Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Face Case: Jim Carrey Brings the Scary

I've worn a lot of weird things in my time, but I never thought that a mask would be one of them.  Yet here I am all suited up to pick up my groceries at Walmart.  My sister, who is an amazing seamstress, made masks for everyone in our family and for all of her friends.  She said that she added the red lace to mine to make it special.  Well, mission accomplished! 

It (the mask, not the lace) makes me feel a little like I'm about to perform open heart surgery or rob a bank.  Which makes a strange sort of sense as in these times we're all superheroes or villains.

I used the mask as the first building block for my outfit.  Because an outing's still an outing even if you never leave the car.  I especially like how the red lace tie looks like part of my top.  Let's hear it for happy accidents!  And, of course, for a fresh haul of foodstuffs.

If only my mask had not only special lace, but special powers like Jim Carrey's. 

I think his mucus-colored mug from that movie could be just the thing to scare Covie straight.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Hangin' Around This Gown: Oops, I Mean Tee Shirt

Red tank: Eyeshadow, Macy's; Cactus tee: Mighty Fine, Kohl's; Pink/turquoise striped tee: Derek Heart, Boscov's; Rainbow striped tee: Arizona Jeans, JCPenney; Tie dye tee: Candie's, Kohl's

What up, Counting Crows!  Do you appreciate the way a kooky new necklace lights up a favorite old tee?  No?  Maybe next time I'll feature one of your concert tees (first I'll have to get one).  Then you'll sing a different tune.

That was a bad bit, even for me.  But as I hang around my house and dig ever deeper into my craft stash, I'm running low on more than just humor.  Like clasps.  And wire.  And beads that don't look like they came out of a Jamesway gumball machine.  And so I challenged myself to turn my frown upside down by making the best of what I've got.  No wire?  No problem!  I summoned my satin ribbon from the bench and said, "Look alive!  Don't let those metalheads get into your heads and make you think that because you're soft you're weak.  Braid and knot and move like you're being chased by scissors.  Like scissors, I say!"  To be fair, they were being chased by scissors, and the person wielding them was me.  But you don't get anywhere without a few head games.

Now, I'm not saying that second string satin became the MVP.  Or that I'll be forsaking wire when the craft stores are as wide open as Nebraska.  But I did derive an unexpected joy from working with a material so fluid and, yes, artsy-craftsy.  Sliding pony beads along the colorful strands made me feel like I was at camp, only better because at camp they use yarn and also because camp is the worst (tube-laced mystery meat, I'm talking to you).  It was fun to rummage through my junk drawers, too, which I did to come up with the pendants.  I found one of those perfect seashells with a hole at its base and a plastic noisemaker graced with a clown that came out of a New Year's Eve cracker.  The clown is scary but awesome.  As clowns should be.     

Upside Down Clown Necklace, Tahiti Graffiti Necklace

So, now what?  If you know me at all, then you know that I'm a sitcom and-a-half away from ordering some wire.  Which I could have done in the first place.  But there wouldn't have been any adventure in that.  Not to mention any clowns.

To that, I say this:     

YOLO, Bozo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

America the Beautiful: Let There be Bright

Sweater: Mudd, Kohl's
Necklaces: The Tote Trove (but you knew that)
Bracelets (left to right): Burlington Coat Factory, Cloud Nine, B Fabulous, Target
Ring: PinkBopp

I pledge allegiance to this bag of the United States of accessories.  I think that it's the cat's pajamas of carryalls (sorry, but PJs are my world now), and its spacious skies and purple-in-the-right-light mountains' majesty have got me getting all patriotic.

Psst: This bag is Delia's by Dolls Kill.  Last year, I was so excited when the online retailer resurrected this '90s brand.  What thirtysomething doesn't remember finding the Delia's catalog in the mail after school and rifling through it for the latest in baby tees, stackable lip glosses, and platforms?  Browsing -- and yes, shopping -- the Doll's Kill line is fun and nostalgic.  And unlike in high school, there are no pesky pep rallies, curfews, or frenemies.

Correction; there are always frenemies.  Hopefully these days they don't fly your tampon up the flagpole.

But back to the ride or die Delia's.  Nostalgic or not, there's a danger in rebooting something beloved.  "It's not the same!" the purists will cry, righteously rambling on about how much better things were in their day.  But I prefer Delia's 2.0 to the original, which could sometimes skew toward grunge.  It's girlier and more colorful, just like the fashion in movies.  Oh, parallel universe of make-believe, you never fail to amaze me.  Your larger-than-life brilliance shines a light on even the darkest of demons, transforming them into something cute and bright until they look like the crew from Monsters, Inc.

It's nice that old things can become new again without losing the thing that made them new in the first place.

In other words, Delia's -- and America, too -- you're a grand old bag, you're a high flying bag.

Forever in peace may you rave.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Love You, Lip Hue, Yes I Do

Blouse: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Tank: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Purse: Fred Flare
Ring: Gifted
Hair ties: Marshalls 

Lip prints have always been popular.  I guess it's because they're cheeky and feminine and scream teen queen romance.  See Exhibit A, my beloved (reversible!) lips sweater that has sadly since bit the dust:

Good thing I have this new white and pink lip-print blouse to console me.  It's been biding its time in my closet, just waiting to be worn and/or posted.  And today is the day!  I made these accessories to go with it.  True, they're not lip-themed.  But they're still hella loud.

Yellow Bow Glow Barrettes

Orange Twist Butterfly Earrings

Over the Rain-blow Necklace

Top: Candie's, Kohl's
Skirt: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Rocket Dog, Marshalls
Bag: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Sunglasses: Amazon  

Despite my love for all things lippy, while quarantined, I've been forsaking my actual lipstick.  Yes, I've swapped my signature Revlon Cherries in the Snow for -- gasp -- pumpkin pie-flavored Chapstick. Talk about long-lasting leftovers; it's the Thanksgiving dessert that keeps on giving.  Wearing it makes me think of that old ad with Olympic skier Picabo Street proudly proclaiming that she's not a lipstick girl, she's a Chapstick girl.  As you know, I hate the Olympics, and I'm unquestionably on team lipstick.  (If it wasn't clear before, then my compulsion to add two tubes to my Walmart pickup order for my I-got-dressed-today-if-even-for-five-minutes glamour shots clinches it.)  Nevertheless, that Chapstick commercial stuck in my head.  I liked Picabo's conviction, even if it differed from my own.  And even if she was being paid big bucks by Big Lip Balm.

So in these hanging-out-on-my-own days, I'm making the most of the deliciousness that is treat-flavored lip salve.  And it's pretty sweet.  Next up, sugar cookie.

That said, for today's sign-off, I thought it'd be fun to show my love for lipstick and for you, dear readers:

Thank you, Walmart, for all that you do.  And for braving the snow to tend those cherry trees. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Landscape Escape: A Tip of the Cap to the Mushroom

I always suspected that I'd make a good hermit.  And now I know I was right!  This pic marks the first time I stepped outside my house in almost a month.  Which is another way of saying that I'm in my element indoors -- and that pandemic time is painting time.  I so enjoyed making this little landscape.  And although it isn't the promised Tastykake Lake (art projects never turn out the way we think they will, do they?), I like -- no, love -- it anyway.  Because it's colorful and shows that I'm young at heart.  And that I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty.

Still, my best bud is fashion, and it wouldn't be a Trove post without a sartorial spotlight.  I ordered this trio of candy-striped tops from J. C. Penney's last year and never ever wore them.  A tragedy, I know, right up there with the tp shortage and climate change.  But I've had the shoes much longer and wear them a lot, so I suppose there's hope for the tops.  And also for the polar ice caps.    

As for this Save Room for Shrooms Necklace, it couldn't be simpler - no charms, no tiers, no stones, no glue.  And yet I think it's still a stunner.  Must be the mushrooms!

Save Room for Shrooms Necklace

I guess the, ahem, morel of this story is that playing outside is overrated.  And that even the most mundane of mushrooms are magical.

Good thing we can soak them in from our windows.  Or better yet, while killing at Super Mario Brothers.

See you on the other side, Princess Toadstool.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Wardrobe Wars: Jane of the Concrete Jungle

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryby Gabrielle Zevin, is one of my favorite books.  So I was excited to read another Zevin novel, and the one I chose was wonderful too, although in a different way.  (Also, the cover is cool.)  Young Jane Young is the story of a political intern who has an affair with a married congressman and how it upends her life.  "Ugh, sounds gross," you may be thinking, or maybe even, "Ooh, juicy, bring it on!"  (Hey, I don't know what you're into.)  But Young Jane Young isn't a salacious soap opera.  It's a thoughtful -- and yes, sometimes funny -- look at how society often paints women as villains, even when it's the men who are wrong.  Zevin tells Jane from the point of view of five women, and it isn't until the end that we hear from the intern herself.  On her very first day, she struggles to choose a professional outfit.  Her conundrum is relatable and angsty and sets the scene for the cautionary tale she becomes.

"You lay three options on your extralong twin bed: a black stretch crepe cocktail dress, a navy blue summer-weight wool dress that you fear might be snug as you haven't tried to zip it up in more than two years, and a white blouse and gray kilt combo.

If you choose the black dress, turn to page 4.

If you choose the blue dress, turn to page 5.

If you choose the white blouse and kilt, turn to page 11.

You choose the white blouse because you think it's the most professional, but then, when you put it on, the buttons strain across your breasts, creating eye-shaped gaps.  You don't have time to change.  You don't want to be late.  If you hunch your shoulders forward, the eyes mainly close.  . . . You sloppily apply red lipstick to your mouth.  You are not good with makeup because you rarely wear any.  When you went to your prom, your mom put on your makeup for you.  Yes, you know how that makes you sound.  You and your mom are close.  She's probably your best friend though you are not hers.  Her best friend is Roz Horowitz, who is funny and, in the way of many funny people, occasionally mean." (208-209).

The intern is vulnerable.  She's not some tramp out to trap a sugar daddy; she's a clueless coed who doesn't know how to dress.  So later, when her supervisor pulls her aside and tells her that her outfit is inappropriate, it's all the more wrenching.  And then, when she bursts into tears in the break room and the congressman comforts her, well, it's pretty clear who's out to trap whom.

I think Zevin tells us all this at the end so that for most of the story we see the intern through the world's judgy eyes.  By the time we find out how everything really went down, we're as jaded as everyone else, making the impact of the truth even greater.  Also, the Choose Your Own Adventure style, which Zevin carries throughout the intern's narrative, is genius.  It shows that the intern has choices but that she doesn't always make the right ones.  Because she bases everything on the sometimes compromised, sometimes simplistic moral code she grew up with, making her ill-equipped to deal with adult situations.  (To give you an idea, her dad cheats on her mom and she thinks that Belle should've picked Gaston instead of the Beast).  She's an idealist masquerading as a cynic who thinks that women have all the tools they need to do battle with men -- even when those men are older and more powerful.  So she has to learn that men and women aren't treated equally before she realizes that they should be treated equally and that that's what feminism really means.  It sounds straightforward but isn't.  Especially to those coming of age in "modern" times when everything seems evolved and okay on the surface.

Still, the intern may be down, but she isn't out.  Life may have knocked her around, but it's also made her resilient.  And so after we see her fall apart, it's favorite-song-on-the-radio inspiring to see her start to put herself back together.

When the intern is older -- and no longer an intern -- she goes to an important event in an outfit that makes her feel confident:

"You put on a red suit.  You spend no time making this decision.  You don't even consider wearing anything else.  The fit is perfect and you know it will photograph well.  You're older now, and you know what looks good on you." (293)

I love the symbolism in this.  It's no-nonsense and neat, a nonsexist way to show how clothes make the woman.

Finally, Jane has arrived.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Attire Satire: Pass the Cheese, Please

Easter is the first major holiday to pass us by during the coronavirus (sorry, St. Pat's, but it's true).  So I thought about calling this post Easter Under Siege.  But that seemed too dark and nihilistic.  Especially because I'm wearing my Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, and am toting my stuffed Peeps.  And I must say that it feels good to be all trussed up!  Even if "trussed" is a word associated with turkeys and the word I should've used is "gussied."

But then again, aren't we all just turkeys running around the barnyard of life?

I think this pic proves that we are.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to dig in to macaroni and cheese, cheesy potatoes, ham, and brownies.  And yes, some veggies too (sigh).

Happy Easter!  May your outfits and your eats be awesome.   

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Book Cook Nook: Bon Appe-treat

I'm living proof that you don't have to like cocktails or cooking to love Amy Sedaris's I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.  This book came out four years before Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, but somehow I missed it.  I was probably put off by its being a cookbook, which it definitely is.  I know because Sedaris is quick to classify it as such in the Foreword: "This is not a joke cookbook.  I don't like joke cookbooks because I can't take them seriously."  Although it's indeed side-splitting, it includes real recipes too, so, Amy, message received.  Anyway, it's also overflowing with colorful photographs and illustrations as well as zaniness and retro charm.  Also, decorum-be-damned flavor.  I give it an S for salty.

Sedaris goes on to say that she caught the homemaking bug as a child watching cooking shows in North Carolina and hoped to host her own program one day.  Which just goes to show that you lampoon the ones you love.  Or is it you hurt the ones you love?  Or, if you love something, then lampoon it?  Semanitcs notwithstanding, truTV's "At Home with Amy Sedaris" (an Emmy winner!) proves that dreams do come true.  Maybe that's because Sedaris isn't afraid to go there or make herself the butt of the joke.

Here are some parts that I especially like in I Like You:

On being an out-of-town guest:

"If you're an out-of-town guest, be classy and find somewhere else to stay.  If you're not classy or you're a family member, here are a few suggestions on how to be a tolerable out-of-town-guest: Don't arrive saying you have chiggers, scabies, ringworm, or lice.  Keep your parasites to yourself.  Don't show up with a pet you need to bury.  Don't dye your hair while you're there.  My mother always said "Don't bother other people."  I think that's good advice." (63-65)

On entertaining the grieving:

" 'We were in the bathtub and I felt a cyst on his good testicle.  I insisted on taking him to the hospital even though he protested, saying it was nothing.  After a thorough exam it turned out he was right, it was nothing.  On the way home he was murdered.'  . . . There is no bigger hospitality challenge than entertaining for the grieving.  They are just so sad. " (122)

On gift giving:

"Giving a gift can express many things -- Congratulations!  Get well soon.  Remember me?  I'm so sorry, it will never happen again.  Happy Secretary's Day!  Happy Graduation.  Happy Birthday.  I didn't mean it, it was the spiced rum talking.  The best presents come from the heart and say something simple: "I like you." " (186)

Sedaris says that she's a better cook than writer (her delightful Foreward strikes again!).  "I can't write good, but I can cook even better and I am willing to share with you my sackful of personal jackpot recipes that, because of their proven success, I continue to make, over and over again."  I know she's kidding.  Still, I called this post Book Cook instead of Cook Book to emphasize that Sedaris is a writer, i.e. someone who "cooked" a book.  Although not in an embezzly way.

So, this spring, treat yourself to a heaping helping of hilarious.  In this time of social distancing, it may not help you entertain others, but it will most definitely help you entertain yourself.  Which is just as well, because in life you're always the guest of honor.   

Don't be coy.  You know you like you.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Paper Products Party for Two

Or maybe I should say "paper products party of two."  Like the husband and I are cloistered on a quarantined craft cresting atop choppy waters.  Only, it would be more of a houseboat than a rickety sloop, what with a roof and running water and regular deliveries from Target.  By the way, that's where I got these napkins (Target, that is, not a houseboat).  As you know, paper goods are tough to come by these days, and I was feeling discouraged on Target's site until I detoured into the party section.  There I discovered such a collection of colorful cocktail serviettes that I felt like I was planning a booze cruise.  When I mentioned this on that family-wide FaceTime app known as House Party, my brother-in-law said, "You better not let Governor Murphy hear you say that!"  He refers, of course, to New Jersey's fearless leader known for fining people for throwing parties.  The most recent was a DJ-led rager that took place mere miles from the statehouse.       

Deadly virus or not, I guess some people just have to get their groove on.

Anyway, when the napkins arrived, they seemed like a bounty.  Now I'm reluctant to open them for fear that they'll dwindle faster than my Nature Valley almond butter biscuits.  Between us, the husband and I polished off fifty in less than two weeks.  That said, I did score a box of industrial-grade (i.e. nearly nonabsorbent public restroom) paper towels from Amazon.  I was so excited you might think it was a new Betsey bag!  Yet with these too I plan to exercise caution.  Normally, I go through paper towels like, well, almond butter bars, the evidence piling up Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa-style in my bathroom trashcan.  But rationing the finer fibers in life has taught me to be more careful.  For example, I've been using dishtowels and bath towels whenever possible and thinking, "Is this what it feels like to be environmentally responsible?  It isn't so bad!"  It's funny how much you can do with a little when you have to.  Somewhere out there a tree's thanking me.

I hope it's an oak.  No, a redwood.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Duck Duck Truce: Crayon Box Rocks

Welcome to another exciting edition of rhyme time!  That's right, I wrote a new poem, and it's about the duck decoys on my mantel.  They say that when you spend a lot of time alone, you start talking to yourself and/or inanimate objects.  In this case, the objects are talking to me -- or rather, to another inanimate object, my faux forsythia wreath.  Anyhoo, I call the poem Flighty Ducks Get Their Wings Clipped -- for reasons that will soon be clear.

The four little ducks
In this pic had a fight
Each wouldn't give in,
Each thought he was right.

But the wreath below them
Was upset by their strife
And said they should stop
If they valued their life.

That gave the ducks pause
And they shut their beaks
For only fools quack
When a wise woman speaks.

The wreath smiled sweetly
And glowed like the sun
She wasn't just decor
For good times and fun.

I was once like you,
She told the four ducks
Ungrateful and selfish
And out for big bucks.

But then a wise antelope
Showed me the way
And soon I gave thanks
For each gift of a day.

Thank you, wreath lady
Chorused the quartet
We'll be good to each other,
We'll be our best yet.

No need to thank me
Replied the gold wreath
Just help one another
And treasure your teeth.

"Wait, what?" said the ducks.  "We don't have any teeth!"

But the wreath was already gone.  In her place was the grinning face of Emilio Estevez.  His smile was mostly toothless, and The Mighty Ducks theme song was playing in the background.  The duck decoy on the end screamed; the duck next to him muttered that he would've preferred to hear music from St. Elmo's Fire

Me too, duck one space from the end, me too.

This post isn't just about repentant waterfowl and underdog athlete flicks.  It's also about Crayola crayons and the Hard Rock Casino, two artsy icons at opposite ends of the rainbow paint palette spectrum.  Crayons are wholesome (even when eaten, they're nontoxic), whereas rock and roll is all rebel yell (although I realize how unhip it is to reference Billy Idol instead of Billie Eilish).  They have nothing in common.  Except for maybe when the waitress at the Hard Rock Cafe brings little Katie a pack of crayons.   

Well, that and they're both built for expression.  Which is obvious given my unfortunate air guitar performance in the pic above.  The husband took it back in January, or, as I like to call it, "the time that came before" (the coronavirus).  And although it's true that I had a good time, it wasn't as good as the time I'm having now.

Right, Emilio?

I quack myself up.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Clean Food, Cool Dude: Inside Voices, Please

Tee: Macy's
Skirt: POPSUGAR, Kohl's
Shoes: Cape Robbin, Ami Clubwear 
Bag: Betsey Johnson, gifted
Sunglasses: Michaels
Red Belt: Tahari, Macy's Backstage
White Belt: Belt is Cool, Amazon
Barrette: The Tote Trove

The coronavirus quarantine might have slowed the globe down.  But that doesn't mean we're not still moving.  Still life?  More like chill life -- if this wayfarer-wearing pineapple has anything to say about it!  And he does.  Most notably, pass the sunscreen and salsa.

This too-cool-for-school tee is another member of my super elite, never-worn-it-in-real-life club.  I ordered it from Macy's a while back, along with the one that says Fanta.  I can see myself rocking it with a hoodie and sweatpants while I slather my Fage with Softsoap.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a lot of emails from stores pushing the whole "look hot at home" angle.  As in, don't stop buying our products just because the world is on lockdown.  And I think, well, I'm one of those people who dresses up all the time, but even I don't wear heels to do dishes.

I am getting a new perspective on clothes and the role they play in my life, though.  For example, it's weird how they can both expose and protect, kind of like a Madonna cone bra.  Or, for the non-icons among us, something as seemingly simple as a day-glo pink sweater.  The color exposes me/you as someone who's out there, but it protects me/you from others, too.  As in, don't-mess-with-this-mama, she's out there; leave her be with her out-there thoughts.   

In other words, like Colbert and those snarky sweatshirts, I was social distancing before it was cool.

Here's hoping that you go the distance too, whatever it means, whatever you do.

And also, in these days of isolation, that you don't morph into Dr. Seuss.