Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm Not Rich, and That's Okay

Today I have to go to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where I'll be surrounded by rich people and piles of things I can't afford.  It's a work trip, but there's something about walking into those stores that makes me feel like a fraud!  What I've realized about feeling my best in these situations is - be unique!

So what if I can't afford any of this stuff?  So what if I'm looking at jewelry more expensive than a house?  What's important is that I don't act like I shouldn't be there, because you know what?  It's just stuff.  None of the people who work in the shops can afford any of it either!

In terms of being unique, I like to wear vintage pieces, something I bought at a craft fair, or perhaps a funky pair of shoes I found in a thrift store.  The key for me is to put together a look that is entirely me, not entirely "Rodeo" (because frankly, I wouldn't dress that way even if I had the money).  Putting on a piece of fun costume jewelry will get just as many (if not more) compliments than the real stuff.

And I think this is applicable to many events and outings.  Going to a friend's birthday party with her well-to-do girlfriends?  A fancy theater event?  No need to break the bank to fit in with the crowd.  Let yourself stand out from it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Protecting Ourselves

Several nights ago, I had a dream that I was being attacked by a very scary man, and I couldn't fight him off.  No matter how hard I tried to push him away, he was stronger, and I knew I was going to lose the fight. 

As everyone knows, a few days ago innocent people, just trying to watch a movie, were murdered in Colorado. 

Last night, while getting ready for bed, we heard seven gunshots.  When I put my ear to our open window, I heard a man yelling for help.  I couldn't tell where it was coming from, but luckily, the sirens approached quickly so I knew it was being taken care of.  As it turns out, an unidentified man shot at three homeless men, hitting one.

Normally, I feel very safe walking from my car at night.  I've had no concerns about living across the street from a park.  But isn't that what many victims think?

All of these incidents reminded me that all people, but especially women, need to learn to protect themselves.  I'm not sure exactly how to do this, but what could be more important?  It's frightening to think that I can live my life as a good person, not do harm to others, and still end up hurt or killed because I was in the wrong theater or walked by a neighborhood park a little later than usual.

Surely I don't have a solution to any of this chaos, but I can say that I'm looking into self-defense classes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Top 20 Romantic Movies (inspired by the wonderful Ms. Ephron)

As much as I'd like to think I'm a tough cookie and can roll with the punches, the reality is that I am probably the most sensitive person you'll ever meet.  This is why me plus romantic movies equals MFEO (made for each other).  And yes, that is a reference to Sleepless in Seattle.  Now, I do have to clarify that I'm not the type for weepy, tragic movies (no thank you, Nicholas Sparks).  I don't believe that tragedy is the same as drama. 

The recent passing of Nora Ephron, the famed writer and director who knew how to perfectly tug at our heartstrings, reminded me how much I love movies that blend romance with a healthy dose of humor.  It's unfortunate that they don't get the sort of recognition they deserve.  "This 'chick flick' can't possibly be an excellent film!" - Cynical Film Critic

My favorite romantic movies have a touch of humor, perhaps some magic, and a lot of heart.  Sometimes I enjoy being moved to tears, as long as those tears are a result of beautiful moments.  So in honor of my love for love, here is a list of my 20 favorite romantic films (I know I left some great ones out!):

1. Shakespeare in Love - Combines my love of the Bard, confused identity plotlines, and costume dramas into one wonderful, funny, utterly romantic film.  And I don't care what anyone says, I'm glad it beat Saving Private Ryan for best picture.

2. The Philadelphia Story - I just love Katherine Hepburn . . . and Jimmy Stewart . . . and Cary Grant!  Quite possibly my favorite classic romance (a separate movie list entirely), the dialogue is witty and fast, and the characters are absolutely charming.

3. Midnight in Paris - The first Woody Allen film on this list (and certainly not the last), I felt like this movie was made for me.  Romance, nostalgia, magic . . . Plus, it's in Paris!  That automatically adds about 400 points to the Romance-Meter.

4. Sleepless in Seattle - It's easy to see why this one is on the list.  Sweet, charming, perfectly written - it stands the test of time, as does . . .

5. When Harry Met Sally - Again, Nora Ephron writes a movie that feels like real people talking about real relationships.  They're just a little more concise and witty than the rest of us.

6. Valley Girl - What's more romantic than a Sunset Strip punk wooing a blonde Valley-loving prom queen?  Nothing.  And speaking of Nic Cage . . .

7. Moonstruck - This one is my most quotable movie ever.  Don't get me started ("Johnny had his hand, Johnny had his bride!").  Unfortunately, a lot of people I know have never even seen it!  Not only a romantic comedy, but also a love letter to family.  A la familia!

8. Dirty Dancing - I can't even remember the first time I watched this movie.  I was far too young for the subject matter and didn't even get half of the storyline.  But dancing and secret romance are a guaranteed hit - just ask ANY GIRL my age!  They all love this one.

9. Charade - Often called the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never directed, Charade's plot twists and turns keep you guessing while the amazing chemistry between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn builds.  And yes, it's set in Paris!

10. Annie Hall - Not the traditional romantic comedy, but I consider it a romance above all else.  The element of this film that keeps us all hooked is the relationship between Allen and Keaton. (Honorable Mention: Hannah and Her Sisters)

11. Amelie - This movie is almost too adorable.  Almost.  The blend of magic, surrealism, and hopeless romanticism makes this French film an instant classic.  Again, it's in Paris! 

12. Moulin Rouge - Spectacular!  Spectacular!  Over the top.  Musical.  Ewan McGregor.  I'm in!  Oh yeah, and it's in Paris . . . Are you sensing a trend?

13. Only You - A romp through Italy with Marissa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. is always a good choice for a girls' night in! 

14. Breakfast at Tiffany's - An easy pick because it's such a classic.  Though not at all what Truman Capote wrote about in his short story, I'm all for the changes made for the big screen.  It's subtle storytelling wrapped in amazing wardrobe!  (Side story: My mom saw this in the theater as a kid and was really worried about that cat at the end.  She didn't care whether or not they got together.)

15. Bridget Jones' Diary - It's just fun. I don't care whether or not Renee Zellweger put on a few pounds - it's irrelevant.  The key was making her an absolute mess of a person, which she pulled off perfectly.  And when that mess of a person finds Mr. Darcy?  Zing!

16. The Wedding Singer - I don't think this movie gets enough credit, because it's easy to cast off as "an Adam Sandler movie."  Not so!  It's really well-written and includes, quite possibly, the sweetest love song I've ever heard.

17. Defending Your Life - Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks end up in "Judgement City" after their deaths and will be sent to "the next level" or back to Earth based on how well they lived their last life.  A really charming story told in an unexpected way.

18. Something's Gotta Give - I love this movie because deep inside, I'm already an old person.  And I love Diane Keaton.  Mostly, because I'm an old person, and I still find Jack Nicholson attractive.

19. Bell, Book, and Candle - A lesser known film starring Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart, Novak plays a witch trying to woo Stewart without using her powers.  It's a more romantic, funny version of Bewitched.

20. The Princess Bride - Did you think I wasn't gonna love this movie?  I'm in my late twenties, I'm a female.  Nuff said. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lady in the Garden

I very much envy women who have a knack for gardening.  Throughout my life I've attempted outdoor and indoor gardening.  My Oklahoma rose bush is still alive in my parents' backyard only because my father tends to it.  Thank goodness - otherwise it would be on the casualties list (which is quite long at this point).  As a kid I tried growing strawberries, sunflowers, houseplants, a mini-Christmas tree . . . it goes on and on.  Now that I've moved into my very own home, I've tried to grow dwarf sunflowers and daisies (needless to say, all of these are dead as doornails).  Luckily, I was given two succulents that keep on truckin'!  I manage to keep cacti alive!

Now, I have two plants in desperate need of help: an Easter Lily and a mini rose bush.  My Lily looks like an old corn stalk and the mini-roses look like they were pressed between the pages of a scrapbook about 50 years ago.  For some reason, I take it very hard when I kill a plant.  Partially because it's a living thing, partially because I find gardening to be a very feminine skill I am lacking.  But I'll keep trying through the year and hopefully be able to pass on some tips as I go!

Feel free to send some tips, websites, or videos!

Green Thumbs

The results of my anything-but-green thumb!  I'll be investigating some houseplant techniques this week!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gwyneth on a Budget

Jokingly, my mom likes to refer to me as the "Budget Gwyneth Paltrow" ever since I started sharing things I read on the Goop website with her (for those of you unaware, Goop is Gwyneth's website/blog about food, travel, fashion, etc.).  The obvious problem with taking advice from a rich movie star is that I am, in fact, relatively poor.  I have, however, learned to take some of her advice and adapt it to my bank account.  Many people seem to have a real problem with Paltrow and her website, but I've always loved her (I was obsessed with Shakespeare in Love in high school and then obsessed with The Royal Tenenbaums in college).  So haters beware!  I'm about to blow your minds.

Free advice . . . My favorite bit of advice I've read on Goop is this - "Don't be lazy!"  Amazingly enough, this really made an impact.  Mostly because I LOVE being lazy!  The main idea is that you can't be lazy and then complain about a lack of success.  Makes sense to me.

Eating healthy . . . I understand that organic is best, as is unprocessed.  Unfortunately, I can't afford to eat like this all of the time, which means I have to pick and choose.  With all of the weird crap being pumped into our food, I prefer to spend the extra cash on organic produce.

Enjoying life . . . Gwyneth's blog posts have a certain "Joie de Vivre" which I really appreciate.  I look forward to being ridiculously rich one day to truly have this Joy of Life.  For now, I'll do my best not to get too bummed out!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spoonfuls of Sugar

I am a list maker.  It helps me organize my thoughts and goals to write (and constantly rewrite) them down on paper.  Many people prefer the to-do list in their phones, but something about a tactile object makes it more real for me.  I found this daily chore calendar while perusing the internet, and other than it being useful, it is also adorable (look for the site in "Ladies Links").  I don't mind this tacked on the wall, as opposed to other Excel spreadsheet to-do's that look like Initech reports.  This made me realize that a little styling goes a long way for me.  Cute bracelet?  I want to wear it.  Cute chore chart?  (Let's hope) I want to do them!

My chore chart contains the following activities:

- Physical Activity (I'm being vague with this one, because I want to!)
- French Lessons (Rosetta Stone)
- Guitar Practice
- Morning/Night Skincare
- Job Hunting
- Water Plants
- Bad Habits (if I feel I've generally kicked them that day!)
- Adorn Yourself (a July fashion challenge at www.doitwithcassendre.com)
- Housekeeping (broken into sections):
  • Floors
  • Dusting
  • Laundry
  • Organizing
- And, of course, WRITING!

By the end of the month, I'll have a very real account of my productivity.  This will keep me on track and give me a sense of accomplishment when I see all of those check marks!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Junk in the Trunk

If anyone was wondering, this is how I envision myself while traveling.  I'm quite sure this is not, in fact, what I look like.