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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Science Fair for August 25th-31st

Welcome to the dog days of summer, everybody! I just took a gorgeous walk around the neighborhood as part of my renewed investment in a daily exercise regimen. Watching FitTV while sitting on the couch being lazy is, I have to say, a great way to guilt yourself into kicking it into gear.

This week's Science Fair is looong, I've been gathering the most interesting tidbits while staying out of the hot, hot heat outside! First, the news:

-We've been hearing about the bees disappearing, a.k.a. colony collapse disorder, for a while now. Could Bayer Pharmaceuticals be responsible for colony collapse in Germany? There's been talk of the adverse effects of pesticides on friendly insects and humans ever since their use became widespread in the farming industry. (I'm sure if you're up at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco this week, your ears are positively buzzing with hoopla about natural, organic farming for all.)

-Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko, a KGB spy who came in out of the cold to become an informant for the CIA, passed away this week. I love those LeCarre-ish stories from real life, especially since the Cold War seems to have revived lately...keep your ears peeled, dear readers!

-Most of us know the Dead Sea because of its amazing mineral- and salt-laden powers used in marketing beauty products. Sixty years ago, the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, the oldest known written version of the Bible as we know it. Now, NASA technology is being used to share the rich history of the Dead Sea scrolls with the entire world. Rejoice, religious scholars!

-I love Bollywood (The early films starring Amitabh Bacchan, anyone? Delightful!) as much as a Cinema Studies graduate can with one little heart, but maybe it's gone too far in taking hints from Hollywood. What do you think, is Hari Puttar a little too close for comfort to our beloved Hogwarts kids?

-Now, two stories out of our favorite country! Japanese women are rejecting traditional gender roles to, well, be more career-driven. I have a bunch of cousins in Japan, all female, who never married and barely dated in their youth. How is that a bad thing, tell me! Maybe it's the quality of Japanese men today, hm? When they're not kidnapping their neighbors or dismembering foreign English teachers, they're stuffing their apartments with snake cages, tsk tsk!

-Style.com's Beauty Counter blog is adorable, a blend of high-priced makeup tidbits and indie personality. This week, they have an interview with Blake Hazard of The Submarines (you MUST get their new album, Honeysuckle Weeks, love love love it), talking about her love of pigtails and life on the road. That and, gloriously, fascinating and mind-blowing pics from the Shu Uemura and Viktor+Rolf collaboration.

-Finally, I leave you with THE PERIODIC TABLE OF AWESOMEMENTS! Man, I wish we'd thought of that. So comprehensive, so complete! Obviously made by members of the male species, however--perhaps we ladies need to populate our own table of mightily awesome stuff. I will agree with the inclusion of bacon, penguins, sunglasses, and cheese on the list, but mullets? Boobs? Really?

Enjoy, and have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No, Not My Drugstore!

First off, everyone knows that I have extremely strong brand affinity with the brands I know, right? Right. As much as I love to explore new brands, I also will always go back to the ones I know and love most. So I was really stunned to read that my favorite drugstore, Longs, has been bought out by CVS. Noooo!

I never knew that Longs was a local-to-the-Bay-Area chain in the sense that it started here. I certainly knew that it was regional, as there aren't Longs in Oregon or New York, but I didn't realize it was a full-on Bay Area thing.

Ever since I was in middle school, Longs has been my drugstore of choice, even when it's literally down the block or across the street from a Walgreens -- I pick the Longs first. And so I have a lot of memories of picking up wonderful things at Longs -- Jane eyeshadow, my favorite L'Oreal lipglosses (now discontinued, wah!), and, well... things like Sweet Georgia Brown glitter lipgloss and pastel blue lipstick and, on one occasion, a belly chain. (You have to make those kinds of mistakes so you can go forward and learn something, right?)

A big part of the reason why I stopped most of my playing with make-up in college was that I went to school in a town where there was one local drugstore, and it wasn't on the way between home and school, so there wasn't really any opportunity to drop in and browse the beauty section. I had to wait for breaks where I went home to pick up my cosmetic-y needs because I just didn't go to the drugstore in college... or the cosmetic counters, for that matter.

Today, Longs is still my drugstore of choice -- there's now two on my way home from work, and so I now have two to browse and stalk for Tracy Reese for Sally Hansen nail polishes. (Seriously, twice a week for about three to four weeks, I was popping into one or the other of both Longs; the stalking for the fall colors officially began yesterday.)

I'm a little apprehensive about CVS taking over my Longs, but at least I know that they carry Boots (online, anyway -- not sure if they do in the actual store), which would save me a trip to Target if I want to buy some Boots stuff, they have weekly deals (but so does Longs, of course), and soon they'll be creating prestige cosmetics areas within their stores, too.

So while these are all exciting (I guess) developments, I also wonder about how my store's going to change. True, I've changed too, but I still remember picking out my first red lip gloss and the chunky clear glitter lip gloss that smelled (surprise!) like cupcakes. Longs really was where my beauty product mania started. And I'm going to miss it as it is now. I'm still going to poke my head in and see what sort of treasures I can find, but it just won't be the same.

image from associated press/sfgate.com

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reward Yourself!

So there I was, farting around the internet looking for a nice three-piece suit (vest, jacket, pants or skirt, you know...love the tailored look) just now, and realized that some of my favorite sites are having CRAZY sales and specials right now, just in time for Labor Day in the U.S. It's a three day weekend! You deserve a break, a little time in the sun (with SPF, please), a little gratuitous self-rewarding! In the spirit of sharing, here are my hot tips for sales and specials this week:

1. The retro-bohemian indie gods at OK47 are closing up shop and are selling off their remaining stock of super-cute, comfy silkscreened tops, skirts, and jackets at cutthroat prices. I was absolutely obsessed with an amazing pattern they came up with that was butterflies in flight turning into scissor blades. Don't steal my idea, ladies, because I'm ordering a couple of items off the site post-haste: the brown button pencil skirt, the blue diving swallows skirt, and the black herringbone military three-button jacket. Checking their return policy, it's too bad that they're closing down because everything is final sale...be sure to check your measurements against what they list for each garment! Bonus: no tax on orders from the U.S.! Found via the remnants of Paper Doll, a Canadian site for up and coming fashion design.
2. Did you ever notice that we here at Periodic Elements of Style are all over Steampunk and Gothic Lolita fashion? It's something about the quiet Victoriana elegance of brass buttons, ruffles, crowns, and platform shoes that I just can't put my finger on. If I didn't look like an elephant in a tutu (literally) in lolita-wear, I would do it every day. Le sigh. Well, luck be a lady, and the fine Japanese folks over at Baby, the Stars Shine Bright have created special packs of Lolita outfits specifically for overseas customers! Personally, I adore their Alice and the Pirates line, not to mention the wee top hats. All of the special packs are sold out for now, but you can place an advance order by clicking on "sign up." My favorites are the Sweet Anniversary, "Fall in love with the pirates" set, and the sweet bow hairpins! Love love love. (Notice that the "First memorial date" set comes complete with bikini panties...hmm.) For a quick price conversion from Japanese yen to U.S. dollars, move the decimal point left two places (i.e., take off two zeros).

3. Jewelry design company We Dream in Colour has a handful of items on sale via Stars and Infinite Darkness, with all sorts of lovely, delicate Art Nouveau-meets-botanical-garden design. Pieces range from US$15 to $325. I love the Springer spaniel charm necklace, for fans of the breed, and this owl necklace is just too cute for words!

4. The sale section at Plasticland is a veritable cornucopia of rockabilly style, lacy panties and gingham wedges. Looks like a lot of back-to-school fun for me! I can't even imagine what a rampant consumer I would have been, had I had an allowance and online shopping in high school...what a horrifying notion. We love the EC Star Chinese lantern cardigan, the music note dress is wonderfully evocative of a little girl's 1950s play-dress, and the puff-sleeve navy blue trench coat makes me absolutely salivate.

5. Short but sweet, I was in my local Nordstrom's department store yesterday picking up a few things for ye olde work wardrobe and they had signs posted everywhere about a shoe sale starting this week. August 27th-onward, I believe? I may have to check it out, I'm in the market despite the recession for navy or deep purple pumps. My quest to inject more color into my life continues, from the feet up!

Images from ShopOK47.com and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright K.K.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Science Fair for August 18-24

Happy weekend, everyone! Next weekend is Labor Day (hooray, hooray!) and I will finally get to go to the beach... for the last weekend of summer.

I've been saving up some of these links for a while, so there are quite a few!

- Did you know that the USA female gymnasts are all CoverGirls? I'm not really sure how I feel about this, honestly.

- I say there's nothing better than a man in a good suit, and Valet goes into Mad Men's costuming, particularly how the different characters wear different suits based on their personalities. Really interesting (and inspiring) stuff!

- The Non-Blonde puts a lot of questions to rest. Hooray for transparency!

- I am drowning in perfume, and Now Smell This figured out how you can find out how many years' worth of perfume you have. I... don't want to know.

- This year I've got cupcakes as my daily calendar, but next year I'm thinkingI might have to pick up the Cute Overload one...

- In more adorable news, a penguin in Scotland was knighted. I have no other words, just that you need to watch the video immediately.

- Finally, I'm offering this as an apology to everyone who's ever found us through Google in search of actual science: PeriodicVideos.com. There's a YouTube video for every element, and it's pretty brilliant. Check out sodium to see water make sodium catch on fire! And magnesium is always a good time too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Lettered Woman

It's the strangest thing. All this toil and trouble I've been through trying to finish my M.A. thesis, running around the world from Japan to California to New York and back again, the thing I most looked forward to has been reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is not something I take lightly. As someone lacking in the hands-on skills to knit, the athletic fortitude to take up a sport-related hobby, and the eye strength for video games, I am forced to use my free time on my first love: books. Having the luxury of time to read books, magazines, comics, anything that has NOTHING to do with biodefense, nuclear nonproliferation, and all the other things I've been spending the last two years on is an absolute joy.

I've been busily collecting a list of books to read "when I have time," which is now--I start my first Real Big Girl Job on Sept. 2nd, hooray--and I started with a bit of frivolousness. Three rather frivolous books, in fact! These three titles all deserve glowing reviews, and even managed to hold my usually chick-lit-averse attention, LOVE THEM.

1. My mother brought me a copy of The Meaning of Sunglasses: And a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable, by The Guardian's own Hadley Freeman, saying that she appreciated Ms. Freeman's position on women who wear glasses. You know the old saying, "Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses"? Totally untrue. As our girl Hadley says, girls who wear glasses are showing their smarts on their sleeves, and specs make the best fashion accessories. Hadley despises animal prints, loves wedges, and wins your heart over with sassy, snarky chapters on everything your fashionista heart desires. It's enlightened, sharp as a tack, and even if you aren't "into" fashion, it will open your eyes to the reality of transitioning personal style from what people like La Wintour tell us and the cold, hard, real world. The Meaning of Sunglasses was so charming, funny, and spot-on that once I finished it, I passed it right on to my friend Courtney, who also devoured it. Isn't that the sign of a great book, that you just have to share it? Passed back and forth, like Lady Chatterley's Lover--which I need to add to my list!

2. How to Get Along with Boys, first published in the 1930s with advice for girls on, well, take a guess. It's GREAT and HILARIOUS. It's exactly the kind of advice my grandmother gives me--this is the grandmother who says, "You know, Karen, I never even SPOKE to a boy until I was twenty-one years old! Don't worry about being a late bloomer. Grandma thinks it's okay." Only in Japlish, which is difficult to transcribe. How to Get Along with Boys compares the rigid social mores surrounding dating in the 1930s favorably with the even-more rigid rules of romance in Victorian times. Aren't you glad you don't have to entertain your beau in your living room with a chaperone present, and you get to take lovely walks together instead? If you are an old-fashioned girl trying to manipulate an old-fashioned, bumbling but handsome and strong boy into your arms/a wedding, this is the book for you. It's basically step by step how to snag your man and make him ask for your hand. Amazing! Quaint! Quirky! I love it.

3. I Feel Bad About My Neck, by the illustrious and most-revered (not to mention hilarious) Nora Ephron. Ms. Ephron waxes philosophical about her live, loves, work, moves, children, aging, and above all, being a woman. You're let in to her beauty regime, her friends who go in for Botox injections, the ins and outs of New York City's most desirable apartment buildings, and the delights of aging not-so-gracefully. Nora and I are somewhat connected (lady-school!), I admire her and her place in history with the glorious When Harry Met Sally, so it's great to read her candid recounts of her personal trials and tribulations. Not out of an obsession with fame, mind you, but more of a, "Gee, I wish she could be my mentor and we could sit around laughing about face creams and sexualized lipstick ads, then write movie scripts all day" mentality.

Right now, I'm about halfway through the fascinating new biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth (daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, infamous Gibson girl, political powerhouse), and it makes my heart yearn for THESE BOOTS. Is that materialistic of me, or is it just inspired?

Images from Powell's Books and the EverAfterStore.com.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Following the Project Runway Pattern

So I'm kind of halfheartedly watching Project Runway this season -- it came on with little fanfare, they changed the air time (what the hell!), and for the first couple of weeks, it interfered with my other reality TV sweetheart, So You Think You Can Dance. As in, I would be watching SYTYCD and the little "Your other show is about to start and you can only watch/record ONE. CHOOSE. CHOOSE NOW." button would pop up in the middle of a dance routine and I would groan and choose SYTYCD. But now that only Project Runway's on the air, I'm... still not running to the TV.

That said, I will tell you that I'm pulling for Leanne this season. Every year, I tend to really root for the young female designer who never wins a challenge but always has a strong showing until she gets booted way too early, usually in her first time in the bottom two. Season Two I loved Diana Eng (the first thing I ever bought that was Project Runway related was a Fashion Nerd pin from Diana), Season Three Kati and I both adored Alison Kelly, and Season Four I picked Kit Pistol (plus she had my favorite model, too). So much teeth-gnashing and grumbling when my girls got sent home too early every year!

This season we've already lost three of our young-and-funky female designers -- Emily, Jennifer, and Kelli. I'm hoping that casting actually stacked the deck with them so that we can actually KEEP one this season... and it looks like it's Leanne.

Funny and true story: back in April, I read a blog post by Pequitobun where she wrote about the dress she bought off of Leanimal's Etsy. I showed Kati the shop, and we chatted about it, and I, naive little thing, went, "Oh, I bet you could custom-order something! She's in Portland!" I... don't think we can do that anymore.

Plus, I also really like her personality. Everyone's like, "Oh, she's so mousy," but when you get her in the interviews, she's got that dry sense of humor ("barfilicious", anyone?) that I love, but doesn't often play well on reality TV, especially on Project Runway which is so used to over-the-top personalities and catchphrases and people hoping to launch to personality-fame instead of design-fame.

All in all, I'm seriously crossing my fingers and hoping that Leanne makes it to Bryant Park, if just because all of her work (check out her sold items on Etsy) is all so beautiful, and since they're showing for spring this season, I think she'd have a gorgeous and cohesive collection. (I'm actually hoping for an all-female Bryant Park showing -- the only collections I'd be interested in seeing are from Leanne, Korto, and Terri. None of the guys have really impressed me this year, and maybe that's the producers' way of trying for another female winner. Who knows! I've watched far too much reality TV to be completely surprised when producers get the winner they want...)

Keep your fingers crossed! I know good things are going to keep coming for Leanne, even if she does get the too-early-and-suspicious boot, but I really, truly, want to see her showing at Bryant Park -- even if she's a decoy, but ideally with her still in the running. So go, Leanne, go! Even if your name is the reason why people think "Jeanne" is pronounced "Jee-anne" instead of "Jean-ee".

Are you watching this season of Project Runway? Did it sneak up on you too? Who's really impressed you this season, or are you pretty much underwhelmed? And have you figured out a pattern of who you tend to root for in reality shows?

image from bravotv.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

You know you love me -- Gossip Girl on DVD tomorrow!

At last! Tomorrow is GG-Day -- the day that Gossip Girl finally comes out on DVD!! So if you've been wondering -- and waiting -- what all the fuss is about, there's enough time to snag the first season, sit down, and watch the whole fun first season before Season Two starts two weeks from today (!!).

It's pretty clear that everyone's looking for inspiration from the Upper East Side girls, whether it's Blair, Serena, or Jenny, Kati, and Iz. (Don't forget Miss Georgina Sparks or Vanessa Abrams, either!) And what's kind of hilarious is how brands are responding.

Check out just a few of the items we found with the names "Blair" or "Serena":

- Zoya Nail Polish in "Blair" is a gorgeous cranberry red, which we can totally see Miss Waldorf wearing. (I kind of want this too. And not just because it's named "Blair".)

- While we couldn't find it at Sephora.com or Stilacosmetics.com, Beauty.com has Stila High Shine lip color in "Serena". You know the Upper East Side's Golden Girl probably has this in her bag, right? (Right next to her favorite lip gloss from the books...)

- Perhaps the funniest use of the names "Blair" and "Serena" to name products comes from Oh Deer! shoes (who make a lot of money off of their Faux-boutins). These shoes are basically the same except for the colors (taupe and navy for Blair, orange and black for Serena) location of the detailing: Blair gets a cap toe, and Serena gets a fancy heel. I totally see it.

- Steve Madden pays tribute to Serena with this slouchy Serena bag that wouldn't be out of place on her arm.

- Naturally we pulled things from Etsy for our two shopping guides, so we wanted to see what else we could find for B and S. Serena gets a lovely crystal necklace, while Blair is more of an inspiration than a namesake with this vintage rhinestone headband. (Of course it's a headband!)

With that, we have some predictions for Season Two of Gossip Girl:

- Bart Bass dies in the Season Two finale because he looks like Caleb Nichol. (The important question is, will they play "Hallelujah" when he does? My guess would be YES.)
- Chuck's mom comes back from "the dead"; ideally she will be played by Melinda Clarke.
- Little J gets (gasp!) a REAL boyfriend. ...or drops off the face of the earth, because Eleanor Waldorf eats her for lunch.
- The girls go to Fashion Week. Wooooo.
- We find out what Lily actually does all day besides Rufus Humphrey.
- Chuck will have amusing sartorial choices.
- Blair will continue to gift-wrap her head with ribbons and other headband finery.
- Serena and Dan get back together... and break up again. Ad nauseum.
- Nate has a slut spiral.
- Vanessa continues to not be as cool as book!Vanessa.
- Blair gets a sibling! It's Rachel Bilson! (Or not. But she'll probably show up at some point. At least, we hope so.)

Are you looking forward to the return of Gossip Girl as much as we are? Or have you been waiting to sit down and absorb it all in one go?

It's like I always say: too much of a good thing is even better... so enjoy! xoxo!

image from amazon.com

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Science Fair for August 11th-17th.

Hi all! This is a bit of an abbreviated science fair, since by the time you read this, I'll be in foggy San Fransisco, shopping it up with my lovely co-bloggers. I've been traveling all over the place lately, but never fear, I'll be back at my blogging duties by this time next week.

-Over on dietblog, they've got a new suggestion for boosting the economy:start a diet.

-Meanwhile,NYMag.com reports on a possible MAC/Hello Kitty collection. While I think it would probably be cute, I'm just wondering how different it would be from the Barbie collection!

-While the Olympics are ongoing and interrupting my sleep schedule, the current blogosphere buzz is Michael Phelps and his diet. Oh carb loading, how I remember you well. I wouldn't recommend trying this at home though, dude's still got a way better metabolism than almost everyone.

-Peter Pan gets arrested! Okay, so it's actually a union strike, but the sensationalist headline is kind of fun, and a great way to get more attention to their cause.

And don't forget, Gossip Girl DVDs are out on Tuesday. (you thought I could write a Science Fair without mentioning my favorite UESs?)

Hope you all had a great weekend, I'm sure I am!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Out and About: August 16 and 17 -- ZOMBIES!!

This is a very important warning.

We have received word that there will be zombies attacking San Francisco tomorrow, specifically at 2:05 pm.

Do not go out to try to find them. Specifically, avoid these locations.

Do not wear an X of duct tape on your shirt. They are attracted to this. If you do not have a duct tape X on your shirt, you will be safe.

Be sure to follow the status of the zombie mob at @SFZombieMob so you can be sure to stay away and keep safe!

I am especially concerned because Kati is coming to visit this weekend (!!!), and the three Periodic Style ladies will all be in one place for the first time since last spring! We better be careful, so you look out, too!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Introducing Periodic Beauty Reviews!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved spin-off!

Lately we've been thinking more and more about writing beauty product reviews, what with Total Beauty and Beauty Hacks going on. But since Periodic Style isn't wholly about beauty, we felt it was appropriate to have a separate place just for all of the beauty talkin' and reviewin'. Of course we're still going to have beauty coverage here; we just think it's a good idea to have a place where, if you want to read more in-depth about it, you can!

Besides product reviews, we'll also be posting up the actual chat transcripts from when Kati and I truly just talk about stuff we've bought and are using. Who knows, if you want to chat about beauty goodies with one of us, you may end up as a guest contributor, too! (I will always ask -- and link! -- if so!)

The most important thing about Periodic Beauty Reviews (or PBR for short) is that it'll still be us, and we'll still have the same policies: full disclosure and transparency on our honest reviews, and no press releases.

So, with that, please come check out Periodic Beauty Reviews! We already have two product chats up and our first product review.

If you're already following @periodicstyle on Twitter, Periodic Beauty Reviews updates will also be tweeted there with the header "Periodic Beauty Reviews".

We'd love to hear what you think and what you'd like to see from us -- both here at Periodic Style and at Periodic Beauty!

image from periodicbeauty.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Feets of Summer

I don't know why, but my feet are bus-ted this summer. Seriously, they have never been this bad.

And I wonder -- is it the result of babying my feet that makes them so bad? I got a pedicure in May and was almost smug that my heels were in pretty good shape. Ha. Ha. That was in MAY. That wasn't even really summer yet! Apparently my karma caught up with me. But having soft sweet pretty feet in May just means they're going to get knocked around pretty badly for the rest of the summer.

I'm someone who gets embarrassed when I go to get something done. I know I'm not supposed to wash my hair before I get it colored, but I'm embarrassed if my hair's dirty. If my cuticles are banged up, I'll put off the professional manicure. And so ditto for pedicures. I don't want someone else to handle my feet if they're not already in good condition.

And so when I went for my Blissage in July, I was alarmed that part of the standard package is a paraffin foot pack. Aiyee! My feet! She'd be touching my feet! I apologized for the state of the feet (of course I did) and she said, "Oh, we've seen EVERYTHING." So that was kind of a relief.

Anyway, she recommended the Bliss Foot Patrol and Diamencel foot file for me to take care of my poor beat feet. I'm a little apprehensive about the file, especially since it's all "DO NOT USE ON WET FEET" which makes me think it's going to take off my pinky toe or something if I'm not careful. Still, I started using Foot Patrol last night and... well, we'll see. So far so good? As long as I don't have to wear socks to bed (which I did when I tried a Burt's Bees Foot Care Kit), it's okay by me.

For in the bath scrubbing, I've been using Sugarfoot in "Cookie" (which smells AMAZING, like snickerdoodles), and previously I've used Toe The Line from Bath & Body Works. While I liked Toe the Line, I didn't like that it left walnut shell gritty bits in the tub afterwards.

I'm hoping to get my feet feeling better soon, but I'd love to know what you do and what you think -- am I fighting against the tide? Did I inadvertantly bring it upon myself back in May? And what do you use to take care of your feet?

image from www.blissworld.com

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Science Fair for August 4th-10th

This week's Science Fair is super-duper mellow. I feel a cold coming on and these links made me rather happily distracted from my ever-present headache! Hooray!

-Out of the UK, the Daily Mail's "Femail" section is a veritable treasure trove of gossip about Victoria Beckham, random reality TV stars, and fascinating windows into the British woman's soul. They have features on women who suffered brain damage from extreme dieting and hyponatremia, teen pregnancy, and loads of other goodies. This week's highlight was profiles of three women who are devoted wives...circa 1950, 1940, and 1930. Meet the Time Warp Wives, guaranteed to give those Desperate bitches a run for their money!

-Moving right along with the retro-femme theme, Cooked Books shares with us some great resources on home canning, food safety, and the agricultural industry. All the foodie info websites you could ever possibly want, in one place! I also enjoy checking out HealthMap for new food poisonings and norovirus outbreaks.

-Eardrums Music, a blog with a great love for northern European indie-pop, shares with us the strings-and-vocals based Provkoket, and I think they're rather elegant. Provkoket reminds me of some of the earlier Arcade Fire, with the heavy cello and charmingly plaintive male vocals, what do you think?

-Nicole at Baking Bites finds the tart frozen yogurt sweeping the nation to be just too, well, tart, so she makes her own! Having lived on Tasti D-lite for the last three months in New York, I can say that all these "healthy" soft-serve places just don't taste right! Pinkberry is too sour with too-sweet toppings, and their green tea flavor tastes like nothing. We just got a Red Mango here in Ye Olde Hometown, but by all accounts it is not that great. We've even got a Pinkberry knock-off opening up! It's fro-yo madness, I tell you!

-Biggie, the preeminent bento-packing expert of Lunch In A Box and San Francisco-ite, has a new FAQ on everything you ever wanted to know about obento! My grandma always packs me obento before I go away from home for a while, for a plane trip, or just because she can. I have heard stories of kids getting beaten up and teased at school for having adorable Japanese-style packed lunches, though, hmm...

-Princess Poochie of Hello, Lover lets us into her awesomely cozy library. I love that it's an actual library, rather than a wimpy modern "den" or living room! A room, made for READING BOOKS, can you imagine it in this day and age?

Coming up soon in Karen-land will be a rare glimpse into the beauty regime of a totally lazy girl, wafer-thin beauty products, maybe something about babies, and a triple-play of snarky book reviews! Have a great week, everyone, stay cool!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How good are you to your good jewelry?

Some things are constants for me. For me, it tends to be some of the pieces of jewelry I wear.

I used to wear watches that weren't waterproof, so, being someone who likes to, oh, take baths at the end of the day, I'd take off my watch and forget to put it back on. Thus, waterproof watch. Always on. (I need to know when I need to be out of the shower by!) My mom sighs that I need a nicer one for when I dress up, and I probably do, but I haven't gotten around to really looking yet. Plus, said nice watch will need to cover my rockin' watch tan.

I also tend to cycle through pendant-and-chain necklaces that I'll wear 24/7 -- through showering, sleeping, the gym (well, I haven't been since April, so that doesn't count anyway), what have you. I have several Dogeared Jewelry necklaces that I've worn at different stages depending on what I've felt like (the single pearl, the silver circle, the amazonite drop, and then I just ordered the new Lovebug necklace). Right now I'm wearing this heart pendant from chocolateandsteel.etsy.com. However, I had to have it fixed twice -- the jump ring kept getting snagged on the chain and dropping off (which made my actual physical anatomical heart jump into my throat a couple of times), so I had a friend fix it with a sterling silver wire wrap (I also had the jump ring replaced, but it still fell off). While I'm relieved it's fixed, it's a terrible feeling when you're going about your normal day and all of a sudden your pendant is falling off your neck and onto the floor.

So that got me thinking: am I too hard on my jewelry? I have a silver ring with a dangling charm that swings and has completely eliminated some of the engraving from knocking against the ring itself. I'm not going to march my ring back to the store and demand they fix it -- I do know that there's going to be some wear and tear, especially if I'm wearing it every day.

Back in March, Wendy Brandes wrote about the fairy Prada bag and, in particular, taking care of your good jewelry. And while I'm not someone who pops off my jewelry as soon as I get home, it's extremely good advice, especially since when you make a true investment (both emotional and financial) in a piece like an engagement or wedding ring, you really do need to be taking care of it.

I'm definitely someone who errs on the side of "oh, that's my good jewelry, can't wear it". I'd think good jewelry would be able to stand up to more than cheaper costume jewelry, because of the higher quality of materials -- it won't turn my ears green, for one. But at the same time, I'm always worried about knocking a stone out (which is why I tend not to wear that kind of jewelry) or something falling off, which is why I tend to go with daily jewelry that doesn't have as high of a price point or sentimental value. And at the same time again, what's the point of having good jewelry that you can't wear?

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you have certain things you wear every day and some things that are for special occasions only? And for those every day pieces, do you wear them all day every day, or do they come off at certain times? Or are you not a jewelry person at all?

image from chocolateandsteel.etsy.com

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Know Your Limitations

--in heel heights, that is. Alcohol is also important, but you should already know that if you're over age 21.
Jeanne and I met up with some old friends last night for a little dinner and frozen yogurt. Lo and behold, where should we find ourselves but peering into the windows of our local shoe boutique? As we oohed and aahed over the impossibly high but beautiful stiletto heels and kistchy-cute platform pumps, a couple of our sportier friends remarked that they couldn't even imagine shopping for shoes like those. I believe the actual quote was, "I can't think of any reason why I would have to wear shoes like that in my life." When I refer to them as "sportier," I mean these are our friends who go biking on weekends in 100-degree weather instead of sitting in front of the TV with a nice tall glass of lemonade, as I am wont to do. They are the Sporty Spices of our group, while Jeanne is probably Baby Spice (as she was for Halloween one year, I think? No?), and I'm this close to being Scary Spice all the time now, with all the black I wear.

Their apprehension over lady-shoes got me to thinking. I was once like them. I was trained by my mother to reject high heels as a symbol of male oppression of women (at least that's what I remember) from childhood, but I'll be damned if those gorgeous pumps and kitschy heels don't get my heart all a-flutter. Now that I wear skirts and blouses that show off my figure like a big girl, I know I have to wear shoes to match. I learn by example, and I've seen it all. Classmates who show up to professional presentations in unhemmed dress pants, wrinkled, gaping sort-of dress shirts, and Birkenstocks. Co-workers who stumble around in stilettos only to be professionally hobbled by their actual physical inability to keep up at the office. Women who, after years of foot-mangling torture at the hand of cheap shoes, have to wear orthopedic sneakers all day.

I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I am a conservative shoe-shopper. I love the retro, vintage-inspired shoes, and I demand quality for the price, not to mention ARCH SUPPORT. Over the years, I've learned that indeed, arch support is the ticket to a great pair of shoes--it's really just a system of exchanges. I'm willing to invest a little chafed heel to be able to walk to work in my work shoes with a nice cushioning under the arch of my foot. I'll take room to wiggle my toes over heel height any day. So, in this vein, I considered the price we pay as women for high heels. Corns? Bunions? Hammer toes? Damaged ankles, knees, and backs? Why do we put up with all of that?

Why? Because we love it, I'll put it out there. I love wearing heels now. I feel confident, professional, put-together, and dare I say it, sexy. I do wear low heels, and I've come to realize that 2.5 inches is my max, lest I fall down and break my ankle. Navigating flagstones and gravel is still a challenge, but walking on carpet is a dream! (There's a reason I love Mad Men and I'm known around the office as having a "sort of...retro-nerdy librarian-sexy charm," true story. I like to imagine I'm like Joan Holloway+one of the phone operator girls.)

Allow me to illustrate this spectrum of heel heights using all grey and silver shoes by my favorite, arch-supporting designer, Brazilian-Japanese Chie Mihara:
From the ground-skimming flat as flat can be to the sky-high platform, I love and desire them all. What does it take to go from top to bottom of the spectrum in heel height? Are those stories of women's calf tendons snapping after years of heels all true? I believe women's biggest enemy in shoedom is lack of support, I wish all pumps had a good bit of arch support to them, and we could all stomach it for just a bit past five o'clock every day.

So, beyond getting your shoes custom-made to the curvature of your feet, what's a girl to do? If you're absolutely lost in shoe store, like our friends often are, just be adventurous. Try, try again! Once upon a time, I tried on a green velvet three-inch Marc Jacobs pump that was fifty percent off and nearly cried when it was far too small. I wouldn't have known that the vamp was too low and showed too much toe cleavage if I hadn't tried them on, though, so lesson learned! You don't have to cop out and stick with sneakers for the rest of your life. Branch out, experiment--you'll know soon enough if they don't work.

Above all, make sure that there's good arch support, and the heel height is both comfortable and serves to enhance you. Here are some more tips on how to find your perfect, comfortable shoe. Have you made any shoe sacrifices in the name of fashion lately? I'm trying to cut back on the shoe-coveting, personally...damn you, Zappos!

Images courtesy of ChieMihara.com and PiperLime.com.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The things I do for you...

I do a lot of things "for the blog". Last week was the end of the second round of the Great Mascara Experiment -- that's right, from May 1st to July 31st, I wore my mascara every day for the sake of science. I still have to put the dishes together again, and hopefully this time I'll get some conclusive results.

Anyway, I got to thinking of what other sorts of things I could do -- what other sorts of beauty things are we all curious about but no one really wants to try? What other beauty product myths ought to be put to the test? Or what products have tall orders to fill, and can they really be true?

So I'm asking you: what do you want me to try so that you don't have to? I've already bought myself a little something to test out on my next Big Night Out -- there's been chatter about them, but I haven't seen photo evidence of someone actually using them (besides the marketing photos, naturally). That's why I'm going to do it -- and take pictures -- for all of you. (And because it will likely be hilarious and ridiculous, but we SHALL SEE.)

I'm open to hear your suggestions, your questions, whatever beauty-ish thought has been nagging you, and maybe I'll do it so you don't have to...

image from sephora.com

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Science Fair for July 28th - August 3rd

Yay, weekend! Here's a brief little Science Fair for you with lots of movies and books!

- From Kat Dennings herself, here's the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist trailer. I am SO. EXCITED. for this movie.

- I will also admit to being more and more excited for the Watchmen movie, even though I didn't really like the comic all that much. Still, looking at the Comic Con posters, I'm really impressed.

- Another Jezebel link: Pretty Is as Pretty Does: The Middle-School Moment.

- I've read the first three Twilight books, and, if you've read them, you know that Breaking Dawn came out this weekend. If you want to win a free copy of Breaking Dawn, you can enter the Beauty Horror Stories held by Karen of Makeup and Beauty Blog.

- If you're intrigued by or a fan of Mad Men like Karen is, you should definitely be reading Glossed Over's Working Girl Wednesdays feature.

- And finally, for your next vacation, check out the destinations offered by these cool vintage-styled travel posters...

Have a great week!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Out and About: August 2nd and 3rd

Happy August! Can you believe July is over? It... was a really long month for me. We'll see how August goes!

Anyway, this weekend is my cousin S.'s hair show! I went in and got my blonde re-did so it's fresh and lovely for the show. It's going to be a really awesome show; while the emphasis is on the hair and not the fashion, S. has an amazing aesthetic and it'll definitely be some gorgeous eye candy. Plus you get the bonus of seeing me working the runway. Fierce? PERHAPS.

It's this Sunday at 8 pm at Space Gallery, which is on Polk.

And as a final plea: if you're an untreated blonde in the San Francisco area, S. needs you! Today! At 6 pm Pacific! (I know this is a shot in the dark, but it's worth a try!) You can get your hair done for FREE TODAY ONLY. S. needs an untreated blonde (or redhead!) to come into her salon today to go from naturally-blonde (or red!) to lighter-blonde (or red!). She can tint you back down to your natural color once she's done, but she needs you! Please email me at periodicstyle at gmail dot com ASAP if you're interested!

image from s.

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