Archive for February, 2012

February 22, 2012

An appreciation of beautiful photography: Carnevale 2012

It has been brought to my attention that the talented blog writer for “Tongue in Cheek”, a blog about an American expatriate’s daily life in France (which can be found in my Blogroll), has been traveling in Venice during Carnival.  I like to visit her blog from time to time  for her absolutely stunning photographs, mostly of assorted treasures found at Paris flea markets, but this week I’ve been looking at the elaborate masks and headdresses of the partygoers at the 1,000-year old, two-week long Carnevale di Venezia.  So, I thought I’d put aside my environmentalist urge to rip my hair out at all the waste produced as well as my socio-economic questioning of impoverished countries such as Brazil dumping so much money into such extravagant and costly productions and write a little post that gives just a taste (in pictures!) of the festivities currently going on around the world from Brazil and New Orleans (bien sûr!) to Germany, India, and even Mobile, Alabama (no joke).  I prefer the wistful, romantic images from the Italian Carnevale to the bare bodies and vibrant colors of the Carnaval of Latin America or the beads-for-breasts approach of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras (kidding aside, some devoted revelers do manage to keep it festive but alas…young, drunk people ruin everything!).

 

 

And because random trivia interests me, I also found an article about the origins of the plastic baby (which is supposed to represent Jesus) that is baked into the king cake (galette des rois), the doughnut-shaped, frosted, yeast dough cake eaten from King’s Day on January 6th to the last day before Lent (Fat Tuesday).  Apparently, this tradition began sometime in the late 19th century when the Twelfth Night Revelers, a New Orleans social group, began hiding a bean in the cake.  The lucky finder of the bean became the king or queen of the ball.  This is also the reason the king cake is sometimes called a Twelfth Night cake.  The bean became a porcelain figurine when a traveling salesman gave several to McKenzie’s, a popular commercial bakery in New Orleans in the 1940’s.  These became plastic babies when the baker ran out of the porcelain figures, but how these plastic babies became plastic baby Jesuses was not explained in the article and so remains a mystery to this blogger.   http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/17/147039138/is-that-a-plastic-baby-jesus-in-my-cake?ft=1&f=1001

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February 10, 2012

Lamentations on the lost art of the love letter…

Today I was searching for the most perfect card to get the Greek.  Now, the timing of this seems ideal, so first and foremost,  I’d like it to be known that Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday that I do not endorse.  But last week, he bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers “just because”, and you must understand that me receiving flowers from the Greek occurs about as frequently as a leap year.  So, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if he were to discover a lovely card from me in his workbag one morning?  Which got me thinking about how unusual it is to receive a love letter nowadays.  This saddens me.  Some may think that love letters are archaic or old-fashioned, a relic from the days of courting when lovers were separated for long periods of time.  But I think the gesture is as relevant today as it was back then; the last I checked, expressions of love were still a welcome thing.  It needn’t be so grandiloquent and florid as it used to be.  And really, unless you find you are the reincarnated spirit of Shakespeare or Lord Byron, I’d advise you to refrain from it.  But how about a modern love letter for a modern time: warm, succinct, and sincere.  While some may say that current technologies convey these feelings just as well and while they very well may be correct, for me the touch and smell of paper and the act of opening a letter is an unsurpassed sensation compared to the click of a mouse.  However, as an environmentalist, I don’t want to entirely pooh-pooh it; any heartfelt way to express oneself that took time and effort is an acceptable and commendable thing.  But surely we can find another way to conserve paper!  And one shouldn’t go overboard with it anyway; the relative rarity of a love letter makes it all the more special.

So, with these thoughts in my head, I did what I always do when struck with inspiration.  Oh Google, how I lived without you before I do not know!  And I found some wonderful treasures that could get anyone in a letter-writing mood. 

My aforementioned love of touching and smelling paper favors rough, fibrous, naturally-textured, and under-processed paper (also environmentally-friendly!), which can be found in glorious abundance on etsy.com, or I simply consult my favorite blogs for advice, and as always, there is my ever reliable internet boyfriend, Google.  I personally always have stationery on hand because, every once in a while, it’s just nice to receive a real letter.  Currently, I have some ivory deckled-edge stationery from Papyrus.  Deckled means the end of the paper is frayed. 

 

Oh, and I also found some lovely monogrammed stationery (and the accompanying image just happened to contain the initials of a person I know who happens to be attached to a certain blog writer quite fond of receiving letters!)

And then it occurred to me, what better compliment to this decidedly old-fashioned paper than an old-fashioned wax seal.  So, I found this (presumably) authentic antique brass and rosewood wax seal stamp, made by Dennison and Co. (now known as Avery!- makers of labels and Hi-liters) between 1890 and 1910.  And look at the little “L”!  An ideal find!

   

Ok, now let’s pretend for a moment that these musty old declarations of love and adoration are still a little too cheesy for you.  That perhaps you find them a little artificial or outdated.  Because our modern view of love makes all this pomp and production seem insincere (and okay, I might have made them a hard sell at the end when I suggested your letters should look like declarations of war from Napoleon Bonaparte).  Love is love, simply put.  And anything beyond “I love you” is unnecessary.  To that, I offer the modern substitute to romance: cuteness.  So, at twigandthistle.com (and featured in the most recent issue of “In Style” magazine) is a downloadable design for fruit stickers.  Simply purchase the download, buy some sticker paper at any office supply store, print, cut out, and stick onto your loved one’s favorite fruit.  I don’t want to like these, I really don’t.  But I find them just so clever and adorable.  And great for kids too!  After all, we have to find some way to break the cycle.  And delicately (and healthfully!) teaching children about small, random gestures of love might spawn a whole new generation of romantics!  Yay!

 

As for me, I have found my perfect card, one that fully embodies the Greek’s concept that unromantic romance is romantic.

February 3, 2012

Jason Wu for Target arrives on February 5th!

This is turning into a pattern.  Despite other momentous occurrences in the fashion world, I am inevitably talking about the latest clothing line launch of a renowned fashion design house for Target.  However, as a person of limited means who most often finds those means spent on Chinese take-out and sequined cocktail dresses and appallingly high heels I never wear, it’s valuable to me to know when I can get high end fashion at low end prices.  And the Missoni launch was a bust: it launched on a Tuesday to an almost rabid response and by the time this Working Girl found her way to a Target on Saturday, only a few sad, little plates remained on an empty display.  Plus I have a special place in my heart for this designer.  Jason Wu is a Taiwanese-American, Manhattan-based designer who I might add is rich and famous and younger than me (I note these things now).  He is perhaps most popularly known now as a favorite of Michelle Obama, who is sheer perfection.  And while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the tissue paper-esque gown worn at the Inaugural Ball (I’m sensitive about the proper way to wear white), remember this:

Lovely!

His style is very simple, classic, and feminine (just like me!  Or so I hope).  Which is interesting for a man whose done several collaborations with RuPaul.  But it’s worked for him so far, and he seems to be sticking to it for his Target line as far as I can see from the previews.  On a side note, I support all fashion that has a kitty for a mascot!  Why, you ask?  According to Jason Wu, “They’re elegant, they’re mischievous, and they’re beautiful.”.  Hear, hear, sir!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/jason-wu-for-target-video_n_1223293.html

In fact, I love everything about this so far down to the gorgeous fashion photographs for it!

February 2, 2012

Bits 3

I recently stumbled upon this article celebrating the fashion photography of John Rawlings.  What the occasion was I do not know, but I adore these photos!  Thusly, I then did an impromptu Google search and spent the next hour looking at still more images instead of the planned task of organizing all my electronic files.  This, folks, is fashion photography before photoshop.   The halcyon days in which the technology of photography a.) wasn’t capable of capturing every microscopic imperfection, and b.) wasn’t yet able to airbrush and photoshop pictures to death.  I love older fashion photographs; a bit hazy, yet far more natural and completely untampered with after the moment it was taken.  Art in every way.  Not to mention the fact that I love this period for fashion.  So classically simple, graceful, and elegant.  And the women aren’t frighteningly skinny.  Nowadays, it’s almost unhuman-looking, isn’t it?  I am always reminded of prancing giraffes.  Or those stuffed animal monkeys with the dangling limbs that have Velcro on the paws so that you can hang them from doorknobs or fasten them around standing lamps.  Well anyways, found…loved…shared: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/08/john-rawlings-1940s-colour-fashion-shots/

                 

Speaking of old-fashioned fashion, in my effort to find the most perfect hatbox (apparently, they have gone out of fashion), I stumbled across this wonderful shop on Etsy.com.  Check out these inspired, clever little hats!  Sadly, as I am neither a member of the British royal family nor a black lady at Sunday service, I will likely never ever find myself in a position where I would wear a hat like these.  But at least I can ball my fists, wriggle my arms, and go “Eeeeee!” at how cute they are.

        

  • Love this photo.  Dogs are incredible animals:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/12/02/143046017/some-combat-dogs-suffer-post-traumatic-stress-too?ft=1&f=1001

  • This video must be watched with the volume on.  Do not watch without sound.  You’ve been warned.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/01/31/146148969/video-a-bunny-that-thinks-its-a-sheepdog?ft=1&f=1001

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