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?!

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!

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?

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?

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~

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!

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?

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!

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?)

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?

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!

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!

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?

Penelope ♥