Monday, August 25, 2014

Charmed, in Store, and a Shutterbug Showdown

Tank: Boscov's
Cardigan: Delia's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

Top: Express, Marshalls
Jeans: l.e.i., J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Target
Scarf: A. C. Moore
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Kohl's

Dress: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Fredericks of Hollywood
Bag: DSW (embellished by The Tote Trove)
Belt: Tournier  Everything Under $10
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

First, a word about last week's post.  Apparently, I was premature in waxing philosophical about that studio taking liberties with Bridget Jones's screenplay in Mad About the Boy.  The whole thing ended up being a disaster, making me ashamed of having abandoned my original damn the man position.  (Sorry to let that spoiler slip out.  Although I did manage to keep a lid on the story's main secret, so that's something.)

Now that that's out of the way, I can get on with this week's post.  As promised, I'm featuring the rest of the kawaii charm necklaces I made from my Bohemian Findings supplies (a name, by the way, that I love, mostly for its implied imagery of a classy flea market.)  The pieces were equally, ahem, charming when confined to their prepackaged sets (hello, pumps!), paired in quirky, unexpected combos (teapots and bunnies unite!), or mixed up every which way (combs and guitars and stars, oh my!), and I found them a most versatile and entertaining medium.

That said, jewelry making isn't all fun and games.  For awhile now I've been wanting to take better pictures.  Although I've improved since starting nearly six years ago, it's always bothered me that my photos lack the crisp, detailed, feel-like-you-can-reach-out-and-touch-it kind of clarity that separates the diamonds from the rhinestones.  So I finally decided to capitalize on the trick that photographers have relied upon since the beginning of time (or at least since the beginning of cameras) and take it outside already.  That's right.  I'm talking about natural light.  (Although I'm not sure that it qualifies as a trick because the words "Try to use natural light and include a great close up" run right under the blank picture blocks on the Etsy listing page.)  I set up my trusty old (and somewhat battered, thanks to my craft show days) card table in the backyard, plunked down my first piece, and started clicking.  Without the flash. It felt weird, kind of like leaving home without my watch or my phone or my (Babybel) cheese wheel.  Also, it was hot and windy, the less-than-gentle Brigantine breeze wreaking havoc with my display more than once, and my sun-scorched shoulders making me want to run for cover.  But I stayed strong, committed to my art with all the zeal of a National Geographic photographer, secure in the knowledge that it would all be worth it once I was cozily installed behind my computer.

I ended up packing it in after just two necklaces.  (I didn't want to go crazy in case it turned out that I was using the wrong angle or something.  Also, as smitten as I am with my creations, there's no way they stack up to hyenas.)  Still, I was excited as I loaded the pictures, sure that the "quality" takes would stand out in sophisticated, sun-lit prominence against the amateur hour pics I'd snapped in my cave of a hallway.  So when I couldn't immediately tell the two sets apart, I felt a little deflated.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that there was indeed a slightly inferior set, and that, lo and behold, it was the one taken in the great outdoors!  Could it be that I was still doing something wrong, maybe catching the wrong light source or being out at the wrong time of day?  Or maybe it wasn't a light thing at all; maybe I just needed a better camera.  Yet, as disappointing as all of this was, it also came as something of a relief.  Maybe, just maybe, the original pictures weren't so bad after all.  I like to think that if I had more free time, then I'd take a photography class somewhere, maybe at the local community college (as opposed to in some weirdee's basement), but the truth is, I probably wouldn't.  Because I hate taking classes or even reading how-to books.  So for now I'm going to make peace with my imperfect pictures, instead spending the bulk of my time with my beads.  And my cheese wheel.     

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Rainbow Collection . . .

Top: Alloy
Skirt: Target
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Loop, Marshalls
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

Top: J. C. Penney's
Camisole: Kohl's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Nine West, DSW
Bag: Marshalls
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: Kohl's
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Betseyville, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Wet Seal
Scarf: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

. . . is a title that I could assign to many a post, not to mention one that would do Kermie proud.  But it seems especially fitting for this week's ROYGBIV-banded trio.  Each necklace features charms purchased from Etsy seller Bohemian Findings, a shop as full of fun as its pun of a name promises.  And there's more where that came from!  As ever, I got a little carried away with supplies and have three more kawaii-tastic creations to unveil next week.

Getting back to the post name, I almost didn't use it for fear that I had, horror of horrors, used it before, rainbows and pop culture puns being spokes in my whimsical wheelhouse. Now that I've been blogging for years, I constantly fret about that sort of thing, having not once but twice likened myself to one of those dreaded repetitive relatives who corner you at birthday parties with rehashed stories of departed pets, conspiracy theories, and other relatives who've stolen their antique gold watches, seats on town council, and/or husbands.  Although I seem to be getting better at this whole Internet thing, that is, social networking and having the tech skills to maintain said networks, it sometimes still baffles me.  Which is just one of the reasons (watch out for the sneaky segue) that I can relate to Bridget Jones in Helen Fielding's latest installment, Mad About the Boy.

Set fourteen years after Bridget and Mark Darcy get together, the novel pits Bridget against all sorts of new sticky situations, one of which is navigating Twitter.  She struggles to upload pictures, gets blindsided by spambots, and obsesses over her followers only to amass a respectable number and then lose most of them by insulting, of all things, a bird, Twitter's beloved mascot.  (Being Bridget, she ends up garnering even more followers, many of whom log on just to read of her latest mishaps.)  It's very funny, and I'm enjoying it hugely, in no small part because it makes me feel like it's okay to be more lax about life.  And also to eat more cookies (case in point, I had four today).  That having been said, the head shot of Fielding on the back cover is sophisticated and glamorous, not at all the sort of woman who would seem to be at home writing about the joys of delousing one's children or eating grated cheese straight from the bag.  The lice bit really threw me for a loop.  I thought, if Bridget can find the fun in that scenario, then I can stop worrying that every backyard BBQ is going to end with a deadly mosquito bite.  (I could've inserted a lot of neuroses there but felt that it was important to stay consistent with insects.)  In this sense, the whole book is a non-preachy illustration of that saying, "life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain."  I usually hate that one, especially when scrawled on some shabby chic plaque or embroidered on a don't-drool-on-me pillow.  But part of the reason I hate it is because I know it's true, just like I know Brussels sprouts are good for me even though I don't eat them.  Fielding makes the whole thing more palatable, serving it up with the proverbial spoonful of sugar, even at the darkest hour, say when Bridget enrolls in an obesity clinic or is forced by studio execs to turn her screenplay, which is a rewriting of Ibsen's feminist tragedy Hedda Gabler, into a comedy that takes place on a yacht.  (There's even worse stuff going on, but as a recovering spoiler, I'll refrain from going there.)  At first that part made me mad, as I didn't want "the Man" messing with Bridget's masterpiece.  But then I realized that the whole incident was a metaphor for Bridget herself and the way she turns even the bleakest of circumstances into something that is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, emerging even stronger than she was before.  Studio exec-manipulated or not, that's more moving then some one-dimensional tearjerker, proving that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Maybe I should embroider that on a pillow, or better yet, glue it on a necklace (a really big necklace).       

Monday, August 11, 2014

Going Green

Tunic: She Said, J. C. Penney's
Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: Boscov's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: J. C. Penney's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Target

Dress: XOXO
Cardigan: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: J. C. Penney's
Cyan scarf: Gifted
Teal scarf: Express
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Contrary to its title, this isn't going to be a post about eco-friendly living.  Indeed, if the husband is a friend of the universe, then I am its enemy.  Oh, I recycle all the normal stuff like juice bottles and pickle jars and old magazines.  But cereal boxes?  Toilet paper rolls?  Empty face wash tubes?  It's in the sludge of such murky territory that I draw the line.  It's not that I don't think recycling is important.  It's just so time-consuming when carried out with a full social conscience.  Also, I have an interest in preventing the growth of the refuse mountain that holds court in my kitchen, the summit of which sometimes looks like a crown if the Cool Whip containers and jewel-toned plastic wrap lean together just right.  

So, if this isn't going to be an ode to the environment, then what is it?  A tribute to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that's what!  I saw the movie reboot this weekend (sorry, Begin Again), so I have the brothers on the brain.  Although they're no Jem or My Little Ponies, the nunchuck-wielding New Yorkers have always held a special place in my heart.  Choosing to think of them as more cute than cutthroat, I often forget that they're not only turtles, but ninjas, a fact handily hammered home by Vanilla Ice in that Kraft macaroni and cheese commercial.

I grew up on the cartoon incarnation, and Leonardo was always my favorite.  I preferred his steadfast, serious ways to Michelangelo's carefree, what's-up? tude.  Sure, Michelangelo would be more fun at parties (and as such claimed the movie's best one-liners despite cameraman Will Arnett putting up a passable fight), but Leonardo was the kind of true-blue terrapin that you wanted with you for the long haul.  The other character that made an impression on me was that villainous brain Krang, probably because he was just so disgusting.  I still think of him every time I eat strawberry yogurt and some of it dribbles off of my spoon.  Until recently, I thought Krang's name was Craig.  The discovery was kind of a letdown.  Craig was much funnier; he sounded like the kind of kid who would steal your pudding and then sit in it.  Krang didn't make an appearance in the reboot, but I'm sure Nickelodeon and Michael Bay will wheel him out of the Technodrome for the inevitable sequel.

All in all, the movie was a good time.  Even moments of lukewarm levity were heightened by the squeals of laughter from the mostly ten-and-under crowd filling the theater.  The husband and I were a little surprised by the lack of fellow nostalgic thirty-somethings in attendance.  Where else could you relive the magic of pizza; larger-than-life, sewer-dwelling reptiles; and Renaissance painters all in one tidy package, except for maybe in an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant with a Godzilla-takes-Venice theme?  My only complaint is (of course) fashion-related.  I was disappointed that Megan Fox's April O'Neill had swapped her iconic yellow jumpsuit for a rather pedestrian tan leather jacket.  Although I understand that a jumpsuit is, well, laughable, I can't help but feel that a bright yellow leather jacket would have been a nice modern twist, not to mention a fitting homage.  Still, she did rock green nail polish.

Now I've said everything that I have to say about our heroes in a half shell (you had to know that one was coming) except for the most obvious, which is the perhaps even more groan-inducing but nonetheless necessary (say it with me) Cowabunga, dude! 

You're still number one, Leonardo, but dreamboat or not, you can't beat a good catchphrase.