Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Halloween Treat - Wicked in Wicker

Remember my handbag-a-day desk calendar?  Well, this is what popped up today.  More strange than scary, he's my kind of Halloween fiend.

Happy Halloween - Confessions of a Candy Queen

The confession part is that I bought one of those tacky bagged Halloween costumes, the very anathema of creative people.  The candy part is obvious.  And hopefully somewhat vindicating. 

The bf and I had a Halloween party to go to, and he went as the Monopoly Man to my Candyland.  (He's a little camera-shy, though, so I spared him from co-starring in this post.)  Now, you'd think that a Candyland costume would involve either a giant game board-looking thing that you slip over your head or the garb of a character from the game, such as Princess Lollipop or Queen Frostine.  But that wasn't the case.  Much like a kid wearing a shapeless plastic jumpsuit emblazoned with Mighty Morphon Power Rangers instead of an actual ranger suit, I donned a dress decorated with Candyland game board graphics.  And at first glance I wasn't impressed.  Anyone out there who's ever bought a canned costume knows what I mean.  I was looking to make it more . . . well, me.  So I busted out my trusty lime green Hue tights and ginormous handmade Crazy for Kawaii bib necklace.  Having said no to the silly-ass hat that came with the costume, I added a pink tulle hair bow as well as my Kohl's rainbow stretch bracelets, my own handmade dessert eraser ring, my Betseyville wedges, and a faux clutch made from real jumbo button candy.  After a fruitless search for a giant lollipop, I stumbled upon the button candy in the holiday gift section of J. C. Penney's (even the salesgirl said, "We sell these?").  It was the bf's idea to transform it into a pretend purse.  I made that happen by gluing a candy sheet onto either side of the cardboard that came in the packaging and topping it off with a beribboned accent.  Fellow partygoers kept asking me why I wasn't eating the candy.  I replied that it was pretty untasty.  Not, of course, that that stopped me from eating a bunch at home.  

At the Movies: Footloose

Oh, Footloose.  That quintessential tale of teenage rebellion.  Who could resist its conflicts between country and city, church and state, and authority and freedom?  Apparently not me because despite not being a huge fan of the original, I found myself queuing up for the remake.

This time breakout star Kenny Wormald fills Kevin Bacon's dancing shoes (sorry, I couldn't help myself) as Ren MacCormack, the city boy who moves to the small southern town of Bomont where dancing is a crime.  Armed with an attitude, Ren goes head to head with the man, who literally happens to be Minister Moore (Dennis Quaid), a key enforcer of the anti-dancing law and the father of Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough), the good girl-gone-bad with whom he's smitten.  Exploding cars compete with even more explosive dance numbers as Ren fights to free Ariel from her race car-driving redneck boyfriend and Bomont from its funk.  The highlight is Wormald's version of Bacon's iconic warehouse dance scene.  Infused with all the righteous teenage indignation of his predecessor, Ren number two busts out gymnastics moves to the rhythm of an appropriately updated iPod.  Anger never looked so good.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the remake is a little edgier than the original.  There's definitely more sex, as well as a deeper exploration of death.  Still, the original retains a melancholy all its own, as well as its signature 1980s appeal.  This is why I think Kevin Bacon was smart to decline making a cameo.  Such a move would have been a little cheesy.  (And speaking of Kevin, did anyone happen to catch that old "Will & Grace" episode where Jack [Sean Hayes] stalks Kevin only to have the star invite him in and signal the Footloose theme song with the clap of his hands?  Hilarious.) 

Finally, I can't very well write a post about Footloose without commenting on the dancing.  It was good.  Darned impressive.  And that comes from someone whose dance skills fall somewhere in line with those of "Seinfeld's" Elaine.              

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Etsy Favorites - Eighties Edge

It's colorful.  It's over the top.  It's the age of excess (and of INXS).  It's the 1980s, my favorite fashion decade and the focus of this week's Etsy Favorites post.  I thought I'd find lots of cool stuff to feature in my Etsy search, but the pickings turned out to be slim.  Then again, maybe that's because my criteria were strict, i.e., no shoulder pads please!  So I was especially excited when these party pretties popped out of the otherwise dull handmade stratosphere.  Just looking at them makes me want to blast "Material Girl" and down some Pop Rocks.  Sound like a good time?  Then pile on the bangles and check out what else these designers have in store!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Custom Critters

Not too long ago, I received an email from a loyal customer asking if I could make her two custom fabulous felt necklaces, one featuring an iguana and the other a green quaker.  I was flattered, excited,
. . . and a little scared.  I'd never drawn an iguana let alone fashioned one out of felt, and I had no idea what a green quaker was.  But then the little voice inside me said, "What kind of defeatist attitude is that?"  So, I Googled the two critters (a green quaker, as it turns out, is an adorable little bird), printed out a couple of images, and worked up some sketches. 

I was surprised to find that the sketches were easier to draw than I'd thought.  I emailed them to my customer, and she gave me the go-ahead.  Still, the real test would be if I could translate what I'd created on paper to felt.  So I took my time.  Making something special for someone is a whole different ballgame than designing a piece by whim and tossing it out into the world with no idea how it will be received.  Yet slowly but surely, the tropical twosome took shape.

 Fabulous Felt Iguana Necklace

Fabulous Felt Green Quaker Necklace

Nevertheless, when it came time to ship the necklaces to their new home, my trepidation set in once more.  Sending your hand-crafted items away is like casting your children out into the wilderness (or so I imagine).  Despite your hard work and best intentions, you just don't know what will happen.  So I waited with the proverbial bated breath for an email or some other form of contact until this message appeared in my Etsy feedback box:

"The iguana necklace is beautiful.  Love my quaker necklace  Thanks so much."

Just reading that made all the angst worthwhile.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something New and Sparkly - Inspired by an Outfit I Already Wore

Jacket: Material Girl, Macy's
Tank: Kohl's
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Candie's, Kohl's
Bag: Chinese Laundry, J. C. Penney's
Tights: J. C. Penney's
Watch: A. C. Moore
Bangle: B Fabulous
Ring: Express
Headband: Candie's, Kohl's
Necklace: The Tote Trove

As the title states, I wore this outfit recently.  Well, all except for the shoes and the headband, a misstep that made me regretfully muse, "That would've been badass!" once I was out and about.  Then the next thing I knew, the idea for this Crazy for Kawaii Cherry Bomb Necklace was exploding in my head. 

I rarely use chain in my necklaces, but the simplicity of the delicate silver-tone links in this one let the felt circles really pop.  I was so excited that I ended up making two pieces, one for the Web and one for me.      

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something New and Sparkly - Silver Screen Style

Top: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Necessary Objects, Annie Sez
Shoes: Nina, DSW
Bag: Journeys
Watch: A. C. Moore
Bangles: B Fabulous
Ring: Making Waves, Ocean City, Asbury Avenue

The ensemble surrounding this Fabulous Felt Movie Magic Necklace is an unexpected mix of bold and demure.  For about half a minute I debated the wisdom of pairing this ethereal top and skirt with the more graphic necklace, bag, and other jewelry.  But then I decided that I liked the contrast too much.  As for the necklace, I don't know why I didn't think to tackle a movie theme sooner, what with the visual appeal of popcorn and my love of make-believe.  Some may eschew movies as mere distractions.  But I've always felt that they're much more than that.  Stories, after all, are chronicles of the human condition, slices of life that remind us of what it's all about.

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"Like jewels in a crown, the precious stones glittered in the queen's round metal hat."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

At the Movies: Real Steel

Real Steel opens with Hugh Jackman driving a beat-up old trailer through Texas farm country.  Eventually, he stops at a state fair of sorts (at this point I couldn't help but think, oh, so he's a carnie . . .) where three smart-mouthed little girls demand to see his larger-than-life fighter robot.  Yes, I said, "robot."  It's the not-so-distant future, and rural America has been set ablaze by the technological triumph of chrome sparring contenders.  Hugh turns out to be Charlie Kenton, a down-and-out ex-fighter losing hard at the robot boxing game.  Alone save for his friend and one-time lover Bailey (Evangeline Lilly), he owes money to everyone and wears a perpetual (and usually dirt-scrimmed) scowl.  Just when it seems like (sorry, but I feel a cliche coming on) "things couldn't get any worse," he finds out that his ex-girlfriend has died, leaving him with an eleven-year-old son that he's never met.  Max (Dakota Goyo) is as sullen as you'd expect such an adolescent to be.   But the boy knows his robots.  Soon he and Charlie are strategizing - and arguing - about what to do next.  They suffer a devastating loss with an expensive new robot before fate intervenes at a junkyard one rainy night and a bedraggled old robot named Atom saves Max's life.  It's soon clear that Atom isn't like other robots.  His mysterious talents and indomitable spirit (if robots have spirits - you decide) force Charlie and Max to learn about each other as he leads them on a grueling and fantastic mission.

Real Steel is unexpectedly tender in parts, an instance made all the more powerful by its contrast to unabashed grit.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  But then, everyone loves an underdog and wants to be a part of his climb.         

Something New and Sparkly - Blue Bird of Happiness

Dress: Target
Sweater: Macy's
Shoes: Dollhouse, Marshalls
Bag: XOXO, Marshalls
Scarf: A. C. Moore

Have Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder all day long with this Fabulous Felt Blue Bird Necklace!  It's hard to be anything but chipper with this super sparkler lighting up your day.  I think that's why I keep returning to bird motifs in my pieces.  Sure, they're exotic and whimsical.  But there's something comfortingly familiar about them, too.  Blame it on Disney :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Etsy Favorites - Halloween Queen

 California Girls Sweet Treats Candy Burlesque Tulle Rainbow Costume, Madame Gigi's
(This dream dress has actually already been sold.  I can't help but wonder how the lucky buyer will accessorize it!)

Although I've always loved to dress up, I've never been on board with the macabre side of Halloween.  As a kid I masqueraded as benignly girly princesses, flappers, fairies, southern belles, and one misguided year, a bird. (Sadly, no one knew what I was despite my feather-bedecked turtleneck and yellow sneakers.)  In a nostalgic celebration of such glam getups, I scoured Etsy for frocks and finishing touches and came up with these five pretty pieces.  So, whether you're costume ball bound or just taking a trip down memory lane, these stunners are sure to cast a spell.   

Saturday, October 22, 2011

At the Movies: Take Me Home Tonight

Before I start yammering on about Take Me Home Tonight, let me begin with its poster.  It's fun, right?  Colorful, wacky, and nostalgic, it promises hijinks and heart wrapped up in a tidy two hours.  And it delivers.  Of course, maybe that's because I enjoy bubblegum kitsch without expecting anything much deeper.  But that's as good a reason as any, especially on a pizza-soaked Friday night when all you want is to ease into your forty-eight hours of freedom on a cloud of brain candy. 

So, for anyone who missed Take Me Home Tonight when it was in theaters back in March (and if you blinked you did, as it was pulled pretty quickly), it's set in the late 1980s and is about MIT grad Matt Franklin (Topher Grace), a guy who's living with his parents and working at Suncoast Video as he tries to unravel the puzzle of what to do with his life.  Also, he has a buffoonish best friend (Dan Fogler) who's just been fired from a car dealership.  And a crush on high school it girl-turned investment banker Tory Frederking (Teresa Palmer).  And a hard-nosed cop of a dad who wants him to get off his ass and do something already.  And a wise-cracking writer of a twin sister (Anna Faris) who's going through her own stuff, namely the old career vs. marriage dilemma.  If it all sounds a bit familiar, then that's because it is.  It's been done to death and we've seen it before.  But that's the same reason we (okay, I) love it.  We can relate.  Who hasn't wanted to duck into a Suncoast (ahem, shrine to the ultimate form of escapism) or a department store or, heck, a cabin in the woods to lay low and figure things out for awhile?

It doesn't hurt that the kid pondering all of this is Topher Grace.  Always one with a soft spot for nerds, I'd pick him over fellow "That 70s Show" alum Ashton Kutcher any day.  It's his underdog quality, after all, that makes his pursuit of Tori more endearing than creepy.  He quasi-stalks the girl, pretending to run into her at Suncoast as a fellow customer, a move that comes back to bite him later.  But not before bonding with her over a swell of 1980s music in a sea of big-haired, neon color-clad former classmates at big-man-on-campus Kyle Masterson's (Chris Pratt) Labor Day bash.  My biggest complaint?  When Tori gushes that her favorite song is playing, hinting for Matt to ask her to dance, it's Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight," not Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight."  It's the title of the movie!  And much more fitting.  And, let's be honest, just a really great song.

As promised by its R rating, Take Me Home Tonight isn't all rainbows and unicorns.  It's riddled with F bombs and other eyebrow-raising behavior as it makes its circuitous way to its hopeful ending.  I say hopeful because there are a few shades of things left up in the air, which I liked.  These unfinished edges make the movie more realistic, bolstering its message that taking a few risks brings us closer to mastering our own destinies.  Deep stuff for something named after an Eddie Money song.          

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something New and Sparkly - Lollipop, Lollipop, Oooh La La Lollipop

Tee: Kohl's
Dress: XOXO
Shoes: Barefeet Shoes
Bag: Nahui Ollin
Belt: Kohl's
Necklace: The Tote Trove

With Halloween on the horizon, I have candy on the brain.  But then, show me a kawaii-slash-kitsch enthusiast who doesn't love those big, old-fashioned rainbow lollipops that take hours to eat and look so fetching on candy shop counters.  I happen to be on the lookout for one myself, as it'll be the perfect finishing touch for next weekend's Halloween costume.  (More on that later.  I realize I say this a lot and often never make good on it, jeopardizing my journalistic [er, diarist's] credibility.  But this time I mean it, especially because if I didn't, then model-to-be Tammy would have my head.)

A word about this dress.  It looks sort of dreadful on its own.  Really.  It's only the camouflage of the cerulean tee and the circus-bright accessories that turn on its charm.  Also, I thought it was a dressy nylon-poly knit when I ordered it, but it turned out to be a far more casual (and wrinkly) poly that resembles cotton.  I haven't worn it yet.  Truth be told, I'm a little hesitant. 

Poly knit notwithstanding, I'm really liking the color combinations going on here, especially the way the crazy colors of the necklace, shoes, and bag anchor the tee, dress, and belt. 

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

All watches are from A. C. Moore except for the following:

Fuchsia faux snakeskin, XOXO, J. C. Penney's (third from left)
Yellow jelly with rhinestones, Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk (seventh from left)
Yellow, pink, and green jelly digital; Kohl's (eighth from left)
Purple jelly with rhinestones, Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk (eleventh from left)
Black, XOXO, J. C. Penney's (thirteenth from left)
Leopard, Nine West, gifted (fourteenth from left)

I didn't always like watches.  I gave them such little thought, in fact, that when my old one stopped, I didn't even bother to replace it.  Then last Christmas I got two watches as gifts (the snake and leopard ones pictured above), and the floodgates opened.  Why, I asked myself, had I not been collecting watches all along?  There were so many styles and shapes out there, just waiting to be mingled with rainbows of bangles.  And they needn't be expensive.  There were oodles of fun and funky $10 options, which just happened to come in the most vibrant colors!  So what if they broke? (Not that any of mine have, and I wear them often.)  I could just go out and buy another.  And buy I did.  Now every time I plan an outfit, I have the pleasure of reaching into my watch box (yes, I have one) and picking out just the right timekeeper. 

It's weird to think that this little obsession bloomed almost a year ago.  But then, (insert laugh track and big cheesy grin) time flies when you're having fun.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway."

Something New and Sparkly - Grade School Gourmet

Sweater: J. C. Penney's
Jeans: Zana Di, Boscov's
Shoes: Rocket Dog, DSW
Bag: Chinese Laundry, J. C. Penney's
Necklace: The Tote Trove

I still enjoy a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich every now and then.  My version of choice is creamy Jiff and Smucker's strawberry preserves between two pieces of Wonder bread.  Laugh if you must, but when you think about it, the sugared fruit and nut spreads make for a somewhat sophisticated, downright Mediterranean combination.  Now, if only I could come up with a strong defense for my Juicy Juice juice boxes . . . 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something New and Sparkly - Three Cheers for the Orange Ocean

Dress: XOXO
Shoes: Barefeet Shoes
Bag: XOXO, Ross
Scarf: Express
Bangles: J. C. Penney's

With my custom pieces completed, my imagination was given free reign to run wild again.  And what it wanted was to chase down this fabulously graphic but somewhat conservative XOXO shift dress and punch it up with splashes of spicy orange.  So out came the orange (and red and pink and yellow and green and blue . . .) felt to be willed into a collage of haphazard shapes.  The result was this Fabulous Felt Orange Shapes Necklace.  Along with the bag and shoes, I think it warms this ice queen frock right up.  The whole thing has a 1960s vibe, or, on a less chic note, a kitschy school colors feel.  Let's hear it for blue and orange!  Yeah! 

That's enough out of you, phantom megaphone.  Now skedaddle before you start plotting to pelt your opponent with felt.