Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Taste the Rainbow

Skittles, you need to hand over your slogan. 

These slides from a Florida State University lab are made by crystallizing alcohol on a lab slide, then passing a polarized light through the crystal. 
No information on brands used.  See the rest of the Rainbow here.  These are also sold as art prints by the lab, for people who want to see the microscopic Rainbow as they taste it.   

The news that brought this tidbit from Time Magazine was that yet another study has shown that moderate drinkers have the most longevity, heavy drinkers come in second, and non-drinkers are the surprising caboose in third place.  So why do you think drinkers outlive non-drinkers?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The French Paradox

Obesity Rates Around the World
#1: The United States at 30.6%,
#2: Mexico, our neighbor to the South at #2: 24.2%,
#3: The United Kingdom, the loins from which our American culture sprang, at 23%. 
#23: France at 9.4%, trailing behind in one battle they can be proud to lose.  Heh, heh...OK, sorry, that was my one obnoxious comment about France for this post.  The point is, the French are significantly less obese, and considerably healthier.  
Funny Face
If you have never heard of the French Paradox, you ought to look it up here.  The French Paradox means that in spite of smoking more, drinking more (wine, anyway), and consuming four times as much butter and lots more saturated fats in general, the French have less coronary heart diesese and frankly enjoy their own daily lives much more than Americans.  This makes that 70 year old Tweedy man sucking on an unfiltered cigarette, swilling scotch while cutting into a rare steak saying, "I say, if this is going to kill me, let it kill me, but I am going to enjoy it while I am alive" seem much less cantakerous and more like the wiseman on the mount, does it not?  There is much to be said for the intuitive health found in doing what you enjoy.     

Sometimes I really wonder what the hell Americans are doing to themselves.  Americans have the most insane habit of forcing themselves to do things they do not enjoy because someone told them it was the most efficient/healthiest/most enlightened.  Please explain to me why anyone would force themselves to aquire a taste for diet drinks, or give up butter for magarine, or start eating tofu, or spend two hours staring at the wall of a gym on a treadmill rather than walking outside, or eat any food that has "fat free" on the label?  Americans turn everything, even things that are meant to be leisure, into work.  It is awful.  We work during vacations, we stuff down food while multi-tasking (responding to emails, reading, watching a show, standing, etc.), and view food more as fuel to continue working.  We are obsessed with gyms, dieting and working out, but we do not even enjoy the means to get there.  All work and no play means a lot of unfulfilled and bored people.  Or Jack Nicholson manically chopping through a door.

The French Paradox involves a mentality of leisure and moderation.  Americans have a bad habit of believing leisure means lazy.  The reality is that often the very things that naturally bring you joy and relaxation are the things that also keep you healthy and happy.  The French culture is about a genuine enjoyment of life.  Taste your food when you eat.  People are far less likely to overeat if they eat slowly, eat a variety of delicous food, and actually take the time to taste it.  Walk because you want to enjoy the activity and scenery, not because you are enviously envisioning Jennifer Aniston legs.  The French smoke because they enjoy the excuse for leisure and conversation it provides.  They drink wine with every meal, taking pride in learning what wine to pair with what entree.  This list just savors of moments of real pleasure in daily routine.  What are you paying attention to?  What is your focus every day?  If it is just to get through the day so you can sleep and start all over again, you might want to reassess lifestyle.  The French lifestyle facilitates what I think is the most valuable part of daily routine, and that is the ability to spend time of genuine enjoyment with people I love.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Autumn Staples for Men

And because men need awesome cardigans and arguably look even better in them:
J.Crew's Anchorage Cardigan
J.Crew's Toggle Hooded Henley

J.Crew's Cable Shawl-Collar Cardigan

J.Crew's Wool Toggle Cardigan

And if nothing but the real thing will do for you, here is an Irish online shop: Murphy of Ireland Shop

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Autumn Staples

As we get close to Autumn, we have to start digging through our cold weather clothes, and the first thing that comes to my mind is cardigans.  By cardigan I mean the sort of sweater you would see a Canadian lighthouse keeper wear.  Finding this sort of item is like shopping for the perfect pair of leather boots, so I have yet to find one for myself or for Sean.  I did find some that I liked, however.
Ruche's Step in Time Cashmere Cardigan
ModCloth's Research Assistant Cardigan

Anthropologie's Outdoor Cafe Cardigan
Anthropologie's Shawl Collar Sweatercoat

And my favorite:

J.Crew's Abbraccio Cardigan

A Fisherman

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Piperlime Style Competition

So Piperlime has a style contest going right now and you should vote.  For me.  You know, if you like the style.  Or whatever.  The one below seems to be my most popular one.

Go to the Piperlime site, find the Gallery and vote for me!  (You can only vote once so make sure you go for the +1.)

Literature in Design

I really like when literature or history is merged directly into design, because I'm nerdy like that.  One of my closest friends, Shannon Long, has been doing jewelry-design as a side project, and the piece pictured below is inspired by her favorite poem: "Dover Beach":

Dover Beach Clip
"I love books.  I love literature.  Heck, I even love words!  Certain poems just speak to me, most of all Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach'.  The entire poem, especially the last stanza does a beautiful job expressing the importance of human connections, love and relationships because the world (although) can be so very cruel.  Wearing this piece allows me to carry that message with me wherever I go.  Plus, I like the look of the text on a few of the flower petals"
Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Shannon and I met while in high school at when we both worked at a local library.  We are nerd-soul-mates.   

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prüne Handbags

I found this bag at Clotheshorse Anonymous, an upscale second-hand store in Dallas, and searched around for them online.  Evidently Prüne is an Argentinian leather goods designer based in Buenos Aires (thus the umlaut over the "u"), and they are difficult to find in the U.S.  This is their English website.  The bag is full-grain leather and this bag is great; I am a big fan based on this one item.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Another great ModCloth dress:
Scandinavian Sweetheart

Amy Victoria Photography

Bicycle in Taipei
Vintage Camera

This artist's vibrant photography caught my eye while I was perusing Etsy.  I like the colors and the purposely aged look.  She sells her prints at Amy Victoria's shop on Etsy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

when the levee breaks/led zeppelin

On the way home from work today, I was listening to "When the Levee Breaks" and I just wanted to share it with you.  (Warning, if you are not familiar with the song or the band: the song goes on for over 7 minutes and you may be overwhelmed by still pictures of Robert Plant's pony hair...and it is all amazing.)

I just love this song.  The song has the force of rock and roll, with all the sadness and gravitas of New Orleans blues.  Also, the weight of the lyrics makes the knowledge of  Hurricane Katrina's tragedy so much more poignant.  God bless NOLA.  

There is also a great live version of Robert Plant with Alison Kraus you can listen to as well if you are a sucker for a good violin accompaniment.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ModCloth LunchBox

I love this lunchbox from ModCloth:

Chéri Bento Box in Mon Ami

Also, lunchboxes are comfortingly ordered in their predictability.  I remember always being thrilled about getting a lunchbox in grade school.  Hmmm, how could I justify spending money on a completely unnecessary child-prop?   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jantzen Swimsuit

OK, I need you to help me solve something:
Jantzen Vamp, Buttercup
I heart this suit, but my husband thinks it is just awful.  I am wondering if this is an example of one of those fads women just love but men despise...like emaciated models or dropped-waist flapper dresses.  What is your opinion?

Jantzen is a Portland based company that is celebrating its centennial this year.  Talk about sticking with what works.
Madmen featured the Jantzen company in the season premier this past month. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frye Sandals

I love The Frye Company (introduced to me by my wonderful friend Louise).
It is bordering on the obsessive, but I have a major weak spot for companies that have an extensive history, like Ray-Bans + General MacArthur.  It's the nerdy part of me.  I mean, I love clothes, but frankly, I need something to spark my intellectual curiosity to really hold my interest: thus the magic of costume design.   I mean, come on, Frye boots were worn by Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.  How amazing is that?!
Super amazing is the answer to that question.

P.S. I got these from Piperlime...for $20.00.

Photography by Meghan McNally

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wedding Style: Part 3, Interview with AriaDress Designer Tak Hau

I have loved design since age 13, and when I was wedding dress hunting, AriaDress provided me with great inspiration.  I really thought these sorts of companies did not exist anymore.  AriaDress operates based on a love of beauty, and the understanding that it should be attainable (price-wise and style-wise).  When AriaDress PR specialist Gayle asked if I wanted to interview Tak Hau, the designer and president of AriaDress, I was so eager I called him even when I was miles away from either good cell phone range or internet, while I was near the Dells in Wisconsin.  Tak is not only Aria's creative mastermind, he is infectiously enthusiastic-- reminding me of the times I had the good fortune to work with inspiring artists.  During our conversation, Tak’s affection for his Aria Brides is as evident as his enthusiasm for his craft.  

AriaDress was originally conceived as salvation from the Ugly Bridesmaid Dress.  After years of experience as a retail designer, Tak noticed a growing trend: "I started getting calls from buyers and store owners saying that, because of the variety of colors and all sizes in the same style, women are actually buyng your dresses for bridesmaid dresses.  I thought, why not just design bridemaid dresses and sell them right to the consumer, and not have a middleman, like a bridal salon or boutiques, so I can keep the retail cost much lower.  I am all about quality and I didn’t want to use anything other than pure silk for my dresses, and the only way to get these dresses right to the consumer was to avoid the middleman.

The AriaDress bridal collection is still in its infancy; it first began in 2009 just months before my own wedding, much like the original emergence of AriaDress from his retail designs, out of the preferences of his own customers: "Our brides should take a lot of credit for the bridal collection because a lot of people just started ordering our bridesmaid dresses in full length and white, saying they liked the simplicity and elegance of the dresses, and it is something they could accessorize themselves.  And we said well, fine, let’s try to see what they look like.  And they looked great and more people were responding, so we just made it more formal and decided to offer is as a collection."  Though the company is expanding with three shop locations currently (Los Angeles, Boston, and D.C.) and the option to shop via internet, a great deal of their business results from classic word-of-mouth.  In response to the understandable apprehension of buying a wedding dress sight unseen over the internet, AriaDress developed the Try on Program: "people anywhere in the country or even out of the country can request to have an actual dress sent right to their home so they can touch it, feel it, try it on, and check out the quality so they can understand the product before committing to buying the dresses.  The bottom line is we try to get these out to the consumers; I just want to make it simplified."  Likewise, AriaDress feels strongly about maintaining relationships with local artists and textile companies both for the practicality of a direct relationship and for the loyalty to local, U.S. businesses.  

Style 121
When asked about his style inspiration, Tak told me that he often looks to Vogue magazine of the 50s and 60s.  Also, preferring the linear, architectural lines of the Asian culture he also seeks inspiration in interior design magazines, "just to get ideas on how to put lines and seams together to make it look modern.  I don’t like fluffy dresses.  I believe that when you put on the dress, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether the pleat is falling right or if it’s gathering correctly.  You should just be in the dress and have fun, right?  So my dresses tend to be very simple, just elegant and classic and you don’t have to worry about looking at the picture 20 years from now and go 'what was I thinking?'  My priority is that the design looks timeless.  I know there are a lot of trendy designers out there that make dresses that are very “now”, but I love the clean lines of the Classic look.  And new Classics are being designed every day.  50s and 60s costume dresses have an element of architectural design to them.  You can’t beat it. "

The creative flexibility that is instinctively understood at AriaDress allows brides to mix and match dresses.  I do not refer to a David's Bridal mix and match of color schemes.  I mean, you can select the dress silhouette and choose your preferred skirt style.  You can talk to them about adjusting sleeves to suit your preference.  I think what really makes AriaDress tick is that the designer/president has the design practicality to know what works and the style understanding that women need variety because one size does not fit all.  "Choices, it’s all about choices," Tak says.  "With Aria you can pretty much customize any of our designs to get close to what your fantasy dress would look like.  I also encourage brides to be creative.  We might actually start a contest where brides can take a photograph of what they embellished about their dress to make it their own.  For instance, it’s not that hard to send a dress to have part of it custom beaded by a local designer, or add a sash and a splash of color to the dress.  I even had one bride who is going to buy a halter dress with the trumpet skirt and have it hand painted by a local artist.  The simple silhouette of an Aria dress is like a canvas, you can make it fun and unique."  The rules of customization available through AriaDress is simple: "the patterns have been made, and we stick with our designs but if people want spaghetti straps added or want a bow on the shoulder, want to add a costume sash, or make the available sash longer, things like that we can definitely add.  A train is not quite long enough, and a bride wants to add two more feet: yeah, things like that we can do.  It is on a case-by-case basis."
And Tak's final advice for brides is pure gold: "Know your body very well.  Listen to your friends and to yourself and not to a salesperson.  Just know yourself very well, know your positives, as well as what you don’t necessarily want to show.  Bring a friend, but, and this is very important: don’t ever go to a bridal appointment with the whole bridal party and all your family.  Too many opinions, you don’t know where to go, and what to listen to since everyone likes something different.  Go with maybe two friends maximum to your appointments.  And go with the friend who will tell you the truth, not the friend who tells you everything looks good on you all the time.  I think it is very important that a bride knows what looks good on her.  Go into your closet and pick out your favorite dress, the dress you love to wear all the time, and when you have to dress up, that is the first dress that you think of.  That’s your best dress, use that as the base, and figure out what about that dress you love most.  And use that as the ingredients for finding your wedding dress."

AriaDress's 2011 Collection will debut sometime in the Fall and you can be sure to see it featured here on 5MoreMinutes.  

For Parts I & II on AriaDress go here and here

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming Soon...

I will be posting an interview I had with amazing AriaDress designer Tak Hau, hopefully, by tomorrow night, so be sure to come back to check that out.

Tweed, Cont'd

Behold!  Here is my visualization for that delicious Irish linen that I mentioned earlier.

OK, I did this draping the same day I did that post on the Dolce and Gabanna dress, and I have not gotten any further, but Walter Plunkett bought his fabric and be-laboringly studied it until inspiration overtook him,...so yeah, that is my justification.
Please tell me what you think!  I want opinions!

And, by the way, the belt is from Ruche.  Can you tell I am obsessed with that place?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wedding Style: Part 2 - AriaDress

For anyone who got the stink-eye from the wedding boutique ladies for shopping only eight months before the wedding or disliked the weird over-enthusiasm for finding The Dress like it was the love of your life, there is an option called AriaDress:  
Style 173
Style 140
Style 185
If you are like me, and bridal boutiques make you nervous, the friendly and accommodating people at AriaDress make the company a bridal Xanadu.  AriaDress has accomplished an amazing union between modern technology that allows them to provide designs globally, and the fresh, energetic and immediate customer service you find in the shop around the corner.  

There is the high energy, creative flexibility, and excitement about The Wedding that a bride thrives on when planning.  AriaDress designs are simple and structured: perfect for the bride who prefers the clean simplicity of the style pairing of Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn.  For fabric snobs such as myself, they provide three types of silk, satin, and a demure cotton to chose from as well as a variety of skirt and top options and they are financially reasonable.  For creative brides, they offer an embroidered silk option, and artistic style flexibility for those who want a little something special.  From a bride who spent that special day in an AriaDress design, the pocketed dress that I chose for my own wedding (style 185) was both comfortable and beautifying.  They also offer accouterments for the men, ring bearer pillows, dresses for flower girls, petticoats, etc., and a wide array of style options.  They also offer an amazing Try on Program to get around the fright of selecting a dress sight unseen if you are not near their Los Angeles, Boston or D.C. locations; for this program they actually send you an example dress for a nominal fee so you can see how the dress will look.  
Style 161
Brides have a tough time finding what they want through the jungle of The Wedding Industrial Machine, and it is imperative to figure out your priorities.  If your priorities jive with the style options you see in the AriaDress website, you will be very happy with what they offer.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cased Colored Lead Crystal

OK, so almost all of the voters of Friday's poll are like Sean and me: mismatched glasses collected from other households, roommates, and pubs...and one set of wine glasses that was a wedding present.  For our sixth month anniversary, I decided to invest in some heirlooms and bought Sean these cased colored lead crystal wine glasses.  These are gorgeously crafted, a little difficult to find, and definitely an investment.  I have loved this style for ages, but never really thought to track them down to buy until Sean fell in love with them.  He has a friend who has collected these glasses for years.  The gentleman has a gorgeous cabin in the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula that makes my heart happy.  I thought lifestyles of Tweed could only be found in Wodehouse, Waugh, or some crusty English club that had long since lost its vigor and stands more as a bored monument of the past.  But these do still exist for leisure.  The gentleman has created this cabin of  wood paneling, built-in bookshelves, copper pans, and old leather furniture as a monument to civility and hospitality.  In the midst of the untamed wilderness of the UP, this gentleman and his guests eat, drink from these gems, and talk of finer things, then, in the morning, work.  
Anyways, I did some research and these colored glasses are about the best to enjoy with a glass of wine.  If you want to get them, be sure you get the right ones as there are cheaper versions; you want cased colored lead crystal rather than something like cut to clear glass.  Cased colored means the artist hand blows the clear crystal, then hand blows a top layer of colored crystal, and that is cut through to create the design.  Cut to clear glass means a layer is added after the glass has been completed.      
I bought these from an eBay seller  by the name of TheCrystalLady.  She is very helpful and got the glasses to me within 3 days.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fridays Nights

When you enjoy some lovely beverage with friends (perhaps of the vine, potato, hops, barley, or grain persuasion), it is the beverage itself that is the means to the point of hilarity.  But how are you setting the tone?  So...

Remember always to drink to enhance and never escape the moment.

Ruche: Measure My Love

If anyone wants to get me a present, I would highly suggest this from Ruche:

This represents my love for design, fabric, sewing, and numbers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Budgets and Heirlooms

Cogs in the Wedding Machine
So, in continuing my reverie about sane budgeting for weddings to save people from the great lamprey-like abyss that is the Industrial Wedding Machine,  I was just thinking about the divergence between the typical American and European lifestyles.  The fast food mentality and Puritan avoidance of "indulgent" things basically ensures that we spend a lot of money on disposables.  It is like eating a bag of potato chips when you are hungry: getting tons and tons of cheap things that fall apart in a few years makes you...hungry.  Despite my analogy breaking down, the European way is about quality; it sidesteps brand-name splurging and cheapness. You do not have to be rich to have gorgeous things, but for everyone: keep it in moderation.  Money is around to help you enjoy life, but choose things that will actually help enhance your existence.  Also, never get attached to inanimate objects because kids are tiny innocent forces of destruction and it is inevitable that some valued things will be smashed to bits...like 35mm Nikons.

IKEA: Beddinge Murbo
Sean and I tried to keep that in mind for planning our wedding, which was mostly successful, but we also want to keep it in mind as we set up our household.  We are new-grad-poor-middle-class millennials, and being IKEA cheap is tempting, but there is something to be said about investing in lovely things to fill up your life.  (Do not get me wrong, IKEA's marketing honesty is awesome.  That stereotypical streamlined, Swedish efficiency gets things done!  They cut unnecessary overhead costs to keep the prices of their products low and you reliably get what you pay for from IKEA.  Also, they provide their employees with a Nap Room, so that alone has stolen my heart.  Seriously, if you need a quick job to tide you over, IKEA rocks.)

Anyways, we usually do not buy ourselves many thing, but when we do spend money we try to get what we really like...and since we both have great taste, we are not buying much right now.  We have, however, been very blessed with generous friends.  We are fully prepared to just hang onto our furniture collections from college (and yes, some of those college pieces may have been found in the near vicinty of a dumpster), but a bedroom set was posing a bit of a problem for us.  It is kind of difficult to feel grown up when instead of a dresser you root through a mountain of clothes folded neatly in a corner on the floor.  Then, a friend happened to mention that she had a bedroom set from her mother that it was time to give away, and ta-da! we inherited an heirloom.  It was purchased on November 22, 1963, which I find interesting give my birth date and current locale.  It is French Provincial and in gorgeous shape, the kind of vintage pieces we could never afford from an antique mall.  And I really dig that we inherited it through friends; it makes me look forward to the time Sean and I will be able to give hand-me-downs to new couples.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ruche Retro

This dress on Ruche caught my eye, and I am not really sure what I think of it.  I was just curious...what do you think?

ravishing rosettes dress

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Want It

I love this coat on Ruche:
Stroll Down Penny Lane Trench Coat

You can tell I am from the North, that I can even consider looking at a coat when the heat index is 111 degrees.  You can take the girl away from the Great Lakes...