My Mad Skills As A Personal Fashion Stylist: But NOT My Dream Job, I Guess…

what-not-to-wearI had visions of becoming another Stacy London of What Not To Wear — without the signature silvery streak, of course, but with snappy repartee and a fast paced shopping excursion highlighting all of the essentials.

I’d help my clients build a wardrobe of neutral staples combined with pops of color, figure flattering visual interest, texture, sparkle, animal print, completer pieces, awesome shoes, and scarves to draw attention away from the hips and up to the the face.

I had an epiphany.

Sometimes things that theoretically seem like a great idea and plausible do NOT  always turn out that way in the real world.

I so wish y’all could have been with me; you’d be the ghost-like apparitions following us around the shops.

Here I am at my age (just never you mind about what it is) still grabbing at parachutes, searching for a career path, a niche, a calling, a vocation.

It’s been suggested by some that I should combine my love of shopping and fashion and become a stylist to help others who don’t have my innate good taste and eye for color, texture, and style. All kidding aside, my Hello Kitty obsesh is only a teensy weensy anomaly, not representative of what’s contained in my closet(s).

You know, shopping but for others with OPM (other people’s money) and stuff like that.

I kinda have a dilettantish background for it; I worked at San Diego‘s Old Globe Theatre in the costume department, I’ve sewn my own clothes for years, read all the fash mags, and spend hours and hours and hours shopping and drooling over finely crafted designer wear. Sigh.

In fact, I had serious thoughts of starting my own clothing company. I registered the name and acquired the patterns and though it kinda never went anywhere beyond the concept stage, it’s still viable. ***If anyone wants to partner, email me.

Anyhow, here’s the backstory:  I was getting my glasses adjusted last week at the same place we’ve gone to for about fifteen years. There was some convo with the owner who was asked to accompany her guitar teacher at a gig in Rancho Santa Fe (very ritzy part of San Diego) and she declined because she had nothing appropriate to wear.

One of her employees said, “Hey, you should ask Rosebud to shop with you, she’s a fashionista.”

One thing led to another and I learned that she hadn’t shopped for clothes in at least two years. TWO YEARS. Yeah, I know. Can you believe it? The poor thing. She needed me.

With a public declaration that I would be her personal stylist, our mission was to acquire a variety of clothing to wear for musical gigs in several different venues from upscale to casual.

We arranged to shop for a solid five-hour block.

Focused. Determined. Goal-oriented.

She picked me up here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells and we were off to The Forum in La Costa. I wanted her to feel the textures and colors and variety at Anthropologie, not necessarily to buy a lot of clothing there, but to arouse her senses and try on a lot of things outside her comfort zone.

Her current comfort zone seems to be heavily dependent upon beige t-shirts and beige cargo pants.

OY, the horror. I’m shvitzing just thinking about it.

If only I really were Stacy London, I would have happily tossed them in the trash can!

All my research tells me that It’s important to get to know your client and her personal taste, in order to help her to look her best. Trying on clothes is critical! Just because something looks good/bad on the hanger, you’ll never know if it works unless you try it on.

I had to force her to see beyond the initial like/dislike of something that’s just hanging on a rack.

We found a couple of JBrand skinny jeans at Anthro, along with several casual ethnic-inspired tops, and then we were off to Nordstrom Outlet in San Marcos. In addition to clothing, they have an amazing selection of footwear.

I selected two different styles of boots, two pairs of flats: one casual, one dressy, and two pairs of not-very-high heels.

She’s pretty open to trying new things and expanding her fashion choices (beyond beige, thank goodness)  but she’s not a girl who wears dresses or skirts with ease.

Because she needed to portray class and elegance especially for her upscale gigs,  I chose a Calvin Klein black blazer and matching tuxedo trousers as wardrobe staples.

I paired several blouses with the blazer/trousers, including a beautiful turquoise, green, blue swirly graphic design with a self-tie for visual interest, and an appropriate silk animal print.

Unfortunately, we were in such a time crunching whirlwind, I wasn’t able to take pics of the outfits.

What I learned about myself is that I’m REALLY good at this personal stylist stuff; I’m always helping everyone in dressing rooms who need advice — I’m not shy about offering my opinions, THAT’S for sure…

But…

I’ll let you in on a little secret…

I HATE SHOPPING WHEN IT’S NOT FOR ME.

Hate it. HATE IT.

This little Princess wants it all to be about her. Yes, I’m speaking in third person — it’s what I DO when I’m trying to really get my point across.

My arms are crossed and I’m stamping my little foot and yes, my lower lip is jutting out just like you thought it would be.

PRINCESS WAS SAD.

As I (back to first person) was perusing the racks for appropriate clothing to dress my client, my gaze wandered longingly to shoes and dresses and sparkly things that I wanted to caress and lovingly scoop up in my arms and run off to the dressing rooms…but this was not like going shopping with a friend where you each try on outfits and then come together for independent reviews of yea or nay.

I was being paid to SERVE someone else’s needs.

ME NO LIKE.

NO CAN DO.

Obviously NOT my dream job.

I was a very sad Princess Rosebud. I guess it’s not in the stars for me to be a personal stylist.

Yes, it was a success for HER but I came away empty-handed and depressed.

Black blazer and pencil skirt

This is not me; the suit is being tailored for my short arms and legs.

Guess what I did?

I bet it’s not too difficult to figure me out.

I went back to Nord a couple of days later and tried on clothes and shoes to my heart’s content.

I came away with an awesome black Calvin Klein blazer and matching pencil skirt (to replace an outfit I had previously returned to White House Black Market.)

And you know what?

NOW I’m happy. :)

And PRINCESS is happy, too :)

P.S. Anyone want to go shopping with me?

My Fresh Obsesh

Blog Update: I don’t know what’s happening to me! If you’ve been following the life of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife for a while you might have noticed a sea change, a slight course correction, a freshening breeze.

It’s become increasingly more difficult – impossible even – to suppress the other seashells that insist upon rising to the surface…more than frivolous pursuits; pearls and Chanel, Hello Kitty and retail therapy, more than waiting for my sometimes-he’s here-sometimes-he’s-not tugboat man to come home.

The real world has rudely barged in and is guilty of disrupting Princess Rosebud’s rose-colored glasses form of reality, in spite of all the vigorous denial of that river in Egypt.

I’d much rather write about my seashell gluing and sewing projects, the search for that perfect shoe, or any of my seemingly neverending encounters with bad drivers and crappy customer service – but when animals are being abused, neglected, abandoned, slaughtered, unloved, or species threatened with extinction — it’s impossible to ignore.

My one small voice in concert with many will hopefully become a roar loud enough to effect positive change.

At least we have to try, right?

**This is a warning of sorts. You’ll be subjected to more posts that will be calls to action to raise awareness about animal related issues, defending these magnificent creatures, and providing them with the voices they lack. It seems like I should change the title of my blog to be Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife and Beeyotchy Animal Advocate-- or, too much?

===============================================================

But that’s not today’s topic. Today is all Princess Rosebud in her shopping glory!

If you’ve been keeping up with the saga of my quest for the perfect wedge. here’s an update:

I’m in holding pattern. I’m not actively searching anymore; I’ve exhausted all of my resources. I’ve looked far and wide up to Orange County and have experienced disappointment at every turn. I’ve made the majorest of decisions to leave it all up to Mother Universe — when she’s ready and the time is right, she will place the ultimate shoe in front of me — and I need to stop stressing about it.

There. I’ve given it up to a higher power.

Edging out the wedge (ha ha) of Number One priority status is my new (obesh) obsession to find the perfect black suit — pencil skirt and jacket  – for my public speaking event at a hearing in Sacramento on October 2 with Defenders of Wildlife.

Normally, I don’t travel alone. I don’t like to fly, I don’t like airports, I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like taking my shoes off in potentially germ-ridden places. I’ve only flown alone a few times; to visit my tugboat man in Hawaii before we were married, and to visit my son at Yale. Going to Sacramento alone is a major deal for me.

I’m not afraid of the public speaking part of this; I don’t suffer from glossophobia – I’m afraid mostly of driving to the airport, finding a place to park my car, getting from the airport to the hotel; those kinds of things.

So it makes sense that a new outfit to boost my confidence is just what I need, amIright?

A pencil skirt can enhance one’s shape or detract from it in a most unflattering way.

A three-way mirror is a harsh critic but very necessary, especially since I’ll be standing at a podium, facing the panel, but I can’t forget about the audience behind me. They’ll have the rear view.

A good fit is priceless.

That’s my logic for probably spending way too much money. I’m depending upon this suit to speak volumes to my audience and maybe even the media. Call me a media whore, no really, call me a media whore and I’ll answer you. I’m not ashamed of it, I’ve been known to whore myself out for a few precious moments of video, as long as my makeup and hair look good and my butt looks small. Well, smallish.

My Monday retail therapy pilgrimage brought me once again to White House Black Market. They have a pretty good selection of sizes for my five-foot-tall frame. Yes, I’m a Size Two and sometimes a Zero, but I’m a FAT Two. Really, there is such a thing. I’m small but solidly built. That’s what a zillion years of ballet and training with weights’ll do.

Black suit1I was lucky; I got a lovely skirt and jacket that look professional and will travel nicely. The jacket has a half-belted back that looks great and accentuates my waist. The three-quarter length sleeve is perfect for my short arms; this way it won’t have to be taken to the tailor.

I paired it with a deep charcoal gray shell; the only jewelry a simple strand of pearls and pearl earrings, along with platform patent leather heels. And of course, my Chanel Grand Shopper Tote, ‘cos that’s the ONLY Chanel I have…for the moment.

Being so short, I’ve found that I need to dress in a severe manner if I want anyone to take me seriously; I tend to still have a “little girl” look even though now it’s a wrinkled and Botoxed affect. Ah well, aging…

These selfies don’t really do justice to the deep black; I must have a lighting issue. And they’re neck down ‘cos I’m scary with no makeup.

Since my mean and non-existent-for-the-moment tugboat man has FORBIDDEN me to get a new smaller Chanel to supplant my courage, this suit will have to do it all — carry the day.

Although…he’s NOT the boss of me (I tell him that all the time) and he CAN’T tell me what to do, ‘cos I always do the OPPOSITE.

blacksuitopenWAIT!

Hold that thought for a minute.

Let’s analyze what he said.

HE KNOWS THIS. He knows that I’m contrary and normally do the exact opposite of mostly everything he suggests. (Example: my broken wrist. He told me not to run up the hill in slippery flipflops ‘cos I might fall and I did it anyway…fell, wrist broken. Read about that here.)

MAYBE the reason why he said I couldn’t get a new handbag is FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT HE WANTS ME TO GET ONE!

YES! That’s IT.  Reverse psychology!

Problem solved.

Looks like I need to do a bit more shopping, don’t you agree?

Hee hee.

What I Do is What I Do. A Day in the Life of an Empty Nester.

(With a very obscure tip of the hat to Solzhenitsyn.)

This isn’t typical of when my tugboat man’s here, and most definitely not the fabric of my waking hours when I was a SAHM; rather, this is an especially bland and Seinfeld-ish day. 
_____________________________________________________________________________

My day commences abruptly at 6:00 a.m.

Sleep to instant wakefulness at the hoarse, screaming kee-eeee-arr of a red-tailed hawk.

Over and over again. Ear-piercing screams.

I get up, find my glasses (I’m extremely myopic, can’t see a thing), locate hub’s extra binoculars, and discover two hawks in the eucalyptus tree. They’re sitting on the same branch and they’re facing each other, having an early morning conversation or a duet, probably courtship time.

6:15 a.m…Grind beans, Trader Joes‘s French Roast, make coffee, simultaneously grab the remote to turn on the news and pop open my laptop. News is depressing. Problems in Syria, fires in Yosemite, a SWAT standoff in La Mesa; time to turn it off. After checking to see if my tugboat man emailed me (he didn’t),  I turn to WordPress.  A few comments necessitate responses (not as many as I’d like), a few likes (not as many as I thought my brilliant post deserved), and then I switch over to Facebook. In the beginning of FB, or at least my experience with FB, it was all about connecting with new and old friends, sarcastic and funny observations, cats, dogs, mainly cute animal pics. Now it’s all about supporting “friends” in their sponsored posts, marketing and promoting for their sponsors. I don’t begrudge anyone who can generate income; it’s just that some blogs start to feel really corporate and inauthentic after they become “affiliates” or “brand ambassadors”. It’s a newer version of Tupperware or jewelry parties where you get all your friends to show up and buy your stuff.

Of course I’d love to monetize — I’ve even had one sponsored post — and I want my book to be published and make a truckload of money so that my tugboat man wouldn’t have to go out to sea anymore, but I don’t think I have the personality to push products or pull people to my site –which is funny ‘cos I have a background in public relations and marketing — but I’m more of a soft sell, not the jackhammer-type.

I’m more like “Hey, I’d love for you to come by if you have the time and no pressure or anything. No worries if you can’t, I understand.”

I check Twitter too, but it’s kinda lost its appeal for me at the moment.

7:00 a.m…Paid a couple of bills online; mortgage and credit card. Checked TMZ but it’s all Kardashian-this, Kardashian-that, and I’m sooo over it. I hear the squawk of our resident scrub jays, throw a few raw nuts on the deck and watch them eat.scrubjay

7:20 a.m….After a couple cups of black coffee (the only way I drink it),  I start to get ready for the gym, but first I make the bed and wash whatever dishes I didn’t do the previous evening. I don’t eat breakfast on a regular basis; sometimes I’ll have a little protein drink, or a couple bites of toast, but I don’t really like to eat in the morning, unlike hub, who’s up and chewing before his eyes are completely open.

7:35 a.m…Check email again. Yay, a brief message from hub. All the last minute work was completed on the tug, they’re underway and are offshore. Everything is going fine, which is good to hear. I write him back and tell him about my boring weekend without him; how I went for a six-mile walk to the beach and back, gardened, washed the windows, boring, boring, boring, oh, but I heard a coyote and an owl, so there’s that.

7:55 a.m…Get dressed; black workout pants, yellow Zella top. Brush teeth, use Clarisonic to wash my face, apply light makeup — just eyebrows, liner, lipstick, spray perfume –Chance by Chanel (of course). Fill a water bottle, grab an apple for after Boot Camp.

8:30 a.m…Publish the post I wrote the previous evening. I try to stay one or two days ahead.

8:35 a.m…Head out. Water a few plants near the front door; take the trash cans out to the street (something else I have to do when hub is gone).

8:45 a.m…The 24-Hour Fitness I go to is about three miles away, but up a huge and long incline or I’d ride my bicycle. Sometimes I get lucky and get all green lights; today was one of those days, yay!

10:10 a.m…Back in my car after a strenuous workout with a zillion tabatas to exhaustion. Squats, lunges, box jumps, weights, jumping jacks. I still can’t do any real weight bearing exercises, so no pushups yet or plank. If I wear my cast/brace, I can lift five pounds in my left hand while I lift ten with my right. Eat the apple, need nourishment for a little retail therapy hee hee. Oh NO! I almost forgot I had an 11:15 a.m. physical therapy appointment for my almost healed broken wrist. No time to shop now, darn. I’ll have to run home and shower.

11:00 a.m…Made a fast smoothie including yogurt, banana, chia seed, wheat grass, protein powder, and frozen loquats and mulberries from the garden. Showered, threw on a maxi dress, and out the door to Encinitas. Hope there’s no traffic or I’ll be late.

12:30 p.m…Where to go after PT? I drive up Encinitas Blvd. to El Camino Real and you know about Speed Dating? This is speed shopping. I stop at HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Pier One Imports, Anthropologie, Victoria’s Secret, White House, Black Market, and even H&M. This was more of a browsing mission. Nothing really caught my eye; nothing I couldn’t live without, so I came away empty. Plus, I’m out of water and thirsty. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow :)

3:00 p.m…Back home, and NOW I’m starving. Time for hummus with Ak-Mak crackers and a veggie wrap. (Lettuce, tomato, feta cheese, cucumber, raisins rolled up in a tortilla.) Plus ginger tea and a fat-free fig cookie.

3:30 p.m…Check email, WordPress, FB, Twitter. All pretty quiet. No new Miley Cyrus outrageous behavior. Best news of all, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is back. Yippee!

4:00 p.m…Work out in the garden since it’s cooled off a bit. Our summer garden was HORRIBLE this year. I’m not sure what caused it, but I pulled everything out and will allow it lay fallow for a bit. I’ll need hub to get more mushroom compost when he returns; in the meantime, I’ll work compost in. Mowed the lawns, front and back. Another job I must do while my tugboat man is away. Take the trash cans back from the street. Had a chat with a nice neighbor who keeps an eye on me while hub’s away.

5:30 p.m…Back in the house, checked email again; this time I discover a message from my tugboat man, letting me know that plans have changed and he won’t be making a port stop in San Diego after all, and he’ll call to explain when he gets in cell range. Oh DARN! I was really looking forward to seeing him, even for only a brief moment. I’m disappointed, but not overly so, things change all the time; I’m inured — accustomed –to fluid situations.
There’s always the possibility things will change back again; I’m a hopeful, glass half full kinda girl.

6:15 p.m…I got so dirty working outside I’ll need to take another shower and wash my hair this time which takes forever — curly hair needs a lot of love…

6:45 p.m…It’s no fun at all preparing and eating food for just me. One really is the loneliest number! I decide to make quinoa and add broccoli so it all cooks together. It’s ready in fifteen minutes, delicious with a dash of Mae Ploy, sweet red chili sauce.

7:30 p.m…Turn on Jeopardy and keep the TV on, mostly not watching it, while I write the next day’s blog and work on my book (yes, I too am writing a novel.)

9:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – ish…Get ready for bed, slather my face with a few layers of anti-aging creams; Retin-A, glycolic acid, brush teeth, pop in my retainer, read for a bit, and fall asleep. Goodnight, y’all.

2:00 a.m…awakened by the plaintive voice of a coyote. It seems very close; just one lonely howl. As long as I’m awake, I might as well use the bathroom and I’m back to sleep in just a few minutes.

That’s my very empty nest day.

How To Add Updated Vivacious Vintage To Your Wardrobe

WhiteHouseBlackMarketIn the Carlsbad Forum, White House Black Market is close to Anthropologie — do you think there’s any way that I could avoid temptation?

I confess the answer is that most of the time I cannot. (Hee hee)

This time I was tempted by an enchanting dress sprinkled with meadow flowers.

White House Black Market’s vintage-inspired line of summer dresses has been so popular that some designs have sold out.

The shape is a figure flattering updated and slimmed down version of a “fit and flare” silhouette, reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s.

Sweet AND sexy is what I call this romantic little sundress in cotton sateen with a sweetheart neckline, hourglass waist, and hidden pockets! Originally priced $160.00, I was lucky to find it on sale at $79.99. The shrug was about $60.00.
I fell in love with the flowers.
closeupwhitehouseblackmarket
 I love the idea of a completer piece and paired it with a silky chiffon shrug.
lilacdresswithblackshrug
Shoes of all kinds, maybe I need a new pair of espadrilles?
To match the lining, perhaps?
lilacdressshoes
The right accessories bring out the lilac…
1. Bracelet of violet flowers with seed pearls we discovered in a little antique shop in Bristol, Rhode Island. We had ridden bikes from Providence to Bristol on a fun vacation a couple years ago.
2. Amethyst ring
3. Amethyst and pearl earrings
4. Amethyst Alex and Ani bracelet from DIL for my birthday. One of my favorite stones and the brand is oh so chic and trendy!
jewelryforlilacdress
And to top it all off, a hat is simply perfection, don’t you agree?
This was a simple straw hat I embellished with fabric flowers and faux pearls.
hat
One more dress hangs in the closet  –  unworn, tags still attached…
Now all I need is my tugboat man and a destination!
It’s perfect for a summer evening stroll in Laguna Beach or Dana Point,
or maybe just here at home on the deck with a fruity cocktail.
maui-wedding-cocktails-pina-colada-image

Am I REALLY That Old?

Dear AARP,

My postman just delivered the mail; a few bills, a dental cleaning reminder, hub’s Professional Mariner magazine, my White House Black Market catalogue, and this:

AARP

AARP: American Association of Retired Persons.

I’m one thousand billion percent sure that you have the wrong address.

You must have made a mistake. A belated April Fool’s Day joke, perhaps?

This envelope must belong to someone else. Here. You can have it back.

There is no way this was meant for me. No Way. I’m shaking my head. No. Way.

If you know to whom this was supposed to be delivered, please let me know and I’ll forward it to the proper address.

I’m not that old. Am I? What? I AM?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Say it ain’t so. Pull-eez.

My MOM belonged to AARP. My mom was OLD. I am not OLD. How did this happen? When did I get old enough to be a card-carrying member of AARP?

And how did you know? I thought it was my own little secret.

Was it my hands that gave me away? They say you can always tell your age by your hands. Was that it? The skin’s very thin there, not so hydrated. Or was it those little brown spots that are popping up everywhere? Now what did my mom call them? Liver spots? LIVER spots? WTF? Remember Carter’s Little Liver Pills? I do, I mean I don’t. No, I don’t remember that at all. Ya wanna know why? I’m not OLD enough.

Is this payback for when I was so smug that I thought I would never ever in a million years have a single hair on my chinny chin chin – and now I have a 10x magnifying glass so that I can hunt and destroy every single rogue hair that shouldn’t be there?

What? I can’t hear you. Did my son put you up to this?

Is this his way of retaliating because I’d never allow him to eat the cereal that all his friends ate? No Cocoa Puffs or Captain Crunch for my little boy. Poor kid. I knew it was going to cause him emotional trauma one day.

Or maybe it was the time I put brussel sprouts and cauliflower in his smoothie. All right, all right, I admit it. Some vegetables can’t be disguised no matter how hard you try. I’m sorry. Bad mommy.  Oh, I bet I know why you did this to me. Is it because I embarrassed you last year at commencement when I screamed “That’s my Angel Boy!” so loud that I was surrounded by security guards? (True story.)

Look, I still wear skinny jeans, OK? I work out at the gym five days a week. Fifty-ahem-eixxxxght is the new twenty-five, right? Damn right it is.

So maybe it’s been a few moons ago since I needed to say, “it’s that time of the month” – THAT ship has sailed, but I still have them in the bathroom cupboard just in case. I mean, stranger things have happened. Whatever. I’m prepared, that’s all. Prepared.

I’m gonna put on my spectacles, my reading glasses, so I can see the fine print.

Hmmm, a free tote bag with membership? Maybe it doesn’t sound so bad after all…

Sincerely yours,

Princess Rosebud

PS. My birthday’s actually the 14th, not the 17th, but thanks for that – — I’m now three days younger!

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Here’s today’s Daily Prompt Challenge: Hindsight.  Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your first post.

This is MY deja vu–my first blog re-do–obviously my life is a deja vu redo Groundhog Day repeat. The captain was gone again, I was alone for a very long time…I’ve learned to use tags since then–maybe THIS time it’ll get read! 

My First Blog Post

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Day 60: Alone again! It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and I just completed a copy editing assignment for a brilliant young neuroscientist. Since my first pink lock and key diary at the age of eight, I’ve filled notebooks and journals with my thoughts and observations, and even minored in creative writing in college, but the hardest thing in the world for me to do is to let go of my own words. (I’m a word hoarder. Hah!)

Update: Now I’m a word spewer–since I started blogging, I can’t STOP writing!

Although I easily re-write and proof and edit the work of others (and love to do it), my own words seem to be trapped somewhere; I am never quite satisfied with the finished product; I always feel that one more re-write is always needed—just one more, and then another and another–and I am determined to overcome this obstacle by blogging about my life as a wife of a Merchant Mariner. To other MM wives, I’d love to share our experiences, problems, frustrations, and solutions. There are thousands of us around the world—let’s create a community and help one another. What do we all do when our guys are gone? In what ways do our lives change when they’re away on assignment and when they’re home? How do we cope with the work-related absence of a spouse, whether it’s due to the military, MM, or any other career that involves a lot of travelling? Are you sad? Maybe relieved sometimes, if you were to be completely honest?

Update: Still hoping to create the community of Merchant Mariner Wives. I’ve met Snipewife who’s awesome, but there has to be others! Come out and play! 

Also, from time-to-time, I will review either a product I’ve used or a book I’ve read and share my opinion. I have great things to say about Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect nail polish. I have it in Satin 04. It claims to hide ridges and imperfections with a “breathable porcelain-smooth finish.”  The website says it’s enhanced with ginseng, camellia oil, and lotus to promote stronger, healthier nails. I was really impressed with the finished product and it really does give a professional look. I’m going to try it in other colors and will let you know. Update: it worked great, very shiny, lasts a decent amount of time, and is inexpensive.

Here’s a mini-version of my back story: I’m a (was a) stay-at-home mom; when my son left for college, I stayed home. Don’t you think that’s funny? I do. That’s my standard joke/response when I’m asked what I “do”. Some people think it’s funny, some people think I’m obnoxious. Story of my life.

I’ve been married to a Merchant Mariner tugboat captain for about eighteen years, nineteen in February 2013. For the first fourteen years or so, our life was pretty ordinary and except for a few assignments that took him away for a week or so, his schedule kept him working in local ports.  In 2009, he changed companies and became the kind of Merchant Marine who goes out to sea for extended periods of time and travels to the four corners of the globe. When I tell people that my husband is a MM, most either think he is a “Marine Marine” or they don’t know what a Merchant Mariner is or what they do. My guy is an academy graduate (he won’t let me say which one ‘cos he’s paranoid that someone will figure out who he is) and has been working in the industry since graduation.

merchant marine sealWhat exactly is a Merchant Mariner?? For those of you who don’t know, the United States has a fleet of  Merchant Marine vessels,  ships which are owned and registered in the US and fly under our flag, but are separate from the military. (We are proud supporters of American-flagged vessels.) For example, car ships carry cars (obvs!), container ships hold cargo of TVs, bananas, soda ash, or even sand and gravel.

tug barge

NOT the captain’s tug, but a good photo of a tug pushing and pulling a barge. Tugs are hard little workers. I think I can, I think I can…

The Merchant Marine supplements the military in times of war, transporting goods and equipment to areas where it is needed. The people who crew Merchant Marine vessels are known as Merchant Mariners. Perhaps you remember hearing about the Maersk Alabama, a container ship seized by pirates a few years ago? Tom Hanks stars as the captain in the soon-to-be released film of the Navy Seals’ rescue of the ship and her crew. People who work on tugboats are called Merchant Marines. My guy is a tug and tow Master, although he has decades of experience on yachts, passenger vessels, and just about every type of boat, excluding fishing. No Deadliest Catch stories here! Tugboats pull (or push) barges all over the world, assist all types of ships in and out of their berths, and work in marine construction and the oil industry. It is really more complex that than, with a rich history and great anecdotes, but I am only the wife of, and my perspective is a different one.

Update: I begged and pleaded and guilted and flattered my captain to get him to audition for the Tom Hanks pirate film–they liked his initial video audition so much the casting director even sent sides (that’s a script to those of you who are NOT in the know like I am), but he didn’t get the part. He really should have. I was totes planning to go as his personal manager to Morocco where they were filming.

Back to my story…this lifestyle has been quite an adjustment. When he’s home, he’s a 24/7 at-home husband, just like being retired, and a different routine ensues–one of compromise and diplomacy. When he’s away at sea, I become a sort of “grass widow” (a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business) and have learned to structure my time alone to stay occupied while waiting for my best friend to come home. We modern mariner wives are really no different than wives of a few hundred years ago whose husbands went out to sea. We might have email access and satellite telephones, and are able to stay in touch more frequently than the occasional letter posted from faraway ports, but we are essentially on our own for a great deal of time. We have to be completely independent and solve problems and fix broken washing machines and cars and take out the trash and mow the lawn by ourselves, unless we have kids still living at home on whom we can foist these chores.

My confession du jour? I fully rely on retail therapy to help me cope. That doesn’t mean I actually PURCHASE a lot and spend a lot of money, rather, I am an accomplished fashionista BROWSER, (which should be an Olympic sport, as far as I’m concerned.) I have endurance and I possess stamina. I’m a hunter AND a gatherer. A shot of wheatgrass and I’m good to go for hours in my quest for a treasure, a good deal, or something I just have to have, and can’t live without; the next get. You know that Shopaholic film? I’ve seen it about a dozen times; it’s like a training film for me…  A day or so after my MM leaves, I fortify myself with a protein drink, a double shot of wheatgrass, and lay out my itinerary with quasi-military precision. I first make the rounds of my local stores; TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Homegoods, just like a warm-up in my boot camp class, and then move on to H&M, Anthropologie, White Market/Black House. After that, I venture further away to the Nordstrom Outlet, DSW (yes!!!), and then our local mall for BloomiesNieman Marcus, and the boutiques-Tory Burch, Hermes, and the holy grail at South Coast Plaza in the OC…Chanel…Chanel…Chanel. I want/need a Chanel 2.55, the original black quilted bag with the chain strap. I am saving for a pilgrimage to Paris to pay homage to Coco at the original location. I. can’t. wait.

Update: I just can’t do it to y’all again, I know I’m probs on your last nerve with the whole Chanel thing, but it was cool for ME to tell myself, “Hey girl, your dream DID come true! Way to go to think it, believe it, and it will happen!”

Today, I was on the hunt for another blazer; blazers are super trendy and forever a classic fashion staple,  but it has to be the right blazer in the right color and cut. I ended up at a local consignment shop and while I didn’t find the desired blazer, I discovered the treasure of a Tory Burch sweater with gorgeous logo buttons. I found a similar style for around $250, and I got it for $40. It’s in perfect condition and looks like it’s never been worn. The pic doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rich cocoa brown with TB logo buttons and totes adorbs. Update: This is the same consignment shop where I just scored the vintage Valentino.tory burch sweater

Well, it’s back to editing for me and building my Etsy store where I can sell all the ropework jewelry and beachy décor we create. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into my world.

Update: STILL working on that Etsy store! Almost done tho, hopefully so I won’t completely miss the holiday season…

Thanks to one and all who’ve read me and followed me and commented and offered guidance and humor and friendship. The world still revolves around me, I suppose it always will…alas, that’s the cross my long suffering tugboat captain must bear…And if you’ve un-followed me, don’t forget that Santa could leave a lump of coal in your stocking, so maybe y’all need to rethink that decision. Right???

 

A Kugel-icous Recipe for Passover, too!

I posted this for Hannukah but we make it for Passover, too. I hope you try it and enjoy! Since my stupid oven broke for the 4th time yesterday as I was making my son’s birthday cake, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make Kugel since we couldn’t get a repair appointment until Thursday and the stupid part will take a week to arrive, so we are out of luck! Stupid Sears! Stupid Kenmore! Stupid planned obsolescence!
A pic of kugel (not mine) from http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/FoodAndWine/Article.aspx?id=290152

 

What is Kugel?                                                                                                                            Kugel is a savory or sweet pudding of potatoes or noodles usually served as a side dish. It’s of German/Jewish origin. Our family’s traditional Kugel is the sweet noodle kind and my mom’s version is to die for. Really. It’s spectacular hot or cold. I’ll make it tomorrow and take pics. It’s one of those recipes you can make a day in advance and it gets better and better. If you have any leftovers–which we never do- it freezes pretty good. I limit myself to making it only a couple times a year and I eat as much as I want and just work out a bit harder and a bit longer to burn off the calories.

Angel Boy’s Grandma’s Kugel

Ingredients

One large package wide egg noodles
One large can fruit cocktail in juice
One small can pineapple pieces in juice
One large can canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup, yes, you read that right.
At least 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced with about 1/3 cup sugar and 1-2 TBS cinnamon.
3 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla
One lemon,  juiced and zested.

This is a good dish to make in advance especially if you’re also planning to make apple pie (which I am) ‘cos you can just prepare all the apples for both dishes. The secret to this dish is a LOT of cinnamon. If you think you have enough, add a little bit more! Cook a whole package of wide egg noodles and drain. Add 3 beaten eggs with vanilla; it will be super slippery. Add the lemon juice and zest to the apple slices. Drain all the canned fruit but keep the juices; you will need them. Mix together all the canned fruits. Butter one large and one medium deep baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then a layer of canned fruit, a layer of apples, then another layer of noodles, a layer of the canned fruit, sliced apples, more noodles, more canned fruit and apples, ending with a final layer of noodles. Pour over any remaining egg mixture, and a cup or so of the fruit juices. Be very liberal with the juice. It will all get soaked up as the kugel bakes. Jason’s grandma would dot the whole thing with a bunch of Crisco, like ¼ cup, which sounds gross, but I still follow her recipe. Some people use butter, but we don’t. Other recipes add cottage cheese and raisins, but I’ve only made it my mom’s way, although I’m sure it would be delicious. Bake covered at 300 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the pan size. Take cover off for final 15 minutes. Excellent reheated and/or cold.

By special request

Cowboys and Crossbones and a few others have requested pix of the new addition to our family: my Grand Shopper Tote Chanel.  I appreciate any opportunity to show off; I’m a proud mama. She went on her first outing today, first to Target, then Trader Joe’s, and up the street to Anthropologie, B/W Market, and Nicole Miller. At each location, I was treated with so much more respect and deference than usual, when I carried my old Louis Vuitton. Peasants! I’m the same girl who wears bleach stained sweats and old Yale shirts with so many holes they wouldn’t even be useful as rags. Please enjoy these pix and thank you for your interest!

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Don’t count the miles, count the I love yous…Christina Perri

Here’s a sample of  (women’s) locker room talk at my gym when they ask what my husband does for a living; “You mean he’s only around part of the time? You are soooo lucky, I wish my husband was gone for weeks at a time”  I really, honestly, for reals–wish they would shut the f—ck up. If I did not like being around my husband, that would be one thing, but the fact is that I do like him, I like being with him, I miss him when he is gone, and those kind of stupid asinine comments really say more about the dismal state of their marriages than they think they do with their snippy, passive aggressive comments. On the other hand, here’s what I can say that I do appreciate while he’s gone: I don’t have to shave my legs quite as often, I don’t have to endure World War 3 if I want to watch one of the Housewives, I never, ever, ever, ever have to watch boxing, or MMA, or any other form of man-on-man violence, and I can watch a movie like Beauty and the Briefcase without practicing high level  negotiations.

Bits and Pieces
Here’s a crafty cute way to re-purpose old crocs and logs—use them as planters for succulents.

 

 

Check out this crazy mutant apple!

 

 

Kate Spade bag on sale, love it! So summery and fresh. I think it would look great with this well constructed t-shirt from Banana Republic and a pair of white skinny jeans from White House Black Market.