Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It might not be a coincidence that 2009 sees a big return to 80s fashion, the best and worst of the decade that last saw us knee-deep in recession.First spawned on the catwalks and now taking over the highstreet are a kaleidoscope of neon brights, tie-dye patterns and chain-strap mini handbags in 'colour block' shades resembling those of a Rubix cube, another 80s legend. Ankle socks, lace-up brogues and jumpsuits are all back in style!

It's time to recycle your old wardrobe and have a good dig out for that faded denim jacket or ruffled mini skirt, some of the items adorning shops this season along with fingerless gloves, oversized clutches and big shoulder pads.Structured blazers signify a return to power-dressing for women which, when worn with tons of blusher and statement earrings, shows you mean business and might just land you that job!

White Blazers are particularly big news this summer, once we're careful not to overdo it and end up looking like an extra from Miami Vice or one of the Bee Gees. Celebs who are modern champions of this trend include Alexa Chung, Angnes Deyn and Kate Moss who get the Eighties/Noughties balance spot on. Other 80s trends currently being revisited are acid-washed jeans and ripped pale denim with off the shoulder t-shirts.

The unforgiving 'jeggings' - a clever spin on the skinny jean and legging - should be approached with caution for anyone not a hundred percent happy with the silhouette of their pins. Many girls will remember shoe-horning themselves into leggings and skipants as chubby teenagers; brightly patterned lycra and cheap cotton transforming thighs into strung-up sausages, made worse when worn with a reversible sweatshirt that wasn't quite long enough! Ugh the memories!

This time around, however, we can get it right, ignoring slapwrist bracelets, jellied shoes and poodle perms.We have come a long way in the style stakes on Irish shores and know how to team leggings with longer tops, tone down neons with muted nudes and wear clothes with confidence instead of letting them 'wear' us.Through the benefits of hindsight hopefully we can pick out what works and make the 80s fashion work for us, second time around, and with not a camel toe in sight!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I spent last week keeping close to the edge of frugality. After nabbing so many bargains in LA I headed home certain I had obeyed the rules of recession holidaying as well as doing my bit for the world economy by shopping.

Sixteen hours later however, I was furious at having to pay €150 for excess baggage.

So i spent the week doing 'free things' such as washing, squeezing my new clothes into my boyfriend's wardrobe and walking a lot to limit the extent of calorie creepage after a week of margaritas and guacemole.

By Saturday I was ready for my 'non recession' treat, a belated birthday present from my boyfriend who has finally recovered from a virus.

A meal in Town Bar and Grill. Far were we from affording Town Bar and Grill right now but I enjoyed my night of spoiling. The place was heaving and I wondered if perhaps the other diners were also the recpients of birthday treats or once-off special meals.
There was no evidence to show that this is the latest haunt to come to the media's attention as being in trouble.

It's sad, but not surprising, to hear that such a good restaurant, with fantastic food and a favourite among many, is now experiencing recessionary difficulties.
It's not surprising to me as my own family's restaurant, ironically a year closed on the very night I ate in Town, was never short of covers at the weekend and its closure was merely an indicator of financial pressure rather than a lack of popularity.

That's the thing about recession, it sometimes claims the busier restaurants as its victims, with high rents and unsympathetic banks playing a role. A full house doesn't always make the books add up. Unfortunately.

Many quieter restaurants will survive the recession, while busier ones may continue to close - it's just financial logistics you see.

Indeed so sudden was our own closure in the end that I only found out on the day, Friday 13th last year. After working there five, sometimes six days a week, for nearly six years, I know all too well the effect a closed business can have on those involved.

I pass many empty restaurants in Dublin at the moment and always get a twinge when I see bored staff furiously polishing the cutlery, desperate to keep themselves busy and hold onto their shifts.

I hope Town Bar and Grill's, 'private investor' will put an end to their troubles and see it thrive in the future.

Each dish was perfect, worth every penny and calorie, even if I will be walking more this week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

As the recession originated in the US with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, my trip to LA had me curious about the economic impact at a local level. Being a total news junkie, I managed to sneak in a few news reports on the various channels, in between lounging in my uncle's sun-drenched backyard and hunting for recession-busting bargains at the mall.

I was interested to see if the current climate was portrayed in the 'doom and gloom' manner favoured by some of our own media.

In contrast, fluorescent-orange news anchors broadcast regular updates on the plummeting property prices across the valley, seemingly dosed up on happy pills and wittering with each other in over-the-top, nauseating tones.

Stories of crime and highway accidents are reported in such a cheesy, almost bizarre, manner that I often wondered if I was hearing the news correctly. Perhaps the Botox-pumped presenters are just immune to the tragic tales that are all too frequent in a city of 12 million.

The most ostentatious report I witnessed was following a freak outbreak of rain one morning which made for Big News: it didn't dampen my holiday spirits but did make me smile!

Ads for herpes, haemorrhoids and debt help lines are all delivered in equal measures of syrupy sweetness.

Interesting too was how a lot of stories eclipsed our own news of late: the take over of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show reminded me of Pat's departure, while news of retail hell and students being rejected from their fee-paying schools were all too familiar.

I'm not sure why I am surprised as I knew America was in a worsening financial crisis but somehow I hadn't expected so much of a similarity but it seems the US is really just as bad as here.

Apart from the unbelievable sales, I was lucky to be holidaying far from any recession reality at my uncle’s, although California is clearly a state with many struggles ahead.

It seems however that the trend in broadcast media is for the anchors to maintain their blinding, bleached smiles and saccharine style, in an effort to preserve the ‘happiness’ all Americans seem to adopt in public.

Whether it’s reporters, struggling waiters in half-empty bars or pouncing sales assistants who greet me ecstatically in every shop, no one could ever be accused of being gloomy, no matter what their troubles.

It's just the Californian way, service with a smile and tangerine-tinged television.

Although I could never adjust to such an overload of enthusiasm, it's good to see people trying to lift their own spirits, and each others. Have a nice day now!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I've recently developed a serious shoe addiction, a new fetish for me as I'm not very good at walking in heels..I've always preferred to put my money into good bags, scarves and jewelled accessories..but since discovering the amazingness of wedges in LA, I am hooked! I fell in love with these white leather beauties at Steve Madden in America..these cork heeled ruffle wedges are so lightweight I feel I could even run in them!..while I still have a few wobbles they aren't nearly as difficult as walking in heels, but they do give the height without causing my feet to go on fire..they are the perfect poolside choice for holidays, can be worn day and night, at work or for going, unlike all the embellished sandals that will end up shoved in the back of the wardrobe come August, wedges can be teamed with tights for the winter! The most versatile shoe ever ! Such a good recession purchase that I bought three pairs!

check out and prepare to drool..

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I am a lucky girl this week as I get to embark on a respite from the recession in Los Angeles! We all need a break from the daily grind, even more so this year, and, while being careful with money is definitely the trend for 09, I am fortunate enough to have my doting godfather and my amazing aunt living in the Sunshine State, always ready with open arms to welcome visitors from home, once we arrive laden with Tayto and Crunchies.

They swapped Sutton for Stateside at the end of the last recession, relocating to a villa - esque house in the valley of eternal sunshine, landing top jobs as animation producers. Their picture-perfect backyard with its sparkling swimming pool completes their American dream and, as a return to Ireland seemed less likely during the height of the boom, it is definitely now off the cards for good.

And so, lucky for me, I have enjoyed many visits to their beautiful home on the west coast, benefitting from much spoiling over the years. Whether it was popping in en route to Australia, or taking a break from living in the San Francisco ghetto in a two bedroomed flat, overcrowded with Limerick lads and mice, during the summer of 2001, I have always had the best of times on my various trips to La La land.

This year, the lure of some sun was even more attractive, after the stress of losing, searching for and starting my new job in the last few months. A recession-tastic flight for less than 500euro, coupled with free accommodation and an irresistible exchange rate, add up to the perfect credit crunch deal, and, even though this is my seventh trip in ten years, my excitement never wanes at how lucky I am to come here time and time again and for a bargain price. I've a lot of catching up to do when I arrive: with a margarita in hand and my feet in their pool, I will be updating them on all the news from home, who's working, who's worried, who's giving up hope. Rumours of how Ireland has changed so drastically in the last few months will be confirmed by my tales of recessionary woe.

But I am going to make the absolute most of this week, relaxing and forgetting the hectic year behind me, and of course I will be dabbling in some recession savvy shopping. With the amazing value of the dollar, it would be foolish of a recessionista not to…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I suppose that television has lately become one of the highlights of my working week. Even when I decide to throw caution to the wind and spend a bit of money - shock horror – midweek, there is rarely someone available or agreeable to do so on the same night. “No I'm saving everything at the moment,’’ a friend will tell me, only to ring two nights later begging me to go on a ‘mad one'. By then I have probably done something silly like gone shopping to cheer myself up on a rainy Tuesday and am clamping my own wallet on lockdown till the guilt subsides.

So the telly is that one thing that offers escapism from the boredom of ‘cutting back’ and of course it’s not all bad when ‘sitting in’ means cosying up your new house mate - that is live-in boyfriend of six months, cohabiting happily together. Delighted with our hi def flat screen, we agreed we didn't need a second set and left my TV at my parents’. Also, because the bedroom didn’t exactly have enough space for any more of 'my stuff'’.

The first few weeks were spent kindly offering each other the remote while the other sat, quietly in domestic bliss. We had always known we wouldn't see eye-to-eye on our programme choices but in the early days we were hopeful that a compromise would work out. Things came to a head recently over two words - Champions League. Every single night it seems! Thursday onwards doesn't count. Apart from the odd date with Pat Kenny I don't switch on the box much at weekends anyway so he can enjoy football frenzy without any objection. It’s mid-week that I need it! The recession has of course made it worse - with not as much money to visit the pub he watches more games from the comfort of our home.

Where was the guy who used to miss the football to endure endless chick-flicks just to spend time with me?

I don't mind sharing our telly time, honestly, fair is fair, it's just that football takes up the whole night, THREE hours of it, rudely interrupting the soaps! “Well relax, it's all over now for the summer,’’ he pointed out the other night while throwing the remote at me. Yes he agrees that soaps are only 30 minutes long, but argues that Coronation St. has never once taken a break in more than 30 years ! I suppose he has a point.