Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sequins: Cliche Year-End Summary Of… Books?

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a fashion and crafts blog. Although if we want to play semantics, it’s supposed to be a moose blog. Really, it’s Sequins & Stripes’ blog, and while I won’t speak for Stripes, I will say that I’ve never considered myself anywhere near the realm of potential fashion blogger.

No no, what I am is a nerd. I gravitate towards that term seamlessly. I’m a book nerd, a clothes nerd, a crafts nerd, a comics nerd, and occasionally a gaming nerd. Mostly, though, above all else, I’m a book nerd. Thus this post.

Back story: I graduated from college during the “off season”–that is, during the end of fall, and not during spring. This meant that the budding of my post-grad life aligned itself perfectly with the dawn of a new calendar year. I knew I would spend the first half of 2011 working part time, before it evolved into a full-time position in July. I’ve always been one for grand, elaborate schemes, and the large stacks of books I received as Christmas presents inspired me to outline my “life goal” of 2011.

I would read. A lot.

Feel free to pause and take a moment to snicker, or perhaps roll your eyes at the lack of any shock in that goal. I already do read. A lot. It’s kind of my thing. yet I wanted to take it further, so I decided to log every book I read, including start date, finish date, and a brief summary of my thoughts. It worked amazingly well, and I’ve noticed a consistent depth to my reading, as well as promptness in finishing books (whereas in previous years I tend to be a bit lazy with books I find uninspiring).

Total books read for 2011: 50

So in honor of cliche year-end blogging lists everywhere, I made a list of my top picks. The criteria for each book listed is twofold: 1) I read it in 2011 and 2) I liked it more than others I read in 2011. *Note: this means that a lot of these books didn’t come out in 2011. So don’t be shocked. They also aren’t listed in any order of preference–they were all amazing reads!

1Q84, Haruki Murakami
This is one of the few books I read that actually came out in the year I was reading it. I’m a really big fan of Murakami, but I always find that his weakness in writing is that he forgets he has readers–that is, sometimes he forgets to explain, in however rudimentary and simple of way, his leaps in his fantastical logic. This book was an excellent sample of his writing, though, and I think it is his best to-date. He manages to maintain that crazy fantasy of alternate realities and creative remixing of worlds while still letting the reader follow him along in the story, instead of chasing after his train of thought.

Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
I’m a big fan of Russian authors, so when a friend of mine recommended this novel I jumped on it. And I’ve seriously been jumping on it ever since–I friggin’ loved it. It’s one of the more modern Russian novels I’ve read (not that it’s modern–it was published in the 1930s), and it’s just proven that I need to continue with this fan-girl approach to Russian writers. This novel is hilarious, snarky, and impressive, considering it was written during the height of Russian censorship, and manages to mock that very censorship. The writing of the book is an example of the power of the human spirit, and the book itself is just this fabulous middle-finger to the politics that Bulgakov was experiencing.

Al Jazeera, Hugh Miles
I like to balance my fiction love with the occasional non-fiction. You know, continuing to work on my poli-sci interests and all. This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever participating in American-centric media. It gives an alternate viewpoint that is absolutely essential to developing critical thinking towards the media. The author is clearly an Al Jazeera fan boy, but that in no way takes away from the marvelously concise and informative piece he wrote on them. Required reading!

Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
I’ve been waiting for the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of Doctor Zhivago to come out, and I wasn’t disappointed. They have a mastery of translating Russians into English that manages to capture the original essence of the authors, and it allows you to fully appreciate the talent that the original authors displayed in their writing. Doctor Zhivago isn’t stuffy or boring–it’s poetic, and lyrical, and the translation did full justice to it. I have a personal rule of not writing anything too in-depth about an author I’ve only read once, so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with Doctor Zhivago again and absorbing Pasternak’s piece more fully in the upcoming year.

Footnotes in Gaza, Joe Sacco
Westerners, specifically Americans, so often lose perspective, and don’t have the opportunity to hear from the “other” side in the conflicts our countries have managed to engage in. Joe Sacco’s piece was a very hard read, but it’s a topic I’m pretty passionate about. Sacco is very unapologetic about presenting accurately the viewpoints of Palestinians living in Gaza–and yet he does it in a full and complete way, so it’s easier to empathize when they express anti-American and militaristic sentiments. The graphic novel form that this book was written in makes the story that much more intense, and he weaves history in with the modern in a very impressive way. This should be required reading for anyone living in “the West”, just to have some idea of how other people live and experience the world.

Advertisements

Sequins: Literature in Liquid Form

I love how in my last post I was busy bemoaning the fact that I never wear bright colors in wintertime. Apparently today is my exception. Purple tights, hurrah! Also making an appearance is my mug. I keep this mug at my desk at work, and it almost always accompanies me on my lunch time outings (especially since my lunchtime outings almost exclusively lead me to the same coffee shop). I painted it myself in what was an epic long, three-visit journey to our local paint-your-own-pottery store, and it has a quote from Melville’s Moby Dick on it.

But as for me, I am stricken by an everlasting itch for things remote

It’s funny how much I love (several) lines from Moby Dick, but I really was not an overwhelming fan of the book. I’m stuffy and boring and will always prefer my Russian classics to the exclusion of almost everything else. My favorite author, Murakami, only worms his way onto the top because he’s even more of a Russians classics fanboy than I am, and manages to heavily reference them in just about every novel he writes (be still, my heart!).

This is my “smize” attempt. I think considering I don’t even do “smile” that well, it turned out fair enough.

I don’t actually have a lot to say about this outfit. It’s happy, it’s bright, it makes me feel comfortable in my own skin for the…..fifteen… hours I’m going to spend wearing it.

Scarf: Antropology (gift)
Pin: Made by me! from this Pinterest link
Dress: H&M
Sweater: Target
Jacket: Thrifted
Tights: Macy’s (gift)
Socks: ModSock (new local kitschy sock store)
Boots: Fred Meyer
Spray Paint on Boots: Dangerous result of Stripes & I’s Spray Paint Party that took place when I finished work, after five. Unfortunately, in our neck of the woods “after 5:00 PM” is actually synonmous with “pitch-fucking-black”, and I didn’t see the damage till it was to late. It was definitely fun, though!

Stripes: Boots!

Hey! Long time no blog, sorry about that but I ended up doing a lot more commuting and seeing people than I had originally planned for the holiday season. That being said, Christmas reaped several awesome additions to my wardrobe that I can’t wait to wear. The first piece, also being the one with the best story, are these boots.I found them at Macy’s in September and fell in love. The only reason I didn’t buy them then was the price tag which I won’t say but it was enough that I could never in a million years buy them for myself (as a college student anyways). So I talked about them for weeks and weeks and my family took notice. Apparently nowhere in the Seattle area had them in brown and my size so my family, in all their awesomeness, started spreading the word about finding this pair of boots. A family friend (and shoe addict) took note and called a shoe friend in Colorado who found them in Dillards down there. So the boots made the long journey from Colorado to Seattle then to my feet. And I LOVE them. Seriously.

I had realized that boots are a serious addiction. Now all I want are skinny jeans (a post on that coming up!) and boots. All sorts of boots. Tall boots. Light boots. Tan boots. Black boots. Leather boots. Fabric boots. BOOTS!

Scarf: F21 (new), Sweater: Gap (old), Belt: PacSun (old), Leggings: The Loft (new), Boots: Lucky Brand via Dillards (new).

And that’s my unintentional hair blowing in the wind picture which sequins and I tried to recreate in about 8 pictures and none were as good as this accidental one. I suppose that’s just how life works.

-Stripes

Sequins: A Foxy Outfit & Pinterest Challenge

Or, rather, an outfit with a fox on it.

Winter makes me wardrobe colors really monochromatic and dull. I mean, sure there’s still my standard pop of red, but come on people. In the summer and spring, that pop of red is usually competing with turquoise tights and purple shoes and who knows what else.

Oh, did you not catch the fox in that photo? That’s because it didn’t really show up well with the angles.

This was a prototype of a bunch of Christmas presents I made (namely for my stepsisters), and I kept two (you’ll see the other one in the next outfit post). Also, as you might be able to tell, it was super windy that day! Stripes got some epic hair shots from the wind, but mine always looks slightly like limp noodles in the wind. Whatever, I love my hair!

Sweater: Fred Meyer
Shirt: no-longer-in-business store in Canada
Skirt: Gap Outlet
Leggings: The Loft Outlet
Leg Warmers: Express (Christmas present)
Shoes: Thrifted
Bag: Sojourner
Pin: Made it myself!

The pin is most definitely a component of my most recent Pinterest Challenge.

&

The Pinterest Challenge originated from this pin and while I was making them I decided to try my hand at other animals. I wanted to do a bear, but my prototypes all came out looking either foxy or wolfish, and since foxy happens to be a nickname of mine (shush, monsieur picked it out, and it’s based off a print I made a while ago), I decided to run with them. I stumbled across a pin from a girl’s etsy shop (which I can’t find now nope here’s the link!)  which gave me a great idea for how to paint them!

Sequins & Stripes: The Orphan Christmas

Stripes, Plaid and I are on our second year of celebrating Orphan Christmas. For sure, none of us are actual orphans, but this is how we celebrate before Christmas with our respective families, to kick things off if you shall. This is a bit of a dual-post, so Sequins is commenting in the standard text, and Stripes in commenting in italics. Enjoy!

We decorated Plaid’s miniature plastic tree, Timmy, along with the tree Stripes and Plaid picked out, Dougal. We spend the whole evening eating Christmas food, decorating the trees, and crafting it up. I’ll show you guys what I made later on, because it was pretty spectacular.

The whole process gets a little silly. Yeah…this lift was a last minute decision but as you may be able to tell, I am actually lower than if I had stood. But hey! Anything I’ll do anything for a silly picture!

This picture reveals a truth that hasn’t cropped up before now on the blog before now–Stripes and I are total hipsters. And these are our hipster faces, posing with our hipster angels (they had a tags on them that said they might cause birth defects. I have no idea why we still have them…). It’s really because we were, like, the first people to have them. And we understand some people wouldn’t keep them but really we’ve just always put them on our shared holiday tree. 

Even Stripes’ Halloween cat was in the festive spirit. That’s Oliver! I LOVE him! I got him right before Halloween and vowed to decorate him for every holiday. We skipped Thanksgiving because I was in the process of moving but he will for sure make several cameos in the future.

Stripes insisted that I needed to be more festive, as well. Only because you weren’t as infected with holiday cheer as Plaid and myself. And despite the face she’s making I think she found joy amidst our silliness. And you know wearing ornaments is totally en vogue…according to Oliver, anyways. 

Stripes was pretty into the whole thing. We also did presents, and that was where Stripes and I unleashed our Pinterest fury, starting with the wrapping and all the way down to the gifts themselves.

Stripes decorated her gifts pretty amazingly, complete with ribbon.

I was a touch lazy (okay, a lot lazy) with my gift wrapping and I just used a box from Michaels. I wrapped it in some really nice looking hemp, though, and included my signature impossible-to-undo-without-scissors knot. It’s a tradition. These knots are BRUTAL! But she totally pinterested it up, too, with the hemp. That stuff has been all over the place lately.

It’s a bit of an inside joke (well, rather, it’s more knowing-that-Stripes-has-an-obsession-with-Guinea-Pigs thing), but I got Stripes the plastic Guinea Pig pictured above, and I made five or so party hats for her to wear (her name is Guineviere). Stripes shared the party hat love with her other Guinea Pig, the soft, fluffy, grumpy one pictured above.

The fluffy one is actually named Mr. Grumpy Guinea Pig and Plaid bought him for me a couple months ago because life had me down. Well, he and my main Harold [known to everyone else as that stuffed lion that sits on my bed] did not hit it off. After feeling guilty for leaving Mr. Grumpy Guinea Pig with Harold and Harold looking more and more upset everyday I realized Mr. Grumpy had to move to my bookshelf. I get a little too involved with my “inanimate objects” (I have seriously named almost everything I have owned at one point or another- Edward the plant, Esmeralda my car, oh yeah and Oliver :P) but I think it’s just a side of effect of watching Toy Story as a kid- admittedly reinforced by Toy Story 3…I digress. 

Sequins made Plaid and myself some really neat cards! She makes the greatest cards (and they’re very pinteresty). I am super in love with the Hello one and may just keep it for myself!

This is a sad picture of an ornament I made for Plaid inspired by this Pinterest post…look for more in the near future!

This was the other ornament I made for Plaid. I LOVE him! I just used some Fimo, decided to make a monster, and this was the result. I think he is super cool and I kind of wish I had one for myself…To MICHAELS! Time to get more clay!

So those are the highlights of our mini-Christmas celebration. We hope you enjoyed our excessively Pinterested festivities-if you have any questions about how we made anything feel free to leave a comment and we’ll share our crafty secrets. 

Happy Holidays!

Stripes, Sequins, Plaid, and Oliver!

Stripes: Tree of the Year

It’s that time of year again…CHRISTMAS TIME! And boy do I love me a real [used to be] live tree! My friend Plaid and I went to a local Christmas tree farm [sans Sequins because she, unlike Plaid and myself, is a real adult with a real 9-5 job (edit: Sequins pointed out that she actually works 8-5; goes to show how much I know about big girl land :P) and we couldn’t find another time amidst all our schedules to get together] to pick the perfect addition to my living room. Being my first trip to pick a tree in years (my family now uses a fake tree and I’m in college aka poor-town) I was excited to find the perfect tree. So the journey began.

We learned, after a CSI style tracking down of “the perfect pumpkin” during our pumpkin patch adventure in October, the importance of taking pictures of the contenders with some sort of landmark so you can find them again later. This was our second choice tree and we were able to use the sign and surrounding trees in the background to find him again when it came down to the final decision. We didn’t choose this one, however, because we found a fabulous (ex-male model) tree dubbed Dougal ‘Delicious” McTree.This is me epically cheesing with Dougal. He is way more photogenic than I am. I do, however, LOVE my boots. I got them several years ago as an investment piece from my family because my feet had finally stopped growing. It was so awesome to have boots that are made to last longer than one winter and actually keep your feet warm and dry!

This is Plaid with Dougal. She did the majority of the cutting down of the tree…though she let me do a bit in the middle! This was our favorite “sad” tree! Look at how nervous it looks to be there next to that stump.

Coat: H&M (old), Scarf: found (old), Wallet poking out of my pocket: Target (old), Jeans: Gap (old, but boot cut so they will likely have something very similar still), Boots: Northface (old).

And this is my “oh Tree, you’re *too* funny!” picture. But it’s true, Dougal ‘Delicious” McTree is one awesome tree/ex-model.

Stay tuned for Sequin’s and my’s upcoming joint post detailing Dougal’s decorations and filled with silly pictures of Sequins, Stripes, and Plaid!

-Stripes

Stripes: Influence

Time for a Stripes fun fact: I grew up in a town with two LDS churches in it and because of this I have had a ton of Mormon friends. I’ve never belonged to the church, though I’ve gone to plenty church sponsored events, but I spent the better part of high school being mistaken for Mormon based on my attire (and my personality, which I take as a HUGE compliment!) which is probably why I felt so at home in this outfit.I didn’t set out to “look Mormon” this morning it just kind of happened. Story of my life, I suppose. But really, I woke up this morning and wanted to wear this skirt. It’s been sitting in my closet giving me disapproving looks for months.I got it from Sequin’s sister and had no idea how to style it; I just knew it would be a good addition to my closet. So I’ve thought about different ways I could wear it since then and when I woke this morning I knew it was THE day. I was going to wear it! And so I did…after trying on about 15 shirt combos. I guess it was just needed to be styled “Mormon”. The cardigan/knee length skirt combo was a favorite of mine in high school but I haven’t dabbled much on it since then. After this outfit, however, I think there are more skirts like this in my future!

Coat & Tights: Khols (both old), Scarf: Pedro's (old), Sweater & Shirt: Old Navy (old), Skirt: Romy (old), Shoes: Lucky Brand via Macy's (recent).

And this is definitely an “ooooo! look at the shiny!” picture. But with the coat, I think I am seeing yet another color trend sneaking up on me 😛

-Stripes