Monday, April 30, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Post Office

The other day I was checking my Etsy site stats when I noticed that I'd received a good deal of traffic from Regretsy.  For the uninitiated, Regretsy is an un-Etsy affiliated web site dedicated to unabashedly bashing the handiwork of hard-working Etsians.  Curious about which of my pieces had achieved such notoriety, I pressed on and found that it was my relatively demure Fabulous Felt Pineapple Paradise Necklace, which I had - and here's the kicker - sold earlier that week as part of a much larger order.  Guess that thing they say about there being no such thing as bad press is true :)

Book Report (And a Trip to the Library!) - Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

The Saturday before last I finally bit the bullet and visited my local library.  I'm fairly certain that I've blogged about not liking libraries before, particularly their musty smell and mystery-stained books.  But a desire to get to know my adopted town better, and yes, thriftiness (those paperback purchases add up!), finally conspired to open my mind.

Turns out I picked a good day.  No sooner had I settled into one of these groovy lime and cobalt blue couches than did I hear a chorus of dog barks and English accents filling the lobby behind me.  From what I gathered, the library was hosting a bring-your-dog party to honor Queen Elizabeth II's 86th birthday.  It seemed very quaint, the kind of thing you would - and this is just too perfect - read about in a book!  For my part, I was reading my own edition of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square but went home with a careworn copy of Bridget Jones's Diary (in honor of Britain and all).  Somehow, I'd never read it, although I'd of course seen the movie.  Checking it out was another amusing episode, as I hadn't used my county library card since I was a minor!  The librarian looked at me curiously (I was decked out in a weekend's worth of Tote Trove finery), finally asking how old I was now.  In the end she issued me a shiny new card.  All in a day's adventuring :)

So, Bridget Jones's Diary.  At first it took some getting used to, what with its somewhat choppy diarist's tone.  But before long I became so immersed in Bridget's daily indignities that they began to seem like my own, especially as a fellow thirtysomething.  Which made me think how crazy it would be if Bridget had blogged about her romantic, professional, and family traumas, not to mention her daily weight, cigarette, drink, calorie, and lottery ticket tallies, instead of tucking them away in her notebook.  Having kept a journal for years, I couldn't help but wonder if anyone does that anymore. 

Anyway, I found the plot of Bridget Jones's Diary to be more involved and a little darker than the one in the movie.  For example, there's this whole over-the-top sequence in which Bridget's mom (or rather, mum) leaves her dad for a smooth-talking swindler and a glitzy TV career, creating a compelling (not to mention hilarious) parallel between she and Bridget as independent women in different phases of their lives.  Bridget's a "career girl" (whatever that means) who kind of wants to settle down, whereas her mom, who's devoted her whole life to her family, feels like she needs to grab at life's last gasp of adventure.  I can't imagine why all of this didn't make it onto the silver screen, except that maybe it would've overshadowed the whole Daniel vs. Mark Darcy romantic tug-of-war and/or made the movie too long. 

I think it's safe to say that this library lark will hover around for awhile.  I can't wait to see what I find next time. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Make Way for Mousse, Jello's More Dignified Cousin

Top: XOXO, Macy's
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Kohl's
Barrette/Brooch: The Tote Trove

Dress: Candie's, Kohl's
Cardigan: Kohl's
Shoes: Bongo, Kohl's
Wristlet: Nine West, Boscov's
Bracelet: J. C. Penney's
Barrette/Brooch: The Tote Trove

These crafty new confections may look like jello molds, what with their distinctive whipped cream and cherry toppers and blue doily foundations.  But the drippy caramel and chocolate sauce additions announce their true identities (you wouldn't put caramel or chocolate on jello, now would you?) as more upscale mousses.  Not that I've ever seen such mousses in nature (or rather, holding court at big do dessert buffet tables), but then that's the bright side of the felt kitchen, this freedom to create things that are pretty without them having to make any sense :)           

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Etsy Favorites - Snail Mail Wins the Race

These days you're more likely to get a flirty text than a love letter.  Which is all well and good in a pinch.  But typed one-liners and emoticons just don't pack the same punch as the scrawl of handwritten sentiments heralded by one-of-a-kind images.  What's more, you can't tuck a text message into a scrapbook, or put it up on the fridge, or seal it in an envelope smiling with stickers.  I myself have a big stationery collection and love sending notecards to my customers.  So, I thoroughly enjoyed checking out Etsy's paper goods offerings and posting the prettiest, most charming, and most hilarious up on the virtual fridge that is this blog.  Like what you see?  Then stock up, break out your address book, and send a line or two to Great Aunt Maud or your old summer camp bunkmate (provided that you and said bunkmate parted on good terms; The Tote Trove does not wish to promote social awkwardness, not even in the name of kick-ass stationery :)                  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Slot Machines and Beachside Scenes

I realize that there are no slot machines in these pictures.  (Just tire tracks, those calling cards of driver-friendly Brigantine Beach.)   If you squint, then you can kind of sort of see the faint outlines of some of the casinos in the distance, but that's about it.  Like many South Jersey natives, I've always associated casinos with the ocean.  The one time I went to Las Vegas I remember thinking that it was weird to see the city emerge, Shangri-La-like, from the desert. 
A week or so ago the weather was so nice that I decided to walk down to the beach.  In the tradition of people who live in touristy spots, I don't do this nearly as much as I should or would like to.  Kind of like how I rarely visit the casinos, (if not for the gambling, then for their gaudily glitzy trappings).  So every spring I make an effort to take advantage, mindful that I may one day find myself living in some suburb with 2.5 children, regretting that I didn't make the most of the sun and sand before it became a traffic-choked car ride away. 
On this season's inaugural visit, the beach was deserted save for a few lone fishermen and a couple walking a dog.  Which sounds rather anticlimactic, especially on the heels of that suburb bit.  Maybe I should've cooked up a splashy story about a metal-detecting old man happening upon some treasure, or a more subtle yet cerebral account of myself having an epiphany after locking eyes with an all-knowing seagull.   
Oh well.  Plenty of time yet to make waves.   

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Through Thursday with Another Shoe Montage - Walking on Sunshine

From top left counterclockwise - Yellow leopard pump: AMI Clubwear; Orange openwork peep toe: Anne Michelle, Barefeet Shoes; Burnt orange peep toe: Charles Albert, Alloy; Yellow peep toe: Charles Albert, Alloy; Yellow jelly flats: Chinese Laundry, Marshalls; Black polka dot peep toes: Not Rated, Journeys

From top left counterclockwise - Orange plaid pump: Delia's; Floral pump: J. C. Penney's; Peach peep toe: Candie's, Kohl's; Orange and white polka dot ankle straps: MetroStyle; Bow platforms: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's; Orange/green sandals: Journeys

In typing this post title, I couldn't help but wonder if Katrina and the Waves' ears ring every time someone uses the name of their hit song.  Probably.  It's a really good phrase (and a really good song!), just perfect for introducing today's yellow and orange shoe outpouring. 

Photographing my shoes always makes me think about each pair's backstory.  You know.  When I wore them, where I bought them, what I was doing in my life at the time, which ones hurt and which ones didn't, and which outfits they best complemented.  Here are a few nuggets from this batch:

Favorite pair: Yellow leopard pumps.  I felt that their heel and platform brought sass to new heights.  So far I've worn them once but hope to change that soon.

Oldest pair: Orange plaid pumps. I almost always wear them with a 1980s-looking cardigan,  also from Delia's but purchased at a different time.  When they arrived in the mail I was surprised to find that the patent heels were chocolate brown instead of black.

Most painful pair: Floral pumps.  These were a display model I purchased for Easter last year.  The salesman kindly gave me 10% off.  Don't let those relatively low heels fool you; the low-cut sides are murderous.

Most nostalgic (and probably most worn) pair: Orange openwork peep toes.  I ordered these about five-and-a-half years ago along with a pair of red patent slingbacks that broke far too soon and a pair of ahead-of-their-time covered mustard platforms which, upon arrival, I proclaimed to be hideous.  (For more on these lone saffron survivors, see yesterday's Something New and Sparkly post :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Nostalgic in More Ways Than One

Top: Wet Seal
Skirt: Boscov's
Shoes: MetroStyle
Bag: 9 & Co., Kohl's
Scarf: A. C. Moore
Barrette: The Tote Trove

This retro navy and white polka dot cap sleeve top is a favorite of mine.  Partly because it has a kind of 1940s/1950s charm, partly because I was wearing it the day I met the bf.  That was nearly five years ago, on the Fourth of July (I considered cracking a joke about fireworks but thought better of it), and I had accessorized it with not red, but orange pieces.  The handbag pictured here was among them, along with a plastic necklace, a polka dot ribbon-covered bangle, and a pair of openwork heels.  The ribbon on the bangle has long since unraveled, but I still have the necklace and shoes.  The shoes are a little worse for wear, but I can't bring myself to toss them (for both sentimental and sartorial reasons :)

With all this reminiscing, I nearly forgot to mention my Fabulous Felt Banana, Avocado, and Cherries Barrette.  Or maybe I should say barrette/brooch, as I've clipped it, and every other barrette I've made so far, to my shirt in the outfit shot.  Anyway, I've always loved the combination of fruit and polka dots.  I guess that's because they have that vintagey allure I first mentioned, their sweetness ripened by the promise of picnics and ice cream and summer.  I don't know about you, but I think I feel a banana split coming on!           

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"When I was a child, there were times when we had to entertain ourselves.  And usually the best way to do that was to turn on the TV."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TV Tuesday: Why, Fiddle-dee-dee, it's GCB!

Some weeks ago "GCB," ABC's comedy about Dallas church ladies gone bad, burst into the Sunday night lineup with all the color and fervor of a blue-ribbon garden.  Of course, no rosebush worth its grits comes without thorns, and it's just such sharp edges that make this saga sizzle.  Former head cheerleader Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb, in a near-reprisal of her WB "Popular" role) is forced to crawl back to her mother Gigi (a take-no-prisoners, mentor-material Annie Potts) after her embezzling and philandering husband dies in a fiery car crash.  Although the one-time queen of mean has mellowed during her years in California, her victims have long memories and an uncontrollable urge to choke her with humble pecan pie upon her return.  Having picked up Amanda's discarded queen bee mantle, Carlene Cockburn (a hilariously over-the-top Kristin Chenoweth) leads the pack in hatching a string of stunts that  - and I just had to say this - fetches laughs as big as Texas. 

Candy-colored, upbeat, and full of fabulous fashion, "GCB" is fun because it delivers comfort food spiked with spice.  I think this is where "Pan Am," the 1960s drama "GCB" replaced, missed the mark.  Slow-moving and a little dreary, its storyline seemed to stunt the development of promising characters.  Not that I gave up on it.  I watched "Pan Am" until the bitter end, indignantly dreading its demise at the hands of some catty cowgirl show that went by an acronym.  Little did I know that "GCB's" particular brand of melodrama stems from the kind of adolescent wounds and shared history that lay the foundation for a compelling series.  Because despite their slick exteriors, these women have layers.  Although Amanda is the heroine, and therefore the rightful recipient of our loyalties, Carlene and company garner a certain amount of empathy as former pawns in Amanda's games.  There are, after all, two sides to every story.  And it's the rare woman alive who can't relate to that. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Accessories as Armor?

I happened upon an interesting blog post by Soho Accessories.  It referenced a University of Canterbury study supporting the theory that women who are insecure about their bodies are prone to collecting accessories.  Apparently, piling on the belts, jewelry, hats, handbags, and shoes (but mostly the bags and shoes) distracts others from a woman's figure while at the same time making the woman feel as if she's in the same league as a fashion model.  (It's models, after all, who wear those brand-spanking-new heels in the magazines and department store posters.)  Arguments such as this are hardly groundbreaking.  We've all heard the one surrounding makeup, i.e. that society makes women feel bad about their faces by encouraging them to obscure their features with paint and potions.  Yet despite my been-there-done-that attitude toward pop culture treatises on beauty, I remained disturbed to read about a study reducing fashion, which many consider to be a healthy form of self expression, to an ugly little defense mechanism.  If the wearing of a single bangle to accentuate a delicate wrist is acceptable, then is piling on a whole rainbow of bracelets a subconscious attempt to hide said wrist, and therefore an act to be pitied?  I was struck by the irony of my accessory-collecting-and-making self asking such questions and was even more aware that I'd first been introduced to the conundrum by another accessory retailer.  That having been said, I can see why Soho Accessories posted about the study.  It's thought-provoking (it certainly got me talking!), which is just another way of saying that there's no such thing as bad press.  In that vein, I don't think that a few (hundred) pairs of shoes ever hurt anyone.  Unless, of course, they're giving you blisters :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - American Orchard

Dress: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk
Tank: Target
Shoes: Fredericks of Hollywood
Bag: DSW
Necklaces: Kohl's

"Millions of peaches/peaches for free/millions of peaches/peaches for me."  So sang the Presidents of the United States of America some fifteen years ago.  Those loopy lyrics stuck with me, my internal soundtrack playing on cue as I crafted this super stylized Fabulous Felt Orchard Barrette.  (That red and yellow splotchy mass on the right is meant to be a nectarine, by the way, followed by the somewhat more recognizable plum and peach.)  That said, I'm not going to plumb the depths of this tune's possible deeper meanings, opting instead to take it at its face value as a celebration of produce.  As for the barrette, I'm as pleased as punch to add it to my bushel of baubles.  Stand by for more farmstand favorites.           

Book Report: The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, by Rosina Lippi, is a quirky, Southern, small-town tale full of yokels intent on ferreting out the answer to one vital question: Can a claustrophobic man and an agoraphobic woman find love?

John Dodge (Dodge to all who know him) has made a career of roaming the United States and rehabilitating failing businesses.  Truck stops, small shops, museums, and movie theaters claim his life for anywhere from six months to three years before he's off chasing the next big adventure.  Small rooms make him break out into a sweat, a condition he discusses with only his therapist sister.  But Dodge is no stranger to hashing out neuroses.  Before being bewitched by wanderlust, he too was a therapist.  It is his professional experience, in part, that makes it so easy for him to spot Julia Darrow's agoraphobic tendencies upon his arrival in sleepy Lamb's Corner.

Widowed and in her early thirties, Julia owns a fine linens shop crowned by the telling moniker Cocoon.  She wears pajamas to work and everywhere else, collects rescue dogs, suffers from insomnia, and lives in a tiny apartment tucked above her shop.  She also never leaves Lamb's Corner, save for random Sunday mystery trips to parts unknown.  Despite an umade-up, unclassically beautiful face and a body in need of "fattening up" if the town matriarchs are to be believed, Julia is the unconventional yet indisputable fancy of every man in Lamb's Corner.  But it isn't until Dodge arrives to revive a stationery store that her head is turned, forcing her to come to terms with the traumatic events that led up to her close quarters living.

Charming and character-driven, The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square has the homespun appeal of bygone TV shows like "Ed" and "Men in Trees."  Which is to say that it's unflashily sweet and rife with comfortingly familiar eccentrics.  It doesn't offer pat solutions, a rarity in a market flooded by formula fiction.  Instead it reminds us that life and relationships and even getting out of bed in the morning are sometimes darned unpleasant, but that a little (okay, a lot of) grit can help turn them around.  Indeed, a novel made for pjs and rainy days if ever there was one :) 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Etsy Favorites - Yowza, it's Yellow!

Earlier this week I dropped a blue ballpoint pen on a much-loved yellow blouse that I was wearing for only the second time.  Needless to say, the ink didn't come out (although not for lack of trying), and I was peeved.  The blouse had been the only one in my size at Kohl's when I bought it, so I went online in search of another and was dismayed to discover that it was sold out there too!  There was nothing for it but to email the good people at Kohl's in the hope that they perhaps had said garment stowed away in some musty storeroom.  The reply was negative, though, so it was back to the brick and mortar Kohl's I went.  They must have restocked, because the old familiar rack was brimming with three of my elusive quarry!  I couldn't control my smile as I snatched one up and marched to the register, all the while thinking about how dramatically yellow can transform a wardrobe.  Thus inspired, I decided to devote today's Etsy Favorites post to similarly sunny specimens.  The bright bunch pictured here represents my favorites, the hues of which fall somewhere between citrus and butter in a sizzling style scampi.  Stomach (and closet) growling?  Then put the pasta pot on boil and scour this shop smorgasbord!