Thursday, July 24, 2014

We're All Supposed to Be Wearing Kimonos

Or, at least, that's what it seems like this year, right? Not that I have a problem with it. As a proponent of the maxi dress (looks fancy, feels like you're wearing a blanket in public), obviously I can get behind the idea of the kimono. Loose fitting summer wear with cool patterns that are secretly just glorified bathrobes? Yes, please.

Now, what is generally being referred to as a "kimono" in the fashion world is not, in the strictest sense (or any sense, really), a kimono. That moniker belongs to a specific garment originating from Japan. That's all I'm going to say about that, because this is not a history blog. (This is a history blog.)

At any rate, I've been perusing the internetz, and I found some of these trendy garments that would make an interesting addition to a late summer outfit. I say go full-on print crazy! Go big or go home, amiright? What thinks you?

Summer Kimonos

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orly Neon Heat

Wearing loud as hell nail colors probably ranks as my favorite thing about summer. My all-time favorite, Essie Punchy Pink, having finally bitten the dust and proving GD impossible to get a hold of, I'm always looking for another neon pink to add to my collection.

Here we have Orly Neon Heat. Orly has some strong contenders in the neon department, and I am loving their redesigned bottles. When I spotted this sucker on sale at Sally Beauty Supply, I knew I had to give it a go.

This is a nearly neon magenta pink creme with great opacity that dries down to a satin finish. Application was a breeze, it was nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two for good measure. This may sound odd, but as soon as it hit the nail, I knew it wasn't going to be quite what I was looking for. The telltale problem of a true neon is that the formulas tend to be streaky mofos that are near impossible to level out and dry down to a totally matte finish. It came out much darker than I expected it to, and though I do like it for its own sake, it won't fill Punchy Pink's place in my heart.

I can't call it a failure, that's for sure. This is a really excellent summer pink. If this is the kind pink you've been looking for, look no further, it's pretty awesome. You can usually find Orly on sale at any of its typical locations, if not, just give it a week and check back. And Punchy Pink? I know you're out there, I'll find you, baby.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Numbers 29, 33, and 34: The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

One, Two, Three
I have read A LOT of Margaret Atwood's work, starting (of course) with The Handmaid's Tale as some of my required reading in high school. Still, I resisted reading her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake for the past eleven years. One of the things I like best about her writing is how beautifully she narrates from a female character's perspective. Oryx and Crake was her first novel written from the viewpoint of a male character and, without knowing anything else about the book, I avoided it.

I know now that this was wrong of me.

Oryx and Crake is awesome. Atwood limits the reader not only to the main character's knowledge, but to his stream of consciousness. She reveals the background of this world through his fragmented mind, a mind tortured by both his past and his present. I don't want to give anything away, so all I'll say is I'll be damned, if this isn't one of the finest stories I've read in the past decade. Just fucking read it.

The Year of the Flood makes a powerful case for itself as the strongest book of this trio. Rather than a true sequel in the sense that most people have of the word, the events run concurrently with those in the previous book. Here, Atwood splits the narrative duties between two women whose connection becomes clearer as the reader moves through the tale. The prose, as always, rings with clarity and precision as it fills gaps in knowledge from the previous book, giving a lush impression of a world gone horribly awry and yet, somehow, still full of hope. You don't have to read Oryx and Crake to understand what's happening in this book, such a rarity in most trilogies, and it stands on its own as another excellent addition to Atwood's canon.

In Maddaddam, however, some important nuances and connections might go unnoticed had the previous two novels gone unread. It serves the purpose of joining the first two and forming a cohesive whole. While not quite as stylistically and emotionally captivating as Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, it provides a welcome sense of closure to the world created in those novels. Though sad to see it end, I did not feel unsatisfied in any way other than my typical sadness at having reached the end of a great story.

Honestly, I think if you start this trilogy at any point, you won't want to leave it behind until you've read all it has to say. Of all the books I've read so far this year, none has been so fascinating or touching as these three (and I have already re-read a book this year that makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME). I suggest you get your ass on over to the library, or if you're not feeling patient, buy 'em up. These are worth adding to any collection.

N.B. Do yourself a favor and don't read any little breakdowns or copy for these. Discovering what's between the covers is part of the magic.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Getting Into DIY (I Hope)

You know, I was talking to my mother, who is in the midst of decorating her new house, and we were discussing curtains for the master bedroom. Having decided not to spend a fortune on something in a room hardly anyone would see (and window treatments do tend to run up the bottom line quite a lot!), she admitted that she's just going to have someone else hem the less expensive panels she's chosen. This inspired me to reveal a truth about my family.

"Mom, we're just not crafty people. We just aren't."

And that's okay. As a creative person, it's long bothered me that I get sucked into projects and then find I lack meaningful follow through and the ability to plan in a way that prevents me from making mistakes, but I've mostly made my peace with it.


We are people who love a good deal. And pretty things. And DIY is a great way to get both those things in one fell swoop. With that in mind, I've been bookmarking some clothing DIYs that I'd like to complete before the end of the year. You know, nothing with a sewing machine, since I don't have one (and have entirely forgotten how to use one anyway), just little projects to give a stab. I love personal little touches, and I think it'll be a fun way to end up with something unique.

On my list:

A Beautiful Mess - Bleach Painting on Textiles D.I.Y.

I really like the idea of being able to pick up a simple, cheap shirt, and turning it into something whimsical. Since it doesn't have to be precise, I think it'll suit me nicely.

I love A Beautiful Mess, for the record. Just an all-around wonderful lifestyle blog with some really lovely photography. As the fall approaches, I like to use lightweight scarves to accessorize my outfits since the weather can be a little changeable, and you never know when you're gonna get a warm or cold burst of air. I'm secretly in love with the starts, so this idea appeals to me greatly. A little more time intensive, we'll see if I have the wherewithal for it.

I will never stop loving glitter, it seems. I think I'd like to do this on a cardigan, and I'll definitely be going the thrift shop route to find that. On an oversized men's cardigan, like grandpa-style, the glittery goodness will have a delightful contrast of mood. Like the rest of Chicago, I'm all about layering once we start the slide back into the colder months, and I certainly won't regret adding a sweater to that collection.

So I think that's a manageable list to accomplish in the next few months, and not too difficult of one. I'm also toying with the idea of knitting a large gauge blanket, but that may be more of a financial and time investment than I feel like making at the moment.

Are there any projects you're considering? Do share, I love collecting ideas!
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