Thursday, May 30, 2013

Confused


Sometimes I think I finally have this style thing figured out.  I decide that I only like things black/white/navy/khaki, only in solids and simple, classic shapes. Minimalistic, simplistic, to the bone, Parisian chic, only accentuated with scarves and maybe a statement handbag or a pair of pink pointy shoes. 

I feel proud of my streamlined silhouette and simplified closet, congratulate myself on my refined taste and then somebody like Wendy asks: 'but how about florals?'.  'No, we don't do florals. Too fussy. Too twee. Too feminine' my Parisian self replies with indignation.  Hmmm, really? Then she looks in the closet.

Oooops.  There it is. The proof. Six liberty print shirts. Three skirts. With big florals. And the dresses. She forgot about the dresses. She always liked roses. But only in the garden. Or on other (less sophisticated) people  Yet, here they are. 


OK, I give up.  What the heck. I do like them. We cannot always be black and white. 



When it is 90 degrees Fahrenheit flowers are the new solids.  Simple as that.  Conflicted as you are. 

I asked my mother about the style thing.  She is 75.  She said she is still working on it. Happily.  

Dress by Banana Republic (old)

***
That's all folks!

Do you rebel against your own style?

Do you feel like you are always a work in progress?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Growing my hair and hot air brushes


I am growing my hair. 


Most of my adult life I had a similar haircut. It would be chin length bob that would periodically grow longer and then, inevitably, end up being chopped when I got to the point of not being able to deal with the maintenance any more.  

I tried it curled and blond...

My (failed) MM attempt

Or darker and straight...

with a bit of red...
I thought I will never go longer because it gets out of hand quickly

au naturel
 
But while visiting my mother I discovered some help. My mother has naturally curly hair, not frizzy/wavy like me but fully curly.  She also owns all kinds of beauty and grooming products plus a dazzling array of cosmetics.  She is definitely not a minimalist here, I think she just likes to try different things for fun. Among them I found a hot air brush set with all kinds of attachments. I used it while visiting and I loved it so much, I was determined to find one for myself.

I have tried three hot air brushes and I thought I would pass some comments to you, in case you are considering them.  And of course, I would love if you could share your own opinions and experiences.

 Conair Hot Air Brush

This set includes 3 attachments so it seemed like a good value.  it would be nice for travel because it is all in one. My hair is thick and it takes at least 30 minutes to dry, even with quite powerful blow dryers. I think it general, it is recommended that you partially dry before using hot air brush but not as much as with straighteners (or hot barrel curlers).  

The dryer it is not powerful enough for me so it would actualy lengthen the drying time.  The bigger brush is the right size for me but the bristles are sparse and very stiff and it did not grip hair properly. The smaller brush is much better but it is a little bit too small for my hair length. This may be better set for someone with shorter hair and definitely not ideal if you have long hair. Also, it is nice to have different attachments, but they sometimes came unlocked, which is annoying. It also gets pretty hot and you have to watch as not to burn yourself.  My hair did came out smooth and nice.  Since I don't wash my hair everyday, more like every other day or every three days, I was able to touch it up on they days I did not wash it and it was really helpful.

Overall, I realized that if I kept this set, I would only use it with the small brush and I need something a little bigger in diameter.  But the set does a good job and it was definitely and improvement from using regular round brushes and good for second day touch ups.

John Frieda Hot Air Brush

John Frieda Salon Shape Hot Air Unit
Buy from Amazon
This is just a single brush, no other attachments and it is not rotating. It is not very powerful so I don;t think it would work as a blowdryer substitute, unless you have relatively thin hair that dries quickly. You can order it in 1 inch or 1.5 inch size.  I ordered 1.5 inch. The size is perfect for my hair and there is no fussing with changing or falling off attachments. I actually liked the fact that it does not get too hot. It was easier to work with it and put my hair around it without burning my ears or fingers. It probably does less damage to your hair as well. 

It also works great for touch ups.  It is comfortable to hold and I like its simplicity. My only concern is that it may not be powerful enough.


Infiniti Pro by Conair Spin Air Rotating Styler

buy from Amazon

This is the the top rated Hot Air Brush. The biggest difference between the other two I tried is that it rotates.  It is also huge.  I don't think this would work on short hair at all. But if your hair is at least chin length, you should be fine.  It will also give you a lot of volume, so if you are after volume this is perfect. It is not a concern for me, as I actually have my hair significantly thinned to reduce the volume. 

Now, the rotating function.  I was a little scared of it at first but it would not tangle your hair.  It does take a little bit of getting used to.  On my first try my hair immediately curled up (instead of under),  tight around the brush.  You can turn the rotating function off if you get overwhelmed but it is its main selling point.  One thing I would say, don't give up after the first try.  I was frustrated at first but it really is easy if you give it a little time. What I had to get used to is that the brush spins in both directions for curling under or up, depending on which button you press.  However, it took me couple of minutes to realize that the direction that creates the under spinning motion is different depending on how you hold your brush.  So instead of the right button you have to hold the left one or vice versa.  Once I got that, it became easy.   

It is a powerful brush and the hair came out very smooth and similar to the look you get at the hair salon.  The only drawback to me is the size, especially if you have shorter hair or want to bring it while traveling.       

***

I decided to keep the Infiniti Pro but I am thinking of getting a smaller diameter brush as well. Maybe I should get John Frieda 1 inch brush?  Overall, I really like hot air brushes in general.  To me, they are so much easier to use that the regular round brush and the blowdryer and get better results. I also believe in ionic function, I think it does make a difference in smoothness of my hair.  And I have been sold this expensive leave-in conditioner by my stylist. 

At first I thought I was a total fool to pay so much for a conditioner, but I swear, my hair has never been smoother and shinier.  I currently use Nexxus Color Assure shampoo and conditioner and I find my color staying fresh for a little longer.

Another thing that has helped me with growing my hair was my bangs.  I find my hair easier to maintain with the bangs.  I know many people would say the opposite, but for me, it eliminates some of the volume in front and pushes the hair away from my face.  Plus, my bangs grow so quickly,  it is easy to push them to the sides to create more of side swept look, even if they are now cut as full blunt bangs.




***
That's all folks!

Do you own a hot air brush?

What do you use to style your hair?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Denim On Denim (review of Paige James Boyfriend Crop)

I have been wearing dark wash jeans exclusively for the last decade or longer, but with the summer coming, I was suddenly craving the faded blue I loved in my youth. It would be so perfect to wear with all the whites when the sun is up and the temperatures soar.

Maybe it had something to do with the J.Crew's June Style guide that featured the light blue denim in so many pictures? In any case, I had to stop at J.Crew this weekend to make a return.  I usually look for jeans elsewhere but I have been happy with my midrise toothpicks, so I thought I will take look. 

Well, it was still not to be. The Toothpick jean in Northport wash turned out to be too medium blue for what I wanted and Toothpick jean in distressed Cone® denim was too baggy in the hips and did nothing for my butt.  I have confirmed that I only like the fit of the midrise toothpicks and that the regular toothpicks fit differently and not so great on my body.

There was nothing else that I wanted to try on at J.Crew, so I ended up at Nordstrom, where I tried on at least ten other pairs of light wash jeans. After trying on a few pairs, I knew I wanted boyfriend cut with no distressing.  I have finally decided on boyfriend cut Paige jeans, which (lucky me) happened to be on sale.
   
Big Product
Paige James Boyfriend Crop
The wash is exactly what I was looking for and they are super comfortable.  I wear size 27 or 28 in most of my jeans but these looked big so I tried 26 and 27.  26 was a slimmer fit and I think some people would prefer to size down but then they did not look much like boyfriend jeans. 27 is a little lose but I think that's how they are supposed to fit.  They still sit well on my hips, just a little lower than a 26.  I love the weight of the denim, they are very soft and feel like I had them on forever. I think Ema said that she likes Paige and now I can see why.

Since I bought a pair of light wash jeans that I thought I would never do again, I decided to try another never-to-be-repeated-again look.  I am talking about the denim-on-denim, could I actually pull it off?
Everly pumps reviewed here, handbag by Coach

J.Crew denim stretch jacket reviewed here

Well, I am not sure. I think the problem here is not that it looks bad, it is that it feels a little forced imo.  It just screams I-have-a-fashion-blog to me.  I don't know, I think I would rather wear it with a graphic t-shirt, a pair of sandals and brown cross body purse.  Or just forget about it, wear one piece at the time and leave the denim-on-denim styling acrobatics to the Jennas of the world.  What do you think?



Back to my Paige jeans.  The back view is OK, nothing to write home about, but I think this is a case with the every boyfriend cut, so I am fine with it. 

Lucca sandals reviewed here

The front has a nice slouch without too much bagginess or low crotch.

 top seen here, glasses by Ray Ban

I plan to wear the jeans with a variety of white tops.  And, although this is nothing fashion-blog-worthy, this is how I like it the best.


***
That's all folks!

Do you wear light wash jeans?
What do you think of denim on denim?

Please share, it would be no fun without you!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

How (not) to bore your children while traveling

When you travel with children to the Places-Of-Significance there is often the dilemma of what to show them.  How to show them history or art without boring them to death?  When I was a kid, my parents took me all over Europe, but all I wanted was to stay on the beach.  However, even if I don't remember everything (I wish they took more pictures), as I become older, I realized that it thought me some important lessons.  I think traveling made me realize that there is always a different way to look at things (because of cultural differences), that we have things in common and can communicate even without the language and also that learning the language(s) would definitely help.  I also took in the sights, the beauty of nature and the competing attempts of humans to create the beauty themselves.  Sightseeing definitely contributed to my love for arts and, of course, left me with a travel bug, always longing for the new vistas.

So here I was, taking my daughter down the memory lane to the place of my birth and my most beloved city, that she knew nothing about it. What do I show her without too many 'oh no Mom, not another church' moments?
    


First of all, I wanted her to experience the feel of the town.  Just wander around ancient streets, discover hidden corners and plazas, eat ice cream in the outdoor cafes, feed pretzels to the pigeons, climb the monuments, feel the water in the fountains, skip on the cobblestones and ride the trolley.




But of course we had to see the Royal Wawel Castle.  This was the old residency of Polish kings and queens, located right on the Wisla river.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/Krakow_Wawel_20070920_1299.jpg/640px-Krakow_Wawel_20070920_1299.jpg
Source
Castle insides were not not a big hit (no surprise here, but it had to be done), but my daughter enjoyed climbing the bell tower and visiting the famous dragon's den, a cave under the castle and a stage of the most popular Krakow's legend.  We also went to see Leonardo's 'Lady with Ermine' that was on the display at the time.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Dama_z_gronostajem.jpg
She is something else...

It is easy to fall under the spell of the fairytale quality to the castle...



Then, I had to take her to see the Jagiellonian University, one of the first universities in Europe and the school I went to.

Collegium Maius
 They have a museum with interesting Copernicus exhibit, since he went there too.


At noon, a procession of University officials emerges through the clock doors...


The building where I attended many of my classes 

Before WWII Krakow's population was about one third Jewish and the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz) is definitely worth a stop.



Many visitors to Krakow take a side trip to Auschwitz, located about 30 minutes from the city. We didn't go, I already visited twice and I thought my daughter was still too young to face the horror of it. You can also tour the Schindler's factory in Krakow.


We loved the Chagall-esque mural.

Another interesting side trip was a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.  It is also about 30 minutes bus ride from the center of the town.  The mine has been used since XII century until very recently (2010?). What is interesting, is that the miners were not only working there, they also created many monuments out of salt and built several cathedrals and places of worship, all underground and well preserved. 


You have to take about 400 steps to go down but it feels like descending into Jules Verne fantasy world.  Even the chandeliers are made of salt.  




Guess what was my daughter's favorite?  Well, none of the above.  It was our visit to the indoor waterpark (sigh).  Now you know why I brought a bikini.


Oh well, cannot beat this thrill :)

 

***
If you are still reading, it means you took the trip too, hope I did not bore you too much ;)

not another church Mom...
  
***
 
Where do you drag your children (or reluctant others) on your trips?
Do you have any tips to m make it more fun?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shopping while traveling

Do you shop when you travel?  It sounds like fun but I rarely do, for many reasons:
  • I don't want to waste time in the stores and I don't feel like trying things on.  
  • I don't have my other clothes/shoes/bags with me to try things together. 
  • I am a serial returner and don't like to commit too quickly. 
  • I am in a different mindset and tend to lose perspective on what I really need and wear
  • I like to shop alone and I get confused, not helped, by input from (well meaning) others   
Because of all of the above I did not plan to shop while in Krakow, but since I have received a gift card from the relative, I had no choice but to use it or lose it.

I used it.



I decided to keep it simple and picked a jersey dress and a black t-shirt.


The dress easy and super comfortable.  The twist in the front and the cocoon shape make it more interesting.  It also came in yellow and I was immediately tempted by the summery hue but I think that would end up being one of those compulsive-vacation-purchases,  so I bought this pretty and much 'safer' teal green.
 

It has pockets and the length is perfect.  It will travel well, hide any post dinner bulges and it can be dressed up and down with shoes and accesories.

***

The t-shirt is even more simple.


It has a very nice nipped in the waist and longer in the back shape.


It kind of got 'caught' on my butt in the picture but it actually looks better irl.


The design in made out of raised dots. It is perfect to wear causally but can go a little dressy too. I really like both items and I don't think they will end up unworn, like some other vacation purchases. Maybe I have learned something after all...

***
That's all folks!
Do you shop when you travel?

Are you usually happy with your vacation buys?

Please share, it would be no fun without you!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

J.Crew June Style Guide And The New Arrivals

Have you checked out the J.Crew new arrivals and June Style Guide?  In case you haven't received the June catalog, Gigi has scanned it for us here. Thank you Gigi!

I have received the catalog and I quite like the looks. The Tanzania setting certainly adds to the appeal but does not come with the clothes, unfortunately ;) I have browsed through the pages and I liked quite a few of the outfits. Then, I realized that I liked them because I already own the pieces and wear them often.  So yeah, white looks good with denim...

but how come I don't own light wash jeans???

Don't worry, that's binoculars, not a gun


substitute animal print clutch for the wildlife...
I knew it!

 White goes with black...


Even if I am not so wild about the Minnies... I do want the silver sandals.  But I would look for a better value point.


Moving on from the basics, let's talk about the prints.


I like the Hawaian shirt but I have too many button downs and long sleeve may not be that practical for a NJ summer.


The shorts are cute but I have not worn my last year's Apple shorts enough, so I think I will pass. 
 




Now, I want this print in the knee length full skirt. Because I am still stuck on this image, that I saw a while ago posted by FFM:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-h3e4yB8jVx8/TwhDV8ce7vI/AAAAAAAAH-s/lcox4y8fLx8/s1600/Love+This.53+%28Vanessa+Jackman%29.jpg 

Of course, if JC made it, it would be a 'Collection' piece with exorbitant price, like this:

Collection silk pocket tee in Toulouse floral 

Fortunately, I don't lust after this one. And am I loosing my eyesight or do you see a pocket?


I liked the bridal section shots with the flower background. 

Note to self: I need to position myself next to flower displays more often...

***
That's all folks!

What do you think of the new arrivals?

Please share, it would be no fun without you!!!