September 30, 2010

Blog birthday part deux

Two years ago today I started this little blog. It's been a wonderfully fun and enlightening journey thus far, especially because of all of you kind folks out there. Thank you carving some time out of your busy schedules to stop by and comment in this space. Your notes mean the world to me and inspire me to be a better blogger. I love the insular world the blogging community has created, this sort of web of like-minded individuals who meet in a virtual space of creativity and wisdom and inspiration and beauty and joy. Getting to know you via your own blogs has been such a treat. And so the journey continues...

September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week 2010

This week is Banned Books Week. Started in 1982 by librarian and anti-censorship activist Judith Krug, this annual event highlights the importance of intellectual freedom and "ensures the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them." You can see a list of the top 100 banned/challenged books between 2000-2009 here (poor Harry Potter is at the top of the list). How many books on this list have you read?

Further reading: The New York Times has presented this handy guide on the ways we can celebrate and help support Banned Books Week.

{Image via Goodreads}

September 23, 2010

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Today marks the first day of autumn. In Europe, that is. In the United States, autumn started yesterday. Confused? This link explains how the autumnal equinox can fall (pun intended, of course) on two separate dates:

The solstices and equinoxes are not actually days, but rather they are instants of time. The equinoxes are the instants when the Sun appears directly over Earth's equator....For 2010 the moment of the autumnal equinox is September 23 at 03:09 UTC (coordinated universal time). Coordinated universal time is also called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the standard time in the Greenwich, England time zone. Because this year's autumnal equinox falls so early in the morning in UTC, it is on the previous night in locations a few time zones west of Greenwich. In the United States, the autumnal equinox will be at 11:09 PM EDT, 10:09 PM CDT, 9:09 PM MDT, and 8:09 PM PDT on September 22. The autumnal equinox, or the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere, will be September 22, in the United States and locations further west. The September 2010 equinox will however be on September 23 in Greenwich, England, Europe, and more easterly locations.

And did you check out that beautifully brilliant moon in last night's sky? The tiny bright star next to it is actually Jupiter. Jupiter and the moon will be bosom buddies for the next month or so, but after that they won't rendezvous in the night sky until the year 2022. Start your sky gazing now.

{Image via here}

September 21, 2010

End of Summer Reading

Summer reading conjures lazy, balmy days where cozy concepts like 'work' and 'reality' are of no consequence or consideration. At least, this may be true for the lucky folks who had the pleasure of ample vacation time at their disposal. But for those of us not so fortunate, such as myself, there's always the travel that plunging into the pages of an engrossing read can afford; a book that renders one's mundane, every day surroundings practically nonexistent, and suddenly just like that, you're in a swish hotel in Poland before the outset of the second World War (for example). Here are a few such books I read this summer, books that had adventure and danger and magical suspension of disbelief, with a wee bit of terror thrown in for good measure, splashed on nearly every page:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Have you heard of this little book? No? Then you've been living in a cave because I may very well be one of the last people on earth to have picked it up, and like most people, I wasn't disappointed. Sure, the start was a wee slow (although it provided necessary background information), but I quickly become engrossed in the tangled, sordid saga of the Vanger family. I wasn't prepared for the most graphic and uncomfortable scene I've ever come across on the page (though the payoff in the end is sort of worth the few pages of anguish), nor how troubled and fascinating I found the female lead, Lisbeth Salander. I think it's a good thing to be taken beyond one's comfort zone every once in awhile, to new, heightened planes of drama and intrigue; it builds reading character (I think). I'm looking forward to books two and three, which I hear are even better than the first.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. It recently occurred to me that I was hankering for a new young adult fantasy book series to somewhat fill the gaping hole left over from the Harry Potter books (though which, naturally, wouldn't replace the latter books in my heart of hearts. EVER). The Alchemyst has all the right elements I consider characteristic of a book of this nature: adventure, improbable use of magic and magical lore, mythical beings, historical characters that actually lived and which inject a little gravitas into the story, and a good old-fashioned moral to the tale. And yet, I can't say I was spellbound or utterly captivated by this book; on the contrary, I found myself wishing for a quicker pace and lamenting that I never at any point felt any sort of real concern for the two main characters, never felt their situation was as dire as the build-up to the story would otherwise suggest. I really wanted to love this book, but if I'm completely honest, I came away feeling somewhat entertained and a little disappointed. Having said that, I have every intention of reading the second book in the series, The Magician. Second chances and all that...

The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst. This is my first spy novel--no longer a spy novel virgin, look at me! What's so fantastic about this book is that it takes you completely out of the world from which you are familiar while also delivering pieces of factual information about a time and place that actually existed, that still feels very real to many people (particularly people like my grandmother). I can't imagine the terror of living through the years between the wars, of seeing firsthand the manic buildup to WWII. Furst makes it so easy to visualize and experience the early, turbulent days of a Europe torn apart, particularly of a country who refused to believe the danger they were all in. Furst is a master of the spy genre, and no doubt I'll be reading more of these books in future.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. I can't extol the virtues of this book series enough, I really can't. I'll spare you the sappy soliloquy I've constructed in my head, but suffice it to say that reading these books is truly one of the most memorable reading experiences this reader has ever known. Every so often I'll pick up a book in this beloved series and re-familiarize myself with this most magical of magical worlds and the epic tale of the boy wizard who lived, who must vanquish only the most sinister magical being the world has ever known (you know, no big whoop). I hadn't read Deathly Hallows since the book published three years ago, and I was amazed at how much of the story I had forgotten; it made my re-discovering it all the more special. And the second reading failed to yield fewer tears than the first because I wept and ached as much now as I did then, that's how absorbed I was in the story. Which is surely a testament to Rowling's literary prowess, to her ability to not only craft a gripping tale, but to also present us with characters with whom we identify and care about deeply, who we want to see triumph in the end. Book seven (Deathly Hallows) will be split into two separate films (thank the LORD), the first of which arrives in theaters in November. I'm thinking of dressing up as Hedwig, Harry's beloved owl, for the opening night. I'm partly joking, of course. And yes, I am that sad.

Up next: A Mad Men-inspired read and possibly anything else I fancy....

September 17, 2010

Inspiration from the boys

I really need to start shopping in the little boys' section. This darling little cable knit sweater is from crewcuts. Who knew? And oh, how refreshing it is to see a skirt NOT cut up to you-know-where. Never mind the fact that I would undoubtedly end up resembling a librarian should I ever try this look at home. But that may just be exactly the look I am going for (take that, T!). I love the colors, textures, and how the luxe black bag ties it all together. SWOON.

{Image via
The Sartorialist}

September 14, 2010

Weekend fun in Palm Springs

Did another weekend really just fly by? It certainly seems that way to me because I've just returned from a most relaxing bachelorette weekend in Palm Springs. The bride-to-be, myself, and a gaggle of girls all stayed at the beautiful Villa Carmelita where famous Hollywood types like Natalie Wood, Kirk Douglas, and Lloyd Bridges stayed before us. The margaritas and conversations were flowing, the sun was shining, and the pool was incredibly inviting. It was just the sort of vacation we all desperately needed. And, like all good vacations, it was over much too quickly. Until we meet again, Carmelita.

{Images via Villa Carmelita}

September 9, 2010

Tea Towel Time

These quirky tea towels put the biggest smile on my face. They just might make that whole washing-and-drying-the-dishes chore that I so abhor actually worth the enterprise. I love them for their off-beat charm. Practical, aesthetically appealing, and funny? Need I say more? Only that I suddenly feel really old for ogling a pair of tea towels. Story of my life.

{Tea towels available here}

September 7, 2010

The Fashion Line

It's Fashion Week in New York, and for the duration of this crazy week-long extravaganza, the No.1 subway line has been temporarily changed to, drumroll please, "The Fashion Line". Nice to see the city get into the spirit of things, isn't it?

{Image via Jezebel}

September 3, 2010

Going the distance

All this trouble for a cup of tea?
Must be one helluva cuppa.

{Photos from here, via A Cup of Jo}

September 1, 2010


Nothing signifies the transition from one season to the next quite like the first day of September. Never mind that today is just as warm and summery as the day before or that the official start of autumn isn't for another three weeks. It's just that today feels different from yesterday, as if the world somehow shifted in the span of 24 hours. Even though she hasn't fully arrived yet, Autumn is making herself known in subtle ways, whether she's lingering in the cool night air or abbreviating the sun's length of time in the sky. This feeling that things are different, that change is imminent, permeates the air, creating a sort of feverish anticipation for what lies in store. Can you sense my excitement?