Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Eve: What to Wear

This Friday night is supposed to be warm (well, 50s during the day, but trust me, that counts as warm)! So I think I'm going to try to wear a skirt when I go out on the town, without tights. I know, bold move. I've been looking at these images for inspiration. Maybe I'll try out socks with heels?

Maybe not. I can't really see myself having a good time stumbling around on heels all night. It's supposed to be really rainy too. I looked at my closet and I think I'll try just a short dress and some sparkly flats (the rain will probably ruin them though). Bare legs is enough daring for one night!

But I do love that look with the short dress, tights, and gold flat brogues. They're all from Lauren Moffatt's Fall 2010 collection, which I found via This is Glamorous, and I seriously love every single thing on there and will be posting more. Well, all but the tiny one which is from Sally Scott's 2009-2010 Fall/Winter collection, which for obsessive referencing karma, I found via fieldguided.

Or maybe I'll go with thin tights (otherwise unthinkable on cold days) and a sparkly dress, like this one from Urban Outfitters. Wait, I don't have thin tights. But I do have lacy ones!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Afrikan Boy: Lagos Town

Recently I've been digging this song. It includes my favorite rhyme in the history of ever, which is "1 2 3 4, 5 6 7 8, I'm great." Also the girl dancer is my life and fashion idol, I want to have her moves and her technicolor style. This dude, Afrikan Boy, is somehow affiliated with M.I.A. (I think he's on her label and toured with her). Can you tell? Yeah, it's pretty clear, but nevertheless, I like him, and he's adorable. My coworker is from Lagos, too, but she never sang me an adorable rap about it, so I'm less interested. Finally, check out his Obama t-shirt and then, check out this fact: I saw the President himself with my own two eyes on Saturday night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Venice, Spritz: Drink Recipe!

So, my friend, we'll call her T, has a radio show. She plays classical music from 12-1:30 on Tuesday afternoons. You can tune in online! Anyway, I've been hanging out with her during the show, and kinda learning how it works and bumbling around giving announcements. It's great fun, but we only get like 5 listeners online, so you should listen! We play good stuff, and it's a very chill mid-day break. Especially for us.

Anyway where was I going with this? Oh yeah, T & I looked at the internet while our records played, and were looking at the Toast blog (again), and found these gorgeous pictures of travels in Venice. This picture made T swoon because she works as a barista in a bougey coffee shop and is really good at making excellent espresso and foam, and wishes she had such a beautiful machine with which to work.This last picture made us both swoon, probably because we're alcoholics. (Just kidding. Alcoholism is a real and serious disease, and we do not have it. We just like us some booze, preferably European booze in elegant glasses with atmospheric lighting. We will not say no if some sexy Italian bartender makes it for us, either.) So anyway, the next post had a recipe for Spritz, a common drink in Venice, so that night we went home and made it. It is very easy: one part Campari, one part white wine, and top it off with soda water. I had all these things at home, since I bought Campari this summer for aperitivo-making inspired by ReadyMade magazine's recipes for drinks like the Americano and Negroni. Anyway, the spritz was delicious, easy, cold, kinda bitter, and a great mix between T's-roommate's-grandmother's-favorite-drink and sophistication.

Coming soon: T & I swoon over all things Portuguese, and T & I have California Week in preparation for my first trip to the Pacific Ocean!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Listening, Watching, Reading, Wearing, Wanting

Listening: eh, you know, Beyonce, stuff like that. Whatever is loud enough that I can hear it on the train to & from work.
Watching: Lolita, the Kubrick version. Maury on the TV in the Nigerian restaurant where I had lunch. The leaves change color. The interior of offices.
Reading: sure as fuck not my homework, unfortunately. The first part of this post is hilarious, and I completely agree.
Wearing: forget trying to look cute, I'm back to my uniform: cords and button-down shirts, preferably plaid. Actually over the weekend it was hot and I went swimming, and wore my beloved ratty cutoff jean shorts and a uber-hippy loose tank top I stole from my cousin, and a red cardigan from a yard sale.

Wanting: balance

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Work Clothes

Now I'm back to work at a "professional casual" workplace. For my first day, I wore the black pants from Express (the "Editor" pants. My mom made me buy these in high school and I actually wear them all the time--they're insanely versatile, despite the fact that "Express girls" was a disparaging label given to the trendy high school girls who wore stretchy black Express pants at my friend's high school in California). I also wore a saffron or marigold or something short-sleeved sweater, from the Gap via the Goodwill back in South Carolina. I thought earlier that this color wouldn't look good on me, but I've found, since becoming a redhead, that I can wear different colors. Before, tan and taupe just kindof washed me out, and I didn't really like gold or yellow (I always thought it didn't look good when your skin, hair, and clothes are all about the same color) but now I can wear them. I also was skeptical of the concept of short-sleeved sweaters-- when it's sweater weather, you want sleeves; when it's short-sleeve weather, you want something light. But now it's the perfect weather for it, as long as you bring a cardigan, which I did. My nicest cardigan is a black one from Zara via a yard sale, and I was wary of black on black (what is one is more faded than the other or it just looks too black?) but I think it worked since the shirt was so bright. To finish it off, my everysingleday bronze pointy-toed flats (from Eddie Bauer, my new love, via Unique) and some gold and pearl earrings I took from my mom last time I was home. And to break a final fashion reservation, I didn't match my bag to my shoes or non-existent beld--I carried a tan (p)leather one with a kindof woven pattern that my grandma gave me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Introduction to Polyvore

Welcome to Polyvore!

I ended up going to a party in the cozy wool sweater & LLBean boots combination I wrote about the other day, and I got really hot and I felt kinda dorky and under-dressed compared to all the hip stylish undergrads at the party. There were a lot of girls in short-ish dresses with black semi-sheer tights and tall leather boots. One girl had a gold panelled dress, one had a huge loose gauzy white blouse with huge poufy curly hair. They were so cute, that I wanted to dress up too. So the next day, I decided that one solution to my struggles with making tights and skirts look alright was to keep them all in the same relative color family. Unless you have the ubiquitous sheer black tights and perfect-fitting boots, I reasoned, best to not try to compete. So I wore a light blue dress over a dark blue slip, with light-blueish-gray lace-patterned tights and the gray ankle boots. The boots didn't make me look too much like Robin Hood when the legs poking out of them weren't radically different-colored. The slip showed too much out the top of the dress's neckline, so I wore a blue floral scarf. It was a lot going on for one outfit, especially considering my simplicity trend as of late, but I think it worked.

I don't currently have a working camera, so I tried to recreate something similar with polyvore. I am about to waste A LOT of time with polyvore, uh oh!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Style Inspiration: Eddie Bauer Dorky/Outdoorsy

Somehow the catalog people found my new apartment, and I've been getting all kinds of catalogs unrequested: Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret, Land's End, and (my favorite name) Long Tall Sally. The preppy/dorky/outdoorsy pictures in Land's End and Eddie Bauer (I love the cardigan above! SO MUCH!) have caused me to give up on my idea that I should try to dress up more, and embrace the kind of clothes that I usually wear and that make me the most comfortable. A friend of mine usually wears simple, dark colors, like fitted black jeans and loose jersey navy tops. She says her mom dresses like that too, and it's a very understated, urban style. I think I tend to dress like my mom too, laid-back and outdoorsy, with a little ethnic-hippie thrown in ("oh yeah, I got this on my travels in Turkey, no big deal" haha). Of course my mom doesn't always dress like this, which is a shame, because she feels she needs to look more Southern and put-together or "dress her age" or cover her hips or some other total nonsense that she should ignore.
So I totally gave up on nonsense, and today I'm wearing Levis, LLBean rain "mocs" (they're like shoe-boots, if that makes sense, but they were the first totally waterproof footwear I owned and I love them forever and ever), an American Eagle long-sleeve t-shirt that I got in middle school and is wonderfully soft and comfortable, a "Made in England" tan v-neck wool sweater that I got at Unique a couple weeks ago, and a tattered pink silk scarf my mom got from Pakistan 25 years ago. It's the best outfit for getting tea, textbooks, and work done on a rainy, chilly day.
Yesterday I wore the same jeans... and I can't even remember what else, because I was THAT comfortable. Oh right-- a long blue & green plaid button-up I stole from my brother, with an old long leather belt I got at a thrift store in Riverton the day I left Wyoming. The day before that: cords with a ratty silk hippie tank top I stole from my cousin and a ratty thin purple cardigan that I got at a thrift store and wear constantly, with my boyfriend's white scarf to kinda hide the holes and make the loose top a bit more modest. I also have been wearing a gold Huguenot cross that I found on the sidewalk in Paris, on a silver chain. On the first day of class I wore a nice black skirt with a crochet detail at the bottom with some shirt and my new (from Unique) taupe cashmere v-neck sweater and a long striped scarf my coworkers brought back for me from Al Ain, and I froze my butt off because my school building is way too cold. So that's why I'm back to the cords/Levis rotation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Redmoon and Sartorial Struggles

This morning I woke up feeling unable to get the "Amy's productive day" show on the road. It doesn't help that I was feeling sick again, perhaps from sitting outside in the cold for a few hours last night watching Redmoon's The Astronaut's Birthday. It was a pretty cool show, though I didn't appreciate being packed onto uncomfortable bleachers with irritating children and craning my neck upwards. The show was done entirely with over 4,000 (or something, I forget) hand-drawn, hand-gelled slides and overhead projectors shining from inside the building windows, with occasional people as shadows and puppetry animation. The story was a little "meh" (this review suggests it was too slow-paced, but I also think the overt moral was a strangely uncomfortable one: "don't dream big or shoot for the stars, because love is all that matters.") But I love Redmoon for their commitment to fantastic public art and elaborate low-tech spectacle. And afterwards I got a "blood orange" hot chocolate from a 7-11 and went to a potluck party at a friend's house. I brought a cous-cous salad with grapes, orange pepper, and feta, a combination of two Mark Bittman picnic ideas from the New York Times. Most of them look super good and fast, so I'll be trying them for more than just picnics.

Another thing slowing me down is trying to wear something other than my corduroy pants that I love so much. I think it would be nice to wear skirts and tights, but can never get it to look right or feel comfortable. It's mostly an issue of improper footwear. Somehow, the flats I wore all summer with skirts don't look right as soon as I add tights to my legs, which I can't figure out. And as great as heels look, I just can't bring myself to wear them to walk the 20 minutes to campus, where they will slow me down and make me uncomfortable all day. How do women who wear heels every day do it? I have some ankle boots that I bought last spring and really liked for awhile, but now I feel like they make me look like Robin Hood with my skinny legs poking out of their wide tops. This post from Jane at Ill Seen, Ill Said, inspired me to try to make flats look just as sophisticated, but I can't pull it off. I always love her "Sunday best" imaginary outfit posts, and she's so smart and posts a lot of interesting things about art and books.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday Night Fun

Slowly chipping away at a to-do list this morning: getting ready for classes and internship to start up, cooking projects so food doesn't go to waste, sending a wedding present, cleaning and so on.

On Thursday night I went with some friends to the Chicago Chef Battle at Goose Island Brewery's actual brewery/warehouse. We got in for free (my friend is in a show at Second City and one of her fellow actors works for Chicago Public Radio, which sponsored the event). We showed up late (department beginning-of-term party) and missed the food, which was sad, but the winning chef, David Carrier, showed us a bit around the brewery and explained how beer gets changed by being put in old wine casks. He told us about Cru, a fortified wine made in Virginia that's aged in Jack Daniels barrels, which sounds so good. We actually didn't know at the time that he was the winning chef, just that he was a huge man in a white coat who knew a lot about alcohol. We learned later that he also just got fired from his restaurant on the previous Monday. I'm sure he'll find a new job fast! Good luck to you, David!

We also got to taste a bunch of beers. We saw Goose Island's new beer, Madame Rose in the barrels (I think so, because it said "cherries" on the side) and tried Harvest Ale, Sophie, and Matilda, my personal favorite ("spicy in character," yes please). Fret not, they were only in small samples!

While I was standing around there, some creepy old men came up to talk to us. At one point, one of them was like "Look at the moon? Can you see Jupiter? Have you ever seen it?" And I was like, "Yeah, I see it, I've seen it before," since know-it-all is usually my default when I'm uncomfortable and want to hurry someone along (and away). But I had no idea what they were talking about until today when I learned (from the lovely clothing company Toast's blog) that night there was a Super Harvest Moon, which NASA teaches us that this year was a rare occasion when Autumn Solstice falls on the same night as a full moon, causing a cool glow at sunset, and then, right at 11:09 pm when apparently fall officially begun, Jupiter was right up in the top of the sky next to the bright, full moon.

So where were you when this event of cosmic importance took place? I was standing happily in the quads eating and drinking free food at sunset, remarking happily about what a beautiful warm night it was, and then by 11:09 I was probably in bed! How funny to learn, later, that it was the last night of summer... I'm glad I went out and enjoyed it! Especially because the weather here has really behaved properly, and now we're all getting cozy in flannel and corduroy and sweatshirts.

Other things:
  • Here's a funny (perhaps unintentionally) Egypt video.
  • If you're in Chicago, check out the rooftop deck at Bottom Lounge (where I went last night) before it gets too cold! It has a really cool view of the city and reasonably priced drinks.
  • Tomorrow's the last night for Redmoon Theater's The Astronaut's Birthday! See you there!
  • Ooh, maybe I'll watch the marathon at Simone's, a cool bar in Pilsen I went to for the first time a couple weeks ago.
  • I don't remember where the picture comes from, but it's a cozy fall-looking room!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Geometric Wall Art Ideas

I'm really into geometric DIY wall art right now. The top image is by U look like a bunny via Design for Mankind.
This photo is from flickr photographer Graphic Surgery taken somewhere in Sweden, also via Design for Mankind.
This is the dining room of Anne-Claire Rohe, whose home was featured on Design*Sponge. She made the hot pink wire installation as a homage to Fred Sandbeck.

There's a lot more out there, Design for Mankind is also really into geometrics. REALLY into. Design Crisis will also hook you up with a lot of fun graphic wall treatments, especially huge colorful ones that involve a major paint commitment and look best with gold. For example, this cool laser light show wall paint job, which is actually pretty subtle and very cool.

Anyway I'm thinking something maybe outside on my front porch? The kitchen is also rather boring, but maybe not after we put up the long-awaited liquor shelf?

Friday, September 3, 2010

OMG it's FALL!

I saw this post this morning, while I was having my coffee hot, and wearing jeans and a cardigan, and hearing the wind blowing the leaves outside, and I got really really excited. I love fall! Even though I pine for summer and love it so much, the return of cooler weather is just absolutely wonderful. I wonder how I would deal in a place that doesn't really have a change of seasons.

Unfortunately I am starting this fall off more broke than ever, so there won't be much or any back-to-school shopping for me, which is probably good. You don't care about that anyway, do you?

I made that key lime cheesecake and had it the last two nights while sitting on the front porch with friends. I got to see two of my best friends, one of whom was in town to visit before she leaves for Cameroon for two years! I'll miss you so much! The other is back in Chicago and we made plans for some sewing project together. We even got to Skype in with another one of my college apartment-mates, who is far away in Utah, which was lovely. Even the one who just started grad school in Massachusetts hasn't been a stranger, and I've gotten heartening text messages from her. I love you, friends. Oh also the cheesecake was not bad at all.

Tonight I decided to stay home, make curry lentils and chocolate-covered strawberries for myself, and read. So far, so AWESOME. Also, it was all stuff I had at home, so that's good too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hipster Dinosaurs

So my dad sent me this, with the tagline: "I thought you might enjoy these, if you don't already know everything about it." ZING!

There's much more where that came from, at Molly23's twitpic stream.

Other stuff my dad sends me is more along the lines of this potentially significant scientific discovery (which is actually SUPER INTERESTING), and ominous articles about terrorism in Egypt.

I spam people with this article about linguistic relativism, this key lime cheesecake from Smitten that I bought the ingredients for and am very excited to bake, and pictures from 24freedinners. Also this hilarious illustration of the two paths women can take, from NoGoodForMe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Uh, two more Harrison Ford pictures

So yeah, I love Harrison Ford. Especially in his Star Wars/Indiana Jones days.
via 24freedinners.

Hi, I'm random.

Here's how it's been in my life, recently: busy. So that's why no posts. Also, like I said earlier, I've kind of lost interest in looking at stuff I can't afford to have.

BUT there is some stuff I'd like to share! For example, this tumblr, 24 Free Dinners, by the blogger of Daddy Likey! Great pictures of sexy people, pretty stuff, and funny funny words. Seriously, and a small obsession with the cast of 10 Things I Hate About You. I love that movie. I also love Empire Records, which has a very young Liv Tyler in it, who is also on 24 Free Dinners looking incredible. Fun fact: one time I watched Empire Records with a boy I liked, and he didn't get why I liked it so much, and when it didn't work out with him, I didn't care for very long. Because he didn't like Empire Records. That's how much I like it.

I'm also a big fan of some stupid lyrics, for example:
"baby you the whole package, plus you pay your taxes" - B.o.B.
"toodles to you bitches" - Drake
"would I be violating if I grabbed me a handful?" - T.I.
"brain so good, good, school you went to college... baby you can do whatever you like" - T.I.
"I could teach you to speak my language, Rosetta Stone" - Drake

Anyway, I went to Kimbark on my birthday, to get ready for my party, and my roommate was buying a nice bottle of Scotch and the girl working there was like, "aw yeah, he knows how to treat momma right on her birthday! You can do whatever you like!" Yesss.

At a party on Saturday night this guy was talking about James Murphy, the lead guy of LCD Soundsystem, who apparently has done a lot of coke: "He took care of all the bullshit for us. He's like the hipster Jesus."

I've been eating the leftovers of my birthday cake, which is the best carrot cake ever even though I forgot the oil, and I've made it for my boyfriend's last two birthdays, and I'm not sure if I'll ever bother making another cake again. I've also been eating some Christmas curry, which is green peas and red pepper and white tofu and green curry paste and coconut milk.

It was too hot last night so I had bad dreams and stayed up all night thinking disturbing things about fate and how bad the world can be, which is what I always do when I can't sleep, and then I found out that my boyfriend's personal genie is a lady genie "from the ocean" who gets really jealous because she really digs him, so it was probably her just trying to mess with me. I swear I am not making this up.

Picture from 24 Free Dinners. I love Harrison Ford.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I enjoyed Moving Week at Natalie Dee's comic. Timely, a bit crude, funny.

I'm moving all my stuff into my new room now that I have a wardrobe to use for storage. I think I've got more stuff in the bathroom than in the bedroom itself. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm pretty proud of myself for fitting it all in there. Ikea's got nothing on me: I'm cheap, Scandinavian, and good at storage.

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Closet Problem = Solved!

After a long Craigslist search filled with many failures and missed-boats, I finally secured a solution to my no-closet woes. I bought the above Ikea wardrobe from a nice family in a not-too-far-but-still-far suburb. This is the picture they provided on Craigslist. It does it justice, somehow, as it is kindof a piece of crap BUT it is nevertheless functional.

More importantly, it fits in my bathroom! I have a giant bathroom, and there's this huge space between the toilet and the wall where this dresser fits perfectly. It's like Ikea somehow knew the dimensions of my crazy-sized bathroom. I must admit I had my doubts, as I measured the wardrobe in the Craigslist-lady's house and it was 36" and I knew from multiple measurings back home that I only have exactly 35", but then, once we got it home, it was freakishly 35". "What changed?" we asked. "Embrace the mystery," the wardrobe said.

So we also moved it in a Prius, which was epic to begin with, since Priuses are a) tiny and b) lacking a hook in the trunk latch to affix a bungee cord. But because of my vast knowledge of how to attach strange objects to cars, I knew of hooks underneath the bumper and also had the foresight to bring twine (which is quite frankly all I had that was even remotely cord-like). Another fun fact about Priuses is that they like to beep at you a lot to remind you to do things like buckle up, not stand too close, and also, to close the door. So serenaded by a steady beep beep beep, and cushioned by some old blankets, we cruised to a really good cheap Indian place, called Ghareeb Nawaz, and hovered around the car (which also couldn't LOCK, you see) and ate some fine food while standing in an alley. Finally we figured out that Jay Z beats are at the same frequency of the beeps so we managed to get it home, sanity AND wardrobe intact, up the stairs, into my room, only to discover, of course, that it doesn't fit through the bathroom door.

So we took it apart, obviously, and then put it back together inside the bathroom which was quite an undertaking and to be frank I would have given up without my wonderful friend Brandon helping me this whole time like the total champ that he is. But, tomorrow I'm gonna go buy some L-brackets at the hardware store just to make everything a little bit more sturdy and then! finally! I'll have a closet!

Total cost: $15 for wardrobe, $7 for Indian food, about $10 for the beer I'll buy the roommate whose car I borrowed.

Thoughts on Consumerism

Have been thinking a bit about this post on Ill Seen, Ill Said, about how much blogs promote consumerism and promote a lifestyle that few of us have or could afford. I'm a big fan of being honest about my cheap lifestyle, and I know I post some ugly pictures. But, the reason I like reading blogs is because it makes my life richer to see beautiful things, and often, beautiful things cost a lot of money.
I was trying to explain to my mom how I have a whole system in my own head to justify being cheap as better, somehow. It's better to wait, better to learn to make things yourself, better to have original pieces with emotional attachment. It makes you more creative, more grateful, more social (gotta pay back all those friends who help you carry furniture in from the alley!).
That said, here are some pretty things that I can't afford from Beklina, an eco-friendly boutique. First from I. Ronni Kappos, then Gemma Redux with the beautiful lapiz & gold bracelets (this is Amy in Egypt afterall), then Shabd who've I've blogged about before, then Rachel Comey.

Making me Laugh

El Koshary Today: like the Onion but for Egypt

Seriously, read it now. I'm unsure how funny it is to people unfamiliar with Egypt, but it's probably almost as hilarious as it is to me.

Miss the World Cup? This made me smile all day.
More humor along the lines of "international soccer players are so hot I can't stand it."
Drunk babies?

(This is a bit old but they're all still so funny.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back in Chicago

Got back last night, it's too hot, my room is a mess and closing in on me. Taking relief in air-conditioned work and this post from Apartment Therapy. My rolling clothes rack fell down and seems to be an unsturdy POS so I'm getting rid of it. I desperately need more storage, want an armoire like this great old ancient one I had in Cairo. It had some random stuff in it like Christmas decorations, a photo, some trash, a white board, and some old hangers, but it held my small collection of clothes and looked solid. The pictures on the wall I tore from British Vogue and some postcards from friends.

Currently I'm still living out of boxes with my clothes hung on every available bump in my room. Craigslist, please come through for me! I just want to move a huge piece of furniture in a borrowed Prius, is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 10: Columbia, SC

Tonight's my last night in South Carolina (ok, so I'm posting this late), so I thought I'd compile a little list of stuff that's cool in the state capitol, Columbia. The current slogan for Columbia is "famously hot" and while that's appropriate, there are also better things. For example, as you can see in the picture above, it's super jungly, even in the city! This was some house we looked at during my friend's apartment search a few years ago. That's a maternity dress I got on ridiculous sale at Old Navy and took in the shoulders a bit. It's too hot to wear black in SC but I keep doing it anyway.
So, I wrote a top 10 list of things to do & see in Columbia!
  1. WUSC, the college radio station, 90.5 FM. Thanks for taking my request for Umm Khoulthum, DJ Watson! Y'all rule. You can stream them online, highly recommended.
  2. The river walk. Columbia is at the crosshairs of two rivers, the Broad and the Saluda, and there's a nice long nature trail along one of them, which is where I took the picture that is the banner of my blog. It's super jungly and you can swim in the river, and also tube down it if you put in further upstream.
  3. The Olympia quarry. Olympia is an old mill neighborhood, so there are some mills converted into apartments, which is cool, but there's a working quarry which you can climb up some rocks and look over towards the river. It's very pretty at dusk, but it can be a shady neighborhood so be careful.
  4. The Horseshoe. This is the central quad of the University of South Carolina, and it's pretty and very Southern and genteel. Nice to stroll around with an ice tea from the nearby Cool Beans or Immaculate Consumption (say hi to my dad who chills out there a lot), and go visit the McKissick Museum at the top of the quad to see the geology collection or whatever historical artifacts are on display (once it was pre-Civil War quilts, once it was stories and photographs of bbq places around the state). The Caroliniana Library is also very pretty inside, and useful if you're interested in SC history or in sitting in a quiet air-conditioned place with lots of books and busts of famous South Carolinians. And there's a cute garden and greenhouse at the far end.
  5. Finlay Park. This used to be called Sidney Park, back in the day. It's a huge place on a hill, with a giant fountain leading to a series of rock-rimmed streams, a giant waterfall you can walk under, playgrounds, fields for frisbee, laying around, listening to free concerts, a view of the city, swings high up on the hill for surveying the grounds. Lots of fun.
  6. Nickolodean Theater for independent and art films. Tiny adorable theater that serves beer. A classic French films series is this fall!
  7. New Brookland Tavern to watch shows and drink Yuengling (it's big in SC), and the coffee shop next to it to watch scene kids coming in and out of shows while you drink your tea like an old lady. There's a pretty decent used bookstore just down the street, too.
  8. The downtown Richland County Public Library. I know I'm a dork for putting two libraries on my list, but it's a really cool building with a giant green glass facade and a undulating center atrium, a good music collection, a cool "Where the Wild Things Are" children's section & lots of programs for kids (at least when I was a kid), and a lot of places to read and cool down.
  9. Mac's on Main for jazz & blues, and a really cool, chill atmosphere. They also have bbq and drinks, and sometimes old couples dance to the band playing. You can also walk across the street and see a giant chain "holding together" two buildings, the work of local artist Blue Sky, who also painted a giant mural Tunnelvision that looks exactly like a tunnel going into the side of a building.
  10. Group Therapy, by far the coolest bar in Five Points, the college drinking center. It's got one of the most diverse and laid-back crowds I've seen, all kinds of different people, and a lot of people go there just to dance. Columbia's actually got a pretty decent DJ scene and there are people who aren't afraid to breakdance or really show some moves. Art Bar, in the Vista, isn't bad either but it felt a little more hipster to me, less of a mix of the crowd. But it is cool-looking, with its shiny undulating bar, graffiti blacklight dance room, and giant robots.
Wow, I had a lot of trouble packing that into 10 points! Growing up, I always moaned about how boring my area was, but on this past trip I really gained an appreciation for how interesting it can be, if you know where to look. A lot of these places are free or cheap, good for all ages, but I guess for a few of them it helps to be a bit older.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I went to Charleston for a couple days with some friends last weekend. It's one of my favorite places to be, so I wanted to share some things that we did.

We went straight to the beach at Isle of Palms. It's easier to park in the residential part of the island and use the public access paths to the beach rather than deal with the crowds near the middle of the island where the public park is. You can always go back there to use their outdoor showers and bathrooms. When I went the weekend before, we swam at Sullivan's Island, which is even less popular, but currently there is a big sandbar blocking all the waves. We walked out to the sandbar and found a lot of starfish and sand dollars (and jellyfish!). The picture is from the beach at Isle of Palms a couple years ago.

After everyone was good and salty, we took showers (my friend's aunt lives on the island so we stayed with her) and headed to Charleston Crab House for dinner. There's one downtown that I've been to several times for the rooftop dining with a view of the market and the water, but we went to the location on James Island. I had bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp (yeah, that's right. I'm definitely not vegetarian in South Cackalacky) and she-crab soup. She-crab soup is my second-favorite thing to eat in the Lowcountry, but I already had shrimp and grits last weekend at Shem Creek Bar & Grill, another fantastic place to eat. Shem Creek is in Mt. Pleasant, and you can sit beside the marsh and enjoy the evening while eating some delicious seafood.

After dinner, we went to Surf Bar in Folly Beach. This sounds like a lot of driving, but it's all pretty close, and you get to look at pretty marshland and live oaks while you're going from place to place. We sat out on their big patio and played Uno and had some local brews (from COAST and Palmetto Brewing Company, I had a Mobius, which was very refreshing and tasty). We waited out the worst of an epic thunderstorm and then spent the night at our friends' house on James Island. In the morning, we hauled out the boat and put in at Wappoo Creek, then cruised over to Red's Ice House on Shem Creek. I had an oyster po' boy (I only eat oysters when I can smell salt water) and a lot of sweet tea. It was really cool to see Charleston and its surrounding area by sea. We went out past the bulkheads into the open ocean, where we saw a lot of dolphins playing, a mysteriously-colored "dog shark" and a lot more jellyfish. We went past Fort Sumter to a little beach at the end of a long peninsula jutting off of Folly Beach, where we swam and hung out and got worse sunburns. Some other people were having a shrimp boil, which looked and smelled like an excellent idea, but we had to get back. We had showers, I had a nap, and a quick dinner at Jack's Cosmic Dogs on James Island, before heading home.

Now I just have to have a Cheerwine before heading back home!

Night by the Lake

Seriously, y'all, there is nothing to do in my town. I went to sit on my friend's grandparents' dock a few nights ago to just look at the sky and talk. At least there's a bit of a breeze out there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Listening, Watching, Reading, Wearing, Wanting

Listening: youtube covers of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" because it sucks, but it's catchy, so I'd rather hear some teenager beatbox it. "Bebe Requin" by France Gall. Francoise Hardy, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin. "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (so true!). "Mr. Brown" by Bob Marley.

Shakira's World Cup song "Waka Waka" has pretty much everything I like in it: Shakira, soccer drama, little kids looking happy, good-natured patriotism, nostalgia for last month, and sexy international soccer superstars. I also just found out that she's sampling this apparently very popular Cameroonian song, rivalling Kenyan music videos in "wtf factor":

Also, today I watched the Shania Twain "Live in Chicago" video with some Nepali/Burmese and Iraqi people that my mom knows, and now I have "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" stuck in my head and a new appreciation for how intimidating it can be to live here with no money and little English skills. I like visiting the people my mom knows because you get the wild card factor of being abroad and you still get to sleep in your own bed.
Reading: Always Running, by Luis J. Rodriguez. It's about gang life in L.A. Also, wikipedia articles about Georgia (the country) and various ethnic groups in northern Iraq.
Wearing: uh, right now? an old green t-shirt with a little picture of a shark and the words "white death" and my friend's borrowed "jazzy" green plaid running shorts. Earlier today, my vintage yellow and orange dress, and to go visit my mom's friends, my green skirt and a thrifted teal Michael Stars t-shirt. Yeah, costume changes.
Wanting: TSA to relax their regulations so I can bring back a bottle of this Carolina muscadine wine. To somehow both live in Chicago and Charleston simultaneously. For my boyfriend to stay safe from this. For my sunburn-soothing plan to work (hot showers and lots of aloe).


I like the color saffron. It's so bright and yellow and rich, and one of the colors of India's flag. I doubt it would look very good with my new red hair, but I don't really care. When I read Midnight's Children, I loved the way Rushdie played with the colors saffron and green, spinning a life of a person and a nation in them.
First image is a book my parents have on their coffee table. I can't get it to rotate!
Second image from The Sartorialist (it's not exactly saffron but it's the right saturation).

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A few images that caught my eye tonight. Seriously, my blogroll is out of control. If I ignore it even for a day it's unmanageable. I like this mostly for the shape of the door behind her, and the reflection of the sky. It reminds me a little of Gaudi. It's by Nicole Bentley for Vogue Australia September 2010, and it's taken at Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, wherever that is. Via dustjacket attic.
This is from the Day fall/winter lookbook, a Danish clothing company, shot by Ditta Isager, via Seesaw Designs. From a brief look at Day's site, they've got some good-looking clothes, almost Edwardian winter shirts and super-Euro dresses. Ditta says her style is "simple Nordic" and I really like the way she's set up this and other photo shoots on her website: a big surreal, a bit bleak and cold, artsy like Anthropologie but cleaner-looking.
From Facehunter. Look at those legs! A Latvian, it seems. Scandinavian enough for me.
More Ditta Isager, this time for Blommingdals. Aw, I love Scandinavians! They even spell Bloomingdales in an adorable way!

Chandeliers from Little Mountain Antiques

I love me some sparkly chandeliers and have been hunting for one for my new bedroom. I saw a few at Little Mountain Unlimited that I liked, but they were all a few hundred dollars, which is actually cheaper than craigslist in Chicago, for the most part, but I'd have to somehow get them back to Chicago with me. Too difficult. I really don't know how I feel about this one. It's awful girly and disgusting, but it's also unique with the fruit and flowers and stuff and I think in the right context it could look kinda cool. There were a lot. I have no strong feelings about this one, or the rest that I didn't photograph, but I'd take any of the lot. They also sold a lot of single crystals, either for replacements or (as I thought briefly) making your own crazy chandelier. Hmm maybe I should just hang a bunch of blinged-ed out necklaces from a frame?

Packing for the South!

Even though I own a lot of clothes, I travel really light. The picture above is what I brought on this two-week trip to South Carolina, plus shoes (below), the fancy dress hanging on the wall (below) and underwear. It fit in a small backpack and a small duffel bag, along with some books and toiletries and various other things that you have to tote around with you all the time.
This came out rather dark, but the heels are only for the wedding I was attending, and they go with the orange and yellow dress. The sandals, Eddie Bauer bronze pointy-toe flats, and small leather Guess purse are all from Unique thrift store on various trips, and I use them constantly.I put everything in the second drawer of this old dresser, which wasn't mine when I had this room as a kid, but is pretty nice. You can also see that my parents now use "my" room as a place to stack tons of books, although a lot of these were mine in high school. The vanity that matches the dresser is also covered in stacks of books, such that the mirrors are barely visible. I bought the dress on the wall for $5 at an antique mall with Jess and her family when they came to visit Chicago. It's vintage 1950s, with its own belt, and I had to take it in a little in the top, but once it's on it has that nice full-skirt silhouette. I realized that I tend to bring the same things on every trip. The black dress makes it a lot, even though my parents have a white dog so it always gets covered in hair. The white-and-red hippie blouse and the pastel-striped blouse have also made it on several summer trips. I remember wearing the turquoise scoopneck t-shirt when I bought the green skirt, at a thrift store in Maine, so I know it made the travel cut before too. The floral dress (worn here as a skirt) I bought at H&M one time when I stopped there with some visiting friends who had a pool in their hotel and I needed a swimsuit in order to swim with them. It was less than $5 and while I generally make a point of not shopping at H&M, it worked then as a swimsuit cover-up and now I wear it as a long skirt (folding down the empire-waist top), a short dress, and a short skirt with a top over it (here). It's kind of skimpy on top, so I've tried to find other ways to wear it when I'm not at the beach or in an insanely hot climate.

Well, I'm in one now! Today the high was 95 and the heat index in the 105-108 range. I wish I was kidding. Thank God, we have air-conditioning. I'm not quite sure how people down here lived before it. I've been tired all the time since I got here; I don't know if it's the unreasonable heat, the lack of a schedule or work, allergies, recovering from an almost-sleepless night and somewhat grueling move right before I left Chicago, or what, but I'm a total sloth.

Here is a crazy post I started to write at 3 am while I was unpacking my apartment and packing for this trip, about a week ago. I didn't post it because it was disjointed, so I've edited a bit:

I'm going home in a few hours to South Carolina to see my family and chill out. Unfortunately it is going to be insanely hot while I'm there. [how prescient of me!] I've got a wedding to attend and the beach to go to, but other than that, I'll probably be mostly hanging around my tiny boring hometown or pestering friends who live in the closest (and still smallish) city.

I try to show some class on the plane in case there's the slightest chance of getting upgraded. I've been bumped up to business class a couple times due to delays and other harrowing snafus, but let me just say that transatlantic business class on Air France is the Best Possible Thing that could ever happen to you. Anyway, I understand that it might have something to do with classy dressing, so I try to look good. This time, of course, I'm going to look insane and tired, since I've been packing and unpacking all day and then packing my bags again. It's also ideal to have something with pockets for stashing your boarding pass and ID and other gunk you might be acquiring while reading magazines standing up or buying overpriced iced coffees.

Fortunately for me, I've got a green a-line knee-length skirt that I wear to work, and some super comfy pointy-toed bronze flats (slip-off and -on footwear is crucial, bonus for avoiding bare feet on airport floors.) Add my new black Zara cardigan I got at a yard sale for $5 recently and I'm set. I'm not sure I can travel without my giant scarf, but I might have to cut the cord. Maybe I'll bring a tiny scarf. Just a little one? [my better judgment actually won out and I didn't bring any scarf at all, realizing I wouldn't use one in this kind of heat where you want as little as possible touching your skin.]

Ugh, gotta dig out earrings... now which box were they in? [I brought 2 pairs of earrings: my old Turkish coins my mom got before I was born, and some pink faceted drops I got at a yard sale after Claire's wedding a few weeks ago. I've also been borrowing from mom.]