Monday, February 27, 2017

Book 3: Walkable City

TITLE: Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time
AUTHOR: Jeff Speck
STARTED: January 7, 2017
FINISHED: February 19, 2017
PAGES: 312
GENRE: Non-Fiction 

FIRST SENTENCE: This is not the next great book on American cities.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that's easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.

THOUGHTS: I very much liked everything this book had to say. As a non-driver, I am all about walking everywhere I can. In this book, Jeff Speck very clearly lays out how walkable cities are better for our culture and economy. He speaks to every level of impact from transportation to culture to shopping and more. He organizes his chapters by type and then breaks down each type point by point. This was a very simple and effective way to make his point, but it also lead the book to feel like a collection of blog posts. I think the best thing about Speck's argument is that he uses truly life examples to showcase his points. (I'm a bit biased here because many examples come for DC and I think our city is very walkable.)

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What I Read This Week: February 26, 2017

I think winter is over. It never really got started in the first place, but the trees in DC are in bloom. I'm sad that the cherry blossoms probably won't be that pretty this year, but I LOVE that I've been able to get my post-work walks in outdoors... in 70 degree weather. It has been delightful.

Also, my team and I finished up a HUGE work project this week. I'm hoping I can pivot to focusing on digitization and digital preservation. Fingers crossed that more reading on that starts to appear in this weekly list.

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, February 2017 - This issue had several pieces on library instruction for first-year students. I always find those pieces to be helpful. I don't think you can ever have enough ideas on how to instruct new students.
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, November 2016 - Normally, I read this magazine for the recipes. (Because they are sooooo good.) While the recipes in this issue were delicious (I pulled a few), there were two articles that I also enjoyed. The first was a multi-story piece on eating for brain health. The issue included a piece on a well-known cookbook author eating to slow her progression into Alzheimers. That was followed up with a very helpful "how to" piece about eating for brain health. This included information on what is good for the brain, where to find it, and recipe ideas. The most touching piece in this issue, however, was the story about a woman adjusting to her father's death through fishing. It nearly had me in tears.
    • Good Housekeeping, March 2017 - I am always a fan of stories on how to get organized, but I really wished the tips and ideas were not the usual fare. Aside from that, there was a decent piece on how to get a good night's sleep from A-to-Z. I also liked the skillet suppers section because I am all about tasty, one-pan meals.
  • Books
    • I finished Walkable City. Huzzah! I'll post a full review later, but this book, while good, read like blog.
    • I started reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This edition starts with about 90 pages of information on Jules Verne, so I'm still a few pages away from actually starting the story.
  • Other

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Friday Find: Illuminate

I am a sucker for good design that is also functional. I found this fantastic LED light on Etsy. I love the slim, mid-century modernesque design. I think this would be great on a desk or on a bookcase.

You can buy this in the Uniquelightingco Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Strike a Pose

I have a tendency to get sucked down the rabbit hole of fashion photos. Whenever a gallery goes up of a runway or awards show, I can't help but click through to see all the styles. I love a good pretty dress, structured coat, or well-accessorized outfit. I don't tend to focus on these things in my personal fashion choices, so I love indulging in the decisions of others.

This month's Variations on a Theme is all about fashion.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Andrew Bolton et al.

Arguably the most influential, imaginative, and provocative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen both challenged and expanded fashion conventions to express ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty examines the full breadth of the designer’s career, from the start of his fledgling label to the triumphs of his own world-renowned London house. It features his most iconic and radical designs, revealing how McQueen adapted and combined the fundamentals of Savile Row tailoring, the specialized techniques of haute couture, and technological innovation to achieve his distinctive aesthetic. It also focuses on the highly sophisticated narrative structures underpinning his collections and extravagant runway presentations, with their echoes of avant-garde installation and performance art. Published to coincide with an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized by The Costume Institute, this stunning book includes a preface by Andrew Bolton; an introduction by Susannah Frankel; an interview by Tim Blanks with Sarah Burton, creative director of the house of Alexander McQueen; illuminating quotes from the designer himself; provocative and captivating new photography by renowned photographer Sølve Sundsbø; and a lenticular cover by Gary James McQueen. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty celebrates the astounding creativity and originality of a designer who relentlessly questioned and confronted the requisites of fashion.


The name Valentino has been synonymous with high fashion for almost fifty years. Based in Rome, Valentino is only one of two couture houses recognized by the French government outside of Paris. His exquisite designs are coveted and worn by young Hollywood and high society the world over. On the occasion of his last couture collection, presented in Paris in the spring of 2008, this landmark book celebrates forty-five years of Valentino’s remarkable career. Published in association with a prestigious exhibition at the Museé des Arts Decoratifs’s famed costume department in Paris, this volume focuses on Valentino’s haute couture creations, highlighting the most important and iconic creations of his half-century in fashion through recurring themes in Valentino’s work—variations on the ideas of volume, line, and texture as well as motifs such as geometry, pleats, and flowers—through new photography, sketches, fabric samples, and commentary on the dresses by Valentino himself. In addition, unprecedented photography by François Halard of Valentino’s last fittings and backstage of his runway show reveals Valentino’s private world for the first time. "Valentino On Valentino," a chapter of first-person accounts of the designs of these iconic dresses, along with Valentino’s commentary on his fashion, will make this publication unique in the study of Valentino as a cultural and artistic icon.

Dean L. Merceron et al.

The House of Lanvin evolved from the creative force and remarkable energy of an extraordinary woman, Jeanne Lanvin. Her design career survived fifty-six successful and productive years. Lanvin is the oldest surviving couture house, in near-continuous existence from 1909 through the present day. Her body of work includes millinery, children’s wear, haute couture, fragrances, furs, lingerie, menswear, and interior design among others. The continuous public appeal and the youthful image of these couture creations are lasting aspects of Madame Lanvin’s career. At the heart of this book are key collections from 1909 through 1946, the year of Lanvin’s death. Original fashion illustrations, beading and embroidery swatches play a crucial role in demonstrating her intricate, creative, and innovative techniques. The house of Lanvin is currently experiencing a period of great acclaim, emerging as a darling of the press, Hollywood, and the larger fashion community. With the most modern of efforts, Alber Elbaz, the current design director, is drawing from the rich Lanvin tradition to create an award-winning collection that at once evokes, reveres, and reinvents the intentions of its founder.

Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design

Deborah Nadoolman Landis

From the lavish productions of Hollywood's Golden Age through the high-tech blockbusters of today, the most memorable movies all have one thing in common: they rely on the magical transformations rendered by the costume designer. Whether spectacular or subtle, elaborate or barely there, a movie costume must be more than merely a perfect fit. Each costume speaks a language all its own, communicating mood, personality, and setting, and propelling the action of the movie as much as a scripted line or synthetic clap of thunder. More than a few acting careers have been launched on the basis of an unforgettable costume, and many an era defined by the intuition of a costume designer—think curvy Mae West in I'm No Angel (Travis Banton, costume designer), Judy Garland in A Star is Born (Jean Louis and Irene Sharaff, costume designers), Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (Ruth Morley, costume designer), or Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Deborah Nadoolman Landis, costume designer). In Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, Academy Award-nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis showcases one hundred years of Hollywood's most tantalizing costumes and the characters they helped bring to life. Drawing on years of extraordinary research, Landis has uncovered both a treasure trove of costume sketches and photographs—many of them previously unpublished—and a dazzling array of first-person anecdotes that inform and enhance the images. Along the way she also provides and eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of the costume designer's art, from its emergence as a key element of cinematic collaboration to its limitless future in the era of CGI. A lavish tribute that mingles words and images of equal luster, Dressed is one book no film and fashion lover should be without.

Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style
DK Publishing

Tracing the evolution of fashion — from the early draped fabrics of ancient times to the catwalk couture of today — Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style is a stunningly illustrated guide to more than three thousand years of shifting trends and innovative developments in the world of clothing. Containing everything you need to know about changing fashion and style — from ancient Egyptian dress to Space Age Fashion and Grunge — and information on icons like Marie Antoinette, Clara Bow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Alexander McQueen, Fashion catalogs the history of what people wear, revealing how Western fashion has been influenced by design from around the world and celebrating costume and haute couture. Fashion will captivate anyone interested in style — whether it's the fashion-mad teen in Tokyo, the wannabe designer in college, or the fashionista intrigued by the violent origins of the stiletto and the birth of bling.

Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion
Helene Farnault

Haute Couture Ateliers takes the reader on a tour of fashion’s backstage, inhabited not only by exceptional designers but also by lace makers, weavers, textile finishers, pleaters, jewelers, feather workers, leather makers, embroiderers, and many other special­ized craftspeople. With painstaking attention to detail and exceptional workmanship, they can create anything and everything a designer can imagine. Exquisite photogra­phy captures this unchanged world of small workshops where artisans practice ancient trades—though a number have evolved with the times: while some weavers still use looms, others use high-speed precision machines, guided by proprietary software. Hélène Farnault, France’s leading authority on haute couture crafts, explains the rarefied hierarchies and mysteries of these extraordinary artisans, bringing talented milliners and trimming experts into the spotlight.

Other Fashion Titles
American Fashion - Charles Scheips
Arnold Scaasi - Arnold Scaasi
Balenciaga and His Legacy - Myra Walker
Charles James - Harold Koda
Dior Glamour - Mark Shaw et al.
Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century - Kyoto Costume Institute
The Party Dress - Alexandra Black
Ralph Rucci - Valerie Steele et al.
Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute - Hamish Bowles et al.

Links and Stuff: February 23, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What I Read This Week: February 19, 2017

I had a short but busy work week. It both flew by and dragged on. I blame the dragging on my staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. It was nearly impossible for me to get out of bed on Friday. C'est la vie.

In good news, the Husband and I visited one of our favorite vineyards yesterday. We very much enjoy their wines, but we LOVE that they are dog friendly. SO MANY CUTE PUPPIES! It's the absolutely best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, February 2017 - The cover story is all about saving the ocean through designating them as national parks. The article is good, but the pictures are just stunning. The best piece in this issue was the story on the history of alcohol. I learned so much! I also liked the story (and pictures) of small wildcats. I read this just after Ollie escaped from the National Zoo so it was well timed. Finally, the piece on how our world treats widow is a tough but important read.
  • Books
    • I'm nearing the end of Walkable City. I am ready to move on to my next book, so I might try to read the last chapters of this before my usual bedtime routine. I need to stop falling asleep after 5 minutes.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Friday Find: February 17, 2017

Last weekend was our annual ski weekend. There was no snow, so we went hiking instead. On our last night there, a cold front blew in. It blew in so strongly that the lights flickered like a rave. We seriously thought we were going to lose power, and there was not a candle to be found in the rental house. While we didn't lose power, I would have loved to have a few of these bookish candles on hand.

You can find this in the item in the FoxyFrogScents Etsy store.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Links and Stuff: February 16, 2017

From wheresmybubble

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What I Read This Week: February 12, 2017

This weekend is our annual ski weekend! Except it's not. It's so warm that the weather is not really conducive to snowy activities. So, it's really just a have-a-great-time-in-a-big-house-with-a-hot-tub weekend. Still awesome, just less cold. And the food! Oh my goodness the food. We go all out and I have been eating everything because that is what you do.


  • Magazines
    • HGTV Magazine, March 2017 - I flipped through this issue the day it arrived in my inbox. Aside from the (actually) helpful tips on how to best clean your home, it was meh to
      me. The page spreads on patterns in decorating were rather vivid.
    • Food Network, March 2017 - When The Husband gets frustrated with work, he spends his nights planning foreign vacations. I am more than okay with this hobby. Right now he is a planning a trip to Italy. This issue was all about Italian food... and oh my goodness I need to get to Italy right now. Everything looked amazing. 
    • Cooking Light, October 2016 - Yes.... I am so far behind in my magazine reading that I've just not gotten to the October issue of this magazine. Quiet a few recipes in this issue were soups and stews, which are my ultimate comfort food. I saved a few
      to try later. I also loved the article on how to cook with Vietnamese vegetables. And, the article on pulses (i.e. those other grains/beans), was rather enlightening. I had no idea lentils were so healthy. Go me for cooking with them on occasion. 
  • Book
    • I am almost done reading Walkable City. I hope that I can finish it this week. It's not that I dislike it, I just want to move on to the next book on my nightstand. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Friday Find: Marble

I love earrings. They are basically the only type of jewelry I wear on a consistent basis. I also love jewelry that shows off my bookish side. These earrings, made our of marbled end paper from books, are just too cute.

You can buy them from the Stoneburner Books Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Sunday, February 05, 2017

What I Read This Week: February 5, 2017

Tonight, I am making my annual vats of chili with all of the fixings. Every year, we host a Super Bowl party and every year, I randomly pick a team. This year was easier than others. I'm going for the Falcons. And the commercials.
  • Magazines
    • Real Simple, January 2017 - This was a decent issue to kick off the new year. In terms of things that tend to be related to resolutions, I enjoyed the article on how to say no. I tend to be a say yes person, so I might use some of the advice. I also like the piece on how to get over impostor syndrome. More often than not, I feel confident in my job and in my skills but there are days where I'm like, "Why did people give me this power?!?!" Finally, the article on how to better care for your clothing was good - I never go to a tailor or cobbler and I definitely should.
    • Real Simple, February 2017 - This issue was more "meh" to me. There was a nice article on how to better care for your hands. Mine are usually dry and callused (hello daily library work), so I might try some of these TLC techniques. There was also an article about how weight-loss can be mental. None of the tips were groundbreaking, but they did offer nice reminders.
    • Washingtonian, December 2016 - The cover on this issue made it hurt to open. I miss you Obama family! But putting that
      aside, I enjoyed most of the articles in this issue. I liked the restrospective look at DC under the Obamas, but I found the articles on SolidCore and attitude during chemo more interesting. The rest of the issue was the typical filler I read but generally don't remember EXCEPT for the interview with the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. More interviews with her please!
  • Books
    • I'm still working my way through Walkable City. It's a book that is easy to read in small chunks... which is good because I keep falling asleep after 10 minutes. Silly being tired from life every day.

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Friday Find: Snuggle

When the world outside has got you down, I find it best to snuggle at home with a good book. To make your snuggling extra comforting, I think you need a good fluffy blanket. Blankets are warm. Blankets are comforting. Blankets can help you nap or be tossed over your head to further drown out the world. Blankets are awesome. The warmer the better.

You can grab this chunky knit blanket from SaintWools Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Why I Love... Hygge

Hygge has long been a part of Danish culture, but now it's making it's way to the States. I, for one, could not be happier that this trend of "coziness" is becoming a thing.

Hygge is all about creating intimacy in everyday things through intention, warmth, and shared contentedness. Given the mood of the U.S. right now (and my general homebodyness), I can really use this ritual right now. Hygge is the perfect way to settle into to yourself with a good book.

If you poke around Instagram or Pinterest for hygge, you'll find a ton of vignettes of fires, candles, cozy blankets, pillows, bowls of soup, cups of tea, etc. Online, hygge basically looks like "apres ski" on steroids. I am all about putting on comfy clothes, grabbing a mug with a warm beverage, and burrowing under blankets in front of a fire - book in hand of course. Nothing is cozier than creating a bubble of comfort from which to enjoy a novel. Even writing this makes me long for a few solid hours of downtime to savor and enjoy a quiet moment with a book.