Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soon to be cruiser

Two months ago I saw an old 1984 Trek bicycle sitting out in a somewhat oddball mid-winter garage sale. It was my size and the price couldn't be beat, so I swiped it up and threw it in the trunk of the car and knew right away what sort of project it was going to turn into. After a couple weeks spent trying to paint match, I threw up my arms in defeat and had the frame media blasted and powder coated in semi-gloss black.

Ultimately, that latter decision is probably going to be one for the better, as the final product is turning out much closer to what I'd imagined in my mind than the original red paint job would have. This weekend was spent polishing some of the old parts and waiting for a few more to arrive in the mail. Barring any major hangups, I should be able to finish putting it together this week.

Once everything is assembled, I'll have a little longer post with some better pictures and a bit more description.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A life in zippers

I've had a crazy busy week, but in case you missed it, I highly recommend this article from the NY Times about Eddie Feibusch, one of the last zipper men standing.

Mr. Feibusch

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

I love articles about people like Mr. Feibusch, because I work at a computer for 9 hours a day or more and sometimes relish the thought of working with something so tactile and basic and yet, so essential. He's a human card catalog weaving between the stacks and it made me smile reading it.

How many zippers does he have? "One million, millions, I don't know — more than a million," said Mr. Feibusch, 86, a zipper man going on 70 years. His Web site plays Sinatra singing "New York, New York" and says, "Unzipping America since 1941." Of course he has a Web site. This is 2010.

Anyway, he can find you a zipper. "Tell me what size and what length and I’ll give it to you within 30 seconds," he vowed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

From the archives part 2

Along with the family photos that my grandfather took (which I describe a bit more in this post), there are some of people that nobody can identify. There is one couple in particular that appears in a couple different excellent shots.

Modest and midwestern, but yeah, I love both these pictures.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Family. From the archives

I don't know a great deal about my grandfather. He passed away when my mother was only 5 years old, and she was largely raised by her mother and grandmother and had a very close relationship with her aunt and uncle.

What I do know about my grandfather comes at least partially from the photographs that he took. He was an avid photographer in the 40s - mid 50s, and shot a great deal of work on Kodachrome glass plate negatives. Over the course of the past six months or so, my wife has been scanning huge numbers of these, including both family photos and a huge number of pictures that he shot while stationed in Alaska with the army doing atmospheric research. We've both spent some time cleaning them up and then sending back to my mom, who is excited to be able to have them in digital format and at a resolution high enough to print physical copies.

While the photos from Alaska are really interesting from a historical (and even artistic) perspective, it's seeing the old photos of my family that have been really wonderful for me. I really didn't even know that most of these existed, and all of a sudden hundreds of vibrant color photos from the 40s and 50s have now come into my life.

There are lots of great photos of my grandparents together, but these are two of my favorites.

Grandpa and Grandma, 1950

Grandpa in a sharp, gray double-breasted suit and grandma in a great dress

Grandpa and Grandma, 1950, part 2

Grandpa in a great early spring ensemble (I'm especially loving the gray/blue jacket) and grandma in another lovely dress

My grandparents (and especially my grandmother after my grandfather passed away) lived very modestly, but I literally couldn't find a single picture where they looked any less than great.

I can only hope to do half as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gilt without the guilt

I'm not quite sure on the time frame, but I think it was about six months or so ago that I saw mention of Gilt Groupe, an invite-only, "flash sale" (usually only a couple days or so, with lots of stuff selling out within hours or even minutes) site that mainly caters to higher-end brands and designers (there was some questions raised by Put This On about their pricing/advertising about a month ago). Being the thrifty fellow that I am, I didn't think it would be a site that I'd need to join, but eventually signed up just to see what was being peddled.

As it turned out, just about everything on the site is waaaay out of my price point, and much of it laughably so. Once in a great while, though, I noticed an item that was close to something that I'd purchase, and I decided to hang out and see if anything caught my eye.

And it did!

Simple tweed sneakers

There are a couple more juicy pictures in this older post.

While certainly not high-end, there was a batch of different Simple Shoes, including this gray tweed pair that caught my eye. The purchase price was $26 + $7 for shipping, which is certainly more than I'd pay for shoes at a thrift store, but I'd been on a bit of a shoe drought and got weak in the knees for the tweed. What can I say?

Unless they start stocking their site with more items under 30 dollars, I doubt I'll be a regular buyer, but heck, it was fun to do it once.

(Oh, and if you're not a member of Gilt but would like to experience the still mostly insanely priced sale items for yourself, leave me a comment and I'll shoot you an invite. Whee!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring inspiration

About 6 years ago, we planted a star magnolia in our backyard. It's always been a fragile thing, and the first couple years the blooms froze off at the first sign of cold temperatures. At the same time, random branches have been pruned off each year as they went woody and dead. When we purchased it, it was about 6 feet tall, and it stayed that height for some time. During those first 3 years, I wondered if it would even make it, and after the place we bought it from went out of business, I thought for sure that it would die, just to spite us.

The past two years, though, it has made a real comeback and surged in height. I'm sure this is at least partially due to establishing a more solid root system, but I'm happy with the results either way. The magnolia is now much taller than me and has burst out with luscious blooms each of the past couple years.

Magnolia bloom

Speaking of blooms, it was just two days ago that it started to really unfold to the spring, and after its trials and tribulations of the first couple years, I decided to pay it some homage by basing my wardrobe for the day around its colors.

sleeve shoes

It's certainly nothing new for seasonal fashion trends to be influenced by nature, but being a person who enjoys landscaping and gardening, I always feel like I'm at the very least subconsciously influenced, and most of the time directly so. I get excited when the lawn starts to green up (even though it means more work with mowing and tending to weeds and so on), while tulips and daffodils springing up around the edges of the lawn seems to be a go-ahead sign that it's time to start really shaking free of the drab tones of winter.

Simple tweed shoes

Poseur posing

So here's to you, star magnolia, and spring in general. I will try to brighten up my outfit choices appropriately.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stocking up in the off season

Over the course of the past couple years, I've discovered that despite being very tall, my leg measurements are not all that weird, and it's not all that hard to find pants that are fairly nice. Shirts are another matter entirely (and discussed more in this post), as my sleeve length runs 3-4 inches longer than my inseam, making jackets and shirts rare finds indeed.

At any rate, this post is about pants, and I scored some absolute gems recently. Unfortunately, they're all wool, and despite a couple pairs of them being fairly light, they'll probably get packed away for the next couple months.

First off is two pairs obviously tailored for the same person, as they're exactly the same other than color. Oh, and look (and lust) at those colors! Navy and dark brown, with beige, red, and light blue woven into each.

If these were part of a suit combo at one time, I weep at not having found the jackets to go along with them.

There are no tags of any sort in the pants, but the fabric is killer on each. The bright threads woven through each makes me think I should try to break each pair out at least once with something complimentary before it gets really warm. Perhaps the best part is that each pair was only $1 on sale.

The next pair (and these will really be coveted in October or so) is a seriously dense pair of vintage army-issue wool pants in the standard green. They're as solid as they come, with a full metal zipper and great detailing. They are, however, much too warm to wear when the temperature is anywhere above 50 degrees.

I am a sucker for crisp military wear, so I forked over a whopping $3 for these. I certainly don't foresee any cold legs while biking with them on.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's easy being green

It seems that the theme of the past week has been green, and perhaps that's fitting considering the grass is turning quickly and everything is starting to bloom. I've run across no less than three beautiful accessory items (albeit quite different in style) in the past week, and all of them have shared the aforementioned color.

First off, a totally rocking L.L. Bean tie ($2) with embroidered lobsters on it.

It's very similar to the tie that Giuseppe scored in a recent batch, but slightly different. Oh, and lets see a closeup of those lobsters, shall we?

Next up is a very sharp diagonal stripe from Ralph Lauren in fiery red and emerald ($1). Oh, and it even has an embroidered polo horse and mallets on it. I think Scott at The Cable Knit Collegian would approve.

Lastly (but certainly not least) is this Italian-made 100% cotton pocket square that really is just too subtle and beautiful for words. Delicious creamy cotton with some nice little rounded-off green squares that really give it a clean but organic feel.

Here's to spring. For real this time.