27 November 2010

Creative gift wrapping

Three years ago (boy, is my blog old!) I blogged about some creative gift wrappings. Well, it's that time of the year soon and people are publishing many more great and innovative ideas.

Country Living
has fun with tape:

How About Orange
explains how to make a gift bow from a magazine page:

Mondo Cherry has fun with aluminum foil:

Real Simple features, among other ideas, a ribbon with holes:

Design Sponge replaced the classical bow with a pom pom:

Even more ideas are featured at Squidoo.com - check it out!

19 November 2010

Lanvin for H&M: a 200$ disaster

It's no secret that I love clothes, the more colorful, the better. I like looking at clothing pictures on the web and when I first saw that Lanvin was doing a collection for H&M, I had a serious "WANT!!!" moment.

Lanvin is a fashion designer famous for making clothing with amazing ruffles:

What H&M is famous for is clothing that anyone can afford. So, beautiful, designer and affordable - what's not to want? I glued my eyes to the screen.

Not for long. Soon after pictures were published, prices got announced. These weren't the usual H&M prices: while these stores are filled with 40$ dresses, the Lanvin ones cost 200$. Quite a lot.

I didn't give up on the dream so soon: ok, it was expensive, but the dresses were so nice and trendy (though that means they will stat screaming "I'm so last season!" soon) and perhaps the quality was worth it.

It turns out it is not. On the promotional shot below, you can see on the collar how the fabric is raveling.

And my, it's a promotional picture! If that looks so much better than in reality, how bad must these dresses look like!

It seems I'm not the only one to disapprove of the quality of those dresses. A few days ago, a polish gossip site published pictures of a star wearing one. They didn't mention the names of Lanvin and H&M, but the lack of hem was heavily criticised. No wonder, it's so visible!

Honestly, I expect way more for 200$ and way more from a world-famous designer. Doesn't he have a reputation to loose?

[Picture source, source, source]

Geek diggs minimalism

Minimalism is recently really growing on me.

I guess it started with reading Lifehacker, which lead me to reading Unclutter, which lead me to wanting less clutter and here I am.

That transformation started at a lucky point: about a year before my wedding, which also was about a year before moving out of my parents' place and starting a new home. It's not everyday that you get to start from scratch - it's a 0-3 times in a lifetime opportunity! So I did my best to take advantage of it and tossed away lots of things that I didn't want to have in my new home. I got down to 4 moving boxes and a few bags of stuff and my moving was almost unnoticeable - my fiance visited me as usual and took my stuff to our new home in his car.

Today, my home is nowhere near like the nice minimalist pictures you can find on the web, nor would our stuff fit into 4 boxes. We keep buying and receiving stuff, however, I try to buy as little as possible and set high expectations for the stuff I decide to pay for, especially clothing: I have the habit of buying a lot if it, which might have been a good idea when I was young and just building my wardrobe, but definitely isn't anymore. I also prefer getting nothing than any gift, I enjoy tossing stuff away (but only if I can prove it's worthless) and I try to have as little e-mails in my Inbox as possible (never went under 7, actually) . So I guess I'm becoming a minimalist.

At this point, all minimalist bloggers feel obliged to point out that they are minimalists, but not in a "have at most 100 prosessions" or "screw all material possessions" kind of way. So, minimalism, extreme minimalism - not the same. There, done.

What I feel the need to point out is the difference between realistic and unrealistic minimalism.

Take the picture below:

That room looks fantastic! There's a lot of light and the amount of stuff is just optimal for a room to relax in. Plus, I don't exactly know how, but you can tell form the picture that it's an actual room in someone's home - perhaps an extra room besides a bigger and less minimalist living room, but still, it's real and it's inspiring.

Next picture:

Nice bathroom, but even if it isn't rendered in 3d, I don't see myself ever owning a bathroom even close to that one. I can't imagine having that much room for a bathroom nor the walls being white and yet so clean on an everyday basis. That's just too unrealistic.

There are a lot of great blogs on minimalism, written by people doing it for various reasons (travelers often become minimalists) and in various degrees - In the spirit of minimalism, I subscribed a dozen today. If you're interested in the subject, here's a great article to start: The Rewards Of Adopting A Minimalist Lifestyle: 13 Bloggers Share Their Views.

[Picture credit, credit]

13 November 2010

Where the Geek is when she's not blogging (in Egypt or on a Eurotrip)

Hi there. Yeah, I know it's been a long time, my apologies. Thing is, I've been alternately getting sick and travelling - I am now in a sick phase, hopefully the last one in a while. Since my sicknesses are not half as interesting as my travels, let me tell you about those.

The first one was a total Eurotrip. The deal was that a friend of Marcin is currently working at Cern and he invited us to stay with him for what turned out to be an entire week. We took him with us on one way plus his brother both ways. That trip included:

  • me crashing a Linux event in a Microsoft t-shirt (guys were staying, but hell knows if it was the t-shirt or the gender)
  • a night and a morning in Prague
  • visiting Bayreuth (but unfortunately not Bayreuth Festival Theatre because it had shorter opening hours than the student's office at my school)
  • me meeting some friends I hadn't seen in at least 12 years (my, have they grown!)
  • hanging at the Cern, especially at lunch time (which felt like being in a BBT episode, except they were many many more geeks - epic!)
  • hanging at an English pub and playing some trivia games (there was a Star Trek category!)
  • living maybe 50 meters from my middle school (ah, memories!)
  • me visiting the place I grew up in, which is the most beautiful place in the world to me
  • all of us visiting Geneva and Annecy
  • the guys going to Milan to grab a pizza after climbing on the Matterhorn
  • shopping
  • drinking french wine
  • losing a debit card and finding it soon after
  • crossing the french/swiss border at least four times a day
  • getting a flat tyre on the german highway.

All in all, that's more adventures than in Eurotrip. (Afterwards, I got scolded by my boss for taking all that overtime without asking him.) We're looking forward to organizing a similar trip next year.

Then I spent 3 days at home. These included working full time plus going to school on the evening (these were the first classes of the semester, so I didn't want to miss them). Consequently, cooking became microwaving and "taking everything out of the bags and dropping it on the floor" was the new unpacking.

Soon, we hit the road again, this time to a "real" summer vacation in the middle of October: we spent two weeks in Egypt. That trip included way less that the previous one:
  • bathing
  • sunbathing
  • a bit of sightseeing.
That holiday did us both lots of good and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Okay, now, for the pictures: I'm still trying to get the ones that weren't taken with my camera, so below are a few of my own, featuring absolutely no one.

That's the nice place where I grew up:

That's the previously mentioned middle school:

And here is a little piece of Egypt (Deir el-Bahari):

Now, I'm back to the life I love! I recently came across a quote by Seth Godin:

"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from."

I definitely don't feel the need to escape from my life, but a vacation now and again is a great way to spend more time with loved ones and friends, get a fresh perspective on everything, load your batteries, etc. etc.