Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Where Oh Where Is Penelope Bat?

Photo by Tori

My lovely bunnies, I'm afraid I've got some oh-so terrible news. Cocoa is going to be on a short hiatus for about a week while my poor little Macbook is in the shop for repairs. It's nothing major, just an issue with the optical drive, but I have to get it replaced while it's still warrantied which means as soon as possible! Those of you who have been wondering where I've been these past few days - here's your answer. I thought it would only be missing in action for a few days, but it looks like I'll be computer-less for the next week! Oh, the drama!

Anyway, I'll still be checking my e-mail when I get the chance but I won't be able to go through everything until I get back. Be sure to send me all kinds of super-cool e-mails to read when I finally do have it back in my possession!

Stay beautiful, angels~

Always,
Penelope ♥

Monday, December 1, 2008

Currently Digging


Ballet flats
The weather down here is getting a little too chilly for my normal uniform of heels and sandals, so I've switched over to my favorite pair of ballet flats in the meantime and have fallen in love all over again! Who doesn't love a fashion staple that beauties like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy pulled off so well? The ballet flat has so much history and can be worn in so many different ways - it's a magnificent piece of fashion history made all the more wonderful by how readily available it is nowadays! If you don't have them already, get yourself a pair right away!

Reconstructed dresses
After visiting Geminola in New York's West Village a month or two ago, I had this fashion-epiphany that there's really nothing more creative and all-around-inspiring than reconstructing dresses. For those who are just dipping their feet into fashion design, taking vintage dresses and putting a new spin on them is a great way to get practice with construction while getting the creative jolt of actually designing, plus it's way easier than creating your own pattern and starting from scratch! I've already picked up a few vintage beauties specifically for reconstruction, and I absolutely can't wait to sit down and get to work!

Christmas music
Yes, bunnies, the holidays are here! Thanksgiving has come and gone in the States and now, as we enter into December, Christmas is nearly upon us! I'm a huge sucker for christmas cheer, everything from clear icicle lights to swingin' snowball fights in the park, so when you combine my love for the holidays with my love for music, you get a wonderful explosion of festivities coming from my house! Although alternative Christmas music has always been super-exciting, boasting big names like The Ramones and Beck, I'll always hold a special place in my heart for those classic tunes like Jingle Bell Rock and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. My favorite CD? A disc I inherited from my mom called "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which, ironically enough, has nothing to do with Charlie Brown! Instead, it's filled with wonderful jazz renditions of Christmas classics, including a few upbeat tracks with a little more of a Peanuts flair to it.


Chocolate parfaits
I've been on the hunt lately to find the best chocolate parfait (and the best cafe in which to eat it), but so far I've come up empty! Unlike my lovely homeland of Brooklyn, South Florida doesn't seem to offer very many little cafes and patisseries that specialize in tasty treats, so the hunt goes on for the most delicious chocolate parfait in the land. In the meantime, I guess I'm subjected to home-cooked puddings and extra-tall cupcakes, but I definitely haven't given up yet! Viva la parfait!

Cooking shows
I've definitely been in a full-swing epicurean mood lately, as evident from my religious viewing of the Food Network. Everyday Italian has always and will always be my favorite show, filled with delectable dishes made all the more lovely by how easy they are to make, but I do have a growing crush on both Ace of Cakes (it goes without saying that Geoff is my favorite cakester) and Iron Chef America. I haven't had the time lately to cook much lately, so I guess the second best is getting to watch other people cook wonderful meals on TV!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Cocoa Book Club Call For Bibliophiles - Part II!

Photo by Lulu

Well, bunnies, the Cocoa Book Club presses on! As of tomorrow, the super-secret club is in its fifth month and incredible readers like yourself have made it an astoundingly super success. The only problem? We're running out of volunteers to be book clubbers! The list has slowly dwindled down, slipping from a pretty thick list to just a few names, so that means that once again I need your help!

For those of you who have just dropped in and don't know what all of this fuss is about, The Cocoa Book Club is a guest-driven segment where others share fantastic books that may not be super well-known but are definitely thrilling enough to be categorized as must-reads. Every month a different reader or blogger or other mysterious guest picks a book for the club and writes up a guest article on it, introducing it in all it's fabulousness to the world, and by the end of the year we've got a neat little list of fabulous cult books for all to read. 

Now I know you're asking yourself, how do I become a super-secret book clubber? (Okay, so maybe you're not asking yourself that - but you should be!) Becoming a book-clubber is super-simple - there's no criteria to fill or paperwork to fill out - you simply need to enjoy reading and want to share your hidden gems with the world. All you have to do is comment with your e-mail address or shoot me an e-mail yourself! (And if you're a blogger, please also include a link to your blog!) I'll get back to you as soon as possible with more information and we'll set up a date for you to post straight away!

I need your help, lovelies, and can't do this without you! So go to your bookshelf, pick up your favorite book, and send me those e-mails! Ready? Set? Read!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekly Wishes


I wish... Every morning could be filled with big sweet-toothed breakfasts, pink china plates covered in pecan pastries and spinach soufflés and tiny heart-shaped pancakes and powdered sugar dusted croissants, and everything would be topped off with a big mug of cafe mocha with a snowy mountain of whipped cream on top. I wish I could share it with everyone I know and we'd eat outside in the early morning sun, talking sweetly and loudly and jolting the ground with our laughter, and we'd sip down those warm cafe mochas in-between words and laughs and let them warm us from the inside like tiny fires burning bright. I wish we could recapture breakfast and give each day a wonderful start, all with nothing but a pastry-filled meal and a conversation or two in-between.

I wish... To start a ballet flat appreciation society. Because, really, who doesn't love ballet flats?

I wish... That unhappiness was like a stain on your shirt or a bug in the house - worrisome, yes, but easy to get rid of with a little help from others. I just can't stand to see people unhappy and I wish that there was some fail-safe way for me to help and make everything better for them.

I wish... for carousel rides and shooting stars.

Always,
Penelope ♥

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cocoa 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

Photo by Qatar

Those of you who live in the States will most likely be in one of two places right now: either you've stayed home with a cup of coffee in hand to enjoy the lovely weather and holiday weekend, or you're out at your nearest shopping mall partaking in the strictly American tradition of Black Friday. For all of you international lovelies, Black Friday is the notorious busiest shopping day of the year - it's the Friday after Thanksgiving that rings in the holiday season and with it, holiday shopping. Every Black Friday, stores open their doors as early as four a.m. to offer ridiculous deals on big-ticket items, things like flat-screen T.V.'s and hot video games with discounts as big as 75% off. Sure, it may seem crazy, but the hope is that folks will be able to get all kinds of wonderful gifts for their friends and family and finish all of their holiday shopping in one day - and so they push through the crowds and go from store to store to store, everybody looking for those perfect gifts for the people they love.

But why go out and brave the crowds when you've got a whole world of shopping right in front of you? You too can get all kinds of marvelous gifts for your friends and family, perfect gifts tailored just for them, but unlike those folks dashing through shopping malls and department stores right now, you don't even have to leave your flat! My lovely bunnies, sit back and jump into the holiday spirit - I give you the Cocoa holiday gift guide for 2008!


For the Daring, Dashing Dame
When buying for that supersonic cool-for-cats dame in your life, it's always best to go vintage! Scour around for that perfect shade of heartbreaking red lipstick or for pencil-thin dresses with big, thick bows, buying only things that have as much character as that girl herself. HumblebumbleB is a great place to find retro hats that are absolutely perfect for any swingin' dame, but I personally recommend the Fascinator hats just for that extra pinch of style. Pillbox hats are just as stylin', though, when shopping for a more atomic kind of girl, and they're bound to thrill even the most chilling of dames.


For the Closet Geek
Admit it - everybody has their nerdy side. There's always that part of them that loves to watch old reruns of Dr. Who and who still thinks that Star Wars is the pinnacle of motion picture achievement. Granted, with loads of new technology flooding into the world every day, the word geek has branched off to have so many different meanings and to gain a new form of popularity, but that doesn't mean that we love our geeks any less. When buying for our techno-cuties, ThinkGeek is the absolute hub for all things nerdy and it's impossible to not find just the thing you were looking for. For a 4chan geek who knows what Rickrolling is and loves to scour around the internet for new trends and macros, try the LOLCats-esque LOLMagnetz. As for those science geeks? The Good Chemistry salt & pepper shakers may be just the thing, bringing a whole new life to plain old salt and pepper. Geeky and educational!


For the Down-To-Earth Gal
Shopping for those earth-friendly folks in your life may seem like a bit of a challenge at first, but now that "going green" has become so popular and has seen such a warm reception in everyday society, shopping for the environmentally-conscious is as easy as a click! Be sure that whatever you choose to buy for your earth-loving lovers is recycled and biodegradable, and remember that buying all-natural, vegan products is always best for both the person you're buying for and the Earth. Etsy has a wonderful selection of handmade and Earth-friendly products, my personal favorite being the recycled address file box which manages to be beautiful and conscious at the same time. If you have a die-hard vegan in your circle of friends your range of potential purchases may seem to be even more limited, but another seller off of Etsy offers this beautiful and eco-friendly Not A Nugget pendant which is a great way to show vegan pride, no animal products included!
For the Slapdash Eccentric
There's always a lot of pressure to buy all of those wild and crazy folks you know really spectacular gifts, and, as crazy as it sounds, the rule of thumb seems to be the funkier the gift, the better! Wrap up old family photos in metallic pink paper or make little paper-dolls out of found materials - be creative and have loads of fun doing so! If you're short on time and looking for something a little less time-consuming, though, try this super cool laser-cut Polaroid sx-70 ring from Etsy for lots of colorful flair, or, the key into the heart of eccentricity itself, this wonderful collection of bottlecap jewelry
from California's Casa del Corazon.


For the Epicurean in Training
Buying for those foodies you love means indulging on simple, universally tasty things (or the tools to make them!) which may sound like a pretty daunting task. But remember, gifts don't always have to be complicated numbers - keep it simple! Sometimes a good holiday present can be something as easy as taking your epicurean lovely out for a spectacular dinner or coming over with a big marshmallow fluffed cake and a bottle of wine. If you're looking for something a little more wrap-able, though, try the incredibly ingenuous
honey drops from Honibe, an especially lovely gift for those tea-drinkers in your immediate sphere of friends who aren't exactly fond of the mess that swirling honey into a cup of earl grey creates. For bakers-in-training who spend their days cooking up a storm of treats and concoctions to share, the cooking superstore that is Williams Sonoma offers a pack of super-cool circus cookie cutters which can be used, among other things, to create your very own animal crackers - what can be more fun than that?


For the Fashionista
Remember all those Christmases from your childhood where you'd get sweaters or huge, billowing dresses wrapped up in neat, white JC Penny's boxes? Remember always hating getting clothes instead of toys and dolls and big colorful books? It's strange that as adults sometimes getting a package-full of beautiful clothes can be the best gift a girl can receive, especially after all those years of throwing fits over red gingham dresses or little pink shirts printed with flowers and butterflies. Now's your chance to finally give marvelous outfits and accessories to your fashiona friends to make up for all of those sad, department store-filled Christmases that all girls have had to trudge through - the trick of it all is finding those marvelous pieces in the first place! For the shoe-lover, I highly recommend checking out Hetty Rose's handmade shoes for beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations. As for the girl who already has the perfect outfit and always knows just the thing to wear, Bando is the perfect place to find absolutely gorgeous hair accessories that go great with any outfit, not to mention the fact that each beautiful little brooch comes with a custom haiku!


For the World Traveler
When buying for that globe-trotting go-go girl in your life, use the internet to your advantage and buy internationally! Dig around for kitschy ethnic items that you can't find just anywhere, items that are unique to one area or that grew out of a regional phenomena, or, alternatively, look for little things to aid your lovergirl in her travels. SewingRabbit, an Etsy seller from Thailand, offers this adorable Little Red Riding Hood passport case to style-up any boring old passport, as well as quite a few others in that same style. For the girl who loves to advertise her travels when she finally settles back down at home, though, Teresa Sheeley offers a lovely latin print shouting the world traveler's battle cry: I came, I saw, I conquered.

Always,
Penelope ♥

Friday, November 21, 2008

One-Line Fairy Tales

Photo by Amalia Sieber

♥ It’s a strange tale how I met her, her with her perpetual grace and strange charms and voodoo dreams and silver screen glow and her tendency to ramble on about the strangest things, like Frida Kahlo or 1950’s soda shops during car rides or lovemaking, and us with our battered looks tossed back and forth over cups of coffee and slices of pizza and our awkward windowless serenades and our collective feelings on certain unspoken things, like training your pets or taking the train at night, alone we were just strange souls in an even stranger city, but together, after she twirled herself into my world one sparkling night, we made quite a handsome pair.

♥ On dimly sleepy nights we wandered out, with red silk ribbons and ornaments in our hair, and we shook the world and shattered plates and carried our lanterns high above our heads so that the light made our hair look like icy sidewalks and grass that wept with dew, and we followed the others as they too carried their lanterns high and sung travelers songs and spoke in blistering poetry about the tiny sorrows of their lives and we sung too, humming playground songs as we marched towards the ocean which was already ablaze with tea-lit lanterns and buttercream moonlight, and when we were knee-deep in salt water thick with the tears of a thousand souls just like us we took off our masks and set our lanterns free until the pool of tears before us was sprinkled with red crepe paper and black ink, and the sea became our journal in which we wrote out our happiness and our sorrow until the ever-creeping waves swallowed up our stories, but we made our mark and stained the ocean with billowing clouds of black ink that became us, naked except for our masks of animals and heroes and ancient queens, because our faces didn’t matter, because we still had our stories.

♥ And a chill soaked through us as we drowned ourselves in the kinetic night air, neither of us by choice, and I followed him in as far as we could go until he stopped running, exhausted, and threw himself down upon the brush and shook and shuddered and howled and shifted from one being into another, and I stared with open eyes and an open mind and tied back my hair because it was all I could do to keep from shouting, “This is a tragedy, a story unlike any other, and I can never imagine the pain shaking deep within your body and seeping into your bones!” and I stared as he pulled himself up and ripped off his clothes in resentment and paced towards me with his eyes reflecting the perfectly rounded moon all the while, and he pulled me close and looked straight through flesh and blood, howling out in the highest of lows, “It is your tragedy, madam. For you are cursed with being nothing more than human.”

Always,
Penelope ♥

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cocoa Book Club Book of the Month: Freak Show


Hello, book clubbers! It's time for yet another installment into the epic saga of the Cocoa Book Club. Regrettably, due to an e-mailing mix-up we won't be having a formal pick and review for this month, but the good news is that the absolutely lovely Miss Rie of Leaving Shangri-L.A. has offered one of her reviews from LSLA up to tide us over in the meantime.

The book she chose? A quirky little thing called Freak Show by James St. James. Those of you who were around for the 1980's New York City club scene (or who at least are familiar with the film Party Monster) will probably recognize his name - for James St. James was the celebutante mentor of infamous club-kid-turned-murder Michael Alig. While St. James' first novel, Disco Bloodbath, did focus solely on this event and everything that lead up to it, Freak Show is a horse of an entirely different color, although I leave Miss Rie to explain the rest.

---

Where have I been for the past few months? Where haven't I been is a better question, but there are too many answers to that one--"Budapest," "Salamanca," and "Bluestockings NYC" come to mind. Where I have been is a much easier question to answer, and that would be Library School. Yes, like many greater book bloggers before me, I'm on the path to be a custodian of the cultural record, a grande dame of the general public's right to truth, knowledge, and the best damned Story Hour and Macaroni Picture Workshop in the NYPL.

Here are a few facts about your blogmistress: I live in Outer Borough of NYC, I go to East Coast Library School and love it more than I can stand, and when I'm not reading, I'm teaching myself how to watercolor and play Tori Amos songs on the keyboard. My favorite Outer Borough hangout is the Everything Goes Book Cafe, and if it were possible to marry The Strand, I probably would.

I've also invited my professors to view my oeuvre online; hello professors!

Now, down to business. Today, I have a review of a heartwarming tale about the coming of age of a teenage drag queen, Freak Show by James St. James.

(Goodbye, professors!)

Billy Bloom has accepted his fabulousness. The population of his reform-school-cum-prep-academy is not so keen on letting an all-singing-all-dancing fully costumed review of one flounce confidently through their hallowed halls. The abuse Billy endures is brutal, and culminates in a month-long stay in the hospital after a savage beating. His savior? The untouchable school quarterback, simple but kind-hearted Flip (who, need I mention, Billy is over-the-moon-and-heels-over-head in love with):

Since the day he carried my limp and lifeless body into the emergency room here at Plantation General Hospital, he's been by my side...He's been talking to me nonstop, he says, telling me stories, details about his life and his plans, anything at all, hoping that maybe the sound of his voice would guide me back.
And now his prayers have been answered.


Well! How about THAT!
Of course, I'm WILDLY jealous of myself for spending SO MUCH TIME with him and hearing his stories and GETTING TO KNOW HIM like that. I wish I'D been there. I wish he would tell ME stories. It's not fair!
COMA BILLY HAS ALL THE LUCK!

Upon his triumphant return (wearing flowing white and bestowing blessings on all who did wrong by him), Billy decides to use his new untouchable status for good. How? By running for Homecoming Queen, of course. The opposition, Lynette Franz, has all the wholesome charm of a cupcake laced with arsenic, but Billy perseveres, winning the vote of his school's underground society and sparking a media war. I won't breathe a word about the end, but it's fitting and lovely.

Billy Bloom posesses the most unique voice I've read in young adult literature; if you can't abide capslock speak, you'd best turn back now. He is raunchy and witty and passionate, but with a heartbroken undercurrent sparked by the death of his relationship with his bon vivant mother. One of the only criticisms I have about this book is that this particular thread was not explored in a deeper manner, and it would have been great to see closure to that storyline. However, what is here is so surreal and wonderful. The story particularly picks up when Billy's best friend, Blah Blah Blah (I shan't give away her real name) joins him in a bloodless revolt against the status quo. While she suggests tae kwon do classes and The Art of War, he offers to design a boomerang tiara and hypno-belt-buckle with a compact full of knockout powder.

The art of fashion and makeup is Billy's driving passion:

Suddenly, I was tired of my mewling, tired of feeling powerless, and tired of being traumatized. I burst out of the cupboard and took over my place at the makeup table. Ah! The healing power of creation.


Our hero, a self-proclaimed "gender obscurist" (I love that term!), makes himself over with fierce Kali-inspired warpaint, bubbling wigs, and Spanish-moss draped gowns. You've never read fashion so over-the-top, except maybe in Simon Doonan's work and of course, Ms. Block's own. Billy's use of the healing power of art and transformative qualities of costuming (not always beautiful, mind you--he dresses as Dead Zelda Fitzgerald for an oral report, with strategic use of Grape Nuts and burned finery) brings to mind a line from "Fashion Quest:"

Call me superficial. But when my soul is fully expressed by my body, she can leave her dark room, sing her stories out loud and fearlessly dance.

There is something here in Freak Show that I've rarely seen before in queer teen lit. Despite the horrors that surround Billy, he never internalizes the horrendous things said about him. He realizes that the people out to hurt him are ignorant, cruel, or both, and his place in life is to speak for those who don't possess his bravery, or must keep silent to preserve their own lives.
Another rare theme is that of gender fluidity; sexuality in the Oughties cannot be easily labeled and categorized, and many young queer people are experimenting with all the shades and tones of gender identity. I loved seeing that explored in an exciting, positive manner in Freak Show.

Freak Show is a marvelous revenge-of-the-geek story, smart and sophisticated enough for the adult freak, but lively and snarky enough for its teen audience. I cannot recommend it enough for its fantastic narration, wicked wardrobe, and beautiful message.

You are a drag queen! It's your nature! You provoke. You expose. You arouse and inspire.
You open wounds and push buttons and rattle cages.
You unleash demons. You do! You do! You waken slumbering tigers. You know you do!
It's the path you've chosen. The life you desire.


---

Freak Show is available for purchase on Amazon.com, and I highly suggest hopping over to Rie's original post, Gender Is A Choice, Not A Life Sentence, which can be read here.

As usual, if you've got a spectacular, inspirational, or just plain wicked cool book in mind and would like to volunteer to be a Super Secret Book Clubber, send me an e-mail with your name, e-mail address, and blog (if applicable) and I'll get in contact with you ASAP! In the meantime, keep reading, lovelies!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What I'm Digging


Dressing Up - But really, what else is new? Since Halloween has come and gone, I've been stuck in this loop-de-loop swing of french vanilla tulle and costume jewelry. I've revisited all my favorite movies and comic books, drafting out little notes of what those especially fabulous characters wore and what kind of fabric I would need to re-create their looks, tracking down everything from yards of tiny pink ribbon to knee-high go go boots. First on my list of costuming priorities? The super-swingin' Ulala from Space Channel 5! (Remember her, Sega Dreamcasters?)

Bust a Groove 2 - The theme for this post is obviously obscure video game references, but this one in particular is close to my heart. Bust a Groove 2 is this wonderfully kitschy game from the late 90's which, much like Space Channel 5, marries fabulous hand-spun characters and "dance battles". When I was a semi-wee thing I used to rent it from Blockbuster religiously and spend hours laying on the living room rug, jamming along as Kitty-N until my eyes were watering. I've been hunting for a relatively cheap copy for about two years now, but the game hasn't been produced in forever and all those lucky enough to have a copy aren't willing to part with them for anything less than $100. Nevertheless, I still vow that if I ever start a band I'll be adamant on covering some of the songs from this game, whether I own it or not!

Birthday Cakes - Everybody loves cake, but I never realized exactly how all-out some folks go when it comes to decorating their birthday cakes. You're talking to a girl who's the poster-child for homemade simple pink party cakes, so when I started stumbling upon cake after beautiful cake, I was absolutely blown away!

Who wouldn't want this cake for their birthday?!

Ukuleles - After a friend of mine let me borrow his for the weekend, I've discovered that the ukulele is the most under-appreciated instrument to ever exist, sitting in ranks right next to the keytar and kazoo. Nobody bothers to play them, no one with any kind of musical background takes them seriously, and the public thinks that only Hawaiian men and/or Tiny Tim can pick them up with any success. You know what? I, Penelope Bat, publicly declare that I absolutely love ukuleles and, much like Randal Graves, am taking them back!


Further proof that ukuleles do, in fact, rock.

Now I turn the spotlight on you, bunnies. What are you digging as of this week, go-go girls?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Photos from the New York Times

In the six months that I've been running Cocoa, I've made it my goal to be as optimistic as humanly possible - to show people that life is what you make it and that the world is a dizzying, wonderful place. Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore what the world is going through today. We're in a crisis. We're struggling. People from all around the world are suffering in so many different ways, some losing their jobs, some losing their houses, some losing hope.

But today, all of that will change.

For the first time in my entire life, I can truly say that I am proud to be an American - that I love my country. I feel something today that I have never felt before, and it's a fizzy cocktail of pride and joy, but above all I feel hope - hope and the belief that this is the only country in the world where anything can happen. Where anyone can make a difference. Where anyone can change the world. America has just made history. We have come together for a common cause, and I truly believe that President Barack Obama will be the glue that keeps us together. Because we are one nation, one world, one voice. And yes, we can.







Always,
Penelope ♥

Friday, October 31, 2008

Daily Outfit - Halloween Edition!


Halloween is upon us, my chocolate bunnies, which means spectacular parties, incredible costumes, and all kinds of wicked fun. Like most girls with a thing for dressing up, Halloween is by far my favorite holiday and I hate to say it but this is the first year in a long time that I haven't gone all-out with my costume. No, this Halloween I'm playing it simple - I'm a modern day fairy, complete with cowboy boots and a winter coat.

My wings didn't stay up very well!

+ Handmade babydoll dress
+ Faux-fur coat from a second hand store
+ Pink wings from Target
+ Boots (not shown) from Clarks

In celebration of this glorious holiday and in keeping with the festive spirit, I bring you this tiny little Halloween trinket that I found while scouring the great big internet. Those of you with a gushing crush on Bollywood will be especially ecstatic!



So how was your Halloween, cupcakes? How did you celebrate, who were you with, but most importantly what did you wear?!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 Things To Do During The Winter

Photo by Lara Ferroni

Here in the States, the first traces of winter are starting to flutter into open windows which means hot soup, warm blankets, and a lot of time spent indoors. Being confined inside can drive some absolutely stir-crazy, so to counteract these lazy days here are ten simple ways to keep busy and ensure that you have a superbly thrilling winter!

01. Invite friends over for tea, hot cocoa, and cider, then break out all your favorite flicks for a lively movie marathon. My personal picks to warm up winter days? Better Off Dead, Be Kind Rewind, and Ed Wood.

02.  Have a take-out adventure. Dig through all of those delivery menus that you've managed to acquire over the years and order something from every one. Make it your goal to get through them all before spring rolls around.

03. Open a cafe in your living room. Cook up all kinds of tasty deserts and concoctions and invite friends and family over to have some coffee and enjoy the atmosphere. Bonus points if you or someone you know is in a band and is willing to contribute some live music!

04. Head to your local library and bring home as many books as you can carry. Try to make it through the whole pile in one month and be sure to document your literary adventures with journal entries or podcasts. Include your thoughts, favorite quotes, and possibly even a re-enactment of a particularly thrilling scene.

05. Make a movie! Round up your closest friends and re-create a historical event, your entire life, or even an encyclopedia entry! Insist on using only what you have lying around for props and costumes and have a red-carpet premier to celebrate its completion.

06. Renew your living space. Clean out the closet, go through your books, get rid of all those magazine subscriptions that you never read and generally tidy up. Not only will your flat be less cluttered, but it will help you relax and contribute to a more productive environment.

07. Design your dream dress - go all out and be sure to include every little detail, from hand-stitched flowers to tiny white feathers. If you're daring enough, hone in on your sewing skills and actually create it!

08. Make mix-tapes for all occasions. A mix for meeting someone new, a mix for accidently stumbling over a crack in the street, a mix for seeing an especially adorable dog at the park... when you're finished, send them to the people you know who remind you of the occasion. 

09. Celebrate a holiday that your country doesn't.  November 1st & 2nd is Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, or the traditional Day of the Dead, November 3rd is Japanese Culture Day, and December 8th is La Purisima in Nicaragua. Do a little research into international holidays and celebrate as many as you possibly can!

10. Create your own tarot deck. Use watercolors and ink and tissue paper and ribbon to personalize your very own set, drawing tiny interpretations of all the cards. When you're finished, carry them everywhere and offer to give readings to anyone you see who looks especially curious.

In a part of the world were summer is just beginning? Have a look at 10 Things To Do During The Summer and get inspired!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How To Make An Entrance


Ride in on a little pink vespa and park it right in the middle of the gathering + Bring your own band, complete with all the orchestral trimmings, and have them rolled in behind you when you enter, playing your favorite song + Enter with fizzing sparklers knotted in your hair + Roll up by horse-drawn carriage, all decked out with electric lights and glorious white horses + Bring your menagerie with you, carrying a tiny fawn or walking a leash of Greyhounds  + Have an unusual escort, like a costumed character or a great dane + Wear the biggest whipped cream frosted cake of a dress and walk around the event serving guests slices from it + Race in on horse-back + Dress up like it's prom night all over again, complete with a tiara, a sweet date, and an oversized corsage + Ride in on a giant Jeff Koons balloon animal + Rock a Marie Antoinette hair-do, decorating your head with feathers, ribbons, and lots of glitter + Re-enact the scene from Funny Face where Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson perform "Clap Yo' Hands"

What about you, bunnies? How would you make your grand and glorious entrance?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekly Wishes


I wish...
I had thrilling, fright-filled plans for Halloween. It seems like this year I'm the only one in the Halloween spirit, carving faces and stars into tiny pumpkins and shrouding the house in a spellbinding layer of faux-cobwebs. While I lay out dresses on my bed and try to put together an especially lovely costume, the people and houses around me are completely devoid of all festivities. There's not so much as one decoration on my street and I've yet to hear about any ghoulish balls, not to mention the fact that due to its prickly price, Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights is completely out of the question. Who knows... there are still three days before All Hallows Eve. Perhaps something exciting will come up?

I wish... for wardrobes overflowing with costume jewelry and faded tulle tutus and old silk dresses and spider-web gowns. I wish for the costumes of 1920's circus performers strung up on silk ribbon hangers, overpowering whole city blocks with the tart smell of cigar smoke and a back-flipping acrobatic history. I want dresses that speak and sing for themselves, dresses with a certain spark and vigor and charm - I want clothes that can swing from the ceiling or hang around my neck and still hold the same iridescent, dazzling power.

I wish... to speak only in the most precise of words, to tango with language as though it were a seasoned partner. I want to use the most vivid of adjectives, the sweetest of verbs, the most cunning of nouns and the most tranquil of soliloquies. I want to fill whole novels with beautiful, unintelligible phrases that roll off the tongue like raindrops in the grass - to wrap myself around my English language lover and shake through the soles of the world. I want to be that girl that is never at a loss for words.

I wish... for ballet flats and cafe mochas.

So, goblins, in this glorious week of tricks and treats and costume balls, what do you wish for?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Audrey Hepburn On How To Be Lovely



+ For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

+ For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

+ For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

+ For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

+ For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

+ People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

+ Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

+ As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

+ The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

+ The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.

+ And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!


I've been informed that although this incredible list of "beauty tips" was echoed bravely by Miss Hepburn, the true credit goes to Sam Levenson who authored it. Nevertheless, I think we can all still safely say that Audrey Hepburn lived her life as the epitome of these words, giving back to this sometimes crazy, mixed up world, always putting others before herself, and meanwhile somehow managing to be the most lovely woman in show business. She was not just a starlet with a beautiful face - she was a humanitarian, an optimist, one of those incredible people who carved their own rugged path in life just to be sure that others could safely follow. At times it can be hard to say this of people you've never met and I usually don't say it very often, but Audrey Hepburn was truly beautiful and we will never find anyone like her on this little Earth ever again.


Stay beautiful, angels~

Always,
Penelope ♥

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lucky "My Denim Transformation" Challenge


I've always been a huge fan of Lucky Magazine and right now they're running an incredible contest with some even more incredible prizes. Ironically enough, they've paired up with Lucky Brand Jeans for the "My Denim Transformation" stylist challenge - a contest where all you have to do is show off exactly how you would "style" your jeans for a night out. Simply send a photo of yourself all dolled up in your favorite jeans and submit it on the Lucky Style Spotter site for a chance to win a trip to my favorite city in the world, New York, a chance to be featured in Lucky Magazine, and the great and wonderful prize of getting to personally style a Lucky Brand ad. For any fashion majors out there, or just budding fashionistas, I don't think I have to tell you what a fantastic opportunity this is - plus you get to dress up, which is, in my opinion, the most thrilling thing a girl can do alone!


I know Polyvore sets aren't allowed, but my look would be something along these lines... think - Catwoman goes to the circus! Meow!

Now I'm sure you can come up with outfits way better than mine so show me up and enter! Go forth and submit, kittens, and don't forget to show me all your gorgeous styles!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weekly Wishes

Photo by Alex

I wish...
for a rock-star lifestyle that swings and sways to its own beat. I want days that thump and clash and shatter like cymbals, smoothing out and picking up into a catchy drum beat. I want lyrical moments that cause me to swing and shout and hum out repeated choruses - I want to sway to and fro like an Egyptian queen doing the backstroke in the Nile, like an electric pink bougainvillea lit ablaze by Santa Ana winds. I want to turn life into music and music to life.

I wish... for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pomegranate sorbet served on polar white bone china.

I wish... I could spend my days painting huge, crystalized portraits of the people and things that I love, splattering tiny teardrops of paint across the canvas in my passion. I dream of electrifying simple pieces of paper with brash, emblazoned strokes of blue and green and tracing freeways of metallic gold across the whole piece like tiny pulsing veins keeping life contained inside. I wish I had more time to paint the carnival thrills and sparkling dreams sloshing around inside my head.

I wish... for ukulele days and piano jazz nights.

And so, my sugar coated bunnies, what do you wish for this week?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How To Make Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes

Photo by Debbie R.

There are certain days that really truly warrant a sugar-frosted cupcake. Sometimes they're for positive reasons, maybe you scored a 900 in Skee Ball or made a dazzling first impression on that quiet boy who reads Kafka outside of coffee shops - other times they're a necessity needed to brighten up dreary days. Whatever the cause, there's no better way to end the day than with a glorious evening cupcake and a fresh pot of tea.

At the request of a certain someone in the Twitterverse, here's my super-secret recipe for a particularly scrumptious cupcake that's guaranteed to send your taste-buds careening off into the outer reaches of the universe - just in case you're having one of those cupcake-worthy days.

The Ingredients!
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teasp baking powder
1 teasp baking soda
½ teasp salt
¾ cup butter, room temp.
2 cups granulated white sugar
3 eggs
1 teasp vanilla extract
1½ cups milk
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 package Nutella

The Method!
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
in one bowl.
3. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla; beat thoroughly.
5. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and slowly incorporate the milk, beating well after each addition

6. Add melted chocolate and beat thoroughly. You might want to let the mixer run for thirty seconds or so just to combine all the ingredients but be careful not to over-whip!
7. Pour into baking cups
and bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool until room temperature.
8. Poke a small hole into the center of each cupcake and pipe a dollop of Nutella into each one. A pastry bag works well for the job, but if you don't have one simply spoon a few dollops of Nutella into a zip-lock bag, snip off one of the corners using a pair of scissors and use that in the same manner.
10. Frost the cupcake with a swirl of Nutella. If you want to be super fancy, you can try out your decorating skills by sprinkling powdered sugar or melted white chocolate on top, too.
11. Serve immediately!

I hope all your days are pink frosted and cupcake-sweet, bunnies!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Monday, October 13, 2008

How To Make A Good First Impression

Photo by Frame Muller

Can you feel it in the air? That social time of year is upon us - the time when folks smooth out their skirts for job interviews and put on their best pair of heels for holiday parties. This is the time when people meet - when they gather, chat, befriend, and maybe even fall in love - and sure, it's a spectacular season, but one of its hardest parts can be making a fabulous first impression on the people you meet during it. There's always that perpetual fear of fumbling with words or committing a social faux pas, of coming off as someone completely different than who you really are, but the good news is that all of this is easily avoidable! Here are a few simple tips for making a dazzling entrance into the lives of others.


* Dress fabulously

Sure, it may seem like a given, but dressing appropriately can sometimes be the hardest part of making a spectacular impression. If you know who you're meeting ahead of time, consider their position and the situation in which you'll be meeting. For example, should you wear bondage heels and a mashmallow-fluffed tutu when going in for a job interview at an accounting firm? I'm reluctant to say so since I do love my tutus, but no! Try a pencil skirt and classic black pumps instead - it's still an insanely fabulous outfit but it's context-appropriate.

* Be on time
If you're heading to a job interview or other pre-planned social endeavor, it is absolutely imperative to be on time! Although it does sound a little passé, punctuality is one of those givens that people automatically expect of you and it never goes out of style. Being "fashionably late" may work for informal parties or gatherings with friends, but if you've set a time and place with someone try your best to follow through. If you arrive more than five minutes late you've already dropped the ball and it may be impossible to recover - avoid this situation at all costs! Leave early if you have to, run through the streets in high heels, just get there on time! 


* Mind your manners
Know your limits within the situation - ask yourself, who are you talking to? What's the setting? What would be socially acceptable and what wouldn't? If you're not sure whether you should say something or not, don't. This doesn't mean be plain by any stretch of the word - it simply means avoid being unnecessarily rude. Try to keep conversations light-hearted and fun when first meeting someone, don't delve too deep into their childhood scars or failed romances - when you get to know them better you'll have the chance for that!


* Don't be afraid to look people in the eye
Good eye contact, although sometimes uncomfortable, is a sign of confidence and can usually gain you some unconscious respect when meeting new people. Having the ability to look someone straight in the eye and speak candidly is a lost art in our modern world of text messages and e-mails - if you're able to pull it off, you'll find yourself much more confident and you'll make the person you're speaking to feel more comfortable and able to open up to you as well. I know this can be pretty tricky if you're normally a shy person and feel uncomfortable keeping eye contact for long periods of time, but practice incorporating it into your every day life. Look at your waiter when ordering, not at the menu. When picking up your morning soy chai latte, be sure to look the barista straight in the eye and say thank you. Crazy as it sounds, practice makes perfect!


* Relax
Make jokes, be yourself, take a few deep breaths and relax. No one wants to see you uptight and wound into someone you're not! It's incredibly important to be yourself when around new people, even if you don't really "click" with them, and most people usually find themselves acting out of character because they're stressed or uncomfortable in the situation. Just relax - do some light exercise before leaving the house to loosen up. Everything will work out!


* Employ the Art Of Conversation
The worst part of conversation is running into that rut about two minutes in when the formalities end and you're left not exactly sure what to say. It's a horrifying pause, yet one that can easily be avoided with a little bit of curiosity and a willingness to go with the flow. Ask questions, get to know the other person - ask them what their favorite band was in high school or if they've ever participated in sumo wrestling. If conversation drifts towards that rut, quickly steer the topic towards something else, no matter how unrelated it may seem. As strange as it sounds, most people usually find that kind of eccentricity of hop-scotching between subjects pretty endearing and if nothing else, talk about that! Remember: you've just met this person and there are a million things in the world that you don't know about them. Probe them a little - everyone has a story to tell!


So tell me, bunnies, what's the best (or worst) impression that you've ever made on someone? (Or even better, that someone's ever made on you?)

Always,
Penelope ♥

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Wishes

Photo by Marija S.

I wish...
for big marshmallow-fluffed dresses in pastel blues and sunrise pinks. I wish for the confidence and audacity to wear these big dreamworld gowns, all speckled with champagne and the sweetest smelling perfume, on the street and to low-key parties, sweeping through open doorways in a firework-worthy entrance.

I wish... for the ability to write in perfect, lopping cursive, dotting my i's and sweeping through t's.

I wish... for daily spontaneity and a taste of the curious  - for rabbits to peek out from top hats and for awe-worthy, serendipitous encounters.

I wish... for early morning yoga and sugar-rimmed glasses of lemonade.

And in this glorious week, I have to ask... what do you bunnies wish for?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Life In Lists


Although some people find lists daunting - more like a constant nag of what they have to do rather than friendly reminders - I think there's something absolutely spectacular about them. They're so open ended, so simple, so infinite in their possibilities, and at the same time they say so much about you as a person.

I recently stumbled upon a site called Listography that lets you harness your list-loving powers and concoct tiny lists about just about everything. You can list people who have made your life smashing and your favorite songs to dance to and quotes that you can't stop repeating and little facts about yourself. You can make wish-lists, link lists, blog lists, or even just simple to-do lists all in one neat little place.

I'm totally digging it as of right now and have already created my own little sanctuary of list-making - you can find my Listography here! So what are my lists, you ask?

observations (From New York)
  • Caramel-skinned boys walking onto subway trains with bongos in hand and banging out flapjack beats while the train clatters with each and every turn.
  • Walking down the subway platform, each step deliberate, with two silver-streaked trains zooming past you in opposite directions. The wind slicing and shattering bone all at once, and feeling absolutely infinite here and now.
  • Walking into the organic grocer a few blocks down the street, hands cold and heart heavy, only to hear your favorite song promptly hum from the store's radio as soon as you enter.
  • Standing in the middle of Bryant Park right after the sun's gone down and feeling so complacent and comfortable that an insatiable urge passes to take off your jacket, throw it in the air, and dart down 5th Ave towards the unknown.
  • Having a clear view of the Empire State Building from your loverboy's bedroom window.
  • Climbing through Brooklyn's cracked streets and house-hunting for the perfect, sleepy brownstone.
  • Having dinner at a nearby vegetarian restaurant with plates of cold sugarcane and vegan voodoo chicken served by starlet hostesses and tiny asian managers alike. Holding hands over the table and talking about what we'll do when we're actually living together. When we're in the same state again.
  • Being able to look out the window into the quiet street with a slowly setting sun, and knowing that it doesn't matter. Because this is my home. This place with it's towering stoops and all-night coffee shops, this place with art students and everymen alike, this place. This is place is where I belong.

So what would be on your lists, bunnies? Favorite movies? Photos of what your dreamworld looks like? Restaurants that make you swoon over huge, warm plates of the most delightful food? Make your own Listography and share what you have to say!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cocoa Book Club Book of the Month: The Little Prince


Hello, hello again, all you glorious book clubbers! It's that time again for another super-sweet novel to be chosen for the Cocoa Book Club's Book of the Month! This month, our pick comes from a reader and blogger of her own - a superhero of a girl who goes only by My Stifled Laughter. Hmmm...mysterious, huh? 

Her pick for this month? It's a darling children's book called Le Petit Prince (or The Little Prince in English) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - a harrowing novella filled with drama and romance that I think only she can fully explain.

--

On the little prince's planet, he loved a rose and sheltered her and gave her water and such. He left to "find himself" and comes to Earth and sees a large bed of roses, who look the same as his lovely rose.

"You're lovely, but you're empty... One couldn't die for you. of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she is the one I watered. Since she's the one I put under the glass. Since she's the one I sheltered behind a screen. She's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three for butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose."


The book is a children's book, but not to be scorned - it is magical, thought-provoking, exciting at times, melancholy at others, questioning of the ways people nowadays live their lives and what love means to different people. Orginially written in French, the book translates literally and figuratively to the world - all concepts are understood by the reader, no matter if they're French, American, Austrailian, or Anarctican. The idea that children enjoy life and the world more than adults is there.

One of my personal favorite concepts of the book is the author's explanation of love. (As in the quote before.) For instance, if you saw my boyfriend walking in the street, he would look the same as every other boy in the world to you. But to me, that boy is many afternoons spent together, emotional times, anniversaries, and love. People are special to you because of the time you spend on them, and that's what makes them so precious - once they're gone, they are lost - you cannot replicate a friend.

The book is translated into "Le Petit Prince" but to those who have not the French skills, the English version is just as good! And after you have read it, answer this... Has the sheep eaten the flower yet?

--

Both the English and French versions can be purchased on Amazon and it's also available for preview on Google Books - I highly recommend that you give it a read because it sounds like an absolutely spellbinding book!

Now if you've got a spectacular, inspirational, or just plain wicked cool book in mind and would like to volunteer to be a Super Secret Book Clubber, send me an e-mail with your name, e-mail address, and blog (if applicable) and I'll get in contact with you ASAP! In the meantime, make like LeVar Burton and keep reading!

Always,
Penelope ♥

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekly Wishes

Photo by Yeeship

I wish...
I was back in Brooklyn! I just returned from New York yesterday and already I'm incredibly homesick, not to mention missing my beautiful boy like crazy. I had such a spectacular time - we hopped between museums, went out for candle-lit dinners of vegetarian voodoo "chicken" and Shirley Temples in Brooklyn, wandered through Williamsburg and the West Village in search of curious shops, and hung around the East Village eating plantain arepas. New York is my home, my paradise, my tiny center of the universe. I belong there, and I miss it to death.

I wish... I was much better at math - I'm struggling through a trig course right now and it's absolutely killing my GPA. I'd be a wonderfully well-rounded student were it not for my inability to grasp simple calculations!

I wish... Kindness was more common in everyday life. I had a run-in with a woman a few days ago who was just so incredibly unflinching and rude, the breed of unkindness that I hadn't fully faced since middle school. She lectured me on honesty and being morally responsible while I tried to explain that I didn't even know her, that I had done nothing wrong, and the most horrifying part is that she never apologized. She never accepted my apology either. She simply finished her tirade, ignored me, and walked away from the situation. I don't fully understand why but for some reason I was so incredibly struck by the whole situation - I mean, I consider myself a pretty strong person who usually brushes things like this off, but for some reason that kind of sheer hatred just shattered me. How could someone be like that, I asked myself. Why would someone ever want to be like that? Why would you consciously attack and emotionally maim a stranger - someone who you don't even know, who has done nothing to you? People can be cruel, they can be childish in their adulthood - so sure of their maturity that they deem it acceptable to be a playground shade of hurtful, and that is simply not right. So I pledge to be different - I swear that I will be positive and kind simply because it is the right thing to do. Because, really, if I don't, who will?

I wish... for culinary expeditions and all-night diners.

As usual, you daring darling go-go girls, what do you wish for?

Always,
Penelope ♥

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tales Of The City



Those of you who have managed to read through this curious little blog regularly may have picked up on my fluttering love of a few certain things - the adorable, the embellished, the imaginative - especially when it comes to fashion. I'm a little girl at heart who secretly craves big wedding cake dresses frosted in pink and white, a modern day princess who dreams of falling asleep in a wardrobe filled with rose-water cakes and rocking horse shoes. I love everything over-the-top and frosted with fairy-tale grandeur, which might explain why six years ago I was instantly drawn to a sleepy little movement in Japan called, quiet simply, Lolita.

Lolita is based on the fashion, architecture, and aristocratic lifestyle of 18th century France, a period which historians have dubbed "Rococo". From France to Japan, the Lolita movement took the Rococo idea of filling life with everything sweet and delectable and drew it into the twentieth century in the form of candy-colored dresses and a positive outlook on life.

A slew of brands emerged, propelling this moment out of obscurity and into history. My personal favorite, one that I feel truly represents everything Lolitas believe in, one that paints its stores pink and fills them with everything that little girls could only dream of, one that sells the most beautiful and child-like dresses that I've ever seen, is a little-known brand called Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.

Last night, through some magical twist of fate, I stood in the presence of the CEO and head designers of Baby.


Remy and I rode the F train to Bryant Park with the intent of making our way to Kinokuniya, an incredible Japanese bookstore that sells everything from manga to magazines. It's one of my favorite spots for picking up interesting gifts, as well as catching up on Japanese trends, so I always make a point to go there whenever I'm in town.

We wandered upstairs, threading through isles of comic books and figurines, only to find the café section of the store blocked off. Instead of the usual brood of business men and twentysomethings pondering over newspapers and noodle bowls, a panel of Lolitas perched carefully in the dining area with a camera crew in tow. These quiet American girls dressed in full Lolita garb nibbled on salads and sipped down lemonade, huge slices of strawberry cake in front of them, while four alert Japanese women and one man sat across from them. I peeked through the chest-level glass dividing the cafe from the rest of the store, eyeing the scene curiously, when suddenly the translator caught my attention. "We here at Baby," she spoke, hands folded, "are completely open to American suggestions and would like to know if you have any questions or comments." I slammed my face against the glass, covering my mouth to quiet my incredibly obvious gasps. I eyed the Japanese panel carefully and realized that in this city of nearly nine million people, in this world of more than six billion, I was standing before Akinori and Fumiyo Isobe, creators and current CEOs of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.

I stood behind that piece of glass for more than a hour, ecstatic and thrilled and uncontrollable in my mental backflips and jumping jacks. Here I was, dressed most un-Lolita-like in a simple blue dress and a faux-fur jacket, staring down the prince and princess of a sub-culture that redefined my life.

While these American girls chattered about how Baby's clothes were too small, for most of them couldn't fit into them, and too expensive, for most of them spent about $6,000 a year on dresses and the like, I felt this incredible ping of jealousy deep down inside. These girls, these upper east side eighteen year olds, could not only afford a closet full of Baby wears, but they were also seated right in front of Mr. and Mrs. Isobe themselves, yet all they could manage were complaints.

And that's when it hit me like a lemon-soaked dart: being a Lolita is not about being able to afford the dresses - it's not about wearing Baby every day and always taking tea at three o'clock on the spot - it's about being yourself, whoever you may be. Lolitas come in all shapes and forms, and shockingly enough not all of them can be found in Vivienne Westwood shoes or Baby frock. Lolita is a mindset, not a conscious choice - maybe not all Lolitas can afford sparkling dessert-like dresses or lace-covered cutsews, but that doesn't make them any less passionate about the lifestyle or, for that matter, any less Lolita.

I am a Lolita. Sure, I didn't get a council with Mr. Isobe, and sure, I may not own a single thing from Baby, but I am still a Lolita. And I will find my own drum to march by in my unique, Rococo-dusted world.

Because I am a Lolita, and I always will be. And I never needed a dress to give that kind of passion to me.

Always,
Penelope ♥

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Daily Outfit - September 23rd


So the whole "daily outfit" thing has definitely turned into a not-so-daily outfit, especially since my last update in this vein was back in June. But! I have two brand-new and beautiful Betsey Johnson dresses that I'm absolutely dying to show off, so I figured I would document what I wore with one of them today (along with a few pictures of the other!)


+ Librarian sweater from Evie
+ Betsey Johnson dress (Eek!)
+ Jeans from the Gap
+ Gladiator sandals (which, regrettably, you cannot see) from Marshall's



I'm so incredibly thrilled! Usually Miss Johnson's luxuries are waaay out of my price range - but through the miracle of designer outlets, I managed to get both of these stunning gems for a total of $180. (The price tag on the blue one alone was $379! Eek!)

But here's the catch - I'm one of those kooky girls that thinks owning a beautiful dress isn't worth anything unless you give it an equally beautiful name - something to distinguish it, personalize it, give it a life all of its own - and because I'm such a fan of Betsey Johnson's designs I want to give each of these extra wonderful names. I've decided that since a lot of you are way bigger fashonistas than I could ever be that I would ask you incredible bunnies what you think the perfect names are. Audrey? May? Sabrina? Whatever you think fits, let me know! Get to it, go-go girls, and name these gorgeous dresses!

Always,
Penelope ♥