Winter Fashion at the Barn

And not for humans! I love wintertime at the barn because the horses are all bundled in their blankets and sheets. I snapped some pictures of the extra-stylish ones; these horses really know how to work it! Cover of Vogue, or maybe Horse Illustrated, here they come!


Flo in her stylish blue and green turnout blanket. The cool colors really work well with her natural coat.

 She's such a silly mare!

Chester is a grumpy, old man; he had his butt against the stall door as I was taking the picture so I had to take it through the bars. Just look at the evil glare he's giving me. But his blanket is really chic.

He turned around so fast when he realized we had food. That's him trying to fit his huge muzzle through the tiny square to get a carrot.

Stetson, aka the most mischievous and adorable pony ever, looking very smart in his blanket; the blue compliments his black coat well. You can't see it in this photo, but he has a thick forelock (for non-horsey people: forelock = horse bangs) that goes over his eyes, I don't know how he can see.


The handsome Sir Charles looking dapper in his blue coat as he enjoys his midday meal.

Chubby, looking for food, in his purple blanket. Fun fact: Last winter he got out and started trotting around the surrounding suburbs and the inhabitants reported, "a big, purple thing running around." Ah, Chubby.

Shy Mugsy pulling off the accidentally chic look, a "don't look at me, but do."

Bling, matching his stall-guard, in his blue blanket.


Winter Jackets- 
Who Wore it Better: 
Horses or Humans?

Thanksgiving

My little cousins made these pies and they went around asking everybody if they liked them. It was so cute!

I'm not sure what body of water this is, but I snapped the picture anyway. The whole area was calm and serene because of the lack of traffic.

We passed so many pretty countrysides and farms dusted with snow. 

This is my brother, my little cousin, and their dog playing out in the snow.

Everything was amazing, although I only had a little of each dish to save room for dessert, which was mainly made up of pies. Two apple, a blueberry, a pumpkin, a Boston creme, chocolate, the list could go on forever.

How was your Thanksgiving?

the little things: Stocking Stuffers

With Thanksgiving over, we can now focus on the winter holidays without feeling guilty! I like to get the gift-buying over with first so I can concentrate on family and festivities when it gets closer to the actual date.

That being said, I think that a bunch of little gifts are better than one or two big ones. It's especially fun to choose a bouquet of themed gifts sorted by color or pattern (example: a cluster of blue or plaid gifts), texture (example: all knitted gifts), or product (example: giving only polishes and other nail related things), and having themed gifts makes it easier to remember which one goes to who (nail polish for Aunt Cindy, knits for Dad, etc.)

Since stockings can come in all different sizes, I included a variety of "small gifts"; varying in size, from nail polish to shoes, and in price, again, from nail polish to shoes. 

The weather here is constantly reminding me of the holiday season, so I have lots of knits and cozy things in my stocking stuffers, but if you're somewhere warm for the holidays (lucky you) feel free to have sunglasses, flip-flops, sunscreen, and the like.

Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2015 Collection Review

It feels like it's been forever since I've reviewed a collection! My last review was Valentino at the beginning of October! I do hope I haven't lost my mojo. Well, you'll be the judge of that. Today I bring to you Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2015:

Soft clothes for women with sharp tastes. Faux minimalism. Textures and patterns, yes, but not too wild with the color. Warmth. And unity without being identical. Burberry Prorsum is all about being contemporary while keeping tradition in mind. This Pre-Fall collection did exactly that: trench coats, fur coats, motorcycle jackets, and sweaters, in words it seems like it's all been done and seen already, but Burberry restyled them for the here and now. I wouldn't say 'reinvented' because the word reinvented implies that the new version has completely taken over and that the old version is no longer in use, which is not the case. All the old classics are still available, Burberry Prorsum just gave us a better option.

 Scout-like patterns and shapes on the lapel and shoulder of the jacket give the look an outdoorsy, mountain feel, but the silhouette and styling contrasts that and gives the look a more sophisticated feel. The styling in the scarf and coat is a whisper to their fall collection from last year. 

 This is not an ombre coat. This is a coat with two colors, black and brown, but the fur gives the illusion of ombre. Do not be tricked. 
The scarf is, again, a nod to their fall collection last year.

The more English version of that purple Giambattista Valli coat...

Would have been minimalist until the collar. 

 I love this deep blue fur. Very rich and soft, but still very sharp.

The look is lovely (those trousers!) but I think that the main star of the outfit is the bag. That deep green with the blue/grey is perfect. The mixing of all the textures is well done: the knit sweater, the leather stripes, the flat blue trousers, and the deep green bag.

Again, we have the green with the blue. Blue and green normally gives off a sea vibe, but the feeling I'm getting from this is distinctly English (and very Burberry). I love the softness of the sweater with the sharpness of the trouser and both of those textures and feelings in the fringe bag.

A little spin on a classic, black motorcycle jacket. A very sharp, sleek look. I think that deep hues look more edgy than black (Spring 2015 Tom Ford and Saint Laurent are some good examples).

A chalk mural in coat form. Thank you, Burberry.


~~~

A little bit rusty, I know, but I'll get back into the swing of things. See here for my other, and possibly better, runway reviews. See here for the full collection and Vogue's review.

First Snow & Happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday, we had our first snow of the season. Last week, there had been some flurries here and there, but this was our first real snow. Everything got postponed a bit, but since it was the day before Thanksgiving there wasn't much going on anyway.

I went riding at noon-ish, the snow had already collected quite a bit by then. (Some of the horses don't like the snow falling off the roof, but I managed to have a ride with very few spooks. I guess I just got lucky.) Then when we got home, my mom took my brother to an empty parking-lot to learn how to drive in the snow, which must have been... interesting, to say the least. I always say that I never want to learn how to drive, or drive, and that opinion still stands.

I only really like snow if it brings days off from school, but I have to say that there is something magical to all the trees and houses covered in white. It's almost like a cleansing to make the world pure after all the dirt it accumulates.


The view from my window: Snow covered bushes, trees, cars, houses, telephone poles, you name it. I love how the red in the leaves, car, and wreath on the door, pop in the snow. 

I especially love the sky when it snows, it's such a pretty off-white. 

We'll have a white-Thanksgiving this year, which is not unusual for my area. Snow only adds to the festive mood with family, especially when you're all having a lovely meal together or bundling up together in front of a fire. 

Happy Thanksgiving & stay warm!

5 Rules for Keeping Busy During Long Car Rides

original photo via.
Anyone else traveling for the holidays? Since all of my family live at least an hour away, I've perfected the art of keeping busy during long car rides, through trial and error. A lot of things go into an enjoyable and productive car ride and I've brought you all the specifics:
(These rules are for passengers in the car. Do not follow if you are driving.)

Boden Winter 2014, The Careful Use of Compliments, by Alexander McCall Smith, Dover Saddlery Elite Edition 2014-2015, Vogue, December 2014, The Art of Fashion Neiman Marcus, September 2014 magazine.

Rule #1: Print-
(Print in the noun form, not the verb.) 
Always bring along some sort of publication or literature, whether that's a magazine, newspaper, book, catalog, or even a journal and a pen. You can get a lot of work done writing during a long car ride, especially because there's a limited amount of distractions. Leading up to a trip I always save the magazines and catalogs coming in the mail; I forced myself not to read the December Vogue or recent WWD's because I'm saving them for the ride to my Aunt's house on Thanksgiving. Use your print elements while it's still bright outside.

Rule #2: Electronics-
When it starts getting dark or when you become tired of reading, you'll want to have some electronics with you. Phones, iPads, even laptops can be useful to keep busy in a car. It's pretty easy to stay occupied when you have reception, but I like to edit and organize photos when I don't. On a long car ride coming home from Georgetown over the summer, I got through an entire season of Project Runway. Only allow yourself to use them when it's dark out because otherwise you'll run out of battery.

(Also, remember to bring headphones for listening to music and for blocking out annoying sounds (read: siblings in the car with you). Earbuds or headphones are lifesavers; having them can make or break your perfect car ride.)

My beautiful knitting! I have so much pride in my soon-to-be scarf.


Rule #3: Long-Term Projects-
Car rides are perfect for working on long-term projects. Find a project that is calming and easy. My current obsession is knitting, but crocheting or other similar hobbies would be helpful (writing stories, free drawing, etc.)

Rule #4: Food-
Eating during road trips is all about balance: if you eat too much then you have to stop for bathroom breaks, but if you eat too little then you're hungry. Bring snacks so you don't have to stop; mostly light, sweet foods; dried fruits work well. Stay away from salty foods because they will make you thirsty and if you drink a lot of water then you'll have to stop.

Rule #5: Smell the Roses!-
Not literally. Just take moments to stop what you're doing and look out the window. Observe your surroundings. Note the passing countryside farms or even trees on the side of the highway. Look at the sky and see shapes in the clouds. Car rides are what you make them, so make them enjoyable.


Use this checklist "to have a productive and entertaining trip there and to ensure no boredom during your travels." Catchy, I know.


THIS HAT.

Yesterday, on a shopping trip mainly to buy yarn, I discovered this amazing hat at Charming Charlie. Well, I didn't really discover it, but it still felt like an epiphany. It's a classic, structured Panama hat with a bowed ribbon, but what really makes it is that it's the most perfect shade of deep green. It keeps the shape without being too stiff and it's so versatile; I can throw it on top of almost any outfit. I feel like I'm seeing these Panama hats everywhere now — rightfully so, they give a cool and edgy touch to an outfit — but in black. Instead of ignoring the trend completely, I (and the millions of other people who bought the hat in different colors) gave it my own touch. I don't normally buy things new and at full price (GoodWill all the way!), but I have to say that this one was definitely worth it. I happened to be wearing my favorite dark green sweater and a pair of jeans; an accidental harmony and a sign from the fates that I was destined to buy this hat.


 I want to get all angles of the hat, but it's impossible to take a picture of a hat without taking one of your face, hence all the awkward, I-don't-know-how-to-pose faces.

 I think it's a lot deeper a green than this photo shows, but it's a very charming, almost festive hat. I think everyone should have a good, stylish hat somewhere in their wardrobe.


Here are some other unique Panama hats to stand out with in the crowd of black brims.

English Countryside Goddesses

It seems like most of my problems in life can be solved by going to the English countryside. Traffic? The only kind of traffic in the country is the kind with dirt roads and horses acting as cars. And even at rush hour it won't be as crowded. Test tomorrow? Not in the English countryside. All I have to worry about is getting my horse ready for my morning hack. Loud, annoying classmates? In the country, it's not my horse's whinny that breaks the silence, but instead it plays out in harmony with the surrounding wildlife sounds.

But since I don't have that as my reality, I live and dream through what I call English Countryside Goddesses. They're the it-girl-equestriennes of the English Countryside, with their perfect ponies and elegant estates, the English Countryside Goddesses are the cream of the Cotswolds.They're not the rugged, country-girl type. No, their style is about as trained and perfect as their riding skills (That is, very trained and perfect.) The chic Countryside Goddesses have jobs that are as stylish as they are; bloggers, fashion magazine editors and writers, creative directors, photographers, etc.

From left to right: Sophia Davies, Amanda Brooks, Plum Sykes, and Antonia Davies, a dream team of equestrian excellence.
My country cravings are normally satisfied by Amanda Brooks' Instagram, but this month I got an extra dosage in the November issue of Vogue. Plum Sykes writes about her riding experience (with her stylish friends including Amanda Brooks, Sophia Davies, Olivia Hunt, Alessandra Balasz, and Antonia Davies) at Admington Hall in Warwickshire, England. She beautifully describes the impressive estate of Admington Hall, recounting lush meadows, sailing over hedges and fence posts, and charming topiary. I don't know which is better  imagining flying over fences on horseback, through Syke's words, or witnessing the effortless English style, in their clothing, horsemanship, and those charming chaotic English gardens, through the photos. Well, neither you nor I will be forced to choose one, as you can get the whole story in the November issue of Vogue. I think the online story will be coming to Vogue.com soon if this issue has already been replaced with the December issue on newsstands. Although it was just a little backstory in a renowned magazine filled with glossy advertisements and editorials styled down to the very last hairpin, this story was the highlight of the entire magazine for me and I hope that Vogue continues to include these lovely, wanderlust-inducing features regularly.

Alessandra Balazs and Olivia Hunt correctly showing how to jump in style.



A True Sign of the Holiday Season

On the way home from the barn a few days ago, I saw the true sign of the start of the holiday season. Every winter, a local shop, called Dem Two Hands, puts up a huge holiday wreath over their door. It may not seem that significant, but it's a little symbol to me that the winter holidays have really begun. Homework was chiefly on my mind driving home, but once I saw the wreath I felt happy and relieved that the wait is over the the holidays have arrived. The only negative thing that that means is that holiday shopping also has to start. But it's a balance; we can't have just the good and none of the bad.


It's glowing red now, but it has been purple in the past.



\

Cinderella 2015

We're living in the golden ages for renovated fairy tales; a new one seems to pop up whenever the old one is just dying out (cough, cough, Malificent.) This time, it's Cinderella's turn, with the original in 1950, all those silly ones from the early 2000s, and the countless number of films based off of the story (Ever After, Ella Enchanted, Enchanted, A Cinderella Story, etc.), now is the perfect time for the new film, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, to act as a facelift for the familiar fairytale. This movie is starring all my British favorites including Lily James (Lady Rose from Downton Abbey) as Cinderella, Cate Blanchett, even though she's technically Australian, (from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, Blue Jasmine, The Monuments Men, etc.) as the evil stepmother, Sophie McShera (Daisy, also from Downton Abbey) as one of the stepsisters, and Helena Bonham Carter (from almost everything, including Les Misérables, The King's Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter, the list could go on for ages...) as the fairy Godmother, and a bonus because it's directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh (Wallender, Harry Potter, a bunch of Shakespeare films, his list goes on and on, too.) Plus, you can count on beautiful costumes because designer Sandy Powell has the lead and is known for her historical and ornate costumes from Shakespearean and Victorian films. Mark your calendars, the movie is scheduled to be released in March of 2015.

Lily James as Cinderella and Richard Madden as the prince. Via Vogue.



Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother, backed by Sophie McShera (left) and Holliday Grainger (right), playing the mean stepsisters. Via Vogue.

It's Turkey Time and Other Thanksgiving Memories


Thanksgiving is a time for catching up with faraway family and being thankful. But it's not sitting down at a big table eating turkey with my family that I remember best. My favorite memories are the little ones:
Via.

When I was in Kindergarten or 1st grade, my music class sang a song about Thanksgiving that went something like this, "Right around November, Just before December, It's turkey time!" After many practices and music lessons, we harmoniously, and proudly, sang it in our cute, high-pitched voices in front of our parents for Visitor's Day. To this day, my mother still sings it whenever turkey or Thanksgiving is mentioned. It's the first thing I think of, too.

Waking up not to the smell of turkey, but to the smell of the vacuum cleaning the rugs before everyone came. Really odd, but it's a distinctive scent that I'll recognize in an instant. 

After the cleaning, we'd get started on the turkey. I always had to stick the paper towel up the turkey's butt to take the grossness and such out. Fun. 

The food is normally the same every year, but my aunt always insists in taking pictures of all of the meals. Don't ask me what she does with them. 

Pumpkin pie and ice cream must be present. I honestly hate the taste and smell of anything pumpkin, but when it's in pie form it surprisingly doesn't bother me.

After the meal, we, like many other American families, settle down and watch a bit of TV, but we, unlike many other American families, never watch football. TV acts as sort of background to the real entertainment: chatting, playing with little cousins, petting Oakley (who normally gets slipped a few pieces of turkey), and having nice family time for bonding. We'll listen to whatever is on, I think there was a Bond marathon on for a couple years. 

Sometimes the Christmas music gets turned on, just to make the mood even merrier, but I personally think that it should hold off. Thanksgiving deserves its own day, especially because we rushed from Halloween to Christmas so fast; we should at least give Thanksgiving this day.



Because you shouldn't have Christmas music on for Thanksgiving, here's my playlist:
(It's mostly french-influenced jazz with a few Celtic scores sprinkled in between, and some of the happier ones from Les Misérables just to be safe. And the Downton Abbey theme to make me feel like a Grantham as I dine.) I find that French music is good background music since I don't speak French so my mind won't focus on anything it doesn't understand.



What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

Alexander McCall Smith

Since I'm never not reading anything, I've come across many different types of books; some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly. I like to sort my favorites by author, since normally they've written more than one book and I typically like their writing style just as much as their story. My mother introduced me to the 44 Scotland Street series last year and I knew then that I had a new favorite author to add to my list. Alexander McCall Smith's writing ability is a rare, special power that should be cherished and used, but not spread all over. Not because his books are above some people or anything, it's just a matter of the type of book it is.

44 Scotland Street, the first book in the series of the same name.
This series will always be a favorite of mine.
 Although McCall Smith is known as The Author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, his most popular series, my personal favorite from him is the 44 Scotland Street Series, an engaging story of the intertwined lives of an arrangement of contrasting characters, one of them being a dog. In other stories told by other authors, being a dog might minimize the amount that they contribute to the story. This is not the case with Cyril, my favorite fictional canine friend.

The series is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and through McCall's Smith's transporting language, it provides to be the perfect getaway from day-to-day life. It's not the typical, utopian world one normally thinks of when the word 'getaway' is mentioned. Reading, or rather watching, the small problems of these characters play out is calming without seeming to be. Escaping my life of school and stress to go to Big Lou's bookshop-turned-coffe-bar, Matthew's art gallery, or seeing if Bertie's mother will let him play rugby is a better relaxer than yoga. There is no fast-action or thrill, but I can assure you that it engages you just the same. The plot is not boring, but rather a peaceful chaos. There is no great mystery, adventure, or drama, but instead there are mini ones; I find these types of books are perfect to pick up anywhere and lose yourself. Yes, there's the obvious problems on the surface, such as over-protective mothers, relations between characters, parties to be planned, apartments to be rented, etc., but what really causes your mind to drift into this world is the philosophical aspects; McCall Smith always includes many simple and complex thoughts that really get into your mind, stick there, and will come back to you at the oddest of times (in the shower, in the car, waiting in line, buzzing around your mind during that early morning state between being awake and asleep.)
McCall Smith himself.
This is the photo on the back of most of his novels; when my peers go to look at what I'm reading they always give me the strangest of looks when they see him because, being in Middle School, they expect some dystopian, sci-fi, teen writer. I like to keep them on their toes.

I consider myself an on-the-side writer, but a writer nonetheless, so I look up to him as an idol; as a goal.

Like any other series they are meant to be read in order, but unlike most other series, with his books you can normally pick one up and read the others later. For instance, right now, I am reading The Careful Use of Compliments (I love the titles of all of his books: Tears of the Giraffe, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, The Right Attitude to Rain; I'll leave the rest to your imagination), the 4th installment of the Isabel Dalhousie series, but I haven't read any of the others (I looked for the first book, The Sunday Philosophy Club, at my library but this was the earliest one they had.)

The last little thing I love about the 44 Scotland Street Series is that they always end with a lovely party and a speech by one of the protagonists, Angus Lordie. Today, I leave you with his poem from Bertie Plays the Blues:

Dear friends, gathered again together in a place
That has become so familiar to all of us,
We might wish to forget the world outside,
Might wish to think that here, with our friends,
We are the world. Would that were true:
The world outside is not the world
We would like it to be; I don’t need
To enumerate its woes – they are legion,
And greet us each time we open a newspaper.
But it would be wrong to become cynical,
Would be wrong to dismiss the possibility
Of making bearable the suffering of so many
By acts of love in our own lives,
By acts of friendship, by the simple cherishing
Of those who daily cross our path, and those who do not.
By these acts, I think, are we shown what might be;
By these acts can we transform that small corner
Of terra firma that is given to us,
In our case this little patch of earth
That we call Scotland, into a peaceable
Kingdom, a place where love and friendship
Are writ large, not doubted, nor laughed at,
But embraced and proclaimed, made the tenor
Of our quotidian lives, made the register
In which we conduct ourselves.
How foolish I once thought I was
To believe in all this; how warmly
I now return to that earlier belief;
How fervently I hope that it is true,
How fervently I hope that this is so.


Minimalist Monday: Yves Saint Laurent Edition

Happy Minimalist Monday! A new tradition here on the blog; the best way to start your week is with simplicity. See the world through a black and white filter with very low exposure today. Our good friend YSL will be the theme for today's Minimalist Monday. I mean the simple-Parisian version of Saint Laurent, not the edgy-rock-star side (although both are from the same woman's closet.) I've been loving everything that Hedi Slimane has been putting out recently, especially their fall and pre-fall 2014 campaigns. It may not be my personal style completely, but I love the consistency and clear image invoked from their clothes and ads. When you strongly capture a feeling, it's always desirable; I might not have necessarily wanted to look like an edgy, yet classic Parisian before, but with these campaigns I do. Like I said before, some of these are very rock-star and glamorous, but others are more effortless-Parisian type. The thing about style is that it should look effortless; it won't work if you're trying too hard. Saint Laurent has offered us easy Parisian fashion that fits Monday mornings, Friday nights, and everyday in between. Is there anything better to be than Parisian, even if only in our dress?

Sharp in every aspect.
Classy, but in jeans. Professional, but in jeans. I swear, Parisians (or models pretending to be) can pull off anything.
via.