Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just A Quickie...

I'm completely uninspired.  Totally, entirely, wholly, utterly, and wildly inspired.  Can't think of a single thing to write and haven't been able to for well over a week now!  Part of it may be lack of inspiration, part of it may be sadness that my staycation is over after so many fun days free of both jobs.  Either way, I've not nuthin'.

So here's what we're gonna do:  Just to break the writers block that has apparent;y been erected between my brain and my fingers on the keyboard, I'm just going to share with you the cool site I found today while looking for wedding shoes.

Not my wedding...nice try.

The store is called 'Pink Basis' and they've got an AMAZING sale going on.  Yes, I know...I'm cheating.  This should actually be under the 'Deal of the Day' tab.  But, like I said, writers block.

These fantastic Black Canvas Latin Pattern platform pump:  $7.99.  Yah...you read that right.  SEVEN NINETY-NINE!!!

Not into heights?  How bout these Two-tone Faux Leather Flats for $2.99?!!!  And they come in SIX COLORS!!!

But wait...there's more!  These Orange Belted Short Shorts for $9.99.

So here's your challenge:  Head over there and treat yourself to something.  Anything.  It doesn't have to be big.  And give yourself a little something to look forward to for the rest of the week.  You deserve it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm Dating a Superhero

I've mentioned in the past how amazing My Person is when it comes to learning new things.  He's one of those strange people who will decide he wants to learn something and then just does it.  He'll research what it is he wants to do, read everything he can about how it's done, talk to people, check out local resources, and then just goes for it.  I find that frankly amazing as I'm more like the rest of us who looks at something, says "Wow!  It'd be cool to be able to do that!" and then promptly forgets about it.

A few years ago, he decided that he wanted to learn how to sew.  Another of his many talents is working on, building, and racing cars.  This was a few years ago, and he's not really doing that anymore, but cut his sewing teeth on car interiors when he built his last race car.  This time though, he wanted to work on costumes.  We'd been going to the Renaissance Faire here in Colorado for a couple of years at that point and begun dressing up and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But it's only for a few weeks in the summer.  He'd always been interested in science fiction movie props, but decided to take it a step further and learn to sew and create his own costumes.

And this is how I came to be dating Captain America.

Most of us who don't dwell in the land of Geekdom aren't familiar with the culture, though we've heard of the big things like Star Trek and Comic Con (if you haven't, Google them).  He'd looked into a local comic book convention ('Con') here in Denver, which is usually held the middle of April.  StarFest has a huge following locally and is growing every year.  For those of you who are completely uninitiated, Wiki defines a Con as "an event in which fans of ...an entire genre of entertainment such as science fiction....gather to participate and hold programs and other events, and to meet experts, famous personalities, and each other.  Some also incorporate commercial activity".  These are usually put on by the fans themselves, the biggest of which is Comic Con in San Diego  CA, though there are many others.  Here's a short clip that will give you an idea of what they're about:  the trailer from the movie "Galaxy Quest".  

At this point, he didn't have any friends who were involved in this.  He didn't even know anyone involved in it.  But he bought a sewing machine and got started.  When April rolled around, he packed up everything he'd created, and headed to the Marriott where the con would be held.  I can't even imagine the nerve it took to do this: to go to a place you've never been, amongst people you've never met, dressed in something you created yourself.  I'm in awe.  Like, for real.  He's amazing.

That was one of the coolest things he says he's ever done.  At the end of the weekend, he'd met tons of new people who have now become part of our core group of friends, fantastic, creative, wildly talented people like himself, who love having a good time.  Dressed as superheros.  Or zombies.  Or people from the future. Or monsters.  You name it; there's no limit to the things these amazing people create.

A lot of the fun of this (having gone to Ren Faire dressed up) is getting to see the little ones who don't realize it's make-believe.  And it didn't seem to be different here, watching the little boys eyes light up when they saw their favorite superhero or movie character talk to them.  And most all costumers are very gracious in allowing you to take their picture, admire their costume, and congratulate them on a job well done.  Asking to have your picture taken is the highest honor. :)

This past weekend was StarFest.  He'd worked so hard on his costumes this year and was as excited as I've ever seen him to get there and get set up.  My best friend had come into town the night he left, and she's never been exposed to anything like this, so we drove down on Saturday, the biggest day of the con, to check him out, show our support, and see all the costumes.

He made this costume....almost all of it.  And what he didn't make from scratch himself, he bought blank (like the helmet) and finished it himself, down to the same scratches that Judge Dredd's helmet had in the movie.

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these, DO.  It really is a fun time.  I mean seriously...where else can you run into a bunch of dwarves (the movie 'The Hobbit') at the bar?

Or a butterfly princess (I'm sure this is from some manga comic I'm unfamiliar with) in a doorway?

Or a minion in a ballroom?

And by and large, the costuming community is very friendly and helpful, are fun to hang out with, and more than willing to offer advice if you're having issues. :)  And my friend visiting for the weekend seemed to enjoy the experience, texting pictures back to Michigan to her kids and husband as we encountered particularly cool costumes.

Me?  I couldn't be happier.  I get to go home to Captain America every night.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Taking A Few Days Off

Real Beauty

I saw a Facebook meme recently that really stuck with me.    

It stuck with me because it's true.

As a mom, this instantly made me rush back to memories of how I spoke to my own children, wondering yet again with what baggage I can blame myself for having saddled them.  I did my best, but I know it wasn't perfect.  With the best of intentions I wanted to give my children a 'fair' view of themselves, gently given, with a focus on their strengths.  It's a personal pet peeve of mine, those people who seem to have no real idea of who they are; who've allowed only the positive, from any source, to become their "true picture" of themselves.  You know the ones...they usually have strong opinions about others that are prefaced with "I'm so glad I don't do/am/feel/look like that" when, had they even the slightest sense of self-awareness, would realize immediately that they are exactly "like that".  Whether despite me or because of me though, my guys are two pretty amazing menboys and I'm so proud of them.  My own childhood memories came more readily on this topic, not that I didn't grow up in an at least 50% supportive environment (my mom was fantastic...my father was the opposite).  But, at least for me, this saying is true.  

It's strange being a female in our society.  Not having traveled, I can't speak for women of other cultures and am curious if it is the same for them, this strange paradoxical way in which we grow up and form as women.  From the time we're young, we're told we're pretty/cute/adorable/beautiful, but then told not to let it go to our heads because no one likes conceited girls.  We're told to finish our food, but then  we hear our grandmother mention (in that tone) that we look as if we're gaining weight.  We're told we look good in red; but that skirt makes our butt look big.  And we wonder why we're confused by the time we hit adolescence.  

It isn't just everything we're bombarded with constantly by the media (Example:  A recent magazine cover: 'The BEST chocolate recipes!" right next to "Lose 50 pounds in 3 weeks!"...What the $&@%?).  It starts in our families, at home.  

And that outer noise almost always becomes our inner voice; the one that generally belongs to someone we don't particularly like but whose opinion we seem to value above all others: the one that just keeps knocking us down.

I found a video today quite by accident.  It's one I hadn't seen before and it really affected me in an unexpectedly visceral way.  But first, there's an interesting back story.

Dove, a well-known American brand of beauty and personal care products under the Unilever umbrella, launched an ad campaign, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty based on a study entitled The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report led by Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University and in conjunction with a number of other august entities. 

The mission of this study was to find out what beauty means to women today and why and, armed with that knowledge, see if we can change how we think and talk about beauty to make it more real to every woman rather than ideal: in a nutshell, how we feel beauty is portrayed and how that affects our own well-being.  They interviewed 3,200 women from 10 countries between the ages of 18 and 67.  And their findings were quite staggering.  For instance:
  • 4 in 10 women around the world strongly agree that they aren't comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.  And this was completely without regard to age.  Think about this one:  Universally, nearly HAlf of us were so uncomfortable by the thought, we couldn't describe ourselves as beautiful.
  • 42% of us rate our beauty as 'average' and 69% rated their physical attractiveness as just 'average'.
  • We overwhelmingly don't like comparing our own beauty and attractiveness to our sisters and consider ourselves, by comparison, far less attractive than other women.
  • 60% of American women rated their body weight as 'too high' regardless of whether or not it was.
  • Almost half (48%) of women surveyed felt that when they felt less beautiful, they didn't feel as good about themselves in general.
  • Only 13% of us are satisfied with our beauty. 
  • 2/3 of all women surveyed agreed that "physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty include much more of who a person is".
  • There was a very strong correlation between how a woman felt about herself and how satisfied she was in her intimate relationships.

The study itself (link above) was fascinating reading and I encourage you to look through it and see what jumps out at you personally.

In September of 2004, Dove launched the first phase of this new ad campaign with commercials and print ads featuring 'real women', not models, of various sizes, shapes, and colors.  I remember seeing the commercial on television for the first time and breathing an inward sigh of relief and a quick 'thank you' to whatever goddess is currently in charge of the mental well-being of us 'normal' girls.

And I wondered if it would take off, or if I was one of the only women happy to see diversity personified in her underwear.  Apparently I wasn't the only one as they've gone on to do other ads, and I've seen billboards along with the print and television ads and have been impressed with every one.

But here's the video.  Watch it, and then we'll talk.

Wow....this really blew my mind and, I'll be honest here, actually teared me up.  The way that universally these women described themselves to the artist made me truly sad!  All of them, every single last one of them, was beautiful!  To see how they pictured themselves in their own minds, picking apart every small, insignificant detail that no one but them would even have noticed...it just really hit home because I do this too.  And I'm guessing, so do you.

I remember I was a young teenager, maybe even just a preteen, when my sister told me I had ugly feet.  I don't even think it was meant maliciously; we were typical siblings and put each other down routinely.  But for years afterward, I was self-conscious about my feet.  Honestly, there's nothing wrong with my feet.  In fact, I like my feet!  But that is just one example of how our self image is molded while we're young and affects us for the rest of our lives.

My mother is beautiful.  Just gorgeous.  Perfect strangers comment on this when they see her.  She's aged gracefully and has amazing style and presence.  But she hates to have her picture taken.  In fact, the only reason she allows me to take her picture when I'm visiting her is that her own mother, now passed, hated having her own picture taken so much that pictures of her are a rare commodity.  And my mom feels that lack now that she's gone and doesn't want me to experience that same thing at some point.  I'm very grateful to her for acknowledging this and making the effort.

I hate having my picture taken too.  In fact, I had to have one taken recently for something at work.  My manager took one picture, and I turned to leave.  She asked if I wanted to see the picture first, to make sure it turned out the way I wanted it to, and I remember telling her "If I look at it I'm just going to hate it and pick it apart, so just use the one you took.  I'm sure it's fine".

We all have that mean little person in our head...the one who tells us we aren't as good as or as strong as or as smart as.  The one who looks back at us in the mirror in the morning, meets our hopeful gaze that is seeing we're having a good hair day and tells us "Yah, it's not that good!".  The eyes that look out from behind our own at other women and compares us to them starting from the top down..."See?  She's way prettier than you".  The voice that sneers at the new outfit we purchased last week and were so excited to wear, gives us that look and says '...really? You're really going to wear that out? Where people will see?"  

And we listen to it!  Like a child who's put in his place and told he's wrong, we listen to those put-downs and our whole demeanor changes, eyes cast down, smile turned to sadness, and we accept it as truth.

Sadly, I'd say that my self esteem right now at the age of 43 is probably the best it's been in my entire life!  Like most of us, I've been in bad relationships before.  Relationships that tore me down rather than built me up and, like so many of us, started with the very first and most important male relationship we ever have first: my father.  But I've waited a very long time for the relationship I'm in now.  In fact, I knew the moment I saw My Person 19 years ago that he was who I would end up spending the rest of my life with at some point.    And in the same way that I knew this, I also knew I'd be happy.  He's the first man I've ever been with who makes me believe I'm as beautiful as he thinks I am.  We've been together almost six years now and that hasn't changed even a little bit.  He takes care of me.  Not just the outside parts of me like making sure the tires on my car are safe and that the ice is cleared off the sidewalk so I don't fall during bad weather.  He cares for the inside of me.  That mean-spirited voice that tells me my nose is too big, my eyes too squinchy when I smile, and by boobs are too small:  his voice is louder than that mean little person who lives in my head, whose opinion I've listened to for so long.

I think I do this for him too...he's a very talented costumer...I'll have to do a post about the amazing costumes he makes from the ground up, like Captain America and Judge Dredd.  He's just... well, amazing is really the only word for it.  But I listen to his inner voice all the time because it isn't just inner...he actually vocalizes a lot of it.  Now, I can't sew and barely passed Home Ec in high school because of it.  But I know that ripping seams sort of just comes with the territory, especially if you're self-taught.  He has a fancy sewing machine that is so complicated I don't even look at it.  But I'll hear him saying "You idiot!!! I can't believe you did that!  You're so $&%# stupid!!!", and I've actually been shocked to hear out loud what I know goes on inside his head...in his fathers voice.  Lately I've started saying "Hey! That's my friend you're talking about!  Stop it or I'll beat you up!" (to which he immediately justifies his statements with explanations of why they're so well-deserved.  But still...it makes him smile at least.)

I don't know about you, but I'm really going to work on this.  One way I can start is how I deal with compliments (which right now, is not very well).  If someone at work gives me a compliment, I reply graciously.  But I'm guessing it must come off as insincere considering my internal voice is saying "They don't really mean that... they're just being nice".  (First of all, shut the hell up!).  On the other hand (and I might say, quite strangely!), when someone whose opinion I care about gives me a compliment, I generally try to convince them they're wrong.

My Person: "You look like you're losing weight!"  
Me:  "No I'm not...still as fat as ever".
Seriously?!  Why would I do that?  Do I really want him to think I'm fat rather than notice that I might be losing weight?

My Person:  "Wow!  Love the work outfit!  You look fantastic!"
Me:  "Thanks...but these pants are too big and I'm not sure about the shirt..."
Again, "?!!"  What am I thinking?  Why would I not want him to think of me in the best possible light?  I know that he doesn't just make things up with which to compliment me: he's actually noticing my outfit or a change in how my clothes are fitting and mentioning it with all sincerity!  Why don't I take it as such rather than trying to talk him out of thinking I'm fantastic?!

I don't know how much of this is human nature and how much of it is brain damage.  But I do have control over me.  And as much as I'd like to deny ownership of it, that mean little voice in my head is me; I control it, not the other way 'round.  And the same goes for you; you do too.  Dove has made a concerted effort to point this out to us, and we're plenty smart to see its benefit.  We are beautiful.  Every one of us.  How different life would be if we started believing it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

10 Splurges You Can Afford Today

For so many years I just couldn't justify spending any money on anything for myself beyond the absolute necessities.  I experienced actual guilt when I purchased something that wasn't for the house, for the kids, or related to a bill.  Granted, there wasn't a lot of extra money.  But when there was a little bit, it went to something 'reasonable' like paying extra on something or something for the kids.
picture credit: Afatgirlblues.com
Now that finances aren't quite so tight, I still have a twinge from time to time, but it isn't really stopping me if I find a good deal, and having that little bit of leeway feels so good.  I work really hard for my money.  It's nice to be able to play with some of it!

No matter what you're finances are like, I guarantee there is something on this list that you an afford today.  And retail therapy really does do a mental body good.  If you can find a way, treat yourself to a little something...you deserve it!

1.  Simply Vera Wang Smoking Flats - Kohl's Originally 64.99, 
     on sale for $19.49

2.  Striped Maxi Dress - Forever21 Originally $19.95 on sale for 

3.  Nine Pairs of Earrings in Turquoise - H&M for only $5.95
4.  Qupid Lana-66 - ZooShoo regularly priced at $21.90 on sale 
    for $12...and free shipping!  (also in pink and black!)
5.  Goodnight Moon Sunglasses - Free People $18 and they 
     come in three other colors!

6.  Print Legging Pants - Uniglo in seven colors!  originally 
     priced at $19.90, on sale for $14.90
7.  Canvas Striped Casual Loafers - DWDS $6.99!

8.  Relaxed Stretch Bracelet in Red and Gold - Target regularly 
     $9.99, on clearance for $4.95
9.  Melie Bianco Wristlet - Amazon on sale for only $9.99 with 
     free shipping!!!
10.  Adorned iPhone Case - Free People was priced at $32 but is on sale for only $9.95

Never underestimate the ability of one small purchase to brighten up your day.  We all work to get paid.  But we also need the motivation to keep working by treating ourselves to a little something every once in awhile.  Trust me on this one.  If you haven't treated yourself to something, even something little, in so long you can't remember, do it now.  I promise you won't regret it :)


Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Weekend! From Chic On The Cheap

Happy Weekend! From Chic On The Cheap
Happy Weekend! From Chic On The Cheap by madonah42

I don't know about hte rest of you, but I'm SO ready to go home and do some
hard-core relaxifying!

Big plans for the weekend are hair color tomorrow morning, then an afternoon of poppin' tags at my favorite thrift shop up in Loveland.

No matter what you decide to do this weekend, I hope it's wonderful, relaxing, and completely fortifying to your soul.

Check back here on Monday for a look at the treasures I've found on my thrift shop forays!


These Boots Were Made For Frolicking...In Spring Fields Full of Flowers...

So in all my shoe-whore travels, I've noticed that this spring the new trend in boots isn't to pack them away like I did mine last weekend.  Shoe stores and fashion mags are overflowing with the new "Summer Boot".  Check out this Gomax Women's Guista-10 Boot, perfect on a bare leg beneath a body-hugging sundress.   Super stylish, and hot without making you feel the burn in those higher summer temperatures!  On sale at The Shoe Heaven for $42.50 marked down from $82.99!
Or the Knee-high Corset Peep-toe Wedge by Alexander McQueen for a mere $6,595...but who doesn't just have that lying around somewhere...

Accessories Magazine's online forum ran a story recently that you should go check out all about the boots that are turning up on runways all over the world this season.

And these Alexander Wang Cutout Ankle Boots, similar in line, are perfect for the office with that black pencil skirt or power suit.  On sale now for $292.50! <g>
Not sure yet how I feel about this trend....I'm not rushing out to purchase any just yet, though a few of the ones above are certainly intriguing...I ran across the first picture when I was doing some shoe shopping earlier today and sat and looked at them seriously considering a purchase!  But then I was won over by these beauties (below), and totally forgot they existed. :)

Just because you really can never have too many pairs of black pumps.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Spring Closet

As the weather gets warmer, last years' purchases are pulled out of their boxes and new shoes arrive just in time for spring...

A peek into my closet!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Happiness 101

Summer is slowly making its way closer and the days are longer and a little bit warmer, though crazy Colorado change of season is in top form with 70-degree weather yesterday and a blizzard today with subzero windchill and humidity that will freeze you to the bone!

Over the weekend, I went through the boxes of shoes that I have stored in my office, all of my summer sandals and wedges and adorable pastels and open-toes, boxing up my winter boots and darker colors to trade places until fall comes and I can pull them out with the same happy abandon that I went through the boxes this time.  It's like getting new shoes all over again, opening up last years box to see what's inside and remembering when you purchased that particular pair and how much you love them.

Shoes have really been evolving the past few years.  The classic patent pumps that we saw our mothers wear, so simple and beautifully timeless, have come a long way, particularly in the last few years!

I remember as a child in the 70s when the chunky platforms came out, and my very stylish Aunt Cindie who lived with us briefly while attending high school, would walk out of the bathroom to meet her date, and she always looked so gorgeous...so incredibly glamorous!   I couldn't wait until I could grow up to be just like her.  I remember the shoes the most.

This year we've seen the cool new trend of sole-painting, like these gorgeous 'Taylor Says' Freddie platforms with sequins and an amazing print on the bottom that I received from My Person for Christmas and still sit, pristine in their box, because I haven't yet found an outfit worthy of them!

And our classic pumps are getting all kinds of new makeovers in the form not only of sequins and brightly colored soles, but also accessories all of their own like these adorable Bachata 'Promise' shoe with detachable bow, available at Heels.com!

Crazy prints and colors never seen before, like Iron Fist Lovelace Peep-toe platform in brightest green!

 To the completely outrageous, like these amazing works of art inspired by sculptor  Nuam Gabo in collaboration with an artchitect named Santiago Calatrava and designer Tea Petrovic, prototype shoes that are actually works of art in and of themselves.

Called "The Exoskeletan Collection", Tea Petrovic comments on his designs in a short article at ArcH20 using "artistic, geometric, and mathematical values" in the design of his shoes.

The collection is really quite amazing and I hope you'll take the time to check out the website and the article with the links above.

More and more, shoes are becoming an expression of who we are.  Bound by the conventions of the workplace, the cookie-cutter power suit, and the long pencil skirt, shoes offer the opportunity for whimsy and self-expression, a bright pop of personality in a sometimes otherwise uninteresting picture.

If you haven't already, go out of your way a little bit and choose a pair of shoes that appeals to your wilder side.  There are SO many fun shoe sites out there just waiting for your love.  I've provided a list below.

If you're not quite ready for the wild-and-crazy (below), try something a little more tame like a bright red patent leather with bow (above), gorgeously retro, and perfect with that black pencil skirt and white blouse.

I on the other hand am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the above black and cobalt beauty any day now to be paired with my black power suit and cobalt chiffon blouse!

Try something new!  The colors out there right now are just amazing, and you can ease into the brightness trend slowly and with immense style like the perfect wedge below, another recent addition t my closet.
No matter what you choose, you never regret new shoes.  They put a spring in your step and a smile on your face and can turn a ho-hum outfit into something spectacular.  At least go browse around!  I've included sales in the list below, so you have no excuse not to treat yourself!

Go!  Go now!  It's free to look!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Weekends Aren't Long Enough

...and Monday's should be optional.  I've decided this.  So be it.  Amen.

I just got my invoice ready for Night Job and sent it in and suddenly the reason why I've been so tired finally made sense.  I billed in two weeks what I normally bill in a month.

And I can't believe that we're at Monday again...of course on Friday, I couldn't believe we were at another weekend.  I prefer being surprised it's another weekend and wouldn't mind going back and doing it over again.

Can we go home now?