Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

brookline booksmith interior twinkle lights

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, Alan Bradley
I love Flavia de Luce, that snarky sleuth with a passion for poison. In her seventh adventure, Flavia is shipped off to boarding school in Canada, where (of course) she finds a mystery to solve. It was interesting to see Flavia in a new setting, but I missed her family and the usual supporting characters.

Wearing God: An Exercise in Enriching Our Spiritual Imagination, Lauren F. Winner
Winner explores some overlooked metaphors for God: clothing, laughter, flame, fragrance – with anecdotes from her own life and from the class she teaches at a local women’s prison. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. The introduction blew me away. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 31).

The Mislaid Magician: Or Ten Years After, Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Cousins Cecy and Kate (and their husbands) are at it again – trying to solve another magical mystery. A missing German magician, a highly unusual sheepdog, and the budding magical abilities of Cecy’s children all play a part in this epistolary novel. Witty and fun, like the previous two books.

Mademoiselle Chanel, C.W. Gortner
Coco Chanel was provocative, acerbic and bewitching – as is this novel about her life. Absorbing, heartbreaking and salacious. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 17).

Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, John O’Donohue
O’Donohue is a poet and mystic, and his exploration of beauty in all its forms is best digested in small doses. Sometimes a bit abstract, but full of lovely words. Given to me by a beloved teacher who remains a friend (a mystic himself).

Mrs. Tim Christie, D.E. Stevenson
I loved this witty, gentle, entertaining novel – the diary of an English officer’s wife between the wars (based on the author’s own diary). Mrs. Tim and her adventures are utterly delightful. First in a series.

A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory, Sara Midda
My mother-in-law gave me this little illustrated book for Christmas. Whimsical and evocative, full of watercolors, food memories and a few recipes.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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tealuxe teapots tea

  • Tea towels. Every time I walk past Anthropologie or browse on Etsy, I spot colorful, quirky towels splashed with flowers, fruit, dachshunds or whimsical maps of my favorite cities. Even without a dishwasher, I’ll never have that many dishes waiting to be dried.
  • Coffee mugs. I have a couple dozen, but I fall in love with new ones all the time. (However, my mug shelf is crowded enough to prevent new arrivals, at least for now.)
  • Pairs of ballet flats. Cute, comfortable and functional. (I really do need some new red ones, as mine are starting to fall apart.)
  • Whimsical art prints. Which are nearly as ubiquitous as tea towels, sometimes featuring the same artwork. I don’t have nearly enough wall space for all the goodness out there.
  • Scented candles. I finally splurged on a Volcano candle from Anthropologie last month, and I love it. I also love the Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles, but I usually wait until they go on 2-for-1 sale.
  • Notepads. I like Moleskine-size journals, but I buy far more small, funky notepads than I can actually use. Ditto Post-Its, and stationery in general.
  • Graphic tees, though they’re not really work-appropriate wear. I have tees featuring llamas, the Boston skyline, Coronado Island (near San Diego), the covers of several books (from Out of Print), and a favorite slogan from Harper Perennial: “Read Wisely.”
  • Striped tees. I have a stripes addiction.
  • Yarn, though it’s easier not to buy yarn in the summer when just thinking about a pile of it on my lap makes me sweat. (Ditto scarves, knitted and otherwise.)
  • Blends of tea. Especially black blends flavored with fruit or spices. And teapots, tea strainers and other tea paraphernalia. But you knew that already.
  • Books. Obviously.

What could you buy a million of?

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It is (finally) feeling springlike here in the Northeast – the trees are budding, the crocuses are sprouting, the air smells of damp earth (and mulch), and our students are wearing flip-flops around campus. I’m sure we’ll have more chilly days, but I’ve got a vase of daffodils on my desk and a little spring fever in my fingertips.

I’ve been making spring plans for weeks, it seems, so here’s a list of the fun things I’d like to do, try and taste this spring:

  • Watch for crocuses, daffodils, blooming trees and tulips. (Pictured above: daffodils in Oxford, spring 2008.)
  • Fly down to Texas later this month, for a work conference and a weekend with family.
  • While I’m there, eat as much Tex-Mex food as I can. (Obviously.)
  • Wear brightly colored shoes. (My silver flats and new bright green loafers are begging for a few long walks.)
  • Bake with rhubarb.
  • Continue the #100happydays photo challenge. (Loving it.)
  • Treat myself to a pedicure (maybe while I’m in Texas).
  • Celebrate my husband’s 30th birthday in early May.
  • Host a spring-cleaning clothing and book swap.
  • Make some summer travel plans.

What’s on your list for this spring?

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winter gear essentials

This winter. I mean, seriously.

A blizzard that prompted a snow day, wild swings from mid-50s to single digits in the same week, piles of powdery icing-sugar snow that melted into gray sludge, only to refreeze into hard, icy lumps. And it’s not even the end of January.

This is my fourth Northeastern winter, and the third one with significant amounts of snow. By now, we know the drill: stock up on tea, warm socks and heating oil; buy ingredients for soup; pull out the down coats and the heavy-duty boots; and hunker down. Winter comes to Boston to stay a while.

I tell people, over and over, that the right gear makes a huge difference in how I survive the winter. Here’s the stuff that is saving my life this winter:

  • Keen snow boots, bought at the end of last season when my old ones (inherited from my sister) gave up the ghost. Lightweight, warm and waterproof.
  • My down coat – knee-length, hooded and toasty. (I got mine way on sale at an Eddie Bauer outlet several years ago.)
  • Fleece-lined tights, which Santa put in my stocking.
  • A bright cocoon coat. (I own the green one above, though they’re not selling that color this season.)
  • My enormous collection of tea. (The blend above is from Harney & Sons.)
  • And the mug my sister bought me to drink it in.
  • Tiny, tart-sweet, zesty clementines.
  • Lip balm, cuticle salve and hand lotion. (I love Burt’s Bees so much.)
  • My new slippers (a Christmas gift from J).
  • The electric blanket J bought two Christmases ago.
  • All the knitted cowls (I have five) and cozy scarves.

By the way, that image up there is my very first Photoshop collage. Color me proud!

What are your winter gear essentials? I’m always looking for more secret weapons against the cold.

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It’s cold around here (despite the freak 60-degree day we had – with heavy rain – the week of Thanksgiving). It will be cold for months to come. The last vestiges of my summer/early fall wardrobe have been relegated to the back of my closet or the dresser in the spare room. And my winter style uniform has reappeared.

katie green coat harvard yard

I work in a business-casual office environment (higher education). Most of my colleagues don’t wear suits (unless they have important meetings), but we also don’t wear jeans, even on Fridays. (This is one reason I sometimes wear jeans to church on Sundays: because I can’t wear them during the week.)

I also commute on public transportation, often through rain, snow and slush in the wintertime. I need polished, professional (but not overly buttoned-up) clothes, and shoes that will support my feet (and keep them dry). Over the past few years, I’ve gradually pulled together a winter style uniform, some variation of which I wear almost every day.

The formula looks like this: sweater/tee + scarf + pencil skirt + tights/leggings + boots.

If it’s raining or snowing, I wear my red wellies or snow boots and carry a pair of flats in my bag. I now own five winter coats: three wool, two down. (Plus a lighter trench coat for warmer, rainy days.) I have a growing collection of handknit hats. I own a few dresses I love, and sometimes I swap the sweater/skirt combo for a dress/cardigan or tunic/tee pair.

Here’s what I know: I feel more like myself in soft separates rather than crisp button-downs. I’m not big on busy patterns, but I do love stripes. I own a dozen or so scarves, which I swap out according to the colors of my outfit (and the weather: freezing temps call for warm handknit cowls). I’ve begun experimenting with bolder tights – red, purple or a brand-new teal pair. My black riding boots get a real workout in the winter, though I also own a brown pair. And I rotate my coats – especially my new jade-green one, above – according to weather and mood.

Most of the time, I love this uniform. It’s smart, proper, warm and stylish, and it means I don’t have to deal with wet, dragging pant hems (my least favorite thing), damp socks, or ironing in the morning (or the night before). It also saves me from having to make too many decisions while I’m rushing around in the morning (unless the tee or skirt I wanted to wear is in the laundry). I function much better if I can put off decision-making until after my first cup of tea.

But sometimes, I get a little bored with my uniform – especially because I know I’ll be wearing it for several (cold) months to come. So, stylish readers, any inexpensive tips for jazzing up my standard style formula? I’m all ears.

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I turned 30 last month, which felt rather momentous and completely ordinary at the same time. I’ve never been one to worry over milestone birthdays, but I did enjoy marking this one with our trip to Montreal, and of course, I loved the cards and gifts from family and friends.

Katie Gibson-4

For the past few years, I’ve made a list of things I want to do, try, accomplish and/or enjoy before my next birthday. I crossed off many of the items on last year’s list, but I am feeling less ambitious this year. (Besides, I’m already working on my fall manifesto.)

But I do love a good list, so here’s my fresh, new, slightly shorter one:

1. Try a new-to-me author every month, including the list of Canadian authors sent to me by a Canadian friend.
2. Knit myself a pair of cozy slippers (probably from this book).
3. Visit Nantucket.
4. Buy a go-to neutral handbag (black or brown).
5. Fly to San Diego to visit our friends who live there.
6. Go to the dentist (carried over from last year).
7. Visit Prince Edward Island.
8. Attend a carol service at Harvard.
9. Spend at least one lovely long weekend in NYC.
10. Visit a place I’ve never been. (Three of the above items qualify for this one.)
11. Get a massage (my husband bought me a gift certificate for my birthday).
12. Develop a regular exercise routine.
13. Write something I can be proud of.

(Photo by the talented Kristin.)

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yellow tulips longfellow appian way spring

  • When I successfully hand- or machine-wash an article of clothing labeled Dry Clean Only, saving on present and future dry-cleaning bills.
  • When I schedule a haircut, dental appointment or other nagging, grown-up life admin item.
  • When I return all my library books on time.
  • When I keep a plant alive through the winter.
  • When I put together an outfit of which my fashionista sister and mother would be proud. (This often involves at least one piece of clothing or jewelry given to me by one of them.)
  • When I have a successful phone conversation with someone I don’t know. (There are few things I dread more. Sometimes I actually pray for people not to answer the phone.)
  • When I pull off a new, complicated recipe or knitting pattern.
  • When I finish a difficult book.
  • When I send off a well-written book review. (Extra points if it’s a review of a difficult book.)
  • When I successfully navigate a new city, particularly if I do it by instinct.
  • When I buy a gift for someone and they love it.

What makes you feel absurdly, disproportionately, proudly accomplished?

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