magic changes (again)

Today I'm in a new place! I went to visit Kaitlin (of Disdainbrook fame) in the city we went to college in! She's back at school doing an honors term and living in the apartment of one of our professors, who is on sabbatical this semester. It's pretty sweet digs! Lots of old details (like adorable radiator cases) and there's a cat here! (She did not come with the apartment.)

I know I've been kind of MIA lately, due to working and job-hunting and the burn-out associated with working and lack of success in job-hunting, but I did something that I think will help immensely: I got a new haircut!

It looks like this! Up until I got to the salon, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. I've been growing my hair out for a while so I could have a wider variety of hairstyle choices but...I never really styled my hair in exciting ways, and I was getting kind of sick of it. Two days before my appointment, I suddenly thought "What about asymmetrical?"

I really love it! It's got a sassy vibe my hair has been lacking for a while, and it's super easy to take care of; I can't believe how much quicker showering is without all that hair to wash! My curls are a lot lighter and better formed without being tugged down and, obviously, I also got my color redone. Redhead once more!

Getting a good haircut can really brighten up your mood, in my experience. I couldn't stop touching it all day, and I feel that it definitely reflects my "professional yet creative" side a lot more (in case I happen to interview somewhere where I need to be professional yet creative, fingers crossed!) Hopefully this will be the forerunner of a lot of good things in life; I could use a few!

When was the last time you got a really great haircut? Did it make your life magical? On the flipside, did a terrible haircut ruin your whole week? Share share!

fall lust: tights

Fall is in the air, gentle readers! Here in the Midwest we're still experiencing thrilling temperature fluctuations (from 80 to 40 and back up to 70!), but that can only delay the inevitable for so's autumn! True story: fall is my very favorite season for fashion. I love the sweaters, cute outerwear, boots (boots!), little knit caps, rich colors! Since there are so many parts of the season that I love, I thought I would break it up into a few posts about the fashion must haves I'm lusting after this fall.

Today: tights! I am all about tights. They're the fastest and most fashionable way to make any non-pants outfit ready for autumn. A nice pair of wool tights can keep your beskirted self warm on many a chilled fall day, but it's not always about warmth; the move into autumn is a move into much more visually complex looks. Summer is light not just in the physical weight of the clothes, but in their stylistic weight as well. Fall is all about layers and adding visual interest to an outfit. Tights accomplish that in two major ways!

First is adding a pattern. I'm personally a huge fan of sheer black tights with some sort of geometric pattern. I have several pairs...which bear the scars of my love, I discovered on Monday morning. Every single pair of tights had a hole in them! It was beyond tragic, and I will mourn them...but I will also celebrate the opportunity to replenish my wardrobe! I always like to look on the bright side. And, of course, I have my very favorite tights, my tattoo socks! A sassy graphic on your tights is a great way to add some spice to your outfit.

tights tights tights

The other contribution tights can make is color! This is the look that I've experimented with the least and am most excited to try out this fall. I'm feeling a lot braver in my fashion choices, and I love the idea of rocking a bold pair of tights. Right now, I'm kind of obsessed with mustard yellow tights. I haven't quite found the shade I want yet (the ones I've found are either too yellow or too brown, though I'm tempted by the gold ones in the set above), but once I do, you can bet I will snap them up like the last bit of cheesecake!

I always look forward to pulling my tights out when the weather gets crisper. There's just something so put together about a look with tights, and they can be a great way to work new and exciting colors and patterns into your ensemble. Plus: keeping your legs warm so you can wear your skirts and dresses straight through to the winter! What a fabulous article of clothing.

my biggest purchase

I just made the biggest purchase of my life today. It was a lot of money, definitely stretched me to my limits, but it's something I've been wanting for a long time. And really, it was about time. Despite how badly I wanted it, this was by far the most stressful shopping experience of my life...thank goodness it was mercifully short!

Okay, I promise to stop being coy:

I bought a car! My very first car...yes, for those of you playing at home, that means that my parents have been dropping me off/picking me up from work this whole time. That was both embarrassing (for me) and inconvenient (since they both work, and would often have to come pick me up on breaks or take conference calls while we were driving). It was really about time I got my own car, and even though I would have ideally waited until I had a full-time job, it was time.

For all the angst and discussion that went into this decision, the actual process of car shopping was blissfully short. This weekend, my dad agreed to call his contact at the dealership. He called on Monday, and we went to the lot that afternoon. Dad's contact had noted a few cars that were in my price range but still had low mileage. I test-drove a Chevy Malibu, but it was sort of a golden granny car, and I wasn't too excited about it. We walked around the lot, and that's when I spotted:

That's my baby! It's a 2007 Nissan Versa; I really loved how it was sporty without being too small for me to feel safe, and even fit in with my current lust for grey! I took a test drive, and that night, filled out a credit application and put down a holding deposit. Today, Dad and I headed over to the dealership after work, signed a lot of forms, and I was able to drive him home!

Beau was very interested!

All that was left was to come up with a name; I'm nothing if not a person who loves both literature and themes. All of my electronics are named for the antagonists of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Although he doesn't exactly count, I didn't have anyone named from A Midsummer Night's Dream yet, so I've decided to name my magical little Versa Oberon.

How old were you when you got your first car? I found out while sharing the news that my grandpa was 22 as well -- he bought his first car when he came home from the Air Force!

sunday brunch

I've always had a bit of a fixation on the idea of big communal breakfasts on the weekends. It's a little strange, since I'm not a huge fan of breakfast foods and, in fact, don't really eat breakfast any other day of the week. When I was living in Ham House (my campus apartment this past year), we always had grand plans for epic Sunday breakfasts but they only came to fruition once or twice. It was tough for it all to pull together, and when I came home, we all woke up at such disparate times, my parents would be done with breakfast by the time I was up--and by then, it was practically time for lunch!

But I'm waking up earlier on my "off" days, now that I'm up early for work, so the past two weeks my parents and I have enjoyed a nice Sunday brunch. Last weekend I made a delicious skillet scramble with homemade hashbrowns, ham, onion, and eggs. This weekend, we had three bananas on their way to funky town, so I made banana bread!

Easy Banana Bread
Adapted from SimplyRecipes

3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Smash your bananas in a large bowl. Mix in butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg. Add baking soda, salt, and flour. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for approx. 1 hour. (It took my bread around 45 minutes, but we recently replaced the heating element in the oven and it is now SuperOven!) Let cool, and serve!

Delicious! It's a very moist bread, pretty dense, and it crumbles apart easily...but I also might not have let it cool for long enough. It's great on its own, but I like to spread on a little bit of butter. Add some more fruit and some delicious breakfast proteins, and you're all set:

Yum! I hope lazy Sunday brunch becomes a tradition in my house, and one that I can take with me wherever I may go. It's a great way to start the day and makes what might otherwise be a normal day of chores (and HGTV) seem a little bit more special.

review: neckties from bows-n-ties

The timing couldn't have been better; while I was working on my Dapper 101 menswear post, I was approached by to do a review on some manly neckwear. Of course, I agreed!

Bows-n-Ties carries a wide assortment of neckties and bowties (obviously) in a number of colors and patterns (from classic solids and stripes to more adventurous paisleys and plaids), with skinny ties, child sized ties, and extra-long ties (for the big and tall gentleman!), and a number of related accessories like cufflinks and scarves. They also carry ascots and handkerchiefs, which I know some of my steampunk-affiliated friends will be pleased to know! I was sent two neckties to be reviewed; I love ties, but I'll admit to not knowing that much about what makes a good tie. Luckily, there was just such an expert in my house: my dad.

Daddy Zowie took this tie (you get a much better idea of the pattern from that than my pic) for a spin at his office and came back with only positive reviews. He loved the color and the texture, and was impressed with the heft of the fabric and the way the tie laid through the day. When he untied it after a long day's work, he noted that the fabric wasn't wrinkled where it was knotted, thanks to a very subtle texture in the fabric. All in all, he was very impressed with the quality and with the price (there's a wide variety of ties priced generally ~$10-25). The tie he wore was Chevalier brand, which didn't really mean anything to me, but made him go "mmm" approvingly, so I'm guessing it's a good one!

He wore the other tie today and pointed out that the smoother texture showed some more wrinkles from the knot, but that they were both "very good" ties. I haven't taken one for a spin yet, and I'm not sure I'll be able to: Dad doesn't seem too willing to part with them!

Basically: these are very nice ties for a nice price. But to be honest, I'm especially impressed by the website itself. It allows you to search for ties by color so if, for example, you're a gentleman (and twitter follower of mine) looking for fiery orange ties, you can quickly find a variety of ties in your color story of choice. Even better are the tie descriptions: far from your standard catalog copy, each listing provides tips on the appropriate occasion for the tie and what color shirt/suit would go best with it. The site sports a "how to" section that demonstrates several different necktie knots, how to tie a bowtie, how to fold a handkerchief, and more! There's tips for caring for your ties, a guide to the appropriate attire for black tie, white tie, business casual, weddings, funerals, etc. It's definitely a great resource for men and other people interested in menswear; I don't expect to see this much content on a retail site, so I was very pleasantly surprised.

If all this is making you think that you need some ties right now, you're in luck! Bows-n-Ties was nice enough to offer a coupon code for all my readers! Just use the code ficklekitsch between now and 11/30/11 and save 20% on your purchase. I think I might pick up a tie of my own, since my dad doesn't seem likely to share with me...

Disclaimer: These products were provided to me free of charge for review. I was not compensated in any other way for the post, and the opinions stated above are my own (and my dad's).

operation update: stalling out

Perhaps you've noticed there haven't been many posts about my room update, and that's for a very good (well, a very bad) reason: I've stalled out. My room is back to its usual mess. My chair is covered in clothes, there's an unpacked suitcase on the's a pretty sad situation.

Why? For me, at least, it's hard to keep dedicated to a project like this with little to no forward momentum. I had a lot of great plans, but even the little ones require some cash--and I'm basically in no-spend mode, since I'm saving for a car. Without a way to move forward, I got stagnant. Plus, there's the constant question of how much work I should put into the soon will I be moving out?

This isn't really too interesting of a post topic, I'm aware, but I've seen a lot of conversation lately about the "perfect lives" of bloggers. I definitely don't think my life looks particularly magical, even on the blog, but I also think it's worthwhile to talk about our little struggles/failures as much as the successes. It's easy to be jealous of a blogger whose life seems to be a series of triumph after triumph, up to their earlobes in glamor.

I don't live in a glamorous world. When I get home from work, I put sweatpants on, and my dog needs Benadryl for his allergies. My bedroom is a bit of a mess, but that's okay. It just means that I need to get my rear in gear and figure out projects I can take on for free...or at the very least, hang up my clothes! Yikes.

In summary:

Procrastination has been my roomie for a long time, but it's no one's friend!

dapper 101: style inspiration for men

I realized while tweeting with a gentleman friend of mine that I've never actually posted something on my blog for the guys. Now, most of my audience is ladies, but there might be a dude or two mixed in there! And if not, some of you ladies might have dudes in your life who could benefit from some fashion! Or, you all should know how I feel about crossdressing (spoiler: I LOVE IT). I think dapper is an adjective we can all aspire to! I'll be referring to men/guys/dudes/bros/fellas because that's who appears in the pictures I found (and because it was requested by a gentleman!)

First of all, I had a devil of a time figuring out where to look for cool menswear that wasn't A) full-on suits/super formal or B) excessively hipster. Both styles are fine if that's what you're going for, but I wanted something that applied a bit more broadly. Then I found Tetino-tĂȘte, where the photos that follow were collected! (I have them all pinned to Manwear if you'd like to click through the specific posts)

My gentleman friend, whose name is Michael and I'm not sure why I was coy about it to begin with, specifically was inspired by my grey inspiration post from earlier this week. He was hoping for some manly outfit inspiration using a lime green/grey color scheme; I wasn't able to find exactly what he was hoping for, but I definitely found some good stuff.

Boys: get a blazer. Get lots of blazers! Also vests! Really, adding a sport coat to basically any look, from a t-shirt and jeans to slacks and a sweater/vest (or sweatervest!), pulls everything together in the way I've found cardigans to function in womenswear. And while the second two looks are fairly standard, be inspired by the mixing of color and pattern in the first look! Teal plaid meets blue checks and it looks good. I think that the latter outfits would actually be improved with sassier ties. A bright color or fun pattern could really pump them up, but if you want to really let your nerdy style come through, why not consider a Toybreaker tie? Their motto is "Ties that don't suck" and they definitely live up to it.

Photos via Toybreaker

These ties come in numerous patterns and colors; I just picked the patterns I thought might particularly interest Michael, since he is my gentleman prompter for this post (from left to right: circuit board, tentacles, hops/barley/wheat, gears).

Now, like I said, I had a little trouble finding grey/lime green inspiration pics, but I did find some lovely examples of another vibrant color combo: grey/orange! The mixture of cool, neutral grey with the warmth and brightness of orange is a lot of fun; I think you could sub in the color of your heart's deepest desire (like, perhaps, green) with the orange very easily in any of these looks.

Plaid! Plaid is one of the greatest things in the entire world, and it can add a little touch of lumberjack realness to an otherwise streamlined look. Basically, I love plaid.

Love the mix of the blazer with the t-shirt; it's a great way for a man to continue a style without looking stuffy or over-dressed. There's just a touch of the orange, but you can see he's also rocking colored pants. Not for the faint of heart, but a cool look!

To be honest, I'm not crazy about that scarf, but I really liked this example of using more of the bolder color. The orange jacket is such a statement piece, and you know how fashion bloggers love statement pieces! And maybe it's hipstery, but I'll admit that I'm fond of fingerless gloves. Not with a suit, obviously, but if you're going for a little funkier vibe, the gloves add a bit of an irreverent Artful Dodger sort of touch.

Hopefully this inspiration will help both guys and dolls feel a little bit more dapper! I'll admit, it was weird to write about clothes that I wouldn't necessarily wear; I tried to apply my usual style concepts to menswear (and added in a healthy dose of things I like to see, shall we say!).

PS: I have a special treat coming up that some dapper ladies and gents will hopefully appreciate, so keep you eyes peeled!


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