Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Party!

Holiday Party!
Top Row:  Lane Bryant Black Ponte Knit Fitted Jacket, Lane Bryant Long-Sleeve V-neck Tee, Lane Bryant Black Ponte Knit Pencil Skirt.
Bottom Row:  Quilted Flats, Silver Chain Bracelet, Silver Chain Necklace, Black Satchel Handbag.  

I'm going to the NAMI NYC Staten Island Holiday Party (I hope!) in a couple of weeks, and I'm trying to figure out what to wear.  I'll probably change my mind at the last minute, as usual.  This is one possibility.  These parties are usually a lot of fun, with lots of socializing, dancing and music.  Just my cup o' tea!  I plan to arrive prepared to boogie!  

Friday, November 29, 2013

What I Bought on Black Friday, November 29, 2013

What I Bought on Black Friday, November 29, 2013
Top Row:  La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60, Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Skin Cream, eos Summer Fruit Lip Balm, eos Tangerine Medicated Lip Balm
Bottom Row:  Lane Bryant Black Ponte Knit Fitted Jacket, Lane Bryant Lena Straight-Leg Pant with Tighter Tummy Technology, Lane Bryant Black Ponte Knit Pencil Skirt.  

So, yeah, I did some shopping today.  I probably should've waited until Cyber Monday, but I was chomping at the bit for some of these things, like the Lane Bryant jacket, skirt and pants.  I had that in my shopping cart for months.  When I saw they had a 50% off Black Friday sale, I decided to go for it.  I spent $101.10, shipping and tax included.  It was definitely not an impulse purchase; I had planned it for some time, waiting until the right sale came along.  

The personal care products I bought from Walgreens online.  There are a number of Walgreens on Staten Island, and I like the products they carry, plus I have a rewards card from the store.  I needed a facial sunscreen with a high SPF factor.  I also needed a moisturizer and lip balm.  Walgreens had a 25% off sale, so I decided to go for it.  I made a mistake with the order, though:  I meant to order two each of the lip balm and only one of the sunscreen.  However, and I don't know how this happened (trigger happy, maybe?) I ordered two bottles of the sunscreen and only one each of the lip balm.  That was $64.85.  At least I have sunscreen for awhile, and I can get the lip balm at the local Duane Reade or Walgreens. I'll see how I like everything.  I'm running low on my products from The Body Shop, and I decided I'd try drugstore products, and see whether I'm saving money or not.  A lot of it depends on which sales you can catch.  

I hope if you took advantage of the Black Friday sales, that you did well and bought things you needed and will last a long time and that you enjoy the things you bought!  

Of course, buying things doesn't make one feel better or necessarily improve anything in one's life, but knowing that you are able to meet your needs is a good feeling.  Some of us are only too familiar with the awful feeling you get when you realize you can't meet your needs. One would do well to remember those less fortunate, not just at the holidays, but year-round.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Designed by Me, Made by Mom

Shoulder detail of a dress in silk crepe de chine that I designed and my mom made. Shown inside out to show stitching detail.   
The top half of the dress.  
Inside out detail of the pocket of the dress.   
Inside out detail of the hem of the dress.  
Inside out detail of the neck and belt.
The whole dress, right side out.  I was a lot thinner back in the day, LOL!
This is a copy of a Dior suit that my mom made.  It's in oatmeal wool flannel.  Inside out detail of jacket, to show stitching.  
Detail of lining of jacket, with buttons.  
Detail of lining of sleeve. 
Detail of lining and neckline.   
The skirt of the suit, inside out, to show stitching detail.  The skirt had a side button closure.  
Detail of button closure on skirt. 
The top of the skirt, right side out, showing pleats.  
The skirt.   
The jacket, buttons fastened. 
The whole suit.
These are some of the examples of the outfits I still have that my mom and I created together.  The dress at the top in green silk de chine was my own design.  I was very fond of the Tales of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, and I wanted the dress to have a medieval tunic style, similar to what knights wore over their chain mail suits for formal occasions when they weren't in combat.  I think I was somewhere between 15 and 17, not sure when I wore it.  My mother did a beautiful realization of that design, I think.  

The white suit was based on a Christian Dior design, maybe from 1979 or 1980.  I used to wear it to church and to classical music concerts.  It wasn't suitable for performing; back in the day (maybe still) classical musicians were required to dress in black and whites: white blouse and long black skirt for women, and black suit, black tie and white shirt for men.  Shoes had to be black as well.  

I don't think I ever mentioned that I played violin for ten years, did I?  From the ages of 10-20, I played violin.  I'm going to toot my own horn, here:  I played with the New York Philharmonic, when I was with the All-City High School Orchestra, and I played with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, when I was studying at the New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Orchestral Studies.  I also played with the New York Youth Symphony, and we played weekly concerts on Sunday afternoons at Carnegie Hall during our season.  We also did a tour during the summer of 1980 of the Tri-State area.  I also played some solo gigs, and with other orchestras.  I stopped playing in 1981, due to undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  My musical training has stood me in good stead through the years, though, because in my current life, I'm often required to do public speaking, and though I get nervous, I've learned to control the fight-or-flight response, so I (usually!) don't flee in terror.  Of course, music still continues to give me great joy.  

Well, that was a segue from fashion!  I photographed the garments from inside-out to show the expert tailoring and workmanship that went into my mother's sewing.  It's not only the outer garment that looks great, but the construction is perfection, as well.  You can't get that quality of work in mass-produced garments.  I have to say I was spoiled growing up, because clothes of this quality are simply not found in stores, unless you're buying from a designer's couture line.  

Now you've seen some of the creations I cooked up with my mom.  Any thoughts?  Please comment!  

Fashion Is A Dream Factory

 Me, at my high school on my Graduation Day, June 1979.  My mom made that gown.  You can see the wonderful detail, and get a sense of the skill required to make it.  I look taller than I am, because I was wearing 6" platforms under that gown.  Yes, we wore gowns to our graduation.  

 I'm on the left in this picture.  I'm wearing a suit my mom made me from a pattern I selected.  Dig the platform saddle shoes!  That's my brother Buddy standing next to me, and my brother Doug.  My mom is in the yellow dress, with her friend Doris, next to her, then my Dad, and Berthold.  Doris and Berthold were married, and were my parents' friends from way back.  

This is the 17th of May parade in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY.  That's my mom, my nephew Kris in a sailor suit she made him, and my sister Anna and I wearing Norwegian Hardanger bunads.  I don't know who made them, it could have been our Nana Norway, our maternal grandmother.  They are entirely made by hand.  A great deal of workmanship and fine attention to detail goes into making a bunad.  Each district in Norway has their own style of bunad.  My mom was from Hardanger, so we wore Hardanger bunads.  

This is a post I wrote some time ago.  I wanted to have pictures of my mom's handiwork to go with the post, and my cousin Randi, Doris and Berthold's daughter, recently scanned some old photos and e-mailed them to me.  Thanks, Randi!  

Everyone's awake at 4:30 AM writing their blog posts after being up all night, right?  Right!   So let's get this party started!

I was reading InStyle magazine in bed, trying to relax enough to go to sleep.  I was really enjoying it and feeling inspired.  So much so, that I wanted to return to my old hobby: fashion drawings.

Let me tell you about the fashion drawings.  When I was a kid, and even as a young adult, my mom would make some of my clothes.  In fact, she made many of my clothes.  She was an excellent seamstress.  Just to give you an idea of the breadth of her skills, she made my sister's wedding dress, my maid-of-honor dress, my graduation dress, my confirmation dress, clothes for the grandkids, the curtains and drapes in our home, and the slipcovers, and before she died, she was making me a rug.  She also refinished and upholstered furniture.  Not too talented, right?  She was also an organic gardener before it was chic and trendy, she preserved, froze and canned the produce from the garden, she grew beautiful flowers, and practiced plant propagation.  One time she *ahem* "liberated" a rose from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens when  I took her on a trip there, and managed to propagate it and plant a bush from that rose in our garden.  She did the same with a neighbor's rose.  Yes, my mom was a rose thief!

Back to the fashion drawings:  When my mom was making my clothes for me when I was a little, I didn't have much say in the process or in the design.  I had some input, but not much.  When I became a teenager, though, I became more involved in the process.  I would go to the basement of the local JC Penney, where the sewing and notions department was located.  All around the walls in the department, were the pattern books.  The pattern books were large, heavy, hardcover books, which were chained to the desk (which was a slanted drafting desk).  The books were from the pattern companies: Vogue Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, McCall's, and others.  This is back in the 70's, when there was a recession, so people became interested in DIY things, like organic gardening, sewing, home preserving and canning and refinishing vintage furniture bought on the cheap at auctions or antique stores.  My parents were living on a fixed income, since my dad had retired.  In other words, things were not so much different from today.  Anyway, I would take out my drawing pencils, and my pad of tracing paper, and go through the pattern books, looking for any styles that caught my fancy.  When I came to a pattern, I would trace it on the tracing paper.  Then I'd color it in with colored pencils, to indicate the trim, the fastenings, the texture of the fabric and any embellishments on the garment.  I would note the pattern number, so my mom or I could pick it up later.

I would take the drawings home to show my mom, who would then figure out if the garment could be made, or if it was out of her skill or price range.  Price was more of a factor, since, to quote the kids, "she had mad skillz."  Fortunately, my tastes did not run towards the elaborate, so we concurred on most of the designs.

Sometimes, I drew my own designs.  I still have a dress that I designed that my mom made.

As I got older and more aware of trends, I would design more of my own outfits, and put them together from things I had in my closet.  My closet was where my parents stored their old clothes (read "vintage"), so I had access to my dad's uniforms from WW II, my grandfather's evening clothes, including a full tuxedo suit, and my sister's old clothes from when she was a teenager in the 50's and 60's.  I would also raid my brothers' closet in search of jeans and men's shirts, and visit thrift shops and antique stores.  I guess you could say that my drawings were like "dream boards" that people do now, in that, I figured if I could imagine it, it would turn up somehow.

And I guess, in a way, that's what fashion is all about:  It enables us to dream about who we would like to be and how we'd like the world to perceive us.  It gives us a way to make that happen, whether it's through shopping, or sewing your own clothes, or putting outfits together from things you already have, or shopping at thrift stores or vintage clothing stores.  Fashion has become what Hollywood was in its Golden Age:  a dream factory.

Nowadays, we have websites like Polyvore and Pinterest and Instagram, that enable us to collect pictures and organize them.  Polyvore goes one better and allows you to create sets with items you clip from the Internet, so you can see how different items work together (or not).  I find it enables me to be very creative, more so than I was with my fashion drawings, and also more realistic, because I use items I actually own, or that I'm planning on purchasing.  On the other hand, I'm not creating something new that no one has ever seen before, so that's a downside.

I enjoyed the time I spent with my mom doing these creative projects with her.  My mom died in 1992. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her.  My dad died in 2000, and I think of him every day, too.  So, while you're dreaming your dreams, and making them come true, include your loved ones.  You never know what kind of memories you will make together, or the impact you will have on each other.

And speaking of dreams, I'm going to try and hit the road to Dreamland.  It's nearly 6 AM.  Time for little bloggers to get some sleep!

What I Wore, Sunday, 11/24/2013

What I Wore, Sunday, 11/24/2013
Teal Fleece V-Neck Sweater, LibraryThing T-Shirt in Brown from CafePress, J. Jill Tried and True Fit Jeans, Mary Jane Sneakers.  

I just had an errand to run today, and this is what I wore.  It's cold in NYC today.  We had snow last night, and though it didn't stick, the cold is still with us.  I think it's going to be a long, cold winter.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What I Wore: NAMI NYS Education Conference, Friday 11/15 to Sunday 11/17/2013

What I Wore: NAMI NYS Education Conference, Friday 11/15 to Sunday 11/17/2013
Top Row:  Gray LL Bean Jeans, Gray Lane Bryant Long Sleeve V-neck Tee, LL Bean Black Trail Model Fleece Vest, J. Jill Crinkle Scarf, LL Bean H2Off!  Trench Coat, Mary Jean Sneakers, Tote and Duffel Bag.
2nd Row:  Black LL Bean Twill Chinos, Black Coldwater Creek Cardigan, Blue J. Jill Ballet Sleeve V-neck Tee, Rose Quartz Pendant, Black Satchel Handbag, Aerosoles Black Army Loafers.
3rd Row: Lane Bryant Pajamas in Royal Crown, J. Jill Ballet Sleeve Scoop Neck Tee, Black LL Bean Twill Chinos, Black Coldwater Creek Cardigan.
Bottom Row:  Gray LL Bean Jeans, J. Jill Ballet Sleeve Scoop Neck Tee, Black LL Bean Trail Model Fleece Vest, J. Jill Crinkle Scarf, LL Bean H2Off!  Trench Coat, Mary Jane Sneakers.

The trip to Albany and back home was great, uneventful both times (which is all you can ask for in a road trip).  I was so exhausted and worn out from the preparations for the trip, that I was too tired to fully take advantage of all the breakout sessions and plenaries at the conference, but nevertheless, I had a good time, met some great people from around New York State, and I learned a great deal from the breakout sessions and events that I did attend.  

I shared my Program Leadership award with Annalissa Vicencio, who is the Program Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate in Westchester.  I was honored to share it with her.  We attended the Peer-to-Peer training in April, and it was great to see her again.  

We also share an interest in music and neuroscience.  Did you know that music helps keep the brain in good shape?  It's true!  People who learned to play music early in life reap the benefits of that training throughout life, regardless of whether they continue to play an instrument.  Playing an instrument helps keep the brain agile, as well, into old age.  Helps build those cognitive reserves!  These benefits accrue even if you learn an instrument as an adult.  

On to the fashion:  I had to make some changes in my weekend wardrobe, because it was just not practical to take the jacket, and the conference was not as formal as I thought it would be.  Everyone was dressed casually and comfortably ... you have to be when you're sitting in breakout sessions all day, and running from place to place, especially in a big hotel like the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center, where the conference was held in Albany.  So when it came down to choosing between comfort and style, I went with comfort.  

I wore the jeans, fleece vest, and mary jane sneakers for the road trip.  I wore the loafers and the black pants and cardigan during the conference.  The pink scarf and t-shirts added a pop of color.  I really needed warmer tops, though, because the hotel was cold!  The weather outside was unseasonably warm, but inside the hotel ... brrr!  I had the heat in my room cranked up to 82.5* F., just to stay warm.  

Once again, my LL Bean Boat & Tote stood me in good stead.  I carried it with me throughout the trip - in the car, to the breakout sessions, to dinner to collect literature and take notes.  Everybody loves that tote, and it's become kind of a signature piece for me, LOL!    I'm easily recognized because of my pink and blue tote bag.