In the vast and wonderful global market of things I can’t afford, there are many items the manufacturing of which I don’t quite understand, whether they’re produced by man or machine. How complex a process it must be to turn minerals into an iPhone, to engineer a camera that takes panoramic photos, or to get the aroma of apple and cinnamon to stick to those netted bags of pine cones all season long! So when it comes to DIY’s, I am easily awed and overwhelmed. Assembling an ombre cake or weaving a friendship bracelet may be kindergarten day camp level of difficulty, but my attempts at them never seem to turn out right. Inspired by this Lulu Frost necklace, I decided to tackle one of the simplest current DIY trends: painted rhinestone jewelry. Continue reading
Like acoustic electric guitars, sweater vests and non-alcoholic beer, silk scarves pretty much completely undermine their fundamental purpose. You’re likely to be kept warmer by some insulated backpack straps, but their uselessness doesn’t stop me from compulsively buying threadbare vintage ones at yard sales and thrift shops. I find them more valuable as art than fashion accessories. When I tie them around my neck I look like a hastily wrapped present and when I wrap one around my hair I am reminded that I will never be able to rock a babushka like my grandmother did. Even in her 80s, she looked ageless, rather than dated, in her collection of silk handkerchiefs and tweed skirt suits. I inherited part of her collection, which she always kept overflowing from wicker baskets in her room in as an artistic way as any mess can overflow, and now am in the process of displaying them in my apartment in a more deliberate way. Continue reading
When it comes to haggling at flea markets, I crumble more easily than the binding of a 19th century paperback. My technique is as follows: inquire about the cost of an item, ask if it maybe, possibly, if it isn’t too much to ask, be given to me for 10 percent less than established price, get rejected, walk away. Well, actually, take photos of the desired items instead and then walk away. That’s what happened Saturday at the beautiful, enchanting South Street Flea Market, which offered boxes upon boxes of rusty skeleton keys, forgotten and yellowed love letters, dusty records and innumerable other objects that make most passersby scoff, “Who the hell would pay for this junk?” To whom I silently respond, “Aaaannnddddd, that would be me.” I left the block with a bulky microscope and a set of vintage tool drawers. Here are photos of the things my charming negotiating skills failed to win. Continue reading
My parents’ basement, much like my late grandparents’, is the ideal set for a hybrid of Hoarders and Antiques Roadshow. Items that have long surpassed their moment of practical value in history rest in overlapping piles on the concrete floor like unconscious party-goers the morning after. WWII military gear, pewter dishware and ’80s shoulder-padded silk blouses, among other miscellaneous goods, wait for their next awakening (though, there is little hope for ever reviving those padded shoulders in my book). I’ve always marveled at the collection because even after moving out of my family’s home, I have never gotten to the bottom of those dusty piles. It is equally probable that a first draft of the Declaration of Independence lies underneath it all as is a family of deceased mice. As I am beginning to realize that one cannot sustain oneself on magazines and beer, I am saving my money and instead satisfying my need to acquire frivolous things by finding new value in the cellar’s dated junk. These vintage books, which I unearthed last weekend from home, have got me considering some new graphic design aesthetics. Continue reading
I’ve long been told that art is what separates man from beast. And for nearly as long I have curated a pathetic personal collection of weathered magazine pages and random scraps of fabric. Until I was introduced to fashion illustrator Kendra Dandy, that is. The Philadelphia-based artist’s femininely quirky works are gorgeous enough to warrant them a serious frame and a spot as focal point of any room but are so well-priced you’ll want to start your own little gallery. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Dandy over a cup of coffee last winter. As you might imagine, she’s as charming as her designs. Continue reading
It really wouldn’t have created an irrational fear if it didn’t just fall out of the sky like an unavoidable meteorite. If 8-year-old you was finally starting to believe your parents’ camping advice that “It’s more afraid of you than you are of it” (“it” being bugs) and a caterpillar the size of a Twinkie fell from above and landed on your journal, you too would develop a slight phobia. So, after a childhood filled with delightful camping trips across the Eastern seaboard, I have become a woman torn between a love of the outdoors and a loathing of its smallest inhabitants. This week I have more intensely felt the desire to roll out a cobalt tarp, take midnight strolls by lantern light and feel the thrill that is watching your s’mores marshmallow spontaneously go up in flames (in a Smokey-approved way). Bugs and work are keeping me tied to the city for now, so I’ll try to bring the outdoors in with these camping-inspired home goods.
- Apples: Pick-your-own apple orchards remind me there’s more open space to enjoy than a free parking spot on South Street. Frecon Farm’s Pickfest, which features tons of live bluegrass music, reminds me there exists music beyond the muffled Kanye tracks that constantly blast up to my window from passing cars. Seasonal treats and a city retreat are just what I need.
- Coffee: When it comes to coffee, if Ron Swanson wouldn’t drink it, neither will I. That means deep, earthy, even tobacco-like flavors untainted by cream or sugar. Local roasters Reanimator Coffee make a mighty bold blend that I plan on picking up from their recently-opened flagship cafe in Fishtown.
- Cider: Philadelphia Brewing Company made me the the hardworking beer-drinker I am today. They are about to do the same for cider. Elegant in flavor and design (like, save-the-bottle-and-consider-putting-flowers-in-it-for-four-months elegant), Commonwealth Ciders is taking precedence over pumpkin brews for me at the bar this season. Have I graduated from beer?
- Words: Nora Ephron was basically narrating my inner monologue before I was born. I’ll be curling up with one of her last essays, “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” about life as a lady who feels compelled to maintain a serious beauty regimen but is also horribly burdened by the fuss of it all while I indulge in the above three items.
As a resident of South Street, a substantial section of my personal food pyramid is occupied by free samples. Most culinary excursions in my neighborhood end with a handful of miniature plastic spoons from hummus samples at Whole Foods or ice cream at Haagen-Dazs or, as was the case this morning, tiny tastes of fresh cheeses, dips, sauces and chocolates at the Headhouse Farmers Market. Around 25 vendors set up shop on 2nd Street between Pine and South streets and about a third of them let you try what you wish. So, sometime between the market’s hours of operation of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the pile of tiny utensils in my palm turns into a little pile of guilt and although I’m fully sated, I’m too happy with my experience to leave without buying a few things. This morning I picked up a pair of citrus-y French pastries known as canelé from Market Day Canelé. If America is ready to move on from its cupcakes and cronuts phase, I’d suggest this Bordeaux-born spongy cake be the next national obsession. Aside from that, I left with some cheese – a pesto feta and some maple goat cheese – which pretty much accounts for the rest of my food pyramid. The market is open every Sunday May through December.
If only my clothes neatly evaporated into thin air after several hours of at-home dress-up. But life can’t be a gif. Above is convincing evidence that I would wear that woodsy little Marni skirt on at least two occasions. Also, a pair of Loeffler Randall flats delicately splattered with what could be mistaken for the chicest tin foil ever.