Time To Make a Change

Hi to all my Gal Pals,

The title of this blog not only describes the fashion concept I will be writing about but also what is happening in my life. I had intended to write this blog in June but life got in the way so instead of writing about beachwear at the beginning of the summer I am writing about it at the end of the summer. The reason is simple, I made a major change in my life. I went from a fairly large house on a half acre of gardens located in a forested area to a townhouse in a subdivision that does not have a patio big enough to support patio furniture. I took some pictures before I left to talk about, but I no longer can see the gardens from my window. Change is sometimes hard to accept but necessary.

So, before I packed up my house I gave several articles of clothing to charities (over 200 pieces). Some of the clothes went to an organization that works with providing clothes to the homeless but the majority went to a resale shop that supports women and children who need shelter due to domestic abuse. Having volunteered for the crisis center I can tell you that many of the women in the shelter really need the access they have to these clothes. Many times the women and their children come in to the shelter with only the clothes on their back because their situation doesn’t allow for them to pack up something to wear. For those women who truly realize it is time to make a change in their lives, they need clothes for interviewing when looking for a job. One outfit can make all the difference between getting hired or not getting the job. First impressions are so important. I commend those women who have the strength not to go back to the abusive situation they came from. My only quote during this blog is from Bob Marley who wrote” You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. I could have sold some of my clothes and made a nice profit but knowing that I might have helped some woman make a positive change in her life as well as the lives of her children is such a good feeling. Kind of like the feeling you get at Christmas when giving to others.

With that being said, let’s talk fashion. Even though the summer is almost over, I still have the beach on my mind. I just moved within the last two weeks. I closed on the house on a Friday and left for the cottage in Michigan early the next morning because I was too tired to stay home and unpack everything. I spent a glorious week on the beach and just got back to my new home a couple of hours ago. I will be going back for a long weekend on Labor Day when once again I will be spending time at the beach. So with that in mind, this blog is about layering your clothes so you can go to breakfast or lunch at a restaurant and then go swimming at the pool or beach. I am very fortunate that the beach is just down the path from the cottage so food is never far away and I can wear just a simple coverup to and from the beach. However, when I have had to go down an elevator to go to the pool or had to drive to the beach from a hotel, I typically would stop and eat lunch on the way. If you have ever been to the Dells, you know that you might stop at a pancake house before going to Noah’s Ark. I was just recently at Silver Lake Pizza parlor just a few yards from Silver Lake Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. It gets quite the clientele from the beach but it clearly says on the door that all beach wear must be covered up with clothing. So I am posting some simple outfits that I can wear under those circumstances.

I am putting up a simple picture from my garden just to show you how layering is an important element in landscape design just as it is in creating an outfit that you can change into and out of for swimming.

By adding layers you creat depth to your surroundings. Here I have the flagstone patio as the base, with the next layer made up day lillie’s and ground cover. The next layer is the flower box around the deck with the table and chairs seeming to add another layer. Not exactly as great as the hanging gardens of Babylon but the same principle applies.

So let’s talk fashion and incorporating concepts of layering and quick changes.

I know this picture looks a little risqué but I wanted you to see that there is a bathing suit under this outfit. I always wear a hat at the beach. You will never see me without protection for my face. This hat is one of many I have and it says”Do Not Disturb” in cursive along the brim. You have seen the coverup before in blog #3 where I wore it as a top. This is my favorite bathing suit coverup. I always carry a large beach bag and I can easily put my leggings and knit white top into my bag and I am ready to soak up the sun. I always wear a watch to the beach so I know when to turn over. Both my watch, sunglasses and sandals are navy blue and I am wearing simple studs in my ears because other than a watch the studs are the only jewelry I wear to the beach. To add a little color I am carrying a very colorful tropical looking beach bag.

This is such a wonderful bathing suit coverup! It is so comfortable and lightweight. It looks like a long sundress when I walk down the beach. I just paired it with a little white t-shirt, white sunglasses, white watch and gold sandals. Just remove the white t-shirt and you easily slip this on and off at the shoulders as needed. The pineapples give it that tropical look. I love how it makes me look thin!

A few years back there was a fashion contest TV show called Fashion Star with Jessica Simpson and Nicole Ritchie as mentors to up-and-coming designers. There were buyers who would bid on any designs they thought would interest their customers. One of the buyers was from Carson Pirie Scott and Co. and they had this coverup in their stores the next day. I loved it so much I also was in one of their stores the next day to buy it. The caftan ties just under the bust and falls just above the knee. I paired it with black sunglasses, watch and Jams which is a brand of lightweight pants that have a drawstring at the waist. My black sandals carry on the flower theme and my beach bag draws out the red in my caftan.

Well, that is it for this blog. I lost a few pounds during the packing and moving but gained it back in Michigan. It is blueberry season in Michigan and blueberries taste great in ice cream, scones, donuts, cookies and pie. I guess life is a balance. Till next time, remember God loves you and so do I.

Stop and Smell the Roses

‘Stop and smell the roses’ has become my mantra during these hectic days. I feel like life is a whirlwind and I am sitting in the middle of the chaos. I put my house up for sale and had a contract on it in two weeks. If all goes well, the closing will be the first week in August. Other than having planned my two week vacation for the first two weeks in August, having no place to live (although I might be headed to Lockport), and having to figure out what furniture to take and what to get rid of (I am going to downsize), I have nothing to worry about! I want to rent a townhouse on a limited budget which is not easy to do. I pray a lot and have great faith that all will work out so I am not panicking. But enough about me, let’s talk fashion.

In case you haven’t guessed, this blog is about roses in fashion. A lot of things are trending this year like neon colors and fringe. Other than a couple of workout T-shirts, I haven’t seen much in the way of neon colored clothes in the stores. I love fringe and have several pieces in my closets. In today’s blog I have combined both neon and fringe with rose patterns. Rose patterns seem to come in and out of fashion but appear to have become really popular after the “Beauty and the Beast” release in 2017. In fact, jeans with roses on them, either in the pattern or with an appliqué, have been very popular since then. You can find them embroidered on hats, jackets and purses. We associate the rose with love and who can forget the line in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

We tend to give roses to someone when we want to communicate we love them, when we want someone to know we are thinking about them or maybe to communicate we are sorry after an argument. However, there are some arguments that even a rose can’t fix. I am not sure who said it but I agree, when a woman starts laughing during an argument, she has flipped her psycho switch and is about to murder you. Flowers are not going to solve this problem! Roses have been a way to communicate to others for many centuries. The language of flowers first gained popularity in the mid-1800’s. The color of the rose has meaning such as white for spirituality and new starts, red for love and romance, yellow used to be sent (in 1800’s) to communicate jealousy and infidelity but in modern times it means friendship, cheer and good health, pink signifies grace, elegance and beauty, orange means enthusiasm, passion and achievement, peach means modesty, sincerity and gratitude while cream suggests charm and thoughtfulness.

When the flower delivery guy brings that bouquet to our door, we can’t help but smile. Comedian George Carlin once said about our love for flowers, “Flowers are one of the few things we buy, bring home, watch die and we don’t ask for our money back.” Not only do we love to see them on our tables but we like to see them as a pattern on our clothes unless you are my daughter. I often wonder if Jessica got any of my genes. Let me give you an example. At Christmas I decorate 6 rooms in my house from top to bottom with each room having a theme (ex., the family room is Santa’s workshop). My daughter’s idea of Christmas decorations consists of a green Gatorade bottle with mini Christmas lights stuffed into it. She would prefer to have a rock garden consisting of nothing but rocks so she doesn’t have to water any plants. She typically wears black and white outfits but might occasionally throw in a muted color. But I must say, we went out shopping the other day and she liked a dress that had flowers on it. Maybe I am wearing her down or the genes I passed on to her are finally kicking in!

Finding a garden picture to depict the theme of this blog was easy. I love roses until they get black spot (ugh!), but not all my varieties get the disease. Let me show you a picture of my favorite roses in the yard.

This is the entry way into my perennial garden. You have to pass under this rose covered arbor to get to the garden gate off to the right of the arbor. This picture was taken a few weeks ago. The arbor is usually a mass of pink flowers but, as many rose growers know, you occasionally have to do a heavy pruning and this was the year for these climbing roses but you get the idea. Like many rose plants, the flowers only last for a few weeks and the loss of the flowers is even greater once the Japanese Beetles come out around July 4th. I’ve given up trying to control nature so I have to accept that there will be some losses to insects and animals.

So let’s look through some rose colored glasses at a few of my favorite outfits for the summer months.

In the first picture I wanted to show you how I store my long necklaces (typically 18 inches or longer). I hang them on the 4 rods of a pant hanger which makes it real convenient. All I have to do is swing out each rod until I find the one I want. Altogether, I have 43 long necklaces.

I get so many compliments on this neon summer print dress. I know it is hard to tell but the whole dress is made up of rows of roses. The dress has white lines going down it in a random pattern. It has green roses (constant rejuvenation of spirit), orange roses (passion and enthusiasm), white roses (spirituality), pink roses (grace and elegance), yellow roses (cheer), salmon roses (desire and excitement) and black roses (sorrow). It is no wonder when I wear this dress I’m filled with mixed emotions! I am wearing it with a great pair of black, 2 inch heel heals that are open at the toe and back with cut-outs on the sides. I love these shoes because the upper part of the shoe is made of a stretch material and takes the shape of my foot.

The jewelry consists of 3 brass bangle bracelets with different patterns on them and a necklace with multiple brass strands and hundreds of tiny brass beads on the strands. The earrings are similar to the ones I wore in the last blog except these have green leaves and are triangular in shape. The ring is an orange topaz.

If you read blog #2 you know how much I love ponchos. I have several summer ponchos but this one is my favorite. I love the colors and the fringe! I wear a white sleeveless shirt underneath because any other color takes away from the beautiful flowers on the poncho. The roses are a combination of peach, salmon and rose-pink with other flowers of different color blues and green leaves. The stems are silver metallic strands going through the poncho. I paired it with peach cropped pants but you have so many choices as to the color of your pants when you wear this top. The sandals are so comfortable! They are Clarks and are in a peachy-pink color.

You already know how much I love antique jewelry. These earrings look like little butterflies with blue topaz on their heads and are clip-ons. The bracelet is costume jewelry but the blue stones match exactly. The bracelet and earrings are not a set but they look like they are just that. I matched it with rings that have peach coloring on one and a turquoise blue on the other. Both colors are in the poncho and both came from an antique store.

This top reminds me of days gone by when I used to love the peasant look. It has a connected sleeveless under shirt and the over shirt falls right at that “sweet spot” just below my belly to give the appearance of not having a large belly (how sweet it is!!). The small abstract designs on the top are a deep gray blue and there is navy and gray blue in the flower pattern so the top looks great with navy blue jeans.

I put a picture of my sandals with the jewelry because they got cut off in the picture and I think they are so cute. They are kind of a goldenrod coloring and match one of the colors in the flower pattern. The colors in the earrings are the exact colors in the flower pattern also. The cute little silver bracelet came from a fine jewelry store in South Haven and the center of the flower is gold. The flower is a charm and is interchangeable with other charms. My silver collar necklace has a flower slide that matches some of the rose colors in the flower pattern of my top. My watch has a navy blue band although it looks black in the picture.

Well, considering all that is going on in my life, like a lot of packing, I was surprised I got this blog out in time. I have managed to stay the same weight even though I love ice cream in the summer. I keep lying to myself by saying I have replaced my fat with muscle mass from working in the garden. It makes me feel better. Oh well, Like Elbert Hubbard (great philosopher) once said, “Don’t take life to seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive”. Wow, think about that one!

Well till next time, remember God loves you and so do I.

Life Could Be A Dream(sicle), Sh Boom Sh Boom

Hi to all my gal pals,

Don’t you love the orange bubble wrap?! I took a short hiatus to get my house ready to put on to the market. My sister Vicki, our friend Rick and I have been working furiously to get it looking like a brand new house and to start packing up my things. I also have been working to get the yard ready and doing some contract work in between. I am sure many of you can relate to what I am about to say. I really was so busy I wasn’t taking great care of myself so the first day I got to relax (3 days ago) I got terribly sick. It is like your body says “OK, I will give you a pass while you are doing all those things you absolutely need to get done but the minute you are done, you will suffer the consequences of your actions”.

A couple of months ago I was out with the “Keystone Girls” (my neighborhood childhood friends) and asked them if they remembered the ice cream truck that used to come down the street. For all my gal pals who grew up in the 50’s you will know what I am talking about. We would hear the bell ringing and run into the house to get money from our moms. I asked if they remembered how much a Dreamsicle cost at that time. I thought it was a nickel, someone else thought it was a dime and the rest just couldn’t remember. For those of you with good memories (there are fewer and fewer of women our age with good memories) who remember how much a Dreamsicle cost in the late 50’s, let me know how much they cost. Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what a Dreamsicle was, it was vanilla ice cream in the center with a coating of orange ice cream on the outside. These days I am not as particular about my ice cream selection. I just love ice cream! It is my favorite dessert but I love it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. When I was raising my kids, we would occasionally go to Baskin Robins for dinner. It is the best midnight snack! As Aunty Acid would say “If we’re not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the refrigerator?”. However, she also said “Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think “THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT!” Unfortunately ice cream has a few unwanted calories but who is thinking about that when you are choosing from 31 different flavors.

Thinking about Dreamsicles, I love the combination of white and orange and I wear the color combination during the warm weather. There is something special about the color orange. I recently went into my contract job and the administrative assistant had a beautiful bouquet of flowers on her desk. The colors of fushia, yellow and green were gorgeous but my eye kept getting drawn to the orange roses. Orange is a standout color so if you want to stand out, that is the color to wear. I use white as a base color so the orange can take center stage. I have a lot of white pants and capris (or pedal pushers as we called them while growing up). As I was deciding what to showcase in this blog and was thinking about pulling out the white pants and capris it got me thinking, why do we have to wait until Memorial Day to wear them? It was always a fashion rule that you don’t wear white pants until then. So with a little research I found out that if you were part of the elite crowd in the 1900’s and could afford to leave your homes during the summer months (end of May to beginning of Sept.) for the sea or the mountains, you would wear white in the oppressive heat. But when the summer was over and elite went back home, white clothes had no place in their real life wardrobes so the cutoff for white clothes became Labor Day. I think this is a silly rule and I have never been part of the elite crowd so I usually break out the whites in March and wear them until it gets cold. Besides, my fashion style is whatever fits me.

So how do I connect this topic to my garden? Easy! I love this tree that grows up in the middle of my deck. It stands just outside the French doors of my bedroom and gives me privacy from anyone driving or walking down the street on the other side of my neighbors house. It is a Sargenti Crab Tree with conical branching at the base and when in full bloom, it looks like a vanilla ice cream cone. In the spring and fall it can be a little messy on the deck but it is beautiful with it’s mass of white flowers and red crab apples that look like little berries. This picture was taken the day after Mother’s Day this year.

So let’s get started with my Dreamsicle outfits.

In the background you are seeing 28 of my 32 flower pins. I love how they look with my outfits. This is not how I store them but I wanted you to see them so I pinned them to a couple of my scarves. They usually sit on the hutch of my dresser and become part of the decor in my flowery bedroom.

The top I am wearing is made of 100 percent polyester. It has a ribbed look and when you crush it, it springs back to its original shape. It is made by Bala Bala and they have several pieces made from this material. The pieces together are a light as a feather. In the spring and summer I like to wear two piece sets like this because I get so cold in air conditioning and like the option to wear it as two pieces or just the sleeveless top. When choosing a shorter top, make sure it is loose and hits just below the belly to give a false appearance of a smaller belly. These white pants are a little dressier than most of my white pants and I am wearing them with one inch sandals. The earrings are drop pearls that match the pearls in the necklace. Because I have such a long neck, I like to double up this necklace so that one strand goes around my neck. the metal in the necklace is gold so I am wearing a gold watch and a white bracelet to match the white of the pearls.

Just as I think every woman should have a little black dress, I also think they should have a little white dress. Because I have been working so hard on my house and the weather up here in Chicagoland has been so rainy and cool, I don’t have a tan on my legs yet but white outfits always look good against a tan body. It has no waistline so it looks good on any shape. I am wearing it with white flat sandals and dressed it up with a few accessories so I can wear it just about anywhere. I have paired it with a beautiful orange scarf and with gold accessories. I have a separate picture of the earrings and the mandarin garnet necklace so you can see the details in both.

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For those of us with a little belly (Ha! Who am I kidding?) the layered look is the greatest thing since ice cream. It allows us to wear the short jackets that we love and hide our belly at the same time. Here I am wearing white jeans and a white T-shirt with 2 inch cork wedge sandals that have a few gold studs on the straps. My accessories are all gold because the fake zippers on the jacket are gold. The jacket has wavy lines of gray, yellow and white. My gold accessories are the serpentine gold necklace and a gold colored collar necklace. I’ve taken a picture of the earrings and oversized ring so you can see how I match the straight lines of the zipper and the straight lines of the earrings and ring.

Well that is it for today. I have lost 10 pounds since last November. Why is it that when you lose weight the belly fat doesn’t seem to go away? Well, there is not much I can do about that and I can’t afford liposuction. That reminds me of my favorite Aunty Acid saying “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we will never cease to be amused”. I hope to have my next blog completed in three weeks. Until then, remember:

God loves you and so do I.

Just Flow with It

Hi to all my Gal Pals,

I am sorry this blog is so late in getting to you. If you have ever had your hardwood floors refinished you will know the conditions that I am currently living in are not the best. Between furniture and decorations being shoved into any room possible, the dust everywhere, the smell of the polish making me sick and now the painting has started, I just couldn’t get to my blog. Since the dust is about 1 foot into every kitchen cabinet, I decided to pack up most of the things that I don’t use so I have less to pack up when I move. On the plus side, it really forces you to do spring cleaning to the extreme which is great when your trying to sell a house.

Before we talk about today’s fashion concept which I love, let me tell you about a fashion trend that is happening this year that I really dislike. Maybe it is because of my age or my size but I just can’t see myself in puffy sleeves. PUFFY SLEEVES! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! The only part of my body body that isn’t puffy is my shoulders. Why not just bring back shoulder pads?! On the up side, if I were to wear puffy sleeves I could be a stand in for the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As long as I am in a complaining mood (maybe the smell of the house is getting to me) let’s talk about another fashion trend that was not meant for a woman of my age. Can you believe that bike pants are trending as everyday wear! They now come with beautiful patterns but they are still bike pants. Just what I need to bring focus to my thunder thighs. I don’t care how pretty the pattern, it would not be a pretty sight. Remember when we wore two piece leotards to exercise classes? The bottoms remind me of bike pants. That is another reason for me not to wear them. I don’t want to wear something that makes me feel guilty about not exercising enough. I am trying to get rid of the guilt in my life so I certainly do not want to carry it around with me in the form of spandex.

Now let’s talk about the fashion concept of today’s blog: wide leg pants. Here is my opinion about this current trend, if you think your legs are too skinny (I can’t relate!), too heavy (that’s me!) or just right, wide leg pants look great on most legs. We have to thank Coco Chanel for bringing this concept to the American women. She fashioned them after the pants worn by gondoliers in Venice and most of the wide leg fashion trends of the 50’s and 60’s were derived from Navy uniforms. In both of these cases the wide legs serve a more functional purpose for the men at sea but for women they are more of a fashion statement and worn by the likes of entertainers like Gwen Stefani. If I had a cute little body like Gwen’s I would wear my wide leg pants with a cropped top but I have an old body with a grandmama belly so that is out. This blog is all about hiding that belly without resorting to a body shaper. There is an advantage to wearing wide leg pants for women over 50 with weak bladders and that advantage is depicted in this quote (I love me a good quote!) “Sometimes I laugh so hard the tears run down my leg”. No one will see your tears with the looseness of the wide leg pants! Yeah! I love how the pants seem to flow behind me when I walk, hence the title of my blog.

You will notice in my pictures that I have flipped over the silhouettes from the last blog and now you get to see how I store some of my 16″ and 18″ necklaces. I have others in boxed sets on my dresser but the majority of the 110 shorter necklaces that I have are hanging up. As with my earrings, they are organized by either color, size or some common element. I also have 7 collar necklaces with 30 slides.

This leads me right into my garden picture. Nothing “flows” like the water from a water fall. I have a very small pond (approximately 700 gallons) with 6 fish and a lovely sounding waterfall at the corner of my flagstone patio. It is surrounded by garden decorations and chairs to deter the herons and egrets from eating my fish but the metal decorations also serve as the “jewelry” of the pond. You know how much I like jewelry.

You cannot see all the pond but you can see some of the decorations I have placed around it. You also can’t see the waterfall very well but if you look behind the tall plant between the two birds, the waterfall looks so natural coming out below the evergreen. If you look close, you can see the some of the decorations like the birds, the butterfly, the metal flowers and the turtle sundial. I like natural materials in the garden so most of my garden “jewelry” is made of metal. On one of the previous blogs you saw the lounge chair, that sits just to the right of the birds, where I sit and relax.

So let’s “flow” to the outfits I chose for this blog and with each picture of an outfit I also have a picture of the jewelry I wore. It is difficult to see the jewelry in the outfit pictures and I think it is important to show you how I decide what to wear to accentuate the outfit. My friend Andrea once told me that while I have nice clothes, it is the accessories I wear that really make the outfits stand out.

I was just at the cottage in Michigan and took a walk to the beach. Looking at the water inspired me to write about wide leg pants. I love the scene in a movie where the female lead walks on the beach, the light breeze blowing her hair and her clothes are billowing softly behind her as she moves. This outfit would be perfect for a scene like that because each piece is so light weight. The material of the pants is made of a silk/rayon blend and the white, sheath layered, sleeveless blouse and vest are straight polyester which means they are as light as air. Let me tell you the best part of all, the wide leg pants I am wearing throughout this blog have elastic waists. Yeah! I am not wearing shoes because I am picturing myself walking on the beach as the leading lady of my own movie. Of course when I walk on the beach I need my sunglasses ( I have 20 pairs so I can coordinate them with my outfits). Let’s talk accessories. I am wearing a peachy pink watch, pearl drop earrings, several black bangle bracelets and a beautiful necklace that I have described below.

This piece was made by a local Michigan artisan and bought in a little shop in Saugatuck, Michigan. It is made of beach glass, beads, faux pearls and pieces of wire. It looks great with the vest I wore in the previous picture.

Love this outfit! Again, you have that whole “flowing” thing going on. The pants are 100% cotton ribbed and the ribbing causes a ruffle-like hem. These pants really have wide legs even though you can’t really tell from my leg closest to the camera but you can get a better idea looking at my leg in the back. The toile type vest and the cream colored, double layered, sheath blouse with button-up sleeves are so light weight I am able to wear this in the spring and summer. I am wearing this outfit with a great pair of earrings, watch and ring that I will describe below. I am also wearing a long, black beaded necklace and the same bangle bracelets I wore in the previous picture. The flowers on the sandals are like wearing more accessories.

The earrings and watch have teeny tiny crystals in them and the ring has a teeny weeny diamond. I love how the earrings are similar but not the same. The lighting of the camera makes the crystals in the watch look like they have a bluish tinge but they are clear crystals. These accessories go so well with the toile vest. Not a great picture of the earrings because the one on the right is flipped over but you get the picture (no pun intended).

This is not so much a beach outfit but more of a seaside restaurant outfit. I love the draping on the front of this top. You probably can’t see it but each stripe is edged with gold metallic threading so I am wearing a gold metallic tank top underneath. The pants are a linen/polyester blend and the straps of the sandals match the white stripes of the top. All the jewelry except for the gold watch are described below.

The necklace is gold and white with some simple beading. It has a butterfly and flowers on it and the background looks like leaves. The dangling butterfly earrings and the leaves on the bracelet are also gold and white. The ring is large and has tiny rhinestones in the middle. Each piece was bought individually but they look like they are a set. I love costume jewelry. It is much more interesting and fun than my fine jewelry.

Well that is it for this blog. My weight has stayed the same. When we go to Michigan, we love to eat at the many restaurants within a short drive from the cottage and it is tradition to eat at Sherman’s Dairy for freshly made ice cream. Hey, I am not one to break tradition. Also, I stayed at my sister’s condo for 5 days when the floors were being refinished and she spoiled me. She made up my bed each day, walked my dog morning and evening, and provided me with wonderful meals and great snacks. I couldn’t refuse anything she offered. That would be inconsiderate.

Well, till next time, remember God loves you and so do I.

What is a “Wearing Thing”?

Hi to all my Gal Pals,

Spring is finally here! It is a time when I feel like we are all starting over with a fresh outlook on life and hope is in the air then I remember I have to put on a bathing suit in two months and my attitude on life changes. I know exactly how I am going to look in that bathing suit of mine and it isn’t going to be a pretty sight. Every once in awhile I look at my high school yearbook with a picture of me looking so slim in my two piece bathing suit as the president of the synchronized swimming club and I think “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!!” We should all thank Kim Kardashian (never thought those words would come out of my mouth) for making big butts fashionable. However, no one is out there making “the big belly” fashionable and that is the thought I am stuck with as I envision myself at the beach. I really was born in the wrong era! During the Renaissance, peaking in the 1500’s, having a lot of body weight was considered visually appealing. It was considered not only beautiful but natural to look physically substantial. If you were heavy set it told people you had enough money to keep yourself well fed whereas being skinny was associated with being poor and of the peasant class therefore less attractive. With my luck I would have been skinny during the Renaissance. Oh well, I can always feel a little better by remembering one of my favorite poster sayings “The more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap. Stay safe, eat cake!”

So you are probably dying to know what the “wearing thing” is. It is the definition of the kimono. I am not talking about the robe you might wear in the morning but the kimono jacket that you can wear anywhere. There is a plus size rapper called Lizzo and even though I do not like her music I agree with her thoughts about kimonos. She stated that “I got my first kimono from Lane Bryant in high school and thought ‘This is amazing, I can wear it with anything’.” Kimonos are loose fitting garments that have wide sleeves. The modern day kimono jackets can be worn with anything. They can be worn with a dress, slacks and even jeans. They can be long or short and are for the young or old (Anthropologie has some cute ones for the hip younger adults). I love them because they are loose fitting so they drape across my body and hide all my past glutenous partakings.

I always like to include a picture of something from my landscape that fits into my blog theme. Today the concept is things that “drape” and what better way to show you how lovely that looks in the landscape than to show you my favorite hanging plant.

I typically arrange my own hanging containers and they all contain plants that hang down creating a draping affect (as does the kimono) but this one I bought at the Joliet Jr. College plant sale. If all goes as scheduled it will start on April 29th and will continue until all the plants are sold. They have 3 large greenhouses and a massive amount of hanging plants hanging from hooks up above. The first day of the sale people are standing in line outside of the greenhouses because they can only let a certain number of people in at a time. This is because they have rolling benches which is great because they can offer rows and rows of plants but only one row on each side of each greenhouse is available to walk down at any given time. Anyway, this basket is unusual because it contains a begonia that likes sun (at my house it gets late afternoon shade but sits in the sun most of the day). The red flowers of the begonias are above the little white flowers of the bacopas. I have had this container every year for the past few summers and people have asked me if the plants are real. I love the decorative hook it hangs on. The butterflies are welded onto the hook and the plant basket sits in the middle of two perpendicular hearts.

When you go to New Orleans, your eye is drawn to the plants draping over the balconies. Also eye catching is the draping effect of the kimono jacket. I have kimono jackets of various lengths so I can tell you that no matter how tall or short you are there is a kimono that will look good on you. So let’s get started.

Before I describe the outfit let me explain why I have the silhouettes hanging behind me. My friend Ruth wanted to know how I store all my jewelry so this week I will tell you how I store 190 pairs of earrings. The silhouettes together have 78 pockets and my earrings are organized according to size and color with multiple pairs in most pockets. I also have my fine jewelry and the earrings that are part of a set in boxes on my dresser. Next time I will flip the silhouettes over and show you how I store some of my 16 inch necklaces.

I love this kimono jacket. You can’t really see the detail work in this picture so I will do my best to describe it. The background is a marbleized pattern of moss green, chartreuse and yellow gold. There is an abstract, cobalt blue leaf pattern throughout and random areas of mint and fern green beading in the same pattern as the abstract leaves. What I love the most are the large pockets. Underneath I am wearing a yellow gold top with cap sleeves and I paired it with a pair of cobalt blue jeans. This outfit makes me think of Indonesia so I pair it with large, brassy gold bracelets, a pair of gold filigree, dangling earrings and a gold filigree necklace. I am wearing a pair of tan sandals with two inch heels.

I don’t know why but this outfit makes me think of Audrey Hepburn, maybe it is the narrow cut of the black pants with the black flats. This kimono jacket has slits up the side and when you walk it just flows. It has a beautiful pattern of pearl and taupe colored flowers with a pearl and taupe filigree pattern around the hem. Underneath I am wearing a long swing style, sleeveless, black top. It has kind of an artsy flair so I am wearing large, ivory shell earrings, an ivory cord bracelet with gold beads and an ivory colored watch. The dragonfly necklace is two tone silver and gold.

This is a shorter kimono jacket that I have paired with slacks but I have worn it with my little black dress to weddings. The front of the jacket has two tones of yellow while the back is gray and black. Because the jacket is so sheer, a top with sleeves just doesn’t look good so I am wearing a sleeveless black top underneath. The scarf around my neck came with the kimono jacket and it is made of the same material. My 1 inch heels have a cute little bow on them to go along with the feminine look of the outfit. I have a picture of the necklace below because you really need to see the beautiful details. I have also paired the outfit with gold and black earrings, watch and bracelet.

The reason I wanted to take a picture of this necklace is because you couldn’t see the lovely black and yellow stone in the previous picture. It is surrounded by metals of silver and gold with an antique gold flower attached to the stone. It hangs from an 18 inch, herringbone gold necklace.

Well that is it for now. The push is on to get my house ready so I can list it in May. I have lost a few pounds because I am running up and down the basement stairs. I have also lost those pounds for another reason. Many of you will be able to relate to my current situation. For the last couple of years I have not been able to breath out of my nose when I go to bed so I breath out of my mouth. Not only do I end up with dry mouth but I don’t sleep well. I went to the ENT who gave me a nose spray but this didn’t help. To make a long story short, it turns out that my nose problem is due to sugar. It took me two years to figure this out. People who know me well know that I have a lot of food sensitivities that I never had in my 20’s and 30’s. In November I stopped eating Doritos and other chips I love. Recently I decided I should decrease the amount of sugar I eat as well and I began to realize that I was breathing better on most nights. So, between getting the house ready, getting the yard ready and cutting back on sugar, I hope to lose a lot more weight.

Until the next blog in three weeks, remember, God loves you and so do I.

Arsenic and Old Lace

Hi to All My Gal Pals,

Welcome to blog number 6 (I hope everyone has caught on to the fingers representing the number of the blog). The title of my blog makes me think of something sinister but my picture looks more like the Virgin Mary. I do love contrast! I have decided to forego the arsenic and just concentrate on the lace although the arsenic part does sound intriguing. I do love mischief which brings me to my one and only quote in this blog: “One day I intend to be that little old person in the nursing home that leads the rebellion and puts vodka in all the IV bags. Just Saying!” By the way, I am wearing some of my lace scarves in this picture from my collection of approximately 70 scarves of various materials and colors. I do love me a good scarf!

There is something so romantic about lace and I am a romantic at heart. Apparently I am not the only one because romance novels account for well over 50% of mass-market paper book fiction sold in the U.S. and a third of all fiction sold in America. Romance is hard to define because it means something different to each of us. I find romance in small gestures like seeing couples, both young and old, holding hands as they walk along or a husband putting his arm around his wife during a church service. To someone else it may be receiving flowers or having your significant other say “I love you”. Lace has been around since the 16th century and is currently trending in 2019. It has been described as romantic, ultra feminine and classic which is why you will find it in wedding gowns and lingerie. Today, you will find it in formal as well as casual outfits. Unfortunately, most of the pieces I have seen for wear outside of the bedroom are very form fitting. I have several pieces that range from a lot of lace to simple accents on the sleeves and all hide my not-so-lovely fat pads.

Before we move onto the outfits I just want to thank all of you for supporting me with this blog. Friday was International Woman’s Day and I think that we as women have to support each other in our endeavors. I spend quite a bit of time at the cottage in Michigan in a little town called Glenn which is situated between South Haven and Saugatuck on Lake Michigan. If you are riding along the Blue Star Highway and you blink as you ride through downtown Glenn, you will have missed all Glenn has to offer in the way of business. It is basically an intersection with a three room school house built in 1854 housing K-6th grade on one corner, the Glenn Store (similar to a convenient store with an excellent deli) on another corner, a little restaurant (don’t know the name, we just call it the little restaurant) on one of the other corners, and a realtor on the 4th corner. The reason I bring this up is that the Glenn Store and the little restaurant are owned by women. There may be more choices elsewhere but I think it is important for me to frequent these places in order to support small businesses owned by women. I hope all of you do the same.

As you know, the outfits I highlight in some way minimize or hide those areas I don’t want others to concentrate on when they see me. I do the same thing in my garden design. When I sit on my deck I want to feel like I am in a private space away from the hustle-and-bustle of the world. In garden design you create some sort of structure to help block out unsightly areas or create a little private niche. I won’t be showing any flowers in my garden picture in this blog, instead I am showing a simple little screen of lattice that hides something I don’t want to look at from my deck.

I used to have so much privacy on my back deck because of an addition to the house screening me from my neighbors to the west, bushes screening me from my neighbors to the east and 3 story Colorado spruces screening me from the house behind mine. That was before the arborist came and did a hack job on the spruces causing them to thin out. That left me with a section where I can see my neighbors house but nothing will grow back there to act as a screen because the shade is too deep. So I had a lattice screen built to block out but it needed something to make it interesting. In this section of the screen, I stuck a red metal flower into the ground in front of it and I hung these beautiful, multicolored, metal butterflies around it. Love it! Once again, I have my privacy.

I am an optimist so I am thinking spring in this blog. You already know from blog #2 that I love ponchos because they hide all sins so there should be no surprise that I have one made of lace. I bought this lace piece at a craft show set up along the Fox River but it was a while ago and I can’t remember whether it was in Geneva or St. Charles. I love to buy clothes from women selling their wares at craft shows. I picture them as single moms, stay-at-home moms, women educators, retirees or any women who need to supplement the family income to put food on the table. Most people think I buy clothes just because I like them. While that is true, I also want to support women who put that personal touch into their products. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! I am wearing the lace poncho with a mustard colored pair of jeans and a white pair of cork wedged heels with a white leather flower on top. The antique gold necklace has faux polished brownish-amber and milky mustard-yellow amber gems with embedded rhinestones. I wore the poncho with a statement piece necklace so I didn’t look like I was wearing my grandma’s lace tablecloth. My watch and bangle bracelets are made of antique gold and I am wearing a polished amber ring. I love antique jewelry! My earrings were my mothers and they are clip-ones. They are antique gold with golden amber stones.

Love this outfit. I think I will wear it on Easter Day. If you are someone who doesn’t see themselves in a lace outfit, this is perfect for you. I love how the buttons go up the lace on the sleeve. The lace is white but the stripes are off white so I am wearing it with off white pants. Again, I am supporting a boutique owned by women in Frankfort. If you get a chance and are looking for a cute top like this one at a great price stop by The Dressing Room in Frankfort. I am wearing this outfit with a pair of clip-on antique silver earrings, each earring is half of a flower with a rose pink stone. I am wearing an antique silver necklace with a rose pink stone. I am also wearing a simple silver ring with a small pearl.

The lace top I am wearing is like an art piece. I have put a black sleeveless shirt underneath so that I could highlight the beautiful pattern in the top. I bought this lace top at a craft show in South Haven from a woman crafter. When you buy directly from the crafter, you save the cost of the overhead of a boutique. Lace looks great with jeans so I am wearing a pair of black jeans and black heels. I am wearing black dangling earrings with a white, lacy pattern on them. My bracelet is a black bangle with a black heart charm and I paired it with a black and silver heart shaped ring, and a black and silver watch. I am holding a purchase from a small boutique in South Haven owned by a woman. I can easily slip off the top I have on, slip this sweater on and have a whole new outfit. Love the lace around the bottom and you need to wear a dark colored pair of pants to show it off. I decided to hang a few of my lace pieces in the background. I love the color combination of cream or off white with a dark tan. Any one of these would look great with the off white pants seen in the previous picture.

Well, that is it for this blog except to talk about my weight which remains the same. I have a bone to pick with the many women’s magazines that I buy. For those of you who have picked up one of these magazines, I think you know what I am talking about. The cover usually accentuates the articles on losing weight and there are a couple of pages inside that cover the topic. However, 6 or 7 pages further back there are several pages containing these wonderful recipes, some of which are these great desserts like Snickers layer cake or strawberry cheesecake cupcakes. I think they really don’t want us to lose weight, they just want us to keep buying their magazines that fill us with the hope of losing weight. When I see the pictures of the desserts, I find myself rushing out to get a $5 mini bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. I usually have a coupon to get one free when I buy one and that means I have to eat two bundt cakes. I just have to eat that 2nd one the day after eating the first one and then I tell myself I will start my diet tomorrow. Then I buy another magazine and the vicious cycle starts over.

Until next time (probably in 3 weeks) remember: God loves you and so do I.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!

Hi Everyone,

It is hard to believe another 3 weeks have gone by! We have survived the brutal cold while feeling like bears in hibernation. I was getting cabin fever and lifted my mood by dancing around the house to classic rock songs. It is funny how a song can bring back such great memories. Do any of my gal pals remember dancing at Valley View Club House in Frankfort? As I was dancing around my house to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” I found myself smiling thinking about those fun times with my friends.

I was recently out to breakfast with my friend, Sharon, and we got to talking about the emotional aspect of fashion. We both felt that what a person wears affects how they feel. That is so true for me! I am not an emotional eater but I am an emotional dresser. When I feel down I wear a fun outfit like the outfit with the maroon, furry vest and paisley pants shown in blog 3. When I feel like I look dumpy I wear the sexy, black, leather looking outfit in blog 1. When I am feeling insecure I wear animal print because it makes me feel like “I am woman, hear me roar!”. I recently read a poster that said “Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day”. There is research demonstrating the phenomenon that dressing/clothing has an affect on the personality of an individual. Some research articles discuss the positive affects on mood when wearing new articles of clothing and wearing certain colors while others show how clothes affects perceptions of one’s competence. You know by now that I am always looking for a good quote that highlights the topic of the blog. I don’t know the author but I love the saying “I’m nicer when I like my outfit”.

So let’s go back to the topic of animal prints and how it brings out my inner cougar. When I know I am going to go into a situation where I have to exude confidence, my natural choice is to go for an outfit with the print of a powerful animal. When I am going into a meeting where I want to make sure I am heard, I wear either a power suit or an animal print outfit.

OK, I am on a roll finding great sayings pertaining to this blog so I am going to hit you with another one. “Stress doesn’t really go with my outfit”. This quote helps me transition right into how garden design and fashion design both have an affect on your mood. There is something about a garden that takes all my stress away and lifts my mood. Check out the following picture.

Whenever I feel stressed I sit in this lounge chair and feel nothing but peace. The sound of the waterfall in the pond (not pictured) next to the chair has such a calming affect. When the gardenia plant behind the chair is in full bloom, the beautiful smell of the blooms transport me to the tropics and all my troubles fade away. My mood changes and I am re-energized to face whatever life throws at me. Just like sitting in my garden, my clothes can change my mood and my attitude.

I have quite a lot of animal print clothes so I decided to hang some of them so I can feel like “The Leader of the Pack”. The top I am wearing looks like it is made of snake skin. Not only does the top have a snake skin pattern but the material it is made of looks like real snake skin. The top is such a statement piece that I don’t wear much in the way of jewelry other than a brown topaz ring and black hoop earrings. The top has a black hood that I rarely wear on my head but it adds an interesting feature to the outfit. It looks great with the leather looking pants seen in other blogs. I am wearing this outfit with a high heeled pair of shoes but it looks just as good with flats. It is amazing to me that I love to wear snake skin patterns because I have such a snake phobia!

I love the ruffles and uneven hem on this cheetah skirt. It seems only appropriate that I wear it with a brown safari jacket. I am wearing a cream colored sleeveless top, a copper colored snake skin belt and a multi-layered, multi-colored chain necklace. I have accessorized with gold earrings and watch to match the gold chains of the necklace. I will tell you the only time I will wear a belt is when I wear a jacket or vest over it. I love these 3 inch wedge heels because the wedge gives me great support and the cut-outs on each side of the heel (you probably can’t see this) gives the outfit a little edgy feel. You cannot wear this outfit with flats.

This outfit exudes power and class. The silver and black material just shines in this alligator printed jacket. Since I want the jacket to stand out I DO NOT wear it with black pants that have a sheen. I wear it with black patten leather heels and silver and black accessories. Have you noticed that I keep changing the outfits in the background? I have more animal prints than I have pictures for this blog so you are only seeing a portion of them. I just saw a stylist on a morning TV show who stated that tie-dye will be more popular than animal print this year but that animal print never goes out of style.

I have heard it said that you shouldn’t wear black and brown together but as long as you wear a transition piece, the outfit will look great. This vest is such a piece because it has both colors in it. This vest was made by the same woman who made the first top I showed in my last blog. She loves to combine different patterns and this piece is made up of different animal prints. I love South Haven craft shows! Under this vest I am wearing a black turtleneck top and brown pants. One of the great features about this vest is that you can wear just about any animal print in your accessories. I chose to wear a zebra patterned necklace and earrings. The rest of my jewelry is of gold tones because of the gold in the necklace. My brown shoes have a 1 inch heel and a brown buckle on them.

Well that is all for now. I wish I could say I was doing well on my diet but I am not. As I am going through my closets to figure out what to give to Amvets, I say to myself “Am I ever going to be able to fit into this again?”. While I would like to be able to say “yes”, I have doubts. I haven’t lost any weight but neither have I gained any so that is a plus! In March I start spring clean-up in my garden if the groundhog’s prediction comes true. Working in the backyard tends to help me lose a few pounds and tightens my muscles.

It will probably be another 3 weeks till my next blog. I have to start getting my house ready before putting it up for sale. Until then, remember,

God loves you and so do I.