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Friday, March 30, 2012

Well, This Explains a Lot

Day 90
Well, This Explains a Lot

So, it’s no secret I’ve been struggling to fit into my slightly smaller, but infinitely prettier and more plentiful spring clothes. Most of you will probably agree, the wiser (not older) we become, the harder it is to lose a few pounds. I am trying to increase my calorie burning by adding more jogging, zumba and dancing. I am wondering why it feels like a losing battle when I receive this article from a very insightful friend:

The average woman burns around 385 calories - the equivalent of a piece of carrot cake or two large glasses of wine - trudging around stores each week.

Read more:

So, not shopping is making me fat??? That’s the way I read it. Here I sit at my computer day in and out, trying to make a buck and be a productive citizen. A fat, productive citizen. Where is the justice? Is there somewhere I could lodge a complaint?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Museum is Now Pinterest!

Day 88
The Museum is Now Pinterest!

A while back I posted a photo of a pair of shoes that I loved, but because of my no-buy challenge, well—I couldn’t buy. I thought I would create a place (Museum of Lovely Things)
 where I could gather lovely things, even if I couldn’t buy them. Then I found (insert heavenly music …) Pinterest!

If you already know about Pinterest, you are nodding your head thinking, “I know …”

I was looking for a craft idea at one time and a friend said, “Look it up on Pinterest.” I had no idea! Pinterest is indeed a place with lots of ideas but you can also make your own page. Here’s mine:

And for those of you who don’t know, here’s how it works:
1.      You have to sign up to be invited to join unless you get an “invitation” (I’ll be happy to send you one). Pinterest is free.
2.      Once you join, you set up your page. You can add as many “boards” as you like and title them whatever you choose. You can add details about yourself, or not!
3.      There are simple instructions to add the Pin It button to your internet tool bar. Then, whenever you find something on the internet you like, want to share or want to remember, you “pin it”! Pinterest will pull the images from the page and you choose which one.
4.      Every time you select a picture to pin, you choose which board it pins to. When you click on that picture later, you go back to the original web page it came from!
5.      You can look at other people’s Pinterest pages and “re-pin” things that they have that you like. They can also re-pin your things. It’s a community. You can “follow” them, they can “follow” you.  
6.      Using the Pinterest search bar, you can search for almost anything! I’ve looked up recipes, decorating ideas, etc.
Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board with all sorts of scraps of cool things. For me, by “pinning” things I can’t buy, I can still have them in a way. Sort of a closet you never have to organize and don’t have to pay for.
If you join Pinterest or are already there, let me know! I’d love you check out your boards!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Do I Have a “Reset” Button?

Day 86
Do I Have a “Reset” Button?

For years, my husband has been searching for my “off” button or “mute” button. Today, I am looking for my “reset” button. My wireless router can be reset but jabbing a paper clip into a tiny indentation. I’ve poked myself but nothing is happening.

That’s the point, 86 days in and things have started to slide backwards. I have NOT bought clothes, shoes or accessories, but the progress in cleaning everything up has come to a screeching halt and the prospect of fitting into my lovely summer dresses is dwindling. When I stop to think about it, this is about the time that resolutions and big plans revert to habits as stubborn as the graying strands at my temples. I think this is why the process will take an entire year.

In January, I did a fabulous job sorting and organizing my shoes. Do you know that feeling when your clothes feel loose? That exhilarating “lost a couple pounds” (or just had the flu) feeling? That’s how I feel when I look at my shoes. Lighter. Well, actually I can see the light between them as opposed to when they were in a mass. When I look at the clothes hanging in my closet, I get that uncomfortable “this doesn’t really fit anymore” feeling so it’s time to get back to the plan and clean out the closet like I did my shoes.

In January, I also determined that I would have more clothes to choose from in my existing wardrobe if I could fit into them. I have determined that I am approximately 10 pounds from fitting into almost everything. Sure, a few things will be a little loose at that point, but I can live with that.

Here’s the challenge: I know I have to get back on track and attack this with the same resolve I had in January so I have to “reset”. For my organizing efforts, I am breaking the tasks down into manageable chunks then scheduling them. This week, my closet will be finished. This is on my calendar in indelible ink. I may be scrambling next Sunday night, but it will be done.

Ten pounds won’t happen in a week. I am giving myself 10 weeks. One pound per week. I think this is do-able. I found out that it takes 3500 calories to burn one pound of fat. Then I looked at the typical exercise I do in a week. How many calories do you think are burned jogging for an hour? That’s 60 full minutes on lung-burning, muscle-screaming jogging. 500. That sucks, I thought it would be 1000. It feels like 1000. So I am logging my exercise calories burned to get an accurate picture of what I am actually burning. This also makes me much less likely to eat additional calories, knowing how hard they are to burn off.

So, here we go. The second phase of my year-long challenge, the “reset” has begun. It’s a big lie to state that a habit can be changed by not doing it 10 times, or even 10 weeks. But that’s OK- I’m in this for the long haul.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Are You a Fashion Star or a Runway Star?

Day 84
Are You a Fashion Star or a Runway Star?

It’s no secret that I am FAN-atical about the reality competition show, Project Runway. I have also started watching the new fashion competition, Fashion Star. At a glance, the shows are quite similar; aspiring designers compete weekly for a chance to create their own fashion line. A closer look and two styles of shoppers are revealed.

Fashion Star: Lots of hoopla and window dressing. Music, theatrics and even choreography accompany the fashions. There are touching back stories. The obligatory runway presentation and critique leads to department store buyers who decide if the fashion is store-worthy. Then, of course, you get the chance to purchase the winning designs immediately. This show is very commercial. This show is about the impulse shopper.

Project Runway: Definitely more drama. This show presents challenges each week. The designers do all of the patterning, cutting, sewing and styling themselves. The runway presentation is decidedly subdued. It will be a long time before most of these fashions will be available to us. This show is about the creative process. This show is about the shopper who loves the creativity of fashion.

I think I’m 3 parts Project Runway to one part Fashion Star. I love the creative process of dressing. I am not immune to the allure of the impulse but with all that hoopla—it’s hard to ignore. In the end, I will faithfully watch both shows. But I have to say, when Mondo won Project Runway AllStars this week with his “Therapy” collection, well I felt like he was reading my mind. 
This dress was inspired by a Rorschach Test
This dress sold out at Macy's

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweatshirt Redeux

Day 81
Sweatshirt Redeux

When you are a full-out, all-in shopper, the world is your mall. You can go almost anywhere and find something to buy. Even clothes. I have a sixth sense for clothes for sale. I have a seventh sense for bargain clothes for sale.

My sixth and seventh senses kick in anywhere, including my favorite grocery store, Kroger. Yes, I have bought clothes from Kroger. Case in point: I have two sweatshirts, one black, one grey. Plain, long-sleeved, hoodless sweatshirts. They were on clearance at Kroger. I do not know why Kroger sells sweatshirts except to boost total sales by people like me. (I can picture the Kroger executives saying, “Honest! There are crazy ladies that come in a buy clothes! They’ll buy anything!”)

I thought I was being very clever to purchase unadorned, basic sweatshirts. Problem was they never really fit right. They are wide in the middle with wonky, ill-fitting sleeves that don’t even push up. I was about to banish them to yet another Salvation Army bag when I had a nostalgic, Flashdance Flashback. I ran upstairs, grabbed my good scissors and went to work!
 The result is not total Flashdance but now the sweatshirt is awesome! It’s perfect when a full sweatshirt is not necessary and flattering for the arms because of the wide arm holes. I wear a colorful tank under and it peeks through in a cute way.  A garment saved by a flashback! Yay me!

To follow-up on the Ugly Dress story: I finally found the second of the 2-for-$50 dresses. It isn’t AS ugly but still ugly. I should never have bought either one.
A final note: Happy Graduation Day Claire! You are AWESOME!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

One Ugly Dress

Day 79
One Ugly Dress

My biggest weaknesses when it comes to buying are shoes and dresses. I love the ease and comfort of a dress. You can look dressed up yet feel like you are in pajamas. It’s probably not surprising to learn I have quite a collection.

We have been having such beautiful spring weather I decided to rock a dress Saturday afternoon. My legs are winter-white (with the exception of still-mottled spray-tanned feet) so a longer dress was in order. Skimming through my closet, I spotted a dress with tags. Oooo! A never-worn dress! I felt pretty sassy slipping on this soft red print number. There was a good chance I could wrangle a dinner out looking this fine!

I sashayed to the mirror to check myself out and kind of jumped back. My goodness! I looked hideous! On its own, each element of the dress was fine. The bright red color, the ethnic-y print, the forgiving gathered waist style—but together—YUCK! Why on Earth did I ever even buy this dress?

Scary Eyes on My Chest
Cue flashback music … oh yeah … I remember. I was at a summer art fair. Alone. I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I had just participated in “The World’s Largest Zumba Class” in 100 degree heat. I was tired, not pleased with my performance and felt like I deserved something. Up ahead, like an oasis in the desert, was a booth of flowy dresses. Colors, styles, patterns whispering, “You want us. You deserve us. We are buy two for $50.” I took a considerable amount of time to choose my two new dresses. And I felt better.

Fast-forward to Saturday. I will never wear this dress. It is one ugly dress. It looks like two scary eagle eyes looking out from my chest. I am taking note. Do not shop when feeling sorry for self.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fashion Star

Day 74
Fashion Star

What do you get when you add a reality television competition to an opportunity to shop? Better than Home Shopping Network, you get Fashion Star!  The new television reality series started last night and you can bet I was on the edge of my seat. As a dedicated fan of Project Runway, I would not be viewing this with an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised. It is far more calculated than Project Runway, but completely grounded in the reality of retail.

In case you hadn’t seen an ad for it, the idea is for unknown designers to create a “look to show” with the help of celebrity mentors. Then, a group of department store buyers get the chance to make an “offer” to buy the item to sell in their store. The genius here- the items are available online to buy as soon as the show ends at 11 p.m.! Or, if you could possibly wait, available in stores the next morning. Obviously the show was taped months ago to allow time for production and distribution (but that was interesting, another idea for a show?) but there they were, available to “Buy Now.”

Like all reality competition shows, the idea is to love or hate the contestants so we are shown moving or funny video clips about their lives. Laughter, tears, tragedy and triumph. All there. I already have favorites and I want to support them. Some of the items were sold out by this morning. If not for the Challenge Year, I think I would have actually purchased this from Macy’s (the designer is from Michigan!):

Whoever came up with the concept of this show is a genius. An evil genius. I see it as another karmic test of my will to stick with my challenge. I will, however, attempt to make that jersey tunic from something in my fabric trunk …

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pantone Color of the Year

Day 71
Pantone Color of the Year

For those of you not familiar, Pantone is a company that creates, identifies and matches colors.
From their website: The Pantone® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. As a designer, I refer to Pantone colors often.

As a force of color, Pantone selects a “color of the year” each year. Fashion designers in particular take note. As a color-lover myself, I am always interested in the color that the Pantone gurus feel is the “IT” color. I had mixed feelings when I found the 2012 color, Tangerine Tango. Without seeing the color, I knew I would love it. Then I saw it and, oh my! It’s MY color. The year I can’t buy clothes and the color of the year is MY color.

It’s showing up everywhere now. From catalogs to ads to store windows, the color is calling to me. I have to go through everything I own again to see if there is some hidden Tangerine Tango in my closet. There will likely be some left over in stores next year, but by then a new color will be designated color of the year. I don’t know how they’ll top this one, hopefully with some spectacular shade of lime green or turquoise. If any of you spot this fabulous shade in stores- buy it! Wear it! Know you are right on trend with the color of the year.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tie One On!

Day 68
Tie One On!

My daughter asked to borrow a pair of shoes recently. I’m afraid I’m not as generous a lender anymore since I know I can’t replace anything. Grudgingly, I asked which pair. She chose red velvet medium-high heels with an ankle strap. Since it wasn’t exactly a “go-to” pair, I agreed.

She returned the shoes, muddy and missing one ankle strap. I don’t even want to know …
I was just revving up into a fit when she calmly said, “it’s no big deal, use a ribbon in place of the ankle strap.” Use a ribbon in place of the strap!!! Yes!

I was dressing for dance class today when I scoped out my shoe selection. Unfortunately, comfort and dance-ability were not at the top of my list when I bought shoes pre-challenge. Then I saw my black ankle-strap heels. The ankle strap slides right out of a loop at the back of the shoe. I replaced the straps with approx. 32” of black satin ribbon and … voilĂ !

So much sassier! I love this idea. The shoes are just as comfortable as before. And the best part is: I have quite a ribbon collection!

Monday, March 5, 2012

And another thing ...

Day 65
And Another Thing …

In addition to the importance of sticking with what works on a big day, I also learned another big lesson last weekend. In the past, as soon as an invitation to a black-tie event was received, I began to visualize myself on a star-studded red carpet. A long, magnificent gown, perfect towering heels, an intricate hairstyle and a handsome tuxedo-clad date. After all, how often do we mere mortals get the chance to dress like a celebrity? It’s kind of like a grown-up prom.

As I mentioned before, each time we attended a formal event, I got a new dress. It was always stressful and expensive but I always got something new. I had a vision in my mind of how I should look then I would pound the pavement until I found exactly what I had pictured. Even if I found a perfect dress, strangely on the day of the event, I almost always felt uncomfortable. Formal gowns can be tricky to wear, and especially tricky to walk in. Unlike the ladies on the real red carpet, I never seemed to have a team with me arranging my dress and protecting me from potential hazards like someone stepping on my dress or the dress being caught beneath a chair. I would get caught up standing just so or sitting just right. I came to realize that it was nice to have an evening out, but these formal events really were not fun.

Since purchasing a dress was not an option for me this year, and none of my gowns felt quite right, I referred back to my research on what is acceptable wear to a “black tie optional event”. I decided to wear a red cocktail dress. In the past, I would NEVER have opted for a cocktail dress. There was no option in my mind. Black tie = gown. This called for a change in mind set; instead of red carpet movie star, I was going for “flirty night out with my husband”. Despite the preparation missteps that led us to the ball, once we arrived I felt really comfortable. I wear dresses often and it was no big deal. I could walk, could sit, and here’s the best part—I could dance! It is darn hard to dance like a sexy date in a gown, but not in a red cocktail dress!

As I become wiser (not older, wiser) I am realizing that life is short, too short for stumbling over a gown. There certainly are occasions when a gown would be the only choice, but not every occasion (although, for the record, the ladies in gowns did look amazing!). My tuxedo-clad date thought I looked amazing and we had a wonderful, fun-filled evening. You may wonder why I haven’t posted a photo of us at that event. Here’s the thing- I felt fabulous. Too many times I have seen a photo of myself after the fact and thought, “yuck!” I look that bad??? I am most own worst critic. I no longer care about the photos, I care about my memory of the evening. In my mind, I was thin, sexy, and exciting … let’s just leave it that way!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Day 64

What do you think of when you hear the word “routine”? Do you think of a mundane, day after day series of steps taken to get through the day? Or, do you think of choreographed performance, well-practiced and refined to a stunning, if predictable, end? Unfortunately, every time an event draws near that calls for my best look, I revert to the former and decide that everything I do to get myself together on a normal day is no longer good enough. I have a long and storied history of trying something different when I should stick to tried and true. Hair high-lights applied in a hotel bathroom one day before leaving on a dream cruise vacation. Self-tanner gone madly wrong before an important work function. An episode with an at-home waxing kit of which I will spare you the gory details. When will I learn? If it’s important- go with what you KNOW works. Apparently I have not learned yet.

Yesterday was our second formal event, or ball, this year. As I mentioned before, I had planned for NO formal events when I took on the no-buy challenge. I got through the first event with a lovely, flow-y gown I had worn a few years ago. With four additional gowns in my closet, I felt confident I could get through event number two.
Here was the week:
Monday: Feeling very smart and prepared, I pull my gowns out to make a final decision. I would normally shop for weeks to find a dress. Easy-peasy, I’m all over it.
I find that the dress I was tending toward fit, but looked tired when I tried it on. Following my own rule, if I don’t feel fabulous, I can’t wear it. Panic begins to set in. No gown will work.
Flashback: etiquette dictates that a cocktail dress is appropriate. I dive back in to the closet. A heap of dresses later, I settle on a red, draped-neck dress with a cool detail on one side of the skirt. I have strappy sandals. We are back in business.
Tuesday: Visit my sister to have hair cut and styled. “Nothing drastic,” I tell her. I’m sticking with what I know.

Wednesday: Begin using moisturizer with gradual self-tanner on my legs so I can go sans-stockings. I have just enough left in my lotion stash.

Friday: Practice hairstyle. Let’s keep it drama-free. Continue gradual tanning.

Saturday morning: I start off with a high calorie snack. I’ve been careful with my diet most of the week but I think it’s scientifically impossible to convert calories to flesh in a few hours.

11 a.m.: I have a sugar high. For extra smooth, gradually tanned legs, I decide to go with the Nair Shower Power Max Hair Remover for Legs and Body that I have leftover from I don’t know when. Find out after applying to one leg that I only have enough for one leg. Don’t panic. I can make this fun. I will shave one leg and use remover on the other for a “smoothness smack down.” While I wait for the remover to work I spy a lovely jar of Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque for hair. Ooooo! Yes! My hair definitely needs a masque. I apply and let it deep treat while my one leg is chemically treated.

11:30 a.m.: Here’s a fun fact: Shower Power Max Hair Remover also removes gradual self-tanner. A razor does not.

11:45 a.m.: I cross off “deep repair hair masque” from the jar and write in “hard to remove hair gunk.” Return to shower to wash hair again.

Noon: Head out for self-tanner and a mani-pedi.

4:30: Return home to commence preparations. We should be leaving at 5:45 p.m. I wash my hair yet again. I ask my husband to assist with my newly purchased self-tanner. After much deliberation at Ulta, I chose something I have never used before (of course), a tanning mist from a brand called Tan Towel. The product tag-line is “Look Good Naked.” I only want this on my legs but it sounds good, and it’s expensive. My husband carefully applies to my legs which are now unevenly smooth because guess what--- the hair remover is not as smooth as shaving.

6:00 p.m.: I am late, late late. Husband not pleased. A final once over, though, and I feel like I’ve done the best I can and I feel pretty good, all things considered. It takes a while to come down from that panicked, late feeling but we end up having a really, really fun night. When we got home and I took off my strappy sandals, I found this:

 For future reference, nix the Tan Towel self-tanner. Nix all the new things. Embrace the routine. Somehow, when I try too hard, I look and feel like I tried too hard and that’s just not attractive.
More about the ball later, today I have a bit of a headache from the indulgence and I have streaked but happily aching feet from a night of dancing. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Day 62
Love, Loss and What I Wore

Although I am a freelance designer/developer and work from home, I rarely spend time during the week for fun. Working from home requires a certain discipline and although I definitely work, it is very often in pajamas—less temptation to go out!

A friend suggested a little mid-week hooky, a performance at the Gem Theatre, a lovely little theatre in Detroit near Ford Field. The play, by Nora and Delia Ephron, is titled “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” Given my challenge regarding clothes, she thought this would be a perfect fit. It was!

The play, a simple but elegantly performed production, stars five women including Loretta Swit (from MASH) and Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street!). Holy muppets! Maria from Sesame Street looks amazing! Anyway, the women recount pivotal times in their lives, the common thread (pun intended) being that we can always remember what we were wearing. Even looking in my closet today, there are emotional reactions from certain items. A jacket I wore on stage during the first school variety show I organized. A dress that rocked in the millennium. Jeans that marked the first time in months that I could fit into my “last resort” size. I remember the black velvet dress that made me feel so glamorous when I was 9 months pregnant. The navy off-the-shoulder top that I was wearing the night I met my husband. He insists that he took one look and knew he’d found the girl he would marry.

There was much, much more in this 100 minute play and I am sure I’ll continue to refer to it because it is a thread that most of us share. We can’t set out each day knowing that something big could happen and dress appropriately. It’s a chance we take. It is, for the moment, making me think twice about what I throw on …