Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Carol Playlist Extended

This time of year, radio stations that have been blasting Rudolph and Andy Williams since Thanksgiving return to their regularly scheduled programs.  Which is as it should be.  Because you can take only so much of the "Twelve Days of Christmas," especially the versions with those weird lyrics about bringing just four colored lights for the tree.  (I'm looking at you, Andy.)  But as for the rest of the holiday hoopla, I feel like I'm just getting started.  Maybe that's because I finished decorating the day before Christmas Eve and plan to leave everything up until Martin Luther King Day.  Some people may think that's strange, but to me, when all the excitement/merriment/chocolate mint of the big day is over, it's finally time to sit back, cinnamon tea in hand, and enjoy all those festive garlands and scary Santas.  It's also the best time to score bargains.  Especially on decorations.

Years of experience have taught me not to burst into Target or Macy's expecting mountains of discounted, glittery loot to fall at my snow boots, though.  The post-game shopping game requires more strategy.  Instead of expecting a garden of goods, I hunt for delicate dandelions and violets curling up from the sidewalk crack crannies of shelves and clearance bins.  This pay dirt is often half-hidden by the moss and weeds of stuff that's broken or just plain ugly (and yes, I know that most people consider dandelions to be weeds, but to this horticultural hoarder, they're the belles of the Christmas ball).  Like so much of life, post-holiday shopping is all about managing expectations.  So although I didn't unearth as much as I would've liked during my expeditions, I was pretty pleased to find this wreath for 70% off at Michaels (just $18!) and this trio of LC Lauren Conrad pastel pine trees for 70% at Kohl's (just $2.12 thanks to $10 in Kohl's cash!).

Here's some other stuff that less holiday hustle and bustle gave me the chance to do:

1) Wear (and photograph) this Pretty Pompom Presents Barrette.  I've always wanted to make an accessory out of those tiny shiny packages they sell with the mini tree decorations in craft stores, and now I have!  I think the mini pompoms add that certain something.

Ugly sweater print top: Xhilaration, Target
Mickey & Minnie sweatshirt: Disney, Kohl's

 Pretty Pompom Presents Barrette

2) Take a proper pic of the husband's newest gingerbread creation: a castle!  

This is the first thing the husband built using his own homemade gingerbread instead of graham crackers.  It's been standing for a couple of weeks now and so has proved to be structurally sound.  I assume that it's also delicious -- emphasis on "assume," as half-month-old gingerbread doesn't make for the best eating (or the calmest colon).  Still, I was more than willing to gobble up the consolation prize of leftover gumdrops and Swedish fish.

3) Like most people, I visited with lots of family this week.  And most of them agreed that what everyone wants for Christmas after Christmas is to stay home in their pajamas all day.  There's just something about the go-go-go pace that comes with cranking out cookies, prettying up presents, and smiling like you mean it on demand all the time that makes you want to hibernate with a good book, Netflix account, and/or homemade tattoo kit (hey, I don't know what you're into) until March when Rita's reopens with free water ice.  Yep, the week after Christmas is that sweet spot of you-time (provided that you don't have pets or small children -- or parents -- in diapers) between the 25th and whenever you've agreed to rejoin the rat race. 

And that makes it truly -- sing it with me, Andy -- the most wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A (Different Kind of) Christmas Story

 Fabulous Felt Christmas Pudding Barrette

Turtleneck: Wild Fable, Target
Sweater: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Macy's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's

Dress: Xhilaration, Target
Shoes: Delicious, Zulily
Bag: Macy's
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Bangles: B Fabulous
Ring: Making Waves
Lime stretch bracelet: Cloud Nine
Kelly stretch bracelet: Parade of Shoes

This post doesn't have a tongue stuck to a pole, a bunny suit, or a fishnet-clad leg lamp.  But it does have Christmas desserts made of felt (full of fiber and hands down the healthiest part of your holiday meal!) and a strange ornament from Christmas past.  

I made this ornament back in grade school.  I think it was for the tree in the school lobby or something.  Anyway, my mom found it in her ornament box while decorating her tree and told me I should have it.  (Okay, she plucked it off the back of her tree from land-of-misfit-toy-territory and said, "Take this.")  I had mixed feelings.  Although it was nice to see Greta again (she didn't have a name back then, but I think she's earned it now), I was also saddened by her bedraggled appearance.  Clearly, the attic had not been kind; the Greta I remembered was a bright-eyed kid full of holiday hope and wonder.  Now she looked like an old refuge who'd taken a tumble off a Douglas fir.  I had to do something.  So I brought her to makeover central, a.k.a. the craft room.  First, I cut off her weird, noose-like wire ornament hanger.  'Cause if that's not a metaphor for lost causes, then I don't know what is.  Greta could stand proudly on one of my shelves or tables; no more hanging from Douglas firs (or prelit faux pine Home Depot floor models that tip slightly forward) for her.  I didn't have any kelly green ribbon to replace the faded and fraying bows securing her braids, so I made do with some moss-colored satin.  I glued on fresh cotton balls to upgrade her to marvelous marshmallow status, then added rhinestones, sequins, and miniature pompoms for that homespun, church bazaar feel.  Is she perfect?  Hail no.  She looks like a reject from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or maybe a Russian majorette.  (Not that there's anything wrong with Russian majorettes; they're just not very Christmassy.)  But she's my majorette, and I'm happy to have her home for the holidays where she belongs.          

It just goes to show that a box of ornaments is like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get.  I hope that you too are reliving happy memories and making new ones with the people -- and creepy keepsakes -- you love.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Something from the Star: Bright Light, Lite Brite

Neon Orange and Chartreuse Barrettes

Neon Purple, Blue, and Pink Barrettes

 Neon Pink, Chartreuse, and Orange Barrettes

Inner Circle Barrette

Neon Purple and Pink Barrettes 

Top: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt (a dress!): Modcloth
Shoes: Circus by Sam Edelman, Kohl's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Gifted

What do G. Love & Special Sauce, Gremlins, and that Christmas light-like toy have in common?  They're all about lights and getting lit.  Although not necessarily in that order.  

Because Friday was the solstice, I thought it was a good time for a party look made for -- what else? -- northern lights and winter nights.  Enter this fluorescent frock, sparkly black top, and starry clutch  (holographic parka to ward off frostbite excluded.)  The top reminds me of an inky black sky, making for a spangled, albeit slightly smoggy backdrop for the brooch-styled barrettes.  I've worn it only once, to the movies.  This outfit, however, is ideal for clubbing in Juneau or Helsinki while downing mulled ciders and hot buttered rums.  Or, in my case, hot chocolates and herbal teas (see aforementioned sentence about me wearing this top to see Daddy's Home 2).  Because December is no time to guzzle the cold beverages so immortalized by the Sauce. 

So, about these barrettes.  I can't stop staring at them!  What can I say, their vivid colors and graphic shapes speak to me.  To make them, I decided not to fool with the craft store fare of openwork metal French and alligator clips and instead headed straight to the source, a.k.a. the grocery store grooming aisle, for Scunci and Goody.  These high-quality barrettes are comprised of French clips covered with durable plastic bars that make sturdy perches for cabochons.  The finished products make me think of candy, all colorful and shiny.  And yes, tasty.  Is it bad form to call one's own stuff tasty?  Not according to wannabe rap icon Big Tasty.  Then again, it's probably bad form to view the misguided middle kid from The Goldbergs as any kind of role model.  

One thing's for sure; these barrettes are a step up from the first barrette I ever made, which featured a weird, disembodied harlequin head.  I was about ten and big into harlequins, which were everywhere in the '90s.  Don't ask.  Anyway, the barrette was a big, gold-rimmed white plastic rectangle to which I affixed a ceramic sparkly green and purple turbanned head.  It was pretty heavy (figuratively and literally, clown motifs always being disturbing), and I don't think I ever wore it.  Kind of like how I rarely played with my Lite Brite set.  That was more of my sister's thing (literally; it was her toy.)  Maybe that was because of the if-not-menacing-than-unquestionably-unsettling clown head on the box.  The head that was most certainly that of a workaday circus performer and not a high-brow harlequin.  

It always comes back to clowns.  Maybe they're the ones we shouldn't feed after midnight.  

Sunday, December 16, 2018

When Pigs Fly: Perfectly Imperfect

Banana Bow Barrette 

Perfectly Imperfect Necklace

Top: Mudd, Kohl's
Skirt: Wild Fable, Target
Shoes: Not Rated, Journeys
Bag: Olivia Miller, J. C. Penney's
Yellow necklace: So, Kohl's
Royal blue bangle: So, Kohl's
Turquoise bangle: Burlington Coat Factory
Yellow bangle: Boscov's
Black bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's

I ordered this beautiful black and red rhinestone necklace, and when it arrived, it was broken.  I was disappointed for about two seconds before I remembered that 1) it cost seven dollars, and 2) I could fix it and make it even better.  So, I gathered some bright turquoise plastic chain and quirky charms and cabochons, including one of a neon pink pig with wings.  The packaging said "when pigs fly," and that made me think of the children's book Perfect the Pig.

A classic story by Susan Jeschke, Perfect the Pig is about a piglet who is the runt of the litter and, as such, is overlooked by his mother and siblings.  Then one day he sees a big sow struggling on her back.  Despite his tiny size, he uses all of his strength and ingenuity to push her right side up, and as a thank-you, she grants him a wish.  The piglet asks for wings, which sprout right away.  But when he returns home, his siblings laugh at him and tell him to live with the birds.  So he does, but the birds laugh at him, too.  Ostracized, the piglet flies out to the city.  There he lands on the fire escape of a kindhearted artist named Olive.  When she sees him, she says, "So tiny, and with such beautiful wings.  How perfect!"  And so that's what she decides to call him.  She washes him, feeds him fresh vegetables from her garden, and makes him the star of her still life paintings.  As Perfect grows, Olive starts saving money so that they can buy a house in the country.  Then one day, when Perfect is out flying, a man kidnaps him and forces him to perform in his show.  He cages Perfect, feeds him garbage, and threatens to send him to the butcher.  Perfect is shocked and heartbroken, and his wings begin to ache.  Then Olive sees a poster for the show and finds him.  She and the kidnapper argue over who should keep Perfect, so a bystander sends them to a judge (as you do).  The judge does the old let's-let-the-pig-decide deal, Perfect goes to Olive, and the judge grants them half the kidnapper's earnings.  They use it to buy that house in the country and live happily ever after.

This is such a bittersweet book, with such a grown-up message.  I remember being disturbed by it as a kid, though.  I hated the idea of little Perfect being ridiculed for the very wings that made him so special.  Also, the part about the man exploiting him was unsettling because it showed that evil lurked in the world.  Although this story still makes me cry, I now appreciate its bright side.  Which is that Perfect and Olive are kindred spirits bound by a benevolent universe.  And that's a reassuring thought, whether you're five, ninety-five, or somewhere in between.  Even if the back of the book says "ages 4-7."

That said, I think this little winged piglet is what saved this necklace -- and made it unique.  Well, that and the banana, which I found so, er, a-peeling, that I used a couple more in the matching barrette.  Both accessories are fun and eclectic in an '80s way, which is fitting because 1) Perfect the Pig was published in 1980, and 2) this outfit screams Debbie Gibson hosts story hour.

So, I guess the moral here is to persevere and embrace imperfection (and to be kind and refuse to eat refuse).  'Cause pigs got to fly, and rhinestones got to shine.  No necklace -- or wing -- is ever broken.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Bright Tights, Big City

 Day Glo Gumball Necklace

Tee: Mighty Fine,  JCPenney
Blouse: My Michelle, Kohl's
Skirt: Bubblegum, Macy's
Shoes: Unlisted, Marshalls
Bag: Nordstrom

So, I read this Pulitzer-nominated, "serious" book that I didn't much like and was all set to blog about it by saying, "I kept at it and eventually realized that this book was not unlike our friend the crab -- you had to labor away at cracking the claws to get to the delicious meat.  (And yes, my choice of the word "friend" to describe dinner is not lost on me.)."  Then I read this other, wonderful book and said, oh, scrap it, I'll blog about that instead.

That book is Still Me, which is Jojo Moyes's final volume in the beloved Louisa Clark trilogy.  Surely you remember Lou, the bright-eyed and brightly clad caretaker of the handsome, wealthy, and embittered paraplegic Will Traynor?  They fell in love, and then he died and they made a movie about it starring the Mother of Dragons (Emilia Clarke) from "Game of Thrones?"  Well, Moyes wrote another book after that called After YouMe Before You ends with Lou setting out bravely into the Paris sunshine wearing the bespoke bumblebee-striped tights that Will gave her.  But in After You she's back in England and has to get on with it.  And she starts by stumbling off a ledge and being rescued by a hunky paramedic named Sam.  Sam's steady influence helps shepherd her through 1) a humiliating gig as an Irish-themed Hooters barmaid and 2) becoming a kind of foster mom to Will's surprise of a troubled teenage daughter.  They fall in love and it's lovely -- not at all like when Oliver moves on after Jenny in, blech, Oliver's Story.  (Full disclosure: I've never actually read Oliver's Story.  That's how much I hate the idea.)  But then, maybe that's because Will was doomed from the start, destined, it seems, to be Louisa's teacher (his last name is Traynor, after all, which sounds an awful lot like "train her") as opposed to her partner, making the idea of Lou and Sam go down easier.  At the end of After You, Sam gets shot (what?!) -- but lives, and Lou emigrates to New York City to become a caretaker for another super rich family.  Because, despite overcoming her grief, she still has to grow, to move from the small town where she's always lived to take a bite from the Big Apple.

So, now that you're all caught up, let's plunge into Still Me, shall we?

Louisa is the paid companion (I don't know about you, but that term always gives me the giggles) of Agnes Gopnick, a seemingly innocuous if high-strung Polish masseuse-turned-socialite who's in her late twenties just like Louisa.  As the second and much younger wife of a captain of industry, she's despised far and wide in Manhattan.  That's why she needs Louisa to play therapy dog.  Yet things aren't easy for Louisa either.  Getting used to a new country, a hideous uniform (no small feat for fashion girl Lou -- although she grins and bears it with the same equanimity as she does everything), and the ways of the one-percenters, all while missing Sam terribly, is nothing to sneeze at.  And although this book has an offbeat and keen sense of humor, it isn't of the zany-new-girl-in-the-city variety.  It's a story of layers, and sometimes it tears your heart out.  Because Louisa is put through the wringer, both on the job and off the clock.  Even after everything she's been through, her still-trusting nature lands her in trouble.  Suffice it to say that a lot of stuff happens, and she leaves the Gopnick household and ends up as the, albeit unpaid, companion of an old lady named Margot De Witt.  Earlier in the book, Mrs. De Witt seems like an unfeeling crone.  And initially she doesn't care for Louisa.  But after an emergency throws them together, Lou's kindness and their shared love of fashion win Mrs. De Witt over, and the two soon become confidantes.  As a retired fashion magazine editor, Mrs. DeWitt has roomfuls of crazy designer clothes and accessories, which, paired with her ballsy attitude, made me picture her as Iris Apfel.  (It turns out that this was what Moyes intended, as revealed in the Q&A at the end of the book.)  Luckily, I have this book about Iris, which I first heard about on Tiara's Jewel Divas Style blog, to post here for your viewing pleasure:

Anyway, things are finally on the upswing for Louisa.  She has a knack for getting herself into impossible situations only to muster her considerable imagination and optimism to turn it all around.  This is how Moyes takes us from the depths of despair to the kind of feel-good, well, feeling where the garden explodes into bloom and a trolley of tea cakes races in from the wings (this being an English story; if it were based in New Jersey, then I'd say non-urine-tainted water slides and Manco's pizza).  Moyes makes you work hard for the happy ending (there were more than a couple of times when I thought, why couldn't I have just chosen a nice cheerful murder mystery instead of hopping aboard this emotional roller coaster?).  But that makes it all the more satisfying; no plot hole-filled Swiss cheese here, just the sweet, gritty crunch of gumballs (like -- insert subtle product placement -- the ones in my Day Glo Gumball Necklace).  Because Still Me isn't any old romance; it's a good romance.  Plus a journey of self discovery.

Here's one of my favorite parts.  Partly because it captures the book's theme, partly because it's about clothes.  (I can't tell you my actual favorite part because it's even more of a spoiler than the rest of this post.)  Louisa and Agnes are at the famed Yellow Ball, and Agnes is worried that her avant-garde gown doesn't fit in with the other women's more classic looks:

Lou: "Own it.  Hold your head up.  Like you couldn't give a crap."

She (Agnes) stared at me (Lou).

Lou: "A friend once taught me this.  The man I used to work for.  He told me to wear my stripey legs with pride."

Agnes: "Your what?"

Lou: "He . . .Well, he was telling me it was okay to be different from everyone else.  Agnes, you look about a hundred times better than any of the other women here.  You're gorgeous.  And the dress is striking.  So just let it be a giant finger to them.  You know?  I'll wear what I like."  (54)

Agnes may have billions, but Louisa has wisdom.

Guess you can say she earned those stripes.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Page Match: Ann With a Tee vs. Anne of Green Cables

 Mesa Medallion Necklace

There are a lot of Ann's out there in pop culture, some great and some questionable.  But the best and brightest to me is Anne from L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.  This starry-eyed, red-headed orphan's boundless imagination and sunny sweet spirit won her the hearts of everyone on Prince Edward Island.  My aunt gave me the boxed set one year for Christmas.  (See below; and yes, in volume one, Anne is defaced -- literally, by peeling paper in her facial region.  If that doesn't say much-loved, obsessively-read childhood favorite, then I don't know what does.)  As soon as I started reading the first book, I was hooked.  Anne's charming personality -- and Montgomery's heart-breakingly beautiful prose -- cast a fairy tale spell over what was an otherwise ordinary Canadian town.  That world and its everyday magic was what inspired me to start keeping a journal.  I was so eager to capture everything, to jot down every sun-dappled street, cherished new dress, and wonderfully weird thought until it became something better than it was in my mind.  This went double for the bad stuff -- once I put my worries on the page, they always seemed suddenly smaller.  So, I loved Anne for her colorfulness and her courage.  Also because she insisted that people spell her name with its proper "e."  Which I found especially funny because I always got annoyed when people inserted a superfluous "e" in Tracy.

So, if the "great" Ann is Anne of Green Gables, then who's the "questionable" one?  Why, women's fashion retailer Ann Taylor (and for the sake of this post, its more affordable offshoot, Ann Taylor Loft).  For those who don't know, this chain is a bastion of sensibly stylish apparel for no-nonsense women and as such has been the butt of many a movie and TV show joke:

This is 40: Leslie Mann's Debbie laments turning the big 4-oh by whining, "I don't want to start shopping at Chico's and Ann Taylor!"  'Nuf said.

"Girls": Season 1: A job interviewer gives Marnie's suit the stink eye and asks, "Where does one even buy an outfit like that?," to which Marnie flatly replies, "Ann Taylor."  A few seasons later: Shoshanna interviews for a job at Ann Taylor (corporate office, no sweater folding for this one) and it's going gangbusters until she passes because she wants something bigger and better.  Her bravado leads to a dead-end job in Japan, which kind of makes Ann the one that got away in this story.  Moving on.

What's Your Number?: Anna Faris's recently fired Ally uses an Ann Taylor gift card to buy a new interview suit (Ms. Taylor, it seems, always has a seat at the job hustling table).  However, unlike with Shoshanna, it's the Ann Taylor avenue that's the dead end because Ally's true destiny is making clay figurines.  Score one for team crafty!

Instant Family: Rose Byrne's Ellie deals with a foster daughter who tests her by making a crack about her old lady sweater, causing an outraged Ellie to protest, "This is from Ann Taylor!"  Sorry, Ellie, but the kid knows her stuff.

So there you have it. Ann Taylor, bastion of boring, er, sensibly stylish apparel.  A hip and free-wheeling fashionista such as myself wouldn't be caught dead wearing so much as a pair of socks from there, right?  Well, almost.

I actually have three Ann Taylor Loft garments in my wardrobe: two tops (above) that I bought eons ago and a cardigan (also above) that I picked up at an outlet in Nashville last year.  The tops aren't even Ann Taylor brand, but rather the cute and bucolic-sounding Daisy and Clover.  My favorite thing about them is that they're flattering -- so take that, sensible!  My favorite thing about the cardi is the sperm whales.  Upon seeing it out for the photo, the husband asked, "Did you put the octopus necklace with the sperm whale sweater because of their iconic yin and yang battle for the sea?"  To which I replied, "Shell, yeah."  (And yes, he really talks like that, which just goes to show we were made for each other.)

So, if that's it for Ann, then what's up with this hunter-hued sweater?  Straight out of Arizona Jeans country, this classic dream weaver serves as a backdrop for my Triple Horn Unicorn Necklace to represent -- who else? -- our girl Anne of Green Gables.  Because nothing says whimsy and wonder like one (or three) of these mystical beasts.  I've always loved unicorns (obvi).  And I think that lots of other girls and women (and/or boys and men, hey, I'm not here to judge) do too because they represent both childhood comfort and the sometimes uncomfortable idea of the fantastic and far-out unknown.

Anne with an "e," blink once if you agree.  What's that?  I have to replace volume one first because you can't blink and also might be coming down with age-related macular degeneration?  Fair enough.  I'll put in a word with Santa.  And also maybe that aunt.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Restasis Oasis: Arizona Iced Weeee! What a Well Watered Cactus

It's no secret that I love cacti.  So much so that I decorated my office to be a little paradise of these prickly pals.

Now that I've shamelessly showed off one of my sanctuaries, let's get back to our regularly scheduled (and equally shameless) show-and-tell of my crafts and closet!  Still stuck on saguaros, I decided to make more cacti barrettes.  I've always been a fan of that whole iconic cactus against a sunset aesthetic, so I decided to play with that.  To me, the contrast of cool green against the red/pink, orange, and yellow explosion of a dying sun is dazzlingly dramatic.

Tops from top to bottom: Fifth Sun, J. C. Penney's; Derek Heart, J. C. Penney's; Almost Famous, Boscov's

Anyway, cacti come from Arizona, and so does Busy Phillips.  I just finished reading her autobiography, This Will Only Hurt a Little, and binged her new E! talk show "Busy Tonight," and I can say that she's as sharp and tough as the Southwest's spikiest succulent.

I was expecting This Will Only Hurt a Little to be a laugh-out-loud lark.  But it isn't.  Busy's breezy, conversational writing only ups the intensity of her memoir, which is emotional, raw, and sometimes hard to read.  (You know, hard to read as in contains heavy stuff.  Like all those Oscar-nominated movies that are hard to watch.  Which is also, incidentally, the title of Tracy Jordan's [Tracy Morgan's] EGOT-bait feature film on "30 Rock."  Fun fact: Tina Fey produces "Busy Tonight."  Coincidence?  I think not.)  I should've realized that This Will Only Hurt a Little wouldn't be a sitcom anecdote-studded giggle fest made R rated by a few f-bombs.  First of all, there's the title.  Sure, it'll only hurt a little -- but that means it will still hurt some.  And then there's the front and back covers, which feature a pink suit-clad Busy perched hopefully yet apprehensively on what can be only a waiting room chair on account of its uncomfortable-looking 1970s-era harvest gold pleather.  It might be the waiting room of a doctor's office or for an audition, but the message is clear: whatever's on the other side of that door has the power to make or break you (and Busy.  Because this is her book.).

So, what makes This Will Only Hurt a Little an uneasy read?  It isn't just the Time's Up/Me Too-tinged accounts of chauvinism in Hollywood -- although those certainly make an impact.  It's Busy's teenage years.  Some seriously scary things happened to her, the kinds of things that could destroy a girl's faith in herself and in men for the rest of her life.  We all know that high school can be awful and about as far from a sock hop as a corn dog from a vegan buffet.  So, it's all the more meaningful when Busy describes rising above her own chilling chapter to follow -- and achieve -- her dream of becoming an actress.  Even when one of her high school boyfriends steals the credit for writing Blades of Glory.  That's right; Ms. Phillips is responsible for that hilarious Will Ferrell (and okay, John Heder) movie about competitive male figure skating.  Which, now that I think about it, makes perfect sense, as it's funny and glitzy and raunchy and has lots of heart, just like Busy.  As for that old plagiarizing ex, no one even knows his name.  He's probably selling corn dogs somewhere.

Now, there is a part in the book where Busy says that fellow "Dawson's Creek" star Katie Holmes was "very sweet," but "wasn't really like a hang-out-and-smoke kind of girl," (171) which gave me pause, as I'm no hang-out-and-smoke kind of girl either.  But then I reminded myself that for better or worse, this book is Busy's truth (she says so on page 8), and if she and Katie didn't click, then so be it.  Also, Katie doesn't have a book or talk show.

That said, here's a part of the book that I love:

"Have I talked about being a sparkly human yet?  Well, I have a theory.  There are certain people who are what I call sparkly humans.  These are people who have things just happen for them or to them because other people see them and seemingly inexplicably want to help them.  Because they sparkle.  From the inside out.  I was always a sparkly human (still am, for the most part, on most days).  Adults just liked me and wanted to help me.  Not kids at my school.  Sometimes sparkliness isn't recognized by peers until much later.  Sometimes sparkly people are even bullied as kids.  Because other kids want to put that light out.  They don't understand it and they want to kill it.  The secret is, if you're truly sparkly, you survive all that bullshit and you don't let them put it out.  And at some point, you started to get rewarded for it.  Sparkly humans aren't always entertainers, and they don't always become famous.  There are sparkly humans everywhere.  And there are also plenty of people who are wonderful and amazing, but aren't sparkly.  It's a very specific thing." (126-127)

I think this is cool and interesting, this idea that some people are marked for greatness like characters in a fairy tale.  And also, that this greatness can take many forms.  But that all of the forms are united by this one intangible but unmistakable thing.

Busy brings her sparkle and pioneering, take-no-prisoners attitude to "Busy Tonight."  In her book, she talks about being tired of waiting around for casting directors to decide her fate about this or that project, or to tell her that she doesn't have the right look or that she has to lose weight.  Why not do something where she calls the shots?  Why not create a safe space for topical issues and girl talk and silliness?  Why not host her own talk show?  I'm glad she did because "Busy Tonight" is so fun!  The set is bright and eclectic, like, as Busy herself says, a sitcom living room.  Busy wears great outfits, and her enthusiasm is infectious from the time she runs out onstage to the time she puts on Mr. Nightgown.  So far, some of her guests include Mindy Kaling, Kristen Bell, John Stamos (the first dude, and a gracious one at that), and even Julia Roberts, all of whom Busy ushers into her photo booth before commercial breaks.  And then, at the very end, she comes out in a long, floral, Bohemian-style muumuu (the aforementioned Mr. Nightgown) and sings a goodnight song so endearing and clever that you can't help but hear it in your head all day.  Listening to it, I always think, I really hope this works out for you, Busy, because you seem to really want -- and deserve -- it.

As they (don't) say, cactus makes for imperfect.  Bring on the smudged glitter.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Cornucopia Colors and Happy Thanksgiving

 Focal Feather Necklace

Dress: Almost Famous, Kohl's
Turtleneck: Zulily
Shoes: Penny Loves Kenny, Zulily
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Big blue bead bracelet: Cloud 9
Bangle and small blue bracelets: JCPenney
Beaded bracelet: Plymouth Plantation gift shop
Ring: Francesca's
Barrettes: The Tote Trove

You know how you look out at the horizon of fiery fall foliage and think, what this needs is a teal peacock feather?  Well, I had that same thought when I planned this year's Thanksgiving outfit.  As much as I loved my new floral goldenrod dress, I wanted to add the snap of cool blue for contrast.  So a peacock pendant it was, along with my trusty blue envelope clutch.  I don't have to tell you that I'd rather make accessories than side dishes.  I don't like to cook unless it's with something that comes from a box or can.  Partly because can product art can be pretty nifty.

What is it about pictures of food that say 1950s?  I refer, of course, to the classic foods of yore such as mac n' cheese, ham, casseroles, and anything made with JELL-O.  Not the sea salt-dusted kale and quinoa of today, which is about as picturesque as Walmart on Black Friday.

That said, whatever you wear or whatever you eat, I hope that everyone has a fancy feast and a happy Thanksgiving!

Because fancy isn't just for felines.  Me-wow.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sweater Weather on Your Guard: Undercover Investigation

Gilda Glamazon Necklace

Sweater: Wild Fable, Target
Skirt: Dancing Days by Banned, Modcloth
Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Zulily
Bag: Dancing Days by Banned, Modcloth
White polka dot bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Orange striped bangle: Target
Yellow bangle: B Fabulous
Cream rose bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Gold and orange striped bangle: Macy's
Barrettes: The Tote Trove 

In the last couple of weeks, it's gotten chilly in South Jersey.  Which means time to stash the tee shirts and break out the sweaters.  Now, sweaters are cozy and snugly and all -- but they can also be kind of tricky.  Not like blouses, which are easy because they're polyester.  (Well, my blouses are easy because they're polyester.  But let's assume for the sake of this post that yours are polyester too, shall we?).  Good old, created-in-a-lab poly ensures that those blouses wash up wrinkle-free and always look stellar.  But sweaters . . .  It's like, along with the sniffles and defrosting your car, Mother Nature has brought you this extra special treat of a wardrobe scavenger hunt.  Because sweaters come in many stripes and fibers, most of them far from groovy.  The good and bad ones are all mixed up together, like a bag of Hershey's miniatures rife with Special Darks and Mr. Goodbars (again, those are not my favorites.  If you're a Special Dark devotee, then you know the drill.).  You've got your cotton, your cashmere, your acrylic, your wool, and your rayon-viscose-poly-nylon-modal-and-sometimes-cotton blends.  With so many natural and synthetic contenders clogging up the racks, how's a shopper to choose?  By reading The Tote Trove's rundown on naughty and nice knits, of course.  Let 'er rip.

Acrylic: I've said it before and I'll say it again: never ever buy acrylic.  It pills after the first wash.  The exception is if it's acrylic that's also chenille (and not just because it rhymes with Tennille, as in the Captain and Tennille and also my childhood cat).  Unlike evil everyday acrylic, chenille doesn't pill, although after lots and lots of wear it does tend to get holes.  Another plus is that it's oddly luxurious and kitschy.  And guess what?  It's trendy again! 

Cashmere: This Cadillac of sweaters is synonymous with actual luxury.  Yet I take issue with this because -- surprise! -- it pills just like acrylic.  Also, it's as itchy as all get out.  But then again, what do you expect from something that's made from a goat?  

Cotton: I don't often tout the virtues of natural fibers.  But there's no denying that when it comes to sweaters, cotton is king.  Pill-proof and tough, cotton sweaters keep their shape and color long after other fabrics have packed up and moved to hagsville.  Ding-ding-ding; we have a wardrobe winner!

Ramie: Ramie is like cotton's less successful neighbor.  It works in the same building, but in a cubicle instead of the corner office.  Which is a weird way of saying that it doesn't pill as badly as acrylic but is nowhere near as smooth as cotton.  So, if you have a few extra bucks and find one on sale, then buying it is, on the junk food consumption scale, better than choking down a Hot Pocket but not as divine as devouring a Cinnabon.  Mixed metaphors out.    

Wool: Wool is supposedly a high-rent fiber, but it's even itchier than cashmere, so don't be a sheep -- don't buy it.

Rayon-viscose-poly-nylon-modal-and-sometimes-cotton Blends: The blends are a step up above ramie.  They're more durable, wash reasonably well, and even have a shiny sheen.  Their cubicle is closer to the corner office and they have an assistant who brings them Cinnabons.  They also have fat asses from said Cinnabons, but as they say, you can't have everything.

So, what's the takeaway?  Most sweaters are awful.  Stick to polyester blouses.  That said, I of course have lots of sweaters.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Before I sign off, here's a close-up of my Dancing Days by Banned purse featured with this week's outfit.  It was a summer clearance find from Modcloth, and I thought it deserved to shine against its own rich red background.

Ah, summer how I miss you and your sweater-free days.  You've got bitchin' (ahem) in the bag.