Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Favorite Finds

Several months ago, I blogged about some of my favorite fashion finds (at the time, the list included American Apparel tri-blend t-shirts, Tony Lama cowboy boots and a $5 black pashmina). Now, I'm back with a new list. This time, not every find is a "fashion" find in the strictest sense, but each find is fabulous nonetheless.

1. Marnie Rocks is a jewelry and accessories company that was launched several years ago by Houston-based independent designer and mother of four Marnie Greenwood. I've been following this company for at least the past four years, and it's amazing to see how much it's grown. The company is known for its beautifully crafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and in recent years, Marnie Rocks has begun to offer candles, stationery, and bedding. A few weeks ago, the company was featured on one of my favorite television shows, The View. Marnie Rocks!

2. Pacifica Moroccan Chamomile Apple Blossom Soy Candles smell absolutely amazing--something like a bright spring day, a steaming pot of chamomile tea and a flower-filled garden. Usually, I grow tired of scents pretty quickly, but this one never gets old! Plus, the packaging is so pretty. As a bonus, the candles are soy-based, so they burn cleanly.

3. Craft, Inc. is a "how-to" book written by Meg Mateo Ilasco. It's full of great tips and inspiration for aspiring crafters, designers, and entrepreneurs. It's also full of "inside information" about successful independent designers (including how they started their businesses and where to buy their products).

4. Real Simple magazine has quickly become one of my favorite subscriptions (and I subscribe to a lot of magazines). I love that it makes enjoying the little (and medium) things in life--finding the perfect facial cleanser at the drugstore, putting together a spring wardrobe, redecorating a bedroom--simple. Every month, Real Simple gives me a fun, new goal that doesn't stress me out. This month it's learning how to cook more than the 3 meals that I have mastered in my 26 years ( a goal inspired by the article, "11 Fast Weeknight Dinner Ideas").

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Update: Lakers-Nuggets & NFL Draft

The Nuggets didn't fare any better in Denver last night. The Lakers won pretty decisively,102-84. The Nuggets are now down 0-3. According to Carmelo Anthony, he and his teammates simply "quit" in the middle of the game. And according to the LA Lakers fans gathered at Denver's Pepsi Center on Saturday night, Kobe Bryant is the obvious choice for MVP (by the fourth quarter, they had abandoned watching the game in favor of chanting "MVP" in Bryant's direction). The next game is tomorrow night, also in Denver. As if it matters...

In NFL draft news, as someone who calls Central Florida home, I was very happy to see that Kevin Smith, a running back out of the University of Central Florida, was chosen first in the third round by the Detroit Lions. The university's football program has really come a long way in the past few years, and this is such an exciting development for the school. Go Knights!

For complete coverage of NBA playoff action and the NFL draft, click here and here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Live-Blogging the NFL Draft

The NFL draft is such an interesting event. It's as if the minds behind the Miss America pageant, a reality show competition (Celebrity Apprentice? Survivor?), the BCS Selection Show and the Superbowl came together to produce the ultimate entertainment experience. And now I'm adding to the mayhem by (selectively) live-blogging as the top ten first round picks are chosen--selectively because I was momentarily sidetracked by a sudden urge to clean out my closet, and I missed the first four picks...

So I turned to ESPN's live coverage of the draft just in time to see the Kansas City Chiefs make Glenn Dorsey (Go LSU Tigers!--gotta love the SEC) the #5 pick in the first round. He and his family look so happy.

NY Jets fans appear to be quite thrilled about this whole thing. The Jets use their #6 pick to select Vernon Gholston out of Ohio State. Jets fans are so happy they can hardly stand it.

Apparently the Patriots traded their #7 pick with the New Orleans Saints, who in turn select Sedrick Ellis out of USC. Ellis does not appear to be in the building at the moment. I'm sure he's ecstatic, wherever he is.

The Gators make an appearance in the NFL draft! I'm as excited as a Jets fan right now. The Baltimore Ravens traded their #8 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who select Derrick Harvey, a defensive end out of Florida. ESPN's commentators have mixed feelings about this choice...I can't believe they're talking smack!

The Cincinnati Bengals hold onto their #9 pick and choose Keith Rivers out of USC. He's at home in California, sitting on a couch with his family and tons of friends. He receives the good news on his cell phone, just ahead of Commissioner Goodell's announcement.

#10: Rounding out the top ten is...Jerod Mayo, a linebacker out of Tennessee. He is selected by the New England Patriots. He doesn't appear to be in the building (or sitting at home on a couch) either. But the commentators have lots of nice things to say about him. That's good, because I'm pretty sure that the crowd gathered at Rockefeller Center is booing the Patriots.

Here's the top 10:
1. Jake Long, Michigan (Miami Dolphins)
2. Chris Long, Virginia (St. Louis Rams)
3. Matt Ryan, Boston College (Atlanta Falcons)
4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas (Oakland Raiders)
5. Glenn Dorsey, LSU (Kansas City Chiefs)
6. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State (NY Jets)
7. Sedrick Ellis, USC (New Orleans Saints)
8. Derrick Harvey, Florida (Jacksonville Jaguars)
9. Keith Rivers, USC (Cincinnati Bengals)
10. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee (New England Patriots)

That was fun! Back to my closet...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Exciting Details, Part I

So in the last post, I promised that warmer weather and the conclusion of the college basketball season would bring an "intensification" of my love of fashion, art and design. And I am happy to report that warmer weather and the conclusion of the college basketball season have not disappointed! The first bit of exciting news is that through trial and error, and with a lot of luck, I managed to teach myself enough about Adobe Photoshop to design a new banner for my little blog (see above). This is actually quite exciting, because I am not technologically savvy at all (although I desperately want to be, and I have promised myself that I will keep learning).

The next bit of exciting news is that a trip to the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene last Sunday inspired me to revisit jewelry design, a hobby that I fell in love with several summers ago. Some have commented that the Brooklyn Flea (which was launched on April 6) does not showcase enough traditional flea market merchandise and instead showcases too many handcrafted pieces (see this New York Times article). I respectfully disagree. I am a huge fan of independent designers and the designs that they pour their hearts and souls into... and I love that at the Brooklyn Flea, these new, fresh designs can share space with old, worn treasures.

And finally, on an entirely unrelated note, I managed to catch an NBA playoff game last night. Things don't look so good for the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers, lead by Kobe Bryant and his 49 points (wow), put a hurting on them in LA last night. The Lakers now lead the series 2-0. Maybe the Nuggets will have better luck at home. Or maybe they won't. In any event, game #3 is in Denver on Saturday.

(Last Sunday's trip to Fort Greene also inspired me to snap a few pictures. Here's one of my favorites, taken at an intersection not too far away from the flea market.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Prescription for the Seasonal Sports Fan

This is old, old, old news: Kansas outplayed Memphis in overtime on Monday night to win this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, 75-68. I didn't note this earlier, and my negligence has led me to this realization: I'm going to be a little quiet on the sports front until college football starts up again in the fall. My heart belongs to college football first and college basketball second (my relative lack of interest in this year's Tournament was a fluke). My interest in sports therefore wanes in the late spring/summer months. I probably won't catch many professional basketball games until the playoffs, and even then, I'll only watch the "must win" games in each series. I'll watch even fewer professional baseball games. I might catch the World Series, depending on what else is on at the time...

What will I do when my sports obsession temporarily abandons me? Turn to the next best thing, of course. I've realized that historically, my love of everything fashion, art, and design intensifies during the summer months. I enrolled in a jewelry design course at New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology a few summers ago. During another summer, I took up knitting. And now that the weather seems to be warming up (finally!), it's time for me to begin planning the next phase of my art/fashion/design obsession. Exciting details to follow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Socially Conscious Fashion

The Anya Hindmarch "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" tote created quite a stir when it was launched in the U.S. last June. "Going green" had never been so fashionable. More recently, Lauren Bush teamed up with the UN World Food Programme to design the "FEED" tote bag, a sturdy, reversible cotton and burlap bag that sells for $59.95, an amount that will feed one child for an entire school year in a region in which children are suffering from malnutrition and starvation. (Purchase one on amazon.com here.)

Since about 1993, I have been the proud owner of one of the original socially conscious totes, a simple cotton bag adorned with a Mark Twain quote* that I purchased at The Body Shop in England for exactly one British pound. At the time, it was a major purchase: I was 11 and I'm pretty sure that I used my "own money" to buy it. A few weeks ago, I was in Florida visiting my family and I found the tote in a box of miscellaneous items that my dad was going to donate to Goodwill. After rescuing it and giving it a good wash, the tote is now featured prominently in my handbag rotation, where it belongs.

* "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

TIME Magazine's Design Roundup

This may be old news, but I just discovered that TIME Magazine has released its "Design 100" list, which includes the "people and ideas behind today's most influential design." I stumbled upon the list while visiting design*sponge, one of my favorite blogs and a TIME Magazine design honoree in the "websites" category. It's a fun list. Here are some of the highlights:

(1) The Tides, a South Beach hotel, made the list. I guess that my brother has good taste after all, or at least taste that would pass muster at TIME magazine (he recommended the hotel when I was planning a trip to Miami in January). TIME noted that the "diva of Ocean Drive" will only get better after designer Kelly Wearstler completes an overhaul of the interior. (Click here for the hotel's official website.)

(2) Several design websites made the list. In addition to design*sponge, which was recognized for its "city guides, guest blogs by interior stylists and sneak peeks into cool apartments and lofts across the country," several other websites, which I can't wait to explore, made the list. Those undiscovered sites include Green Home Guide, which offers advice on how to "go green" in each room of your house, Better Living Through Design, which offers a smorgasbord of design tips, and Fab Prefab, which makes prefabricated homes seem cool and modern. I'm especially excited about Fab Prefab...my opinion of prefab homes changed completely after I watched an episode of TLC's "My First House," during which a very young, newlywed couple purchased a HUGE prefab home on over an acre of land in North Carolina for under $100,000.

(3) I love Kiehl's products, and I was thrilled to see that Kiehl's was featured in the "More [Design] Stories" category. (And as a Kiehl's groupie, I am apparently in good company--according to TIME, Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey are Kiehl's fans, and Jackie Kennedy frequently requested that the products be delivered to her apartment at the Carlyle Hotel.) As the piece points out, the packaging is no-fuss (that's the "design" angle). In my opinion, the packaging can afford to be no-fuss because the products speak for themselves. Some anecdotal evidence: First, I keep a bottle of Creme de Corps, the lovely, magically light and rich all-over body creme on my nightstand and use it virtually every night. Second, the Kiehl's coriander fragrance smells like an herb garden and has universal appeal; I know men and women who count it among their favorites. And finally, when my mother tried to replenish her supply of Kiehl's Original Musk Oil only to discover that it was on backorder everywhere, she had me call the Kiehl's flagship store directly and place her name on a pre-order list so that she could stock up on the fragrance as soon as it became available again. Seriously. (Click here for the Kiehl's online store.)

For TIME Magazine's complete "Design 100" list, click here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Confessions of a Fair Weather Fan

This time last year, I was totally obsessed with March Madness. This year, not so much. My beloved Florida Gators didn't even make it to the Tournament this year, which explains my dejection before the competition even got under way. Belmont piqued my interest when it almost knocked Duke out in the first round, and Stephen (that's STEFF-in) Curry and his Davidson teammates kept me interested until last Sunday, when Davidson fell to Kansas. And now, in anticlimactic fashion, all four #1 seeds are headed to San Antonio for the Final Four. According to my dad, this is a good thing, because it means that the individuals who were tasked with sizing up the teams and setting up the brackets did a good job. I, on the other hand, think that this is a rather boring way for what is supposed to be the most exciting month in sports to end...