Image Attribution

(Owlet header image found via a Google Image search, and came from Etsy artist Bestiary Ink)

30 January 2012

Affordable Art

Are you familiar with 20x200? The basic premise behind this great art site is this:

(limited editions × low prices) + the internet = art for everyone

Not a bad deal, eh? (Read more about the site here.) And here's another good deal - they're having an awesome sale. Most prints (except for a few which are clearly marked) are at even greater prices from 20-40% off until 11:59 E.T. tonight. Use code: RIDONK. Because those deals are ridonculous. Get it? Now go! Get yourself some art! This is a fabulous deal from a fabulous resource. Here are just a few prints that caught my eye this morning (every time I go to this site something *different* catches my eye, so there's never just one favorite print or artist in my book...); p.s., you don't have to buy them framed, I just like how these look:

(Bear Cub No. 3; by Sharon Montrose)

(Ideal Bookshelf 353: English Lit; by Jane Mount)

(Le Tour; by Yuji Yamada)

(Road to Bonneville Raceway, Tooele County, Utah; by Stuart Klipper)

27 January 2012


Just popping in for a quick visit because I hate being so MIA over here. Things are still very topsy turvy in our world, but I think a little distraction de blog couldn't hurt a bit. Anyway... in light of this and other happenings, I've been thinking a lot about love lately. And with Valentine's Day approaching, it's hard not to think about it as it's everywhere commercially.

I've never been a celebrator of Valentine's Day in my romantic world. When Dave and I first started dating we were very poor grad students, and agreed then that we'd never buy into it, especially since we love each other every day, and tell each other multiple times a day. But with friends, I've always really liked the little love notes that St. Valentine inspires. My grandma and I used to always send each other cards on February 14. And I loved writing Valentines for my classmates, and decorating shoe boxes to collect Valentines on my desk in grade school.

Here are some simple and pretty little love tokens to share with friend loves (or romantic loves, if you do that!) in my style - I like to keep it to cards and homemades, myself...

(for just $4, this lovely postcard print from one of my favorites, Little Brown Pen, would make a sweet Valentine's card, or you could frame it and give it as a gift. There's also a beautiful 16X20 print of this graffiti art for purchase!)

(made on recycled paper and with veggie-based inks, cards like this one, by Sweet William on Etsy, are pretty special)
(I've shown love for Sparrow's Nest Script before, and my love of cards and stationery is no secret, but how sweet is this number?! Emily of SNS has some other purty Valentine's Day cards over in her Etsy shop.)

(friendship bracelets came back in this last year... they're fun and easy to make, and sweet and nostalgic to boot! what about a Valentine's Day-color-themed bracelet? nothing says love quite like homemade...)
(or another bracelet idea, the knot bracelet *symbolizing everlasting unity*, with instructions courtesy of the oh-so-crafty-and-creative Martha Stewart)
 (doodle/paint/draw your own card or image, and, as seen here-courtesy of the blog decor8-and use it as a card or ornamentation for wrapping a meaningful book or print you've found for your friend/love. )

(you might remember this photo from this post last summer... it's totally in the spirit of this post, too. plus, I love the idea of using a photo of you and a friend (or lover) as your Valentine... write an inscription on the back, or print with a border so you can etch something below or around the image, and mail it as a card, or pop it in a frame to say I love you in art.)

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Do you go traditional gifts, or get crafty and creative with your Love Day tributes? What's your best Valentine's Day gift - given or received?

Thanks for the love...

18 January 2012

A Little Break

Some unexpected stuff has come up, so I apologize, but I'm going to take a little break from blogging for the time being. I'll try to check in when I can... Thank you for understanding.


17 January 2012

What I'm Reading Now: January 17, 2012

I've missed several of the books I've read for this little series. I don't know what happened! Also, I started this book at the end of December 2011, but only thought about this today, when I'm more than half-way through. Alas, I'll get back on my game. I'm currently reading The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides' new novel. It's interesting. I think my expectations, unfortunately, were for a second coming of Middlesex, which this is not. But Eugenides is such a gifted writer, that even though it's not "the same" it's still a very pleasurable read. I don't as much care about the characters as I did in Middlesex (or as I usually like to when I'm reading), but I'm still entirely compelled by the narrative. This is the first 2012 book for my online virtual book club, Reading Without Borders. In February we'll be reading Bloodroot by Amy Greene. Care to join us? Leave me a comment with your contact info, or shoot me an email. I'm hoping I finish this one with enough time to get another book in this month to keep me on track for my 2012 reading challenge!

Anyway, here I am, sneaking in a few pages in the office!

16 January 2012

Globes Recap #1: Best & Worst

We're baaa-aaaack! So here we are again! It's the Golden Globes fashion recap this time, and I'm excited to co-blog with A again! I know I promised some more People's Choice recaps, but A was just getting back from vacation, so it was a little too much. That's okay. The Globes were just a few days later, and we're revved and ready to critique! Though there were several themes and trends to be rehashed and broken down, we're going to start with the basics and go for our best and worst. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, both A and I were off our usual games because of a certain football game and our gentlemen friends' confiscation of the televisions during red carpet time. Still, we watched the show itself, and have been reviewing all the photo recaps online today. So here we go!

BEST (in no particular order -- hey, this is hard work, people!). And there was lot's of good, so this was especially tough.

M's #1: Michelle Williams. I may love her look because I just love her, but I think she just looked fantastic from head to toe. Form-fitted with sleeves is a hard look to pull off for many women, but she really nailed it. The color was gorgeous, the pattern/detailing was interesting and not kooky, and the complementary styling was perfect. Plus, bonus points for pulling off that short hair style so beautifully because I cannot. Not all the critics liked this look, but for me, it was a winner.

A: This is my #1 as well. LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVE it.

M's #2: Kate Beckinsdale. First of all, she's just disgustingly beautiful, can we agree on that? I just thought she looked amazing. Her body is fierce. The dress was understated color-wise, but still had so much interest. I love the fit on the bodice, and the way the fit-and-flare accentuates her figure. Her makeup and hair were perfect, and I love the monochrome with the dress and jewels. A+.

A: I agree with you M. I think Seth Rogan said it all during the ceremony about Kate.

M's #3: Sofia Vergara. I mean, again, she kills it/me every time. I love how much this woman embraces her curves. On the Today Show this morning they were talking about how the celebs prepare their bodies for these events, and the nutritionist guest said that SV eats full meals. GIRLFRIEND AFTER MY OWN HEART. I love everything about this woman, seriously, and I think she needs to win for Modern Family one of these days. But one thing she does win regularly is Red Carpet Fashion. She just gets it. Last night was no exception. The color makes me drool. The fit is outrageous. And she clearly understood the balance necessary between dress and styling. The gown had enough going on that she couldn't fight it with too much hair/accessories. So she went sleek and simple, and the outcome was utter perfection.

A: For real, M, you took ALL the good ones! ha ha just kidding. I also thought this was a winner. This dress just fit so WELL. Certain other celebrities (Ahem, Christina Hendriks) may want to look into Sofia V's stylist for how to dress with curves.

A: In the interest of providing more fodder and not "just" agreeing with M, I have added a few other looks that I thought were great last night:
#4: Diane Lane. I told M that I have a natural bias towards sparkly dresses and this was one of my favorite sparkly numbers last night. I love her hair and accessories and think the lipstick and nail color choices were spot on. I like how the beading around the waist draws your eye in and gives more curve to the dress versus just being a straight-hanging dress, which is what I would have expected for a dress like this.

M: Oh, yes. Diane Lane is one of those who just keeps getting better and better every year. She'll be among the ranks of our Helen Mirren one day.

#5: Helen Mirren. Helen Mirren is one of those that is always going to look good in my book. Just like my natural affinity towards sparkles, I have a bias for her. Who doesn't love her? She always dresses impeccablly and while her dress choices are age-appropriate, they still have interest and are not matronly. Meryl Streep, take note!

M: See what I said about Helen above. Always a show-stopper. Amen on the Meryl note, A!

#6: Kate Winslet. Ok, I might be taking a risk with this one, and I don't think the photo necessarily captures what I thought last night when I saw Kate move in this one. I really loved it. I like the gold accents in the jewelry, belt and purse and I love the black + white combination. Yes, this is a very "Kate Winslet" look, but I kinda love the "Kate Winslet" look.

M: I was going to mention this one, too... but not in a good way. Here's why in a nutshell: a) hair - she's done this hair so many times. It makes the look seem kind of tired to me. b) the sleeves - I don't love what they're doing to her arms. Maybe there was just a bad angle on tv, but I thought it made her arms look... well... not so cut. c) When I saw her walking up, I thought it came off too casual, like she didn't really bother. It's pretty, no doubt. And I tend to love black and white together, but... for KW, who always does glam so effortlessly, this was a disappointment for me.

And now...
WORST (also in no particular order)

M's #1: Jessica Biel. Okay, just because you're engaged doesn't mean you go bridal to all events. Save it for the Big Day, Jess! I just hated everything about this. It was lumpy looking! The lace looked old--and not in a cool, vintage kind of way, but in a sad, smells-like-mothballs kind of way. The shoulders were kind of biggish and weird, and her hair was too big (and un-done) so it was just a lot of big. It may have been *a little* better with a sleek pulled-back bun, at least. But no. And also, her shoes appear (in this photo) not to fit well - her toe's hanging off! Bad. Thumbs down.

A: BLECK. This IS terrible! I will admit that it takes a LOT for me to like a dress that is all lace. Lace details, I am good with, but completely lace, you have to knock it out of the park to get my vote and clearly Ms. Biel is striking out.

M's #2: Paula Patton. Oy vey. Paula, you're so lovely. But holy moly, this was a fail. Clearly the mermaid look was a big Red Carpet trend last night, but the look does not work for every body, and Paula proves it. Not only that, but the color was offensive and jarring. I can't say anything else. Just, no thank you. Please try again. Actually, it photographed better than it looked on live tv, but still. Blech.

A: Ick. I'm sorry but I just do not like canary bold yellow. Muted mustard-y yellow, Thumbs Up! Primary Color Yellow - Thumbs DOWN.

M's #3: Melissa McCarthy. I mean, come on, Missy. We've said this before: just because you're bigger does NOT mean you can't look fabulous! Girlfriend, a) please hire a professional stylist (Clinton Kelly does wonderful things for bigger women on What Not to Wear, maybe he's available?); b) take a note from the other not-so-petite ladies in attendance last night (i.e., Queen Latifah, Octavia Spencer). You are doing absolutely everything here to work against you. Please! PLEASE! Figure this out by the next Red Carpet!

A: Well said, M. Well said.

A: Here are 3 more worst dressed for you...

#4: Freida Pinto. If I looked like Freida Pinto (and I do not), I would not take a large blue piece of fabric and belt it around me like a tent. This look does not do anyone, large or small-bodied, ANY favors. If you ARE going to do this, at least pick a pretty fabric. This looks like something I would use to whip up a Little Mermaid costume for my daughter.

M: Here, here, A! (or is it hear, hear!?) Whichever, I agree. It basically doesn't fit. That's what this comes down to. And for such a lovely, lovely, YOUNG actress, it's a dang shame, frankly.

#5: Connie Britton. Maybe she didn't get the memo that this isn't a garden wedding, it's the Golden Freakin' Globes! She could maybe get a job hocking bump-it's since it is pretty clear she's a fan.

M: I can't expand on your magical words, A. But I'm giggling out loud.

#6: Morena Baccarin. For a split second, I thought this was Teri Hatcher in the early 80s - doesn't she look like it with that hairdo? Additionally, I do not like what this is doing to Morena's breasts. The dress is a little too S&M Bondage-esque for me.

M: meh. I think I would mind the boob area less if it didn't have that clear dividing line in there. Guess what, we know there are usually two boobs. But thanks for the visual. Good call, re: Teri Hatcher.

Alright... we'll be back with more tomorrow... and all week! Join us, will ya?!

12 January 2012

Awards Season is Here!

Awards season is definitely underway! The People's Choice Awards were last night, and the Golden Globes are on Sunday. If you were reading along with this little blog last September, you may recall the joint venture that A and I brought to the blogosphere (traditionally done over a series of 800 back-and-forth emails following any awards show) where we recapped the Emmy's fashion (click here to review). Well, we're going to be back with full-force ASAP, but since A has been away on vacation, I'm going to hold off on reviewing the PCA fashion until she has time to review the photo footage. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually watch the PCAs last night, but I have been scrutinizing all of the arrival shots all morning and gathering my thoughts.

Just to whet your appetite for our spectacular combination of clever wit, comedy, and right-on-the-money assessments of everything awards fashion, I'll give you one hit and one miss from today's recaps:

Preview PCA Hit

Julianne Hough. I want to give this gal a shout-out because she has missed so terribly (and irresponsibly - girl is beautiful, and every time she fails on a red carpet all I can think is that it's a dang shame, frankly, that she's trying too hard) on red carpets past. But last night she nailed it - and it was really a stunner look from head to toe. Her hair and makeup looked fantastic and fresh, and her dress was show-appropriate, and perfect on her.

Preview PCA Miss

Demi Lovato. I actually think DL is a beautiful girl. And I think she's come out of a painful and difficult experience with strength and brilliance, so I want good things for her, really (like I know her or something?!). But, I just think she got it all wrong for this awards show. Starting at the top, while I think her hair color is gorgeous (and maybe I want to copy it?), the styling is way too old and formal for the PCAs. This awards show is less formal and more casual, it's lighter-hearted and young and fun. Her dress is too... too! It's just too much. And, while I love that she's now embracing her curvy figure, I just think this is not fitting her right. Her yabbos are kind of exploding out of there, aren't they? I do like the color on her skin tone, though. But overall, it's just a bit too pageant for my liking, and a good bit overdone for the PCAs.

More to come... stay tuned!


Winter's supposed to get here any minute now. We've been so lucky - not only has the snow held off (we've had less than an inch in total since fall "ended"), but the temps have been averaging in the 40s and 50s, and even a few days nearing 60! So, the fact that it's January 12, and we're just now getting all the snow warnings, is less painful than if they were coming in November, like normal. I don't know if I worded any of that the way I wanted to, but I haven't had any coffee, so you'll forgive.

Mostly I started writing about this today because in the elevator on the way up to my office this morning, there was a young gal with the cutest winter boots on, in preparation for the onslaught the weather folks are getting all worked up about. Meanwhile, there I stood, in clunky but cute fashion boots, thinking, 'will these be ruined by the time I get home this evening?' But p.s., people are totally geeking out about this "winter storm watch" as if they've never experienced winter weather before and as thought they don't live IN FREAKING CHICAGO! Seriously, there's hardly anyone at my office, and my bus commute down the usually-traffic-heavy Lake Shore Drive this morning was a breeze. Maybe I missed some sort of memo...

So anywhoozits, I started considering the winter boot... a shoe in which I often do not invest. For the past two years I've added a yummy fleece boot liner to my Hunter rain boots and called them winter boots. This works fairly well, because the snow in Chicago tends not to stay soft and fluffy--or even packed--for very long. It's usually lovely for 10 minutes and then gets wet and slushy and grey-brown-gross. So tall wellies are effective for multiple reasons. That said, they're not the warmest, in spite of those liners, and they are more difficult to get on and off with said liners.

All that to say that I'm considering a purchase of some truer cold-weather boots. Suggestions? Here are a few possibilities (I guess)...

(By Kamik, available at Nordstrom)

(by Jellypop, available at DSW)
(by Khombu, available at Macys)
(by Beartraps, available at Famous Footwear)

Do you have any recommendations? Any brands you swear by? I clearly don't know what I'm talking about/doing.

11 January 2012


Someone sent me an anonymous gift of a book (via Amazon - I guess I could try to get the folks over at Amazon to track you down!). And it's just so lovely and perfect, and I want to say 'thank you' but I don't know to whom!!! So, I've posted a request for your coming out of the shadows on Facebook, and I've sent out a few e-mails to potential suspects, and now I'm posting this here. So thank you. Please say who you are. I love it. I started weeping reading the two-page introduction. Winner.

(image via Google image search)

10 January 2012


Northampton, Massachusetts, the little "city-lette" next door to Amherst, the town where I grew up and where my parents live, is highlighted today in Design*Sponge's City Guide feature. Yay for the adorable, lovely, quaint, and picturesque Pioneer Valley of Western Mass! Western Mass is a really wonderful part of the country. It was a great place to grow up, and it's a great place to visit. If you've never been, there's TONS to do and see - and every time of year is fantastic in its own special way. There's nature, there's shopping, there's great food, there's a beautiful bike trail, and more and more and more. And all wrapped up in a perfect little old New England package. Can't be beat. It would make a great getaway weekend destination... I'm just throwing that out there, in case you're looking for one! Anyway, you should just go ahead and check it out!

(images via Google image search)

09 January 2012

Virtual Clothes Consultation

I need some input. I've been coveting and semi-stalking this top from ModCloth for a while. I even pinned it three separate times before realizing I'd already pinned it. Seriously. I also have a pinning problem. It's the Love Ballad Top and it was out of stock, and I just got an email that it's back in stock. Here she is:

(from ModCloth)

BUT... last Friday I wandered randomly through Forever21 on my way to the bus to go home, and happened upon this little number - very similar - that I decided I'd just go ahead and buy:

(from Forever21)
They are quite alike, it's true. But there are also differences. Hearts vs. Stars. Beige background vs. Cream background. Single breast pocket vs. Double breast pockets. Am I kidding myself? They're basically the same shirt, right? What should I do? What would YOU do?

04 January 2012

Reading Challenge 2012

I've waxed poetic about my love of reading, my nerdy nature, and my obsession with Goodreads (the social network for book nerds) plenty around here. I know. But as I've said before, I am who I am. So, here I go again.

In addition to helping you track your reading, catalog your thoughts on what you've read (I try to write something every time I finish a book, and I've found that it actually helps me remember the books better - beyond just, "I really loved that book," or "I think I liked that one, but I can't remember the characters' names" - know what I mean?), and get good recommendations from friends and fellow readers, Goodreads also offers various giveaways, contests, online chats with authors, and challenges. Last year I jumped on board with the 2011 Reading Challenge. I assessed my previous years' reading and my overflowing to-read bookcase at home, and decided to try and be realistic. I challenged myself to read 20 books. That seemed do-able. And it was! In fact, it was more than do-able. I read 26 books in 2011! Every time I logged into Goodreads, a little bar graph told me where I was in my challenge, and what percentage of my goal-total I'd already accomplished. It didn't make me anxious that I wouldn't make it, rather, it encouraged me that I was tackling this goal month by month. So for 2012, I definitely wanted to challenge myself again, and up the goal a bit. But I don't want to be to bold. So, I'm going for 25 books in 2012. We'll see how I do. You can see what I'm reading in that little window on the right-hand side of the blog, actually, which I've connected right to my Goodreads account. Right now, as you see, I'm reading my first book of 2012 (this one's for my online book group, Reading Without Borders -- which you're welcome to join!): The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. So far, so good.

Want to know what I read in 2011? They weren't all big winners, but overall, I did a lot of really good, really satisfying reading last year. Here are the titles and authors:

  • Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
  • Bamboo People by Metali Perkins
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  • March by Geraldine Brooks
  • Breathing Underwater by Marie Darrieussecq
  • The City & The City by China MiĆ©ville
  • If Today be Sweet by Thrity Umrigar
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • Tinkers by Paul Harding
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin
  • A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
  • The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson
  • The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Pleasing Hour by Lily King
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
PLUS! I just realized I'd totally dropped the ball on my "What I'm Reading Now" photo posts. I will try to pick that up again. Yeesh - how'd I do that?! Anyway... that's my 2011 reading, and now, here I go burrowing my nose into my 2012 books! What are you reading now?

03 January 2012

New Year Shout-Outs

Happy New Year! Is it just me, or did 2011 really zip by?! I feel like I blinked and it was the holidays again. And now here we are in 2012! Holy moly!

2011 was filled with lots of good things and bright moments. Lots of friends, lots of laughter, lots of family, lots of fulfilling and active choices. And there is only more good to come in this next year. I'm going to try to write more meaningful posts, though there will inevitably also be some good ol' fluff, because, well, who am I kidding. First up - the Golden Globes are around the corner, so get ready for A's and my second round of Award Show Fashion Recaps! Whee!

But before we go there, I want to start the year off with a little shout-out to some of my friends who have some noteworthy things going on in their worlds, electronic or real. In no particular order...

* A's new(ish) blog, Anthologie, is great. Just all around great. She themes each day, and therefore has some really good fodder for consistent, content-rich posts. There are good updates for those who know her and her family, but there's also regular good stuff on crafts, food, beauty products, fashion, and lots of great ideas. If you're on Pinterest (and if you're not, get on Pinterest), you'll want to pin a million little tidbits from her posts.

* Another friend A made a hugely bold move and quit her (amazing) full-time job at a major magazine in NY to pursue a freelance career and move back to Chicago (yay for us in Chicago!). First and foremost - I am incredibly impressed by A's bravery, and also by her tenacity. She's been writing away, taking this freelance life by the horns and killing it. You can check her out in this month's Whole Living, where her article on being healthier in the work place made the cover - WOOT! Go A!

* My friend EA is also taking on new challenges in 2012... And she faced her trepidation and is doing it in the blogosphere! The 52 Project will have E and anyone who chooses to join her doing something different each week for the year, with the over-arching goal of simply living a healthier, more balanced, more meaningful and inspired every day. How wonderful is that?! I'm going to join her wherever I feel inspired, and you should, too! It's a fantastic idea, and an inspiring way to approach the new year. I hope she doesn't kill me for posting this on Owlet............

* My former (and maybe soon will be again) trainer and now great friend C is going to kick 2012 in the pants. She's opening her first studio (yoga, fitness, personal training) in Chicago in the coming weeks! It's in Lincoln Park, and as soon as I'm given the green light to release more details I will, but you can feel free to email me if you're local and interested! She's so talented and so strong and she really connects with each of her clients - a gift that makes anyone lucky enough to work with her get more out of their fitness/yoga/training experience then they likely ever had before. This new facility is going to be beautiful and incredible. I will be there regularly. Come with! AND... her previously self-produced annual detoxification guide (earlier versions were printed and sold low-budget to clients only) has been given a total overhaul for the 2012 edition, and it will be sold on Amazon (and at the facility) starting this month! Oh, did I mention I'm the editor?! (a little self-promotion - forgive me)

Good things for good friends to start the year off right. Here's to a wonderful year to come...