Category Archives: Navel Gazing

New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve got a secret. Come closer. I don’t want to say this too loud.

I’m a dirty girl.

Okay, maybe not dirty. But definitely messy. As I’m sure you’ve seen from my handful of photos of my sewing projects and outfits, my floors are far from spotless. What you can’t see are the bits of paper my cat has clawed to pieces in her outrage with me (for I dunno, not being a cat, I guess) or the clothes piled onto a chair when they should be neatly folded or hung up in the closet. As I navigate the blogosphere, I see all of these wonderful women with organized, well decorated and downright charming (not to mention actually photographable) homes and end up feeling like Wayne and Garth: not worthy.

So my big new year’s resolution is to be neater about my space and kinder to my things. I like my home — rented, though it may be — and my things. That’s why I bought or made those things. I wouldn’t throw the people or that darn cat I love so well on a pile on the floor. So I will put my belongings away in a timely, non-piled up on tables, chairs or floors sort of way. See, mom, I am a grown up. Sort of. Almost.

Other resolutions:

  • Find more time for this blog. I’m pretty sure no one is reading but that’s okay.
  • Finish one sewing project each month. It wasn’t a resolution last year. I didn’t know if I’d even like sewing when I started but that ended up being the pace I set in 2010. It would be silly to regress.
  • On another sewing related note, start doing a muslin for each project, or as the Europeans call it, a “toile.” I know, what a novel idea! For anyone new to sewing, that’s a mock-up of a sewing project in inexpensive fabric, usually cotton muslin (hence, the name), to test fit and construction issues before cutting into pricier fabric. Almost every seamstress worth her salt does it, but little old me didn’t know better before. As my dear gran would say, “once you know better, you should do better.”

That seems manageable, right?


What’s New Pussycat (Woooa-oooa)

You’re so kind for asking. The kid’s been hard at work. I’ve got about a million movies to see this weekend. You have been reading my reviews over at A1 Movie Reviews, haven’t you? That’s where I put the actual reviews. But I save my snarky love letters just for you guys here.

Stay tuned. Something tells me Garry Marshall’s celebfest, Valentine’s Day is gonna inspire lots of snark.

Also, I’ve been hemming and hawing (pun entirely intended) about what my next sewing project will be. I had planned on the wrap skirt from Sew Everything Workshop but meh. Wrap skirts get even less play in my closet than tunics.

I have recently been obsessing about 1940s fashion. A triple-header of The Big Sleep, The Good German, a The Black Dahlia will do that to a gal. So I’m wondering if a swingy circle skirt might be in order. Check back in soon to see what I decide.

P.S. Isn’t Lauren Bacall a babe?

Manhattan Vintage Show and Bananas

I love vintage clothes. It might not seem as obvious with me as with other girls because I tend not to wear a ton of vintage. There are two good reasons for it:

1) Blame it on the WWII rations but people in the 1940s and1950s (my favorite era of vintage fashion) were tiny. And I am not. So I don’t count on finding anything that fits me.

2) As much as I appreciate the styles — both the utilitarian menswear-inspired suits of the 40s and the ultra-feminine tiny waists and wide hips of Dior’s New Look — I don’t appreciate the itchy, scratchy, unlined fabrication.

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He’s Out of Her Life: My mom mourns Michael Jackson

My mother is not one of those melodramatic women you expect to see crying and pulling their hair out over the death of a celebrity. She doesn’t remember where she was when the Kennedys were killed (actually she was just barely alive). She shed not one tear for John Lennon, Princess Diana, or Ronald Reagan. Outside of when Kurt Cobain died and she, knowing that I loved Nirvana, tried to break the news to me gently by telling me something had happened to “one of my friends,” celebrity deaths come and go without so much as a blip on mom’s radar.


And you my friend will see, you've got a friend in me.

So imagine my surprise when she called me moments after network television stations starting announcing news about Michael Jackson’s passing. I was standing in a store when she called and quickly shooed her off the phone with an “I know, mom. I’ll call you back later.” Imagine my even greater surprise when my phone rang about 90 seconds later and I heard her small, shaky voice admit: “Roxanne, I’m not okay.”

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Number 5 is Alive!

Dear Faithful Reader,

My apologies for the long, unexplained and unexpected absence. I’m alive and well. Truth told, this (pop) culture junkie has been a little overwhelmed by the events of the last few weeks. As W.B. Yeats once put it, “too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.”

Malfunction. Need input.

Malfunction. Too much input.

I intended to write reviews of “The Taking of Pelham 123” and “Star Trek” (both of which I mostly enjoyed but also have a lot to say about) but then got engrossed by what looked like it was going to become a full-fledged, bloody, Twitter-fueled revolution in Iran.

I thought to write about the Real NJ Housewives but then got annoyed by the coverage of a certain South Carolina governor’s indiscretion and subsequent diarrhea of the mouth.

I tried to write about “NYC Prep” (which I have TONS to say about, including a few choice literary comparisons) but was then grief-stricken by the loss of the man who was not only the soundtrack to my childhood but the one and only King of Pop (not to mention the other tragic celebrity deaths of Farrah, Ed, and Billy that same week).

If you will be patient with me for just a little while longer, there will be posts about each of the above forthcoming. So stay tuned.

– Blog of All Trades

India: My Teenage Love Affair

I just found out a friend of mine is headed to India for a few months for work. Ever heard the phrase green with envy? Well, color me chartreuse.

Mr. Telephone Man

Hey, India. Call me, okay? I'm free on Friday.


Ever since I was little girl, I’ve had a love affair with India in my head. Officially, it started with a  TV movie called Night Train to Kathmandu, in which a young Milla Jovovich goes on a hunt for the mysterious “City that Never Was.” As an adult, I realize that the film is actually about Nepal but my 10-year old brain knew little of India’s strained relationship with its neighbor to the north.

Even as I get older and have come to understand the difference between Nepal and India (and Pakistan, too) and even as America’s tunnel vision of this ancient place is populated with nothing but job-stealing customer service representatives and telemarketers, I remain transfixed.

As the years have gone by, Hollywood (and all those Saturday morning Bollywood movies on cable that I can just barely understand the plot of) has done nothing but strengthen my fascination. From City of Joy to Monsoon Wedding, A Passage to India to Kamasutra, and Train to Pakistan to Slumdog Millionaire, I see a place that is often poor of pocket but rich with history, language, food, music, history and color. Always color.

How could a girl not be mesmerized?

The Other Da Vinci Code

I bet she had a lot of irons in the fire too.

I've got a lot of irons in the fire too, Leo.

Now for the [most] part your porter is [some] broken citizen, who hath [pled] Jack- of-all-trades… – Geffrey Mynshul, ‘Essays and Characters of a Prison’, 1612

Do you know those people who become obsessed with a thing and must know everything there is to know about it? Yeah, that would be me.

Last week, it was creating the perfect Kim Kardashian smoky eye; last month, hand-making headband fascinators. In college, there was feng shui and Middle English; in high school, etymology; in middle school, magazines. Well, it’s always been magazines but you get the picture.

Whatever “it” is, I study the who, what, when, and wherefore of it until I am just about on the verge of being called as an expert witness on said thing by District Attorney Jack McCoy. And then, I move on.

Come back and say it in a trustworthy manner, missy.

Come back here and say it in a trustworthy manner, missy.

I guess that makes me one of those proverbial “Jack of all trades.” Some people will call it attention deficit disorder. Our 17th century pal, Geff, who coined the phrase, considered it “broken” citizenry. I prefer to think of it as being a Renaissance woman for the millennial generation. (Roxanne da Vinci does have a nice ring to it, no?)

So, in honor of the spirit of the tireless polymath in me—and all of you—I give you The Blog of All Trades, a source of news, reviews and tutorials about film, fashion, finance, food, wine, beauty, travel, crafty stuff and whatever the heck else strikes my fancy.