Thursday, September 21, 2017

Farm Charm Favorites: E-I-E-I-Whoa

Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: BAIT, Zulily
Bag: Dolls Kill
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Bangles: B Fabulous

Tank: Express, Marshalls
Jeans: Arizona Jeans, J. C. Penney's
Flipflops: Sea Star, Brigantine, NJ
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Boscov's
Sunglasses: The Tote Trove
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Green stretch bracelet: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk
Other bracelets: Kohl's

It's not every farm that can lay claim to seahorses, stegosauruses, and unicorns.  But then, The Tote Trove isn't any old farm.  It's a fantasy land rife with sweet, playful produce.  And these days it's producing charms.  With my supply of the Flash variety finally exhausted, I'm on to these equally adorable (albeit less nostalgic) fuzzy animal danglers, the likes of which you may remember from previous posts.

That said, one thing that you will find on most farms is cheese.  Which everyone loves.  Except maybe the lactose intolerant.  And the people who came up with "cheesy," "the Stinky Cheese Man," "cutting the cheese," and, of course, that old favorite, "the cheese stands alone."

I think I first became fascinated by cheese (or, as I sometimes like to call it, "the pasteurized one,") while watching "Mr. Rogers."  It was one of those let's-learn-something segments where they take you out of Mr. Rogers's house and the Land of Make Believe to a removed locale where people in bowl cuts and corduroys are doing something educational. This time they were making cheese in huge tubs, separating the chunky curds from the milky way, all to the sound of a good old disembodied voice-over.  (Five bucks says that guy had a bowl cut, or maybe a comb-over.  But then, they can't all be silver foxes like one Mr. Rogers.)  Anyway, this behind-the-scenes peek to find out how my Kraft singles came into being was pretty amazing.  (No cracks about Kraft being 75% polyurethane; that's more of a "20/20" thing, and this post is all about the wonder and purity that is PBS).

The Land of Make Believe notwithstanding, few people love cheese as much as those who hail from Wisconsin.  There in America's Dairyland, they worship this cow by-product so much that they wear cartoon caricatures of it in on their heads.  So, as an, ahem, nod to this proud Midwestern tradition, I fashioned this Fabulous Felt Cheese Please Barrette.  You know.  For the milkman or maid in your life who wants to divulge a devotion to dairy.  Or, for the ardent Packers fan.  Which means that, yes, it's also dude-friendly (in case my milkman reference went unnoticed).  I'm willing to bet that there are at least a few long-locked Y-chromosome-carrying football fans out there who wouldn't think twice about donning a "Go, team!" wedge of cheddar.  Sure, they may have more than a few Old Milwaukees in them while they're doing it.  But that doesn't make it any less real.

So, thanks, cheese, for being the star-slash-butt of this post.  And remember, you're never really alone.

Unless you're Limburger.  Because Limburger is just disgusting.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Melon Slice Vice: A Preoccupation With Produce

Tops: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Junk food bag: Modcloth
Sun bag: Lily Bloom, J. C. Penney's
Orange bag: Modcloth

And by produce I mean, of course, clothes.  These cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew hued cold shoulder blouses are as tempting as a fresh fruit platter at a lonely hearts mixer.  And at eight dollars a pop, just as healthy!  The barrettes, sorry but not sorry, not so much.  A sticky sweet and sugary treat, they top off the fruit with all the gall of a maraschino cherry.  Which means that maybe these shirts aren't fruit at all, but sherbet.  And that some of these lonely hearts will become perfect pears . . . and ditch the fruit for two scoops of fudge ripple.

Now, that's what I call romancing the cone.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Fray: True Blue Monday

Once upon a time, denim was the fabric of the worker.  My spidey senses indicate that I've said this before, maybe even in a previous Labor Day post.  Yep, a trusty search just confirmed it: I covered working man's denim last year.  Still, it bears repeating (mostly because I've already committed to this bit and hooks aren't easy to come by.  Unless, of course, they call you Captain.  But more on that later.).  Tough and tear-resistant, jeans, or dungarees, as they were called back in the day, were the perfect pants to wear while harvesting corn or splitting railroad ties.  Ladies and gentlemen wouldn't be caught dead in them, and I suspect that they helped put the blue in blue collar.  So it's funny that these days you're going nowhere fast unless it's in True Religion or Seven.  Or, if you're of more modest means, such as yours truly, then in Arizona or Mudd or Mossimo.  No doubt about it, sweet, sun-washed cotton has evolved into the cloth of all the people.  Whether embellished, tie-dyed, printed, or ripped, there's something for stylistas and staid old Aunt Sally's alike (I'm looking at you, J. C. Penney mom jeans).  So, this Labor Day I'm celebrating denim's humble origins as well as just how far denim's come -- Tote Trove style with a trio of chokers.  'Cause there's nothing better than a pair of jeans.  That is, unless it's a jean necklace.

I got these three in plain Jane form at that modern-day general store, Target.  On clearance.  When I saw them, I couldn't help but think, who would want to wear such an unadorned adornment?  I mean, there was all that blank real estate all but screeching, drape me in diamonds!  Oh, ok.  Rhinestones.  But only in keeping with this blue grass roots theme.  So.  I bought them.  And got out my cabochons.  And glue.  And yes, rhinestones.  And metaphorically said, move over, Target, there's a new seraph in town.  (But not really.  Target, keep selling cheap goods so that I can appropriate them and then sell them myself.  Also, I think it's clear I'm no seraph.)  Because it's a new day and a new, ahem, order in this post 1980s accessories excess world.  Where excess, of course, has re-emerged, like everything else, to become reinvented.

On that note, here are some pics from my Labor Day in beautiful Ocean City.            

Wonderland Pier, O.C.'s premier place for rides.  If you look closely, you can see Humpty Dumpty. 

Second banana pier Castaway Cove -- as evidenced by this goofy pirate who is not Captain Hook.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sparkle and Shine: It's Repurpose Time (Again :)

Dress: Amazon
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: Amazon

Top: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Zulily
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Modcloth
Belt: B Fabulous

Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt (dress): Amazon
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: Amazon

Make way for another round of mock rock rehab.  Which kind of sort of sounds like a reality show in the making.  As in, can these washed-up, D-list dazzlers be saved?  Obviously, the answer is yes!  Once again, I've dipped into the Kohl's clearance bin and found some diamonds in the rough to embellish.  Sadly, my subpar photography skills (or maybe it's my subpar camera?  Yes, let's blame the camera.) don't do justice to the grandeur and glory that is the Coral Reef Motif Necklace.  It may look like the indeterminate flesh-colored smudge found on many a beach hotel painting, but in person its bling-factor is blinding thanks to the addition of faceted heart charms and teal and yellow Swarovski crystals.       

The Glam Granny Earrings are a different story.  Even when captured by my questionable lens, Iris Apfel dangles as strikingly from these fishhooks as she did from the bangles I bought at Macy's.  Yep, these cute little faces started life as I.N.C. merchandise tags.  From the moment I saw them I knew that they were destined for more than the trash can.  I was so enamored that I liked them even more than the bangles themselves!  I added some crystals to make them stand out but opted to leave the aesthetic mostly unaltered (why mess with perfection?).  Iris, by the way, is everywhere.  She's burning up Pinterest boards, TV ads (Hunter Douglas blinds never looked so bitchin'), and even text messages -- the last of which in emoji!  May we all be so badass in our nineties.

And that brings us to the Yolanda Yellow Necklace, a ray of sunshine splashed with funky fruit salad brights. Or perhaps I should christen something with this much panache Vida Marina. Which sounds like a telenovela star -- even if it literally means "sea life" in Spanish. Or at least that's what it says on these bathtub decals. Still, I like my more glamorous explanation. I can just see (and hear!) it, can't you?

Vida!  Over here!  [Flashbulb.  Click.  Flashbulb.] Who are you wearing?  Ms. Marina, can I have your autograph?  Is it true that you're going to be a contestant on the next season of "Mock Rock Rehab?"  And that the engagement ring your estranged husband gave you is a fake?        

Fool jewels (and jewel fools), it seems, come in many disguises.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Zulily Zoo Singhs a Song for You

Dress: Zulily
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Ross
Sunglasses: Target

When I was a kid, there was a show called "Zoobilee Zoo."  It came on after "Reading Rainbow," I think, but wasn't even half as good.  It was kind of scary, actually, with grown people running around in animal suits and weird makeup.  But then, real zoos aren't my thing either, even if I did visit one last August.  (Nothing says good times like the smell of monkey poo wafting over the cart where they sell the corn dogs).  No, no reptile pavilion for me; I'm into sales, not scales -- unless they're on a pair of stilettos.  And when it comes to bargain hunting, Zulily is the zoo for me.  I'm growing increasingly obsessed with this online retailer, which offers limited time deals on name brand goodies, and, yes, some already cheap stuff, too.

My last take netted me a boatload (okay, dinghy) of Amrita Singh costume jewelry.  A fixture of the Bollywood stage, Singh designs colorful and ornate pieces as vibrant as any New Delhi production number.  Fun, affordable (at least on Zu), and easy to wear, these theatrical treats are the fast food equivalent of accessories.  (And no, that's not a slam, because deep down, who doesn't love Mickey D's?).  What's more, the product name of the cobalt blue and magenta bib necklace is Tracy, spelled the same way and everything.  No small feat in a world insistent on inserting that superfluous "e".

Finally, my Zulily shipment included a free sample of a Teddy Graham soft bake cookie.  The side of the box says "Meet Teddy," which is disturbing because you're supposed to eat Teddy.  But I guess there's no accounting for sensitivity in advertising.

Or, for that matter, in zoos.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tex Marks the Spot: Hot, Hot, Hot on the Heels of Nashville

Dress: Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Boots: Two Lips Too, DSW
Bag: Marshalls
Heart belt: Sheplers
Blue belt: J. C. Penney's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: Delia's
Skirt: Olsenboye
Shoes: Forever, Zulily
Bag: Arizona Jeans, J. C. Penney's
Heart belt: Sheplers
Silver belt: Boscov's
Sunglasses: Kohl's

Top: Marshalls
Skirt: Mossimo, Target
Boots: Two Lips Too, DSW
Bag: Marshalls
Heart belt: Sheplers
Blue belt: J. C. Penney's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Texas is nowhere near Nashville, and neither come close to New Jersey.  But all three seemed to meet in Atlantic City at the Borgata two Sunday nights ago because the cast of "Nashville" was there in concert.  Charles Esten (Deacon), Jonathan Jackson (Avery), and Chris Carmack (Will) belted out series favorites and then some, the most notable of the latter being the ensemble's rendition of David Bowie's "Heroes" (during which Carmack busted out a saxophone!) and Jackson's stirring "Unchained Melody," which he dedicated to his wife.  Sadly, Clare Bowen (Scarlett) bowed out because she was under the weather, and Sam Palladio (Gunnar) was never on the bill in the first place because he makes appearances only in his native UK.  This was a bummer, as these two are my favorites.  Still, it was an incredible show.

Now, some of you may be thinking, that's all and well and good, Tote Trove Lady, but you don't seem like a country music fan.  (Then again, maybe you're thinking, get over yourself, you're clearly a fan, you talk about this show all the time!).  And to that I say -- you're right.  You're much more likely to find me at a Weezer concert than a Brad Paisley performance.  But I love good music of all kinds. (Who doesn't?  That is, other than Barry Manilow groupies.)  And I'm a huge fan of "Nashville."  Or maybe I should say I'm a Nashee, which is, according to Esten, the official term for show followers.  (Guess I'm not that different from a Fanilow after all.)  That having been said, back in season 4, even Avery confessed that his roots were in alt rock, as he tried to tame the lion that was bad boy rocker Markus Keen.  What I'm trying to say is, we're all a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.  Just like there's a South in South Jersey and more than a few Jerseys in Tennessee and Texas.  Even if they are bovines.

But back to the music.  Esten, Jackson, and Carmack brought as much energy and enthusiasm as they do during any episode set.  What's more, it happened to be the last night of the tour, adding an extra element of excitement and emotion.  Carmack shared that his grandfather and parents were born in Atlantic City and that he had family in the audience.  And Esten, or Chip, as he's familiarly known, well, he just didn't want the party to end.  He thanked everyone in connection with the tour and TV show and, after an Everly Brothers duet with Jackson, embraced him like a brother, saying he'd miss singing with him every night.  The trio ended with "A Life That's Good," the same tender folk song that Deacon and the girls sang at Rayna's deathbed, which is a song that's come to embody all that "Nashville" stands for.

It was a magical time, a memorable night, and more than enough to tide me over until season 6 starts in January.

Until next time, boots and saddles.           

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Curtain Call Drawl: Sass Menagerie

Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Red and white bangles: B Fabulous
Orange bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Green bracelet: Parade of Shoes
Sunglasses: The Tote Trove

Tee: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Amazon
Shoes: Lilliana, Venus
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Red bangle: B Fabulous
Black and white bracelet: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Yellow bangle: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: So, Kohl's

Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Amazon
Shoes: Cape Robin, Ami Clubwear
Bag: Lily Bloom, J. C. Penney's
Sunglasses: Michaels
Blue bracelet: Cloud Nine
Yellow bangle: B Fabulous
Green bracelet: Parade of Shoes

It seems that I'm still in a Tennessee state of mind, having just watched the season finale of "Nashville."  Why else would I combine a post about elephant, gator, and bear necklaces with a country music soap update and wrap it all up with a reference to a great American play?  I mean, other than as some sort of high-brow tribute to the Country Bears Jamboree.  And, somehow, I don't think Mr. Williams would like that.

But this post isn't about Tennessee's tales of love lost and not found.  It's about CMT's stories of the same kind, which are, of course, often as bittersweet as Music City's chart toppers.  Last Thursday was "Nashville's" season five finale, as well as its very first finale on CMT and without Rayna James (Connie Britton).  The story line centered around the precarious fate of Highway 65, Rayna's beloved self-made label for up-and-coming artists, with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) and Juliette's (Hayden Panetierre) and Scarlett (Clare Bown) and Gunnar's (Sam Palladio) forever wayward romantic crossroads singing backup.  Deacon (Charles Esten), too, had new contenders in the romance arena, as he began the slow, arduous process of mending his broken heart.   Less cliff-hangery and more introspective than its predecessors, this finale seemed a fitting tribute to the new Nashville that took flight this season.  A Nashville, that is, that's more about people than plot twists.  And I, for one, can't wait to see where this as of yet untraveled road goes.  Good thing CMT meant what it said about cherishing and honoring the show (burn on you, ABC), picking it up for a sixth season.                   

But no need to pen a sad song just yet, because there's still a drop of bourbon-slash-sweet-tea left in this pitcher.  Which is to say, stop by next week for a new Nashville nugget.  And more necklaces :)