Monday, September 25, 2017

Moving to the Country: Good-bye, Brigantine

Tourist Trap Charm Necklace

Top: Macy's
Shorts: ELLE, Kohl's
Flipflops: So, Kohl's
Bag: Betsy Johnson, Macy's,
Sunglasses: Michaels
Barrettes: The Tote Trvoe

It's finally happened.  The husband and I bought a house -- and it's on the mainland.  Which means good-bye, Brigantine.  So I thought I'd commemorate the occasion with a little Presidents of the United States-and-Elton John mashup.  And, of course, a new Betsey Johnson handbag.  'Cause there are peaches a-plenty in the country (even if home is now kinda sorta a suburb), and Brigantine is equal parts peaceful and tempestuous.  Or at least its weather is, just like Marilyn/Norma Jean.

I also decided to make myself a souvenir send-off necklace using -- what else? -- key chains from the corner beach shop.  It's funny.  At a time when I was supposed to be getting rid of stuff, I found myself shopping even more, racking up shoes, tees, and cold shoulder dresses as if I were moving to Mars instead of a few towns over.  But the act of acquiring made me feel more armed for the journey ahead.  I guess it's like Cat Stevens sings in "Wild World":

But if you want to leave, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear

You said (sang) it, Cat.  New clothes have a way of making life's transitions somehow smoother.

At first, I wasn't too sentimental about leaving the island.  Not being able to walk to stores, restaurants, and, of course, the beach would take some getting used to.  But I was too wrapped up in packing and jumping through mortgage hoops to over-think it.  Besides, I was looking ahead, more than eager to vacate a shoe box-sized rental that smelled as mildewy as King Triton's halitosis (maybe that, not Prince Eric, was why Ariel lobbied so hard for legs).  The move had been a long time in coming, and the new casa was roomier, more private, and best of all -- ours.  Also, it was vintage (if you can say that about a building), and I'd always wanted to live in a charming old (albeit restored -- let's not get crazy, now) house.  You know.  Something with more character than cul-de-sac.

So, I was all set to pull up stakes, no looking back.  Then I went to Acme to pick up a few last-minute things and started crying in the cereal aisle.  It suddenly hit me that it'd be the last time I'd ever go there, at least as a resident.  And although I always said it was creepy and overpriced and that the chicken was one step away from salmonella, the realization made me sad.  Partly because it reminded me of when the husband and I were first starting out nine years ago and we'd run to the store for something easy to throw together instead of a week's worth of groceries for grown-up meals.  Partly because there's something bittersweet about something being over, even when you know it's time to move on.  Kind of like the last episode of "Friends" (which also, by the way, made me get weepy).  I could come back to the island any time to walk the beach or eat at The Crab Shack.  But, like watching reruns of the Central Perk gang, which I can do any time, it wouldn't be the same.

Then, this past Friday, on the first day of fall, the husband and I signed on the dotted line(s) and officially became homeowners.  Which was exciting and scary and wonderful and made me realize that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.  And that was before I even started filling my spare room-slash-closet.

So.  If you don't hear from me in a while, then it's because I'm buried in boxes or fighting with Comcast or embellishing an old-timey mirror.  But that only means that bigger, better adventures and all things Tote Trove are just a few weeks away.

Until then, here's the best of Brigantine in pictures.

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.