Category Archives: Technology

Product reviews, commentary, and how style and technology intersect.

1950s Lucite Purses

One of the nice things about travelling with my parents is that we meet lots of people. I tend to “mind my own business” when I go out; for my parents, everyone’s a friend they haven’t met yet. Even in the Big Apple, they proved amazing people are around every corner. We met cabbies, waiters, artisans, shop keepers, designers, restaurateurs and celebrities.

So it was no surprise that while I popped into a pet supply store in SoHo, my parents were making friends with a shop keeper across the street. We were treated to a history lesson and tour of mid-century American style. Deco Jewels is an antique specialty shop dedicated primarily to vintage Lucite handbags. This tiny store boasts the world’s largest collection. The owner even wrote a book about it!

purse from the book

Carry Me

Lucite, sometimes called acrylic glass, is a modern-era material. It was first used for windshields and submarine turrets in WWII. Designers started working with it because unlike other types of plastic, it doesn’t yellow over time. You might have seen iconic clear Lucite tables and chairs. Lucite can be tinted too and is a great vegan alternative to tortoiseshell and mother of pearl.

lucite bags

Many were embellished with glitter and metal clasps.

gilttery purses

These two were made to look like caramel squares.

caramel purses

Holding a Lucite bag made me want to change into a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, and kitten heels.

Jean and purse

mom and purse

black lucite purse

The boxy nature of the handbags made adding secret compartments an option. This one came with its own lipstick and powder!

purse with makeup compartment

From Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy, high-profile, fashion-minded women in the 50s carried Lucite purses. By the mid-60s, fashions started to change. A proper, ladylike look was replaced with a relaxed, boho vibe. Despite not being a common purse today, people still collect Lucite bags. They’re museum-worthy, but they’d make a great fashion statement.

lucite on the shelves

The handbags range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. In addition to Lucite, Deco Jewels carries vintage earrings, necklaces, cufflinks and other American goodies from the mid-20th century.

more lucite

The store is small, but not cluttered. And despite its size, you’ll find yourself enthralled for a long time.

rows of lucite

If you’re ever in New York, pop by Deco Jewels at 131 Thomson Street (btwn Houston & Prince).

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Visiting the LeMay Car Museum

Cars are an important part of American culture. From songs like Bitchin’ Camero and Little Red Corvette (and that’s just the 80s), cars are front and center in our lives.

racecar

That’s why visiting the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington was fun for my parents, husband, and myself–There’s something for everyone.

LeMay Museum

Harold LeMay amassed the world’s largest private car collection and captured the evolution of the American car. He had examples from the Ford Model T to Tuckers and Packards.

Packard

LeMay collected American cars mostly, but also foreign automobiles…

Fiat

…and even motorcycles.

motorcycles

I never really thought about how car trunks used to literally be trunks strapped to the back of a car.

trunk

I’m glad tire technology has evolved. Stamping the words non skid onto the tread isn’t that effective!

non skid

The collection is stunning, and so is the building the cars are housed in.

car row

With six ramps and four floors of cars, it took us a while to go through it all.

Fairlane

My mom liked the swingin’ 60s exhibit that tied the cars and clothes of London together.

60s fashion

This Sunbeam exemplifies that era.

sunbeam

My Dad liked the tie-in with the music of his generation.

60s music

My husband liked anything fast!

red fin

I liked this original Mini Cooper.

Mini

The museum houses about 350 cars–only 10% of what LeMay collected (the rest of the collection is still in the family and is in the process of being donated to the museum). In addition to the vehicles, there are interactive displays, a mini RC racetrack, theater, restaurant and gift shop. throughout the year, you’ll find lectures, classes and car shows.

If you’re in the area, I hope you check it out!

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My Three Husbands

Three sides of Terrence

Today’s post is short. A picture says a thousand words, they say. I had a bit of fun with my patient husband, my camera, and the photostitch feature of Windows Live Photo Gallery. I did something similar for one of my outfit posts last summer. Only that time I copied two photos and lined them up in Windows Paint. Low tech but it worked.

Do you have fun with photos? What’s your favorite technique?

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Answering the Call

What comes around goes around. Look at the nifty new phone receiver I bought for my smartphone.

phone receiver

I love technology, but I get nostalgic sometimes. As I kid, my parents had a large, wall-mounted rotary phone in the kitchen. As a teen, we had a desk phone–complete with push buttons. The Princess phone in my room when I was a teen was much slimmer shape. When I first moved on my own I had a “modern,” sleek desk phone with a square receiver.

I still couldn’t afford the “brick” cell phones that were hitting the market. By the time the flip phone was introduced cell phones were more affordable–but I went for the cheaper “candy bar” style.

Now I carry a computer in my pocket. And while I love the convenience of GPS, Internet and email access, and the ability to tweet from anywhere, I miss the comfort of old skool phones. They were made with design and functionality in mind.

cell phone with old school receiver

When I plugged this into my HTC and put this receiver up to my ear, a lifetime of happy telephone memories came flooding back to me. The receiver lined up with my mouth so my callers could hear me clearly. It felt right in my hand. I didn’t accidentally hang up on people. The lip around the edge of my cell phone (created by the protective case) is uncomfortable. The receiver cupped my ear gently.

Of course I still make quick calls on the phone without the receiver. And I have an earbud for hands-free talking. But when I sit down for a long conversation when I dial up mom, this is my new go-to accessory.

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Product Review: The Hana Flat Iron

I was recently offered the chance to test out a Hana Titanium 1.5″ Flat Iron and I jumped at the opportunity. This flat iron makes the list of the best flat irons and I was curious to know why. I don’t often splurge on beauty products. My current flat iron is a budget model from the drug store. Is there a difference? Yes! As I quickly found out.

Hana flat iron

I was promised I’d be wowed when I saw the product. As soon as I opened the packaging, I actually said, “Wow!” The presentation was amazing. The flat iron came in a metal container and included a heatproof mat, a carrying case, and a little bottle of Shineshield, a leave-in serum designed to protect hair from heat and add shine.

My hair is short and I didn’t know if I’d see a difference so I recruited my mom and sister-in-law to be models too. We really liked this product. The Hana Flat Iron smoothed my fine hair and made it shine, it straightened Sadie’s wavy strands, and it made a huge different in my mom’s frizzy locks.

mom before

BEFORE: My mom has to fight her frizzy hair

mom after

AFTER: She’s a smooth operator

mom after

AFTER: Hana smoothed her locks

I liked how quickly it heats up. In a few seconds it had reached the temperature I’d set it at. Having a choice of heat settings was great too. I could protect my hair by not overheating it. My mom’s thicker, coarse hair straightened nicely on a higher setting without the need to run the iron over strands repeatedly. Additionally, the flat iron’s negative ions repair hair follicles and seals in natural oils, unlike lesser devices.

BEFORE: Wavy Sadie

BEFORE: Sadie’s hair is wavy if she doesn’t iron it

Sadie after

AFTER: Unlocking smooth hair

Sadie after

AFTER: Sleek hair after ironing

The Hana can be used on dry or damp hair so it saved us from having to blow dry and straighten. The ceramic plates are so smooth and never catch. They slid over my hair without pulling and snagging it like my drug store model does. The curved edges of the plate allowed me to curl, flip, or straighten.

Jean before and after

BEFORE and AFTER: Smoother and shinier

another after

AFTER: Lots of shine

I’m looking forward to using the Hana Flat Iron as my hair gets longer so I can experiment with different looks without damaging my hair. Needless to say, I won’t be using my old iron anymore.

Hana also makes blow dryers. I’ll be buying one of them soon too. Instead of being damaging, these dryers have ceramic heaters that negatively charge ions to break down water molecules in less time, which preserves hair structure and adds shine.

Note: Although I was given this product to test and review, the opinions are my own. I really like this product and I (along with my mom and Sadie) highly recommend it.

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Gunnar Gaming Glasses

I first learned about Gunner glasses from my friend Shannon. She has an informative post about them on her blog, The Adventures of Lucky Duck. The glasses are made for people who spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Between writing, teaching online, blogging, photo editing, online shopping, and social networking, I’m a good candidate. I spend a lot of time in front of my PC (not to mention my phone and TV).

The lenses in Gunnar eyewear are amber and offer maximum contrast without causing eye fatigue. They reduce glare and filter out the harshest colors in the spectrum.

Gunnar

I didn’t know if they’d work, but they sure looked cool. My health plan includes an optical package so I didn’t have to pay for mine. If yours doesn’t, rest assured: They range in price from $80 to $150. There are a lot of styles to choose from too. I got red ones, but I went back for a second pair in blue.

I don’t have prescription glasses so I thought wearing these would feel strange. On the contrary: They’re so lightweight and comfortable that I don’t even remember I’m wearing them. If you need glasses anyway, I believe you can order your Gunnar glasses with a prescription.

After wearing mine for a while, I can say that I do notice a difference. I get fewer headaches. My eyes really do seem less strained, and the shape of the frames protect them from the dry, recirculated office air that can make staring at a computer so painful.

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No CAPS LOCK Please

dON’T YOU HATE IT WHEN YOU ACCIDENTALLY HIT THE cAPS lOCK KEY?

Me too! And that’s why I pried mine off my keyboard and have plans to turn it into a brooch. And no, it’s not polite to press people’s buttons. So don’t touch my brooch.

caps lock key

My solution might not be elegant, but it does raise a good question: Is there a need for caps lock anymore? If I want to type one or two capital letters, I simply hold down the Shift key. If I want to type a whole sentence in caps lock I first ask myself if it’s really necessary. If it is, I’ll usually highlight the words and change the font to “All caps.” That way, I’m free to change it back when I realize that the written equivalent of yelling at someone isn’t a good move.

Do to this in Word, highlight the words, right-click, and choose Font. In the Font dialog box, check the box next to “All caps.”

caps lock

Recently, I found a few tech blogs where people were testing keyboard prototypes that didn’t have a Caps Lock key. That’s promising. I’ve seen smart phones that have a handy “.com” key on the touch keyboard. Nice!

There’s a way to remap a keyboard and switch the keys internally. Some people switch the Ctrl key and the Caps Lock key (thinking that pressing the Ctrl key accidentally doesn’t inflict as much damage. Or perhaps the remapping crowd uses Ctrl more).

Hat’s off to those of you who dare to remap your keyboards. I know I’d mess that up so I won’t even try.

What key would you prefer to have at the disposal of your left pinky? June 28th and October 22nd are International Caps Lock Days. How will you celebrate? Care to pry off a key with me this year?

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Windows 7 Takes Fashion World by Storm

Okay, maybe not exactly. Unless if by “Windows 7” I mean “Jean” and by “fashion world” I mean “her closet.”

I took a little trip to Goodwill this weekend and decided to get creative. I found a cute blazer from Canadian Chain, Smart Set, and snapped it up for $8.99 (partially out of a sense of nostalgia and partially because it really is a versatile blazer). Then I found a cream-colored cable-knit sweater for my pillow project. And then, I hit the jackpot: a black men’s XXXL (yes, that’s four x’s) t-shirt. Someone out there didn’t appreciate his Windows 7 t-shirt (obviously company swag acquired in a giveaway promotion-type thing). Well, it set me back $1.99. And now it’s a skirt. You can see how well it goes with my new blazer.

Windows 7 skirt

Blazer: Smart Set (via Goodwill)
Skirt: Former t-shirt (via Goodwill)
Necklace: Fremont Sunday Market street vendor
Boots: Liz & Co.

Here’s how I did it. First, I washed the thing thoroughly! Then, I cut off the sleeves, sides, and neck so I had two giant squares of fabric. I re-sewed the pieces together (along one side) and sewed a 2″ wide elastic band to the top (as an exposed waistband). I stitched the second side closed and left a slit in the bottom. The shirt was the right length so I kept the bottom hem as-is, but you could cut and hem it to any length you want.

I’m a lousy tailor so this (as with all my projects) gets an E for easy. If it were difficult, I wouldn’t have succeeded. I also don’t use patterns (a possible explanation as to why I’m no good with a sewing machine) so I had no idea how this would turn out. I was picturing something more A-line and flouncy, but I suppose that would require more fabric. I was pleasantly surprised to end up with a pencil skirt. I liked the nerdy, high-tech connection, so that’s why I chose a Windows logo, but you could do the same thing with a sports jersey, a t-shirt advertising a good cause, or your even favorite brew.

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Tech Talk: USBracelet

At work, I often need to move or copy files and I don’t always have a thumb drive handy. Sure I can email files to myself or print documents, but now there’s a better way. With my new USB Bracelet (never the one to shy away from a portmanteau, I like to call it a USBracelet) I now have 4GB of storage wherever I go!

USB bracelet

I saw this on Amazon and thought I’d give it a try. I really like it. I feel kind of like 007. It’s a plain black rubber band that hides a USB thumb drive. The drive connects to itself – that’s how it clasps onto my wrist. It comes in a variety of colors but I bought black because, well, black “goes with everything.”

My only complaint is that since it’s made of rubber, it’s slightly “sticky” and attracts a bit of lint. But it wipes clean very easily. I’ll have to be careful not to accidentally put it under the tap when I’m washing my hands. I have a sneaky suspicion that this isn’t waterproof.

I thought: wouldn’t this be a fantastic medical alert bracelet? All your medical information could be stored on the USB! Well, apparently that idea has already been thought of. You can buy one here.

My USBracelet is plain, but not unlike other plain plastic watch bands I’ve seen. Come to think of it, that’s the only way this could be better – if a digital watch face was incorporated into the design. And the watch battery could recharge every time the USB is plugged into a PC. There’s a million dollar idea! What do you think? Geek chic or tacky tech? If you had one, would you customize it? Maybe bedazzle it with crystals or wrap it with fabric?

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