Friday, September 26, 2008

Bigfoot: I Not Dead

I just picked up this book from Toronto author, Graham Roumieu. Wow, where have I been? I've always wanted a picture book written for grown ups and it looks like Graham's got quite a few of these under his belt already.

Very quirky, demented and laugh-out-loud funny. Love when Bigfoot is explaining where he's been and says, "Like OJ, just want run down highway for little while and clear name later". Or, describing his old neighborhood he says, "squirrels now bury rock of crack instead of nuts. Homeless bees everywhere"...

The images and hand-drawn text add another layer of humor to the story. I don't want to give everything away so run out and pick up your own copy at Amazon.com or other bookstores. Just don't leave it around the house for your kids to read or you may be answering some questions you aren't ready for!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

There's a New Blog in Town

That's right, not to be constrained by just one blog, I have now started another blog on Education called Education Matters.

I'm finding I have so much to say on that topic right now that it will take a whole other blog. We'll see if I can manage content for two different sites. In the meantime, check out the new blog and let me know what you think.

URL is: www.educationinspiration.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crazy Talk

video

CrazyTalk v5.1 from Reallusion is the greatest piece of software ever. Within 5 minutes (literally!) I was able to create this avi of our Puggottie Otto as a talking puppy! With a little more effort the possibilities are endless.

Only $49.95 for a dowloadable version it's a bargain! Create videos of your friends, family (babies!) and pets to send as e-cards, post to your website or load onto your cell phone. So intuitive and easy to use. Import your photos, line-up the eye and mouth guides and you are ready to create animations. It's really that easy.

You can record your own audio or use the text to audio feature to get a computer generated voice to speak whatever text you type in. I used one of the sample audio files that come with the program to create the video of Otto, but can't wait to experiment with my own audio files.

Look out for more Otto video in the near future!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Flashback

Cookie Monster

My grandmother had this green ceramic owl cookie jar when I was a kid that is probably the most vivid memory I have of her house. This orange wise owl Cookie Jar from Anthropologie ($128) reminds me of her cookie jar and my 70's childhood in all the best ways.

Hot Line

The Classic Kitchen Phone from Urban Outfitters ($54) is available online only. This phone is a tribute to famed designer Henry Dreyfuss, who created many of the now-classic telephone models made popular in the mid-20th century. This wall-mounted phone was originally designed to allow consumers to walk with the phone while cradling it on their shoulder. Unlike a true vintage phone, this one comes with a variety of modern features, including push button dialing, flash/redial button, ringer volume switch and tone/pulse modes.
Portable Tunes
Love this portable iPod or mp3 speaker ($72) inspired by vintage luggage and based on a 1930s design. Built in AM/FM radio wiht an Aux Input for your iPod/MP3 player, laptop or turntable. Included adapter allows you to conveniently select between wall power and batteries. Available for pre-order from urbanoutfitters.com.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Twelve Angry Men (and Women)

I've been on jury duty for the past 5 weeks, but unable to talk about the case until a verdict was reached. This is the first time I've ever been on a jury and have to say the experience was fascinating. Unfortunately I was only an alternate juror, so had to sit through the trial, but did not get to go through the deliberation process. However, I still recommend the experience of fulfilling one's civic duty.

The case that I was assigned to was a civil matter involving the City of Larkspur vs. Jacobs Engineering. The City of Larkspur was asking for damages of $20mil to replace the Bon Air bridge in Larkspur (at left). The city asserted that the work Sverdrup (which was acquired by Jacobs) had done in 1994 widening the bridge had actually damaged the bridge. Their claim centered on the fact that Jacob's had deliberately concealed information about this faulty work from the City.

I now know more about spalling (example at right is not of the Bon Air bridge), thermal expansion and expansion joints than I ever imagined. Both sides called a series of civil engineering experts to testify. We got to see a computer simulation of the thermal effects on the bridge produced by Dr. Astaneh-Asl which was interesting.

I have to say that the lead attorney for the City of Larkspur did an outstanding job of framing their case and cutting through all the information to get to the most salient points. If I ever had to go to court on a construction matter I would want to hire Mr. Spellberg. I wish I could say the same for the defense attorneys, but unfortunately I felt that they made things more laborious and tedious than they needed to be. The defense brought 17 huge binders of documents as evidence that their witnesses had to flip through and testify about and often it felt really extraneous and muddled.

The verdict reached last week did find Jacob's had deliberately conceald information about their work on the bridge and the city was awarded $8.3 million (See Marin IJ article http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_10513351). Jacobs could still appeal this decision so it will be interesting to see what happens here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boyfriend Jeans

The must-have denim style of the moment is the faded and ripped boyfriend jean worn slightly loose on the hips with pegged cuffs at the bottom. I have to say this style is growing on me, but the trick is how to keep this style from looking too sloppy or unfeminine. Katie Holmes favors Prps boyfriend jeans, but these have apparently sold old everywhere. Here are some other options below (some for pre-order, get them while they last!).

Genetic Denim
The oversized Ryder Boyfriend jeans in Torn Dark ($235) have a relaxed fit, button fly, simple patch pockets, oxidized hardware, and strategic abrasions which create a "lived in" effect. What I like about these jeans is that they contain 2% elasthane for a bit of stretch. Pre-order for late-October delivery from shopintuition.com.

Current Elliott
This boyfriend jean from Current Elliot in super loved destroy ($229) is best worn a little big. Distressing and holes throughout give them that lived in look. Reserve yours today for October delivery at singer22.com.


J. Crew

Not quite as baggy, but a similar silhouette, these straight-leg shredded Italian cotton denim jeans from j. crew ($135) are anchored on the hip and (if you are pretty slim) sit slightly away from the body without being overly baggy. They don't work on me, but I love the look!


Hollister & Co.

Okay, so these really are guys jeans, but I think if purchased in the right size could work for women. What I love about the Hollister jeans are all the great destroyed washes they have. The jeans pictured here are their men's Balboa straight destroyed in medium wash ($69.50). 100% cotton, medium wash, heavy fading, blown-out holes, handcrafted abrasions, nicking and grinding, torn hems, button-fly with a low-slung fit.


Levi's
Finally, there's the classic boyfriend jean--the 501. These Levi jeans are
cut in a relaxed boyfriend fit ($58) with a medium rise and button fly. Not in a destroyed wash, but the loose fit leg is perfect for pegging and rolling. This style is exclusive to Urban Outfitters.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Luxe Hippy

Cardigan

I hesitate to write about this paisley cardigan from Another Important Culture ($225)--I love it so much. Not sure I want anyone else to get one because I may never take mine off! The fabric is so soft and comfortable and the print is in the most amazing shades of teal, blue and green. My absolute favorite piece of clothing at the moment. Great over a white tank, a pair of jeans and cowboy boots. Available from Planet Blue.


Another Important Culture

It's worth noting that there are some other great pieces from this label on their website, but unfortunately not sure where they can be purchased. Love the fact that this label was established to "cater to the sophisticated bohemian woman. The collection is inspired by alternative beauty, finding balance within the contrasting worlds of San Francisco in the early 60's and a Russian circus in the 70's".


Boots

The Fiona Boot from Frye ($298) looks like the greatest pair of early seventies boots. Lace up style with hidden zipper at the inner side for easy on and off. Love the fact that they are bohemian, but still polished. Available from shopbop.com.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Têtes à Claques

I'm so excited that these great animated shorts from Quebec are now available in English! The relaunched website is tac.tv. Unfortunately, not all of same videos that are available on the French site are available in English. However, there is still a decent selection up there in English.

I have to say that even though it's nice to have them in English, for some reason the French versions are funnier to me. If (like me) you know French, but may not know all of the colloquialisms of Canadian French or be able to keep up with the speed of the dialogue, you can also get subtitles of the French videos in "International French". Now I've been able to go back and watch the French versions and make sure I didn't miss anything.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Elaine Kim

Keep an eye out for Elaine Kim's new collection. Elaine Kim was the co-owner and creative force behind the Los Angeles boutique, Ecru, where I worked briefly many years ago. Elaine previously had a womenswear label called Product and now, after a break, she has launched her self-titled label--Elaine Kim.

The pieces in her Fall 2008 collection have clean-lines, but with a slight edge--definitely modern, but still feminine. I love the sculpted knits and blazers and the simple palette of charcoal and grey.

Looks like for now distribution is limited to New York and Europe, but will keep my eye out for this line in online retailers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tie-neck Blouses

I'm on the hunt for a great Fall blouse with tie at the neck that I can wear with pencil skirts and feminine cardigans. Here's a few that I have my eye on.


Animal Instinct

This sheer silk blouse from Rebecca Taylor ($275) comes with it's own cami. Love the long tie and this print would like great with jeans or a black pencil skirt. Available from Planet Blue.




Luscious Berry

This silk blouse from Victoria's Secret ($88) comes in a great shade of raspberry. Love the generous tie and the blousey sleeves and what a great price!


Electric Avenue

This silk charmeuse blouse from Hunter Dixon ($295) comes in three vivid hues: rich purple, shocking pink or electric blue sing. Bow-tie it up or let the tails trail for a less fussy effect.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Corset Rings

I love the look of a corset, but it's hard to fit them into everyday ware. Here's a more comfortable way to wear a corset everday with these great corset rings.


Sophie Gardner Jewelry
Sophie Gardner's jewelry draws from the design of ancient and modern worlds. This sterling silver "Synched" Corset Ring ($190.00) is sexy but still polished. Available from Auto. You can check out all of Sophie Gardner's jewelry on her website.

Spragwerks
Spragwerks makes a much more rugged and rustic version of the corset ring ($160). This oxidized silver version is hand forged. Also available in silver & gold and bright silver. Available at spragwerks.com.

Alexander Draven

This sterling silver corset ring from Alexander Draven is a bargain at only $50! Available from Exquisitecorpse.com.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

Oak

This New York store has an online outlet with all kinds of great pieces with a bit of a rock 'n roll vibe. Here's just a few of my favorite items from their website.

Mary Meyer Fleece Cape

This cotton cape ($194) has oversived doman sleeves and a long attached scarf that you can tie in a variety of ways. Cool as an outerwear piece or just as a sweater.

Mouthprint Poncho

This light and airy white turtleneck has open sides and long ties to attach at the waist ($294). Love the black screen print of a large mouth.


Leather Gloves

I love these studded leather driving gloves from Ksbui ($94). Black leather fingerless gloves with silver studding and a velcro closure. Fierce!



Oxford Bootie

There are so many great boots on this site it's hard to pick a favorite. However, I do like these black oxford booties ($194) with a fringed flap and a 2.5” covered heel from All Black.


Button Booties
These platform booties from Ash ($274) have a great architectural heel in wood. Smoking grey leather with four button closure and 5" heel. How much more rock 'n roll can you get?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Deals & Steals

Sequin Cardigan

This pewter sweater embellished with sequins from Jcrew has been marked down from $450 to just $139.99! Plus right now you can take an extra 20% off all sale items at Jcrew.com. I love this look dressed down with a t-shirt and jeans, but would also be great for the holidays paired with some tuxedo pants.

Sequin Tank
This Vanessa Bruno sequin tank is available in jet black as well as an irridescent blue. Right now it's marked down from $1,199 to just $359.70 at shopbop.com. This is an absolutely stunning piece for that night on the town.

Metallic Sandal
I love this Michael Kors criss cross sandal available in either gold or silver. Originally $285 they are now marked down to only $85! Get them while they last. Available at shopbop.com.
Ombre tote

I have a green ombre bag very similar to this one from Kiss Me Quick that I get tons of compliments on. Not on sale, but still a great price this vinyl version is available from amazon.com for only $34.95!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kimonos

I've been thinking about sewing a kimono for myself so was doing some online research to get an idea of what they look like. In the process I found a couple good sites for purchasing a vintage kimono. Some of these are so beautiful I would rather hang them on the wall them wear them. However, I think I may invest in one of the more simple ones to wear out.

Ichiroya Kimono Flea Market

This site is organized by kimono style and has an extensive selection of vintage and contemporary kimonos. I tend to like the Furisodes which are the elaborate kimonos often worn for coming of age ceromonies.

Some of the vintage garments are quite expensive. For example, I like the vintage Furisode above for $600.

Many of the more simple kimono's on the site are in the $50-$120 range. For example, this vintage vermillion kimono with a fan motif is $120.


This site does not have as wide a selection, but does have a decent collection of 1970's Furisode's and kimonos that are reasonably priced.

I like this 1970's Furisode (above) for $180. Or this unused vintage purple kimono at right for $60 that still has the basting stitches in the sleeves!

Back to Basics

The Pencil Skirt

This stretchy double knit skirt from Vince ($185) is amazing. Seaming in the front and back is flattering. Since the skirt has stretch it fits like a glove and is great on curvy figures. Definitely my number one go to piece for fall. Available at nordstrom.com.



The White Shirt

This wrap version of the classic white shirt is much more figure flattering. Stretch cotton makes it easy to move and enables a closer fit. I picked up a similar wrap blouse from Jones NY. This one from Pauw with French cuffs and an attached tie waist is available at Saks.

Platform Pump

The best thing about these Marc Fisher peep-toe pumps ($89) is the rubber soles. Although they have a 4" heel they are quite comfortable. The rubber strap also help to keep your foot firmly in place. I was able to wear them for an 8 hour day where I was on my feet quite a bit without any problem. Available from Macy's.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Propoganda Art

Personalized Oil Painting

The website Maopost was featured on Photojojo last week for their personalized propaganda paintings. For around $179-$199 USD you can send in a photo of yourself and receive a hand-painted oil painting in one of the many different propaganda poster styles. I happen to like the one at left, "Toughen yourself by braving the wind and the waves". There are examples of the before photos and resulting paintings on the website.

If you're not inclined to feature yourself in your artwork, the site also has some authentic posters for sale. I like this poster at right from 1970, "Strictly guard against sudden attacks from our enemies" ($175).

Reproductions

A less expensive option for Chinese propaganda art, this site offers a variety of reproduction posters for around $30. I like this one which literally reads "Communes are good" ($30), but apparently means something more like "Be happy".

Allposters.com also offers an interesting selection of reproduction propaganda posters for sale. You can search by country and there are posters from France, Russia, Britain, Italy and the US.


I like the Absinthe (green fairy) abolition posters like this Swiss poster ($69.99) from 1910 on the right. Or, the posters depicting the horrors of alcohol like this French poster of the alcohol tree.

I also love some of the Russian political poster reproductions on this site like this one of wings with one red feather.

Or, this one with the woman sprinkling roses on the crowd. My Russian is a little rusty these days so if anyone knows what these say let me know!