Saturday, August 25, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Recently, at a dinner party with my new friend, Trina (Retro Fashion Is My Passion), we were talking about our fashion inspirations.

Someone asked Trina why she loved vintage clothing, and she said it traces back to Barbie dolls. As a young girl, her mom let her play with her original Barbies. They came with a flip book of fashion styles - and Trina remembers loving the vintage details of those dresses.

I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, and I don't particularly love that era of clothing. I remember crushed velvet, bell bottom jeans, and patchwork denim. What I do love are the clothes that my mom wore when she was dating my dad in the late 50s.

My mom is my fashion inspiration. She has always looked stylish - no matter the era. When she was young, she always struggled with being too thin (also like me). Her fashion icon was Audrey Hepburn - also my favorite - because she made the most of her tiny features and was always graceful and classy.

Here is my mom heading out to dates in the 1950s with my dad. I love the pink cocktail dress with the full skirt - and ADORE the black dress with white feathers. Doesn't she look beautiful?

My mom just got remarried, and she made a beautiful bride as well. I love you Mom!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mid-Century Modern DIY Home Projects

When we fell in love with mid-century style, it meant giving our plain-jane, modern, split-level home a retro feel. I also quickly learned that reproduction modern items could be pricey, and (sometimes) we couldn't find or afford what we needed to make our vintage look complete.

After reading some other decorating blogs, I thought I'd share a few of our quirky, mid-century, do-it-on-the-cheap projects.

Project #1 - What do with a long, plain hallway?

Our hallway was basic beige and the major view out of our living room. We decided to paint it a soft aqua green, and panelled it halfway up with an inexpensive bamboo paneling. We trimmed it in a slightly darker molding to match the pre-existing molding in the home.

Probably the biggest improvement was giving some detail to the far back closet door. While I loved the storage for sheets and blankets, the door way was dark and blank. I faux painted - with simple light ivory paint, measuring out a HUGE diamond ont he door. It took a very short time, but I think it gave the hallway some flair. We also replaced the 1990s big plain glass globes with some cute Ikea fixtures that were very affordable.

Project #2 - The glaring modern television in our living room.

We love the look of the fifties living rooms with the vintage sets, but we do like our modern conveniences. When we stumbled on this empty television cabinet, my husband decided to try to fit our modern tv in the empty slot. We had to remove a few extra pieces of wood, but it worked! When we shut the doors, we can play the Sirius music station and enjoy the music. I faux painted the doors in gold with a sponge to make it look a bit better when open.

Project #3: We wanted a modern, abstract rug.

Our lower-level family room is long and plain. It had new, industrial grade tan carpet...yards and yards of it. We knew that to break up the room and create a cozier sitting area, we needed an area rug. We wanted bold and modern. I soon found out that all of my choices were out of our budget.

We ended up buying a very large 9 X 12 carpet remnant in red. We cut it on a wavy line down the center and pulled the two halves about three inches apart from one another. We then used carpet tape to anchor it in place. It frayed a bit at the edges at the beginning, but it has held up very well. I think it is one of our best (and cheapest) projects!

What are your best mid-century home projects on the cheap? Share them with me - and maybe I can post a few more on a future blog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reading Like Rory Gilmore

As an English professor, I guess it is a given that I love to read. I am very unsettled when I am not immersed in a book.

One of my Facebook friends and former students, shared a post about the book list of Rory Gilmore. I am a HUGE fan of the Gilmore Girls television series - and love the fact that the main character, Rory, is an avid reader.

All of these books or movies, listed below, were mentioned in the series. How many have you read? I've starred the ones that I've read (or seen the movie if it was the more popular option).

By the way - if you haven't tuned in yet to the new series by the creator of the Gilmore Girls - you need to do so! Bunheads, which airs on ABC Family, is funny and features cameos from your favorite GG characters. They also air repeats on their internet site. I love Amy Palladino's writing and look forward to more of her character-recommended books to add to my bookshelf list!

* 1984 by George Orwell
* The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
* Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
* Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
* Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
* Atonement by Ian McEwan
* Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
* The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
* Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
* Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
* The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
* Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
*A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
* The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
* The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
* David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
* The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
* Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
* Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
* The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
* Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
* Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

* Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
* The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
* Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
* Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
* Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
* Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
* Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
* Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

* The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
* The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
* The Graduate by Charles Webb
* The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
* The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

* Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

* Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
* Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (TBR)
* Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
* Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
* Henry V by William Shakespeare
* High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
* House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
* How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
* Howl by Allen Gingsburg
* The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
* The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
* In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

* The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
* The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
* The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
* The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – on my book pile
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
* Lord of the Flies by William Golding
* The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
* The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – read
The Love Story by Erich Segal
* Macbeth by William Shakespeare – read
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
* Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
* Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
* My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
* The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
* Night by Elie Wiesel
* Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
* Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
* Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
* On the Road by Jack Kerouac
* One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
* One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
* Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
* Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
* The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
* A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
* Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
* Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Property by Valerie MartinPushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
* The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
* The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
* Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
* Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
* The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
* Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
* Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
* A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
* A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
* The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
* The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
* Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
* Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
* The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
* Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
* Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
* The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
* A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
* Stuart Little by E. B. White
* Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
* A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
* Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
* The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
* A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
* Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
* Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
* Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
* What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
* The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
* Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
* The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the TLC Circus

I must admit that I am more than a little anxious to watch tonight's TLC's premiere of "Make Way for Honey Boo Boo." The trailer features the most precocious girl I have ever seen with a wide face, blonde curls, and loud southern drawl. Her sister states for the camera, "We aren't rednecks. We have all our teeth." Every time I see it, I can't help but smile.

But yesterday, on the same channel, I saw another trailer for a show about conjoined twin girls. I hate to admit this, but I was both fascinated and shocked. I didn't know whether to hide my eyes or stare as the two-headed teenage girl(s) interacted with friends. At first I wasn't sure if it was a real show or a joke.

It is real.

The show follows a whole list of other shows, aired on TLC, that seem to satisfy America's curiousity for the obscure, the odd, the spectacle. The concept is not a new one. Following the lead of renowned American circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum who took human oddities and made them the subject side shows, TLC seems to know that people will tune in to watch shows about unusual people.

We watch shows about little people, shows about hoarders, shows about families with extreme numbers of kids or shows about men with too many wives. We watch them because we are curious, repulsed, and (yes) even fascinated.

While watching one particular "Hoarders" episode, I was struck by the fact that this person's deep psychological problems were being addressed, on camera, to fit in between commercials. The realization made me slightly ashamed, and I turned off the show.

TLC stands for The Learning Channel, but it doesn't seem like there is a lot of learning going on. The shows, from "Toddlers to Tiaras" to "Sister Wives" seem to aim for the sensational - grabbing ratings and making money out of people's difficult and sometimes dysfunctional situations.

Some of the shows seem to be just for fun, but others address serious situations in much the same reality-show format. When compiled together into one glut of attention-seeking programming - the channel seems to reduce individual human stories to a circus sideshow.

I am sure that they propose the shows to their subjects by saying this will give society a better understanding of their unique situations.

But, I'm not sure I'm learning.

I'm just gaping, wide-eyed, in amazement.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

22 Years Since We First Met

It's been 22 years since I met Milt Janosz. July 28, 1990.

Who would have guessed that these two cute kids would end up together?

I love him as much today as I did back then!

Plus, he still likes to wear crazy hats like the one below...