Sunday, September 29, 2013

Apple Picking

I feel that I'm on top of my fall activities because last weekend we went apple picking with my family. Apple picking is no cherry picking - you get your bucket full in no time. And I must admit that I might have picked just one apple, if any, because I was the photographer for the day. You see, I received my first early birthday gift - Nikon DSLR - and I can't let it go from my hands now! I'm still learning a lot but for now this camera is everything that I've been dreaming about! 

Before the start of each season I try to decide what kind of things I want to do, how I can best enjoy the season. Here's my list for fall:
- apple picking (check!)
- enjoy fall colors on a hike
- catch fall in the city with my new camera
- explore new parts of NYC
- see Waiting for Godot with Patrick Steward on Broadway
- dress up for high tea
- attend Metropolitan Opera's The Nose and Tosca
- make spicy butternut squash soup
- see Shakespeare's Sister at La Mama theater
- go for lots of morning runs and walks

How are you planning to enjoy fall?

Pictures by me and my sister Oksana

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stylish Scientists: Lizzy

'Stylish Scientists' is a weekly series that brings you an exclusive peek at women in science and their style.  
The motto of the 'Stylish Scientist' is: "Always look chic while making a discovery!"

I'm very excited to feature Liz Harley from "Scientist Chic" blog. Lizzy has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, and she currently works in London. While brainstorming for 'Stylish Scientists' series I was delighted to come across Lizzy's blog, and I'm happy to share her interesting interview here. 

At what stage of science career are you? 
I finished my PhD earlier this year, and decided that rather than staying in research I wanted an ‘alternate’ science career. So since March I’ve been working for a not-for-profit science communication organization whose focus is on explaining scientific principles to the public, the press and policy-makers. It’s a small team and a really diverse role, I could be preparing a press release one day or attending a political conference the next.  

Tell us briefly about your Ph.D. research 
I studied the evolutionary biology, specifically the evolution of reproductive traits in a cute little insect called the stalk-eyed fly. These little guys are great for studying sexual selection because the length of the eyestalks is a sexual signal, like the tail of a peacock; females just go wild for the guys with the big eyes. I studied ejaculate allocation – do big attractive males put in more sperm per mating or less? – and also spent 5 months living in a hut in the Malaysian jungle studying wild flies. Top tip for biology – pick your study organism carefully! 

Your earliest fashion memory 
My mum bought me these two beautiful floral frocks from Laura Ashley (UK fashion and homewear brand) when I was about 7 or 8, one blue and one rosy pink and I loved them so very much. I also remember going to a Robin Hood themed party when I was little dressed as Maid Marion, and my mum made a gorgeous dress for me using brown Strawberry Thief print fabric from Liberty. I remember thinking why on earth we didn’t wear fun clothes every day, and whenever I get dressed in the morning I always try to make it fun. 

Who influenced your style? 
Tough question! My parents were not very clothing conscious people, but I suspect that my love of really good knitwear comes from them. As a teenager I often tried to emulate the looks I saw in magazines (with limited success), and once I got to University I began experimenting with my clothes (again with mixed results). My friends and I used to egg each other on to try new things – I remember when skinny jeans became all the rage! These days I frequently look to other bloggers for inspiration, but I think mostly I am still buying the things I like and muddling it all together into something wearable. 

scientist chic, stylish scientists, liz harley, science and fashion, science with style, veiled beanie, red maxi skirtHow did the places where you lived influence your style choices? 
London has influenced the way I dress perhaps far more than the other places I’ve called home. British fashion at its best is completely fearless – you can wear anything you want to, just do it with attitude – and London is the best place to experiment in. No one bats an eyelid if you wear a cape in London, but I get some funny sideways looks in other towns! 

Your favorite brands and places to shop 
ASOS and Zara are my favourite highstreet places; ASOS because if you have an idea of what you want, chances are they will have it, and Zara because their collections are so very good every season. As far as designers go, I have been a devoted follower of London brand Antipodium for years, and more recently I’ve fallen in love with a few Scandinavian brands like Ann Sofie Back and Acne. I can’t afford to buy full price designer clothes, but I regularly trawl the Outnet and the ASOS clearance section looking for good deals.

How did you start making clothes? 
I made clothes for my Sylvanian Families! (Calico Critters in the States). I have boxes full of the miniature outfits I made for them. The first dress I made for myself was a complete experiment, made without a pattern on the floor of my bedroom. 

What is your advice to people who want to start making clothes? 
Just give it a try. Dressmaking can be really technical, but it can also be super easy. There are some great ‘no pattern’ dress ideas on YouTube, and that was where I got started. I ran up my first dress in an evening following a YouTube video! 

Your everyday science uniform 
I don’t really have a uniform as such – I try to mix it up each day otherwise I get bored. Most days I will pick a particular item that I want to wear and build an outfit around it. My only requirement is comfortable shoes for slogging across town during my commute! 

Do you dress differently now that you have finished your Ph.D.? 
Only in that my style has moved on since finishing my PhD – I used to have a much more vintage-inspired style with lots of prints and quite a girly silhouette, whereas now I prefer a simpler, more minimalist style. Which handily fits in for a more formal, office environment! 

What do you think about dressing nicely while doing experiments in the lab? 
Do it do it do it! We’re kicking ass and doing science, why shouldn’t we look amazing at the same time? Although obviously don’t wear really nice things if you know you’re going to end up spilling noxious chemicals or fly food all over yourself. 

Any thoughts about how the general public perceives scientists and their appearance? 
The most frequent comment I get is ‘You don’t look like a scientist’, to which my response is usually, ‘Well what should a scientist look like?’ I think sometimes people are surprised by how stylish we can be, but something I have learned through blogging is that there are a lot us sartorially-inclined scientists out there! 

What was your inspiration to start blogging? 
I was in the middle of an intense period of technical experiments and data analysis during my PhD, and I really wanted a creative outlet. I started reading a few blogs before writing my own, but it only took a few months for me to start thinking, “Why don’t I give this a try?” It was fun making my own little corner of internet, getting into the habit of writing more often and starting to experiment with photography. 

scientist chic, stylish scientists, lizzy harley, science and fashion

All photos are provided by Lizzy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Trans-Cultural Music Experience: Dakha Brakha from Ukraine

dakha brakha, dakhabrakha, ethnic chaos, ukrainian music, ukraine music, world music, cuny live world series, dakha brakha in nyc, us premiere of dakha brakha, transcultural music, experimental music, modern and ethnic music

Last week, I had an incredible opportunity to attend the US premiere of DakhaBrakha - the Ukrainian "ethnic chaos" quartet from Kyiv. The performance took place at CUNY Graduate Center in NYC as part of their Live@365 World Music Series. In all honesty, this was one of the most fantastic concerts I've ever attended, and I'll tell you why!

"DakhaBrakha" means "give/take" in the old Ukrainian language, and this truly unique project, which was started by avant-garde theater director Vladyslav Troiskyi, includes four very talented instrumentalists, three of whom are folklorists, and two are actors. With those credentials, it's no wonder that they create such dazzlingly original content, which is based in traditional Ukrainian music but incorporates trans-cultural elements, modern musical influences, and theatrical effects.

Part of DakhaBrakha's interesting stage presence is definetely the incorporation of very theatrical costumes. Women are dressed in white wedding dresses paired with Cossack hats, and they stand in contrast to the only male member of the group, who is dressed in black embroidered suit. I thought that this choice of clothes for women was also a strong fashion statement, especially because a mix of menswear with feminine pieces is very much "in" right now. DakhaBrakha women have a unique twist on this trend and their outfits make an attractive combination on stage.

DakhaBrakha definitely captivated me and the rest of the audience during their first US concert. It was so incredible to watch them create different sounds using multiple instruments and their voices. Their music just penetrates your body, energizes your senses, and leaves you with a bright outlook on this world. I would call this a genius. But find out for yourselves! Below I'm sharing two Youtube videos, and it was really hard to chose which songs to share. The first song uses a special instrument called 'drymba' from the Karpaty mountains (Carpathian), and the authentic song is mixed with modern hip-hop to create "Karpaty rap". The song is about a girl who is very picky with boys. In addition the video is very cool!

The second song is called "From under the oak tree" - one of my favorites! I love the sounds of the male singer, the cello theme and also the singing that is done in 'bilyj holos' (white voice), which is a special kind of authentic Ukrainian singing. This song just makes me want to dance :)

If you can't view the embedded videos - view them here and here. And if you'd like to hear more I suggest this and this. Enjoy!
P.S. DakhaBrakha might be back in NYC this January! 

Photo credit:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stylish Scientists: Elena

'Stylish Scientists' is a weekly series that brings you an exclusive peek at women in science and their style.  
The motto of the 'Stylish Scientist' is: "Always look chic while making a discovery!"

At what stage of science career are you?
I am doing my second postdoc after switching fields from microfluidics to biology.

Tell us briefly about your Ph.D. research and your current post-doctoral research.
My work as a postdoctoral researcher focuses on how the number of intestinal stem cells is controlled under physiological stresses and with aging, using Drosophila as a model system. My work has suggested a novel mechanism of intestinal stem cell replacement by differentiated daughters, which are normally used to uptake nutrients.
While my current postdoctoral research focuses on stem cell replacement and intestinal tissue regeneration, my PhD is in Organic Chemistry and my thesis work and first postdoc focused on developing microfluidic technologies to answer biological questions. As a graduate student, I developed novel microfliuidic platforms to spatiotemporally manipulate single cells ranging from the Drosophila embryo to bacteria. Most of my thesis focused on how the Drosophila embryo is accurately patterned by gradients of proteins to give rise to adults with the correct body parts in the correct proportions.
In the future, I am excited to combine what I have learned in the bio lab with my chemistry and engineering background.

Your earliest fashion memory?
Definitely shoes! I remember a pair of burgundy (present day “oxblood”) ballet flats with bows that my Mom bought for me when I was six. After trying them on, Mom took a picture of me in a jean jacket and my adored shoes looking so happy. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of shoes!

Who influenced your style?
My grandma and my Mom have definitely influenced my style.  My grandma used to sew fun dresses in pretty fabrics and her creativity definitely inspired my way of dressing, especially for more formal occasions outside of the lab!  She also sparked my love of knitting and crocheting various accessories (this winter I am upgrading to a sweater!).

How did the places where you lived influence your style choices?
I grew up in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin fashion is definitely more subdued and casual than New York.  Most of my high school outfits consisted of jeans and fun tops, which has carried through to my current daily wardrobe.  I lived in Chicago for 12 years throughout college, grad school, and my first postdoc.  I would say Chicago style is more colorful and very “J. Crew”, which became one of my favorite stores after moving there! Living in New York the past three years has inspired me to be more adventurous with my look, especially in terms of accessories.

Your favorite brands and places to shop
For everyday clothes, my favorite places to shop are J. Crew/J. Crew Factory, and Anthropologie.  I also love Club Monaco and French Connection.

Your everyday science uniform
Jeans, fun tops/sweaters, and colorful shoes and jewelry.

Do you dress differently now that you have finished your Ph.D.?
My overall style has stayed very similar to that in grad school, but I feel more comfortable dressing up now, as postdocs at Columbia tend to dress nicer.  I often wear dresses/leggings/more fun sparkly jewelry as a postdoc that I would not have been as comfortable wearing as a grad student in a Chemistry lab.  Also, the Chemistry lab has many more safety restrictions and hazardous materials, so I wore many layers that I could remove if working with acids, etc.

What do you think about dressing nicely while doing experiments in the lab?
I think it is great and really encourage women to dress their style as long as it complies with safety. In my case, feeling good in a fun outfit inspires my work in a way!

Any thoughts about how the general public perceives scientists and their appearance?
The general public definitely seems to perceive scientists as indifferent to fashion, especially when speaking in terms of women in science. But, I do not think it is specific to science, per say. I am also a huge fan of Indy cars and have also had several people tell me they cannot reconcile how a girl in a dress and heels could love auto races/the physics behind their speed.

What are your favorite spots in NYC?
I draw as a hobby, so I am always very inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and all of the many art museums/galleries in NYC. My other favorite spots include the Intrepid (for aircraft aficionados – also, the Enterprise is about the coolest thing I have ever seen!), the Museum of Natural History (a playground for a chemist who loves minerology), and Central Park/Fort Tryon (best for the Autumn foliage and many squirrels that I miss from the Midwest).

All photos are taken and edited by me.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogging on One Fine Day!

Today I'm very excited to share my " Need Read Greed" picks on Ashley's blog called One Fine Day. I totally love Ashley's positive outlook and her beautifully designed collages! Below is my "greed" pick - a pair of Illesteva sunglasses. To see more, please, check out the post here.

Graphic is designed by Ashley from One Fine Day

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recap: Summer Favorites

The fall is here and we can't deny it anymore. Today is pretty chilly in NYC, and I'm looking forward to those warm days of Indian summer before the cold weather sets in. It seems absurd to talk about summer at this point but I just want to do a quick recap of my favorite looks this summer.

I attended several weddings, and this outfit was definitely my favorite. This dress with it's retro silhouette and beautiful green floral print made a perfect combination with these bright coral satin pumps. And if I had to choose one dress to define myself - this would be it! (and thanks to Murka for photo bombing this picture)
Outfit details: Dress Asos, Shoes J.Crew Every Satin Pumps, Vintage clutch, J.Crew bracelet

For casual summer days these were my top favorite looks: a breezy top + light skirt, and a maxi dress. I definitely adhered to my own recommendations from this post in the beginning of summer :)  I must add that blue+green combo was my favorite this season. 
Shirt+skirt outfit: Shirt via TjMaxx, Skirt J.Crew, Shoes Sam Edelman via Nordstrom, Necklace Anthropologie, Bag from Nordstrom
Dress outfit: Dress Anthropologie, shoes Steve Madden via TjMaxx

And the last outfit I want to share is from my recent trip to Puerto Rico. This is the only time this skirt made the appearance this summer but it was perfect for wandering around the colorful streets of old San Juan!
Outfit details: T-shirt J.Crew Vintage cotton tee, Skirt Anthropologie, Shoes Sam Edelman, Hat J.Crew, Necklace Kate Spade via TjMaxx, Clutch J.Crew

Pictures by Joe Villarin

Thursday, September 12, 2013

J.Crew x Sophia Webster: Shoe Obsession

j.crew collection spring 2014, j.crew sophia webster, fun shoes, sophia webster

Have I properly expressed my love for shoes on this blog yet? I think no, and that's unacceptable! I'm definitely a shoe girl, and I definitely need a separate shoe closet at this point. And when I saw the newest J.Crew spring 2014 collection with shoes designed by Sophia Webster - well, I had a minor shoe attack. 

I love the shoes that J.Crew team designs but having Sophia Webster's whimsical shoes with stand-out patterns and interesting details just added so much more dimension to this collection. In addition, it's a smart move and a great marketing campaign to attract more British customers as J.Crew just opened their first store in London.

Sophia Webster's shoes are definitely show-stoppers and statement-makers, and for me I think they are a bit outside of my comfort zone. I prefer investing in more versatile pieces that I can wear with different clothes, but recently I definitely broke this by getting several brightly-colored pumps. I guess I'm ready to try bolder shoes now - looking forward to J.Crew x Sophia Webster making it to the stores!