Sunday, July 28, 2019

F is for Fins and Feathers . . .

Orleanna Orca Barrettes 

Top: Self Esteem, Macy's
Shorts: aerie, Marshalls
Shoes: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Bracelet: Mixit, JCPenney

 Flirty Flamingo Barrettes

Flirty Flamingo Earrings 

Top: Rebellious. One, Macy's
Skirt: Decree, JCPenney
Bag: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Pineapple charm: LC Lauren Lauren Conrad, Kohl's 
Shoes: First Love by Penny Loves Kenny, JCPenney
Pink bangle: Silver Linings, Ocean City boardwalk
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Celery green bangle: Burlington Coat Factory
Purple bangle: Don't Ask, Zulily
Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney

. . . and also fish and flamingos.  Even if in these accessories, the fins belong to an orca.  I just finished reading The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Johnsberg, and this is the way that Candice might have introduced this post topic.  

Candice is a twelve-year-old Australian girl (I seem to be having a run on Aussie reads lately) who is a little bit different.  She isn't autistic, a fact that she's quick to point out.  She leads a rich interior life that doesn't always fit in with how everyone else operates.  Although she's fictional (this being a novella), she seems real, what with her social ineptitude, matter-of-fact way of speaking, and habit of writing notes to people she's just met instead of speaking to them.  She has to plan everything out and isn't much good at pretending.  She has one friend, a boy who calls himself Douglas Benson from Another Dimension.  Also, she's hilarious, albeit unintentionally.  Phee is written in first person, and each chapter is titled with a word that begins with the next letter of the alphabet.  (That's where the whole F is for fins thing comes in.)  The entire book is an essay that Candice is writing for English class but can't seem to finish.

The real conflict, though, isn't Candice's quirks.  It's her family --  which is a little bit broken.  Her parents aren't divorced, which I realize is what the word "broken" implies.  But they do have lots of problems, including the death of Candice's baby sister, Candice's mom's illnesses, and Candice's Dad's feud with his brother, whom Candice calls Rich Uncle Brian.  Also, they don't have much money.  Unable to stand it any longer, Candice sets out to fix it all.  The results are sometimes funny, sometimes sad.  But Candice never gives up, a little engine that could when most people would've stopped ages ago -- or never even started at all.

This sounds like heavy stuff, especially given Candice's own challenges.  And it is poignant and at times a little upsetting.  But it's also . . . magical.  Because there's a kind of other-worldliness about Candice, a certain something that blends beautifully with her very literal and no-nonsense outlook on life.  Her letters to her pen pal, an American girl named Denille who never writes back, are particularly endearing, showcasing her humor and sparkly brand of grit.  They serve as a kind of journal (or dare I say blog), giving Candice a place to pour out and process her issues.  Also, her dad, who is a frustrated computer programmer (and this is a wee bit of a spoiler), hatches an amazing idea that capitalizes on the appeal of social media and the human condition, tying a great big bow around everything that this book -- and life -- is about. 

And . . . I think that's where I'll stop.  But before I go, here's a pic of the fins and feathers on my bathroom windowsill.

The blue backdrop is purely for staging purposes, providing the illusion of a Caribbean seascape while also hiding my dusty blinds.  As for that vertical line at the left, it's where the two pieces of posterboard meet.  Just take it for the imperfection it is -- or as a portal to another dimension.   

Don't overthink it; it's a Douglas thing.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

You Like Fruit, Don't You?

Cherries: Betsey Johnson, Modcloth
Light pink watermelon: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Bananas: Betsey Johnson, Amazon
Avocado: Sleepyville Critters, Amazon
Dark pink watermelon: H&M
Strawberry: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Orange: Circus by Sam Edelman, Kohl's
Sunglasses Watermelon: Luv Betsey, Macy's Backstage

Back in the day, that was the Pop-Tarts catchphrase.  Which makes me feel a little disloyal considering that the last Pop-Tart I ate was root beer float flavored.  But don't be fooled by my assignation with soda.  Fruit is the uncontested queen of summer, dominating desserts, farmers markets, and wardrobes from May to September.  Its juicy hues are vibrant and sweet, making every day seem like a vacation.  That said, here are some other things that I love about this most sizzling of seasons.  Spoiler alert: Some of them involve fruit (but not Pop-Tarts).  

- Pineapple ice pops.

- Not having to wear a jacket or coat.  

- Funky sunglasses.

- Going out for ice cream.

- Staying in for ice cream.

- Lightening bugs.

- Fireworks.

- Seafood.

- Sundresses.

- Front yard gardens.

- Outdoor shopping.

- Farm fresh watermelon.

- The sound of cicadas.

-Tropical print everything.

- Sunlight until 8:00 p.m.

- Lemonade.

- Beach books.  

- The smell of backyard BBQs.

- Flip flops.

- Big budget movies.       

- The sound of the ice cream truck.  Even if you never catch it.

And last but not least, my fruit-shaped purses.  I have the best time carrying them all summer (and sometimes in the winter, too).  Here I am with some of my favorites.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Double Trouble: Truculent Succulent

Top: Mudd, Kohl's
Shorts: So, Kohl's
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Zulily
Bag charm: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Target
Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney
Pink bangle: Silver Linings, Ocean City boardwalk
Light green bangle: Burlington Coat Factory
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Thin pink bangle: Target

Top: Mudd, Kohl's
Shorts: So, Kohl's
Shoes: B.A.I.T., Zulily
Bag: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Target
Mint bangle: Decree, JCPenney
Pink bangle: Silver Linings, Ocean City boardwalk
Light green bangle: Burlington Coat Factory
Yellow bangles: B Fabulous
Thin pink bangle: Target

 Saguaro Snack Barrette

Sparkly Succulent Barrettes

No, this isn't one of those "what's different about these two pictures" deals that used to be in the Sunday comics.  It's just evidence of my indecision.  You see, I was laying out this outfit and was torn between the in-your-face lime tote and bright pink stilettos or the more demure cactus wristlet and wedges. Ugh, decisions, decisions!  So I said the heck with it and posted them both.  Which is just one of the joys of being a blog boss.

So yeah, more cacti again.  I love these little green meanies.  They look gorgeous and zen, but their needles say "don't mess with me."  Which is also pretty boss.

What more can you want from a plant?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Desert Daze Haze: Sand-al Scandal

It's broiling, and you're trudging through the desert.  The canteen handbag you brought instead of an actual canteen slaps your thigh with a rhythmic thwack! as you eke out each step.  Sweat slides down your dirty face, and you'd like to strangle whoever said that thing about it not being the heat but the humidity.  You fixate on the bottle of off-brand root beer that you downed back at the taco truck.  Back before you had words with The Twerp -- okay, Antwerp, named for the city of his birth, a factoid he'd proudly imparted while you sucked down your soda -- back before you fled from civilization.  So what if he said that you stole that guacamole?  You had only a dollop on your cardboard-dry quesadilla before tossing the rest to an armadillo.  The quesadilla was supposed to be chicken but tasted like some kind of reptile.  Or at least how you imagine a reptile would taste. Although the way things are going, a lizard just might be your dinner.

Wait, what's that in the distance?  Shapeless yet sprawling, it's the same tan of the sand and at least five times as big as the taco truck.  Something iridescent shimmers in the front, like a pond in the moonlight.  There are letters too, and they swim in your head in an alphabet soup of confusion.  "What does it say?!" your mind screams, your eyes squinting.  Your adrenaline pumps, propelling you forward.  As you grow closer, a kaleidoscope of color floats across the pond, which you now know to be a bank of windows.  The letters come into focus and your pulse quickens; you think you know what they say.  Could it be?  Or is it a mirage brought on by that foursome of heat, fatigue, hunger, and fear?  You take a step closer, close your eyes, then quickly open them again.  That's when you know that this isn't a dream, but as real as anything glittering under the sun.  Your haven, your sanctuary, your salvation.

A shoe store.

And that's how I came to buy these sandals against my better judgment.  Dazed and tired and almost certainly hungry, taken in by their enticing jewel-toned rainbow.  No, I wasn't lost in the desert, and they don't have anything to do with cacti.  But they are an, ahem, prickly pair, a phrase that I've most certainly used here before, given my penchant for puns and wordplay.  You see, they're made of that faux-suede stuff that preserves the indentations of your sweaty toes.  Disgusting, I know.  That's why I usually avoid them like the questionable quesadillas they are.  But when I saw these strappy sisters, I said, oh, I can make an exception; they'll be alright if I wear them with socks.  Like a grandpa.  Or a grandma (because bad style doesn't discriminate).  So I got them and wore them and they looked kind of silly.  Also, they kept slipping off my feet.

Then this happened.

I was going on a Rita's run and thought, why not wear these sandals the way the shoe gods (and Kohl's) intended?  Even if just for half an hour.  Not surprisingly, they were way cuter and much more comfortable than they were with my minty socklets.  And thanks to my shoe curfew, no nasty toe prints!

Who says shoe shopping can't be an adventure?

So here's to getting lost in the desert.  And to air conditioning and Aerosoles.

But not really.

I'd never wear Aerosoles.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Ties That Blind: Birds of a Tether

Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Zulily
Bag: Gifted
Belt: Marshalls
Bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Green bracelet: Amrita Singh, Zulily
Purple bracelet: Etsy
Other bracelets: So, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Michaels
Barrette: The Tote Trove

Top: Pink Republic, Kohl's
Skirt: Wild Fable, Target
Shoes: Katy Perry, Macy's
Bag: Circus by Sam Edelman, Kohl's
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Bracelets: So, Kohl's

Filled with beads! 

Bird is the Word Bag Necklace

Sometimes, things don't go according to plan.  Like when I photographed this first outfit and found that the lovely-in-my-mind lemon print dress camouflaged my Bird is the Word Bag Necklace into a chaos of color, and not in a good way.  But I subbed in a plain black top as the new backdrop.  And the necklace popped the way I wanted it to -- even if the sacrifice was the obliteration of the green and black details of my watermelon flip flops.  

But that was okay.  I learned to love my little ghost watermelons, reminding myself that perfection is boring.  

Which is just one of the things that spoke to me in Kelly Corrigan's memoir Glitter and Glue.  In it, journalist Corrigan reminisces about when she was twenty-four and quit her desk job to see the world and have great adventures.  She never imagined that she'd end up as a nanny for an Australian widow and his two children.  Or that the experience would make her see her relationship with her own mother in a new light and give her a glimpse of the mother she herself would become.  

I knew I would like this book.  How could any crafter not, with a title like Glitter and Glue?  But I didn't know that I'd love it, that its bittersweet edges would remind me of life's relentless yet precious surprises.  I like memoirs because they get right down to the core of things.  They're character-driven as opposed to plot-driven (although I suppose they have to be, what with the characters being real people and all), and their end game is self discovery instead of shocking endings or eleventh-hour rescues.  Unlike in a novel, nothing is tidy -- and somehow seems richer for it.  And that's the case with Glitter and Glue.  Corrigan describes her adopted Australian family in as much detail as her family back in Philadelphia, complete with all the alliances and dynamics that construct the invisible framework of people who sometimes have nothing in common but genes.  

Five-year-old Martin is immediately smitten with Kelly (it seems incongruous to refer to her as Corrigan at this point), but seven-year-old Milly remains reserved to the point of rudeness.  Both adorably call her "Keely" in Australian accents.  Helping out in a motherless household gives Kelly a new perspective on her own childhood.  She has always been closer with her father, a light-hearted Irishman nicknamed Greenie, whereas she sees her mother as strict and unsympathetic.  Yet when she was a teenager, her mother told her, "Your father's the glitter but I'm the glue."  (Better than the old rubber and glue saying, I guess, where glue is the villain.)  Now, years later, this makes Kelly wonder, and it makes me wonder, too.  Is the no-nonsense parent the one who loves harder?  And do men always get to be the fun ones while women do the less glamorous work of holding things together?

On a more superficial note, I could not for the life of me imagine traveling anywhere with only ten pieces of clothing!  But that's just what Kelly did.  Toward the end of her nanny tenure, she tie dyes a top and a pair of pants purple in an attempt to impress a special someone.  (Because yes, there is a touch of romance here.  And for me, it -- and its tortured trajectory -- is the book's most poignant part.)  I admire Kelly's move in all of its Scarlett-O'Hara-tearing-down-the-curtains ingenuity.  But for me, most of the fun of going anywhere is getting to trot out new looks.  Still, this personality impasse makes Glitter and Glue's message even more powerful.  As in, we may not all be the same or even like the same things, but at heart, human beings need the same things: to understand the world around them and to be appreciated and loved. 

I think that's what Corrigan (because yes, at this dramatic juncture we're back to using her last name) is saying.  That, and appreciate your mom no matter how much she annoys you, because she's amazing.    

They say that healthy birds leave the nest.  And I agree.  But the healthiest birds always come home.  Even if only to unpack an overnight bag -- be it a designer tote or old, beat-up backpack -- and say thank you.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Hairy Truth About Scrunchies . . .

. . . is that they're totally awesome!  I know, I know.  I once vowed to resist this resurrected eighties/nineties trend.  To never fall for its amorphous allure or wind its graffiti-print, calamari-like rings around my precious ponytail.  Because there's something provincial about it that makes you (okay, me) feel like you're admitting defeat.  I blame such snobbery on that episode of "Sex and the City."  You know, the one where Carrie and Aidan argue about whether a scrunchie-sporting woman at a restaurant is a New Yorker.  Carrie says that she isn't; Aidan insists that she is.  When they ask her, she reveals that she's on vacation and gushes that she's flattered to be mistaken for one of Gotham's glamazons.

Then I saw the reboot.  (Of the scrunchie, not "Sex and the City.")  And it's more than just a, as my mom used to say, ruffle wrap.  It now comes in a myriad of colors, prints, fabrics, and even structures.  Some look like old-school telephone cords.  I was really excited about that and snapped up this fluorescent foursome.  Sure, when I tried to wear them in my (admittedly unruly) locks, they got lost and looked like dead jellyfish.  But that only inspired me to string them on a ribbon and wear them as a necklace.

In other updo doodad overhauls, the elastic part isn't even the, ahem, mane event, but a mere anchor for scarves and bows.  They're so pretty, like something you'd see on a bobby soxer or Disney princess.  I snagged two in red and yellow, Ronald McDonald style, albeit in autumnal florals, as well as a hot pink one printed like a bandanna.  The effect is summer fading into fall.  Kind of like an acid rain-spiked watermelon crashing Thanksgiving's still life of corn and cranberries.

That's the thing about trends.  Sometimes, it takes more than a minute for them to make sense to you and secure a place in your heart's true blue wardrobe.  Sometimes -- like the Cranberries -- you have to wait and let them linger.

And also, admit that a comeback can overcome a comment from New York's couture queen.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Undersea Stallion Battalion

Top: Self Esteem, Macy's
Skirt: So, Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Privileged, Zulily
Sunglasses: Relic, Kohl's

Top: L'Amour by Nanette Lepore, JCPenney
Skirt: Celebrity Pink, Marshalls
Shoes: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Bag: H&M
Belt: Wild Fable, Target
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's

This Sparkly Seahorse Necklace says "shoot-out at the O. K. Corral."  But it also says "wipe-out at the Old Bay Coral."  Because seahorses are weird like that, straddling the warring worlds of land and sea.  Speaking of coral, the tee shirt in the first outfit kind of looks like a mare's nest of it, with our poor pal seahorse obscured by its chaos.  So I took a take two with the nautical knot blouse, which makes for a much better backdrop.  Is this because nautical knots scream boat, and a boat is the only vessel brave enough to traverse the tightrope between terra firma and tidal waves?  Or because the knots look like pretzels and pretzels are tasty?      

Only the seahorse knows.  And she isn't telling.   

So be like the seahorse and keep a secret or two.  And when in Rome rock a (rhinestone) cowboy hat. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Baby, You're a Fire Perk: Can't Hold a Candle to Sandals

Left to right: Penny Loves Kenny, DSW; Mix No. 6, DSW; Shoe Carnival

A Roman candle, that is.  Because these sandals are plastic and will explode if near an open flame.  That's right.  This Fourth of July, I'm rolling out the red, white, and blue carpet for new kicks.  Only the white is yellow, which is okay because yellow is the final destination of white anyway.  (Kind of like Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde.  But you know.  Not.)  You need only look at your teeth (unless you use those painful whitening strips) or your mother's wedding dress (unless your mom tied the knot yesterday, in which case, get in on those cake leftovers already) to know that it's true.

That said, there's nothing to raise the spirits like a new pair (or three) of sandals.  (Unless it's a new handbag.  Or a piece of cake.  Or a new handbag shaped like a piece of cake.)  And there's something especially glam and feminine about shoes that show off your toes.  Even if they do make your feet sweat like Big Foot slogging through the Sahara.

Anyhoo, here's a shot of me all dressed for the Fourth:

What's that you say?  Why am I not wearing my new heels?  Because it's America's birthday, and my tootsies are taking a break.  I am, however, wearing Katy Perry flip flops and a balloon necklace (which, full disclosure, I made for one of my birthdays).  And am, most importantly, keeping the red, yellow, and blue theme alive.

So, three cheers for things getting old and crusty.  And for pyromania in the name of patriotism. 

It's what our forefathers would've wanted.