Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheap Thrills

I was uploading pictures earlier and had all but forgotten about the Fashion at the Park event that MK and I attended a few weeks ago:

Yes, we went to a Carolina Herrera show. You know the best part? We originally paid an... umm... a substantial amount of money (I mean the show lasts 20-25 minutes here people) and since the event was so much larger than in years past, they decided to reduce the price of tickets to $5 each.

Five dollars. The price of a Chick-Fil-A combo meal to be on the second row at a fashion show.

They were featuring all of her ready to wear clothes, and MK and I enjoyed watching and commenting on all of the clothes and models. There was one who still needed to work on her thousand-yard stare, she looked like she might trip on one of her four-inch heels at any moment. Cadillac sponsored the event, had photographers there and held a little cocktail hour afterward with candle-lit tables on the lawn outside of Neiman's.

Realizing that it was 7:25 PM and Northpark was still open, we polished off our champagne and walked back inside. We did, after all, have "$100 off of any purchase of $500 or more" vouchers to use at the Carolina Herrera store inside. So helpful.

We opted for our old standby, Nordstrom. MK is a whirlwind shopper; she breezes past everything, weaving through each department, and I could hardly move from Nanette Lepore to Trina Turk and back into reality before she was headed for the dressing rooms with a few, work-friendly dress options. I grabbed a few I thought she should try and threw them in the dressing room with her, while she gave me a monologue on her criteria for work outfits.

I tried on Marc Jacobs heels in the dressing room and examined them from the angles of three mirrors as she told me what she was looking for, before I saw any of it on her. She likes to have five "go-to" dresses that she can grab at any time, which makes sense for those of us who leave no time to be wasted in the early morning. This also means that said items should not wrinkle easily, should be of a cut and length that is tasteful and should easily transition from day to night. One's outfit should never scream "I just came from the office", just as it should never suggest "I'm leaving early for a night out".

She emerged wearing a very-flattering Elie Tahari dress, which actually looked like a skirt and top combination. There are a lot of those out there right now, by the way, is a great look because you are buying one piece but it looks like two, and you eliminate any bunching that would usually happen after you tuck your top in, or any otherwise unbecoming lines that would make your look frumpy.

MK was a little skeptical when looking in the mirror: "I don't think this revolutionizes my body," she said. Body revoltution, eh? I checked, and no, Spanx has yet to develop a product called the Body Revolutionizer. Nordstrom Girl and I pointed out that the only truly revolutionary piece of clothing a woman will probably have in her lifetime is her wedding gown. Now that should be awesome. But a dress you wear to work? That should be comfortable, fit well and look the appropriate amount of un-boring and business like.

Sometimes all you need is a five dollar fashion show and some imagination.

"Unity and simplicity are the two true sources of beauty."
-Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Well-Kept Secrets, Vol. II

Among the many things I e-subscribe to, I recently came across a fun little weekly email from PinkMemo.

For the fashion-savvy ladies of Dallas and New York City, this is a great source of style news. It has comprehensive shopping guides, store events and shows in each city, the scoop on where to find what and scene coverage for the socially-inclined. They also keep a blog, for anyone who craves a daily dose of the finer things in life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modesty is hiding somewhere else

I'd like to know when the powers that be decided to let men start designing bras.

Yes Victoria, I'm talking to you.

I recently walked into one of those stores for the first time in years (that's not the only place to buy unmentionables, after all) because I was really at my wit's end with my favorite nude-colored bra and decided to bite the bullet and invest in another.

The last time I was in a Victoria's Secret store, it was adorned in soft shades of cream and pink and gold and there were nice ladies around to help you find whatever it is you were looking to purchase and "fit" you for a bra, (which is a nice way of saying feel you up) to measure what size bra you needed. I remembered buying said item at the Victoria's Secret of my youth because my mom had just seen an episode of Oprah that highlighted the fact that somewhere around 80-90% of women were walking around wearing the incorrect bra size.

Much to my horror and embarrassment, while I was getting "fitted" for a new bra with some lady and her measuring tape, my phone rang. It was in my purse, which was with my mother, right outside the dressing room. Bra Measuring Tape Lady opened the door while modesty was pushed to unknown limits, and my mom handed me the phone. It was my friends KR and AG calling to tell me the sorority they had pledged at OU.

I went into a VS with a friend a few months ago, and I remembered how taken-aback we both were with the racy framed pictures they had on the staircase. Were we in the wrong store? Had we absentmindedly walked into a burlesque show? When I walked into Victoria's Secret a few days ago, I was shocked at the transformation. It looked more like a (non)-gentleman's nightclub, with black and white and lace everywhere, than a store where women go to buy bras. Gone were the soft hues and sweet saleswomen- they have been replaced by blaring Britney Spears and gum-smacking teenage girls.

On the phone the whole time, I found the "updated" version of my bra and left, not wanting to try it on and just needing to get out of there. There was also a little pouch of extras which I didn't understand and I did not want to mess with it. When I got home, I tried it on, adjusted the straps and put on a shirt to see if it looked okay. Something looked off, so I changed again into my old bra to inspect. You know what they did? They added a layer of built-in padding, and not JUST padding, but also removable gel/water inserts. I won't get specific, but I'll go ahead and say that my cup size does not necessitate extra "help".

So why the heck do I feel like I'm bound to pull a sofa cushion out of my top at any moment?

Did it ever occur to anyone that people would have to wear these in real life? One that does not include Gisele in mood-lighting and Very Sexy commercials? I have to go to work; I am a professional! My v-neck sweaters have been demoted to the back of the closet, because I can't go out in public without layers and a turtleneck covering my upper half.

For the love.

"It reveals nothing and suggests everything."
-Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Friday, October 24, 2008

I think I'm in love

Oh.My.Gosh. Omigosh.

My blog is cute! I might be the only one who cares, but I love it! Thanks Jess, at Delicious Design Studio, for being patient with me and my many color change requests. I love it! I started emailing her when I was still the New(York)Comer, and she was kind enough to keep working with me when I transferred over my life, job and blog to Texas.

I may have gone overboard with the exclamation points.

"I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!"
-Buddy, Elf

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slowly but surely

I might actually be the most boring 23-year-old who ever lived. No, really. If living with my parents for the past four months hasn't convinced you of that, then this probably will. I'll go ahead and apologize now for my lack of participation in high-speed chases.

I'm losing my edge here, but to be honest, I'd rather be in bed by 11:30. I have work in the morning!

That said, I started organizing the books I've read recently on my vanity and realized I have six half-read novels lying around. Six! The nerve:

The Emperor's Children, which I bought at JFK one weekend while I was delayed going home.
East of Eden , which I started a million or one and a half years ago.
The Reasons I Won't Be Coming, an impulse buy, which I bought for reasons I can no longer recall from the B&N I frequented on the UWS.
Water for Elephants, a book I bought for a book club I joined in New York and never participated in beyond our lengthy email chains.
Mansfield Park, one of the two Jane Austens I'm ashamed to say I haven't finished and which I ambitiously started after reading The Jane Austen Book Club... which, ironically, I did finish.
Brideshead Revisted, which is coming out as a movie soon, and which I ordered from some British seller on Amazon because I couldn't find it in any bookstores stateside. As is typical of the thrill of the chase, once I got it in the mail it took me a month to pick up again.

So since I found all of these abandoned books I decided to slowly but surely finish each one, because I hate having unread books staring at me. I'm really competitive when it comes to reading. (Who says that?) But honestly, if I hear the name of a book from friends who are trusted literary sources enough times then I sort of panic as to what I'm missing out on and I feel the need to read. (That rhymes- ha.) I guess these factors might have contributed to my major in college... English Literature.

Meanwhile, as of two nights ago I'm hopelessly addicted to Twilight, the first book in the series by Stephanie Meyer into which every Harry Potter junkie has buried their nose. Yes that's right, the novels about teenage vampires. It's kind of cheating, though, because everyone knows they are using that kid who played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Edward in the Twilight movie that premieres in November. Call me a cougar but you would be surprised at how many girls my age unashamedly find the male cast of Harry Potter attractive. Must be the accents. And yes, I'm fully aware that I admitted all of that just now.

It doesn't take much to make me antisocial, but I read an article recently about the importance of keeping your mind sharp once you are out of school because it drastically reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life. Clicking the "Record" button on your DVR doesn't qualify.

Vampire novels, it is!

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."
-Ray Bradbury

Monday, October 20, 2008

Well-Kept Secrets, Vol. I

For anyone who ever looks forward to their Daily Candies or Word of the Day emails (nerd), this is for you. I am a big fan of blogs who do little once-weekly or every once in a while entries that you can count on. You know they'll be there, ready to report nuggets of wisdom or dole out interesting advice and helpful ideas.

The first I ever became attached to was The Pioneer Woman, who began over a year ago retelling the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. I also read Fashion Fridays by Big Mama, This Week in God on Anne & May, Meeting Notes on Working Girl, Pop Quizzes on BagSnob and YumSugar's Weekly Recaps. My favorite, though, would be the Tuesday morning recaps of Gossip Girl on New York Mag's Daily Intel. (Whenever I meet someone who watches the show, I immediately ask them if they've ever read this blog because it's pure genius). I've run across a few good recaps of The Bachelor/Bachelorette as well, but those are more of a seasonal thing.

So now I've decided to join the ranks of the weeklies, with my own version.

My freshman year of college, my friend MG, who I didn't know very well at the time, gave me one of the best compliments anyone has ever given me. We were hanging out in the hallway outside her dorm room chatting with some of our friends and she said "you, my friend, are a well-kept secret". I loved that.

So now, my friends, I give you my Well-Kept Secrets. We're not getting super-personal here, I won't be divulging my crushes from years past or revealing the initiation secrets of my sorority. Nothing like that. This is more of a guide, some suggestions or, hopefully, things that will make you think "I would never have thought of that" or "I never even knew that was there". That's the goal, anyway.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Tallulah Belle, not a Southern debutante, but a boutique tucked away off of Abrams in the Lakewood neighborhood of Dallas (no Google-able website, either). My friend CC and I wandered in over a month ago for the first time, after going to church and then to brunch at a restaurant two doors down. We found it to be a haven of adorable gifts with books, jewelry, candles and bath products, all with labels we didn't immediately recognize from the usual places we shop. In the back, however, we found a well-chosen selection of girly clothes- ruffled blouses, party dresses; long tunics and baby doll tops (perfect with leggings for fall), all of which don't scream "I got this at Northpark! You know because you saw it there yesterday!"

We went in yesterday, for the second time, and found them freshly stocked for the fall/winter. They carry Matty M, 213, and MM Couture, and good quote books (who doesn't love quote books?) by Kobi Yamada. There were also great options for bridal gifts, which are sometimes difficult to get creative with when it comes to bachelorette parties and lingerie showers. The best part was that it was all very affordable, making us all the more prone to model every other item in the store.

"Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give".
-Norman MacEwan

Friday, October 17, 2008

Maybe I'll just retire

Just out of habit, I always give myself about 12 hours before I go back and look at a recent post I've made. Glaringly obvious errors always turn up when I've given myself time to detach and then looks again with fresh eyes.

I was gone a few days for work, so not until yesterday did I have a chance to look at the post prior to this one. After finding yet another error, as I always seem to do, I was immediately struck with my tone in the post itself... grumpy. As in Walter Matthau as Mr. Wilson in "Dennis the Menace" grumpy.

I kind of had to laugh because Tuesday morning I boarded a plane to Orlando. That's right, the city where Disneyworld is located. You can only imagine the number of small children on my flight. It served me right, after all of my eye-rolling from Saturday, that luckily I wasn't sitting next to any of them. Each time some bright eyed five-year-old would pass my row, I would hold my breath as they lingered and stared at me (you know the way little kids do, in their curious, unawkward way before they realize it's socially unacceptable) and I would smile and hope through my teeth that they would just keep walking. For the record, all of the kids on my flight were impressively well-behaved and I think there was only one melt-down the entire time.

It got me thinking though, at how very "grandpa like" I have become. Seriously:

1. I prefer people to leave me alone on airplanes. We've established this. Old men and I don't like to be bothered. In fact, one of the only interesting people I've ever met on a flight on a New York to Texas weekend WAS an old man, and we got along swimmingly. The problem is that it's more socially acceptable for a man of 70 than a young lady of 23 to be unsociable and taciturn in public. Double standard.

2. I like scotch. Scotch and water, scotch and soda... it's such a unique taste. I tried it for the first time in St. Malo with my friend CT and it's the perfect, nonsweet drink for me when I just want something to sip.

3. I wear grandfather knits. Cardigans, sweaters, unusual socks; sign me up. Argyle? Even better. Brooks Brothers? You know me too well. You have no idea how very often I'll look up at a restaurant and see a 60+ age man wearing something oh-so-similar to my choice. Blue and white gingham with an orange sweater and jeans? I'm pretty sure I wore that earlier this week.

4. I keep falling asleep with the T.V. on. Okay, we've all done this. It's different when you wake up startled and don't remember where you are immediately, only to see Anderson Cooper on and say "oh yeah" and fall back to sleep.

George Wilson: Why do you ask so many questions?
Dennis: I've only been around for five years, there's a lot of things I don't know yet.
- "Dennis the Menace", 1993,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thank you for not talking

There are two kinds of people in this world; those who talk on airplanes, and those who don't.

I've been on several flights lately; mostly for work, and this weekend I left on Saturday evening to go visit my friend MD for her bridal shower in Houston. Lucky for me, I had spent the day with my jubilant family, fresh off UT's win over OU, and got on a plane with all burnt orange wearing fans, newly sunburned and chatting incessantly about the game.

I'm so happy for you- congratulations. Can I get back to my book now?

I was in the B boarding group, which in the land of Southwest Airlines, means I was doomed to a middle seat. "Not a big deal- it's an hour long flight," I thought to myself. It took about five minutes after take-off for the two men on either side of me to order vodka-cranberries (also called a Cape Cod, dudes) and start talking.

Not wanting to encourage anything, I didn't talk to either of them and tried to bury myself in my copy of The Emperor's Children in order to block them out. Instead, they carried on a conversation about calculus, of all compelling topics, and blatantly disregarded the fact that the girl in the middle of them might enjoy her book a little more if there wasn't barking in her ear and people crowding her out of her armrest space. Just a thought.

I was on another flight, later in the evening after a long weekend, and the guys next to me that were close to my age made polite conversation with me while we were waiting to take off. Not a big deal. The annoyance came later when I was listening to my iPod and resting my eyes, and they started talking to me yet again. Seriously? My eyes were closed, I was listening to music and you interrupted my peaceful solitude to have meaningless small talk on an airplane?

I don't consider myself a recluse, by any means, and I've talked to people on airplanes before when I didn't feel like they were totally invading my personal space and I found them to be interesting. If you're going to chat me up on an airplane then you had better have some kind of fascinating life story to share. I never push for it though- and I like it when people pick up on the social cues indicating that the person next to them would rather just sit there in peace. My worst nightmare would probably be getting stuck for hours on a transatlantic flight next to some invasive 20-questions asker who brought nothing to do.

Silence is golden, people.

"Silence is argument carried on by other means."
-Ernesto Guevara

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let them eat cake

Sunday afternoons can be a very dark time for some:

The forlorn boyfriend perched on a Jacquard print chair in Anthro, checking ESPN updates on his phone.

The guy sitting outside of the Banana dressing room, head in hands and bored out of his mind while his girlfriend tries to decide between the Jackson and the Martin trousers.

I will never understand women who torture. I was at the airport recently and even saw a couple wearing coordinating Burberry outfits. The horror! I'm not knocking Burberry- a scarf, a tie, a trim on a sweater is a perfectly acceptable amount of their signature print, but I was looking at shirts, vests, luggage, the whole nine yards. In what universe did this man, this grown man, allow himself to go out in public that way?

What I don't understand is the need to drag your other half around Neiman's on a Sunday afternoon to get his opinion on a new pair of Sevens or Citizens, when we all know you like Sevens better anyway. Look at the poor dude, he just wants to hang out with his buddies and eat meat off of a bone. Granted, he probably watched football on Saturday too, but those were college games, which were completely different FYI.

I know that not everyone, not every guy and certainly not every girl cares about football. That's okay. I'm from Texas, so it's necessary to care. My Dad, being the smarty pants that he is, took the time when I was little to teach me the rules of football and basketball when he would have a game on, and then let me ask questions (which I still do) until I felt like I knew what was happening. We frequently watch games together, which is our little father-daughter bonding time. The Dallas Cowboys even won the Super Bowl on my birthday once- deeming it basically the best day ever.

Like a trained poodle, I'll gladly curl up on the couch with the remote enjoy a quiet afternoon of ESPN GameDay or NFL coverage. The great thing about sports is that every game you watch is different- whereas every episode of The Hills is essentially the same. I'm not saying we should all drop everything to make a Fantasy Football team and completely forget about those cashmere sweaters we've been eyeing in the fall J.Crew catalogue, no ma'am. Just don't make your significant other buy one that matches.

If it's quality time you are looking for, then there's probably a guy that wouldn't mind you hanging out next to him on the couch for a few hours. There are many worse ways to spend weekend afternoons then lounging, preferrably Burberry-less, watching your alma mater or Tony Romo run up and down the field.

Bud Light Presents Real Men of Genius
(Real Men of Genius)

"Today we salute you Mr. Jean Shorts Inventor (Mr. Jean Shorts Inventor)
People insisted that jeans were just pants, apparently those people underestimated your out-of-the-box thinking
(A fashion trail blazer)
Casual enough for a BBQ, formal enough for a family reunion, your multi-dimensional creation handles both duties with ease
(You just said doody)
And what should we call your ground breaking achievement? How about Jorts?(We really love your jorts)
So crack open an ice cold Bud Light Mr. Jorts Inventor, if fashion's a war, you're fighting dirty. (Mr. Jorts Inventor)"
-Real Men of Genius

Friday, October 3, 2008

Board approval

I tried to watch the Vice Presidential Debate last night. I really did. There was a lot of hype and speculation, and I made it through about 45 minutes until, like a three-year-old on Christmas morning, I lost interest and went back to the toys I usually play with.

Truth be told, I think voting is very important and I plan to do it, but I've already heard both Palin and Biden speak, and I feel more qualified to share fashion advice than to tell the Internet who to vote for in the upcoming election.

A few weeks ago I started purging my very full closet, with the original intention of just getting rid of clothes that are outdated, or that I just don't like, and I realized that I keep magazines and catalogues way past their expiration date because I always tab pages for gift, decorating, recipe and clothing ideas that I like, and I keep shopping guides for different cities for when I travel. The problem is that I never do anything with them, they just tend to accumulate.

Enter this little beauty:

The pages I tabbed are now ripped out and on The Board that is displayed in my closet. Now I have quick access to outfit ideas, more structure to my shopping, and not to mention an obvious gift guide for anyone who cares to look.

Handsome Stranger: "What should I get AH for ______ (holiday, birthday, just because?)"
Trusted Friend: "She likes that Tiffany charm bracelet, and of course there's always the black and white Lanvin dress from the September Vogue."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I also have a stack of old magazines to recycle, so I'm also saving the earth, which helps me sleep at night. Three cheers for organization.

"Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it."
-Attributed to Yves Saint Laurent

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bake until bubbly

Last week my friend MK and I went to the Central Market Cooking School of Dallas for a little cooking demonstration class. I had gotten it for her birthday, and planned for the two of us to go together. After running late from work and getting kicked out of seats MK had claimed (so much for Southern hospitality), she dragged a little table for two over and we finally got settled as Clifford Wright, foreign policy advisor turned cookbook author, began his introduction.

The class was all about cooking casseroles. Before you start thinking that's lame, let me just say that the Stuffed French Toast Breakfast Casserole was the item that originally caught my eye. Not the antiquated, Velveeta, cream of mushroom soup and macaroni noodle kind of casseroles of yester year, but rich and delicious combinations that I would never have come up with on my own and probably never considered casseroles in the first place.

We were all handed our menus for the evening, the wine started pouring and Cliff began the two and a half hour class. I was quickly struck by his extensive knowledge of his subject, and we both liked his use of unfamiliar culinary vocabulary. As we toasted MK made a joke about our host being another Anthony Bourdain and I could only laugh because how many friends can actually joke about a chef and expect the other to know exactly who you were referencing? We're either cooking snobs or huge nerds, I can't decide which.

One of his suggestions was to wait to use pepper until after cooking to ensure that it was fresh and did not become "acrid." I immediately thought "ooo I like that word" and scribbled it in the margin of my notes, as MK, reading my mind, held up her menu to her cover her mouth and said "do you know what that word means? Write that down, we need to look it up."

I was immediately transported back to a scene from long ago when we were teenagers, and had ambitiously decided to make homemade lasagna on a Saturday night. That's what all the great 16-year-olds were doing at the turn of the century, learning labor-intensive recipes on their weekend nights from Betty Crocker. Not that we really knew much about cooking at that stage in life- it took us several hours to make because we felt the need to Google words like al dente and bechamel and our collective knowledge of high school Spanish and German helped negligibly with all of the Italian and French words used in cooking. We slaved over boiling pots of tomatoes and cheese graters; spices and cooking noodles and pored over every inch of the recipe.

You know what though? We both still love cooking to this day... and that was one great lasagna.

Acrid /ˈækrɪd/ Spelled Pronunciation[ak-rid]
1. sharp or biting to the taste or smell; bitterly pungent; irritating to the eyes, nose, etc.: acrid smoke from burning rubber.
2. extremely or sharply stinging or bitter; exceedingly caustic: acrid remarks.