Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Book a Month: Gone Girl

Those of you who spend time reading blogs are probably pretty familiar with the idea of making lists of things to accomplish before your next birthday. This year, I made a "29 before 30" list. One of the things on the list was to read one book per month. The first book that I read was Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn. It was recommended to me by my boss, who said it just reminded her of me. After reading the book, I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not, being that it's about a relationship that has fallen apart and the diverging tales of where things went wrong.

One of my favorite characteristics of any novel is multiple narrators. Gone Girl is told from both the husband and the wife's perspective, each chapter alternating between voices. The husband's voice comes at the present, in the middle of a murder investigation that, throughout the novel, seems to be closing in on him. The wife's voice mainly comes from the past - journal entries detailing her marriage.

In many ways, the novel is brilliant and unexpected. You start to realize that all of the characters are not the kind of people you first thought and that good and evil might not be mutually exclusive. No one in this novel can be defined as good OR evil, but are rather different gray shades of each. The two main characters are both hateable, which makes them loveable in a way.

I have to say, the one disappointment for me was the ending. While I think Flynn wanted to create a "and they lived happily ever after... fucked up entirely, but happily" kind of ending, the last part of the novel kind of petered out. The rhythm was gone and the ending seemed rushed and not quite as well-thought-out as the rest of the book.

Out of 5 stars, this would fall somewhere between 3 and 4. I definitely liked it and possibly really liked it, but I didn't love it and it didn't fall into the favorite book of the moment category for me. Regardless, it's definitely worth a read!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shelly's Makeover

A few weeks ago I went on a tax-return fueled shopping spree. Part of it was revamping my makeup bag. I went into Benefit and had them suggest what I needed. About a month later, here's what I think of what I bought:

Fake-Up Under Eye Moisturizer/Concealer: LOVE. I wear this every. single. day. And will continue to for as long as they make it.

That Gal Face Primer/Brightener: I also like how this makes my skin look, but it caused me to break out a little. I think I will save it for special occasions and probably won't buy again.

Stay Don't Stray Eye Primer: Also love and will continue to buy.

They're Real Mascara: On the fence on this one. I like it about 40% of the time. The rest my lashed look a little clumpy. I doubt I will buy it again.

Flirt Alert Lipstick: Like the color and it lasts a decent amount of time. I'll probably buy it again.

Thanks to all the nice ladies at the Benefit store in Bucktown for helping me out. I will definitely be back.

What's in  your makeup bag that you can't live without?


Friday, February 22, 2013

Road-Trip: St. Louis Fun

A few weeks ago, I met some friends for a quick stay in St. Louis. We went to a Burlesque Bingo that was tons of fun. It's a monthly event at the Fountain on Locust. I highly recommend going if you have the chance. I even won! My prize was a cute grow your own strawberry kit that I'm totally going to try to grow. I've never had much luck growing plants from seeds, but hopefully the bingo mojo will make this the exception.

We also did a lot of thrifting. I stopped on my way up there to check out this awesome space ship:

I also went in and saw a record cabinet that fits my decor perfectly, so I picked it up on my way home. I also got a bunch of new records, some dresses (including one for Pari) and some vintage fabric that turned out to be an almost finished dress.

I'm bad at taking pictures, but you can see more from the trip on Rebecca's blog, MidnightManiac.

This summer, I really hope to take some more weekend road trips and explore the midwest. Have you visited anywhere that I should go?

- Shelly 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shelly's Wish List: Spring Dreamin'

I am so sick of winter. I've been dreaming of spring and Pari and my annual trip to Austin for SXSW. Here are a few things I'd love to buy for the trip if I had infinite funds:

Glow in the Dark Dress:

What are you doing to cope with the February chill?

- Shelly

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Paczki Day

Chicago has a unique tradition for Fat Tuesday - everyone goes crazy for Paczkis.

Paczkis (pronounced pewnch-KEYZ) are essentially jelly donuts. This isn't a tradition I grew up with. Even though I'm from the Chicago area, my Dad was born in New Orleans, so we celebrated Fat Tuesday with King Cake and Jambalaya. Once I was older, I became hooked on these delicious fried treats. It's one of the only things I haven't found a good vegan substitute for (Hey Chicago bakeries, vegans want Paczkis too). Until Now.

Yesterday, I made homemade vegan paczkis using this recipe and they were uh-mazing. I did make two small changes: I added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg to the apple mixture and 1/4 tsp of almond extract to the custard. I find both of those ingredients add a little extra punch to recipes.

Here are pictures of my Paczkis frying, cooling off and then the final product:

Do you have any Fat Tuesday traditions?

Monday, February 11, 2013

A is for Awesome Art Projects

I enjoy doing art projects. I'm not great at them, but I really have fun with them. I've participated in several projects with The Art House in Brooklyn.

Last year, I did their self-portrait project. Hundreds of artists from all over the world sent in 4x4 self portraits. In August, all of them were displayed at the Brooklyn Art Library.

Last week, they sent out an email asking people to send in pictures of everyday objects that look like the letter A. It's amazing how much you can find when you start paying attention to your surroundings. I found both of these within a few blocks of my apartment.

In the end, I submitted this photo. This is in the lobby of the hotel I stayed at during a mini-vacation I took this week with friends, including Rebecca of midnightmaniac. I'll post more on that trip in a few days.

Do you do art projects? Where do you get inspiration from?

- Shelly

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mushroom Madness

One of my part-time jobs is selling mushrooms at farmers markets in the chicago area. Normally, this means I get up really, really early and talk with really interesting people about how to cook and store mushrooms. Today, was something different. I had to deliver mushrooms to several restaurants. This meant getting up really early, boxing up mushrooms at the storage facility and driving a big van around to the different restaurants.

I also thought this would be a good time to share with y'all how to store mushrooms: in a paper bag, with the bag open, on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. You should never put them in plastic or in the crisper bin. The plastic traps moisture and causes them to go bad more quickly. That means most grocery stores are storing them incorrectly. If you buy mushrooms from a grocery store you should take the plastic off of them as soon as you get home from the store. 

Happy 'Shrooming

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shelly's Wishlist: Valentine's Day

I've never really celebrated Valentine's Day. I've always sort of preferred getting flowers and candy when it's unexpected and not because someone feels obligated to get it for me. That said, I'm a sucker for a theme and totally wouldn't mind if any of these things showed up anytime soon:

Awesome Sunglasses from

Square Dance Dress HouseOfRenata on Etsy:

Vintage Bar Cart from GregBuzby on Etsy:

Sparkly Butterfly Hair Clips from Jeanine Basil

Hello Kitty iPhone Case from ModCloth:

Vegan Candy Bars from GoMaxGo Foods:

What are your valentine's day traditions?

- Shelly