Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I promised Wendy Brandes I'd carve a pumpkin to look like her grumpy-faced cat, FitzRoy. It's a bit crude perhaps, but I think I've captured his essence here...
Crazy week here, but I'll be back on Friday with a style-related post!
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Sunday, October 28, 2012
|Big Scary Monster|
No outfit post today. Aside from time constraints, it was just too warm over the weekend for me to get motivated to set up and take pictures. We're on the tail end of what I'm hoping is the last heat wave for the season, but considering the "Frankenstorm" (Hurricane Sandy) that my friends on the East Coast are bracing for today, I'm going to quit kvetching about the weather here. Those of you in the storm's path, stay safe and you're all in my thoughts.
This week we're kicking it Old School chez femme.
It was another of my Domestic Diva weekends, which mostly involved prepping for Halloween; we live in a neighborhood that's a Trick-Or-Treat Destination, and each year get somewhere between 300-400 kids. Le monsieur pulled the decorations down from the attic, and I started setting up and cleaning pumpkins.
I like to clean my pumpkins a day ahead of carving to let the insides dry out a bit. Because this is a gooey process I use my dishwashing gloves for better grip, and a stainless steel slotted spoon to do the scooping. (I don't bother roasting the seeds, as no one else in our household likes them.) Tomorrow, the carving begins.
|Candy stores laid in.|
I also made a brisket which I'll re-heat and serve with a fresh salad or veggies for a few dinners during the week. I've given up trying to cook on weeknights. It just doesn't work with our schedule. Here's my late MIL's recipe, which is crazy-easy, requires no obscure ingredients and delivers a very tender and juicy brisket. Vegetarians look away now. It's safe to come back when you see the oatmeal.
3-5 lb. brisket
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 cup ketchup
12 oz. Coke
(Yeah, this reads like something out of Peggy Olson's recipe file, if Peggy were Jewish. Like I said...Old School.)
|Source: Tom and Lorenzo Dig that crazy yarn-and-gravel "painting" on the wall...remember those?|
The day before serving:
Preheat oven to 375F. Dissolve onion soup mix in a cup or so of hot water. Place brisket, fat side up* in a baking pan, pour soup mix over top. Place in the oven, uncovered, until brown. (Usually 30 minutes or so.)
|Mr. Brisket, browned and ready to bake|
Mix ketchup and Coke, pour over meat and cover the pan. Reduce heat to 350. Bake, covered for 2-3 hours. Once cooked, separate meat and juice, refrigerate separately overnight.
Remove fat from meat*, slice and layer meat and juice in casserole (or you can put in freezer bags and freeze). Reheat at 350F for one hour. (Full recipe serves a crowd; you can break up into smaller servings which will require a shorter re-heat time. Microwave with caution as it can toughen the meat.)
*Last couple of briskets I've bought have fat layer removed already. If so, just brown with either side up. Brisket from the "flat" tends to be a lean cut of meat, which the Coke helps to tenderize.
|Oatmeal of choice|
Again, if you're in the path of the storm, I hope you're safe and dry and don't sustain a lot of damage. Holding good thoughts for everyone.
Friday, October 26, 2012
|From the marché in Aix en Provence, April 2012|
We're having some crazy Santa Ana wind here in LA, and hot, dry conditions again. :-(
I just wanted to thank everyone for your comments on Monday's and Wednesday's posts. I'm going to respond to them individually over the weekend.
|From "Sons of Anarchy." I haven't watched it, though I hear it's good.|
On to more pleasant topics, I'm still crazy about my Dior Rouge de Serum lip color. It's one of the few lip color products I've used all the way up, and multiple times. The colors are sheer, and the formula feels and works like a lip balm, but with MUCH more staying power. I just picked up a new color, #730 (Coral Serum) which coordinates nicely with my recently redder hair and fall clothing colors.
Dior Beauty Serum de Rouge.
Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears, which to date are the very best pears I've ever had, short of picking them ripe right off the tree.
Have a very bon weekend!
Disclosure: actions taken from some links in this post may result in commissions for www.unefemme.net
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
|Quelques Parisiennes in their natural habitat. Note the (mostly) sensible shoes.|
It was rather serendipitous, Duchesse's post yesterday at Passage Des Perles. (When A French Woman Gains Weight.) Duchesse spoke of her French friend, Laurence, who had gained a little weight and gone up a couple of sizes, but has changed her style of dressing not a whit. Shunning voluminous "camouflage" clothing, she still seeks out the kind of items she's always worn, in a proper fit for her new size.
Serendipitous, because some outfit photos I took over the weekend have really brought home just how much of my wardrobe is comprised of camouflage clothing, and how much I'm still dressing to hide my shape. What looks "soft and draping" in the mirror shows up in the camera lens as "schooner under full sail."
A bit of history: my mother, dismayed by my ronde form, was always on the lookout for clothes that would hide my stomach and bottom, until my teen years when she decided that making me squeeze into clothing a size too small would encourage me to lose weight. When I was old enough to rebel (and buy my own clothing) I let my inner Hippie Chick have a good deal of latitude. Ponchos, wrap skirts, denim overalls and prairie dresses became my best clothing friends.
Flash forward a few decades: finding fitted clothing for a curvy 5'1" body is downright difficile. It's often been easier to rely on flow and drape to skim over my curves than hunt down those few pieces that are cut well (or can be altered) to fit my form. I've learned to avoid the most obviously voluminous items that unequivocally swamp me (the word "cascading" has become a red flag) but need to pay as much attention to fit as I've learned to pay to quality and construction.
Comfort is still important to me. A little stretch is a good thing. ;-) But the more tent-like garments have got to go. As Duchesse's friend says, "you can run, but you can't 'ide." And maybe it's time to check out some (gentle) shapewear too.
Bien dans ma peau means acknowledging my current shape and working with it, not trying to hide it. Very few of us have a "perfect" shape (whatever that is) but we so often feel shame for what is just natural and beautiful human variety. Rather, let's focus on health, well-being and acknowledging our unique beauty by dressing our bodies well.
How about you? Do you gravitate toward clothing that hides your shape? Or are you a stickler for fit?
Monday, October 22, 2012
|Beginning to look like Autumn round the old homestead...|
Les weekends are about Getting Stuff Done. Grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, gardening, grooming dogs, planning and writing blog posts, and keeping jeune monsieur* entertained. Of all of these the last is the most difficult, and often mentally and physically draining. (Just last night he suddenly changed his mind about taking a shower, and broke the shower door.) J.M. needs constant feedback, and as part of his current behavior therapy we have to be sure we're constantly reinforcing the good stuff. Le monsieur and I often tag team, otherwise we'd never get anything else accomplished! So my weekend outfits need to be simple, versatile, comfortable (and washable!) as well as pulled together.
|Alas, poor Yorick...|
The sweater is the Eileen Fisher wool mesh I picked up a couple of months ago, and have been wearing several times a week since. Worn over a silk tank, it's a great top when temperatures are fluctuating, as it breathes or insulates as needed. Similar shape in Merino wool here.
The scarf is from J.Crew. I found this one in the store, similar colors available online. I fell in love with the colors, which really pop against a darker top, and the abstract floral pattern mixes easily with stripes and other small prints. Especially when I'm on the go, I prefer to arrange scarves so they stay put and require no fiddling. This is a great tie to reduce the bulk of a bigger scarf, and stays in place beautifully.
|1. Loop once around the neck with ends hanging in front.|
2. Take one of the ends, pass it downward through the loop. Repeat.
3. Do the same with the other end.
|Essie "Material Girl"|
Hope your week is off to a great start! I'm linking up with Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.
*"Petit" monsieur no longer seems apt; he's as tall as I am now!
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Sunday, October 21, 2012
A friend gave us a little fig tree cutting a few months ago and assured us it would do just fine in a container. I'd say she was right; it seems to be quite happy here! It even produced a few small fruits toward the end of the summer. I'm looking forward to seeing what we get next year.
I'm not showing you my citrus trees as they are in sad need of feeding and iron. That's on my to-do list today.
Friday, October 19, 2012
I don't know about where you live, but around here when it comes to le maquillage, the words "subtle" and "mall" are rarely uttered in the same sentence. Painted-to-the-hilt cosmetic counter Sales Associates are always ready to explain why you need three different colors of eyeshadow and two different eyeliners (all at once) and how the foundation won't work optimally without the primer AND the finishing spray. So it's always with a bit of trepidation that I'll allow one of these Gilded Lilies to "do" my makeup, but will sometimes relent if I know I'll be able to go right home and remove 90% of it. (I get it, I do. They're paid to move product. That's their job.)
But I often learn a technique or something useful, even with my own limited repertoire. Here are a couple of new tricks for this old chien that are great even if you subscribe to "le no makeup look."
1. For foundation, tinted moisturizer or concealer:
You already know it's best to apply with a brush rather than a sponge or fingers, yes? A sponge will soak up too much of the product, and the oils in your hands can cause accelerated oxidation (don't they have a pill for that yet?) which can turn pigments orange. So don't use the back of your hand as a palette either. Cut or tear up some wax paper into 2-3" squares, lay one down on your work surface and dispense your goop there (squeeze or pump a single application's worth), then pick up with the brush. Easy clean up too!
2. For hooded, crepe-y or puffy upper eyelids:
Using an eyeshadow brush, apply a light dusting of bronzer from lash line to almost up to the browbone. This will make heavy lids recede and even out the appearance of skin on the eyelid, while still maintaining an au naturel look. (Word of warning, avoid bronzers that have a lot of pink and/or shimmer. I use the one above and it works beautifully.)
Here are the brushes I use, BTW.
|MAC 190 Foundation Brush|
|MAC 24 Tapered Blending Brush|
Do you have any new or favorite makeup tips and tricks to share? Clever uses for wax paper?
Disclosure: actions taken from links within this post may result in commissions for www.unefemme.net
Thursday, October 18, 2012
|Sometimes we all need a bit of Attitude to get through the day...|
Wendy B "IDGAF" Necklace
I've loved Wendy's Swear Rings since she first introduced them, but knew they'd be just a bit too "in your face" for me to wear on a regular basis. So when Wendy created these IDGAF necklaces (in silver and gold), I knew this was a bit of personal Attitude (with a side of humor) I could adopt for my own. Small enough to fly under most radar, it's a pretty gold necklace that doesn't take %@&^ from anyone.
If your mood is a bit more direct, there's always STFU or GTFOH. If you want to express your disdain without resorting to salty language, you could opt for SRSLY?. Or maybe you're just feeling a bit SULKY about the whole thing. Whatever, Wendy has you covered.
Or maybe you'd just like your initials. Wendy can do that too.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
|Legacy Candace tote|
Coach used to be one of the go-to lines for simple, classic, functional bags. Granted, they weren't the most fashion forward, but the quality was hard to beat. One of my first "good" bags was a coach bucket hobo bag, a classic design I wish I'd kept. In recent years they drifted far, far off that path (but made oodles of money) selling tacky looking canvas bags to the logo-addled.
I saw the tote above in a front-of-store display, and it drew me right in for a closer look. The trapezoid shape is modern, and the contrasting details give a nod to color-blocking without being too literally on-trend. This style ("Candace") is available in three sizes and also in solid colors and smooth leather. If you're looking for a functional and well-made workday tote that won't set you back a mortgage payment you could certainly do worse.
|Coach Legacy duffel|
I was told by a Sales Associate that Coach still guarantees stitching, hardware and construction for "the normal life of the bag." Coach will no longer re-furbish leather, which used to be part of their lifetime guarantee. The bags I examined seemed to be very well-made and the leathers quite thick, soft and even. Coach is now back on my radar, at least with this Legacy line.
Disclosure: actions you take from hyperlinks within this post may generate commissions for www.unefemme.net.
Monday, October 15, 2012
|It's only a paper moon, hanging over an ersatz Vegas Venice.|
Our long weekend is wrapping up, and we're making the drive home today. The upside: we pretty much broke even on the gambling (which means we had a few hours of "free" entertainment). We ate well, had fun visiting with an old and dear friend who lives here, and did a wee bit of shopping. The downside: a long drive home, and all of our clothes reek of cigarette smoke.
I've been having fun playing with Instagram, though with mixed results. You can follow me on Instagram at @pseub .
It looks as though our ever changeable October weather has switched direction once again and we're in for another blast of heat. But last week when we were enjoying some cool, almost fall-ish weather, I had fun putting together some layered ensembles, one in Dress-N-Boots mode, and another with a bit of pattern mixing.
|Karina Dresses "Penelope" 3/4 sleeve.|
|My version of a navy suit. ;-)|
Hope your week is off to a great start!
Saturday, October 13, 2012
|Sunrise over Las Vegas. No we didn't stay up all night.|
Las Vegas, is well, Las Vegas. Lots of opulence, lots of OTT style. Lots of opportunities to be parted from one's cash.
We hadn't made the drive from LA to LV in almost 20 years, but I'm so glad we chose to drive this time rather than fly. The weather was mostly lovely (a few rain squalls) and we had the opportunity to eat lunch here:
The Mad Greek in Baker, CA. The Gyros were quite good, and the coffee was excellent.
I was amazed at the quality of photos I was able to snap with the iPhone while zipping down the highway (le monsieur driving, of course).
We settled in, then wandered about the hotel and had a cocktail before a delicious but rather haphazard and frenetic dinner last night at a favorite seafood restaurant, then played a bit of blackjack. I don't play to win, I play to drag out losing as long as possible, but we had good cards and actually walked away from the table having almost doubled our initial (small) pot.
|Lobby at Wynn|
We had to do the obligatory shot:
Friday, October 12, 2012
We're off today for a long weekend in Las Vegas, to celebrate le monsieur's birthday. There will be eating, a little blackjack, perhaps a spa treatment or two, a little window shopping, more eating, some visits with friends, perhaps a bit more eating, and a lot of just enjoying being off the work/familial leash.
As we're driving rather than flying I have more latitude with packing, but still want to keep things simple. We have one fancy dinner planned but most of the rest of the time "smart casual" will be appropriate. We tend to do a lot of walking in Vegas, so comfortable footwear is a must, at least for daytime.
Here's a quick-n-dirty Polyvore On The Floor of my Friday-Monday wardrobe. Yes, lots of black and grey, but I've included some color in there too with the NYDJ jeans.
- 2 silk jersey tees (Eileen Fisher)
- 1 charmeuse silk oversize tee (Eric Bompard)
- 1 silk button front blouse (the Madewell horse shirt)
- Eileen Fisher long assymetrical ponte knit jacket
- Eileen Fisher short silk/cotton knit jacket
- Eileen Fisher lightweight wool mesh tunic, black (seen here)
- Eileen Fisher sparkly charcoal tunic sweater
- 2 pair NYDJ colored twill jeans
- 1 pair NYDJ dark wash denim
- 1 pair NYDJ coated denim, black (these will be fun to dress up!)
- Eileen Fisher lantern hem dress
- Leopard loafers, Paul Green
- Snakeskin pumps, Stuart Weitzman
- Walking sandals, ECCO
I've thrown in a few bits of jewelry, a small Chanel flap bag, and my lightweight silver scarf seen here. Yes, I've probably overdone it, but I don't have the rigors of public transport to deal with, so am allowing myself more options. And everything still fits in my smallest suitcase with plenty of room to spare.
Will post some updates from the Other City That Doesn't Sleep, stay tuned!
Will post some updates from the Other City That Doesn't Sleep, stay tuned!
Diclosure: actions taken from hyperlinks in this post may result in commissions for www.unefemme.net.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
|Putting on arias.|
Looking back, it's obvious that my classmate's remark was a total non-sequitur, and probably a result of her own stage jitters. But reinforced perhaps by my mother's disdain for those who she perceived as "snobs" or who "put on airs" that who do you think you ARE? stuck with me and became a mental refrain that told me I didn't deserve to stand out and should keep to my place. My family's moral/social sartorial code also frowned on the bright, the tight, the loud and brash. Ladies were humble and modest and quiet and didn't call attention to themselves. They didn't let compliments go to their head lest they become full of themselves. Pride was something to be avoided rather than embraced.
Fitting In trumped Standing Out. ("The nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down.") But I did stand out in ways that often garnered criticism. I was a plump child in an era where that was unusual and where people felt free to remark upon it. My mother kept my sister's and my hair cut in short boyish pixies while all of my female classmates had long hair. I pined to be thin and have long hair, which in my mind were the two things that meant fitting in. I was one of the first girls in my class to need to wear a bra and then was almost always been bustier than my peers, which brought on a kind of sexual attention that I hadn't asked for and didn't know how to handle.
And it wasn't just about appearance; I was told in no uncertain terms to tone down my academic achievements lest I scare off the boys. I was taught don't toot your own horn, (which was something I eventually had to unlearn to a certain degree in order to progress in my career). Displays of anger were unladylike. Be a good sport, meant going along with the group, not expressing a dissenting opinion or desire.
So for much of my life, it felt safer to hide. To hide my body, to hide the desire to be seen, noticed, acknowledged.
Yet my exuberant self would break out from time to time. I was always drawn to sequins, lamé and leopard print. I'd often be the first one at the party on the dance floor. During my Renaissance Faire days, I found the costume gave me carte blanche to ham it up on stage, sing bawdy songs (still off-key), flirt shamelessly. I loved the attention and lack of judgement. And sometimes my exuberant self still comes forward and begs for bright colors, a bit of sparkle, a redder shade of hair color, to turn up the volume belt out the lyrics to a favorite song.
It's human nature to want to fit in to some degree. We are social animals, and our survival depended on being part of a group. This is hardwired in us, I believe. But so is the desire to be seen as a unique individual, and style is one of the ways we express that desire. We've talked a lot in the blogosphere about women of a certain age and how we become invisible; I think our own fears about standing out sometimes play into this. Many of us came of age in a culture that didn't applaud standing out, as much as we may have wanted to do so, and that early conditioning can be a bitch to overcome. Granted, there's an extreme level of attention seeking that smacks of desperation, but when we dress and act in a way that's a true expression of our most vital selves we gain confidence and power.
We all have our own equilibrium between Fitting In and Standing Out, and it can shift from day to day. I'm working to get to a point where fear of judgement has little to do with my style choices, and the only lines I worry about stepping over are my own. I'm not totally there yet. But I'm turning my friend's question around and on its head, and asking myself without judgement and with an open heart and mind, "Who Do You Think You Are?" in order to get closer to that goal.
"Know who you are and dress accordingly." --Tim Gunn
Do you still struggle with Fitting In vs. Standing Out? I'd love to hear about some of the positive ways in which you proudly stand out.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
It was almost still too warm on Friday for this outfit but I was itching to wear my new Frye harness boots, so pulled out the leggings for their seasonal debut. (Over the weekend, I picked up some fishnet and other lightweight patterned tights, a bit less heavy.)
But I wasn't sorry. I LOOOOOOOOOVE these boots! They were comfortable right out of the box, and add just enough edge. There are two different black finishes available; I chose the one that had a bit more shine.
|Neighbors' cat Lars checking out photobomb opportunities.|
|The scarf was my nod to Plaidurday.|
Top, Tunic, Skirt, Leggings, Scarf: Eileen Fisher (The tank top, skirt and leggings are all part of the "System" collection. My pieces are at least a couple of years old.)
Earrings: Stella and Dot
Watch: Michael Kors.
(See widget at bottom of post for more information on these or similar items.)
It's Fashion Flash Monday, and the Glam Gals at Fabulous After 40 are hosting this week.
And I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.
Hope your week is off to a great start!
Disclosure: actions you take from hyperlinks within this post may generate commissions for www.unefemme.net.