Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmasy things

Do you know what I haven't done in forever? Given you beautiful people something new to look at. So, I'm here to remedy that situation.
What I have been up to is getting into the holiday spirit via decorating, cooking, and attending Christmas-y parties. Well, actually just one party. You know how I'm not particularly into being social. But I did wear a pretty dress! And bring two of my dearest friends from college along with me!

Photographic evidence of the aforementioned activities:
 I've made peppermint bark every year for the holidays since I was in middle school. I'd wrap it up in little bags and give it out to my friends on the last day of class before winter break. It's super easy and people LOVE it. Always a hit, I promise.
To make, you just need:
  • a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • a bag of white chocolate chips
  • three candy canes
  • some wax paper
  • two bowls
  • casserole dish or baking sheet
  • a plastic bag, a towel, and a hammer or heavy knife (for breaking the candy canes)
So it's simple: You melt the semi-sweet chips in the microwave (if you want to be fancy, you could do it in a double boiler. But I'm pretty domestically lazy.) and smooth it out on the wax paper in the dish or baking sheet. Pop it in the fridge for half an hour.
While that's setting, go to work on crushing up the candy canes. It takes some muscle and can kind of be a pain if you don't have the right tools. Just keep at it -- you don't want someone to bite down on a huge piece of candy cane and break a tooth. That would be a liability issue. I usually put the candy canes in a plastic bag and wrap the bag in a towel -- the jagged edges from the candy start ripping the bag so if you don't wrap it in something, you're going to have pieces in your eye. Watch it, ok? I wail at it with a big knife, but use whatever you have. Or employ some able-bodied male to do it for you.
When the chocolate is set, melt the white chips down the same way. Spread them over the semi-sweet ones, being careful not to press down too much and mucking up the first layer. Once that looks all nice, QUICKLY -- before the white chocolate starts to set -- sprinkle the candy cane bits over the top. Definitely don't mix them into the white chocolate before you spread it over the semisweet chocolate because it won't look right. I tried it one year and it turned out terrible. Learn from my mistakes.
Press the candy canes in and then pop it in the fridge until everything's hardened. Give it an hour if you can. Depending on how big your pan was, it might be too thick to break into pieces by hand. So set the whole slab onto a cutting board and start piercing it with a hefty knife. It should start cracking on it's own pretty nicely.
So that's that.

 It's become my responsibility over the years to decorate the garland we hang in the den of the house, so I try to do something creative. This year, I went with a game theme and stuck cards and ribbon-wrapped dominoes into the greens. Then I spelled out 'Merry Christmas' with Scrabble letters and hung them from the top. I'll have to get a picture of the finished product for you later.
So then my friends and family got all dressed up and went to a Christmas ball last weekend. I spent forever trying to find an appropriate dress and could find nothing I liked that didn't cost a million dollars, so I ended up getting this one at Jessica McClintock. I know, I know -- how very high school prom of me. But it's actually pretty cute, yeah? And classic enough to be worn again. I simply cannot stand the concept of buying something to wear it only once.
Had a few too many of those lime-filled beverages...
My brother apparently doesn't like my mom and me very much...
One for the Christmas card.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mourning the conclusion of Halloween.

I cope by looking at photographs. Over and over and over.
And by planning out my costume for next year. No ideas as of yet, though...
Romper: H&M, headband: DIY, wedges: Very Volatile via Piperlime, army pendents: Portobello Market
Striped shirt: H&M, pencil skirt: American Apparel

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanks for the shoutout, IFB!

links a la mode

The Power of Words

Edited by: The Sunday Best
One story dominated my thoughts this week, and I was glad to see an IFB member tackle it in a post. I'm talking about the Marie Claire article. I'm not going to link to it, or even say what it was about, since I assume you dialed in people are familiar with it. [Pulls out soapbox.] The problem with the article, and its apparently apologetic writer, isn't the ignorance it exhibited, or the hate it might engender, or even, I would argue, the sentiment expressed, although it was certainly the worst example of each. The problem was she used the most demeaning language she could think of to describe a group about which she apparently cares. She used this language and neither her nor her editors nor anyone at Marie Claire saw fit to deny it. And Marie Claire's ridiculous mea culpa, where they celebrated the "discussion" they had fostered, was like saying the Titanic sinking was good for discussions about marine safety. Worst of all was the author's own apology: "I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this". So you used the most demeaning language you could think of--edgy!--and called people gross--keeping it real!--and were shocked, SHOCKED, to find them taking offense. I would call her a liar but out of deference to liars, she might just be an idiot. Think before you write - words are powerful.

Links à la Mode : November 4th

Shopbop Exclusives: Club Monaco, KAIN, Theory, MiH, Madewell, JNBY, VPL, Tucker, Rag & Bone

Monday, October 25, 2010

My idea of the happiest time of year.

You know the way some people get really depressed after Christmas is over? That's the way I feel about Halloween. I love it. I've been getting extra into the spirit this weekend, putting finishing touches on my costumes and making chocolate covered pretzels in Halloween colors.

There's legitimately drops of deer drool all over the pumpkin in front of our door. Gross.
I got these adorable ghost stickers at Michaels to put on my Mom's Halloween gifts. (Yes, we exchange Halloween presents in our family.)
I made these cute pretzels! And they're super easy to make! Watch!
All you need is a bag of pretzels, a bag of chocolate chips, and maybe some sprinkles. I got mine at Home Goods for a couple of bucks.
Put the chocolate chips in the microwave for a minute. ONE MINUTE -- no longer!
It's going to LOOK like they aren't done, but trust me, they are. DON'T put them back in the microwave -- they'll burn.
Use a pretzel to stir the chips until they finish melting down. Then shake the excess chocolate off and lay the pretzel down on a sheet of wax paper to cool. Repeat. I like to work with small batches of chocolate so I don't have to worry about it firming up. If you're having a hard time getting the chocolate to melt, add some canola oil. DON'T add milk, cream, or butter. They all contain water, and even the smallest drop of water will cause your chocolate to seize, meaning it'll get grainy and weird and definitely not ready for pretzels. (Trust me, I know this from experience. Feel free to check out my garbage can, full of around three cups of chocolate I ruined with half and half...)
Note that it's completely necessary to save all the broken pieces at the bottom of the bag to dip in chocolate for yourself.
Throw the pretzels in a cute bowl...
...set out and enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My knight in shining armor.

Ok, SERIOUSLY how awesome is this ring that I bought at Thirteen Vintage the other week? Right? I'm obsessed with it. I had been looking for a really great, cheeky ring for awhile now and completely fell in love when I spotted this in the jewelry case.

GIF animations generator
The jewelry line is called Monserat De Lucca and they make all sorts of equally cool, edgy stuff, like these pieces (also all available at Thirteen Vintage):
Just about everything has moving parts, making it all really fun to play with. There's a ring with a maze in it and a guitar case-shaped locket that opens. The skull and brain come as a set to be worn separately, OR you can open up the top of the skull and put the brain inside.
So clever.
I want every single piece.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The retail blues.

I know there are a million land-locked, middle-of-nowhere-dwellers that would kill me for saying this, but I despise the King of Prussia mall. It's a mile away from my house, but I've reached a point where I'm near-protesting its existence. Yes, it's a nice place. Yes, it's convenient and has almost every store you could ever ask for (but seriously, could we get a Zara already? My faith would be restored. Just saying.)

If you aren't from this area, allow me to explain. The King of Prussia mall is [allegedly] the stuff that shopping dreams are made of. It boasts over 400 different stores, eight department stores, and none of that amusement park crap like the Mall of America. This is clean and simple retail euphoria. 2,793,200 square feet of it. That's a lot of floor space.

But the selection inside those walls is totally lacking. I head to the mall every couple of weeks, just to browse around and try things on and see what strikes my fancy. But nine times out of 10, I leave empty handed. I'm an infamously picky shopper, but seriously? Shouldn't a place as famed as the biggest mall on the east cost have something more to offer? If I was, say, an insecure 14 year old with no personal style, I'd be in heaven. Dark wash jeggings, ill-fitting miniskirts, and cotton cardigans in boring colors are everywhere. The mediocre picks appeal to the masses, which I understand is a safe bet for retailers. But while the store buyers are convincing middle-Americans to come in droves, they're simultaneously alienating fashion-forward shoppers. Unless, of course, you want to head to Neiman's and drop a cool couple grand on a few trendy pieces. Personally, I don't have that kind of cash.

Listen, all I want is for H&M to start stocking the awesome stuff that they generally reserve for their urban locations. Some strong shouldered jackets and faux fur, you know? I understand that those pieces don't sell as well, making it financially risky to put on the shelves. I get it, H&M, I do. 

But as the selection in the mall stays consistently crappy, they're going to lose me as a customer all together. I can't imagine I'm the only one around here to feel this way. In fact, I've overheard other trend-savvy shoppers lament about the options in KOP retailers. To compensate, I've begun to do my shopping in better locations -- Suburban Square, flea markets, and, most recently, downtown Philly.

Last Sunday I took the train into the heart of the city and waltzed around Walnut Street before I had to head back to the suburbs for work. And let me tell you, it was way more fun than a morning at the mall. I'm a strong believer that an ideal autumn afternoon is spent in dark denim and a cozy knit poncho. (Ironically, I picked mine up at the H& the mall.)

Hudson jeans, Jessica Simpson leopard flats, H&M poncho

Wouldn't you rather look at this than the inside of a mall while you're shopping?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is this really the same chick we used to watch on The Osbournes?

I know this is kind of terrible to say because the fashion industry is supposed to be all into embracing fuller figures these days and blah blah blah, but damn! Kelly Osbourne looks hot! I'm totally digging her image revamp. Don't get me wrong, I'm Crystal Renn and Christina Hendrick's biggest fan, but I think Kelly looks a million times better now that she's slimmed down and ditched the Hot Topic-teen look.
Observe these pictures I jacked from her Twitter: (How chic is that white dress?)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday Funday

Fedora: Forever 21, aviators: H&M, scarf: hotel gift shop, necklace: vintage, dress: H&M
Boots: Minnetonka
I think a big part of your twenties is fine-tuning your own recipe for happiness. Through trial and error, you slowly sort of figure out what gets your gears in motion and what just isn't your speed.

I know it's naive to complain that your twenties are overwhelmed with newness all the time (I mean, I don't think anything will be more overwhelming than the age I decide to get married and have children), but it is kind of a struggle to figure out how to balance all the unfamiliar elements of adulthood, you know?

I think now, more than ever, I really pay attention to the things that make me overwhelmingly happy (and do my best to avoid the things that launch me into a grumpy gloom.) When I'm not at work, all I ever want to think about anymore is fashion, photography, cooking, traveling, and my very missed friends that don't live near by.

Yesterday was one of those sublime fall Sundays in which I got to do a lot of things that make me happy. My friend Kevin and I spent the early afternoon at The Golden Nugget flea market, which is absolutely awesome. I highly recommend if you live anywhere near there: go. I got lots of cheap goodies and would have purchased loads more if I hadn't been so overwhelmed by merchandise decisions.

Flea markets are my favorite way to shop. I love bypassing the apathy of mall employees and talking to all the vendors. (My moccasin boots started more than one conversation about what it was like to party in the '60s. The consensus, unsurprisingly, is that it was awesome.)
Here's what I rounded up:
Pearl necklace, ribbon pin, two army pins, old key, cameo pendent, gold bangle -- all $1 each!
Old 3D viewer photos, 3 for $5.
After I got my fill of digging through junk boxes and jewelry cases, I headed over to Kevin's store in New Hope, Thirteen Vintage. They just moved to a spot right along Main Street, so the people watching is absolutely unparalleled. We sat outside on the balcony and ate THE most delicious pumpkin ice cream from the conveniently-placed shop right next door and watched the early evening hustle and bustle. New Hope, PA has the best collection of characters, let me tell you. I wish I had snapped a photo of the two middle-aged men walking around in pink Little-Bo-Peep costumes. Just as hysterical as it sounds.
Go buy pumpkin ice cream here before it's too late!
Then I headed inside and proceeded to spend hours --literally, hours -- going through every single thing in their chock-a-block-full-of-cute-stuff store. Kevin and David have this incredible knack for scooping up trends before they even happen. They cater to a pretty wide range of styles, but if I had to choose a way to describe their stuff, I'd say it's trend conscious with an edge. They carry lots of great vintage stuff, budget-conscious lines like Kensie and B.B. Dakota, seriously awesome heels and boots, and have a jewelry case that could make a grown woman weep. (Or maybe that's just me.)

And just wait until you see what I bought! I'm so excited about it that it's getting a whole post of it's own.