Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Parrot Parade Brigade: Polly Want a Slacker?

The husband got me this top recently.  Believe it or not, it's actually for a man.  A small man, but a man nonetheless.  I suppose this makes it a shirt, as we all know that real men don't wear tops or eat quiche.  Anyway, it came from Amazon, which is fitting because it looks like a collage from an enchanted rain forest.  I say enchanted because I imagine that real rain forests are more Animal Planet than Magic Kingdom, unphotogenic and gruesome in their circle of life-ness.  Even if "Circle of Life" was a song in The Lion King.  Because if anyone can put a good spin on death, then it's Disney.

In keeping with the parrot theme, here's my old pal Randall.  But for the purposes of this post, I'll call him, or rather her (because if I can wear a dude's shirt, then he can certainly change genders), Polly.  And Polly most definitely does not want a cracker.  Or a slacker.  So, no rum or Jimmy Buffett.  Or rum made by Jimmy Buffet.  She also doesn't want a passel of insects or whatever it is that parrots eat.  What she really craves is a buttery brioche topped with a fresh slice of mango.  She's a discerning one, my precious Polly, demanding only the best from the island's buffet.  Not to be confused, of course, with the island's best Buffett.

Cheeseburger in paradise or not, his kind's not welcome here.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pastel Rainbows and White Tornadoes: Telling Tween Tales from the Tripped

Top: Wild Fable, Target
Skirt: Wild Fable, Target
Coat: Wild Fable, Target
Boots: Style & Co., Macy's
Bag: Sugar Thrillz, Dolls Kill
Pouch: H&M
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
White and black bangles: Mixit, JCPenney
Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney
Barrettes: The Tote Trove

 Right as Rainbow Unicorn Necklace

Top: Freshman 1996, Macy's
Jeans: Allen B., JCPenney
Shoes: Penny Loves Kenny, DSW
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Pink and mint pompom purse charm: Michaels
Blue pompom purse charm: A.C. Moore
Sunglasses: Target

Top: Rebellious One, Macy's
Skirt: So, Kohl's
Coat: She Said, JCPenney
Shoes: Worthington, JCPenney
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Bracelets: So, Kohl's

When I started planning this post, I had visions of a pastel goth theme.  You know.  Graphic black spiderwebs spun against candy pink skirts and dresses, biker boots riding alongside ribbons and ruffles, and skulls creeping out of Barbie doll silhouettes.  Although there's the, ahem, ghost of some of that aesthetic going on here, I never achieved the netherworld wardrobe heights of my nightmares.  Turns out that I'm just not that spooky  -- despite persisting with a title that incorporates an (admittedly lazy) "Tales from the Crypt" pun.  But that's okay.  I'm not into horror movies, just like as a kid, I never read the works of illustrious fear mongers R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike.  I was happy inhabiting the unicorn and rainbowed orbits of The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Girl Talk (in the case of Sweet Valley Twins, literally.  Unicorn Club membership, anyone?)  In other words, chick lit minus the sheet twisting.       

Such is my clumsy segue into this post's real topic, which is young adult (YA) novels of the '80s and '90s as seen though the lens of Gabrielle Moss's Paperback Crush.  And, of course, as always, me.

In addition to being nostalgic, Paperback Crush is funny.  Moss, who is not just a book fair relic hoarder but a journalist, pokes fun at herself and her favorite heroines in this totally rad retrospective.  Back then, fictional girl world was, after all, sprinkled with so much Wet n' Wild-pureed fairy dust that it's no wonder it wasn't hazardous to young women's emotional health.  Also, maybe their lungs.

My favorite YA series was the Baby-Sitters Club.  To be clear, the babysitting didn't interest me and instead kind of got in the way.  But these books had the most relatable characters.  They had their spats but were generally kind and level-headed, unlike the drama queens of Sweet Valley (more on these Cali girls later).  Also, artist babysitter Claudia Kishi had the best duds in the biz, often featuring way cool accessories she made herself.

Girl Talk was the weakest link in terms of content, but its covers were the most colorful (see below), and I liked the descriptions of the outfits.  I don't think anyone could expect much more from a series that started life as a board game involving prank calls and zit stickers.

Sweet Valley might not have been the most comforting of make-believe neighborhoods.  But there was still something appealing about it.  Like Moss, I was impressed by Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefields' hairdos on the covers of the Sweet Valley High books.  But the sophisticated storylines were too much for me, so I stayed safely in the lane of Sweet Valley Twins, which starred a middle school-aged Elizabeth and Jessica.  The raciest thing to happen there was their friend Sandra Ferris wearing a red bra under her white blouse.  Although I was a bookish Elizabeth who fancied herself a glamorous Jessica (I had similar angst about The Baby-Sittters Club's Mary Anne and Stacey), even I found their one-dimensional characterizations to be a little limiting.  For example, in one book, the girls pop into a drugstore where Elizabeth buys a paperback, and Jessica goes for makeup and candy.  And I remember thinking, I'm a bookworm, sure, but I also love lip gloss and Twizzlers.  Why doesn't Francine Pascal get that?!

Apparently, it wasn't to Pascal that I should've directed my preteen frustration.  Moss reveals that Pascal didn't actually write the series.  That's why she's credited with being the creator of instead of the writer of Sweet Valley.  So, faceless ghostwriter lady (or gentleman), next time maybe think about writing about a girl genius who chucks it all for clown school or something.  And who is also obsessed with mascara.

Stereotypes aside, the thing that made all YA books so much fun was the sense of escape they provided.  Their mean girls were never as diabolical as the ones in real life, and fictional falling-outs always came to a head instead of festering, with the main character resolving them by the final chapter.  Still, as I thumbed through Paperback's pages, I couldn't help but be glad that all of it, real or imaginary, was behind me.  Because even when prettied up in novels, the inner workings of middle school social structure remained front and center in girls' lives.  It was there from the time Kelly or Amanda or Jennifer arrived at the bus stop, her bursting-at-the-seams Jansport giving her scoliosis, following her to gym class before reaching its summit at that horrid epicenter of the day known as recess.  Then it wound down during social studies and resurfaced for a lackadaisical but no-less-pernicious attack on the bus ride home, slinking away just in time for an after-school snack of ants on a log.

Huh.  Maybe this post is about horror after all.

And maybe we're not supposed to identify with only Jessica or Mary Anne or even Claudia, but with facets of each one until we're older and can better understand who we are.  Because although adulthood isn't always as fab as we dream when we're kids, it has its perks.  Like, in the face of awkward social situations, being able to hide out in your Honda to read or drive to the mall.

Someone should write a grown-up lady series about that.  But not you, Francine Pascal.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

My Two Turtlenecks: Sunny Side S'up

I'm posting about my two turtlenecks because they remind me of that show "My Two Dads."  You know, the one from the late '80s with Paul Reiser and that other guy and the girl who ended up on "Step by Step" (IMDb says her name is Staci Keanan).  Not because it was a great show (it wasn't).  But because it took place in an apartment with a car in it.  Not in a car accident-kind-of-way, but in a car-as-art-kind-of-way.  Because the non-Paul Reiser guy was an artist.  (IMDb says his name is Greg Evigan).

The girl in the show had two dads because her mom died and didn't know which of her ex-boyfriends was the father.  Racy stuff for that time.  But 1987 was a big year for sitcom families with more than one dad (I'm talking to you, "Full House."  Even if your extra two papas were just mullet-sporting, low-rent entertainment biz uncles.)  That said, I have two (identical) turtlenecks because, like fatherless waifs all over the world, I've been on the search all my life.  Or, at least since I chucked my last daffodil-hued standby five years ago.  (Sadly, despite not being acrylic, it had a mad case of the pills.)  I have so many sleeveless blouses and dresses in need of the kind of warmth -- both in color and fabric -- that can come only from the type of top preferred by tortoises, in the shade of hot, melty Velveeta.  Are these two tops ever so slightly boxier than I would've liked?  Um, is Uncle Jesse still a San Francisco treat?  (The answer is an unequivocal yes.)  Nevertheless, I wasn't about to let a little thing like a less-than-perfect fit stop me from stocking up on such a coveted and hard-to-come-by commodity.  In my experience, most people shy away from yellow, which is why stores don't carry a lot of clothes in that color.  So when I saw this top in the Wild Fable corner of Target, I pounced.

I decided to photograph my dynamic duo with a couple of my old '80s-inspired felt necklaces that are almost -- but not quite -- the same.  I like to think of them as fraternal twins.  Like two dads that are the same but different, one a free spirit in a leather jacket and the other a buttoned-up nerd in a tie.  But both full of love for their daughter.  In this analogy, I'm the daughter.  And it's the turtlenecks that are my dads.       

Now all I need is that car.

And, of course, a bucket of Velveeta.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Spin-off Kilt-er Filter: 90s Knits and Hits

Top: Wild Fable, Target
Skirt: Dickie's, Dolls Kill
Boots: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Socks: Gifted
Bag: Olivia Miller, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Wild Fable, Target

 Menagerie Madness Rainbow Rampage Necklace

Blouse: Bongo, Sears
Skirt: Vanilla Star, Macy's
Shoes: Betsey Johnson, DSW
Bag: Sleepyville Critters, Zulily

Sweater: Hearts & Roses London, Zulily
Skirt: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney
Shoes: Penny Loves Kenny, Zulily
Bag: Tee Shirt & Jeans, Kohl's
Red bangle: B Fabulous
Cream bangle: Mixit, JCPenney

Top: TJ Maxx
Skirt: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney
Boots: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Modcloth
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's

When I first saw the commercials for The Goldbergs spin-off Schooled, I was like, "What?!  How are they going to have a '90s-something sitcom about Barry's girlfriend Lainey when the '80s-something Goldbergs is still on the air?!"  But then I saw The Goldbergs episode where Barry (who's a high school senior) and Lainey (who's a college dropout) struggle to end their engagement, and all became clear.  Although they're still in love, they don't want to get married.  Because they live in the 1980s, not the 1890s!  Anyway, Lainey makes the decision easy -- or as easy as it can be -- by leaving Jenkintown for LA to chase her dream of becoming a rock star with no more than a goodbye (VHS, of course) video.  So, she's out of the '80s and out of Beverly's kitchen, freeing her to become the new chorus teacher at her old high school a decade or so later.  Yet despite this tidy send-off/set-up, I remained suspicious.  Would Schooled work or merely be a flash in the pan?  Still, either way, I knew I would watch it.  Because if there's a sitcom on TV, then I tune in.  Even if it's one of the bad ones.  

Luckily, Schooled turned out to be one of the good ones.  I don't know if it was Lainey's classic underdog-meets-feisty-fish-out-of-water character, the abundance of chokers and plaid miniskirts, the sweet swell of '90s pop rock classics, or even the appearance of Brett Dier (Jane the Virgin's Michael) as curly coiffed English teacher extraordinaire and Lainey's nascent love interest.  But I was sunk by the end of the pilot.  The haunting yet hopeful strains of The Smashing Pumpkins's "Today" playing as Lainey's students mosh for their school concert instead of crooning a barbershop quartet might have cinched it.  Because although I talk a lot about my love for '80s trends and pop culture, at heart, I'm a '90s chick (or, as Icona Pop originally intended, a '90s bitch.  Why the FCC dubbed that out but let Meredith Brooks belt out her '90s anthem "Bitch" over the airwaves remains a mystery to me.  Perhaps the '90s were a kinder, gentler -- and yet somehow more badass -- time.).  People identify most with the decade when they came of age, and I'm no different.  To this day, when I hear Weezer or the Cranberries or Better than Ezra or any other angsty group of that era, I feel this kind of euphoric melancholy (if there is such a thing), like nothing and everything is possible all at once.  Although I like all kinds of music, it's this stuff that seems the best and most real to me, like it's delivering a personal message.  You know.  Like the super-intense, self-absorbed way you feel about everything when you're a teenager.  

On a less introspective note, in the '90s I was also into plaid minis.  I had dozens and now wish that I hadn't given them all to Goodwill.  Fortunately, like rainbows, chenille, faux fur, checkerboard prints, and ring zippers, they're having a moment again.  So I restocked my closet.  This week I put together not one, not two, not three, but four outfits in which Scotch skirts rule.  Here they are by themselves, photographed Warhol-style:

That said, Schooled has fashion, nostalgia, and nostalgic fashion all locked up.  But more importantly, like The Goldbergs, it's also a (putting on my adult voice now) quality program.  Part of the genius of The Goldbergs is that grown-up Adam's voice-over never tells you exactly which year it is, just that it's such and such a date in 1980-something.  This frees the show to reference movies, songs, and fashions of the time in keeping with the storyline instead of the date without prompting nitpicky viewers to protest exactly when said stuff hit the market.  Not that some viewers don't do that anyway (I've seen that Fan Corrections segment on Conan; I know that there are basement-dwelling Internet trolls as far as a Nielsen box can reach).  The point is, The Goldbergs isn't about being a factually perfect chronicle of what happened during an iconic decade.  It's not The Eighties on CNN, or even I Love the 80s on VH1.  It's about creating a tribute to all the things everyone loves about this decade, all the little slice-of-life snippets that make it what it is in our memories.  Also, the show is equal parts big laughs and heart, which is a sure-fire formula for any sitcom.  No one wants to love a family who isn't funny, just as no one wants to laugh if they don't care about the family in the first place.  And Schooled is following in The Goldbergs's neon pump footsteps.  In addition to offering up relatable and hilarious characters, witty dialogue, and colorful costumes and sets, it continues its predecessor's pop culture pulse tradition.  The first two episodes are chockful of '90s references including but not limited to Kurt Cobain, Zima, She's All That, Discman, and Mrs. Doubtfire.  Also, the first episode opens with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations."  If that doesn't set the tone for a bitchin' school year and TV series, than I don't know what does.  So, gold star, Adam F. Goldberg.

Can't wait to see what you teach us next.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Spend . . .

 Rainbow Not Quite Rhombus Necklace

Dress: Speechless, Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Amazon
Belt: Marshalls
Blue and green bracelets: Cloud Nine
Yellow, rainbow, and pink bracelets: So, Kohl's

. . . as long as they're cubic zirconium or, better yet, plastic or shell and merely diamond-shaped, like the one in this here Rainbow Not Quite Rhombus Necklace.  I've recently gotten back into rainbow gumball necklace-making mode, and Rhombus is the simplest of the bunch.  It's kind of short too, which is why I'm not listing it.  Instead I'm looking forward to wearing it with lots of black tops and dresses.  And, of course, to a making many more rainbows. 

On the topic of things that are random, here's a quote from Anna Faris's book Unqualified:

"People who follow their creative passions are fascinating but also complicated, and they all have a tricky combination of narcissism and insecurity." (26)

Although Anna is referring to musicians, specifically musicians she dated, this piques my interest in terms of all artsy types.  Because it's true.  Putting one's stuff out there requires a confidence bordering on cockiness, an awareness that one's stuff is good enough to compete with other stuff on the world's stage.  The insecurity, I think, comes from realizing that not everyone is going to agree with you.  And that's very humbling.  To put your great stuff out there only to have its greatness questioned, mocked, and pelted with banana peels (or, rather, tomatoes.  Banana peels are for hilarious slipping.  Which works here too, if you like metaphors.) is enough to make even the vainest, most resplendent peacock run back to its nest.

By the way, I'm a fan of celebrity autobiographies because I like learning about stars and their childhoods and how they're secretly shy and eat ice cream and hate red carpets and watch bad TV and are just like us!  Even if I sometimes suspect it's not true.  But Unqualified strikes me as genuine.  I've seen Anna Faris on a bunch of talk shows, and she always seems so serious and sad, not at all like her bubbly TV and movie personas.  Of course, this could be due to her split from Chris Pratt.  But she still seems pensive and sensitive.  And that comes through in her book.

Anyway, Anna's comment on creativity reminds me of this more benevolent yet equally intriguing one from John O'Hurley, who is the spokesperson for Philly radio station BEN FM:

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."

I love that.  Because it's so much better when someone smart says, "Let's spray paint "Cowabunga Forever" on that billboard and then write a play about it," instead of "Let's write an equation, then balance our checkbooks."

Then again, O'Hurley, who spouts many a quirky and J. Peterman-like one-liner for the radio waves, also says this:

"The fun isn't in having nothing to do.  It's in having lots to do and not doing any of it."

Anyone who has whiled away a weekend watching Seinfeld reruns amid piles of dirty laundry and dishes no doubt likes the cut of this jib.  Even if it's about laziness instead of creativity.  Unless laziness is a kind of creativity.  In which case, way to go, Peterman.

So, when it comes to spending money and time, fake and playful is better than real and real boring.  Which is not a clever sales tactic to influence you to buy this not-for-sale necklace.

It's just a reminder that diamonds come from blood and are no one's friend.

That was a dark note to end on.  Anyone who thinks it might cause them PTSD should focus on the part about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead.

And also that time when Peterman said, "It'll always be Burma to me."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Cake Talk: They Say it's Your Birthday

Yesterday, January 6, was the twelfth day of Christmas, a.k.a. the Epiphany, a.k.a the day that that guy or girl gets a partridge in a pear tree and a boatload of other weird stuff from his or her true love.  They say that love means never having to say you're sorry, but I say it means not sending someone you love live poultry.  Anyway, this year, January 6 was also the Golden Globes.  And, as usual, my birthday.  (Fun fact: Past Golden Globe winner Eddie Redmayne and I share a birthday and birth year.  You'll get why that's relevant later.)     

When it comes to birthdays, most people fall into one of two camps: people who love them and people who hate them.  Spoiler alert: I fall into the former (as does anyone who regularly writes about herself).  This year, I turned thirty-seven.  Ten or even five years ago, this would've struck me as en route to old and yesterday, as if on cue, one of my rogue white hairs resurfaced.  But then I got carded to sit in the bar at a restaurant.  So I'm going to say I broke even.

The husband baked me this cake.  It's a hummingbird cake, which, in case you don't know, is a spice cake with pineapples, carrots, and bananas (also walnuts, but I said no to those).  I'm ashamed to say that when he first told me he wanted to make it, I was less than gracious because I thought I wanted something -- gulp -- store-bought.  I didn't like the idea of someone else, even the husband, choosing my birthday cake flavor and, um, aesthetic.  Typing this now, that seems absurd.  But sometimes I have tunnel vision and choose style over substance (as evidenced by my use of the word "aesthetic" to describe baked goods).  In the end I realized that having a husband who loves me enough to make something special and personal from the heart for me (not to mention my family) is worth more than some designer stale cake that a minimum wage baker sweat/spit/dropped boogies in before going home to beat his chihuahua.  (Don't look at me like that -- you don't know what goes on at Entenmann's.)  The hummingbird cake was, of course, scrumptious, a cross between carrot cake and banana bread, both tropical and down-home delicious.  Also, it was lovely to look at, with a hummingbird not only in it (figuratively speaking; I think that's the pineapple), but on it.  We see you, "Portlandia."

I'm not sure why I told that story.  It certainly doesn't put me in the best light.  Maybe because it helped me purge my conscience.  But also, I think, because it taught me that birthdays aren't just about you and what you want (or, for that matter, Eddie Redmayne).  They're about the people who love you.  That was a little more Hallmark network than IFC, but sometimes schmaltz can't be avoided.

That said, in the spirit of celebration -- and self-indulgence (because this is still my day, dangnabbit) -- here are a few recent-ish pics of me in outfits and settings I like. 

Pulling a face in my new parka. 

Crafty in the craft room (did I really just type that?!).  A prize goes out to anyone who can spot the Mr. Crabs, Hello Kitty, and creepy cupcake doll.  No promises that the prize isn't a chihuahua.  Or live poultry. 

With the husband post great cake debate.

Kickin' it before the big birthday hoedown.  Because, boots.

Love may mean never having to say you're sorry and not sending live poultry.  But sometimes it does mean swallowing a little crow.  

Or, in this case, hummingbird.  

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Boots Blues and Other Shoes: Patent Leather to Leather-like Plastic

 Blooming Boot Necklace

Sweater: Wild Fable, Target
Skirt: Hollister, Marshalls
Boots: 2 Lips Too, Zulily
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Barrette: The Tote Trove

From top, clockwise: Apt. 9, Kohl's; Union Bay, Kohl's; Simply Vera, Kohl's; Apt. 9, Kohl's

From top, clockwise: 2 Lips Too, J. C. Penney's; 2 Lips Too, Zulily; Penny Loves Kenny, Amazon; Penney Loves Kenny, Amazon

If you've been reading this blog long enough, then you know that I don't like winter.  That said . . . I love boots.  I love them with skirts, denim and otherwise, and I love them with dresses and jeans.  And not just because they're comfy and hide my gnarly, unpainted toenails.  There's just something irreverent (ironic?) and fun about making a fashion statement with something that was originally intended to block out the snow and muck out horse stalls.  Lately, I'm into ones that are western.  And because I'm a contemplative, avid collector kind of girl, I decided to photograph two groups of my favorite boots -- one featuring four pairs of citified kicks and another showing four pairs for camping out -- or should I say glamping out? -- at the ranch.

Taking these pics got me thinking about Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which I read awhile ago.  It's Food Network chef Ree Drummond's autobiography, and in it she describes her transformation from country club princess to home on the range homemaker and the style evolution that came with it.  Before she met her husband, she worked in an office and dressed up every day.  She used to love lining up and polishing her collection of black high-heeled pumps.  (Of course, as a vegetarian, she also used to love pasta primavera, but that's a whole other facet of her transformation tale.)  Then she hooked up with her hubby, who she refers to as the Marlboro Man, and moved out to his isolated cattle ranch, where she morphed into the peasant blouse-wearing, steak-scarfing prairie princess (because I still have to get princess in there) that foodies and philistines alike know and love today.

I could relate because back in the day my own style had a harder edge.  (Also because I live next to an empty lot that kind of looks like a ranch.)  I didn't like wearing anything that looked provincial, and that included all things western.  But sometime between then and now I became more eclectic, and country-fried flair emerged as one of the key elements of my look.  Probably because it's homey and warm and, in the right hands, more crazy colorful than the raddest rave getup.  Also, because felt, which I use a lot in my accessories, has that same soft-yet-crunchy aesthetic.  Anyway, my favorite western accessory is (obvi) boots.  Because they show where you're going, and they show where you've been.  And because when you're on a ranch, literal, figurative, or otherwise, it's important to wear something that shows the cows who's heading the herd.  Even if that something is a pair of boots made of plastic instead of rawhide.

They won't know the difference.  They're cows.

P. S.  I don't know what the "otherwise" is.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year: Black Sky Affair, Do Me a Solid

Sweater: Derek Heart, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Zulily
Orange bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Mint bangle: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Barrette: The Tote Trove
Blue heart ring: Delia's
Cupcake ring: A Self Portrait, Etsy

I don't drive at night.  It's not that I can't or even that anything awful happens if I do.  I just prefer to be on the road when the sun is shining.  It wasn't always this way.  In my twenties, I'd drive from Brigantine back home at all sorts of unlit hours after hanging with the husband (then boyfriend) without a thought.  Of course, before that I used to get on I-95, another fear-inducing activity, to see a guy I briefly dated who lived in North Jersey.  So maybe I was never a gutsy driver, just someone willing to put the pedal to the metal for love.  Anyway, one night about ten years ago, after the husband and I had moved in together, I went to my parents' house for dinner.  I was driving back to Brigantine and, as usual, got on the Atlantic City Expressway.  But I went out the in instead of the out.  I know, I know -- pretty awful.  Luckily, there was no one else around, and I was able to make a quick K-turn and be on my way.  But the experience shook me, and I decided not to drive at night anymore.  Between then and now, I've broken that rule a handful of times, sometimes with white-knuckled results.  The other night I found myself in a (potentially) similar situation.  I was leaving my parents' house just as darkness was beginning to fall.  The fact that it was still somewhat light out was helpful; it gave me the chance to get on the road and ease into driving before the sky turned completely black.  But even once that happened, I still felt relaxed, singing along to the radio and in control as the miles melted.  And I thought, maybe this should be my New Year's resolution, to drive at night, at least once in a while, when I know where I'm going and am wide awake and not at risk of being distracted by billboards.  Then again, I don't really believe in resolutions.  And even if I did, then I would rather go with something like buy duplicates of all the beauty products I use daily and stash them in my glove compartment (which isn't as much of a cop-out as it sounds; on Christmas Eve I made the husband turn around on the way to my parents' house because I'd left my Cherries in the Snow lipstick in another purse.)  Still, I'm not going to go all dramatic and "resolve" to do anything.  I'll just be more open-minded about venturing out after the sun's said goodnight.  And, of course, about stocking up on lipstick.

That said, this week I focused on something else dark and dangerous -- or at least, something that seems that way but most certainly isn't.  I'm talking about this Black Cutie Necklace (no horse jokes, please.  Unless they're about bronies).  I don't know about you, but sometimes, in some outfits, I find myself looking for a solid-colored necklace.  But Tote Trove Lady, you may be thinking, that doesn't make any sense.  You're all about being a crayon box full of color!  (Because in my imagination, you too have a thing for alliteration and cutesy metaphors.)  And to that I'd say, well obvi.  But when you love color as much as I do, then you have lots of colorful tops and dresses, and every so often, instead of adding even more bands to the rainbow, what you really want is a nice, monochromatic piece to anchor it all and make it look even brighter.  And more often than not, the shade for the job is good old-fashioned black.  So that's why I made Black Cutie.  What she lacks in color she more than makes up for in chunky statement beads -- bows, roses, and a heart, a treacly trifecta if ever there was one.  I'm really happy with how it (she?) turned out.  Especially how its (her?) inkiness pops against the sweater's bright stripes, as sharp and unforgiving as a goth chick tearing into a wall of Care Bears. 

The next time I'm night driving, I'll channel that dark goddess's chutzpah.  Minus the coffin purse and Happy Bear carnage.

So.  Whether you drive, take the train, or hoof it, safe travels.  And happy New Year.