Before my boyfriend and I came down to Florida to spend Christmas and New Year's with our parents, we went to see the Holiday windows in the city. As always, they did not disappoint.
Macy's celebrated 50 years of Charlie Brown with a cute story. I didn't grow up with Charlie Brown so it was not super interesting to me but I did like the concept and enjoyed the cute-ness of the windows.
Lord & Taylor made good use of the scaffolding around their store and made it work to their advantage by decorating it with beautiful garlands and lights.
Saks Fifth Avenue stole the show with a spectacular light display projected on their building (next to St. Patrick's Cathedral) and choreographed to the Nutcracker. It ran every 10 minutes and it was absolutely unbelievable. I was a mad house trying to walk in this areas because it is right by the tree at Rockefeller and several crosswalks were closed down to direct traffic. It was a mad house. But worth it.
The window displays of Saks were designed around the concept of a Winter Palace. Also awesome.
Last but not least, we went to go see the windows at Bergdorf Goodman. They were basically made out of rhinestones! I don't even want to think about how long those took to make. The photos do not get close do doing them justice because these windows sparkled incredibly.
I can't wait to see what they all do next year!
The company I work for does an annual Ugly Sweater Day. I've been a sleigh and a snow globe before (see the tutorial for the snow globe sweater here). This year, I was a Christmas tree and I decided to go all out and spray paint my hair green. Carpe Diem, right? I definitely felt like a crazy person walking down the street and standing on the subway but I had fun being silly. Since I did the front and back of the sweater I was trying not to rest my back against my chair at work because it would flatten the branches but my back was killing me by the afternoon so I had to re-fluff the back since I almost completely flattened it. I also had 2 battery packs for lights. I turned them off during down time because the stupid batteries were the most expensive part of this sweater. Anyway, if you ever want to dress up like a Christmas tree, here is how I did it:
-A dark green sweater - I got mine at Burlington. It had this weird detachable cowl neck so I made some alterations and attached it so my neck would be covered. The sweater I found had a hairy texture too which was perfect. Honestly, I don't know what you would use it for besides an ugly sweater.
-Faux pine garland from Michaels. I used 2 and cut each on 4 pieces.
-NEEDLE AND THREAD (preferably extra thick thread)
-Lights with a battery pack - I used 2. The batteries were the most expensive part so be ready. These battery packs needed 2 C batteries and the 4 batteries cost me almost $20. Whatever, I wanted lights.
-Decorations. I went to a dollar store and got pine cones, silver garland and assorted Christmas balls. I also got cute candy canes at Michaels
-Ribbon for the tree topper
-Fishing wire in case you need to hang anything that doesn't already have a loop.
-If you want to also do the Christmas Tree thing to your hair like I did you will also need hair spray (I needed 2 cans), those clear small elastics for your hair, a hot glue gun, thick wire and thin wire. I just used the wire form last year's Snow Globe sweater.
I first played around with how I wanted to attach the pine garland. I decided I would cut it into 4 pieces. 2 slightly longer for the sides and 2 slightly shorter for the middle.
Now hand stitch the garland to the sweater. I had extra thick thread but if you only have regular thread, make sure to double or quadruple up! This may seem difficult but it's really easy because you do not have to be exact or neat because you can't see it (as long as you use dark colored thread). All you have to do is first attach the tread to the sweater by knotting 3 times. Then just lay the garland down and start looping around it and through the sweater. I went from the top to the bottom. REPEAT ON THE BACK.
I had a little bit extra left at the bottom so I cut it off with pliers and used this pieces to cover up some bald spots I had in the middle.
The sweater I got had a loose knit so I was able to hide one battery pack inside by the neck and pull the lights through the sweater to the outside. This way, I had one battery pack in my bra and one in my pocket (I didn't have to hide the bottom one because it ended discreetly anyway).
Now the fun part - decorate! I did the garland and lights first and then just started hanging ornaments wherever I wanted.
Then I made a wire frame for my hair. I cut the thick wire into several different-sized pieces keeping in mind that the middle of each piece would be resting on my head. This way, your head will keep the wire up instead of having many separate pieces that will just droop down. Then I used thin wire to attach the middle of all the pieces together. The wire still moved around a lot and felt loose so I used hot glue to stabilize it a bit.
I then made a simple bow to go on top of my head. Here is a good tutorial on how to do it. It is very easy. Just loop and twist so the pretty side of the ribbon is always facing out. The hardest part was waking up early to twist my hair around the wire. Then I had to wake my boyfriend up to spray it but he was a good sport. The result turned out fun!
It did take me 45 minuted to undo my hair and wash out the green and it was still knotted mess and I had to cut a few knots out. But I had fun so it was worth it!
Have fun with your ugly/tacky sweater!
The holidays are here so that means holiday parties! I saw this dress at Anthropology a while ago and, off course, bought it on super sale. The gold heels were $17 at TJ Maxx and the tights with gold trim in the back are from Free People. I'm personally a fan of the red and gold combo because red is flattering on pretty much everyone. I'm also an FSU alumna so that works out. Enjoy your holiday/Christmas parties and remember: when in doubt, go red and gold.
I finished my book/reading challenge at the end of September but that does not mean that I just stopped reading altogether. If anything, doing the challenge has reminded me how much I love to read and encouraged me to keep at it. Here are the books I've read since then.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I almost read this book during the challenge because I have heard it referenced so often but I was reluctant to read an irksome tale about a middle-aged man who falls for a child. I am happy to say that while there were definitely cringe-worthy parts, I was less appalled than I expected. Also, the fact that it is not a true story helps.
Synopsis: A middle-aged man named Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores Haze. His private name for her is Lolita and he uses her widowed mother to get close to her. The book is set up like a memoir of Humbert's life, focussing on his time with Dolores.
Opinion: I was less repulsed as I anticipated but that is not to say that i did not spend a good portion reading this book with a scolding look on my face. The book was also much better written than I had foreseen. A plus would be if you understand French pretty fluently because there are a lot of French phrases that completely went over my head. The antagonist is a scholar and since the book is written from his point of view, the vocabulary is extensive. While I obviously dislike the idea of an older man taking advantage of a child, I am glad I read the book since it is considered such a cult classic. I can't say I loved it or even enjoyed it but the fact that this is not strictly a true story and the tone is not violent made it so I could see past the creepy and appreciate how well-written the novel is.
Recommend? I'm not really sure. The book is very well-written but it is also pretty disturbing. I suppose to be well-rounded, this book would help.
I reluctantly give this book 3.5 out of 5 starts because it is extremely well-written fiction. I would have given it a higher mark if the subject matter wasn't so disturbing.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
I found this at the thrift store I go to regularly a while ago but I wanted to read Lolita first, for obvious reasons.
Synopsis: The true story of the author's life before, during and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. After returning from America during the Islamic Revolution, Nafisi teaches literature at the University of Tehran for a few years before being expelled for refusing to succumb to the new laws and wear a veil. She eventually contemplates wearing a headscarf in order to return to teaching in a classroom and later begins a book club at her house for a select few of her former female students. The book club is a chance for the women to escape from the current oppressions by the new regime to be free to have intelligent discussions on Western literature. The novel chronicles the changes and oppression that occurred in Iran when the Pahlavi dynasty ended and the Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Khomeini began.
Opinion: This book was extremely profound and astonishing because it gives a first-person account of a revolution that complete changed the lives of women in Iran. It was interesting to hear how Nafisi coped and how she eventually came to her decision to leave Iran. Having been fortunate enough to be born in a Western society and having enjoyed somewhat equality with men, it seems impossible to me how any women can stand being as oppressed as the women in Iran were following the revolution. It is heartbreaking to me but I feel it is important to read books like this to understand what it was and is like for women in Iran when religious extremism takes over and forces people to surrender their rights as human beings.
4.75 hearts out of 5
The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
Sidenote: I read my sister's book with this below cover and the cover is deceptive to the story. It is more dark than the cover alludes to.
Synopsis: Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage returns to her home town after hearing of her mother's poor health. Having been tormented as a child, Tilly soon realize the townspeople's attitude towards herself and her mother have not changed and they stay away from them until Tilly wears one of her own creations and finds her dresses in hot demand with the women of the town. Tragedy again befalls Tilly and she is once again shunned by the town until she finally decides to make matter into her own hands.
Opinion: This book was very strange to me. It gets a lot darker and more depressing than I had anticipated. It is pretty intense despite the lighthearted-ness the title suggests. While I appreciate the fashion aspect of the novel, I found the different components of the novel to be disconnected. The story is still interesting, making it a quick read and while I was entertained, I was also left feeling a little confused and unsatisfied.
2.5 out of 5 hearts
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Synopsis: Having been through five major extinctions on Earth, this book presents to possibility of a sixth extinction made worse by our contributions as humans. The novel describes several species that have already succumbed to extinction and several that are on the brink. Kolbert has done extensive research and presents an astonishing case using past and present examples.
Opinion: This is one of those books that changes your life by presenting a perspective and/or issue that alters the way you look at the world. My sister and I went to Puerto Rico earlier this year and while the symbol for the El Yunque Rain Forrest was a tree frog, we were disappointed not to come across a single one. This book explains why. It is clear that Homo Sapiens have the upper hand over any creature on Earth and we have altered natural habitats for our own convenience. This had inevitably led to the extinction of many species. While there are natural cycles of extinction, we risk making it worse by our interference in nature. I feel that this is a book every person on Earth should read. This should be one of those classics that you read in high school and that is alluded to in many classes of your subsequent matriculation.
Recommend? Absolutely. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book.
5 out of 5 hearts
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Just a little disclaimer here. I am from the Netherlands and the book takes place in Amsterdam so I was already conditioned to like it. That being said, I did try to be as objective as possible below.
Synopsis: Set in the late seventeenth century in The Netherlands, this novel follows Petronalla Oortman, a small town girl who is trying to make her place in the world. Having married a man she hardly knows, Petronella arrives to live at her new home in Amsterdam, which already houses her husband's sister and 2 servants. Her new husband, Johannes Brandt, is rarely at home and Petronella is left mostly alone, feeling unwelcome. Everything changes when Johannes presents Petronella with a miniature dollhouse replica of their home as a wedding gift. After commissioning a miniaturist to provide her with pieces to furnish the house, strange events begin to unravel around her and it somehow seems like the miniaturist knows about the secrets of the inhabitants of the house before Petronella does.
Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The reality of Petronalla's situation and the secrets of the house slowly unfold and make this book a page-turner. While there are some less-than-ideal harsh realities we no longer have to suffer in he Western world in the twenty-first century, I enjoyed the unique premise of the book and the mysterious air throughout. It was a great read. I think this would make a great movie. Just saying.
4.25 out of 5 hearts
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Synopsis: After his grandfather's murder by a creature no one believes Jacob saw, he goes to a Welsh island with his father to find out more about his grandfather's mysterious past. Growing up, Jacob's grandfather told him fantastical stories about escaping Nazi Germany and spending several years in an orphanage for peculiar children. Once on the island, Jacob goes on an investigation to find the old orphanage and get the answers he is looking for.
Opinion: I was afraid this would be too creepy for me but was not so much creepy as intriguing and mysterious. The concept of the book is very creative and offbeat. I enjoyed that many elements were unexpected and that the story staying interesting to the end. This is the first book in a trilogy so there is the option of continuing the story if you'd like. However, the book ends at a point where you do not feel obliged to, which I like.
3.5 out of 5 hearts
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Synopsis: A Jinni, a creature from Arab folk tale made out of fire and inhabiting the desert gets trapped my a human in a flask. In Syria, a Golem, a creature from Jewish folk tale made of clay, is commissioned by a man named Otto Rotfield who wishes to make her his obedient wife is created by a sinister kabbalist. Both creatures end up in nineteenth century New York City and their paths eventually cross. As they are the only living things they know with similar qualities and problems, the two do not need to hide their secrets from each other but they disagree on the fundamental views on what it means to exist in this world and the responsibilities they carry. Their condition as inhuman beings inevitably causes problems as their abilities start to be noticed and their natures reveal themselves.
Opinion: While a little slow to start, this was a great superb exploration of Jewish and Arabic mythology. I appreciated how eventually every plot line comes together and the magical air infused into the novel's nineteenth century New York City setting. The many layers of the story keep the reader enthralled by what will happen next. I enjoyed reading the journey the Golem and the Jinni take in order to find their place as outsiders in the world.
4 out of 5 hearts
Last year I posted about some fun tacky Christmas sweaters I made and have been asked for a step-by-step on how to make the snow globe sweater. It's not hard to make and you can customize it so have anything you want inside. Have fun!
-A white or ivory sweater
-Sturdy wire (I got mine at Home Depot). The wire should be bendable but sturdy. I used players at some points to manipulate the wire into tight curves.
-Hot glue gun
-White acrylic paint + brush
-Iridescent confetti (or iridescent wrapping foil that you can cut into little pieces)
-Christmas/holiday accessories you want to decorate your globe with
-A mannequin or other object you can put your sweater around/on. This is very helpful in making the frame.
-Fishing wire is optional if you plan on hanging things from the top
Good luck making your own snow globe sweater!
About the Author
Born and raised in the Netherlands, I now work as a designer in NYC. I love trying new things, candy and the color orange. In this blog, I will post about things I've learned and things I love. Veel plezier!