advised by her family to find work as a servant or seamstress.

* Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him hopeless as a composer.

* The teacher of famous opera singer Enrico Caruso said Caruso had no voice at all and could not sing.

* Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper for lacking ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.

* Eighteen publishers turned down Richard Bach's 10,000-word story about a soaring seagull before Macmillan finally published it in 1970. By 1975, Jonathan Livingston Seagull had sold more than seven million copies in the US alone.

At the time, I remember feeling hopeful. Now, finding this note years later (when I'm in the midst of realizing my dreams) I feel confident that anyone, that means you, reading this!, can achieve your dreams, if you just work hard and believe in yourself.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mr. Baz's TV debut

Mr. Baz is going to be a TV star!

This weekend we went to a studio so that Mr. Baz could be a part of a documentary that's going to air on TV in a few months.

What is the name of the documentary?

Cat Ladies.

Only, for some reason, everyone keeps calling it Crazy Cat Ladies.

Which, when my good friend heard about this Crazy Cat Ladies production, tipped off the director of the documentary that she had a friend (me) who may or may not (may) dress up her cat every chance she gets.

That's crazy?! Doesn't everyone dress their cat up at some point?

Apparently not, because Mr. Baz was the final cat of the day, and everyone kept telling me how I was the only one who brought their cat dressed up. The only one? Now that's crazy. To me, at least.

"Is it to keep him warm?" the makeup artist (for me, not Mr. Baz. I'm not that crazy that I'd put eyeliner on him) asked me curiously, eyeing Mr. Baz in his Chinese New Year jacket, while he was still inside his carrying bag.

"Um. No," I said.

Obviously she had not seen Mr. Baz in all his glory because if she had she wouldn't worry about him keeping warm. I mean, he's not exactly petite.

Which, to be honest, was quite evident when I changed him into his Valentine's Day sweater for the camera (Of course he has a Valentine's Day sweater. I mean, am I only supposed to dress him up once a year?! Now that's crazy. Especially when he loves dressing up!). Anyway, his V-day sweater may be more of a belly shirt than a full-on sweater. Which, when everyone saw him in it, made them start laughing and I had to tell Mr. Baz we weren't laughing at him. We were laughing with him, because he's just so cute. He's just not as svelte as he was in his younger days. But who is, really?

Actually, I was a bit concerned that our on-camera time was going to be about two seconds, because all the other women who went before me were apparently telling totally sappy stories about their cats. But I didn't really have any sappy stories to tell, unless I was going to talk about when Mr. Baz had to have an operation on his privates because he had crystals and couldn't pee and he had to stay overnight after the surgery and The Hubs went to visit him and stayed for hours and talked to him and the vet thought we were totally crazy and had to tell us that visiting hours were over and that we should go home and get some rest (even though I'm almost positive they don't even have visiting hours and he was totally making that up). Obviously I wasn't going to tell that story because that would mean talking about Mr. Baz's wee-wee on national television, and that's just not fair to him.

And also, the other women also seemed to talk not only about their cat but about all the cats they'd ever had in their entire lifetime and even cats that aren't theirs, like, their parents' cats or their friends' cats or random cats they see in the street, and I'm really only obsessed with Mr. Baz.

Which may have come out slightly wrong, because when the director asked me why I love all cats so much, I had to say that I don't really like other people's cats and that my friend has a theory about OPB: Other People's Babies and I sort of have the same theory about OPC: Other People's Cats. I mean, I actually find "cat talk" rather boring. Which they thought was totally hilarious. And then I had to beg that they cut that part out, to which the director stopped laughing just long enough to say, "Um. No." And then started laughing again. So, now I'm going to come across as not only crazy but also a jerk. Yikes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coffee, Tea or a Vanilla Rooibos Latte

Everyone's talking Obama, but what can I add that's of any news or interest? Nothing, although I loved his speech. So instead, I'm talking tea. Although I didn't make new year's resolutions, one of the deals I made with myself was that I would spend less money on chai lattes at Starbucks and Timothy's, and then, with the extra cash I saved, I could treat myself to say, a massage, a new pair of shoes, or um, a latte at Starbucks. Ha.

And for the first week of the year I did amazingly well. Not one single latte.

And then, I went to Starbucks. And I saw, on the chalkboard, the words: Vanilla Rooibos Latte.

What is that? I thought. Because I LOVE Vanilla and I LOVE non-coffee lattes.

And then, I remembered, a few months ago, while reading Freedom 33.5, which is a blog about a girl who was trying to become debt-free (and has now succeeded. Yay Tammy!), I read a post about the London Fog latte, which at the time she said you had to ask for because it's not actually on the menu.

And then I saw, on that same chalkboard was the London Fog latte, as well as the Berry Chai Infusion (Has anyone tried the Berry Chai? Is it good?) and a few other items. And I was going to order the London Fog, but I really could not pass up the idea of a new vanilla drink, so I ordered the Vanilla Rooibos. And I fell in love. Not more in love than I am with Jason the Bachelor, but definitely more than I did when I had the Timothy's Chai Latte (which is much better than Starbucks, even though it's waaaaay more calories because it's a mix, so it's like having hot chocolate for breakfast. Um, maybe not so nutritious.).
Anyway, I loved the Vanilla Rooibos latte, and how bad could it really be -- it's Vanilla Rooibos tea and milk, right? Except it tastes so good I'm pretty sure there HAS to be something else in it.
So anyway, I could not stop thinking about the Vanilla Rooibos Latte and so the next day I had to have another. And then the third day, well, I had to have another, which meant I was REALLY not doing well on my mission to not spend so much money on lattes. But come on, it's not as though I can buy a pair of shoes for $4, right? (Just FYI, that is ridiculous logic to follow. Don't follow it. Because obviously the point is not to buy a $4 pair of shoes every day instead). But in the moment, I made a deal with myself: I could go to Starbucks, but I was not allowed to order the Vanilla Rooibos a third day in a row. (How is this even a compromise? I'm still spending money!). So then I remembered the London Fog and thought, I should order that, only I didn't remember what Tammy said was in it, and I hate to be disappointed in a beverage.

So I asked the barista: "What's in the London Fog?"

And he said: "Vanilla".

Now, any normal person would've been like "There's Vanilla Rooibos and Vanilla? That seems sort of odd."

But me? No, I just nod and order the London Fog anyway (Side note: Maybe THAT should've been my non-new year's resolution-vow -- asking people questions in my head when I'm too shy to, because clearly the whole "Spending Less at Starbucks and Timothy's resolution is not working out very well).

Anyway, I took one sip of the London Fog and I was like, "This is DEFINITLY not Vanilla." But did I say it out loud? No. Why not? I totally could've gone back to the barista and said, "You said this was vanilla, and it's not."

But anyway, I decide to drink it because it wasn't terrible, it just wasn't vanilla. And for the next twenty minutes I try to figure out what the flavour is, until, hello! I wake up and remember that it's a tea bag in a cup of milk. So I look at the tea bag tag and see that it's Earl Grey tea. Which, had I reconsulted Tammy's blog I would've known.

And I do love Earl Grey. But I do not love the London Fog as much as I love the Vanilla Roibos. I love it so much I want another one now.

I'm telling you. If you try it, you will have an addiction. A $20-a-week addiction. But what I don't understand is WHAT IS IN THIS CUP THAT IS MAKING ME SO ADDICTED? CRACK??

No, it can't be that. Crack is whack. Whitney even said so, remember?

So what is it? Someone, anyone, please tell me!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The City in Review

So, since I'm obsessed with all things The City, I've been emailing my friend Jay-Rock in NYC about the show with questions, as I mentioned in last week's post, such as: 

"Did I eat at Stanton Social?" 

To which he somehow remembered that yes, I'd eaten there two years ago on a press junket. But then I had so many more pressing questions and so did my friends, so I was madly emailing him and then emailing my friends to report back. So, then I thought, why keep all the secrets to The City to myself? So every Monday in anticipation of the show, I'm going to give you, my loyal blog-readers, the rundown. Jay-Rock's answers in purple.

My first obsession, of course, was Whitney's apartment. Now, I have friends and relatives who live in New York and I've seen their apartments. For the record, an apartment like the one Monica & Rachel had on Friends does not even exist in the city. Because if it was that big it would be called a penthouse and wouldn't be painted purple. Anyway, most people have an apartment the size of Whitney's head. Originally Jay-Rock said that the apartment would be about $2,500-3,500 US. Last week, he took that back:

Whitney's apartment is probably closer to $4500. The camera angles hide just how big it is, but it's a high corner apartment with lots of windows in a new building. It ain't cheap.

Is Gramercy one of the more expensive places to live in the city?

Gramercy is pricing, but no more than other areas. Probably a bit less than the West Village or definitely less than places in the east or west sides near central park. It's on par with Tribeca. Didn't see enough of Erin's place to pass judgment, but probably similar. Looked like there was an outside shot of the building, which was a new luxury building.

Let's talk restaurants, bars and diners:

a) Caffe Falai -- where Whitney and Erin meet for breakfast before work. Is it totally reasonable that she went here before work -- on her way from Gramercy to the Meat Packing District? 

Never been but walked by. Reasonably chic, but not a "hot spot". But enough style and comparatively low key that it is a makes for a good place for the Whitney's of the world to go. Location is definitely not on the way from Gramercy to Meat Packing, but not so far out of the way either. In Gramercy go straight down 3rd, just south of Houston will get you to Falai. Then it's straight west to the river and north to work.

b) The Diner (where Whitney and the accounting guy go for lunch). What's the scoop?

Never been, never heard good things about it. Fancy comfort food for the Meat Packing crowd. Meaning it's a place to avoid. For context, most holier-than though Manhattanites (meaning anyone who wants to project an air of cool indifference above it all while complaining how the city is not what it used to be) would now view the Meat Packing District with some disdain. It was edgy and interesting 10-15 years ago. But on Fri and Sat nights it's packed with skanky-looking bridge and tunnel crowd. Better on weeknights, but then it's full of model/scene people. A lot of the restaurants in the area are big, over-the-top places where it's as much about the scene and vibe as the food. Keep all this in mind when assessing anything on the show set in the MPD.

Do you have burning questions about the show you want to know the answers to? Email me and I'll find out the answers by next week!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

meme, meme, meme...

A meme. Feel free to leave your own answers in the comments.

1. What's the last TV show you saw?
The Bachelor. I'd long given up on this show, but this season, I'm back. Because of Jason.

02. What are you wearing at the moment?
A white t-shirt, grey loungerama pants and fuzzy blue socks.

03. Favorite Song of the Moment?
Reign O'er Me. The Pearl Jam version. I desperately want to see the movie, but the man with whom I reside who shall remain nameless will not allow it into the home. Hmph.

04. What is your favorite scent?
Gingerbread. I'm assuming I was supposed to say something sophisticated like Vera Wang but whatever. I love gingerbread.

05. What's your occupation? What do you do there?
I'm a writer at my pink laptop. I write stories that are lies, all lies. I'm an editor at a magazine. I try to edit stories that are not lies. I'm a teacher at a college. I attempt to teach students who have paid a lot of money something useful and interesting so they don't fall asleep in class or throw things at me.

06. What do you drink the most?
Club soda. I'm pretty sure that's not sexy, but I'm bringing Canada Dry back.

07. What is your favorite restaurant?
In the world? The Cliff in Barbados. It's on a cliff over the water. For takeout Italian, I love Amato. Their motto is: Eat More Amato. That's my new year's resolution.

08. What will you be doing after finishing this?
I will write some more lies.

09. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer.

10. Your favorite romantic movie?
On Golden Pond. I cry a little just thinking about it.

11. What's the least favorite thing about yourself?
I have the shortest attention span in the world. I have to be doing 17 things at once, which makes it very difficult to do things that require my full attention.

13. What are your ideal qualities in a novel?
I like it when I cannot stop reading it, because I want to know what happens next.

14. What time do you usually go to bed?
Lights out: 11 pm.

15. What's the meaning behind your LJ username/name/nicknames you go by?
My LJ name is chantels, which is obviously my first name, last initial, not an indication that I have multiple personality disorder. My ebay name is mittensncats because I love both these things.

Happily Ever After. The End.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cooking with Fire

So, the other night was my bookclub meeting and we all bring a dish inspired by the book of the month. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this month's pick was Tess of the D'Urbervilles, of which I read the first chapter. But man, that was a good first chapter. It's not that Tess isn't a page turner, it's just that um, I didn't get around to turning the pages. (Hello -- The Bachelor, The City, Criss Angel. There`s never enough time, is there...). So unfortunately, in the first 10 pages, they didn't eat anything, so I wasn't sure what to make.

At the same time, I discovered that my good friend Ryan, co-writer of Entertaining with Booze, which I contested-off at the holidays, had started a blog! And in the blog, he had an excellent post on how to pass off carton soup as your own! My kind of cooking! So I asked him if he had a quick cheat for my bookclub and he posted this recipe for Yorkshire Puddings, which couldn't have been more perfect since Tess is set in England. So I'm sure, somewhere between page 200 and 800 she probably ate a Yorkshire Pudding.

And Ryan swore this not-from-scratch recipe would take me less than 20 minutes. Though, to be honest, I was stil a bit intimidated by it, but I wanted to give it a go. Except, the Rabba did not have Yorkshire Puddings and that's the whole easy-way-out of this recipe, so I had two choices: venture to another grocery store, or not make the recipe. So because it was the day before my "fruit-and-flower"-themed anniversary with my husband and I wanted to also make him turnovers, one of his favourite snacks, as part of his present, but it was something that I'd never attempted before PLUS the dish for book club and I only had 1 hour, I had to sadly forgo the Yorkshire Puddings, but I'm planning to make them when I host because then I can serve them warm. So then the only task will be choosing a Brit-based book. Any suggestions?

So instead, I made this Potato Salad with Haricots Verts, Roquefort and Walnuts, which was SO easy, and really, surely Tess ate a potato during the book, even if she didn't have Roquefort with it.

The only real dilemma was the Mustard Vinaigrette, for which there was no recipe, I'm guessing because you're just supposed to know how to make Mustard Vinaigrette. Oops. And I had to ask the Hubs if haricots verts were really just a snooty way of saying green beans, to which he replied, "In your case, yes." Translation: "You're not going to find haricots verts at the Rabba, so buy some green beans."

Anyway, then I made these fruit turnovers, which were SO easy to make.

In addition to apple, I made cherry and blueberry too (which is TOTALLY cheating because instead of making them from scratch you just use canned pie filling!). But, they're totally gratifying to make because they seriously take 5 minutes of prep and then 20 minutes to bake and they're all golden and gorgeous. I made an icing for the top, too, which looked even prettier. And then I left for bookclub and the Hubs ate the turnovers for his dinner, which was a sign they were a success.

So, all in all, not Yorkshire Puddings, but they did just fine.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Surprises you might find when you clean...

I was cleaning my craft closet and I came across a faded keepsake box that inside, contained a myriad of keepsakes, including (shame!) an unfinished Bachelorette Party album for one of my best friends. When I'd thrown her the party, I'd put out a guest book, where each of her friends could use a page to write messages to her. Then, I'd develop the pix from the evening's shenanigans and put them on the appropriate page. Apparently, I never got around to that part and I completely, totally forgot about the entire plan. It's now two computers and two cameras later and I have no idea where those pictures may be--if I was still using a regular camera at the time (which I'm sure I was), wouldn't I have developed that roll of film? I don't have any random rolls of film laying around. So then, where are the photos? I have no idea. And given that my friend has now been married for almost five years and her second child is three months old today, it's not likely I'm going to find them.

I thought about sending her the scrapbook anyway, without the pictures, but perhaps that would just highlight what a horrible bridesmaid I am.

I'm undecided, so I just put the album back where I found it. I wonder how many years will pass before I look in that box again and wonder what to do?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year...

Well, it's January 7. I'd say that my new year's resolution to update this blog more regularly is going smashing well, wouldn't you? 

Ha! I did not MAKE that new year's resolution. Why? Because I inevitably break all my resolutions, so really, it's better to just have none. That way you have more time for other things, such as:

New TV Shows

Are you watching THE NEW BACHELOR with Jason?

Oh my God, do you love him? And what about when DeAnna returns?

Ahhh! Drama!

PS Obviously we could've told her the novelty of that snowboarding dude would've worn off.

Really! What was she thinking?

I'm also watching The City, which is officially my new favourite show. Seriously, what is not to love about Whitney? Actually, I'll tell you what: those crazy culotte shorts she's been wearing on every episode.

Those are not sexy or cute. Please stop wearing them! Just wear a short skirt! But I am loving everything else: Social Olivia Palermo, her cousin, the boys, the job, the setting. The last time I was in NY on a junket, I even ate the Stanton Social, where they ate on this week's episode! Could you imagine if it would've been the same night they were filming?! Sadly, I did not see Jay. 

Anyway, I haven't just been watching TV...

Not So New Books 

I've also been reading. I just discovered Jane Green. Do you know her? She is the best-selling author of a bunch of books like Jemima J., Mr. Maybe, Swapping Lives (which is strangely similar to The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz). But the one I'm reading is The Other Woman, which is about an engaged couple.

The other woman? The mother in law. It's so good.

And Twilight. I succumbed. I'm only on Chapter 1 though...

And also, Tess of the d'Ubervilles.

This is the book I'm supposed to be reading for my book club, but I just CANNOT get into it. I realize it's a classic and good for me and all that, but it's just SOOOO boring. Is that terrible? Who cares. If I'd made any new year's resolutions, they would've had to do with the fact that there's only so many things you can do that are good for you. Right now I'm working on trying to floss my teeth more often. And the rest, well I just can't feel guilty for not doing things I don't want to do. Anyway, I bought the book--and paid like $11 in a used bookstore for it because it was the only copy left and it was an original or close to--so I've done my part for the publishing industry this week. And it's a very pretty book, so I have it on my nightstand, with other pretty books that I like to look at, but not touch. 

Speaking of classics, I've also been watching some good old movies lately. 

Not New At All Movies

Twelve Angry Men: I love a good court movie, and this one's a classic. It stars Henry Fonda (who I love. On Golden Pond is my all-time favourite movie). It's surprisingly captivating, given that all but 3 minutes of the movie take place in a tiny room. So you're really just staring at twelve angry men yell at each other for an hour and a half. 

Rebel Without a Cause.

I'd never seen this, and I was totally surprised. I thought it was going to be more like, well, Grease, to be honest (without the singing). It wasn't. That's all I'm going to say.

The Shining: I've seen this a million times but The Hubs never had, and there's no better way to start the year than with a little Tony and redrum.

Saw III.

Really, after Saw II I swore I would never see another of these movies, but then Saw III was on TV and so I taped it, which was a huge mistake because after watching it, I couldn't sleep for like three hours, and so I had to watch all my taped episodes of Chris Angel: Mindfreak.

I have no idea why, but I TOTALLY love him and I have already convinced The Hubs that we have to go to Vegas so that I can meet him. We're in negotiations. My stepsister is there right now as we speak and is going to see his show, so I told her to let him know I'm coming. She said she's see. She didn't even WANT to see his show! Can you even imagine? It's really beyond my comprehension, in the same way as I have no idea how someone could have possibly thought that Bromance was a good idea. 

Oh, well, 10 guys in a hot tub?

Maybe it's not that bad...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Mr. Baz's Uncle Jay-Rock in New York sent him this outfit for Christmas. He loves it. Oh yes he does...
I, on the other hand, might have preferred snaps, rather than the oh-so-fancy polyester loops. I feel like I just wrangled a croc. But wasn't it worth it?