Winter… Spring? What Season Is This?

For the past week or so here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve have the most spectacularly gorgeous weather!  Atypical brilliant sunshine and warm, balmy temperatures.  The plants are budding, the lawn is growing, and the pollen is flying!  This has created quite a dichotomy in me, and has me a bit befuddled.  It’s weird watching the Winter Olympics when it feels like spring.  Of course, Vancouver B.C. is having the same kind of weather so it makes it even stranger.  It is typical El Nino year weather.

The allergy season has now begun at least 2 months earlier than normal.  The swollen eyes, sinus pressure, sneezing, and skin rashes have made a reappearance in me, as well as a lot of others.  I am hoping that we will get it done and over with now, and won’t have to put up with it again when it actually is spring!  There is always a trade-off, it seems.

I have been taking advantage of the great drying weather by using my clothesline once again.  It feels good to have outdoor-dried laundry…and oh, the sweet smell!  It dries so much faster outside, and gives me a reprieve by ridding my house of the indoor drying racks temporarily.

Still, for those of us who are used to months and months of dark, cloudy, gray, rainy days it is quite a transition.  Some of us don’t know how to react to so much sunshine.  Are we supposed to be all happy now?  We don’t have the excuse of gloomy weather if we are in a grumpy mood!  I have been walking every day… no sitting out for bad weather lately either.

My lawn is growing, well…like a weed.  My neighbors have been out in full force for weeks, mowing their lawns dutifully.  I have managed to elude this by just not mowing quite yet.  I usually enjoy the respite I get in winter from not mowing the lawn.  I am not ready to start the mowing process yet – it’s technically still winter.  So shaggy lawn it is.  Sorry, neighbors!

But this I know for sure – this too, shall pass.  Soon the more typical gray dankness will  envelope us.  So endure the glorious weather for a bit longer?  I guess I must.


Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.  And, once again, the commercials for Valentine cards, flowers, jewelry…and even “heart-shaped” pizza are airing nonstop.  Much to my chagrin, there are two Valentine’s Day commercials that are sort of growing on me.  Good grief, I’m now getting emotionally uplifted from commercials!  Those copywriters must be working overtime.

The first is Jane Seymour’s “keep your heart open” ad for Kay Jewelers.  It shows her dreamily painting and designing her open-heart necklace, and telling that her mom always told her to “keep your heart open, and love will find a way.”  I know.  Kind of hokey.  But it actually touched something in me, and made me feel a little happier.  You know; sage wisdom from mom, dreamily designing and creating,  love, hope, and…jewelry.

The second is, of course…drum roll please…Hallmark!  This one is not overly schmaltzy, it just seems regular. Like for us normal folk who actually have lives in which we work, raise families, and keep house.  But something in it is so touching.  A little boy asks his mom who she’s going to give a valentine to…not to dad, but to her best friend who is always there, etc.  The mom tells him that would be dad, too.  The husband is so goofily disheveled, waggling his eyebrows at his wife putting the groceries away.  No candlelit dinner, no walking hand-in-hand on the beach, no gazing into each others eyes.  Just happily dealing with normal day-to-day life.  You can just tell they are warm, genuine, fun, and are a team.  Incredibly romantic.

It’s sort of weird that there is this one day where everyone is “forced” to be romantic.  But who can resist a holiday that is all about love?  We can all be reminded of the words from Jackie DeShannon’s song, which have a lot of truth to them:

What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Thrift Store Shopping – The Agony and the Ecstasy

Thrift ShoppingI spend an inordinate amount of time shopping in thrift stores.  At least two to three times a week, you’ll find me in any of the six local thrifts that I haunt regularly.  I mainly shop for “inventory acquisition” (the ‘polite’ term that vinties like to use), but I also shop for myself.  And I mostly love it.  I’ve been shopping thrifts since I discovered them as a teenager, and I’ve never quit.

There is just something so thrilling to me about thrifts.  Malls and department stores bore me silly with their sameness.  At thrifts I never quite know what I’m going to find, and everything is unique.  I get a feeling of anticipatory excitement in the pit of my stomach when I enter the door…where to look first, what to see, what to do!  I actually enjoy going through the racks, digging through bins, and finding things placed randomly throughout the store.

I’m all-business when it comes to thrifting.  No distractions for me please;  no cell phone, no iPod, no shopping with others.  Pretty much a laser focus to scope out the goods.  I know which days are the sale days, “color tag” days, and are the most and least crowded.  I know a lot of the clerks personally, and enjoy a good jaw while checking out.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games.  There are actually quite a lot of annoyances that I have resigned myself to live with while shopping thrifts.  Probably my biggest beef is loud people, be they screaming kids, yelling moms, or people screeching into their phones.  Thrifts are full of them.  I have to work myself into a “zone” to carry myself through.  I like peace and quiet…but I know I’ll never find it at the thrift.

Another annoyance is people who sidle.  I can be the only one in the aisle and sure enough, there will soon be someone who is right next to me going through the racks.  This is something that is so irksome to me that I usually leave and go to another aisle.   But then I have to consciously calculate to come back to that same aisle when all is clear.

The one thing that I’m on the fence about is the amount of “unique” characters that thrift stores seem to attract.  Since I’m a regular, I’ve learned pretty quickly that there are also a lot of other regulars who shop there too.  Some are highly amusing; others are just plain creepy.  One thing for sure is that it is never a dull experience.  They probably feel the same about me too!

It used to be that shopping thrifts was kind of an alternative, funky thing to do.  A lot of people wouldn’t set foot in such a place.  Now it seems like thrifts are getting to be more of a cool, economical thing to do.  That’s okay, the more the merrier.  And the more I hope people will donate and recycle.  Thrifting may not be for the faint of heart, but it will always be unrivaled!

Happy shopping!


The Lure of the Snuggie

My SnuggieFirst of all, I will freely admit that I am now the owner of a Snuggie.  Yes, that one.  “The Blanket That Has Sleeves!”, 100% Polyester, and Made in China.  I wear it too.  This is a bit weird for me, as I have always thought that they were completely ridiculous.

It all started a couple months ago on the eBay Vintage Clothing and Accessories Discussion Board.  One vintie posted a thread about a site where you could order a free Snuggie.  We all started bantering about the Snuggie, but then more and more of us actually went to the site to order the free Snuggie.  I did too.  What’s odd is that I started kind of obsessing about the Snuggie and hoping it would soon come in the mail.   Weeks went by and I never got it, no one else on the board did either.  But my quirky longing never went away.  So last week I went to Target and found the Snuggies with all the other “sold on TV” items.  The only color they had left was a red burgundy.  So I bought it.

I am actually quite impressed with its quality.  The deep rich color is really pretty, and the “Super Soft Fleece” really is that.  It is amazingly soft and plush, with a velvety texture.  It is not skimpy on size either; it’s positively huge!  The open-at-the-back design is kind of strange.   There are two back panels that you can overlap, which is okay for sitting, but any movement will cause it to gap.  The sleeves are a nice feature.  I used to wrap myself in a combination of shawls, scarves, and blankets to cover all my limbs, now my arms will stay covered.

I will say that it is great for sitting, where you won’t be doing a lot of movement.  I like it when I use my desktop computer, or for reading on the couch.  The problem is when you have to get up and walk, very cumbersome to have to pick up the enormous length of the Snuggie.  The shoulders tend to fall off too.  I would definitely not try to cook or use the bathroom in it!

As long as you can cuddle up in it and not do a lot of moving around, it is fabulously warm and comfy.  You can also do what any practical fashionista like me does…read the latest issue of Vogue in it.  I wonder if Vogue Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour, wears a Snuggie?  Doubtful, but you never know!

Stay warm!


Cashmere and a Mixture of Scents

Now that winter’s here, my sweater wearing is on full-force.   My personal yarn of choice is cashmere.  It is incredibly soft, thick, and luxurious…and is really the only natural wool that I can wear next to my sensitive skin.  It adds needed warmth without unnecessary bulk;  I don’t like looking like a linebacker in those thick, chunky sweaters!

Of course, most of my cashmere sweater collection is vintage.  I look for the thick, plush cashmere, preferably made in Scotland.  There is just no comparison to most of the “whisper thin” cashmere sweaters that are out there today.  Good quality cashmere can last a lifetime, so it’s a good investment.  In fact, several lifetimes, as someone wore these sweaters a long time before me!

I love how cashmere retains scent.  One of my favorite things to do is wear a different vintage perfume each time I wear a certain sweater.  The scent gets picked up and blended with the others, forming a whole new evocative aroma.  They become pieces of  poignant delight, a magical signature, which is especially nice on these dark, dreary days.  I’m a bit sad when I have to wash the sweaters though.  All that captivating scent down the drain.  But it just gives me the chance to start a unique combination anew.

I shall remain forever devoted to cashmere, but sometimes it’s good to spice it up!


Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Green?

It’s the last day of 2009 and time for New Year’s resolutions to be made.  I have decided that I will only make one resolution for 2010, and that is to “Go Orange”.  This has been brewing in me for a while now.  You see, I feel that I have finally reached my personal tipping point in the whole “Go Green”  thing that’s being pushed upon the public with increasing force.  Let me say that you will probably not find a greener-living person than myself.  It is something that I live every day with every fiber of my being.  I am just getting tired of being marketed and lectured to by high-living celebrities, politicians and writers who want me to ‘do as they say, but not as they do.’

This finally hit full-force for me last week when I was shopping for a new 2010 calendar.  As I searched rack after rack, they all seemed to be labeled “Recycled Paper” or”Eco-Friendly”.  Calendar after calendar of “Living a Greener 2010” or “365 days of Save the Earth Tips”.  I finally bought the only calendar than didn’t have a hint of ‘green’ in it;  a gorgeous calendar of colorful calligraphy.  And it felt liberating!

So I decided that I want to go orange!  I really love the vibrancy and warmth of the color orange.  It is the color of desire, excitement, independence and enthusiasm;  all desirable traits in my book.  Being a natural redhead, I’ve felt comfortable all my life in living with orange hair.  I like to wear orange too, in moderation of course, too much orange can be a bit overwhelming.  It is a fun, optimistic hue – and a great way to start the new year.

So while I will continue to live a ‘green’ life, I will be fully embracing the orange.  And guess what?  2010 will be the Chinese Year of the Tiger…and, of course, tigers are orange!

Go orange!