Saturday, July 31, 2021

Christmas in July, Insects Buzzing High: Bye-Bye to Bees and Bah Humbugs

For years, I've been wanting to do a Christmas in July post.  I guess all those commercials about  unseasonable Hallmark movie marathons and mattress sales got to me.  My hook?  Hanging some new necklaces from my, not Christmas, but still at-least-semantically-winter-themed snowball tree.  And today, on the very last day of the month, I thought, hey, no time like the present.  So I hauled my little stepstool, phone, and four necklaces out to the yard.  And discovered that my beautiful tree, which always looks so pristine from my kitchen window, was positively swarming with winged things, some of which were -- gulp -- bees.  Now, I'm all for suffering for my art, but even I have my limits.  In my thirty-nine years, I've never been stung by a bee, and I wasn't about to tempt fate today.  So I hightailed it back into the house and photographed my necklaces the way Santa intended, on nice, safe poster board sprinkled with mini pine trees. 

Tops, clockwise: Bongo, Sears; Self Esteem, JCPenney (two solids); ELLE, Kohl's

The necklaces themselves are not the least bit Christmassy.  But the Night Flight Necklace honors the insect theme with its twin dragonflies.  That's how I like my creepy crawlers, after all, inanimate and dripping with rhinestones.  

Night Flight Necklace

Stay tuned for when Christmas really rolls around and I dig out my pre-lit palm tree for a beach day in December.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Pining for Pinterest: Love at First (Web) Site

I don't know about you, but I'm Pinterest obsessed.  Which you either already know because I've said so before or because you've visited my hoarder's haven of a corner on this popular social media platform.  So why am I so infatuated?  Because Pinterest is like your own personal cyber scavenger hunt, i.e., all the excitement without having to beat out anyone else to find that purple kazoo under the couch.  If squirreling away Pinterest pics is the retail-free answer to our hunter-gatherer instincts, then creating a Pinterest board is like being in a new relationship.  Everything's fun and easy, and you can't get enough.  You save images with all the abandon of a fool in love, on pins and needles for the next fab find to add to your burgeoning collection.  Each acquisition for Beachy Bathing Caps or Dramatic Doors (two totally real boards of mine) gives you the same rush as the ding of a text from your new one-and-only, the addition of every obscure vintage knickknack or garment as intoxicating as the first time your fingers brush his.  

But inevitably, time goes on and your board gets fuller.  Continuing to build it can become more tedious than exhilarating.   Even worse, you notice that some of the pins don't complement each other as well as they used to and that there are even -- gasp -- some duplicates.  So you edit and rearrange to make everything work, deleting the doppelgangers and looking for new stuff that brings you the same joy and satisfaction but in a slightly different way.  You know.  Kind of like when you and your better half bust out of your dinner-and-a-movie-date-night go-to to go bungee jumping.  Or maybe just to an Asian fusion restaurant and an indie film instead of a steakhouse and action flick.  But when you get home, you discover that there was a method to the madness of the repetition, that you kept choosing the same things -- and the same person -- over and over because those are the things that you love.  And sometimes realizing that is when the real commitment -- to a board or to a beau -- begins.  

So in the name of making old favorites feel like new, here are two new old pics to add to my ever-expanding Pinterest arsenal.  The custard cones from a long-ago summer will go on my Extra Accessories board, whereas the oft-posted cacti will find a home on Awesome Arts & Crafts.

If you're wondering just how many Pinterest boards I have, it's a little over two hundred.

What can I say?  I've got a big heart. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Vacation, All I Ever Hunted: Friends Without Benefits

When I first read about Emily Henry's People We Meet on Vacation on Ivy's Closet, I knew it was my kind of novel.  Ivy's Closet, by the way, is a fun and creative blog featuring original fiction, book and movie reviews, music playlists, and more.  If you enjoy pop culture and engaging writing (and who doesn't?), then I highly recommend it, along with its sister blogs Ellie and Caitlin & Megan.  So, People We Meet on Vacation.  I was instantly into it because it's about the kind of romance that everyone wants: the kind that begins as friendship.  Alex and Poppy have enough inside jokes to fill a book, accept each other's flaws (an acceptance, that is, accompanied by good-natured ribbing), and are protective of each other.  After meeting at the University of Chicago, they go on a summer vacation every year.  Henry describes these trips as flashbacks, letting us get to know Alex and Poppy slowly and through the bittersweet lens of nostalgia.  And although their living situations, jobs, and romantic statuses change, they keep at it for a decade.

Poppy is a free spirit who showers three times a week and lives in vintage jumpsuits whereas Alex is a planner who runs at dawn and prefers brand-new button-downs.  Maybe that's why they stay in the friend zone.  Yet although much is made of their Odd Couple ways, they're at their most comfortable -- and happiest -- together.  Which tracks, because they have three key things in common: 1) They're both writers, 2) They both have a stellar sense of humor (so much more important than on-the-same-page hygiene), and 3) They both come from the same small town in Ohio.  Interestingly, it's the town of their origin stories that keeps them from becoming even closer.  Haunted by being taunted in high school, Poppy dropped out of college and fled to New York City, eager to begin her globe-trotting life as a travel writer.  But Alex put down roots, building a career as an English teacher-slash-short story writer to be near his dad, who's still grieving the death of his mom.  And that works.  Because Alex and Poppy have their summer vacations, or as Poppy puts it, their "world for two."  

But sooner or later, vacations must end, even for Alex and Poppy.  As they enter their thirties, they can no longer pretend that they don't have to decide what to do with their lives -- and each other.  Can they move on from the carefree, no-strings-attached vibe of the Go-Go's "Vacation" to the let's-be-each-other's-north-star romance of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Home"?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But one thing's for sure.  Sometimes, the people we meet on vacation aren't strangers, but the best versions of ourselves.

Then again, sometimes they are strangers.  But that's a different kind of book for a different kind of blog. 

P.S. Don't talk to strangers.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Stripe Hype: For Those Times When You Don't Want to Polka

Bag: Lily Bloom, JCPenney

Dress: Lula Roe

Bag: Sugar Thrillz, Dolls Kill

Skirt: Modcloth

Bag: Olivia Miller, Amazon

Shoes: Betsey Johnson, Macy's

Dress: Rock & Republic, Kohl's

Polka dot, that is.  Because even wearing such a slaphappy print, let alone doing its namesake dance, demands a nimble spirit.  Not so with stripes.  They bring to mind, not rollicking reels, but maps crisscrossed with equators and prime meridians as indelibly as gym class Fs on a report card.  Because globes, round though they may be, don't deign to serve volleyballs or don sweat-stained uniforms.  No, they sit still in the study, and when you're with them, you must sit still too.  Call it revenge of the nerds.  And not the slick kind in Silicon Valley, but those who putter in academia or even just eat macadamia nuts while writing Wikipedia entries.   

I think we can all agree that none of this makes any sense.  Especially because my black Betsey wedges are, however subtly, polka dotted.  But posts don't always have to dot their i's or drink their t's.  

They just have to have a good time and a cold Coca Cola.

But more on that (maybe) next time.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tropical Getaway Car, You're a Star. And a Barb. But Not the Kind on a Wire.

What happens when two mild-mannered, middle-aged besties from the Midwest go on vacay to Florida?  Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, that's what.  Deserted by their men (Barb's by death, Star's by divorce) as well as their mutual employer Jennifer Convertibles, all Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) have is each other.  Well, each other and their not book but talk club, which includes a militant Vanessa Bayer and a giddy Fortune Feimster.  From their frumpy 'dos to their Alfred Dunner resort wear, Barb and Star are the Lucy and Ethel of tourists (or, rather, the Ethel and Lucy, for it's Wiig's Star who reigns as the cruise director of this caper), scamming their way into a luxury hotel, buying every seashell tchotchke in sight, and getting mixed up in criminal intrigue.  But the gal pals' bond is tested when they both fall for fellow vacationer Edgar (Jamie Dornan, a.k.a. Christian Grey), a seemingly sensitive hunk with something to hide.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is wonderfully weird and everything you'd expect from writing partner powerhouses Wiig and Mumolo.  There's also a grandmas gone wild element.  Let's just say that Mr. Grey fits right in.  

As do the duo's culottes, which feature prominently in the plot, proving that the right piece of clothing can sometimes save your life.

Speaking of island idyll fashion (forget that Florida's a peninsula), these Frannie Fruit Earrings fit the seagull's bill.  With an old lady name and a colorful game, they could be the crowning touch for a blue-haired sunseeker or for a happy-hour-any-hour spring breaker.  Making them meant that I'm getting to the end of the fruit charms I bought last summer, which is as bittersweet as a near-rotten kiwi.

Kind of like the end of that other (New Zealand!) buddy comedy, Flight of the Conchords.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Life's a Beach: Bucket List Dis

Flipflops: Katy Perry, Amazon

Top: So, Kohl's

Bracelets clockwise: Iris Apfel for INC, Macy's; B Fabulous; Mixit, JCPenney; Cloud Nine, Ocean City; Sunglasses: Wild Fable, Target

Skirt: So, Kohl's

They (and Morgan Freeman) say that most of us have a bucket list.  Or, in other words, things we want to do before we die.  Items may include seeing the Great Barrier Reef, meeting Oprah, and skydiving.  The point is, must-dos are usually lofty, even over-the-top to the point of being unachievable.  Maybe that's why, to me, a bucket list simply spells pressure.  And pressure's the very last thing that I want while thinking about The Grim Reaper.  

Speaking of buckets, I was delighted to find a bucket bag shaped like an actual (beach) bucket.  I almost missed out on it because it sold out the first time I saw it.  I guess others, ahem, dig sandcastle style too.  

Bag: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's

Thankfully, no shovel -- or cyberstalking -- was required to make this Sunset Trip Necklace. 

Ablaze with red and orange, it reminds me of the spectacular skies you seem to see only while on vacation.  And that makes me happy because no one should have to endure jetlag to experience beauty. 

That said, I guess that scooping up this bucket bag -- and all purses shaped like unlikely things -- means that I've got a bucket list after all.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Palm Tree-A-Palooza: Hey You, Unicorn

Skirt: H&M

Bag: Amazon; Mint belt: Wild Fable, Target; Neon belt: Izod, Marshalls; Sunglasses: Amazon; Flower clip: Capelli, ULTA; Ring: Express; Striped bangle: Mixit, JCPenney; Rainbow bangle: B Fabulous; Glitter bangles: Target; Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney

Top: Rebellious One, Macy's

Shoes: ALDO, Macy's

Skirt: Decree, JCPenney

Bag: Zulily

Shoes: B.A.I.T., Zulily

Skirt: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney

Shoes: Betsey Johnson, Macy's

Top: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's

You know how you spot a grove of palm trees and breathlessly wait for a unicorn to emerge, its flowing, rainbow mane threaded with hibiscus and a pina colada tattooed on its rump?  


Maybe I've watched one too many of those scenes of horses galloping on the beach after one too many pina coladas.

Just kidding.  You know I don't drink.

And I never kid about my adoration for unicorns.  That's why I pulled out my favorite tee, a fifteen-year-old-plus relic featuring one that's also a pegasus.  

Top: Next Era, Kohl's

It was the perfect thing to complement my two new wonderfully whimsical unicorn rings from PinkBopp.  Here they are beneath an explosion of pompoms and rhinestones:    

And here they are au naturel (unless you count my nail polish):

And, finally, here they are in their Lisa Frank sticker-bedecked keepsake box:

If that's not magical, then I don't know what is.  

Unless it's a unicorn drinking a Shirley Temple and playing the ukulele.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Sex, Surprise, and Videotape: Love Conquers Gall

It's fun to read about fabulous people.  Even when they're fabulously awful.  So I enjoyed Kevin Kwan's Sex and Vanity, which is as lousy with fancy folk as Kwan's first novel, Crazy Rich Asians.  Like Asians, Sex and Vanity is about two soulmates separated by that age-old spoilsport, social class.  Only this time, the couple isn't made up of a middle class academic and an uber upper class heir who's also an academic, but an old money miss and a nouveau riche Romeo (actually, two nouveau riche Romeos -- but who's counting?).  This means that this rom com of manners is, in some ways, even more outrageously luxe than its "crazy" predecessor.  Loosely based on E.M. Forster's A Room With a View, which, former English major or not, I learned only after reading the jacket, it's peppered with Kwan's signature snarky footnotes exposing the characters for their foibles, sometimes gently -- but more often than not with a skewer.  

Lucie Churchill is a bio major at Brown when she meets aspiring architect George Zao in Capri at a lavish wedding.  The daughter of a Chinese, Seattle-born scientist mother and a white, New York Social Register father, Lucie has always been caught between two cultures but favors the white one.  So when she meets George, an idealist and flagrant flouter of convention from Hong Kong with an even more flagrantly flamboyant mother, she finds him gauche.  But also, to her chagrin, irresistible.  Make no mistake; George is plenty wealthy, too, albeit not the right kind of seersucker-sporting, Plymouth Rock rich.  But his penchant for questioning privilege unsettles Lucie.  What's more, Lucie's aversion for George flourishes under the influence of her snooty cousin Charlotte, who attends the wedding as Lucie's chaperone.  Yet despite the emotional wall that she so carefully crafts, a freak accident throws Lucie literally and figuratively into George's arms, forcing her to see him in a new light and hurtling her into a sex, lies, and videotape (okay, drone) situation that ultimately thwarts her from the course she's set for herself. 

Lush with luminous descriptions (even the cover flaunts fuchsia foil foliage), Sex and Vanity is one of those high style stories that makes you want to know and not know how the other half lives.  Kwan is as enamored of the well-heeled as he is amused and disgusted by them.  Lucie is his ambassador, an intelligent, pure-of-heart heroine who is nevertheless a product of her precious trappings.  How she reacts to the obstacles that her family -- and, more to the point, she -- creates is what makes her interesting.  

One last thing.  Don't be fooled by the title.  There isn't all that much sex in this book.  Rather, the phrase "sex and vanity" is something someone says to expose someone else.  

It doesn't get much more Brit lit bit witty -- or, for that matter, Kwan quippy -- than that.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Americana-Rama Arrivederchi

Bag: Old Navy

Bracelet and ring: Mixit, JCPenny; Beaded bracelet: Plymouth Plantation gift shop; Red ring: Miami accessories cart

Howlite Delight Necklace

Shoes: Betsey Johnson, DSW

Top: So, Kohl's

Shoes: Mix No. 6, DSW

Bag: Amazon

Bangles: B Fabulous; Bow: Carole, JCPenny; Ring: Cloud Nine, Ocean City

Dress: Lily Rose, Kohl's

Bag: Nahui Ollin

Shoes: B.A.I.T., Zulily

Dress: Live To Be Spoiled, Kohl's

Cherry necklace: Candie's, Kohl's; Choker: Cape May accessories shop

I know it's weird to use an Italian word in a post about America.  But sometimes when you're going out with a bang, you also have to end with a vowel.  And all countries are intertwined anyway, even if our pizza and pasta are about as Italian as apple pie.  That said, today marks the last day of the U.S.A's birthday week.  So, I dressed for a proper sendoff in red, white, and blue -- and a little yellow.  Because no picture -- or fireworks display -- is complete without a splash of sunburst.  And what's an outfit if not a slice-of-life picture?      

Especially when it's a portrait of people enjoying apple and pizza pie.