Squirt Them Velociraptors

My friends, if there is anything that can lure me away from my graduate work, it is my dedication to keeping you all safe from the dreadful scourge that has infiltrated our intrepid cities and impersonated our friends. I cannot neglect my annual Velociraptor Awareness Day post. In the years past, I have covered basic Velociraptor safety tips and fashion for non-victims. It would be wise of you to refresh your memories, for such important information should not be overlooked or left to fester in some long-forgotten back room of the mind.

One of my personal favorite deterrents to the scoundrel Velociraptor is Concord grape juice. Science is not sufficiently advanced to tell us exactly why these creatures seem so averse, but nonetheless grape juice, especially when squirted into the eye of an oncoming attacker, is a necessary addition to any well-stocked arsenal. One of the best methods of administering the grape juice compound is the squirt gun, or super soaker.

It occurred to me recently, however, that many water-shooting devices are quite ugly, especially for the style-conscious reader of a blog such as this. To assuage those who deplore the loss of their stylishness for the sake of Constant Vigilance, I have compiled a list of

The Bestest, Most Stylishist Grape Juice Squirting Devices

Best for Stealth: The Water Weenie Super Squirt
Shrivels up after use to hide in a purse or messenger bag.

Best for Accuracy: Stream Machine
You control every aspect of this minimalist assault weapon.

Best to Raise Awareness: Space Squirt Guns
Distribute these to your friends as you warn them of Velociraptor attacks.

Classic: Super Soaker
Never goes out of style.

Keep your favorite juice-blaster stocked with grape juice at all times, and it will not betray you even in the advent of great peril. Hide a few around your home or place of business, and keep a mental map of potential reloading stations should the need arise. Even one person armed against a velociraptor can change the course of an ambush; always be prepared.


Hufflepuffs are Particularly Good Finders

Two years ago, when you first watched  A Very Potter Musical on youtube, did you expect Darren Criss (otherwise known as Harry Freakin’ Potter) to be the latest breakout sensation on the pages of Teen Vogue?


Yeah, me neither.

But there he is, fresh from the horribly-written plots of Glee to the magazine tear that I’ll stick on my wall next week and plaster with AVPM quotes. There’s something about the I-Knew-Him-When-He-Was-Just-Another-Youtube-Meme of this whole thing that warms the cockles of my heart.

He certainly wears “quirky” well. I’m diggin’ the suspenders, and I’ve always been a sucker for a good plaid shirt with a suit.

Watch out, mainstream entertainment. The internet is here.

Bit by the Design Bug

I spent a lot of today watching Sarah’s House on HGTV.com and reading through the archives of The Brass Petal. This was probably preceded at some point by a visit to Design*Sponge (especially the Living In category…swoon) and/or The City Sage. This was probably followed by lamentations on how I cannot afford a Pendleton blanket/crystal chandelier/vintage wingback chair.

But! Design is not dependent on money. That is one of the greatest things about it–if you have an eye and some moxie, it doesn’t matter if you have Jonathan Adler on call to make you some lamps, or if you have the latest version of Photoshop on your computer. As long as you keep in mind the limits of your budget and materials (stretching them is good; pointing them out is not), creativity can flourish. It usually does in tough situations more than easy ones.

I’ve moved since the last design post I made, and my new place is has a lot more style. It was built in the 1930s, instead of the ’80s, and has rockin’ hardwood floors, plaster walls and some cool built-ins instead of creepy industrial carpet and cinderblock walls. So the itch to design isn’t as urgent, but at the same time, I know if I put some effort into my place, it will look really, really neat. The only problem here, of course, is budget. And the fact that I am renting and therefore cannot paint (my sooooul, it perishes).

However, I’m in luck. Emily at Brass Petal posted a link to some awesome-tacular wall ideas at Shop Ruche. Like making flowers out of paper (been there, done that), using books as wallpaper (sacrilege!), or–the best–using fabric as wallpaper. With cornstarch paste, so easy cleanup and no wall damage. HOW COOL IS THAT. Now I am determined to find some ridiculous amazing fabric (or even vintage sheets) to brighten up my place.

I’m obsessed with the idea of plastering this amazing pattern on the walls of my kitchen, but at $9 per yard, I doubt that’ll happen. Bargain bin, plzkthx?

Chaussures de Victoire

When the weather gets hot, I usually take a break from fashion. The last thing I want to be when I’m melting and sweat is sticky on my skin is particular about how I look. A sundress and some cute sandals are fine, with minimal makeup. Maybe a hat or some earrings when I’m feeling fancy.

But every year around this time, I start itching for fall. Even though the thought of wearing a sweater makes my skin crawl, I find myself yearning for crisp autumn air, for my lovely winter coats and sturdy shoes, for the excitement of new school clothes. So I start planning. Since 2007, I’ve been rather enamoured with the idea for a wardrobe based on a hip version of Minerva McGonagall. Kind of tweedy-professor-meets-Daphne-Guiness. For the last couple summers I’ve gotten really excited about it, thinking about how to make the Staid British Professor into someone young and fun. I’ve always loved tweeds and jackets and boots, but I also love bright colors and weird jewelry and architectural detailing. And I always thing “THIS YEAR! This will be the year I will actually carry it out!” It never is. I have enough cold-weather clothes to last me a long time; I don’t (and can’t) buy more. I have to work with what I have, which is a lot of all-American knitwear left over from my undergrad years. I’ve been slowly but surely moving in a more fulfilling direction, but it’s going to take a while.

Except I’ve just gotten a jump start. A few months ago, I walked past this delicious pair of Oxford brogues in the window of a little shoe shop on 23rd. They were laceless and kind of nude colored, and I thought they were the prettiest brogues I had ever seen (and trust me, I’ve been looking). This weekend, I was up on 23rd again with my friend Ch., and I spotted them again–I thought they would be long gone by now–so tried them on. They fit perfectly, and are truly some of the best shoes I’ve ever put on my feet (the brand is Pour la Victoire). They’re also quite expensive.

But I put them on hold anyway and inquired about a layaway plan. Then I went home and researched a little. And I found them for $50 less than I would pay in the store, $95 less than the retail price. So I evaluated my finances, steeled myself, and bought them online. Sorry, little shop. I’m getting new shoes this week!

Year the First

One year ago today I made the first posts on this blog. (I still have that photo of Uncle Karl on my bulletin board, too.) This year I’ve made some strides in refining my personal style, have discovered that my interest in fashion is on the anthropological level rather than the breaking-news level, and have explored some awesome perfumes. I’ve even managed to attract a few readers!

To all of you who’ve read and comment on my chattering in the past year: thank you. You rock. And stay tuned–I still have a few posts up my sleeve.

The Last-Minute-And-Probably-Too-Late-Anyway-But-Oh-Well Gift Guide

There are some Christmases (or birthdays or any other holiday, really) when I finish my shopping early, and have thoughtful, lovely presents for everyone on my list. They’re wrapped with gorgeous paper and tied with bows. I stayed within budget, and some are possibly even handmade. However good my intentions may be, though, those Christmases tend to be infrequent (read: almost never).

Fortunately for me, I finished my shopping today. But as I wandered the aisles of my favorite gift store (no, really) I started thinking about what to do if I totally mucked up and didn’t get someone a present. Instead of presenting somebody with an I-Obviously-Bought-This-At-The-Grocery-Store-On-The-Way-Here gift, go for the gusto. Wallow in your lateness. Make the most of it. Give your person a gift that is so magnificently unexpected, so hilarious, so MIND BOGGLINGLY ASTOUNDINGLY AMAZING, they’ll forget it was even late.

For instance, take the book Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir. This would be a good gift for anyone with a sense of humor. If you don’t know anyone with a sense of humor, give it to outdoorsmen, conspiracy theorists or aspiring writers. You can buy a copy here.

Consider a lifesize cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen. I know this seems like a serious gift, but it all depends on who you give it to, and how. For maximum impact, plop a Santa hat on Eddie’s head, hide him in your recipient’s closet (or if you live in a temperate climate, outside a window) and start a countdown. When you hear shrieks, you know your gift has been discovered. This works best for people who hate Twilight, literature majors or people who don’t like undressing in front of other people. Bonus points for WD-40. You can buy one here.

What is possibly the best food on earth? Bacon. What is the best way to save money? Take a brown bag lunch to work. How can you prevent your apples from getting squished? A lunchbox. How can you give the greatest gift ever: a way to save money and protect food in the magic of bacon? A bacon lunchbox, of course! In the entire history of lunchboxes, this one is clearly the best. Give this to your favorite teacher, construction worker or cubicle-dweller. Give it to your favorite chef. Give it to anyone who eats. (Protip: fill it with (cooked) bacon for a baconstravaganza.) You can buy one here.

The Tauntaun Sleeping Bag is perhaps the pinnacle of ThinkGeek.com merchandise (and let me tell you, they have thought up some amazing things). I still haven’t figured out why somebody hasn’t done it sooner! What could be warmer than the thought of snuggling up in a pile of steaming intestines? Send this to your favorite smallish child, animal rights activist or your friend who just bought a ticket to Siberia. You can find it here, if it hasn’t sold out yet.

If you bestow this beaded headdress on one of your friends, it proves two things. One: Lanvin was producing just as many beautiful clothes in the 20s as it is today. Two: you have impeccable taste and know your fashion history. And the best part? Your recipient will look fabulous in it. Give this to your local fashionista, your most recently engaged friend, or your favorite Josephine Baker impersonator (perhaps with a few bananas). You can order it here.

Thus concludes this awesomely awesome gift guide of awesome (patent pending). If there’s anything you can learn from this advice, it’s this: do your Christmas shopping early. But if you can’t, don’t freak out and play it safe. Go for something weird. ‘Cause when the wrapping paper hits the floor and your recipient suddenly announces her hatred of Bigfoot/Twilight/bacon/Star Wars/Lanvin, she can always regift it, right? Right.

Apartment Love

Because really, we are all homemakers. It’s a sort of default position.
Many people aren’t particularly great at it, and live lives of discomfort
in barren spaces filled with soulless objects, but in the act of living
in a space, we are making it a home, either successfully or not….
Even Cleveland

Let me tell you right now: I’m grateful for my living arrangements. My roommate’s pretty cool and owns couches, there’s a kitchen with an actual working oven, and I can hang pretty much every poster I possess on the walls. I’m warm and dry, with a place to sleep and eat–basic necessities are covered.

Basic necessities? Yes. Do I feel at home? Not so much yet. If I had moved here from my last place, a house I shared with three roommates, the transition wouldn’t have been so weird. But last year I moved back with my parents to save money, and so I stayed in my old room. I love that room–it’s a product of the last many years of my life, all homey and confused and colorful. It’s one of those places I can relax in, where I can just be myself.

I recently stumbled upon Even Cleveland, where a post on homemaking really made me think twice about my new living space. I want to feel comfortable here, like I belong. My apartment needs to be a place I love. Since I have limited funds to make this happen, I turned to the internet for inspiration. There are some absolutely fantastic small spaces floating around out there–and the ones featured on Apartment Therapy are beautiful and inspiring (and functional!). I’m practically drooling all over the home tours. [Click a photo for a look at the entire home.]

I love love love the Japanese lanterns in the photo–I should break mine out and see what I can do with them.

The vibe of this room is so nice– chic and traditional, but still cozy. The framed map is a neat idea, too.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for Gothic arches, for dark wood, for random staircases. Now I just have to figure out how to install these architectural features in my apartment.

That couch just begs for a slow afternoon of reading and tea. Also a cat.