Friday, January 28, 2011

And This is PRECISELY Why You Should Buy Things In Every Color

I am totally into leggings. Not in the way that Paris Hilton is into leggings where you wear them shopping with a short top and then totally flash your coochie to all the photographers because, um, EEEWWW.

But in the way that I love to wear them around the house with a slouchy, comfy top. Sleeping pants are all that and I love me some sleeping pants and have approximately 4,921 pairs but sometimes a girl just wants to wear something a little tight so her husband can remember that, oh yeah, she does have pretty nice legs! Especially in black leggings which are very forgiving of the occasional bump and bulge.

So I had two pairs of leggings that I bought at Target a while back and LOVED them and then I put one pair on the other day and thought they had a little piece of lint on the butt, so I tried to pick it off and realized it was a teeny, tiny hole. So, even though nobody but me would ever in a million years notice that hole, I took them off and threw them away because a tiny hole eventually becomes a bigger hole and, anyway, I bought them at Target and I can pick up a DOZEN more pairs at any time.


Turns out I can't.

Target does not have those particular leggings anymore. The perfect, stretchy leggings that reach below my ankle. My PERFECT leggings. That I had thrown away.

No problem! Leggings are leggings and I can find some PERFECT leggings somewhere else, right?

Yeah. This would apparently not be the case. On my couch at this very moment, I have innumerable online mailing bags full of leggings to be returned. The legging are either too thin, too short, too gappy, too too too AUGH.

Then I got a package from Old Navy and in that bag were the PERFECT leggings. Nice wide waistband, stretchy and comfy but nice and fitted, and long enough.

I was saved!

The perfect leggings had been found!

Life was good, the air was full of bright confetti sparkles and smelled like vanilla and rainbows arched across a cerulean sky as I went to the Old Navy site to order 741 more pairs.

And then I saw it. "This style no longer available." WHAAAAATTTT? I just ordered them a few days ago? WHY O WHY did I not order more colors?

So as I sit and pat and caress my one lonely pair of dark gray leggings that are PERFECT in every way, let me give you the most important fashion lesson of all. The one that, in a moment of insanity, I temporarily forgot.

If it's perfect?

Buy it in every color.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Geographically Impaired

Because my husband is a trifle obsessed about his socks (tube socks but not JUST tube socks, OVER THE CALF tube socks) and I had scoured the entire town for the correct socks, I finally gave in and ordered some from Amazon. And incidentally? Has anyone else noticed that Amazon is, like, taking over the world? First they were this little, quirky online bookstore and, somehow, overnight, you can now order everything from kid puzzles to iPhone covers to curtains to (and now we are CLOSE to being back on subject) SOCKS. And yes, I have ordered everything on that list from Amazon and as soon as I post this, I'll think of a few more.

So we were watching TV a little while ago - actually he was watching FOOTBALL and don't EVEN get me started - when he suddenly said "Where are my socks? What, are they making them in Bangladesh?"

After I finished laughing because seriously? BANGLADESH? Where did that come from? And could there possibly be a country name that sounds more hilarious? And is Bangladesh even a country anymore? Or are they one of those tricky countries like Siam which became Thailand?

Because here's the thing. I am seriously handicapped when it comes to geography. SERIOUSLY. If it wasn't for The Google Machine, I wouldn't have a frakkin' clue. When we went to Europe a couple of months ago, my impairment became obvious. It's bad enough that I can never remember where most of the states are located, I had no idea how to get to Europe. We were trying to make the trip shorter and Tom suggested flying from Canada and I was all "really" and he said "Uh, YEAH. Europe is East of us". Oh. OK.

We were flying to Amsterdam first and for an embarrassing amount of time, I thought Amsterdam was actually a country. Then, when I learned it was in The Netherlands, I thought Holland and The Netherlands were the same country. I don't feel too bad about that; apparently, a lot of people think that. Incidentally? Holland is part of The Netherlands, it's not the same place.

You're welcome.

But I don't feel quite as bad about this as I did before I went to the Hawaiian Islands. When we were getting ready to fly from Oahu to Maui, one of the women in our group remarked that she didn't understand why we had to fly. Why didn't they just build bridges from one island to the next? Looking closely to make sure she was serious, I replied that the islands were pretty far apart.


Geez. Some people.

Don't they know ANYTHING about geography?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Friends Are Hard To Find

About twenty years ago, I started working as an elementary school library media specialist. I had worked for years as a public librarian, but this school environment was a whole new ball of wax. I was like a lost ball in the high weeds. And carrying the ball analogy even further, I needed someone to teach me how to play. Not only how to play, but how to play well. Contrary to some antiquated beliefs, librarians today do a whole lot more than just stamp books - we actually have to teach kids how to use a library. The Google Machine aside, at some times you just need to use the library and it's pretty helpful if you know how to do that.

And so Marion came into my life. Marion the Librarian (no, really!) had been teaching for years and had a full life yet she made time to help out a struggling new librarian who was required to have supervision her first year of internship. She kindly offered advice, dried tears when things went wrong, celebrated when things went well, stood up for me to a difficult administrator, spent hours and hours and hours with me patiently helping in every way and constantly, constantly told me I was a shining star who was going to do great.

The first time we went out to dinner together, she insisted on picking up the check. I was a young teacher in a low-paying job who had two young kids at home and a husband who was working as hard as I was to make ends meet. Her picking up the check meant that I could relax and enjoy a meal out. It meant I could just enjoy myself. It meant everything.

She did not have to do as much as she did. She was only required to spend a few hours with me. She gave willingly of much more time than was required and unfailingly had faith in me. She was sweet, kind, encouraging and became a very, very good friend.

She retired years before me but we stayed in touch and she never failed to brag to others how well her "shining star" had done.

When I finally retired, I joined the "retired librarians" group that meets for lunch monthly and we were once again having meals out together.

The other day, the group had lunch and it just happened to fall on my birthday.

When the bills come, Marion insisted on paying for my birthday meal.

Still there for me.

Still bragging about how well I have done, only now it's about my writing career.

Still buying me meals.

Still being the good friend she has been for the past two decades.

If only everyone could have a friend like this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home Improvement Project for the Home Improvement Project-Impaired. This Would Be ME.

I have never liked my dining room chairs. Actually, that's not accurate - I LOVE the beautiful cherry chairs that match the dining room furniture we inherited from my mother-in-law. I just never liked the material with which the chairs were covered. It was floral, it was faded, it was old and it didn't match the rug in the dining room.

So. I had one of my HOW HARD CAN IT BE moments. These moments rarely turn out well because the answer to HOW HARD CAN IT BE is usually PRETTY DAMN HARD. But I was on a mission. I could recover those chairs myself! I could pick out material and order it and cover them all by myself! HOW HARD COULD IT BE. My first stumbling block came at the upholstery store where I learned just how expensive upholstery material can be. Then I realized what I really wanted was just some simple navy fabric and maybe I could buy a few yards of that. So I had to find a fabric store, which I wasn't even sure existed anymore but guess what? They totally do!

I found the perfect, very inexpensive navy fabric and had the fabric store cut me a big piece. I had the unusual foresight to take of the chair seat and bring it with me to the store so they could tell me just how much I needed. The rather snippy sales person refused to cut small pieces for me and just sniffed and stared disdainfully when I told her it is physically impossible for me to cut straight. So I bought some tailor's chalk and figured I can do this. Don't forget HOW HARD CAN IT BE.

She did sigh and bring herself to tell me how long I should cut the pieces so I measured carefully, drew a line with my chalk and cut the pieces. The original material had been tacked on with little nails but I thought a staple gun would work better and easier and I was correct. Even though it did technically take me 1/2 hour to figure out how to get the staples INTO the staple gun.

I wasn't sure how to make the material stay in place so I got out some strapping tape and taped it on while I stapled, but that wasn't really necessary. Once you start stapling, it pretty much stays in place. So, here's how to do it. And you know what? HOW HARD CAN IT BE this time was actually PRETTY DAMN EASY.

Here's the chair with the original flowered pad. Needs work!

The chair bottoms are just held on with screws and pop right off.

There were lots of staple gun choices - I got one that was fairly small and easy to manage. I could actually staple with one hand, which was handy since I could hold the material with the other hand.

You can still see the tape I thought I would need - I didn't even use it on the next chair. I cut more material off the next time too and this helped the material to lie even smoother.

I had a little issue when I got ready to put the first chair back together and realized I had covered over the screw holes with material! So, um. Don't do that.

Voila! Much more navy in real life than it looks in the picture, so I was pretty pleased with myself.

Here's a finished chair. Love the way it matches the navy in the rug.

And here's the two chairs together so you can compare. Much better, huh?


Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Veritable Cutting Edge of Fashion

When I first started back into writing this blog, I had one commenter who said they couldn't wait until I started writing about fashion again. If my daughter saw that comment, she was probably rolling in the floor laughing, or ROFL for those who are in the know on the mobile acronyms which I am not.

I had quite enough acronyms when I was in education to last me a lifetime so I'll just be writing everything out in proper grammar with proper capitalization and proper punctuation. And now I'll just take my cane and go touch up my blue hair rinse, thankyouverymuch.

Oh. And when I just had a teeny-tiny brain impasse (don't you hate those) and COULD NOT think of the word for punctuation, I went to The Google Machine and typed in "using the proper..." and it came up with punctuation as a choice.

The Google Machine is certainly helpful for us old folks. Although you might be taking your life in your hands when you ask for help, because it also came up with:

using properties of parallel lines
using properties in exponents
using propertyplaceholderconfiguer

and I have no idea what any of those even MEAN. The Google Machine is a grand humbler.

Anyway. About the fashion. This is not a fashion blog, although I couldn't tell you exactly what sort of blog it is, unless it's a stream-of-consciousness-daily-life-humor-whatever-the-hell-pops-out-of-my-brain-at-any-given-moment blog and I'm not sure there's a specific category for that.

But I do love fashion. Or at least, I love clothes and I'm not sure that's precisely the same thing. I always have loved clothes.

If it wasn't so much trouble, I would go dig out my junior high school yearbook where I was voted The Neatest Dresser and show you how nicely every pair of knee socks matched every sweater which coordinated perfectly with my plaid skirts.

Oh, and don't forget the penny loafers. With a shiny new penny in each one. THE CUTTING EDGE OF FASHION, don't you know.

I would show you a picture of my jeans so you could appreciate they style but (brace yourself) we DIDN'T WEAR JEANS back then. If a girl had worn jeans to school...well. My word, (get the blue hair rinse) that was just not done.

I don't think they even sold jeans in the juniors department back then. It wasn't until I was in high school that I wore jeans to school for the first time. They were bell bottoms with big white buttons on the front, like sailors wore.

And now I have to apologize to The Google Machine because WHERE ELSE could you find a photo of the jeans you wore in high school?

Picture them with even bigger white buttons and there you have it.

It's amusing to think about what my principal would have done if I had showed up wearing the skinny jeans and flats I am wearing now. Probably spanked me and sent me home to change into a dress. I am SO not kidding. We won't even get into a discussion about my sorority in college where we not only could NOT wear jeans to dinner, we had to wear a dress. True story.

And because of the magic that is Facebook and the 1971 Freehold High School Senior Class group, I can show you what I looked like wearing those jeans.

Thank God my teeth are straight now. But I would KILL for that smooth, unlined, high school face.

So this long introduction and segue into 70's fashion (Imagine having a conversation with me in person. It's much like this.) was to tell you about this great web site with darling clothes called Mod Cloth. And, just to be perfectly clear, they are not giving me any free clothes so I will write about them. Although I would not be averse to that. I am not cheap, but I can be bought. Preferably with cute new clothes.

I discovered them a while back when I bought a perfectly DARLING new bathing suit. It's kind of a forties-style that fits like a dream and is so flattering. It comes in a bunch of colors and, although I already have a red and a polka-dot, I am sorely tempted by the yellow. MUST. HAVE. CONTROL.

If you click on any of the pictures in this post, it will take you to the right place to order if you want.

I am heading to the Caribbean in the spring (insert requisite SQUEE here), so when I saw this dress, I had to order it.

I had a whole scenario worked out in my head for this dress which involved hair twisted up on top of my head in some loose but completely fabulous style, strappy black sandals and a suntan while holding a Tequila Sunrise in one hand and gazing into the sunset. What, you don't make up stories about your clothes? Um. Me either. I LOVE this dress - the fit, the material - but it runs a little small, so keep that in mind if you order.

I was going to show you some cute tops from this site but then I realized I haven't actually bought any tops from them (YET), so instead I'll tell you that the day after Christmas, my daughter and I were at Old Navy, where I might possibly have bought about 4,921 summer tops which were so fabulous, I just couldn't help myself. And who else did NOT know that Old Navy and Gap were the same company? This is news to me.

This little silky top was calling my name from the rack and it is so flattering and comfortable, I was forced to buy it. How cute will that be with white shorts while I am strolling on the beach with my hair tossed by the ocean breeze and possibly some wild horses grazing in the distance. Yes. I might JUST possibly get carried away with my clothes daydreams. The site describes it as Cotton but I just went to check mine and it's a very silky, silky Cotton, not a stiff Cotton.

Same thing with this one - it's soft and silky. I got it in cream, which will go with everything.

Another thing I didn't realize (I really need to shop more. Ha! HaHaHaHaHa!) is that Old Navy has DARLING shoes. I knew they had flip-flops but cute flats? No idea. I might possibly have bought two pair of taupe flats that might LOOK alike but are completely different. COMPLETELY.

These are described as "Pom-Pom Flats" which could you die? I love that description.

These are Embellished Ballet Flats which, as you can see, even though they are also taupe flats are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in every way and I had to buy both. Somehow, my husband never gets this concept and might think I only needed one pair. As if.

I didn't link the shoes to the web site because, unfortunately, these shoes are not available in every size, but they have lovely new spring colors here and here.

Now I have to admit to a little embarrassment because I just spent a great deal of time on the Old Navy site looking for one of the fabulous little tops I bought and was getting really annoyed with Old Navy because dammit where were those tops I had bought before I realized that I had actually bought that particular top at Gordman's. Um. Oops. Too much shopping? NO. SUCH. THING.

I just went to the Gordman's site to get you the info and realized, to my shock and amazement, that they do not have online ordering. Gordman's, get with the 21ST CENTURY. SERIOUSLY. So I had to get one of my tops, take a picture with my iPhone, email it to myself, wait for the email, save the picture and put it on here instead of just copying and pasting. It's like I'm working in the STONE AGE here.


The brand is "Spense", it was $17.99 (regularly $48!) and comes in several colors. It's silky and lovely. You need to to go Gordman's right now and buy some. In a sidenote, I actually tried to find "Spense" online to link to the tops and The Google Machine found that SPENSE means "Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education". See what I mean about the education acronyms?

So, there you have it. Dresses, tops, shoes. What more could you need?

Except maybe a pair of bell bottom jeans with big white buttons which are actually back in style again. I should totally have saved that pair. Only they might JUST possibly not fit anymore.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Before and After

When I was writing about hot chocolate the other day, it reminded me of the best hot chocolate I have ever had IN MY LIFE. It was when we visited the Eiffel Tower. We were cold, we were damp, we were tired. And we wanted a hot drink. So we ordered hot chocolate. Like everything else in Paris (cheese; tiny, tart oranges; strawberry tarts; fresh croissants) it was delicious. Beyond compare.

And when I think about that experience, I realize my life has shifted. Before hot chocolate on the Eiffel Tower. And after.

Before, I had never been to Paris. Now I have. I had never been to Europe, never cruised on the Rhine, the Mosel and The Seine. Now I have. Never tasted sparkling wine on a river cruise ship bedecked with Christmas lights as we cruised along with the sun setting red and gold and purple in the sky. Now I have. Never had a meal in a castle, walked streets hundreds of years old, bought a scarf in Germany, saw a windmill in the middle of a green, green field. Now I have.

My life is different now. I have had hot chocolate on the Eiffel Tower.

And this is why I travel.

That before and after.

Because without the before? You can't really appreciate the after.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Undecorating Is Not NEARLY As Much Fun As Decorating

So, I finally got all the Christmas decorations taken down. And it only took me one entire day out of my life. Geez. The tree, the ornaments, the lights, the candles, the poinsettias, the things that sit around and have no purpose but to look nice, the Christmas tablecloth, the...anyway. All down.

I started taking down the tree and the frakkin' lights were completely tangled around one of the branches so I kept jerking and pulling and finally I just took the whole branch off the tree. It's fake, needless to say. I set that branch aside and proceeded to take off the 3,981 ornaments I had on the tree, along with the 8,741 lights. At least, it certainly seemed like that many.

Then I had to take the tree apart and put it in the box and put the box back in the storage closet, along with the other 5,981 boxes of Christmas decorations and the empty present boxes that, of course, I will forget I have next year so I will get a bunch more at the stores and put this into an endless loop and you have my day.

Then in goes all the luggage into the packed storage closet last because, of course, we will be traveling before next Christmas and will need to get them out and then I was DONE.

Everything is all neat and organized and I am just the MOST ORGANIZED PERSON ALIVE.

Until I come back upstairs and see that one branch I pulled off the Christmas tree still lying on the floor.

Back to Real Life and Pants Without Elastic in the Waist

I just had a cup of hot chocolate from my new Keurig coffee maker and let me right here and now give a shout-out to my sister-in-law who insisted that my husband would LOVE this coffee maker when we were out Christmas shopping.

I was hesitant since we already had a perfectly good coffee maker but she praised the Keurig so highly and I needed ideas for presents since he had never technically given me a Christmas list that I bought it. His idea of a Christmas list is on Christmas Eve when he says something like "Oh, by the way, I need some sweatshirts. Did you buy me some sweatshirts for Christmas"?

He used to do something similar when we went on trips where the night before he would mention that OH YEAH he needed some new underwear. I'm wise to him now. I pack his suitcase days in advance so he can't spring any underwear surprises on me. And now that I have written the phrase "underwear surprises" I keep envisioning a variety of situations where that phrase would be accurate which might or might not include someone dancing with underwear on their head. And now I have to make it clear that he has never, ever, ever danced with underwear on his head. I just have a vivid imagination.

So. Hot Chocolate. And the Keurig coffee maker. It is at this point that the clouds should part, you should hear an angelic choir singing and a single ray of bright golden sunlight should beam down to bathe my Keurig coffee maker in a glow. Because? I frakkin' love that thing.

I am not a coffee drinker. That stuff is naaaaasty. No matter how much caramel or chocolate or whipped topping and cinnamon sprinkles you put on it, it's STILL COFFEE. Coffee drinkers do not get this. They are all "Taste it! It's so good! You will LOOOOVE it". Uh, yeah. NO. I will not love it. I hate coffee.

Hot chocolate, on the other hand, is TO DIE FOR. Good hot chocolate with whipping topping on it. I knew that the Keurig was capable of making other drinks in addition to coffee. You buy these little K-cups that fit into the machine, it runs hot water through them and you can make hot chocolate, hot tea, even hot apple cider. I didn't really think it would be good. But I was willing to give it a try.

On Christmas day, we set up the Keurig and I proceeded to make hot chocolate for the entire family to go along with the festive platter of homemade Christmas cookies and candy I had made. This was about the time the ray of sunlight began to bathe the Keurig in a golden glow which has not dissipated yet. I learned to put a little milk in the cup and heat it first in the microwave, then add the hot chocolate. I learned that whipped topping is absolutely necessary for the perfect cup.

It was so good and delicious and wonderful and filling that I actually just had hot chocolate for breakfast one day. And then I was all "I never had any breakfast! This is great! Think of all the Weight Watcher points I am saving"! Because even though I realize you are supposed to eat a healthy breakfast, those Christmas cookies and candies have settled right in, realized they have a good home in my stomach and thigh fat and are planning on a very, very long visit. So less points = smaller thighs. This is the kind of math equation I can live with.

So, this morning after I had my cup of delicious hot chocolate, as I was licking the whipped topping off my lips, I decided it was about time to start tracking with Weight Watcher again. Vacation was over and it was time to take down the Christmas tree and get serious about wearing some real pants instead of flannel sleeping pants with an elastic waist.

I got out the Dark Chocolate k-cups box and the whipped topping container and opened the Weight Watcher site. And then I had the most crushing disappointment of the Christmas season right next to trying on my new, annual Christmas pajamas and finding they didn't fit. (No, they were too BIG.) My fabulous, delicious and weight-conscious cup of hot chocolate? That I was drinking to cut back on the points? Was 4 frakkin' points.

How ANNOYING. This is quite a setback. I might actually have to stop drinking hot chocolate every single morning. Or possibly make it without the whipped topping. Or the milk. Or wait! I just checked the canned whipped topping and it has 0 points! OK, fat-free milk...canned whipped topping. I can do this.

Or maybe I can just exercise a little more. Hmmm...50 minutes of walking is about 4 points.

See you later!