Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar the Pouch: The Envelope, Please

Cross My Heart Necklace 

Pink top: Decree, JCPenney
Maroon blouse: Kohl's
Skirt: Bubblegum, Macy's
Shoes: Worthington, JCPenney
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: JCPenney

Garden Party Envelope Bag

Top: Marshalls
Dress: Xhilaration, Target
Shoes: Payless
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's 

Top: Marshalls
Skirt (a dress!): Modcloth
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: JCPenney

I almost called this post "Oscar the Slouch," but catchy though that was, it didn't make much sense.  Another contender was "Oscar the Couch," as that's where I (and probably you) am glued tonight, watching Kimmel crack jokes as Hollywood's finest compete for little gold men.  (So far, my favorite part is when Kimmel made it rain Red Vines and Junior Mints from the ceiling.)  But it was "Oscar the Pouch" that, ahem, took the title.  Because I'm writing about receptacles, damn it.  And also, I like kangaroos.  

It's not every crafter that would embellish Oscar-themed clutches with pompoms and felt, but then, I'm not every crafter.  Or, for that matter, every Oscars viewer, having seen exactly one of the films nominated (Florence Foster Jenkins), my cinematic speed being more Sesame Street than serious.  Which is just one of the reasons I'm giving a shout-out to everyone's favorite garbage can-dwelling Muppet.    

These shoulder bag-slash-clutches, although not exactly an example of "from trash to treasure" (they're brand spanking new, thank you very much), reflect a kind of artfully messy kitchen sink (that garbage can of the plumbing world) aesthetic.  Taking their cues from festivals to gardens to fruit bowls near you, they let you carry -- and communicate -- a little bit of what's imperfect and exceptional about the everyday (not unlike -- funny connection -- movies).  After all, what better way to send a style message than in a good, old-fashioned envelope?    

I like to think that Oscar would give his stamp of approval.      

Monday, February 20, 2017

Locks That Rock: Playing it Up Presidential

Fabulous Felt Lump Clump Barrette

Dress: Modcloth
Blouse: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Nahui Ollin
Sash: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: JCPenney

This President's Day, skip the wonky wigs (I'm looking at you, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and other assorted Oval Office-dwelling dandies) and stuffed suits for an administration you can really admire: the Presidents of the United States.  This two-hit-wonder alt rock band of the 1990s brought us such delightful ditties as "Peaches" and "Lump", the latter of which is celebrated right here in fabulous felt.  Six colorful little "lumps" peer inquiringly out of kooky googly eyes on the lookout for adventure and mischief.  I paired the barrette with an outfit in a patriotically presidential (and somewhat-Superman-like) palette: red, white, and blue.  And also, a little yellow and funky fresh rainbow.

My heart still thumps for "Lump," and whenever I play it on CD, I hit repeat and say, "Play it again, (Uncle) Sam."

I guess that's my party policy.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Dice: Part 3

Top: August Silk
Skirt: Forever 21
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: Michaels

*Please scroll down to see the Introduction, Part 1, and Part 2 of this epic post series. Or, if you stumbled upon this post while wandering the wilds of the internet and have no way of navigating this blog (if that's a thing; I'm not sure, crafts are my wheelhouse, not code), then click here and here and here.

Living near Atlantic City, I've seen my fair share of crazy casino carpets.  You know.  Wildly patterned to camouflage countless spilled cocktails and confuse craps players into parting with even more coinage.  And I've always found them to be kitsch-tastic.  Which was why I 1) so enjoyed making these Fabulous Felt Dice Barrettes, and 2) was excited to learn that the latest installment of the Shopaholic series, Shopaholic to the Rescue, finds Rebecca Bloomwood and friends in that other gaming mecca -- Las Vegas.   That's right.  It's time to roll the dice on Part 3 for the big series finale!  Will it be lucky sevens or scary old snake eyes?  Let's take a gamble (er, gander), and see.

Now, I should begin by saying that unlike the stars of our previous two profiles (Sparks and Schumer), Rebecca Bloomwood is fictional.  That said, I've long suspected that she's a lot like her creator, Sophie Kinsella (which is, by the way, a pen name for Madeline Wickham; hey, if you shared the last name of a Jane Austen villain, then you'd probably adopt an alias, too).  Partly because of her candid, first-person writing style, partly because of this blurb on the back of Confessions of a Shopaholic:

"Sophie Kinsella is a writer and former financial journalist.  She is very, very careful with her money and only occasionally finds herself queuing for a sale.  Her relationship with her bank manager is excellent." 

See? Rebecca is Sophie and Sophie is Madeline.  Easy peasy lemon squeezey (which is, it just so happens, an expression I hate, but one that's surprisingly strong-willed.  Not to mention limey in origin, not unlike Rebecca-Sophie-Madeline.)          
In Rescue, which follows the cliffhanger in Shopaholic to the Stars, Becky's father has disappeared into the desert, and her bestie Suze isn't speaking to her 'cause Suze's hubby ran off with Mr. Bloomwood (not in a romantic way; it's more of bromance).  Suze and Tarquin are having problems, but then that's what happens when you marry your cousin (even if he does own a castle).  Becky and Luke, however, are tighter than ever, with nary a cross word or secret credit card statement between them.  Still, Bex is so distraught about Suze and her father that she can't even bring herself to -- gasp -- go shopping.  

Rescue hinges upon what is arguably the most intricate plot of the Shopaholic series, which is to say that it offers up a host of tasty twists and complications.  Will Mr. Bloomwood and Tarquie ever re-emerge, mirage-like, outside of Caesar's Palace?  Will Rebecca ever find her namesake, a rainbow-haired psychic temptress from Mr. Bloomwood's past?  Will Bex's old nemesis, Alicia Bitch Longlegs, ever stop being sweet and show her true colors (in my opinion, wicked white and bilge-worthy beige)?  And most importantly, will our beloved shopaholic ever find it in her heart to shop again?  Because charming although this book is, Bex is always at her best when spotting a shiny new something that just may make her the girl-with-the-yellow-hat-slash-plaid-peacoat-slash-day-glo-pink-diamante-earrings (they say "diamante" a lot in British books, which I love even if it is just a posh word for rhinestones).  Because shopping is all about possibility, and Bex is the (sale) poster girl for life's optimistic what-if's.      

So that's a wrap on Sugar and Spice and Everything Dice.  If you remember nothing else, then remember this: keep it sweet; keep it spicy; keep it dicey.  Also, don't wear beige or wander into the desert.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

At the Heart of the Batter: Conversation and Cupcakes With Christopher Walken

 Sweet Talk Brooch

Top (a dress!): Material Girl, Macy's
Skirt: Cat and Jack, Target
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's

Sweet Talk Brooch and treats you haven't met yet.

Cupid's interrupting our regularly scheduled program to deliver this pressing bulletin: it's Valentine's Day.  Yes, that sweetest and most stylish of holidays is here.  And what better way to celebrate than with a heart-to-heart with your beloved over a selection of baked goods?  What's that you say?  You don't have a beloved?  Don't despair.  TV and movies go great with baked goods, and (bonus!) you don't have to share.  Nothing with Paul Rudd or Michael Cera, though (even if Michael does make a dashing Andrew Jackson in "Drunk History") because a solo V-day is no time for dreamboats, however geeky.  What you need, my friends, is a weirdo, and that weirdo is Christopher Walken.  You can probably find him headlining an IFC marathon or in a bargain bin bonanza at your local Best Buy.

Anyhoo, this look-what-I-made-looking Sweet Talk Brooch is my love letter to romance and refined sugar.  Because no one, not even Christopher Walken, loves you like kitsch and corn syrup.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sugar and Spice and Everything Dice: Part 2

Blue Bauble Trinket Barrette

Tank: Kohl's
Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Modcloth
Bag: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Sunglasses: So, Kohl's

Blue tee: Macy's
Red tee: Merona, Target
Skirt (a dress!): XOXO
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Party City 

Green Goddess Sparkle Barrette

Top: Target
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Worthington, JCPenney
Bag: H&M
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: JCPenney

*Please see the two below posts for the Introduction to and Part 1 of this epic post series.  Or, if you stumbled upon this post while wandering the wilds of the internet and have no way of navigating this blog (if that's a thing; I'm not sure, crafts are my wheelhouse, not code), then click here and here.

The heat is on in Part 2.  But how to depict something spicy?  I considered and discarded cinnamon sticks (too Thankgivingy), and even a dragon (which is fiery and as such fit in so nicely with Ms. Schumer's pun-tastic The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo title), but in the end I went with dollhouse miniature veggies because, as every caught-off-guard cook will tell you, I had some on hand.  Now, before you object that there's nothing dangerous about healthy food sculpted daintily enough to nestle inside a tiny Victorian, think about the last time you were surprised by peppers (or even stealthier still, pepper-based dressing) in an otherwise innocuous salad.  'Nough said. 

Ok, so if Nicholas Sparks is a yolk who's more hard than soft boiled, then Amy Schumer is a steel-coated marshmallow.  Which may seem hard to swallow considering Schumer's bawdy behavior on her titillatingly titled sketch comedy "Inside Amy Schumer."  But then, Schumer's memoir reveals several surprises about the saucy standup.  (Is "saucy standup" too cutesy?  'Cause to me, "saucy," or really, any word that makes you think of pizza and macaroni and cheese and ornery antics all in one is a compliment).  Down-to-earth, vulnerable, and self-deprecating, Amy seems like someone you'd want to hang out with.  Well, at reasonably-spaced intervals.  Because, as I was delighted to discover, she's a  (wait for it!) fellow introvert.  Before you sputter, "Say what?!", let's let Amy explain:

"Being an introvert doesn't mean you're shy.  It means you enjoy being alone.  Not just enjoy it -- you need it.  If you're a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires.  You don't hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them -- like the sun.  They give you life, sure, but they can also burn you and you will get that wrinkly, Long Island cleavage I've always been afraid of getting and that I now know I have."  (15).

You said it, Ames.  Way to show that introversion isn't an unfortunate label slapped on people who wish they could party, but a badge of honor to be protected, an affirmation that you (to repurpose that Nada Surf one-hit-wonder "Popular") enjoy your own exclusive company to the company of others.  Yep, being a lone wolf is like telling the world that you want to see other people -- and that those people are you.

Schumer goes on to say that "sitting and writing and talking to no one is how I wish I could spend the better part of every day."  (16)  Still not convinced that I'm not somehow skewing Ms. Schumer's sound bites to push my own antisocial agenda?  Read on.  (Yes, I'm going to shamelessly quote even more of this book, because it's awesome.  And because it's my blog and I'll over-quote if I want to:)

"When you're a performer, especially a female one -- everyone assumes you enjoy being "on" all the time.  That couldn't be further from the truth for me or any of the people I am close to.  The unintentional training I received when I was little was that because I was a girl and an actor, I must love being pleasant, and making everyone smile all the time.  I think all little girls are trained this way, even those who aren't entertainers like I was.  Women are always expected to be the gracious hostess, quick with an anecdote and a sprinkling of laughter at other's stories.  We are always the ones who have to smooth over all the awkward moments in life with soul-crushing pleasantries."  (16-17)

Ah yes, the old "I am woman, hear me . . . serve" chestnut.  It is, at its very least, unsettling when one of the world's most seemingly self-assured women cops to being primed for geisha-hood.  What's encouraging is that she, and other women like her, are writing about it.  Autonomy and self respect are the lynchpins of human dignity, a theme that is woven throughout Schumer's narrative as she invites us to witness her trials and most private moments, proving that the pen is far mightier than the, ahem, sword.

Also, this book is damned funny. 

So, if Sparks seems nice but is (possibly) snarly, and if Schumer's a badass who's secretly sweet, then who, pray tell, is Rebecca Bloomwood?  Tune in next week to find out in "Dice," the exciting conclusion of this three-pronged post series.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sugar and Spice and Everything Dice: Part 1

Top: Material Girl, Macy's
Skirt: Forever 21
Shoes: Charles Albert, Alloy
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's

*Please see the below post for the Introduction to this epic post series.  Or, if you stumbled upon this post while wandering the wilds of the internet and have no way of navigating this blog (if that's a thing; I'm not sure, crafts are my wheelhouse, not code), then click here.

Relax; you've hit the sweet spot.  Sugar is the first stop in this series, so what better way to kick it off than with candy?  I got these retro-licious, circus-slash-carnival-looking candy appliques from kawaii jewelry supply super seller Delish Beads and added them to some colorful bows.  Are they hard candies?  Or taffies?  Who knows?  Either way, they do kind of sort of resemble something that a Nicholas Sparks hero might bring to his sweetheart.  You know.  If Sparks sagas had a campy, Willy Wonka-meets-Shopkins type vibe.

If you know Sparks, then you know that he's sugary, penning the kind of saccharine, read-it-and-weep stuff that sends most men in search of the nearest Home Depot or Hooters.  Being a sucker for such fare, I've read everything he's ever written, even his nonfiction memoir Three Weeks with My Brother. He releases a new title every other fall, and the husband always gets me the latest for Christmas.  This year I was happy to learn that old Pepe Le Pew had published Two by Two just one year after See Me.  Like See Me (which was a bit of a thriller), Two by Two is edgier than Sparks's previous stories.  It's about a guy named Russ who gets divorced and is forced to fight for custody of his five-year-old daughter.  Which is no surprise considering that Sparks himself recently made things officially unofficial with his wife of 26 years. 

That said, there are shades of Sparks that are less than sweet in this novel.  And it's not just because both he and his alter ego called it quits on marriage.  In the real world, guys -- even troubadours -- get divorced.  It's because of Russ's slightly controlling, chauvinistic attitude toward his wife.  Vivian is a classically beautiful shopaholic who drops out of the PR rat race to be a stay-at-home mom.  She enjoys wine, reality TV, and yoga, and she doesn't eat sugar.  To be fair, Russ says that Vivian is a wonderful mother, not to mention a more dedicated parent than he is (well, except for one no-wire-hangers-ever moment and a new job that uproots their lives, both of which seem melodramatic and out-of-character for the generally level-headed if cliche-riddled Viv).  But Russ also complains that she lets her "chores" slip, whining that he "doesn't like a messy house," and going all Scrooge when she spends a little too much at -- gasp -- Walmart.  Although this neat freak cheapo chump makes appearances throughout the Sparks canon, he's more fully realized here, so much so that I can't help but wonder if Sparks himself is the kind of guy who runs his finger over mantles in search of dust and expects women to spend an eternity in last season's shoes.  One thing's for sure; he wouldn't take too kindly to our spice and dice representatives, in-your-face funny lady Amy Schumer and free-spirited spendthrift Rebecca Bloomwood (but more on them later).  Can it be that Mr. Sensitive is actually a (and the romantic in me cringes to type this) misogynist?  It's a weighty question, and one that shakes my belief in not only Sparks, but in fiction.  You see, I've always put a lot of stock in the Mark Twain quote "fiction is the truth inside the lie," which is to say that I think of writers as truth tellers, wise souls who have valuable information to impart about life.  But Two by Two forces me to admit that they -- or, at least some of them --- aren't Yoda-esque messengers at all, but agenda-toting hucksters pedaling shoddy goods.

Now that I've aired my hostilities, I feel okay saying that I still like Sparks's writing.  Fascist or not, he has a way with words, managing to make the minutiae of everyday life not only interesting, but a little bit charmed.  Which is hokey, sure, but nowhere near as bad as saying that you watch "The Bachelor" for the cinematography.  (To be clear, I do not watch "The Bachelor."  Unless you count that SNL parody where all of the contestants sidle up to Beard Hunk and theatrically purr, "Mmm, I like this.").  To that end, Two by Two is worth reading (and blogging about) despite, or perhaps because of, its need to be read through a more feminist lens.

So, here's to enjoying the journey without drinking the Kool-Aid.  Or, in this case, sweet tea.