Sunday, October 31, 2010

Check Out The Trove Feature on Rena Klingenberg's Jewelry Success News

If you make and sell jewelry, then there's a good chance that you know about Rena Klingenberg's Home Jewelry Success Tips newsletter. Rena does a fantastic job of keeping jewelry artists in the know about new techniques, packaging and display trends, and networking with customers. But my favorite part of her newsletter has always been the section featuring personal jewelry stories submitted by other readers. Finding out what inspires and challenges other artists and even just knowing how many of us are out there is compelling to me. So the other day I thought, why not submit my own story? I went with the one about painting the bf's duck decoy (I blogged about it just a week or so ago). You can read it (in slightly-modified-for-newsletter-reading-audience-format) in Rena's newsletter here:

http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com/from-ducks-to-dazzlers-how-a-weekend-project-inspired-my-jewelry-business.html

Happy Halloween!


The bf likes Kermit. We were at my parents' house once when my mom was cleaning out the attic, and he got the biggest kick out of this tiny stuffed Kermit I had when I was a baby. (It sits on our living room bookshelf even as I type this.) So, I bought him one of those tiny gift books all about the beloved Muppet, appropriately called It Isn't Easy Being Green. (If you squint, you can see it crammed in the bf's pocket in the picture above.) All of this explains why, at 2:00 a.m. one night last week after enduring many false leads in the wily game that is costume hunting, I picked out Kermie and Miss Piggy. They went over pretty well at the costume party we went to last night. Even if I did let it slip out that I'd eaten ham for dinner.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Fabulous Felt Fruit Trio Necklace

Fabulous Felt Fruit Trio Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

This Fabulous Felt Fruit Trio Necklace is the final piece in my fabulous felt series - for now. Truth be told, I've been steeling myself against a deluge of fabulous felt necklace design ideas all week. They just keep popping into my head, begging to be brought to life. But I'm going to put off making more felt friends for awhile because I want to get a jump on some Christmas-themed projects. Black Friday will be here before we know it. (I'm a little ashamed to have just typed that because I hate when other people say it, all important, foreboding, and smug like weather people predicting snow.) The whole prospect makes this crafter-slash-shopper just a teensy bit anxious. So, I think I'll just put it out of my mind. Back in the present, the Fabulous Felt Fruit Trio Necklace is now up for grabs in my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com. My Fabulous Felt Tulips Necklace is in Etsy's geekery showcase today, so I'm hopeful it'll bring me some lookers :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Fabulous Felt Cherries Necklace

Fabulous Felt Cherries Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com


These cheerful cherries are enough to charm the child in anyone. (Try saying that five times fast!) When I was in the throes of making the necklaces for my fabulous felt series, I knew that at least one would feature cherries. Cherries, after all, sing with the kind of light-hearted, cartoonish glamour for which The Tote Trove stands. You can find the Fabulous Felt Cherries Necklace on the menu of tasty treats in the Made to Order Necklaces section of my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Fabulous Felt Tulips Necklace

Fabulous Felt Tulips Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com


I'm back at the ranch tonight (as evidenced by this photograph) and rolling out my new felt necklace series. I'm starting with the Fabulous Felt Tulips Necklace because it's the most colorifically in-your-face of the trio, and therefore, my favorite. I've just added it to the ever-growing and delightfully eccentric Made to Order Necklaces section of my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com. Be sure to check back tomorrow when I unveil my next new chunk of neck candy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Third of My Posts Without Pictures - Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"I think a good novel would be where a bunch of men on a ship are looking for a whale. They look and look, but you know what? They never find him. And you know why they never find him? It doesn't say. The book leaves it up to you, the reader, to decide. Then, at the very end, there's a page that you can lick and it tastes like Kool-Aid."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Second of My Posts Without Pictures

Tonight I had the good fortune to be packaging orders, as I sold my Carnival Critter Necklace (go crazy corsages!), Retro TV Necklace, and Orange Arts and Crafts Necklace this week. There's nothing like being able to spend time making someone's purchase pretty. I wrapped each item (including the surprise free gifts) in rainbow-colored tissue paper I just bought, then bundled everything with tulle. But I think my favorite part is still writing the thank you cards and illustrating the package envelopes. I can't help but think how excited I am when I order something from Etsy and it arrives all done up with pretty wrappings and hand-written messages. I want to make sure that my customers feel that way too, that they smile when they see the necklace/tote/barrette they've been waiting for all decked out in their mailbox.

I also spent some time photographing myself wearing a bunch of my older necklaces. The pictures are for my Etsy shop site. (I think it's important to provide at least one photograph in which I'm wearing the item. Even though I used to scoff at such advice when I read it in other blog posts and articles.) Although I still hate taking pictures of my jewelry, I think I'm getting better at it.

I discovered a hard-to-work clasp on one necklace and repurposed it by tying red and white polka dot ribbon around each end, to be secured as a bow in the front, off-center. I sealed the knots of the ribbon with some fabric glue and will probably give it a test spin by wearing it some time next week. I hope it holds up, because the ribbon makes it look much more interesting than it did before the clasp mishap.

In other news, my mom made baked apples after she came home from her chorus rehearsal. She is a fan of dessert, which is, I suppose, why I'm a fan of dessert. She also made a healthy and tasty dinner of chicken salad sandwiches on snowflake rolls, chicken soup, and a zucchini casserole. I've always marveled at her ability to prepare food that's yummy but doesn't feel as if it's clogging your arteries. It's a talent I've yet to master myself, but I hold out hope.

The First of My Posts Without Pictures

I'm staying at my parents' house this week to keep my mom company while my dad's away on business. (Normally, I wouldn't reveal such a sensitive personal detail, but since the bf is home holding down the fort and protecting all my worldly goods, I thinks it's okay.) So, why no picture? I can't figure out how to upload photos from my camera onto my parents' computer and still be able to upload them onto my computer once I get home. (Hey, I never professed to be a techie.) It's kind of a bummer, because I just made three gorgeous new necklaces (if I do say so myself) featuring fun, colorful felt shapes. (Yes, I brought my jewelry-making paraphernalia with me. Once I get on a project kick, it's hard for me to let go until the idea in my head takes shape in paint or beads or what have you. I would've brought the Large Rainbow Bold Beauty Tote I'm working on too, but paint's too hard to transport.) I'll be sure to post pictures of the necklaces this weekend.

Jewelry making or no jewelry making, being at my parents' house is a world apart from being home. And I don't just mean because my mom cooks my dinner and packs my lunch (although that's lovely). When I'm home, I'm on Tote Trove autopilot arranging each night and weekend so that I can cram in every blog post, new project, and Etsy shop overhaul. Dishes pile up, sleep is caught at random intervals, and meals are often erratic and wanting. It's no wonder that before I left the bf told me to enjoy it and relax.

And I am. My mom and I are having the best time, watching our shows and sharing snacks and retelling old stories. Tonight I laughed so hard that juice came out of my nose. Which means, of cousre, that a good time was had by all.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New and Improved Totes Sport Fresh Coats for Fall

Large Green Goddess Tote
Last summer, when I stopped doing craft shows, I decided that I wanted to put more time into making better stuff. Better as in more interesting, more challenging, and more creative. But also as in improved quality. Not that there's anything wrong with the way I currently do things, or that anything I make is defective (just needed to get that disclaimer out there). Nevertheless, there's always room for improvement.
A few months ago I got curious about acrylic sealer. I've always heat sealed the paint on my totes by ironing the opposite side of the canvas (as directed by the labels on the paint I use). This has always been an effective method of "setting" the paint. Still, I wondered if I could be doing more. So, I bought some sealer (they keep it under lock and key at Michaels) and applied a nice coat to my personal Large Green Goddess Tote. Now, the stuff is highly toxic (not to mention smelly) when it's wet, so I had some reservations, even though I covered my face. But the finish was beautiful. Clear and matte, it lent a truly professional quality to the artwork. Even though the Large Green Goddess Tote isn't a favorite of mine in terms of design, I found myself using it often just so I could ooh and ah over its slick surface.
Even so, I didn't start adding the acrylic sealer step to my bag creating repertoire. I was daunted by the task of sealing dozens of bags at once, and not a little spooked by the toxicity factor. (To reiterate, the sealer is toxic only when I'm spraying it, not once it's dry.) So I temporarily shelved the idea, letting it marinate.
Now I've decided that the time has come to go ahead and do it already. But I plan to seal the bags only as I sell them. This way I'll be spraying only one or two bags every so often instead of a whole bunch at once. This means investing in a more heavy-duty face mask, probably from a place where they mean business, like Home Depot. Adding the sealer also means updating each and every one of my Etsy listings to inform shoppers of the totes' new and improved wonderfulness. People are always asking me about the bags' durability, so I think knowing that I use acrylic sealer in addition to heat sealing will be the answer they're looking for.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Have a Heart for Art

A couple of days ago, someone from Tallahassee, Florida, contacted me through Etsy to find out if I'd be interested in donating my Medium Checkerboard Heart Tote (which I'd just relisted) to the I Heart Art auction being held at her child's elementary school. She provided a link to the I Heart Art program, http://www.iheartartnight.com/, which raises money to keep arts programs going in public schools. Of course, I was more than happy to participate. Arts programs deserve just as much attention and funding as science and athletics programs. Art gives kids the much-needed chance to express themselves beyond the bounds of right and wrong answers and painstakingly executed plays. And that broadens their world, making them feel good about themselves. I wish this I Heart Art Program lots of success. Go, art!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Black and White and Fun All Over Necklace

Black and White and Fun All Over Necklace


Last night when I finished touching up the Large Beauty Queen Tote around 11:00, I decided it was as good a time as any to make the basic black and white necklace that I'd been thinking about for weeks. (You know, to wear with all my colorful outfits.) In the name of simplicity, I restrained myself from embellishing any felt for an accent piece (like those featured in my corsage and carnival styles), and as a result, the Black and White and Fun All Over necklace took only about an hour to make. I like that it goes with everything (I wore it today) but still has enough personality to hold its own. I just posted it in my Etsy shop under the ever-growing Made to Order Necklaces section, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/. Next I need zip over to http://www.plaid.com/ to order doubles of the two rhinestone Faux Show pendants, as I always do in case someone wants me to make her one.

Something Fun and Frivolous - Large Beauty Queen Tote

Few women can resist the allure of makeup. The unmistakable scent of a new eyeshadow palette. The familiar feel of applying a favorite lipstick. The world of possibility that unravels with the opening of a cosmetics case. As someone who used to line up and stare at her (considerable) collection of nail polish bottles, I'm no exception. Besides loving makeup itself, I've always been drawn to the graphic, colorful designs of its containers. I thought it would be fun to showcase them in a bag, and this Large Beauty Queen Tote was the result. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. So pleased that I plan to continue the beauty theme in my next project, the Large Rainbow Bold Beauty Tote. Stay tuned.

They Call Me Mellow Yellow

They don't. Call me that, that is. Still, I couldn't resist borrowing the old song lyric to describe the trio of ruffly yellow blouses hanging in my laundry room.

Although I hate doing housework, I love doing laundry. I always have, ever since I was about twelve. I think it's because sorting my clothes reminds me of creating outfits. Sometimes I'll really get into accumulating a load of just crazy prints or all warm or cool colors. (Hey, we all have our quirks.) So, that's why the yellow blouses called to me, compelling me to offer this glimpse into my laundry room.

That's all.

So, It Started With a Duck






Not too long ago, the bf asked me if I'd blogged about the duck yet. I admitted I hadn't. But I thought that it would make good post material and tucked it away in my mental file of someday plans.

So. About three years ago I was spending the weekend at the bf's when he decided to paint one of the duck decoys he'd carved in high school. (This was, by the way, the first I'd heard of his whittling prowess. As might be expected, I was amused. But also proud, as I couldn't carve anything even if my life depended on it.) He had an extra decoy and offered it to me to paint as I liked. Now, I should mention that at this point I hadn't done any artwork in years. Although I painted and drew a lot as a kid, even taking classes and winning a few contests, I stopped around the time I started high school, instead spending most of my free time writing. But when I looked at the plain wooden duck, it was as if nothing had changed. I started getting ideas, none of which had anything to do with real ducks.
As you can see from the (admittedly blurry) pictures above, I went a little nuts. The design was kind of crude (remember, I'd been out of commission), but my old creative spirit managed to
sneak through. I was so excited that I ran out to buy rhinestones to give it a real wow! factor.
Corny as it sounds, painting that duck flicked a switch in me. It made me remember how much I loved making things, causing me to wonder why I ever stopped. So, I started making jewelry, eventually moving on to painting totes. It was addictive. Even though at first I made tons of mistakes and spent a small fortune in supplies. Even when I wasn't making stuff, I was thinking about making stuff. I never ran out of ideas, just time and energy.
That's still true.
I was in Michaels one day, paying for my usual haul of baubles, when the cashier asked me if I'd ever heard of Etsy. I hadn't. She gave me the Web address; I went home, checked it out, and was immediately impressed. I couldn't believe how professional it looked, or how much cool stuff people all over the world were making. I summoned my nerve and began planning my own little shop, taking the plunge a couple of months later. That following summer I started this blog.
As I'm sure you know, I'm having a good time with all things Tote Trove. A runaway success it isn't, but it's opened my mind and forced me to keep trying even when I'd rather eat my weight in frozen pizza while watching reruns of "Saved by the Bell." I may never have pushed myself if it hadn't been for the bf and his unfinished duck decoy waiting to be rescued from a garage. So thanks, bf. For inspiring me and enduring my melodramatic rants and picking up the inevitable pieces. Although you don't read the blog (but then, you don't need to; you live it), I'll be sure to tell you all about this in the morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because, man, they're gone."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something Fierce and Fancy - Medium Custom Twinkle Toes Tote


This fun, Barbie-esque Medium Twinkle Toes Tote (say that five times fast!) is what I've been working on this past week. My mom's friend asked me to design it for her daughter to use as a dance bag, and I was only too happy to rise to the challenge! You can't be painting something pink and purple and bedecked with hearts and not be happy. I just packaged it up for the post office tomorrow, surrounded by my overflowing boxes of paper and ribbon. I've come to enjoy the wrapping almost as much as the painting.

I think they probably sort of know me at the post office by now, even though I alternate between three different locations. Sometimes they ask if I drew all the pictures on the envelope, which makes me feel flattered and silly all at once. Other times they just comment on my shoes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Rainbow Ribbons Necklace

Rainbow Ribbons Necklace, The Tote Trove, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/


Not too long ago, I noticed these rustic-looking silk cords in A. C. Moore. I think they're meant for stringing beads, but for some reason I was instantly inspired to use them as adornments for a chain necklace. Then I saw a display of quirky charms in Michaels and was a complete goner. I had to have all these fun new pieces to morph into an exciting new necklace. It was so bad that I even had an outfit picked out to wear with it! (I have a feeling that one will be a part of next week's Photo Shoot Friday.) It took me longer than usual to amass the trinkets, as I decided to make multiple trips to the craft stores to use my many coupons. But I eventually got everything I needed, and this Rainbow Ribbons Necklace was the result. So, did it turn out as I pictured it? Mostly. Although, the necklace in my mind had more widely spaced charms and ribbons going all the way around instead of concentrated in a chunky group in the center. But that's the nice thing about creating; you never know just what you'll get.

I made this necklace for me but just posted it in the Made to Order section of my Etsy shop, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/. That way, if you like it, then I'll happily make you one too :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Heart and Humor Meet in (ABC's) The Middle

Last fall, when the new sitcom "The Middle" was introduced to ABC's Wednesday night line-up, I didn't like it at all. The show centered around the Hecks, a middle-class, middle American family planted firmly and unpretentiously in Indiana. You had Mike, the straight-talking quarry manager dad ("Scrubs's" Neil Flynn); Frankie, a frazzled used car saleswoman-slash-supermom (Patricia Heaton, "Everybody Loves Raymond"); Axl, their popular football playing teenage son; Sue, their awkward preteen daughter who gets cut from every team she tries out for; and Brick, their brilliant but socially hopeless second grader. Weekly plots focused on all the icky little details of work and home life: paying bills on time, shopping for suspect meat at the discount grocery store, getting the kids to do their homework, squeezing in family dinners, shopping for anniversary present carpet remnants, trying not to be late for work, etc. To be honest, it depressed me. So I stopped watching, clicking over to the vapid but more cheerful (and now cancelled) "Gary Unmarried" on CBS until it was time for the upper middle-class glamor of "Modern Family" to dazzle me as far away from reality as was possible.

Things went on like this until mid-season last year when I decided to give "The Middle" another chance. And you know what? I started to feel ashamed of my prematurely snobby dismissal. I started to, well, like it. Because behind all the tedium, the Hecks had something that most sitcom families didn't: heart. Their struggles became more funny than bleak, probably because they rang true. I especially liked Brick, endeared by his kooky, too-cerebral-for-his-own-good differentness and the way he repeated the things he said out loud in whispers. Before long, "The Middle" had eclipsed "Modern Family" for the top spot in my Wednesday night TV-viewing affections.

I still watch and enjoy "Modern Family." But sometimes its big, perfect houses seem kind of cold compared to the Hecks' lived-in rancher with the unfinished basement and lime green living room. Similarly, "Modern Family's" three couples seem to be strained by tensions that remain unresolved even after plots are sewn up. Although Mike and Frankie Heck squabble over the usual who's-going-to-drive-the-kids-to-practice sort of issues, they never seem to resent each other as lingeringly as Phil and Claire Dunphy. Interestingly, Claire (Julie Bowen) sometimes reminds me of the high-strung stay-at-home mom that Heaton used to play on "Raymond." Although considerably poorer and more heavily burdened, Heaton's character on "The Middle" appears happier and more grounded. Of course, that could just be because her mother-in-law isn't lurking across the street . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Report: Deadly Housewives

As it turned out, I wasn't far from blogland after all.

Now, about this paperback cover. The white picket fence. The four women. And that title: Deadly Housewives. All a little familiar, isn't it?

I picked up this bargain book at Borders the same day I purchased Julie & Julia and Second Shift. Funny how that feminist theme snuck its way into all of my picks. But on to the review.

Blatantly cashing in on the popularity of the TV show "Desperate Housewives," the Deadly Housewives short story collection features women who have moved beyond desperate into the more disturbing realm of, well, deadly. I think just about every story centers around a housewife murdering someone. Some of the stories are funny, others are just downright dark. Similarly, some were cheesy while others boasted more layers. All in all, it was the kind of book I was embarrassed to be reading. (Which might make you wonder why I'm broadcasting it to the world here. But as I often say, this blog is dedicated to reporting an accurate cross section of all my intellectual and artistic experiences, however good or bad).

That's not to say that I wasn't entertained by this murderous missive.

The story that intrigued me the most was "Next-Door Collector" by Elizabeth Massie. Its heroine is Anthea, a stay-at-home mom and artist who likes to be alone. The drama begins when a new neighbor, Lisa, moves into the house next store with her forty or so dogs and cats. As messy as Anthea is pristine and as sociable as Anthea is aloof, Lisa takes every opportunity to invite Anthea into her unkempt and fur ball-ridden home, cheerfully explaining that her pets are like the children she could never have. But Anthea, put off by Lisa's slovenliness and forward nature, politely declines, insisting that she needs time to work on her paintings. Meanwhile, Anthea notices that Lisa often ventures out to her yard in her bathrobe past midnight to haul a veritable forest of plastic storage bins into her basement. Although troubled, Anthea seems content to satiate her curiosity by spying. The story most likely would have ended here had Anthea's only son not taken a shine to Lisa and her menagerie. He sneaks over along with the other neighborhood children to play with Lisa's pets, much to Anthea's horror. She forbids him to return, her anxiety ignited when she hears that her son's two best friends - twin brothers - are missing. Convinced that Lisa and her ominous boxes are somehow to blame, Anthea creeps into Lisa's basement one night. As predicted, Lisa is there in her bathrobe, handling the boxes. Her movements are punctuated by crying that seems to be coming from beneath the floor. Sure that's she's hearing the pleas of the twins and countless other kidnapped children, Anthea bludgeons Lisa, killing her. The deed done, Anthea peers into one of the boxes and finds - dogs. Piles and piles of dead dogs awaiting burial. Then Anthea returns home and begins painting a picture, entirely in black, in a frenzy. In the morning her husband sees her and says, "You've killed another neighbor, haven't you?" And that's when we realize that the "next-door collector" isn't Lisa, a mere lonely woman with too many pets, but Anthea, a paranoid serial killer who's murdered neighbors in various cities, forcing her family to move time and time again. (The twins, by the way, resurface quickly, having run away.)

Creepy, huh?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

I may be far from blogland tomorrow, so I decided to deliver this week's Jack Handey quote a day early:

"Children need encouragement. So if a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way, he develops a good, lucky feeling."

Monday, October 11, 2010

At the Movies: (Froth and Fun Abound) in You Again

Today my mom and I celebrated Columbus Day by shopping (I finally bought my "serviceable" J. C. Penney's flats - just $13!) and going to the movies to see You Again. Mom and I share a guilty pleasure for chick flicks of all kinds, which is nice because no one else I know really likes them. Sure, You Again was silly and predictable. (For those of you not in the know, it's about a successful twentysomething PR exec [played by Kristen Bell] who finds out her brother is marrying the "popular" girl who tortured her in high school.) But we knew that going in. We came for the slapstick, the drama, and the outfits. (But then, it's almost always about the outfits.) Oh, and for the Betty White. (She plays Bell's character's grandmother and is as charmingly spunky as ever.)

The popular girl vs. the nerdy girl storyline is always interesting, regardless of how cliched it is. But then, like all cliches it got that way because it's true. That's why people keep making movies about it. Whatever their high school experience, people can relate. Because underneath all the labels, gosh darn it, we're all the same.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So, I Fell in Love With a Man Named Stephen Burrows

I was browsing the Target online clearance section looking for clothes with personality (plain white tees need not apply) and was striking out until a crop of candy-colored garments the likes of which I'd never seen exploded onto the screen. Turns out they were part of one of those special by-designers-just-for-Target lines, and the designer guest star was Stephen Burrows. Having never heard of him, I hopped onto Google to see what he was all about. A visit to http://www.stephenburrows.com/ told me all I needed to know:

"Stephen Burrows is the first African American fashion designer to achieve international acclaim. After graduating from the Fashion Institution of Technology in 1966, Burrows began making clothing for the O Boutique, opposite Max's Kansas City in New York. Stephen's window displays literally stopped traffic, and the young designer was soon besieged with orders. With friend Roz Rubenstein, he launched a ready-to-wear collection for Bonwit Teller in 1969. Later that year Joel Schumacher, Henri Bendel's visual director (now film director), introduced Burrows to Bendel's legendary fashion director Geraldine Stutz, and he was hired on the spot.

Burrows, influenced by music, dance, and the body, produced revolutionary clothing that was soft, comfortable, and chic. His innovative designs, which made use of color and technique, were revolutionary during a time when American fashion was strongly influenced by the European design houses: very structured, heavy, and lined. With the advent of stretch fabrics such as wool and rayon jersey, Burrows crafted a close fit and slim silhouette. He originated a finishing touch - the "lettuce edge" - that became a signature and remains in the collection today. His designs became a foundation for signature American style.

Stephen Burrows' World opened at Henri Bendel in 1970 and thrust Burrows into the limelight. It was an immediate success. His client roster included Cher, Diana Ross, Lauren Bacall, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Hall, Lauren Hutton, and Barbara Streisand. The industry took notice, and Burrows was nominated for a Coty Award, fashion's highest honor, in both 1971 and 1972.

In 1973, renowned fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert organized a benefit fashion show at Versailles, France. The show was a collaboration between the United States and France. Participants included the most influential designers of the day -- Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Emanuel Ungaro representing France; Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows representing the US. An international sensation, the event brought acclaim to American fashion for the first time. Noted for his extraordinary segment, which introduced color in ways never before seen on the runway, Burrows received rave reviews.

Following this success, Burrows was recognized with Coty Awards in 1973, 1974, and again in 1977. Urged by Halston to set up shop on Seventh Avenue, Stephen soon left Henri Bendel and opened his namesake business, quickly licensing products such as fragrances, sunglasses, and furs.

On February 13, 2002, "Stephen Burrows World" reopened in Henri Bendel with an event dubbed "the party of the season" by Vogue. The collection has been applauded by the New York Times, the American, French and Japanese editions of Vogue, Essence, and New York Magazine, among others. Stephen has been welcomed back to fashion with a star on the CFDA's Fashions Walk of Fame on Seventh Avenue.

2006 marks Stephen Burrow's 40th year as a designer. In June of this year, he was honored with the CFDA's Board of Directors Special Tribute Award. Currently, Stephen Burrows is available at fine stores in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

"BURROWS IN PARIS " Stephen Burrows presented his Spring Summer 2007 collection in October of this year as part of the French Fashion Week. Suzy Menkes of The International Herald remarked "He is the Master of matte jersey and colour combinations!"

Pretty fabulous, huh? After reading up, I scrambled back to http://www.target.com/ to order not one but four of the Burrows pieces, including the middle dress in the picture at the top of this post (at 50% off I couldn't help myself). Sure, they were meant to be worn in the summer, but as a self-professed layering queen, I know no such seasonal bounds. In fact, if I like how everything fits, then I plan on revisiting http://www.target.com/ to snap up the rest of my favorites.

One of the fun things about shopping on http://www.target.com/ is reading the shopper reviews. The response for the Burrows collection was split, with half the shoppers loving the fun, vibrant colors and the other half dismissing the designs as something dreamed up by kindergartners. I sort of dress like a five-year-old, so once I read that I knew I was onto something good.

I'll let you know how it all works out. Not that you won't be seeing them in some future edition of Photo Shoot Friday :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Something (Almost) New and Sparkly

Julie Gem Necklace, The Tote Trove, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com


I strung together this fun, bohemian little Julie Gem Necklace a while back but never got around to posting it on Etsy. I came upon it today when I was photographing myself in some of my necklaces. (All the crafting advice articles I read suggest including pictures of yourself wearing your jewelry on the site where you sell it. I always thought this was hogwash (ie, I was too lazy to put forth the effort) but have recently been trying to jazz up my site and decided to suck it up and begin the rephotographing process.) Anyhow, the Julie Gem Necklace is now snugly installed with the other ready to ship necklace selections at www.thetotetrove.etsy.com. Happy viewing!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Something Fun and Frivolous - Large Terrific Turtle Tote

The Large Terrific Turtle Tote is finally completed! Is it me, or are these getting more detailed? It seemed like I was outlining forever! Nevertheless, I'm really happy with how it turned out. I just listed it in my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com, under Overnight/Beach Totes.

Tonight I sketched the Large Beauty Queen Tote I mentioned in yesterday's post. After popping into Michael's for some lime green fabric paint tomorrow, I'll be ready to begin painting it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Plunging into Hot Tub Time Machine

For some reason, I'd been wanting to rent Hot Tub Time Machine. (But then, you probably already knew that if you've been reading.) I choose to blame my impulse on my love of 1980s music (Poison, ironically, excepted despite their portrayal in this movie), 1980s fashion, and stupid comedies of all decades. So, a few nights ago I got it On Demand, my decision half-heartedly sanctioned by the bf, who didn't want to see it but didn't feel compelled to see anything else either. True to form, Hot Tub Time Machine offered up a parade of neon ski wear, legwarmers, and lurid animal prints set to music by INXS, David Bowie, New Order, The Talking Heads, and others, all of which I enjoyed. Even so, I was slightly disappointed by this tale of three middle-aged guys (and one twentysomething kid) who revisit the 1980s via a portal channeled by a - yes - hot tub. To be honest, I think I was hooked more by the whole wacky hot tub concept than by the big hair and Men Without Hats. There's just something about four drunk guys in a Jacuzzi playing a vital role in the space-time continuum theory . . .

Don't get me wrong. It was funny. Just not as funny as I'd hoped. (I don't blame the movie for this, as the fault lies with my own destructively high expectations.) To me, all the high points featured Nick (The Office's Craig Robinson), a rock star-turned dog groomer who gets pushed around by his wife. I don't think I'm alone in saying that he claims the movie's most memorable line when he utters, in a deeply serious and somewhat befuddled voice just after the time travel kicks in, "It must've been some kind of . . . hot tub time machine," then looks straight at the camera, deadpan. Nick also brings the added bonus of his black tee screen printed with neon pink, yellow, and green combs and - wait for it - that staple of all 1980s stylists, hair picks.

I think that about sums up my thoughts.

In other news, I put the finishing touches on my Large Terrific Turtle Tote tonight. I'm doing this new thing where I haul my painting board (built by none other than the bf, designed for an optimum creative and ergonomic working experience) out into the hallway where we have the best light so I can expose and then touch up all the imperfections. Because there are always imperfections, even after the second coat and the outlining have been completed. I hope to have the tote ironed, posted on Etsy, and blogged about here by tomorrow night. Then it will be on to my next project, the Large Beauty Queen Tote, in which lipsticks and hair dryers will do battle with combs and compacts. I'm particularly looking forward to that one.

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

Last Wednesday I posted the final quote from Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts. And I didn't even tell you. But only because I knew I had more Jack stashed somewhere. As luck would have it, last Friday I unearthed Deeper Thoughts from the debris on my nightstand (you know, the one suffocated by old mail and dust that I wrote about clearing a few posts ago).

So, without further ado, here's your weekly dose of wisdom:

"Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself. Mankind. Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who Says You Can't Eat Potato Chips for Dinner?

Certainly not me. In need of comfort food after all of this rain as well as a recipe that wouldn't take too much time (because I had to go grocery shopping after work - yuck), I pulled out an old favorite from my mom's recipe box: chicken and almonds. The name makes it sound almost wholesome. But if you know me, then you know better. Check out the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups boiled chicken
1/2 cup almonds
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated American cheese (I had to go low rent with the processed version, as it was all I had, having forgotten to buy the real stuff on my Acme run.)
1 bag potato chips, crushed (The recipe never specified just what size this bag should be. I used about 1/3 of an 11 oz-er.)

Directions:

Combine ingredients in an 11" x 9" casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It doesn't get any easier than that. Unless, of course, you're resuscitating one of those awful boxed casserole things. To be fair, I did mess this dish up once, back when I was still living with my parents. The original recipe called for salt as well as potato chips, and in true lemming fashion I went ahead and added both without considering the horrifically salty consequences. At the time my mom and I attempted to eat it. But that wasn't happening, not even after we tried to dilute it with some Romaine. My mom asked what had happened, and I said, "I just followed your recipe!" She seemed to think this was funny, saying something like, "Oh, no one actually adds the salt." Needless to say, when I copied the recipe down for my own, I left that part out.

Chicken with Almonds in its unadulterated full casserole form.

And here nicely plated with a crisp salad and some creamy avocado chunks. The bf doesn't like avocados, which meant more for me :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

At the Movies: (Surfing) The Social Network

When I first heard about the movie The Social Network, I was interested. I hadn't known that a Harvard undergrad was the mastermind behind Facebook, or that he hatched the whole thing while I myself was in college. I wanted to know what kind of person this guy was, and why he was motivated to create such a Web site. Which is a little curious in and of itself seeing as I'm not the biggest Facebook fan (despite the fact that I'm on it). So, this afternoon, my mother, sister, and I went to see The Social Network. The theater was packed with people of all ages, which surprised me (somehow I expected to see mainly twentysomethings).

I should begin by saying that the entire story is told as a fragmented flashback. That is, in the beginning we find out that Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is being sued by his best friend and a couple of big man on campus types for creating Facebook. The back story begins with Mark and his girlfriend hanging out in a classically dark and depressing looking college town bar. Mark is telling his girlfriend how badly he wants to be accepted into the Phoenix or the Porcellian, two exclusive intellectual Harvard social clubs. He drones on incessantly in a voice not unlike a robot's, ignoring his girlfriend's attempts to guide his monologue into a conversation. The scene clearly establishes Mark as an intellectually superior but socially inept computer nerd who seems to have no feelings (as opposed to the more common stock character of the sensitive, lovable nerd). Predictably, his girlfriend dumps him, and he retreats to his room to get drunk and spill his post-breakup vitriol into his blog. Spurred further by alcohol and bitterness, he goes on to hack into Harvard's server data to create an online game in which guys can rate girls' hotness factors (a pursuit slightly less demeaning than comparing girls to farm animals, which was the game he initially devised). The Web site is a huge success, gaining unheard of hits overnight. The next day Mark is approached by a pair of trust fund case twins (the aforesaid big men on campus) who want him to develop their pet project, an unsophisticated social networking Web site called Harvard Connect. Mark agrees, then avoids them for the next month or so to develop his own Web site: The Facebook (an endeavor which does not involve using Harvard Connect code). The brainchild is Mark's, but the start-up money and financial savvy belong to his best (and only) friend, Eduardo. The way Mark sees it, people are even more interested in finding out stuff about people they know than they are in finding out stuff about celebrities. More particularly, guys want to know if certain girls have boyfriends without having to make fools of themselves, and The Facebook facilitates garnering such information. Apparently, Mark's one of those geniuses who knows how to capitalize on what people want despite being the world's worst people person. Meanwhile, Eduardo has been invited to pledge the hallowed Phoenix club, a fact that exacerbates Mark's sour grapes, causing him to quip, "You'll never get in." (In this, Mark turns out to be wrong.)

What happens next is kind of anticlimactic. As The Facebook (the "the" isn't dropped until later) gains popularity, Mark and Eduardo begin to argue about the direction of the project. Eduardo wants to host ads to generate revenue, but Mark doesn't, reasoning that doing so too soon would compromise the integrity of the site. Then Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake - who else?) gets involved, and things begin to escalate before the inevitable plummet. Interestingly, Mark isn't in Facebook to make money. He's more invested in hosting a party that everyone wants to go to, with certain hopefuls being "shut out" via rejected friend requests (similar to the way in which he was shut out from those exclusive clubs, although he never puts this into words). To be sure, Sean agrees that launching ads before it's time is like throwing the coolest party of the year and then sending everyone home at 11:00. In one of the movie's most compelling lines, Mark says to Eduardo, "You want to shut the party down!" (Just for the record, I think the most compelling line is uttered by Eduardo as he heads out to the Facebook offices by Mark's invitation. It went something like this: "I didn't know if I'd been invited to the meeting or the party, so I dressed for both." Random, I know, but it seemed markedly funny to me in a deadpan way set against the movie's otherwise humorless backdrop.)

As a thinker and fellow creative type, I respected Mark's vision and his commitment to his project. He'd dreamed up something big, and in his own weird way, he was true to it. But he wasn't a very nice guy, and on more human grounds I didn't like him at all. Not the way he trashed his ex-girlfriend online or the way he took $19K of his best friend's money for start-up fees and then cheated him out of his shares (on the very night when poor hapless Eduardo was wondering if he'd been invited to California to crunch numbers or party down). Movies in which you can't root for the main character are always difficult to enjoy, and The Social Network was no exception. It was informative and engaging in an academic sort of way. But it was in no way the kind of stirring human drama I'd anticipated. I'd been ready for Internet-bred social upheaval (in "You wrote what about me on Facebook?!" fashion) and a classic little guy against big, bad corporate (or in this case, academic) America tale. What I got was a dry documentary headlined by a misanthrope in a hoodie.