Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Best v. 216

"How Do You Love Me," by Mac Conner, going on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York this fall.

Well, today was our very first day of looking at houses. It was wild...it's sort of crazy to go into people's houses and trying to picture your stuff there. Especially when the houses are still full of their stuff! That's when it takes an almost superhuman imagination to wipe it all away and just see the rooms for what they are. It's certainly going to be an adventure.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Grandpa's New York

 There was a commercial a few years ago that showed a grandson driving with his grandmother to her childhood home that used to make me weep, and the idea stuck with me. I think most of us can agree our childhoods form a huge percentage of who we become and yet most of us have rarely seen where our parents or grandparents grew up. I decided I wanted to see my Grandpa's New York, so on Sunday, he graciously showed off his old neighborhood. It was fun to have a visual to all the stories I've heard for so many years, and also to hear new stories!

He grew up in the area now known as Manhattan Valley on the Upper West Side, a few blocks south of Columbia University. The area was mostly Irish when he was a child, but by his teens, had an influx of Puerto Ricans and Cubans. He basically lived "West Side Story," and was telling me all these crazy stories about turf wars and gang rumbles. Needless to say, when he became a father, he decided it was time to move to the Burbs. And now of course, the neighborhood is starting to become gentrified and it seems impossible to believe he once paid $100 a month for a seven-room apartment!

 He showed us the church he attended for most of his youth, where he was married and my mom was baptized...

 He showed us where his stoop used to be, and taught us the whistle he used to signal his friends in the building...

 And he showed me the old church gym where he used to dominate in basketball!

 We ended up having a spontaneous brunch at a charming restaurant called The Ellington, in a building he says used to be a candy store (he said EVERY building used to be either a candy store, dry cleaners or bar).

 The decor was adorable.

 Both Ashleigh and I noshed on the chicken sandwich, with cheddar, lettuce, vanilla grilled onions and chipotle mayo. I will admit, the vanilla onions sounded amazing, but in practice they tasted like grilled fennel and it threw off the flavor of the chipotle mayo. But otherwise, it was delicious!

 After lunch, we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the fourth largest Christian church in the world. It's HUGE and majestic. Papa said he used to come there for concerts and I was dying to hear someone sing!

 I mean, the light from the windows was AMAZING.

 Not everyone agreed the church was the best place for an art installation, but I loved seeing Xu Bing's "Phoenix," a pair of phoenixes made of found materials. Churches make amazing art venues.

 The hanging lights at the front reminded me of Harry Potter for some reason! Comparing it to a book about wizards is probably sacrilegious to say.

We finished the day at a cemetery in Queens, where we saw the graves of my Papa's aunt, uncle and mother. I'm so happy we took the time to relive his childhood, and to know that I can now tell the stories and give the tours to future generations. If your grandparents are living, ask them to show you where they grew up! You'll hear stories you've never heard, gain perspective and maybe walk away knowing them better than you ever did.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NY Day: Punch Brunch, Pippin & DBDG

On Saturday, Ashleigh and I ventured into Manhattan to reunite with our New Yorker loves! We kicked the day off right with Punch Brunch at Millesime, a brasserie-inspired restaurant in midtown. 

For $32, Punch Brunch includes unlimited punch! We ordered two varieties to share: Lemon Rosemary Fizz and Elderflower Blueberry. The lemon one was particularly delicious.

Pro tip: Be sure to order some food with substance, otherwise you might go a little overboard on punch. Ashleigh and I both ordered Croque Monsieur, a classic French ham and cheese sandwich topped with bechamel sauce and more cheese!

At one point, Ashleigh felt like we needed to consume more food to soak up some of the alcohol, so she asked if they had any rolls. The waitress misheard her and brought us a punch BOWL. Hilarity ensued, but eventually we got a basket of pastries.

We wanted to see a show, but we aren't millionaires, so we wanted to try to score a deal. We showed up to the Music Box Theater at about 9:45 a.m. to get rush tickets to see Pippin. We managed to get three seats together, for about $37 each. Not bad! Then, when we got to the theater, we saw why our seats were available...they were in the FRONT row. I'm talking below the actors' crotches, beside the piano player, practically on the stage FRONT row. I immediately thought, "oof this is going to give me vertigo."

But, I'm happy to report it was really fun! Seeing it that up close made us feel weirdly connected to even the chorus people because we could really see their faces. We also had a few moments of honest-to-goodness interaction; there was no doubt they could see us as well as we could see them!



After the show, we stopped into my favorite store, ABC Home. I can't afford anything in there, but it's always a great place to get inspired. This display of Astier de Villatte pottery just about killed me.

We finished the night with a fun dinner reunion at DBDG Kitchen & Bar, an ode to American taverns from famed chef Daniel Boulud. The menu has delicious takes on hearty fare, from spaghetti with lemon ricotta to an entire selection of house-made sausages to a variety of burgers. Everyone said their food was delicious, and the big booth was perfect for our group of six high school and college friends!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grounds for Sculpture, or Art Geek Paradise!

This past weekend, my bestie Ashleigh and I ventured north to visit my grandparents and see our friends. On Friday, we went to one of my new favorite places ever: Grounds for Sculpture.

The sculpture attraction was created by Seward Johnson, a sculpture known for kitsch who also happened to be a Johnson & Johnson heir. Financial freedom lends itself to creative freedom, and the result is a place that is pure corny fun! The gardens are delightful, and feature sculptures modeled after famous people, every day people and — my favorite — famous works of art. Here are some shots of us having too much fun jumping into favorite artworks:

 Van Gogh's Bedroom (it reminded me of Blues Clues!)

 Renoir's The Boating Party

 Edouard Manet's Les Dejeuner sur L'herbe (clothing optional)

 Hanging out under Marilyn's skirt!

Sharing a hula hoop with a little girl. 


After our photo-taking odyssey, we headed to the Mediterranean Chateau, a Portuguese restaurant with the best dang dry rub ribs ever. They deserve a plug for sure!

It was a great fun day, and for $15 adult admission, completely worth the trip to Grounds for Sculpture. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Red Carpet Review: Emmys 2014

I was exhausted from my trip to New York and New Jersey (more on that later), so I completely missed the red carpet while I was napping. As a result, it's entirely possible there were people who looked horrible and wonderful that I just straight up never saw. All in all, I felt as I always do that originality has suffered a bit from the presence of stylists (how else to explain the endless parade of red gowns?), but it also means everyone looks at least decent. Here are the highs and lows as I see it:

BEST DRESSED

 Allison Williams has shown pitch perfect taste since her first foray into red carpet fashion; I'm sure it helps when Dad is perennially listed on the International Best Dressed List. I loved her choice of this classic, yet youthful Giambattista Valli gown. The shape colors call to mind Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, but the acid yellow sash keeps it edgy and current. Pretty and simple studs were the right choice for accessories.

 I love when a star and a designer have a true working relationship. Julianna Margulies and Narcisco Rodriguez have been kicking it since her ER days, and this gown was a fruitful result of their long working relationship. It started with a great slinky fit, then added interest with the details of the beading, the sexy back (not shown) and it looked great on television. I give it an A plus plus!

I thought Lizzy Caplan's Donna Karan gown was the perfect dress for her character: strong, sexy, appropriate but still teasing. I love her accessories of the bracelet, ring and dark nails and her hair and makeup game was strong, too. You've come a long way, Janis Ian!

 Praise the ladies at Marchesa who seem to have finally solved the riddle of how to celebrate Christina Hendricks' curves! Many designers have failed to rise to the task, saddling her with epic fit problems, terrible colors, unflattering ruffles and who knows what else. This looks great, and I like the gold accessories and sexy, tousled hair.

 January Jones loves a dress with volume, and loves to play with the high-low hemline. We've seen it many times before, and on a night when seemingly everyone wore red, I almost wish this was violet or something. But, this is one of the best dresses she's ever worn and she doesn't even look entirely miserable like normal! So I'm giving this gown its due.

 I wasn't in love with her hair or make-up, but I did really like the architectural quality of Kate Walsh's Stephane Rolland gown. Not everyone can pull off Big Bird yellow, but I liked the pop of color.

 Laverne Cox's nomination was historic, and I love that she dressed for the moment! Her Marc Bouwer gown was angelic and classic, with really beautiful hair and makeup. She was just glowing.

Lucy Liu didn't pull out all the stops in this simple Zac Posen draped gown, but I thought it looked gorgeous on TV and had great movement. She looked confident and pretty.

Most Improved

 Julia Roberts was looking a little rough for about 90% of last year's awards show circuit...it was almost like she'd been out of the game for so long, she forgot how to play. But she totally focused on her assets in this lovely and fun Elie Saab, highlighting her lovely legs while still seeming completely in line with her usual preference for glamorous simplicity.

 Remember when Kristen Wiig was nominated for everything the year "Bridesmaids" came out and wore dishwater beige dresses everywhere? Yeah, that sucked. She's still clearly a little color-shy, but I thought she looked super California chic in her white Vera Wang gown and her new blonde choppy bob.

 Zooey always wears kind of weirdly unflattering or uninteresting dresses. This Oscar de la Renta wasn't a revelation by any means, but I thought it was a step in the right direction.

I think this is the prettiest and most elegant Melissa McCarthy has ever looked and it bears noting that this is one of the only times she didn't design the dress herself. This gown is by Marchesa, and I like that they are clearly not afraid of dressing ladies of all shapes and sizes.

Worst

Oh, Lena. Where to begin? I actually love the construction technique of her fluttery Giambattista Valli skirt...I loved the versions in sky blue and chartreuse that he sent down the runway. But this ombre effect reminds me a little of...well...menstruation. And the pairing with an incredibly unflattering pale pink shirt negated any of the skirt's loveliness. And I CANNOT abide this platinum pageboy hairsdo. That's a big nope for me.

Katherine Heigl has a reputation for being a total piece of work beeyotch to work with, and of course acts like she's been touched by an angel, so in a way this nightie from Disney's Evil Stepmother lingerie collection might actually be perfect. This seemed much more likely to be worn by Ellen Burstyn than by Katherine Heigl, who is supposed to be having a major I'm BAAAAAACK TV moment to promote her new NBC show.

I used to feel like Kerry Washington's fashion game was so strong, but the more confident she gets, the more I think she flops. I pretty much hate everything about this Prada gown, from its unflattering sparkly seams to its Flintstones Push-Up color to the peekaboo Tina Turner costume underneath. Her limp hair didn't help, nor did the blue-tone smoky eye make-up. 

I love love love Mindy Kaling. I follow her on Instagram, and 90% of the time she looks fierce as hell. But this Kenzo gown just did nothing for her. It made her look super short, eliminated her waist, didn't move particularly well and had super weird lines. You deserve better, Mindy!!

And last but not least, a woman who clearly has been too busy popping out babies to even know who Stephen Colbert is. Gwen said she was channeling Donatella Versace in this Atelier Versace dress, and she certainly nailed the Real Housewife of New Jersey look. None of this is particularly offensive (I'd probably love it on Gwyneth Paltrow), but it wasn't particularly good either. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Best v.215

Anna Karina with Jean-Luc Godard on their wedding day, March 1961. Photo by Agn├Ęs Varda.
I'm in love with Jean-Luc Godard's tweedy jacket in this wedding picture with Anna Karina. Dapper!

I'm in New York this weekend, visiting my grandpa and all my precious New Yorker friends. I can't wait to tell you all about it as soon as I get back, but in the meantime, here's some lovely Sunday distraction:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today I Like ... This Men's Tee


Spotted this while watching my secret favorite TV show, "Hard Knocks," on the body of an Atlanta Falcon at the bowling alley. Immediately wanted one. Sad to see they only sell them for men. Too lazy to order and adapt to work on a lady body (boobs and hips don't work with straight cuts). But let it be known, it's what I want to be wearing while running errands.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Date with Myself at the Chrysler Museum & Glass Studio

We in Hampton Roads are spoiled to death these days because Norfolk is home to the Chrysler Glass Studio, quickly becoming one of the most inspiring and experimental glass studios around. In addition to offering daily demonstrations and glass classes, the artists and studio assistants create work that they also sell. A couple times a year, they have a big close-out sale and this past weekend, I happened to catch it just in time!

The selection was seriously amazing...glass pieces both functional and artistic, some super affordable and some quite pricey. I couldn't resist this blinging diamond stained glass nightlight by Kristi Totoritis. We don't even need one in our current apartment (it gets plenty of streetlamp light, thankyouverymuch), but when you see something fun like this, you just give in.

 I mean, c'mon! That's a necessity.

My true weakness is small jugs/vases/containers/boxes that I don't need, so of course I also couldn't pass up this gorgeous coral ombre glass jug. It's just more motivation to find a house: I gotta find more space for all my silly tiny treasures!

Once I finished up with the Glass Studio sale, I popped next door to take myself on a little two-hour date at the Chrysler Museum, which reopened in May after a lengthy renovation. It's really marvelous, and I've become such a museum nerd that I can't possibly get through more than two rooms in a two-hour span. But here are a few shots of some of my favorites from what I did see:

 "Zinc Yellow" by Franz Kline. In love with the movement and color pairing!

 Howard Mehring, "Renaissance Space II." I feel like this color palette is one I want to remember for future projects...so unexpected, but so right!

 A shot of one of the gorgeous new contemporary galleries.

 Ossip Zadkine, "Bust of Carol Janeway." The angle of that nose is just brilliant.

The museum is full of witty copy on the walls and even clever juxtapositions, like these two reclining nudes. It's a great place to wander for a couple hours, and best of all, it's FREE.