Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rated G for Graphic . . .





Blouse: J. C. Penney's
Tank: Mossimo, Target
Skirt: Boscov's
Shoes: Journeys
Bag: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City Boardwalk






Blouse: So, Kohl's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nine West, Ross
Bag charm: Walmart
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Blouse: Merona, Target
Cardigan: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Boscov's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Blouse: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: Qupid, Alloy
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's






Tank: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Cardigan: Gifted
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Journeys
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Target
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Kohl's






Top: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nine West, Ross
Bag charm: Walmart
Scarf: Mossimo, Target
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

. . . is not something the Motion Picture Association usually says about animated features.  But I can't think of a more appropriate descriptor for this week's cartoonish, candy-bright (making good on last week's promise to deliver a dessert buffet), color-blocked clothes.  They're just the right backdrop for the real stars-slash-souffles (might as well mix my metaphors along with my separates), which are, of course, the accessories.

This time around I went on an upcycling adventure (far more fun and dare I say safer than the kind involving a bicycle).  I took nine beloved but boring store-bought pendants and gave them a makeover!  I keep a whole boxful of sad old jewelry for just such a purpose.  It's pretty Murky Dismal, just like Rainbow Brite's nemesis.  But it's also the source of much inspiration.  Crafting is, after all, little more than a cobbling together of disparate elements to create a cohesive (if kooky) whole.  I suspect I say this sort of thing a lot, but that's okay because it bears repeating.  Also, "cobbling" sounds a lot like cobbler, which is one of the homiest and most satisfying -- albeit not the most glamorous -- offerings of the buffet table crowd.  Anyway, a little glue and a lot of beads transformed these otherwise ordinary pieces into statements (even if it's unclear, as of yet, what they're saying.)  




I have to admit that it's a little strange seeing all these necklaces I wore long before I started crafting, all tarted up and out on the Interwebs.  It made me think of this article I read in the February Marie Claire about Sofia Boutella, an up-and-comer in the currently playing (and far from G-rated) Kingsmen: The Secret Service.  Being in the @Play column, it was all about her passion for -- what else? -- jewelry making.  "The repetition gets you into a trance," she explained, adding, "It's therapeutic."  Having whiled away more than a few weekends with a full On Demand queue and a fresh bag of beads, I knew just what she meant.  When friends urged Boutella to sell her work, she demurred on the grounds that it was just for her and her family and far too personal to put on the market.  "I'm not making a business out of this.  It's very sentimental," she said.  Although I run an Etsy shop, this too rang true with me.  Any time you create something, you include a little piece of yourself.  And when what you create is something to wear?  A piece of you is out there for everyone to see.  Or, in this case, purchase.

Kind of creepy when put that way, huh?

Still, I've always been of the mind that I make my stuff for me.  And part of that (not to get all hippy dippy) journey is putting it out there.  If someone else likes it, then that's just a bonus.  A tasty, last-piece-of-key-lime-pie-on-the-buffet-table bonus, but a bonus nonetheless.     

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Double Mint Crumb






Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: DSW
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's







Tee: American Rag, Macy's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Worthington J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

This week I have only this paltry pair of vaguely mint outfits to offer.  But rest assured that there's more --a whole dessert buffet more! -- waiting in the wings for next week.  

Then again, sometimes three is a crowd. 

WARNING: Spoiler alert ahead!  If you're not watching Fox's "The Last Man on Earth" and you want to start watching it without being first exposed to my spin, then stop reading right now and go get yourself a cupcake.

In the pilot, Will Forte's Phil is wandering the Arizona desert alone, everyone else on the planet having been wiped out by some mystery virus.  He does what I imagine most men would do, which is to say that he steals stuff (priceless art, the Oval Office rug, and a stucco mansion to put it all in), watches and mocks Cast Away only to assemble his own army of Wilsons, chats up a mannequin, and turns his swimming pool into a toilet, all while sporting a Grisly Adams-style beard.  The sun-drenched desert is as beautiful as it is creepy, the ideal setting for this Twilight Zoney, hilarious yet haunting story, and Phil falls somewhere between pathetic and tragic.  Still, despite this potential for depth, halfway through I couldn't help but worry that the whole thing was going to burn down to a vehicle for frat-style cheap thrills.  Then, at the end of the episode, everything changed.  Overcome with his plight, Phil tries to do himself in only to be distracted by a beautiful, doting woman, the kind of his dreams.  Turns out, she is a dream, although not of the mirage quality ("Last Man on Earth" isn't as easy as all of that).  She morphs into a gun-toting, takes-no-prisoners Kristen Schaal! Only her name is Carol.  And she's just as kooky as you'd expect.  Clad in eccentric outfits, this craft-a-holic is a combination of annoying and endearing.  She knows what's what, insisting that man-child Phil fix her front door, rig up some plumbing, and, oh yeah, marry her so that they can (legitimately) repopulate the Earth.  Phil grumbles at every grammar correction and to-do list item but begrudgingly, if slowly, begins to mend his slovenly ways.  The ensuing "yes, dear" dynamic brings a typical element to an atypical situation, making for a funny story line that reaffirms the classic sitcom marriage even as it challenges it.  Because the get-it-together-or-die message throbbing through Carol's near-hyper pursuit of the moral high ground makes it clear that she's no wilt-in-the-background wife, but a spunky, spirited force that's going to kick the world back into gear.  And I like to think that, despite his protests, deep down, Phil knows this, too.  In fact, he seems to get downright cozy with the idea (and Carol!) as they enjoy a post-nuptial drive down the deserted desert streets when -- BAM! -- they collide with a car.  Yep, that's right.  There's someone else out there.  And it's January Jones as Melissa, a blonde beauty with whom Phil is instantly smitten.

See?  Sometimes three is a crowd.  Not to mention one too many for a gum commercial.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One Last Walk in the Park





Tank: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Blouse: J. C. Penney's
Jeans: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City Boardwalk

The series finale of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" aired three weeks ago, so I've been sitting on this post for awhile.  Yet no time seemed more opportune to unleash it than St. Patrick's Day.  Parks are green, shamrocks are green, and both set the stage for this Erin Earns an Emerald Necklace.  I never used to like the name Erin, probably because it sounds too much like "errand."  But I was willing to put that aside for the sake of catchiness -- and, in the process, perhaps redeem myself to the legions of perfectly nice Erins who are doubtless reading this.  None of them, incidentally, work for everyone's favorite fictional parks department.  That distinction goes to Parks' precursor, "The Office," which introduced Erin (Kelly Erin, really, but who's counting?) Hannon as the replacement receptionist when Pam moved on to the high stakes but ultimately soul-crushing world of sales.  Indeed, Parks began as a sleeper of a sitcom that sneaked its way into NBC's Thursday night lineup (and our hearts!) seven seasons ago as local government's answer to "The Office."  Told documentary-style like its corporate counterpart, "Parks and Recreation" explores the minutiae of small town politics as seen through the rose-colored yet razor-sharp eyes of exuberant deputy parks director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler).  Leslie is every bit as wacky as Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott (Steve Carell) but about a million times better at her job.  Although both are all heart, often crossing professional boundaries to make their employees' lives better, it's Knope who gets the gold star for do-gooding, managing to craft elaborate scrapbooks and produce tailor-made gifts for every obscure occasion on top of beautifying bus stops and fighting the good fight on town council.  She does it all in the name of devotion to her fictional hometown of Pawnee, Indiana, a place that is both a satire of and a love letter to Middle America, so populated by fast food-scarfing locals raising heck Greek chorus style at town council meetings one night and taking selfies with adorable town mascot Lil' Sebastian the next.

The rest of the parks department is fueled by similarly boundless energy, from the shenanigans of former pit-dwelling, shoe shiner-turned-children's-singing-star Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) to the endlessly optimistic business ventures of the ever-hip, always suited up Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) to the incurably can-do attitude of health nut, literally-can't-stop-smiling Chris Traegar (Rob Lowe) to the wise cracks of fashionista and Treat Yourself! devotee Donna Meagle (Retta) to the roller coaster love life of "most beautiful nurse in the world" Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) to the sweet, simple-minded but (for some reason) much-maligned candor of Jerry-slash-Terry-slash-Larry-slash-Garry Gergich (Jim O'Heir).  (Whew -- are you as out of breath as I am?)  Still, every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you . . . Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and (sometimes) Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott).  Reluctant Parks Director Ron is a man of the land whose hatred of government is surpassed by only his love of red meat.  Preferring his own company to water cooler chitchat, he raises aloofness to an art form.  Yet still waters run deep -- as deep as the lake where Ron ultimately paddles his handmade canoe -- and in the end, his ties to the Parks posse prove to be among the strongest.  Nevertheless, April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) gives him a run for his (carefully hidden) money.  The dark ying to husband Andy's blinding white yang, this jaded, eye-rolling hipster (but don't call her that!) comes off like she couldn't care less.  But underneath it all, she cares too much, eventually embarking on a "what do I want to do with my life?" mission, revealing that sometimes slackers are just people with standards.  Then there's Ben, the veritable voice of reason in a sea of sitcom insanity (hey, he's not an accountant for nothing) as well as one-time Ice Town mayor and Leslie's one true love.  This wry, nerdy nice guy is the ideal man behind the woman, gallantly stepping aside to let Leslie fulfill her childhood dream of becoming governor of Indiana.  And good thing too, as this gives him plenty of time to mass produce his totally awesome Cones of Dunshire game!

No doubt about it, this is one workplace ensemble in which every character is wonderfully weird and witty.  The finale does not disappoint, flashing forward to reveal what happens to each one of them.  It's a surprisingly satisfying send-off for a show whose last hurrah was burned off in post-holiday, back-to-back episodes in the programming no-man's land of Tuesday night.  Striking the hard-won balance between smart and sweet, Parks captures the absurdities of small town life while offering up a hopeful view of American politics.  It's a testament to the triumph of kindness over ambition, a hilarious heartland with heart.  And I will miss it.

Forget shamrocks.  With vibes this good, I'm holding out for a four-leaf clover.  (Yep, it's still St. Paddy's Day.  I was bound to tie it back in somehow.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Loco Locales and What the Heck Nows . . . And, Finally, a Fine Piece of Clockwork





Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Target
Betl: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Top: Hollister, Marshalls
Skirt: Merona, Target
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Dress: Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Top: Liz Claiborne, Marshalls
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Loop, Marshalls
Belt: Wet Seal







Top: Lily Star, Target
Pants: Sears
Shoes: Chaps, Kohl's
Bag: Gifted
Belt: Gifted

When I put together each week's outfits, I try to go with a theme.  Because themes are fun and I like them.  From classics like Midnight in Paris and Under the Sea to the more up-tempo luaus and carnivals (none of which, by the way, have ever graced this blog; what is this, prom?) to the truly out-there kittens in space (just check out any online collection of juniors leggings to see that one yowl to life; sometimes they're even scarfing down tacos!), even the most gossamer-like of common threads makes an otherwise screwball collection -- well, a little less screwball.  So when I came up with the first three girly, graphically styled outfits so united by a thick yellow belt and acres of polka dots, I was more than a little perturbed to find their retro vibe interrupted by the all-too-easy lazy river living of that last boho look (okay, so maybe it's more cruise ship than lazy river, what with all that faux gold in play, but it's still the one of these things that's not like the others in this tricky tableau).  The point is, sometimes, clothes have a mind of their own.  So I decided to let sleeping togs lie and let that rain forest rogue do her thing.

One theme that never goes out of style is springtime.  And spring unofficially sprung this weekend with the advent of daylight savings time.  Saturday night found me categorizing and curating all sorts of Etsy favorites as 2:00 am slyly slid into 3:00.  Although I love the longer days, that initial time shift was darned disconcerting.  I don't know about you, but I rarely change my clocks right away.  I don't always change them after power outages, either, the result of which is a house full of dueling timepieces all set ten minutes fast (to ward off tardiness, natch).  But all this laziness ends up creating more work in the long run, forcing me to do mental math (subtract an hour and ten minutes -- or is it thirteen minutes?) every time I get behind the wheel.  Recently, I was enjoying a rare two weeks of accurate clock watching and couldn't shake the feeling that I was forgetting something.  Somehow, Katy Perry sounded a lot less fierce without my frantic computations.   

To close things out, here's a (timeless!) quote from Collette, which comes to us from my BAM! desk calendar:

"Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer.  But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

A cool customer, that Collette.  And she gives good writerly advice, right up there with "murder your darlings."  (Even if I do almost always ignore it, as evidenced by my earlier mention of the cats and the tacos.)  

Here's to honing that killer extinct.