Keeper of the Keys

Today my work key ring broke.  I have two sets of keys: home keys and work keys (which I keep in my car with my ID lanyard).  Choosing the appropriate key ring has become a bit of a chore, because the criteria is extensive.  My work keys include keys to my classroom, my classroom storage room, the copy room and administrative wing; they’re too heavy to keep on my lanyard.  I need them at various times throughout the day, and I also have student workers who use them to go make copies.   One of my workers in particular tends to put my keys into his pocket and forget they’re there.  He’s almost left for the day with my keys in his pocket.  Plus, I am not the most organized of teachers, so I misplace my keys regularly.  So, therefore and thus, my main criteria are durable, visible, and big.

I’ve decided to replace my key ring with the same type that I had before (after all, it lasted for a year and a half of heavy use, and one I bought for my home keys didn’t last more than 3 days). It’s Areaware’s Reality Key Chain by Harry Allen.  It’s thick and rubber, with no movable pieces, but it has some heft and is easy to see.  I think I’ve also decided I will get the matching skeleton key key chain from Areaware as well.

I like the bright rainbow colors and the tactile appeal of these key chains.  Plus, they’re really hard to lose!

Anyone have a good suggestion for another key chain that meet all my criteria?  I’d love to know.  Put it in the comments.

Old School Cans

I have weird ears. 

Not only did the right one launch a vengeful attack against me by getting an infection just before I was set to fly, essentially deafening me for my entire vacation and MFA graduation, but the insides are too small for most earbud headphones.  Those iPhone ones?  Torture.  I had an emergency headphone situation at Christmas where I was flying cross-country to see my parents, and forgot my headphones at home.  I had to buy some Skullcandy Chops In-Ear headphones from the airport shop.  Frankly, they annoy the heck out of me every time I have to wear them.  Unfortunately, certain situations (like working out at the gym, etc.) require these low-profile headphones, so I wear them with the mantra that “it could be worse.”

However, for at-home use, I had a massive craving for some old-school can headphones (aka full-size headphones or “circumaural” headphones).  However, my budget isn’t up for my dream Sennheisers.  I’m enough of a music nerd to really care about sound quality.  My father raised me to care about such things–how else would I know about Sennheiser and Harmon/Kardon?  Research was required to find a decent pair of cans.

I went to my favorite nerdy techy review site–CNET.  I read a bunch of articles on headphones, but the one that helped me make my decision was part of their “best of 2014″ series talking about the best over-the-ear headphones.  The article pointed me toward the Panasonic RP-HTX-K1 Monitor Stereo Headphones.  The price is affordable at just under $60 (and if you do a little searching on the internet, even lower–just sayin’), and offer comfort, sound quality, and “retro styling”.  

I must admit, the “retro styling” really sold it for me.  I have a weakness for such things, and I didn’t want just a plain black pair, which is generally the color choice for the less expensive headphones.  I liked that the Panasonics came in a variety of colors.  I chose the green pair.

Cans

If I went back in time, this would be the jacket photo for my 1970′s folk music LP.
 
I’ve been really happy with the Panasonics, even though they can get a little sweaty on hot summer days.  Overall, they’re everything they’re purported to be: great sound, comfortable, retro, a good choice for those on a budget.  My weird ears are pretty happy.

 

Brand It!

I know enough about this whole blogging thing to know that eventually the word “branding” will pop up. As in, “what’s your blog’s branding strategy?” I started thinking about this while in my car running errands this afternoon. What is the “brand” of Furnished Souls?

Let’s start with the name. For branding, the blog’s name should set its goals and effectively communicate the brand. Umm…nope. Not happening here.

My blog name actually comes from an e.e. cummings poem, and is intended ironically, as the women he writes about are stuck in an “acceptable” routine where they are busy, but create nothing of consequence. (Read the whole poem at Poetry Foundation.org.) It’s exactly the kind of woman I don’t want to be. The women I write for (for I always picture my friends reading) are thoughtful, interesting, funny, clever, sarcastic, beautiful and imperfectly quirky.

Ironic obscure poetic reference for a blog name = Branding FAIL.

Choose your look, sayeth the gurus of branding.

The color palette of this blog varies between some colors and lots of colors. I get bored. I try to do the starkly minimalist backgrounds, but always go back to things that are colorful and over the top. And then I start designing blog banners on Photoshop…

Sorry, faithful readers. I have no colors. Wait, I just adopted colors for the blog in my head. The blog’s colors are now BLUSH and BASHFUL. (Name that movie reference!)

At least I should know the purpose of the blog, right? That’s the heart of branding!

It’s a fashion blog! But it’s not, really. I’ll never be the Man Repeller or The Sartorialist. I can’t even bring a great OOTD on a daily basis. Guaranteed you will never see a full-body picture of me in a romper and high-heeled clogs with a sun-dappled tree in the background. Sorry. Plus my style is kind of quirky–sometimes vintage, sometimes conservative, sometimes a little rocker or alternative. And when I recommend for other people, I try to take their personal style and body type into consideration.

Maybe it’s a budget blog? But that’s more out of necessity, because I’m a teacher in my real life, which means I am economically ground in the gears of the system of THE MAN *rant rant*. I show people how I shop and how I utilize the internet to get greater bargains on the things you want but can’t afford. But it’s not really about that, either.

Technically, I guess Furnished Souls would be considered a lifestyle blog. I am so uncomfortable with that term, though! I automatically think of Gwyneth Paltrow, the guru of GOOP, or Martha Stewart, with all her good things.

Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.
Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.

To me, “lifestyle” means that you have it all together–or at least act like it. It’s those ladies on Facebook who post pictures of their fresh-baked loaves of bread on their immaculately clean tables, who talk about their adorable precious children and thoughtful husbands. Lifestyle bloggers are people who seem to never make a misstep, and if they do, it’s adorable and anecdote-worthy. I do not fit that description. I am actually pondering having a recurring feature here entitled “Where It All Went Wrong”, chronicling my own fashion failures and how I might have fixed them.

I am not even in a relationship, but I have the feeling if I tried to “consciously uncouple” like Gwyneth, it would involve a lot of wailing, mascara panda eyes, and undignified snotting.

Upon reflection, I think I could best be branded as a “life” blog. It occurs to me that my trip to run errands and my blog are much alike. I had to do four things: take my diploma to the framer’s; pick up a package of Korean beauty products from the post office; go to Bed, Bath and Beyond; and get lunch. From my place, the framer’s and the post office require a left turn, BB&B requires a right turn, and lunch was in between. Yet, my route ended up being framers to BB&B to post office to lunch. Totally inefficient, yet I got it all done, and had more time in my car to listen to fun summer tunes and enjoy the sunshine. And isn’t that great sometimes?

Comeback + FauxCo Chanel

If you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You are far more patient than I deserve.

So, what have I been doing in this long time since I posted new content? Well, let’s SUM UP.

1. Started the Bedeck blog, focused only on accessories.

2. Abandoned the selfsame blog.

3. Started a master’s degree–an MFA in Creative Writing, to be exact.

4. Worked my butt off teaching full time and working on my MFA full time. Two full time gigs = complete and utter exhaustion and life stoppage.

5. Became addicted to Korean Dramas.

6. Wrote a novel about artists in the 1920′s for the aforementioned MFA.

7. GRADUATED! (This happened last weekend.)

So, now I have my life back, post-studies, and want to start blogging again. LO AND BEHOLD, YOU HAVEN’T ALL ABANDONED ME! My tears of joy are real.

Some things will be startlingly familiar–there will be fashion inspirations and icons, comparison shopping so you can find fabulous stuff on the cheap, some fug, and some snark. It’s all coming back. Plus, now that I am obsessed with all things Korean (as opposed to when I left off, when the British were all the rage in my head), I’m going to bring you into my little Korean world, with KPop, KDramas, and a skincare industry that’s light years ahead. (Teaser: I just started an 8-step [sometimes more] Korean skincare ritual. Video to come…) I promise I’ll try to restrain myself.

To celebrate my comeback and set the tone, I shall recreate what I am wearing on this sunny Saturday, and call it my FauxCo Chanel look. A little restrained, a little sexy.

FauxCo Chanel

The key to this look is the ribbed white tank. It must cling, just a little bit, and dip down in the front, just a little bit. It’s got to be a little sexy, or else the outfit goes wrong. The point here is juxtaposition. Add linen or cotton shorts and a sheer or lightweight cardigan (I have a slightly nubby one with a loose weave which reminded me of Chanel tweeds). A pair of metallic wedges are comfortable, yet stretch out the legs visually and make them very sexy. Then pile on the pearl necklaces. They should be very long, like the flapper necklaces of yore. I have two; one vintage 1920′s faux pearls, and one long freshwater strand that my brother and future sister-in-law gave me.

A note about fake flower pins: wear them in multiples. They’re cheap and obviously fake; that’s their nature, so wear them for impact, not for verisimilitude. One flower is a cop-out. Buy them in threes, so you can make giant topiaries. I lined my three flowers up on the left side of my cardigan, slightly offset, starting from mid-shoulder down; you can also align them in a triangle shape.

I recommend a neutral pink lip and some cat eyeliner (cat eyeliner = winged victory).

Classic meets a faker, and you get FauxCo Chanel.

Thanks for coming back and reading this post! I hope to offer up many more in the days to come!

Another Online Diversion–Just What You Needed…

You’re already on Pinterest, right? We’ve talked about this before. It’s not the diversion I’m talking about, but it is related, as I found this diversion on Pinterest.

It’s called Tagxedo. It’s similar to Wordle, only you can make your word clouds into shapes! Also, you can plug in a web address or your Twitter name, and it will make a word cloud out of that source. Here’s the cloud I made from Furnished Souls:

You can also enter text in paragraphs or a list of words. It’s very fun, and another good way to waste time on the internet. Enjoy!

How Lovely…

What with all the craziness of life recently–starting grad school, vacation to NYC, etc.–I have yet to get around to this wonderful piece of news: Revival Girl (aka Angela) from the blog A Grand Revival nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award!

A Grand Revival is well worth checking out, as Angela renovates her home on a budget. She is stylish and classy both, and I LOVE the fact that she used the movie Amelie for her wedding inspiration. Thank you so much for the nom!

To accept the nomination, I must:
*Thank the person who nominated me and link back to them in this post. DONE!
*Share seven possibly unknown things about myself.
*Nominate fifteen bloggers whom I admire.
*Contact and link back to these bloggers.

I love this idea, so with no further ado…SEVEN SECRETS…SORT OF.

1. This may be the first post that I’ve mentioned it in any detail, but I just started my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing this summer. One of the main aspects of this program is writing a full-length novel. Currently I am working on the plot–here’s some teasers as to what this novel will involve:

Paris in the 1920′s and The Lost Generation.

The surrealist photography of Man Ray.

Playing cards.

Pickers.

Should be interesting.

2. I’m obsessed with the British television show Green Wing. I have watched it on Netflix more times than I care to count. And I ‘ship Mac and Caroline HARD.

I have mentioned this before. What I have not mentioned is that it is beyond frustrating that I keep talking about it AND NOBODY WILL WATCH IT! I AM ALONE. ALOOOONNNNNE.

It is one of the funniest shows ever. EVER.

3. In high school, I wanted to be a professional singer. Opera or lounge, not pop.

4. I can’t dance. I’m quite good at swaying to music, but dancing–especially with a partner–is likely to be a failure. I can’t let someone else lead.

This cat is a better dancer than I am.

5. I’m a vegetarian. But I don’t make a big deal out of it to others–everybody gets to make their own choices. I don’t know how to cook meat, and the smell of bacon makes me nauseous.

6. I think the sexiest clothes are not necessarily the most revealing or overtly sexual. Except for fishnet stockings and garters. They’re trashy and sexy.

7. When I try to garden, things die. My mother is a fantastic gardener, but I can’t even keep a potted plant for more than a month. My mom keeps trying, because I love looking at gardens, but I cannot seem to get that bit of magic right.

And now, the blogs I would like to nominate:

1. The Lipstick Gal
2. The Tiger’s Eye
3. Bewitchery
4. Sadie & Daisie
5. Underscoredesigns
6. Let’s Leave It Up To Fate
7. I Want Your…Blog
8. Tattoos and Running Shoes
9. The Kitchenette
10. Outrunning Autism
11. People Places and Bling
12. Scandinavian Vintage
13. That’s Normal (Blog still in development, link is to Tumblr)
14. Anonymous Hedonist
15. Over My Styled Body

Fantastic blogs, all!

And I’m still in the process of discovering new blogs and people to follow, so if you have any suggestions to round out my list, I’d appreciate it!

Kimono Three Ways

I obsess.

I find something I like and I want to listen to it, read it, or watch it over and over again. Right now I’m obsessed with these things:

Fun. Some Nights

Electric Guest This Head I Hold

Green Wing on Netflix

and Tamsin Greig (as Caroline Tod) in particular.

And right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Girls on HBO. I am not sure I actually LIKE any of the characters, but I find it compelling. So I have to watch.

A lot has been said about the fashion (or lack thereof) on Girls. (Check out Vulture’s Girls paper dolls!) I am kind of digging Jessa’s personal style, which tends to the Boho. I’m all about Boho this summer–I think it’s the maxi dresses that bring it out in me. In particular, Jessa’s kimono in the park outfit has stuck out. I wouldn’t ever wear a bathrobe out in public (which is essentially what she has going on–robe, tank top, Uggs), but I love the idea of a kimono, a topknot, and dark red lipstick.

She uses her employer’s lipstick without her permission, which seems so audacious and even upsetting, which is so part of her character. Bold lip, bold personality.

I came up with a “kimono 3 ways” set. An all-out costume-y kimono, a bathrobe-style kimono (like Jessa’s), and a wearable kimono-style dress (that you could even put a tank top under). Dangly chain earrings, hair up, MAC Russian Red lips, and you’re doing a passable Boho Jessa impression.

Kimono 3 Ways

My own personal bit of Boho today? (Aside from my maxi dress…) My vintage 1976 Egyptian scarab reproduction ring. It was sold at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the first tour of King Tut’s tomb in the USA. And it swivels. Awesomeness.

So…Boho? Kimono? Or just plain no? Also, any obsessions right now that you want to share?

True Blood Season 5 Premiere!

SPOILERS AHOY! If you didn’t see last night’s True Blood, that is.

Last night was the season premiere of True Blood. Since I love this show, I went ahead and ponied up some dollars to start up my HBO subscription again (just for the course of the series) so I can watch live and up close in HD. I decided to take a close look at the style and fashion of True Blood, so I live-tweeted the experience from my Twitter account, @FurnishedSouls. Some of the things I noticed:

1. Pam stole the show from the moment she said “Fucktarded”. And then she followed that up with “Super Snatch”. Also this:

2. Steve Newlin is a gay vampire American. He has terrible gay man style. He needs to take a cue from Lafayette. Gay does not mean pleat-front khakis, purple plaid shirt, and a sweater around the neck. Seriously.

3. From my tweet, upon seeing Luna and Sam: “I didn’t know HRH Kate’s influence reached all the way to Bon Temps. Nice pantyhose.”

I am pro-tights, anti-pantyhose. Look at Luna here–she looks so buttoned up. She’s so upstaged by all the naked people in that shot.

4. Sookie’s house is vintage twee.

So very Laura Ashley. Her place is worn-in, vintage, and cutesy. So definitively feminine. But also–not very distinctive, sad to say. She put up a shower curtain last night (after they wrapped Debbie Pelt in her old one) that looked like it came from the bargain bin at Bed Bath & Beyond.

5. Let’s talk Nora. Eric’s new “sister” (aka they were both turned by Godric) with benefits. The girl is gorgeous, with the gorgeous skin and gorgeous hair and she had some gorgeous lipstick on in last night’s episode.

Of course, I couldn’t find a picture that looked like it did on my screen, but it was a stunning red that didn’t overpower her. It just enhanced the whole of the gorgeousness. Also, she had some great boots on. And she used to be in the British series Robin Hood, which had my favorite man as its prime baddie who wants to be good, Richard Armitage. Trivia!

6. Lafayette shaved his head. They did a whole “Lafayette looks at non-safety razor longingly while in Sookie’s tub” thing that had everybody worried, then it turns out it was just a haircut. Then he got in a fight with Alcide, which takes some brass ones.

Then Alcide growled. And I slid off my chair.

7. True Blood is trying to bring the 80′s back. Steve Newlin and Jessica Hamby would be prime examples. Check out Jessica’s dress from the episode:

I couldn’t find a full-length shot, but it was short, and tight, and floral with long sleeves. Very Robert Palmer video girl. And the color clip-in? Please, child. She looks like a model for American Apparel. Except with better hair.

8. My favorite garment of the episode ended up in a pool of blood. It was a biker-style hoodie sweatshirt with an asymmetrical zip, found on the “extractor” who gave Eric and Bill their new identities. (IKE APPLEBAUM!) She was then killed.

The hoodie looked a bit like this one from Metropark USA.

9. Predictions: as this was the follow-up to the season finale, there weren’t a lot of changes, like when Sookie’s house got made over or Bill’s house underwent its stylish renovation. But I think there will be some new, fantastic interiors, like this one from an upcoming episode:

I am LOVING that chandelier. Also, I love it when Sookie gets dressed up in her retro girlie style. And, as always, naked is a very popular look on this show.

P.S. I’m not usually a GIF fan. But seriously, if you want a picture of something that happened in a series last night, the richest ground is Tumblr. And those people SERIOUSLY love GIFs. So, thank you, Tumblr Trubies. (And I do love the GIF of Lafayette.)

This Week Inspired By:

Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Oh, YA fiction. You are like a mistress I just keep coming back to. I try to only read YA that is highly recommended, and I saw a bunch of my friends on Twitter talking about these books a couple of months ago. It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I managed to read both of these within 24 hours today. I slept little and snuck reading into my work day. And now I’m sad that it’s over. Signs of a good book! I think I like Lola a little more, because the characters are a little quirkier, (and Anna shows up there, too), but I love them both. Which brings me to…

Paris

City of Lights! The city I could/should/kind of do love. Allow me to explain.

In college (I was just a couple of years older than Anna!), I finally got to visit Paris. I went with one of my best besties, who I love. However, I discovered once we got there, that my friend did not like art. Or great food. Or history. Or culture. Or basically anything Paris had to offer. Except for architecture, but she got bored of that pretty fast. And we were poor; too poor to drink, too poor to eat well, to poor to take public transit, too poor to afford anything but a hostel, too poor to even go up the Eiffel Tower. And then I got sick mid-week, and we were locked out of our hostel in the rain. Needless to say, Paris is my do-over city.

I am ready to live la belle vie in Paris. I need my do-over.

Quote of the Week

My writing sample for my master’s application is not going well.

Song of the Week
Foux da Fa Fa by Flight of the Conchords

You know. To go with the Paris theme.

Who wants to plan a trip to Paris with me?