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You know, after seeing three looks from both Rami and Chris, I was a little ambivalent about who should go on. I really liked elements of both collections, and thought they both missed on some points. However, based on the additional looks we saw during Tim’s visits I’d lean slightly more towards Rami. Having said that, I’m going to miss seeing Chris’s collection on next week’s show, because I’m sure it would be interesting if nothing else. I know he and Sweet P both got to show at Bryant Park, so I’m going to look at those collections online after the finale – hurray for the Internet!

  • Rami: I didn’t care much for the coat – it was just overdone. The dress underneath looked pretty, but simple. I loved the second look, though. I thought his final dress was very pretty, but you could kind-of tell it was designed on a mannequin instead of a human – it looked rather unwieldy coming down the runway. I confess I didn’t even notice the hip detail until the judges pointed it out, but looking at pictures I think that Michael Kors was right and it really widens the hips. I was happy to see some different techniques from Rami and I’m sure his collection will be very accomplished technically, but I don’t know if it will wow me.
  • Chris: okay, put aside the human hair thing for a minute. If I didn’t know it was human hair I’d never guess. From Tim’s visit it was looking like he overused it, but in the looks he showed on the runway it seemed to work reasonably well – not that I’d want to wear something that hairy, no matter what it’s actually made of. The first look was interesting, but I think had a little too much going on. The proportions weren’t quite right, but it was definitely creative without being too far out there. His second look was a very simple style, but the way he used the trim punched it up a lot. The third dress showed a pretty interesting use of materials (other than human hair), but it was really obvious the model couldn’t walk in it. Overall I think Chris did a good job of using his theatricality without getting too campy.

Oh, and a couple of other things:

  1. I’m dying to trim Heidi’s bangs.
  2. What the heck was Jillian wearing on her head?

Yesterday I sat down to start my taxes, and quickly realized I didn’t have everything I needed. In theory, all the documents I need to do my taxes should be in a folder labeled “tax documents” which is always easily accessible. The idea is that throughout the year, I put anything in there that I will need at tax time – property tax bills, donation receipts, dmv renewals and so on. Except, you know, somewhere around the middle of the year, the system breaks down. Largely this is because the system is dependent on me.

In the past I made my system too complicated and therefore too hard to keep up. But I’ve made a concerted effort to simplify and these days I can’t really justify my failures. I’ve done a lot to reduce the amount of paper that comes into my house. I get electronic statements whenever possible, I pay every bill online that gives me the option. I’ve requested that all the companies I interact with contact me by email. This year I finally got around to removing my name from direct mail and prescreened credit offer lists. Most recently, I finally removed myself from the mailing list for all but two catalogs that I receive. This is the only task that caused me some pain, because I like looking at catalogs. However, I really don’t use them for shopping and I just can’t justify the waste. I let myself keep two (Crate & Barrel and West Elm) so that I don’t feel totally deprived. You can always make phone calls to stop these things, but if you’re like me and hate talking on the phone, the opt-out websites are useful. Having to deal with stuff over the phone is one of my primary motivations to procrastinate. Anyway, it feels really good to reduce the mountains of paper that were coming into my home, but what I find now is that the exceptions to the rule no longer work with my system – they interrupt my streamlined, mostly online workflow.

The upshot of this is that I had piles of miscellaneous papers to go through yesterday to find the missing tax items I needed. To make it worse, I neglected to finish my annual file clean-up last year, so I had some of last year’s stuff to deal with, too. Every year when I do my taxes I go through the files and shred everything I no longer need. It’s another good way to keep paper clutter under control, if you actually do it. Somehow I got distracted before finishing last year and must have forgotten to go back to it, so my shredder overheated a couple of times yesterday and my recycling trash can is almost full. Shredded paper takes up A LOT more space than than unshredded paper.

But, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve figured out a new, not-too-complicated plan for dealing with the remaining paper that comes in, so my hope is that next year when I start my taxes I won’t be dealing with this mess.

If the boring reunion episode didn’t satisfy your Project Runway jones for this week, head on over to the Bravo website for the Sew-not-over online challenge. 12 of this season’s designers (including all 4 finalists) did a 3-look collection and are competing for a $10,000 prize. Not sure why Victorya, Sweet P and Simone didn’t participate, but it’s a nice bonus to see these mini-collections.

  • Rami: kudos to Rami for not draping 3 dresses. I didn’t love his looks, but he did show more range which I was VERY happy to see. The 3rd look (dress) was probably my favorite – didn’t like the jacket in the 2nd look at all.
  • Jillian: her looks were well-executed, but not very cohesive as a collection and pretty forgettable over all. I hope this is not an indication of what we will see from her in the final (I have studiously avoided looking at any of the pics from fashion week online – it’s killing me!).
  • Kevin: meh. The first look was cute but simple, and I didn’t care much for the 2nd and 3rd looks.
  • Jack: he made 3 cute, wearable looks. I like most of what he did, but I don’t love any of it. There’s no sense of a design point of view, nothing to identify the designer at all. Very off-the-rack.
  • Carmen: her 3 looks were cohesive, but I thought the 1st (the ninja look) was pretty awful. What is Carmen’s obsession with the genie pants? Her other two looks were better – she could have punched up the colors a bit. Still, it was one of the more interesting and ambitious collections, so I give her props for that.
  • Marion: I thought Marion did a remarkably good collection, and I’m wishing he didn’t get auf’d so early in the season as it looks like he might have produced something really interesting. I didn’t love everything about it, but it had a strong, unified aesthetic, and I freaking LOVED the feather skirt in his 3rd look – definitely my favorite single piece from this challenge.
  • Elisa: for someone so kooky, she put out a really boring collection. There was no unity in her designs, and she didn’t use the opportunity to show anything new. Meh.
  • Ricky: didn’t care much for his collection, but OH LORDY I can’t believe he sent his models out in those stupid hats. Yeesh! The proportions on the first look were really unflattering. The second look was just trashy.
  • Christian: his collection definitely had some of his signature elements, but overall it was a softer and far more colorful collection than I was expecting. It was interesting, and I’m wondering if part of my negative reaction towards this collection had to do with the super skinny models in super tight, wildly patterned leggings. Leggings on someone so skinny just look a little wrong, and when you draw attention to them with so much color and pattern I think it emphasizes the wrongness. I wanted to stuff those girls with pasta and bagels.
  • Kit: I think Kit found a good balance between wearability and aesthetic. I really like her collection a lot. Her looks were definitely accessible without being ordinary. I loved the black skirt and sweater combo, and her LBD was really cute, with a lot of visual interest.
  • Steven: well, I guess Steven is a good dressmaker, but I’m not sure about his design abilities – he didn’t show anything that hasn’t been seen a gazillion times before. Pretty dresses, but a really boring collection.
  • Chris: hated the first look – terrible, unflattering proportions. The second look struck me as Chris trying to be Laura Bennet. The third look was a toned-down version of both the avant garde challenge and the art challenge – he really likes that asymmetrical proportion, I guess. I think I don’t like Chris toned down – I’d rather he fail spectacularly than fail by being boring.

Well, I hope Runway continues this trend in the future – any extra fashion they can squeeze into the season is okay by me, and it was a good way to supplement a pretty lame reunion show.

Reunion show. Meh. Not too much to say about this one. Victorya needs to pull the stick out of her bum. Jillian appears to have more of a personality than was generally shown. They did a montage of Ricky crying – what a shock. Carmen needs to lighten up. Kit was kind and gracious.

I was surprised that Christian won the fan favorite – like most of the cast, I thought it would be Chris. I guess I sort-of expect people to vote for a long shot, like “I think this person has talent, but I know s/he will never win.” But last season they voted for Micheal Knight, and until I saw his collection I thought he was a strong candidate for the win, so what do I know?

Enough with the time=wasting. Bring on the fashion. Can’t wait to see the full collections!!!

A woman comes up to the desk this evening. She turned in a book and forgot to write down the author’s name, but wants to search for more books by that author. The book has already been checked in, so there’s no record of it on her account (we don’t keep a history, for privacy purposes). Here’s our conversation:

“Do you remember the title or any of the title words?”

“Um, no.”

“Can you tell me what the cover looks like?”

“Um, no. But it had a ‘new’ sticker on it.”

“Can you tell me what the book was about?”

“Um, not really. I guess it was a family story. The author wrote another book about dogs, but I don’t know the name of it.”

Well, I found the book (Life’s a Beach by Claire Cook, who also wrote Must Love Dogs). But before you give me credit for my librarian kung fu, I have to admit that there were only about 8 books with a “new” sticker waiting to be shelved, so it wasn’t too taxing. I wish I could tell you that questions like that are rare, but alas, they are far too common.

I don’t watch a ton of TV, so maybe it’s a little funny that one of my favorite websites is The recaps are great if you’ve missed an episode of your favorite show, but I find myself reading them even for shows I’ve already seen. I was a little worried when the site got sold to Bravo, but the recappers don’t spare Bravo shows and there’s still plenty of snark to go around. When a show gets cancelled, I often find I miss the recaps as much as or more than the show (Joan of Arcadia, anyone?). For several years now TWOP has been one of my favorite online time-wasters.

I’m almost afraid to write about this for fear of jinxing it, but we have finally embarked on a kitchen remodel. We’ve been talking about redoing our kitchen almost since we moved into our house (a little over 10 years ago), and we just started the first phase of the project which is removing a load-bearing wall between the kitchen and living room so that we can have an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area.

Eric under the houseIt’s going to be a major ordeal. In order to remove the wall, we have to put a new beam in the ceiling, and we have to pour a new concrete footing under the house to support the column that will support one end of the beam. Eric’s been digging the hole for the new footing, and in order to facilitate that process he cut through the floor of our coat closet which is conveniently right above where the footing needs to go. This way he can at least sit up part of the time that he’s digging. He also threw down a carpet scrap to keep the dust down and make it a little more comfortable down there – although comfort is relative when you’re digging in a 2 foot crawl space and hauling dirt out in buckets…

empty wallYesterday when I got home from work, I found that Eric had moved an entire section of our kitchen into the dining room. We want to be able to use the kitchen for as long as we possibly can during the remodel process, so this was Eric’s solution. It may not make for the most efficient work triangle, but I think it’s pretty ingenious.

Dining room wallAnd so it begins…I’ll be carrying a tape measure in my purse for the next few months as we make our final decisions on appliances and so on. It’s fun and nerve-wracking at the same time – everything ties together and I worry that one wrong decision will screw up the whole process. I’m trying to just stay focused and not stress over it too much, but since we’re just at the beginning of the process I expect it to get more difficult as we move forward. I’ll post more pictures as we make progress. Wish us luck!

I love clothes. For years I worked in a very casual office and wore jeans and t-shirts to work every day, but when I went back to school and started on a new career I started taking more of an interest in my wardrobe and now I’m officially hooked. It took some trial and error, but I’ve developed a pretty good sense of what I like and what works for me. I still experiment a little, but I generally come back to the same style formula and thus avoid any major fashion disasters. Or so I thought.

The other day I put on a dress that has been hanging in my closet for a couple of months. It’s really more of a summer dress, but we were having some beautiful weather and I thought I could get away with it. I put it on and looked in the mirror and was utterly horrified. I do not know what I saw when I looked at myself in the dressing room mirror at the store, but I cannot imagine what possessed me to buy this dress. Between the neckline, the dress length and the sleeves, it cuts me off at all the wrong places. I am 5’7″ but this dress makes me look about 4 feet tall. Seriously. Hobbit city. I tried layering it over other stuff and that just made it worse. This isn’t something that would be changed by losing or gaining a few pounds, either. The proportions are so completely wrong for me that there is no hope for redemption. I really don’t know what possessed me to buy this dress. It was on sale so I didn’t waste too much money, but still…sheesh!

I generally buy most of my work clothes and basics at Banana Republic, but I’m a recent convert to pants from the Basics line at Zara. They fit beautifully, are reasonably priced ($40-60), and the quality for that price is very good. Good news for the tall folks out there (I’m talking to you, Erika and Victoria): these pants are long. I had to have mine hemmed, but it was totally worth it. Love them!

Well, Runway made it back into my good graces (for now, anyway)! I really liked the challenge this week. It actually had to do with fashion – imagine that.

  • Chris made a striking and gorgeous gown, and I thought it was a very well-done interpretation of the painting he chose. Yes, it was too reminiscent of the design he did with Christian. While it wouldn’t be uncommon in a fashion show to see several interpretations of the same striking element, in a competition like this one it’s more important to show range.
  • Christian amazed me by making several pieces with really impeccable workmanship. I agree with his win here 100%, and I think more than any of the other designers this season he’s shown his ability to meet challenges and keep his own aesthetic at the same time. He’s definitely had some misses, but my money’s on him to produce a really cohesive collection that shows his point of view and is still interesting. His outfit was fantastic – a very clear nod to the painting, but he made it his own. Very cool.
  • Rami – yawn. Based on this challenge he should have gone home along with Sweet P. Whether or not he CAN do anything besides drape is immaterial, since he obviously won’t. He was my early favorite this season, but I lost interest awhile ago. I really think he should have chosen something else for his inspiration and tried to stretch. Big mistake. I know he has skill, but I’m still kind-of pissed that he’s moving on in the competition as he shows no desire to grow.
  • Sweet P’s dress was clearly the weakest this week, and that was pretty much what I expected. She does a really nice job making wearable dresses (although this week’s wasn’t that great), but I don’t think she has a strong vision as a designer.
  • Jillian’s outfit didn’t bowl me over, but I liked it a lot. I thought she did a great job of interpreting her art piece and making it her own. It wasn’t as creative as Christian’s look, but very well done. I’m excited to see her collection at Bryant Park. I haven’t loved all of her pieces this season but she’s wowed me a few times, and her designs are generally more wearable than Christian’s.

Right now I’m betting that the real competition is between Christian and Jillian, and I expect Christian to take the win. Jillian could pull it off, though…