Friday, December 30, 2011

Decadence on a Dime: Discount Elie Tahari

Yesterday, I found an incredible teal silk Elie Tahari dress, new, for 35$ at a local consignment shop; personal birthday present. I can pair it perfectly with a suit jacket, or be worn alone with gold accents. Purchasing dresses definitely becomes justified when they are versatile professionally and personally.

(image taken from La Bellush)

Styling for Baby

This year, with Winona still being so young and small, my sister Elizabeth and the family were not able to travel south to Baltimore to celebrate Christmas, so, my parents, brother, and I spent the weekend before Christmas in New York. Winona is still too neurally and cognitively fresh to completely remember that her limbs can move in all sorts of directions, let alone comprehend the fantastical and well orchestrated concept of a jolly, fat man who gives all good children presents. Needless to say, she did not mind that we opened all of her presents for her, before veritable Christmas Day.

Being so young and so adorable, with little opportunity to get herself into too much trouble, naturally, I spoiled baby Winnie for being such a good girl. Thankfully, I do not have major school loans or credit card debt, however, after stepping foot in the baby and infant departments of some major stores, I have immediately realized how slippery the slope could potentially be. Everything is tiny and charming and relatively reasonably priced, until you have arms stuffed with clothing and socks and small shoes that probably amasses to thousands of dollars. Choices must be made, items gleaned and edited; I think I bought some great pieces, and I know Elizabeth and David were quite pleased with the results.

Egg nog cocktails are essentially adult milk, so, in honor of Winona as well as the season, we all imbibed.

With sheer glee, the sharp, acute anticipation from the earlier years of childhood once again surfacing to the pads of her fingers, Elizabeth tore open the beautifully wrapped presents. Important to note, the filmmaker applied his delicate skills to actually wrapping the presents, for which I am eternally grateful; he constantly mocks me for being able to impeccable fold clothes, but totally inept at folding paper neatly.

Tiny Santa Claus foot slippers on red pants, a little red and white striped onesie top; Winona looks beyond darling in this. I hope it is not considered too passé in January.

In the spring, once Winona gains some weight and length, this red and plaid Scottie dog jumper will be perfect.

A light weight polka dot and floral sleeper for the warmer months later in spring.

Six month size white baby onesies, an absolute dire necessity.

Already, Winnie owns a bunch of onesies featuring monkeys; they are a particular favorite motif for our family.

Elizabeth certainly does love baby girl.

For a normal, full grown adult, socks are one of the most boring, uninspired presents; for tiny babies, socks are just delicious.

Hippity, hoppity, bouncing frogs.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celebrating a Quarter Century

Yesterday for my birthday, I went out to lunch with a group of wonderful and dear friends from high school, to a local restaurant that caters to a, generally, more mature and established crowd; naturally, the bartenders there know how to construct a real martini. Since one really only turns 25 years young once, I indulged.

My friends and I are scattered across this country, and across a few other continents, some of us working, some of us still in school; it is a comforting and beautiful thing to be able to get together for some good eats and some good laughs with people who have known me for years, as though nothing has really changed all that much.

A secret surprise birthday dessert, featuring very berry sherbert and a tiny wax candle; darling.

My lovely friend Diana knows me inside and out: she was so generous, gifting me this Barbie calendar, featuring runway caliber clothing designs. A number of them I wish lived in my own closet, supremely elegant in draping and fabric choice. This gift definitely made me very excited for when I can finally buy Barbie dolls for my niece.

Phinneas, the cat, for reasons beyond comprehension within his anatomically inferior brain, was magnetically drawn to my leopard patterned wedges, unable to deny the primal call of his ancestry.

A fine and cozy tableau for a family dinner, following my martini and burger lunch with friends.

Viognier proved to be the ideal wine choice for our meal of crab cakes, potato wedges, and green beans; crisp and acidic, with a touch of sweet fruit, a great complement to the buttery texture of the crab meat.

Obviously, cocktail sauce was involved.

Eating a Maryland crab cake outside of the hallowed state borders of the Land of Pleasant Living is, well, simply, a grave and terrible mistake.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Birthday Musings and Reflections

Today is my birthday; I have now been living, for the most part conscious, for a quarter of a century. Due to its potentially unfortunate proximity with the New Year, my birthday has always been a time of intense contemplation. Reflecting upon past events of the recent year and projecting, aspiring, inquiring unto the potential new events of the new year. Now, in particular, having attained the respect of a certain age, that prospect of looking forward, reflecting back, becomes especially exhausting and overwhelming. Being innately, preternaturally introspective, this process is an involved one.

A few months ago, I applied to a position at a, perhaps the, prominent corporate reputation management and strategy firm. Part of the application, I was required to answer a series of questions, within a specific and narrow time frame; miniature essays, to gauge writing skills, construction of a coherent argument, celerity in response. The first few, I read, I responded, immediately, thinking and crafting an intelligent, creative response in quick moments. Though nervous, cognizant that the fruits of my accelerated mental labor would ultimately be judged and dissected, I was confident.

Then I read the final question: describe a time when, either professionally or personally, you were proud of yourself. Fingers poised at my keyboard, prepared to type furiously and eloquently, I froze, spine stiff and hard and ready to snap like the quivering leg of a cockroach in a kitchen. I could think of nothing, not a single response. Eventually, I developed some type of tale, which, though not ostensibly a lie, was also not fundamentally true. It concerned moving to a new town, where I knew no one, a feat, while a challenge emotionally and intellectually, that evoked absolutely no pride in my sense of person, my integrity, my worth.

Moving forward, I want to have courage. Courage to embark upon new adventures, adventures that potentially incur risks, or injury. Or even courage to continually question preconceived determinations of self. To stretch, arch, contort to new realms of discomfort, and, hopefully, ultimately, joy and discovery. Now, it is near impossible to summon conviction and power; typing these words, it is as though I slowly approach some broad and deep abyss, one that I stare upon, but am never compelled to dive and explore. I hope, pray, plead, with my current and future selves, that this is not the case, for the sake of my sense of pride and dignity in my various accomplishments and endeavors.

I have not written anything worth reading in months, something that I am particularly not proud of; in the coming months, I hope to ameliorate that.

(image taken from Ted Burke Like It Or Not)

Merry and Bright

For Christmas Eve festivities, I wore the stereotypical and traditional gold metallic sweater with a black dress, which then became a skirt. Keeping with the spirit of Christmas, rec accented my lips, which was perhaps a fatal choice on my part, given that the first cocktail of the evening that I made for myself was a lemon drop with a sugared rim. Sometimes, slowly approaching the edge to stare dangerously and precariously into the abyss is a necessity.

For the sake of histrionics, feigning opening this present, from my younger brother Adam. I actually opened it on Christmas morning, while in an admittedly more disheveled state. It was a bottle of Hendrick's gin; he knows me well.

Following our Christmas Eve gift exchange with family friends, my mother reads aloud "The Night Before Christmas," and we pass around more mildly cheesy, but hilariously amazing gifts; this sounds incredibly lame when converted to prose, but in practice, is amazing, especially following cocktails and wine.

Messy though it can be, I often wish that bright red lips were appropriate daily attire. What I have, indeed, been wearing many days are these gold and orange earrings, a great church sale find, though they have not quite become a constant staple.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hunter Green, Polo Plaid, and Gold

On the eve of Christmas Eve, my younger brother and I, frantically rushing to finish up gift shopping for a partially drunken, completely hilarious gift exchange my family hosts every year with old and good friends, braced the traffic and frolicked in the unseasonably warm sun. Rather recently, when I was still in high school, a nearby defunct shopping mall was razed and in its place was erected a large, pristine, franchised outdoor shopping mall, featuring faux-boutique clothing stores, a wine shop, numerous coffee shops, a DSW Shoe Warehouse, and a gargantuan Best Buy. To complete the consumerist fever, there is also a Wegman's Grocer, which anyone hailing from the northeast will recognize as an epicenter of produce-organic-candied-prime cut meats mayhem. Not accustomed to meeting any challenge half-way, preferring the full on, unbridled approach, Adam and I head in the direction of this very shopping center, pretentiously and ridiculously named, and more importantly spelled, the Towne Centre. The various façades do exude a downtown personality, however, the surrounding sea of parking lot gravel gives it all away.

Not completely intentionally, I was in the Christmas spirit with my outfit, pairing dark hunter green with a red, pink, navy, green, and yellow traditional plaid, a dark denim pencil-like cut skirt, some dark navy tights, and wooden brown loafers.

With the bright sun and pleasant temperatures, I have been able to get away, naughtily, with completely ignoring my puffy down coat that resembles a sleeping bag; instead, wearing layers suffices to keep back the colder air. This hunter green sweater, with a deep v-neck, purchased from Banana Republic a few years back, is a silk blend, and is wonderfully warm.

For years, I abhorred the J. Crew catalogue look of collared button-down blouse paired with sweater or cardigan, perhaps harboring some residual resentment for my year-long experiment at an all girls private school as a freshman in high school. Now, more mature and more willing to embrace my love for classic styling, I cannot stop with this layering. The Ralph Lauren men's button down was actually an impromptu gift from my childhood friend, whose family spends Christmas Eve with mine, making merry and frivolously giving, unwrapping, and stealing surprise gifts during our exchange. Originally, she had wanted to wear this shirt as a tunic, belted at the waist, but found the effect to be a bit awkward on her body; I welcomed her discard.

Golden quilted earrings and a thick tiger's eye-like lucite bangle infuse this look with a bit of funk, and add a nice hardware contrast to the soft fabrics of the button-down and the sweater.

I found these dark caramel brown leather loafers for cheap at Century 21; they are comfortable, and make ideal walking shoes, both for the city and for scurrying about large, plaster and concrete suburban town centers.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

No Place Like Home for Christmas

This manager set of miniature painted figurines once belonged to my grandparents, and was displayed prominently in the foyer of their home; it is a well loved, well used reminder of the true meaning of the holiday and the beautiful, inevitable evolution of families. I miss them both every day.

A Christmas tree in our family room, where handmade ornaments from our childhood hang.

Greek pasta salad, an easy and nontraditional side to our meal of Italian cold cut sub sandwiches.

All the appropriate fixings and accessories for some Christmas cheer.

The presents strewn under the Christmas tree in our living room; the anticipation of the arrival of fictional Santa Claus has abated, but, the excitement of giving and receiving thrives.

My mother hangs these pink, silver, and golden vintage ornaments on this tiny silver aluminum tree in our basement; the effect is decadently and charmingly superficial.

Phinneas the cat snuggling in a warm wool blanket, eyes covered in heavy, dreamful sleep

New Santa Claus slippers, which are warm and completely adorable.