Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the martian

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The Martian by Andy Weir is a story about Mark Watney, an American astronaut who gets stranded on Mars. He is believed to be dead and is forced to survive on the few supplies he has left and his own innovation and skills. 

I am not a big space person and Preston and I get in arguments about the amount of money used for space research, but I really enjoyed this novel and have a greater appreciation for NASA and the men and women who have dedicated their lives to exploring the unknown. I think the biggest surprise about this book is how funny it is. Mark Watney is a very likable character and his journal entries were sometimes laugh-out-loud good. I have heard this book has already been picked up for a movie deal, so I look forward to seeing it portrayed on the big screen. Another very cool aspect is how scientifically accurate it seemed. I use the word 'seem' because 1) I have very little space knowledge, so you could tell me pumpkins grew on Saturn and I would nod my head in agreement 2) I brought this point up with Preston about how his scientific calculations and word problems were so accurate and he said, "Well, he's making it up." So there's that. Despite its imaginative nature, Weir's calculations and situations are realistic and scientifically sound and sometimes I felt like I was reading GRE word problems which was a little disheartening.
I liked this book but this quote on the last few pages made me fall in love:

Every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.

So if you want to laugh, learn about space survival, marvel at the innovations and technology we have in this day and age and smile at the goodness of humanity, you should read this book.

Monday, March 30, 2015

white oleander

I haven't written a book review on here in a while, but upon completion of Janet Fitch's White Oleander I felt compelled to share the beauty of this book with others. I started this one the train to the airport before we left for our cruise and finished before we got on the boat to leave (roughly 8 or 9 hours total?) It's magnificent.

The story is about Ingrid and Astrid Magnussen, a mother and daughter who live by themselves, wandering from city to city living on Ingrid's meager earnings from writing poetry. Ingrid lives and breathes poetry, and at first, I found it unrealistic because of the way she spoke with such imagery and prose that you would only find within the pages of required reading for AP English. But that's just it- that's who she is. She's an artist, and it is eventually her downfall. After committing a crime which lands her in jail, Astrid is placed in foster care and the rest of the novel tells of her experiences with different foster families and her relationship with her mother through these times.

The strength of this novel is definitely its prose. There were numerous lines and passages I re-read, not because I didn't understand, but because I found them so beautiful and/or haunting. I felt very deeply for Astrid and quickly latched onto her as a protagonist, but found myself harboring a twisted curiosity and admiration for her crazy and beautiful mother, Ingrid. This book is a story of triumph, heartbreak, femininity, love found and lost. I wanted to pace myself while reading and make it last longer, but couldn't because I had to know what would happen next, and that is one of the trademarks of a fantastic book. Warning: this is part of Oprah's book club, but don't let it steer you away! It's very #dark and cooler than most Oprah books. (Sidenote: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is also part of Oprah's book club and one of my favorite books and authors)
And I tried not to make it worse by asking for things, pulling her down with my thoughts. I had seen girls clamor for new clothes and complain about what their mothers made for dinner. I was always mortified. Didn't they know they were tying their mothers to the ground? Weren't chains ashamed of their prisoners? --These lines are the perfect demonstration of Astrid's fierce loyalty to her mother at the beginning of the story and how her relationship and worship of her mother changes throughout the novel.

They were too young and undamaged, sure of themselves. To them, pain was a country they had heard of, maybe watched a show about on TV, but one whose stamp had not yet been made in their passports. --Such a beautiful metaphor. This is Astrid speaking about her classmates, ironically when she is in middle school and not much older than the girls she's talking about.

I was tired of men. Men who...made you love them and changed their minds. --Paraphrased this one so as not to reveal too much of the story, but loved that last line 'cause what girl hasn't felt that way amirite

It's such a liability to love another person, but in here, it's like playing catch with grenades. --Favorite line in the entire book. Written in a letter from Ingrid to Astrid while she's in prison. Chilllls.

So if you're looking for a #dark, easy read that's hard to put down (highly recommend for trips, although it's a little bulky) I suggest White Oleander. Prepare to feel.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

~*SpRiNg BrEaK 2o15*~

On March 14 we left sunny Dallas for sunny Miami to set sail for the Caribbean. Our ship left on Sunday afternoon, so after arriving late to Miami Saturday evening, we went to Fort Lauderdale to board the MS Eurodam. We went with Preston's family who are all seasoned cruisers, while it was my first time. The whole week was a dream- I ate, slept, swam, tanned and ate some more. It was a very rough return back to Dallas on the 22nd, but we had an amazing time touring the Caribbean.
Our first stop was in Grand Turk. This spot had the best snorkeling, which was also a first time activity for me. I didn't last very long because I'm a poor swimmer, but I got to use my snorkeling gear and swim with the fishies, so I considered the outing a success.

While aboard the ship we tried to exercise in order to balance out the 4000 calories a day we were consuming in delicious food that we didn't to lift a finger to prepare or clean up. I honestly felt bad sometimes because I felt so lazy, but I kind of got over it. The multiple thousands of calories a day is not a joke. On Monday I had to work and didn't take my lunch break until late in the afternoon, and felt dizzy and lightheaded the whole time due to the fact that my body not used to consuming so little between lunch and breakfast after a week of omelets, ice cream, burgers, fries, steak etc. It was kind of funny, but mostly sad.
Our second stop was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is beautiful! I kept telling Preston that Madewell needed to do a style guide in San Juan because the pastel colored buildings and cobblestone streets were too dreamy. We took so many pics in San Juan and it seemed like every corner was my new dream home/apartment. We also toured a mission and castle, and I'm so uncultured, I forget the names of both. Anyway, I'd love to return to Puerto Rico and see more that it has to offer, but San Juan was a great introduction!

Our third stop was probably my favorite. It was St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and we spent the day at Magen's Bay. This place was beautiful!! We rented a kayak and played Pocahontas amidst the turquoise water and it was a real dream. 

The cruise line we traveled with was Holland America and most of the patrons were 50+ which I actually loved because old people are cute and hilarious and don't give an eff what you think about them. Sometimes that carefree attitude backfired, particularly in the swimwear department... We did manage to go dancing two nights, despite my complaining. I have to admit I'm never in the mood to go out and dance, but once I'm on the floor, I'm happy. Preston gets really annoyed with me about it actually hehe. March Madness also started while we were on the water, so a few nights were spent retiring early to watch games. Thankfully we had ESPN Caribbean to keep us in the loop.
Our final stop was at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. This island is owned by Holland America and it was lovely. It had the cutest colorful cabanas scattered on the beach which I loved. Also we saw stingrays and this was the second best snorkeling spot. I was able to keep up better here. We tried to make the most of our last beach excursion and stayed til the very last minute before boarding the little boats back to the ship.
After the Bahamas we went back to Fort Lauderdale and said goodbye to the cruise life. It was very sad. Especially that last custom omelet. Our flight back to Dallas wasn't until 8 PM so we spent the day in Miami. We mostly stayed in Miami Beach and admired the art deco neighborhoods and the craziness that is Miami. We returned late Sunday evening much browner and probably a little heavier than we left, but No ReGreTs. It was an amazing trip and we had a great time with family.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

lfw & mfw 2015 highlights

We are rounding out the fall/winter shows in Paris and here is a very delayed take on my favorites from London and Milan.

I always have to say something about Burberry because it's my favorite fashion house and Christopher Bailey is one of my favorite designers. He became a father this year! Aww. Burberry was very 70s and colors and textures were rich throwbacks to hippie fringe and make love not war tapestries and tie dye. These three caramel colored pieces were my favorite from a sadly underwhelming show.
To be honest, I have never heard of Philipp Plein until the styledotcom snapchat of his show which HAD A ROLLERCOASTER IN IT. So I had to see what was up. This show was very rock and roll and tough. I liked the trashy party girl look of the first one with the luxe fur and mini dress. The next two reminded me of the cut-outs from Mugler SS 2015.
I snuck in a pic of the Phillip Plein army and then it was onto Prada. Prada was very much your grandma's fashion staples, but updated and kind of warped? I'm not sure the word I'm looking for but it was like if grandma was secretly doing cocaine with her girlfriends at bridge club. This bubblegum pink was everywhere and I loved it. I want my next winter coat to be some shade of pink.
Sportmax was a surprisingly good collection, not because they're always bad, but because it's another label I hardly view shows of, but decided to take a gander. My very favorite piece is the yellow dress in the first look. I love the volume and cut of it. Sportmax very much lived up to its name with sporty, practical pieces women can wear over and over.
Alberta Ferretti was very Italian Renaissance. Rich, intricate, elaborate and lots of jewel tones. I liked the structure of the first three looks I chose and almost severe shoulders in contrast to the ornate, almost gilded looks of the last two. Also very prominent throughout the show were the high necklines reminiscent of many Italian Renaissance couture.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

viva la mamma: dolce & gabbana fw 2015

My favorite show of Milan fashion week goes to Dolce & Gabbana for their tribute to motherhood. This collection was so beautiful and included 11 mothers onstage with their children, including a very pregnant Bianca Balti. It was hard to choose my favorites because there were 91 looks to choose from, all of them entirely unique and special.

First pick was the second look of the show. The roses pay homage to Stefano's childhood memory of his mother's rose scented lipstick. The childhood memory is also responsible for Dolce & Gabbana's uniquely scented lipsticks. I thought the first look was darling and a ladylike take on a graphic dress. Second look was sooo Oscar to me, I had to include it. I can see this on a politician's wife at a charity gala or something. Third look was just another gorgeous display of those roses and I can't say no to a pink mini shift dress.
Next look I chose because mommy daughter dresses!! To this day my mom still picks out matching Easter dresses for my sister, herself and me and it's a tradition I plan to continue with my children some day. I love it!! This fifth look is such a classic mom look to me because it's elegant, modest and eternally chic. This sixth look has such gorgeous details and it was one of an identical pink flowered dress. I thought the red was more dramatic.
Hi Gigi, you're incredible. And so is this body hugging black dress. It has the just the slightest touch of trashy, with the sheer black and rose design, but mostly classy. This final look is actual drawings from Domenico's nieces and nephews. Can you imagine having your childhood doodles on a couture dress? I'm not sure who's going to wear the scribbly drawing pieces, but they are creative and beautifully made. I had to include the last picture because it was such an incredible and moving finale, with all the mothers, children and models. Infinite cheers and applause to Stefano and Domenico's mommy inspired collection. Viva la mamma!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

monthly playlist: march

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9