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09 February 2009 @ 01:49 pm
HELP--And, On a Cookier Note  
Okay, first: I decided I'd better buy a new job interview outfit before I go to Portland (so, like, this afternoon or tomorrow).  Just to recap, I've lost quite a bit of weight since I bought my previous interview clothes, and they were really too big when I wore them to a job fair in December, and they'll be even more too-big now.  I was going to put off buying more because they, too, will be obsolete pretty soon--but I think I'll be happier with clothes that fit, even if I'm still slopping around in big jeans and shirts most of the time.  (I was going to poll you all to see if I should do this, but decided you'd probably all say Yes, If You Can Afford It.)

I have zero fashion sense.  I was thinking of just going to Macy's and asking for help.  If I do that, I can set a price limit, right?  I'm afraid it'll be so ridiculously low that they'd laugh, but I really don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes.  Oh, my goodness, I don't even know what section of the store I'm supposed to shop in anymore.  Do Macy's saleswomen have fashion sense, or are they just ordinary people who know how to work the register?  Is Macy's the right place to go, or should I go to some smaller store?  I don't think there's anything really local-local that will have the range of styles and sizes I feel like I'm going to need if I want to find something... Can you tell this is stressing me out?  (And not many things do, seriously.)  Please tell me what to buy, and where and how to buy it.  (I don't need a suit, by the way, just something on the more-formal side of business casual.)

Yesterday I made some great cookies.  Nicole takes a lunch to school every day, and one of the ways I "contribute to the household" is by baking bread and cookies for additional nutrition and deliciousness, and decreased cost.  I've never enjoyed baking cookies, because I want to stop after I bake one pan-full; but with most cookies, you just have to KEEP ON BAKING, when you'd rather be sitting down with a warm cookie and a cup of tea and your book.  So most of the time I like to make bar cookies, which really are done with one pan-full.

I felt like being creative yesterday, though, so I perused my beloved vintage-reproduction Betty Crocker Cooky Book.  I LOVE this book, which is full of delicious pictures and almost-as-delicious glimpses at a long-vanished way of life.  (An example: Lemon Crinkles From Mrs. Alfred T Neilsen of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who prefers simple and easy recipes that leave her time for her hobby of making hats.)

I got these from a chapter called FAMILY FAVORITES and a section called Lunchbox Cookies:

Millions of lunches go off to school and work each day in boxes, pails, and paper bags.  And many of these lunches contain cookies--to sweeten the day and provide quick energy for the afternoon ahead.

The ideal lunchbox cooky is appetizing in appearance, flavorful, and satisfying.  Always pack cookies in pairs--one for lunch and one to share.  Sometimes tuck in a third for an afternoon snack.  And, of course, a cooky that's good in a lunchbox is just as delicious eaten for lunch or snacks at home.

I don't usually like raisins at all, especially in cookies, but for some reason my eyes lighted on Raisin Crisscross Cookies.  ("Nourishing and cheap!" is probably what I thought.)  Nicole likes raisins, although I found out later she doesn't usually like them in cookies.  But actually, we both really, really liked these cookies.  The raisins aren't cloying and go well with the citrus flavor.  So even if you think you don't like raisins in cookies, maybe you will like these.

Delicious lemon-flavored raisin cookies... children love them!

1/2 c shortening (part butter or margarine)--I used all butter
3/4 c sugar--I used brown, because we're out of white, apparently
1 egg
1/2 tsp lemon extract--I used most of the zest of one orange, instead, and I'm pretty sure it's better than lemon extract would have been
1 3/4 c Gold Medal flour--I used one cup white, 3/4 c whole wheat, and it was great.
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp soda--I'm sure you could use baking powder instead of those two
1/4 tsp salt
1 c raisins--I used golden raisins, which I find less sticky and sweet

Heat oven to 400.  Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, egg, and extract.  Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.  Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt.  Stir into shortening mixture.  (Dough is quite stiff--I sort of kneaded it.)  Mix in raisins (or knead them in).  Roll in 1" balls.  Place about 3" apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Flatten with fork dipped in flour (I used sugar), making a crisscross pattern.  Bake 8 to 10 min.  Makes about 3 doz. cookies

Seriously, these are some of the more satisfying cookies I've made.  And they ARE nourishing--sort of--and cheap.  I liked them so much I had to SHARE THEM WITH ALL OF YOU.



a jar with a heavy lidamojojo on February 9th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
1. Those cookies sound delicious. Thanks!
2. I too prefer golden raisins.
3. Most larger department stores will have personal shoppers for exactly the kind of help you need. They often are available at no extra cost. However, they will also often try to upsell you, so be firm, and upfront with what you want to spend.
Wendy Bdymphna79 on February 9th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
Okay, so personal shoppers won't mind that I just want to buy one outfit? And I'm cool with being firm, but am I supposed to tip a personal shopper? I'm thinking no, because they get a commission?

New stressor: what to wear when meeting the personal shopper.

Ooh, maybe the personal shopper could be a man--that seems much less intimidating. Maybe a longshot, though.
a jar with a heavy lidamojojo on February 9th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
No tipping, they get some kind of commission. And yeah, one outfit might be a little tough....

I think checking out Ann Taylor Loft, Express (SO great for inexpensive dress pants), and The Limited may be a more satisfactory experience for you!
Alialirose on February 9th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
I find Macy's sales people to be pushy. If you don't really know what you want you'll get stuck with something they like, and most of them are 50 year old empty-nesting suburban house wives. Not he look I'd expect you to want.

I'm terrible at picking out work stuff. But I've found that if I visit stores like The Limited or Ann Taylor and try on basically whatever work-like outfits are in the window, then it just comes down to does it fit, and if it does I know I have a nice matching outfit. This is how I discovered a love for sweater-vests. :)
Wendy Bdymphna79 on February 9th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
Okay, it looks like they have both Ann Taylor and The Limited at the same mall as Macy's, so maybe I'll take a look there first.
(Deleted comment)
Wendy Bdymphna79 on February 10th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Well, considering I would wear scrubs for the jobs...

But seriously, I took a seminar in nursing job interview etiquette (at which an Eastern nursing professor almost got in an ugly brawl with a Western nursing professor over what was acceptable interview wear; the seminar leader was eventually able to break in and point out that their conflict was regionally-based and not a matter of right-or-wrong), so I feel pretty comfortable with that.
laurieablaurieab on February 10th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
Trying the smaller store first is a good idea; they may have something you like, and the selection at a large store like Macy's can be overwhelming. Good luck.
kmcdade on February 10th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Personal shopper
I've used a personal shopper before; I think at Nordstrom. No tipping; yes, they get a commission, and if you are OK with being firm just one outfit should be fine. If you're lacking in fashion sense, I think it really does help. Otherwise, I don't think the average clerk is all that helpful, except that they will put your stuff in the fitting room for you, etc.
misajanemisajane on February 10th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
80% of my work clothes come from Ann Taylor Loft. They usually have super sales in the back, and the salespeople are helpful (they get commission too) but not pushy.
Honestly, it's one of those stores where you can't go wrong, especially for our age bracket. And at Macy's, you could go horribly wrong (old lady clothes!!)

satyridaesatyridae on February 10th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
You should come to Portland first and I'll take you to all my favorite thrift stores and hang designer clothes on you till you cry "uncle". I would have a ball doing that, even if you wouldn't. :-)
Wendy Bdymphna79 on February 10th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
It sounds a LEETLE fun. One of the things I'm looking forward to about being thin again is being able to buy most of the stuff I see in thrift stores (instead of hardly any of it). I used to love me some vintage dresses.