Sunday, February 24, 2019

Don't Fret, Pet: Just Sit Back and Savor Your Ice Cream

Black tee: Merona, Target
Tank: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Skirt (a dress!): Zulily
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's

One of the reasons I love to craft is that it's therapeutic.  Which I don't think is a secret, because I weave some version of this theme into most of my posts.  I find it freeing to work with my hands, to know that at the end of my labors I'll have something tangible that I -- or maybe even someone else -- will love.  The fact that that something is the product of my own whim is always satisfying.  It reminds me that I'm putting the best of me out into the world and that it's this best that makes my world brighter.        

So, I thought I'd blog about the power of looking on the bright side.  And why not start with pet peeves -- those peeves that you feed, and in feeding, of course, keep alive.  We all have things that annoy us.  Maybe even enrage us.  But hanging on to gripes, feuds, and ill will of any kind is a sure-fire way to get an ulcer.  I didn't always believe this.  There was a time when I thought that hanging on to the bad stuff meant that I was in control, that mulling it over again and again would help me figure it out.  But then, after one bump in the road too many, I realized that the only way to get behind something was to put it behind me.  Because most stuff is out of our control anyway and not worth worrying about.  I had to learn that relaxing didn't mean giving up, but instead choosing to enjoy life.  Which wasn't easy.  Because to me, it seemed that everyone and her brother seemed to want a say in what I was doing.  I'd go to the dentist, and they'd tell me to floss more.  I'd go to the hairdresser, and they'd say that I had too many split ends.  These are trivial examples, but they show how even the tiniest stresses once unnerved me.  After a while, it felt like my whole life was one giant report card that wasn't up to snuff.  Which was exhausting because here's the thing that they don't tell you when you're a straight-A student (as I was at one point in my life).  It never ends.  Not until the day you speak up and say, "Enough!" and live life the way you want to.  Maybe you want to travel the world or train elephants or open up an ice cream shop.  Whatever it is, it won't be easy.  Some people in your life won't like it (your dentist, for one, especially if you go with the ice cream) and will want you to keep striving for As.  But those are usually not people you want around anyway.  And whatever obstacles you face, pursuing your dream is always worth it.  Even if your dream is just to sit on the couch and watch sitcoms.  Because once you stop caring about grades -- which is a fancy way of saying that once you stop caring about what people think -- your life becomes one long vacation.  Not the kind where you burn in the sun, but the kind where you do the things that make you smile.      

I don't want to train elephants, just make them into accessories (but not, to be clear, in an illegal, poached ivory way).  That's my dream.  Not to mention the only pet I want in my house.  Which isn't merely a metaphor.  A slobbery mutt that licks its butt, then you?  No thanks.  I'd rather have it out with the dentist.

Writing this post was cathartic for me.  But I also hope that it finds its way to someone who needs it and that it helps her (or him) too.

Then again, it's also possible that I offended dog lovers.  

Good thing I won't worry about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Circus Quirkus: It's a Jungle in Here

When you're a crafter, sometimes you make things that you don't want to wear or sell.  Or even give away.  But that you still want in your life.  These animal cracker brooches are some of those somethings.  If you're thinking, hey, aren't those just Nabisco box parts cut out and covered in glitter glue?, then you're right.  They're as basic as all get-out, a little "Hey, mom, look what I made!"  Still, for whatever reason, they speak to me.  I may tack them up in the craft room.  Why not?  It's like a circus in there.

Speaking of the big top, here's my pair of Circus pumps complete with their jaunty striped box.

Now, black doesn't exactly scream three rings and a fire eater.  Even black studded with rhinestones.  But then, who am I to question the great Sam Edelman's name for his line of shoes for everyday people?  Believe it or not, I only recently discovered that Sam & Libby, the creators of those bow-topped ballet flats that adorned the tootsies of every babysitter and retiree from Tulsa to Boston, are the very same Sam and Libby Edelman who peddle high-end footwear to ladies who lunch (no 9-to-5 for them, babysitting or otherwise).

I remember my mom wearing the ballet flats when I was a kid (I think they were light green), and I had my own pair in white.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to nab a metallic version at Target on clearance for $10.  Apparently, the Edelmans reissued this style to the store exclusively.  (So sweet of you, Sam and Libby!)  If they look a little grotty, then it's because I wear them everywhere.  They're the most comfortable shoes I own, and they go with everything.

Anyway, the pumps (which I got at Kohl's for about $35) are super versatile and even kind of comfy.  I've worn them a lot this fall and winter and like them so much that I wish they came in other colors.  Like hot pink, lime green, or other shades worthy of a trapeze artist.

Still, even if they came in the rainbow itself, I wouldn't trust them on a tightrope.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Rebel Romance Stance: Hearts and Glowers

Romance Rampage Necklace

Sweater: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Hollister, Marshalls
Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Zulily
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Modcloth
Belt: Kohl's
Barrette: Carole, J. C. Penney's
Red bangle: XOXO, Ross
Strawberry bangle: B Fabulous

Today may be Presidents Day, but here at the Trove we're still having a fling with Cupid.  Sorry, Washington and Lincoln.  Maybe you should've swapped the wig and mole for diapers.  Also, I know that Cupid's a baby.  Which is weird.  But I won't overthink it if you don't. 

Anyhoo, I'm super excited about this Romance Rampage Necklace.  As if you couldn't tell from this pic where I'm wearing it.  (Hey, I had to test it and make sure that the beads didn't go rolling down the movie theater aisle, sending popcorn and grannies flying.)  Brace yourself -- this is the part where I get all saleslady-like and poetic:

A-twitter with red and pink hearts, a big red rose, and an abundance of glitzy rhinestones, the Romance Rampage Necklace is a cluttered cliche of love tokens, a bouquet of Valentine dream date delight.  

See?  It's a regular greeting card store explosion.  Just like the movie Isn't It Romantic.  

I probably shouldn't even bother to exclaim SPOILER ALERT! because if you've seen a rom com ever, then you already know everything I'm about to say.  But you know.  Politeness.  

I saw Isn't It Romantic yesterday, and it met all my expectations of what a snarky-sweet-spoof-of-slash-homage-to-rom coms should be.  Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a big girl trying to find love in a little girl's world.  (By the way, isn't Natalie a lovely name?  Despite what that sod Blake says.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.)  Scratch that.  Natalie's not actually trying to find love.  She's trying not to find it.  And it's all because of her mother.  (Well, and society.  But mostly her mother.)  As a kid, she loved romantic comedies.  Then, one day, she's watching Pretty Woman, all but hypnotized by that scene where Julia Roberts accepts Richard Gere's invitation to stay for the week while cackling in the bubble bath, when her mom's all, sorry not sorry, happy endings aren't for girls like us.  Fast forward twenty years or so.  Natalie's a gifted but undervalued architect living in a tiny New York City apartment with a mangy mutt and a bunk bed.  The only bright spot is her friends, which include her rom com-loving assistant, Whitney, and her nerdy but well-meaning work pal, Josh (Adam Devine).  Yet despite their support, Nat's a negative Nancy (Natalie?) who looks at life as a cruel joke.  The one time she takes Whitney's advice to be more open she gets mugged.  Then she bumps her head and plunges into a dream/coma/parallel universe (because in movie land, these are all the same) where her dingy world is filtered through rose-colored glasses.  She's got the gay best friend, the massive closet full of every shoe she's ever wanted, and the fancy job complete with the nemesis (Surprise!  It's a catty Whitney.).  Not to mention a gorgeous guy all but stalking her in a swoony, benign, and rom-com-friendly way.  You know, as opposed to the kind that inspires restraining orders.  His name is Blake (of course), and he's played by Liam Hemsworth (double of course), and he just happens to be the hotelier bigwig that Natalie's architecture firm is trying sooo hard to woo.

Other rom com tropes flourish like kudzu (or, er, long-stemmed red roses).  There's the adorable act of gentle lawbreaking in the name of spontaneity (Was that a siren?  No matter!  Time to skip off to the next twee event!); the hero's confession of something awful that makes him seem more human (His favorite ice cream is butter pecan!  And his second favorite is rum raisin!); the other woman who's perfect and gorgeous; the unrealized love for the dorky best friend; the stopping of the big wedding; the heroine's realization that the hero is actually a heinous scumbag just out to use her for his own selfish gains . . . 

And finally, at the end, the cherry on top of the strawberry sundae -- the heroine's epiphany that the best romance is the one you have with yourself.

Wait, what?  That last one isn't part of the genre!  The heroine is almost always a prize to be won by a guy -- not the scumbag guy, that part checks out -- but the dorky guy who really deserves her!  Hmm.  Well, that happens here too.  But not before Nat realizes that 1) she doesn't need anyone else to complete her (take that, Jerry Maguire) and 2) that her male neighbor really is gay.  Turns out that all those girls coming out of his apartment were just there to buy weed.      

So, Natalie sees that her real life, bunk bed and all, is better than the glossy dream version.  Because it's hers, and no one is trying to change her name.  (Georgina?  Really, Blake?  It's not like your name is so great.  Also, it rhymes with fake.  Coincidence?  I think not.)  And yes, Natalie and Josh do get together.  And all of these things are a cliche, but that's okay.  Because cliches are cliches for a reason.   

It's like they say -- the road to true love never runs smooth.  Or gets past the first mile marker without breaking out into a flash mob.  So, here's cheers to a beautiful story about two people accepting each other.  Moles and all. 

'Cause I got you, Abe.  Georgie, better luck next year.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day: Leopard Loves Lamp . . .

Rockin' Ruby Barrette 

Rockin' Ruby Bracelet

Sweater: Poof, Marshalls
Skirt: Ellen Tracy, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Coat: Wild Fable, Target

. . . and Lamp loves Brick.  Or, rather, Brick (Steve Carell) loves Lamp, according to Anchorman.  At least until Anchorman 2 when he loves Chani (Kristin Wiig), who is only marginally brighter than a lamp.  But then, this is just the sort of obscure pop culture romance reference that's on the docket for this post.  Because this Valentine's Day, it's all about unlikely and/or unpopular couples.  Think of it as a kind of Mystery Date meets "Mystery Science Theater 3000" -- from an overthinker who watches too much TV. 

"Dawson's Creek": Joey & Pacey

The punchline here is that it's Pacey, not Dawson, who ends up with Joey.  And lots of people didn't like that, myself included.  I could still hear my sister protesting, "It's not called Pacey's Creek!" after watching that fateful series finale.  Yet years later, when we both watched the reruns, we changed our tune.  Who's there for Joey when that surfer dude tries to take her home from that drunken beach bash?  That's right; it's Pacey.  And who encourages her to go to Paris instead of cock blocking her big moment?  Correctamundo, Pacey again.  Which begs the question: Dawson who?  Turns out he's just some namby pamby Spielberg wannabe whose only claim to fame is that ugly cry.  

"The Office": Kelly & Ryan (not Ripa and Seacrest)

Oh, sure.  Everyone hearts the all-American, will-they-won't-they power ballad that is Jim and Pam.  No one wants to admit to the dysfunctional appeal of the Dumpster fire that is Kelly and Ryan.  Yet in the staid and often vanilla setting of Scranton, it's these two who bring the soap opera.  Kelly fakes a pregnancy and dumps Darryl via text.  Ryan propositions Erin and dumps Kelly so he can go to Thailand.  Then, in the very last episode, Kelly abandons her doctor husband, Ryan abandons his infant son, and they ride off into the sunset together.  But what else would we expect from a girl who stole a boat from her high school boyfriend and a guy who nearly burned down Dunder Mifflin nuking a Hot Pocket?

"The King of Queens": Spence & That Ice Cream Cone

Remember when Doug and Carrie and the gang went to that amusement park and Spence hit it off with that woman/man (it was never clear which) in a strawberry ice cream cone costume?  How he was pouring his heart out to it and saying that it was such a good listener?  Only to leave and come back to find an equally larger-than-life chocolate ice cream cone in its place?  Well, I always wondered what could have been for Spence and Old Creamy.  Because Spence is a sad sack.  In the whole series, his only relationships of note are with 1) a bowling alley waitress played by Rachel Dratch, 2) a culinary student who is too hot (a cook) for Carrie to handle, and 3) his roommate Danny.  The guy deserved a win.  Or at the very least, a lifetime supply of Ben and Jerry's.

So.  Whether you're lucky in love, loony in love, or even a loser in love, may TV always be your guide.  And valentine.  Unless you have an actual valentine.  In which case you can down a pound of Russell Stover's as you watch tube together.  

Reruns and refined sugar.  Nothing quite rocks romance better.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lace Case Cracked Wide Hopin'

 Lovely Leaf Barrette

 Fancy Filigree Bracelet

Top: Xhilaration, Target
Skirt: Amazon
Shoes: Betsey Johnson, DSW
Bag: Liz Claiborne, JCPenney
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's

 Kitschy Key Earrings

Lace top: Xhilaration, Target
Pink camisole: Worthington, JCPenney
Skirt: Mudd, Kohl's
Shoes: Madden Girl, Macy's
Bag: Glamour Damaged, Etsy
Belt: Wild Fable, Target

Top (a dress!): Xhilaration, Target
Skirt (another dress!): Modcloth
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: City Streets, JCPenney
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Green bracelet: Cloud Nine
Fuchsia bangle: Mixit, JCPenney
Yellow and orange rings: Making Waves, Ocean City

Lace is one of the loveliest and most delicate of fabrics.  That's why I included a lace top in each of these outfits.  And also wrote this poem to speak to its soft but indestructible spirit:

Daily life
Is full of strife
That's why there's lace
To make a case
For wearing stuff
That brings the fluff.

Powerful, I know.  It's no secret that the daily grind is -- well, grinding.  That's why it's so important to wear things that make us happy.  This is probably why there was so much lace back in Victorian times -- to help ladies forget about the pain of wearing bone-crushing corsets.  Thankfully, in this enlightened age, we no longer have to wear such abusive undergarments.

Unless you count Spanx.

So . . . never mind.  Let lace -- and ruffles and rhinestones and silk flowers and ribbon butterflies -- continue to run interference.

The Spanx will never know what bit them.  

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Leg Up on Lycra: You Glow

Here's a short post about something long.  Namely, my favorite leggings.  I love the way they look in this picture, their Technicolor legs like the limbs of digitally enhanced willow trees.  There's also something athletic about them, as if their wearer could easily win a three-legged race or a game of Red Rover.  They'd also be good for interpretive dance, Jazzercise, or some particularly scorching hot yoga.  Not that this wearer has ever done anything athletic in them, except for maybe walking to Baskin Robbins.

Just kidding.  I go to Rita's, and the husband drives me.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Pen to Caper: Keeping it Real With My Pal Chenille

Sweater: Express
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Merona, Target
Green and orange bangles: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Maroon bangle: Iris Apfel for INC, Macy's

Sweater: Alfani, Macy's
Leggings: Gifted
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Purple bracelet: Etsy
Yellow, pink, and rainbow bracelets: So, Kohl's
Bigger rainbow bracelet: A. C. Moore

Sweater: TJ Maxx
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: 2 Lips Too, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Fred Flare
Striped bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous

Sweater: Express
Skirt: Mudd, Kohl's
Boots: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Bag: Worthington, J. C. Penney's

Cozy sweaters are like old friends.  They comfort you on the coldest days, embracing you in a literal hug.  Half of the sweaters here are chenille, which is, to my delight, enjoying a bit of a renaissance.  That said, if sweaters are old friends, then pen pals are friends we -- to borrow a phrase from a USC psych study on blogging -- haven't met yet.  As someone who loves to write, I've had more than a few pen pals in my day.  But never one quite like Amy.  

"Huh?" you're probably thinking, "I thought we were talking about sweaters.  Who the heck is Amy?"  She's (at least in my opinion) the driving force in Katarina Bivald's novel The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendWhich is not about sweaters but might as well be.  The book is about twenty-something Sara, who lives in Sweden with her parents and works in a bookstore.  Quiet and lonely, Sara seeks solace in books.  Her most meaningful relationship is with her pen pal Amy, an older Iowa woman who is a fellow bibliophile.  So when Amy invites Sara to visit, she accepts.  Her parents are skeptical, warning her of the dangers of America and of traveling alone.  But Sara, who is tired of just standing still, packs her bags.  Yet when she arrives in Amy's hometown of Broken Wheel, she finds out that Amy is dead.  Also, that Broken Wheel is tiny and behind the times and, as its name implies, damaged and going nowhere.  In the tradition of small towns, the locals take Sara under their collective wing, insisting that she stay in Amy's library of a house.  So she does, and it's scary and weird and a little boring.  At least until she decides to use Amy's books to open a bookstore.  Which would be challenging enough in any economically depressed area.  But it's nearly impossible in Broken Wheel, where almost nobody reads.

At first, I was like, how odd, a Swedish woman putting roots down in -- and, if we're to include Bivald, then writing about -- Iowa.  But then I remembered that the Midwest was settled by Scandinavians (thanks, Rose Niland.  Watching all those "Golden Girls" reruns taught me about more than the restorative power of cheesecake).  Bivald keeps the connection between Sweden and Iowa alive by including Amy's letters, all of which are well-written and kind.  They're also a little formal, reminding us that Amy and Sara have never met despite the life-changing effect of their friendship.  

Opening the bookstore brings Sara out of her shell.  Which just goes to show that when you do what you love, your best self emerges.  This comes in especially handy when Sara has to deal with uppity customers from the neighboring hamlet of Hope.  She does so with confidence, aplomb, and, when the situation calls for it, spirit.  It's as if she's soaking up Amy's essence through her books.  The thing that eased her isolation becomes the thing that makes her belong.  

Sara also begins to get to know Amy's nephew, Tom.  They don't go out to dinner or to the movies.  Instead, he teachers her how to cook American classics.  Like corn dogs.  Now, what they have is not the hey-little-lady-you-must-be-new-in-town kind of thing that so often blooms when boy meets girl in novels (corn dogs notwithstanding.)  They have a downright unflirty relationship, in no small part because it's foisted upon them by their meddling if well-meaning friends.  But what they lack in frission, they more than make up for in steadiness.  Theirs is a no-nonsense, pioneer kind of companionship that's made all the more tender for its dearth of za za zu.  

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a quiet book, befitting a narrative about a reader.  And although the only real reader remains Sara, her bookstore inspires everyone who lives in Broken Wheel to come together to save it.  In its humble, deceptively simple way, Wheel reexamines what it means to be an American and what it means to be in love.  Both are about commitment and jumping right in, even when it seems reckless.  What makes it work is the characters, all of whom are earnest in their search for an everyday kind of happily ever after.

And that's pretty comfy cozy.  Just like a warm, colorful -- and possibly chenille -- sweater.  

I won't judge if you call yours Amy.