Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts and a Post-Project Pic

Yesterday, the lovely and talented Patti suggested in a comment that I should post a pic of what I wore on my first post-project day.

Yes, that's a thick and yummy RL cashmere sweater beneath my favorite coat. And there's my black/brown Brahmin bag, and the toasty leather gloves I bought to match the coat. Oh, oh and a necklace that I love. Sorry you can't see my black, heeled boots, but really it's the coat that's most important. And did I mention the coat?!

As I disassemble and reassemble my wardrobe, I'll post from time to time about the stuff I'm keeping and the stuff I'm giving away, and why.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Know When To Say When

I wonder if you'll find this surprising:

After much soul searching and thought, I've realized that--after five months and two days of the Wardrobe by Sam project--I'm done.

This was definitely not an easy decision to make. I don't like to give up on goals I've set for myself. If I did I wouldn't have published my first full-length novel almost twenty years after I began writing fiction. In the end, it's not so much that I've given up, but that I finished early.

When I started the project, I had every intention of doing it for the full year I'd planned. In fact, that intention was solid right up until last week. What happened? I realized that I've reached a point of diminishing returns. I've learned everything I hoped to, and more, in the five months since I started.

Here's some of what I learned:

1. I am not my clothes.
2. Yes, I can get away with wearing discount store clothes pretty much anywhere--and no one will really care or even notice.
3. Inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean something is cheap, and it can look damn good.
4. Pleather is not evil, and if it's done well, no one can tell the difference anyway.
5. I may be vain, but only a true narcissist could take a fashion-type shot of herself every day and not go a little bit crazy.
6.Wow. People have a lot of energy about WalMart.
7. Costume jewelry is a good thing. Not only can it make an outfit--you can also travel with it and leave it lying out in a hotel room without hesitation.
8. I'm way more picky about handbags than I thought I was. I may even have handbag issues.
9.With the exception of a few too-young, bored cashiers with a tendency to share too much, the real people of WalMart are unerringly friendly, helpful, and patient.
10. I really am way too old to shop in the junior's department, but it's okay to buy a tee shirt there every so often.
11. Acrylic IS evil and shouldn't be allowed. Ever.
12. It's kind of fun to have polished fingernails again.
13. Without a doubt, I've had the loveliest, funniest, most supportive group of readers and commenters that a blogger girl could have. You all have shared yourselves and your stories with astounding generosity. I'm humbled by your kindness and more grateful than you'll ever know.

A part of me is busy lining up a long list of explanations of why it's okay that I'm ending the project now. But that's a personal discussion between me and the voices in my head that everyone else would find completely unintelligible.

There has been one strange but huge advantage in my having to shop at one category/brand of store. It's been very helpful when it comes to my ADHD. I always have a difficult time prioritizing and making choices. Here lately, my fashion choices have been very limited, and so I've had discrete, manageable boundaries within which to operate. Norma Kamali's mostly-black line makes everyday dressing Garanimal easy. If one-piece Barbaloot suits ever come into fashion, I'm just going to buy one in every color and throw all my other clothes away.

What's next?

Well, my DH says that I should learn to sew and wear only clothes that I make for a year. I told him that I would if he would. This was a huge mistake because he would not hesitate to throw on a toga made from a bedsheet, hop in the car, and go teach his classes or give a reading. I, however, know my limitations. I took an adult ed sewing class when I was eighteen. I bought a pattern and fabric for a jumper, and even--with lots of help--got it cut out. At the end of the eight-week class, I came home with a pathetic excuse for a belt.

I expect that my fondness for life-changing projects won't disappear. There was my Flat Belly Diet blog and, now, this. I have much to think about, much to write. Much of what I learned doing WBS will no doubt end up in a book--but probably a different book than I'd begun to plan. Mostly I need to continue working on my novels. And of course I'll be blogging at Notes From the Handbasket--though with a lighter hand. I won't hesitate to include fashion in my posts. Fashion is the ultimate shiny object.

Here's my final ensemble. I was messing around with lighting for a beauty shot of my DH, and Bengal, who was home from school, got bored of being my test model and ran away to hide. "You do it," he said. "You take your own picture all the time!"

To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance); Grace Elements sweater: $15 (Sam's); Faded Glory Jeans: $15; Earrings: $7; Necklace: $10; Faded Glory boots: $23  Total: $73

Hugs and Hugs! xoxo

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Which I Go Totally Mad and Get All Out of Order

Egad, Monday was ADHD kind of day. I feared it would be when I realized it was 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and I was still ironing. Yes, ironing. Finally, I had to stop and go to bed with a pile of ironing unfinished.

This morning, my DH sat down in his favorite chair to drink his coffee and I had to chase him out of it because he was sitting on several unironed sweaters. "Forgive me," he said. "I thought it was a chair." I told him that of course it wasn't a chair--it was now, like all the other horizontal surfaces in the living room, a pre- or post-ironing work surface. But I did clear him a space, and finished the ironing. Two and a half hours and two and a half episodes of INTERVENTION later, and I was finished.

Why is it that my closest friends and family members (my parents the exception) don't always even know where their irons are? Ironing has become such a part of my current life. In fact, it's become such a part of it that it's gotten to be rather a bottleneck. Do you have things that act as bottlenecks in your life? Things that you really don't like to do, but know that you eventually must do?

I'm going to throw tradition to the wind today and post some pics out of order. Just because sometimes my pics get to be a bit of a bottleneck. And it's just that kind of day....

Day 145:

This was part of my WM sweater extravaganza I indulged in on my last St. Louis trip. I bought three. Or four.

White Stag sweater: $9 (clearance); George tank: $10; White Stag Necklace: $8; Earrings: $5; Faded Glory jeans: $15   Total: $47

Day 146:

I confess--this photo was definitely more about Miss Nina Garcia than what I was wearing. She couldn't stay off of my keyboard, so I made sure she got her picture taken. This is basically the same outfit I wore to meet with the book club that had read ISABELLA MOON a couple of weeks ago.

Norma Kamali dress: $20 (red!); White Stag sweater: $9 (same style as above); George cami: $7; Scarf: $5; Norma Kamali Leggings: $10; Faded Glory boots: $23   Total: $74

Day 151: 

Was so busy doing Valentine crafts for/with Bengal's 4th grade class, that I forgot to take a pic of myself. Here's the craft. It worked out great!

Day 153:

This is my last Valentine's Day picture for this year. Did it seem to anyone else that Valentine's Day seemed a little over-the-top this year?

More Miss Nina! I love the tongue action. Oh, and those are my gorgeous flowers from my gorgeous Valentine. This is the same outfit I wore here.

Travel Elegance (Sam's) Jacket: $34; Travel Elegance skirt: $37; George blouse: $14; Necklace: $7; Earrings: $3; Faded Glory boots: $23  Total $118

Work on those bottlenecks a little at a time. I DO NOT recommend ironing before bedtime, then doing it again in the morning. Come to think of it, no wonder INTERVENTION resonated for me today. : )


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day-wear or Nightwear, as it were.

Because sometimes Valentine's Day pretties from Victoria's Secret are too classy anyway....

Smart & Sexy bra: $10; Smart & Sexy boyleg panties: $5 (Note: Color on the label reads CRANTSTC. Hm. Crantastic, maybe?)

Smart & Sexy gown: $14

What can I say? Really, I've done us all a HUGE favor by not modeling these for you. I was surprised at WalMart's limited Valentine selection. There were far more choices up in the front of the clothing department near the sweats and workout wear. Definitely more pajama than lingerie. 
I heard a radio commercial for the PajamaGram people today. They were advertising their Hoodie-Footie suit:


Couldn't find anything like this at the mothership. But let me ask you...Say, you're a woman, and your Valentine gives you an attractively wrapped box full of nightwear. Which would be your preference? The Hoodie-Footie or something lacy and, well, kind of sexy? Or would you prefer a cotton cami and boy shorts, or maybe an Eeyore or Tinkerbell nightshirt? (Lots of those at the mothership!)

Day 141:

My face is all shadowy here, like I need a shave. Aside from the fact that my indoor photography sucks, I think I'm getting kind of vampire pale this winter. It's just been too darned cold to spend much time outside taking pics of myself.

Sweater: Grace Elements: $20 (Sam's. It's the batwing cotton sweater that I have in purple as well.) George turtle: $10; Nine West Jeans: $17 (Sam's); White Stag necklace: $8; Earrings: $7; Faded Glory Boots: $23  Total: $82

Day 142:

My favorite Norma Kamali sweater: $20; White Stag turtle: $7; Norma Kamali Cords: $15; That Damn Necklace: $7; Earrings: $3 (clearance); F'Uggs: $30 (Sam's)   Total: $82
Day 143:

Now here's a glamor shot! This is how I spend cold winter afternoons--editing on the couch. The throw/blanket is not from WalMart, but blankets don't count. I think Bengal brought it back for me from his trip out west this summer.

RL sweater: $21 (Sam's); Faded Glory jeans: $15; Earrings: $12; random socks: ?  Total: $48

One last thing:
Totally random winner of the first Stack O' Mystery Books drawing is...Holly W! She'll receive NEW WORLD MONKEYS, THE MURDERED HOUSE, FACES IN THE POOL, THE WATER'S EDGE, and ILLEGAL.

I think I'll give more away next week, too. 

Go send those Valentines! xo

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Fashionable Root Canal, et al.

Big day today. If the snow holds off, I'll get to have a Monday afternoon root canal.

In celebration, I've decided that I'm just going to start giving away piles of new books. Any followers are included in the drawing, but I'm not in this for the promotion. (What, exactly, I'd be promoting, I don't know--except the blog, of course.) So, if you all actively keep followers away, as of now, everybody would probably win books-LOL! But I'd love for you to tell your friends about the blog if you enjoy reading it.

Anyway, if the root canal does happen, I may be curled up in a sweatshirt ball over the next couple of days. You'll know where I'll be.

A couple catch-up ensembles:

Day 138:


This was such a fun outfit to wear. You can see the dogs approved. (Told you they want to be in every picture...) We had a brief break in the ultra-cold snap, and I wasn't leaving the house all day. Comfy.
Norma Kamali Terry Jogging pants: $15; Norma Kamali Athletic Dress (ls): #20; White Stag cotton scoop neck shirt: $12; White Stag  Necklace $10 (the cat broke it later that evening, darn it); L.E.I. flats (faux suede/faux sheepskin): $20  (I think); Earrings: $35   Total: $112

Day 139: Had Bengal take a quick pic with my phone while we ate at a local Mexican restaurant. Sadly, it came out too blurry. 

RL gray sweater: $21; Scarf: $5; White Stag turtle: $7; Earrings: $7; Faded Glory jeans: $15  Total: $55

Day 140:

Good hair day, not my favorite sweater day. Though I do like it better than that asparagus green one. It is blessedly warm, given that it's fairly hefty cotton. Love it with the blouse. Unfortunately, the blouse is 60/40. : (  Can't win them all.

Sweater (Sam's): $17 (now on clearance for $4.41--go get them if you need a decent cotton knock-around); George blouse: $12; Jones NY stretch jeans in gray: $18 (Sam's); Earrings: $35; Faded Glory boots: $23    Total: $105

Cracked myself up looking for Valentine's Day nightwear at the mothership today. Special post on that soon.
TTFN! Have a great week!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fade to Black. Or Gray, as it Were.

"Gray hair is a sign of age, not of wisdom" --Greek proverb

All you sweet young things can take today off reading (if you dare!) because I'm going to talk about getting older. Not older as in, old enough not to be asked for i.d. at the liquor store, but older as in, oh, my god, who is that hag in the mirror with the fading skin, graying hair and why can't I wear red lipstick anymore?

After extensive reading and website trolling (pre- and during this project), I've learned a thing or two about color and, ahem, older women.

To be blunt, age sucks us dry. It's a pigment thief, stealing it from our hair, skin and irises. (Except where it deposits irregular little blobs of freckle-looking things in random places.) It makes our necks look like party streamers from Silence of the Lambs. It makes our eyelids weird and floppy and unable to hold onto shadow. Without our life's moisture, we shrink, and fade into the background. Where are our rosy cheeks (in a compact!), our plump lips (ouch, that lip plumper lipstick stings like hell), our wide, flashing eyes (did I say flashing?--please, not yet!)?

I haven't yet found the answer to overcoming the whole age problem, but I'll let you know. Most advice suggests that 1) less is more when it comes to makeup, 2) a pop of color is preferable to neutrala and 3) women over forty should definitely put away the belly shirts and short shorts.

These days, my wardrobe definitely lacks color. I'm working on it, but budget clothes tend to look a tad too budgety when one gets into bright blue poly, plum acrylic, and Hawaiian flower peasant shirts. So I have a preponderance of basic black and gray on my racks and shelves. (If you take a look at Norma Kamali's WalMart line, you'll find she tends to stick to basic colors with blue or red accents. Except for that awesome cheetah print outfit. I own it, but you won't see it unless I slim down soon.)

Don't get me wrong. I've always worn black. It's sophisticated and often slimming. Black is the artist's and socialite's staple. Has been for half a century and, I suspect, will be for decades to come.



(Okay. Holly Golightly was a hooker. Kind of like a socialite.)

Being a blonde, I've always loved gray on blondes. Gray is Gwenyth Paltrow in a cashmere sweater and pearls, or Kim Novak in a dove gray suit in the film Vertigo.

But just look at Helen Mirren (she's sixty-three, and I have sixteen years to get there, but she's still one of my heroines).


Notice the light rose-plum sweater, and the perky, gray-blond hair, as well as the berry lipstick. Subtle color. No black. No gray. She doesn't look washed-out at all. In fact, in the hundreds of recent photos of her that I looked at, I only saw her in black twice and deep gray once. In 2008, she was even pictured in a red bikini. And she looked fabulous. (I know, I know. She's an international star, and she has professional Beauty Fairies hovering 'round, awaiting her commands. But why would a woman aim lower? Though I will not be wearing anything resembling a bikini. That's just masochism.)

So, my current project-within-a-project is to inject some color into my wardrobe and life. And to figure out the makeup thing. Unfortunately, there are no Beauty Fairies in the aisles of WalMart. 

Here's Day 136, which started this thought train. As I said, I own a lot of gray. It helps not to have it around one's face, I think.

White Stag sweater: $15; George tank: $10; Earrings: $12; Necklace: $7; can't remember the exact pants, but probably $15; Norma Kamali flats: $20    Total: $79

Day 137:

No picture. I think it just got too late and I got grumpy. But here's Bengal's Pinewood Derby car that he and I worked on together. The race has been rescheduled for the 13th. Of course there's a Lego guy stuck to the top!


Have a fabulous weekend! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Which I Get All Excited About Something Shiny.

Have you ever just been happy to have fingernails?

I've had exactly three professional manicures in my life: last year while waiting to catch a plane during my last book tour, another on my last honeymoon, because I thought I should. I don't remember the circumstances of the third. I was probably someone's bridesmaid. Fancy fingernails have just never been a priority for me. And, well, if you are a fancy-fingernails kind of person, this might kind of irritate you: I have appallingly healthy, rarely-break nails at least forty-six weeks a year. (Late February and March are awfully dry.) They just grow and grow until I get frustrated and prune them back to the quick and start all over again. My cuticles may look like ragweed, but does anyone really care about cuticles?

My problem is that I tend to use my nails as gardening tools, screwdrivers, and pan scrapers. So any polish I put on them renders me frustrated and helpless.

Helpless? Am I seeing a theme here? Sunday's post had much to do with a girl looking good for her man. It takes a lot of effort to maintain a girly persona. And is there a more helpless feeling than having one's fingernails or toenails glossy with wet, wet, wet polish? You can't use the phone or a camera, dig out silverware, take a shower, take something out of your purse (like money to pay the manicurist--though I suspect regulars always take care of that on arrival), get dressed, pet the cat, etc., without causing a major damage to said polish. For a while there when my daughter Nora was little, I tried some girlification, but every time I'd groom and polish my nails, she would wake up, throw up, or demand to be picked up.

While on a book tour, I do try to keep my nails trimmed and shapely. No one wants to have a crone with jagged claws and ragweed cuticles sign their book.

Glamor is so demanding!

Now, I'm going to sound like a commercial here, but I think I've discovered it: Best. Polish. Ever.

Last week, I was feeling blue and fashion-deprived. There is NOTHING worth having that's new at either Wal-Mart or Sam's Club right now. At Wal-Mart, their George line is mostly full of thin poly jersey, and their wholly-owned White Stag spring clothing line looks a lot like this:

But I digress. I refreshed my makeup supplies (another post) to the tune of about $80. Surprisingly easy to do even at a discount store.

Here's Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure. The reviews I've read on various websites have been all over the place. There are lots of close-ups of polished nails and shiny bottles. (And my, those nail polish sites are popular. Maybe I should get into the beauty promo business!) For me, who really just wants a little girly sparkle at the ends of my fingers, this stuff is fabulous. I wore it for four days with nary a chip, and it only took two coats. Dries fast. Took a while to remove. It promises that it's base, color and top coat all in one. I'll wear it without a base coat for a while to see if it stains my nails.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure: $6.50

Here are my ragweed fingers in Pedal to the Medal. I like it.


Day 134.
A couple days before last week's snowfall. It was very cold.

George Turtle: $10; RL Sweater: $21 (Sam's); Nine West Jeans: $17 (Sam's) ; Calvin Klein Down Coat: $50; Earth Spirit Boots: $35; Earrings: $12    Total: $145

Day 135.

This is how I spend a lot of my day--you can ask Bengal, who took the picture. The white sweater looked a much looser when I bought it seven pounds ago. It came out around the holidays, but I don't think it's too sparkly for later winter wear.

George sweater: $12; George tank: $10; Norma Kamali Career Pants: $15; Earth Spirit shoes: $30; Earrings: $10 (clearance from $13)   Total: $77

Hope your life is full of blessings, today!

P.S. Remember to follow WBS here or on FB Networked blogs. I'll give away five mystery books for every five new followers--everyone is eligible!

First Five:

FACES IN THE POOL by Jonathan Gash
THE WATER'S EDGE by Karin Fossum
ILLEGAL by Paul Levine