Monday, December 30, 2013


I'm still feeling kind of exhausted from our holiday travels (over 30 hours in the car -- bah!) so I haven't downloaded the photos I took or anything.  But I did want to share this funny/sad piece of (very new) news:

I went to the eye doctor yesterday (yes, on Sunday) and got a prescription for ... (dun dun DUN) bifocals. That's how it works -- turn 40, get your first pair of bifocals!

My distance vision actually improved slightly -- from totally awful to very awful -- but my close range vision had deteriorated without my realizing it.  I had the sense that I was feeling more eye strain recently, but I thought it was because of my distance vision getting worse.  The doctor explained that my close vision is still good enough that I can read, but that the effort of doing so is fatiguing my eyes and making it difficult to switch between focusing on something close (like reading) and looking at a computer/etc.  And since I spend quite a bit of time reading, it makes sense that the effort is taking its toll.

I have ordered a pair of graduated bifocals that are supposed to be ready about January 9.  (With my insanely bad vision, they have to order fancy super-compressed lenses so that they can even fit in normal frames.)  I cannot find the frames I bought online -- I'm sure it's out there, I just haven't been able to find it.  Two different associates at the store independently picked these frames out as their favorites on me, and though I had difficulty narrowing down my last 3 options, I ended up liking them best as well.  They are a color that Burberry calls (if I remember correctly) "rose gold" -- and I love it.  My last two pairs of glasses were gold (which I liked a lot) and brown/tan (which is OK but I prefer a lighter shade for less contrast with my face and hair).  With the frames, fancy lenses, and graduated bifocal thing, even with insurance they are costing $500.  Man.

Robert also has some worsening of his close vision, but he's not springing for bifocals just yet.  (He only needs correction in one of his eyes at close range.)  He's thinking about getting reading glasses for those rare occasions he is reading for more than a couple minutes at a time.  Just this morning I read a review of Firmoo on someone's blog -- looks like a good place to order inexpensive eyeglasses.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Last Pre-Christmas Gasp

I wrote this post today to post tomorrow, but I'm afraid I'll forget in the morning, so a double post today it is.

God, I am so amazingly exhausted right now.  I don't know if it's the kind of tired that makes it easy to sleep or that annoying kind that makes it hard to get comfortable, but in any event, I am Ready. To. Flop!

OK, finally catching up here, so of course that means it's time for me to fall behind again by taking a two week Christmas vacation.   But I'll be back with an assortment of outfits in red and green (and blue and black and white).

Surprisingly Scarfless -- 12/11/13

I liked wearing my burgundy pants with a grey sweater, so I decided to flip it around with this magenta pullover.  (Robert wears a burgundy shirt with grey slacks to work and it always looks so great.  These colors are just wonderful together.)

Are you surprised I'm not wearing a scarf here?  I am!  I was just in the mood to wear the crazy multi-color multi-rock necklace again instead.

New item:
**Magenta pullover sweater (thrifted -- like 2 years ago, I don't know why I didn't wear it before other than simple laziness)

And here you can see sweater + blazer layering in action.  (And yes, I also switched from ballet flats to warm socks later in my below 60 degree office.)

New item:
**Plushy black blazer (thrifted, Talbots)

Indoor Birdwatching -- 12/12/13

Robert had the afternoon off from work so we went to the Audubon show at the university's natural history museum.  It was really cool.  I liked seeing so many of them -- including my favorite one (the whooping crane) -- up close and personal, and they did a great job arranging Audubon's work with the work of other bird artists so we could see, for example, differences in Audubon's approach compared to previous artists and the influence that his work had on later artists.

They had a work station set up with a stuffed blue jay mounted in front of a grid and big sheets of gridded paper so that we could try for ourselves his method of using the grid lines to accurately draw the bird.  I did a halfway decent job with the head and the general outline of the bird, though I was too impatient to sketch all of the feathers in individually.  I never saw anyone else try their hand at this while we were there, and from comments I got from other visitors while I was working on it, it seems that many adults are too afraid to do something they would probably suck at.  I told one woman who asked me "Are you an artist?" that I've tried to draw birds before and I am so terrible at it that my attempt to draw this bird would be a true test of the method.  I can report that the grid method resulted in a much better drawing than my previous method of just winging it (ahem).

This exact combination of sweater, jeans, and shoes is one that I wore fairly often to school -- for whatever reason, I really love how the straight leg jeans with a bit of length breaks over the top of the shoes.  (The shoes are all-season mocs with nice grippy soles, so it's not surprising that I wore these walking to school in the winter fairly often.)  Though I did not intentionally choose to wear it to the museum because of the university location, it was appropriate -- I wore a bright pink jacket over it, and with the 3 layers, I was comfortable both outdoors (zipped) and indoors (unzipped).

To make this outfit not a total repeat, and for added warmth, I topped it with a turquoise scarf.  I tried it with my navy blue scarf with brown owls on it (for the whole bird theme) but the scarf was both too lightweight and too short to work quite right. 

New items:  None

It's Not Actually Raining -- 12/13/13

The most common thing I see on women walking around town in the winter is skinny jeans and tall boots.  I actually own a pair of skinny jeans that I got at Goodwill, but of course I haven't worn them yet (it is not a particularly flattering shape for me), and I've been leery of tall boots because I'm afraid they'll be too hot indoors.  But I've been curious about the skirt + tall boot combination...enough so that I wanted to get a pair of tall boots.

Instead of getting leather (or faux leather), though, I bought a pair of Hunter rain boots.

I've seen several fashion bloggers wear their Hunter boots as just, you know, boots, and the fellow Snow City resident from whom I've learned almost everything I know about dressing in cold weather says that she uses her similar rain boots as snow boots under mildly snowy conditions.  So I thought: rain boots, snow boots, and tall boots all in one -- sounds good!

Today I'm testing them out (with a skirt!) for the first time.  I'm wearing footless tights, normal socks, and the boots over them.  (I also bought the fleece welly "socks" -- i.e., big-ass boot liners -- to wear with them outside when it's really cold, but thankfully, even my Skyrim office is not chilly enough for that.)

I also could not decide between a necklace and a scarf, so I wore both.  Hah!

New items:
**Freshwater pearl necklace from Macy's (the single strand was also on mega-sale so I bought it, too)
**Black Hunter rain boots

Oh, I should report my verdict:  The wellies are warm to wear indoors, but not too warm.  I'm glad to be wearing them with normal socks, though -- with footed tights, it might be too much, even outdoors.  Plastic doesn't breathe, and tights don't breathe -- not a great combination, I think, for anyone who doesn't enjoy having damp feet.  And seriously, if you enjoy having damp feet, why are you wearing rain boots?

Still Dressing for Skyrim Weather

Let the Scarf Be Your Guide -- 12/8/13

I probably would not have thought to put coral and grey together, but those are the colors in the scarf, and they seem to work together.  (This is an upside to being a scarf person -- you can let the experts who designed the scarf tell you what colors go together and just build the outfit around that.)  I've worn coral with navy, but I like it a lot with grey.  (Coral is just too close to orange for me to be able to handle it with black if it's not October 31.)

When Robert and I went to the library, I switched into snow-compatible footwear -- in this case, my mega snow boots (which were more boot than I really needed, given the amount of sidewalk clearing that had occurred, but it's good to take my opportunities to wear them).

New to the blog:  Sorel snow boots

She's an Animal -- 12/9/13

Jones New York has the best selection of attractive animal print clothes I've seen this year.  I put in an order with them and they knocked it out of the park on about 80% of what I bought.

When I got chilled, I put the animal print puffer vest over the whole thing and zipped it up.  That could definitely be too much animal print, but with the sweater and vest, the shirt became an unseen under layer.

I'm really becoming expert with the layers.  I have been known to wear up to four -- knit shirt, sweater, blazer, puffer vest (or coat).  Finding blazers that work over a sweater and under the vest is key.

New item:
**Brown leopard print knit shirt from Jones New York

Birthday Blues -- 12/10/13

I wasn't very blue on my birthday, though certain people I could name gave me reason to be sad by forgetting my birthday until I reminded them.  (Fortunately Robert and my sister were reliable extenders of not only un-asked-for happy birthday wishes, but on-time birthday presents as well!  My sister got me something from the Snow Leopard Trust, which was not only lovely in itself but also supports my beloved felines.  Even though I told Robert that I would buy my own birthday present, he -- wisely, am I right? -- got me a few rabbit-related things anyway, including some custom-made stickers and a very cute rabbit tarot deck.  Also, it simply would not be my birthday without red roses.)

New items:
**Sky blue cashmere sweater from Macy's (I nabbed this on one of their two-day specials, $40 down from $120 -- I bought this color and a darker blue, but I sort of wish I had gotten it in every color I liked -- oh well, when it's time to hand-wash it, I might be glad I don't have a bunch of them)
**Double strand freshwater pearls from Macy's (also on a special sale) -- when these came in the mail, I told Robert, "Wow, this is exactly what I wanted for my birthday!"
**Blue flats by Sofft

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cold Weather Outfits

A Surprising Challenge - 12/5/13

My mom was telling me recently about how awkward and difficult it is to match shades of teal...aqua...all those colors that mix blue and green.  I love all colors on that green-to-blue spectrum but agree that they can be more challenging to work with than you'd think (esp. when you're trying to wear different items in this color family together, but even with other colors).  For example, I bought this bluish green scarf at the end of last winter because I immediately fell in love with the color (which is also a very flattering color next to my face) -- but I had not worn it yet because I hadn't really figured out what to wear it with.  So I decided to go with the most basic black shirt, black cardigan, and jeans base and try jazzing it up with an eye-catching colored cardigan and nifty shoes.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I could wear this same base for a week, just switching up the scarf/necklace and shoes each day, and people probably wouldn't even really notice I was wearing the same clothes.

Later, when I was playing Skyrim in my appropriately cold office (in winter, the differential in upstairs and downstairs temperature is ridiculous -- it was 70 degrees at Robert's computer and 58 at mine that afternoon, which is a lot better than the other way around, but still...), I put on my new leopard print vest.  This puffy vest is marketed as "outerwear" but was quite comfy and appropriate to a chilly indoor temperature.  And the lack of bulky sleeves meant no interference with my gameplay.

New items:
**Bluish green scarf from Target
**Leopard print puffer vest from Macy's (only $21 at their Black Friday sale)

Nordic Novelty - 12/6/13

Still cold in my office, so out comes the usually-too-warm acrylic sweater.  I ended up wearing this with my warm boot-like red slippers but wanted to show off here how the colors in the sweater and these candy-cane covered socks matched perfectly.

New item:
**Red pullover sweater (thifted; Vanity Nordic Gear brand -- I am not making that up.  Oh god, googling that brand brought up my own previous post from when I first bought this August 2011.  Hah.  Glad it's finally getting some love.)

Blue Stripes - 12/7/13

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this old striped shirt (thrifted) was a very close match to the shade of blue in my recently purchased Lands End cardigan (previously worn with pink).  This necklace works really well, I think, in adding visual interest (needs to be kind of chunky and obvious to stand out against the stripes) without covering up the shirt the way a scarf would.

New item:
**Silvery statement necklace from Jones New York

And how about some bunny ornaments?  These are my Kate & Leo ornament collection.

The first one is a cross-stitch ornament I made, simply customizing the rabbit colors to match my sweet little buns.  (You have to imagine that this is capturing the split second between the buns getting close to the tree and them grabbing it with their mouths and doing all kinds of damage.)

This one I made from a printed cross-stitch piece that I bought at the house rabbit Christmas sale.  Again, I made the bun the appropriate color and added Katy's name at the top.  (Not sure Katy would ever deign to wear a dress, but she's more likely than Leo to do so.)

And this last one was given to us by their vet, I believe, after Leo was put to sleep -- it has Leo's footprints on it and his name.  It was a very sweet gesture on their part.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Early December Outfits

A Better Cardigan Color - 12/1/13

Another version of the Sally winter uniform.  I love the way the scarf and shoes go together -- both are black with shimmering pink and light blue threads.  (On the shoes, the design is little fish; I bought these with Tam at the mall several years ago during an insanely busy sale at Skechers and I am still so glad we persevered.  I am happy every fall when I bring these shoes out again.)

New item:
**Magenta cardigan from Target ($15 sale)

Pink and Leopard - 12/2/13

I wore an ancient pair of black tights with this, and unlike the typical tights that constrict you at the waistband, these were loose at the waist and kept shifting down on me.  Oh well.  I'll just wear bike shorts over the tights next time to keep everything in place.  I like that the tights are truly opaque.

I also liked the way this necklace, which reminds me of claws, seemed in keeping with the animal theme in a subtle way that I am possibly the only person to notice.

New items:
**Leopard skirt from Kohl's
**Black "claw" statement necklace from Outfit Additions

Unstructured in Grey - 12/3/13

Because sometimes it's cold and you just want to wear a big-ass sweater.

New items:
**Billowing grey cardigan (thrifted)
**Grey and coral scarf from Target

A Rich Blue - 12/4/13

I have three of these woven belts from Target that look almost the same color -- red, bright pink, and orange.  This is the pink one I wore to match my new necklace.  It is such a no-brainer for me to wear this shade of blue with red, but blogging these outfits has made me go with green and now pink as alternatives, which is cool.

New items:
**Blue knit shirt from Lands End
**Bright pink belt from Target
**Pink statement necklace from Outfit Additions

I'm really enjoying having statement necklaces to wear (instead of just scarves) to mix things up.

And a bonus bunny ornament for your enjoyment.

This is the White Rabbit from a set of four Alice in Wonderland themed nutcracker ornaments my parents bought me -- this year is their first time on the tree.  I love 'em.

Christmas Tree

Robert and I had to clean out the Harry Potter room (i.e., under stair storage area) to dig our way back to the Christmas tree and ornaments.  The front of the room was filled with empty cardboard boxes, bags of clothing to be donated, extra golf clubs, vacation paraphenalia, and the like.  But even clearing it out completely to the back, the Christmas tree stuff wasn't there.  I freaked out about this for a bit, thinking perhaps I had decided not to move the Christmas tree itself, but it is inconceivable that I decided to not bring my extensive (two large storage boxes) ornament collection with me.  WTF?  Then I remembered that we had another storage area upstairs -- we had put our nicest broken-down moving boxes in the half-bath and then used the cut-in area where the door is to fit our stand-alone freezer.  Possibly the Christmas things were up there.  And they were.  And as soon as it was time for us to move the Christmas tree box out into the living room, it became crystal clear why we had made the (most excellent) decision to store it upstairs -- moving that huge, heavy box up and down the stairs would have been a nightmare.  So we cleaned up the Harry Potter room for no reason, but it was great that we did.  We made multiple trips down to the trash and recycling dumpsters in our parking garage, and took a carload of stuff to Goodwill.  Robert had brought a large collection of plastic and paper grocery store bags with us on the chance that the Goodwill people could use them -- the guy taking our stuff was quite excited about the bags because they are always running low on bags to put people's purchases into.  So FYI, your Goodwill might have use for the extra bags you have lying around your house next time you make a trip to donate things.

Anyway, here is the finished Christmas tree (no flash so you can see the ornaments better -- click for close up view).

View from my comfy chair:

View from the dining room side:

View from the stairs:

It's been great having my Christmas tree up.  I love looking at it.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of ham, sweet potato, stuffing (Robert), broccoli, and dessert (cheesecake for me, pumpkin pie for Robert).

Despite both Robert and my mom independently thinking that I don't like ham, apparently I do.  The ham we got was super delicious!  I'm kind of sorry it's gone (though one nice thing about ham -- you can buy it pre-cooked so it's about as easy a thing as there is to eat any time you want, unlike turkey, which is a pain in the ass).   But one thing I've noticed is that my tastes and preferences in food change depending on what I'm eating.  I mean, this neo-paleo diet should be an absolute disaster for someone whose favorite foods are things like bread, oatmeal, potatoes, rice and beans, peanut butter and crackers, tortillas, ice cream... and yet, I am now digging eating all this meat (and fat) with regular doses of dark chocolate and almond butter.

Oh, and regarding the cheesecake -- yes, it was great to eat something with dairy again.  The only dairy I've had for the last 11+ months is butter, and it's not like even people on a neo-paleo diet whose husband's company is in the butter business eat very much of that.  I probably will not make a habit of eating a lot of dairy, but it's nice to know that I can tolerate it (when I eat it with a lactase enzyme pill).  At this point, the thing I probably miss eating most is cheese -- I sometimes find myself craving mozzarella or monterey jack string cheese, for example.  (I guess these mild cheeses, tasting mostly of salt and fat, are consistent with the way I'm eating now and so I haven't lost interest in them the way I have lost interest in grain-based foods.)

On to the outfits.

Bright and Cheerful - 11/29/13

None of these items are new, but I think I've only worn this coral sweater once.  I love that it has nice long sleeves, but the body itself is a bit on the short side.  (I'm wearing it with a white t-shirt, tucked in, underneath so I'm not constantly tugging it down a la Jean-Luc Picard -- I mean, it's clearly not part of a Star Trek uniform.)

I had been thinking of decorating the tree on Friday, but I ended up doing some shopping online for the Black Friday sales and ... dun dun DUN ... starting the game Skyrim (the successor to the game Oblivion that took over my life last fall/winter).  Robert found it on sale, with all the add-on bells and whistles, for under $21.  (Thank you, Black Friday!)   Technically, I did not start the game myself on Friday, but watched Robert start the game.  There are some important differences from Oblivion and it was instructive to watch Robert play for a while.  For example, the opening part was pretty stressful just to watch.  (Dragon attack!  Run away!)

One thing I noticed him doing was sometimes jumping for no apparent reason -- standing in front of a door, or a chest, or whatever, he'd jump.  I thought he was just being silly (I'd previously observed that he was a "jumpy" player in Oblivion/Morrowind, especially when playing a cat character like he is in Skyrim, so it wasn't totally surprising) but he said no, he was doing it accidentally because the key to "activate" something from Oblivion is now the key for jumping in Skyrim.  I didn't really remember this, but when I started playing the game myself on Sunday, what do you know -- I stood in front of a door and jumped.  My hands remembered the keys better than I did myself.  (I think I have gotten this straight in my head/hands now.)

New items:  none

What to Wear When Decorating the Christmas Tree - 11/30/13

Something red.

Something relatively close to the body, without any fiddly scarves or cardigan edges to get caught on tree branches.

Something long-sleeved to protect your arms from scratches.  (We had put up the tree and lights the previous weekend so that it was ready for ornaments, and I still have scratches on my hands and forearms like I'd spent a while playing with Robert's mother's demon kitten.)

New item (???):
**Red knit shirt (thifted, Lands End)

Christmas tree photos to come....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More of the 6pm Shoe Sale

Back to Basics - 11/25/13

After the great mustard cardigan fiasco, I went back to my best color -- blue.

New items:
**Blue striped sweater (thifted, Liz Claiborne)
**Blue bow flats by Rocket Dog (6pm $14 sale)

Wearing Neutrals - 11/26/13

More blue, in the form of a navy scarf

New item:
**Navy scarf from Target

What to Wear When Making Cheesecake - 11/27/13

Three-quarter length sleeves, of course!  I like this shape of sweater -- it gives a little bit of that flutter of a peplum without being horrible looking on me like a peplum.

I made this low-carb pumpkin cheesecake -- with Splenda (because I already had some and I don't notice/mind the aftertaste/non-paleo-quality/whatever) and substituting the spices (doubled) from the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe, to wit: 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. ginger, 1/2 t. cloves.  Note that mine looked nicer than the one in the photo -- more well-set, though perhaps less bright orange.

I really can't tell you if it was a good cheesecake -- it's been too long since I've eaten cheesecake, and I find it's usually a mistake to compare a low-carb/no-gluten/whatever dessert to the original.  But I will say that it was a very tasty and satisfying dessert and that I felt quite in the Thanksgiving spirit eating it.  I would definitely make it again.

New items:
**Red cardigan from Kohl's
**White/gold flats by Anne Klein (6pm $14 sale)

You need to see these shoes up close.

Fun, right? 

Thanksgiving Gear - 11/28/13

Comfy blueness.  And killer shoes.

I mean, check these suckers out.  Blue AND animal print?  Sign me up.

New item:
**Blue leopard print shoes by C Label (6pm $14 sale)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Shades of Red

Time to play catch up with my outfit posts again.

Red #1 - 11/22/13

I love how this red jacket makes putting a nice looking outfit together so easy.

New items:
**Multi-color stone necklace from Outfit Additions
**Blue and red striped flats (6pm $14 sale)

This necklace is so fun with its variety of shapes and sizes.

I really like the three-strand look also.

The flats were another winner from the shoe sale haul.  Obviously a great pair for spring/summer, but I can still enjoy them when I'm staying indoors (and don't need to wear socks).

I had fun putting this comfy but nice jacket together with basic white t-shirt and jeans and some interesting accessories.  I'm going to keep my eye open for other ponte knit jackets as a nice alternative to my standard cardigan.

Red #2 - 11/23/13

Nothing new here, though this is the debut of the sweater this season (which accidentally sorta matches my new jeans -- woo!).

Robert told me that it looked like a Star Trek uniform for a new type of crew member.  Before he said that, I liked the look.  After he said that, I loved the look.  The Star Trek vibe is not uncommon with certain colorblocked outfits, but I think this is the first time I've hit on a combination that evokes it.

Red #3 - 11/24/13

OK, it's only fair that I post this outfit double FAIL. 

I had seen other people wearing mustard sweaters and somehow got it into my head that I too could use a mustard sweater.  They had one on the Target $15 sale and it fit, so I kept it.  And wore it with the burgundy colored jeans and an ivory scarf.  I thought maybe the scarf would keep the mustard from looking so stark against my face/skin.  Nope.  The color looked horrible on me -- like so bad that when I asked Robert, he had to admit to it not looking that great in some understated way.  (This is roughly the equivalent of an average person saying, Damn, that looks like crap.)  FAIL #1.

In addition to the mustard color being problematic, the color combination made me feel like I was about to go cheer my son's football team.

Only later that day -- after I had swapped out the mustard cardigan for a black one -- and Robert and I went to Target (to buy some lights for my Christmas tree) where I saw a clothing display at the front of the store -- did I realize what football team this was.  Yes, I had unwittingly dressed to cheer on the Golden Fucking Gophers.  FAIL #2.

Goldy photo from his Twitter account

New item:
**Ivory scarf (thrifted)
**Mustard cardigan from Target, now in the Goodwill donation pile

But let's not end on that sad note.

This past week, I was wearing my new owl pajamas from Target -- I like the flannel ones in their Nick & Nora line, which come in cute patterns and which are warm without being too warm.  But I had been having a slight problem with my neck feeling cold when I first get into bed (I don't like sleeping with the covers too much over my head, so I can get a bit of a draft on my neck).  Now during the day, I handle cold neck by wearing a scarf, but I wasn't sure what to do about it when sleeping.  (I have been known to wear thin fleece gloves and/or hat to bed, but I've never done anything for my neck.)  Then I remembered that I had sewn some (three) colorblocked scarves from old t-shirts that might be a reasonable size/heft/robustness for wearing to bed.  And has it happened, I had one that matched the PJ colors quite nicely.

New item:
**Owl pajamas from Target

My general pattern is to wear the flannel top over a t-shirt, socks, and now a scarf if I need it when I first go to bed so that I'm warm enough to fall asleep.  A couple hours later, once I've warmed up, I take those extra layers off.  It seems kind of dumb in a way to do this, but it's working for me.  (It's not like I don't wake up several times during the night anyway, and I basically fall right asleep against once I've pared down my layers.)