Wednesday, July 26, 2006

WARNING: HISTORICAL NOVELS MAY ALTER VIEW OF REALITY

After I finish my bedtime reading of Elizabeth Goudge's Pilgrim Inn, I feel transformed. Little ideas start to tweak my subconcious until they bubble into full blown ideas, where I promptly pop them after they have submerged into today's reality. But I love that feeling in the moment where I believe that I will change my life to be more like it was in the past, be in the 18th century or this post war novel I'm now reading.

Just as I'm playing with these ideas, I'm hoping that I can develop them into something that is here to stay. Why not? I imagine myself detached from today's pushy ideals of an American woman, where I am not expected to develop my resume and career so that I am gradually achieving more money and better titles. I am not expected to compete with men by becoming like them. The idea of traveling somewhere for a month long vacation with my family is ok because I don't only have two weeks vacation a year which I have to divy out in paltry long weekends throughout the year.

Just as I am writing this, I realize how incredibly ungrateful I sound for not appreciating the rights I have as a woman today. Forgive me, but this is my daydream and in my daydream I still have all the rights, but not the pushy expectations imposed upon me by society.

May I continue? I am imagining how my household would be different in those times. They had fewer belongings and those items were cherished. Life was difficult back then, but I can still borrow some of those forced values on myself.

Start with that month long vacation, where I will take my sparse but perfectly fitted, tailor-made wardrobe and my few beauty products in my trunk to visit my family. While visiting we will share meals together while NOT watching the tv, we will talk, listen to music (ok in this daydream I play the piano), drink tea and make jokes about past times together. There will be a contentment hanging in the air that first night as we all enjoy one another and experience only what the evening is offering.

I sense the importance of material items like clothes and gifts, but there is a reverence toward them that is foreign today. I want to feel that reverence for what we buy ourselves or each other. That is something worth bringing back, heartfelt sentiment and true gratitude.

Really, I intend to grab these pearls of wisdom from the past because they are worth coming back in style. If neon can make a comeback, I can certainly make my case for fewer clothes, appreciation for what we have & creating my lifestyle instead of following some prescribed plan.

See that bubble is about to burst because I'm already feeling very mumsy and old-fashioned for writing this. See, POP!, there it goes, but now I have recorded it while in my time machine induced daydream so I can remember it forever.

Say Cheese!



C'est moi!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Contentment is Anti-Christ of Fashion World

As I am almost through with my month-long goal of no credit card usage and no Galleria shopping, I'm starting to have these strange feelings. They are feelings of peace and contentment with myself and my belongings. I've decided that feelings like these are the anti-christ of the fashion world. You know they fully operate on us not being content with what we have.

So that leaves me with the question, could I be getting over the addiction after only one month? Have I magically put everything in the perfect perspective after just one short month of cold turkey? Well, I don't think I am cured, but it's a step in right direction. There are rumblings in my head that I may be missing something, perhaps a sale or a preview for the fall. It is natural to have withdrawal pains, I guess.

This month has helped me stay focused on other things that are important to me. I've organized my house, read books, talked with friends, cooked new recipes and practiced new eye shadow techniques (right before I take it off--bad green eyeshadow!). That was the point of this project, to not just be interested in my appearance, but devote the time to cultivate other interests not related to something I need to buy to feel pretty or complete. I can approach my wardrobe in a sane, thoughtful process to serve me, and not be filling some emotional need or responding to an ad campaign or free gift with purchase.

Currently I am thinking about my fall wardrobe, making a wish list as I see what is coming around and what I wanted last year but didn't get. I have to say I'm not impressed with the new fashions, the ones very reminiscent of Madonna circa 1985. They say if you live through a trend once, you should forgo it the second time. Supposedly it's because you are too old when it happens, but I think it's just that queasy feeling because you remember what it was like to BE that age. Who wants to go through adolescence again?

Being on a sabbatical from shopping helps me think clearly about what I will purchase for fall. I can dream of my fully functioning wardrobe without being distracted from all the other items that I don't need in the stores. May I suggest an actual WISH LIST for yourself. It can be infinitely useful because when you are shopping you remember that you really needed a brown turtleneck and not another red purse. Also, when someone wants to buy you a present, you remember something that you really wanted. I have books and cds on my list too.

I am continuing my experiment for the rest of July and perhaps even August, but I don't know, let's not get too crazy. I will have the goal to continue this feeling of peacefully and proactively planning my wardrobe. It deserves thought and my hard earned money deserves to be well spent. When I have a flashback of scavenging through those sale racks wishing that lady out of my way because she is looking at my size, well I don't even know who that girl is anymore. Now, that's progress.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Houston, we have a problem.

I don't think it is only me that has a big dilemma between my fashion sensibility and my fashion reality. I am talking about champagne taste on a beer budget, people. Ok this isn't a groundbreaking realization, or is it?

Well it certainly isn't a new idea, this buying more than we can afford because we feel like we need it. So the realization is not that people live way over their clothing budgets, but that doing so is ridiculous. THAT is where I want you to commune with me, in the place of reality, where money doesn't grow on trees (thank you Randy for preaching that!)

Come with me to where a magazine, celebrity, television, or movie does not dictate how I live my life. Maybe you are saying that I am crazy, and this doesn't apply to you. Ok then, but let me tell you how it might. How important is the way you look, how much time, money and thought do you dedicate to it? How often do you go to the hairdresser, get your nails done, buy fashion magazines, read about Jennifer Aniston or Reese Witherspoon (my personal weakness), go shopping, go looking, look at catalogs, online shopping, reading books about fashion, fretting over what you need to have to be cool, modern, up to date, appropriate? Do any or many of these apply to you? Then, this IS a big part of your lifestyle. The question is what are you sacrificing to achieve this lifestyle?

These items in moderation shows an attention to detail and your personal appearance, but it's the excess in detriment of other parts of your life now and your future that I am concerned about. It is the constant focus on these things that aren't lasting in fashion or your life, but yet you are trading a considerable portion of your life in pursuit of something you may never catch.

My goal of this blog is to show you a simpler way to look at your clothes, a way that is appropriate for you, not conforming to someone else's ideal. You take what you want for fashion and have it conform to you. It is your servant, you are not it's slave.

I am asking you to take a look at your daily life, your expenses and judge for yourself how important fashion and your appearance really is to you. You need to have a balance in your life, all parts need to sum up to a complete picture of you, your past and your future. If you are spending your paycheck on the bare minimum of bills, then shopping with the rest with no savings, you are out of control. You are letting this dominate you and you need to get back in control of your budget. I recommend putting away the credit card and stop shopping altogether for a period of time. Just like an alcoholic can't go to a bar, you can't go to the mall. Evaluate yourself and see where your priorities are! Look at those past bills and see what you have to show for it. Was it worth spending all that money for what you have in your closet. If you invested well, attagirl! or attaboy!

Go to the library and read about Madame Bovary and Marie Antoinette. These ladies lived the life of luxury, fashion and endless pursuits of the fleeting and look where they wound up! Just think about what you are sacrificing when you are spending all your time and money on something that will be on the "not" list in the not too distant future. Invest in clothing that lasts, and most of all invest in yourself, your interests, your family, friends & learning how to let fashion serve you.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pantone Fall 2006 Colors

Pantone has released their colors for Fall 2006. They are RICH and DEEP and oh so NOT my colors! I am a "summer", and mustard yellow is not in the plan for me. For those of you who can wear these earthy autumn colors, you are getting your revenge for all those years of pink, pink, pink.

Here is Pantone's website link:

http://tinyurl.com/oqvum

As I'm sure you have seen The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda clearly explains how the top fashion designers desicions trickle down to the mass market stores. I am fascinated and appalled at the idea that I clearly have no choice as to the assortment of colors from which I can choose . If you are like me, and your colors aren't "in style", follow me down the mustard yellow brick road.

First of all, figuring out the colors that flatter you are essential. Otherwise you will waste a lot of money on clothes. I suggest finding out what "season" you are. Take a look at Carole Jackson's Color Me Beautiful book. It is dated, but it will give you a start. If you can't get it from the library, I think www.half.com usually has cheap copies.

For color inspiration I like the book What You Wear Can Change Your Life by those cheeky What Not to Wear Girls. This book is worth skimming through because of the unusual color combinations. I love mixing colors like green and turquoise, both the same level of color and it makes such an interesting contrast. Using this idea can give you so many more combinations with the clothes you already own too. You can also get some funky color combos at the paint store on the paint cards where they combine colors for you. There is nothing "basic" about this type of color combining. When you dare to do this, it will definitely elevate you to advanced fashion status! You will notice people noticing your outfit and how utterly unique it looks.

Now, what if you are in need of clothes. Is the trend this season "you"? Have you been waiting for "your" colors to come around again? I suggest choosing carefully some pieces that will last you awhile. How about a cashmere sweater in a color that matches your eyes?

If these aren't your colors, don't buy them just because they're in style!!! Can I say that again??? KNOW what looks good on you and don't ever buy a color because it is trendy! Avoid a trendy color if it doesn't work for you. If it does work for you, then it doesn't have to be a trend FOR YOU! See what I mean...the trendy color now becomes a classic for you because it is YOUR color.

You know the neutral colors are also trends, but there will always be black and white. I try to avoid it because I wore it too much as a waitress in college, but it looks stunning on some people, usually "winters"

When I say neutral I mean black, navy, chocolate, taupe, british tan, camel, ivory, grey etc. If you are in the need of a suit and your neutral is in stores, you may want to consider a purchase in the next year. There is always black, but grey, navy and the others are difficult to find when you need them. I have been looking for a charcoal grey suit for years and am so happy they will be arriving soon.

Lastly, if you need to purchase and are frustrated with the color selection, don't forget about consignment shops where you can find older styles and maybe just the right colors for you. When you can do without any clothing purchases, take the opportunity to save your money for a purse or accessory that will last you a long time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More of Myself

Just like I have been editing excess things out of my life, I have been growing out the blonde highlights in my hair. I jumpstarted the process by having about 7 inches cut off. I thought I would miss that hair, but I feel more and more like myself as it grows out. That hair was me trying to be something that I wasn't...well a bleached blonde. It is a freeing process as you stop doing things, or buying things to make yourself become someone different.

Now, I am not saying I'll never get highlights again. After all I am a woman and I like to change things up a bit. That is my disclaimer, but my goal is actually to work with my natural color and texture. It's the same with all other bits of marketing that we buy into that makes us believe that we are not good enough as we are. Have you noticed that we are constantly told we are not good enough? We become convinced that we need to look outside ourselves to be complete, in particular we need to BUY something or even eat or take something miraculous.

This constant attack of marketing sends us in constant pursuit of buying health and happiness. I am currently taking July off from shopping and have deemed it the no credit card use month. It is a breath of fresh air to stop seeing everything that I don't have but may want. If you take a month to quit the addiction of "want" and stop to see what you already have, it may just change your perspective and eventually your life outlook.

So, my mission is to help you clear out the closet clutter from your house and the psychological clutter from your heads. Start by taking a month for no shopping. Look around you and see what you can donate to others. Organize a drawer and start to love and treasure what you own. Wash your lingerie by hand with a lavender scented soap. See the beauty you own already!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Illusion or Reality?

I was thinking about how people tend to shop for clothes that don't always fit their needs. It seem that what you need to buy should be a logical, straightforward task that involves a list of things to buy, then buying them. HA!!! Is there anything more confusing and distracting than shopping? It is so hard to keep focus when you walk into the store, it's no wonder we can't answer the questions "Who am I?" and "What do I need to wear to suit my lifestyle?" It's so much more appealing to imagine yourself an off-duty ballerina or perhaps a long, lean lady suited to wear those Ralph Lauren equine looks.

Wouldn't it be great to have a reality mirror, where you can see yourself as you really are? This mirror isn't meant to show you actual lumps and bulges, (we see those!), but to say to you that this outfit doesn't really suit your lifestyle. Perhaps a reminiscence of Snow White's mirror? Mirror, mirror on the wall, will this outfit be ok after my child spills chocolate milk on it and I have to launder it? Will this outfit take me from the park with said little clumsy child to a relaxing evening with my husband? Does this outfit say to the world what I want to express? Mirror, are you there?

Well, I suppose a trusted friend, a truly honest, fashionable friend could perform this service for you. Or me, if you are in Houston, but why is it so difficult to see these things for ourselves? Are we living in an illusion of who we are, or who we hope to be?

What is the reality of your lifestyle, and how can you dress for it? Look in your closet and see what you keep buying that may fit a dream life that you don't actually have. Maybe this is an indication that it's time to do something about that dream. Or perhaps you need to realize you are not a teenager anymore.

What's in your closet? Please send your comments!

Peaches & Crust

I KNOW that this is not really relevant to this blog, BUT I am so proud of myself and I just had to share! And well, it's my blog and I'll post if I want to!!!

I was gifted with the most beautiful ripe peaches this week, and Susie Homemaker that I am, made the most delectable rustic peach tart last night.

Homemade crust (hmmmph! Yes I made my own and you can too!)
3/4 stick of butter cold and cut up into little pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp cold water

Mix all ingredients but water, mash all together with tips of fingers (FAST!) so that butter doesn't melt. When it is evenly distributed, add water, and form a ball. Put in frig for 30 minutes. Take out of frig, and with heels of hands spread onto baking sheet. I spray the baking sheet with Pam, then put a little flour over it. I make mine in the form of a square.

Filling
3 Tbsp Jam (I used apple, but peach is probably better)
2 peaches
heavy cream
sugar
brown sugar

Cut peaches in half then into pieces (not diced). Spread jam over bottom of crust, arrange peaches leaving 1 inch of crust around edges. Fold extra crust over peaches. There will be a lot of peach exposed in the center. Sprinkle brown sugar over peaches. Brush cream on exposed crust, then sprinkle white sugar over crust.

Bake 400 for 25-30 minutes.

I also made whipped cream. 1 pint heavy whipping cream, 3 tsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and mix on low with hand blender until starts to stiffen. Don't beat too long or you will make BUTTER!!!

Bon Appetit, and bring the smelling salts because there will be swooning over this dish.

Are you living in the Hoarding Zone?

Why do we hold on to clothes we never wear? What is the allure of owning so many things? I believe that keeping unuseful things could be supported by a fear of poverty, a sense of guilt, or an unwillingness to move away from the past.

Poverty Thinking
I have heard so many times "Oh, I may need those, so I don't want to get rid of them." If you haven't worn an item in a year and can't seem to get rid of it, think about it...do you believe that you will not afford to replace it if the time comes? This kind of thinking leads to hoarding because there are so many things that you "may" need. We have to trust the universe to give back to us when we need it. You reinforce this theory with others when you give away what you have to provide them what they need. I guess you could call it clothing karma.

Got Guilt?
Look through your clothes, one at a time, and see what emotions you feel as you behold each one. Did you spend too much money on that blouse? Are you still waiting to wear that sparkly dress to a party when you rarely go to parties? Are all those pants too small on that side, too big on the other side? When you feel guilty looking through your clothes, it makes you feel stagnanted. You don't want to deal with a stagnated closet, and others don't want to deal with a stagnated you! Get rid of the guilt by getting rid of those unneccesary clothes.

Moving on!
Start moving on, by letting go of those old memories, sizes that don't fit you, and a fantasy life that you don't live. When you see a clear view of who you are right now, it gives you a peace in your mind. You don't have to deal with the clutter of your past, or any failures when you look at your clothes. By releasing these past "sins" from your home, you can finally forgive yourself for not being that old size. Be who you are at this very moment. You are the one who decides what to keep and what to let go. You know the offenders and what is keeping you from moving forward.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

May I present myself...

I call myself the Closet Therapist because I have deemed it a physchology of sorts to investigate people's closets. Pardon the cliche, but there really are skeletons in people's closets. I love to root around and figure out what psyschoanalysis I can perform by just seeing the contents of one's closet.

Although I am no fashion guru, I'm great at minimizing and helping people just say no to clunky shoes and even tunic sweaters, yes they do still exist. Sometimes it comes to an all out tug of war with articles of clothing, but I usually win. Usually I don't have to resort to outright shame for wanting to keep things, but it has been known to happen. It is for the best of all involved.

Now, all is fine and dandy when I am called upon to do an overhaul on someone else's wardrobe, but I also have my own neuroses. This is why I can relate to other people because I know how hard it has been to let go of sentimental dresses, expensive designer clothes, oh you get the idea. So occasionally I will become pedantic about other's downfalls, but only because I have jumped over that hurdle and am beckoning them to join me. Join me in the land of free from closet clutter, that is!

It is a beautiful thing to have a pared down closet, always a work in progress. The progression is the fun though! Having a great wardrobe is a reflection of your developing relationship with yourself. The better you know yourself, the better your clothes will reflect that self.

Carolina's Fifth Birthday

We have been busy celebrating someone's much anticipated birthday around here!  Carolina has been longing for five since her classmates ...