Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birthday shoes!

Yesterday was my birthday! It was a big one (begins with 3, ends with 0). I had a lovely time, including drinks at the St. Regis King Cole's Bar, Thai food, and a window shopping trip at Bloomies. Which is where I saw these:

They're over-the-top in every way, but I love them. I wish I had the kind of life that called for shoes like this, but I really can't imagine exactly what kind of life that would be.

edited to add: no, I didn't buy them, though I was tempted. They do come in black -- would that make them a bit more sensible?

Wardrobe Therapy: It's the tops!

If you're going to sort through all the shirts you own, it helps to have some entertaining background noise. Try this:

That's some beard Bing's got, huh?

Anyway, sorting through the shirts was boring, but enlightening. The photos are not great, so my apologies. I hope to have an easier time with this week's assignment (pants, skirts, dresses), mostly because I have fewer of them.

Here's what I learned: (definitions of the terms here)

1. T-shirts (long, 3/4, and short sleeves)
Most of these are stalwart staples or velveteen rabbits (depending on their age), which I should work on replacing. I got rid of a few torture devices, mostly shirts that are too tight, especially around the sleeves. There were also a few mysteries of the lost shopping trip, mostly due to color. Why I ever wanted a tan t-shirt is a mystery to me.
I didn't count my stash of regular t-shirts from places, bands, etc. If they were in good shape I kept them. I mostly wear them around the house anyway. Sentimental journeys were my shirts from my college's football championships. I might add them in with the regular shirts so they can get worn for workouts, etc.
What I learned: I need some fresh shirts in any sleeve length. V-necks are best. I need to be careful about the fit on short sleeves, and I need to make sure they're all the right length (not too short).

2. Tank tops / camisoles
I don't have too many of these and could stand to buy some more for layering. Most of them are stalwart staples, with two velveteen rabbits (the off-white and black camisoles) that should be replaced asap. Two worn looking tops are not quite torture devices, but I'm letting them go because I don't really wear them. The green
top in the middle is a mystery that could be a superstar. I wouldn't know because I've never had the nerve to wear it. If it doesn't get worn a few times this summer. It's out.
What I learned: not much, except that these are basic pieces and I need to make sure they're in good shape. I also have to find an outfit that I can use that green top in.

3. Sweaters (that go by themselves, not over other pieces)
Torture devices: turtlenecks (I need to stop buying them, although I love the color of the pink one.
Mysteries: some hand-me downs from my mom's friend. Not my style, won't wear them, they're leaving.
Same time-next year / velveteen rabbits - a cowl neck (better than a turtleneck on me. I'm not sure why) that's getting a little pilled, all my sweater sets are getting a bit mangy looking, although the cardigans are in better shape than the shells.
Stalwart staples: I've got a few nice long-sleeved sweaters that I need to keep an eye on for rabbitiness. I have a bunch of 3/4 sleeve sweaters with interesting neckline details that I love. They're a bunch of different ages, so some are in need of retirement. But I bought several this fall that are in good shape, and in good colors, so I feel good here.
Superstars -- the purple long sleeved v-neck ribbed sweater. Good color, good fit, in good shape.
What I learned: It's time to let go of the turtleneck. Free clothes are not necessarily worth taking. Almost all the sweaters were in good colors for me.

4. Button-down shirts/knit shirts/others
Superstars: I have a silk t-shirt and a few fancy tops in this category. What do they have in common? V-necks, empire waists, wrap-style detailing.
Stalwart staples: 3/4 sleeve button downs (fine since I don't wear them with blazers, usually. long sleeve button downs, in cute colors, but need a basic white one that doens't make me look like a waiter (to quote Dr. Wende)
velveteen rabbits: a few cotton tops that are good for summer. I'll have to see how much I actually wear them before I decide if they get to stay after the end of the season, though, since they're a few years old and are not really classic pieces -- I don't know if they'll still be good a year from now. Also a few knit tops that need replacement, like my classic white shell that goes with my suit (which I never wear, but that's a story for next week).
Mysteries: more of the free shirts, which are going, and a few others that are staying for now, but need to prove their worth, since they are cute in theory but haven't seen much wear.
Torture devices: why did I want a peach flowered polo shirt? It washes me out and is too tight, so bye!

Whew! That was a lot of shirts. I've made a nice little pile for Goodwill, and I'm putting together a list of things to buy when next I get to do a little retail therapy. I've been a bit behind this week on WT, and haven't been doing a very good job on commenting on other blogs, either. But hopefully I can get back on track this week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sock on a Rock!

Attention, readers: we now return to your regularly scheduled knitting content!

Here's the sock that nearly drove me crazy, soaking up the sun at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

It's hard to tell, but I'm up to the cuff, and I'm just knitting the ribbing until I've used up most of that half of the yarn ball. Then it's on to sock #2. I was warned that one ball of the yarn (Colinette Jitterbug) can be a little short for a pair of socks, but I didn't feel like buying two, so I wound it into two nearly identical balls and am doing the best I can.
So the knitters among you are probably thinking I'm nuts. This is just a simple toe-up sock with a ribbed cuff. No fancy stitch pattern, no bells and whistles, right? So what am I complaining about? Well, to put it briefly: This sock is evil.
I want to say up front that I do not blame Wendy's Detailed Toe-Up pattern. She's a genius, I just had bad sock mojo.
It called for size 0 needles and gave two potential sizes. I started with 1s and made the larger size, because I'm contrary like that. It quickly became clear that it would be too big. So I went back to the 0s and made the smaller size. Knitting progressed (slowly), and by the time I met up with my parents in Illinois for Uncle Dave's funeral, I had turned the heel. My mom tried it on, and it was too small. So I ripped back to before the heel, added some length, and tried again. But then I noticed that I was one stitch short. I thought maybe I had dropped one, but didn't see any ladders. So I decided to increase and keep on going.
But then the OCD part of my brain kicked in, and I couldn't deal with making a sock that had an error in it. So I thought, well, I'll just rip back again until I find the lost stitch. It's got to be there somewhere. By now, you probably know where this is going.
I ripped the whole thing out.
I. Ripped. The. Whole. Thing. Out.
This is the sock less than a week after its 3rd incarnation began. It is proof that I can be a speedy knitter when I need to be. I guess I should fly across country more often.
Now, I'm almost done with this one. I'm just hoping it fits my mom ok. I figure it's a bit tight on me, so it should be fine. I'm dreading sock #2, because I can't imagine more ways in which I could screw up this pattern. But I'm sure I'll think of something.

I finally uploaded some of my pictures from the Tucson trip. You can see them by following the links on the sock picture to my Flickr page. They're mostly of the Desert Museum (which was soooooo cool, that's where I saw all the animals) and of our hike through the Sabino Canyon park. I can't believe I willingly went on a hike in the desert. Especially since we saw this at the very beginning:

What exactly counts as "high" mountain lion activity? We joked that maybe they meant the lions were high. Which would also be bad, since then they'd probably be hungry.

The gelato at the end of the day more than made up for the potential hazard of mountain lions, though. I did get to see one at the desert museum, up close through a window behind the caves in its enclosure. Those are some BIG cats. Really pretty, though. One of the other really cool things I saw was a temporary river. It had rained not long before I came, and what was normally a dry wash was now a pretty river. We followed a trail alongside the riverbed and eventually saw a waterfall. In the middle of the desert. Neat!!

The two lovely and charming people in the photos with me are my best friend S and her husband T. They were wonderful hosts, and should be recruited for the Tucson Chamber of Commerce -- at the end of the weekend I was totally ready to move out there. But sadly I had to go back to school. Speaking of which, I should get back to work.

I'll be back with round one of my Wardrobe Therapy shirt piles as soon as possible. I bet you can't wait to see how many t-shirts I own!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wardrobe Therapy: The Interview

So, I'm behind already, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows me. But not that behind, which is a bit surprising to me, because this has been a very difficult week. I spent the first half being jet-lagged from Arizona. Which wouldn't have been so bad except I also spent the first half of the week putting 12-hour days in at school. Having fun on Spring Break was all well and good, but it really had me playing catch-up there for a while. So much for relaxation.
I did get my clothes off to the dry cleaners, though the mending is just going to have to wait (but it's part of the tasks for week 2 of WT, so it might get done this week (maybe). The other outstanding item from week 1 is the interview. So here it is:

  • Who is your candidate for Best Dressed, real or fictional? I'm going to play it safe here and say Katherine Hepburn. Also, maybe Helen Mirren.
  • What is your favorite garment or outfit ever? I had this beautiful black Anne Klein cocktail dress in the late nineties. Very simple sleeveless sheath with a little gold bar pin at one strap. Mom and I bought it for a college semi-formal. It's too small, but I will never give it away as long as there is any possibility it might ever fit again.
  • What is your current favorite garment? My black leather jacket.
  • What would be your favorite thing to wear, if reality were not an issue? I would love to wear knee-high boots, maybe with a bit of heel, but I have yet to find a pair that will zip up over my freakishly wide calves (seriously, I'm not being a body hater here, they are oddly big. And it's not fat, it's muscle. Why I only have muscle there, I don't know.)
  • Where would you shop, if money, time, and geography were not issues? If there were good vintage plus size clothes and stores that sold them, I would so be there.
  • What's your favorite fashion faux pas story to tell, now that the scars have healed? In junior high (c. 1992) I had an outfit that consisted of black leggings, plaid flannel shorts, and a sweatshirt with appliques in the same plaid flannel. I probably wore it with a double pair of scrunched socks in complementary colors and one of my many pairs of imitation Keds. It was a matching ensemble, and I was so proud of it that I wore it until the shorts wore out. And then I wore the sweatshirt until I lost it. Fashion gods, I am sorry.
  • What colors do you associate with happiness? (Your Joyous Colors) I really love dark jewel tones, and any blues/blue-greens. I love pastels but am realizing that they don't really do me many favors as items of clothing.

How You Live

  • If there were a uniform for where you spend most of your time, what would it be? Nice jeans, fitted t-shirts, sweater or blazer, cute sneakers or loafers.
  • If there were a uniform for where you spend your leisure, what would it be? Pajamas or yoga pants, comfy t-shirt, warm knit socks (this is my at home wear :) )

Your Wardrobe

  • What is the problem with your wardrobe? (Maximum of three bullet points) I wear the same things all the time and have tons of things that don't get worn because I don't really feel "right" in them or because they've gotten lost underneath unworn garments. Also I can't accessorize.
  • If your wardrobe could speak, what would it say is the problem? Half the clothes would be suffering from exhaustion, the rest would be feeling abandoned.
  • What would you like your wardrobe to do more of? I don't want to be totally Garanimals, but I'd like enough of it to coordinate that it would be easy to think of things to wear each day. I also want it to only consist of things that make me feel good.
  • What would you like people to say about how you dress? (Max 3) 1. She looks really confident/put-together/etc. 2. Where'd you get that purse/those shoes/etc.? Because I want one. 3. She looks amazingly well-rested for a graduate student.

Ok, so there we go. Now I have to quit procrastinating and head to the library. I've got two assignments due next week that aren't going to write themselves. There's not much to report on the knitting front (although the sock that drove Erin insane is nearly done), and I still haven't managed to upload those Arizona pictures yet. Maybe tomorrow afternoon. I don't know if the library is closed on Easter or not, but I'm going to take it as a day of rest.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


So I got tagged for this meme by Anne and Phoebe. Hi Anne and Phoebe!

Here is what you do. Use the 1st letter of your middle name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real places, names,things…nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person you took this from had the same 1st initial.You CAN’T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. Middle name letter: E. That's right. It's an "E" for all three initials. Makes remembering my monogram pretty easy.
2. Famous artist/band/musician: Edgar Degas.
3. 4-letter word: I don't know if there are any swear words that begin with "e." :( For the sake of completeness, I'll say evil, though it isn't 4-letters in that particular sense.
4. U.S state: How sad is it that I had to really think about this one before I realized that there weren't any? Boy, e kind of sucks, doesn't it? Too bad there's not an East Virginia.
5. Boy name: Eustace
6. Girl name: Enid
7. Animal: Elephant
8. Something in the kitchen: Easter candy!
9. Reason for being late? Elevator's broken
10. Body Part? Elbow
11. Drink? Egg Cream
12. Something you shout: Eeek!
13. Something you eat? Eggplant (sorry, had to reuse an egg word, but couldn't think of anything else. I'm not too creative today. I spent 12+ hours at school and I think my brain is broken.)
14. A movie you've seen? Ever After (oh, I should have said Encino Man, but I'm not proud of that)
Whew! That took longer than it should have. E is a tricky letter. I should tag somebody now, but as usual, I'm the last to respond and am all out of meme buddies. So if you read this, please consider yourself tagged.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

In which I return home and start overhauling my wardrobe

Just this morning I got back from a trip to Tucson to see my best friend. I had a blast, and will hopefully have pictures up soon. I saw giant cacti! Mountain lions! Road runners! and there was decent Mexican food! And margaritas! And also one of the best birthday presents ever (more on that later).

I came in on a redeye, getting back to JFK at 6:30 a.m. It would have been fine if I could have gotten a bit of sleep, but in a fit of niceness, I swapped seats with a member of a school group who had been assigned a seat far from her classsmates. While it was no doubt a quieter location, it was also near the bulkhead, so I couldn't stretch my (admittedly short) legs out far enough to get comfortable. I have no idea how the tall guy in the aisle seat managed. So I was grumpy and fidgety and dead tired by the time I made it back to the Bronx. I was very sad to have to put my coat back on again. I spent the day alternately napping and reading, and also bemoaning the fact that Spring Break is over and I have to get back in student mode again. I am not looking forward to it.

But at least Wardrobe Therapy has started. I'm very excited about clearing out my overflowing closet and drawers and making my wardrobe less, well, blah.
Here are this week's tasks and my thoughts so far:

  • BONES: Catch up on laundry and dry-cleaning. I did laundry right before I left for Arizona, so am pretty good in that department. There are several blouses that I hope to take to the cleaners this week. And maybe I should do a bit of mending if I can fit it in.
  • BREATH: Choose one garment, accessory, or beauty product that you know is a Torture Device and ruthlessly de-accession it. (Do make a note of why you hate it, or vice-versa.)I have a few candidates in mind. There is a pair of pants I really hate. They're dark brown, but not a shade or a material I like, they're tapered (a very bad idea for my shape), and they don't have pockets. I feel very wide and frumpy in them. I think I'll go toss them right now. (runs to closet, goodwill box, and back to computer) DONE!!!
  • HEAD: Complete the WT Interview. After you finish it, find a source of clothing pictures that you enjoy looking at. It need not be a fashion magazine or current catalog. Old movies, Old Masters... doesn't matter. This will have to wait a day or so for posting, but I'm thinking about it.
  • HEART: Do something pampering for yourself. This week, this isn't a hard task. Before my trip, I gave myself a pedicure. Then I got a haircut while window shopping, and then my super best friend gave me an early birthday present of a face mask, foot soak, and custom perfume blend here. So I'm feeling pretty pampered at the moment.

So I'll be back soon with my interview results and photos of the trip. For more information on Wardrobe Therapy, try the links above or see Dr. Wende's blog for current posts and links to other participants. Now I have to go amuse the cat. She's been alone too much this week, so I need to make it up to her.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Uncle Dave, this pun's for you

Oh Internets, I am out of sorts. There's so much I'd like to write about right now. What a wonderful concept Spring Break is, how the airport screeners in Peoria, Illinois, have far too much time on their hands, how much I'm looking forward to my trip to go see my best friend Saumya, why I am mad at the socks I've been knitting, why the superhero stamps I bought are really cool but kind of embarrassing to use, how excited I am to start Wardrobe Therapy, and how bummed I am that I'm too busy with school to do Apartment Therapy right now. See, I have lots to say.
But I don't really want to write about any of that right now.

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Peoria. Normally I love visiting. It's my mom's hometown, and lots of my relatives are nearby. They're the side of the family I'm really closer to, and since I haven' t been back since my grandmother's funeral in 2003, it was really about time for a visit. But this visit wasn't the kind you like to make.

My uncle Dave was a really great guy. He loved puns, as do many of my family members, and a visit was never complete without several long punning exchanges, each of us competing to come up with the best reply. He started my obsession with dollhouses, and by extension with the decorative arts. He and my aunt restored an old dollhouse for their daughters in the seventies, and eventually started a miniatures business of their own. As a kid, I got lots of "castoff" miniatures from them -- things that were a little out of scale or a bit rough around the edges. I had a great time ripping them apart and reassembling them into something special for my own dollhouse. Later on, they gave me more detailed and elaborate kits and pieces that are among my most treasured miniature possessions. They even took me to my first miniatures show. All of this exposure to tiny houses combined with my obsession with historical accuracy eventually led me to the study of material culture and design. So he sort of helped make me who I am today.

This weekend I went to his funeral. He had fought cancer for more than ten years, going in and out of remission. This winter, cancer finally got the upper hand. I got to see him this summer, when he was still doing really well, and I am really thankful that I have good memories to hang on to. It's hard to think that he's gone, that I won't find him puttering in the basement or working on his miniatures the next time I go back. It's even harder because of my father, who just finished a round of chemo and radiation himself. He's doing well, but these past few weeks have been a sobering reminder for me, all the awful "what ifs" you think of in the middle of the night made horribly, terribly real. As bad as I feel, I know that my aunt and cousins feel so much worse.

If there's one bright spot, and I have to believe there is, it's that he led a truly exemplary life. The attendance at his wake and funeral, the volume of cards, flowers, and callers -- he made a mark on so many lives, and an impression like that won't soon be forgotten.