Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where can I feel the Illinoise?


Dear Chicago,

        I met you for the first time 3 days ago, and I am really sad to admit that I am not charmed. Where can I feel your Illinoise that Sufjan Stevens sings about? "It's not you, it's me" or "It's not me, it's you." Which one is it? Is it both? I know it takes two to tango, but I feel like we haven't even danced. Not to be harsh, but you seem to have all the stress and impoliteness of a big city without it's charm. I know that it's bad to compare, but I love NYC, so I thought I'd love you even more.
     Look, I know you are awesome, because I have heard rave reviews from others who have really good taste in cities. You have starred in countless movies, books, music, and, of course, a musical. Some of the greatest Americans love you. 
       To be fair, you have made my belly happy. I had the best Guacamole ever at Big Star. You provided really good Cuban food, a good burger at Edzo's, good cocktails at The Violet Hour.
        And, I must let you know, I felt the same way about Paris, France. Now, I love Paris...a whole bunch. So, we have hope, Chicago. Don't give up on me, and I won't give up on you. After all, love at first sight is pretty shallow.


P.S.--You only have a day and a half to change my impression. No pressure.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Atchafalaya Houseboat by Gwen Roland

While I wash dishes at my oh-so-non-glamorous job, I often play Vanderbilt University college radio. A few nights ago, they had "Sounds from the Bayou," and by golly I heard a genre that has never entered my ears before: Creole country music. Being from Nashville, I heard a familiar twangy sound emit from the radio, but then I realized the cheatin' and heart-breakin' lyrics weren't in English but in French! {Albeit with the craziest French accent} These "Sounds from the Bayou" in addition to (shamefully admitting this) True Blood episodes reminded me of a book about Louisiana that bewitched me last summer: Atchafalaya Houseboat: My Years in the Louisiana Swamp by Gwen Roland. You might have seen a documentary about this experience on PBS, because that's how I heard about it. The idea for her book was brought about by the reprinting of a photograph below by C.C. Lockwood  in a National Geographic collector’s edition entitled 100 Best Pictures Unpublished in 2003.

This photo brought so much interest from my generation, that PBS made the documentary and Gwen decided wrote a memoir about her experience in 2006. Looking at this photo, you can understand why people wanted to know more. The story behind the photo and her book goes as this (taken from Amazon):

In the early 1970s, Gwen Roland and Calvin Voisin decided to leave civilization and re-create the vanished simple life of their great-grandparents in the heart of Louisiana’s million-acre Atchafalaya River Basin Swamp. Armed with a box of crayons and a book called How to Build Your Home in the Woods, they drew up plans to recycle a slave-built structure into a houseboat. Without power tools or building experience they constructed a floating dwelling complete with a brick fireplace. Towed deep into the sleepy waters of Bloody Bayou, it was their home for eight years. This is the tale of the not-so-simple life they made together—days spent fishing, trading, making wine, growing food, and growing up—told by Gwen with grace, economy, and eloquence.
After reading this book, Gwen was added to my list of heros. She is more "Passport Smiles" material than I'll ever be, as she is such an adventurer. Before her time on the houseboat, she was my age, and much like me in the padded bubble world of academia as a grad-student. What made this book accessible to me is that she wasn't a mother earth woman (those women scare me/ intimidate me). In fact, she knew nothing about organic farming, carpentry, fishing, etc. Despite this inexperience, she decided to leave all her comforts and do something completely unknown:
       "That summer {in the swamps} turned into an education…I became acquainted with my body, which had been ignored for years as just locomotion for my brain. It awakened from sanitary, air-conditioned hibernation to the trickle of sweat down my arms, the green fragrance of crushed cypress needles, and the sensuous luxury of a bath with Ivory soap (because it floats) in the bayou at sunset.
            As my body grew brown and hard, muscles I didn’t know I had ached to tell me of their existence. Food tasted better than it ever had in my life…In school, I had often watched midnight come and go, but now it was difficult to stay awake an hour past sundown."
To summarize, if you didn't wanna read all my scribblies: Gwen Roland is a badass and I wanna visit Louisiana. Also, read her book! It's short and sweet and will make you wanna build your own sweet houseboat.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Belt Giveaway on Lulu Letty

For the opening of my vintage shop, I decided to sponsor one of my favorite bloggers, Lulu Letty for the month of July. Starting today, I will be doing a giveaway on her site that lasts a week. You could win an adorable butterfly FREE BELT. If you already follow me, you are halfway to qualifying! Here's the butterfly belt and info:
 "This belt is great, because it fits all sizes and can adjust as you change sizes. The adjustable strap is 32 inches at it's longest. The butterfly is 2.5 x 5 inches in size. Colors are nude, gold and yellow. Clasp connects at the "thorax" of the butterfly."

 To Enter- visit the shop and
1) leave a comment on Lulu Letty's post with your favorite item from Passport Smiles Vintage
2) leave a way for Maria to contact you on that comment
3) follow this blog, Passport Smiles

Open to all readers. Contest ends July 24th at 11pm est.

Good Luck!

Here's a little extra bonus- all Passport Smiles Vintage clothing is currently 20% off till the end of July (this offer excludes shoes, accessories and sale items)!
Also, here are some new items I added to the store...a lot of great shoes for small feet.

Vintage Leather 42nd Street Cowboy Boots, SZ 7M

Vintage Glacee Black Leather Boots, 7.5 B

Vintage Yves St. Laurent Swimsuit

Vintage Purple Haze Heels 7 1/2 W

Vintage Black 'n Gold Wedges Sz 9

TAKE ME TO A HONKY TONK Vintage Cowboy Heels SZ 9

 Vintage Bandolino Peep-Toe Heels, 7M

Vintage Nicole Leather Boots, 7.5 M


Friday, July 16, 2010

Two Brentwood Eagles and Two Baylor Bears

Yesterday, I had a lunch/ craft date with Whitney, and it was our first hangout in 4 years (you know how life goes).

We both went to a small, private school (Brentwood Academy) from 7th-12th grade, but never hung out outside of art class. After high school, we found ourselves going to Baylor University in Waco, TX Freshmen year. I went potluck for a roommate (scary but exciting!). Lo and random roommate was of the few Tennesseans at Baylor, and even crazier, a BA alumnus. (We both ended up transferring, but had the title of Baylor Bears for a short while)

I am so thankful I became roommates with her for numerous reasons, such as (but not limited to):

         1) I had a fellow Tennessean to battle against the culture shock of "everything's bigger in Texas."     
         2) She's a top-notch human being

A funny thing about Whitney, she has an ENDLESS bag of tricks, meaning she's incredibly talented. Perfection like this could be annoying, but she's so great that you can't let jealously or insecurities get it the way of adoring her. So, one of her tricks is creativity. On her blog, she had a head-band making how-to. So, I asked if our lunch date could also turn into a headband-crafting bonanza. Here are the photos and steps (verbatim) from her website. {Visit her website! It's great}

1)It all starts with an artificial flower. I got this one for a dollar at Hobby Lobby. Pluck that flower off of its stem so you just have a bud. Flatter flowers with lots of layers work the best.

2) Next, pull the hard center of the flower out and pull the petals apart so your flower looks like this:

3)You want the loose petals on top of one another. (Be careful not to pull them completely apart so you forget what order they go in.)

In between the petals you'll find these little plastic pieces:
4) Go ahead and pull those out and throw them away. You'll lose some of the shape of your flower, but that's the point. You want the flower to lay flatter on your head instead of staying in a more round shape.

5) Next, find some buttons.

You don't have to add a button to the center, but I think it makes it a little more unique. You could also use beads for this part.

You can lay different buttons on top of your flower to see which one might look best.

6) Once you find one you like, hand sew the button onto the flower.

7) In the mean time, grab some elastic. This one is pretty thin: I found it in my grandmother's sewing box. You could also use a hard headband that you already have - up to you.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but I just wrapped the elastic around my head, cut it to fit, then sewed the ends on top of each other with a needle and thread to create a loop.

8) The last thing you need is some felt or other fabric. Cut a small circle of it.

9) Then hot glue it to the back of your flower with your elastic in between. Use plenty of glue to secure it in there.

And you have a finished project! So, here is mine after our day together:

I made my band with velvet and then elastic on the bottom; so I wouldn't have to tie it, because that can be a pain in the ass.
 Yet, then I realized I could wear it both ways: with the velvet band (above) or the elastic band (below).
Oh! Before I go, a note about my outfit yesterday. I've done posts on "shopping the past" where I intentionally treasure-hunted through my mom's closet. Well, the same thing happened a few days ago, but unintentionally. She was giving away stuff to Goodwill, but I saved this dress.

Two miracles occurred with this dress:

1) It fit me. My mom wore this for her anniversary 14 years ago, and she was much more petite than me in every way. Perhaps it's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants phenomenon.  
2) The second miracle is that I am actually wearing this loud-mouth orange. I've always detested this dreamsicle or UT Vols orange, yet here I am...eating my words.

**Another fun fact is the gold necklace. My father went to Israel when he was in highschool. He and my mom were dating and he brought back this necklace as a gift.

(outfit details: Jacket-Anthropologie; dress-my mom's; jewelry-mom's; shoes-Urban Outfitters circa 2007).

Other fun things about the day:
1) I tried a chocolate-chipotle latte. Surprisingly delicious.
2) Also had a delicious cocktail called "Juliet and Romeo" at The Patterson House which is a bar modeled after a Speakeasy! The drink mixes in rose water, cucumber and mint. Yum Yum.

Here, here. 2 cheers for those drinks!
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