Archive for the 'Good Reads' Category

STYLishly Flip!

I swear I don’t own stock in Apple!  But, boy I sure wish I did.  For those of you who have iPads, listen up. For those of you who love reading magazines, iPad or not, Flipboard may be for you.  Flipboard is one of the coolest apps I’ve come across – it aggregates content based on your interests, reading habits and web links from your social circle (i.e., FaceBook and Twitter) and displays them in a slick, magazine-like layout on your iPad. You literally drag your finger across your iPad as if you’re flipping the page of a magazine et volia! Within seconds of uploading the app, you’re breezing through your favorite magazines, blogs (of course you’d upload Possess Your STYLE, yes that’s a shameless plug!) and newspapers.  Not to mention the fact that it makes it easy to feed your FaceBook addiction by presenting FaceBook in such an original way that you may chuck your computer aside.  The guru’s behind Flipboard, Mike McCue and Evan Doll, use technology to present breathtaking photos and an amazing use of white space that’s literally taken the digital world by storm in the short year Flipboard has been around.

Lots of magazines have jumped onboard, I betcha JCrew will be one of the first clothing companies to put it’s catalogue on Flipboard.

I’ve flipped for Flipboard – it’s stylishly hip to be stylishly flip!

[photo courtesy of Flipboard]

What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day

Whew! It’s been a doozy.  Today’s been one for the record books . . . I know we all have these days – they build character, right? Suffice it to say that as I went through the craziness that made up August 9, 2011 for me all I could think about is the title to Pearl Cleage’s book, What Looks LIke Crazy On an Ordinary Day. No, my crazy wasn’t the same crazy as in Cleage’s book but that didn’t keep the title from coming to me again and again.  So, what’s one to do? Be gracious under pressure and keep it moving is my motto! What do you do when you have one of those What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day days?

[illustration by Hennie Haworth, A-1]

Summer Reading

I come from a family of readers.  As a kid, we usually spent family time shopping at the mall on Saturdays. My dad was a good sport; he often joined me, my mom and my sister on these excursions with a book in his back pocket.  He’d walk from store to store with us and pull out his book at each stop.  My father still carries a book in his back pocket just in case and has been know to read a book a day on vacation – something my husband just didn’t understand about me until we went on vacation with my whole family and everyone had their nose in a book.  So, I guess you could say that I come by my love of reading and writing naturally.  I’ve read some great books this Summer!  If you’re like me and looking to escape the Summer’s heat or enjoy a world far far away, here are my top contenders for Summer 2011:

  • A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - I picked up the first of this 5 part series this past Winter when I learned that HBO had made it into a mini-series.  HBO rarely picks wrong. If you like lords and ladies and kingdoms far far away with lots of intrigue, this series is for you. I’ve finished the first 2 books so far.
  • The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine - I’m a closet foodie.  If I had the time to have another blog, I’d write one for my husband about our dining exploits around the world.  I’m a little bit of a nerd, ok well probably more than a little bit, and I like to know the history behind things like wine, the gourmet food movement in the U.S., the history of the tomato (I told you I was a bit of a nerd), etc.  I knew there were high stakes in the world of oenology (the study of wine and winemaking), I just had no idea to what extent!
  • South of Broad: A Novel - When my friend Lybra heard I was going to Charleston, she insisted I read this book.  Hands down, one of the best books I’ve read all year – just a really well told story.
  • The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel – If you love windswept moors, bleak houses and strange families, this book is perfect.  It’s a masterful, deliberately old-fashioned story of secrets, ghosts, sexual obsession, murder, madness–you name it.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - One of the better love stories I’ve read in ages. At one point on our flight to Italy I was crying so hard (I a sentimentalist; I tear up very easily) my husband got worried that something was really wrong and forced me to look at him and tell him why I was crying.  He’s seen me tear up before at movies, a picture, books – you name it – just never like this over a story. A real tear jerker.
  • Douglass’ Women : A Novel - My friend Davia finished this book while we were on vacation last week.  It so intrigued me – a story told from the viewpoint of the 3 women in Fredrick Douglass’ life: his wife, his white mistress and his daughter. See . . . gotcha, right? I bought it on the spot.  It’s next on my reading list.
  • Murder of a Medici Princess - After touring all around Italy and spending time in the Florence (the city built by the Medici’s) visiting The Uffizi, The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the Ponte Vecchio - all apart of the Medici empire – I needed to become fully ensconced in their world.  So, I’m making my way through a long list of books about the Medicis, various Popes and Italy in general.  There’s nothing like a little royal intrigue!

So tell me dear readers, what are you reading this Summer?  Have you read any of the above? What say you?


(oh, and yes, I generally read 2 or 3 books at a time . . .)

The Whimsical World of Kate Spade!

I love pops of whimsy here and there and Kate Spade never lets me down!  If you still think of Kate Spade as those cute shiny satiny rectangular bags, you’re a little behind the times  . . . The company is no longer owned by Kate and Andy Spade, but Liz Clairborne Inc. has managed to maintain Kate’s aesthethic, some argue even better than Kate Spade herself could have.

Last year Kate Spade launched its book clutch collection; they’re interpreting some of the greatest novels into cheeky cherry clutch bags.  I think I must have the I Married Adventure clutch! I learned about this book last year and was immediately smitten.  The title made me chuckle because, to me, no truer words could be used to describe marriage.  It’s definitely an adventure. Osa Johnson’s book is about the adventures she and her husband, Martin, had as photographers, explorers, marketers, naturalists and authors while studying the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands and British North Borneo during the first half of the Twentieth Century. They explored then-unknown lands and brought back film footage and photographs, offering many Americans their first understanding of these distant lands. Now this book is a collector’s item for decor enthusiasts; I’m not sure I’ll ever get my hands on a copy of the original, but I know I’ll have fun carrying this clutch bag.

If you haven’t thought about Kate Spade in ages, check out the new online store when you get a minute — great shoes, handbags, clothes and jewelry –there’s  a little something for everyone. Oh, and for the next two days Kate Spade is having a Friends&Family event, 25% off online and instore.  Shopping online? Use promo code  FFSPR11. In store? Print out this coupon (accepted at outlet stores too). Oh and fellas, there’s a promo code for Jack Spade too JACK25.

Happy Shopping!

J’Adore Dior!

If you’re looking for the perfect handbag-sized gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend, significant other, colleague or fashionista, look no further.  Check out Christian Dior’s The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman. The book covers everything from what to wear to a wedding to how to tie a scarf to walking gracefully. Published for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Golden Age of Couture exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dior’s “New Look”, it’s fun read replete with great information.  Dior became known as one of the most important designers of the 20th Century with the introduction of his “New Look”  in 1947.  After years of military and civilian uniforms, sartorial restrictions and shortages, Dior’s “New Look” offered not merely a new look but a new outlook.  His work celebrated ultra-femininity and opulence in women’s fashion; a goal that today’s fashion designers still attempt to achieve each season. So, if you want to make sure that your favorite fashionista embodies CD’s 3 fundamentals of fashion – simplicity, grooming and good taste – this is the perfect gift for that gal pal.

Gift Guide: For that Hard to Shop For Person

Is it just me or does it seem like December just snuck up on us all of a sudden? I’m not prepared for the holidays.  I think I’ve bought one gift so far.  Like you, I’m juggling a lot of balls and unfortunately holiday gift buying is one that’s gotten dropped. My family has been after me to get my holiday wish list to them. I appreciate their diligence because I know I’m hard to shop for, I readily admit that. I suspect that most of us have a few people on our list who are “hard to shop for”, so here are a few ideas for that hard to shop for person or persons on your list this holiday season:

For the Bookish

Cool prints from a series called “The Ideal Bookshelf”, starting price $20.

Kindle & Nook Covers from Halsea, $15.

Wacky British humor often tickles the fancy of those hard to shop for people. Simon Doonan’s (significant other of Jonathan Adler and Creative Director at Barneys) book, Beautiful People, about his life growing up in London surely fits the bill. $10.

For the Hostess With the Mostess

Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail glass set, $18.

And what are cocktail glasses without proper coasters? Jonathan Adler coasters, $48.

Beautiful sparkly automatic lighter, $65.

The Midas Touch! Water Carafe and glasses, $25-$100.

I know everyone’s gaga for Lanvin’s H&M collection, but trust me your hard to shop for person will be gaga for this deck of cards! Lanvin, $87.

For the Fashionista

Fun & cool sunglass case that she’ll be able to find at the bottom of any handbag. Jonathan Adler, $38.

Colorful laptop sleeve by Melissa Beth, $30.

Jonathan Adler ($20) and Kate Spade ($40) iPhone cases.

Cool leather iPad cases, customizable in an array of colors and textures, from Vaja. $225.

What Yogi wouldn’t want her own customized yoga mat? $35.

For the Man Who Needs Nothing

If he’s always on the phone responding to calls, emails and texts, this service-blocking hanky, a phonekerchief, made with silver fibers that effectively blocks all incoming calls and data, $15.

Just a little something to make him smile while he’s doodling on those never-ending conference calls, pencil sets inspired by phrases from Anchorman and The Office, $6.

For the Food Enthusiast

The perfect book for the man who is the jack of all trades and the master of none, $12.

The perfect book for the woman who prefers to use speed-dial to a cuisinart when it comes to creating the perfect meal, $16.

For the Woman Who Has Everything

The one thing you can never have too much of is personal stationery! effie’s paper, $45. And the topper? A beautiful fountain pen for her to use to write her hand-written notes, $65.

For the Budding Fashionista

To help that young stylista learn that style comes from within, this great book by Lulu Guinness is the modern day version of Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers. In Lulu’s world, PEARLS, stands for “poised, elegant, attractive, radiant, ladylike, sophisticated” – pretty good lesson to impart, no? $21.

For that little designer in your life, FashionPlaytes might be the thing that helps her become the next Vera Wang – she’ll design her own clothes based on their templates and then receive her masterpiece in the mail! Gift Certificates start at $25.

Happy Shopping!

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I’m Being Featured . . .

Simply Chic: Fresh & Fun Style Advice

Kristin Larson, a style and fashion writer for MSN.com, featured me in her column Simply Chic. Stop by and check out the advice I provided to her readers about one of my favorite topcis, sequins! Click here to see what I had to say.

Recently, iVillage published an article titled, The 12 Steps to Shopping Wisely, I was featured in Step 7 “Know the Difference Between Splurging and Smart Shopping.” Click here for my tips.

Are You a Formerly?

So, what is a “Formerly” you ask?  According to Stephanie Dolgoff, author of My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young, a Formerly is someone in their late 30s/early 40s who is no longer HOT and is not quite middle-aged.  You know, someone who used to wear heels of death-defying heights and skirts that left little to the imagination, who now thinks about whether owning such items is practical.  Kids, bad feet and large thighs may all be contributors to you being a Formerly according to Ms. Dolgoff.  I beg to differ.  This may be a case of the lady doth protest too much, but I like to believe that like a fine wine I’ve gotten better with age.  My skirts may be a little longer, but I do what I can to work what I’ve got!  Am I a little wiser? Yes. Have I become an expert on hair coloring? Of course.  But a Formerly?  Never!

I will always drink champagne with pizza and eat take-out on my fine china.

What about you dear reader?  Are you a Formerly?

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Powder Necklace

Gotcha!  Bet you thought this was some new trend you weren’t up on yet.  Well it is and it isn’t.  Powder Necklace: A Novel is a book I learned about back in February after attending the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference.  Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, the book’s author, was one of the panelists I was truly impressed with (she has a very cool job at Bluefly that will hopefully be part of another post in the near future).  My interest was piqued; I went home and Googled her and learned that she had a book, Powder Necklace, coming out.  The book is based on Nana’s experience as a young girl; it tells the story of her surprise journey from her home in London to boarding school in her native Ghana.  I was intrigued. I made a note in my calendar of the book’s release date and went on about my merry way. Then a few weeks ago, while reading my friend Kathleen’s blog, kat flower, I learned that Nana and Kathleen are friends (6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, right?). You’ll have to read the book to understand the title.  I suggest you do.  One of the best coming of age stories I’ve read in awhile. It’ll make a great hostess gift too, the perfect alternative to a candle!

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To The Manner Born

Manners. Manners are the standard of conduct that show others you are proper, polite and refined.  I’ve been thinking a lot about manners lately.  On some level, it seems to me that manners have gotten pushed to the wayside. I must admit, I’m big on manners.  As a child, my mother reinforced manners in all sorts of ways.  For example, I knew from an early age on that “please” was the magic word, but I learned from the folk singer, Ella Jenkins, that “please is a pleasant expression, please is nice to say.”  (The fact that I still know every word to a song that I learned when I was 5 is testament to the strength of my mother’s tactics).  I cannot lie, I truly appreciate a courteous person – friend, salesperson, stranger – it almost makes me swoon when I receive a hand-written thank you note in the mail.  Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a sucker for a well-mannered individual.  The other day a new acquaitance told me that when she met her husband, the first thing she noticed about him was how well-mannered he was.  Believe you me, manners are things that people notice even if they never comment on them.

Great manners can definitely make climbing the ladder to success a whole heck of a lot easier.  None of us are born knowing all of  this stuff, but some of it is just merely common sense.  However, even the most mannered of us out there can polish up on our manners every now and again.  There are tons of etiquette books out there now; along with Miss Manners, even folks like Whoopi Goldberg have thrown their hat in to the etiquette ring, she’s got a great etiquette book for kids called Whoopi’s Big Book of Manners.  As long as the message gets across, it doesn’t really matter who’s conveying it as long as it gets conveyed.  These are my thoughts.  I’d love to know what you guys think.

How big are you on manners? Do you put your napkin on your lap for meals? Do you say please and thank you religiously? Do you kindly ask people to do things, or do you tell them to do it?  Do you interrupt others when they’re talking or do you allow them to finish their point before launching into yours?  Do you apologize when you’ve mis-spoken?

I’m just trying to gauge what others view the importance of manners in today’s society to be.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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My Own Little Story

Every week, I share a bit of my own little story.  And dear readers, you’re each kind enough to indulge me. I’ve loved personal stories since I was a little girl.  I wanted to know things like how my parents met, where my grandparents grew up and what my parents were like when they were children.  As an adult, I love to watch tv shows like A&E Biography and James Lipton’s Inside The Actors Studio.  We each have our own personal story and some of us are lucky enough to have parents who chronicled our lives laboriously; others of us aren’t so lucky (if you fall into this category, it’s likely you were not a firstborn).

For those of you with children, you know how important it is to try to chronicle your child’s milestones.  You have every intention of doing it, but somehow life gets in the way . . . especially as Baby No. 2 arrives.  For those of you not yet in the parent trap, not planning to get caught in the parent trap or for the auntie or uncle to many, you were a kid once and asked your parents a thousand times for details about your childhood.  If you are the eldest, there may be some sort of memory book.  Mine is by Dr. Seuss’s, it’s called My Book About Me.

Today we live in the age of iPads, iTouches and crackberries . . . what better way to record your child’s milestone’s than to do it online?  Kristin Coons, mother of 3, has created unique approach to recording your child’s most precious moments.  She’s created a Milestone Memory System on her website, My Own Little Story; a completely free service that reminds you, via email, to record milestones and narratives of your child’s life.  It sounds like a great idea to me, non-parent that I am, for today’s tech savvy parents. However, I did ask a few new moms to road-test My Own Little Story; those who responded said they thought it was great, but weren’t sure they’d make the time to respond to the email reminders.  Parents, godparents, aunts, uncles and grandparents – My Own Little Story could be one of the best gifts you give to your little one.  Check it out.

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Legacy of STYLE

I inherited my sense of style from my maternal grandmother, Mrs. Effie Hayes. She was one of those stylish church ladies who moved up North from the South eons ago.  When she went “out” (which was not to be mistaken with just going to the grocery store or some other mundane task), she always wore bright red lipstick, a slip and/or camisole regardless of how warm it was outside and her sensible heels. At all times, she had a pressed hankie in her pocketbook that was nestled in the crook of her arm and some sort of hat stylishly cocked on her head.  Women and men alike always talked about how stylish Mizz Hayes was.

My grandmother passed away almost 13 years ago, but she still holds a very dear spot in my heart and mind.  When I came across this book, My Mother’s Clothes, by Jeanette Montgomery Barron, I was reminded of my grandmother and her stylish ways.  The book is an homage to Ms. Barron’s mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  As her mother began to decline, Ms. Barron realized that the one way to bring the woman she knew back to her former self was to tag along as her mother went through her closet.  So Ms. Barron, a photographer, catalogued the garments in her mother’s closet pictorially so that her mother could easily flip through and relive precious moments.  The photographs in My Mother’s Clothes are beautiful and help to bring to mind the vibrancy of the woman who must have worn them.

While my grandmother (who maybe weighed 105 pounds soaking wet) was about far more than the clothes she wore, as I’m sure Ms. Barron’s mother was too, her commanding presence was always highlighted by the way she was dressed.

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