Sunday, December 26, 2010

If you watch TV an average amount, you've probably seen that Hyundai commercial, the one with a man and a woman singing "Up on the housetop, reindeer paws ..."? I have some news for you: that man and that woman are not simply a pair of actors that Hyundai hired for the day. They're actually two musicians that collaborate all the time, and they call themselves Pomplamoose. The work they do comes in the form of "videosongs," a new medium that abides by two rules:

1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice)
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds)

You can check out lots of their videosongs (covers of other songs, mostly) on their YouTube channel, PomplamooseMusic. Here are some of my favorites. None of them are Christmas songs, but they still manage to put me in the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas, but Beware the Man in the Red Suit

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's a Love/Hate Situation

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are these zebras fighting or hugging?

photo from 1x.com: Search for Dominance by scooter88

Maybe the answer is that they're doing both -- fighting and hugging. Maybe they're close zebra friends who are just a little mad at one another, and they're expressing this mild anger by fighting and hugging at the same time. It's your typical match of friendly zebra wrestling.

I've heard many times that there's only a slim difference between hate and love, since they are both incredibly strong emotions and they both place the subject of the love/hate (whether it's a person, a restaurant, a hobby, a song - whatevs) in a position of importance. Maybe these two emotions are not quite the opposites we imagine them to be, and heaven knows that they can both be a big part of the holiday season! Here's what I'm loving and hating as I ramp up to celebrate Christmas:

LOVE (aka things I want to hug)

- The anticipation of spending a fun-filled week with my husband, parents, and brothers.
- The calm feeling of shoveling snow in the morning.
- Plugging in the lights on our Christmas trees (yep, that's plural - we have three little trees, sitting together on a bench) as the sun sets every night.
- Knowing that my husband will be delighted when he sees his Christmas present.
- The little spiritual nudges that come as I consider the religious meaning of this holiday, the path I've chosen, and the faith that's chosen me.
- Looking forward to seeing my mom's massive collection of nativity scenes (she's got, like, 300).

HATE (aka things I want to fight)

- Worrying about weather and driving conditions. It's white and wintry here in Provo, with heaps of snow in our front yard, but what's really got me worried is the weather in St. George (my hometown, four hours south, the place we're going for Christmas), where everyone is stressed about serious flooding. Check these pictures from today:

Yep, that's where we're headed come Friday morning.
- Feeling strapped for cash, after spending so much on big and little presents for loved ones. 2011 will be the year of meticulous budgeting! Mark my words! I've got my Excel spreadsheets all ready to go.
- Putting so much effort into effective packing and being sure that I'll still forget a few things I need.
- Mild shame when I receive Christmas gifts from our church friends, in light of the fact that I didn't even consider getting gifts for them.
- Days without much sunlight, thanks to cloud cover, late sunrises, and early sunsets. (Winter Solstice, it's so good to see you!)


My lists are by no means comprehensive; they just represent the things that have been on my mind today. Even so, LOVE beat out HATE, six to five, so I guess that's a good thing. All in all, I'm excited for this year's Christmas in a big, big way. I expect a wonderful, rainy holiday with people I love entirely. I wish for everyone a holiday that's just that lovely.

(Afterthought: I am crazy about this offbeat Christmas tree. I think it's a little kooky for my husband's tastes, but perhaps if we ever have a dwelling that's big enough for TWO tree setups, I'll finagle my way into including something like this. You can read more about it at Apartment Therapy [click here].)

Two Reasons to Love dELiA*s

Monday, December 20, 2010

In high school, I worked at my family's catering company and made serious bank (or what equates to bank for a 17-year-old with no financial responsibilities), but I squandered most of it on gas, fast food lunches, and the occasional trip to Target. Without any money management skills, I was left to simply covet most everything I wanted, including dozens of items (or was it hundreds?) that I saw in my quarterly dELiA*s catalogs. I eventually learned how to save my pennies and ended up paying for my first year of college, grocery trips and all. Supposedly, eating is more important that getting pretty clothes. Supposedly. So I guess I made the right choice.

And now, I'm an adult, and while dELiA*s is still around (online and in catalog form), I feel a little silly at the idea being a 23-year-old woman who buys clothes made for the tween and teen set, even if my body shape hasn't changed significantly since the 9th Grade (which it hasn't, by the way). I might just have to get over my hesitation, though, because LOOK:

 Piper Tweed Short (currently $34.50)

I absolutely LOVE the look of tweed shorts over tights or leggings. It's funky, somehow dressed-up yet also really flirtatious and carefree. Finding tweed pants at the thrift store, ones that are ready to become shorts with a few snips of the scissors, shouldn't be that tough -- at least not in theory. In reality, I've found this mission hard to accomplish and figured I might as well take a quick look online to see if there were any good pairs available. I found a nice-looking and reasonably-priced pair at Nordstrom's, of all places, but they are currently sold out. Most of the other options were not happening. $85 at Neiman Marcus? $98 from Sundance Catalog? $130 at Bergdorf Goodman? $437 at Bluefly (and that's supposedly 44% off retail)? People, get real.

The tweed shorts from dELiA*s (that name is getting so hard to type!) really strike my fancy, partly because (1) they have pockets and (2) the elastic waistband would probably be really comfortable, but it's cleverly implemented to look like color-blocking on the waist of the shorts, so it's still fashionable. $34.50 is still more than I'd typically pay, but that's because I'm cheap and not because it's an outrageous amount. These seem like a really good purchase.

***Psst: if you like the look of tweed shorts over tights, but the dELiA*s option is not quite your style or sold out in your size, there are some other inexpensive options.

Sparkle & Fade Tweed Paperbag Trouser Short - Urban Outfitters, on sale for $29.99
Black & White Tweed Shorts - Unique Vintage, on sale for $22.00
Black and White Tweed Shorts - Next, currently $48.00
Sanctuary Tweedy Shorts - Free People, on sale for $49.95
BDG Baggy Tweed Short - Urban Outfitters, on sale for $29.99

Okay, one more reason to love dELiA*s (and this one might just be peculiar to me):

Eva Girlfriend Cardigan (on sale for $29.50)

Is anyone else mildly bugged by the "boyfriend cardigan" or "boyfriend jeans" idea? I get that retail executives need to give names to the clothes they sell, but what if I don't have a boyfriend? What if I have a husband, or I'm single, or I date girls instead of boys, or what if I just want to buy the jeans I like without the implication that I borrowed them from a dude? This isn't a really big deal to me (like I said, I'm only mildly bugged), but I have to say that my little heart got pretty glad when I saw that this sweater was named the "Eva Girlfriend Cardigan"; it feels a little tongue-in-cheek, a little subversive, and I'm a fan of that. Go dELiA*s. Oh, and it's also a good-lookin' sweater, so that's nice (because you can't go around wearing an ugly sweater just because you like its name -- that would be silly). You can get it in this nice cardinal color, basic gray, or a festive green.

So, girlfriend, take your cardigan and your short-shorts and have yourself a party. That's what I'd do.

Inspired Sunday Dressing

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When I say "Inspired Sunday Dressing," I don't mean dressing like salad dressing. I mean dressing as in getting dressed, as in picking out your clothes for the day. These are two different meanings of the same word, and you're gonna wanna know the difference in order to successfully get through this post (and to successfully get through life, for that matter).

As a churchgoing gal, Sunday clothes are all about dresses and skirts for me. It's only been in the last few years that I've worn dresses/skirts on a weekday, and before that, these clothing items belonged exclusively to Sundays. The little girl in me still regards even the most casual dress as more formal than any jeans, khakis, or pinstriped pants you could throw my way, and with that background in mind, I present to you some suggestions for Sunday dressing (remember to use the right definition, pal).

"Laila on NE Williams" - from Urban Weeds, a Portland street style blog

First thing I love about this look: homegirl's wearing flats and knee socks. If you want my opinion, I'll tell you that pumps, wedges, stilettos, platforms - they've all got their place, and I'm happy to wear them with the right outfit, but for my money, nothing beats flat-soled shoes. They keep you grounded, and assuming you pick shoes that fit well, they won't have you limping if you've got to walk a long while (like I usually do on church days). I love how she paired these basic black shoes with knee socks, as it gives a pleasantly geeky vibe.

Oh, and PS, she's not just wearing shoes; the rest of her outfit is noteworthy as well, mainly for its understated pleasant-ness. She's working her proportions just perfectly here, with a basic tee tucked into a straight skirt that rises to her natural waist, juxtaposed underneath a slightly longer cardigan. Her gold pendant is hanging on a relatively long-chain as well. It all combines to give the impression of length and a whole lot of interest.

Takeaway Tips: Flats can be Sunday-appropriate, too! Emphasize your natural waist and add a longer layer to create an elongated frame (bonus if you use a long necklace and knee socks to help your cause).

"fixing a hole" - from Second Skin Style

Retro-tastic! Dresses, for all their femininity and supposed propriety, are incredibly easy when you think about it. Instead of having to worry about matching a top and a skirt in terms of color, fit, proportion, style, weight, warmth, WHATEVER ELSE, a dress is a complete outfit in and of itself: put it on, accessorize, and you're done. Our style muse in the above picture chose a beautifully-cut dress in subtle polka-dot print, then accessorized with a belt, bracelet, bag, hat, two necklaces, and t-strap shoes. It manages to look cohesive in part because there's no break between a blouse and a skirt; the continuation of the dress means that the whole look feels unified.

Another clever move was utilizing brown and black in the same outfit. The black exists as a secondary color in the dress, which allows for the choice of these black T-strap pumps. However, the black of the dress is minimal enough that a brown belt doesn't look jarring, and once the brown is implemented in such a wide belt, that same color can be echoed in the bag and the wooden necklace.

Takeaway Tips: Don't feel overwhelmed by the idea of dresses, because they're actually really easy to wear stylishly. "Black & Brown Together" might feel like a fashion no-no, but play around with your outfits before writing it off completely; it seriously can work.

"a few favorite things" - from the glamourai

Button-up shirts are tricky things to pull off well, in my experience. They tend to be a little short for my torso and a little boxy for my body shape. Kelly (aka the glamourai), pictured above, skirts this problem rather well (ha, SKIRTS! get it?!) by opting for a silkier material and knotting the shirt at her natural waist. This manages to look feminine and breezy. The slightly-revamped blouse looks great with her floral miniskirt (hello, check out those legs), but I can imagine it looking equally ravishing with a pencil skirt or worn over a maxi dress that brushes the floor.

And may I please point out her ginormous necklace? Look at that, would you? Just look at it. It's rockin'. I don't need to say anything more.

Takeaway Tips: Accentuate a feminine blouse (light fabric, whimsical print, etc.) by knotting it at your natural waist and pairing it with your choice of skirts. If you own a substantially-sized necklace (or find one at the local thrift store), wear it with pride.

"Julie on NW 15th" - from Urban Weeds, a Portland street style blog

This outfit stands out to me primarily for the interest around the neckline. Just working from instinct, I'm not sure I would have paired the red bead necklace, with it's decidedly round shape, with the pseudo-V-neck of the dress, but boy-oh-boy does it work out well; this might have something to do with the drapey effect of the dress's collar. The basic primary colors of red and blue go together so marvelously in this outfit; it's like they're boyfriend and girlfriend (colors can have relationships, I'm pretty sure, and these two complement each other with ease).

I mentioned earlier that the continuity of a dress can really unify a look. In this case, the dress is actually broken up by her double-clasp belt, creating the effect of a shirt and a skirt that happen to be the same color and material, and I think it works fabulously. I can't say for sure, but it looks like the dress might be a tent dress, i.e. pretty shapeless on its own, so cinching it in at the waist just gives some added structure.

Takeaway Tips: Red + blue = love, so work those primary colors with vivid dresses and necklaces. Use a belt to give structure and/or break up the color or print of a dress.

"Jersey Necklace" - from I Still Love You (ISLY)

Not-totally-related confession: I don't need prescription lenses, but I have always adored how eyeglasses look on most everyone. They strike me as literary and quirky. I'm not sure if this lady's glasses are real or fake, I should note, but either way, they look awesome and she looks awesome in them. Sadly, as much as I love to wear fake glasses, I can tell from pictures that they do not flatter my face as well as I'd like. Dang. ... I'll try to just be grateful for the awesome vision that my parent's genes gave to me.

Oh, her outfit, right - I almost forgot. LOOK HOW COLORFUL! The weather here in Utah Valley is truly frightful today, and while I did what I could to brighten things up with my pink skirt, this peach/green/lavender combo really hits it out of the park. The shape of her outfit is very prim, schoolgirl-ish even, but the punch of color adds just enough funk to balance that out. Also, just so's ya know, that necklace she's wearing is made from an old t-shirt, and she made it herself. Wanna make one of your own? Good thing she gives you step-by-step instructions (click here).

Takeaway Tips: If you look good in glasses, rejoice. Brighten up a wintry, dreary Sunday with fun, unexpected color combinations (psst: wearing a t-shirt necklace wouldn't hurt).

Next time you pick out your "Sunday best," let best mean whatever makes you smile, whether that be most colorful, most inventive, most flattering, or most practical for chasing my toddler down as she makes her daring escape during the opening hymn. The word "best" is so subjective already; may as well get some mileage out of your unique interpretation.

The Fred Flare Sale Section

I seem to go through this never-ending cycle: discover an online shop I love, peruse it frequently, eventually get excited about some other online haunt, and forget about the original website. A few months later, as though it's the work of some cosmic matchmaker, I somehow stumble upon the online shop once more and it's love at second sight.

This pattern has held true with Fred Flare, a store based in New York, specializing in apparel, accessories, decor -- okay, specializing in everything. How I ever forgot this gem is beyond me, but whatever; it was nice to be reacquainted. Like my typical self, I headed straight for the SALE section and found these goodies:

Kensington Spy Girl Trench (on sale for $79.99) - is anyone else reminded of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"? Get this girl a beret to throw.

Autumn Champagne Necklace (on sale for $19.99) - this would be perfect against a bold red top or dress, especially with the hair done up and away from the neck.

Lace-Up Gettysburg Booties (on sale for $33.99) - a zipper that you lace-up instead? Clever, clever.

Bayous & Blossoms Cargo Coat (on sale for $39.99) - this army-fatigues color has really been catching my eye lately.

Fringe Cristos Jackette (on sale for $69.99) - an item like this is so great for that "I didn't even try to look awesome; it just happened naturally" kind of vibe. (Bonus: in this case, you really WOULDN'T have to try.)

Gold Stretch Myrtle Watch (on sale for $15.99) - size-wise, this strikes the perfect balance; it's neither flimsy nor clunky.

And just for fun, here's something from elsewhere at Fred Flare (i.e. the non-SALE section). The Creative Writing major in me is yearning, folks - seriously, yearning. And it looks to be pretty reasonably priced, too!

No Plot No Problem Novel-Writing Kit ($20.95) - have you ever tried to write a novel? Because it's hard. If this kit can help produce even a single chapter, it's well worth the purchase price.

Take a looksie and find your own flare. Heck, start a FIRE with that flare. It's gonna be hot.

Christmas-turned-Graduation Present

Friday, December 17, 2010

My husband got to open one of his Christmas presents last night, nine whole days before Christmas. His eyes lit up when he ripped off the paper and saw this baby:

That's right -- it's a banana chair, ergonomically-designed and perfect for a classy home like ours. This one even has speakers in the headrest (so he won't just hear the music -- he'll ROCK OUT to it) and a volume control knob on the side. His wildest video-game-relaxation dreams just came true.

The reasoning behind this pre-Christmas Christmas gift? Number one, we're driving to my parents' house for Christmas (about four hours away), and this particular gift was too heavy and large for me to justify taking along with us, especially since their house already has enough places to sit down; a banana chair wouldn't be of any special use to anyone. Number two, I thought he deserved a little prize for finishing his last Finals Week ever. That's right. As of 7:30-ish last night, he has completed school and I'm married to a college grad. Soon, we'll both have framed diplomas to admire and funny graduation caps to wear when we're feeling goofy. What's more, the world is our oyster! We can go practically anywhere, do practically anything.

For now, though, I'm just gonna hang out on the couch. It's pretty cold outside.
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