Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Music

Get ready readers, today I'm boldly experimenting with embedding videos in my post to share some of my favorite new (or at least new to me) music!

I've suddenly become a full-fledged She & Him fan. I never was before, even though I liked them well enough, but I had the urge to listen to them after watching (500)Days of Summer. I downloaded their new CD, Volume Two, last week and ever since then have literally been listening to it nonstop when I'm at my desk at work. And that's a lot of repeats, considering that it's only 45 minutes long. Their songs all have a mellow 50's/60's pop vibe that tends to invoke dancing around my apartment. How can this video not make you smile?

I heard "Home" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros randomly on the radio one day and instantly became obsessed with it. They're this crazy alternative/ folk/ gospel-ish band that has about a dozen members, including a singer that looks like Jesus and a trumpet player that looks like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. I think this song is one part June Carter & Johnny Cash, one part Sonny & Cher, and one part 60's commune. Inexplicably, I love it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Swedish Mystery

So I jumped on the bandwagon and read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Steig Larsson, mostly because I have plans to go see the movie next week. My feelings about this book kept swinging back and forth as I read it.

I started out predisposed to like it, mostly due to the fact that it's set in Sweden. Sounds like an odd reason, but the last book (and possibly only other book) that I read that was set in Sweden was Let the Right One In. That book, and its movie adaptation, are among the most memorable books/movies I've read/seen in the past couple of years. The Swedish setting in that was, for lack of a less dramatic phrase, very haunting. It really stuck with me, and I was excited to read another book with a similar setting.

A little bit into the story, I found myself unsure about it. The reviews I'd read billed this as an intelligent crime thriller, and for the most part it is, but there were certain points when the writing seemed a little bit cheesy and certain elements of the plot seemed cliche. The further into the story I got, though, the easier it was to ignore these parts. By the end, I was really into it, and had to read the final 100 pages at once when I got home from work today. So all in all, I liked it and will probably read the next two books in the trilogy. It is nice change to have a series to read that isn't meant for young adults.

Now, anyone know of any other books set in Sweden?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge falls into a category of books that's critically acclaimed, but also really popular and bestselling. I'm not sure why, but these are books that I tend to pass up. I probably wouldn't have read this one either, except for the fact that it's my book club's latest pick.

This is a series of connected short stories, all set in a small Maine town and all featuring the character of Olive Kitteridge. Sometimes the stories are told from her point of view, and other times she's merely mentioned as a peripheral figure in another character's story. At first I was a little skeptical about this setup, thinking that in some cases, the author just threw some reference to Olive into an otherwise unrelated story to make it fit into this collection. The stories grew on me, though, as I read further into the book. Each one deals with a seemingly ordinary aspect of life, yet is really complex and illuminating about the character of Olive. She's a blunt, no-nonsense woman, and it's interesting to see how her personality evolves, both as she progresses through life in stories that revolve around her, and as we see her perceived by others in the stories that feature other characters.

Despite not being that excited to read this, I think it may be one of my favorite book club picks so far.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shutter Island

I wasn't all that interested in seeing the movie that was recently out, but I decided to read the book because I've slowly become a fan of Dennis Lehane's writing. He's great at depicting different facets of Boston and at evoking a noir atmosphere (and typically does both at the same time). Shutter Island is set on a psychiatric prison hospital on one of Boston's harbor islands. It follows two U.S. marshals who are sent to investigate a patient's disappearance. Although it's more of a traditional mystery than Lehane's novel The Given Day and some of his other short stories that I've read, it's definitely not a traditional detective story. It's really a psychological thriller...and I mean that in a very literal sense.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Since my last post on this topic, I've hit three separate Targets and come away with two tops, two dresses, and one bathing suit. I think I've satisfied my Liberty of London craving. Here's a look at what I chose:

Ruffly tops in a tiny floral...

...and a bold floral.

A dress that looks much better on than on the hanger (or in this picture). The print is kind of art deco, and that's a pleated ribbon coming off of the sash. I think it has a slightly 20's feel to it.

More ruffles in a peacock print dress.

And another peacock print in a bathing suit, which incidentally is made of a really nice fabric.

And oh yeah, my mom and I each got an umbrella. These will make the next rainy day a bit more cheery.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Treat

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I made this recipe for pistachio shortbread (suggested to me by Lara). Probably not a traditional Irish dish, but it is green. The one tricky part was that the dough was so dry and crumbly that it took forever getting it to form into anything. Luckily, it was easy after that because you don't roll it out and cut cookies, you just press the dough into a round pan, bake, and then slice into wedges. Kind of like eating a pie crust without the pie.
Very tasty.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Franny & Zooey

The recent death of J.D. Salinger made me realize that I hadn't read much of his work beyond The Catcher in the Rye. To remedy that, I picked up Franny & Zooey.

These are two companion stories about two siblings in the Glass family, Franny and Zooey (obviously). They're really nothing like what you would stereotypically expect stories about young-twenty-somethings in the 1950's to be like. Following the minute details of small segments of a day, the characters of the Glass family are gradually revealed through the dialogue between Franny and Zooey. The writing is just amazingly good, and there's an air of nostalgia that hints of F. Scott Fitzgerald. All of this is widely said about Salinger's work in general, but I really can appreciate it after reading this book.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Outfit Inspiration

I just spotted this picture on the Sally Jane Vintage blog (via a link from JenLovesKev). Doesn't that purse look familiar? I must try to recreate this outfit. And then possibly pose for a similar picture next time I take the Amtrak to Boston.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Liberty

On the heels of my last post, I made a trip to Target's Liberty of London pop-up shop near Bryant Park after work today. The upside is that everything was adorable and seemed like much better quality than these special collections for Target sometimes are. The downside is that so much must have sold out when the shop opened yesterday that their inventory was down to a limited number of styles, and what they did have was mostly in bigger sizes.

Here's how the shop looked when I walked in:

This giant teacup reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Or more specifically, the Mad Hatter teacup ride at Disney World. I felt like climbing into this and spinning around.

One of their chairs:

They had a lot of the clothing on display, even items that had already sold out of the shop. Of course, this picture happens to catch only two kids outfits and the one women's dress that's strangely low cut and not in keeping with the style rest of their stuff. Everything outside of this frame was really nice, though.

Now I'm even more excited to head to a real Target and hunt for some of these.

Side note: More book posts are coming soon. It probably seems like I haven't been living up to the Bibliophile name lately...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Liberty at Target

I'm on pins and needles anticipating next week's launch of Liberty of London's line for Target. Apparently it's going to be throughout the entire store, including fashions, accessories, and housewares. Some of what I've seen online so far looks really cute.

There are some pretty dresses:

And even bathing suits and lounge wear:

Cute kitchen items:

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to want quite a few of these items. And this retro bike might just be at the top of that list:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Dresses

Like just about everyone else, I spent last night watching the Oscars. The awards were predictable and the show was kind of boring, but the dresses were great. Thought I'd put my two cents in and show some of my favorites.

Vera Farmiga- I love the ruffles on this dress. It's an example of a structured, architectural dress that doesn't look too stiff.

Elizabeth Banks- There were a lot of strapless gowns with elaborate skirts last night. This one was my favorite of that group.

Maggie Gyllenhaal- I never would have thought that I would like a floral-print evening gown, but I just really like her whole look, including her simple jewelry and bright lipstick.

Anna Kendrick- Really like the soft pink color with her pale skin tone.

Kate Winslet- I kind of overlooked this last night, but the more I see it, the more I like it. It's elegant, but it looks comfortable, like something a normal person could wear.

And one runner up??
Carey Mulligan- I'm on the fence about this. At first I wasn't crazy about it, and I'm not a huge fan of the short in front, long in back shape. It started to grow on me though when I saw that the beading on the top of the dress is actually little silver charms in the shape of forks, knives, spoons, and scissors. For some reason I like the idea of that quirky little detail.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grey Gardens

I finally got around to seeing the HBO movie version of Grey Gardens and it's amazing! Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange perfectly capture every little thing about Big and Little Edie. They truly deserve every award that they've won for this. There are some scenes where you would literally be hard pressed to tell the difference between this version and the original documentary.

The film isn't just one big impersonation, though. They show flash backs to when Big Edie was still married and Little Edie was just a young woman, and it really gives a new perspective on the state that they ended up in. It's really interesting to see the origins of some of their crazier traits in their younger selves. I highly, highly recommend Netlflixing this. (But see the original first if you really want to appreciate it.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Good Thing in March

March isn't typically the most exciting of months, but one good thing about it is that it means it's a little bit closer to the new spring issue of Lula.

As if that in itself wasn't worth getting excited about, Refinery29 recently did a rundown of the best upcoming magazines and showed a preview of one of the features in Lula's spring issue- a recreation of the original Strawberry Shortcake characters! Below is their version of "Plum Puddin" and "Blueberry Pie".

What a cute idea! The Strawberry Shortcake figurines were some of my favorite toys when I was little. Fingers crossed that Lula recreates "Crepe Suzette"- her chic pancake beret would be ripe for reinterpretation.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Veggie Hog

Isn't this the cutest thing? My mom gave it to me. It's not a hedgehog, it's a veg-hog, used for scrubbing vegetables.

I tried it out when I made these really healthy stuffed sweet potatoes. The actual recipe is:

Bake the potatoes. In the meantime, slice a clove of garlic, cook it in olive oil until it's brown and crisp, then remove it from the pan and cook some kale or spinach in that oil. When the potatoes are done, top them with the leafy greens and a big scoop of ricotta cheese, and sprinkle the crisp garlic on top.

This time around, I substituted a shallot because the garlic at the grocery store looked pitiful. I also used broccoli to change up the greens and added a touch of red pepper flakes, which was a nice contrast to the coolness of the ricotta. So you see, it's definitely a flexible recipe.


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