Monday, January 30, 2012

What doesn't kill you

I first heard Kelly Clarkson's song, Stronger, when it was in the background of this commercial.

Then, just the other day, I heard this song on the radio for the first time. It's just the thing for dancing around the house while you're getting ready to take on the world. I'm often not that big of a fan of Kelly Clarkson, which is part of why I didn't even recognize her when I saw the commercial, but I think this one is great. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New art in the hallway

One of the things I like best about my apartment, which still feels "new" though I've lived here for two years, is that it has a hallway. I like that the rooms don't just run right into each other and I have a little bit of a chance to decorate a long narrow space. I'd been thinking for a while that I needed to find something to hang on this wall, to give it a little bit of color.

Just for reference, to the left is the door to the hallway bath. To to the right, the hallway leads to the living room and the entry door.

I was recently shopping at Gordman's, where I was hoping to find something unusual. Gordman's is a new addition to the scene around here, and while they certainly have things that aren't my taste, I like having additional options. I found this lovely piece, printed on canvas and not wood, for only $20!

Yesterday, I got out the tape measure, hammer and nails and finally hung this lovely piece up. While it does darken up the hallway a little bit, I think it's definitely a plus. I also don't have that much green in my decor generally, so I'm happy to add a little more.

The canvas is actually glossy at the top - where the blossoms are - so it's quite difficult to get a good picture without too much glare. This is the view from in front of the linen closet. Hanging it also turned out to be a snap because there was a lingering nail hole from a previous tenant in the middle of the wall. While that hole wasn't high enough off the ground, and was too big for my nail, it gave me the ideal positioning. I just tapped in a new one a couple of inches up, and voila! What an easy and beautiful project!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Woman in White

Recently, my book club read the book The Woman in White by Willkie Collins. The book was written in the 1850s and concerns a series of mysterious events in England set in then-present day. It's a long read, but there are some interesting, suspenseful turns and I would recommend it.

One of the principal issues in the book relates to inheritance, one of the key areas of tension in Downton Abbey, particularly during the first season. In the book, the main characters are all concerned with the discussion of a "marriage settlement" which will be decided before a young noblewoman, Lady Laura Fairlie, will be married. The family structures in these two works are somewhat different, but they both experience the difficulty associated with there being only a female heir.

This interests me for a number of reasons. Of course, I think today the notion of male primogeniture is out-of-date. In the last 30 years, both the United Kingdom and Norway have amended their laws to permit a first-born daughter to become queen. While no one knows just yet what will happen for Prince William and Princess Catherine, the first woman to inherit the title of Queen of Norway is already here. Meet Princess Ingrid! Her grandfather is currently ruling Norway, but she is next in line after her father. She also outranks her younger brother, Prince Sverre.

I also think the fact that the marriage settlement was discussed so openly 150 years ago is interesting in our culture today. Sometimes it seems like making agreements about the disposition of assets before the marriage is only important for people who don't take marriage seriously. In fact, it seems to me like there's a bit of prejudice against prenuptial agreements, because they are perceived as a sign of weakness. Although it's possible that ordinary folks in the days of the Woman in White and Downton Abey didn't have marriage settlements like those with titles and vast estates, I have to wonder when these subjects became taboo among the general populace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

For Love 21

I recently had the chance to stop by For Love 21. I'm not sure if this store exists outside the Mall of America, but it is the accessories collection of the retailer Forever 21. While their clothes aren't necessarily my style, I just can't resist their jewelry. It's so affordable, I can enjoy a little bit even if I know it will be out of style soon. I had quite the trip:

First, I'll start with this darling pink compact. I've been looking for a compact to keep in my drawer at work (for a quick check of my teeth or makeup). I think this one is simply perfect!

Mais oui! Paris, je t'aime! 

Next, there's the double stranded necklace. I've been looking for a long, double strand necklace to wear to work for quite some time. I wanted something with a little bit of shine, but not too much.

I think this combo of leaves and paisleys is perfect. A little interest, but a lot of subtlety.

And finally, the one that's just for fun. I found this darling little teapot necklace. They always seem to have the sweetest little pendants there. While I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to wear it with, I know I'll find something. It was too precious to pass up. 

The teapot actually has a little bit of bling (pink rhinestones) and a little floral design on it. I know they're tough to see in the photo, but I love them. 

I made it out of For Love 21 just a shade over budget - twelve dollars instead of the 10 I had planned on. But, I think it was worth every penny.

Monday, January 23, 2012

MLK Weekend Double Feature

I was lucky enough to have MLK Jr. Day off of work, so I had the chance to see two movies during the weekend! On Sunday, I went with my family to see War Horse. I was a little nervous that it would be sad (especially after I heard that the Duchess of Cambridge teared up), but I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was interesting that the horse probably survived longer than a solider would have under the same circumstances. I hope it's not a spoiler that the horse is used by soldiers on both sides at different times during the movie. While I don't know for sure, I have to believe that the troops on the other side would not have given the same quarter to a human enemy.

On Monday, I went with Daisy to see the American version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I've read all three of the books, and seen all three of the Swedish movies in the theater. I was initially very nervous when I heard about the American version - I wondered how the characters would speak and whether it would be realistically set in Sweden. I was very impressed. It appears that Daniel Craig's accent isn't quite his usual British English. It's closely related, which makes sense since most European children learn British English at school. There was only one brief scene where he was yelling that I thought "James Bond" and not "Micke Blomkvist." I know the film is very violent, but I found it suspenseful in spite of my familiarity with the story. And, of course, Sweden is a great backdrop:

What a great weekend filled with adventures in Europe. Happy Birthday, MLK!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daisy's New House

Late last year, I learned that a dear friend of mine, Daisy, was thinking of buying a house. After hearing horror stories about how long it can take would-be buyers to find a house they want, at a price they can afford, and then obtain financing (not to mention saving up a down payment beforehand), I didn't know how quickly Daisy would be able to make her dream come true. While she initially suggested a very reasonable time frame of six months, she actually found the right house, with the right financing, in about 6 weeks. Wow!! She closed just before the end of the year and moved in about 2 weeks later. Not long ago, I got to pay her a visit at her new place.
Naturally, I wanted to bring along a little something special. I had been thinking about it for quite some time and found her this great little collection:

At the back, you'll see the turquoise gift bag. I LOVE turquoise, and I happened to have this one already at home as I was putting the gift together. I think it really works with the orange. I also found the little black and white sign, by Anne Taintor, I think, just the day before my trip to Daisy's. What a treat. It made me laugh, and think of Daisy. It's a little square box that can either hang on the wall or sit upright on a bookshelf or desk. As for the keychain, I had this one in my present stash from a long time ago - intended for Daisy from the start. What better way to celebrate a new house key than to put it on a new keychain? And, in the back, the foaming Wild Honeysuckle Soap from B&BW. Daisy and I share a love of - and maybe a little bit of a compulsion about - their soap. I haven't had foaming stuff at my place, but every time I've tried it elsewhere, I've really enjoyed it.

On the appointed day, I went to Daisy's for my first visit. I'm so proud of her and excited for her as she sets up her new house. She opened the gift and she loved it. Success!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Christmas is over...

Well, it took me quite a bit of time, but eventually I finally got all of the Christmas decorations down. I always feel a little bit sad when they are packed up and put away, and my home is back to normal. This year, for some reason, I particularly noticed the very last change I had to make:

I went from this...

To this. Goodbye juniper and fir, hello pear and herbes de provence!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Downton Abbey

I'll admit it: I was pretty late to the Downton Abbey party. In fact, I don't think I had ever heard those words before until they were mentioned in the year-end edition of The Week. Thereafter, I noticed a couple of mentions in the internet world and decided to investigate. I put that new Netflix membership to use and wound up watching the entire first season during the week between Christmas and New Year's. What a whirlwind! And now, the second season is upon us. Hooray! I didn't get the chance to watch episode 2 last night - in general, Sunday nights aren't good for me. But, I'm looking forward to catching up with it soon.