Gibson Girl

blue striped shirt navy skirt red heels by 14 shades of grey

I feel very much like a Gibson Girl in this outfit. Considering the 1900’s is one of my favorite eras in fashion (along with the 1800’s, 1880’s, and 1930’s), it’s not surprising. I think it’s the combination of the simple, high-collared shirt, the dark skirt (of course, on a real Gibson Girl, the skirt would’ve been floor-length), and sensible but still cute shoes. Should’ve worn a brooch too. What I’m really missing, though, is the hairstyle – I’ve tried the “Gibson tuck” so many times before, but my stupid hair won’t stay put and won’t hold the bobby pins. So alas, I had to make do with this quick bun instead.

blue striped shirt navy skirt by 14 shades of greynavy skirt red heels by 14 shades of grey

Shirt: Mango, Skirt: Banana Republic (thrifted), Heels: Zara

Life On Film III

Got some more film photography here. I couldn’t find any store that still sells the film I used last time (Efiniti UXi Super 200), so I got a roll of Kodak Colorplus 200 instead and took some test photos first, just to see what it’s like. It’s a bit yellowish, and doesn’t have as much contrast as I like, though I’m not sure if it’s because of the film or because I made some mistake in guessing the f stop. But it’s not bad overall, and it’s the most readily available/popular (i.e. cheapest) film for amateur photographers, so I guess I’m going to shoot with it from now on.

Bonus – this night time photo, which turns out much better than I expected:

Stormy Skirt

black striped top black printed skirt red kitten heels by 14 shades of grey

Is it weird, how much the weather influences my outfits? And I’m not talking about the temperature here – of course I would wear summer clothes when it’s warm and winter clothes when it’s cold, I’m an adult (I think). What I mean is the weather sometimes dictates the colors and patterns of my outfits too. Like how I would reach for blue things when it’s hot out, as if I’m subconsciously trying to cool myself down or something.

Or take this outfit, for example: I didn’t plan on wearing these two items together, but it’s been stormy and raining a lot lately, so I just found myself drawn to this skirt – it reminds me of the sky I guess – and then I thought the top would a fun way to mix the patterns, and here we are. It’s a bit busy, to be sure, but by keeping the rest of the outfit simple, I think it works.

black striped top black printed skirt by 14 shades of greyblack printed skirt red kitten heels by 14 shades of grey

Top: Forever21, Skirt: Zalora, Shoes: Zara, Belt: thrifted

SIA Inspiration: Sargent

We’ve had some pretty unconventional SIA challenges lately, with my brooch, Jen’s embroidered caftan, and Erin’s stained glass dome, so I decided to go the traditional route and pick a painting:

This is “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” by  John Singer Sargent. Considering that he’s one of my favorite painters, it’s a surprise that we haven’t done a Sargent for SIA before. The warm and idyllic scene is perfect for these late spring/early summer days, the floral motif is a no-brainer, plus there are a lot of colors and textures, so it shouldn’t be too hard to interpret (I hope.) Just remember to send me your outfit photos and/or post by next Monday, May 2nd. Have fun!

Breaking Cat News

I tend not to devote an entire post to something that is not an outfit or book/movie/TV review, but something happened over the weekend that I really had to share.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll probably remember that we have two cats, a gray tabby (the Mama Cat) and her daughter, a calico (Kitty – we don’t actually name our cats so that’s just how we tell them apart). Mama Cat is a lazy goofball who spends her day sleeping and eating, while Kitty is more skittish and active. We also have a dog. Now, about a month ago, the dog gave birth to four puppies. It was her first litter, and she got a bit overprotective. And on that very same day, Kitty disappeared.

She’s never been much of a “stay at home” cat so we weren’t too worried at first, but as days stretched into weeks and there was no sign of her, we figured she got scared of the dog and ran off, and something might have happened to her. Sadly, stray dogs and cats don’t stand much of a chance to survive around here, so there’s not much we can do.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I heard a cat mewing on our roof and saw a flash that looked like her, but it was dark and I couldn’t be sure. We left out some food in case she came back, but the food was untouched, so I thought I was mistaken, or she just didn’t want to come home.

Then, just this past Friday, I heard mewing on the roof again (it was more like caterwauling), and this time I saw clearly that it was her! We managed to lure her back into the house with food and put her in a cage. She didn’t like the cage though, so I let her out, and she’s been home ever since. Mama Cat hasn’t let her out of her sight (truth be told, I haven’t either), but it looks like she’s happy to stay home now, as if nothing has happened! What amazes me is that she looks perfectly fine for a cat that has ran away for five weeks. God knows where she’s been and how she’s managed to survive. I’m just glad she’s returned safely.

kitty by 14 shades of grey

P/S: I stole the title of the post from Breaking Cat News, an adorable bi-weekly web comic about the adventures of three reporter cats. You guys should really check it out.

Mixing Metals

navy ikat shirt navy linen pants beige sandals by 14 shades of grey

I wore this outfit last weekend, when we had a mini-break and the whole family went out for casual lunch. It’s nothing special, but it’s cute enough, and most importantly, it’s comfy (stretchy, slouchy pants are the best when you’re eating out).

My only quibble is this: the hardware on my sandals is gold, but my bracelet is silver, and that kind of metal mixing makes me all twitchy. Is it just me? I mean, you can barely see the buckles on the sandals so I doubt anyone even noticed. Is it some sort of outdated fashion rule (like “don’t wear navy and black together”) that I should try to ignore?

 navy linen pants beige sandals by 14 shades of greynavy ikat shirt navy linen pants by 14 shades of grey

Shirt: C-Wonder, Pants: Mango, Sandals: Aldo, Cuff: local shop

Book Reviews: April 2016

I managed to read four books this month too (although one of them is very short), so let’s get to it!


Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau:

This 1960 French cult classic tells the story of Zazie, a foul-mouthed young girl sent to Paris to live with relatives for two days while her mom spends some time with her new boyfriend. Zazie’s sole desire is to ride the Metro, but unfortunately for her, her arrival in Paris coincides with a strike. And thus begins a wacky and often surreal adventure involving a cross-dressing uncle, a lecherous police officer, a man-crazy widow, and other colorful characters.

Now, this story seems to have just the right mix of quirkiness and magic realism reminiscent of Amelie or The Red Balloon, so I thought I would enjoy it. However, much of the book’s acclaim comes from its innovative use of language, a lot of which gets lost in translation (I read it in Vietnamese, though I imagine the English translation wouldn’t be much better, you pretty much have to understand French to enjoy it, I think), so I just couldn’t see its charm. 2/5

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson:

When I reviewed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I thought it was the most British book ever. I was wrong. “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is, if possible, even more British than that. In fact, it shares some similarities with Harold Fry – both feature an elderly man as the main character, both deal with this character’s coming to terms with their past and facing an ever changing world (though I think you can’t escape those themes if you write a book about an elderly English man.) In this case, the main character is Major Ernest Pettigrew, who, after the sudden death of his brother, strikes up a relationship with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper of his village, and in doing so, risks alienating himself from everything he’s lived for.

I enjoy this. The characters, like I said, are very British – prim, proper, all about keeping a stiff upper lip and being courteous and honorable at all cost – but they are multidimensional as well, and the story are involving and sometimes a little funny too. However, some of the characters feel a bit over the top (I can’t believe that people in this day and age can be so culturally ignorant/insensitive, no matter how conservative they are) and the story feels a little slow at times. Still, if you like Stella Gibbons, Dodie Smith, and Nancy Mitford, you’ll love this too. 4/5

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey:

The “girl” here is Melanie, who’s very special. For one thing, she’s super smart for her age. She has no parents, only teachers – her favorite being Miss Justineau. She lives on a military base and has to be escorted to class by soldiers. That’s because she also happens to be a zombie, kept at the base to be studied by Dr. Caroline Caldwell and hopefully to help her develop a cure. Then one day, when the base is attacked by feral humans, Melanie goes on the run with Miss Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, and two soldiers, and soon she becomes their only hope for survival.

This is like a bloodier, more depressing version of Warm Bodies, even though the main character is a kid. Still, I really enjoy it. Carey is a comic book writer, so his writing is succinct and visual, and the structure is cinematic, just how I like it. I also like the book’s explanation of the zombie epidemic as well – most other zombie stories gloss over that fact and just focus on the survivors, but here it offers an explanation that sounds pretty plausible (an infection by a totally real fungus that can turn ants into zombies), which makes it all the more horrifying. My only complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. 4.5/5

Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney:

Now this is something different for me – a poetry book. I’m not much of a poetry fan. The closest I get to poetry is song lyrics. But I’ve always been meaning to try reading some poetry – it helps with prose writing too. So after some thinking, I decided to start with Seamus Heaney, because he’s a big influence on one of my favorite musicians, Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol (they actually have a song called “Reading Heaney To Me“) and given my preference for all things Irish, I think a renowned Irish poet would be a good start.

And you know what? I think I’m converted. These poems are so beautiful in their simplicity, their vivid images, and powerful, sometimes heartbreaking, emotions (“Mid-term Break” almost made me cry). Some of my favorites in this collection are “Blackberry-Picking”, “Churning Day” (sweet, simple, beautifully accurate descriptions of everyday life), and “Honeymoon Flight” (it’s just like a Snow Patrol song). Others don’t register with me as much, but I’ll definitely read more. 4/5

So that’s my month in reading. What about you guys?