Sunday, December 22, 2013

Greeting cards have all been sent

Or maybe not.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been pulled in a lot of directions this month. I would love to be able to read all your holiday posts, and to take photos in my once-a-year finery and join some link-ups. But instead I'm going to take a break for a couple of weeks and limit my online time so I can be fully present in my here and now. Santa was a little mad about that accident last year, so he's banned all us elves from using social media while we're in flight.

I wish you all peace, strength, hope and happiness in the coming year. And on Christmas, be sure to leave some treats out for Santa - he's less grumpy to work with when he's well fed.

I'll sign off with my favorite Christmas song, the late, great Karen Carpenter with her lovely voice singing Merry Christmas, Darling.


Happy Holidays!
Val






Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Love the Car Wash



Don't we all dream about the Perfect Christmas, enjoying parties and shopping, or maybe hibernating? Of course, it's just a dream. When I was younger I worked in restaurants and retail, so I was always busier at this time of year. Now, for some reason, work is still busier this time of year – mental and financial deadlines for the end of the year, I guess.

This year we also had a late Thanksgiving, a freaky snowy frozen week (which would have been great for hibernating if they had closed the office!), financial decisions and indecisions, a quick but distant road trip, coming back to health problems for both mother and mother-in-law. Then there's spontaneous get-togethers after work, not to mention my usual bowling night, so I'm feeling pulled in all directions!

But I made time for the Car Wash.
 
Source


I love drive-through car washes! Once I'm in there and the suds start covering the windows, I can feel myself relax. I'm alone, no one can bother me, I can't go anywhere. I have about six minutes to sit quietly in my little cocoon (I rarely remember that I have a cell phone). After the foamy soap muffles all outside noise for a delicious moment, the spray and the brushes start up, scrubbing my mind as well as my car, making everything clean and shiny. And then comes the gentle rinse, like soft rain, trickling down onto the sunroof and the windshield, clearing away all the soap and dirt and grime and tension. Ahhhh, I feel better just thinking about it!

It always ends too quickly. Next time I'll have to get the super triple wax treatment so I can stay longer.



So, I finally got around to taking some new pictures. My hair is looking a little better – it's grown about 2mm and I'm parting it on the other side – so I don’t cringe every time I look in the mirror.

thrifted jeans and shoes; black top - Kohl's; striped top - JCP

These are pretty basic clothes, and the jeans are pretty sloppy looking now that I see these photos. But I like the gray and black with yellow. I'm not sure if the striped top has been photographed since this post, but you've seen the mustard jeans in my last post and also here.

The lipstick is Champagne on Ice by Revlon, and I got complimented on it by one of the younger guys at work.



Apropos of nothing except that I had this song on my mind, check out this totally trippy video for Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War on Daily Motion. Remember that song (if you were old enough in 1970)? There's also a live version on YouTube, but you don't get the woman's voice in the background, which is an integral part of the experience!

How do you relax – wine, music, car wash?

Val

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stock Photos

I have not been very inspired lately. I don't really want to take selfies right now - I don't like my hair and I have zits/pimples/spots! I've been missing a lot of possible link-ups. I just don't feel like I have much to say. But I made myself do this post anyway - aren't you glad! So sit back and let the mediocrity roll over you like the scent of wet paper towels.


I took a few pictures in my new-to-me green jacket. It's not shapely - in fact it looks like a bag - but it's comfy and it does what it's supposed to: it's a jacket.

jacket - thrifted; shirt - Crazy Horse with appliques added by me

I wore it with a white shirt with iron-on appliques (previously seen here with the same earrings) and my opal stick pin. The jeans are basic dark blue Lee's.

But thank goodness I've got some photos stockpiled from my Goodwill Four Tops tour (seen here). Let's trot out a few of those photos so we can all remember what my hair looked like before I brutally (and amateurishly) whacked it.

Cardi, boots and tights - Target; Chaps shirt - thrifted; skirt - JCP

I like this outfit, but next time I don't think I'll wear white tights. I'm not sure I like white tights. Maybe I should paint them.

thrifted top - Marks and Spencer; thrifted jeans - Shylo; shoes - Chelsea Crew

I was surprised to find a Marks and Spencer top at the Goodwill here, but it's got nice details and will be a favorite next summer. The color is sort of dove gray, with more blue undertones than you see here.




That's the other thing that has me feeling uninspired - I can't get very good lighting or color unless I spend some time with the dial and the manual for my camera. I should try, but the technical details of photography always dissolve in my brain without leaving anything useful behind. The same thing happens when I've tried to learn backgammon or cribbage - it just doesn't stick. Weird, huh?

thrifted top - Apt. 9; tights - Target; skirt - Christopher & Banks (shortened); belt and cardi - cheap retail
This top is kind of fun, if I can just decide which color of tights to wear with it!

Are you feeling any inspiration, Christmas spirit, your muses or Happy Fairies?

Val

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Coat Bepimped

It snowed here yesterday, which doesn't happen very much. You probably didn't hear about it because there were worse snowstorms around the country, and the national media never, ever remember that there's a state called Oregon between California and the-state-that-Seattle-is-in.

But I'm not bitter.


Our little region here got the worst of it, too - snowing all day yesterday, and temperatures staying below freezing at least through the weekend.




It's gorgeous! I don't have to go anywhere this weekend, and I have books to read. I'm happy.


And I finally did something with my boring black raincoat, seen here, and below.


Okay, maybe it's still boring, But I wanted to do something easy to change the gray facing that makes this coat like the 613 others between California and Seattle, and I was inspired by this coat of Ann's here.


I "watercolored" the gray parts. But that wasn't enough, so I also drew random lines all over it.



And I added some pink paint to the snaps, then rubbed off most of it. The paint is still in the little lines of the logo.


It's nowhere near as pretty as Ann's watercolor coat, or any of Ann's gorgeous coats. But it's a little bit more interesting.

Maybe I should do more. Or just look for another coat.

What do you think?

Val

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Good Gosh!

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? It seems a ridiculous concept. Why should we not have goodness imbue our lives? Take this wonderful holiday weekend, for example.


Thursday, which was not only Thanksgiving but also Mr. Sparkle's birthday, was filled with celebration and good food - turkey, ham, garlic-cheese mashed potatoes, brandied fruit cake, chocolate... And that was just the food! Everyone at our table brought their very best lovely personalities, kindness and good humor. We wanted for nothing, and no one farted like they did at the Ramsey Thanksgiving.


you can walk behind the falls

Friday was quiet and calm, filled with the goodness of leftover turkey, ham, and garlic-cheese mashed potatoes, as well as brandied fruitcake and chocolate. By the way, I haven't mentioned wine because it is just assumed.





Saturday Mr. Sparkle and I went to Silver Falls State Park, where these pictures were taken. We walked five miles on the loop trail, which takes in about seven waterfalls! We brought along our lunch of turkey and ham sandwiches, as well as brandied fruitcake, some chocolate, and a thermos of tea. (No wine - I have my limits.)

The lodge at Silver Falls State Park







Sunday morning Mr. Sparkle always makes blueberry pancakes, which we eat at the front of the house so we can look at the park across the street. Today everything had a magical, turkey-wine-brandy-chocolate-induced aura of goodness! The steam coming off Mr. Sparkle's tea was curling and corkscrewing into beautiful patterns.

There was a crow trying to sit regally atop a branch that kept dipping because it was too weak for his weight. He finally flew off and landed on the power lines and tried to act nonchalant. In my own mellow goodness, I pretended I hadn't seen him looking silly and discombobulated.








Alas, the weekend is almost over, and tomorrow it will be back to --- no, I can't say the word.




Instead, here is a picture of me in a headband so I can link up with Hat Attack! and of course, Visible Monday.

Happy Mellow Goodness to you all!

Val

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Haircut 100

Did your mother cut your hair when you were young? Mine did. It usually went like this:

Oops! That's a little uneven. I'll just straighten that up a little.

Oh, oh! I'd better even that side up now.

Whoops! Oh, well.


Thank goodness hair grows out or I'd still look like this!

circa 1963, ready for the Scandinavian Festival

Things haven't changed much, except now it's me with the scissors. It usually goes like this:

S#@*%&! That's uneven. I'll straighten it up a little.

Bloody *&*%# hell! Now I have to even that side up!

Crap! G*&d@*&^%$! moth%#$%$^son of a @$*! %^&(&*%#!@!!!!!#@*^&%!!!!!!!!





You would think I would have learned after all these years. Actually, I have learned one thing - if it's shorter than you wanted it but the shape sucks, you have to cut some more until the shape is better. Super short hair with no shape is just a prison haircut, and that's a style I work hard to avoid. Except for maybe the striped shirt.


still petulant after all these years


I just keep cutting and trimming and thinning and shaping for days - I'm constantly sweeping up hair! It looked horrid yesterday, but I think I finally got it to a point I can live with now. I might even like it a little. Tiny. Bit.
 

Have you seen Fabulous Fashionistas? You can watch it via this link (thanks, Sara!). It was a great! I really loved these women, especially Jean. I hope I'm half as healthy and interesting and gorgeous in 15 or 20 or 30 years. I could start now with a signature prison haircut...

To all my American friends, have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember how lucky you are. And to everyone else, I'll be thinking of you while we have a four-day weekend!

Val

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cold, Gold, and Wild




ice broke this lovely old pot of my grandmother's

Very cold and frosty here, like the deep recesses of my mind. I feel in a slump, maybe brought on by the wintry weather, maybe brought on by an unfulfilling job.

Also, I had a back spasm this last week - very painful for the first few days, and I didn't move around much. I was only comfortable lying on my side, so it was very difficult to sip my wine in a ladylike manner. A bendy straw had to be employed.

 


But I was able to do a lot of reading, thanks to my new Kindle and a beautiful cover (from dobeeubags on Etsy).



I propped up the cover and could read comfortably while reclining, only having to move to tap the screen and turn the page. And I was turning pages pretty quickly. I read two amazing books that I want to tell you about.



First, I finished reading The Goldfinch (all 784 pages) by Donna Tartt, which I had started in late October. If you haven't read Donna Tartt, get thee to a bookstore!
She's a snappy dresser, and she's written three books - all very dense and rich and offbeat and compelling and funny. It takes her about a decade to write each one. Within the first page or two (of any of them) you will realize that you've just boarded a dirigible and are suddenly leaving the ground. Eventually you look around and see how enormous this craft is. It moves at a steady and persuasive pace, moving high into the sky sometimes, and other times coming so close to the ground you're afraid of what will happen next. But the captain has full control of the ship, you can't stop now, and the journey is spellbinding. The Secret History has been my favorite so far, although I also loved The Little Friend - even the scenes that involved snakes, and I hate snakes! The Goldfinch is a little more uneven and hangs a bit precariously on a small painting that seems to be forgotten for whole sections of the book. However, the author has such an incredible talent for creating characters and locations, from Manhattan to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, and it all comes together in the end. The mood and the characters still haven't left me, even though I read another book, which was also compelling.

I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. She writes a true account of her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. But the book is more than a trail guide. She talks about her mother's death, her divorce, her experiences with men and drugs, and weaves those into her account of hiking 1,000 miles alone. I would never be that brave, but I would love to experience that solitude and being totally enveloped in the natural world - for a few nights. She was on the trail for almost two months! It is a story of healing, but it's not sappy or predictable. It's honest, determined, and incredibly well-written. They're making a movie of it now with Reese Witherspoon playing the author, but read the book. You know it'll be better than the movie.

What are you reading lately? I can always use recommendations!

Val

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to Kill an Earworm

Do you watch The Big Bang Theory? We didn't until a few months ago, and now we're hooked, damn it. It's on every night at 7:00 AND 7:30, and when it's not on because of stupid football games, we are pissed off. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you watch an episode or two.

But DO NOT under any circumstances listen to the theme song! Use your mute button or turn the sound down! You think the song is cute and harmless, but it's like heroin! You'll find it funny, then you'll figure out all the words and try to sing along (it's very fast), then you find that it is in your brain every hour of every day - while you're talking to your friends (Our whole universe...), having intimate relations (...a hot dense state...), eating dinner (...expansion started - Wait!). You will always be thinking of that song. Always. If this has happened to you and you finally kicked it - and I've just revived it, I'm so sorry.

But I think I have a cure.

Get another earworm. Try not to get one that will also eat your brain, but maybe go back to an old one that you know you have under control.




For me it was an Italian rock group, Litfiba. I saw one of their videos when I was living in Italy, and I got their tape "Pirata." I hadn't listened to it for a few years but unearthed it a week or two ago. Now I've got Italian earworms (Devi urlarle al mondo cosi il mondo lo sapra). Oh, yeah, much cooler than It all started with a big bang - Hey!

 
men's shirt - Michael Kors; skirt - Christopher & Banks; tights - Hue; boots - Caressa, thrifted; belt - retail


Nothing to do with earworms, but Spy Girl's next prompt for 52 Pick-me-up is Trend Salad - pile on as many trends as you can. Check it out on Wednesday.

So I've got plaid and houndstooth goin' on here, and a snakeskin belt.




More trends, although maybe not current - turquoise jewelry, square-toed shoes and cat-eye glasses.

turquoise bolo from my grandfather

Gray hair is the next big trend!



Gotta go. It's time to watch The Big Bang Theory.

Also linking up with Tres Chic Style Bits!

Val


Monday, November 11, 2013

Share the Power!



I told you a couple of weeks ago that I had been contacted by Marketplace: Handwork of India inviting me to collaborate on a blog post featuring an item from their fall collection. They let me select a piece to style and blog about, so I chose this dramatic red and black Mohina tunic.


It's well made, 100% cotton (I love cotton), and the pattern and embroidery accents are beautiful!



Maybe "hippie threads" aren't your bag, man, so I wanted to show you how groovy this piece is. Take a look at how I can wear this tunic for work, casual happenings, nights out, or even for a holiday party.



I have a couple other tops from Marketplace (seen here and here), and I was wearing one the day I got the email from Shanti Freitas asking if I would collaborate with Marketplace! I didn't set out to blog for sponsors, but in this case I'm happy to do it. Marketplace is a non-profit organization that does more than selling clothing, accessories and soft furnishings. It's an organization that helps promote social change for women in India by giving them a chance to earn money as well as learn business skills.



It sickens me to read about women in other parts of the world who have no power over their own lives, when they're forced to submit to a patriarchal society and are denied education. I truly believe that if women were empowered in every society, we would have less conflict, less violence, less blatant greed in the world. We need men, but they need to treat us as equals.



I'm not a social activist, but I want to support Marketplace: Handwork of India because they are empowering women. Marketplace works with 480 artisans who are organized into 14 independent co-operatives. Within the cooperatives they are able to take on various roles and learn different aspects of the business. They're able to work at home, so they can continue to look after their families and work in a safe environment.



Besides women's clothing and accessories, Marketplace also creates and sells scarves, men's shirts, curtains, pillow covers, and a few other household furnishings. Each item is tagged with the name of the cooperative that made it. These cooperatives are also described on the website, so you can find out more about the women who made your clothes.




Joy of Joyatri's Adventures in Vintage will also be doing a post for Marketplace, and you can read more about what Marketplace is up to by looking at their blog.

Thanks for reading! Have a look at their website and see if there's something you can't live without. Share the power!

I'm taking this on the road and linking up with:


And I'll be adding more links as the week goes on until I reach Florida for Visible Monday!

Val