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On being 40

28 Oct

I read a biography on Coco Chanel in the spring (I’ve been pretty good at my book-a-month resolution). Chanel’s influence on current fashion–fashion forever–is pretty amazing. Both little black dress and costume jewelry came from her. She was innnovative, smart and extremely savvy. She was obviously ahead of her time and many of the things she said are still very relevant today. This was my favorite line from the book:

Chanel’s growing exasperation with her aging clientele could be heard in her remarks, given in an interview with Vogue in 1938, which strayed from her normally pithy aphorisms: “At forty women used to exchange youth for elegance, poise, and mysterious allure, an evolution that left them undamaged. Now they measure themselves against the very young with defenses that can only be described as ridiculous.”

It’s a great reminder during my 40th birthday month. Lord, help me to be more like Coco.

Can dressing be easier? Maybe.

28 Sep

Hey, remember me? I’ve changed my goals (clearly) when it comes to this blog and am going to share when I feel like sharing. No pressure. No trying to make it a job (let’s face it, I’m too social to blog full time plus I like my real job). Just archive some of the home projects I feel like archiving. And when I come across tips that I think will help my friends, I’ll share them.

With those tips in mind, I’ve made serious strides in my closet throughout 2012 and have some thoughts to share.

In January I started the spring cleaning thing and did a serious purge on my closet.

I was inspired by this ebook called “The No Brainer Wardrobe” I downloaded it at Tiny Twig. The idea of having less clothes to choose from intrigued me. I looked at my closet each morning and there were lots of choices but, like many women, I felt I had “nothing to wear.”

In the ebook, it talks about the deleting process:

I think it is easier to start with the deleting process first. First for the
No pile are items that you are keeping out of guilt. Get that guilt out
of your closet at first chance. Don’t keep it because you got it as a
gift and feel bad because you never liked it. Just let it go. Don’t keep
it because it cost a lot of money and you never wore it. You never
wore it, so I doubt you’ll start now. Guilt and shame never make you
feel good. If you need to learn something from your mistake in
order to make the guilt go away, then vow to not buy something like
it in the future. Now, put it in the No pile.

I like the way the author is no-nonsense in how she told you to delete. It helped me a lot. The other thing that helped was visualizing who would get the clothes. I donated many to a local charity that our church supports and made two other piles–one for a guy friend at work who has five kids and a stay-at-home wife who suggested she may like some of the clothes and one for a Tween-aged friend who likes my style (or at least she gives me compliments). I’m small enough in tops that I thought she may get some wear out of some of the clothes. Both gals were appreciative and, even if they never wear the stuff, it made getting rid of them much easier.

The ebook also suggested that you switch all of your hangers to wooden ones. So I did. These were like $18 at Target and since the point was to get down to a limited number of clothes, I didn’t have to buy that many.

Wooden hangers may seem excessive when most hangers are plastic and practically free, but it did make a difference in how nicely my clothes looked. And no more hanger nipples.

I’m also really fortunate to have Molly as a friend. She’s forever chic and extremely talented in recommending clothes and outfits that fit your body shape. In May she came over and we discussed my need for good-fitting pants for my hippy (my word, not Mollly’s), petite frame and skirts tailored correctly. I took three skirts to have hemmed (meaning skirts I’d been wearing too long that were too long) and have been slowly adding to my pant situation.

Molly also put together a “look book” of outfits using my existing clothes. She snapped photos and put them into a binder for my reference. In general, Molly gives me confidence in my dressing. Oh, and you don’t have to be her personal friend to have her do this for you.

Still, after all of that purging, organizing and assistance, I still was spending too much time thinking about what to wear in the morning.

Then last week I ran across an article in the recent issue of More (ps – I really like that magazine). The Deputy Editor challenged herself to wear everything in her closet, like forced herself to wear every single item, and let her co-workers help her decide if they were keepers.

That’s a lot of pressure. I definitely work with some honest (like painfully honest) people who would do that for me. Plus I’ve done all this purging and styling . . . I should be sitting pretty pretty, right?

Well, I’m only four days in and it’s actually been great. I didn’t tell many people at work what I’m up to because I don’t really want their opinions, but it has actually helped my morning routine. It’s made dressing easier and quicker. Seriously.

Instead of marking all of the items with tape and then taking it off before wearing, like the More editor, I decided to just go in a row. Start on the left side of my clothing rack and go to the right. I didn’t rearrange or anything, so things are just in order the way they happened to get hung. I am just doing tops and mixing/matching pants and skirts as I go, but I truly came up with some decent ensembles (particularly by adding scarves or necklaces). Now it’s not “what to wear” but “what could I wear with that top to make it a complete outfit?” It’s fun.

So that’s my latest. I think any little thing that helps us even just a bit is worth sharing. Don’t you?

A Banner Day

16 Mar

Today’s a good day! It’s Friday and 70+ degrees outside. The Jayhawks are in town playing in March Madness. And one of my favorite people in the world is moving into the neighborhood as I type.

I put together this banner this morning and put it on their new house’s front porch while they were at the closing.

I thought it was a fun way to show them our excitement, welcome them to the neighborhood, and let the rest of the neighbors get to know their family name.

I did a similar one for my 20-year reunion last summer. You can kinda see it in the background here.

And here it is later in the night.

They are so simple and kinda folksy, which I like.

Seriously, a few minutes to print out the letters at 400-point type and some time at Kinko’s (now known as FedEx Office, but I don’t agree with that so I still call it Kinko’s) to buy colored card stock and use their trimmer and glue stick, and you’re good to go. I hung them both with curling ribbon and used toe-nail clippers to make the cuts.

That bit of brilliance came from some blog that I read regularly but have done searches on all of them and can’t find the post. Grrr . . .

Anyway, I’ve been seriously giddy all day with excitement so I wanted to share. Here’s to you having a Banner Day!

A Bold and Brilliant Move

31 Jan

All hail JC Penney! The large retailer announced that as of tomorrow it will be “permanently marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40 percent so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.” This is what the AP reported on January 25. Well, I say, good for them!

Whether you like JC Penney or think they stink, you must appreciate this bold marketing move.

Since the economy tanked a few years ago, retailers have conditioned us into coupon shopping and waiting for “the big one!” (yeah, you, Younkers and Nebraska Furniture Mart). I’m sick of it!

I went shopping this past weekend for my daughter’s seventh birthday and was irritated that I didn’t have an Old Navy or Gap coupon stashed away in my purse. Should I wait for the mail to come to see if Gap was going to send something? Should I see if I can print something off online? I know they don’t mean to charge $36 for a pair of little girls’ 6x jeans. They’re the Gap. They have marked them up knowing that most shoppers will wait for the sale or use a coupon.

If you think you haven’t been affected, think about the last time you bought something at Bed, Bath & Beyond without one of its “never expiring” coupons. Don’t you feel like a mouse in a maze?

I hope this move saves JC Penney. I really do. For the record, I like them. They have some great Pottery Barn-esque home items specifically in their lighting department, and my favorite (ok, only) skinny jeans are from there. JC Penney is a classic that has been around a long time.

I mean think about it . . . can’t you recall poring over the big ol’ catalog in the 1970s, dog-earring your Christmas gifts, or looking at the Men’s underwear pages and giggling? I can.

Can’t pass by

23 Jan

I’ve been thrifting a lot lately. It’s something my almost-four-year-old and I do on our afternoons together. He’s a good companion and surprisingly patient throughout these adventures. He likes to look at all the schtuff (as I call it) too, and if he picks something up, I don’t get stressed because most of it is less than $5.

After years of antiquing, I see things at these thrift stores that I can’t pass by. I KNOW it’s worth more than what they are asking. This could get bad, though. Yes, I found a chair for $6 that I found on ebay for $130,  but I can’t do that every time. I don’t have the storage space and I don’t want to keep something just because it was a smokin’ deal. But what’s a girl to do?

I heard milk glass was really hot right now. Brides love it! I think Martha did a segment about Milk Glass Weddings. The things that look like open-bottomed vases are actually milk glass shades that would look awesome hanging over a breakfast bar or island. They were 99 cents each. How can I leave them? Some other wannabe thrift blogger like myself will just snatch them up if I don’t!

And this ironstone platter. It’s only about 8″ long but it’s solid and heavy and I’ve been watching my friend Cathy buy these for years. I had to grab it for $1 in her honor, right?

And enamelware? Can’t, can’t pass it by. My mom still uses her enamelware double-boiler and I’ve always had a soft spot for anything with red. I used the bowl for my Christmas centerpiece and just found this covered pot last week.

And these little plates were adorable. They look Art Deco, I thought. They are only 6″ in diameter but the design is so cute. I actually had a  store in town in mind when I picked these up. I guess I have dreams of being a “picker” . . .

And this was my most extreme purchase but again I think it’s worth a ton more than the $20 I paid.

It’s actually about 10.5 inches tall with an open bottom. Again, I think it’s Art Deco in design and it looks like Milk Glass. People love vintage light fixtures, and it’s cool. But what do I do with it? I asked the store if they wanted it (that and the milk glass), but they “passed.” There goes my dreams of being a picker.

What do I do with all of this stuff? I don’t have the time right now to open an Etsy store? I love the idea but that’s a lot of work in terms of photography, marketing, shipping, etc.

My friend Steve has an antique booth that I could piggyback on probably, although his taste is decidedly more primitive. He says he can always use “smalls,” an antiquer’s word for little things, not furniture or anything big. So I guess I’ll give that a try.

What about you? Is there anything you can’t pass by?

My Best Deal Yet

17 Jan

I’ve had Puppy Fever for a few months now. Our 11-year-old Cockapoo, Phoebe, is still healthy and rules the house, but she can be crotchety (a terrible but befitting word).

This was several years ago but one of my favorite photos.

I love dogs and figured my three-year-old son could use a puppy to grow with. Plus I’d heard good things about adding a second dog–enlivens the original dog, the older one shows the younger one the ropes, they become pals.

I’ve been checking our Humane Society website every day–twice a day typically, because the dogs get adopted so quickly. When I started this process in August, there was a really mangy looking Wheaten Terrier mix on there, and I went to the Humane Society to check him out. They didn’t have much information on him but knew he was about 10 months old.

This isn't him but close.

Source

That was the type of dog I was looking for (I thought) but he was a little big already and wild and it was a Friday. I decided to wait, knowing that he would probably get adopted over the weekend (the non-shedding/non-Lab/non-Pit Bulls usually do). But it was the very beginning of my search and I figured if he were still there on Monday, I’d go back and get him.

He wasn’t, so I kept looking and researching other dogs that might fit what I was looking for. I explored the Wheaten Rescue in our area but they wouldn’t adopt to a family with children younger than six. Red Flag. The more I researched that breed the more I learned that maybe the Wheaten wasn’t for us. They can be territorial with young children, and that was definitely not what I wanted.

A man at my husband’s work suggested the Tibetan Terrier.

You can keep their hair short, which I would.

Source

It’s not really a terrier at all but a medium-sized dog that was originally bred as mountain dogs by monks in Tibet. I did some more research on them and agreed they sounded like a good dog for us. Between 18 – 30 lbs and non-shedding plus good with kids and quirky. We found this guy at a breeder in Missouri.

Hard to resist, isn't he?

But he was $600 and at a home with A LOT of other puppies so I was concerned that it was a puppy mill situation. Most of the breeders I researched were charging between $1200 and $1800 for their puppies, so again the red flag.

Another possibility was a Portuguese Water Dog.

They're cute, huh?

Source

This breed was made really popular in the last few years once the Obamas added their boy, Bo, to the White House. My research showed that this was a good choice though, although the price was still steep at around $15oo for most breeders. The size was right–typically between 35 and 60 lbs and non-shedding. I wanted a “bigger” dog this time for a few reasons–a walking partner for me, someone to romp around the backyard with the kids, and a dog big enough that I would be encouraged to keep him off of the furniture. Phoebe is ruining my I-paid-too-much-but-thought-Ethan-Allen-was-closing-for-good-sofa and you know, old dogs/new tricks and all.

Anyway, a few days before Christmas and about 20 hours after I had said to my husband “Eventually, I think I’ll find the right dog at the Humane Society,” this guy showed up online. He was listed as a Portuguese Water Dog Mix.

What a face, right?

It was about 10:30 in the morning when I saw him on the website. I walked out of work and drove straight to the Humane Society. When they went to get him I heard one of the workers saying, “I don’t think that’s a Portuguese Water Dog.” So I yelled out to them, “Well, what do you think it is then?” (I didn’t want this to be the ol’ bait and switch.) But they didn’t know. They just didn’t think there were many in our area, much less one who would be wandering around in the country, like this guy was.

Carol, the Humane Society volunteer who brought him to me, speculated with me on the real breed. She didn’t know either but thought the markings looked like a PWD (although after a little research, I find that most PWDs are black with a little white. He’s white with a little black.) And she assured me she thought his coat felt more hairlike than fur-like (meaning a non-shedder), although she said, “Don’t hold me to it.” And we both agreed that his paws didn’t look too big, so he didn’t appear to be “a big dog.”

So I paid my $350 adoption fee, named him Furble (a name my daughter had invented when we started our puppy search,) brought him home, and he was an early Christmas surprise from Santa. The note said something about him not staying still in the sled.

My husband and I were more excited about him than the kids, but I’d been searching for six months so it felt meant to be.

Not sure what kind of look the boy has on his face here but concentrate on the puppy.

The neighbors came over the next night for a little Holiday Cheer, and they all predicted on paper what they thought Furble would weigh a year from now. Thoughts ranged from 35 lbs and a non-shedder to 110 lbs and shedding!

Three weeks, six painful days of diarrhea, one respiratory infection, three prescription drugs, two bags of prescription dog food, a day’s worth of IV fluids, and, oh yeah, the rush of Christmas, New Year’s and 17 days of no school, and Furble seems right at home. I truly think his illness was stress. God knows I was stressed! I still think he was a bargain.

It snowed the other afternoon and he and Phoebe romped around the yard a ton. The kids are really enjoying him. He’s doing pretty well at the kennel thing, and I’m eager for his little bladder to get a little bigger, but he does seem to “get it.”

As for his size . . . he’s doubled probably (I’ll post updated photos soon). Breed speculations range from my husband who says he’s a Tibetan Terrier/Portuguese Water Dog mix (forever the optimist). I say he’s got some BIG ol’ dog in him. His head seems abnormally large at this point, and I often think he looks like a Newfoundland. I’ve heard Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Poodle, you name it. Whatever he is, we’re enjoying him. As for his fur and size, only time will tell.

I don’t see him returning to the North Pole anytime soon.

Design is Design is Design

8 Jan

I started working at my current company about three and a half years ago. They hadn’t had a Marketing Director in several years and you could tell. Their corporate colors were beige and burgundy—a callback for certain to their beginnings in 1983. To bring them on into the current century, we (my print, web designers and I) re-branded them with a perfect orange (PMS 1665) and charcoal gray (PMS Black 7 Gray).

Our CFO likes to tease me about the functions of being a marketing director–thinking about colors and layouts and Facebook and image and how things look. He likes to tell me those things don’t matter. But once, in a moment of weakness, he admitted I’d done a great job making the company look current and updated again.

So the other day he was rolling his eyes about our PMS color and saying there is a “reason they are called PMS colors,” and that night I came across this post from A Pop of Pretty about how Tangerine Tango is the 2012 Color of the Year. She included a ton of eye candy photos from rooms that incorporated this color, all of which, btw, I could have moved right into.

I, of course, forwarded the post to my CFO to elicit even more eye-rolling and he actually commented that I was ahead of the curve for picking a color that would soon be the Color of the Year. For the record, Tango Tangerine is PMS 17-1463 but it’s also an awesome orange.

It all got me to thinking about something that always strikes me. It’s that design is design is design. The elements–forms, shapes and colors–that are hot in graphic design are usually trending the same way in fashion and in home decor design. They all bubble up at the same time, but where does it start?

It reminds me of in “The Devil Wears Prada” when the Meryl Streep character tells the Anne Hathaway character that the reason her bargain bin Casual Corner sweater was a particular shade of blue because . . . well, here, I can only find the scene in Italian on YouTube but here are the lines:

This… ‘stuff’? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

Is that where it starts? From fashion? High-end designers? Or is it more Bohemian, like the independent artists on Etsy.

Some of my favorite blogs are the ones that touch on both home and fashion design like Elements of Style and La Dolce Vita. It’s cool that they are watching and talking about the trends as they happen in two different realms. Do these bloggers help to determine the trends? I think they do. Do you think they are the ones that decided owls were going to be the “it” thing for 2011?

Whatever it is . . . I’ll keep watching and trying to keep up. I’m eager to see what bubbles up for 2012. Any predictions?

Resolution 2012

3 Jan

Typeverything.com 2012: For ever and ever

I’ve always been one to make resolutions. I love the idea of setting goals and fresh starts and seeing where it gets me. In fact, since high school I also always participate in giving up something for Lent. This is something my particular church doesn’t practice but I do. My first year it was potatoes–chips and French fries–that was hard on a teenage girl but . . .  I digress. The point is goals are important and having a set beginning and ending time (in this case, a calendar year) makes them seem more attainable.

Over the years my resolutions have included the typical–exercise more, eat better, blah blah blah. I’m not including any of that this year. I feel like I exercise as regularly as I ever will so why put undue pressure on myself. One year it was to drink only one Coke (pop) per day. That one stuck. I rarely drink pop anymore and never more than one a day.

My favorite recent resolution was when I committed to selling or donating something every week. Selling (making a little money) or donating something (lightening the load) on a consistent basis really helped me evaluate the stuff I save. I’ll admit it didn’t happen every week but it probably did every month, and I continue to consistently rid myself of stuff.

My resolutions for 2012 are simple.

1. Read one book per month.

I miss reading. Having young children and not being a night person (one who can lie in bed and read before going to sleep) has made my reading really wane in the past few years. I feel like there are so many good books that I’m missing. Reading is good for a writer and good for the soul. I can’t wait to get started.

2. Write a blog post every week.

As a part-time marketing director, full-time mom to young children I don’t have the time right now to commit to more than that. I think it’s a good start though, and when 2012 is over, we’ll see where we are.

And anyway, it sounds a lot easier than 40 days without potatoes.

Festive Centerpieces

13 Dec

My friend Stacey turned me on to these lanterns at ShopKo.

They had some great red ones in their holiday decor and then these in the everyday decor section. ShopKo is not typically known for its design aesthetic but these were solid and had nice shapes and great prices at $14.99 each.

I had recently acquired an enamalware bowl at Goodwill for $4 and wanted to incorporate it into my Christmas decor. I combined it with one of the red lanterns, a Christmas napkin and leftover fake greenery and was proud of the results.

Several months back I had sent my kids and the neighbor kids on a pine cone hunt because I hate to think of purchasing pine cones when they’re in ready supply around the neighborhood. The kids had a riot and I got a bagful that made for festive filler in this centerpiece.

Putting this together inspired gift ideas for my hard-t0-buy-for-step-sister and my mom. I found some more baskets at Goodwill that would make for good bases.

I tried to get rectangular- or oval-shaped baskets to serve as the bases because the lanterns were bigger and I wanted to incorporate some live Poinsettias. These baskets are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and run about $4 each. Stacey also told me about ShopKo’s faux candles at half-price so I picked up some of those.

I had to build up the base because I wanted the piece to have some varying heights. I used whatever I had around–some floral foam in one and a box, styrofoam and newspaper in the other.

The Poinsettias were the four-inch pots from Home Depot at $3.99 each. I did two in each centerpiece and filled in the rest with pine cones.

Phoebe, the Cockapoo, approved.

Definitely liked the more natural glow on the pine cone candle below but it wouldn’t fit into this more slender lantern.

We celebrated our Christmas with this part of the family this past weekend and my stepsister and mom were thrilled with my creations. They both had future entertaining in their holiday schedule and were excited to have these inviting pieces as part of their tables.

Dish Towels – A Practical Gift

11 Dec

I’ve been called practical. I hope that’s not code for cheap . . . thrifty maybe. Smart, I’d like to think. Whatever it is, with practicality in mind, I like to give gifts that serve a little purpose. I like to think that when people use their gift from me, they think, “Gosh that Stacy, she’s so clever.”

So, I love a good dish towel. I really like dish towels from Williams-Sonoma. They come in good colors, and they last forever. (PS – Now that my husband and I have hit the 10-year mark in our marriage, I often think about those wedding gifts that have lasted long and my W-S stuff really has. For example that rattan stuff lasts FOREVER! I’ve been using my fruit basket as a fruit basket every day for 10 1/2 years and it still looks like new. It’s had its share of moldy fruit, onion skin and gunk but I can rinse it and it still looks great. Sorry . . . I digress.)

Around Thanksgiving, Williams-Sonoma puts their tableware, including dish towels, at 15 percent off. It’s not an amazing discount but it’s something.

I buy a pack to use for my teacher gifts. And I bake the only thing that I ever bake–Banana Bread.

I love to give Thanksgiving gifts for two reasons. One – It’s one less thing I have to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Two – I think it makes sense to give Thanksgiving gifts to people to whom you’re really thankful–like your kids’ teachers.

This year I got some really cute string to help with my holiday packaging.

I wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then wrap it in the towel.

For another idea, I wrapped the bottom of a Poinsettia in a towel for a recent house-warming gift.

I don’t know if anyone was making the Clever Stacy comments that I was imagining but I was pretty pleased with the results.