Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

katie shaw hill cowl purple

“I haven’t felt like knitting for months,” a friend lamented last week. She has an excuse – after all, she had a baby this spring – but I agreed with her. After an absurdly long, cold winter, I couldn’t wait to exchange my heavy knitted cowls and hats for lighter scarves. I put down the needles in May and never looked back.

Recently, though, I’ve pulled out a few handknits as the chill in the air has grown more pronounced. I’m not ready for heavy-duty winter wear yet, but I’m enjoying the chance to wear fingerless mitts, or snuggle into a scarf or cowl with my favorite green coat. (I knitted the purple wrap above this winter, but had forgotten how soft and cozy it is.)

Also, as ever, the good folks at Innocent Drinks are sponsoring the Big Knit, encouraging people to knit wee hats for their smoothie bottles to raise money for Age UK. I’m easing back into knitting with these tiny hats – a few at a time while J and I watch football or catch up on Modern Family of an evening. (Bonus: they are so quick and satisfying!)

All this talk of knitting also has me browsing Ravelry for new patterns, and dreaming of bigger projects to knit for others or myself. My favorite yarn shop in Boston closed a couple of years ago, sadly, but I’m thinking I may have to order some yarn online soon.

Are you a seasonal crafter, like me? Any patterns you’re dying to knit (or crochet) this fall?

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september books hydrangeas

The Knockoff, Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
When Glossy magazine editor-in-chief Imogen Tate returns after a six-month leave, she’s horrified to find that her former assistant Eve has taken over and is planning to turn the magazine into an app. A whip-smart, wickedly funny satire of the fashion publishing world and our cultural obsession with digital media. I loved it, and I was rooting for Imogen all the way. Recommended by both Anne and Ann.

Named of the Dragon, Susanna Kearsley
Literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw gladly accepts her favorite client’s invitation to spend Christmas in Wales. Once she arrives, Lyn has a series of strange dreams about a woman imploring her to take care of a young boy being pursued by dragons. An atmospheric novel that weaves together themes of love, grief and Arthurian legend. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 6).

Death Wears a Mask, Ashley Weaver
London socialite Amory Ames and her husband Milo attend a masked ball. They’re on the lookout for a jewel thief, but no one expects murder. Amory assists the police in their investigation, while confronting rumors about Milo and a French film star. Witty prose, a well-plotted mystery and a sensitive portrait of a difficult marriage. (I also loved Weaver’s debut, Murder at the Brightwell.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 13).

Kissing in America, Margo Rabb
Since her dad died, Eva Roth has found solace in romance novels, much to the disgust of her feminist mother. When her crush finally notices her, Eva dares to hope for her own romance – but then he moves to California. Eva and her best friend take off on a cross-country road trip filled with wacky experiences and surprising epiphanies about love and grief. This is not a typical YA love story – it’s so much better. Complex, funny and poignant. Recommended by Rebecca on All the Books.

How to Write a Novel, Melanie Sumner
Aristotle Thibodeau, age 12.5, plans to write the Great American Novel (in 30 days!) and thereby solve her family’s financial problems. Her novel is autobiographical, but the characters (single mom, zany little brother, handsome handyman) just won’t behave as Aris  wants them to. Entertaining (though too cutesy at times); full of wry quips (and footnotes) on the writing life. Found at Island Books in Newport, RI.

A Demon Summer, G.M. Malliet
Father Max Tudor is called to a nearby abbey to investigate a suspected poisoning via fruitcake. Soon after he arrives, another abbey guest is found dead in the cloister. This was one of those mystery solutions where two-thirds of the relevant information comes out at the very end, which I always find unsatisfying. (Besides, I like Max’s village and wish he’d get back to solving mysteries there.)

Middlemarch, George Eliot
I read this for my occasional book club‘s August meeting. (Obviously, I did not finish it in time.) I found it quite tedious at times, but witty and full of truth at other times. A mixed bag, but a classic I’m glad I finally read.

Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson
Emily’s best friend Sloane disappears – with no explanation – right before the summer they’ve been planning. She leaves Emily a list of 13 unusual tasks. With the help of a few new friends, Emily completes the list and discovers a new side of herself. I love Matson’s YA novels (complete with plenty of playlists) and this one was no exception.

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

What are you reading?

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stripes silver flats

Summer, as I keep saying, is in full swing around here. And while I am loving the chance to wear skirts and sandals as I hang out in Harvard Yard or walk to the farmers’ market, I’ve also had a few Big Meetings lately. Between the heat, the humidity and the importance of said Big Meetings, I’ve found myself facing an all-too-familiar dilemma: what to wear?

I am not what you would call a fashionista. I grew up taking fashion advice (sometimes gracefully, sometimes grudgingly) from my trendy mom and sister (and borrowing their clothes). I still inherit hand-me-downs from either Mom or Betsy on my occasional trips home. (Those pieces often end up becoming my favorites.)

One of the things I love about working in higher education is its mostly-business-casual dress code. I do not own a suit, and I wear heels about three times a year. In the winter, my style uniform is a snap: a dress or a sweater-and-pencil-skirt combo with tights, my knee-high black boots or booties, and one of my many scarves. But summer is too hot for leggings and boots – and I struggle to feel like myself in pantyhose and blazers. So I’ve spent a little time lately figuring out my version of summer power dressing.

I suppose it’s no surprise that some of the elements I love year-round – stripes, cardigans, my favorite “brave” necklace, the silver hoop earrings I wear every day – figure into my summer power outfits. I’ve splurged on a couple of “dressier” dresses and dusted off my one pair of not-too-high black heels (though I carry my silver flats in my bag). I’ve spent more time ironing lately than I have in a long while. And I’ve remembered – again – that the most important element is confidence. I don’t need to buy designer clothes or rush out and buy a suit. I simply need to look – and feel – like the most polished version of myself.

What are your tips for summer power dressing?

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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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