Casual Friday

Posted in Style by mcarmen5 on 12/23/2010

This outfit makes me really happy because it includes some of my most favorite things — a perfect blue oxford, pale pink nail polish and a beautiful, buttery leather bag in classic cognac.  I also happen to think it makes a great casual work outfit — or even just perfect for everyday, if you ask me!  Classic and clean, just the way I like it.



Watch: Guns, Germs and Steel

Posted in Current Events, Entertainment by mcarmen5 on 12/20/2010

My friend and I were lazily flipping through her Netflix “watch-instant” selection when I caught sight of something familiar: the cover image of my one of my favorite books!  I was so excited that it was the first thing I watched when I got home (my friend was not in the mood for “anything serious” at the moment).  The documentary is an adaptation from Jared Diamond‘s phenomenal book, Guns, Germs and Steel.  It has been one of my absolute favorites and most recommended books since I first read it at 17.   This was often the book I’d (very) enthusiastically gush about whenever patrons at the local bookstore I used to work for asked, “What do you recommend?”  I must have sold dozens!

If you’ve ever wondered, like me, why certain civilizations managed to conquer so much of the globe and how the society we know today was shaped, this is a great launch-pad.  I’d highly recommend this for your personal edification or perhaps as a gift for that history buff on your list!

You can watch this even if you don’t have Netflix or can’t wait to see when it’ll air on PBS.  Catch it on Google-Vid here.

Autumn Copper

Posted in Beauty, Style by mcarmen5 on 10/01/2010

Hello, world!

It’s been so long since I’ve touched my blog, but I’m so thrilled to be back.  I can’t say yet that I’ll be able to write as frequently as I’d like — today marks the first day of my last week before the LSAT exam — but I’m happy that I get to today.

I can’t exactly pinpoint when and where my love for nail polish (and let’s just say it, all beauty products) began, but I’m still irrevocably in love and my heart quickens every time I see a beautiful color.  I like to add new colors every fall and this year was no exception.  My two favorites this season are China Glaze’s Ingrid (Vintage Vixen collection) and OPI’s Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous (Swiss Collection).  Both are so much fun to wear and each have an element of surprise to them.

Today, I’m swatching Ingrid — a color I like, with a name I adore even more because it reminds me of Casablanca, one of my all-time favorite movies.  Some call Ingrid a “greige” and those a bit disappointed simply refer to it as “brown.”  I think it’s a gorgeous muddy copper-greige that’s a bit of a chameleon and perfect for autumn.  It’s warm and there are green and pink micro-glitters that come out as more “coppery” gold when the light strikes.  It makes studying a bit more fun :)

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Sex and the City 2: The Best Trailer Yet

Posted in Entertainment by mcarmen5 on 05/18/2010

Like any SATC groupie, I’m excited for Sex and the City 2.  I loved the show and enjoyed the first movie despite some of its flaws.   While my girlfriends and I tried our best to restrain ourselves and behave for the first movie (Okay, we were a teensy-bit squeal-y and plenty tipsy), we’re planning to make an event of it this time around — because, why not?

While I can sense the eyes of millions of American men rolling themselves dry during the first preview, no one quite captures the exasperated sentiment as perfectly as Brian Donovan of True/Slant.com.  You can see for yourself here.  I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair!  In fact, I’m still giggling a little at the thought of it.  I’m sure boyfriends/husbands all over would prefer to watch the Brian Donovan version any day.

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I Dream of India

Posted in Living, Style by mcarmen5 on 03/06/2010

Although I’m usually a simple, all-white bedding kind of girl, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards these beautiful prints from John Robshaw.   I absolutely adore prints and color, but I’m often too commitment-phobic and worried about mismatching patterns to ever take the plunge.

All that changed when I stumbled across John Robshaw’s textiles.  I’m now obsessed!  His textiles are vivid and the patterns have a kind of laid-back luxury and rustic appeal that I love.   John was inspired by his travels through Asia and studying firsthand how local artisans crafted quality textiles with beautiful patterns the traditional way, as generations before have.

I can already see these gorgeous pillows on my bed…. Warmer weather and sweet afternoon naps beckon.  Hope you’re savoring the weekend… relax and indulge in some delicious eye-candy:

[via realsimple.com]

{Images via johnrobshaw.com}

Beautiful Spaces: The Waterfront View

Posted in Living, Style by mcarmen5 on 03/04/2010

{Formal Living Room View}

Spring is almost here and I’m dreaming of soft sunlight and crisp, cool air.  In honor of Spring’s arrival, I wanted to showcase one of my favorite interior designers, Jennifer Post, whose work in this Miami Beach high-rise brilliantly evokes a breath of fresh air. It was maddening love at first sight as I flipped through an issue of Architectural Digest (I’m obsessed!) where her work was featured.   I’m passionate about design, but rarely do I come across a designer whose signature style calls so closely to my heart.

Post’s style to me, is best described as “free” (free of clutter, free from enclosure), though she prefers “pure.”  One thing is clear: her spaces are at once both serene and stunning.  There is so much freedom in space and light.  The layouts and design elements are functional and aesthetically sophisticated and nuanced.  Quietly bold, minimalist design, open spaces and pure, clean lines.  Oh, and white is her favorite weapon of choice — a designer after my heart!  I hope you enjoy these spaces as much as I do…

{Formal Living Room}

Can you believe that view?  Forget about coffee table books and conversation pieces, the stunning view itself is a conversational statementPost brings elements of the external environment inside through touches of color.  I like the big sculpture, which actually makes the space seem larger because of its grand size.  The floor to ceiling windows are my favorite element in this room — actually it’s a favorite of mine in any space.  Beautiful, natural light to me is true luxury.

{Dining Room}

I love those silver “water droplets” on the dining table — a really subtle, clean accent without being cheesy.  With such a pure palette, I can imagine the food and festivities taking center stage.  Shiny silver and sparkling glass with an all-white palette make this space pristine.

{Informal Family Room}

{Bedroom One}

Seriously one of my dream bedrooms!  I love the serenity and openness of it all — no clutter and the room is focused and functional (the main attractions are the bed and exquisite view).  I also like the lucite bedframe, which gives the cool illusion of a floating bed.  Light is so important in the life of a space, and the true beauty of this room, like the rest of the house, is that it is bathed generously in natural light.  I can already imagine how sweet it would be to wake up on a sunny morning in this room — nothing but clear, turquoise waters and blue skies for miles on the horizon. Oh, the life. :)

{Bedroom Two}

In this bedroom, Post wanted to avoid enclosing what would otherwise be a fantastic light-filled space, so she opted for glass walls.  Like the rest of the house, oceanic blues, soothing turquoise and soft cloud-whites are weaved into the interior, creating the feeling of a seamless transition between the environment outside and the spaces inside.  The clean lines, lucite and glass surfaces and white palette take full advantage of the natural light by giving it as many opportunities to sparkle and reflect as possible.  The end result is an elegant pure space that radiates serious visual appeal.

{All images courtesy of Architectural Digest, July 2009}

‘Tis the Season!

Posted in Entertainment, Living, Musings by mcarmen5 on 12/19/2009

Happy Saturday, everyone!  Let’s keep the weekend light.  I’ve been spending some of my spare time making those holiday cards, finishing up decorations on the tree and basically decorating super last minute….so much that I had a nightmare about it this morning!

In keeping things light, here’s some holiday humor.  Hope you have as good a laugh as I did! :)

SO clever and so hilarious!  I totally wish I had the kind of easy sense of humor that would think up something like this.  Of course, this was a shared prank, and no one was the Grinch.  The neighbor on the left came up the idea and schemed with his neighbor to the right.  The guys say the idea was in keeping with the economic times we now live in.  This would definitely make me laugh a little or smile every time I see it :)

This is another one that really cracks me up (in a good way, of course!)  I’m not sure if that was the intention of the decorators, but it’s so over the top and kick-ass that I find humor in it.  Maybe it’s humor in the absurd?  Who knows, but you gotta give this couple props!  They even timed it to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter.”

And this is hilarious, but mostly just sad (linked video):

4-Year Old Drinks and Steals Xmas Presents

I was convinced (more like dragged against my will) to go see ‘that movie with the blue people,’ Avatar, last night, but it turned out to be an unexpected ride for me.  I’ll hopefully have the review up tomorrow.  And, oh, are you wondering how they managed a 3:31 m. trailer without giving away most of the movie?  Because the movie’s only 2.5 hours long!

Enjoy the weekend!

Call Me Old Fashioned

Posted in Living, Musings, Style by mcarmen5 on 12/16/2009

There’s something about the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox or the simple pleasure of reading a handwritten note that I find incredibly satisfying.  As much as I rely on email and my Blackberry, nothing beats receiving a real letter, the old-fashioned way.

This holiday, I’m determined to pass on that feeling.  I usually say that I’m too busy (procrastinating) or not crafty enough to make the “perfect” card, but my friend’s Christmas card this year encouraged me to get in the spirit.

So I turned to the queen of creative (and my secret hero!), Martha Stewart, for some inspiration (her latest holiday issue is amazing!).  How cool are these cards?

martha stewart

Powdery blues, pale greens and silvery-whites with subtle sparkle never fail to evoke the whimsy of a winter wonderland. They make elegant and understated cards.  I like that they aren’t necessarily holiday-specific, so they can be given widely without offense.

martha stewart

For the ambitious, there are these cute pop-up cards.  As cool as they are, I think I’m going to stick with basic cut and paste this year!

Even better are these beautiful embossed cards — metallic print on nice, thick card stock.  I love the combination of visual and tactile appeal.

martha stewart

It’s definitely not a prerequisite to personally hand-make your card for it to be memorable or special.  I think a simple, personal letter makes a great surprise for the receiver since most mail now are bills and ads.

For example, my friend Eileen sent me a bright orange card for Halloween this year.  Just seeing that little pop of orange amid piles of mail cheered me up so much.

So, drop someone a line — it’s actually kind of fun!

As for myself, I’m deciding on a felt gingerbread man or clothes-pinned red stocking.  I’m also thinking maybe a “Baby, it’s cold outside” greeting with sparkly snow for a playful winter theme.  I’ll feature them this week, so stay tuned!

(For directions on making the cute mitten card above, click here.)

Getting Cozy

Posted in Living, Style by mcarmen5 on 12/15/2009

West Elm

Full disclosure:  I tend to work on multiple projects in case one ever gets boring.   I have yet to finish my home office space, but I’ve already started a new project, the bed.  I picked up a new Ralph Lauren down comforter during a big sale last week to replace an old one.  To celebrate, I’m outfitting it to my heart’s desire!

I’ve always wanted classic border-stitched bedding, and most of the sets sold in San Francisco are way overpriced ($1,000 for a duvet? Oh, sure, no problem!).  Luckily, I found a great steal on Overstock.  This design happens to always sell out, so I was glad that I happened to be browsing at 6am (early morning meeting) with it freshly restocked.  Early bird gets the worm!  I was so giddy the Monday blues just melted away.

Hotel Collection, 300TC cotton sateen duvet ($50)

I originally had my eye on blue since it seemed like the perfect combination in the summertime, but decided that I prefer versatility — something that would get along well with other colors I might later introduce.  So, I’m thinking either black or platinum.  Platinum is more subtle, but black would look bold and clean with a white/cream palette.

Any suggestions?

As for other lust-worthy linens, here are some similar sets:

"Hotel Original" collection, Frette, $400

Please excuse the sexy mannequin to the left, this was a store display from Frette in San Francisco.  That pale periwinkle looks so calming even against a black headboard and black accents.  I think this would make morning battles to get out of bed even tougher.

"Grand Hotel" collection, Scheuer Linens, $200

The Ivory & Sea Mist and Ivory & Ivory are two of my favorite colors from this collection.  200 TC cotton percale, which means it’s an easy-care finish without sacrificing softness.

Italian Percale by Hudson Park, Bloomingdale's, $200

I like the change of navy over black, and if you wait patiently for a sale, this could be a great steal! Also comes in white, black and champagne.

"Adrift" by Barbara Barry, Bloomingdale's, $200

Just wanted to throw this in. I really like the dusty-rose metallic accent, which I think makes a really flattering and elegant complement in both color and texture to a feminine, white/cream palette.

By the way, how cozy is that  soft gray cable-knit throw up there in the first pic?  My coworker and I were practically drooling over it.  I’m really digging soft textures that are reminiscent of cozy over-sized sweaters.  Ralph Lauren has a great cashmere cable-knit throw and a wool one that you could pick up at Bloomingdale’s.   Pottery Barn has a cute version, too.

Beautiful Spaces: The Bold Bedroom

Posted in Living, Style by mcarmen5 on 12/11/2009

I’m kind of a commitment-phobe, which makes even the simplest decision, like choosing a color for my bedroom, near impossible.  I’m going to upload photos of my before and after desk space in a following post, but I thought I’d share some pretty eye-candy on bold, beautiful bedrooms in the meantime.

I adore the arrangement of framed photos above the bed, which plays off the bold, peacock blue background nicely.  The muted curtains are a smart choice because they have a slight sheen and texture to them, making them more interesting than plain.

If you’re a fan of Sex and the City, then you’ll probably also remember how Carrie’s old apartment looked: light celery colored walls, flea market finds, Calvin Klein bamboo bedding, and an overall bohemian look with magazines, papers, boxes and mementos everywhere.  This new makeover is so refreshing, airy, and serene.  While I’ve always been more of a “clean” and white/cream palette lover (I really liked Charlotte’s apartment on 5th Ave), I fell in love with this new interior and must say it has become one of my new favorites.

I love how simple decluttering and a strategic style palette can work wonders.

I think what makes this space really stand out is the unusual pop of blue and clean details.  Most of the time, rooms that are painted in blue are often a lighter, muted sky blue or gray-blue.  This, however, is not a shy color, yet it comes off as sophisticated and fresh with the right balance of neutrals and patterns.  The set designer mixed this paint color, but I think the color is closer to a “cerulean” blue that you can easily find or mix yourself.

Here is a little palette of blues from Benjamin Moore: