Sunday, November 29, 2009

Days 73 and 74: One Bad Photo, One Weird Photo, and Lots of Dishes

I promise I'm not fishing for compliments, here. But this has not been a great week for photographs and outfit assemblage. Maybe it's the holiday chaos. No matter how far in advance I plan menus, etc., I'm always rinsing out dusty wine glasses or changing toilet paper rolls in the guest bath as people come up our driveway.

Or, perhaps it's the cold. On Friday we had our first truly hard freeze. All four begonia pots hanging along our front porch eaves were coated with a sheen of frosty ice--as were the tall coneflowers I fussed over in the garden yesterday afternoon.

Or, maybe it's that I'm still craving carbs like a bunny bulking up for winter. Makes me feel puffy and sluggish. Carbs are meant to do that. Penal and educational institutions are always pumping inmates full of pasta and sugar to keep them calm.

Here's some good news, though. The sky is revealed through winter's naked trees. The moon came up amber Thanksgiving night, like it was full of honey. No matter who you are, someone out there loves you. And me. 

Our Thanksgiving was full of food and funny stories and hugs and smiles and only a little mutual aggression between Scout and Nina Garcia, the kitten. It was also full of wine. And in the food category, much pie--Chocolate Pecan (recipe is on my FB page) and Pumpkin. I'm changing my crust recipe back to the one King Arthur Flour put out over a decade ago, though. The one I got off of their website last year isn't short enough (too little shortening/fat), and was tough, rather than flaky. Christmas has its own significance, of course, but I love the simplicity at the heart of Thanksgiving.

Since I'm feeling all mellow at the moment, I should probably go ahead and post this grisly pic now. It's what I get for taking my daily pic ten hours after getting dressed, cooking most of the day, and doing three loads of dishes. (I had fabulous help for the cooking and washing parts, thank goodness!)

Goodness only knows where my makeup went, and you'd think I would've learned not to wear large blocks of color on my torso after Monday's fiasco. But at least my dishes are pretty. We used our Portmerion flower pattern everyday for fifteen years, until my dear WV hubby decided we should have Fiestaware, which is so beautifully colorful and, coincidentally, made in West Virginia.

I prefer the turtleneck minus four pounds of me and with the black v-neck over it (from early Nov.).


George turtleneck: $10; Norma Kamali black career pants: $15; Earth Spirit shoes: $30; White Stag necklace: $7; Earrings: $7

Friday was crisp and cool after the freeze. Not being a Black Friday shopper, I was thrilled to be home all day with the pets. Could happily have stayed in exercise sweats, but I was determined to get one decent photo this week. Plus, I work better when I'm dressed, don't you?

Here, Hrothgar and I share an outdoor moment away from grumpy Scout and the kitten. And I liked this pic because it's kind of weird and shows how long and slim my nose is. (It's not like I'd change it to make it smaller--waaaaay too painful. Ew. And, ew--I would never do that.)


George blouse: $12 (poly/cotton--icky); Faded Glory sweater: $10; To the Max jeans: $17; Shoes: $20; Earrings: $12; Necklace $8   Total: $79

Thank you so much for reading--I've loved hearing that you're enjoying the blog. I know it's time-consuming to check in, so your encouragement means all that much more to me.

See you Monday!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 75: Six Pounds, Four Ralphs, and That's Enough On Both Counts

Why is this woman smiling?

I haven't the faintest freaking idea, because she's gained a solid six pounds since the days just preceding Halloween. I know. As my darling husband says every time I whine about my weight, "No one wants to hear the skinny girl complain that she's fat!"

Okay. I'll buy that. But I am exceedingly distressed that, with each passing day, I'm feeling ever more thankful for that hint of spandex in my $15 and $18 blue jeans. Also, muffin tops are hardly photogenic. I'm having a hard time posing so that you can't see that the non-genetic reason I have very little waist is that I can't keep my paws off the chocolate, chips, and Decaf Mocha, Extra Hot with Whip, Non-Fat Cappucinos (I get the whip to make up for the non-fat, of course). I'm getting old, I know, and I shouldn't still be obsessing about this weight thing. It's such a curse. When I'm a hundred and four and in the nursing home, I'll probably be the lady asking for the tummy-control support hose. How sad.

I've mentioned before (ad nauseum, I'm sorry) that this is a weather-related tendency I have. Cold weather makes me want to slather myself in chocolate and Lay's chips and hide in a cave. Could there be any better proof of our physical connection to our environment and the universe as a whole? I'm still no better than a raccoon. But now I'm thinking that this year's impressive record (it was only five pounds last fall) means we might be in for a rough winter. Take heed!

In other news....

I now own four--count 'em FOUR--Ralph Lauren zip, v-neck sweaters from Sam's Club. There have been times in my life I've bought duplicates of things I really like, but this is definitely a new record. The new black one is pictured above. Here are the others:



Today's ensemble:

RL Sweater: $23; Faded Glory Jeans: $15; L.E.I. Shoes: $20; Earrings: $8; Necklace: $12

That's quite enough for today, don't you think?

{This post was scheduled to go up Monday. Don't know why it posted already. Days 73 and 74 will be up on Sunday.}

Friday, November 27, 2009

Days 71 and 72: Tomato Sauce, Turkey, That Pesky L-Tryptophan, and A Recipe

Given the disaster that was Day 70's sweater, I can't believe I left it on my front page for more than 48 hours. I'm blaming food-induced coma, laced with panic. Three days' worth.

On Tuesday, I made our family's favorite Cincinnati chili recipe. It was one of those delightfully "clothes-optional" days, and so I felt free to be casual. The outdoor temperatures have been unseasonably warm of late, but I put on a new George turtleneck with my pumpkin hoodie, blue jeans and my F'Uggs. (Quote from DD: "Let me feel the inside of those. They feel just like real Uggs." Funny girl. She, of course, was wearing the $150 version at the time. Think I can save $120 replacing them with F'Uggs in the future? Right. I don't think so, either.) I had to do all of our Thanksgiving shopping as well, so I hied myself off to Walmart, the mothership, and battled other late shoppers for cans of evaporated milk, pumpkin, and broccoli heads. I was way overdressed for the weather, and regretted my cozy ensemble all the way there and back. When I got home, I divested myself of the hoodie and started tossing chili ingredients into the dutch oven.

And that's why I'm posing here in my Sam's raincoat. I splashed tomato sauce all over my new turtleneck.

I like that I look thoughtful here, and smarter than I probably am. A stylish trench hides many sins, don't you think?


White Stag turtleneck (100% cotton): $6; Faded Glory jeans: $15; London Fog trenchcoat: $29 (Sam's Club); Earrings: $7  Total: $57

Wednesday was a major food prep day, plus my folks arrived. Lots of cleaning as well as cooking. Let's not discuss the random sweats and socks I wore for most of the day. Not pretty. I did manage to get dressed for the parental arrival and our visit to our favorite bar-b-que restaurant.

I'm liking the new, longer necklaces I bought recently. They add a little spark to otherwise plain outfits. This one is silver with silver leaves spaced over its length. My mom commented that she liked the blue jeans very much. I just wish I could find another simple black v-neck to replace this cotton one. The black is fading with every wash and the knit is too light for winter.


George blouse: $3 (clearance); George cotton sweater: $3 (clearance); Nine West jeans: $18; George loafer pumps: $12; White Stag necklace: $7; Earrings: $7  Total: $50

Can't wait to model my new Calvin Klein down coat that I my mom brought from another Sam's Club--they were out of dark brown/medium coats around here. She's a brilliant shopper!

Here's the recipe for the chili we all love (feel free to pour your tomato sauce more carefully than I did). Crimespree Magazine also published it last year (Issue #29).

Cincinnati Chili

1 to 1.5 pounds ground beef, browned

1 can tomato sauce
5 cans light red kidney beans
1 tea. Oregano
1 tea. garlic powder
5-6 Tbls chili powder
1/4 tea. cinnamon
1/4 tea. cumin
1/4 tea. allspice

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for about 90 minutes (stirring frequently) or until it reaches desired thickness. Serve over cooked spaghetti, and top with chopped red onion and plenty of shredded cheddar or colby cheese.

If you make it, let me know how it comes out for you.

Food coma, day 3, tomorrow. Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 70: Just When I Was Looking for Something To Make Me Drop That Doughnut!

I came into this project with both eyes open. Well, okay. Maybe my eyes weren't quite open all the way, but I did get a pretty good view of the bottom of the cliff I was about to jump off of.

Occasionally, I think, Why am I taking all these pictures? I don't particularly like to have my picture taken. I promise I'm not clinically narcissistic. But it seemed to me that either I was going to have to spend the whole year photographing clothes on my office closet door or buy a mannequin to dress every day. I think it's only fair for me to shoot myself (no pun intended) in my WM/Sam's Club clothes so you can see what they look like on a real, live person.

Today, I'm kinda wishing I'd bought that mannequin.

I know I've sent you to and to check out what body type you have, and learn how you can select clothes that flatter--no matter the cost. Did you go? I know a few readers let me know they made a real difference for them. It pays to be able to approach a rack of clothes knowing that you can ignore 50-60% of them right off the bat. It's a real time saver. (There are tons of other free places on the web to figure out your shape. Just google!)

But the deal is, one really should pay attention to the results. Seriously. If I'd been true to my shape and plan, I never would have bought this sweater:

The color's a tad questionable for me, too. But we won't go there now.

Here's what's wrong with the sweater with me in it:

--Never, ever put a sharp horizontal line across the widest part of your body
--Never, ever have a dramatic color shift at the widest part of your body
--Never, ever buy a sweater that looks like a giant cube of broccoli
--The color Broccoli is not the same as Olive
--Never layer a turtleneck beneath a sweater that was made to be worn with a dickey or a cami
--If you have broad shoulders, never, ever wear giant collars whose points point straight at your broad shoulders
--My lack of a waist means that I kind of look like a lollipop if I wear skinny pants. The shape of this sweater intensifies the illusion.

Guess I'll be taking the matching fuschia sweater back before I take the tags off!


August Silk Cotton Sweater $17; Calvin Klein cords: $17; George turtleneck: $10; Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit shoes: $30    Total: $81

And the kitten's name:

Kind of tough. In the end we decided on Nina Garcia. It's going to be so much easier to rename Scout and Hrothgar to Michael Kors and Tim Gunn than it would be to name them Pinta and Santa Maria!

Have a fun, hassle-free Wednesday!

Day 69: We Brake for Kitties Around Here

I was all cozy in my office, set to write this post before bedtime. The family was hauling the recycling and trash cans down the driveway, and the dogs were happily assisting. Then there was some commotion, and I came into the living room to find my darling daughter cradling an equally darling kitty in her arms.

We have been kitty-less for a few years, now. But it seems we've been adopted. So there was much oooohing and aaahing all evening, and even a quick trip to the mothership by certain members of the family to pick up kitten food, litter, etc.

Here it is, ready for its star turn...It's young, and we're pretty sure it's a female:

Guess we're off to the vet today!

Sunday's Church Ensemble:

Norma Kamali sweater: $20; Norma Kamali cords: $15; No Boundaries belt: $7; To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance); Earrings: $12; Earth Spirit shoes: $30 (wish I could find some more cute, black leather shoes or mules w/ a heel.  Total: $87

I'm quite happy with this outfit--except for the fact that it looks like I'm sporting jelly rolls of fat down my front. That's the problem with vertical stripes when you're not shaped like a freaking pencil! But I do love the cords--wish they came in other colors. Adore the fine wale and the way they fit. Go, Norma! (I have forgiven you for the coat....)

Got your turkey shopping done, yet? Have fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 68: "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth..."--Shakespeare

My baby girl came home for Thanksgiving break Saturday night! It was oddly appropriate somehow that I was shopping at the mothership when she got back in town. In fact, she surprised me by tracking me down in the store. And, of course, the first thing she said was, "what is that you're wearing?"

I was crushed. But I confess that I was looking a bit worse for wear. I'd spent all day hanging around the laptop and bookshelves cataloging books, and, late in the afternoon, decided to make homemade pizza for dinner. The mothership being the closest store, I threw on a Green Tea hoodie over my black shirt and jeans and drove there for a quick pepperoni and cheese trip. I looked very close to sloppy, I confess.

Still, my heart was broken in the produce section.

That's okay, though. I'm so excited to have her home, she could say anything and I wouldn't mind.


Lee 3/4 sleeve shirt: $7; Faded Glory jeans: $15; Green Tea dark blue hoodie (could have sworn it was black); $19; Dr. Scholl Athletic Mules: $20; Earrings: $7  Total: $68

Dull, serviceable outfit....

In the end, the pizza didn't happen. But I did have 3.5  cups of flour turning into dough at home. We went out for dinner, and when we got home, the dough was high, but it still had plenty of body.

So I made bread!

I don't put oil in my bread, but I do put a tbl of olive oil in pizza dough. It made the bread crust and its interior a bit more chewy. Came out very tasty--I've missed making bread.

Hope your week is full of good food and friends!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 67: WWKFW?

The question I apparently asked myself before getting dress today: "What would Kevin Federline have worn in 2003?"

You can't see it in the above shot, but here's the awesomeness that is my Sparkly Spidey necklace:


Norma Kamali vest: $15; To the Max jeans: $17; To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance); 2 Max Azria tanks: $7 ea; George loafer pumps: $12; No Boundaries belt: $7; Sparkly Spidey necklace: $65

Total: $133

Hope you dance through your day! (Get it? That's the KF reference! Oh, never mind.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 66: Read Instructions Before Washing

I've been an extra good girl, taking good care of my Wardrobe by Sam clothes: washing them on delicate, often with special detergent, ironing them, keeping them hung in a neat row in my closet. I've always been a stickler for following label instructions.

When I was laying out my clothes before going to bed, I noticed that the outer left pocket of one of my favorite hoodies was looking a tad gubby. Bleh. My first thought was to toss it in the washer on hand wash. But the label said "Dry Clean Only." Seems the outer cabled shell is polyester/acrylic/3% wool and the rest "other." Have no idea what "other" might mean.

But being occasionally distrustful of the need to dryclean certain things, I decided to wash it on "handwash" in the machine.

Here's the hoodie beneath the jacket:

I was disappointed at how badly it washed. I know. The label did say to dryclean it. But the surface did pill inordinately and the hoodie now looks kind of icky and cheap.  ($24 at Sam's Club) I'll probably listen and dry clean the orange one that's constructed just like it.

Thursday's ensemble:

Ralph Lauren sweater: $24 (Sam's); Jones NY Gray stretchy pants: $17: Scarf: $5: Earth Spirit Shoes: $30; Earrings: $7   Total: $83

Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 65: OMG! Only 300 Days Left!

Do I sound excited? I was tempted to go overboard and use up all my exclamation points for the week in my title. But I restrained myself. It does feel good to be below the 300 mark. I like round numbers.

Someone very close to me said a thing that grabbed my attention the other day. I'm paraphrasing...She said that reading my blog has made her very happy to look into her closet and see that it's full of clothes that she likes. Her words certainly didn't hurt my feelings or anything. They reminded me that it's enjoyable and comforting to be surrounded by things that we like--or even love.

So, I'm not loving my clothes so much these days. I am stupidly excited about wearing my Eeyore jammie pants to bed tonight. And even more excited to have all of my pajama tees and pants and shorts clean at once. (BIG laundry day.) A couple of weeks ago, I would drag myself into the bedroom around midnight and paw around for something Walmartish to wear to bed. I wasn't very organized and didn't have much of a repertoire. Now--woo-hoo! It's 100% cotton and Eeyore all the way! Plus, I have my f'uggs to keep me warm when I'm making the boy's lunch in the morning.

It goes without saying that life goes well beyond clothes...other things I like: our silly dogs, the coneflowers still blooming in the garden despite the frost, Ghirardelli 70% Dark Chocolate, dates with my guys, all the amazing plants in our upper pasture that look different every day, my friends--online and offline--who accept me as I am and trust me with their thoughts, that awesome Forever New fabric wash stuff that makes my WM lingerie and sweaters smell pretty like they're worth hundreds, writing, my kids' jokes, the Bose stereo in my car, my favorite pillow, edamame, and capers. I could babble on about world peace and babies' smiles, but everyone likes that stuff....

Kind of makes me thankful, despite the baggy blue jeans.

What are three things that you like?

Day 65's ensemble:

Ha! I find it kind of ironic that I'm wearing one of my least favorite mothership items today. Here's that odd olive sweater. I wore it weeks ago with something ivory beneath it, I think. While it looks better with the black turtleneck, I still find it, well, not cute. It's boxy and such a thin knit that it doesn't hang or drape so much as cling to me. The belt makes it bearable, but I'm not happy that it's woven. A plain belt would've been better. The plainer black ones I have are both too narrow and have silver buckles. Add in blue jeans that have become a little ho-hum, and I have to give it all a big YAWN. Let's not forget That Damned Necklace.

Redeeming characteristics: Love olive/black/denim bronze combo. (could do w/out the denim, but it's okay.) The turtleneck is surprisingly comfortable and warmish.

White Stag sweater: $11; Faded Glory turtle: $10; Faded Glory belt: $11; Faded Glory jeans: $15; That Damned Necklace: $7; Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit shoes: $30   Total of 100%-Walmart Ensemble (no Sam's Club items): $87  (Gucci bags beneath my eyes: $0)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 64: Black and Blue Again, and a Sweater Without An Alligator

Didn't I say that blue and black together was very fashion-forward? What I can't figure out is why the people who style these women didn't plan a little better. Isn't it like having the same prom dress or something?

Even though I'm guilty of having owned a lot of Ralph Lauren pieces during my life, I've never been a terribly label-conscious person. I don't mind a handbag with a subtle fob or a small metal indicia somewhere on it. But Lord save us from luggage with YSL stamped all over it or velour sweats with JUICY COUTURE on the backside. I confess to having that fling with the RL Polo guy decades ago--but, really, the shirts and sweaters were classic and cute, and where could you find them elsewhere? LLBean's didn't have banded sleeves for a long time as I recall, and Lands' End was just shapeless.

You're probably not old enough to remember the first IZOD/LACOSTE craze in the eighties. The LACOSTE symbol is an alligator sewn onto the front of their clothing. Everyone used to run around trying to rip the alligators off and collect them--just like we did LEVI'S pocket tags. What the hell were we thinking?

If you go to the IZOD/LACOSTE link above, you'll read how they used to be one company, but long ago split into two. LACOSTE remains upscale. IZOD has stayed down in the trenches. That's probably why they're selling sweaters at Sam's Club.

I dithered on buying one of these sweaters. Its shape is a tad boxy for my figure and the V isn't quite deep enough. Sam's has it in pink, blue, and gray. On my last Sam's trip, I broke down and bought one because I knew they were 100% cotton--and I'm tired of poly/acrylic blends.

I know this is a photo my mom and my dentist will love because of my grinning corpse head. Love the pale blue color of the sweater. I tried it with a light blue blouse, but there was no contrast and the blues didn't complement each other. You can't see that I'm wearing black cords. (Thus the whole blue and black thing.)


IZOD sweater: $17 (Sam's Club); To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance WM-$16); Calvin Klein Cords: $18 (Sam's); Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit shoes: $30     Total: $75

Hope you're having a great week!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 63: Something I Really Miss

There were periods when my kids were babies that I woke up in the morning after a few hours sleep and put on whatever happened to be near the bed. Disgusting, I know. But so true.

I can only liken birthing a novel to parenting an infant: sometimes it wakes you in the middle of the night, sometimes you love it, sometimes you don't like it at all, sometimes when you're doing it you think that it's the best job in the world, and sometimes you just want to put a fork in your eye.

Monday was a best job in the world kind of day, so getting dressed was the furthest thing from my mind. To the best of my recollection, it involved velour pants, some kind of hoodie, and a pink t-shirt with sparkly things on it (Danskin, $5, for sleeping, yes). And don't even get me started on my hair. Talk about in-between stages....When it was all an inch shorter, I would wake up and it would look just like it did when I put my head down on my satin pillowcase the night before. (You need one of these--from any vendor--if you have hair or skin.) Now, my hair is always comical in the morning, and kinda looks like this:

So, let's move on, shall we?

Here's my third-favorite sweater I've ever owned:

I think it's gorgeous. It's a wool knit, quite light in weight, but still very warm. I think it has a little nylon woven in so it keeps its body and stretch. The embroidered flowers are simple and the colors so fun. I wear this with black pants or skinny jeans, and always with boots that have a decent heel.

Occasionally, I'll wear a turtleneck the same color as the olive-green yarn detail, but I usually go with a with a white blouse with a substantial pointed collar. (The blouse shown is a George from the mothership. It's all I had handy. Think bigger, pointier. )

When I wear this sweater to conferences, women stop me in the bathroom or in the elevator or in restaurants to ask me where I got it. They're always shocked to hear I bought it at our area Dillard's, in Marion, Il. Go figure. And it was only $125. But I think it's worth the proverbial million bucks.

I miss it. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 62: I'm Not a Candidate, and I Don't Play One on T.V.

I am not a pantsuit fan. I did have a very cool Cabernet-colored pantsuit with a jacket that zipped up the front. Bought it from Sierra Trading Post years ago for about $75 and I'd seen it retail for almost $400. Sadly, the pants were a half size too small, except for about five minutes when I accidentally lost a few pounds. I found them again quickly, though, and the pantsuit was never the same.

I always feel like this in a pantsuit:

Say what you like about the woman's politics, but I  never could get a bead on the pantsuit thing. She  doesn't have the figure for pants. Monochromatic color schemes, yes. Pantsuit, I don't think so. (Though the dark gray, second from the right looks nice.)

Even though our church is quite casual, it's nice to dress up sometimes. Sunday, I came darn close to the pantsuit thing. The Norma Kamali Pants and Jacket are separates and the blacks don't quite match, but the effect was suit-ish:

The jacket isn't closely fitted and has a standard peaked lapel. I put a dark blue cami with it for variety. Black and blue together is very fashion-forward this season and it looks much less formal than all black. But it was the scarf that pulled it all together.

Really like the shoes:

(photo from

I think they were all of $12--they're very cute on. The narrow heel did pinch a bit, but it will stretch with wear. (Okay, the pinch turned into a little bleeding. I wasn't wearing socks. Will next time. One of the vagaries of vinyl as opposed to cushy soft leather.)

Ensemble: Norma Kamali Jacket: $20; Norma Kamali Career Pants: $15; George cami: $7; Scarf: $5; Pearls: $18; Earrings: $7; Shoes: $12; Belt: $8  Total: $92

Later in the day, I had to lead a Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) discussion. I switched the jacket for a black sweater and put on different black shoes.

Faded Glory acrylic sweater: $12

Very comfortable against my skin. I've maligned the ubiquitous Chinese acrylic beast a lot here lately. (Did you know they don't make acrylic in the U.S. anymore?) Couldn't find much on acrylic fiber on the web. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about acrylic, and, further, how polymers that make up such things are constructed. What a shame that it pills so badly and isn't very cozy.

What are you wearing today?

P.S. A very happy birthday today to my always stylish Mother-In-Law, Ann!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 61: If I Had Sufficient Dignity, I Wouldn't Be Telling You This....

Have we discussed the pajama problem? Probably. But it comes up every day for me and continues to be a major issue. I pondered it at length, with many photos, at Notes From the Handbasket months ago. Of course, the Walmart project has made things even more complicated.

Eight weeks ago, the weather was pleasant enough for sleeping in cotton tees and cutie-pie cotton shorts that I certainly wouldn't wear beyond my own kitchen. (Okay, maybe to take the dogs outside first thing--but we are very far from the road.) Now, the nights are chilly. And what kind of sleepwear is available at the mothership? Mostly polyester, and plenty of 60/40 cotton/poly. The kind that pills, itches, and wears out quickly.

I want cotton, darn it! And maybe cotton flannel for uber-cool nights.

This is what I bought today, much to my chagrin:

Yep. I will be wearing 100% cotton Eeyore jammies ($7). Now, to be fair, I did own a darling set of flannel Piglet jammies--shorts and a 3/4 sleeve top. But that was well before I turned forty and I bought them at the Disney store because I was feeling whimsical and they were marked down. I don't know. I like Eeyore, but, really, these seem a little desperate, don't you think? I didn't get the matching waffle weave graphic top. I went to the sweats dept. and bought an $8 100% organic cotton tee shirt. It's soft.

Here are the other jammies:

These were $13. ($15 online--what's up with that?) This I can't figure out: I wanted to buy a pink or gray set instead. But the pink and gray versions were all 60/40 cotton/poly. Only the black ones were 100% cotton. I thought that maybe it was a labeling mistake, but it was the same for the nightgown version. I wonder if it has something to do with the black dyes.

Anyway. No glamour in the Benedict boudoir this winter. More's the pity.

Saturday's ensemble:

See. Told you I couldn't wait to wear this again!

The last time I wore it was on Nov. 2nd, so it's almost been two weeks. Wish I could go the whole year without repeating outfits, but that's just not going to happen--just as it doesn't happen in real life. I did add That Damned Necklace ($7) and later in the day, my F'aux Uggs for comfort. A friend told me that I looked like Maid Marian, and I have to agree. As shown, the ensemble cost about $70--about $17 more with the sheepskin boots and necklace.

Tomorrow: Almost a pantsuit.

Have an enlightening week!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 60: Survey Says....

Got the funniest survey from the Planet Mothership today. Seems I returned a Norma Kamali shirt that I bought online over a month ago, and the powers that be were fretting why, oh, why? Was it something they said? Did? Was it the price? And how did I return it? On gossamer wings? By post? In person?

First they wanted to know what department it came from. Would you believe that I had to fill in "other" because apparel wasn't on the list? How odd. Then I had to tell them why I returned it. I think I had to settle for "ordered wrong item" because didn't fit wasn't on the list. Odd, again. One wonders if they're new to this whole customers returning clothes thing.

Then I messed up and said I'd returned it to a store and replaced it at a store. But of course I had to page back and change it because I would've had to DRIVE 100 MILES to get anything Norma Kamali, let alone a shirt for which I could have had no expectation of being in stock. I do recall that the shirt was still available online--though I haven't yet worn it.  (It's summery and dressy)

At the end of the survey I mentioned the whole having to drive to the ends of the earth to get the NK brand. We'll never have it here in So Ill. Never.

It would've been nice if they would send me a coupon or something for my trouble. I love how companies act like they're offering surveys to enhance their customers' shopping experience. Maybe so, but they get plenty of my money--they don't need more of my time as well. Probably won't answer another survey from them unless I have something really grumpy to say. Though I did give them major kudos for their easy return system and their unfailingly knowledgeable customer service people. I swear, you have to be like an MBA/prison guard/Mary Poppins to handle their exchange systems. Those people are pros. Just don't go to customer service on a weekend or anytime during December or January except on a Tuesday morning at 4 a.m.


Okay, so this picture kind of cracks me up. Like the grimmest senior (citizen) portrait ever!

Ralph Lauren sweater: $21; Faded Glory blue jeans: $15; f'aux Uggs: $33; Silver cross necklace: $15; Silver earrings: $12          Total: $96

Happy Middle of November--Go play in some raked leaves!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 59: In Shades of Black and Gray

I'm really going to miss being able to take my wardrobe photos outside when it starts getting really cold. When it comes to light, there's no comparison between what can happen outside and what I'm able to manage inside. Perhaps during the long winter I can learn more about indoor lighting for photos and how I can make them look better. Our house is so close to the woods that we don't get an enormous amount of light inside--I don't even try to grow indoor plants. (Better for them--I always over water anyway!)

I watched Part I of Project Runway's season finale yesterday. It wouldn't be hard to find out who actually won last spring. There are spoilers available everywhere, but I like to have things unfold slowly. Have you ever watched the show? I'm a huge fan, and it's taught both P and I a lot about fashion and the work it takes to make it happen. This season has been disappointing because they've focused so intensely on the personalities, rather than the contestants training and professional development. The competition has gotten much tougher over the years, the contestants more talented. They've also gotten better looking. Hmmmm. Wonder why?

This season, the final three are all women and they all appear to be at the same skill level. They're all fine, but not one of them stands out or seems to have an identifiable vision. Without vision, they're just young and attractive and talented.

I've been thinking a lot about vision lately. It's a rare thing. Then again, maybe it's not so rare as it used to be. Now, because of our massive capabilities in communication, we have almost instant access to talent as soon as it buds. Talent is cheaper because it's available in greater supply. So a few folks are bound to surface with a stronger vision than their peers. But we don't necessarily recognize it because it comes so cheap. The writer Cormac McCarthy explores this concept a bit in his recent interview with the WSJ. I need to think about it more. The whole idea is rather unsettling and makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing getting out of bed every day....

Your personal style should be YOUR vision of how you want to feel, how you want to interact with the world. You don't have to be a fashion designer or even very interested in fashion. But what we wear and, more importantly, how we wear what we wear is part of how we communicate with the world. Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? It's not vanity or foolishness or selfishness--unless it is taken intentionally to those levels.

Sure, we all have limitations--budget, access, fashion education, interest--but it's our internal vision that will shine through. Eventually.

My vision feels a tad murky here, the sweater shapeless, and the color bleh. Plus, there's a ginormous tree growing out of my head. A real through-the-glass-darkly effect. Ah, well. Can't win them all.


Faded Glory cotton sweater: $10; To the Max 97/3 pinstripe blouse: $3 (clearance $16); Norma Kamali cords: $15; Kenneth Cole Jacket: $79 (Sam's); Earth Spirit Shoes: $30; Silver Earrings: $12; Spider Necklace: $60  (I'll take a close-up of this soon)    Total: $209, a new record!

Like the pants a lot. They're a fine wale, and so hang very nicely. A flare at the bottom. The blouse is cute, too. Would look great with a black or white v-neck.

Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 58: Five Pounds and I Don't Want to Diet Again

Yesterday I tweeted that my annual winter weight-gain project is well under way. Ahead of schedule, actually. At five pounds gained since the week before Halloween, I'm already hovering around mid-December type numbers. For me, there's no better reminder of my genetic closeness to the fuzz-burdened caterpillar outside my front door than my seasonal craving for endless carbohydrates.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or am I alone in my madness? Worse, I still can't get cozy in all this damn acrylic I've been wearing lately. Right now I have on a 97% cotton, 3% spandex blouse with a thin cotton sweater and an acrylic sweater layered over it. I feel kind of itchy, like a five year-old in a polyester Easter dress.

I don't want fruit or anything even vaguely resembling a vegetable. I want to sit. And sit some more. Maybe watch television or read. While I'm sitting--wrapped in layers of combed cotton and wool--I want to eat popcorn, shortbread cookies, cashews (ah, protein), chocolate, and chips. Doesn't matter what kind of chips. I prefer regular potato chips or sour cream and onion, but I'll take taco chips in a pinch, or whatever is in the variety snack bags I have tucked away for Bengal's lunch.

Last fall, I got a jump on the weight gain with the Flat Belly Diet. I reviewed it for a newspaper, (LOVE the black dress in the pics--the polka dots were cute in the other, but it's not a good cut for me) and even did a month-long blog that chronicled the adventure called Laura Does a Diet. I'm not going to do that diet this year. Too expensive, too time-consuming. I really just need to get the fork out of my mouth and get myself on the exercise bike!

So, on Wednesday, I was still pretty sick. I did manage to get dressed:

Sorry. I was feeling silly. It was late....Yesterday morning I hung up the clothes so you could see them. (Still can't find my memory card.)

The outfit was almost cozy.

Green Tea hoodie: $23 (Sam's); White Stag ls scoop neck tee: $10; Calvin Klein cords: $17 (?) (Sam's); F'aux Uggs: $34 (Sam's)   Total $84

Love the pumpkin/coral color of the hoodie. The cords are olive green--my favorite.

Have a terrific Friday the 13th--and let's all stay out of the chips and cookies, shall we? Save room for pie. xo

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Days 56 and 57: I Knew It Would Come to This

I'm sick. Knew it would happen eventually, what with my DH at a university many hours of the week and Bengal at school everyday. Oh, and there's that whole there-are-as-many-germs-on-a-shopping-cart-handle-as-on-a-public-bathroom-floor-thing. I use the wipes the stores provide, but I fear that the germs have probably overcome any effectiveness they might have.

I wondered how I would face the blog--and the camera--when this happened. It seems I caved and just hid away in my hoodie the past couple days. Sorry about that. No photo from Monday. Just picture me in my navy blue Hanes sweat pants, a ls Laura Ashley tee, and one of my Green Tea hoodies. Also, a bottle of ibuprofen by my side.

Maybe it's just my cold, but my enthusiasm for the project flagged a bit this week. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, it's both harder and easier than I thought it would be. Blogging every day is fun, but it is a huge time commitment. I'm picky. I don't want to just throw up a pic, some numbers and say "Have a nice day!" It means a lot to me that you're taking the time to read this, and I don't want to disappoint. Also, I've never been a big planner. I can organize events and almost always have a good idea of any end I want to reach, but I'm also incredibly impulsive and distractable (both ADHD traits). Trying to figure out what I'm going to wear, photographing it, and/or myself, then putting it all together is a constant challenge. Though I did say I was looking for a challenge, didn't I?

The easier part: I'm not finding it all that difficult to put together acceptable outfits from the mothership. This surprises me. I miss the variety and the unique craftsmanship qualities that more expensive clothes can offer, but that's more of an aesthetic issue and certainly not cause for depression or alarm.

I am, in the end, primarily a middle-class mom who engages in middle-class activities. I stay at home far more than most people. The difference is that when I'm public, I'm very public--at conferences and appearances and such. When I first started touring, it scared me to death, but now I get a real kick out of it. I really do have the best job in the world!

Anyway, I just wanted you to know what goes on at this end. So if I look a little bleary-eyed in a photo it may be because I forgot to take the pic until 11:00 at night. I'm working hard, hard, hard to finish the novel I'm working on and then there are those shiny objects that are always jumping in front of me.

But just telling you about it has renewed my enthusiasm--thanks for listening. And a HUGE thank you for reading this and being a part of this project! I'm learning a lot, and your comments and thoughts are a big part of that.

On to the photos:

As I mentioned, Monday was a total hoodie and socks day.

Here's Tuesday. I had to pick up Bengal and take him to Scouts, then P and I had a brief dinner together at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I have temporarily misplaced the memory card in my camera, so I took these in the WM bathroom. Bengal helped. The look on the face of the woman washing her hands cracks me up.

The quality is dreadful, I know. The jacket is that cute Norma Kamali double-breasted french terry (better view here.)


Norma Kamali jacket: $20; To the Max Jeans: $11 (clearance from $17); George slimming cami: $10; Necklace $7; Earrings: $8; Earth Spirit Shoes: $30  Total: $86

Love, love, love these jeans. I'll get a better picture next time I wear them or hang them up. They're super-faded, but have a terrific shape to them. Wish I could find more To the Max stuff--have only seen it in Kirkwood, and only a few pieces at a time. Never online.

Oh, and just because these pictures are so dreadful, here's one from 1988 or so. My RL and pearls days. Though I'm always an RL and pearls kind of girl, I confess.

Hope all is healthy with you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 55: 310 Days Left (But Who's Counting?)

Notes from my Kirkwood, MO Walmart trip:

First, I have the most patient husband ever! He wasn't feeling well, but after he was done pondering electronics and procuring us some 70% cocoa chocolate, he actually came and sat down and waited for me on the bench outside the waiting room. It was so nice to have him there because, really, I haven't encountered anyone yet at WM while I'm trying on clothes who seemed like they had the time or inclination to give me their opinion on the stuff I was trying on. I, on the other hand, am always opening my mouth if someone comes out of a dressing room wearing something very flattering, and volunteer my opinion whether they ask for it or not. Most women have excellent radar about whether someone else is looking for an honest opinion or is just looking for support. P is just plain honest with me. He even encouraged me to try on an outfit that I thought was way over the top. And it looked much better than I thought it would, so we bought it!

One thing I've noticed: Each Walmart store appears to exist in a vacuum. When it comes to brands, no one at any given store seems to have any idea about what's available at other stores in the area. This makes sense, I guess, given the volume of merchandise each person has to handle. The Kirkwood store is no exception.

Loved, loved, loved the women working in the ladies' apparel department. One of them did frequently offer me her opinion. "Don't forget," she said. "I haven't always been at Walmart. I worked at ____ Department Store for a lot of years." I confess that that did give me a little more confidence in her comments. She also called over a manager to help me get a couple dollars off of a shirt I wanted to buy that had some places where it looked like it got run over by a cart (very washable). She apologized that she could only get $1.50 off and not $2 because it was already marked down.

Last thing: One nice lady asked me my opinion on matching a particular ruffled blouse to a plaid blazer. I showed her some other choices to consider. The ruffles with the plaid would have been--I don't know--just a tad too fabulous.

Photos as I work all the goodies into the rotation.

What I wore:

Sunday was the Longest Day Ever! I'd hope to get some atmosphere-rich backgrounds at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, but it was not to be. So here's a shot I took when we got home. If I look grim, it's because I was tired, tired, tired and had just discovered that the squirrel had eaten all the birds' seed.

George black blouse: $3 (marked down from $12); Faded Glory jeans: $15; Earth Spirit black leather shoes: $30; That Damned Necklace: $7; Earrings: $7; Scarf: $5  (I packed light--wore the same jewelry that I had on on Saturday.) Total: $67

Need to plant some bulbs today because the mulch is coming. Hope you have something fun planned. Have a delicious fall day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 54: Off to the Zoo and Another Walmart, Too (Did I Type that Out Loud?)

Seemed like everyone in St. Louis was at the zoo or the St. Louis Art Museum on Saturday afternoon. Gorgeous, gorgeous day. Wonderful zoo. I used to go there on my lunch hour when I worked across the highway from it. I was also a sucker for the zoo when I was a child. Now, I'll take my kids, but I don't care so much to see all the animals. Birds and snakes, fine. Even insects, fish, and poison dart frogs. Call me mammal-centric, but I don't much like to see orangutans, chimps, elephants, zebras, or Lesser Kudus (tell me, is there a Greater Kudu?) all caged up or even in attractive, well-planned habitats. There's something about an orangutan's need for privacy that I identify with. Gorillas, too. I would sit with my back to a glass wall as well, I think. I wouldn't want anyone to watch me delouse my spouse or kids.

Still, it's a lovely park, and the animals are beautifully cared for. Here's the link. We had hoped to be able to stop at the Missouri Botanical Gardens as well, which is one of my favorite places in the world, but we had to rush home. Their Japanese Festival (Labor Day Weekend) is not to be missed.

Here are my two favorite photos from our zoo afternoon:



After P and I had a sushi date, we popped over to the Walmart in Kirkwood, which is the only Walmart in the area that I know for sure carries Norma Kamali clothes. Also a brand called To the Max, a younger, but not quite Miley Cyrus kind of line. Bought many things, including a $30 Faded Glory coat which will replace the unfortunate Norma K. Sleeping Bag coat. Maybe I'm just not hip enough for that coat. Ah, well.

Here's what I wore on Saturday:

See, I was almost all Norma Kamali--of course I still love (almost all of) her stuff.

Norma Kamali Athletic Dress (unzipped & tied around my waist-it was hot!): $20; Norma K Leggings: $10; Norma K "I Love My Dog" tee (because I do!): $8; Dr. Scholl Athletic Mules: $30 (cute and comfy); That Damned Necklace: $7; Earrings: $7; Norma Kamali Ballet flats (changed into them before dinner and put the dress back on): $20    Total: $82 and $72

What did you do this weekend?

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Days 52 and 53: Apple Red, Azalea Pink, and that Still Too-Big Skirt

Forgive the brevity. I've had a big fiction-writing week, and on Saturday we're visiting the zoo, zoo, zoo. I find zoos, like circuses, a bit depressing. But Bengal has been desperate to go check out some animals.

For the past few weeks, I've been complaining about the fact that I have no waist. I don't see that that situation is going to change anytime soon--especially since I'm of a certain age. Carving off a little of the bumpy bits is always possible, but it's hard to fight genetics. Broad shoulders, short waist, large-ish ribcage--they're all characteristics I need to work with, or work around.

A few years ago, I started paying better attention to what clothes might flatter my particular body shape. If you're curious about narrowing down styles that will flatter you, here are some places to start. When you know your body shape and what works for it, you can shop just about anywhere you want and look fabulous. You may also discover why certain styles--like boat necks, wide wale cords, skinny belts, whatever--either look great on you, or terrible. Small revelations can help you make powerful changes.

I started at Missus Smarty Good, succint advice for a small fee. Also This one is free, but you need to spend about 20 minutes with a measuring tape. I wasn't so great at the measuring thing. I like this site because it has lots of clothing choices, and there's a wide range of prices.

The has lots of good advice. Though it tells me I'm a rectangle, and it gave me advice that conflicts with twhat I need to do to minimize  my shoulders.

Let me know if you learn anything useful!

Thursday's Ensemble:

Ralph Lauren cotton sweater (Sam's): $23; Jones New York stretchy black jeans (Sam's): $19; Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit Shoes: $30   Total: $79

Friday's Ensemble:

525 America cardigan (Sam's): $20; George slimming cami: $10; Faded Glory cord skirt: $10; Tights: $5; Norma Kamali ballet flats: $20; Necklace: $8; Sterling silver earrings: $12  Total: $85

Have a grrrrreat weekend (couldn't resist that)! xo

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 51: A Trip to the Ancillary Mothership and Oh, Norma, I Don't Know What to Think!

I spent all day Wednesday writing at our local Panera. Arrived for breakfast and left an hour short of old-folks' dinnertime. When I was done, I treated myself to a trip to Sam's Club, hoping for a style injection. I pretty much exhausted them  of wearable sweaters and pants the last couple times I was there.

Don't you just love anticipation? Rewarding yourself for a job well done?

It was not to be. Not really. I arrived to find...many more copies of the clothes I've seen there for the past four weeks.  Talk about disappointing.

Couldn't bring myself to buy a fourth RL sporty cotton sweater--even though I like black. It just seemed, oh, I don't know, excessive maybe? A leopard print cardigan to go with my zebra print red and black one--no. A bulky acrylic sweater that will make me look like a 13th century Japanese warrior with sartorial issues--no, no.

I came away with a few things: A bright fuschia cardigan like a gray one I have and like a lot. A coral-pumpkin-ish hoody like the white one pictured below. A second pair of CK cords and a pair of Jones NY stretchy jeans. And these:

Yes! I'm now the proud owner of a pair of faux Uggs!!! Or, as I like to call them, F'uggs. (Dog paws not included.)

I was absolutely not going to replace my precious, doe-soft Uggs with plastic booties lined with batting or whatever Walmart puts in them. I was just going to do w/out sheepskin this winter. But, oh. I don't have to. And all for the low, low price of $34.  Sheepskin, inside and out. Exact Ugg-type stitching. These were assembled in China, too. (Check your Uggs. It's hard to get made-in-Australia ones from the Ugg Co. Has been for the last few years.) Differences: No cute Ugg label, and the soles of these aren't quite as flexy. And if you give the soles a good sniff, they smell a little (a tiny little bit) like recycled tires. Isn't that a good thing, though. Who sniffs shoe soles so closely, anyway. ALSO--These are taller than my originals and they kept my calves all cozy-warm today as I worked.

Color me delighted.

Now. I honestly don't know what to think about this coat. This is the Walmart version of Norma Kamali's very famous Sleeping Bag Coat.


Me: "What?" "It's stuffed with polyester?" "Is this a Hefty bag, or what?" "This feels weird."
My Spouse: "Yes, it does kind of look like garbage bags." "Homeless fashion?" "It looks like something someone would wear, but maybe not you." "You look like you weigh 40 more pounds than you actually do."

Something about it inspired me to do an Ab Fab Patsy Stone-style photo shoot.



 (I lightened up some of the pics considerably so you could see detail.)
Maybe it's the color? I think it would be cute and fun in white.  Hmmm. I'd be very curious to see what the true NK versions--the ones that cost hundreds of dollars--are like. I'm thinking down inside?

What do you think? (Norma Kamali Sleeping Bag Coat $35)


I was so busy, I forgot to take a pic of my ensemble on Wednesday. But it was basically this one, with the change being that I wore the gray granny cotton/cashmere cardi you haven't seen yet. This pic is from the early part of Saturday:

Faded Glory Jeans: $15; Faded Glory turtleneck: $10; Faded Glory Bomber: $35; Green Tea Hoodie (Sam's): $24; Spider Necklace: $68; Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit Shoes: $30  Total: $189

Have an absolutely fabulous weekend! xo