Thursday, February 12, 2009

First Renaissance Lady

My husband and I recently visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and were re-inspired by all the policies he put into effect and the way he motivated people to do good in many different ways.   His early writings contemplating justice and questioning the status quo were the most moving to me.
But as I walked the halls and saw video footage that I'd never seen before, I was equally enthralled by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who has always seemed to me overshadowed by her husband's charisma, acting out the role of the perfect wife.  It was a room in the library dedicated to her that I first learned that she was  an artist and cartoonist and a few samples of her scrapbooks and diaries showed her adorable caricatures expressing such joy.  One even depicted how her husband had to wash  his socks in the sink of the hotel he was staying at while he was on the campaign trail!  Looking at her drawings, I felt like I knew her, suddenly, in a way I hadn't before.  
Though she most likely never had to scrape together an income in the same way as those who make their living in art, she expressed, created, and treated life as an adventure.  
 And looked great doing it.  
Here's to you, Jackie!

Do... or Dye!

Sick of your clothes?
Or did you find the perfect blouse but it comes in only white or off-white?
Here's the answer.  
Don't pass them over.  Dye them!
A box of RIT Dye or Tintex Fabric Dye (available at most drug stores, grocery stores, or everything stores like Target), costs less than three dollars.  The only tricky thing is finding a large enough pot in which to dye your clothes without dying your kitchen at the same time!  Once you've tackled that obstacle, you will be surprised by the possibilities!
The dress pictured here (bought at a thrift store in Washington State) was a strange 80's bright blue that I knew I'd never wear.  After dying it in a vat of Wine colored Tintex (and adding a beaded belt high up on the natural waist), it became this amazing purple that had a wonderful sheen to it.  At the same time in the same batch, I dipped dingy slips that I've since worn to weddings, for performances, and as a raspberry sundress on a summer day.  Great tip:  Favorite used-to-be-white t-shirts can be salvaged and given a new life by dying them.
For the truly adventurous, try mixing and matching colors.  In general, it works like water colors and the color wheel:  blue and yellow make green, red and blue make purple, yellow and red make orange etc.  but it's definitely not an exact science, which I sort of love!
When it comes to dying, fabrics are like men.  If they're synthetic and fake (polyester and spandex) the love won't stick (color will be light and inconsistent).  Natural weaves (cotton, wool, nylon, silk, rayon), however, fall quickly and deeply and a tumble in high heat (the dryer) will set them forever.
Follow directions on the box and go ahead and choose a bunch of stuff in your house to dye at one time.  Why not see how color can spruce up your life... and for a mere three dollars?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Ikea Hack

Most people don't guess it, but about fifty percent of the furniture in our New York apartment is from Ikea. 
The reason people don't guess it is that our style isn't ultra-modern with geographic shapes and bright solid colors, typical to the European apartment look.  
One of my favorite pieces of furniture is our computer desk, which I fondly call "the office" because it can be closed off to hide our computer and files when we don't want to be reminded of work.  
Now, Ikea makes a desk that fits this description (ALVE), but it angles out from a corner and in our apartment, it would reduce the amount of room for our dining room chairs.  Plus, we wanted to customize it in our own way.
My husband and I bought the LEKSVIK armoir instead for $299, $100 less than the computer desk.  It only comes with one movable shelf, but he easily cut two other boards down to fit and then attached the rolling computer keyboard shelf that I think is available in the IVAR shelving line (for about $30) under the shelf that was included.  Below, we set a drawer unit that I already had that provides two storage drawers and a surface on top on for additional storage. 
The computer monitor and speakers are on the main shelf with the printer one shelf above.   Any of the magazine files that Ikea sells are better than a file cabinet in my opinion and hanging inside our LEKSVIK armoir door is a basket caddy that I found at a yard sale and attached with screws.  It holds our pencils, pens, and other utensils.  Phones and lights are easily attached inside and with the doors closed, you can almost forget about the trappings of the twenty-first century.  
Until you feel compelled to share your Ikea hack with other like-minded re-mixers and stay up all night posting about it!  
Check out ikeahacker for more fabulous ideas...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ancient Renaissance Girl Secret: Dryel

Because I'm such a do-it-yourself girl, when I found out there was a way to dryclean-it-yourself, I was singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  
Okay, I do that a lot anyway.
I could write a little commercial for Dryel, but I'll send you to their site instead.  For ten dollars, you get a bag (reusable so you can just buy the refill cleaner sheets next time), stain remover kit, and enough dry cleaner sheets for 16 to 20 articles of clothing.  I use it all the time and there really are only a few things you'll still have to save for the professionals:
  • delicate silks
  • antique clothing
  • furs and fake furs
Otherwise, 20 minutes in a low setting of your dryer and then hanging the garment on a hanger gets you clean smelling, relatively wrinkle-free dry clean only clothing.  

Scent Sense

  • Are you allowed to bring liquids onto planes yet?  
  • Where in the &%$#@$% did you put those zip lock bags to protect the rest of the content of your carry-on? 
  • How can I take a break from my usual cologne without spending fifty dollars or more?
Easy:  When you're flipping through magazines or catalogues, grab the folded paper samples and throw them in with your travel sized toiletries.  They barely take up any room and they certainly won't spill.  Plus when you CAN afford a new scent, you might already have a new favorite!

Just When You Thought It Was Safe... call your jean collection complete, there's a new "it" jean. 
And you guessed it:  It's really a retro jean.
The boyfriend jean has made it's way back into fashion at least two times that I can remember since 1979 and according to Daily Candy, one of my favorite fun fashion blogs, it's back!  Note the low pockets and not-really-baggy bagginess.  I call it a take on the modern skinny jean.
Because of it's "relaxed" and worn look, complete with rips if you like, you can bet I'm going to try to find a way to find old jeans and wear them in this new way.  I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Going to Boston, D.C., or Philly from NYC? 
Now I'm a Western Girl at heart, but one of the reasons I call the NorthEast my new love (I still love you, Rockies!) is mass transit.  You can do a lot of exploring without a car or a lot of cash.  
Getting from big city to big city is the easiest.  I still haven't heard a convincing reason to spend airline prices on the train (is it really that much cleaner or quieter?) and unless you have to travel more than 500 miles, by the time you get to the airport and through security, flying actually takes up more of your precious time (and dollars).  So what would Leenya do?
Leenya would take the bus, of course!
Most people know about buses that transport passengers every hour on the hour from Chinatown to Chinatown (Fung Wah and Lucky Star to name a few) but when I was working at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA last spring, I had a chance to do some research.  Now the Megabus travels to more cities, but when it comes to reliability, professionalism, and cleanliness, I think the Bolt Bus is the best.  If you buy online, tickets are around $18.50 each way and you're guaranteed a seat.  Frequent travel earns you a free trip as well.   
After online checkout, you are given a street corner on which to wait but don't let that discourage you.  Arrive fifteen minutes ahead of your departure time and you'll join a group of mostly Harvard students and their rolling bags.  The driver of the humongous orange and black bus will call your reservation letters and you'll show what you printed up on your computer or a text that they sent to your cell phone and your photo ID.   Travel time during non-peak traffic hours is approximately 4.5 hours and you have a choice of departure points in New York.  And don't forget your laptop!  Free WiFi and even an electrical outlet await you. 
  Just know that if you want to travel late night, you'll have to check out the Chinatown bus that offers more travel times per day and is easier to just walk up with $20 dollars cash and buy a ticket.  Talk about flexibility...
Now I actually called a bus my home when I toured the continent as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  I remember stumbling out of a different hotel at 6:00 am every morning and falling back to sleep on my familiar velour seat until we'd reached a diner somewhere in South Carolina or Saskatchewan.  I think there's still something about the winding of the wheels that lulls me to sleep.   
Now you have no excuse.  Adventure awaits!  Hop on the bus!
(Don't have money to hire a filmmaker for your first videos of your band?  What Would Leenya Do?  Leenya would make her own using iMovie on her Mac!  Enjoy the latest tour bus entertainment on the web:  The Chalk Talk Express Bus Cam)