Sunday, January 29, 2012

Europe 2011: Part 6, Shopping in Paris

Time to return to my Europe series... I think this is going to be a long and recurring theme at this point. I did so much, it's going to take a while to finish blogging about it!

For this installment, we take a visit to the Au Printemps department store, beginning with the observation deck on the top of their tallest building. The department store consists of 3 entire buildings for Women, Men, and Children/Home/etc. It has numerous restaurants and sub-boutiques for more luxury brands than I even was aware existed! My friend Estelle clued me into the awesomeness of this place, and I'm very thankful to her!

The architecture of these buildings is fabulous.
Tour Eiffel in the background
Yours truly enjoying the sunshine and traveling :)
It's a long way down! Oh look... that's the metro entrance!
See... here's a closer look... Paris Metro
At the other end of the patio, here is the view
Closer up!
One thing I noticed about Paris is that they really managed to do a good job with integrating buildings, trees, traffic, and people.
The spires you see at the other end of this picture are where I was originally standing
There was even an AstroTurf lawn with deck chairs up here on top of the building! An outdoor patio seriously called for ice cream, which I had while being blinded by the sun, lol.
In case there was any doubt as to the scale of this... check out the floor plan! Those are three entire buildings!
This is the plan and list of departments for one floor in context!
Some of the buildings seen from one of the bridges
Yet another angle showing the buildings
What is a shopping trip though, without shopping? I wish I could have taken pictures of everything... it was amazing what they had. However, I did find something that I liked enough to buy on the spot. I found a bow tie from Alain Figaret. The real kind, that you actually tie yourself (not the childish clip-ons that are so often sold)! Plus, as an added benefit it was handmade in France!

Wearing the Alain Figaret bow tie recently (January 2012)
Close up of the bow tie... it has a woven pattern of dots within circles, here I have paired it with a navy blazer and ecru shirt.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In Defense of Formality in Attire

Dear Readers,

  Allow me today to ramble upon a topic which I feel is either misunderstood or undeservedly maligned in today's society. This my friends, is the role of attire in promoting the respect and social position of the wearer.

  In 2012, clothing is often considered to be an object of practicality and utilitarian importance, primarily. The suggestion that clothing should be rigid or represent a particular form would appear archaic to many. In fact, dressing for work has become considered an insurmountable chore and encumbrance by numerous contemporaries. The result has been the sloppiest and most ill-dressed generations the world has ever known.

  While clothing that is comfortable is obviously a benefit from a practical perspective, it must be remembered that much of the clothing today goes beyond this and is designed as a form of rebellion against the most ancient traditions our culture has had and against the class system that has to some extent given our society meaning and place.

  Why is a rebellion against the classes bad? The classes have enforced cultural norms and promoted social decency. Without classes (and perhaps religion), anything might be permissible. In fact, once there is no structure for society, we lose all rules and common values. In effect, we become meaningless as a people.

  What good is a society that has no meaning, no traditions, and no respect? Would you be willing to defend such a society with your life if it were attacked? My view is that such a society is indefensible and the only people who would willingly die for it are guilty of stupidity and perhaps falling into the trap of the insipid propaganda enforced through military brainwashing.

  This brings me to why we need to bring back clothing that has meaning. When our clothes help form our actions, they work together with the doctrines of a well-ordered society. A society with rules and customs, one where dressing up to show respect isn't a periodic fantasy, but rather a daily practice.

  But it goes both ways... the clothes are only the outward portion. When our minds choose to embrace beauty, we wish to show it outwardly. We must not be tricked into believing that clothing is only external or that beliefs are only internal. We must create a gorgeous fusion of loveliness and glory that is reflected in everything.

  The idea the the universe is chaotic and unpredictable is irrational. In fact, all of modern science and most of the western tradition fight against this. Order is present in every facet of nature. I believe that when our society embraces this, we will find our bearing again.

  When we find respect, value, and navigate ourselves forward, we will have discovered a true society worth fighting for. A society where there are rules and obligations, but also where merit has value and recognition. Where inequality isn't a blind measure of fairness, but where actions are rewarded with social standing and respect, regardless of race and prejudice. (Please note that this does not suggest that I support the oppression of anyone in society or the undeserved rise of individuals who trespass on the good of their fellow man)

  This my friends, is the new aristocracy of taste and merit. It is calling all of us to show respect to our fellow men and to claim the respect that we are all due by not being lazy in our choice of attire. It is choosing not what is easy, but that which is invariably deserving of honor and praise.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Daily Style Choices

Dear readers,

I've decided to document what I wear on a daily basis by using the DailyBooth website. The whole point is to upload at least one picture per day. I thought it would be cool to see the progression of what I wear, as well as keeping track of trends and ways I can vary my look more. I also find that it would be better than blogging about everything daily, as you all would tire of reading it. (I may do an end of the week style post, based on the best pictures I've uploaded, though) Additionally, the latest image I post automatically becomes my profile picture here on blogger!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spin Dryer / Essoreuse / Laundry Centrifuge

 Dear readers, I recently ordered a spin dryer, alternatively known in France as an Essoreuse, or in English as a Laundry Centrifuge. What is a spin dryer? Simply put it is a centrifuge that spins at around 3,000 rpm (3.000 trs/mn) and which due to the forces created, naturally causes water to be expelled from the clothing, without the use of heat. What does it not do? It does not completely dry the clothing, it only gets most clothing partially dry. 

 If the spin  dryer doesn't actually fully dry the laundry, why bother? There are a couple reasons. First it is incredibly energy-efficient. By using the spin dryer for a couple minutes with a load of cottons, I cut my tumble drying time in half (after spin drying, it took under 35 minutes in the tumble dryer, as opposed to 50-65). Clearly, you can see there are green environmental reasons for the use of this dryer in addition to electric bill savings. By using less resources, we conserve energy and money. Additionally, less heat means that the clothing may last longer; also, when the water is expressed it takes some remaining detergent with it. This means the clothes are healthier, as the residue isn't baked into the clothing, but rather removed.

 Once the spin dryer has run for 2-4 minutes, it is then possible to load the laundry into a tumble dyer or hang it up to air dry. Either way, it makes the process faster. The catch is that loading the spin dryer does take a few minutes, because it is essential to balance it properly. Make sure heavy/large items are at the bottom, and you will want to wrap the items around the sides. I did it wrong the first time and it really didn't go terribly fast. I'm looking to use the spin dryer to allow me to do more line drying and cut on my tumble dryer costs by doing more than one load within a timed dry at my apartment.

 One last note: for those of you who think this is a new invention, it's not. My French grandmother has had one for at least 20 years, if I'm not mistaken. It's just harder to find them in North America than anywhere else. In Europe there are numerous competing brands. You can even get them from La Redoute, lol! I got mine from The Laundry Alternative, you can find the product page, here! There are a couple of competitors here in North America, but they charge 2-4x as much.

Here are my unboxing and initial testing pictures, enjoy! 
For size reference, the unit reaches slightly above my knee when unboxed and standing on the floor.

Opening the box at home
It tomes with a sheet describing the unboxing procedure
Took the machine out of the box, it's shrinkwrapped
Once I got it unwrapped, I had to remove the Styrofoam and instructions/cardboard in the drum
Inside of drum without debris, you can see Styrofoam I broke off the base on the floor. I also had to clean the inside, because there was some manufacturing ickyness left, including some sort of grease potentially.
To protect the motor, they attached it to a piece of wood, here I am unscrewing it
And it's ready!
Here is what the machine looks like, filled with laundry and the clothes protector sheet placed on top
To start the machine, close the lid, and pull the sliding lock switch over it
And we're off! :)
You will want to place a bowl under the spout, as the water literally just runs out
This is a bit of an exaggeration, as I placed laundry I wet in the sink and barely wrung out for a first test. It does do this for laundry coming out of a top loader, but only briefly... it's mostly a long trickle
Spin in progress!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Black-Tie Birthday Party! :)

Dear readers, I'm still playing catch up! My birthday was at the end of November! I thought it would be great fun to do the sort of party I've never had before.
"[I invited a couple of my friends to] an elegant party where we can all get together and enjoy some good conversation and desserts."

As you might have guessed, it was black-tie optional. I like to bring back classic style as many of my readers know; having events like this is a way to add a glamorous side to life. My friends, colleagues, and family really made the time a success! Special thanks goes to my friend Barbara who helped make many of the treats and reminded me what I needed to shop for! I was especially pleased that as my first ever party, everything turned out rather well too! If I didn't invite you and we're friends, it was probably just because I was too busy to remember everyone; I plan to have other parties and to invite people I may have forgotten unintentionally this time around!

From the original email I sent out about the party:
"I'm tempted to have a black-tie (optional) dessert party... to celebrate my birthday. Think of this as kind of an old-fashioned elegant style event in the era of Mad Men, James Bond, or even Downton Abbey (great excuse to break out your tux, or even LBD glamour)."
Cheese and breads... special appearance by my steamer!

Desserts, with drinks in the background! A great place to relax as the party unfolds...

The scene was quite busy with much interesting conversation! All ages were represented!

And rather interesting stories!

...some of which took on a life of their own...

... as you can see, we were having some sort of intense discussion! (I'm not actually angry!)

Candid blooper/prep pics:

It's true, I know how to operate an iron
I'm not sure what I was doing here... but at least my face is sparkly, lol!
I also lit up my bookcase with LED lighting to add to the mood, unfortunately the rest of my mood lighting wasn't ready for installation prior to the party! I must have another event to make use of it... :)

Photos for this post were sent to me by family, colleagues, or taken by myself at my party.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!!! 2012!!!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Let's hope that 2012 is better than 2011! I just got home from a lovely gala, met some new people and was very pleased to see a lovely friend again. I hope everyone else had fun ringing in the new year! Black-tie events with real dancing are a part of our culture that we need to keep alive!

(Also, I did basically slip and fall while swing dancing on a slippery floor covered in balloons! lol)