Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Berlin Or Bust: Ich komme zurueck!

(Apologies for both a lack of recent posts and the decidedly iffy grammar below...)

Hallo, Deutschland!  Fast 20 Jahre spaeter, reise ich bald nach diesem tollen Staat.  Ich freue mich sehr darauf, und mein Zweck ist ganz einfach:  essen, trinken, kaufen, und auskundschaften!  Und wieder kaufen...

Wir reisen nach Berlin und Muenchen, Staedte mit besonderer Bedeutungen fuer mich.  Als ich in Berlin war, gab es die "Mauer."  Und ich habe in Muenchen wahrend Uni gewohnt.  Ich weiss, dass viel hier passiert ist, und viel geandert hat.  

Wenn Sie, die in Berlin und Muenchen wohnen, etwas zu empfehlen haben - bitte, teilen Sie!  Wir suchen nach guten Restaurants, Kneipen, und "Wein Bars."  Und, klar, lokal Boutiques.  Wir halten uns auf, in der Naehe von Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, und Maxvorstadt/Schwabing in Muenchen.

Und...  wir haben auch zwei Tage in Salzburg!  Also, was gefaellt Ihnen da?  Ein Lieblingsrestaurant?  Geschaeft?  Park?  Das will ich wissen!

Vielen Dank!  Und bis bald!
- M

Now that all native German speakers are done gagging at my "schlechtes Deutsch," I'll quickly recap all the grammatical errors above:  I'm off to Germany - with a quick detour to Austria - very shortly, and would love any recommendations on places to eat, drink, shop, and whatever else is worth checking out.  It's been 20 years since I last roamed the streets of Munich, and even a few years more since my classmates and I chipped pieces off the Berlin Wall as do-it-yourself souvenirs.  I'm excited to get back to what I consider my second home country.  I've got many great memories, and I'm just happy as a hamster in the Hofbraubaus to be getting back there.  

So, please, please let me know of any great spots in these cities that you adore - extra points for non-touristy spots.  In Berlin, I intend to check out the Ku'Damm and the KaDeWe, but I'm giddier to get lost in the indie shops.  When I hit Munich, I'll chuckle when I see Wormland again, and I'll sigh as I remember buying my first Kraftwerk cassette (hey, I'm old) somewhere down the corridors off Marienplatz.  I don't remember doing much shopping in Salzburg when I was there, so that'll be new territory.  As you can see, I'm gonna do my darndest to speak Deutsch as much as possible.  It's just plain good for me to exercise my rusty language chops, but I'm really hoping it'll win over the locals enough to share their favorite haunts with us.  Because when in Rome, er, Berlin...

Bis spaeter!

Photo:  My own, taken in Berlin circa Spring 1990

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just Another Collab Sunday...

While the rest of you normal folks were sleeping last night (or frantically downing your last drink before those darn bar lights came up), others of us hovered near our computer.  We fought sleep with caffeine, Candy Crush Saga, and the Olympics' skating program and...


For this to go live:


Who's all-in?  What did you get?  Anyone heading out to the stores this AM?  I want to hear IRL field-reporting, so let me know all the things us virtual shoppers can only speculate about:

*  fabric quality and hand
*  what your store actually has in stock
*  are people freaking out??
*  and of course - SIZING

Inquiring minds want to know, even if we're all still half-asleep!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trending Now: Debatable Denim

I can't believe 2 whole weeks have passed since I was basking in the California sun.  My trip was fantastic, and I'm currently paring down all the images I want to share with you.  In the meantime, those of us still buried under snow can only sigh as retailers stock up for that mirage called Spring.  Pastels, bustier tops, and other trends are splashed across my magazine pages.  Online, I'm taunted by Grecian-style sandals, a ridiculous amount of swimsuits, and denim the color of the desert sky.  Speaking of the latter, I ran across this on Shopbop's site:

Um.  That's right.  Jeans with faux sleeves.  Kind of a deconstructed Canadian tuxedo, eh?  Offered by the collaboration between DKNY and edgy darling Opening Ceremony.

I dunno...

Is this something you think is on-trend for the season?  Maybe Alexa Chung can pull this off, but I'm not sure who else.  Definitely not me.

What do you think (besides early 90's music videos)?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trip Advisors?

Now that I have survived the polar vortex, it's feeling mighty summery today.  About 39 degrees to be exact.  But, the semi-bitter cold is planning a return visit.  So...  I've decided to make a return trip of my own.  To Los Angeles.

I spent a fabulous and frenzied 2 days in LA, back in the Fall of 2012, managing to cover a decent amount of retail territory when not asleep or at work.  I'll be plunking myself right back in WeHo, since I'll be sans car.  And will get to see a little bit of Santa Monica and Sawtelle as well this time (thanks to friends and their rides ;).  I've done a bit of research and asked my pals for recommendations for all things shoppable, eatable, and drinkable.  And I've got a nice list going, which includes the promise of bacon Bloody Marys, lobster rolls, and a lot of that circus called Melrose Ave.

However, I thought I'd ask my readers for any must-see (or gotta-eat) destinations.  Where do you love to shop, grab a bite, or enjoy a cocktail when in LA?  I'd love to hear - and even better, try it for myself.  The best travel experiences are usually a result of word-of-mouth from friends, after all!  Local favorites are much preferred to the typical chains.  I'm definitely not flying for 3 hours to hit up Anthropologie, the Apple store, or the Cheesecake Factory.  

Please feel free to share, and I'll give you a report on my trip when back!  For details on my 2012 adventure (and what caught my eye), click here.

Counting down the days,

P.S.  My enthusiasm towards the Uniqlo Heattech purchases from the last post?  Cords:  pretty good.  It was probably something like -42 degree windchill when I stepped out of the house and my legs didn't automatically freeze and break off.  Turtleneck:  mehz.  Really thin material, not really sure it worked.  I even wore it for an hour the night before to "warm it up."  Good layering piece, but it seemed as effective as my Target t-neck.  Who knows.  I'm sure I'll get another chance this winter to re-test them :(

Image:  my own from my previous LA post

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Brrrring It On!

Is it already the new year?  Holy heck.  My last quarter of 2013 turned into a bit of a whirlwind.  Work trips, fun trips, and then the holidays.  And now I'm bunkered in my home while some BFD polar vortex is whooping it up outside.  Here's how the party is shaping up right now:

For those of you outside of the US, this would be Fahrenheit.  Here in the States, we can think of lots of other things to say that begin with the letter "F," and "frozen" isn't even one of them.  While I shudder to think of stepping outside tomorrow AM to head to work (yeah, that's right), I did purchase a couple things that I'm hoping will soften the arctic blow.  A little, anyway.

Uniqlo offers a line of clothing with some fancy "Heat Tech" magic.  I snapped up a pair of black cords and some turtlenecks.  They arrived just in time to be put to the ultimate test.  I got so excited that I had to take a picture of them in the right setting:

Yup.  That's me.  In a camisole (and cords and some doofy shoes, that are out of sight here).  Showing off the snazzy packaging while trying not to freeze my arse off.  It's bright and sunny, I've got on the shades, and if you didn't see the snow in the background, I'll bet you'd a thought it was balmy out here.  I took this bad selfie in -8 F / -25 F windchill.  Which, considering the current temps, is kind of warm.  For, you know, ice weasels.  And me, for 30 seconds.  I consider this my version of the polar plunge.

Anyway...  I'm anxious to see whether my smart, new duds will keep me toasty in a mere 10 hours.  I've also brought out the down coat that I lovingly call the "pizza roll" (due to its straight, formless shape).  Unlike my J. Crew cincher, the old faithful grazes my ankles, and I'll need all the coverage I can get.

Kind of a jarring way to ring in the new year, but it's sure giving all us social media dorks something to buzz about. 

I'm hoping your January is a little more temperate.  But if not...  if you're also battling historic low temps and snow (yeah, you, Chicago)...  just remember:  this is exactly what steak dinners, casseroles, and scotch hot toddies are for.  Cheers to that!  Bring on the cold, and also a fantastic 2014!

Stay warm and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A (Minnesota) Nice Idea

Greetings from the land of snow and cold!  Like me, you’re probably up to your frozen eyelashes in shopping lists for the holidays.  And while it’s so easy to click your mouse from the comforts of home (especially up here, where our high temp was -1 degree Fahrenheit yesterday, thus, eyelash issues), there’s a weirdly nice gratification when you shop in person.  It’s even nicer to drop in on your local merchants.  I know there was Small Business Saturday, right on the heels of Thanksgiving, which was a telling nod towards the promotion of mom and pop shops nationwide.  If we’re going to go cuckoo crazy with the whole commercialization of Christmas, I like knowing my dollars are going to both Nordstrom and the gal from down the block.

I’m not sure about other cities, but Minneapolis (and St. Paul – I love you, too) is arguably a leader in touting the goods made from ‘round here.  And if it’s handcrafted?  Even better.  In fact, a group called Crafters Local 612 puts on quite an annual event known as the No Coast Craft-o-Rama.  Located in the Midtown Global Market (a homegrown success in its own right), this two day show is basically a big old Upper Midwest arts and crafts lovefest, perfectly timed to satisfy the season.  Yeah, it’s a bit cozy as you jostle for space within the tightly packed booths.  But if you want a one-stop shop for unique holiday gifts, this is the place.  There’s the cute stuff for babies and those of us who just like, um, cute stuff.  There’s handmade clothes, found-object fashion, jewelry, and artwork.  And a lot of creations shaped into the state of MN.

Should all of the crowds and retailing makes you hangry, you’re in luck.  The craft bazaar takes place amid the permanent businesses here in the MGM.  Divided into small but welcoming stalls, the array is international, offering both food and retail.  Your tummy can visit East Africa, Mexico, Scandinavia, Asia, and the Middle East in just a few steps.  How great is that?  A large seating area sits in the middle of the merry mayhem.  During the fair, there was a jazz trio playing to packed tables of all sorts of people.

Anyway, here are some pics from this year’s Craft-o-Rama:
The cuteness.  The f***** cuteness.  As in "felted," potty-mouths ;-)
These guys offer snippets of state landmarks.
While MN took up most of the real estate, I enjoyed seeing
my home state (above) as well as my other home state (TX).
An awesome WI icon photobombs in the top right corner.

I love the ideas here.  And I just kinda
like how this picture came out.

Duluth-based The Medium Control got plenty of love
from me last year.  Repeat for 2013.
A gorgeous way to look at limnology.
The crowds bask in a late afternoon sunlight
that betrays the sheer frigidness outside.
I swear that as I get older, large gatherings get less appealing.  But I'm glad I waded into this sea of craftsanity, and I'm hoping those on my Christmas list are happy about their gifts, too.  Which includes me (hey, one for mom, one for me...  right?).  Here's my little haul:
Because the Cat Video Fest started right here.  As for the shirt on
the right...  it's just cute.
Also cute.  Extra points for those who know what
the pic on the left shows off.
Pint glasses that match my t-shirt!

Well, my holiday shopping is about done.  How about yourself?  Did you brave Black Friday or, like me, spend that day in a food coma and pretty much just rest up for the next big meal?  (Seriously, I abstained from my favorite sport on that day...  shocking, I know.)  Are you a fan of hitting up your local crafters for presents?  Or do you define that term via the homegrown brewery down the street?  Hey, that counts, too.
Happy gift-hunting, my friends!
**Want more info on all of this craftiness?  Click here.
All images - my own


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finding Love in Dallas. Love Being Spelled Z-A-R-A.

After staying put since my June trip to Toronto, this autumn has turned into a travel fest of sorts.  Within six weeks, I'll have flown in and out of MSP airport a frantic four times.  Just one of the destinations was work-related.  And it was kind of a doozy.  I quickly became acquainted with the "night shift," as my job duties included working from 9PM to 4AM and time sort of got all mixed up.  Breakfast became lunch, lunch was more like dinner, and dinner...  a diet of Coke, potato chips, and whatever else was left in the vending machine around 1AM.  And no happy hours.  Sad panda.

However, one bright spot in keeping raccoon hours was getting to shop while everyone else was on the clock.  And it didn't hurt that our hotel was right next to the Dallas Galleria.  Now, I have some fond memories of that big ol' mall.  When I moved to Texas ten-plus years ago, I drove to my new home.  Starting in Chicago and ending in Austin, I made one stop in Missouri and the other at, yup, the Galleria (OK, the hotel attached to the place).  So returning to its lofty halls gave me the warm fuzzies - partly because of the nostalgia for the Lone Star State and partly because I found out it had a Zara!  I honestly didn't figure I'd do much shopping, since most of the stores are chains that I can find back in the North Star State.  But - we don't have a Zara (hey, Mall of Insanity, please fill up that black hole left by Bloomingdale's and take a hint).

My last trip to this Spanish-based retailer was in NYC over a year ago.  The store felt somewhat claustrophobic, with dark d├ęcor, lots of shoppers, and a narrow space crammed with stock.  The Dallas post was a far more enjoyable experience, and I'm sure being there at an odd time helped.  But it also felt more spacious with a brighter design and seemingly more edited displays.  I spent nearly two hours poring over everything and finally dragging a ton of merch into the dressing room.  Because, like the other budget-friendly, fast-fashion champ H&M, there is no consistency in fit with these kinds of stores.  Seriously.  I was a Small, Medium, and Large here. 

I did find a few great things, though.  Here's some shots of the carnage:

 Some of the initial contenders.

 Cute top with a faux-leather collar.

 I liked this Chanel-esque jacket.

Punk panda makes me a happy panda.

 I really wanted to like this dress, but its neoprene fabric just
made my shoulders look ginormous.

 These shoes these shoes these shoes.

 I hardly had time to check out the dudes' stuff, but this display caught
my eye.  Love the jacket.

 Of course I got the heels!  And a sweet tote to boot.

 Another shot.

 And here's the jacket and heels.  Gone are the construction
site-friendly jeans.  Replaced by a J. Crew skirt.

Love Zara?  I do.  While I hope we eventually get one here in MN, I know they're online as well.  But...  after the complete randomness of fit, I'm wary of e-biting.  I know, I know - I'm the queen of returns, according to more than a few people.  But, for some reason, I'm not ready to deal with that from Zara just yet.
What are your thoughts on this matter?  Have you bought from them online?  I'd be curious to hear what others have to say!  Do share.  In the meantime, I'm just back from a vacation to Naples, Florida, where shopping was one of the priorities...  coming soon!

Images:  my own