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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








Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Happened to Fall?

Since the last Target collab, the seasons changed.  And then they changed again.  Pretty much within a month.  We enjoyed a few weeks of crisp autumn weather, and then the temperatures plummeted, the sleet hit, and the snowflakes have appeared.  It's kind of a frustrating time of year for those of us around here.  We're still smarting from a very delayed start to the summer - I was shoveling snow in May while the rest of the country was bragging about 80 degrees.  I even had to wait til mid-June to watch the very last of a huge snow pile melt away like the Wicked Witch.

There's no denying winter is right around the corner (sneering and giggling like the mean kid who's just waiting to pelt you with an iceball).  I sighed tonight as I pulled out my gloves and lightweight wool coat that, back when I called Texas home, qualified as the "hardcore winter" staple.

But...  there is a bright spot in the rapidly shortening days.  With the changing of the seasons comes the transitioning of the wardrobe.  And it never hurts to add a few new pieces to the mix.  Here's what looks good to me:

More suitable for September in these parts, this whole ensemble is still awesome (down to her sharp shades).  However, it's the red wellies that will keep my feet dry during the cold November rains (cue Axel here).  Paired with fleece socks, they'll allow me to stomp my way through the snow/slush/ice blahs that will soon follow.
 
 
 
I pretty much live in a rainbow of J. Crew wool pencil skirts.  Apparently I don't have this rosy hue, though!
 
 
 
And the all-important down coat...  So lightweight, and so much a lifesaver for virtually 5 months of the year here.  I bought this one in black a couple of Decembers ago and love it.  Why not add a second one to the rotation?  And in this great "screw you, old man winter" color?
 
 
 
As you can see, I'm a big fan of the "R" in ROYGBIV, and not just because it'll make me stand out in a seven foot snowdrift.  Is there a go-to color for you that helps you get through the cold months?  Or do you have a favorite scarf?  Pair of Uggs?  What piece of clothing or accessory brightens your overcast January mornings?  Do tell.
 
 
Happy almost-November!
M
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photos:
#1 - nordstrom.com
#2 & #3 - jcrew.com
 
 
 

 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

3.1 and Done

So...  who survived the launch?  Were you up in the wee hours of the night, clasping your Diet Coke or beer, waiting for Target's website to quit showing "Preview" and finally go live?  Or did you sleep in 'til 6:00 AM and rouse yourself to line up at your local store?  Or, um, both?  Like I did (granted, I didn't get up til 9:30 AM).  I had sworn I was only gonna do the online shopping.  But, my curiosity got the best of me, and I drove to the downtown flagship to see how nuts things were.  Honestly, while it was busy, it wasn't the insanity I'd heard about at other stores.  And I got a closer look at the items "in real life."

Here are a few shots of my shopping adventure "in person"...  (No one needs to see the online version, my tired face lit up like a virtual ghost at 2AM thanks to the laptop screen).


 
Yes, the leather jacket was in the store.  I only spied two of them.  So I tried this one on.  It's technically navy-colored, but I like that it can masquerade as black in certain lighting.  The material is also very thin - some people don't like that.  It didn't deter me.  The fit's a little boxy, though.  Excuse my otherwise schlubby outfit.
 
 
 
 
 
Here's the blue sparkle dress (blingy stuff limited to one side).  It's a fairly straight fit, and I'm debating whether it works for me.  I suspect the black rendition might fare better.  One plus - pockets!
 
 
 
 

Dudettes, I do not know what compelled me to go for the camo sweat pants.  In my normal world, I'd swear them off like overcooked cauliflower, but somehow, I love them.  Don't ask.  Iffy on the peplum top, but I'm trying to be friends with the style.  And I promise not to leave the house in this particular ensemble.
 
 
 
 

The bags!!!  Satchels, totes, and crossbody purses are predicted to be the favorites.  The little guy in the middle is considered a "unicorn" among the many fashion boards on Facebook.  Luckily, I found the last of two in my store.  Along with some more masculine (but very nice) travel kits - good Christmas presents!
 
 
That's my stash (so far...  waiting for the online goodies to arrive).  What looks good to you?  Did you grab some of the same stuff?  Or were you all about the "Boom" items?  They do have a nice Lichtenstein-y vibe, but they aren't really my style, so I'm happy to see them go to more appreciative fans.  Guys, what's your impression so far?  They offer a decent array of men's clothing, a pair of shoes, and a bag I've heard is big enough to fit your car.
 
You'll have to let me know your thoughts on this latest round.  In the meantime, I need to decide what stays and what doesn't make the cut.  And wait for the rest of my stuff.
 
 
 
 
Images:  my own
 
 
 

  
 
 
 

 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

3.1 on 9.15

If it's September, it must be...  time for another Target collaboration?? 

Appropriately timed to fall on the heels of the two year Missoni madness anniversary, Tar-zshay is just one week away from unleashing its latest shopping frenzy - a partnership with designer darling Phillip Lim.  The anticipated collection offers clothing and accessories for both ladies and dudes (and I should note the men have a fairly wide selection this time).

Here's what I'm eyeing...



I love the material layering but am curious to see how this drapes and what the back looks like.

 
 
 


I have a soft spot for leather (or pleather/vegan/whatever-it's-called) jackets. 


 



Digging the color-blocking, but I'm not sold on the cut of the top.  The bag, however, is kinda cool.


 



Again, love the purse.  The pattern on this shirt is cute, but I look like a dork in button-downs.
 
 
 
 


Love the dress and the simple detailing at the collar.  Quietly elegant.
 
 
 
 


Once more - I'll take the bag and let the others scoop up the separates.
 
 






Great dress - would love to see it on a model?
 
 
 
 


Happy to see that cute pattern again on an equally cute sleep set.
 
 
 
 


More sparkle!  Also, trying to not automatically assume that peplum and I can't be pals.  I'll have to try this on to find out.
 
 
 
 
 
 

I suspect this cute ensemble is getting a lot of online love, the inclusion of a lovely baby blue being a solid reason.  Sadly, since the coat has epaulets, I have to pass (for whatever reason, my small-boned body has linerbacker-wide shoulders).
 
 
 
 

One of the men's looks - I'd totally steal the bag and jacket.
 
 
 

 

With this new collab just days away from launching, are you on the latest crazy train?  I've seen friends posting their wish lists on Pinterest and celebs like Jessica Alba sporting the goods from a preview party.  What pieces are you coveting?  Have you already got your alarm clock set and a shopping game plan in place?  Or are ya hitting the snooze button and letting the NFL deal with any "strategery?"
 
Happy Sunday!
M
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Images:
Avec models - target.com
Sans models - refinery29.com
 
 
**If you're saying "Who-point-what Phillip-Huh?" then check out Refinery 29's dedicated article.  Sure, you can opt for the slideshow, but if you're mildly impatient like me, it also lets you see all thumbnail images at once (and click on them).  Here you go.
 
 






Sunday, September 1, 2013

Right Here, Right Meow

Now that our local celebration of cat videos has gone national and even international (Derry, Northern Ireland...  really!), I have to ask...  Who attended the Walker Art Center's 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival?  Unfortunately, I did not brave the crowds at the Minnesota State Fair this year to witness Grumpy Cat, Li'l Bub, and all the other "cat"-enders.  Luckily, I did hang out with 10,000 of my closest pals on the Walker's hillside last year to check out Henri, Nyan Cat, and my fellow festival-goers (including a number of fairly unimpressed IRL cats and their more enthusiastic owners).  See my review here.

While I missed out on this year's hilarity, I did make up for it by scoring this sweet number the other day:


Perfect for Summer-into-Fall, roomy yet flattering, and adorned with felines...  this shift dress won't fill the void of missing the Roomba Shark Cat doing some big-screen collisions, but it makes a great addition to my wardrobe.  I'll be sure not to pair it with either of these, though:



Or probably these:



If you did make it to one of the many cat video fests, you'll have to tell me how you liked it.  What was your favorite kitty?  Video?  Any crazy outfits at your gathering? 

Not a big fan of Mr. Whiskers?  What's your favorite fashion animal?  Maybe you love Marc by Marc Jacobs' mouse shoes (like mine above).  The Jason Wu owl?  The See by Chloe critters?  Or just a great, unique design not attached to a brand?  I've got many local artists' renditions of characters from the animal kingdom.  Except the whole nautical thing - squid, jellyfish, etc.  That craze I do not get.  But hey, I'm content to be the crazy cat lady who, for the record, owns no cats.  Yet.





Images:  my own


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Nordstrom Sale: Part One

So, how did we fare now that the Nordstrom sale has gone fully public?  Did you get a couple things your heart couldn't ignore?  Go a little crazy?  Or pass altogether?  Here's what I picked up:


Yep, that skirt in the previous post...  it's mine.  Flares out a little more than the catalog image, but it's a great, not-so-basic basic.  Can't wait to wear it this Fall.  And of course, that Rebecca Minkoff pouch spoke to me!  One very pleasant surprise?  These oxblood Ivanka Trump heels.  Already noted as one of this autumn's leading hues, I adore pretty much anything red.  But I'd never bought from this brand before.  Not only did this style and color come in a Narrow (I have pencil feet and have sadly cast aside many cute but slippy pumps), but they're comfy!  No, I mean it.  Even though these don't rock a nice platform, the 3 3/4" height didn't make my feet cry.  I even test ran them throughout the day at work, including a trip to the cafeteria.  In fact, they went right to an al fresco happy hour.  Typically, I swap out my heels for Skechers when I leave work, but heck no!  Not today.  I was that impressed.  And here's another photo that does the shimmery, jewel-tone more justice:


Lovely new acquisition, yes?  And a lot cheaper than the higher-end designers, where you sometimes have to venture for stylish comfort.

I did order a couple other items and am awaiting their arrival on my doorstep.  But 'til then, you'll have to let me know if you participated in the sale.  I'd love to hear about what snuck into your shopping bag (or online cart) and why you couldn't resist!






Images:  my own

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Like Christmas in July...


 
 
With summertime in full force, it’s hard to think about a crisp autumnal breeze and the fashion that goes with that time of the year.  I’m still digging through my wardrobe and tossing tank tops, sandals, and other “new” finds from the back of the closet onto my “wear to work this week” pile.  How in the heck can I entertain thoughts of tweed and equestrian boots, when all I want to do is give my sundresses a glimpse of that weird, bright orb in the sky?

 
Although the arrival of the September issues are still a ways off, good old Nordstrom mailed me their equally anticipated Anniversary Sale catalog last week.  Glossy pages packed with things that make me both smile and shudder.  The former caused by, well, my love of clothes.  The latter due to the fact that summer took its sweet-a** time getting to this part of the country.  And so, this annual reminder of colder temps isn’t welcome quite yet.  Unlike some of y’all, I have 7+ months to enjoy the finer comforts of cashmere, wool, and down.

 
Regardless of the weather, I cannot resist the power of this little booklet.  What’s funny is that, as I pored over all the photos of perfect little ensembles, it made me recall my days as a kid at Christmastime.  I’d get the JC Penney’s catalog and naturally bypass a vast majority of the thing to get to the toys.  As I flipped past the endless pages of “grown-up crap” (AKA, clothes), I’d think to my 10 year-old self, “Pfffttt!  Bo-ring!”  And proceed straight to the Barbies.  Now I can appreciate those decidedly “old people” sections.  But, I digress…

 
Here are a few catalog ensembles that caught my eye:

 

 Love the moto jacket especially.
 
 


 Again, I went right for the leathery skirt.  Perfect color for Fall, too.
 
 
 
Loving the overall look here.  Classic and preppy.  Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

 

 

I adore Nordstrom.  It’s the only reason I venture to the Mall of Insanity anymore.  And I know there are many other fellow Nordie’s girls (and guys!) out there.  Have you earmarked a few pages as well?  What looks good?  Of course, it’s hard to not drool over all the shoes!  But their selection of clothes is solid, and I even circled a couple of the “workout” items, since I’m on an exercise kick now (har-har).  Also, if you're all in for this sale, are you planning to shop in-person or online?  Or both?  Got a favorite designer in mind?  For those with Early Access privileges, have you already done sufficient damage?  Please share.  It would be nice to know I'm not the only person who considers this the "other" most wonderful time of the year ;)
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Images:  #1 is my own, the remainder are from Nordstrom’s website