Friday, December 28, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

           So, I gave myself a mini-Christmas-blog-vacation. Tuesday was the good ole 25th of December and my über-stylish and thoughtful little brother was home (with his puppy Oliver and Oliver’s friend Iggy). I, of course, took my own advice and spent the day in tailored sweatpants, partook of Starbucks iced coffee – no donuts, but I assure you I made up for that in many other ways, and did relatively nothing. My real Christmas celebration happens the evening before, and that was also lovely. The whole Yule came in and out like a whirlwind this year. And now it is almost the new year! I think it’s excellent that the world didn’t end on December 21st as so many people were worried it would. Quite simply, there are still many more shoes I would like to wear. And, I am not speaking metaphorically, but quite literally. While I have very recently Christmas gifted myself a pair of Hogan sneakers (HEAVEN!!!! Just as expected!), I still would like to get my hands on a pair of Chloe ballet flats.
            Since we will have another year, we will have another year’s eve. What will you wear? What will I wear? New Year’s Eve is one of the holidays when we can get away with really glamming it up with glitz and glitter. When you think about it, it’s completely nonsensical. It’s a random day, 10 days into winter, when it’s cold, dark, grey, and otherwise completely ordinary. How often, however, do we have free reign with the sequins, sparkles, and over the top disco ball style? Hardly ever.
            There is one thing about this holiday I take great offense at, and that is the ridiculous ball that drops in Times Sq. It was recently replaced with one covered in Waterford Crystal. (You can read ALL about it here.) That should translate in your head to muchos dollars. If you read my blog about the Olympics opening ceremonies, you know how I feel about such ridiculous wastes of money in times when there are people who don’t have food to eat. I’m just a poor person, however, living in a world of excess.
This is fairly tame compared to many of Sears' Junior Dress
collection. Why does she look so happy? She's thinking
"paycheck" instead of "what the hell am i wearing?"
            Moving on to wearable glitz, you do NOT have to spend a lot of money to find something ridiculous. This would be perhaps the ONLY instance where I might say that it is acceptable to purchase something from the Sears fancy dress department (though I still do not endorse it). They have sequined spandex to the max. See the dress – this is the kind of “holy shit ugly” I encounter every time I walk through Sears to get into the mall. One of the reasons I say you could do this for New Year’s is because many people will be too drunk to remember that you did. If you are going to do this, however, you must be no bigger in girth than the size of one of my thighs. For the rest of us, the After Christmas Sales are the best times to buy these “I might not wear it again” shiny/sparkly dresses for New Year’s Eve.
            The problem with sequins is that they need to be sewn on by a person. That raises the cost. Shiny is definitely going to cost you less than sequined. And if you spend $300+ on a dress to wear only for New Year’s Eve, to get your money’s worth you will probably also need to wear this dress around the house while you do things like vacuuming and dishwashing. Wearing a sequined/shiny shirt with a skirt or pants is always an option, depending on how fancy a party you will be attending. Or you could be bold and switch that around – although I really don’t recommend sequined pants. You will look like Liberace.
            Let’s just cut to the chase. Here are some dresses. I wish you well in the New Year. My friend Roslyn will be getting married on the Eve. I have not yet decided what I will be wearing to her New Year’s Eve wedding! I guarantee you there will be some shine or sparkle somewhere in my outfit…. This is not to say that it is ever inappropriate to spend New Year’s Eve on the couch in pajamas.

Free People Daydream Beaded Dress $88

Eliza J Bloused Sequin Dress $94.80

Anne Klein Sleeveless Knot Dress $104.25

Karl Ordina Sequined Biker Dress $145.01
Ali Ro Ruched Lo-Back Sequined Dress $238


Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: I Definitely Don't Want to Smell Like Justin Bieber's Girlfriend

If Alien's take out Earth today, you KNOW

            I don’t know about you, but sometimes when the commercials come on I’ll start to wonder if I’ve ingested some sort of controlled substance inadvertently. The video on the screen just doesn’t make sense. I can’t figure out what’s going on. Then I realize, OH this is a commercial for some perfume (or cat food). I can’t wait for the holidays to be over just so that the perfume commercials will go away. I used to get excited for Christmas time. There used to be gay and cheerful holiday movies abounding. Now it’s just cracked out mini films of wet people, teenagers in bridal gowns, and Brad Pitt trying to convince me that Chanel No. 5 is not a perfume for an older woman.
            So maybe perfume isn’t really a fashion item. You can’t see it. But, you do wear it. And, it is sold by many fashion houses. Sadly, many celebrities with narcissism disorders have also decided they should scent the public. Justin Bieber, my favorite singer, has a perfume called “Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend.” Inventive. YUCKKKKKKY.
            So, what are they trying to sell with these commercials? There’s the Acqua Di Gioia for Women commercial…. It’s a half-naked, unnaturally tan, malnourished woman, trotting around in a jungle. If I wear this perfume am I going to want to run around half naked in a jungle? Or am I going to smell like I’ve been running around half naked in a jungle? I don’t think I’d like either of those things very much. Nor do I want to look like I’ve been running around in the jungle and lying in wet sand.
            A commercial for Ralph Lauren Romance just visited my television. I saw some family, and then I saw a couple riding horses through prairie, while simultaneously making out. That looked kind of difficult to coordinate. Maybe Ralph Lauren is trying to tell me that if I wear Romance I will become skilled at coordinating difficult tasks, such as managing families and multitasking while riding a horse.
            I must say, there is one that I don’t mind so much. It has Julia Roberts in it. She’s a pretty face. And I think they’re playing Blonde Redhead in the background. Pretty face, pretty sounds. There are also sparkling things hanging from the ceiling. The commercial makes absolutely no sense in any way. I have no idea what’s going on. I also couldn’t tell you what perfume it’s for, because all I remember is Julia Roberts smiling amidst sparkly magical strings.
            What I find truly silly about all of these commercials is that I don’t think perfume or cologne is actually a good gift to give at all! If you know the person likes the scent, of course, then it’s a lovely gift. If it’s a shot in the dark, however, it can go so horribly wrong. And if you’re choosing a perfume from a television commercial, I’m guessing the lights are out. Not only are people very, very picky about the smells that they like, but they don’t always smell good wearing the smells they enjoy. That whole body chemistry thing doesn’t always work out.
            I happen to think Chanel Chance is a lovely fragrance. I tried it on to see how it would wear throughout the day (as you should with any fragrance you are considering… many layers of flavor, like Willy Wonka Gobstoppers). At first, it was fantastic! A couple of hours later, wouldn’t you know it, I smelled like a powdered donut. You might think I would like that, but no.
            None of the perfumes I wear advertise on television. I’m sure that’s not coincidental. They seem to be quite successful without advertising. If it smells good, the product probably sells itself. If it doesn’t sell, it’s probably because it doesn’t smell good. Do you think these commercials actually work? Do people watch these things and think, “Wow I wish I looked like Charlize Theron. I’m going to go buy some J’Adore.”? I would buy that perfume if it would make me look like her, but I’ve never met her and I don’t know what she smells like. Maybe I wouldn’t want to smell like her. Maybe she smells like dill or fennel. I can’t make an educated decision about whether or not I want to smell like another person by watching them on television. Perhaps instead of bombarding my holiday-viewing with seedy, nonsensical commercials the sellers of these perfumes should just stop. That would be such a nice gift, wouldn’t it?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Donut Diet - Don't Give Up Hope

           My Facebook friends may recall several months ago when I talked about venturing forth into unknown nutritional territory and began what I’m going to go ahead and term “The Donut Diet.” It sounds delightful doesn’t it? You may be wondering what it entails. It’s very simple. All it requires is to eat a donut every day, along with everything else you would normally eat. It was an experiment. I wanted to find out if I could lose weight by substituting my daily chocolate chip muffin with a chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin’ Donuts. I thought it was quite generous of me to take one for the team and set out on this mission of daily donut consumption. I am sorry to report, it’s not really working.
            Before you give up all hope that this could be a legitimate thing, I want to disclose that I was unable to run an entirely controlled experiment. There are other things that could have resulted in my lack of weight-loss. First of all, the walk to Dunkin’ Donuts is only 5 minutes, whereas the walk to get a chocolate chip muffin was a solid mile. So, eating the donut cut two miles of walking out of my daily routine (it’s been cold and rainy though – who wants to walk two miles in the cold rain? I don’t). Additionally the change in weather has caused in a decrease in my exercise. I can’t do yoga outside – it’s too cold. The Monday afternoon yoga class at the gym got cancelled, which meant no class, no walk to the gym, and no 45 minutes of cardio before class. The Monday evening class I would have gone to also got cancelled. And I’ve decided that rather than doing an hour of cardio after I lift weights on Wednesday mornings, I would rather lay on the floor and stretch/sleep with my eyes open while my friend Beth runs 5 miles on a treadmill. OH and when I go to Dunkin’ Donuts I have to get an iced coffee. Despite being a black coffee drinker, I can’t drink Dunkin’s iced coffee without milk and sugar. There are some more calories. All of those things could be contributing to the fact that I can’t get my pants zipped up.
            The dryer! That evil monster that conspires against junk-trunked women everywhere. Perhaps he’s been up to something. Come to think of it, it is most likely those other things and not the donuts. A regular chocolate frosted donut only has 270 calories in it! That’s less than a large Coke from McDonalds. It’s WAY less than a chocolate chip cookie from Panera (440 calories!). The reason I bring this up, is that I bet most of the homemade confections you will encounter at holiday parties and at your mom’s house are all less calories than the crap we buy out (except the chocolate frosted donut – the unsung hero of diet foods). People may try to watch their waistline this season. I say, eat it all! Screw dieting! Unless you’re already pushing 300 pounds (it may be time to take a look at yourself in the mirror and have a conversation about how much you’re ingesting), enjoy the food! Go for walks, go to the gym, take the dog out, and don’t be a bump on a log.
            I’m not interested in being super thin. I may have been once, but enough is enough. I associate those times with times of extreme lack of mental wellbeing. There’s a reason there are multiple layers of muscle and flesh that cover our bones. It’s because you’re not supposed to be able to see them. Anorexics and bulimics don’t have much fun. They either don’t experience the food or they experience it twice in a less pleasant way. There’s something wrong when society starts to praise a lack of health. While I was in the fitting room the other day trying on some (ahem, larger – to accommodate too many squats and lunges NOT DONUTS) jeans, I overheard a sales woman saying “Oh it just hangs so nicely on you because you’re SO thin,” to a middle aged woman. What she should have said was, “It hangs well on you because you basically resemble a wire hanger.” My cat could have broken her in half. Yuck. Food is part of life. Part of loving life is loving food. Enjoy the holidays. Taste the season. Be merry, drink lots (Thin out that blood! It’s good for your heart!), and EAT!

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Is That Dog Wearing A Dress?

           How do you feel about animal apparel? I must say, up until very recently, I thought anyone who clothed their pet was out of their mind. Then, I met Oliver. Oliver is my brother’s French bulldog puppy. Oliver might be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, and he looks dashing in a hoody. He also looks excellent in a tartan sweater, like a little old man in a puppy body. I don’t want to know how much Oliver’s sweater cost, but I imagine it was close to what I would pay for clothing for myself. Now I find myself looking at apparel for dogs online, for Oliver. The little guy will get cold outside! He only weighs four pounds.
Does my owner think I'm a
Build-a-Bear? If I bite him
will he wake up from this
nightmare I'm living?
            As I browse the manly selections for this treasured addition to my brother’s single parent animal house (he also has a cat, Lionel, and some fish which he bought for Lionel as entertainment), I have been noticing that there are some selections out there that are just as questionable as the Sears formal dress section (have you ever seen so many multicolored sequins mixed with so much spandex in such a small amount of space?). Look at this tiered ruffled red dress I just found on Gilt Group. No self-respecting dog would want to be dressed in this. It’s ridiculous. I don’t even think a child would want to wear this. And this satin cheetah with belt dog dress?! You’ve got to be kidding. Why would you do this to an animal?
I want to poop on this dress. And then I would like
to poop all over the person who put me in it.
            Our pets look to us to take care of them. They trust us to look out for their wellbeing. To rob them of their dignity by forcing them into a getup like this… it should be punishable with jail time. If you’re going to buy clothing for your pets, it should be clothing that you would feel comfortable wearing yourself.
            The one exception would be holiday wear. Antlers, Santa costumes, elf outfits – these things are appropriate for short amounts of time. If you want to put this on your dog for long enough to take a picture, I think that’s probably okay. Again, though, these are rules that you would probably apply to yourself.
            There are things that are just not okay for any amount of time, such as dressing up monkeys in baby clothes. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Are You REALLY Going To Put All Those Lights On? A Christmas Tree Lighting Tutorial

           In the spirit of my other holiday-oriented posts, I thought I would continue on this path and share my tree-lighting knowledge with you. While some of you have seen pictures of my work, and a lucky few have witnessed it up close, I don't know that anyone has actually gotten to watch the process. Unlike with two of my other holiday favorite activities, chocolate making and outdoor Christmas lighting, very little swearing happens during this process. It's family friendly! 
            First you must start with a large tree. I love it when the tree is slightly too large for the room it's in. My brother's girlfriend, my brother, my mom, and I all were unanimous in picking this guy. Luckily it's not quite as tall as the one we had last year, which looked like it was growing through the ceiling. 

           You're going to want to make sure all of your lights work before you get ready to put them on. That way if you need to run out and buy more lights, you can do it before you start wrapping the tree. I like to to replace burnt out bulbs with bulbs from defunct strings from my outdoor displays. Please note the red hoodie - not for Christmas, but for Indiana. Go Hoosiers!

           Organize your supplies. Make sure you have alcohol handy. Some companions might be nice also. 

           Okay now we're ready. I take stock of what I have and decide what order I'm going to put the lights on in. Since I have more colored lights, I usually start with those. The first sets of lights get wrapped in really close to the trunk of the tree, so you can't see the wires. I start on one side at the bottom and walk around to the other side and then work my way back and forth in S shapes until I get to the top. After I get to the top, I work my way back down in the same manner. This here on the left is what 500 lights looks like. It's kind of sad isn't it? I can't believe some people stop here! 

Now here to the right you have the 500 multicolored lights plus round two - 250 multicolored twinklers (I just love those) and a set of 100 purple lights. I picked up the purples a couple of years ago. They're not my favorite, but they do add some interesting warm color. I like them as a close to the trunk strand as well. Resist the urge to plug more than 3 or 4 strings of lights end to end unless it specifically tells you on the box that you may do more than that.

            AAAH it's a tree! There it is. So here I've added another 200 multicolored lights of the opaque frosted variety. They're hard to find. I'm not sure where you can get them anymore. If you happen upon some, please let me know! 
           The next critical step was to get another beer out of the fridge. Then I was able to add the two strings of 100 ct. gold colored lights. That gives it a nice warm glow. You may be able to tell from the picture that the lights have started coming out along the branches of the tree. You want to work your way out. It's still nice to try and hide the wires. I do not recommend wrapping them around the branches. You will regret it when you go to take the tree down. We're about halfway there.

             The year I discovered the beauty of solid green strings was a good one. The tree's green, why not light it in its natural color? 300 green lights and then 200 twinkling whites went on in this round. I like white lights a lot. I can't have all colors. I need variety, clearly. 

            250 Clear white lights and 100 frosted white lights brightened the tree up quite a lot. I like to get it so you don't need to turn other lights on in the room. We're ALMOST done. The last bit is 300 blue lights in three different hues. They're my favorite color, I can't resist. And, they cool it down if you happened to overdo it with the warm colors. (NEVER try to fix an over exuberance with one color by taking lights OFF the tree).

         Here you have it. 23 strings and 2400 lights later, this is what you get. Before you venture out and try this yourself, I suggest you figure out what circuits your microwaves, hair dryers, refrigerators, etc are on. You wouldn't want to have your whole apartment go down because you plugged in the Christmas tree. I also recommend you not leave your tree plugged in when you leave the house. Smokey the Bear would not be pleased if you started a forest fire in your house. 

Disclaimer: If you do decide to attempt my style of Christmas tree lighting, I will not be held liable for damage caused by small or large fires, death or injury resultant of strangulation by Christmas light cable, anaphylaxis from too much contact with pine or fir trees, strained back and shoulder muscles from too much reaching, bruises and broken bones that may occur while falling off chairs, any injury obtained while attempting to wrap lights around your cat, added cost to your electric bill, or negation of your Homeowner's Insurance. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Special Saturday Edition!:Festive Fa-la-las

           Those of you out there who know me well know that Christmas is my favorite holiday. Saying I love this time of year is like saying that children like candy. It doesn't even begin to cover how excited I get about things like Christmas trees with enough lights on them to cause a small fire, the smell of balsam and pine underfoot and in the air, glitter on everything, and terrible, corny, made-for-TV movies on Lifetime, the Hallmark Channel, and ABC Family Channel. I also love the classics, of course. And, naturally, I have found the three 24 hour Christmas music radio stations and preset them into the radio. 
           I do find that these radio stations play a lot of the same music. And they tend to leave out my favorite songs, perhaps because some of them are, shall we say, non traditional. I thought I could brighten up your weekend by sharing with you some of the season's greatest hits!!! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: I'll Bring the Wallets, You Bring the Dough!!!!

Salvatore Ferragamo
Icona French Wallet $425
This one's for Grandma.
            Let’s get something straight. A stocking stuffer does not have its status determined by its size, but by its price. iPhone – NOT a stocking stuffer. Candy pooping reindeer – STOCKING STUFFER. Now that we have that straight… A fantastic holiday gift idea, and a particular favorite accessory of mine, is the wallet! Wallets, wristlets, cosmetic pouches, card cases, money clips: all of these delightful little gems come in a range of styles, qualities and prices. This means that you can get them as “I love you so much!” gifts to yourself, “Thanks for employing me,” gifts for your boss, “I had to spend a lot of money on you, but you have such horrible taste in everything I didn’t know what else to get for you,” presents for matriarchal family members, “Holidays are awkward - this is personal, but not so personal that there’s worry of wedding bells,” gifts for boyfriends/girlfriends, or even “This is a cute way to spruce up the inside of your purse and it didn’t cost me much!” for your girlfriends. Wallets as gifts for men tend to be a bit more personal as they seem to use one until it is completely falling to pieces and then replace it. With us ladies, it’s like handbags. Excess is to be expected. Different wallets exist for different bags, moods, and seasons.
Comme des Garçons
Bright Star Wallet $210
            Designer wallets all come with hefty multiple hundred dollar price tags. Even after selling them, I’m going to be honest with you – I'm not entirely certain why they’re so pricey. Saffiano leather is a draw, yes (that’s that lovely laser textured leather, and it does make your product more durable to things like that rude, grabby girl’s finger nails and cats). Brass zippers last longer and generally work a bit better. The colors are nice. As long as your product is made of leather and not plastic, however, it should be fairly durable! Maybe people won’t say, “OOH, she has a PRADA wallet!” when you go to pay for things, but do you really need to hear that to move on with your day? These fill the “had to spend a lot of money on you” gift category.
Miu Miu Matelassé
Leather Wallet $480
If you’re going to shell out the cash for a wallet/wristlet for yourself, it should at least have something exciting going on with its appearance, other than a designer logo. I love Comme des Garçons for interesting wallets. I can’t figure out for the life of me why they’re so expensive, other than the cool quotient. This little wallet sure is fun! It also comes in a pouch style (no strap, so sadly not a wristlet). Colorful. Shiny. Sure to bring smiles. They have some polka dot embossed pieces as well that are quite rich in color. For texture, Miu Miu does the matelassé leather wallets. I absolutely love this style. This is on the top end of what I deem an acceptable amount to pay for a wallet. I’m not even going to discuss wallets that cost more than this. There are people starving on the street in the cold. If you are thinking about buying an $800 wallet, I strongly suggest you think about just how ridiculous that is and buy the $480 wallet (which is ALSO ridiculous btw) and give the other $300 to a homeless shelter.
Hobo 'Lauren' Double
Frame Clutch $128
Let’s explore the personal/not so personal price range for girlfriends, girlfriends of family members, and just plain old NORMAL people. Some brands I really like for quality/style/price are Hobo, Lodis, and Cole Haan. Hobo makes the double frame clutch. The advantage to this lovely “wallet” is that you can fill it with all kinds of stuff for a night out on the town. It can take the place of a handbag. (It’s funny, gentlemen. As much as the ladies love to accumulate handbags, they find them to be a giant pain in the ass to haul around.) The drawback is that you have to hold it in your hand wherever you go, hence the term “clutch.” If you get a shiny one, though, it’s not so bad. You can stare at it in the light and entertain yourself whilst those around you start to wonder about your level of sanity. These run a little over $100 depending on the style. I don’t know anyone with one of these who doesn’t love it, including myself. 
Lodis 'Audrey'
Continental Wallet $88
Lodis just makes lovely leather products. Sometimes they have really fun wacky wallets for people who want something different. I have a fluorescent yellow one with dead flowers shellacked into it. They almost always carry very basic wallets – ziparounds, frame, continental (long), and French (short, squat). And business card cases! For a less expensive or a “thanks for employing me” gift.
Cole Haan 'Jitney'
Electronic Wristlet $78
I love the idea of a wristlet. It used to be that you could only get wristlets at Coach, but now Cole Haan has quite a few of them and I really prefer their leathers. I find the wristlet far superior to the clutch for normal daily use. You put that little loop around your wrist, and you let go, and it just hangs there! Tada! Magic. I can be absent minded and know that my wallet is attached to my body. Just like my mittens used to be. My brilliant friend Jenifer has an entirely different use for the wristlet. She uses multiples of them to organize the inside of her handbag. Coach should probably be paying her for the good press she’s giving them.
Lulu Wallet from Sears $9.98
Now if you’d like a cute stocking stuffer style wallet to give as a gift, you can pay a stocking stuffer price ($9.98) and purchase this one at Sears. It’s shiny. It’s silly. It’s fun. It’s probably going to fall apart in a couple of months. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather than being sad about poorly made $10 wallets, I would approach this the same way I approach broken wine glasses. The sooner you break them all, the sooner you get to pick out new ones! 
Cole Haan Reflective
Slim Wallet in
Tango Red $98
         If you want to buy a wallet, money clip, card case for your man, do not fear... I’m not going to leave you hanging. While I am not a man and can’t tell you for sure what I would need in a men’s wallet, I once sold quite a lot of them. From my experience, if you’re not 100% certain he likes ornately decorated stuff, he probably doesn’t want a jacked up wallet. Like this Cole Haan reflective wallet in Tango Red? PROBABLY NOT. It needs to be soft enough leather that it’s not going to be painful in the back pocket, yet also durable. It’s not a good thing when the corners start coming apart or the stitching starts coming out. Some guys stuff way more stuff than they should in those poor bi-folds. (No one carries trifold wallets anymore, except very strange clientele). I really liked to sell this textured bifold at Ferragamo, though I don’t remember it costing $295. Inflation? It’s simple and durable. If you’ve found a man worth keeping, this wallet is worth buying. Money clips are fun too for a more old-fashioned type, or someone who routinely has lots of cash. Just don’t get the magnetic ones. They seem really great, until that one absent minded day when the guy puts a credit card in with his cash……