Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Book

For today's lunch, I decided to walk over to investigate the university library's Annual Book Sale.
I'm pretty excited; I scored this, in great shape with an intact dustjacket, for $3:
Gotta love librarians*, though. They are repositories of all sorts of esoteric knowledge, but when I went to check out, one asked me, "So is this one of the Baldwin brothers?" Sigh.
*I say fondly, as a member of the profession!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Beautiful Sight

Today, arriving home for lunch, I found this beautiful sight:
Receiving an Amazon package is one of the greatest feelings in life--akin to leaving work on Friday evening or digging into Thanksgiving dinner.

And inside:

As you can see, I'm really getting back into sewing again mainly from the influence of the inspiring Jane Brocket: thus the Amy Butler In Stitches and Kaffee Fassett Quilt book. The Domino and Regency Redux result from my recent obsession with the great decorating blogs on my bloglist. The biography of Mme de Stael is just because I adore biographies of fascinating women (right now I'm reading Amanda Foreman's Georgiana--yes--The Duchess).

Unfortunately I had to go back to work for the afternoon, so I haven't had an opportunity to look through my new books until now. Following a run, a shower and an easy chicken caesar salad, I'm finally ready to sit down and savor the contents. I've lit a candle, made a cup of tea--here we go.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marina Rust and Schuyler Samperton

Like many of you, I tear out meaningful articles from my magazines and collect them in binders. I've been doing this for years, so while I do weed out occasionally, I've been collecting since high school and it's not unusual to find clippings dating back to the early eighties. It's getting difficult for me to categorize my fashion-focused material. I used to have all fashion-related material in one binder, but now I have so many pieces I've had to split them up into two binders: Style and Glamour. What's the difference? I'm not even sure I know, and as a librarian who's trained to categorize everything this is stressing me out. Right now Glamour includes celebrity and lifestyle pieces, like clippings from Harper Bazaar's "Fashionable Life" series and those ubiquitous articles on those annoying women who stack Birkins floor-to-ceiling in their immense closets. Style is more fashion oriented, generally, but I still keep most of my "jet set" articles in there, with titles like, "The New Jet-Set Chic (Harpers Bazaar, November 2003)," Jet-Set Classics (Elle, September 2001)," and "The Social Register (Vogue, April 1997).

Other titles in my clippings collection? Travel, Interior Design, Beauty, and a blue-hydrangea coloured scrapbook for my authorial mentor, Alexandra Stoddard. Not seen, strewn about the house: Gardening, Crafts, Recipes...

I know there are many fans of both socialite Marina Rust and interior decorator Schuyler Samperton out there, and I thought it'd be fun to post some older articles from Vogue that you might have not seen before. First is a write-up of Marina as she published her book, Gatherings. It piqued my interest because I attended Duke while she was there, although I never met her. It's creased because I originally kept it folded, in my copy of Marina's book. The second article, featuring Schuyler Samperton, for some reason grabbed my attention because I was at the time moving to California and her lifestyle struck me as very LA. Back then, I did not realize that Schuyler and Marina were friends, but when I saw Marina Rust's wedding in the December 1999 Vogue issue, I noticed Schuyler was a guest. I no longer have the article, but as I recall, didn't André Leon Talley remark that she was wearing her own wedding gown, dyed?

Anyway, enjoy:

A Stylish Debut from Vogue, March 1993
A Tale of Two Cities from Vogue, August 1995

Creating a Glamourous Caftan--At Home

Harper's Bazaar November 2003

I realize this is an odd post for the end of October, but I have all winter to gather plans and look for fabric...

I want to make a caftan. I can't afford the Michael Kors or Allegra Hicks caftans that I covet, but I can sew, and it should be an easy thing to make, right?

Ok. So the look I'm going for is Liz Taylor, cigarette in one hand, martini in the other. The theme from " A Man and a Woman" or Astrid Gilberto singing "A Girl from Ipanema" plays in the background. Maybe I'm in Acapulco, maybe I'm poolside at the Club. Comfortable, and gorgeous.

Harper's Bazaar November 2007

Michael Kors created a lovely silk caftan for his 2008 Resort Collection (also pictured, in print, above). It might be a little precious for lounging around Nowhere, Illinois, but then who cares? I could wear it to the Farmer's Market with my Birkenstocks (just kidding).

I also like this Lilly Pulitzer Kate Caftan. I'm currently watching ebay for this beauty (significantly under retail, of course).

So anyway, have any of my readers made something like this? It's hard to find a useful pattern for this; so far I am considering Simplicity 4190, Simplicity 3557 or Butterick B5015. None of these quite provide the look I seek but I suppose I could "make it work" if I find the right fabric. Speaking of which. Where I live I have access to Hancock fabrics or JoAnn Fabrics. So I would appreciate any references to online retailers who sell pretty cottons or silk for dressmaking!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Red Lipstick

I'm obsessed with red lipstick. Years ago, my husband drew caricatures of our family and my portrait of course sported huge red lips. Although I don't wear it daily (like the fabulous Gwen Stefani) I own an unnecessary variety of red lipstick tubes but I can't stop wanting more. I'm always searching for that perfect 40's red lipstick--I thought I had found it about 10 years ago (Estee Lauder's Silent Red)--but if course it was almost immediately discontinued and so the pursuit continues. That's not to say there aren't a ton of great variations out there.

Whenever I see a shade I like in a movie or a tv show, I google frantically trying to track down the color. That's how I found my current favorite, MAC's Viva Glam. Apparently Cate Blanchett wore it while portraying Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator; when I saw her in the movie I immediately thought: perfect red! This is the most versatile red I own; I particularly like wearing it with clothing in camels and creams.

Most recently I discovered recommendations from the fabulous Laura Bennett from Project Runway Season 3. Remember her? Perfectly groomed at all hours: smooth, neat hair and a constant slash of red lipstick. According to iVillage, she uses the long-lasting variety: Covergirl Outlast Smoothwear in Cabernet #855 or Maybelline Superstay in Wine #745. I tried a long-wear lipstick when they were first available but the dryness was an obstacle I couldn't overcome and I threw it away. I now read that the formulations have improved and the dryness is less of a factor--I think I'll be giving these two a try in the near future.

Other women who Rock Red Lipstick:
Gwen Stefani: "Gash" by Urban Decay and "Viva Glam" by MAC.
Dita von Teese: MAC's Classic Dame or Russian Red

One evening a few summers ago, when I was supposed to be studying for the state bar exam but was instead finding ridiculous tasks to waste time, I decided to photograph myself wearing every red in my lipstick wardrobe, thus definitively demonstrating which was my "perfect" red. If I was less vain I would share these pictures but they turned out looking pretty much like you would expect a person studying for an impending bar exam to look like: glazed eyes, limp hair, sallow skin and a unnaturally vivid grimace. Plus the light was bad too. So no decision was made, and I continue to wear all my colors and desire more!

I also have:
MAC's Russian Red. Another great basic, but more vibrant than Viva Glam. Elegant with black and white.
Chanel in Crystal Red and Red Red. Discontinued colors, I think. I love Chanel colors, but the lipstick smells--supposedly like roses, but I'm not a fan. I don't wear the Red Red anymore, but the Crystal Red is bright and clear and goes well with equally red clothes.
Sue Devitt in Great Australian Bight. I'm only listing this because I purchased it based on the recommendation of people on MakeUpAlley, but I didn't like it. I found the color too dark but, more importantly, the texture was very drying. I should probably just throw it away.

My most recent purchase was MAC's Ruby Woo. I think I caved on the Ruby Woo because of Jolie Nadine's post here. Previously, I had managed to convince myself that MAC's Russian Red, which I already had worn for years, was sufficient. But it wasn't too hard to change my mind!

Colors that I am currently coveting:
Chanel Hydrabase Creme Lipstick in Coco Red. Last fall I was shopping in Saks and a Sales Associate was wearing this color. She looked incredibly glamourous, although she applied it very thickly. As a librarian, I'd use a lighter hand.
Chanel Hydrabase Creme Lipstick in Fire. Remember the magazine Shop from a few years back? One of their make-up spreads featured this color and it's been on my wish-list since, although I've not yet tried it in person.
Bésame Enchanting Lipstick in Red Hot and Bésame Red. Has anyone tried this? The packaging is completely "enchanting" and totally 40s. Here's how they describe the colors:
  • Red Hot Red: "Bright and bold, a bit warmer than besame red, and marilyns favorite."
  • Bésame Red: "True red, cooler, not warm. like a navy red, bright and vibrant."
  • There's also Noir Red, which is tempting: "Darkest red, very deep berry shade. great on dark skin and on light skin for a bold look."
Julie Hewitt. The reason I've never bought a Julie Hewitt red is that it is impossible for me to choose! Rouge noir?! Coco noir?! Femme noir?! Belle noir?! My God, they're all so beautiful! I could buy the six "noir" shades in a gorgeous box for $100. But that seems a little decadent. At least that's what I tell myself.
I need to just buy these, even though they're probably, to the naked eye, completely identical to one of the colors currently in my collection. So I don't "need" them. Right?

Red Lipsticks really show up any dryness or flakyness on your lips, so I wear Aquaphor or Smith's Rosebud Salve under my lipstick. Additionally, the November Lucky recommends a couple of lip scrubs/balms:
  • Einstein Lip Therapy Dynamic Duet
  • Clarins Extra-Firming Lip & Contour Gentle Exfoliation and Extra-Firming Lip & Contour Balm.
  • June Jacobs Lip Kit
I've never used these, though they sound useful. Any reviews on these products? Any other recommendations out there?

I always use a lip liner with Red Lipstick (Chanel Le Crayon Lèvres in Nude) and apply with a brush/blot/re-apply.
Addendum: Like the beauty editors always dictate, I wear a very neutral eye with Red Lipstick. Lately, I've been into the Lauren Conrad look, with barely-there shadow (I use Lancome's Filigree) and black eyeliner on top (MAC's fabulous Fluidline in Blacktrack).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Red Velvet Cake

Homemade from the recipe in Susan Waggoner's Little Cakes: Classic Recipes for Any Occasion. My husband and I ate the entire thing in one delicious, decadent Sunday. So much for the Fat Flush!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Printer's Tray

When I was growing up, my parents' neighbor was an antique dealer. While my parents never had any interest in interior design, occasionally our neighbor's newest enthusiasm made it over to our house. For awhile it was printer's trays, filled with all kinds of small odds and ends. My mother had to have one, so she purchased one from our neighbor and my dad hung it in the entryway of our house. Characteristically, its positioning was not based on the center of the empty wall space but on wherever he could find a stud--thus it hung, and still hangs, positioned vaguely to the left of center and is loaded with tiny silver spoons from the Grand Canyon and the like.

Much later, my sister found another cache of printer's trays in a resale shop and bought one for her and one for me. Here is my printer's tray.

Below are some close ups of the tray, and some notes on a few of the more random items. I should point out that it's impossible to dust, so you'll have to peer through the dust motes to see the actual pieces.
  • My father-in-law thoughtfully, but unhelpfully, likes to give me boxed samples of cheap perfume for the holidays, so these have been relegated to the tray.
  • The fortune in the photo, left (next to the "Toujours Moi" perfume), reads, "It's time to treat yourself to something special." At the time, I added in pen, "like a Chanel 2.55." Still waiting for that to happen.
  • I inherited a collection of ancient political buttons from some random ancestor, so the tray was an obvious display forum. I tried to remove all the more contemporary political slogans before taking the photo, so as not to offend any readers. :-P
  • I do have some printer stamps, mainly educational ones from the 1950's. There are individual letters and numbers, as well as basic words. We found they can be combined with hilarious (we think) effect, as you can see in the panel below, with an Austin Powers quote.
  • Once my younger son was angry with my older son, so he grabbed the awl pictured right and went after him. Fortunately, he was disarmed before any blood was shed, and of course now we all think it was hysterically funny.

Friday, October 3, 2008

5 Things That Made Me Happy This Week

1. This week I celebrated my birthday. My oldest son came down from Chicago, and my husband took us out for dinner.My son took this shot of Husband and I in the restaurant; I like how he managed the shadowing to give me this great cleavage. Thanks, Son!
2. My husband's Thomas Pink Pink Panther cufflinks. As he has to help me put on my charm bracelet, I have to help him attach his Panthers. It's tricky getting the head and paws through the slits!
3. On nice days as I walk to work, I always admire the way these silver stovepipes stand against the big prairie sky.
4. When my husband and I visited Bermuda, we became addicted to Dark & Stormies. We brought back a case of Gosling's Black Seal Rum with us on the plane! Lately we've discovered Gosling's 151 proof (which will put you out for the night). Nobody seems to stock a key ingredient, Barritt's Ginger Beer, around here, but luckily my son brought it with him from Chi-town and so I present to you:
5. Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity. I just received my copy of the American edition this week, and this book inspires me in so many ways. If you haven't checked out her blog, do so. This weekend, I plan to dig out the quilts I've started over the years and never finished, as well as some baking projects. Maybe I'll even visit the yarn shop to stock up on material for a winter's knitting project.
Jane knits a lot of socks and also seems enamored with matching her toenail polish to flowers and shoes. Thus, there are many foot pictures. On page 156, she photographed her bright red Birkenstocks with equally vivid polish. I have the same Birks, in white, and here is my tribute, with Chanel Vamp nail polish.