Thursday, September 2, 2010

I have an idea! I am going to be more competitive with Life!

I have been struggling lately with challenges and difficulties in my life. I have been trying to be calm, clear-headed and strong enough to do my "best" to "get through" to calmer, happier times.

But yesterday, I don't know why, I had a lightbulb moment. I thought "no, that is not good enough, and it is not the way to succeed". I realized that I have to say "I am strong. I am smart. I will succeed. I will be fine. I am not going to let bumps in the road bring me down. (This last statement is funny because I hate actual bumps in any road).

For some reason, I have a character trait that worries and I let these worries become dread. For some reason, I think that I have to imagine the worst case scenario so that I can be prepared for it. But, really, this way of thinking makes my good times less good because I am hanging onto fear around the edges. And, it makes the bad times worse because I have been expecting them and I give them power by considering them inevitable.

Instead, I can choose to change my mindset. I know that I am a tough, basically successful, somewhat adventurous type of person. When it comes to other peoples' lives, I am a good organizer and problem solver. I know that I have a good life and that I will continue to have a good life. I can choose to wake up each day and say "I am going to engage fully in this day. I am going to have piles of positive experiences. I am going to take on Life and win."

The good thing is that when I win, Life wins too. I have never liked competition. Maybe because I was afraid of failure. But having a fighting spirit, a scrappy preparedness, a lust for challenge - this could really work.

This past summer, after going for a morning swim in The Serpentine in London with a group of women, one of these amazing women was talking about all the traveling and swimming and sporting challenges she wanted to do and she said "there is just so much to look forward to." I keep thinking about that statement and I think it is a good mantra. It is not so much about looking forward to the future, but about approaching the present with a sense of game - ready to play.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Textile Tuesdays : #29 - Buttons!

This humble item goes unnoticed and taken for granted by some designers and consumers. But there was a moment in history (around the middle of the 13th century) when someone thought "I have an idea!" and they designed the button as we know it. Actually, buttons have been around since the Bronze age, but they were strictly decorative. The big idea was actually, the buttonhole! Before that, people used ties, toggles, and pins to fix and fasten clothing. They became mass produced during the industrial revolution and the rest is history...

Buttons can be made of many wonderful, or not so wonderful, materials - everything from diamonds to plastic, fabric to coconut shells. They can blend with the garment or stand out. Whatever the desired look, the quality of the garment and the skill of the designer can be revealed in the buttons chosen.

Anyone interested in buttons can find whole books written on the subject (on Amazon).

The photos at the top are all from etsy sellers.
Pine buttons from Woods of Narnia
Glass buttons from Treasure Booth
Clay buttons from Ruth Robinson Ceramics

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life in a Southwestern Mountain Town #11 Maintenance

Well, we had a fabulous adventure traveling around Europe and the UK during the month of July. But now it is time to get back to the work of our normal, day-to-day lives in our small mountain town. After a couple of weeks of sluggish, jet-lagged readjustment, things are getting back on track. Even now though, there are two tracks - everyday life, and getting ready for our move to Sydney.

The girls are back at school, David is back in his office, and I am almost back at designing and sewing. We all had to readjust our brains from constant external stimulation to quiet, independent, self-directed, motivation. There is just not that much happening in a small town.

It is a beautiful time of year - thunder storms, wild sunflowers, near perfect temperatures, skunks and humming birds all around - but the suburban sprawl and car culture cuts into that beauty. I did take my daughters up the mountain to a beautiful vista and hike in the aspen trees and we were soothed by the knowledge that we live in this peaceful, beautiful place. We went to the local groovy, hipster cafe and reminded ourselves that not all Arizonans are fear driven, racist, gluttons (I saw a bumper sticker the other day on a big huge pickup that said "Earth First - we'll mine and clearcut the rest of the universe when we get done here".)

I love my friends and the good people I have met and I will miss them when I have moved away. But I am ready to start a new phase of my life. At lease I am emotionally ready. Logistically, I am not nearly ready.

I have been working on de-cluttering and organizing my stuff since last year! and I am still not done!! I am getting closer though. The goal is to have whatever we are not taking with us to Australia or whatever we won't need to live on for the next 6 months, gone by the first of September. We also have to have all repairs and maintenance done by then. There seems to be a short list of tasks, but it is always more work than anticipated. The paint touch ups, the weeding, the detailed cleaning, etc. all take more time and are more exhausting than I expect. Digging through and getting rid of things that have been saved for sentimental reasons is also emotionally exhausting.

Along with the household maintenance, we are taking care of health maintenance. We are making final dental, dermatological, and general health appointments. I had my annual gyno appointment last week and I had a mammogram and blood work today. I am always a little scared by these things but I have to do them and hope for the best.

The reward is cleanliness, order, beauty, new beginnings, strength (in building and body) and hopefully good health! I know it is worth it but it is still really hard.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday - Funday! Hedgehogs!

Everywhere I look these days I see Hedgehogs!! Not actually live ones running through the streets and gardens (unfortunately, they are not native to Arizona). But their image is very popular. And why not? Who wouldn't love these adorable, friendly creatures. They are also good for getting rid of snails and slugs in your garden.

this paper toy is from Paper Craft.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skirts on Friday - Skirts Abroad!

I don't know where to begin. I have so much to say and so many adventures to report. As it is Friday, I will fall back on my skirts. (One of the things I have learned from this 4skirts project is that it may be boring to wear the same things every day, but it is a bonus when I don't have the energy, desire, or time to put into creative dressing).

I packed a light suitcase and dug through it repeatedly over the course of the month away. The weather ranged from dripping hot to blustery, misty, chill. The scenes went from concrete, urban, chic to country lakes and gardens. With the exception of some shoe problems (of course), I think that, overall, I looked acceptable. My skirts served me well.

I realized on the way home that my year of skirts was about to come to a close - I had almost achieved my goal, I had almost gone a whole year wearing the same 4 skirts (with a few exceptions). I was excited to chuck (maybe burn) the whole pile of skirts and most of my other clothes along with them. I looked at my blog and realized that I still have 16 days left - aaaahhhhhggg!!! Well, I washed everything and got some new tops out of my closet so I don't have to feel so road weary.

I guess I have a few more weeks to figure out who the new me is. Right now, after a month of viewing fashion all over Europe, I have NO idea. More on this later.

(The photos are, from top to bottom: the gothic cathedral in Barcelona, Guell Park in Barcelona; Edinburgh; Lormes France; Bath, England; London, England)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday on the Road in Spain and the UK!! Checking In!

Hey everyone and anyone! I have been rambling, wandering, schlepping for what seems like weeks and weeks! Heat, cold, rain, sun, beaches and concrete, scones and fried calamari. Internet access is not consistent and when we have it I have to share with three other people. So I thought I would suggest that this time be a chance for whoever is looking in on the blog to post their own comments, stories, jokes, etc.

Just to get you thinking: I am sick of my skirts and am vaguely reevaluating my whole look if not my whole persona. Maybe I will delve into yoga and meditation when I get back?

Tomorrow we are off to London. Here are a few snaps of our trip so far.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Skirts on Friday Bon Voyage!!

I just packed my suitcase for my month in Europe. I will be bopping around a lot and need to travel lightly but also be ready for various situations: hot or cool weather, city, small town, beach. I am bringing three pair of shoes, three sweaters, about twenty tops, and 4 skirts!

It is the last month of my one year "4 skirts" project. I am tired of the same skirts and ready to move on to some of the exciting styles I expect to see in Europe. The skirts are getting really worn out and I hope they will hold up for all of my travels. I don't want to look shabby but even if I do, I know I will look better than if I had on shorts or jeans.

It was easy to fit it all in my little carry-on bag and I had room for leggings, scarves and jewelry to dress things up. I will surely have loads of pictures of the final phase (the last hoorah) of my project. Hopefully they will show the charm of the skirts!

I will be away from my computer and I'm not sure how much internet access I will have, so if my postings are sparse, I apologize in advance!

Have a great July and try to enjoy some skirts of your own!

Here are some photos of two of my previous trips just to show you how long I have had these same skirts!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Textile Tuesdays : #28 - Textile Circus

In a random and playful mood, I decided to do a stream of consciousness post. I did a search on Etsy of the word "textile" and then the first thing that came into my mind which was "circus". There were thousands of items with the tag of textile but only 24 with both words. I did a little searching of the stores that came up to find what I like and here is I what came up with:

Kawaii elephant fabric from Emicraft, a mod-looking embroidered cuff by Waterrose, and a super stylish and cool collar necklace from Calliekins!

I know there are a ton more circus inspired textile items out there but they weren't tagged with the right combination of words!! Maybe I'll look around and come up with a more extensive list and post next week. It is fun to be spontaneous though. You never know what favorite thing you might find. (I really like that collar!!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday - Funday! Clever and Cat Witted Insanity!

This Sunday I am revealing my weakness for cartoons by continuing on a vein of off-beat animated humor. If you like cats and cartoons and you haven't already heard of "Catface" you should check this out. Even if you hate cats (shame on you!) you will laugh at this cat-brained nonsense. I wonder how long it will take for this to become as big as hello kitty!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Skirts Project - Vive La France!

It seems that France, and all things French are once again in style. I love the idea of the romantic charm and the classy chic of French style. From Marie Antoinette (I know she was not French but she came into the height of her style in France) to Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, French fashion has always been at the forefront of trends.

This sense of style carries over into the esthetic of the day to day look of the women of France. This is typically true of fashion all over Europe but especially in France and especially in Paris. Women always look good. They don't go out in athletic shoes and polar fleece jackets. They look glamourous even when they think they look a mess. Part of this is that their fashion staple, rather than jeans, is probably a skirt.

Check out the blog from Mireille Guiliano, the author of French Women Don't Get Fat. Or, read this article from the Huffington Post for a ponder or a laugh.

The photos are of skirts from ETSY. They are: wild roses from BoMode; frenchy from MiniRex ; and vintage simplicite from LaBoheme.

When my 4skirts project is up next month, I think I will invest in a few fresh skirts and try to keep up some idea of feminine chic.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Somewhere in the World - Edinburgh, Scotland

Are we really going to Edinburgh? (pronounced Edinburough for those who don't know) Ever since we lived in England and I wanted to celebrate my 40th by roaming the wild streets and moors of Scotland, I dreamed of going to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the nether regions of that north country!

Now, this summer, on what could be our last trip to the UK for a long time, we are taking a week to explore that historic city. This is partly due to the fact that my husband gave a talk there last fall and has now been invited back.

We have his tips on what to see combined with our own interests in fashion, style, history, and idiosyncrasy. We got a Rough Guide and have been looking up things on the web. My daughter found that all the trendy and vintage shops are on Princes Street. We may do a literary tour, and we will hope for little rain but lots of rainbows.

Not to sound like an alcoholic, but I will be sampling the local fare - Scotch Whiskey! I saw a documentary once (I can't remember the name) where the locals were having a barn dance and there was plenty of fiddling, foot stamping and 12 oz. glasses of straight whiskey being drunk by young and old. When I saw that, I thought it was insane but now I realize that they have a tolerance for it and it is like drinking a glass of beer. At least that is what I imagine...

The photos are my husband's from his last trip there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Textile Tuesdays : #27 - The Textile Museum

I want to highlight museums focused on textiles. There are so many great ones and they rarely get a mention in tour books or on the "must see" lists. This is a burn to myself and anyone who love the vast and amazing history of textiles. So here is the first of my list of places to check out if you are in the host cities.

The Textile Museum in Washington D.C.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday - Funday! Clever and Quick Witted Insanity!

This Sunday Morning take a moment to laugh! I love Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Fallon and the two of them seem to be a good match. See if you can keep up with their banter!

But this clip of Gervais' latest project is so creative and original. The idea is that they have a conversation with a "not funny" guy then make a cartoon clip to go over it. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Socializing- Cat Ivins

How do I write about someone who I admire, respect, and yes, study without sounding like a kiss-ass or a stalker? I know that all humans are fallible and most of us are struggling with our own issues or working to grow and be more successful. However, on so many points, I seem to be amazed and impressed by Cat Ivins of Olive Bites blog, Polarity, and Uncorked.

She is young and beautiful (not that that matters) and she is smart, energetic, kind, generous, saavy, creative, talented, friendly, witty, and successful! She seems to have so much going on and she still has time to put out thoughtful, honest, interesting blog posts 5 days a week.

I surf through several blogs but I always read the posts that Cat puts up and I am always either amused, moved, or informed by them. I even enjoy reading the comments under the posts, which are more like conversations.

As someone who is just trying to navigate the internet, blogosphere, and social networking, I am encouraged and inspired by Cat and Olive Bites!! Check her out and let me know what you think!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Skirts Project

Is it Friday again already??!! Time seems to be going by so quickly and with no school schedule, I hardly know what day it is. This has been a long year in some ways but it is winding up now and I have almost completed a full 12 months of my Skirts Project!

I am pretty pleased with myself and feel that the last several weeks will be a piece of cake. I will be in Europe and England for the month of July and I will be happy to pack lightly and never have to fuss over my wardrobe! I'll give an update on this later but for now I'll just say that my skirts and my discipline are holding up nicely!

The photo is of me at my daughter's birthday party on an uncommonly freezing evening last week. My red skirt went straight into the wash afterward to get rid of the BBQ smell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Somewhere in the World - Sedona Arizona

Not that I am trying to be a booster for Arizona (because I am not) but (politics aside) there are some f@#*%ing amazing sights to be seen here. It is no wonder that even with the high heat and scarcity of water, Native Americans, Mexicans, Spaniards and lastly European Americans have come to explore and dwell in this place.
One of the most beautiful and (some say) magical places is Sedona. Even after 14 years, I never cease to be awestruck when I see the vistas there. I can't say much for the town because it is mostly hotels, resorts, souvenir shops and tourist cafes.
The people are a mix of cool artsy, new-agers, tourists, and wealthy out-of-towners or retirees. Some of these people are warm and friendly but some are decidedly not. Let's just say that 60-70 year olds in hummers and gated neighborhoods that won't give you the gate code when it has been updated, even though they know you and can see that you are stuck, don't really build a sense of community.
But, really, let's face it, we go there for the geography. And it does not disappoint. Whether one is climbing the steep face of Cathedral Rock, ambling along the trail at Back O' Beyond, or hiking into Boynton Canyon, the best thing you can do is forget about everything except the immediate time and space. It really is a place to get your soul charged up, get fresh air, and enjoyable exercise. Just don't forget your water, hat, and sun-screen!

These are photos of a rock we call the Hamburger Bun (I don't know what it is really called), Me at a friend's new pool with Cathedral Rock in the background, and a blissful day about a year ago at a place called Buddha Beach on the back side of Cathedral Rock. The water is an added bonus!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Textile Tuesdays : #26 - Linen

With Summer pretty much here it is a good time to talk about one of the stars of textiles - Linen.
The look of linen is always distinct and classic. It speaks of warm weather, raw, basic goodness, integrity, and the natural world. It can be very chic and aristocratic, or rough and wild when fashioned by hippies or SCA members making peasant costumes. Either way, the slouchy wrinkled texture is part of the charm of linen.

Linen is one of the oldest fabrics known to humans. Pieces of it have been found in caves around Europe that are tens of thousands of years old and mummies in Egyptian tombs were wrapped in it. It is also one of the strongest of the vegetable fibers - two to three times stronger than cotton. Because it is highly absorbent it is great for warm temperatures. This is also why it is famous in the kitchen as a towel, napkin, or table cloth. In fact the word "linen" is synonymous with all cloths used in the home as in "the linen closet".

Linen is actually a fabric derived from the Flax plant, a delicate looking wildflower with a small blue blossom. It is a hearty perennial that grows just about anywhere but is primarily grown for fiber production in Europe and China. The most famous linen comes from Ireland, Italy, and Belgium. The flax plant (like hemp) is very useful to humans giving not only fiber for fabric but also highly nutritious seeds and linseed oil. (Did you know that the original Linoleum was made of flax bi-products?)

There is a post with lots of facts and trivia on Wikipedia and here in How Products are Made.
Read up if you want to be a textile nerd like me!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Skirts Project

I am still wearing my skirts and I have had them in lots of cities, tasks, happenings and situations. Unfortunately, I have been very busy and my camera battery has been dead. So, when I get it charged up, I will start taking pictures again. Sorry for being bad about writing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Somewhere in the World - Scottsdale AZ

OMG! I have been racing around trying to do all my usual things and all the latest summer things on top of that! I have been making arrangements for our summer trip to Europe, going through the long, bureaucratic process of the Australian visa, getting our house ready to put on the market, planning my daughter's birthday party, father's day, family obligations and let's not forget my cats!
We had to go to Scottsdale for a medical exam for the whole family that included blood and x-ray. we thought it would take hours so we spent the night. (We spent the night before that at my in-laws.....). Anyway, the whole doctor thing only took 2 hours including x-rays so we went shopping and swam in the hotel pool. We ate sushi for dinner and had gelato for dessert.

It was beautiful down there with all the desert plants and landscaping looking so inviting even though it was 107 degrees out. It just made me sad to think of the racism and fear in some of the population there. The passing of the boarder control, racial profiling, anti-ethnic studies, etc. legislation is just wrong, ill-conceived, and destructive. It makes me ashamed to say that I live in this state and it makes me sad to think that people imagine that I and other good people share this small-mindedness.

We went to American Apparel and they had a shirt that was great! It says "Legalize Arizona: Immigration Reform Now!"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday - Funday! Dream of Life

A few weeks ago I watched the dvd called - Dream of Life. It is sort of a documentary/collaboration with Patti Smith and the film maker Steven Sebring. I heard about it on NPR and was reminded of how much I used to enjoy her music and style. I had always wondered what had become of her.
This movie shows a view of her life that is so artistic, emotional and suited to her poetic style. I LOVED this movie. I loved being able to see some of the intimate moments of her life and to learn more about the trajectory it has taken. It was filmed over a period of 10 years and included lots of other vintage footage.
Besides being beautiful and inspirational it reminded me of how much more brave and ready for action I used to be. Seeing her still living an artist's life gave me motivation to face the rest of my life with gusto and artistic sensibility.
At the beginning she says a line that I plan to quote on birthday and graduation cards for a while:

"Life is an adventure of our own design,
Intersected by fate
and a series of lucky and unlucky accidents"

Watch this movie! If you like poetry, rock and roll, or biographies, you will love it!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Socializing- The Bloggin' o the Green

I am on three etsy teams and each has a blog. They are all fun and interesting in different ways. But one of my favorites is one that I stumbled upon by accident - Etsy Ireland. When ever I go there, it always seems like there is a lot of activity and energy. They have lots of interesting features and the site is visually pleasing as well.

Maybe it is because I have a soft spot for Ireland and all things Irish, but there is no denying the talent and team spirit of this group. I have them on my blogger reading list and I check in about once a week. Give them a visit and if you see something you like, go to their etsy store and buy it!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Skirts on Friday - Bare Legs

Now that the weather is warming up wearing a skirt means baring your legs. We all know now that tanning is a big no no, so what can we do to make our bare legs look their best.

I have already been doing the treadmill steadily so at least they are fit, but my skin is definitely not what it used to be. I inherited thin, pale, fragile skin from my Irish ancestors and I have really not cared for it the way I should have. The dry climate in Arizona does not help either.

So, what is a good regimen for summer legs? First of all, I have to shave more frequently than I did in the winter. I used to wax my legs (and I still recommend it for younger people) but now that I am older and menopausal I have very sparse peach fuzz. I have had my legs waxed in a salon and I have done it myself. It is faster in a salon, but if you can't afford it or there is no place in your small mountain town that does waxing, you can DIY quite easily. You have to use the hot wax (warmed in the microwave). The cold, sticky stuff does not work. Waxing does keep your legs (and any other area waxed) hair free for longer, and the new growth is not stubby.

The next step is to keep the dead skin off the legs. I use a pumice stone on my feet and a good, natural scrub on my arms and legs. Lather makes a variety of exfoliators that are all nice. It really comes down to what scent you like - peppermint, yuzu, lemongrass, cranberry, lavender...

They also make yummy, very effective lotions and creams. I like their manuka body butter with grapefruit & juniper. I don't mean to sound like an advertisement for Lather, but it is what I use and I have been very happy with it. Every time I shower, I rub in the cream while my legs are still damp and it really helps.

I do need to figure out some what to give my skin a more even tone and some healthy color without sun exposure. I used to use Clinque self tanning lotion and it made my skin a little tiny bit reddish brown. I don't know which tanners, if any really work. I have never felt flush enough to go for a fancy spa body wrap or skin treatment. The dermatologist tells me that age spots are normal! I guess they go right along with a saggy neck.

Anyway, I keep my skirts at or below the knee and I do splurge on a pedicure, so hopefully anyone looking will focus on my brilliant red toenails and be distracted from any imperfections above that.

Here's a link to a good article with some more tips for summer legs.