Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End News from Nowhere

News Flash!!!!!
Yesterday. Big City in West Nowhere. Regular Unleaded Gasoline: $1.74 a gallon!!!!!
I never thought I'd live long enough to see it drop below $2.00 a gallon. That is all.

Good things can happen even if they are just little. Even small victories can taste sweet. But this is a Very Big Deal for us as we have to drive so much, so often. And as much as I am not in love with my crappy old car, I am pleased to be reminded just now that it gets over 30 mpg. ( I'm not so pleased to report that after all last week's repairs, a headlight has gone kaputt. The good news is that if this keeps up, I will have replaced so many parts that it will no longer be an old car. The fun just never stops. But we are still moving down the road with a few dollars more in our pockets after a fill up ... and that feels pretty good this time of year!)

... And in Other News from Nowhere ....
One Major Holiday down, one Major Holiday to go. I wish you all a Very Happy New Year with lots of love and thanks to you all for reading my silliness and writing to me about it. Please go safely and stay out of trouble on this always boozy holiday. Nothing bums me out more than to see mug shots of my friends (or worse) on the news.

Reviewing my last year's *New Year's Aspirations for 2014 ... How'd I do?
I'm no fool. My character is not upright enough for the staunchness of resolutions. I love a good challenge as much as the next woman, but I refuse to set myself up for failure. I can set some priorities, identify improvements that need to happen, and fantasize how life would be if I actually had my act together, but if I don't have a lot of stern resolutions to live up to I do a lot better. Let's take a very quick look at last year's list, and see how I did.

My Facebook Blog Page:
Well, it's there. I forget most weeks to even post my own blogs. I'm not much of a FB kind of person.

Redesign website:
Did that! Done.

Find a better way to keep in touch with bloggy friends.
The idea was to read more and write less. Stay current. I often don't get around to read everyone's blogs before I bend to the self-imposed pressure get out my own weekly post, or even get to respond to all the kind comments from the previous week. Much of it has to do with my very busy Wednesday-Sunday schedule. I know we all have limited available blog-cruising time, and mine is pretty much limited to Mondays and Tuesdays. I have to really hustle to get a post up so I can join Visible Monday, and that's when I can do most of my catchup. I did, however, make my sidebar blogs-I-read list more usable, so I give myself a very few tiny points for that. Much improvement is still needed, though, so I persevere.

Try to find some different backgrounds for photos.
Major Fail. Still working on that.

Get a current avatar that reflects the changes.
Good news: I'm finally happy with my haircut. I love my long pixie, and while I don't think it is wildly flattering or makes me look any younger or slimmer it is, I think, a more proportional look for me, and it just feels like the most authentic version of me thus far.
So, I finally made a new Gravatar. About time, wasn't it?

(These are more about my wardrobe than the blog...)
Spend more time recombining (wardrobe) items.
One of the best things all of my bloggy friends do for me is to inspire me to do this. Like everyone else, I wear my favorite things a lot, but I've found that I get stuck putting the same pieces together. All my bloggy buds have taught me to mix it up, and provide the inspiration for specific new combinations ... so thank you all for helping me increase my sartorial mileage!

Renew, recycle, and reuse!
Props to so many of you who have encouraged me to get off my butt and actually use the few sewing skills I actually own. I've always had to do the basics, but I was more creative and bold this year because of your example, bloggy sewing-divas and artists. You know who you are.

Continue to try to find a decent resale/consignment shop and actually use it.
I'm crap at this. There just are none here that work for me. I'll continue to keep scanning my radar for them, though.

Try it on before you buy it. Really.
This was the year when I made this rule one of my shopping modus operandi. I've left so many items behind in the fitting room ... and saved myself a chunk of change, and more than a little heartbreak and self-loathing, I know. It's also taught me how favorite brands usually fit me, and that's a time saver as well.

Love it or leave it.
Putting this into practice has been one of the best habits I've cultivated this year. It is a huge money saver, of course, but this year I've really enjoyed combining items that I already love. I'm embarrassed how long it's taken me to understand that it's a lot easier and more fun to combine pieces that I really love wearing than trying to shoehorn in items that are just meh just to get the good out of them. Duh.

* I haven't compiled Aspirations for 2015, yet. Stay tuned.

Yes, you just saw this jacket last week.  But in the spirit of
closet shopping, wearing the pieces I love the most, and trying new combinations, here it is AGAIN. But with a Missoni for Target dress I haven't worn in some time but love a lot, a Call it Spring messenger that suddenly feels fresh with these Gianni Bini equestrian-esque dress boots.

A better look at the boots ... this is True Boot Love.
They are in my possession because of a non-traditional 
collaboration with Santa. But I'm happy.


Before I conclude this last blog post of 2014, I'll leave you with a final news item. I've been a bit of a Doris Downer lately, I know, and this December has not been an easy month to enjoy. In keeping with that theme, on Saturday night, the son of a dear woman-friend that we hadn't seen in a while stopped by the restaurant to let us know his mother was in the hospital, fighting off a desperate and very frightening illness.

We stopped by the hospital on Sunday afternoon to see her, and you all know that terrible feeling of worry and anxiety that marks this kind of hospital visit if you've lived very long. We finally found her room, but I'm pretty sure you can also identify with the sickening little clutch you feel around your heart when you find the room empty of the patient you're looking for. We found a nurse, and she solemnly informed us that my friend had gone downstairs to the chapel. After a mutual sigh of relief, we then had to decide whether or not to bother her and invade her privacy there, but we really wanted to see her, so we headed to the chapel to wait for her to come out.

We found the chapel, and just outside of it we also found a small crowd of very happy people, laughing and talking and taking photographs. And there, in the center of the crowd, we found our friend sitting in a wheel-chair ... in a lovely dress, in full makeup, clutching a bouquet of flowers, wearing a white veil and a big smile.

My friend had just married her Significant Other of many years, surrounded by their families with music and flowers and cake and lots of joy.

Isn't that just the best, most amazing thing? I'll chalk that up as one of those rare, sweet, year-end mega-victories I've been looking for.


I'm joining the Bubbly and Intoxicating Patti at her year-end edition of  Visible Monday  ... where we all go to be much more than just visible!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bah, Humblog! And the Seasonal Wisdom of Doctor Who

Let's not kid ourselves. This time of year can be our most joyous, but for most of us, the lead-up to a splashy Christmas and party-hearty New Year can be the most stress ridden and difficult part of the season. A lot of you are nodding in sisterly and justifiably cynical agreement, but there's always some Perfectly and Perpetually Poised Pollyanna who (with humiliating accuracy) reminds me that stress is a construct of my own response to internal or external forces that affect my life, self-imposed and over which I have complete control.

To her, I reply "Bah-Freakity-Humbug, and please go peddle your superhuman self-control and serenity somewhere else, girly! I'm doing the best I can with what I got."

I'm not good at managing my pre-Christmas angst. It's always our slowest time of year at our restaurant as we're so deep in the hinterlands and 40 miles away from any Christmas shopping areas. One eats where one shops, and we fall off everyone's radar. I get it, but knowledge aforehand doesn't make the annually inevitable financial pinch any easier to manage. And every year, there's some treat from the Universe that makes it all just a tiny bit more difficult. This December, Dan blew up his car ... I gave him mine to use and one of its fairly new tires promptly disintegrated on his way to work. That got fixed, but the process meant we had to be closed for half-day of much needed income. The good news was that the tire warranty netted a prorated refund of half the purchase price of the blown tire. The bad news was that three days later, the breaks on the car noisily and dangerously insisted on being replaced, at just over twice the cost of the tire refund.

But we and the car are safe and operational, so (knock on wood) it's probable the seasonal worst is over. I'm breathing again, keeping fingers and toes crossed that no more mini-disasters befall us and that just a little business will come our way. Both seem possible as the holiday proper nears, and we will be able to enjoy two rare, whole days off in a row together ... with food, drink, prezzies, movies, books and a family tradition, this year's Doctor Who Christmas episode!

In the midst of this week's automotive and business drama, I remembered my favorite modern holiday quote; it's from the 2010 "A Christmas Carol," a Whovian intragalactic re-imagining of Scrooge's transformation through the power of love and the Christmas spirit. The Scrooge-esqe, deeply cynical, old rich guy, Kazran Sardick, says:

"On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, "Well done. Well done, everyone! We're halfway out of the dark." Back on Earth we call this Christmas. Or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it The Crystal Feast. You know what I call it? I call it expecting something for nothing! "

I certainly don't agree with his assessment of charity, loving kindness and generosity of spirit, but I was struck by the idea of being "halfway out of the dark" because that's how it feels to me so often.  I love of a lot of things about winter, but there is an undeniably strong, genetically hard-wired urge within all of us to draw nearer to the bonfire or the hearth fire, not just for warmth, but for the protection the fire light brings from all the dangers that lurk beyond in the dark. Our ancient ancestors had different things to fear, but even today we are wary of what may be waiting for us in the dark.

We still have to travel the rest of the way through an often harsh and sometimes frightening and destructive season.
I've always loved the Solstice especially because at that balance point, we begin the second half of the journey back into the light. Also implicit in Sardick's statement is the reminder that although we may pause and celebrate our triumph over the dark and the revisit the hope of more gentle seasons to come, there is still a way to go. But so far, so good.

So, sometime during the Christmas Eve Mexican dinner Dan and I will have, or during the Chinese Take-Out Christmas Day-all-day-feast, we'll pause and raise our glasses and send our good wishes into the aethers with a delicate clink to sound their coming. Our toast will be the words of Doctor Who himself; "Yeah. Christmas. Halfway out of the dark," because we know that in the second half of winter, the light becomes just a little brighter every day.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Christmas and Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Pancha Ganapati, HumanLight, Newtonmas or Festivus, I send you all big, smothery cyber-hugs with my best wishes that you enjoy ...


Linking up with the wonderful Maricel at Tardis Tuesday! over at her always interesting site, My Closet Catalogue .  What a great Whovian Idea!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Big Old Mixed-Up Pink Creamsickle ...

On very rare occasions I decide I want to go for demure.   And last Sunday I had a yen to wear my cream and pink sweater that doesn't get to get out and about often.  

There's a reason (or three) I don't wear this little sweater that often, and when I do feel demure, I don't feel that way long.  I thought about wearing some girly pumps, but after a couple of tries decided on my slightly military-looking black chap boots instead.

That's better.

But the best part of this mixed feminine-masculine outfit is that it works with my mixed metal rose-gold and silver watch. 
It's by Rotary, and one of my collection of automatic skeleton watches. I don't often bother to show the details, but I wear them all the time and this one is especially pretty. 

Hard to get the rose gold just the right color here, but you get the idea.  I love to see the workings move when I check the time.

I wear it with this little rose gold and silver ring with wee-tiny pavé diamonds.  I wore my original engagement ring out long ago and just have never had the stones reset.  So I often wear some other delicate little ring in it's place. This one is a favorite.  It's a better photo to show the color of the rose gold of the watch, too.

Feminine-masculine is an old style option, but the rose gold-silver combination feels fresh and interesting to me.  Even though the outfit is not that big a whoop, the accessories are what made it fun to wear.


Pausing amid the pre-holiday crazies to stop over at the Always Lovely Patti's Visible Monday ... come over and see what the Grown-Up Glamourati are wearing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Back to Our Usual Weather and Not Quite Marsala

That warm spell didn't last long!  We now return you to our regular programming.  Cold, with high humidity, lots of sun and and just enough rain. This was WIW on Sunday for our trip to the Big City.  Lots of happy closet shopping here, but you haven't seen the boots, bag or sweater before.  

I feel kind of dashing in these booties and leggings, and the coat-as-cape adds to that. This old wool coat you saw a long time ago, I think.  I spruced it up for this winter by removing the collar to change it up, and I'm happy I did. The bag is more interesting than it looks here ... it has a stitched and quilted pattern for texture on the cream colored wings. A good size for shopping.

I'm being more than a little careful about the red shades I'm wearing since the recent Great Haircolor Adventure is still in process.  Still love the cut though, and that's a happy place for me.

When we made the photos, I didn't realize that the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 had just been announced ... Marsala (the color inspired by the fortified Sicilian wine, not to be confused with Masala, any of the various blends of spices used in Indian cookery ... yummy though they both sound..) Pantone makes a completely unabashed marketing tool of this annual event, lest anyone mistake it for anything more official than it is. The color is described in a variety of ways, and there's the usual amount of love-hate stuff from the design and fashion press, but here's a color sample so you can decide for yourself.

I haven't been wild about the last few year's choices, but I like this one.  For me, it's nice because I may see more of a color that I like out and about, and that's fun.  But that's all it is.  Nice and fun.

None of what I'm wearing is exactly Marsala, but all three pieces are cuddling up next to it pretty close. A complete, timely, handy and happy coinkydink, I thought.  Good thing, too, 'cause all I had was a cold weather outfit post.  Saved by Pantone.

Late breaking update: I'm going to join in at The Truly Elegant Patti at her Visible Monday link-up!  So fun, so come with!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wonky Weather and a Hair Adventure Update

It was 78 degrees (25-ish C) here on Sunday when this photo was made.  Not a Sunday in the late summery weather of last September, but on this last Sunday, November 30. Yesterday. The high today was 35 degrees (1.6 C).  We had the AC on in our car on the way to town on Sunday, but heat blasting on the way in to work this morning.  
Disconcerting and sort of time-warpy, but pleasant.
The unseasonable warmth did give me a chance to go lazy and all easy-peasy and wear my one and only graphic T ... my Audrey Hepburn shirt ... my favorite blazer and a newish red messenger bag.

I found the silky little Audrey shirt on sale at Target, (in my size, which rarely happens) and if it was not true love at first sight, it was an infatuation that turned into shirt-love after I slipped it on.  And how can one not love an image of Audrey? (The red cursive is supposed to be her signature.)  Besides the bag, the rest was a matter of closet shopping some of my favorite dress-up-dress-down coated jeans, shoes and the rest.  Guilt free and fun to wear on a lazy Sunday.

Below is a better view of the bag.  It was a rare pleasure for me to find it on clearance, after I'd zeroed in on it the first time I'd seen it a few weeks ago, but put it right back on the rack after I looked at the original price. 

 This never happens to me.  So, I'm pleased.  I'd wanted a red bag to sharpen up a lot of darks I'm drawn to this winter, and this functions just fine.  Lots of fun compartments, and the drop is a dandy length to sling over the shoulder with a jacket or coat.


Hair-Color Debacle Drama Update: As predicted, super-stylist Kay did get a massive laugh at my adventure in bright hair color. A great cut helped a lot.  It's simmered down with washing and a couple of applications of a warm-red color refreshing glaze.  Neat!  It's still bright, but I don't mind it so much.  And the consistent acquisition of my personal color is no longer an issue.  Excellent. I'm no longer unhappy and that is my preferred emotional state, if I get to choose!


Late as always, I'm heading over to the Snazzy in Blue Karina Dressed Patti for her Special Edition Visible Monday !
You could win a dress from Karina dress and see how a lot of fabulous women are working their looks!