Sunday, December 29, 2019

Partridge in a Pear Wee




Punchy Produce Charm Bracelet

Top: Lily Star, Target
Skirt: Hollister, Marshalls
Shoes: Zulily
Bag: Sleepyville Critters, Amazon
Belt: Marshalls
Yellow bracelet: Amrita Singh, Zulily
Barrette: The Tote Trove


It may not be the first day of Christmas.  Or even the second.  But I won't let that stop me from posting 1) my Christmas Day and two-days-after-Christmas-lunch-with-the-husband's-grandmother outfits or 2) my new fruit-themed jewelry.  Also, in case you hadn't noticed, in the first photo, I'm standing by a picture of -- yes, you see it -- fruit.

And now for something that doesn't involve actual fruit but is the color of a cartoon watermelon: this here elf.


I got him at Michaels for 70% off yesterday.  I'd been eyeing him up all season, trying to decide if he was cute or grotesque or somewhere in between.  For a supposed wee one, he made for a very large ornament.  "He's weird," I observed, turning him over in my hands, "but he's only $3."  "Well, then that's $3 worth of weird," said the husband.  As you know, weird always wins out with me.  I plunked him into my basket.

Now, you may be thinking that this is especially weird because my last post was about the (fictional) murder of the Elf on the Shelf.  But I assure you that this merry not-quite mite is in no such danger and is much safer at my house than he would be at Michaels (who knows what miscreants roam those aisles?).  Even if earlier today I noticed that the husband had moved him from his spot at the base of the fireplace to a new perch on the steps.  Then I moved him to the love seat to photograph him.  He's still there.  Let's see if the husband says anything.   

Aw, too late.  He came in not a minute ago with his knowledge all over his face.  And then, obvi, he saw me writing this.  Guess this kidnap-and-go-seek of a melony felony's over.  Wait.  Felony Melanie.  That was Reese Witherspoon's character's nickname in Sweet Home Alabama.  Which has nothing to do with anything.

Except . . . Melanie/Reese stealing from Michaels might make for a good movie.  I can see it now: Craft Crimes: When Bitches Get Stitches.  Only it would be "bitches" in an empowering way because Melanie/Reese would be lifting yarn and paint for creative geniuses in a women's shelter.  Get ready for a montage starring graffiti.  Also, a cameo from Bad Seed.

That's going to be my elf's stage name.   

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Rhyme Time Crime: Merry Christmas








Well, it's Christmas again.  Which means that it's time for revelry and reflection.  Also, murder mysteries.  Because what's cozier than a good, old-fashioned tale of who bludgeoned old St. Nick with a candlestick?  It turns out, not much.  Just yesterday, I finished reading Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan, and earlier this month, the husband and I saw the play "Murder for Two -- The Holiday Edition" in Cape May (hence these lovely outdoor house pics).  I guess that this tradition of festive foul play started the December I got my first period.  My mom went to the library and got me a book called Mistletoe Mysteries: Tales of Yuletide Murder to read while I was in bed with cramps (insert Krampus joke here?  Nah, skip it).  Since then, Christmas and crime -- and yuletide and the crimson tide -- have been, for me, intertwined. 

As they (sort of) say down at the precinct, if you can't do the time, don't do the rhyme.  Fortunately, I always have the time.  So here's a rhyme in the form of a poem that I call Christmas with Earl.

Christmas is colorful
Christmas is bold
Christmas distracts us 
From winter's dark cold.

That's why we send cards
And buy lots of things
And smile and join in
When tone-deaf Earl sings.

It's why we drink eggnog 
And choke down fruitcake
And re-gift a Snuggie
To Earl "by mistake."

It's why we go big
Or go home with our trees
And carol for strangers
In zero degrees.

The brighter the lights,
The lighter our hearts,
The richer the cheese ball,
The louder Earl's farts.

It's all about family
And friends far and near
And spending some time
With the the ones we hold dear.

So ignite the yule log 
And give Earl a hug
And say Merry Christmas,
You batty old lug. 

Afterword: The next morning, when the family gathered for breakfast, they discovered that Earl had strangled their Elf on the Shelf with his Snuggie.  The moral of this story?  Holidays or not, just say no to unwanted house guests.  

Also, don't ever give Snuggies.  

Have a very merry -- and very Earl free -- Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sleigh, Winter


Nice Cream Cupcake Necklace 

Sweater: Cara Santana for Apt. 9, Kohl's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: 2 Lips Too
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Silver and pink sequin bangles: Target
Blue cut-out bangle: B Fabulous
Pink wavy bangle: Mixit, J. C. Penney's
Blue beaded bracelet: Cloud Nine


 Blue Bell Spell Necklace

Tee: Macy's
Turtleneck: Wild Fable, Target
Skirt: Dollhouse, Macy's
Shoes: First Love by Penny Loves Kenny, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Amazon
Belt: Marshalls
Socks: Gifted


Indigo Glow Necklace

Top: Merona, Target
Skirt: So, Kohl's
Shoes: Michael Antonio, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Circus by Sam Edelman, Kohl's
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Grape purse charm: Charming Charlie
Celestial purse charms: Macy's

Not too long ago, I started my car to go to work and heard that sad non-sound that can mean only one thing -- my battery was dead.  Luckily, the husband was still home and went to Advance Auto Parts to get me a new one.  Now, I was grateful.  Obvi.  But when I started my car again, I was dismayed to find that I had no clock or radio.  So, I set off for the first of many journeys in what I called "the quiet car where time stands still."  I told myself that the lack of tunes and timekeeping didn't matter, that I was just stoked to have working wheels.  It made me think back to when I was a kid and my sister and I were on one of our many errand odysseys with our mother.  It had been a long day of slogging through Jamesway (remember that?) and Acme and who knows where else, and we got into an argument because she wanted to listen to music, and I wanted to listen to nothing, or, as I so eloquently put it, "the road."  My mom got so frustrated that she, in a cliche of cliches, stopped the car.  The only explanation I have for my lame stance was that I needed a break from the incessant bleating of Hall and Oats.  Although I've since cringed at my diva behavior, when trapped in my quiet, compromised car, I tried to channel my old childhood logic and tell myself that silence was golden.  That it was just me and my thoughts and the open road, like in "Night Rider" minus KITT.  What more could a modern woman -- and driver -- want?

Um, Andy Williams.  Because it isn't Christmas until Andy comes out.  That said, I was over the moon when the husband was able to rectify the situation just in time for me to sing along with Andy all the way to Cape May for the holiday house tour.  Because there's nothing quite like Christmas carols.  

Until you play them one time too many.

So, here's a seasonal but non-holiday song perfect for today, the winter solstice.  Yes, it's that earworm "Dear Winter."  AJR's latest is seemingly everywhere, so much so that people (okay, DJs) are predicting that it will inspire many a new mom to name her baby boy or girl for this brutal, teeth-chattering time of year.  It's basically a letter from a guy to his unborn (i.e. imaginary) son.  This is the last verse:

"Dear Winter, I'm looking for your mom
I gotta find a girl that doesn't mind that I'm inside my head a lot
Winter, it won't be too long
First, I just gotta find your mom."

I can't decide if this is the poetic musing of a misunderstood, sensitive guy who just wants a kid already, or the narcissistic rant of a misogynist hell-bent on making some chick his baby mama.  Either way, though, I still like it.  For one thing, it beats listening to tires against gravel.  (Or tires against a raccoon.)  For another, it makes for a clean segue to this week's necklaces.  Because they're weird.  Just like Winter and his daddy.  If I were listing them, I'd say that they were a "true blue treat," the "ice-ing on the cupcake," and, of course, that corny catchall, "a whirlwind of winter whimsy."  But I'm not, so I won't.  I'll just wear them in good health and strangeness as I tool around in my car, singing badly along to Andy and AJR and lots of other stuff except for Phil Collins.

I hate Phil Collins.  

Maybe he was what was playing that day instead of those scapegoats Hall and Oats.      

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Squad Soles

 From top left center clockwise: Journee, Kohl's; Michael Antonio, JCPenney; Betsey Johnson, DSW; Anne Michelle, JCPenney; Betsey Johnson, Macy's; Betsey Johnson, DSW

Left, left, left, right, left . . . is a reference to shoes and the Army.  As is this quote from Private Benjamin:

"I wanna wear my sandals.  I wanna go out to lunch."

Goldie, you got it.  Because when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.  Shoe shopping.  So here are some pairs that I purchased this fall, arranged in a Ferris wheel starburst.  My favorites are the rainbow ones from JCPenney.  But I also love the black and leopard cut-outs from Kohl's.  They're ladylike but fierce, like a beauty queen who's also a wrestler.  Plus, they came with an inspirational postcard.  You can't see all of the writing because some of it's white, but it says: "Happiness is just a pair of shoes away."  


You said it, Journee!  I'd expect nothing less from a footwear company named after a trip that also teaches you something.  

Kind of like Private Benjamin.  And also a mean game of dodgeball.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Flannel Panel: Paul Bunyan Funions


So, Kohl's


The panel has spoken: this holiday season, it's time to take flannel off the naughty list.  I know, I know.  I once declared that I'd never wear this alley cat of fabrics.  But as The Biebs once said, never say never.  (Ew.  I can't believe that I just used the "B" word.  I'm changing my pop princess reference to Taylor Swift, `a la "We Are Never Getting Back Together."  And yes, I just referred to The Biebs as a princess.)  Because flannel doesn't have to be manly or make you look like you lost a fight with a shredder.  It can be feminine and retro and sweet -- like an ad for cotton candy or tampons.  These red and pink plaids fall in that glam camp (glamp?), so naturally I had to have them.  They just looked so crisp and cozy, yet light enough to layer under a sweatshirt or sweater.  Speaking of which, for a minute, I considered calling this post "Sweatshirts: Not Just for Sweating" or, better yet, "Lemonade Lumberjack."  But those applied only to the red shirt.  Which seemed unfair and journalistically unsound, the pink one being my favorite.  

Flannel also sort of says ski lodge.  Which I find appealing despite (or perhaps because of) never having visited one.  And, of course, it also says Christmas.  Just like in that J. C. Penney's commercial with "American Housewife's" Katy Mixon and "Single Parents's" Leighton Meester:

Mixon: "I secretly love the holidays."

Meester: "Me too!  Just look at all this adorable holiday nonsense.  (Nuzzles white furry jacket).  So cozy."

Mixon (grabs rhinestone knit cap).  "I very much want this for the holidays!  (To Meester.)  Santa is always listening."

Meester (spots buffalo plaid flannel PJ bottoms and matching Wild One tee, then looks heavenward) "I want this!"

Then the two take a selfie while Meester utters JCP's current catchphrase: "It's the little things."

Because all roads lead back to JCP -- and TV.  Even if my local Penney's is now a Shopper's World.  

So yeah, flannel.  I've decided it's bitchin'.  

But I still and always will despise Funions.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Hello, JELL-O: I've Got a Bone to Pick With You



Top: Macy's
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Cape Robin, Ami Clubwear
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Purse charm: Staples
Red bangle: XOXO, ROSS 
Orange bangle: Mixit, JCPenney
Yellow bangle: Silver Linings
Green bangle: B Fabulous
Turquoise bracelet: Cloud Nine
Purple bracelet: Etsy



Shooting Star Earrings 

Blouse: Candie's, Kohl's
Top: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Betsey Johnson, DSW
Bag: Luv Betsey, Boscov's
Orange belt: Marshalls
Chartreuse belt: Izod, Marshalls



Top: Vylette, Kohl's
Skirt (a dress!): Ruby Rox, JCPenney
Shoes: Worthington, JCPenney
Bag: Dancing Days by Banned, Modcloth
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Turquoise bracelet: Cloud Nine
Royal blue bracelet: So, Kohl's
Frosted blue bracelet: Burlington Coat Factory

I just finished reading JELL-O Girls, by Allie Rowbottom, and it was not at all what I expected.  


I guess I was hoping for some wholesome, nostalgic fluff fest about this kitschiest of treats.  Because I've always been a fan of JELL-O.  Not just for its artificially fruity flavor, but for its wild, crystalline colors and ability to suspend pieces of fruit -- or, if you dare, luncheon meats -- in midair.  Moreover, the very nature of JELL-O is playful.  It speaks of childhood and out-there yet unpretentious culinary creations.  But I should have known that I wasn't in Kansas anymore when I took a look at this book's cover.  It features a doll trapped inside an eerie red JELL-O mold under the endorsement: "A story of wild insights and deep music --Nick Flynn, Author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City."  Alas, the truth was as clear as, well, gelatin.  JELL-O Girls would not go down easy.

JELL-O Girls is partly a history of the product, partly a biography of Rowbottom's mother, Mary.  Mary was the heiress to the JELL-O fortune, a distinction that ruined her life.  Not because she went around spending all the money and ending up bankrupt like MC Hammer.  But because, for her, JELL-O and its slimy, far-reaching tentacles equaled the evils of patriarchy.  (Damn you, books -- destroying everything that we love.)  Apparently, the JELL-O corporation (like all domestic enterprises) was run by men to profit from keeping women in the kitchen.  Rowbottom explores JELL-O's beginnings, starting with how her ancestor swindled the formula from its inventor at the end of the 1800s, then following its wiggly way through the twentieth century, from its multi-tiered reign in the 1950s to its sad slump into the current Wholefoods gilded age.  (To be fair, although most people now think of Jell-O as retro at best, tacky at worst, it wasn't always that way.  Back in the days of kings and queens, the dessert was considered a delicacy.  Kind of like white bread.  Which is also now pantry persona non grata.)  According to Rowbottom, not only is the stuff not nutritious, it's a symbol of women's oppression, and of the way they were forced to conform to the mold of the American housewife.  Who knew that something so sweet could be so deadly?  The horses, that's who.  JELL-O being made from -- among other things -- hooves.

Speaking of which (oppression, not hooves), back to Mary.  Mary is deeply troubled.  She loses her mother as a girl and spends her twenties in rehab.  She's violated by various men in her life and has her heart broken, and then, when it finally seems like she's found peace, she gets sick and never really recovers.  Curiously, she attributes this misfortune to the family curse.  Her cousin (not a good dude) once told her that the curse affects only the men.  But as the years unveil one dark chapter after another, Mary begins to see that he was wrong and that it's the women who suffer.  Rowbottom draws parallels between Mary and the women who endured the Salem witch trials.  She also notes similarities between her mom and the girls of LeRoy.  LeRoy, New York is Mary's and JELL-O's hometown, and around 2010, many of the girls who lived there began to report unusual body tics.  It's a mystery that not even science can solve.  Rather, the source of the girls' "hysteria" is the trauma of being female.  Of having to prove themselves day after day, of having to show that they're more than less than.

It's heavy stuff, an irony that Rowbottom is quick to point out in contrast to JELL-O's light, near-weightlessness.  It's also a little like this year's "Simpsons" Thanksgiving episode in which an amorphous cranberry sauce monster hunts children to satisfy its blood lust for bones.  Because it's, you know, made of them (see the above reference to hooves).  I found this disturbing, especially because I look forward to Turkey Day as a time to eat gobs of the sugary stuff shaped just like its ridged, cylindrical can.  No wonder that my parents once blacklisted Bart.

Cranberry sauce monster or not, Rowbottom tells Mary's story with sensitivity, courage, and love.  Her writing is beautiful and serves as a tribute to her unbreakable bond with her mother.  It must have been very difficult -- yet cathartic -- for her to write it.   

But enough gloom and doom.  Bring on the crafts.

Never one to judge my self worth from something I took from the oven (or, in this case, fridge), I made this Fabulous Felt Gelatin Bowl Barrette instead of something edible.  Although, if you're a goat, then that might not be true. 


So, am I going to stop eating JELL-O because it's a tool of The Man?  No, sirree -- I mean, ma'am.  If its alleged carcinogenic properties haven't scared me off, then a little misguided testosterone doesn't stand a chance.  Because JELL-O, like everything else in this world, is what you make it.  One person's sadness can be another's salvation.  Or at the very least, another's sorry-not-sorry guilty pleasure snack. 

No bones about it -- JELL-O is my jam.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Christmas Before Last Christmas . . .


. . . I took a selfie with the Abominable Snowman at Kohl's.  This year I took one with this $600 sloth.  Other shoppers were making the most of the photo op, too.  One girl said, "If I had this sloth, I would never need a boyfriend again!"  Maybe the good people at Kohl's made this sign with her in mind -- to protect the sloth's safety, not hers. 


Anyway, it's hard to believe that this gentle giant started life looking like the little critter below.  Or that he costs six Benjamins. 



Shoes: Chase & Chloe, Zulily
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Necklace: The Tote Trove

In other Black Friday news, I finally went to see Last Christmas.  I'd wanted to since it came out in the beginning of November (because who can resist a holiday rom com?) but abstained until after Turkey Day became a leftover (respect to the harvest).  In it, Emilia Clarke plays Katarina "Kate," a year-round Christmas shop elf haunted by some dark, albeit very un-Daenerys-like, demons.  She's a struggling singer and is borderline homeless, and she doesn't get along with her mom (Emma Thompson).  She also drinks too much despite a recent health scare, and her self-destructive ways are alienating her from her friends.  Thankfully, a handsome stranger (Henry Golding) turns up on a bicycle-as-white-steed to help.  Fun fact: Last Christmas and Golding's last movie, A Simple Favor, were directed by Paul Feig (indeed, both reflect his dark whimsy like black sweaters embroidered with silver).  Also, Golding's mom in Crazy Rich Asians (Michelle Yeoh), shows up as Kate's no-nonsense boss, Santa (or at least as no-nonsense as one can be while assuming that name and pushing holiday gibbon knickknacks).  All of which I so enjoyed, because who doesn't love a pop culture connection?  Here's another (the best ones come in threes).  Last Christmas is a love letter to George Michael (Emma Thompson's words, not mine), who passed away on Christmas in 2016.  His songs are beautifully woven into the scenes, offering hope as Kate tries to figure it all out.  (Even at rock bottom, she's witty and charming, and her zingers let us know she'll survive.)  Michael's eponymous "Last Christmas" holds the secret to the story and offers us a timeless message.  So move over Zoolander and Keanu.  In comparison, your tributes are limericks.

From the backdrops of lights and color and Christmas magic to the cast names scrawled in pink and blue '80s neon signaling, hey kids, this is gonna be fun, Last Christmas is a delight.  It's got miracles, second chances, reunited families, and yes, a little romance.  It's deep but light, sending you off with the kind of good old-fashioned, feel-good glow that makes you want to help someone.  Or, at the very least, help yourself to hot chocolate.

Or to some beads to make a festive necklace.  (I like to think that I redeemed myself by buying some Barbies for the donation box, too.  You didn't expect a chemistry set from someone who blogs about chick flicks, did you?)

 

Sweater: Poof, Marshalls
Skirt: Vanilla Star, Macy's
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Purse: Macy's
Yellow bangle: B Fabulous
Orange bangle: Mixit J. C. Penney's
Barrette: The Tote Trove


I made this one from miniature Christmas tree ornaments.  Which wasn't a stretch because whenever the holiday decorations come out, my first thought is always that it'd made great jewelry.  Well, some of it.  I mean, I wouldn't want to weigh down anyone's neck with a heavy gumball machine ornament or an overzealous length of bright, crocheted garland (although the specificity of these examples reveals that I've tried).  But these candies and toy solider are nice, light clay, which makes them fair game for a necklace.  Santa, if you're real (and this goes for the legend and/or the shop owner), then this wreath of wreaths is for you.    

Finally, Zoolander, I didn't mean what I said earlier.  "Wake Me Up" was and is the ideal way to set the scene for that orange mocha frappuccino-fueled freak gasoline fight accident.  

I guess limericks can be love letters, too.