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Angel Armies

angel-574647_1280Melissa raced into her room, slamming the door behind her. It was too much! It was all just too much! Throwing herself onto the bed, tears fell from her eyes like the torrents of rain from the clouds outside her window. It was as if even the heavens could feel her pain and wept along with her.

Continue reading… “Angel Armies”

Learning With Style

j0438418When does it start, our love of clothing, of fashion, of style? Is it the first time we see Red Riding Hood’s cape, Cinderella’s glass slipper or Dorothy’s ruby slippers? (Ahhhh, what is it about a great pair of shoes….) Is it the first time we play dress up with our mom’s old clothes or rummage through her jewelry box? Who can say for sure. Though you can find the occasional woman who just doesn’t care at all about beauty or fashion, for me, I’m sure I came out of the womb critiquing whether or not the doctor’s scrubs clashed with the nurse’s!

Since the onset of the internet, one of my favorite ways to feed my inner fashionista has been fashion blogs – and there are some wonderful ones out there!  Pick a style and there is one to meet all of your fashionista-ing needs – whatever they may be. Into vintage clothing? There’s a blog for that. Plus size? There’s a blog for that. Extra, extra petite? There’s a blog for that. Over 40 or 50 or 60? There’s a blog for that! Into Gothic? There’s a blog for that? Into conservative modest fashion? There’s a blog for that! Into over 50 boho? Believe it or not, there’s a blog for that! Get as general or as specific as you want, and there’s a fashion blog for you!

But, I have to admit, one of my favorite blogs, one of my “I never miss a post” blogs is Designing from My Closet run by the lovely Janeane Pittman! Janeane is an Interior Designer turned Fashion Stylist, and there is nothing about her or her style that I have not fallen in love with. Her style transcends age or size, and seems to have something that would appeal to everyone. So, when Janeane recently offered a week long Design from Your Closet Style Challenge Course, you can bet I signed up as quickly as I could! And, I was not disappointed!

The premise of the course is to teach you to be able to go into your own closet and put together an attractive and stylish outfit… without the stress, without the bemoaning “I have nothing to wear” and without the inevitable piles of clothes lying all over your bed! All of this using the clothes you already own. No shopping required! (Though I admit to breaking this rule! But, with GOOD REASON! more on this later…)

 My 5 Favorite Choices: A brown leather bomber jacket, a multi-colored knee-length peasant skirt, definitely my favorite fringed suede ankle boots, my go-to black turtle neck, and my favorite distressed jeans
My 5 Favorite Choices: A brown leather bomber jacket, a multi-colored knee-length peasant skirt, definitely my favorite fringed suede ankle boots, my go-to black turtle neck, and my favorite distressed jeans

Day 1 started out with what on the surface seemed like a simple challenge. Go into your closet and find your five favorite pieces. These didn’t have to be just “clothing” pieces, they could also include shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Though it was still technically summer, we were working with our upcoming fall wardrobes. This is what eventually led to my “unauthorized”, but understood and forgiven, shopping trip! As I looked through my fall “wardrobe” – and I use that term loosely – I realized I basically didn’t have one. My recent weight loss journey started when? Last fall! The vast majority of my fall clothes no longer fit! (I know you all feel really sorry for me. I can feel your sympathy coming through the screen!) The few clothes I had were random little items I had picked up at thrift shops throughout the summer when I’d see them drastically reduced and had never even been worn. So, not only did I have very few clothes to work with, but I definitely had no “favorites”. But, I muddled through and put my group of clothes together and uploaded my picture. Janeane then used our pictures to get a “feel” for our fashion style. Interestingly, I had never been able to pin down my own fashion style because it tends to be all over the place. Like my taste in music, books and most everything else – I like a little bit of everything! But, Janeane proved with me, as well as with everyone else, to have wonderful instincts when it came to reading people and their clothing choices, therefore, I was dubbed “Eclectic Edgy”! I loved it! That is absolutely me and I owned it right away.

Day 2 Janeane armed us with perhaps one of the most dscf6165powerful weapons I have ever been handed in my style “aresenal” – The Outfit Formula. A simple, but outrageously helpful, formula for putting together an outfit that looks polished dscf6175and “complete”. Our Challenge for that day was to put together two outfits using that formula and using at least one piece from our “favorites” list from the day before. This was one of my favorite days and challenges as things started to really start getting creative – AND FUN!  I came up with two outfits that I was very happy with, and I got some great feedback on them from the other ladies in the group!

By Day 3, Janeane was taking us into more complicated dscf6178waters, teaching us how to work with Prints, Colors and Textures and how to combine them . For our Challenge that day we had to put together an outfit still using The Outfit Formula but also using a combination of print, color and texture and explain how we used it. This was one of my favorite outfits, as well as one of Mr. T’s!

Day 4’s Challenge was really an interesting one! Janeane dscf6210pointed out that we all have some items in our closet that we just NEVER wear – be it clothing, jewelry, or some other accessory. She challenged us to put together an outfit, using, of course, the concepts we’d already learned – the Formula + print, color, texture – using an “unused” item. I chose a dscf6214fabulous pair of Betsey Johnson earrings that Mr. T had gotten me for Christmas one year, but that are such a statement piece in and of themselves, that it’s hard to find things to go with them. Not only was I able to find something to wear them with, but I got some wonderful suggestions from other members of the group of things I could wear with these great earrings!

Day 5 was actually one of my most challenging days. Our lesson for that day was working with color more in depth than we had previously, working with the color dscf6215wheel and 4 main color schemes. Our challenge, to pick one of these color schemes and put together an outfit. Here I really began to see where the holes in my wardrobe exist. I began to see where, as I had been rebuilding post-weight loss, I had been neglecting my wardrobe and where I had been leaning too heavily. I really struggled to find a color scheme in which I had all the elements. In the end, I finally found something I was relatively happy with and that got a good response from my fellow course-mates.

Day 6 - skirt option
Day 6 – skirt option

Day 6 and 7 were both “easier” days for me. Challenge 6 asked us to find our ultimate work outfit. Being a stay-at-home mom, in some ways, left the field wide open for me. Sure there are days where scrubbing toilets and floors fills my day and so sweats or yoga pants are my uniform. But, there are many days when I’m out running errands, going to appointments or shopping and

Day 6 - pants option
Day 6 – pants option

I enjoy making sure I look my best. I chose to do 2 outfits for that challenge, simply because I do skirts/dresses as much as I do pants, so I felt this gave a more realistic representation of my day.

 

 

For Day 7 Janeane made it a little more special – we were asked to put together an dscf6260Occasion Outfit. Well, for any of you who have been reading my blog, you can probably guess what outfit I chose… my Tahari dress, of course! With a little added bling, a velvet clutch and a bolero jacket for warmth, I think it showed very nicely!

And then the week was over. And I was sad, truly sad. I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable weeks I’ve spent in awhile. Yes, I’ll admit, I love to play with  clothes, and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of it. But it was more than that. It was the learning, the creative outlet, the friendships built with the wonderful women who joined me in the course, the level of self-understanding that came throughout the week.

From a purely style perspective, Janeane, completely hit her objective on the head! I did come away with an understanding of how to work within my closet. Her formula, which is so universal, working for young, old, plus size, petite, functioning completely independent of style taste, as well as the other charts she gave us, have become an invaluable part of my everyday routine. They cut my time, and my frustration, in half because I’m not just “eye-balling” an outfit or going on my intuition as to whether something looks good or works well as an outfit, but I have an actual formula to look at and say “yes, this, this and this work together”. It’s freeing – energizing! And it’s liberated my shopping. I’ve always thought of myself as a “good” shopper. I certainly know and can find a bargain. But NOW I know and understand my wardrobe so much better. I know what it needs. I know what I need to make it work, so that when I shop, I shop intelligently. Facing now this new page in my life, my “post-surgery” life, as I’ve been re-building my wardrobe, this course has helped me to stop and think about what image I truly want to portray with my wardrobe. It’s helped me to step out more confidently, knowing that I have the tools it takes to make the right choices FOR ME and that I know how to use those tools!

This is a “beginners” course. It takes no special skills or knowledge or abilities when it comes to fashion, just a desire to learn. For anyone who may be interested, I know that Janeane will be starting another round of this course on October 2. Please, check her out at https://designingfrommycloset.com/

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No More Wing-Back Chair for Me!

 “Tonight, old man, you did it!
You did it! You did it! You said that you would do it,
And indeed you did. I thought that you would rue it;
I doubted you’d do it. But now I must admit it
That succeed you did…”

Why you may ask am I channeling Mr. Pickering and Professor Higgins’ “victory song” from My Fair Lady? Well, first of all it’s one of my favorite musicals and always worth quoting, but most importantly, because I’m celebrating my own victory! At last I DID IT! I’ve finally reached my goal! 72 lbs. lost and weighing the same as I did when Mr. T and I were married! And like the words to that wonderful song, I often doubted I’d do it, but succeed I did!

Continue reading… “No More Wing-Back Chair for Me!”

The Queen, The Dress and The King of Kings

crown-1259067I have declared myself the unofficial Queen of Thrift Shopping! I have always been a thrifty shopper, whether it be for groceries, household goods or clothing. I’ve come to enjoy shopping that way, considering it a challenge to find the best deal possible for the best quality possible. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty good instinct and eye and brought home some great deals. Saving $150 in coupons on groceries, cutting my make-up bill in half at Ulta, finding that clearance top for $.49 at Ross last Spring, whatever I’m shopping for, I’ve tried to learn to use my money wisely.

Continue reading… “The Queen, The Dress and The King of Kings”

Death by Jellybeans and Other Updates

Does it seem like it’s been a while since I’ve posted? Well, it has. And the reason is simple – I’ve been all “tuckered” out – literally!

Tucker
Tucker

Meet the newest member of our family, Tucker, a Morkie (maltese/yorkie) puppy who joined our family March 4. Tucker is sweet, lovable, playful and ALL puppy! Having raised 5 kids, let me say he has been very much like having a new baby and a toddler in the house at the same time – no sleep and taking up most of my days chasing after him saying “No Tucker”, “Down Tucker”, “Don’t Tucker.” Even as I sat down to write, he plopped his furry little bottom squarely on the the keyboard, looked up and gave me a kiss on the nose as he settled in to get comfy. (This is his favorite spot when I dare to pull out my laptop.) It’s exhausting, but I’m loving it and loving him!

Continue reading… “Death by Jellybeans and Other Updates”

The Fattest Girl In The Room

56 lbs. down, Mr. T & I before we head off for church
56 lbs. down, Mr. T & I before we head off for church

It’s been five months since my surgery. A lot has changed since then. I’ve lost 58 pounds. I’ve gone from a size 1x/2x to having 2 out of the 3 pairs of jeans in my drawer being a size 4. I exercise at least 3 days a week without it leaving me dying on the couch. I’m wearing my wedding rings again, which I haven’t been able to get on in over seven years. Protein has become my best friend and I haven’t touched soda even once in all these months. But, I’ve also discovered there are some things that have not changed. Some parts of the old me that still seem to be hanging on and don’t want to let go.

Continue reading… “The Fattest Girl In The Room”

The Blanket

© Uschi Hering | Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Uschi Hering | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Two weeks ago somebody threw a blanket over me. A big one – like North Dakota. And a heavy one – like a Mac truck. And it was wet and itchy and dark and smelly. As it covered my eyes, I couldn’t see the light and beauty around me. As it covered my ears, I couldn’t hear joy or laughter or singing. As it covered my mouth, I couldn’t express what I was feeling, experiencing or needing. Like Linus from the Peanuts, this blanket had followed me around for many years. It had never truly been far from my sight. My blanket even had a name. It was called “Depression”.

Continue reading… “The Blanket”