Monday, May 31, 2010

"He Likes Me Hot with Marshmallows"

I don't know about you, but I really love a good curmudgeon. Some examples of good curmudgeons include Doc, the foul-mouthed bartender in The Boondock Saints; Fred Mertz, Lucy and Ricky's neighbor/landlord on I Love Lucy; and, of course, Frank Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond.

The late Peter Boyle was okay in Taxi Driver and quite hilarious in Young Frankenstein. But I think that he found his calling in the role of Frank Barone. He was absolutely the epitome of the cranky old man character. Whether he was complaining about his wife's cooking or giving deadpan deliveries of sick burns, he was spot-on. 

Back in January, when I was visiting my best guy friend, we ended up having a mini-marathon of Everybody Loves Raymond episodes and happened upon the one in which Frank wins the Man of the Year award  at his lodge (3.16, "Frank's Tribute"). I think one line in that episode sums up my feelings about Frank, even though Frank doesn't quite get it: "And what's with Corelli saying he likes me hot with marshmallows?"

But, really, who doesn't like Frank Barone hot with marshmallows?

Buy the complete Everybody Loves Raymond through Best Buy for$179.99.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Beautiful Tote

It occurs to me that maybe the name of this blog should be changed to Totes We Covet, because for the fourth week in a row, I find myself ready to extoll the virtues of a tote bag. But I can't help myself; they're just so useful! And this particular one is pretty fantastic.

It is the Bayswater from Mulberry, the British luxury house, in black leather. This bag is expandable, durable, and simple. It has clean, straight lines and totally lacks fussy details. In short, it is perfect. I love it and I want it. Unfortunately, at this particular moment, it is very cost-prohibitive for me, at $950.00. However, it is still very much on my list of things I would like to purchase someday.


Saturday, May 29, 2010


In my hometown in Michigan, Prom is always held on the night before the start of the four-day Memorial Day weekend, which means that, right now, girls all over that town are probably still recovering from the blisters they received through the over-wearing of pretty shoes. Although I never went to my own prom (which is an interesting story probably not fit for public consumption), I have always been a fan of the prom shoe.

Prom shoes, on a general level, are not the classiest of footwear. They are often silver and strappy, like these from Trinkets, available at Shoe Show, perfectly suited to a high school event but not at all appropriate for anything else except, only occasionally, a wedding. But they are so much fun. Occasionally, they are decorated with rhinestones, such as this pair from Michael Antonio at DSW. And from time to time, you will find a shoe that manages to combine both of those things--silver and bejeweled, in a single pair, such as this creation from Sizzle, available through David's Bridal.

There is a part of me that wishes I had gone to Prom, if only for the experience, even though I was very glad at the time not to be there. And every time I start to get nostalgic and wistful, I think of these shoes and what could have happened to my feet, and I am okay again. But girls shall continue to promenade, as is their right, and I can only hope that they will not suffer!

Visit for more examples of Prom shoes, as well as everything else you could ever want to wear to that dance.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Well, That's Some Kind of Love Song

A good friend of mine is getting married tomorrow, so I thought that now would be an appropriate time to write about a love song. Of course, there are a great many love songs in this world, and to choose only one is pretty difficult. So, of course, I have referred myself to my Top 100. Having already written about "Wichita Lineman" and "Time of the Season," I thought that perhaps I would write about a different kind of love song altogether: "Layla."

Yes, "Layla" is a song about Eric Clapton wanting to steal George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd away, which, let's face it, would be quite a feat--I mean, this is George Harrison we're talking about. But that's not the point. It's the sentiment of the song--the pure need--that makes it spectacular. Although the original by Derek and the Dominos is a perfectly wonderful song, full of urgency and passion (at least in the first part; the second is more love song-ish), I quite prefer Clapton's acoustic take, recorded for MTV Unplugged in 1992. The passion is still there, to be sure, but this is a more laid-back and self-assured rendition; whereas in the original, the singer is not at all certain about the object of Layla's affection, in the unplugged version, he is certain that she is on her way over. And, really, it's a damn sexy way of tempting a girl. If I was in Layla's position, you'd better believe I'd be easing Clapton's worried mind. (For the record, she eventually did; Boyd and Clapton were married for nine years, after Boyd had been married to Harrison for over 10 years.)

Buy Eric Clapton's solo recording through Amazon for $0.99.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to Love an Elephant

My mom used to read to me a great deal when I was very young. One of the books I remember most--one of the books she read most often--is a little gem by Jerry Smath called But No Elephants.

But No Elephants is the story of Grandma Tildy, who will adopt any pet but an elephant. She gets all of her animals from a traveling pet salesman, who just can't seem to unload this elephant, a very cute and expressive creature. Grandma Tildy finally gives in, and eventually--but only after some tribulations, of course--the elephant saves the day.

It is a short, entertaining read, and Smath's illustrations are gloriously comical and detailed. It even entertains me now, as an adult, and I like to give copies of it to friends of mine who are having babies. So if you're looking for something to read with your child, younger sibling, or babysitting charges, I think you would do well to start here!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Creating an Indoor Escape

Since I have an apartment that I can't change much, the thing I do most is dream about changing it, naturally. It's not that I have anything against the layout of my place, or the number of rooms, although I could do with a slightly larger kitchen. It's more that it is a very institutional space, in terms of construction and color. Luckily, I have been given permission to paint it, and intend to do just that. But sometimes, I would really like to make a splashier change than just a coat of paint.

Hence my recent obsession with wall murals.

I saw an episode of Cribs once that featured the members of Maroon 5, who were still living in a house together; they had just made it big with Songs About Jane. And I remember very distinctly that one of the guys had a wall mural in his bedroom, some picture of a forest. Maybe they were birch trees; I'm not sure. The point is, I thought it was so cool, and I've never forgotten it. But since I'm not at all an outdoorsy kind of girl, the idea of having a wall that looks like the woods doesn't appeal to me very much. However, I have found a different option, a picture of a bunch of palm trees at sunset. Palm trees I do like, maybe because of the connotations of exotic lands and warm weather, and wouldn't mind looking at them every morning when I wake up.

Alas, it is simply not to be, but a girl can still dream. What kind of wall mural would you like to have?


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

People We Covet: Stone Temple Pilots

When it comes to music, I can listen to just about anything. But I have my favorite genres--classical, dance pop, and rock--and within those categories, my favorite artists. You may have noticed that I'm a big fan of Madonna, for example. But my very favorite band of all time is Stone Temple Pilots.

I chose to write about my boys as the People We Covet this month because their fifth, self-titled album, which has been a long time in the making (they were on hiatus for several years, from 2002 until their reunion tour in 2008), drops today. If it sucks, I'm going to be really upset. Because I truly do love them.

I was introduced to their music early in high school by my brother, who had their first album, Core, playing in the car one day. Even though that album isn't the best ever,  I liked them enough to keep listening. While their second album, Purple, is widely regarded as their best, my favorite is No. 4, the aptly-named fourth album. It has everything from hard-rocking riffs ("Down," "No Way Out") to a chill-out--albeit psychedelic--song ("I Got You") to the real work of art that is "Sour Girl," my favorite song ever and, of course, one of my Top 100.

In addition to making great music--in spite of all of the hateful and, quite frankly, inaccurate accusations of being a rip-off band--STP puts on a good live show. Two summers ago, during their reunion tour, I finally got to see them in concert thanks to my mom and dad, who took me as a birthday present. (Although I had an opportunity to see them during the Family Values Tour in 2001, I passed, and when they officially split in 2003, I was so devastated and hated myself for not going to that show. I also saw Scott Weiland, STP's singer, live with Velvet Revolver in 2004, which was a good performance in its own right, but was no substitute for the real thing.) They opened the show with "Big Empty" (one of their best-known songs, from Purple), and I absolutely lost my mind. Here were my guys, right in front of me, together again; I couldn't have been happier.

If you're not familiar with Stone Temple Pilots, you might consider checking out their greatest hits album, Thank You, or taking a look at Below Empty, a really great fan website that has more information about STP than you ever wanted to know, probably: a band time-line, discography section, and archive of articles, among other things, including a forum. Or you could start your listening experience with Stone Temple Pilots today. I highly recommend their music and hope that you will come to love them as much as I do.

Buy the new album through Tower Records for $9.99.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Once Upon a Beautifully Stylized Dream

My very favorite animated film of all time is Walt Disney's 1959 gem Sleeping Beauty. Based on Charles Perrault's telling of the tale and heavily influenced by medieval art, it is a visual treat.

Sleeping Beauty showcases some really boss landscapes and backgrounds, created by Eyvind Earle. The moving storybook feel of certain scenes is so unlike any Disney film before, making it stand out even among numerous animated wonders. And the characters themselves are quite beautiful in their construction, even the minions. Special attention should be paid to the character of Maleficent. Not only is the look of her spectacular, but she was given life by Eleanor Audley, whose vocal talents are very formidable, indeed, and make Maleficent completely indelible. In fact, she is, I think, one of the best villains Disney ever produced. And who can forget the epic battle between Philip and Maleficent (in dragon form), with its outstanding special-effects animation?

What it comes down to is this: Sleeping Beauty is a real work of art and deserves to be seen again and again!

Buy through Best Buy for $19.99.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Your Folding Friend

Last week, I mentioned that I'm a pretty big fan of tote bags. I wasn't kidding. And I'm not done talking about totes, either. This week, I want to tell you all about the Longchamp Le Pliage tote. Because, well, it might change your life a little bit.

While that may seem like a pretty big exaggeration, I feel like it's a legitimate statement. You see, the Le Pliage has four things going for it. First, it is made from nylon with leather straps, making it lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. Second, it comes in a range of sizes, many of which are available with long or short handles, to suit all of your needs. Third, Longchamp offers this, their most well-known bag, in an array of colors, so you can coordinate it with your outfits.

The fourth, and maybe most impressive thing, is that the Le Pliage folds. (In fact, the name of the bag itself means "folding.") At first glance, this may not seem like an impressive thing, but trust me--it comes in handy, especially when you're trying to pack your bags for a trip. Folded, the Le Pliage barely takes up any room at all and fits right at the bottom of your suitcase underneath clothes, toiletries, and shoes. This simple fact makes it perfect for any woman on the go.

Mine is a pear green color, good for spring and summer. One of the most popular colors of the Le Pliage is bilberry, a deep dusty purple. I use it for work and as an everyday bag; many girls use it in place of a backpack when they go off to college. And although it is on the pricey side, I think that it is well worth the money. Longchamp also offers personalization through their website, but as the custom-made bags are assembled in France, shipping is a bit steep.

I really think that everyone should check this out. You're sure to find the right model for yourself!

Buy the large size through Nordstrom for $145.00.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Naturally Summery

 I've written about Michael Kors products before. Perhaps I've even mentioned that he is my very favorite designer. Normally I drool over his clothing lines, but lately, I've found myself pretty attracted to his shoes, as well, such as his cork toe-ring flat sandal.

Generally speaking, I really like cork. Of course, I prefer it to be on the heel of a slingback, but I'm open to other options, as well. This particular sandal may be corked to the very edge of reason--it is on every surface visible while wearing the shoe--but that's kind of refreshing, in its own way, to see so much natural beauty on your foot. And it is just the thing to wear to complete a picnic or boating outfit!

Since at least Easter, I've been on the prowl for a good pair of summer sandals. It occurred to me only after I found these that I should have been looking to Michael Kors all along; he is very good at designing things that are quintessentially summer, American style, after all.

Buy through Zappos for $400.00.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Time of the Season, Indeed

Although I don't listen to their music very much, The Zombies have left an indelible mark on me. Their song "Time of the Season" is one of what I call my Top 100, a collection of my very favorite songs that actually numbers closer to 200 nowadays, although I started out with only 70 or so. But what is it about "Time of the Season," exactly?

The bass notes that keep an incredibly steady rhythm, the slightly breathy vocals, the sentiment of the lyrics. In short, just about everything. And while "Time of the Season" is a song very much of its era (the late 1960s), what with its organs and the Beatles-influenced vibe of the chorus, it is durable enough to stand up for today's music lover. And I don't mean the average Top 40 Radio listener, who would probably find "Time of the Season" to be outmoded, even though the production is remarkably crisp. I mean those of us who are truly musically-minded, who see music as an art, because this really is a beautiful thing to behold.

I think that it is an especially apt song for summertime, the perfect soundtrack to a sunset drive down a shady lane and an inspiration to get up and do something. It is the time of the season, indeed.

Buy through Amazon for $0.89.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


When I was growing up, we had a matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll. It was of a fairly traditional design. Although I'm not sure where it came from, I do know that I loved it, and still do. It was a thing of fascination for me, the way it opened up and continued to do so, revealing ever smaller versions of itself. 

While trolling the internet for something else entirely earlier this year, I came across a pretty cool website called The Russian Store. They have a fine array of matryoshkas available. They also sell a book about these dolls, called The Art of the Russian Matryoshka by Rett Ertl and Rick Hibberd. This book, published in full color, gives a history of matryoshkas as well as many examples of the dolls, from religious figures to representations of different cultures. It is sure to entertain as well as inform!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shiny Happy Music

A couple of Christmases ago, my brother gave me an iPod Nano, the second generation kind with a capacity of 2 gigs. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it at first, but now I'm a pretty big fan of it. It's been really good to me, even though the screen only works sometimes (for reasons entirely unbeknownst to me). My only real complaint is that, at the very most, I can fit about 450 songs on it; the average is closer to 380. That may seem like a lot of songs to you, but I'm a huge fan of music, and so I like to have as much available to me as possible.

The latest incarnation of the Nano, released quite awhile back, actually, is perfect for me. The 16-GB model holds approximately 4,000 songs, and it costs less than the first generation Nano did when it premiered. Plus, it comes in all these cute colors. Pink! Yellow! Purple! How fantastic! And you can't beat the size--still slim, still hand-held. Plus, you can watch music videos on it. What's not to love?

Buy through Apple for $179.00.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pretty, Showy

I love earrings. There are so many types to choose from, and they are super-easy to change out when you want to switch up your style. Unfortunately for me, I have very sensitive ears, which means that I am limited to sterling silver or other, more pure metals, the kind that you can't just pick up at your local Claire's. But I love to look, because I'm always hoping that I will stumble across a lucky find. 

One of my recent earring obsessions is a pair I found made out of peacock feathers. How pretty! They are just the right touch with a little black dress, fun for a summer wedding or a night out on the town with the girls. Pair them with a teal clutch and some blue heels and you're set! They're not for me because of the sensitivity factor, but maybe they will inspire you?

Buy through ModCloth for $12.99.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Kicking Ass

I'm not much of a TV watcher. This is not to say that I don't like television shows; in fact, I really do. It's more that I don't have it in me to sit down at the same time every week to catch the latest episodes. I guess I would call myself a TV on DVD girl.

One of the shows that I actually tried very hard to keep up with when it was on was Alias. I was in high school when it premiered; in fact, I can remember watching the first episode (commercial-free!), and I was immediately hooked. Maybe it was Jennifer Garner's hot-pink hair. Maybe it was Victor Garber shooting a gun while driving backward. Maybe it was Michael Vartan. Whatever the reason, I loved Alias then, and I still love it now.

Sure, it has its kooky moments, most of them revolving around Milo Rambaldi, the mysterious prophet with whom Sydney Bristow's boss is obsessed. But those moments are are outweighed by the ass kickings, far-flung locales, and really great disguises. Plus, I'm a fan of action movies, and so the whole of Alias feeds into my need for explosions and shoot-outs. In fact, I recently rewatched the entire series (which I usually do about once a year) and found that I was just as satisfied by it now as I was back when it first started. 

If you haven't checked it out, you might consider watching at least the first episode, "Truth Be Told." Or maybe you could convince me to check out your favorite show, since I'm always trying to find a new series to keep me occupied between reading books and working!

Buy season one of Alias on DVD through Best Buy for $24.99.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where Did Your Lamb Go? It's My Arm Candy Now

Like every daughter, I've picked up many things from my mother. Right now, her love of tote bags is the most prevalent. I won't go into details about how many tote bags I own, but I will say that my Christmas present to myself last year was a L.A.M.B. Williamsfield tote in the Arakawa Alley print.

This black-and-white bag is so completely my style that I fell in love with it the first time I ever saw it. And I was very good. I resisted it for a long time. And then it went on sale at Zappos. Yeah. I have no self-control.

But the Williamsfield is totally worth it. It has expandable sides, which means that you can open it up wider and fit more things in it than you could with a different tote. It is made of PVC-coated canvas, so it can take a beating. And (with a little effort, considering the amount it will hold) it can go over your shoulder like a good tote should.

The first time I ever took it anywhere, I was on my way to Boston to visit my best guy friend, and it was the perfect carry-on for the plane trip. I've used for work many times, since it fits all of my notebooks and folders. It even coordinated very well with my Easter dress. I think that this bag will be in my collection for quite some time to come (probably until it dies from abuse), and I'm even considering buying it in a more summer-appropriate color. After all, I do love my totes!

Buy through Zappos for $215.88.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mini Kicks

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my brother's wife is pregnant with their first child. I've picked up a few things for said child, including something I've been dreaming of buying for a few years now: baby Chucks. Yeah, that's right--miniature Chuck Taylor All-Star High Tops.

I chose the white option, figuring that they are the most unisex, since we do not yet know if the baby will be a boy or a girl. And they could not possibly be cuter. Once that baby is born, I expect to see him or her as much as possible. I just know that everyone will be oohing and awwing, and I can't wait for it!

Buy through Converse for $20.00.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Where a Girl Loves a Boy and Some Gypsies

From time to time, Madonna surprises me. Of course, I expect a certain level of shock and awe from Madge; most everyone does, by this point. But this is different. This, I think, was not specifically engineered for controversy, and, in fact, it is not inherently controversial, which is something of a relief. It is surprising, nonetheless, and maybe in the best way possible.

I recently picked up a copy of the Sticky and Sweet Tour CD/DVD set. Although I have yet to view the entirety of the concert footage, I have listened to most of the songs on the CD, many of them twice through so far. The standout track, in my opinion, is "La Isla Bonita 2008."

Madonna is a big fan of this song of hers. She's performed it on three of her last four tours. And, as one can tell from the live footage, it is often the most joyful part of the show. This time is absolutely no exception. In fact, it may be even more effervescent than the others. Maybe that's because Madonna was on top of the world, having broken her own record for highest-grossing concert tour during the course of Sticky and Sweet. But I think that it has more to do with her guest musicians, the Roma (Gypsy) group known as the Kolpakov Trio.

These guys are completely ridiculous, in the sense that they are thoroughly fascinating and wonderful, and, damn, do they know how to play their instruments. They are clearly excited to be performing--not necessarily with Madonna, just on a general level--and Madonna is clearly happy to have them by her side. Of course, the mixture of the Spanish-influenced "La Isla Bonita" and traditional music from the Trio is, to say the least, incongrous, but it is also an absolute delight. Check it out if you can, even if you only manage to listen but miss out on the footage; this is definitely what I would call a summertime song.

Listen to a 30-second clip of the song on


Thursday, May 13, 2010

As Indelible As They Come

I used to have a subscription to Vanity Fair. When I first started reading it, VF embodied everything that I felt a magazine should be--interesting, informative, and, from time to time, a bit irreverent. Over time, I found that shifts in subject matter were being made, and that the resulting upper-crust scandal-page articles were not to my liking. However, one aspect of the magazine continued to impress me: the photography.

And how could it not? VF employs only the very best photographers available, and they contribute stellar images. In fact, the current editors saw fit to issue a compendium of some of these images--all portraits--in the 2008 coffee table book Vanity Fair: The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images. Unlike the last coffee table book I covered, I do own a copy of The Portraits, thanks to my mother, who was good enough to buy me a copy (without any prompting) two Christmases ago.

The book is, in a word, stunning. The wide variety of subjects (men and women, actors and politicians, black-and-white and color pieces, and so on) makes for a dynamic viewing experience, as does the sheer number of photographs included. By far my favorite is a shot of Lance Armstrong, completely nude, on his bicycle in the pounding rain, shot by Annie Leibovitz, a frequent contributor to the magazine. But each picture included truly does tell its own story, some uplifting, some heartbreaking, each completely indelible.

Buy through Barnes and Noble for $43.87.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Table Details

Since I've been planning my dream dining room lately, I thought I would continue the trend by discussing a little-noticed but interesting accessory: the napkin ring.

Napkins themselves I could take or leave. But napkin rings I love. Especially the pewter peacock napkin rings from Victorian Trading Company: they are simple, yet totally gorgeous. The leaf details around the ring itself as well as the intricate details on the peacock--comb, tail feathers, et cetera--make these rings ones to treasure. And I happen to think that they would coordinate very well with the china I've chosen for myself. Perhaps I should pair them with peacock green and blue napkins someday?

Buy through Victorian Trading Company for $29.95 per pair.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Key to Everything

There used to be a couple of sets of keys in my house that I would play with when I was little. I don't know where they came from, or what they went to, but I got a kick out of them. Even now, I like keys, and I've recently come across a personalized, non-functional option.

The maker is kvossdesigns, who sells through Etsy, and the keys are made of precious metal clay, which I've been given to understand is more pure than sterling silver, and it is beautiful. Since the key can be personalized, it could be used as a gift for any number of occasions--housewarming, graduation, birthday, et cetera. You could make it into a pendant on a necklace or a keyfob. Plus the delicate detailing and handcrafting make it a piece to treasure.

Buy through Etsy for $75.00.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Yeah, the "Imperial March" Is My Theme Music, Too

I know this kid--the nephew of a friend of mine--who is a huge fan of Star Wars. When I met him, I told him that I liked Star Wars, too, so he asked me who my favorite character from the films was. My response? "Han Solo, of course. Who's yours?" Well, he put me in my place when he said, very matter-of-factly and as if there was no other option, "Darth Vader."

The kid might be on to something. Because Han Solo may be rugged and handsome and charming and a hot-shot pilot, but Darth Vader stands alone in a category of badassness that has yet to even be named.

What makes him thus? I mean, have you seen the guy? He wears a cape, he has a death grip that puts to shame even your mother's most withering glances, and, well, he is voiced by James Earl Jones, who may look like a cuddly teddy bear but in actuality is probably scarier than even Chuck Norris. Plus he can put Boba Fett in his place, which is a hell of an accomplishment.

I recommend the original Star Wars trilogy very highly in general and very firmly feel that everyone should see all three films at least once. For the best Lord Vader moments, you might consider checking out his light saber fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, the entirety of The Empire Strikes Back (which is my favorite of the series), or his epic showdown with Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi.

If I had to choose just one thing to say about Darth Vader, it is that he rarely disappoints. Do you agree?

Buy the original Star Wars trilogy through Family Video for $33.99.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Animalistic Class

Fendi is one of those brands that is really hit-and-miss for me. For every fantastic shoe they make, there is an equally hideous dress, and so on. The same is true of their handbags. But I have finally found one that I love. No, legitimately--I love this bag. It is the Leopard-Lined Peekaboo Tote. Purse Blog covered it toward the end of April, but I had to talk about it myself, too.

To say that it is out of my price range is an understatement. I could buy 11 L.A.M.B. Williamsfield Totes in Acid Houndstooth and still have enough money left over to pick up this pretty Coach Kristin Clutch on the way home for the price of my current Fendi obsession. But this blog is, more often than not, about the things I dream of having, not the things I actually have. So.

What I find to be so fascinating about this bag is definitely its simplicity. I'm a huge fan of clean, straight lines; the Peekaboo, in general, is nothing but. The neutral color and subtle stripe down the middle make it a good choice for business, church, or any event that calls for looking like a lady. Plus, that unexpected leopard lining gives the perfect punch of fun.

The Peekaboo comes in many styles, some not so fantastic as the Leopard but still quite nice. I recommend that you check all of them out!

Buy the Leopard model through Neiman Marcus for $3,500.00.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pump and Circumstance

Today is graduation day where I work, and this brings back memories of my own commencement ceremony last year. We have quite a hike to get from our starting point to our seats, it's an outdoor ceremony, and it's hot here, so shoe choices are hard to make. Do I wear my well-traveled slingbacks (yes, those slingbacks), which are trusty but can lead to blisters when the weather warms up? Should I slip into a pair of flip-flops and call it a day? How to remain stylish yet comfortable?

A few years back, Cole Haan, which is owned by Nike, teamed up with that brand to produce a line of shoes using Nike Air technology, thus creating a more comfortable walking experience. The company has expanded their use of Air considerably, and now a great many of their shoes are made this way. Clearly this is the answer all of us girls who want to look fantastic on graduation day have wanted for so long!

Check out Cole Haan's pumps here. My favorites are the Eve Air High OT Pump and the Air Renfro OT Sling; which strike your fancy?


Friday, May 7, 2010

The Bandleader of My Dreams

Is there any cooler big band guy working today than Harry Connick, Jr.? From the release of his first album with Columbia records in 1987 until now, he has reenergized classic songs and looked great doing it. I grew up listening to his music occasionally; my mom is a fan of his.

The first Harry Connick, Jr., album I remember really liking, though, was 1999's Come By Me. The rollicking title track is simply marvelous, a joyful slice of love. His take on "There's No Business like Show Business" is a great homage to 1950-something Broadway--the perfect laid-back show tune. Other tracks are well-done, also, but the real standout track is "Cry Me a River."

No, kids, not the Justin Timberlake song of the same name but different lyrics, although that is a really great piece of pop music. Rather, Connick's song is a cover of the standard performed by such musical luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Merle Haggard (yes, you read that correctly, and, for the record, he did a pretty good job), and others. But the Connick version is in a class of its own and could not be more personalized if he tried.

Because Connick's "Cry Me a River" sounds like a New Orleans funeral march, in the best possible way: it signals the singer's determination to end the toxic relationship. Moreover, it reflects Connick's roots--he was born and raised in NOLA. His interpretation of that city's musical heritage is heartbreaking, yet empowering, and so Louisiana. If only more songs had the flair and clear commitment to a sound that this one has!

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

The King of Sexy

I don't think there is anyone sexier in this world than Tom Ford. And it's not just his beautiful face and body, either. It's also in the way he carries himself, and definitely in the way he dresses.

You see, Tom Ford can't help dressing well. We're talking about the man who totally revolutionized Gucci as a brand. I very firmly feel that no one makes a better suit than Gucci, at least for women. (Their only real competition, in my view, was the late Alexander McQueen, one of my personal favorites.) After Gucci acquired Yves Saint Laurent, Ford was doing double duty as the creative director of that venerable house, as well. Of course, Ford hasn't been with Gucci or YSL since 2004, but his influence is still decidedly present.

Nowadays, Ford is heading up his own label and, occasionally, directing movies. But when he parted ways with Gucci and YSL, a coffee-table book of his work at those houses was released. Images taken by such well-known fashion photographers as Steven Meisel, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, and many more were included in the volume. This book stands as the testament to Ford's vision as well as his abilities.

Unfortunately, like all good coffee-table books, especially those about fashion, Tom Ford is pricey. In fact, it is so cost-prohibitive that even used copies sell for more than I can afford to pay. Someday, though, I will own this book, because Tom Ford is one of my fashion touchstones, and to live without his work is not an option.

Buy the hardcover edition through Borders for $135.00.


PS Speaking of fashion icons, Sarah over at My Little Boudoir is currently accepting entries for a giveaway of the new paperback edition of Marjorie Hart's Summer at Tiffany, a memoir of her time working for that coveted company. If you can't afford to pick up a copy of Tom Ford, perhaps you could satisfy your need for glitz by reading Hart's book, instead!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Classy Cutlery

Last week, I wrote about the set of china I would like to have someday, a decision that was prompted by my grandmother. Around the same time I chose that china, I also decided to pick out a set of nice (read: formal) flatware.

Although the design I chose does not necessarily "go" with the aforementioned Lenox Federal Platinum china, it is very much my style, with clean, straight lines and no frills. It is Todd Hill stainless flatware from kate spade, one of my favorite American brands. Spade is no longer the head of her eponymous company, but her influence is still clearly felt in every product the company sells, and this flatware to me epitomizes the kate spade aesthetic: simple, yet visually pleasing.

Perhaps I will eventually settle on a set of flatware that better coordinates with my (as yet still unattained) china, but in the meantime, I will continue to covet Todd Hill.

Buy a five-piece place setting through Macy's for $67.00.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Odette Effect

I've noticed this trend lately that involves feathered headbands. Whoa. This is so fantastic! What a whimsical accessory! I'm a big fan of feathers: feather jewelry, feather-shaped jewelry, feathers on hats, feathers on skirts, feathers on shoes.

But the headbands particularly interest me. I have a children's book called Swan Lake, by Rachel Isadora, that is done in beautiful watercolors and portrays Odette, the swan queen, in human form as a ballerina, in keeping with the dance tradition of the story. Likewise, Odile, Odette's dark doppelganger, is shown as the same.

I really love the idea of Odile and Odette: two halves of the same person, the good and bad twins. Perhaps I'm just wired for binary juxtapositions. No matter; I think these two ladies (usually danced by the same ballerina) are fantastic. And I have found feathered headbands that I think would work for each of them.

The first, my choice for Odette, is supremely affordable, only $6.50 from Charlotte Russe. The long, skinny feathers and cute rhinestone detail add just the right amount of flair without taking away from the white core of the headband. It is the perfect choice for our imprisoned heroine.

My call for Odile, while less flashy, is also, somehow, the perfect accessory for such a sinister lady. What I love about this is the unfussy, streamlined look--all black, and absolutely spot-on for a smooth criminal. Although it is cost-prohibitive, at $75.00, it could be worth the investment if you have the means and would like to channel a little bit of your own dark side. How do you feel about these?

Buy Swan Lake through Better World Books for $4.95.


Monday, May 3, 2010

No Bellybuttons Allowed

We never had cable television at my house until my grandfather moved in with us, sometime during elementary school. And then, suddenly, with the advent of cable came not only MTV, CNN, and Nickelodeon, but also TV Land.

At the time of its inception, TV Land was pretty much the coolest thing out there, at least as far as I was concerned. The network regularly showed old advertisements dubbed "retro-mercials," a fantastic slice of American life and popular culture. My favorite feature, though, was definitely the reruns of I Dream of Jeannie.

Sure, Jeannie is kind of ditzy. What do you expect from someone who's just been dropped into the modern world? But Barbara Eden plays her as full of heart and spunk., the sweetest genie you could ever hope to meet. Plus, she has that awesome hairdo.

Some of the episodes might be a little absurd. Still, that's part of the fun of the show: suspending your disbelief for 25 minutes and entering a world of slapstick effervescence. Besides, who doesn't love a couple of astronauts cavorting about the world through both time and space in the pseudo-mod atmosphere created by Sidney Sheldon and company? And what beautiful astronauts--Larry Hagman as Jeannie's master, Tony Nelson, with his classic good looks and Bill Daily as the adorable, slightly bumbling sidekick Roger Healey balance each other out and make for a good team.

I did always feel really bad for Dr. Bellows, played by Hayden Rorke, though. Not only is the man literally the only doctor the Kennedy Space Center--acting as both psychiatrist and physician to every astronaut at NASA--but he is often on the wrong end of magical highjinks, leading him to believe that he is suffering a breakdown on a pretty regular basis. Yet it is also fun to watch him attempting to figure things out.

In addition to the cast, Jeannie's absolutely of-the-moment wardrobe--when she is not decked out in her hot pink harem costume, that is--is a delight to see. Although I would not dream of wearing certain outfits of hers, the fashion sense is undeniable.

If you have not encountered this gem of a program, I highly recommend checking it out. You can start with a few episodes on Hulu and then work your way up to a full season on DVD. Happy watching!

Buy the complete I Dream of Jeannie through Best Buy for $139.99.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Upscale Hobo

My two favorite styles of handbags are totes and hobos. I like totes because they are (generally) structured and can fit my notebook, folders, and even a book or two in addition to a wallet, sunglasses, planner, et cetera. Hobos strike my fancy because they are spacious and can take a beating because of their lack of structure.

Furla's Elisabeth Hobo in cream python print is a great example of a classy hobo: the neutral color, unobtrusive pattern, and nice design all scream "young society woman." All right, well, maybe not just any young society woman; this bag is for the fashion-forward young society woman. Also, I like the fact that it's faux python, because while I love the look of python, I would never carry genuine python; it weirds me out too much.

Aside from this particular hobo, I'm kind of a fan of Furla, anyway. They are an under-the-radar brand, established but neither flashy nor overly popular. Of course, some of their pieces do fall flat for me, but by and large, I appreciate their unfussy approach to handbags. I highly recommend checking them out.

Buy the Elisabeth Hobo through Bluefly for $345.00.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flipping for Shoes

My parents get a real big kick out of my general choice of footwear. For example, Dad thinks it's hilarious--and awesome--that I'm such a huge fan of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star high-tops. He also really likes the story of how I walked home about a mile and a quarter from the (ahem) bar in a pair of three-inch peep-toe slingbacks one night.

Mom finds my love affair with flip-flops to be fascinating. She especially likes it when I fly home for Thanksgiving, forget that the weather in Michigan is significantly different than the weather in North Carolina, and step into the snow in my decidedly un-wintery footwear. But I stand by them. Well, I suppose I actually stand in them, and since flip-flop weather is upon us, I would also like to talk about them.

My favorite flip-flops by far come from Old Navy. They are affordable, durable, comfortable, and colorful. At the cost of two pairs for $5.00, you can splurge and get as many colors as you want, from Lime Slush to this super-cute butterfly print.

For those of you out there with a little bit of school spirit, Kohl's offers some collegiate flip-flops, such as this University of Michigan pair, on sale now for $15.99.

If you're willing to spend a bit more money--around $50.00--you can pick up a colorful pair of Rainbow Sandals, which are very popular where I live thanks to their ability to take a beating and still offer support.

These are just three of your options for summertime sporty footwear. Invest in one pair and take yourself to the beach as a treat!