November 7, 2011

Books I've Read Lately and Liked

So, yet again, I'm apologizing for not posting to my blog [even though I have a nifty little button over to the right side of this blog that states I'm blogging without obligation, i.e,. I will not apologize for not updating my blog on a consistent basis.  Yet, that's exactly what I'm doing.  Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness.  At least I used punctuation.  Virginia Wolfe could learn a lot from me.].

Anyway, I've read a lot of books in the past few months that I wanted to mention.  I've started this post several times and scrapped it because... well, because shit happens and I got busy.  So, in no particular order, please find below a listing of books that I've read and liked:

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hiter's Berlin, by Erik Larson.  I can safely say that I'm an Erik Larson fan (so is the NYTimes reviewer).  Larson is the author of Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck (both of which I enjoyed), so I was looking forward to reading this book based on his past performance.  I have a strange fascination with the Nazi movement (and WWII in general), and this book tells the story of the U.S. Ambassador to Germany as Hitler rises to power.  It's a very well-written, fast-paced book about history; if a "history book" does not sounds interesting to you, then I might recommend that you make your own informed decision before purchasing.  Larson spends a lot of time in the details, but that's exactly why he is so adept at storytelling.  He does his research and presents it in an unbiased way to further the story.  I'd give it a solid A overall.

Recently, my book club chose from some classic literature and read Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Honestly, I'm a bit indifferent about this novel.  I never read it in school, so I was looking forward to reading it for the first time.  What I didn't really care for was the overall plot; there was so much time spent leading up to the actual voyage and treasure hunt that I was sort of bored by the time we arrived on Treasure Island.  However, what I did like was reading about the inspiration for so many characters in pop culture, from Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow to the ubiquitous pirate-with-a-parrot-on-his-shoulder-and-a-peg-for-a-leg.  Overall, I'd give it a C+ (remember, to those type-A students like myself, a C is actually average, not necessarily a failure).

The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff.  I actually really enjoyed this book that is simultaneously about the life of Ann Eliza Young (the 19th wife of Mormon prophet Brigham Young) and a present day murder-mystery that takes place in a modern-day FLDS family.  It's interesting to see how the stories intertwine, and I have to admit that I knew very, very little about the Mormon faith other than the commercials for TLC's Sister Wives (which I have never actually seen).  A note about this novel: the newspaper clippings, Wikipedia articles, etc., are presented as historical fiction; some of them do not actually exist.  Overall, I'd say B.  [This novel was also apparently made into a Lifetime movie, which makes me not like it although I realize that's dumb and very similar to my dislike of books with the "Oprah's Book Club" sticker on them.]

The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton.  I enjoy Edith Wharton (particularly Ethan Frome), and she did not disappoint with this novel.  Set in New York City in the late 1800s, it tells the story of the beautiful socialite Lily Bart and the unfortunate series of events in which she continues to place herself.  I have a hard time feeling sorry for Lily, as she brings many of her troubles upon herself, but I liked the glimpses into the high-society of Manhattan in the 1800s.  Edith Wharton wrote as she lived; she was born Edith Jones, and her socialite family inspired the phrase, "Keeping up with the Joneses."

October 25, 2011

The Chelsea Hotel

Sometimes you read a story that enthralls you so that you simply want to share it.  Other times, you read a quick history lesson and want to share that, too.  Thanks to my friend Tara, I have been introduced to the legend that is The Chelsea Hotel in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, stomping grounds to everyone from Bob Dylan to Mark Twain to Joni Mitchell.  As someone who has only been to Manhattan once (I know...), I was not familiar with the hotel or its history--and a history it has.  Take a look at the hotel's blog and at some of the changes that the hotel is undergoing; seems a shame that the future of such a venerable building and incubator of some of America's great artists is so uncertain.

August 31, 2011

'Til Zombies Do Us Part

There are a wide-variety of options for wedding photography these days; some are sentimental, some are very traditional, some are kitschy, and some are just downright scary.  Take a look at the wedding photos below to see what I mean.

Amanda Rynda Photography

August 26, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

For the past I-don't-know-how-many years, there have plans to erect a memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in the District of Columbia.  The official unveiling of the long-awaited memorial was to be on Sunday, August 27, but that ceremony has been postponed due to that biotch Irene, who is making her presence known along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern corridor of the United States.

Since the monument itself is no longer hidden behind a partition, DC-area media and bloggers have already provided ample commentary on the design of the memorial, and it is not pretty.  Among the arguments are the fact that the Reverend looks angry, with his crossed arms and defiant stance.  By almost all accounts, Dr. King was a calm and respectful pacifist, and many critics do not feel that this memorial is an accurate portrayal of the man himself.

Says memorial architect Ed Jackson, Jr. in a article:
The design [gives] form to a line from Dr. King’s “Dream” speech — “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” said Mr. Jackson. In the memorial, he noted, Dr. King is seen emerging from the stone of hope. The two towering mounds set slightly behind him, forming a sort of passageway to the statue, are mountains of despair.... Some visitors said they did not like the fact that Dr. King was facing the Jefferson Memorial, not the Lincoln Memorial....
To add insult to perceived injury, Dr. King is misquoted on the monument (see photo of the quote, below).  Makes you wonder who approves and fact-checks these things, eh?

General Housekeeping

Hello friends, followers, and Mom,

I am still here, but this summer has been an absolute whirlwind and I am just now starting to slow down.  My sister moved to DC and slept on my couch (in my one-bedroom apartment) for three months.  Amazingly, we still actually LIKE each other.  Crazy, I know.  I moved into a new place with two other girls and am so happy that I did.  I loved living by myself and having my own space to decorate and make my own, but I also love having two fabulous roommates, cheaper rent, an adorable back patio, and the convenience of living a bit closer to town.  Onward and upward!

By now you've probably heard about, or even felt firsthand, the 5.8 earthquake that occurred in Virginia on August 23.  Just... wow.  I've never been through an earthquake before, and living in DC, my absolute last thought was the shifting of tectonic plates.  I was certain it was an internal explosion or some sort of terrorist attack; it didn't soothe my nerves knowing that I work within a 1/4 mile from Reagan National Airport and less than a mile from the Pentagon.  Luckily, everyone was safe and unharmed.

That brings us to Hurricane Irene who is threatening to ruin my weekend plans.  While Irene won't directly hit the immediate DC area, we will get lots of heavy wind and rains, and knowing how inefficient our energy company is during regular thunderstorms, I can only hope that we are without power for a very, very short time.  If you're in Irene's path, stay indoors, stock up on non-perishables and water, and keep a flashlight handy!

Other than that, life is good!  I'll have some book reviews forthcoming and just some general pretty things that make me smile.  For now, I'll leave you with these earrings that I just bought from one of my faves, kate spade.

Have a fabulous (and safe) weekend!

June 24, 2011

It's Finally Friday

Hello friends and 4 followers and mom!  I haven't deserted you intentionally, but hot damn, the past several weeks have been a blur.  Work and life just never seem to slow down--I'm not complaining, these just be the facts.  And I have a semi-permanent houseguest these days; my awesome/amazing/beautiful/smart/talented/funny sister Anna is now a DC resident!  She graduated from college in mid-May and started her first job a mere three days later, bless her heart.  We are having a great time living together and getting lots of quality sister-sister time, and thankfully the girl bakes!  (Direct quote from her after a month living with me: "So, you're like, the opposite of domestic."  Thanks, sis.)

Remember my dear friend Amanda?  Well, Amanda and I work together... until next Wednesday; unfortunately for me and fortunately for her, she is leaving for greener pastures and the next chapter in her career.  Thankfully she'll still be in DC so it's not "goodbye," just "I'll see ya later."  My other fabulous co-worker (and fellow J. Crew, Kate Spade, and FRBV-loving buddy) Amy has already left for Capitol Hill.  The times they are a'changing, but all for the best!

gift from co-worker Amy on her last day of work

Anyway, my blog is a great way for me to zone out for a few minutes during the week so I'll get back to regularly-scheduled programming shortly. 

May 7, 2011

Pants, Please.

GLHP Syndrome; it's a serious issue in the world today.  See the chart below to make sure you're not prone to GLHP, and to see how how you may be able to help others who are currently suffering.

April 28, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Y'all, I'm a Southern gal, born and raised.  Mississippi is my home, but Alabama was my home-away-from-home for four years while attending the University of Alabama.  The city of Tuscaloosa will always have a piece of my heart; within its city limits I made friends and lost friends, met the first boy that I loved and first had my heart broken, failed my first class, saw my first "ghost," drank more margaritas than anyone has a right to, cheered for the Crimson Tide even though we were terrible at the time, and most importantly, spent some of the most memorable times of my life.

If you haven't heard, an F5 tornado ripped through the city yesterday leaving much of the campus unharmed, but literally leveling much of the surrounding city.  I am still shocked and saddened by the pictures and videos that keep coming from Tuscaloosa and nearby cities and communities; not only were cars and homes destroyed, but livelihoods and lives were lost as well. 

taken from University Downs parking lot, located on 15th Street in Tuscaloosa

my CVS at the corner of McFarland and 15th Street

15th Street, Tuscaloosa

a friend's [former] house

this is why you don't wait out a tornado inside your car

15th Street, Tuscaloosa

the front page of today's Tuscaloosa News

Videos of the tornado can be found here.

Please keep the victims of these deadly storms, and their loved ones, in your thoughts and prayers.  If you're in the DC area and happen to be reading this, some friends and I have organized a fundraiser for this Saturday evening at Gin & Tonic in the Glover Park neighborhood.  You can also donate online via the West Alabama Red Cross.

April 25, 2011

Lilly Pulitzer Home

I hope everyone had a happy and fun Easter weekend!  (Since you asked, mine was lovely--church, brunch, and Jesus Christ Superstar. It was on TCM, I was on the couch; it just made sense at the time.)

I might be behind the times, but apparently Lilly Pulitzer is coming out with a line of home furnishings.  I have mixed feelings about Lilly Putlizer, the brand, but I liked several of the Lilly Putlizer Home pieces (here and here).  In particular, I love the ottoman below (also featured in this month's Real Simple); however, it seems like someone crafty (I'm looking at you, Mary Grace and Design*Sponge-rs) could probably pull this off on her own, without paying $599+.

April 15, 2011

A Stitch in Time

Late this year (October, to be exact), Penguin will reissue a selection of its classics with playful, stitched covers by Jillian Tamaki.  The Hardcover Classics Deluxe editions sold very well, and hopefully introduced new readers to classic works of literature.  Penguin's website says of the Coralie Bickford-Smith collection, "Featuring gorgeous patterns stamped on linen cases, colored endpapers, and ribbon markers, these are rich and sumptuous volumes that continue what will be one of the most coveted sets of books ever produced."  I'm curious to see if the demand is similar for these whimsical editions.