Monday, May 31, 2010

Charmed, I'm sure

Charm: Typewriter ad

I've been in love with the idea of charm bracelets since I was a young teen. In fact, I like the idea of souvenir jewelry in general, including lockets and hair jewelry. I had a locket that I wore through college. In it were photos of our family's cats, Crystal (who passed away my junior year) and Deedee (who is still around and fat). Every time I showed the inside to someone, they looked surprised and told me they'd expected to see photos of a guy, which I thought was odd. At 19, my cats were more important to me than any boyfriend could have been. Even though I am married now, I'd still pick a photo of our cat, Taroko George, over one of my husband for a locket (a choice I'm sure Ron would approve of, since we are both feline fanciers).

During our honeymoon in San Francisco a year ago, I thought it'd be fun to start a charm bracelet. I didn't get the chance, however, until we'd returned to Taipei and I discovered De Stijl, a store that imports vintage jewelry from the US and Europe. Several of the charms on my bracelet are from De Stijl; the rest are from Internet sources. The first was this little cat in a basket, which Ron bought for my birthday last year:

Charm: Cat in a basket

I chose the charm because I think the kitten, cozy in its little basket, represents the household that Ron and I have created together. Also, I'm a basketcase sometimes.

The next charm was the one you see at top of this entry. The typewriter represents my career as a journalist. I debated getting the miniature ad or holding out for a tiny 3-D typewriter, but in the end I decided I like the "50 words" at the top. Sometimes when I have writer's block or am stressed out by a deadline, I remind myself that everything will fall into place quickly if I just write 50 words at a time (and keeping doing it for as long as I have to).

Charm: Diary

I've always been bad at keeping a personal daily journal. Despite that, I think it's important to constantly look inward and think about how your own thoughts and actions have contributed to the shape of your life and your relationships. This tiny diary is a reminder to myself to be accountable. Also, I get a kick out of the fact that it opens and closes, like many things in my life, including my jaw.

Charm: Zebra

The zebra symbolizes our wedding. We got married at the San Francisco Zoo on a platform in their African Savanna habitat and there were several animals grazing behind us during our vows. There's a zebra (or its butt) in a lot of our photos from the ceremony.

Charm: Sewing machine

This sewing machine represents my love of needlework (and its history). It also represents the fact that I could not find a knitting charm that does not look like a silver ball of snot with two sticks stuck through it.

Charm: Camera

Photography has been a big part of my life since our parents bought my brother and me matching kids' cameras with disposable flash cartridges (remember those?). This charm is the only one on my bracelet that isn't sterling silver. I'm thinking of looking for one that is, because the contrast between the color of the metals is a little jarring for my taste.

Charm: Queen Elizabeth II profile

I found this tiny bust of Queen Elizabeth II at De Stijl and debated buying it for several days. The history of the British monarchy reminds me of cultural imperialism and colonialism. As someone of Chinese descent, I find those things distasteful in a personal way. At the same time, I admire Queen Elizabeth II for her sense of duty -- and the fact that she occasionally wears thick-rimmed spectacles with evening gowns. Now that's what I call charming (rim shot)!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lovely Liza

Hello blogging buddies! I noticed that it's been more than week since my last post, but that's not because I've been feeling under the weather. I've actually been on the mend over the last few days. In fact, I had enough energy to go shopping for summer clothes (I basically shop in spurts -- twice a year to reflect the changing weather in Taipei with a few separates, shoes and accessories in between). But my photographer has been working overtime because his co-editor is on vacation and I don't own a tripod. So, no outfit posts! Heh.

Anyway, I wanted to share this enchanting video of a young Liza Minnelli singing and dancing on her mother's show. I've loved Liza Minnelli since I first saw her in "Cabaret" when I was about 12 or 13. I think she has an amazing combination of vulnerability, giddiness and strength and I admire her candor (and her sister, Lorna Luft's) about the tendency to alcoholism and substance abuse that runs in their family. And I am a huge fan of "Arrested Development." Loose seals forever!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What I'm Sproutin': First Wedding Anniversary

Dress: Macy's, gift from my Mom, cardigan: Modcloth, rhinestone brooch: vintage, shoes: Aldo

Last Sunday was my first wedding anniversary. One year ago, my husband and I got married in a zoo. This year, we decided to celebrate by going to a gourmet Taiwanese restaurant on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. For pictures of what we ate, check out my other blog.

Ron and I don't usually go to fancy restaurants, so I wanted to dress up (even though there were plenty of other diners in polo shirts, khakis and jeans). My Mom bought me this dress during my wedding planning trip back to California, which was in January 2009. I remember at that time every department store I went to had these twofer dress combos. Modcloth still has an entire section on their Web site dedicated to them, but the ones I saw last year were all simple blouses sewn to equally plain skirts, like this. I'm actually a big fan of the look and wish I had bought more dresses like this. One cool feature of this dress is that the "sash" has little folds that look random but are actually sewn down.

My favorite part of this dress, however, is the keyhole neck and pleating. And, as you can see, I totally forgot to wear earrings! I'm so annoyed with myself because I planned to wear my wedding earrings, but they just totally escaped my mind (or my mind escaped me). Oh well. I tell myself that the lack of jewelry (aside from my tiny vintage brooch) keeps the focus on the neckline.

Realizing marriage is forever!
Get it off! Get it off!

The restaurant was a little chilly inside because of air conditioning, however, so I ended up putting on a jean jacket I'd grabbed right before we left our apartment. Here I am realizing marriage is forever.

I'm planning to write a post about my wedding dress and how I felt about the stupid cultural and societal expectations brides have to deal with. My wedding planning experience was mostly positive and very fun, but there were still things that irritated me. It's really odd how people feel like they have the right to mind your business once you announce you are engaged, from mundane things like the shoes you wear to really important (and personal) business like whether or not you are going to change your name and even your wedding ceremony and vows. But my brain is a bit fried right now, so I'll do that later (even though thinking of how annoyed I was when busybodies told me I should change my name makes me so angry that it fries my brain even more). Garrrrr!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mom's closet

I love her jacket, flared jeans and the dash of color her scarf imparts to the outfit!

Whenever I visit my hometown in California, I always pore over my family's photo albums. My parents were stylin' in the late 1970s and early 1980s! (They're still stylin' now). When I first got into vintage clothing, I asked my Mom why she hadn't saved any of her clothes and she said "how was I supposed to know you'd like old things?" Boohoo.

My Mom's earrings were made of tiny pale blue silk flowers. I used to wear them. I think I may have destroyed them, actually. Oops! Check out my Dad's gray slacks and plaid shirt.

My parents' first apartment. See how awesome it is? Look at those funky floor cushions! The modernist coffee table! The rug! This is late seventies decorating at its best.

My parents feed a squirrel at Grand Canyon. Check out my Mom's Lopi-style knitted jacket!

Mike, mom and me in 1985
In Taipei. My knitted cardigan had orca whales on it and was made by my grandma (my brother had a matching one in pale blue).

Ooh, we look so 1981 here! I love my green crochet poncho with the fringe and my Mom's puffy vest and plaid shirt.

These are just a few of the photos we have of my Mom in her awesome outfits. I'm looking forward to scanning in more pics next time I go home. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My clapotis is done... finally!


Way back in late 2007, I started work on my Clapotis shawl. At that time I was studying Mandarin on a scholarship, so I couldn't really afford to buy luxuries like Noro Silk Garden yarn. When my parents came to visit me that winter, however, I managed to finagle them into visiting a yarn shop with me. I planned to find a less expensive variegated wool yarn, but then my Mom offered to buy me enough Silk Garden to make a full-length Clapotis. Obviously I was thrilled! When I got home, cradling my bundle of precious, precious luxury yarn, I immediately cast on for my shawl. I spent the next few weeks working on it... and then got bored.

For two years, my Clapotis languished in my yarn drawer. During that time, I finished a nine-month-long language intensive, started working at features writing job where I had to conduct interviews and do research in Mandarin, learned more about my family's heritage and background here in Taiwan, made new friends and got married in San Francisco. All those things happened and yet Clapotis sat in a lump, unloved and forgotten because the thought of having to do yet another meter and a half of mostly stockinette stitch made me want to eat my head.

A few weeks ago, I pulled out the Clapotis again and decided to finish it. I felt guilty for all that nice yarn sitting in my closet, unused. At first I thought about unraveling it and finding a more exciting pattern, but Noro Silk Garden is a very sticky yarn and that would have taken forever. So I just clicked on with my knitting needles... and now I have a nice, warm Clapotis! Yay, just in time for summer!

Fortunately it's been a cloudy and windy lately, so I still have time to enjoy my Clapotis before I have to put it away with my winter clothes. I'll try to work it into an outfit post soon. In the meantime, my cat will court it. He's totally in love with my Clapotis. When I was finishing it the other day, he plopped down on top of it, kneaded the soft wool and then started suckling it. AHHHHHHH!!!