Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bubblegum Ball Blowout: Part 3 and a Late Merry Christmas

Sweater: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Betsey Johnson
Belt: Wet Seal

Dress: Modcloth
Cardigan: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Rocket Dog, DSW
Bag: Wet Seal
Belt: Wet Seal
Scarf: Gifted

Top: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Wet Seal

Top: J. C. Penney's
Tank: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Macy's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Kohl's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's

At nearly zero hour, I finally embraced the holiday spirit.  I blame the Christmas episode of "The Middle," in which Frankie boycotts what she sees as a pointless holiday to gorge on fudge sans pants while watching reality TV only to spring into action at the last minute when her husband tells her that she's the reason he celebrates Christmas.  I sided with her the whole time, as I'm sure I, along with millions of other female viewers, was meant to, only to have my faith in festivities renewed by the last misty-eyed scene.  (No snickering, please; I have it on good authority that "The Middle" makes plenty of otherwise tough people sniffle.) So, I decorated my tree, wrapped my gifts, and even managed to bake some cookies.  Never mind that the husband made most of them, and that the recipe I picked out, the one for the never-before-tested-by-me orange slices, produced a big batch of awful despite my efforts with orange extract-spiked drifts of vanilla frosting made all the more disturbing (and dare I say slightly moldy) by stripes of icing in flagrant orange.  The cookies tasted like cotton-ball-and-orange-scented-car-air-freshener sandwiches, or at least what I think that would taste like, and I shuddered, fearing for the squirrels' safety as we flung them outside, the ever-irritating "Mele Kalikimaka" piping up inside my citrus-fogged head.  I don't know what it is with me and baking.  I guess I feel like it's something I should like to do and be good at, just one more seemingly errant but well-placed thread in the crazy quilt of my crafty existence.  But that's just the Martha Stewart talking.  What I should really do is back away slowly and stock up on Entenmann's.         

Anyway, this holiday hoopla and the malaise that creeps in once it all begins to unravel is the reason I'm getting around to writing my Christmas-themed post on the Johnny-come-lately date of December 28.  Not that it's all that Christmassy.  I don't know about you, but I enjoy the fetchingly retro combination of red and mint even in summer.  Maybe because it makes me think of ice cream sundaes, maraschino cherries tumbling down mountains of mint chocolate chip.  Gumballs fit in nicely with that imagery and are surely a treat (or rather, a treat teaser, unless you want to hear about gum hanging out in your colon for seven years or whatever) for all seasons. One day, I aspire to make a gumball necklace for every shade in the ice cream shop window.

 It's nice to have something to chew on.                     

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bubblegum Ball Blowout: Part 2

 Yellow Bow Necklace

Peplum tank: Gifted
Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Sash: Wet Seal

Top: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Necessary Objects, Annie Sez
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: Marshalls

Top: Marshalls
Skirt: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Etsy, Eleven Peacocks

As promised, this week the gumballs keep rolling.  There's purple, there's orange, there's yellow.  (Well, to be fair, the yellow is for bows, which aren't technically gumballs, but we like to keep things flexible here at the Trove.)  I'm holding a couple of dark green and mint necklaces in reserve to post next week with two more in pink and yellow in a kind of not-quite-red, not-quite-green Christmas countdown.  Because complain though I might, I love Christmas just as much as the next hopped-up-on-candy-canes crafter.

And in keeping with the season, I've just read a book set in winter, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple.  I settled on it in the magazine-slash-trashy-paperback aisle of the grocery store after considering and ultimately rejecting the usual bodice rippers -- all topnotch when that's what you're looking for, but this time I wasn't.  There was a lone copy, and the improbable title and cover (a scarf and dark glasses-disguised cartoon head whose mouth was a perfect "o" against a backdrop of mountains) intrigued me.  I found it all the more exotic for being in the same place as my fruit snacks and cheese wheels, and when the cashier commented that she wanted to read it, I knew I had myself a winner.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is about a wife and mother who disappears two days before a Christmas cruise to Antarctica.  Although Bernadette is a housewife, the word is kind of misleading.  In fact, she rarely leaves her house, which is a former school for wayward girls with blackberry bushes pushing up through the floorboards.  She's ostracized by the other moms, and her husband is a top executive at Microsoft and as such, part of the fabric of the perfect Seattle life that has contrived to constrict her.  Yet it isn't until the middle of the novel that we learn that Bernadette is no garden variety misfit but a former MacArthur genius grant recipient, a star whose meteoric rise and subsequent crash landed her in Seattle in the first place.  The format of the novel is as unconventional as Bernadette herself, comprised of a series of letters, texts, reports, and other assorted correspondence, its overarching voice that of Bernadette's daughter, Bee, who has claimed the role of compiling the letters.    

Although a scathing social satire of technology, the Pacific Northwest, and modern American life, Where'd You Go, Bernadette is, at its heart, about what it means to be different.  The satire part is merely a mirror held up to show us what nonconformity costs.  Some parts are as simple and easy as the movie it's clearly destined to be, others rife with enough symbols to choke a term paper.  But  Bernadette's former mentor says it best in a response to one of Bernadette's rambling, rant-ridden emails: 

"Are you done?  You can't honestly believe any of this nonsense.  People like you must create.  If you don't create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society." (Semple 147)

Highlighted by this caveat, the branches growing through the floorboards come to symbolize the wilderness of unchanneled creativity running rampant in Bernadette's brain.  Yet clipping the branches causes a mudslide and destroys a neighbor's house, illustrating the importance of nurturing creativity instead of slicing it off at its roots.  For all of her neuroses, this is something that Bernadette understands and passes on Bee early on when Bee makes the classic complaint of being bored:

"I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life.  You think it's boring now?  Well, it only gets more boring.  The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be." (Semple 46) 

Well said, Bernadette.  Even if you did give your social security number to the Russian mafia.  Because that's the thing about this heroine.  She does a lot of out-there, even dangerous stuff.  But you want her to come out okay because, underneath it all, her motives are pure.  She's a frustrated artist and a wonderful mom, her story a slice of social commentary wrapped up in an arctic adventure that's all the more satisfying for warming your heart.

And speaking of wrapping things up, I'll post the third and final installment of jaw-dropping (or perhaps I should say jaw-breaking) gumballs next week, just in time for Christmas.  And then maybe I'll wrap some presents.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bubblegum Ball Blowout: Part 1

Top: L'Amour, J. C. Penney's
Jeans: L'Amour, J.C. Penney's
Camisole: Kohl's
Shoes: Venus
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Wet Seal

Tee: J. C. Penney's
Jeans: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's

Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Kohl's

Polka dot top: Wet Seal
Blouse: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Macy's
Shoes: Betseyville, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's

You know how foodies wax poetic about the shape of a pepper or the texture of artisan bread?  Well, that's how I feel about beads.  Which is why I ordered so darn many of them, the ones I posted two weeks ago and made into the neck candy you see here, plus a bunch of other ones that are rolling around on my coffee table even as I type (so much more festive and original than Christmas balls, don't you think?).  I'm having such a good time stringing them that I half considered wrapping them around my Christmas tree.  Of course, that would involve hauling said tree down from the attic, a chore that had been earmarked for today but got lost in the shuffle of reading and laundry and On Demand sitcom catch-up.  And, of course, necklace making.  (Don't ever let it be said that I don't have my priorities in order.)  Necks are just easier (not to mention more fun!) to decorate than houses.  I'm thinking about bringing back that old tradition of putting up the tree on Christmas Eve --you know, to really build the momentum and make time for the truly important holiday activities, which is to say, wrapping presents -- and then maybe leave it up until Martin Luther King Day.  People always say that the presents are the least important part of the holiday season, but that's simply not true.  You can skip the cards and the decorations and the cookies, but if you don't hunt down gifts for your nearest and dearest and present them, nicely wrapped, on the appointed day, then your name is mud.  I know, I know, that's not what they meant.  It's the reason for the season that's key, not the tangible stuff that we bequeath and stockpile year in and year out.  But of all the tangible, secular tokens of Christmas, it's the gifts that rise to the top of everyone's list because of the things that those gifts represent.  Crass consumerism? Well, sometimes.  (Especially if you fall victim to those displays of mystery gadgets and desk accouterments that clutter every department store aisle from mid-November to Christmas Eve and who among us, at some point, hasn't?)  But no, what they represent is that you racked your brain and the very best in doorbuster deal emails to come up with some somethings to make your favorite people smile and say, "You just get me." 

 It doesn't get much more reason for the seasony than that.