Friday, March 30, 2012

What if Fallingwater was a Chandelier?

The next time you're kept awake pondering that question, check out the Bizarre Chandelier designed by Vincente Garcia Jiminez for Fambuena. Was it inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic design? Methinks yes! If you have $2,000 to spare, you can have all the geometric chic of Fallingwater, with none of the pesky water damage or mold issues. It comes in White (Shown above) and Ivory. To see how the Ivory Bizarre's gentle glow interacts with a beehive hairdo, do the clicky thing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Would Emily Post Do?

What is ruder:
Crashing a party to which you weren't invited,
or sending your regrets at the last minute?
Emily Post, that saucy minx, would know what to do.
I've been agonizing over this question for nearly two weeks.

I haven't said anything personal here lately because I've been upset and confused. Have you ever had someone unexpectedly turn on you, leaving you feeling shaken and wondering what just happened? That just happened to me. It started almost two weeks ago, when a bridal shower was held for an acquaintance I haven't seen in months. It ended with an avalanche of unexpected hostility, and now Keith and I are uninvited to the couple's wedding. That's kind of a big deal for him, because he was supposed to be the Best Man. I feel so confused and anxious about it. My intentions were good. I keep asking myself, "What would Emily Post have done?"

It started innocently. When the Bride-to-Be invited me via Facebook, she told me the place and day of the shower, and told me to contact the hostess if I needed more details. I wrote "Bridal Shower!" on my calendar, checked her registry, and got a gift for her. I don't know the Bride-to-Be very well, but my boyfriend is very close to the groom, and I figured it would  be fun. I was looking forward to it.

Two days before the shower, I realized that I didn't know the time of the event, so I e-mailed the hostess (who I have never met). I never received a response. The Bride-to-Be had explicitly told me to direct shower-related questions to the hostess in such a way that I didn't feel comfortable contacting the Bride-to-Be about it. She gave me a chilly vibe. I started to feel uncomfortable about attending. I didn't want to wander around the hotel at noon if the shower started at 2:00.

I asked Married Ladies Who Know Wedding Planning, and they said, "Jen, the shower is tomorrow. If you were invited, you would already know what time it's happening," and "No offense, but the hostess didn't invite you. She might have booked a small private room at the restaurant, and she isn't responding because there isn't room for you." I was told that crashing a party is ruder than sending one's regrets. 

On the day of the shower I put on a party dress in case a response came, waited until noon, and then I sent a message telling the Bride-to-Be that I wanted to attend but didn't know when the shower was taking place, I hoped she had a fun day, and I would give her present to her when I next saw her. 

I don't think it's appropriate for me to post the Bride-to-Be's responses because they make her look a little unhinged. I will say that her words didn't make sense in the context of the situation, or in the context of our very casual acquaintance. It upset me a lot, though, and her harsh criticism of e-mail as a contact method left me scratching my head. I repeatedly told her I did not know the hostess' phone number, but I'm not sure she absorbed that information. Keith saw me cry over her messages, which prompted him to ask the Bride-to-Be to apologize. They exchanged some nasty words, and the next day he was asked not to come to the wedding or the bachelor party. He lost his best friend, and I'm aching for him. 

I have two questions:
1. What the heck is wrong with e-mail?!
2. What would other women have done in my place?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rag Curls: Look Like a Classic Film Siren (or an Electrified Poodle).

I hate mornings so much. Really, I'd rather watch the horrible "freely adapted" version of The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore than be awake before 9:00. So when heard someone say, "Rag curls make my morning routine so easy! I spend ten minutes rolling my hair at night, and literally one minute unrolling my curls in the morning," I considered it. And when I looked at pictures of Hedy Lamarr, I had to try it. I love that her curls look so soft, with no weird unnatural spiral look, and that she wore her curls down but pulled back away from her face.
On Day One, I followed these instructions from Bell's Belles Vintage, except I rolled my hair all the way up to the scalp. Big mistake! I shouldn't have ignored the instructions to roll only to the ears. When I took off my scarf and unrolled my hair in the morning, I was a little bit afraid of it. I'd brought a monster to life! I pulled it back on either side with barrettes and topped it off with a flower clip, and I didn't feel like I was styling my hair as much as I was fighting it. Her advice was good, but I had no clue what I was doing, and it shows. I spent the day hiding in my office.

1. I rolled my hair all the way to the scalp.
2. I rolled my hair too tightly.
3. I rolled a LOT of small, tight curls. A few big, soft curls would have been better.
4. I didn't roll the ends, so I had weird straight pieces at the ends of my hair.

On Day Two, I followed Solanah's rag curl instructions, which I found here at Vixen Vintage, except I did NOT brush out my curls. Aside: if you don't read Solanah's blog, take a look--she is adorable, and she offers fantastically useful advice for wearing and caring for vintage clothing. Anyway, I tried to amend my previous mistakes: I rolled my hair just to the tops of my ears, I made fewer curls using larger sections of hair, and I paid closer attention to the ends. Voila!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games Set Design

You liked the Hunger Games movie, right? I saw it on Friday with Keith, Lance, my sister Kelly, and my new friend from the library, Sally. I'd already read the book and knew the story, and I couldn't wait to see the set design in the capitol. I wasn't disappointed: When they first showed the dining room, my jaw dropped and I grabbed Keith's arm. "SEATBELT CHAIRS!!" We tried out seatbelt chairs a few weeks ago at Classic Modern, and they're surprisingly comfortable. Um, yeah. I seek out iconic modern furniture and test it for comfort in my spare time. Don't judge! And FYI, the Wassily chair might have been designed as a torture device. But moving along...

Hunger Games set, featuring seatbelt chairs by Nuttapong for the Phillips Collection 

I especially love the seatbelt chairs, which function as furniture and art, but everything about the set design is inspiring. It's over the top and garish, but using these ideas with more restraint could be beautiful. I admire the mix of art deco shapes and lines with contemporary color schemes and materials. The sparkling glassware, metallic finishes, and cool colors look fresh, modern, and classy. Using the Hunger Games set as my inspiration, I tried Polyvore for the first time to create a dining room design that might be more livable. Panton chairs, pendant lighting, and a floral motif to soften all that glass and metal... What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett

I usually refrain from reviewing Young Adult books I don't like, because I know I'm not the book's intended audience. But this novel was so awful, I'm writing a review just to purge it from my mind. BEGONE, Angelmonster! After enjoying The Countess so thoroughly, I wanted to read another novelization of a historical figure. I regret that I chose Angelmonster, Veronica Bennett's telling of tumultuous relationship between Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

We all know that Mary Shelley was the brilliant woman who wrote Frankenstein at the tender age of twenty. Somehow, she wrote a masterpiece in her spare time while raising small children, living a nomad's life in continental Europe, and babysitting her laudanum-addicted man-child, Shelley. Mary was a voracious reader and a talented writer, but no mention is made of this. Instead, Bennett shows Mary blindly following Shelley across the continent, trading insults with him one moment and then weeping for his attention and fretting that he doesn't love her enough. She seems deranged and needy. That doesn't necessarily make this a bad book--plenty of good books have crazy characters--but it does make the story difficult to swallow. Bennett doesn't show us any good reasons for Mary to stay with Shelley.

And why should the reader stay with this book, when poor pacing makes it an unrewarding chore? The 230 page book covers Mary and Shelley's entire eight-year relationship, but the first hundred pages cover their first year together. The remaining seven years are smashed into 130 dizzyingly hurried pages that can be summarized thus: "I had another baby. The baby died. I fought with Shelley. I am jealous of my sister. We moved again. REPEAT." Mary becomes a blank pawn moving through the events, not a believable character, and it is difficult to care about her. More dialogue and descriptions of day-to-day events would have made this book feel more like a novel and less like a timeline.

Occasionally Bennett does try to write personal interactions, but they feel heavy-handed and strange. Consider this: In the space of a single page, Mary discovers a pregnancy, gives birth to a son, watches him thrive, and sees Shelley's literary reputation grow. A few chapters later, Mary makes an emotional return to her parents' house. She says, "My exile had apparently affected everyone in the house. I was touched, and asked after [the servant's] wife." This servant has never been mentioned until now, so Mary's question doesn't demonstrate strong emotion as much as it demonstrates awkwardness. Why mention this casual question she poses to a servant, but not describe the details of her son's birth, which is much more important? This is just one example of a problem that plagues the entire book.

I imagine that Bennett carefully consulted primary sources to flesh out the dialogue. If there was no historical evidence for an interpersonal exchange, she didn't invent one. That makes for great academic writing, but for a very poor novel. It's fiction--make it interesting! Flesh out the characters and make them your own!

Finally, let's talk about sex.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Paper Rose Wreath for Librarians, Bibliophiles, and other Luddites

An astute suitor optimistically observed that my door says "One for you." NOT SO MUCH, Mister.
A bookish way to welcome yourself home every day? Perfect! I first saw this idea on Pinterest, and couldn't resist copying it. It took a LONG time and a lot of paper flowers. I spent weeks making paper roses on Monday nights while my friend Lance and I watched Breaking Bad gossiped and talked about music, and I finally constructed the wreath on Sunday. I love the way it turned out, and it only cost me $6.79. The books came from the free giveaway cart at the library (c'mon, no one wanted the 1997 guide to Walt Disney World or the 1993 Environmental Resource Directory), and I already had most of the other supplies. Want to make one of your very own? Here's what you'll need.

Old books (thicker paper is better)
Elmer's glue
12 inch foam wreath form
white spray paint (if the wreath base isn't white)
hot glue gun and lots of extra sticks
Ribbon to hang the finished product

Monday, March 19, 2012

Up, up, and away!

I'm a little obsessed with hot air balloons. Just a little. When you imagine the combination of fire, two-thousand feet of open space, a thrilling view, and perfect silence, can you help but smile? I can't! All my life I've wanted to ride in one, and my Dad is taking me on my first balloon ride this spring. I'm so excited! If you're an experienced balloonist, do you have any words of wisdom for a first-timer?

To get in the spirit, I'm browsing the hot air balloon themed items on etsy.

Clutch Purse by CottonTimes

Stained Glass Mosaic Lamp

Glass Necklace by ElainaLouiseStudios

Pillow cover by JolieMarche

Mobile by KristyScime
French linen pillow cover by petitbonheur
Aren't they beautiful? Please support these etsy sellers!

I had a wonderful weekend with Keith, friends, and family. On Friday, Keith and I went to see John Carter. He chose the movie, and my first response was, "Wait, we're going to see a Disney movie about a Civil War veteran on Mars? Umm..." But I was surprised by how much I liked the airships (hot air balloons meet viking triremes, woo!), the adorable Martian Pekingese dog, and watching Taylor Kitsch run around without a shirt on for two hours. I don't care if it's officially been deemed a flop; I liked it a lot.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sideshow Sign Co.

Check out Luke Stockdale's new project, Sideshow Sign Co.! Keith's friend Luke designs beautiful art inspired by old entertainment marquees and vintage educational materials. Luke says, "Everything I make is carefully aged and expertly wired, made from fine art canvas or salvage wood and bent steel, speed rusted and banged-up proper." I love it, and the images speak for themselves.

Science is prettier in French. Right? Right?
Now I want to have little kidlings just so I can chart their heights on this.
My mother is rejoicing as she reads this.
SHADOW PUPPETS!! My personal favorite.
Real wood, quality canvas, and such touchable textures. I WANT.
Best of all, you can feel good about a purchase from Sideshow Sign Co. 5% of sales is donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI is a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants, juvenile offenders, and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Walk in the Clouds and Vintage Military Fashion

I need to confess something: I really, really love A Walk in the Clouds. I love everything about this movie. I love Keanu Reeves' endearing awkwardness, Anthony Quinn's sweet tooth, and Victoria's hats and bias-cut dresses. I love the serenades, the vineyard, the emphasis on family, and especially the grape-crushing scene. It probably doesn't hurt that I received my first kiss while watching this movie.

He is about to propose to her, and Anthony Quinn is about to eat all the candy, and the ladies are
about to squish grapes, and her dad is about to throw a pyromaniac hissy fit, and ISN'T IT SPECIAL?
So last month when we were at Highland Row Antiques in Atlanta, I picked up a green military jacket, walked over to Keith as if in a trance, held it up to him, and said, "MUST. BUY. THIS." It fit perfectly, he loved it, and I was glad to have found something he likes so much. Flash forward a few weeks. We're watching A Walk in the Clouds, and the moment Keanu stepped off the boat, I yelled, "OH! Your coat!!"

Same jacket? Same jacket!
By the way, Keith really, really likes modeling. Seriously.
Keith is wearing a pristine World War II U.S. Air Force tunic exactly like the one Keanu Reeves wore in the movie. It's so perfect, I think it was deadstock. These just so happen to be the best coats ever because they nip in tightly at the waist, make the shoulders look massive, and are made of beautiful wool. They don't make 'em like this anymore. So many women blog about vintage fashion, but I don't see many resources for vintage men's clothing. If you fella wants to dress the part (or if you like the look and he's willing to indulge you), suggest one of these to him. I like this shop because they take meticulous pictures of their jackets, including the dated tags.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: The Countess by Rebecca Johns

True story: One day my friend Dori and I were texting back and forth about Neil Gaiman and vampires and I don't know what else, when I cracked a joke about Catherine de'Medici and Elizabeth Bathory being vampires and best friends... forever. We were both taken with the idea, and the jokes continued until Dori was so inspired, she began writing a novel about Cat, Liz, and their famous friends. According to Dori, five-hundred years after her disastrous marriage to Henry II, jealous Cat is still supping on young women who remind her of her husband's mistresses. And in 1820 or so Liz gladly turned Lord Byron into a vamp because "George" was so much fun. Oh yeah, and Liz and Cat might've been responsible for those rumors that Anastasia survived the Bolshevik revolution.

Dori has brought her characters to life so vividly, I always look forward to hearing about the newest adventures she's written for them. It's an over-the-top soap opera for literature lovers and history buffs. So when Dori gave me this novelization of Elizabeth Bathory's life for Christmas, I was touched because it perfectly represents our friendship. And it was good!

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Make a Fishbowl Terrarium

Party time! My friend Lauren just moved to a new house, and there was no way I could show up to her housewarming party with just a six-pack in hand. She's the kind of friend who once drove 20 minutes out of her way to bring me homemade truffles when I was heartbroken over a boy. She deserves something better than booze! Inspired by West Elm's terrariums, I made her a tiny indoor garden. I hope it makes her new house feel like home!

It was fun and easy to make, and under $20. If you'd like to make one, here's what you'll need...

one big glass fishbowl
pretty pebbles
small succulent or cactus plants
potting soil for succulents (not pictured)

The instructions are so simple. It's a whole lotta DUH:

1. Clean the bowl before you begin, and dry it thoroughly.

2. Gently place the pebbles at the bottom of the bowl. Seriously, be gentle! The bowl will crack if you just chuck in the rocks. They look pretty, and they will help the soil drain better.

3. Put a few inches of potting soil in the bowl. I used two and a half cups, but you might need more or less, depending on the size of your terrarium.

4. Gently remove the plants from their cups and loosen the soil at the roots. Plant them in the terrarium, add more soil if needed, and pat the soil around the roots and bases of the plants into place. My spade was too large for this project, and my hands didn't fit comfortably in the bowl, so I used a wooden spoon for this part.

5. Enjoy your terrarium, and follow the directions that came with your plants to make sure you give it adequate sun and water.

Aww, it's fuzzy!

 The 36th AVENUE     ThriftyThursdayModernButton1 Thrifty Thursday Week 68      

    Beyond The Picket Fence   Photobucket

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shopping List: Housewarming Gifts

My dear friend Lauren just moved to a new house, and on Saturday she and her roommate are celebrating with a party. While they're infusing vodka with lemons, limes, and a pomelo, I'm shopping for housewarming gifts. If you were moving into a new house, what kind of gift would you prefer? 

How about a piece of art to commemorate a friend's new city?
Nashville Neighborhoods print by thehoodshop on etsy
Perhaps a cheeky doormat for the new entry?
Come In/Go Away mat
Attract luck and prosperity to the new home!
Lucky Bamboo in a Round Ceramic Planter
Would pillows make a new place cozier?
Scrabble Throw Pillow Covers by dirtsastudio on etsy
Or perhaps something to make the new garden more welcoming?
Capiz Shell Wind Chimes
Let's be honest: When you move, you end up needing things that aren't glamorous. The last time I moved, I would've been thrilled to receive a power strip, a huge box of trash bags, a toolkit, and a big package of light bulbs. There were so many annoying, unexpected late-night trips to Target during my first month here! But Lauren deserves something much prettier.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Romano Cheese

Oh, carbs. Keith spoiled me this weekend with spaghetti and homemade meatballs. "I feel like I just arrived at fat camp and found out that it's really a camp for making me fat. Woo-hoo!" On Saturday, we hiked the Ganier Ridge at Radnor Lake to make up for it. We saw dozens of turtles sunning themselves and a beautiful Great Blue Heron. But enough about the animals... Let's talk about the food!

This recipe is a bit of a no-brainer, but I want to write it down exactly as we made it because it turned out so well. For best results, use a block of good, expensive Romano cheese and grate it yourself. The meatballs don't need much else for flavor because the cheese is so pungent and salty.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wishing rings and Ancient Trees

Keith made a ring for me!
No, we're not engaged.
A massive bur oak tree once grew on my library's property. We're talking 19 feet in circumference, y'all. This thing rivaled the World Tree in American Gods. Everyone in town loved it, and when it began to die, the town hired arborists who went to ridiculous measures to save it. But in 2010, it died and fell.

The library tree in happier times See the park bench beneath it? This tree was a MONSTER!
At that point, the arborists were able to measure the tree's age. It was between 330 - 380 years old! After the tree was cut down, Keith and I collected some of the wood. Last week (a year and a half later!) he presented me with a ring he made himself from the library tree and asked, "Will you be my girlfriend again?" Aww! How could I say no? I love it so much. How many girls have a ring like this? Ha! It feels a little magical. And he had to make four rings before he got the size just right. Gotta admire that perseverance.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Phrenology! Or, My mother is psychic, even if she doesn't have a bump on her head in just the right spot.

Last week I was fiercely coveting a phrenology head model. On Friday, I even put a picture of one in my private Wish List photo album (Yes, I keep a wish list photo album. Doesn't everyone?).

Hello, my pretty. Get yours here.
So, last night I stopped by my parents' house after work, and my mother said, "I just bought you the most perfect birthday present. It's so you. I don't know how I'm going to wait until July to give it to you!" I considered that, and asked, "Is it a phrenology head?" Her jaw dropped, and for a moment, she looked mad. Then she ran upstairs and brought down a huge box.

"Happy birthday!" I was reluctant to open it. "Are you serious, Mom?" Did you reallly... you didn't... Wow. How did we DO that?!" She just shook her head, smiled, and gently teased me. "Who responds by saying 'a phrenology head?! Seriously, Jen!'" We laughed and laughed. And then, of course, we consulted the model and jokingly checked each other's heads for bumps in the "intuition" region. As identified by L.N. Fowler. Pseudoscience, woo-hoo!

My cabinet of curiosities, minus the cabinet.
If I ever complain that no one understand me, please remind me that my mother gets me!!