Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Beef vs. Leaf: Hooray for Hippie Carnivores

Daisy headband?  Check.  Flower power peasant top?  Check.  Steak and potatoes necklace and cheeseburger wristlet?  Double check and don't hold the bacon!

Betsey Johnson, Macy's

Peace and love and eating meat aren't two things that usually go together.  People of the pacifist persuasion are often depicted as vegetarians, whereas their warlord counterparts are seen salivating over all that is juicy.  Maybe that's why I was compelled to come up with a look that says Woodstock-meets-woodfire-grill.  I like contrasts.  Visually, they offer artistic appeal.  Intellectually, they bridge the space between black and white.  I cotton to the contrast of this particular outfit because I'm a live-and-let live lady who digs both boho duds and Red Robin.  Also, if I'm being honest (and I am, always), then it gives me an opportunity to reheat my Fabulous Felt Steak Dinner Necklace.

Fabulous Felt Steak Dinner Necklace

It's an old one, this necklace, so much so that I can now call it aged beef.  Which is weird because unlike wine or blue cheese, I feel like such a so-called delicacy would attract maggots.  But then, my left mini meathook in this pic is pretty weird, too, all lumpy and intense reddish purple.  I wish I could say that its rib-eye-ripe shade is the result of slaying London broil, but the toughest thing it's ever sundered is felt.

Also, truth be told, I eat mostly chicken.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Frights of Fancy: Up in the Hair

 Top: Burlington Coat Factory; Bag: Sleepyville Critters, Zulily

People of the internet, I present to you airheads.  Not the Brendan Fraser movie or the candy or even the gum-snapping ditz who topped your hot fudge sundae with a jalapeno popper instead of a cherry.  I'm talking about these felt barrettes featuring stuff from the sky.  We've got an umbrella, a cluster of balloons, and that Mary Poppins-pleasing classic, a kite.  Or, as I like to think of them, "Under My Umbrella," "99 Red Balloons," and "Let's Go Fly a Kite."  Of the barrettes, the umbrella is my favorite.  Of the songs, it's "99 Red Balloons."   

Speaking of balloons, here's an airborne accessory that I didn't make, worn with something I already posted:

Sweater: Jeanne Pierre, Marshalls; Blouse: Marshalls; Brooch: Napier, Kohl's

I like the looks of hot air balloons (obvi, as my Sleepyille Critters bag is a regular here), but I don't think I'd like to go up in one.  Too dangerous, what with all those angry birds and thunderstorms crashing in out of nowhere.  Instead of being up in the air, I'd rather have balloons up in my hair.  I think Up in the Air alum George Clooney would agree.  Not just because his jet-setting life in that flick made him so unhappy.  But because barrettes would've looked bouffant beautiful in his big Booker hair from "Roseanne." 

That said, the next time you're under an umbrella while also holding a balloon and flying a kite, I hope that you and your 'do have rollicking follicle of a good time.  

And also, that there's no lightning.  Or angry birds.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Backstrokes and Dad Jokes: All Hail the Father of Funny

Tee: Marshalls
Tank: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Dollhouse, Macy's
Shoes: Naughty Monkey, Zulily
Bag: Luv Betsey, Macy's Backstage
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Sunglasses: Wild Fable, Target
Pink bracelet: Amrita Singh, Zulily
Red bracelet: B Fabulous
Necklace: The Tote Trove
Towel: J. C. Penney's

Shoes: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Bag: Mix No. 6, DSW
Charm: The Tote Trove

It's June 21, and you know what that means.  Time to swan dive into that stew pot known as summer!  Of course, this year is different.  Just when we thought that the coronavirus was on the downturn and it was safe to go back into the water, cases started popping up like mutant whack-a-moles.  Which means no carefree jaunts to the beach or hot dog eating contests or running around playing punch buggy freeze tag (yeah, I don't know what that last one is either, but it's as good a way as any to describe avoiding human contact while also pointing out that human contact can sometimes be icky).  It's all a bit of a bummer but also a little okay; as you know, I'm an indoors girl, so it won't cramp my style too much.  Hear that, Hulu?  Get ready!

Today also happens to be Father's Day.  My sister and I celebrated on House Party by telling corny jokes (our mom's brainchild, not ours), and it was egg-cellent.  We cracked Dad -- and ourselves -- right up!  Each of us will get to see Dad (and Mom) in person via six-feet-apart "porch party" visits this week.  It'll be very knock knock, who's there?  Banana.  Banana who?  Knock knock who's there?  Banana.  Banana who?  Knock knock, who's there?  Orange.  Orange who?  Orange you glad I didn't say banana?  I'm almost sorry I put you through that but couldn't resist because it's a cute way to tell you that I have forty bananas in my kitchen.  And sadly, it isn't the first time.  Somehow I haven't yet mastered the fine art of ordering produce for home delivery. 

Perhaps my gal Carmen up there would care for a smoothie -- or ten.     

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sea-ing is Believing: Salt Water Works

There's nothing quite like a book with a surprise party of an ending, and Beatriz Williams is a party planner who knows what she's doing.  I just finished reading Along the Infinite Sea, which is the last installment in the Schuyler sisters trilogy, and it did not disappoint.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Beatriz was like, whoa, smarty pants, not so fast!  In addition to mucho mystery, Williams is also known for feisty heroines, witty dialogue, and serving up heaping helpings of history.  Indeed, the cover of Sea looks like an old postcard, its uneven edges framing a tropical paradise that's somehow both bold and dreamy.  Historical fiction is the only way I can digest the moldy old past (sorry, History Channel, but it's true), so good on you, Beatriz, for dropping some knowledge on all us la la land dwellers.

So, where to begin?  If Along the Infinite Sea was lighthearted, then I'd say it should've been called So, I Married a Nazi.  But it's not.  It's so heavy that it's forced me to turn to my old pal levity, right or wrong, as a means of dealing with it.  It's poignant, this tale.  By the end I was crying buckets and once again wondering how I'd come to care so much about people who weren't even real.

The plot alternates between two timelines: 1966, where Pepper Schuyler is pregnant with a married senator's baby, and 1936, where Annabel Creouville/von Kleist/Dommerich (say that five times fast) is pregnant with the baby of a man (also married) who is fleeing the Nazis.  Annabel is young and afraid, and through a wrenching and bizarre string of events, she's ultimately forced to choose between this man and a German general.  Or rather, maybe it's more accurate to say that one of them is forced to choose her.  It's one of those scenarios in which both men have some good and some bad, and not always in the ways you'd expect.  Some may say, "Hey, wait a minute.  Why does she have to end up with either one of these guys?  Isn't there someone less morally ambiguous for her to make strudel with?"  It's a logical question -- which means that it's out of the question for fiction.  Because novels aren't about logic.  They're about pitting characters against impossible situations to get them to show what they're made of.  In other words, if Annabel settled down with some nondescript baker who rubbed her feet every night, then there wouldn't be any story.  And we wouldn't learn anything about her or ourselves or the human condition. 

As for Pepper, she's young but less afraid, partly because it's a different time and party because she's Pepper.  That said, her storyline sort of fades into the background.  But I think that may be intentional, that it's meant as a kind of bright, crackly foil for the more serious Annabel saga.

Yep, lots of fireworks, lots of intrigue, and lots of tears.  That's what's along the infinite sea.

One of these days, Beatriz, I'll crack your code.  One of these days.

Then again, maybe not.

I kind of like being surprised.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Oh Great, Oh Golly, a New Paper Dolly: Please Save Me from Scrubbing this Toilet

Cat and Jack, Target 

Banned, Modcloth

Two Betsey dresses are better than one,
Two Betsey dresses mean two times the fun.
Ms. Johnson dresses, so pretty and new,
Just the right garb for a great girl like you!

Sort of sounds like a little girl's birthday card, huh?  The kind that comes with a paper doll and coats you with glitter when you open it.  I may be thirty-eight, and it may not be my birthday, but I was super psyched to find this pair of Betsey Johnson dresses for a song on Zulily.  I love their crisp '40s-'50s silhouettes, from their pretty puffed sleeves to their gently flared skirts.  I especially like the lemon-print one because it's my two favorite colors: sky blue and yellow.  If you look closely, you can see that it even has lemon-shaped buttons (the floral one has rose-shaped buttons, although they're kind of camouflaged).  I think it's these whimsical, one-of-a-kind Betsey details that really sold me on these frocks.  Wearing them makes me feel like one of those retro ladies on magnets and notepads who make cracks about not doing housework.  Take that, Donna Reed.  (Just kidding.  I love you, Donna, especially in It's a Wonderful Life when you say that that crumbling old house is full of charm and romance.  Also, when you ask Jimmy Stewart why he must torture the children.).  Because no little girl wants to grow up to do laundry and vacuum all day.  Instead, we want to play grown-up dress-up, whether that means putting on something pretty or a lab coat or -- and here's an idea -- a lab coat that's pretty.  I can see it now, classic white with rainbow floral lapels and maybe a belt to cinch it in.  Get in on this, med wear manufacturers.  It's a goldmine.       

Bathroom cleaner companies, sorry not sorry.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Library Living, the Gift That Keeps Giving . . .

. . . even though I don't like libraries (too smelly).  But I love what they represent.  That is, books.  And in this world, there are few things more comforting than books about books and the people who love them.  Because I'm one of those people too.  So, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was on my short list of must reads.  If the title sounds a little like The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, then 1) congrats, you've been listening! and 2) that's because it's in that league.  Like A.J., Nina is all about stories.  And knowledge.  And sharing those stories and that knowledge with fellow bookworms who appreciate them.

Here are some things about Nina:

She's twenty-nine, lives in Los Angeles, and works in an independent bookstore.  She's the captain of a pub trivia team called Book 'Em, Danno.  She has an absentee, award-winning photojournalist mother and a father she's never met.  She's witty and arch, sometimes silent, sometimes outspoken.  Order is very important to her, and she enjoys spending time alone.  Also, she's anxious.  And like many anxious people, she's ruled by a mix of imagination and restraint.  I liked her immediately.      

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is somehow both light and heavy, like ambrosia or non-diet canned pears.  Like its heroine, this novel is organized and moves nimbly from point A to point B.  Yet despite its sound structure, it falls firmly into the camp of books that are about thoughts as opposed to actions.  If it were a movie (and I hope that someday it will be!), then it'd be an indie film instead of a big budget blockbuster.  To me, that's the fiction hall of fame sweet spot.  Quirky and cute and just a little bit sad and played out in the life of the mind.  But instead of nattering on and giving away the ending, I'll share three of the quotes that made me fold the pages.  By the way, I used to think that page folding was blasphemy.  But I've since accepted it as one of the best parts of being a bibliophile.  Not to mention a good reason to say neigh to the Kindle.

A quote that's Nina in a nutshell:

"Nina worried she liked being alone too much; it was the only time she ever fully relaxed.  People were . . . exhausting.  They made her anxious.  Leaving her apartment every morning was the turning over of a giant hourglass, the mental energy she'd stored up overnight eroding grain by grain.  She refueled during the day by grabbing moments of solitude and sometimes felt her life was a long-distance swim between islands of silence.  She enjoyed people -- she really did -- she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure." (17).

A quote that's lyrical and mentions makeup:

"As the light dwindled, palm trees and distant buildings would become black silhouettes against an impossibly rosy backdrop.  Sunsets are beautiful in California, the cornflower blue of the sky diluting as the light fades into a teenage girl's pastel palette of nail colors." (96) 

A quote that's a little bit serious and a little bit funny:

"It (The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran) contained Nina's favorite saying: You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.  She wanted to wear it on a T-shirt, embroider it on a pillow, or maybe tattoo it on her wrist.  But the trouble with wordy tattoos was that people start reading them, then you have to stand still while they finish, and then they look up at you and frown and you have to explain yourself . . . Way too much human interaction, plus also the needles, the pain, the fear of the needles and pain.  So, no tattoo, but an embroidery wasn't out of the question." (183)

In the way of novels, things happen to Nina.  These things, of course, involve other people, presenting her with the challenge of expanding her comfort zone while remaining true to herself.  So yeah, she's like A.J. and Sara and Susan and Eleanor and countless other outsider characters.  Which is to say, human.  And, despite her issues, perhaps not so odd after all.

So, here's to word nerds everywhere and living one's best life by -- and not by -- the book.

Sounds like an epic tattoo -- er, embroidery -- to me.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Hoop Scoop: The Big Bangle Angle

Orange Bad Bangle Necklace 

Yellow Bad Bangle Necklace 

Fuchsia Bad Bangle Necklace

Some years ago, I used three bangle bracelets to make a necklace that looked like this:

I called it Three Ring Circus for obvious reasons, not the least of which is the menagerie of animal beads cavorting just outside the fire-hued discs.  It Barnum and Bailey'd its way back into my life last week when I was rifling through my reject box for supplies.  And when I saw it, it spoke to me.  Sure, it was bizarre with its big, bad trio of multicolored rings cobbled together with grade C carabiners.  But I knew that it had potential.  Plus, I still wanted the bangle angle.  Because bangles are everything.  I persist in my belief that their talents extend far beyond adorning the wrist, which, let's face it, is not prime real estate, so often hidden behind a handbag or the meaty paw of a Street Fighter-esque suitor.  So I got to work.  I changed out some of the cabochons, then made three necklaces using my new, oh-so-flexible friend, satin ribbon.  And the results are very pleasing, the stuff of opening night rave reviews -- even if I wrote those reviews myself and they're about, not Broadway, but the big top.

I guess sometimes less really is more.

Except when it comes to clown cars.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Starry Night Sandwich

Historically, I've never been a huge fan of the maxi skirt.  And not just because it shares a name with a feminine hygiene product.  But because I thought it was matronly and a little sloppy, a too grown-up, up-market commune hybrid.  Yet over the years, I've let down my guard (and hemlines), allowing long lengths to infiltrate my wardrobe.  This spring, I've seen more maxis than ever, which means that they're in the style spotlight.  And that I'll be -- ahem --maximizing my wear of this trend.  Spoiler alert: I'm loving my new ankle dusters.  Instead of making me feel like a frumpy mum (no, I'm not British, but "frumpy mum" flows so much better than "frumpy mom"), they make me feel sophisticated, like a woman of the world.  Or at least one who pronounces quinoa correctly.  So I went whole hog and topped off these looks with upswept, lady-of-the-house hair.  The husband said it was wedding hair (it was more ringlety in person).  But then, he also said that the bag in outfit number two was a baby tiger I caught to keep as a purse.  So, not the most reliable of non-narrators.

Betsey Johnson, Macy's 

Anyway, I couldn't decide whether to pair the blue skirt with an orange or yellow top, so I went with both.  In person, I preferred the orange, but in the pictures, it was yellow that won.  Such is the yin and yang of the clotheshorse life.  Yet the most noticeable thing about this skirt (which is, by the way, Nine West from Kohl's) isn't whether it's shown to best advantage against tangerine or lemon, but that it looks like Van Gogh's Starry Night.  Like that famous painting, its bold blue and bolder lines stand out to demand your attention.  And that got me thinking about the coffee table book about Van Gogh that I'd bought for the husband

Normally, I'm not one for nonfiction.  But the story of Van Gogh coupled with the provocative title of this book, Starry Night: Van Gogh at the Asylum, conspired to make me take a peek.  I'd always known that the Dutch master had demons, but Martin Bailey's arresting account makes him seem both more tortured and human.  Van Gogh suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations, which meant he heard and saw things that weren't there.  These phantom sounds may explain why he cut off his ear, and it was this incident that influenced his move to the asylum.  There he was surrounded by men with afflictions much worse than his own, although he initially considered them to be his "companions in misfortune."  (A year later, just before he left, he changed his mind and said that they brought him down.)  Yet despite Van Gogh's somewhat sound mental health, he experienced a series of episodes while an inmate, both catalyzed by and calmed by his devotion to his work.  It was at the asylum that he painted Starry Night, that inextinguishable symbol of light in the dark.  Or, you know, just dark considering Van Gogh's untimely end (shortly after leaving the asylum, he shot himself in a field).  But I choose to see Starry Night as a beacon of hope.  Even if it didn't ultimately save Van Gogh, it gave him solace when he needed it.  Bailey puts it best:

"It is doubtless Van Gogh's passion for art that meant he was able to cope with asylum life.  The intensity of his work helped him fend off the indignities of daily existence, giving him a purpose and making his troubles bearable." (16) 

Before I sign off, I must mention another (albeit macabre) connection between my maxi skirt and Van Gogh.  Both are linked to the red stuff, the skirt with its menstrual-inspired moniker, and Van Gogh with his severed appendage.  And I can't help but think: bloody pad, bloody ear, bloody brilliant!

There goes that Brit thing again.

Grown-up garb or not, I'll never outgrow bathroom humor.