Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something New and Sparkly: Corsage Barrage (if 3 can be called a barrage :)

Garden Party Corsage Necklace

Bright Bohemian Necklace

Prima Ballerina Corsage Necklace

Spring has sprung, and what's spring without a corsage? I had the good fortune to sell a trio of corsage necklaces last week and decided to keep on channeling my inner florist. I mixed it up a little this time, straying from my more typical single-color palettes to create colorful accouterments fit for ladies who lunch, hippies, and dancers alike. (I wore the Prima Ballerina model yesterday despite my two left feet. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Report: Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love by Cathy Day

I was on Amazon recently when I stumbled upon a book written by my former college writing professor, Cathy Day. (Everyone always called her that, never the more formal Professor Day or even just plain Cathy.) The book is called Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love, and it's a memoir chronicling Day's year-long mission to get back into the dating game while following the Indianapolis Colts. Cathy Day was one of the most popular professors in the English department at The College of New Jersey. Students clamored to get into her classes, and I still remember my sense of victory at having scored a spot first in her creative writing class, and then in her fiction workshop my senior year. She was one of those professors who offered candid but heartfelt feedback on our stories, not because she was the boss, but because she wanted us to do better. She kept long office hours, answering our questions about what to do with our English degrees. She taught us that becoming a writer wasn't about being struck by inspiration, but about sticking it out and chipping away at draft after draft. Yet despite all this wisdom, she seemed strangely like one of us.

So, I knew I had to read Comeback Season. I finished it last night, and it turned out to be one of the best books I've read in a long time. In the book, Day is thirty-seven going on thirty-eight. She's an assistant English professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She's published an acclaimed short story collection, The Circus in Winter. She's devoted her life to writing and couldn't be happier professionally. But she's watched nine ex-boyfriends marry the women they dated right after her. She's weathered a seven-year relationship (with a guy, incidentally, who was the reason she ended up at The College of New Jersey). She's the new kid in a city where she knows no one. And she's sick of being alone. So, despite her reluctance she asks neighbors to fix her up and dips her toe into the wild world of online dating. And it isn't easy. All she wants is a nice guy she can talk to, but finding one who isn't a freak or intimidated by her success proves to be an enormous challenge. So, she turns to the Colts for support. Although an Indiana native and a lifelong sports fan, she's never followed them seriously. But Peyton Manning inspires her with his perfectionism and the way he gets up after being pushed down. Day applies similar tactics to her dating game plan. She's indefatigable in her search, uncompromising in her criteria, yet always kind to the players and willing to risk getting hurt.

Comeback Season is brave and honest. Just as Day puts herself out there online in search of potential soul mates, she puts herself out there for her readers. Her story isn't a pat, rosy-hued novel in which all of her problems are tied up in pretty ribbons by the last page. It's real, authenticated by the sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious details that separate easy stories from those that dig deeper. It's this depth that makes Comeback Season more engrossing than most novels (although it certainly reads like one). The fact that it all really happened lends credence to the ugly truth it reveals, namely that women must choose between love and career so early on they don't realize there's a competition.

Comeback Season is also funny. Because dating is funny, and Day has just the right straight-shooting style for reporting its many quirks and misses. The book is warm too, drawing much of its heart from Day's descriptions of her native Indiana, flashbacks from her childhood, and anecdotes about her close-knit family.

Here's one of my favorite passages:

"The dream of becoming a writer was forming inside me. For some reason, IU's recent victory, coupled with my viewing of Hoosiers, made me think I might have a shot. I wanted so much to become somebody, to win the game for all the small-town girls who never had a chance to go to college or write a book or see the world. I didn't want to marry the boy I was holding hands with. I wanted to make something like the movie I'd just seen, something about Indiana and the way it made me feel inside." (142)

I admit I was little teary-eyed by the time I read the last sentence.

If you're a sports nut, a writer, or have ever had your heart broken (and I think that covers just about everyone), then you'll enjoy Comeback Season.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Shoes

Summer is my favorite shoe season. And why not? It's prime time for colorful, patterned, and open-toe styles (even if it does mean that I have to keep my toenails painted :). To celebrate my (and hopefully your!) excitement, I put together this mostly hot weather-themed wheel o' heels. Here's where I found each pair, starting from the top right and going clockwise: 


Chaps, Kohl's (I never dreamed I'd buy anything Chaps, but these far-from-preppy gold stunners reeled me in.)

Worthington, JCPenney

Worthington, JCPenney (Although these are the plainest of the pack colorwise, I love the shape, side bow, and contrasting cork platform and heel.)

Paris Hilton, Marshalls (Uh . . . I'm not even going to attempt to defend myself.) 

Bijou, MetroStyle

City Streets, JCPenney

Speaking of heels, the April Cosmopolitan interview with Olivia Wilde offers up an interesting slant on the topic. Here are the first and last paragraphs: 

"On a recent glorious day in New York City, I was standing outside my apartment building feeling pretty fantastic when a 75-year-old lady with purple bifocals, a matching muumuu, Einstein's perm, and sensible white sneakers stopped me, grabbed my hand, and said in a Brooklyn accent only Gilda Radner could mimic perfectly, "Oh! Those heels! Your feet must be dying! Who are you wearing them for? Dress for you. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks."

(Movies, Hollywood, the Internet, blah blah blah, stuff in the middle of the article.)

"I think that woman on the street was an apparition, a projection of my subconscious, warning me of the danger of superficiality. She was right to make me question my masochist footwear, as they were painful enough to be promptly kicked aside upon entering my apartment, but she missed the mark on my motive. I was wearing them for me. They were my confidence trigger as I left the house and headed out into the world, and if that's what it takes to remind myself to put the sass back in my strut and be the best version of me, then so be it."

I can't tell you how many times strangers have asked me similar questions about my precarious footwear. (In fact, it happened just yesterday.) I'm always a little taken aback, torn between making fun of myself and fighting for my right to be frivolous. So, I could identify with what the article was saying. (Although it should be noted that unlike the author [notice I didn't say "Olivia," as we have no idea if this was her sentiment or some fabrication of the Cosmo editorial staff], I'm supportive of purple-bifocal-and-muumuu-wearing old ladies, mouthiness and all.) The final paragraph gives Olivia and her stilettos the last laugh (hokey apparition and dangers of superficiality notwithstanding), confirming what I'm sure most heel-loving women already know; we wear what we wear because it makes us feel good, not because we think we should. If anything, flaunting out-there footwear seems to meet with more judgment than approval, as illustrated by this interview. Heel wearers are trailblazers, not conformists.

And on that note, I think I've stretched the intellectual capacity of a post about shoes as far as it can (and should) go.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Etsy Favorites: JELL-O and Rainbows and Cupcakes, Oh My!

My Etsy favorites list is a delightful collection of things made by other Etsians that I like to look at. I was in the midst of yet another staring session the other day when the bf popped in, saw all the color and madness exploding from the screen, and said that it looked like the wish list of a twelve-year-old girl. Sounds about right. :)

Juicy Watermelon JELL-O Soap, Love Lee Soaps

Barbie Shoe Necklace, Chinny Flynny Jewelry

Gone Bananas Pendant, High Strung Bead

Acrylic Cherry Charms, Neon Narwhal

The Famous Rainbow Cake, Penny Pies Bake Shop

Happy Rocket Pop Plush Pillows, Bubbledog

Sprinkles and Cupcake Shoe, Studio Jellyfish

Midnight Snack Purse, Uniquely Different

Yellow Octopus Necklace, Art School Dropout

Bubble Lush Original Collage, Luann O'Hearn

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something New and Sparkly: Felt Gets Fierce

Fabulous Felt Red Fierce Flower Necklace

Fabulous Felt Orange Fierce Flower Necklace

Fabulous Felt Yellow Fierce Flower Necklace

Fabulous Felt Lime Fierce Flower Necklace

Fabulous Felt Turquoise Fierce Flower Necklace

Fabulous Felt Purple Fierce Flower Necklace

Remember my Fierce Flowers totes? With the stylized roses and leopard designs? I thought it would be fun to recreate those motifs in my felt necklaces. At first, I was worried that it would be too difficult, but they didn't come out half bad, with the exception of the slightly too-gappy rose in the yellow necklace. It was the last of three I made late one night watching Confessions of a Shopaholic and then The Golden Girls. These things happen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog Feature on Deco Aurora

Catch this photo and others on Deco Aurora: The Life & Style of a Not So Glam Designer (In the Making). This bright, fun blog is written by Maggy, a southern California stylista kind enough to do a feature on me. Check it out if you want, and don't forget to become a follower!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"If I come back as an animal in my next lifetime, I hope it's some type of parasite, because this is the part where I take it easy!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Great Clothes-out

My wardrobe weeding-out tactic goes something like this. I wear a long-forgotten staple-type piece, such as a blouse, cardigan, or skirt, and if by the end of the day I find I hate said garment due to pilling or ill fit or what have you, then out it goes. Like a couch potato reaching for one last potato chip when she's already full (I should know, as I do this too), I sense I should just skip it. Because I know, deep down, that these pieces are doomed even before their final outings. In recent weeks I found myself tossing so much stuff that I realized more drastic measures had to be taken. So, I bit the bullet, hauled out the Goodwill-bound trash bags, and spent a weekend camped out in my closet.

I was appalled by the sheer amount of tacky tank tops, hideous blouses, stodgy dress pants, and dowdy dresses lurking amidst the racks. I don't even wear dress pants! (I'm too short, and they're too wrinkly and uncomfortable.) Granted, most of these items had been purchased years ago, most likely in the name of stocking up on "filler pieces" and the mistaken assumption that I could make even the most virulent polyester club top work. But such illusions were suddenly shattered. Each ruthless discard gave way to another, and before I knew it, I was downsizing with an abandon almost as gleeful as that which led to the shopping sprees in the first place.

I like to think that I've evolved into a more discriminating (if still prolific) shopper since then, bringing home only those pieces that have a great fit, fabric, and color. Nevertheless, I know I'll need to stay strong on future shopping trips, remaining impervious to the wiles of last-chance markdowns.

In the end, I filled four trash bags, one of which contained a depressing mountain of scuffed and scraped shoes. (I had the sense not to donate those.) Still, the mission lives on. Each day I think of more clothes to toss, imagining a fifth trash bag stretching to the girth of Santa's sack.

Maybe now I can put away all those new spring clothes I have hanging on the door of my purse closet. Which reminds me, the purse closet needs cleaning too . . .

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Report: The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham

I'd been excited to read The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham (of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame. My apologies to those of you who've heard that a gazillion times before.) But it turned out to be a little disappointing.

The story is about Fleur, a woman who crashes funerals to meet rich men. Once she lands a man, she swindles as much money from him as she can without being detected, then moves on to the next one. But then Fleur meets kind-hearted Richard Favour and for the first time begins to question her love 'em and leave 'em ways.

I didn't like Fleur. Yet because she was the main character, I couldn't help but try to understand her. Which got me thinking. How do authors make us care about fictional people, even the bad ones? As you may recall, the book I read before this one was Shopgirl. Its heroine, Mirabelle, is a wallflowerish, diffident artist, whereas Fleur is an extroverted, manipulative con artist. Had Fleur and Mirabelle ever met, Fleur would surely have eaten Mirabelle for breakfast. Yet it is Mirabelle who stars in the more powerful story, inhabiting a world of dull but heart-wrenching reality compared to Fleur's bubble of soap operatic melodrama.

Given these discrepancies, maybe it's unfair to compare these novels. Not to mention that I'm more likely to read something like The Gatecrasher than something like Shopgirl, despite its many flaws. I guess that's because it's escape I'm after when I pick up a book, not realism. What about you? Do you prefer light fiction, heavy fiction, or something in between?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Something New and Sparkly: Fancy Pants Fan Barrettes

Fancy Pants Fan Barrettes

Red Fancy Pants Fan Barrette

Yellow Fancy Pants Fan Barrette

Green Fancy Pants Fan Barrette

Blue Fancy Pants Fan Barrette

Rainbow Fancy Pants Fan Barrette

The other day, I was struck by a mania to make these barrettes. Don't ask me why. But it was overwhelming. And I couldn't rest until it was done.

So, now I'm resting. :)

Win This Tote Trove Necklace on The Handmade Movement Blog!

The Handmade Movement blog is giving away my I'm a Little Teapot Necklace to one lucky reader! Entering is super easy (i.e., doesn't involve hearting or liking Etsy or Facebook pages, or, horror of horrors, following anybody on Twitter.) Just visit this link.*

*Link deactivated.

Scroll down to the heading "March 18-March 31: The Tote Trove on Etsy is giving away this adorable Teapot necklace!"
Then, per the Handmade Movement instructions, all you need to do is send an email:

•Send an email entitled “I want to win this!” to handmadegiveaway@gmail .com.

•If you have an Etsy shop, include it in the email so you’ll get some free exposure for it if you win!

•The winner will be announced in the Sneak Attack Day Forum Thread on March 31st. You can access the Forum Thread through the Handmade Movement site that day. You will receive an email if you are not present in the Thread and you are the winner!

It's that easy! (I know firsthand because I entered another Handmade Movement giveaway a couple of weeks ago. :)

Good luck!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Treasury Time

Today Spring Flavor included my Medium Heartbreak Tote in her truly fabulous Pretty Good! American Pop Art! treasury. The collection features lots of graphic, comic book-inspired accessories, which I love. So much so that I hearted Uniquely Different's Midnight Snack Junk Food Purse (pictured above). You know I'll probably end up making it my own! Here's the treasury link so you can peruse these goodies yourself.*

*Treasury deactivated.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo Shoot Friday

Yes, that's my smiling mug again. After last week's experiment, I decided to give Tammy Torso the old heave-ho. (If this baffles you, then you may want to take a peek at last week's Photo Shoot Friday.)

At any rate, here's the week in blue, as well as few more happy blue things:

Swimming pools
Cookie Monster
Blue Man Group
Blue suede shoes (I had a pair once.)
Toothpaste (The pretty color sneaks a little fun into brushing your teeth.)

Hot Pink Arts and Crafts Necklace

Dress: Marshalls
Tee: So, Kohl's
Cardigan: Delia's
Jacket: XOXO, Macy's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Betseyville, Marshalls
Tights: Express
Necklace: The Tote Trove
Bangle: JCPenney
Beaded bracelet: JCPenney
Ring: B Fabulous
Headband: Candie's, Kohl's

Top: Marshalls
Jeans: City Streets, JCPenney
Shoes: Carlos by Carlos Santana, Macy's
Bag: TJ Maxx
Belt: Marshalls
Necklace: Sparkle Beast, Etsy
Bright blue bangle: B Fabulous
Multi-color bangle: The Tote Trove
Royal blue bangle: So, Kohl's
Ring: Making Waves, Ocean City

Dress: Cynthia Rowley, Marshalls
Tee: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Shoes: Nina, DSW
Bag: Betseyville, Marshalls
Tights: We Love Colors
Necklace: Candie's, Kohl's
Bracelet: Kohl's
Ring: Hallmark

op: Kohl's
Skirt: Necessary Objects, Annie Sez
Shoes: Dollhouse, Marshalls
Bag: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Tights: Express
Bangle: Mixit, JCPenney
Chain ring: Target
Other ring: Mixit, JCPenney
Headband: Candie's, Kohl's

Tee: So, Kohl's
Cardigan: Express, Marshalls
Skirt: Xhilaration, Target
Tights: Boscov's
Shoes: Rocket Dog, Marshalls
Bag: Gifted
Necklace: The Tote Trove
Bracelet: Cloud Nine
Watch: A.C. Moore
Ring: Mixit, JCPenney