Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Charming Dame Lesson 10 - Walk the Walk

"I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot."
     -Marilyn Monroe

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I have very distinct memories of trying on my mother's heels as a little girl.  Doing so always made me feel so glamorous and I would dream of the day that I would be old enough to have heels of my very own!  Many, many years later, I am still a huge fan.  To me, they're absolutely magical!

While getting my hair done a while back, I was flipping through a magazine and came across an article: '10 Things Every Woman Should Have' by Oscar de la Renta.  One of the items on this list was A Confident Walk.  The quote that accompanied this was "You have to walk like you have three men walking behind you."  Some of my friends were offended and/or upset at this assertion, stating that the sentiment was sexist, kinda creepy, and just plain wrong.  While I can see where they were coming from, when I read this quote, I immediately knew what de la Renta meant by it.  There is something about a woman who inherently knows how to walk in heels.  She exudes a certain something.  A power.  A confidence.  She has an air about her that not only men, but women as well, can quickly identify and most certainly notice.  Quite simply, she casts a spell.

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Coco Chanel once said, "A woman with good shoes is never ugly."  I disagree.  Marilyn Monroe also had a love affair with the heel and at one point said, "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world." but that's only half right.  The other half of the equation is a woman's ability to REALLY walk in them!  A woman who stomps around or wobbles like a newborn calf in heels is not powerful or sexy - no matter how fabulous the shoe.  Can every woman live in heels?  No.  Can every woman pull off a stiletto?  Absolutely not!  Is there anything wrong with that?  Again, I would say no.  You do whatever it is that you CAN do.

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Audrey Hepburn made the Kitten Heel her trademark.  If she wasn't in ballet flats, you could bet she was in a Kitten Heel - and it is widely accepted that she is one of the most glamorous women of all time.  The lesson with a high heel is this: if you can, go for it.  If not, find whatever it is that works for you.  (Perhaps that's really the lesson when it comes to most things.)  It's best to avoid the heel altogether if you find yourself unable to feel safe and comfortable and ESPECIALLY if you are not one of those women who feel like a million dollars in them.  Because I've been wearing them for so long and have a lower center of gravity due to my smaller stature (translation, because I'm short), I won't give a pair of heels under 4-inches a second look.  I'm steadfastly a 4 to 5 inch heel kinda girl!  Manolo Blahnik has said that "the height of a heel should depend on how dangerous you are feeling."  So, by that logic, I suppose I'm always feeling pretty ballsy!

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"People walk differently in high heels.  Your body sways to a different kind of tempo."
     -Manolo Blahnik

So, what do you do if you have simply never given the whole heel thing a proper try?  Well, I'm glad you asked!  Years ago, I was in Z Gallerie, arguably the happiest place on earth (for me).  For many, it's Disneyland, for me it's Z Gallerie.  Just thinking about it makes me happy!  They always have so many gorgeous, glamorous things and a truly fabulous book selection to boot!  Their selection consists mainly of novelty or coffee table books.  I LOVE going to someone's home and finding books stacked or strategically placed, you get such great insight as to who they really are.  Wow - I have REALLY digressed....

So, long story long...I found a super fun book at Z Gallerie many years ago entitled How to Walk in High Heels: The Girl's Guide to Everything.  It pretty much covers it all - from how to get ready in 5 minutes to how to deal with a bad hair day, hangover, or locking yourself out of your house to how to catch a mouse, hang wallpaper, or feng shui your home to the MOST IMPORTANT thing (and also most relevant to this conversation) - how to walk in high heels!  Bet you didn't see that one coming.

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This little treasure covers every aspect of learning to walk in high heels from starting at the grocery store using the cart for balance and leverage to the type of heel that is right for you to how to walk on varying surfaces (ugh, cobblestones are "the HORROR of all HORRORS"!) and how to navigate stairs.  I do not agree with every point the author makes - for example, I would disagree that investing in a pair of Manolo Blahniks is necessary or even possible for most women, but by and large there is some really great information here to ultimately get you to the point of strutting in your stilettos - it truly is an art!  

Something else to keep in mind - while I can spend all night in a pair of 5-inch stilettos, I know my limitations.  There are simply some things that most women will NEVER be able to do in heels.  Running down the street à la Carrie Bradshaw is one of them.  I have made peace with the fact that I am one of these people that will never be able to pull that off.  And you probably should as well.  If there is only ONE piece of advice that you take away from this post, let it be this: most people will never be able to run in heels without falling down or breaking something (and doesn't that really defeat the whole point of a fabulous shoe?).  So take comfort in knowing that if you've got a great strut, one where your hips sway gracefully and confidently from side to side, a walk that you indisputably own, one that makes you feel powerful and beautiful, taking a little bit of extra time to get where you're going is totally worth it - and the added time gives those around you more of an opportunity to appreciate your ability to navigate in a great pair of heels.  Everyone's a winner!

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Ladies, OWN your walk!  Learn how to do it right and make sure you've got the right shoe.  Like Dita Von Teese has said, "Heels and red lipstick will put the fear of god into people."  But carrying your shoes home (and potentially stepping on something and contracting some weird foot disease) will not.

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So for all that is good and holy, do NOT be this girl.  You're better than that.

If you still need some more help, consult Google.  There are TONS of YouTube videos that will teach you how to walk in heels and I've also seen classes on the subject.  You've got options to help get you there!

Happy Strutting, Kittens!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Brandy Alexander

Good Evening Lovelies!

This past week has absolutely FLOWN by - I cannot believe we've already found ourselves back at Sunday.  Without realizing it at the time, I chose a cocktail for last week's episode that will work well in the spirit of keeping this post short and sweet and posted with more than 5 minutes to spare before tonight's episode!  And without further ado, last week's featured cocktail was the Brandy Alexander.  The first time I'd ever heard of the Brandy Alexander was when my fabulous friend Stephanie had the girls over for an afternoon of arts and crafts and cocktails last fall.  While this is more of a fall-inspired libation since it incorporates a sprinkling of nutmeg, when I ran across it listed on the Mad Men Cocktail Guide, I knew I had to revisit it.  And after not really being a fan of the Martini from the week before, I thought a sure thing was the way to go - and a good excuse to use the fireplace.  Not that I needed the warmth (I was simultaneously running the A/C), but it set a festive mood!

Yes, this is more of a desert drink - creamy and slightly sweet, but the Brandy ensures that it does pack a nice punch!  But where did this cocktail come from exactly?  Well, from what I can gather - your guess is as good as any.  Is your name Alexander?  Perhaps YOU invented it!  Alright - that might be a stretch, but with conflicting reports of it even being an offshoot of the original Alexander which was made with Gin, and everyone from Rector's in New York claiming they invented it for a white-themed party for Pheobe Snow (CLEVER!), a fictional character from an ad campaign for the railroads, to Princess Mary's wedding to Viscount Lascelles in London in 1922 claiming that it was created for the occasion, to opera critic Alexander Dragon and even Russian Tzar Alexander II claiming that this cocktail was named for them, no one really knows where it came from.  But most will agree that it is delicious!

So, that may have been a tad more lengthy than I'd originally planned, but now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the enraging episode that was last week's Mad Men episode...  I want to focus mainly on Don and the interesting and incredibly complex relationship with Diana, the waitress that he met at the diner the week prior.  There is something so poignant and sad about the connection that they share.  This is a side of Don that we haven't seen in some time.  He is vulnerable with her and while he's going through a major shift at the moment, he's completely open - something that seems to surprise even him!  He seeks her out as if he sees something profound in himself when he's with her.

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It seems to me that Don feels a sense of purpose with Diana.  He's been the broken one for so long that the idea of being someone else's savior appeals to him on a subconscious level.  Diana isn't young or stylish or exciting, but she draws Don in like no one we've seen do in a really long time.  While she reminded Don of Rachel on a physical level when he first saw her, the more we see of her, the more he's opening himself up to her like he did with Rachel.  When Diana tells Don about the death of her child, he comforts if he's trying to provide the support to her that he regrets not giving to Rachel.  That may seem like a bit of a stretch, but who would have thought that Don would be interacting with someone like Diana in the way that he is so quickly?  We've seen Don with many women - each one of them provided him with something specific that he'd been looking for, but he seems to be doing most of the giving this time around.  These two have established a level of intimacy so quickly which makes me wonder what other dark secrets are still lying below Diana's surface.  To what end will she feel like she needs to punish herself?  Will she be Don's ultimate downfall?  With only a few episodes left, it's not altogether outside the realm of possibilities...

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PS - I'm pretty sure my mother still has the exact towel above!

Moving on...Megan.  Ugh, fucking Megan!  I thought we were finally rid of her.  I've made no secret about how much I hate her, but now I'm realizing that it's not just her.  Her ENTIRE family is terrible.  No one cares about anyone but themselves while claiming that they are selfless and simply care TOO much for others.  And I call bullshit!  After Megan's tearful statement that Don doesn't owe her anything, she starts the episode by calling Don to tell him that she's already run out of money and that he needs to send her more.  She then comes back to New York (her mother and sister also come in from Montreal to 'help') to finalize her divorce and collect her things.  Don just wants the whole ordeal to be over and agrees that he will not be at home when she comes with the movers.  Megan has a business lunch (with sleazy Harry) and leaves her mother to deal with the furniture.  While she specified what was taking, her mother had other ideas.  Marie has vilified Don from the beginning and while it might seem that she's just looking out for Megan, she's really just out for blood and tells the movers to take EVERYTHING, telling Megan "I took what you deserved"!  Marie runs out of money for the movers (are we sensing a pattern with the Calvet women?) and calls Roger, demanding that he come over with the rest.  When Megan comes home to an empty apartment and sees the two of them getting dressed after having slept together, she does nothing to try to rectify her mother cleaning out the apartment.  In my opinion, her failure to act after the fact is just as bad as having committed the act herself.

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Later Megan meets Don to finalize the divorce and acts more like a child than we've seen in a while.  "I wasn't going to say a word.  I wasn't going to give you the satisfaction of knowing that you ruined my life...Why am I being punished for being young?  I gave up everything for you, because I believed you and you're nothing but a liar. An aging, sloppy, selfish, liar."  Seriously?  This is a spoiled brat, a girl who just happened to be attractive - very attractive - and because of that many things have come very easy for her.  Could Peggy pull off behaviour like this?  No, because, while an attractive girl, she doesn't look like a model or a movie star.  But Megan's attributes have led her to believe that she can pull this shit - that somehow it's perfectly acceptable.

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To prove my point, Don tells her, "You're right. I want you to have the life you deserve."  And writes her a check for one million dollars.  ONE MILLION DOLLARS!  Adjusting for inflation, that would be almost $6.3 million today.  Interesting that this 'strong, independent' woman who hasn't worked in a VERY long time and gets money sent to her from her husband can be so self righteous and tell Don "I don't want anything of yours." when he offers her a cigarette, but then puts the million dollar check in her pocket and high-tails it out of there!  She's got some really strong convictions.

Something that has bothered me all week, something I need some help with is...exactly what was it that Megan 'gave up' to be with Don?  She was a secretary who wanted to be an actress.  His bank account and generosity made that possible.  Something she tackily brought that up earlier when she told Don, "Oh were a millionaire when I met you."  We've never seen her take anyone into account but herself the entire time she's been on the show, so for Don to tell Roger that she isn't anything like Jane (the young secretary that Roger married and later divorced), well, that's blatantly untrue.  She may not be quite as bad as Jane, but they are both cut from the same cloth.

Perhaps that's why Don is reacting so intensely to Diana.  Because she is so different from Megan (and Betty).  This is finally an adult woman who is getting by on her own.  While she's not as glamorous, that's probably one of Diana's most attractive qualities.  I'm not implying that Don is a saint, but ultimately there is a limit to what someone deserves simply for being married for a handful of years.  I could go on about this, but look at the time - End Rant!

So excited and a little nervous for tonight's episode!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Martini

Good Evening Lovelies!

Since my post for Mad Men's mid-season finale was incredibly late, I wanted to make sure that I took care of the one for the first episode back before the second one airs.  Admittedly, I'm cutting it close, but I did it!  Kudos, Melinda.

For my cocktail accompaniment to the premiere episode of the second half of this fine last season of Mad Men, I thought I would go with an undisputed classic.  The Martini.  I should mention that prior to that night, I had - GASP - never had a Martini.  'How is that possible?' you might be asking yourself.  Well, I don't really have an answer for you.  Since I started the Mad Men Cocktail Hour posts as a way to educate myself in the way of cocktails (something most wine aficionados probably aren't well versed in), I think the fact that it's JUST booze intimidated me a bit.  And really, I wasn't wrong in being a little wary of this one.  It might be vintage blasphemy, but while I am no longer scared of it, I am also not the Martini's biggest fan.

Since I aim to be not only fabulous and entertaining, but also educational, we shall commence with the history of the Martini.  While this isn't on the top of the list of drinks I'm apt to order the next time I go out, there are certainly mainly people who will.  And who have for a very long time.  There is no official, agreed-upon, origin story for this cocktail, but there are a few prevailing theories.

In the mid-1800's, a gold miner struck big and went into the town of Martinez, California to celebrate.  He went into a saloon and ordered Champagne, which they did not have, so the bartender concocted a drink from ingredients he had on hand - gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon.  And thus, the Martinez Special was born.  The miner later ordered it in San Francisco (where he had to explain how to make it) and it quickly gained popularity.  So much so, that it was published in The Bartender's Manual in 1880.  Other theories like the San Francisco and miner angles, but suggest that the drink was invented by a bartender for a miner who was on his way to the town of Martinez.  Still others believe it was invented in New York's Knickerbocker Hotel and then there are those that won't cite where it was invented, just that it was named after one of its main ingredients - Martini & Rossi Vermouth.  However it actually came to be, its popularity as one of the most classic cocktails is enduring.

So, Martini in hand, I settled down to watch as my beloved Mad Men came back for its final run - the aptly dubbed, "End of an Era."  So much happened in this episode and the way in which the episode opens is such a throw back to the Don from the first season that, while it was a little hard to watch Don walk a girl in a chinchilla coat on how to seduce him and then tell her "You're not supposed to talk", I thought it was perfect!

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Even though it is revealed that this is for an ad, from the get-go, we know that Don has reverted back to his original form.  Ladies' Man.  I do miss the old Don, but over the course of the last seven seasons, he has grown a lot.  Which leads me to believe that we will see a good deal of introspection from him as well.  This has always been a man who has been haunted by his past and I can only hope the final episodes give Don a little solace.

One of the greatest aspects of finding these characters in 1970 are the mustaches.  Specifically Roger's.  I found a great article, an ode if you will, to Roger's mustache!  I have nothing further...just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge it!

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While the fashion is definitely moving forward, Don is confronted by (and confronting) the women of his past.  While out with Roger and a few ladies, he is sharing a story about his mother and asks their waitress if he knows her.  She reminds Don of Rachel Katz (Menken).  She was by far, my favorite of Don's conquests - and I've always suspected she was his favorite as well.  There was something special about her, she got to him and got him on a level that I don't think any other woman has.  After Don dreams about her, he tries to set up a meeting - only to be told that she had died the week before.  This news hits Don hard, and I won't lie...I was devastated as well.  I couldn't help but see this as a real revelation for Don as well as a turning point for the trajectory of this final season.  Though if we can never see Rachel again, I'm glad she got to go out in a chinchilla coat.

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I could talk about Peggy and her Carpe Diem date or about how Ken gave the firm his eye and got fired and could end up besting everyone, but I really want to talk about what Joan and Peggy faced when trying to pitch Topaz Pantyhose as a department store product to a few INCREDIBLY chauvinistic McCann execs.  What first struck me was that it was somehow okay for these men to say things like, "They're afraid Leggs are going to spread all over the world? That wouldn't bother me at all." or asking Joan "What's so special about your panties?" and going on to say "Why aren't you in the brassiere business?  You should really be in the bra business."

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These two ladies stayed professional and kept trying to bring the conversation back to the business at hand, and I didn't think it was possible for me to be more upset about how the meeting went until Joan and Peggy got into the elevator.  Joan stated that she wanted to burn the place to the ground and I don't blame her.  But then Peggy actually made me more upset than the men in the meeting had!  She brushed it off by insinuating that Joan should be used to treatment like that by now and that she was essentially asking for it with the way that she dressed.  WHAT??  How can women turn on each other like that?  And for the exactly does Joan dress inappropriately?  Sure she's well endowed, but she can't help that and always dresses quite conservatively.  In that particular meeting, the only way she could have been dressed more conservatively is if she were wearing a turtleneck!  But Joan's response was FANTASTIC!  "So what you're saying is, I don't dress the way you do because I don't look like you. And that's very, very true."  Ouch!  But Peggy deserved it - honestly, I wouldn't have blamed Joan if she'd decked her.

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We ended the episode with many of our characters in flux, so this second episode should be VERY interesting.   Hope you are enjoying this 'End of an Era' as much as I am!  This last episode opened and closed with Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" and since I thought it was so fitting, that I wanted to share it here.

Happy Viewing, Kittens!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Moonwalk

Good Evening Kittens!

During The Vintage Project's hiatus, many things fell by the wayside.  I realized that one of those things was the Cocktail Hour post for the mid-season finale of Mad Men.  Since I'm getting the chance to make certain things right, I'm going to make this one right - right now.  There was no way I was just going to gloss over this one - ESPECIALLY since both the cocktail and the episode were ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!

If you somehow missed the first episode of the second part of the last season on Sunday (how's that for a mouthful?), and want a little refresher of how things were left, then this is your lucky day!  You're welcome.

 Since I've been watching Mad Men for a good while now, I've got their number.  I know how they operate.  And I had a rather short list of things that I knew were potentially going to be written into the last season.  The first season started in 1960 and this last one started in 1969.  There were some really significant things that happened in the second half of 1969: the Moon Landing in July, the Manson Murders in August, and Woodstock in September.  Since this show has covered so many historic events, I had REALLY hoped that all three would be incorporated.  With all the people who were making the case that there was a Megan Draper/Sharon Tate connection, I was hoping that these theories would pan out and incorporate the Manson family, but my real money was on the Moon Landing being featured on this last episode.  So when I went in search of our cocktail for the evening, I came across a drink I had never heard of before.  The Moonwalk.  This was the first drink the Apollo astronauts had once they returned from walking on the moon.  I chose this on the off-chance that the landing would take place in this episode (instead of that taking place in the second half of the season)...and I celebrated when this actually came to fruition.  It was Perfection- both the timing and the libation!  This cocktail is simple (1 oz grapefruit juice, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 3 drops rose water, and bubbly) and is definitely going to be incorporated into my cocktail repertoire going forward!

So now that we have our cocktail situation situated, let's move on to the episode.  I know that I rave about Mad Men on a regular basis, but this last episode of this split season was seriously amazing.  While we got the regular office politics and drama, what really set this episode apart were the things that brought us, as well as the characters, together.  Within the Mad Men universe, the death of Bertrand Cooper was arguably more significant than the Moon Landing.  The wise yet largely peripheral character served a patriarchal role in Sterling Cooper and had some really insightful musings over the years.  In this last episode, you see that while he seems pretty hands-off most of the time, he understands that the company is more important than the pettiness and politics that seem to be the focus for many.  In his last conversation with Roger he tells him, "I'm a leader. And a leader is loyal to his team." and even though it doesn't make Bert happy, he realizes that there isn't anything that he can do to diffuse the situation between Cutler and Don.  "No one has ever come back from leave, not even Napoleon."  It is this conversation that makes Roger realize he needs to step in to save Don - and in the process elevate himself from 'boss' to 'leader'.  Roger really is a remarkable character!  But this is about Bert, so let's continue to...NOT talk about him?

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The first character that we saw go in this episode was Megan.  Did that hurt?  Not at all.  I have been waiting for this for some time now.  And it seems, so has Don.  Megan served a purpose in the beginning but in the last season or so, that purpose was gone.  Did we need to be reminded the differences between Megan and Betty?  No.  Did we need to see that Don was desperately trying to be modern and relevant?  Not in the least.  Did anyone want to hear her whining?  Negatory.  So buh-bye Megan!  Not sorry to see you go at all.  But it was kind of sad to watch a marriage end over the phone without either one actually saying it was over...

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With the breakup of Don and Megan's marriage we saw two people parting ways, but shortly thereafter we saw millions of people being brought together.  With the Moon Landing.  My generation has never experienced being part of something like the collective mourning experienced during the JFK or MLK assassinations (both of which were written into prior seasons) or the collective awe and inspiration of the Moon Landing.  We, superficially, have been brought together and remember where we were when Princess Diana died or the OJ verdict was read.  We live in a time of instant gratification, where literally EVERYTHING - important and impactful or not - is at our fingertips.  Watching families (whether they be blood or by some other construct) come together in front of a television set and watch the marvels of both science and man's achievement was pretty magical.  Watching the first man walk on the moon brought the country as well as the world together.  And the breaking apart of two people was quickly forgotten.  

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The juxtaposition of Roger coming together with his estranged family to watch and the Sterling Cooper 'family' on a business trip sitting together while Bert was watching with his housekeeper made me both sad and instantly I knew we were going to lose him.  It was just a gut feeling.  The fact that he didn't have any type of family to come together with for such a monumental event was heartbreaking.

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After everyone was notified of Bert's passing, the partners met in the office and while Cutler had issues with him, his first words to Roger were, "My condolences, he was a giant."  And, truly, he was!  The somber nature of the scene is lightened a bit by Roger's trademark humor. "Every time an old man talks about Napoleon, you know he's going to die."

If Bert's last conversation with Roger hadn't truly hit home at the time, it certainly did after his death.  Bert was the glue that held Sterling Cooper together and Roger knew it.  He was old school and represented the spirit of the company as it once was.  When it was good.  When politics and mergers and self-interest hadn't been the driving force.  To me, it felt like definitive lines had been drawn in Bert's passing - Us vs Them.  The original firm and the outsiders that had come in with their own agenda.  With Bert gone, I think Roger felt like it was now his responsibility to make things right and look out for both his people and his company.  "Cutler's not going to stop until the firm is just Harry and the computer. That means everybody goes. And you know it."  Roger was right - and his next move saved the company.  Selling 51% to McCann and staying on as President meant the company, and Don, were safe from smarmy Cutler and that all the partners were going to see a very nice bump to their bank accounts.  Win-win!  That move solidified Roger as the new patriarch of SC&P.

As a fitting tribute, Don saw Bertrand Cooper one last time in a musical number - a heartwarming, and tear jerking song and dance that may lend some credence to the not-so-heartwarming speculations that Don has a brain tumor...  But it was still amazing for a character like Bert to get this kind of a sendoff!

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I know this was VERY late Kittens, but I've got one more episode to catch up on before Sunday's new episode.  So I'm going to have to get cracking!

Until next time, Kittens, may I recommend having a Moonwalk while you wait?

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Book Club Selection(s) - Second Time's the Charm!

Hello there Kittens!

So...Book Club.  BOOK CLUB!!  Am I excited about bringing this institution back?  More than I can express!

When I began to think about the first selection for The (newly reinstated) Vintage Project Book Club, I went through the list on the Book Club page.  I REALLY wanted to come to you with something great!  A title that would draw you back in and maybe even persuade you to join me this month!  But I couldn't stop thinking about the loose ends I'd left - the fact that the last two selections I made...well, I never finished them.

I am ashamed, but I am going to make it right!  (Doubly right!)

ALSO...the reason for choosing both titles was prompted by their relevance to Mad Men.  Both were referenced in the first and second seasons respectively and in case it's been so long that you've forgotten, I DO love me a good tie-in!  Since the second half of the last season starts on Sunday, the idea of having TWO Mad Men-inspired Book Club selections couldn't be more perfect!

Lady Chatterley's Lover was originally the March 2014 selection and with Fifty Shades still very much on our collective radar, going back and finishing this early piece of 'erotica' seems like a pretty good idea.  (Wink wink!)  While I'm sure the scandalous nature of this work that had it BANNED and resulted in a British obscenity trial in the '60's for using then unprintable words isn't nearly as shocking today, who can resist a book with such a sordid past?  Certainly not me!

Meditations in an Emergency was originally the April 2014 selection.  This collection of poetry is said to perfectly capture New York in the '60's and since I hold a special place in my heart for MidCentury poetry, I have wanted to read this collection for a VERY long time!  Another great tie-in?  April is National Poetry Month!

purchase your copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover here
purchase your copy of Meditations in an Emergency here

While Meditations in an Emergency doesn't have the salacious draw of having been on the naughty list, perhaps hearing Don Draper read from this will make you consider picking this one up?  Oh, Don, my favorite anti-hero - how sad and lovely you are, made sadder and lovelier only by Frank O'Hara's poetry...

Since I didn't finish either one of these works the first time around - okay, if I'm being perfectly honest, I never even started the second (WHO decided giving me a book club was a good idea? ;) ), I'm essentially starting from scratch and I'd LOVE for you to join me - won't you consider it?!?  For one or the other or, if you're feeling ambitious, perhaps both?!?

Happy Reading, Kittens!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Returning Home

Hello Kittens!

Did you miss me?  I sure missed you.

The Vintage Project has been on a little bit of a (okay, A LOT of a) hiatus the past few months and while I definitely kept myself busy, there seemed to be something missing.  There was a little less sparkle, a little less glam, and a lot less focus on what I set out to do two years ago.  Le sigh...

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It didn't take too much soul searching for me to realize that my fabulous corner of the Blogosphere, this amazing creative outlet, and you kittens have become more important to me than I had originally realized (and I'd like to think that you've gotten a little something from it as well).  It's become home.  I used to be a rather prolific writer and have the volumes of poetry to prove it - for the record, much/some of it was really quite good!  There has always been something about writing that just made me feel whole, that made me feel proud - like I'd created something out of nothing.  In the past few months, the NOT writing has left me with a tangible loss that I'd rather not experience.  Dramatic?  Perhaps.  True?  Definitely.

So... effective immediately, I am back!  I have returned home!

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I will not abandon you again.  You have my word.

We have so many things to discover and talk about, wouldn't you agree?  So let's apply a fresh coat of lipstick, throw on a pair of heels and a big pair of sunglasses, and get started!

So many great things are in store.  Until next time, Kittens!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kind of Obsessed with The Bar Method?

Hello there Kittens!

I know I've apologized a few times for not being around more.  But really, that's just a nice way of letting myself off the hook a bit for neglecting you.  Who decided giving me a blog was a good idea?  Oh, that's right, that was me...

In my lonely little solitary June post I mentioned that I was focusing on establishing an exercise routine.  For me, working out on a regular basis has never really stuck.  Now I'm realizing that I simply hadn't found the right activity - that is until I found The Bar Method!

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Every woman was once a little girl who dreamt (at least once or twice) of being a ballerina.  There is just something romantic and ultra feminine about gracefully gliding across a stage in a tulle skirt.

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It's easy to understand why little girls would want to grow up to be like these statuesque, graceful dancers.  Even to the women who have seen the horrific effects of pointe shoes (if you haven't, DO NOT Google it unless you have a really strong stomach), the cut-throat politics and drama behind the scenes à la Black Swan, and the eating disorders that are common among ballerinas, there is still something alluring and beautiful about ballet.

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That was one of the main reasons why my friend Bridget originally wanted to try The Bar Method - she still harbors her fair share of ballerina fantasies.  Personally, I'm not into the pointe shoes and bloody toes, but I do very much admire the lines of the long, lean bodies, the flexibility, the great posture, and the graceful way in which trained dancers carry themselves.  So off to The Bar Method we went!

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The Bar Method Marina Del Rey offers an absolutely fantastic introductory special that we purchased.  This offer is an unlimited 30-day membership which I used to take 14 classes, though now I really wish I would have gone more often.

Initially I was very intimidated to try this combination of Ballet, conditioning, Yoga, Pilates, and light weights.  I had never taken a group class before and, honestly, I had allowed myself to become very out of shape, so trying something like this was not high on my list of Things That Sound Like a Good Time.  In my head, I saw this happening:

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Or perhaps this:

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But that didn't happened.

Though, if I'm being honest (and I feel like I can be honest with you), something like this DID happen.  While it doesn't seem like it would be, lifting your leg up and off the bar without the using your hands is incredibly difficult - at least it is within the first month!

watch the clip - it's hilarious!!
Was The Bar Method difficult?  Yes.  Did I find myself unable to do things that seemed like they should be easy, things that pregnant long-time practitioners could do with ease?  Yes.  Did I have a good time?  Yes.  No.  Sometimes?  Was it worth every minute?  Absolutely!

The Bar Method is amazing and I've become a total convert, singing its praises to anyone that will listen!  I just finished my first month and in just that short period of time, I'm seeing changes in my body that are incredible.  I'm seeing definition in my chest and shoulders, noticing muscles in my arms where there were none before, my waist is shrinking, my legs are becoming leaner, and I'm starting to develop 'bar butt!'  Oh - and I've lost a pant size!!

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I still have a ways to go until I reach my goal of being in fantastic shape and while my smokin' introductory deal is done, I am definitely sticking with The Bar Method (despite the hefty price-tag)!  In particular, I'm sticking with the Marina Del Rey location.  I absolutely LOVE everything about this studio!  The instructors are amazing - I am convinced they only hire people who are blessed with photographic memory as each instructor has the uncanny ability to remember the name of EVERYONE in class, even if it's your first class and you've only given them your name once!  They are so supportive and encouraging and you truly feel like they care about your progress, your form, and they remind you that each day is different and to honor your body and what it can do that day.  (I much prefer that to someone yelling at me like a drill sergeant at boot camp.)  The other practitioners at this location are also fantastic.  Everyone is so nice and there is this feeling of community.  There is no judgement or competition and people are so open about their journeys and experiences.  Many of these women have been regulars for years, so they have a lot of experience to share!  When someone who has been practicing The Bar Method for years tells you that this is the best studio they've ever been to, you know you're in the right place!

If you live in Southern California and find yourself near Marina Del Rey, I HIGHLY suggest checking this place out!!  You have nothing to lose and a 'bar butt' to gain!  And perhaps you'll become obsessed as well!

Until next time Kittens - tuck-tuck-tuck and embrace the shake!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brunch 05.24.2014 - Pre-Revamp Cuban Goodness

Habana, Costa Mesa

Happy Sunday Kittens!  It's been a while and I've missed you.  Honest!

Over the last seven weeks, I've been focusing on revamping my eating and exercise habits.  As is probably pretty obvious from the radio silence, it's been rather time-consuming.  And working out six days a week and keeping up with a social life is really tiring to boot!

Just before I started this overhaul, I had a fantastic Brunch with my dear friend Stephanie.  The two of us have been Brunching for a while now and Habana in Costa Mesa is one of our favorite spots!  (It's also great for dinner!)

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Habana is a fabulous Cuban restaurant at the LAB in Costa Mesa.

While the LAB (or Anti-Mall) is quite the Hipster draw, it has a great little story and is most definitely worth a visit.

We really can't recommend Habana highly enough!

Deciding on a dish to order can be difficult as everything is SO tasty, so I suggest starting off with a glass of sangria while you peruse the menu.  I can personally vouch for their tastiness and truly, you may want to consider going with a pitcher!

After ordering your sangria and deciding on your food, take a moment to appreciate your surroundings!  I mean who doesn't love a good chandelier?

Or four?

The skylight adds something really special to this space and the lights on the chandeliers make it glow at night.  You just can't beat the ambiance here!

For my meal, I ordered the Caribbean Egg Benedict which was a bit small, but amazing nonetheless!  Crab and polenta in a Benedict?  Heaven!  Though if I'm in the mood for something sweet the next time I find myself here, I will definitely be ordering the Plantain Pancakes!  I've been eyeing them for a while...

Stephanie ordered the Skillet of Polenta & Egg with Patata Brava Hash.  I'm not exactly sure what Patata Brava Hash is, but I'm told it was quite tasty in addition to being an impressive sight.  Stephanie LOVES their Cubano Monte Cristo, and while it's usually her go-to when we Brunch here, she decided to branch out this time.

 On our way out, after a fabulous Brunch, I took a moment to appreciate the patio.

While it's a very nice patio, I do really prefer sitting inside.  While it's a choice that you will need to make for yourself, I don't think you'll be disappointed with either decision.

Perhaps you'll keep Habana in mind the next time you are tasked with deciding on a Brunch spot?  It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!

¡Happy Brunching Gatas!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Health Wheels and a New Exercise Regimen

Hello Kittens!  And Happy, Healthy June!

I apologize for my recent radio silence.  While I've had bouts of being MIA in the past, this time I don't have work to blame.  No, in this instance, my time I can honestly blame working out.

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While my eating habits have been quite good for a while now, my activity level has been as close to zero as you can get.  In the past it's been easy to attribute being so sedentary on my long hours at work, but since transitioning to a new department earlier this year, that is no longer the case.  But old habits die hard and I think I was reveling in the free time a normal work schedule suddenly afforded me.  Truthfully, having the time to be lazy felt AWESOME!

But all good things must come to an end.  So when the Wellness Committee at work used its quarterly Wellness Week to kick off a 12-week Biggest Loser Challenge, I was more than ready!  For me, starting to work out again needed a push like this one.

Unfortunately, in addition to establishing an exercise routine, I've also found myself tasked with finding balance when it comes to the attention The Vintage Project requires.

Throughout the years, there have been many interesting exercises, such as vibrating belt slimming machines...

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And the 'health wheel'.  (Nothing says fitness like being able to work out in whatever dress strikes your fancy!)

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It's pretty obvious from the photos of what appear to be INCREDIBLY strenuous workouts, that vintage forms of exercise aren't really the way to go.  While I believe wearing a pair of heels is very lady-like, I just don't see how working out in them (or a strand of pearls) can be that effective - call me crazy.  Sadly that belief does away with most tie-ins...

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Sure, some exercises have merit, why would you ruin a good pair of heels doing them?

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The moral of this story is - I'm finally starting to find some balance after establishing my new-found exercise regimen.  Also, don't work out in heels.  So really, it's a multi-moral story!

Until next time, Kittens!  Do a few push-ups, drink eight glasses of water, and check back soon!