Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Spectator Sport

Spectator shoes have long been a fashion staple, and probably with good reason. I don't mean wingtips or 50s-style schoolgirl saddle shoes, mind you--I'm talking about the ladylike versions with heels and cute details. Coco Chanel was a great promoter of the spectator, and to this day, the house that Gabrielle built produces its own versions of this classic style.

But, most of us being without the means to procure any piece of Chanel more expensive than a bottle of Chance Eau Fraiche, we have to turn elsewhere. But no worries. I have the perfect solution: 2-Tone Lace-Up Saddle Shoe Peep-Toe Pumps. 

The name is deceptive, because this pair of pumps does not resemble saddle shoes, not really. Rather, they are grown up but still playful, classy but unusual.

I think we could all use a pair of shoes like this in our collections. The black and white color scheme go with so many things, and the lace-up/peep-toe combination makes these pumps versatile, able to contend with nice weather in the spring and summer and the muted fashions of fall.

Would you rather have these, the Chanel option, or something else?

Photo: Plasticland.


PS One of the great pleasures of writing a blog--for me, at least--is doing the research that it takes to find all sorts of information that completes each post. And although I tried very hard to find a picture of saddle shoes as seen in that beloved 70s interpretation of the 50s, Grease, my search was fruitless. I did, however, find this. There is nothing to be said for it, really, except that it is absolute nonsense. Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

"And the Pavements Are Burning"

As you may have noticed, we are in the thick of summer. While this may not be so obvious to those of you living in cooler climes, it is decidedly apparent here in North Carolina. So, of course, this calls for many discussions of the greatest summertime songs. Naturally, there are the classics: "Summertime Blues," "School's Out," pretty much anything by the Beach Boys, et cetera. However, my personal favorite is "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama.

Nowadays, Bananarama is one of those under-the-radar groups, at least in the States (their most recent album, Viva, was released last year, although I haven't heard it yet, and their previous album, Drama, from 2005, didn't suck). But in the 80s, Bananarama was a pretty big deal. They were big enough, in fact, to have one of their songs immortalized in that quintessential 80s film The Karate Kid. And that song was "Cruel Summer."

"Cruel Summer" isn't for everyone. This time last year, I had it playing constantly--I was at home, I was bored, and I was cut off from the few people I wanted to see. So it made a lot of sense. And it was perfect for Daniel in The Karated Kid, too--he was in the same boat (well, almost). Besides, it has a hot, driving beat with great percussion, some pseudo-funky guitar work (very much influenced by "Train in Vain" by the Clash, I think), and--although the Bananarama girls may not have the most polished voices ever--the youthful vocals drive the point of the song home very well. Plus, bonus? The song was covered by Ace of Base in 1998, and I know you know I love me some Ace of Base.

I suppose what I'm really trying to tell you is that if you're having a mediocre, or perhaps a bad, summer, you should turn to Bananarama in your hour of need. They understand your pain perfectly. I promise.

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.


PS If you were interested by yesterday's post about Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light and would like to know more, you might consider reading this article at Salon, which appeared on Wednesday, or this brief review by Tina Jordan at Entertainment Weekly!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Jane Brox is the author of several non-fiction books, the latest of which, Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, was published earlier this month. Now, before we go on, I need you to know something: unlike the books I've mentioned before on this blog, I have NOT read this one yet, although I would very much like to someday. Rather, I'm sharing it with you because I was lucky enough to meet Brox last month and hear her read from Brilliant. I have to say, I never thought light would be so fascinating to me as it was the night I encountered Brox, and on the strength of that one night alone I want to recommend this book to you.

By the way, Brox is an unassuming lady. She's not at all flashy, but she is very interesting.  And  besides--anyone who could make a description of the street lamps of London interesting to me (and, in fact, an auditorium full of people) must be pretty okay, right?

Photo: Powell's.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rack 'Em Up

I have a lot of keys. I wouldn't call it an excess of keys; I need all of them for work or my personal life. But I'm not terribly fond of the way they're organized (on two key chains, each of which have, I think, reached their capacity). And I also need a good, central location in which to keep them. Voila: the magnetic key rack.

Although I would have to split my keys into several separate rings (the key rack will not hold heavy rings), I like the idea of this organizational solution. It is simple, elegant, and even multifunctional--there is a place to stick incoming or outgoing mail! Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Photo: Organize-It.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You're Standing on My Neck

Everyone's favorite snarky high schooler is finally out on DVD.

There shouldn't be very much for me to say about Daria, because you should all have seen and enjoyed it by now. But if you are out of the loop, here is the short version: Daria Morgendorffer doesn't buy it.

The slightly longer version is that Daria moves to Lawndale, befriends Jane Lane, and suffers through attending high school with such classmates as football player Kevin, cheerleader Brittany, and the Fashion Club, which includes her sister Quinn. Students with more intelligent-sounding labels appear at times, too, but no one remembers pleasant things.

Anyway, the complete series, including the two TV movies, has appeared on DVD. My understanding is that the original music is not included due to laws or something, but that's just too bad. If they had insisted upon the original music we wouldn't have it at all.

By through Amazon for $48.99.

Fun in the Sun(glasses)

Versace, as a house, is very hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes they are spot-on; other times, they are too over-the-top. But I have to say that I have a great deal of respect for Donatella Versace, who took over as the artistic director of the house after her brother, Versace founder Gianni, was murdered in 1997 and stayed true to his aesthetic while also integrating her own. And from time to time, I find a Versace piece that I wish I could have. This time around, it's a pair of sunglasses.

How cute are these? They look like they were made for Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, and Charlotte York all at once. When I was searching for new sunglasses earlier this summer, I tried these on, but decided that 1) they didn't look quite right on me and 2) I couldn't afford them anyway, but I sincerely hope that someone, somewhere discovers these for herself and decides that they are the match for her. (In the meantime, I ended up with a pair of no-name frames that I really adore; unfortunately, they are SO no-name that they don't even exist on the Internet, a phenomenon that seems to be on the rise.) What do your favorite sunglasses look like?

Photo: LensCrafters.


Monday, July 26, 2010

This Is the Droid You're Looking For

Catalogs fascinate me. So does Star Wars. So, logically, catalogs featuring Star Wars merchandise make me very happy. Which is why, when I first saw the voice-activated R2-D2 Robot from Hammacher Schlemmer, I absolutely flipped.


Tell me this isn't one of the coolest things you've ever seen. I mean, it looks almost exactly like the R2-D2 we all know and love! And word on the street is that this droid has a personality and follows commands! Getting one of these might just be, for me, better than getting a new puppy on Christmas morning.

Buy through Hammacher Schlemmer for $199.95.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

People We Covet: Your Dream Dinner Party

My friend Melissa and I were having a conversation a few days ago about people you would love to have over to your house for a dinner party. The rules were as follows: your guests can be any real people from any time or place, and you can have seven guests plus yourself for a nice round number of 8 total. A handful of people shared their lists with me, including Melissa. Answers ranged from the expected (an English professor friend of mine wanted to invite Emily Dickinson and Barbara Kingsolver) to the surprising (someone wanted to invite me!). Some compromising went on: Melissa said that we could have one big combined party and that she would invite Roger Maris so that I didn't have to, thereby avoiding making an admission of admiration for a New York Yankee (for those of you who don't know, I don't even BELIEVE in the Yankees), and another friend of mine suggested that each of our guests be allowed to bring a guest, making for a bigger and better event.

I think we're really onto something here, which is why I decided to report on my dinner party list this month  instead of making my typical People We Covet post. So here it is, in alphabetical order: Ray Bradbury, Don Cherry, Bobby Flay, George Gershwin, Alexander Skarsgard, Vincent van Gogh, and Denzel Washington.

Of course, all of this is subject to change at, literally, any moment. However, for right now, these are the guests I would love to have. (Never mind that it would be impossible to get them all together, two of them being quite dead and the rest of them very busy.) But everyone on the current list makes perfect sense, because they come from areas that interest me: literature (Bradbury, of course, wrote my favorite book, Fahrenheit 451), hockey (Don Cherry is a legendary player, coach, and commentator, and he has the best collection of suits known to man), food (Bobby Flay! 'Nuff said), music (George Gershwin was one of the composers who helped make American music its own thing in the 20th century), film and television (right off the top of my head, I swear to you that I can't think of two men more beautiful than Alexander Skarsgard and Denzel Washington, plus Denzel is a hell of an actor--as he says in Training Day, "King Kong ain't got shit on me"), and art (my favorite painting in the whole wide world was done by van Gogh).

Who would be at your dinner?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Retro Styling for the Modern Girl

Lately, I've been craving a little bit of simplicity. Complicated designs freak me out right now. So I'm going with the classics, such as the t-strap high heel. 

Don't worry; I haven't abandoned my beloved peep-toed slingbacks. I could never do that. But sometimes you need to mix it up. Hence the Love to Lounge shoe from Unlisted.


Isn't it cute? I adore the retro styling of it--it makes me want to go out dancing in a red dress with my hair done up all 40s-like. Of course, fantasies of mine like that never come true. Ultimately, I might have to settle for simply wearing these on a nice nice out to dinner, but that's okay, too.



PS Hey, speaking of retro things, have you seen The Vintage Housewife?  She's sassy and adorable, and  her blog is chock-full of old-school tidbits and items. I really recommend checking the blog out!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Extinction Never Stopped Anyone

Cate's schedule and I have given up on each other. When I post, it will be like getting the toy in the Cracker Jack box.

When the toys were good, I mean.

I think everyone can agree on one thing.

Dinosaurs are totally rad. I had a dream last night in which I was still at school and there were dinosaurs running all over the place and it was kind of scary, but they're still cool.

With that out of the way, I'm not going to discuss dinosaur figurines or Jurassic Park. These are excellent examples of how dinosaurs have captured our hearts and minds. A number of xkcd strips, such as this one, demonstrate how dinosaurs instill fear in the hearts of many.

Velociraptors, or perhaps their larger cousins Utahraptors, are scary.

They are also fantastic. I saw a shirt not too long ago that was both terrifying and glorious. It appears to be any normal hoodie shirt bearing the image of a raptor. But then--then--the model hugged himself in fear, perhaps to try to smother the fearsome beast upon his chest. Rather than admit defeat, however, the raptor bared his teeth and let everyone know who was boss.

And the site says that this whole idea was Ross Valory's. So if you like dinosaurs, bassists, or Journey, this might be for you.

"All the Commotion"

A few years back, I heard of a band called Kings of Leon, but I never came across any of their music, probably because the most reliable radio station where I live uses a classic rock format, which, by design, is not conducive to emerging artists. So, of course, I am coming late to the Kings of Leon party, but better late than never, right?

In fact, if it wasn't for my new iPod, I may not have heard KoL in the first place. You see, iPods have radio tuners in them now (and probably have for awhile, but I'm always slightly behind the times, as I'm sure you've figured out by now), and so I was compulsively flipping through radio stations during my two and a half weeks at home at the end of May, which is how I managed to come across "Sex on Fire," a single off of KoL's  2008 album Only By the Night

Quite honestly, I don't even know most of what Caleb Followill (the band's singer) is saying, but, damn, he sounds good. The song as a whole has sonic relatives in the work of Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Audioslave, Green Day, Tom Petty, Sister Hazel, Smashing Pumpkins, Aerosmith, and so many others, and all of those connections are good things. Yet it stands alone, which is an even better thing. Plus, bonus? Caleb has a kind of Alexander Skarsgard thing going on in the video for this song, which sucks me in every time.

If you've never encountered Kings of Leon, you should check them out right now. If you are familiar with their music, I would appreciate any recommendations you might have about which of their songs to listen to next!

Buy through Amazon for $1.29.

Photo: ELOdry (via Wikipedia).


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cut It Out

I'm about to make a confession, and I hope that you won't hold it against me: paper dolls fascinate me.

Tom Tierney's paper dolls are especially fascinating. They're quite true to life, such as the Great Fashion Designs of the Thirties book, which painstakingly recreates such classic designs as the Schiaparelli lobster dress, seen here. I am also quite fond of the Chanel Fashion Review, which shows what a skilled designer Mlle. Coco really was. And the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis book showcases that lady's enduring style. 

Of course, not all of Tierney's works focus on fashion exclusively. There are options from American and British history, both recent and past. Although many of the dolls are difficult to cut out and thus would not be ideal for young girls, I think that many middle-grade girls would be fascinated by these visually stunning specimens.

Buy a wide variety of Tierney's paper dolls through Borders.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fairy Tale Magic, Bedroom Style

God love Anthropologie. They have some of the most spectacular housewares. Except that none of them fit my personal style. Or so I thought. Turns out straight lines and modern styling are not always what I want. Sometimes I need old-fashioned and whimsical. Hence the reason I've fallen for their Forest Canopy Bed.

I feel like to sleep in this bed would be a little like living inside The Brothers Grimm. And I'm okay with that image, because I love fairy tale movies, especially ones with Matt Damon. (On a side note, my dad went to Boston on business one time when I was in high school and asked me if I wanted any souvenirs. My response? Matt Damon. And would you believe that Dad couldn't deliver? I've never gotten over it. But I digress.)

What really appeals to me about this bed, though, is the fact that it brings nature indoors without actually tracking in all of the mud and twigs. Since I don't care much for nature, this is perfect. (For the record, we have an understanding, Nature and I: it stays out there, I stay in here, and no one gets hurt.) And who doesn't want a canopy bed, anyway? They're so cool!


PS As it happens, I am buying myself a new bed this weekend. Unfortunately, the Forest Canopy Bed is out of my price range. But I promise that I will update you on my purchase once I've had a chance to break it in!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stylin' Technology

I love kate spade (the company, although Kate Spade the person seems pretty cool, too). Two of my handbags are from kate spade, and I also own one of their planners, as well as my latest accessory find: the striped iPod Nano case.

This particular case is made of soft, flexible silicone, which is very ergonomically pleasing. Plus the light pink and white stripes on the back, combined with the solid orange on the front, coordinates very well with my pink iPod.

How do you keep your technology safe? Do you prefer cute, preppy, bold, or simple accoutrement?


Monday, July 19, 2010

In a World Where Movie Trailers Rule

Most people probably find movie trailers to be annoying, an extra five minutes of your life wasted before you get to the real thing, either at the theater or in your own home with those terrible DVDs that will not allow you to skip past the previews. And I will admit that I usually don't watch the ones at home, even on TV. But deep down, I actually love movie trailers.

Really, they are pieces of art in and of themselves. Distilling the essence of a two-hour film into three minutes is no easy task, even for crowd-pleasing summer blockbusters. You have to include enough hooks to interest your audience without giving everything away. And so I think that the people who make movie trailers are some of the most important parts of the Hollywood machine: without them, certain films might not receive much attention at all.

For a funny blow-by-blow of how a trailer is constructed, watch this video from BriTANicK:

To check out some real movie trailers, visit Hulu. They have the most up-to-date selection available on demand. Then come back and tell me which ones are your current favorites! Mine is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. Do you agree?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Could It Be LV Love?

Before I start, I think you should know: I am not a Louis Vuitton girl.

I think that all iterations of the LV monogram (classic, Multicolore, and even the Watercolor) are hideous. The Damier Ebene looks too much like an awful chessboard. Purple Epi leather looks all right, but the perforated Mahina looks like leatherwork gone wrong. However, the Damier Azur is, I think, a great summery pattern, and when combined with the Galliera shoulder bag (PMthe GM is too big, even for me), it makes me very happy, indeed.

Of course, there is that age-old debate about Louis Vuitton canvas bags. The one side wonders why a bag made mostly of treated canvas should cost so much money. But the other side swears that Vuitton canvas is just this side of indestructable and will last you a great deal longer than any other canvas bag you might purchase. As someone who has a tendency to be very hard on her larger bags--between plane rides, road trips, and my clumsy habit of running into doorframes, it's amazing that anything I own holds up--it is very heartening to me to hear that there is a material available that might withstand my life.

Do you agree? Would you have something that is not only less recognizable but also more affordable, or would you be willing to give the Damier Azur bags a go?

Buy through Louis Vuitton for $1,280.00.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't Step on My Blue Leather Shoes

One of the girls I met while I was away on business has these absolutely fantastic blue oxford shoes. And when I say blue, I really mean it. They are a vivid hue that you don't see too often. Of course, I forgot to ask her where she got them. So I ended up having to search high and low for a pair like hers, and all I have to say about that is this: 1. Online stores that do not allow you to search for items by color are bullshit. 2. Apparently the definition of an oxford is a largely subjective thing. 3. For my money, there is no better discourse on the difference between the various shades of blue than the one given by Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, and that scene kept coming to mind while I was trying to find these frigging shoes (are they blue? cerulean? marine? WHAT?). 

But because I was willing to do anything that would prevent me from being a useful and productive person on that particular day, I was prepared to face this challenge. And then I thought of shopstyle, a really fantastic website that trolls the Internet for you so you don't have to do what I do and look through individual sites. If it wasn't for shopstyle, I never would have found these shoes, which I eventually did! It turns out that they are available from Aldo, which is actually one of my favorite places to shop for shoes, and I can't believe that I didn't think of it myself. Lesson learned.

The moral of the story: if you have ever wanted blue oxfords, now you know where to find them. (In fact, I discovered that there are many blue oxfords out there, so you actually have many options available to you.)

Buy through Aldo for $24.98.


Friday, July 16, 2010

"Everybody Knows Where We're Going"

I'm on a huge Ryan Tedder kick right now. In addition to being a great songwriter (Beyonce's "Halo," Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone," Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," and Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield" were all co-written by Tedder), he has a voice that just kills me--in the best way possible--and so OneRepublic's collaboration with Timbaland, "Apologize," and their own "All the Right Moves" have been in constant rotation on my iPod. (By the way, in case you don't know, OneRepublic's original version of "Apologize"--the one without the beats--is really different but very good in its own right; I happen to prefer Timbaland's production, although there are a great many people who would disagree.) "All the Right Moves" in particular has my attention.

The song sounds great, thanks largely to some fantastic production but also to the considerable talents of the band. And the song speaks to something in all of us on a general level, telling a familiar story about self-doubt and the search for a better place. Personally, my favorite lines are "There'd be the King of Hearts, and you're the Queen of Spades, / And we'll fight for you like we were your soldiers" and "Between the noise you hear and the sound you like, / Are we just sinkin' in an ocean of faces?"

Also, I just really appreciate Tedder's flair for the dramatic in his work--each song is grand in some way. Apparently OneRepublic as a band is also fond of visual drama--witness the video for "All the Right Moves," which is some kind of mash-up of The Illusionist, The Phantom of the Opera's masquerade sequence, Oliver Twist, and any number of Sophie Muller's music videos--"Walking on Broken Glass" (which, by the way, features Hugh Laurie WAY before House), "Mr. Brightside," "Bathwater," and others--despite being directed by someone else.

My recommendation? Check this song out as soon as possible. I think you will be pleased!

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.

Photo: Wikipedia.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Olivia Newton-John Approved This Post

Cate says I need to covet more.

I would like to be able to tell you that I have nothing to covet. I have seen the error of my materialistic ways, and have become a Buddhist.

I can't tell you this. I lack understanding of most Eastern belief systems and philosophies, and I like stuff. Stuff is good. Fortunately, many of the things I like I can pretend make me intellectually superior to other people who like things.

Let me tell you a story.

When I was in elementary school, we would periodically get thin catalogues of books and book-related items from Scholastic. I don't know why. But whoever had this idea was a wonderful person. There might be one or two of these catalogues, and they were maybe four pages long--forgive me if my memory is faulty--and whenever I got them I carefully went through and circled every single book I wanted.

Then, knowing I couldn't have everything I wanted, I would erase some circles. Eventually I would go to the order form, a simple set of columns where one could mark how many of each book one wanted. I usually would narrow it down to, oh, I don't know, four. Then, when I talked to my mother about it, I would either have to whittle it down to one or two or try to get her to let me put more on the order form.

I think my mother must have been absolutely delighted with Scholastic. These books were cheap. Her only daughter loved to read. It was a beautiful situation.

I loved it, too. I was coveting from a young age, and when the books we ordered arrived, it was like Christmas. Christmas with books.

Admittedly, Christmas was usually with books for me.

Now that I am no longer in elementary school, I realize that a significant portion of my book collection probably came from these Scholastic book orders. I may not love all those books as much anymore, but I think the Scholastic book orders were the best thing ever--and I hope no one can prove me wrong, because I would be horrified and saddened to learn that my books were bound in sweatshops by underpaid Chinese children who are addicted to nicotine--and I do have one right here that I have enjoyed for over ten years.

This is my copy. You can't have it.

On the back cover, Olivia Newton-John "wondered if it shouldn't be called Everyone's Anthology of Poetry." The Poet Laureate Robert Hass says some things, too, but he didn't star in the musical all my peers loved. (I thought Grease was all right, but it always seemed to me that Sandy changed far more for Danny than he did for her and that it wasn't especially fair.)

As I was saying, the collection of poems in this volume is varied. Some reviewers on Amazon give it two stars for having poems that they claim children won't understand. I assure you, a child will pay no mind to such a poem and turn the page; it's not a reason to get upset over the title. I am happy that I have had this book as long as I have. It contains poems from staples of American culture and high school English classes: Poe, Dickinson, Tennyson, Thomas, Whitman, and so on.

I am not a great connoisseur of poetry. I can tell you that the translation of Basho's frog-in-a-pond poem isn't my favorite, and (get ready for this) that even I would have included more than "In a Station of the Metro" for the Ezra Pound pages, but I also just forgot T. S. Eliot's name for about two full minutes. I am not kidding.

One thing this poetry anthology has done for me, though, is confused me majorly when reading certain well-known works in the various poetry-related classes over the years. I remember thinking once, "I've never read Christina Rossetti before," and then finding her in my anthology. Incidentally, the bookmark you can barely see in that photograph is at "Remember," page 236.

I also credit this anthology with my interest in trashy romance novels. How, you ask? Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman" is included. While the highwayman and Bess aren't the lords and ladies of my beloved Regency romances, the highwayman is well-dressed and he keeps his guns shiny. It doesn't take much to romanticize danger and illicit meetings for little Maureen.

Buy what appears to be an owl-less version through Amazon for a surely exorbitant $16.47.

Short Cuts

About a year and a half ago, an acquaintance of mine gave me a thin volume of poetry by Yannis Ritsos, a Greek writer. The book is called Monochords, and the premise is simple: each poem is only one sentence long and presented in prose-poem form. Such a project is challenging, to be sure. But Ritsos navigates the difficulties well, styling each poem very carefully. And best of all, he even acknowledges the limitations of poetry and--more importantly, I think--language itself: "All the words are not enough to get anything said."


PS Two days ago, we reached the 100-post mark. If you've been reading along with us, thanks for sticking around! If you're a new reader, thanks for taking the time to check us out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome to Christmas in July!

For those of you who are uninitiated, let me just share a little bit with you: I am from Michigan. And there are three things you need to know about Michigan. 1) We love hockey. 2) We gave Pop-Tarts to the world. You're welcome. 3) We are home to the largest Christmas store ON THE PLANET.

No, seriously, Bronner's is huge. And it is fantastic. They have more Christmas things than you ever thought possible or could ever use. They have wreaths, lights, personalized ornaments, nativities, stockings, and--of course--Santa suits, among other items. 

What would the world be without some kind of reference to Christmas in July? So I thought I would share Bronner's with you, and maybe a decoration or two. Of course, this array of products means that it's very hard to choose just one to covet, but I think I found the ornament for me:

What better ornament for a girl who has a shopping blog? (I'm also terribly fond of this ornament; alas, I have no need for it.)

I highly recommend checking out the selection. You're sure to find something that suits you. And if you ever get a chance, stop in at Bronner's; it's a magical place.

Buy through Bronner's for $7.99.

Photo: Bronner's.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Princess on Your Big Day

This being the summer and all, there are quite a few weddings afoot. I personally know four couples who have been married since Memorial Day weekend. So I thought that perhaps this would be a good time to discuss my new favorite wedding dress.

This is the limited edition bridal gown from White House Black Market, a store that I particularly enjoy. (The salesgirls at the WHBM near my parents' house are very helpful and fun.) The company calls the color of their new gown ecru, but it looks almost pure-white in photos, and it can be worn with or without straps. A cute sloping hem adds visual interest, as does the fan pleating at the bust. Add a mixed bouquet of roses and hydrangeas and some purple shoes for a twist on the traditional wedding, or whatever you will--I can almost guarantee that this dress will elicit compliments no matter what!

Photo: White House Black Market.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Magic Girls

Last month, I wrote about one of my favorite film adaptations of a book, Atonement. This month, I'm focusing on another: The Virgin Suicides

I have to tell you that this is legitimately the best adaptation of a book I've ever seen. Sofia Coppola really captured the essence of Eugenides' work, ripping a great deal of the dialogue and narration straight from the book and zooming in on the Lisbon girls in such a way as to fascinate the viewer so that we feel the same as the neighborhood boys who are absorbed completely by these young ladies. And the dreamlike, watercolor sheen is a real visual pleasure. Coppola couldn't have done better with her feature-length debut.

Buy the book through Books-a-Million for $7.56 and the film through Family Video for $7.99.

Photo: Family Video.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Motorcycle Chic

I've recently discovered Rebecca Minkoff handbags thanks to the wonderful ladies at PurseBlog. And I am particularly fond of the Easy Rider Devote Hobo in white. It is nearly perfect for me: large and loaded with great detailing, such as the belt around the top of the bag and the diagonal zippers. The only down side is that I fear I would ruin the white leather. Of course, RM offers this particular bag in black, as well, but the white is so beautiful that it really caught my eye.

About a month ago, Bloomingdales was having an epic sale, and the Easy Rider Devote was on sale for a great price; of course, I passed it up, and now every time I see it elsewhere, I regret that move. Maybe you will fall in love with it and have better luck?

Buy through Endless for $635.00.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Battling the Heat

In the middle of the summer, I have a really hard time wearing heels. The heat gives me blisters, so I prefer to wear flat shoes. And in my opinion, for the past two or three years, no flat shoe has been more suggestive of summertime and carefree living than the gladiator sandal, a shoe that it took me awhile to get used to but that I now like.

Now, Lola Leon--Madonna's daughter--would disagree with me, and quite emphatically, I might add (scroll down to the next-to-last paragraph of that post for more information). She maintains that gladiator sandals have run their course. I think that they still have some life in them yet, although I have to say that they are probably on their way out. In the meantime, let's enjoy one last hurrah, shall we?

My favorite current incarnation is from Topshop, that British sensation that has caught the eye of many a fashionista. This particular shoe combines gladiators with that retro gem, the jelly shoe. I have many fond memories of jelly shoes from my childhood, and I think that gladiator jellies are exactly what the doctor ordered for summer 2010.

Buy through Topshop for $24.00.


Friday, July 9, 2010

A Musical Gem

Although she's not my favorite musician of all time, I occasionally enjoy listening to Jewel. Her latest album, Sweet and Wild, was release last month, and from the sound of it, she has taken the opportunity to move completely into the realm of country music. Four years ago, when Goodbye Alice in Wonderland was released, the country twang was already evident in her work. To me, parts of  Alice sound like country crossover songs, along the lines of some of Sheryl Crow's recent work, or maybe late-era Dixie Chicks.

"Only One Too" is by far my favorite track on the album. It tells a story: girl falls for fascinating guy; guy turns out to be a little too cavalier; girl fights back, declaring, "You're so good, but not so good I can't see." And who among us can't relate to such a predicament? And Jewel's fun, flirty delivery makes the song eminently sing-along-able. Personally, I think it's also a good summertime tune, with its sunny guitars and rolling drums. Check it out if you like Jewel or if you just want to hear something new!

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.

Photo: Wikipedia.


PS Since it's music day, I thought I should let you know that Kylie Minogue's new album, Aphrodite, is now available! I haven't had a chance to hear the whole thing yet myself, but trust that someday I'll probably share my impressions of it with you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fired Up

Maureen and I know a really cool guy by the name of Ted Wojtasik. Ted is a writer, and I have to say, he's pretty awesome. His first book, No Strange Fire, was published in 1996, and it is a fascinating read, combining elements of a true incident (barn burnings in Amish country) with the storytelling devices of a crime novelist and a coming-of-age tale. It is also wonderfully accurate: Ted spent some time living in an Amish community to research their culture, and his effort paid off; the details are so vibrant that it doesn't take too much imagination to see the characters and places in your mind's eye.

I'm lucky enough to have an autographed copy of No Strange Fire. And hanging around Ted has been very inspiring for me throughout the years. But even for those of you who have never encountered him or his work, I still recommend this book, especially if you enjoy a good, well-constructed tale.

Picture: Powell's Books.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Black and White and Cool All Over

Last year, after my dad repainted my bedroom at home, my mom said that she was thinking about replacing the carpet, as well, and so we made a trip to one of the home improvement stores around town. Some of the carpet we saw was ugly; most of it was nice enough, though. Still, I didn't find any that really struck me. Except there was some zebra-print carpet. I was really excited about it, but Mom said no. All right, fine. I don't have any zebra carpet. But I haven't forgotten it.

Now I've found something even more spectacular: the super-plush and very pretty Fair Ivory Zebra rug. It would brighten up any space, and rugs are an easy decorating fix when you can't afford the time or money required to re-do an entire room. Personally, I would like to have the 6' square version to cheer up my living room, but of course, that may just be because I'm a sucker for zebra stripes.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swinging on a Star

I hope you've all been enjoying Maureen's covetousness while I was away! If all goes well, she will be a regular correspondent, the Stephen Colbert to my Jon Stewart (maybe it's the other way around, I'm not sure). At any rate, I'm back from my extended business trip and ready to start posting again, just in time for our three-month birthday, which is today! I definitely found a few new things to covet while I was gone, but we'll have to get to those later. For now, I'm going to rely on a trusty subject so as not to botch this birthday celebration: stars.

Nothing gets me interested in a piece of jewelry faster than seeing that it is made out of sterling silver. Stick some stars on it, and I'm hooked. So of course I'm in love with the Star Cuff from Spanish accessories studio Tous. 

The open design work is simple and clean, and the bracelet is oh-so-shiny. It's like having stardust on your arm, and that could come in handy on a special night when you need a finishing touch for an outfit. Plus, Kylie Minogue has been a Tous spokesmodel for a few years now, adding a bit of fun to anything the house produces.

Buy through Tous for $235.00.

Photo: Tous.


PS Speaking of stars, here's a little treat for those of you who enjoy retro cartoons:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Foo Foo Cuddly Poops

If you are a person, you have probably heard about a recent film. The Last Airbender is M. Night Shyamalan's adaptation of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. There are posters in movie theaters, a toy promotion at McDonald's, and a large number of unhappy people on the Internet.

Fortunately for everyone, the film has not overshadowed the cartoon. With lovely animation, an interesting and well-told story, and relatable characters, the series has become a favorite of people all over the world.

The world of Avatar (as the series is known to many fans, despite James Cameron) is based in Asian mythology and themes. Nothing appears to be a caricature or misapplied. When writing is seen, real Chinese characters are used, often to great effect for those who can read them. For the art of bending the elements, real martial arts have been used. Tai chi is the basis for waterbending, and Northern Shaolin kung fu for firebending.

One of the best things about this series is that it began successfully and ended successfully. It did not make the mistake that many series do of going on and on and on and never ending. Avatar spans a manageable three seasons of about twenty thirty-minute episodes each, though you will probably be happy to watch several at a time.

Buy the first season through Amazon for $22.99.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Have a Bag Here

I carried it to my apartment in my hands, even.

It's a brown paper bag. On the bag is a picture of a boat. Below the boat we see the words, "Manteo Booksellers."

That's right. I went to the bookstore yesterday. I bought two trashy romance novels and one fantasy sequel.

First I picked up Sabrina Jeffries's The Pirate Lord. The pirate on the cover looks like an unbearded, manlier version of Jack Sparrow. Maybe that's just how pirates dress, with the beads and stuff. I don't know. The pirates of my youth were always less Jack Sparrow and more Edward Teach. But I'm sure that Captain Gideon Horn is manly enough for Sara Willis. Whoever she is.

After fetching that from the romance section, I found Naomi Novik's Throne of Jade in the fantasy section. I had purchased and read His Majesty's Dragon the last time I was here, so I thought I'd keep reading, though I'm not sure I want to encourage this habit fantasy writers have of making lengthy series out of everything.

Then, in the bestsellers section, I found Julia Quinn's Ten Things I Love About You. How exciting! It's a sequel to What Happens in London, which my friend Sharon and I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, there's some chick on the cover. I'm not sure why. I have no interest in her cleavage or bared leg. Oh well.

I suggest you buy all of these from a small, local bookshop.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shoe Day Again

Aw, heck.

You know what I like? Pens. I think pens are great.

There are a lot of pens that I don't like, though. Ballpoint pens are bad for me. Have you ever seen Doubt? The scene where Meryl Streep criticizes a student for using a ballpoint pen? I am totally with her there. I have never liked ballpoint pens. I was thrilled when I discovered rollerball pens.

My favorite rollerball is the Pilot G2, which also uses gel ink. It writes smoothly and easily and makes my life less difficult to live.

But lately, I haven't been using my Pilot G2s. My mother bought me a Parker fountain pen--a Vector, if I'm not mistaken. It's not the most costly pen in the world, but it gets the job done, and it's good for my hand.

Then there are the pens that I can't have. I go to the Namiki or Montblanc sites and I feel intimidated just looking at the pens they're selling. And the prices aren't listed. If you have to ask, they cost too much for you. You must buy these pens from a boutique.

I am not worthy of these pens.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Banjos and Fiddles!

If there's anything I like more than talent, it's local talent. I was delighted, then, when I learned of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a band from Durham, North Carolina.

They specialize in old-time music, which I hadn't realized I enjoyed. Each member plays a number of instruments--banjo, fiddle, jug, and who knows what else. Rhiannon Giddens has a fantastic voice, but the others do their share of the singing as well.

Their latest album, Genuine Negro Jig, features a variety of music. They cover Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style," but the classic "Reynadine" appears as well. I haven't heard them all, but I am enough impressed with "Hit 'Em Up Style" and "Cornbread and Butterbeans" (which sounds delicious!) that I would buy the album if I had the funds.

I have just one problem with the Carolina Chocolate Drops: Their upcoming appearances in North Carolina are all in the mountains. What gives.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

British Child Goes to Magical, Mysterious Boarding School

Let me just get that out of the way for you. Gunnerkrigg Court otherwise shares no similarities with Harry Potter. In fact, my understanding is that there are a number of British coming-of-age stories where the main characters go to a magical boarding school. I have not read any of these, and my knowledge comes entirely from the Internet.

Gunnerkrigg Court is a webcomic. It has been published twice in book form, once through Lulu (this edition was not a very high-quality one, I'm told, and is no longer available), and once by Archaia Comics. I own this beautiful hardcover, which holds the first fourteen chapters of the comic. I'm working on getting Volume 2 for myself.

The story follows Antimony Carver as she enters a new school. I can't explain the whole plot here. Let's just say that to start, there is science and there is magic, everything is baffling, and as time goes on some questions are answered and more are asked.

The art at the beginning is heavily stylized, but as one reads on, it appears to mature. I am not an art critic, but I have heard some opine that Tom Siddell was, perhaps, holding himself back in the beginning and allowing the art to improve as the characters grew. I'll leave that up to you guys to decide.

Read for free at Gunnerkrigg Court.

Buy through Amazon for $17.79.