Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Report: Frill Kill by Laura Childs

When I started reading Frill Kill, a scrapbooking mystery novel by Laura Childs, I wondered who this Laura Childs was and how she would feel if she knew that her book had ended up at the dollar store.  So I checked out to find out more.  It turns out that Childs is quite enterprising, as she pens two other mystery series in addition to the scrapbooking line, namely the tea shop mysteries and the Cackleberry Club mysteries.  Ever the go-getter, she formerly owned her own ad agency and now writes full-time.  Her next scrapbooking mystery is called Postcards from the Dead and will be on sale next October.  Armed with this information, I'm fairly sure that the dollar store thing wouldn't faze her.

As you've probably guessed, Frill Kill falls into the cozy mystery genre.  Heroine Carmela owns an intimate and upscale scrapbooking supply shop, the like of which I've never encountered in life or fiction, and her best friend Ava owns a voodoo shop.  The setting is darkly glamorous New Orleans, so the cozy-sweet factor is slightly undercut by a bold bayou bite.  Speaking of bites, a lethal one claims the life of young fashion model Amber in the alley behind Ava's shop.  The marks on Amber's neck coupled with the hairs found on her body send whispers of vampires and werewolves into the pre-Halloween air.  Scandal surrounds the boutique where Amber worked, spurring Carmela and Ava to add sleuthing to their already jam-packed agenda of shopkeeping, partying, modeling, and decorating for the big French Quarter Halloween carnival.  To add to the drama, Carmela is being wooed by her soon-to-be-ex-husband and the alternately surly and sexy detective in charge of the case.

A colorful yarn spiced with Southern sass, Frill Kill goes down like a mint julep.  (Or at least how I imagine a mint julep would go down.)  I especially enjoyed Childs's lush descriptions, my favorite of which is:

"Grand Folly Costume Shop glowed like a theater marquee as overhead pinpoint spotlights bounced and reflected off racks of glitzy, glamorous costumes.  Sequins, spangles, and gold lame seemed to be the watchword.  On shelves overhead, plastic, faceless heads showcased hats, wigs, tiaras, and crowns of every style and color.  Amid all this faux splendor, the smell of mothballs, cigarettes, and cleaning fluid hung redolent in the air." (91)

To me, this snippet encapsulates the sumptuousness and seediness unique to New Orleans.

The mystery itself stretched toward the predictable.  Not that I figured it out, mind you.  (I never do.)  But I wasn't awestruck either when the code was finally cracked.  Yet it's this lack of shock value that contributes to the collective blanket that is the cozy mystery.  No one ever curls up with creepiness.    

The next time I visit Amazon to stock up on books, I may just make a return journey to the French Quarter.

Etsy Favorites - Awesome Oasis


Today's Etsy Favorites collection finds us in the sunny Southwest.  I've always been intrigued by the desert.  Well, by the idea of the desert anyway.  For the colors and the mystique, of course, as opposed to the heatstroke and rattlesnakes.  So, I sussed out ten somethings that radiate just such rustic romance.   More pretty than prickly, this cactus-cool sampling of baubles and housewares delivers design that runs canyons-deep.  Hear your inner cowgirl calling?  Then giddyup and hoof it to the jazzy general store that is Etsy.               

Now, That's Novel!

From the first moment I saw this novelty "Wheel of Fortune" clock (excuse me, "Time is Money Game Show" clock) on Fred Flare, it was only a matter of time before I made it my own.  And really, how could I resist?  Anything described as "novelty" has that unmistakably magnetic pop culture pull.  You need only to spy a cartoon character-plastered ice cream truck or flip through an Oriental Trading catalog to be tempted by an onslaught of colorful novelty offerings.  The same can be said for Fred Flare itself.  I'd originally envisioned their campy clock in my kitchen, but when the bf hung it on the living room wall above the very desk at which I sit, I knew it had found its home.

Despite my infatuation with this trendy timepiece, I don't much care for "Wheel of Fortune."  I caught a bit of it the other night because it follows "Jeopardy" (of which the bf is a fan), and I couldn't help but feel that it was a lackluster chaser to "Jeopardy's" stimulating if sometimes-snarky fare.  (Which is saying something considering how much I love color and the quantity of it unleashed on the "Wheel.")  I'm referring, of course, to those quirky, sound bite-style contestant interviews and to Alex Trebek's know-it-all post-question ad libs.  Still, I don't see "Jeopardy" churning out any novelty paraphernalia.  Which means they lose the cool stuff round :)      

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Watermelon and Mustard . . .

Top: Marshalls
Skirt: Boscov's
Shoes: Alloy
Pouch: Lancome, Gifted
Belt: Wet Seal

. . . makes for an unappetizing culinary combo but brings good taste to today's outfit. The mustard in the necklace, belt, and shoes mingles with the brights of the top, skirt, pouch, and Fabulous Felt Grapes, Lime, and Watermelon Barrette to elevate the overall look from suspect snack to mustard dressing-drizzled fruit salad.  Now, that's my kind of gourmet.

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"Broken promises don't upset me.  I just think, why did they believe me?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Grape Expectations

Dress: Arizona, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, Marshalls
Bag: Nahui Ollin, Vendor sale

Thankfully, this Fabulous Felt Grapes, Lemon, and Strawberry Barrette is a smidge sweeter than that decaying wedding cake in Dickens's Great Expectations.  Even so, I like to think that its over-the-top aesthetic appeals to Miss Havisham's style if not her pastry. 

Never let it be said that I don't deliver a little culture with my cute.       

At the Movies: The Muppets

About four months after its Thanksgiving weekend debut, the bf and I finally succumbed to Muppet mania.  Like most people, I'd been looking forward to The Muppets for its color, comedy, and all-around craziness.  But I was a little disappointed, which made me feel curiously guilty (I mean, this was the Muppets!), so much so that I defensively chided myself, "Well, maybe that's because you're not five."

Speaking of being a kid, "The Muppet Show" was a little before my time, but I saw The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take ManhattanThe Muppet Christmas Carol, and of course, that hallowed mecca of Muppets, "Sesame Street."  Miss Piggy was my favorite.  Her wardrobe was so dazzling that it outshone her bad attitude.

But back to the movie at hand.  Sweethearts Gary and Mary (Jason Segal and Amy Adams) travel to LA to celebrate their anniversary with Gary's kid brother, Walter, in tow.  Walter, it should be mentioned, is not a man, but a muppet (the philosophical ramifications of which are examined to song later on).  Loveable but odd, Walter has been unknowingly driving a wedge between the two-cute-for words Gary and Mary for the better part of ten years.  Mary, like so many women before her, has had it but is too sweet to say so.  As a result, romance is tossed out the window as the trio sets off to tour the old Muppet studio only to find that it's fallen into the clutches of an oil-hungry opportunist (Chris Cooper).  Stricken, Walter leads the way in rounding up his heroes, finally persuading Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the gang to reunite to perform one last show to save their studio.

Despite a star-studded cast comprised of Kristen Schaal, Jack Black, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, and several others, the storyline falls slightly flat.  Nevertheless, highlights include Amy Adams's retro-cute outfits (her inaugural one is in Ronald McDonald-worthy red and yellow), Emily Blunt as secretary to Miss Piggy's Paris plus-size Vogue editor, a la The Devil Wears Prada (red wig and all!), and Bret McKenzie's Oscar-winning song "Man or Muppet," during the course of which "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons makes an appearance as Walter's alter ego.  As a side note, "The Big Bang Theory" in general and Jim Parsons (as Sheldon) in particular are growing on me.  But more on that later.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Pop Goes the Fruit Tart

Top: Victoria's Secret
Skirt: Target
Shoes: Frederick's of Hollywood
Barrette: The Tote Trove

This Fabulous Felt Fruit Tart Barrette tempts with all the colors of the cornucopia.  Aptly styled with a top from Victoria's Secret and sandals from Frederick's of Hollywood, its kiwi, bananas, strawberry, grapes, and orange wedge sizzle with summer.   

That's it for now.  Stand by for more sizzle.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Etsy Favorites - Calling All Shoe Divas


In an ever-changing world, one thing remains certain: women like shoes.  Whether they be heels, flats, wedges, sandals, or even sneakers, we can't seem to cram enough of them into our closets.  Today's Etsy Favorites collection elevates such shoe love to new heights, showcasing kicks for the home and body as well as the feet.  Because what could be better than relaxing against a shoe-decorated pillow, sipping from a high heel-adorned glass, and writing to a friend on a stiletto-styled notecard, all while rocking footwear-festooned jewelry and a pair of one-of-a-kind pumps?  Precious little, my friend, precious little.  So if your soul belongs to style, then clear some room in that closet and hotfoot it on over to these shoe-tastic shops.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Clip Art

Dress: Olsenboye, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: MetroStyle
Barrette/brooch: The Tote Trove

Now that the headband hoopla has ended, it's time to move on to my newest felt obsession: barrettes!  Spearheading the celebration is Wendy Wig Stand's sister, designated barrette model Willa Wig Stand.  Katy Perry's got nothing on this blue-haired bombshell :)

The Fabulous Felt Pineapple, Orange, and Cherries Barrette is the first of many treat-themed clips.   Sprinkled with sparkle, it punches up this no-nonsense navy dress (well, no-nonsense for a frock sporting ruffles) with all the panache of a poolside cocktail. 

Stay tuned for more summer snacking!        

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"I think that a hat that has a little cannon that fires and then goes back inside the hat is at least a decade away."

Something New and Sparkly - Avocados are Good for You

Top: Wet Seal
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Loop, Marshalls
Belt: Everything's $10 Tournier store

When I think of avocados, I think of California, Mexican food, and kitchens of the 1970s.  Basically, all of your colorful, uplifting stuff.  This Fabulous Felt Avocado Headband is meant to channel all such free-spiritedness.      

Book Report: Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness by Ilene Beckerman

The last gasp of the back cover featuring Carmen Miranda, Mother Teresa, and Amelia Earhart, oh my.

You can't not like a book called Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness.  It has so much promise, so much uncorked sparkle, and even better yet, lives up to it.  Still, this bite-sized book isn't all lip gloss and lattes.  There's depth here, stirring thoughts lurking beneath the layers of blush and foundation.  And it's no wonder, as it's authored by Ilene Beckerman, the same woman who brought us the equally bittersweet memoir Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

In a nutshell (or should I say compact?), the conflict of Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness centers around Ilene being invited to her 50-year elementary school class reunion and all the insecurities that arise.  If you're anything like me, then you're wondering who the heck has an elementary school class reunion, and my answer would be a New York City elementary school for kids with high IQs.  Pretty intriguing, no?  I'd read a book about just that.  But Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness isn't about the exquisite pain of being a baby genius.  It's about a different kind of challenge, namely women's cross to bear in living up to impossible standards of beauty.  Ilene vents her frustrations in charming, unsent letters to celebrities, historical figures, and her eleven-year-old granddaughter.

Three things I like about Ilene: she wears red lipstick, she laughs at herself, and she didn't start writing professionally until she was almost 60.  It's such pearls that keep me going.