Saturday, January 30, 2010

36 Ways to Reduce Stress

I stole this list from via It's Almost Naptime. I especially like (read: need to work on) number 11. Also, my response to number 35 is "Thank God!"

1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say "No," to projects/activities that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and un-clutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you to do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K. M. S. (Keep Mouth Shut.) This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough exercise.

18. Eat right.

19. Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write thoughts and inspirations down.

22. Everyday, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until its time to go to bed to try and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good "Thank you Jesus!"

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but yourself not at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego.

33. Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fashion--Outfits for Spring

Here are some looks for this spring I'd like to copy. Well, either the look itself, or certain aspects of it.

1)For example, this outfit from Ann Taylor:

See the nice, soft gray/black slacks? See the blue sweater? Yes, I like this. I've begun experimenting with the black+blue or dark gray+blue vibe, after I saw a write-up about black and ink blue that inspired me, and it's working. I actually bought a thin-striped denim blue/dark blue flyaway-type cardigan on clearance at TJ Maxx not long ago. I intended to wear it with denim, to create a long, lean monochromatic line, which, by the way, does look nice. But then the other night I tried it with black jeans, black boots, and a vee neck black tee. Wowzer. I liked the look very much. So-- new color scheme for late winter, early spring: black and denim blue, or black and inky blue.

Also, yes, the dark gray comfy pants. I have a pair something like that with elastic waistband for sleeping in. Ancient, and stretched out. But one day Hubby brought them to me to put on in place of my jeans while I was relaxing by the stove, and the sharp look of the dark gray with the brown shirt I had on suddenly made me realize I was missing out on another great wardrobe option. So the hunt is on for dark gray pants, possibly comfy knit, and also denim, or corduroy.

2)Here's a look from Ann Taylor Loft:

What I like: the skinny jeans. The jacket. The scarf. The wedge sandals.
The belt? Not so much. I'm so short waisted I get all bunchy and lose my waist altogether when I belt over top like that.

3)This outfit is from Banana Republic:

I like the skinny jeans. I've been wearing regular flare leg jeans tucked into boots a lot this winter, which is giving the effect of skinny jeans-- the straight leg look all the way down-- and it seems to look nice on me. I like the leather jacket. I'd like to get one if I can. I like the skinny scarf thing.

4)Another one from Banana Republic:

I don't look very good in khaki colors, but the general look is what catches my eye here: the skinny jeans, the trench, the scarf-- and look at those shoes. Some sort of shoe bootie. I think that's the spring version of jeans tucked into boots: skinny jeans with booties.

5)Aside from the fact that the skirt is WAY too short, this outfit from Banana Republic looks very do-able.

In fact, I can actually make this outfit already. I have black leather boots, black tights, a black and white graphic skirt, a black vee-neck boyfriend cardigan. I'll have to try it and see if 1) it works with a knee length skirt, and 2) it works for me.

6)And one more, this time from J Crew:

See those skinny jeans with the booties? That's the look!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wearing Black and Gray

A year ago I had two black items in my wardrobe: a pair of slacks, and a long (ankle length) skirt. Those were worn approximately twice a year for worship team events.

Since then, I've learned two things. One, black is considered every woman's safe/good color, and everyone ought to have some black because you can wear it almost anywhere and be appropriate. Two, I look good in black! I never knew either of these two things before.

By now, I have accumulated quite a bit of black, but it's taken me some time to get used to it, mostly because I feel so dressy in black. I don't know if black is inherently dressy, or if it makes me look so good that I look like I'm dressed up, I don't know.

The other color I've discovered is gray. Not heather, sweatshirt gray; that shade of gray is why I've also never worn gray before. In that shade of gray I look like I should be laying on the couch recovering from the flu. However, when I wear dark gray, from silvery graphite, to charcoal, to almost black, my eyes shine and my complexion glows. I get lots of compliments.

I don't own as much gray as I would like, because the right shades are not easy to find, but you can bet gray is on my shopping radar at all times now.

Now I just have to learn to shut out the voices of many stylish people and designers who are saying that black and gray are "boring" and "unadventurous." Those voices are cheer leading women--who have been following the rules up till now and wearing black for everything-- to break out and be adventurous with color. After all, this is the season for that "pop" of color. (I'm so tired of that phrase!)

(Actually, the "pop" of color has become so trendy that it's more like popcorn--red bag, teal shoes, orange necklace. How many different "pop"s can you have before you look silly?)

But for me right now, black and gray--and yes, with an occasional "pop of color"--is my adventure!

What about you? What colors look fabulous on you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Makeover Quote #11

...our ultimate goal: to be highly selective in your clothing choices; to choose only those clothes and accessories that balance or are in harmony with Your Body's Design Pattern.

By balance and harmony we mean capturing a visually pleasing relationship between you and your clothes so that your total presentation looks stable and in proportion, and that your clothes are "in tune with" the design elements found in your facial features and body.

--from The Triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do You Want to FOoooOF?

I want to write a book review for a book called "Flatter Your Figure" by Jan Larkey, but I don't remember exactly how to write one. Or maybe I wanted to write a book "report" instead of a review, but I'm not sure what the difference is....

Well, whatever. I am going to tell you a little about the book, and what I think of it. How's that?

Here's the book:

Flatter Your Figure

This is actually a sort of workbook, with lots of drawings, where you are led to measure and evaluate each part of your body and decide if you are long-waisted or short-waisted, or long-legged or short-legged, or round-shouldered or square-shouldered, etc. This is "FOoooOF-ing," as the author calls it, or "Figuring Out Our Figures."

Then you decide if you have a Major figure problem (which needs camouflaging) or a Minor figure problem (which needs the attention drawn away from) or No figure problem (which may be an asset that needs accentuating.) You look these things up on a little chart where you find a number to use in the rest of the book, where the author has several pages of illustrations of over 200 style elements (collars, necklines, sleeve lengths, shoulder lines, hemlines, etc), each one coded by number. Using your number, you can soon find out which styles are flattering for you and which ones are anathema.

Things I liked:

1) She differentiated between "figure" problems and "fit" problems, which simply means that if you can't find something to fit you, it may not be your problem, it may be the fault of the clothing manufacturer. With this in mind, people probably had fewer "figure problems" when they had all their clothing custom made by a tailor!

2) She also pointed out that you may have neither of those problems, you may have a "mother/other" problem, where you have been criticized enough on your clothing choices and your body that you perceive a problem when there really is none.

Things I didn't like:

1) In spite of the emphasis on accepting your body for what it is, the whole book was still written from the perspective of problems, and how to solve them. Why is it that our bodies are full of problems? Who decided these body shapes are a problem?

2) While there were explanations of, say, why line is so important (vertical=slimming, horizontal=widening) the explanations didn't go far enough. I was left asking "Why?"

3) Some of the discussions of problems and solutions were dated. That is, the author promoted broad shoulders and narrow hips as a universal ideal, when, in fact, that was the style Look of the Eighties.

4) Some of the style options that my little code number told me were flattering, are not flattering on me.

My conclusion is that this book is a good first step if you know nothing about style and you need help defining your shape. My first reading of the book I felt I had hit gold. And then the shine faded because I felt the book didn't go far enough to answer my questions about how to dress well.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fashion

Today I want to do something new and feature some cute clothes that have caught my eye lately. If I can't actually buy stuff, I can pretend, right?

1. I love this motorcycle sweater jacket from Banana Republic:

I like the slightly asymmetrical zipper, the wide collar, and the odd twist of a motorcycle jacket made of merino. (Or else the odd twist of a merino wool sweater made to look like a motorcycle jacket.) I could see myself wearing this around the house, as well as out running errands, with jeans and boots.

2. For a dressy occasion, I'd love to try this Boucle sheath from Talbots. Not that I know what "boucle" is but I'd like to try it.

3. I also like this faux wrap dress. Although I don't know why I look at, and long for, dresses, when right now I have very few occasions which call for a dressy dress. Howsomenever, I STILL wish for a quintessential Little Black Dress.

If the neckline turned out to be a little low, I would wear a cute camisole underneath, either in silver gray, for sophistication, or in red or bright pink, for a "pop" of color.

4. This long-sleeved v-neck tee looks soft and durable and very useful:

5. This shoulder-gathered tee also catches my eye, but I'd have to try it on to find out if it camouflaged or accentuated my already fairly hefty shoulders. I don't want to look like a football player!

6. And these Fidji shoes would be so cute for spring and summer:

7. Speaking of shoes, I love the look of these booties for knocking around in:

8. And finally, I want a pair of dark gray pants, probably fairly skinny and fitted, either denim, or corduroy, or even some sort of heavy knit. (But not double knit, heavens, no.) I have no picture because I haven't found any yet that I like. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe "procrastination" was my word for 2009

And if I'm not careful it will be my word in 2010 also, since this New Years Quiz to review the past year should probably have been posted, like, oh, three weeks ago.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
~Well, I joined Facebook.

~I started using fabric shopping bags (that I designed and made myself).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I had thirteen things I wanted to try to do this last year, and I did five of them. I haven't really thought yet about making new goals. Hm. If I'm going to, I really should start thinking about it, shouldn't I?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
At least, not in 2009; but very recently there was a birth in the extended family:

Isn't she cute? Her name is Olivia.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. But someone close to a friend did. Oh, and there was another one, too.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No dates, exactly, but there were some highlights:

~My youngest son's 18th birthday party where we had 30 people over to make homemade pizza.
~Going tanking with friends (a blast) and as a result, helping my daughter survive a nasty river bug (a blast of a different sort).
~Going out for an anniversary dinner at an expensive restaurant and drinking champagne-- paid for by our kids.
~Forming a new band called Hanbury Tree:

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning to become a mother to a married daughter and her husband. (Well, I'm still learning, but I think I've made much progress.)
(I know my daughter got married in August 2008, not 2009, but I spent the rest of 2008 just adjusting to the idea that my daughter was GONE, and didn't learn anything.)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Letting the garden go to crap-- again. And thereby not having a pantry full of home canned goodness to live on this winter.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I've suffered something that appears to be an awful lot like fibromyalgia, and the novelty has definitely worn off. And that led to some pretty miserable days of feeling like a tired, lazy, achy bum and feeling depressed about it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A pair of fashionable, but warm and practical and comfortable, knee boots:

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Our friend Swede, who remains our friend no matter what and sometimes brings over meat and ice cream for supper.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Can't say-- too incriminating.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Groceries. At least, that's what it felt like. And that's not always the most inspiring way to spend money, especially when I have visions of new clothes and books and vacations.

15. What did you get really excited about?
Learning new music and performing with Hanbury Tree.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? I Dreamed A Dream, as sung by Susan Boyle

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? about the same; well, maybe a little happier.
thinner or fatter? about the same

richer or poorer? poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being depressed and achy.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Snowed in, with my family snowed in with me.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
No. But I didn't fall OUT of love either, which is an accomplishment in this day and age.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Well, if I watched TV at all, it would have been What Not To Wear. As it is, since we don't have a TV, I watched as much of it as I could via You Tube and the What Not To Wear website.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read? The Triumph of Individual Style, by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor
The Triumph of Individual Style: A Guide to Dressing Your Body, Your Beauty, Your Self

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Two songs:

26. What did you want and get?
A pair of boots, see #11.

A pashmina. THIS pashmina:

27. What did you want and not get?
A cashmere sweater. (my hobby this year has been CLOTHES. Can you tell?)

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

The whole family watched it twice last week, and we are still quoting quotable lines out of it. ("SQUIRREL!!")

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
What did I do? I turned 47. And that answers the rest of the question as well.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If my husband had not been sick and depressed. If I myself had not been sick and depressed. If my oldest son had not been sick and depressed.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Learning, growing, changing. I started wearing black and gray, and dressing a little more sophisticated. I would say I've been giving myself a style makeover, except that makes it sound like I had a style to begin with.

32. What kept you sane?
Using "The Divine Hours", by Phyllis Tickle.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Susan Boyle (interesting odd fact: she's my age.)
Product Details

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm rather distraught over government health care.

35. Who did you miss?
My daughter, when she was in another state with her husband for four months. My second son who has been off on a missions adventure since September. (but he will be back in February...)

36. Who was the best new person you met?
The couple with whom we formed Hanbury Tree. A pastor of a local Methodist church, and his wife.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Keep my stinkin' mouth shut. Even if it kills me. No wait, that was 2008's lesson. Um...

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Call your name every day
When I feel so helpless.
I've fallen down
But I'll rise above this
Rise above this."

From "Rise Above This" by Seether.