Fun, fall leggings & skirts I found at Ross (plus stretching my fall/winter “wardrobe” )

I consider myself fortunate to have a Ross store nearby, especially since I don’t have a car. I find many bargains there and it rounds out my thrift store/yard sale/Amazon clothes shopping. With fall/winter coming I’ve been shoring up my cool weather clothes. I like leggings and have several solid color pairs but have very few butt-covering tops or “tunics” to match with them so I rarely wear them. Either I can’t find what I want in tunic style tops or they’re too pricey. I know many women wear leggings without long tops, unconcerned with how revealing they are – undie lines, lumps-n-bumps, etcetera – but I’m not one of them! I think I stumbled over a solution: print leggings, dark prints in particular.

Print leggings distract the eye and while still form-fitting, aren’t revealing like solid fabric leggings meaning longer shirts aren’t essential. I figured this out while trying on beautiful print leggings at Ross. The ones I found recently, two for $5.99 (Awesome J brand) and one for $3.99 (Always brand), all feel wonderful to touch and are so pretty.

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Not see-through, yay!

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After I bought them, I tried on a bunch of my fall/spring tops with the blue leggings and found several combinations that work. All but one of these tops are secondhand finds. I think the key to making it work is having a somewhat looser top to offset the leggings’ snug fit and having the top, even if it’s not butt-covering, not too short.

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I’ve got this idea now, since I don’t have many winter tops, to layer my spring/fall tops over solid color, fitted long-sleeve shirts when it gets colder. I had 2 such tops and just bought 4 more, three from Ross and one from Amazon warehouse. The Ross tops were each $5.99; two are maternity. NO, I am not pregnant but maternity clothes are a lot cuter than they used to be and nothing about these two Ambience tops screams maternity (AND $5.99!!).

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The top three are recent Ross finds; the far left and middle are maternity

I realize layering in winter isn’t groundbreaking but it is for me. I have long avoided layering; I can’t stand feeling restricted (a theme in my life generally, ahem), being unable to move my arms around freely, and on top of that, feeling frumpy and shapeless. BUT, if the first layer is snug and neither is too thick, my issues with layering are resolved. This is the plan anyway!

Since I knew I was writing this post I thought I’d go ahead and put together a few possible combinations using the blue leggings. I am not afraid of color and  in winter, miss it. Why are winter clothes so dreary?! I threw in potential shoes (but the weather will determine what’s best). If this works, it will give me more winter options – and let me keep my pretty warmer weather clothes, some of them at any rate, in circulation.

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I have mixed feelings about skirts. I like them but rarely seem to wear them. My lifestyle doesn’t call for it plus most of the skirts I see in my shopping ventures are kinda dowdy and unflattering.  At Ross I found these lovely bargain skirts, one for $5.99, the other for $6.99. They are somewhat long but form-fitting which makes all the difference. That said, they aren’t so tight I can’t walk around normally ( I made sure to take a little stroll in the dressing room when I tried them on). I can see me wearing these bare-legged in warmer months or with tights when it gets colder.

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Lastly, I got mesh laundry bags on Amazon seven years ago and they will be great for washing these new leggings and skirts unless I hand-wash them. They aren’t high-end clothes but if I take care of them I expect to have them for years. When the weather gets cool/cold and I start wearing my new ideas, I’ll post a complete outfit I wear sometime to let you see it and follow up on if it is successful. As someone who whoppingly prefers warm weather clothes, I’m actually a little excited about cute, inexpensive clothes potential this fall and winter!

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What’s on my mind lately (Sept 2018)

Summer is more or less over. It passed quickly for me. Summer is when I feel most alive, because it’s such a sensory, sensual time of year. So much to see and do! And here, I don’t mean anything grand as much as the connection to the outside world, the natural world – sun on your skin, breezes in the air, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Water; pools, oceans, rivers, lakes, tall cold drinks of it. Rain nurturing the flowers, the vegetables, the perennials. Baby animals; birds, squirrels, chipmunks, ducklings, fawns. Windows open, long days, blue skies, summer clothes. It’s my time.

Beyond the pleasures of the natural world, more activities are possible and people tend to congregate, slowing down to relate, be it in formal settings (picnics, parties, weddings, festivals, reunions, etc) or casual ones, where they’re just more willing to interact when their paths cross.  (They’re not cold-as-shit hustling to their next destination. Or maybe that’s just me.)

I’m immersed in both my micro and macro lives. In the micro, I’ve continued on my path of mild self-improvement in 2018.  I have but two more lake visits to finish off what I planned.  I am reading – books – again. Nonfiction has dominated. I hadn’t planned that and somehow vaguely thought fiction would be the bulk of it but that’s not how it’s been. Maybe because I feel (or felt) this need to jump-start to mind, I’m drawn more to nonfiction. Not sure. I still have this nagging sense of trying to catch up, to read books I missed. I continue to be taken aback – chagrinned – that I’m picking up titles from years ago, ones I never read. I’ve switched back and forth between older and newer books.

As a middle-aged person, I am very, very interested in keeping my mind sharp as I age, for as long as I can. Not only do I love reading, but I miss challenging my mind. The years in which the internet has been in my life have changed how I spend my time and where I put my focus. Many good things have come to me because of the internet, but I lament those I dropped or gave less time to. I’m working to remedy that primarily by reading but not only.

WordPress – blogging and interacting with other bloggers – still is very important to me. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: WordPress is one of, if not the most valuable way I spend time online. It isn’t frivolous. It isn’t a waste of time. It isn’t a mindless diversion. It isn’t something I have nothing to show for after participating. WordPress has depth.

Oh – I’m off coffee for the last 3 (almost 4) weeks. I was a moderate but habituated drinker. I drank some coffee every day for decades. For many recent years I’ve had no more than one cup per day and frequently less than that (I always start with only half a cup but sometimes allow myself a tad more).  Because of how I’m wired, even one cup packs a wallop. I never drink coffee out. I hadn’t planned to give it up but I got sick for a couple days and didn’t drink it (or eat anything much either). Once off it, I decided to see how it would be to try to stay off. A main reason is I want nothing between me and my sleep. Residual coffee can affect a person many hours after drinking it and I have to figure, with my makeup, that must certainly be true for me. Quieting my busy mind to sleep soundly all night is a struggle. Yet I know that sleep or lack thereof rules my personality. I don’t take anything stronger to help me sleep than an occasional Valerian (an herb) and I don’t want to. I miss coffee – the little ritual and the little buzz – and can’t say I’ll stay off but right now, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, particularly when I replace it with a healthy drink.

Giving myself permission to treat myself well is the singular best thing I’m doing in my life at this moment. It’s a struggle and does not come naturally to me. But I’m better, undeniably so.  I’m a bit more generous with myself. I’ve stopped taking crap from other people and I’ve mostly stopped from taking it from myself. This is an ongoing theme.  Other people might not like it – the ways I consider myself improved – because it may not be to their advantage (if they’re looking for advantage). I’m less tolerant, waste less time, and don’t offer as much, and not as quickly, not where it isn’t merited.

Also– I’d like to believe that when you start living better and treating yourself better, the people who aren’t interested in much the same no longer enter your orbit or if they do, they don’t stay or you don’t keep them. And– you’re freed up to draw people who also are choosing or trying to live better lives, who want meaning and substance and validity. And please know, if you don’t know me, that I’m not talking about any kind of fake, quoting, affected, pollyanish, faux, passing, insincere, flash-in-the-pan, b.s. but those things which are genuine, true, and withstand time. Give me the people who are headed up, not spiraling down. And if my theory is wrong, well, I’ll just keep putting my energy into myself because I’m damn sure a far way from being anything near self-indulgent.

I have pushed myself and importantly, I have something to show for it. That’s how it feels.

So far as the macro world, let me give you an analogy. When Barack Obama was elected president, I told a friend that I felt like a kid does when their father is behind the wheel on a family road trip; safe and in good hands, free to sit in the back seat, look out the window, play games or look at books, relaxed and unworried. Now however, I feel tense and constantly vigilant with this new fellow behind the wheel. The car is careening around on mountainous roads, speeding and out of control. I am stomping the floor boards trying to hit the imaginary breaks in the back seat, gripping the arm rest fiercely, as if that would do any good. Road rage with other drivers could escalate on a dime and lead to something very ugly. I can’t take my eyes away.  I know this won’t last but I’m afraid of what could happen before there’s a new driver.  I have never felt quite this way about a president before.

In the end – or the middle or wherever – it always comes down to controlling what you can control. Doing what you can to make your life and the lives of the people you care about, good or better. To draw meaning from the ways you spend your waking hours, however that might be. What’s important to you? This is what I ask myself, this is where I constantly direct (and redirect when necessary) my attention. They say we have many competitors for our attention now. I am susceptible, at times too easily distracted. I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens and pulling myself up short: Do I really care about this? Is it important? Is this a good way to spend my time? Why am I getting involved in this?

A key part is not letting other people’s priorities become my priorities. Not unless I choose it. EVERYBODY WANTS YOU TO TAKE UP AND INVEST IN THEIR CAUSE. Be it with your attention, your time, or your cash. And I DON’T CARE. More often than not, I just don’t.  People who know nothing or very little about you are so certain that what’s important to them – whatever they’re promoting – should also be important to you.  It’s hard to get away from this so long as you’re a nice member of society and continue to interact with others (which I am and I do! Maybe on my own terms but still).

So, I guess it’s fair to say I am liking where my head is at but I do have some gripes. Or I have some gripes but I am liking where my head is at. I can work with this.

Making space in the summer closet (inexpensively)

If you took a look at my wardrobe you might think I live in a tropical climate. I don’t. I just favor warm-weather clothes and have built up a nice little collection of casual clothes over a period of years. Because space is tight, I have to seasonally swap clothes in and out of my closet (and tall IKEA unit) in order to make things fit. Nonetheless things have gotten particularly tight in my small 2×5′ closet this year.

Last October I put up a post showing how I organize my closet and clothes in small spaces.  That post has a ton of photos so I won’t duplicate them here so much as show my seasonal changes and a few new fixes.

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In winter I keep boots on the lower shelf but in summer swap them out for bins.

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Year-round I keep rain boots and some hiking boots on the upper shelf I added. The key to adding a second shelf is to make it more shallow than the lower one.

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Summer shoes plus an inexpensive 5′ runner I found on Amazon. The closet gets COLD in winter so I thought the carpet would help. And it’s a homey touch.

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Belts on the back wall

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To save space I bought this tie/belt rack hanger to hold tank tops. It’s worked out very well and it was cheaper than hangers sold as “tank top hangers.”

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Dollar Tree bins plus Dollar Tree plastic hangers (8 for $1) that are skinnier than typical plastic hangers so they save space. And I love the blue and green colors!

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I recently treated myself to space-saving metal pants hangers from Amazon.They’re very nice; I didn’t know they made such a thing.

 

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A tall, cylindrical laundry basket on the left side.

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Hard to see, but laundry basket for sheets on right side

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It folds flat when I’m not using it

Finally, I want to mention that the fabric covering the closet opening is a Kate Spade fabric shower curtain that I added an extra piece of fabric to in order to make it long enough for the closet opening. I found the curtain at Ross and immediately fell in love with it and while it took awhile to figure out its best use (I didn’t want it for the shower). I am delighted with this use. Since Kate Spade’s suicide earlier this year I have looked at this with bittersweetness. I am grateful to have her beautiful design but always saddened when someone of such talent dies, especially at their own hand.

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Wearing Old Navy Sundress on hot day at August Farmers Market (bargain style)

As I posted earlier in the summer, I was determined to wear my cute summer dresses this season, rather than waiting for the “perfect” occasions. I found this awesome cotton sundress on the clearance rack at Old Navy 6 years ago (I know this because Old Navy, like Target and a few other stores, I think, puts a date on a tiny tag inside the clothes). Not only did I love the dress on sight, it was an amazing $5! And it fit! And looked good! The bodice or waist area of this dress, with no spandex in sight, is unforgiving. If I’m ever not the size I was when I bought it, the dress is not gonna fit. Fortunately, it does have a small side zipper which facilitates actually getting into it. The blue and white checked pattern has a kind of retro-sexy vibe; the dress shows a lot of skin but it’s more sweet than vavavoom so it works for day time.

 

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The back has interesting details

 

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I wore blue fabric Grasshoppers flats (purchased secondhand for a couple bucks).

 

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Going blue: I made the earrings and the barrette, and recently found the cuff watch (it opens) on Amazon for $2.

The center piece of the barrette started life as part of an earring (from the nineties). I was able to wire it and the glass beads onto the barrette. You can buy plain, undecorated barrettes from craft stores or Amazon to make your own inexpensively. I wear barrettes and pins in my hair as much or more for decoration as utility.

In 2016 and 2017 I put up posts of all the hair styles I created for myself. I had let my hair grow (still am) and one of my favorite summer things is to get creative with my hair (in winter I’m usually in hats). There isn’t going to be a “Hair Tricks and Pics 2018” post but I did invent one new style that I wore with the Old Navy sundress. In this one I made two braids, one with the top half of my hair and one with the bottom half. I twisted the top braid into a bun and pinned it and made a loop with the lower braid). Here’s a couple shots to give you the idea.

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As summer winds down, I am really glad that I took the trouble to wear a few of my great little dresses. Yes, it take more trouble and thought that a tank top-and-shorts combo, but every now and again it’s worth it – dressing up makes things more special (and more fun) and I can definitely see the value in that.

No more “House arrest” in the living room

I’m pretty happy with the things I’ve done with my living room, which I’ve shown from time to time on the blog.  Inspiration hit again recently, partly from a memory from a number of years ago when Nate Berkus, the charming interior decorator, spoke on Oprah about people’s tendency to place their furniture under “house arrest” – it was all “up against the wall.” I looked around and stood accused; the furniture tended to cling to the walls but given the fairly small space, I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I have longed to have seating which faced the window, especially for winter (if you can’t BE outside, it helps to at least be able to look). Here’s my solution: pulling the couch away from the wall and angling it and the 5×8 rug in the space. The couch now faces neither the TV nor the window straight-on but each at an angle, but not so much of one your neck will complain. And there’s still plenty of room to walk around.

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The couch is very deep and I thought it didn’t look good – big wall-o-couch – till I put the plant and small table at the end, which soften the appearance.

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I made other small switchups. I put the white IKEA chair cover back in my bedroom and brought the flowered one to the living room (restoring each to the chair they came with). I pulled the blue lamp with the old-fashioned pull chain at the base out of storage. I had thought the baby blue co!or wouldn’t work before, given my general color scheme, but for now it’s okay and picks up blue in the chair cover. (I have since made a larger wood off-white top to put under the lamp so there’s a place to set drinks. When I put a drink on the coffee table I am at risk of kicking it off as I did once this summer, breaking a clear glass and sending my beverage flying, oops).

I have previously shown a high, narrow shelf I put up, one with pretty white lights strung from it. The lights are on a timer, 6:30-10:30pm. Well, last winter I got the bright idea to hang them in front of the window, despite knowing they acted up when moved. When I went to put them back on my high shelf for summer they promptly died and all the shaking and  “rearranging” in the world wasn’t bringing them back. I was kicking myself – I loved them on the shelf. Why hadn’t I left them alone? However, in  mid-summer I went to a local church rummage sale, the same annual one where I’d initially found the lights, and damned if I didn’t find another set. Yay! In addition to re-hanging my beautiful lights, I painted the unfinished wood white. Aaahhh, happy.

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