Thursday, April 15, 2010

This is Home.

Hubs and I live a pretty simple life.  We are two city mice who long to live in the country, so of course we own a second-story walk up in the 'burbs.  Sometimes it would appear that everything about us is a non-sequitur.

Our accommodations for the time being are humble, but every spring the landscape here turns resplendent.  The trees bordering our apartment appear in full bloom overnight and you can hardly see outside.

It's magical and restorative to the soul.























Coming home on bloom day.  I do love this hallway with its smeary walls and cool, green stairwell.























The window at the end of the corridor.  Sometimes I wish we had held our wedding right here.

















Curtains would be a crime with a view like this.  Takes frying up the bacon to a whole new level.



Going outside to stroll and photograph.  Notice the 2nd story windows completely covered in delicious pink petals.  Yup, that's us.

















Heaven.

















If I had to choose one palette to wear for the rest of my days, this would be it.

















The lilac lady along the path the winds around our building.

















I have read many a book perched under this canopy.

















Happy Spring Loves.

xoxo, Kristen

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just let the bird build a nest.

Hello friends!  

It has been too long.  And I have to tell you, I am very emotional writing this post.

I've had a house guest all this week.  She is impeccably neat and well-kept, but holy Moses and the bush that burns, she is loud as all get out in the morning.

Here she is...


































Can you see her?  There in the middle sporting one of spring's bolder style choices - the brilliantly orange-hued beak.  She sits there, elegant as pearls on a philanthropic debutante, mocking me by her very being... Ahh Kristen, so simple in your blue jeans and toddler-level digital camera. Don't fret, one day you'll wear color too. Oh yes you will.. beige is a color... to some...

Gah! humbling nature, how you best me.

She arrived on Monday morning, startling me right out of a lazy spring break sleep.  There was a timed, almost methodical sound of something hard hitting a window across the house.  At first I thought I was under attack by an unruly brigade of agitated chipmunks recently put out by the annual grooming of the neighboring treeline, fueled by the quest for social justice, and violently adept with an acorn. It was also quite possible that hubs forgot his keys, yet again, but I figured if that was the case he would come to his senses and throw stray objects at the bedroom window instead of the kitchen.  I mean.. it's 8am on a Monday morning and I have no plans or outside commitments.. do you not know me at all?

But it was not hubs and the sound persisted and soon the dogs were barking out of control, anxious to defend our home against all enemies, wild and domestic.  So I stumbled, bleary-eyed but looking fabulous (pssht, not), from the boudoir to the room where we keep the good, good coffee and there she was, a ravishing lady cardinal perched on the tip of a branch, wings bulked in grim determination.  

And then... PLUNK!  She flew right in to the window, appearing to charge directly at me.  I swear it just about stopped my heart.

She was fine though.  Hovered for a bit, flapping those wings with impressive fervor, before settling back on her branch.  Every 7 minutes or so she would try again and I sat in a chair watching her for an hour, totally and completely bawling into a steaming hot cup of Columbian roast.

My grandmother, my Mom-Mom, was the most incredible, gracious, accepting, and loving woman person I will ever know.  She had such a refreshing way about her, a lightness that lifted burden and worry from the soul.  Every single dream I had was not only important, but also legitimate in her eyes, from the ballerina who wanted to ride lions and join the circus to the high school senior who desperately wanted to forgo college and find herself abroad.  She never once told me to think twice and perhaps risk living only half the time. She raised us to be good, to cherish and love one another, to not fear change, and to remain resolved in whatever paths we chose.

And here comes the shed of tears once again...

The world is never the same without your grandmother.  And it's not even the Christmases and the birthdays that she used to anchor with her presence - no, it goes so far beyond.  It is the pervasive missing goodness from all the otherwise inconsequential days that make me realize, if she is to remain a part of my world, my life, it is now upon me to resemble her in any small way.  This realization is deafening.  I wonder if I know enough.  

And every time I stumble, I inadvertently stop, close my eyes, and lift my shoulders up to the sky, hoping to feel her hand - worn and wrinkled and the size of the universe - touching down on me.  A reminder that I not only carry with me her chestnut hair, but also 25 years worth of her life, and that I can do this.  I can do this for her.

It has been three years since she died and I have been in the mindset of trying not to dwell.  To think of her and then let her go.  To let grief and longing land for a moment, but never build a nest.

Cardinals were her favorite bird.


If you ever drove past my grandparent's house at the corner of Edmonson and Greenlow you would have seen her following - a smattering of trees full of bright red wings and melon beaks.  They would come right up to the back porch and pluck the raisins that we placed on the railing.  There were babies every year and at least one or two proud mamas who would sit at the gate and watch - I'd like to think over our family as well as their own.

And so, now one has come to stay with me.  Knocking at my window every morning and keeping watch over my tiny home at night.  It is enormously overwhelming and perhaps the most staggeringly beautiful sight I have ever seen.

I do so hope she plans to stay.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lust disguised as Peace Offering

I promise I will be back soon!  Life, this beast, has had its grips on me.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes.  My birthday is May 19th.  Just. Sayin.






















Boutique 9 'Gena Rose' Platform Sandal

(size 7 in the taupe, if you find them you have a friend/bodyguard/sugar mama fuh life!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can we talk about fat?

I know, I know.  Tsk-tsk-tsk and a big "no-no", right?  I'm with you - I hate the "F" word.  It's just horrible - dismissive and demeaning, literally and figuratively weighted down with the worst of the worst negative assumptions and connotations.  I know we're not supposed to say some of the things you're going to read here, but I want to be honest and I figure that sometimes even the right words need to sound wrong.

"She really doesn't need that dessert." ... "How did she let herself get that big?" ... "She shouldn't be wearing that dress." ... "Well at least I'm smaller than her." ... 


Sucks doesn't it?  If we're not thinking it about ourselves, we're thinking it about each other.  Not all of us, and not all the time, but every so often, perhaps when we've had a particularly stressful day or are lacking that sense of emotional security in our own lives, we lash out and turn a harsh and judgmental eye on our fellow woman, then seeing our own reflection we rip ourselves to shreds.

I'm guilty.  I saw a picture of the actress Mischa Barton the other day, looking fuller in the hips, thighs, and face than she did back in the days of "The O.C.", and I think I actually mouthed "wow" as I was standing there in the check-out line.  I looked down at my own thighs (because we all know the absolute best way to appraise the relative size of one's thighs is to look at them from the top down) and raised my eyebrows a bit as I thought, "Well, if Mischa's my size now then I guess it's ok to be me."

Yeah.  It was beyond flame-worthy.  I should have had my rights to womanhood yanked right then and there.  How absurd and out of my mind was I to a) have even the slightest disparaging thought about an actress who used to be pin-thin and now actually has a soft, feminine, womanly figure, b) compare my own size and shape, from a distorted point of view I might add, to hers, and c) to actual use another woman's figure as a barometer for my own acceptance of myself??  It's insane.  And unacceptable.  I feel sick even retelling it to you.

Don't we all wish the body image struggle would just go away?  But it doesn't!  It never even wanes - and why is that?  We hate it so much, yet we keep the devil around?  Seriously readers - what's the breaking point on that glass ceiling?

And then there's the conversation about personal standards.  I can only speak to mine, so here we go... Right now, I am about as unsatisfied with my body as I've ever been.  And yes, I feel fat.  I'm carrying extra weight thanks to my own self-destructive, primarily impulsive decision to give up on my gluten-free diet which has wrought havoc on my digestive, nervous, muscular, and reproductive systems.  Gobbling up gluten proteins that my body cannot digest has lead to a back up in digestion of other key nutrients, resulting in a damn near-constant feeling of hunger and inability to feel full.  Muscle fatigue is becoming more common and longer lasting, and is also occasionally accompanied by muscle spasms.  I had been migraine-free for several months and in the past few weeks I've had two that put me out for the night and most of the following day.  And not that you want to know, but my friendly lady cycle has gone and lost its damn mind.

The key thing, however, is the weight gain - and I'm sorry for checking off all my celiac symptoms for you, it's just that one does not seem to come without the other - I've gained weight without even remotely consistent exercise, so it's all just sort of settled around my mid section in the most unflattering, bulgy paunch since Winnie dipped into the honey pot.  My backside, though not entirely hopeless, has lost some shape (or gained some shape, depending), and no matter how much I yanked my jeans up by the belt loops, I could not avoid a muffin-top while getting dressed this morning.

Luckily for me (more sarcasm) I've been heavy before, so I know how to dress around this.  But that's hardly the point.  Because I started the morning a bit disgusted and wholly frustrated with what my body has become, I spent the rest of the day looking for reassurance in others, and some might argue, also at their expense.  Maybe at my expense too.  I know what my body could, and would be if I followed the diet that I know is best for my health, and that's what makes me look at myself in the mirror and say, "Unacceptable." If I was eating properly I would be better able to manager both my hunger and my portions, would subsequently not be experiencing this draining fatigue or migraines, and would be back in the gym like I used to be, pissing people off camping on a treadmill for 45 minutes, working the circuit, and punching the nuggets out of a standing bag in kick boxing.

There are some women my size and larger who I consider to have flawless figures; whose weight appears natural, healthy, and intended.  I don't know what was going through my mind that made me judge so harshly, and instantly.  As wrong as it is, both to think and to admit, knowing that I could look better gives way to the preposterous notion that I also know the anatomy and physiology of every other woman and I think to myself, they could look better too.   I found that picture of Mischa Barton again this evening and looking at her now, at the end of my night, when I'm in my forgiving yoga pants and husband's Navy t-shirt, I think she looks lovely.  Comfortable and more grown up even - ironic, considering that's also how I feel right now, as opposed to the mental case I was this morning.  But I definitely judged her first and I hate that.  It's as though Hollywood presented her as our standard of what a skinny girl should be - she went from actress to accuracy test and seeing her today, however many pounds heavier, broke my mental odometer.

I have been thinking about this post since the afternoon and my thoughts have gone in a dozen different directions.  I don't have any grand, concluding ideas, but I would like to hear what you have to say - and feel free to say it all.  Where are you with the weight issue?  How do you check your judgment and cultivate acceptance, tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect?  I admittedly need your help on this one.  I suppose it stands to reason that seeking to improve myself will also improve my outlook on the world and thus lessen my contribution to the woman-on-woman hate crime, but that seems so self-serving and I'm looking for more than that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Who's the big winner here tonight at the casino?"

Ashley, that's who!  Ashley's the big winner!  Ashley wins!

(If you haven't caught the Swingers reference yet, that's ok, we're still getting to know each other)

Random.org had a thing for lucky #2 today, so the lovely auburn-haired Ashley of The Thing About Daisies... is the winner of my very first giveaway!

Ashley will be the recipient of this sexy-hot bracelet from Etsy Artisan Tawniwold....
















...as well as some excellent beauty schwag I scored at Ulta just the other day.  I promise a big send-off picture before I mail it all out in a few days.

Congrats Ashley!  I love reading your blog and am glad to see you'll get some enjoyment from mine too!

This cocktail's for you...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Enough with the whining

Time to do something about this house.

One of the blogs I read daily is Fetching Fashions with the adorable Justine.  She's a Dallasinian and an aspiring psychologist who recently outlined the stages of grief and loss here.  To echo her sentiments, there is no disrespect intended in this post, but I think we women have all experienced transitions in life where internal desires and outside forces don't match up and you find yourself desperately seeking those things which used to be dependable and familiar.  It may not equal, but it certainly does echo the feelings of helplessness and despair that the loss of a loved one can bring, especially when you think of the loved one as the comfortable home you used to share.

I've gone through all of the stages of grief when it comes to the state of things in our home.  Denial that it was as unorganized and unmanageable as it felt.  Anger at myself, my husband, the dogs.. for daring to leave signs of our existence here, there, and everywhere.  I've definitely bargained.  I can check Facebook, blog, search for things on Ebay, call my friend, and go out to dinner with Mike tonight, IF I get up tomorrow, down a pot of coffee, and buzz through the house cleaning like a madwoman until everything is DONE.  This never happened, or at least not to a satisfying degree.

It started to affect my relationship with my husband, which you can read about here.  Knowing that I was breaking my promises and letting him down lead pretty quickly to depression. Depression is like quicksand to motivation, and I went into a bit of a survival mode, doing only what I absolutely had to do in order to function, reserving my energies for school.

Now, I think what I'm beginning to experience is acceptance.  I know that New Year's tends to be the popular time for resolutions and renewals, but I find that I am much more apt to reset my resolve in the spring, when the whole of Earth is coming up for fresh air.  Sorry, but trying to convince me that the dead of winter is a good time to take up spinning and give up comfort foods just ain't gonna happen.  But!  Show me blue skies and hint at summer vacation, and I can see the logic behind two-a-days at the gym, cutting carbs, and downing spinach shakes dusted with protein powder. Likewise, I'm realizing that there are definite behaviors that have gotten me to this point, and if I want to turn things around (which I do) then I need to wake up and make some changes.

It's very easy to forget that with adulthood, and even more so with marriage, comes a baseline of acceptable behavior.  You cannot, for instance, decide to leave your job, go to school full time, and forget that you still have a household to maintain and a marriage to support.  You cannot adopt a student's schedule and a student's mindset.  It will be harder than it was when you were 20.  It will take more effort for less thanks.

Thank God I can blog about it. :)

So that's my loose plan.  I'm going to go through this house, bit by bit, and start to put things right.  I'm not going to use this forum for support, but rather for accountability.  Interspersed with whatever other inspirations I decide to write about will be the occasional post on my progress, the challenges I've tackled, what worked and what didn't, failures and victories.  At the end, hopefully what we'll have are a clean and organized home, balanced life, and a healed and happier marriage.

Here comes Spring.

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PS!  Don't forget about the giveaway!  You can enter up until Tuesday night, right up to the stroke of midnight, so if you're looking for some new spring schwag take a peek and leave your info accordingly.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And then, a Giveaway!

In what appears to be the emerging tradition with this blog, I will now attempt to balance the heavier moments in life with a bit of lightness and fun.  Keep Calm and Carry On, yes?  Yes.

So, a few weeks ago I posted a little splurt about having reached 28 followers in the month with 28 days in the year I will turn 28.  That last bit being on May 19th if you fancy yourself a gift-giver, whee! I started this blog as a personal dare, never thought it would become anything of substance, and now here I am having personal conversations and revealing intimate details like a regular old bar stool lush.

Well here's another detail, not so intimate perhaps, but a reliable characteristic of Kristen all the same...

I freaking luuuuuurve repurposed jewelry.  LURVE IT.  ("Love" it if this is my Aunt Matilde reading, or anyone else who kinda hates super casual internet forum vernacular.  Um, like I used to, yeah ok...)


I am lucky enough to live between several amazing cities where vintage shops run rampant.  Many moons ago, when my fellow high school seniors were skipping class and getting poo-faced in the running back's hot tub, I was spending my skip day exploring a relatively new concept to my 90's babydoll-inspired closet - shopping the vintage on M Street in Washington, DC.  I had a high schooler's budget, but still managed to make what I consider one of the best fashion investments of my young life - a 1930's art deco Owl Pendant, repurposed into a brooch.  I pinned it to my black Gap t-shirt and it took my early 2000's minimalist ensemble to a whole new place. The next day, I made the mistake of wearing it to school and earned myself the nickname "Hooters", which I bore proudly.  Silly children, wouldn't know what's good for 'em...

I don't know what it is exactly, but I would take a slightly tarnished, reclaimed vintage necklace over a mass-produced piece from Tiffany & Co. any day.  It might be the history, or the idea of something not just representing timelessness but actually being so..  not sure.  It's definitely what drives my love of Etsy, so with that in mind let's get to the actual giveaway for crying out loud.
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This seller actually found me and I'm so glad she did.  Her pieces are everything I love - vintage bits, bold statements, eclectic pairings.  A little bit rocker edge with lots of confident femininity.

Tawni of Tawniwold enthusiastically agreed to be a part of this mini-milestone giveaway by graciously offering one of her pieces, selected by moi, and by also agreeing to a little "Getting to Know You" Q&A.  So without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to Tawni...

How long have you been designing/creating jewelry?

Well, lets see... I suppose I started when I got to college. I couldn't afford the jewelry I saw in magazines and on runways so I began taking vintage pieces of my own and just sort of, well, "experimenting." Being broke can force you to be quite creative and I guess i've just dabbled in it ever since, though I never thought to sell any of my pieces until recently. 

Do you have a design background?


No, I actually went to school for Literature! I took a few painting classes while I was in college... Does that count? I don't think it counts. [I think it counts] 

Where do you find your inspiration?


My boyfriend recently returned home from Russia and suddenly I want to wear only dresses with lace detail and pair them with silly little girly shoes that I can't walk in... I think the newer pieces are a result of that, feeling pretty and in love. I know, I know, It sounds really lame but honestly, my mood has everything to do with how the jewelry turns out! 

What materials do you like to work with?


Ooooo, I'm a sucker for organic shapes. Quartz crystal and gemstone, not perfectly cut...I love 'em! It can be harder to find at times, at least when you want a really organic looking chunk of amethyst or citrine that still sparkles, but completely worth the hunt! I've also recently fallen in love with freshwater seed pearls, stick pearls, and anything vintage art deco! 

What has been your favorite/closest to your heart piece so far?


It's a tie between my "Dripping Chain Nested Crystal Bracelet" and my "24k Gold Florite Pendant and Freshwater Pearl 'Lucky' Necklace." The first because it was one of my first pieces I designed and it sold to a really lovely lady. To state the VERY obvious, It's just so nice when someone likes a piece you've made, when they find it just as special as you do!! The second listed is a favorite because you can wear it every day of your life, dress it up or down, wear it even on your wedding day! Pieces like that become a bit more special than others, at least I think so! I love jewelry that I want and can wear every day! 

Who are your style icons?


Not a very creative or "different" answer but hands down, Audrey Hepburn. 

How would you describe your personal style?

I like classic pieces with a bit of a twist or pieces I can dress up or down. I used to wear some really crazy clothing but now I really do enjoy pieces I know will stay in style or I can easily alter to fit a trend, pieces that I know I will get my money's worth out of! I really do love lace, anything 50's/60's, and really comfy cardigans. OH! And I have this things for equestrian boots. I showed horses when I was younger so I've ALWAYS had a thing for them... I wear dressage boots until the soles bust out, I just love them, they dress up anything and everything! Everyone needs a good pair of dressage boots but, if you're like me and wear them as much as I do, find 'em at a thrift store or on Etsy!!! 

What jewelry trends do you love? or not love?


I love that more organic, rough looking stones are in style. I also loved seeing so many sparkling rhinestone's around everyone's necks this holiday season! It reminded me of Holly Golightly and her friends from Breakfast at Tiffany's. I also love seeing a designer take something really classic, an estate piece, and doing something new, something clever to it, dressing it up with lots of chain or strands of pearls, making those classic pieces really modern, it's always so lovely. Fenton/Dana Lorenz does that really well. Not only classic pieces but she dresses up stones in a really creative way, too! As far as trends I don't love, ehhh, I don't know, I pretty much love them all! 

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Yup, she's pretty awesome, and while it sounds like I could have written these interview answers myself (majored in Literature, broke-inspired creativity, mood dependent on outcome of jewelry, ha!), this was all Tawni.  And here's the piece I selected for one of you lucky readers to call your own...














Rhinestone and Chain I.D. Bracelet with crystal clear rhinestones, silver chains, and a gold plated vintage I.D.bracelet that reads "Progressive Club" on its backside.  Lurve.


Maybe it was an East Coast thing, but I.D. bracelets were the middle and early high school version of slap bracelets in my day and I am here to testify that I owned several varieties.  I loved them then, I love them now.  I love them embellished with rhinestones and silver chains that make them wearable with any outfit, any season, any day.  All hail the 90's, Veruca Salt, taking back the night, NOW, Clueless and all the plaid miniskirts that followed.  All hail the ladies, all 28 (now 31!) of you, that have srrrsly brightened my days.


There will also be a few other springy items in the loot.  It's 50+ something degrees here in Baltimore today and it feels like heaven.  As soon as this is posted I'm off to Sephora, Ulta, and a few other favorite spots to see what I can find for my interwebs friends.


The Rules!


1. Since this was inspired by the followers, you need to be an actual follower.  This is not a plug to try and up my numbers by any means, I just think it would be in bad form to do a giveaway saluting followers and reward someone who's not.  I love you all, official follower or not, but I think you get what I'm saying.


2. Leave a comment below with your first name, email address, and favorite 90's fashion trend.  Or if the 90's weren't really your time, any other decade will do.  Let's relive the glory days.


3. One entry per lady friend please.


4. I will officially batten down the hatches next Tuesday, March 16, at 11:59 and 27 seconds (ha) Eastern Standard Time, and announce the randomly-chosen winner Wednesday, March 17.


5. I feel like an even number of rules is bad luck, so... Smile at a stranger today!  This one is on the honor code.  Mmk?  :-)


And that's it!  First Giveaway has officially commenced!  Good luck, and make sure you visit Tawni's Etsy Shop, Tawniwold.  See ya at the Galleria!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First, a pause.

Hello friends.  It's been a while.

I think I have something like fifteen or sixteen posts to my awfulsweetness name and all of it smattered over a short period between October something-th and now.  It's hardly worth a moment's contemplation compared to some blogs with far more dedicated writers who I have come to greatly admire.  To anyone (um, like me circa late September 2009) who flippantly assumes that they can just throw on some irreverent fashion, plop down in front of their laptop with a vodka martini, and bang out the next single gal's guide to the big city... go ahead.  Try it.

This writing for an unknown audience business is hard.  And even more so when you try to, ahem, keep it real.

I like you guys.  I like knowing that I can get out some feelings at three in the morning while Roseanne is on and maybe check back in at noon between classes and find that somebody, somewhere can relate.  I like that you comment and email.  I like that you're women all leading these topsy-turvy lives with careers and great shoes, husbands and children, dogs, ferrets, and even one chinchilla.  In my mind, I am sure that each of you is living at least one of my shoulda-woulda regrets (ie: law school, international humanitarian outreach, maintaining a clean and orderly house) and for some odd reason that makes them not like regrets at all. I'm impressed with you simply by virtue of being a part of this shared community.  And I've missed you all a little bit, I'm not ashamed to say.

So with that, I have something to share and it's part of the reason why I've been unexpectedly absent for a while.

No, I'm not pregnant.
We are not moving.
I did not graduate or get a new job.

In fact, this news isn't even my news at all.  My good friend's husband just recently died at the age of thirty two.  32.

My own husband is 34, I say as I shake my head at the unfathomable thought...

I met Carla in school this past summer.  We got lost together on campus looking for the security office.  We vowed not to let the other gain weight this year.  At last count we were both up seven pounds.  Her husband Wes worked in the same industry as my husband.  Two Mondays ago we were making plans to get the boys together.  They have a two year old daughter and looking at pictures you can see nothing in that man's eyes to suggest that he did not have every last intention of someday walking that beautiful little strawberry blonde down the aisle.

Last Sunday morning, Wes had a massive heart attack.  He was an accomplished gymnast during his younger years, handsome and fit to the day.  Carla woke up and got their daughter situated.  She came back in to the room and noticed that Wes' breathing sounded funny.  She put her hand to his head and he felt cold.  The digital thermometer read eighty-six.  Wes was unresponsive and Carla called 911.  Carla's sister had spent the night, and not wanting her daughter to hear or see the ambulance, Carla yelled for her to take the little one to McDonald's.  That was the first thing to make me cry.

Carla had to do chest compressions on her husband for what she estimated to be about seven or eight minutes before the paramedics arrived.

Sit completely still for just one minute, in silence, and see how long that feels.  Now multiply that times seven and imagine, for that entire time, that you are, quite literally, holding your husband's life and breath in your hands.  Slamming away on his chest, hoping and praying that blood is reaching his brain.  The man you fell in love with, married, the father of your child, walker of the dog in the rain, carrier of the heaviest groceries, maker of the jokes when you're sad.

By Monday afternoon, the doctors told Carla that Wes had no brain function, no activity.  He was an organ donor and according to Carla this was something that was very close to his heart.  She actually said that... close to his heart.  They waited to take him off life support until his brother had arrived from New York.  Wes was pronounced at 12:30am Tuesday morning.

I haven't known Carla long, but we all have those people in our lives who don't require years of awkward growth spurts to reveal how truly special they are.  She is someone who could have been in my life all along.  I wish I knew more of her stories, had been there for her baby shower, known her even before she met Wes. She is a good soul.

The viewing was Friday and the funeral Saturday morning.  I overheard so many memories, saw so many smiles as family and friends looked over the countless photos framed and taped over every surface in the room.  I know I missed out by not having met Wes.

This is a site put together by family and friends.  The letters to their daughter Ava are lovely.

I would write about priorities, getting over one's self and the like, but that really hasn't been the effect.  The past several days have just been overwhelmingly sad, in part because having priorities won't keep your husband's heart from stopping at an age not even half his anticipated life expectancy and that is a bitch you can't shut up.  I've been reaching over periodically throughout the night, making sure Mike is there and breathing.  I'm still seething with rage due to his leaving the frying pan to rust in the brand new sink, but that aside we have plans yet unrealized, new mortgages still to pay.  He promised to be here with me, to be the person I brush my teeth with at night - bitterly of course, as we are still suffering with only one sink between us.  If he left me here to face the world alone.  Well friends, I have a confession.  That is something I don't know that I could do.

When I married him I chose not to remain an I.  That was a forever choice.  The part of me that was shunting dependency and future stakes away from my one-bedroom apartment heart was now permanently filled, patent, and flowing.  Now that I have learned to breathe the air, I could not live without it.

Dramatic?  Maybe.  But ladies, this is life.  LIFE.  Us chosen few here on Earth.

So here's to doing it.  And to Wes, may we all be blessed to be a part of someone else's happiness, for however long we're given.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spooky...

I reached 28 followers in the month with 28 days in the year that I will turn 28.

In honor of this most humble achievement, I've got something brewing.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I got to say, it was a good day.

And if Ice Cube doesn't immediately come to mind, well then kids, I don't know what to tell ya.

Looking in my mirror, not a jacker in sight
And everything is alright...


No helicopter looking for a murder
Two in the morning got a fat burger...


Who wouldn't love to have a day like that?

Nobody I know ahhhviously.

Seriously though, that song is terrible.  Terrible if you're a woman, terrible if you're a human.  But damn if it doesn't feel good to blast it whilst driving down the highway on your way home from a craptastic day of doo-doo shoveling at whatever hole in the earth you pay your past life's dues.

My bad day had nothing to do with work or school or marriage or any of those other subjects that my all-knowing grandmother would have told me to just stick a pin in and be done with.  Oh to be eighty-two and all-knowing...

It was just a bad day.  But it ended like this...

















Sooo... you guessed it... I got to say, it was a good day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whoa American Eagle, Whoa.

It always starts with "Man, I need some jeans", and then in no time it evolves into, "Man, I need some jeans but I still haven't lost those last few Thanksgiving/Christmas/Birthday pounds so I don't really want to drop a ton of money on a pair of jeans that will probably be too big (pssht, yeah right, they'll fit forever) in a month or so.  So even though I'm almost 28 and never know what kind of music they're playing there, I guess I'll go to American Eagle and just see what they have because secretly (or not so very) in the back of my mind I know that those jeans fit me great when I was 16 and will fit me just as well now that I'm older, wiser, and completely out of touch with tie-dye and whatever else they're selling in that Abercrombie for the less slooty crowd..."

And then before I know it I'm striding through the double doors in my leopard print pony hair heels, dressed for my age, and feeling like at any moment I am to be outed by the inappropriate police.

I am immediately greeted by an absolutely adorable young thing who must have sensed my displacement as she gave me such a quizzical look and asked, "What can I help you find?" leaving no room for the possibility that I might just be browsing and penniless like the two dozen or so other youngsters crawling all over the walls.

I smile, smooth my hair (hers was so bouncy, I chagrined), and say, "I, uh.. jeans.  The, uh, Artist fit, maybe?"

She bounced, bounced I tell you!, towards the obvious wall of jeans.  I mean, seriously, I've been here a hundred times, I know where the jeans are.  Not to mention I can read - well, in fact.  But I was so memorized by her charm, I followed her like a docent.

And in no time, after I had been assessed as capable and left to my own devices, I was chin-deep in three different fits, multiple sizes, and a heft of cotton tops from the clearance rack, which by the way are an additional 40% off through the rest of the week, so said my flannel-clad little friend.

I spotted what could be my new favorite dork-of-all-dorks sweater vest and in stooping to snag one I dropped half my load.  Sigh. Just when things were starting to go well...

And then, from out of the shadows, another AE cherub appeared and actually asked if she could start me a room.  I've been an AE shopper for many a year and never once has one of their employees actually offered to take a pile off my hands and help me help them meet their sales goal for the day.  I was impressed.  She asked my name, took most of my things, and then came back to find me a few moments later to let me know that Mia was waiting for me in the fitting room and just let her know who I was (who I was?  who am I..?) whenever I was ready.

Once I made my way back, sure as sugar cookies, Mia was waiting with a smile and a key, showed me to a room with all of my items neatly hung and told me not too worry, take as long as I needed, and let her know if there was anything she could bring.

Ok.  I get it.  They think I'm a secret shopper.  Whatevs, the service was great!  Outside I could hear my good friend Mia kindly telling shoppers they had to limit their fitting room items to five at a time, meanwhile I had well over twenty.  I kinda felt like a heel, but again, if this is what being almost 28 and shopping at a tweeny store gets you, I'll take it.  I'm in my twirtys, I deserve a break.

So here's what I wore on my little jaunt to twinkle town.




Simple really... Old as heck black v-neck from H&M
Blue & white striped button down from Ralph Lauren
Belt from Old Navy
Levi's 519 - distressing courtesy of yours truly ;)
Poppy Necklace by Gorjana 
Leopard Pony Hair Heels from Nine West (circa 2007-2008)
Camera - freebie from travel agent who booked our honeymoon! And it takes pictures like it was free... yeah, sorry about that.


Here's what I tried on and feel just brave enough to share.






For reference, I'm about 5'4.5" (hey now, the .5 counts) and weigh anywhere between 130-135lbs (right now I'm probably at the higher end of that range).  The jeans are a 6 Short and are a perfect length.  Easy to wear with flats and not risk high-water hems, and as you can see they work with heels as well.

The shirt was cute - the studs are very subtle and not at all costume-ish in my opinion.  I actually bought it, size 8, but then I looked at the pictures and saw that it was pulling a bit at the chest (I'm a 34C), so back it went.  Fortunate considering what I found down the hall, but more on that in a bit.

Next up was this Nordic-looking vest.  I don't see it on the website, but in store it was marked down to $14.95 and then an additional 40% off.

My face says it all, huh?  I just wasn't sure.  It's the kind of thing I love to have on hand to throw on as you see here, over long-sleeve t-shirt dresses, or tunics and leggings, maybe totally boho.  But something was making me question... maybe the fact that for a second I thought I looked forty, and while there's nothing wrong with that when you are forty (or fifty, or sixty), I still haven't cracked thirty, so it gave me a moment's pause.

In the end, I bought it.  It was like, no dollars and negative cents. And really, is it that bad?  Tell me, I can take it.

What do you think?

So then there was this top.  I wish I had bought it, and again it's not on the website.  























Simple cream-colored cotton with a bib necklace embellishment along the scoop neck.  It felt heavenly and I have no idea why I didn't buy it.  Something to do with shopping for the season and being financially responsible I'm sure.  Might have to give them a ring tomorrow to see if it's still available.

$19.95 + 40% off.  Duh Kristen, duh.

Sorry again for the terrible image.

On the hanger, this purple sweater reminded me of the cute tops my mom is so often pictured wearing when I was just a little thing and she was my age.  I had hope.























But, it gave me dreaded waistband tummy.  Even with a belt to distract, this was a no-can-do.

I was feeling good with the chambray shirt, crazy soccer mom goes hippie Nordic sweater vest, and Artist jeans, so I packed it all in and headed for the register.  Nothing much to report there.

My next stop was Forever 21.  With the way they change their sales floor, I feel like a mandatory sweep of new inventory is just par for the course on any casual trip to the mall.  I really wasn't expecting anything, until I spotted this...























Yup, that's another Chambray shirt, in a longer, tunic length, and completely lacking in embellishment.  Not to mention, this one actually fits my bewbs.  Size Small.  Sold.

Online it looks like a giant paper sack, but I think it was cut quite nicely, fitting close to the natural body line without losing its relaxed feel.  

And of course I tried it on under my new little snuggle buddy...























We loungin', they hatin'.

And yes, I changed my shoes.  For one thing it had begun to flurry outside, and regardless, this girl always has her Madden Girl Heavenly Flats in tow.

And that was it dear readers, a quick little outing that shocked me with excellent retail customer service and an easy-to-spot find at Forever 21 that I *think* may actually turn into a long-lived wardrobe staple.

If I had to name a downside to balance my yin, I suppose it would be the impossible to ignore realization that my hair has entered a state of the brassies.  I've been growing it out for a while and avoiding chemical treatments at all costs, but I think it may be time.  We're looking a little rusty and with springtime on the horizon this simply will not do.  

So chat with me, let me know your thoughts.. be it on the sweater vest or the unfortunate tabloid disaster that seems to be the Winter Olympics.  Seriously, whatever happened to athleticism for athleticism's sake?  A topic for another post I suppose, and another blogger.  But I am loving me these bedazzled skating costumes.

Cheers to all!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some seriously awesome vintage

So, I think you know by now that I am all up in Etsy's backside and you probably picture me as a walking craft show with puka shell necklaces hanging from my every which way to go.

I'm not gonna argue. But look, it's really about supporting the self-made, the creative, and in regards to the subject of this post - the pure genius. I'm not on Etsy's payroll, nor am I ever the recipient of free schwag. This I bring you from the heart.

The store is Persephone Vintage and it's a cornucopia chock full of mid-century, art deco, and 70's disco rock candy. It takes a keen eye to spot such treasures, and a mighty large heart to hand them over to another. Another thing I like about this store, besides the 596 positive reviews, is the very reasonable shipping.

And the congregation said, "Amen!"

For realz though, what's the fun in discovering a steal only to pay out the insole just to get it to your door? I'll admit, in my former life as a selfish miser I would have kept this secret for myself, but seeing as how I'm still indefinitely unemployed the new me feels compelled to share this bounty with the entirety of my blogging world - all 27 of you. It's Kristen 2010 ya'll - hop on.

And without further adieu... the goods.



















This is just a smidge of the selection that awaits, basically as much html code as blogger would allow on my struggling internet connection. So make haste and pay Persephone Vintage a visit - and if you decide to take something home, please come back and share.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Lot Like Love

There was a time, nay, an altogether gilded age when it was just me and my precious dog Daphne, living the somewhat single gal's dream. Working in the big city by day, living in a cozy one-bed apartment by night. We had an adorable cherry red coffee maker, walk-in closet, and sometimes we both had Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner. On the sofa. In our underpants.

It was grand.

This was also around the time when the Ashton Kutcher classic A Lot Like Love was on TBS, FX, or some other equally fantastic repository channel for not even worth the senior citizen discount price when you were a new release movies that somehow magically turn into the greatest flicks you have ever seen once they hit the small screen. Daph and me, we loved this movie.

A guy and a girl meet when the guy is in that post-grad, on the cusp of greatness, yet painfully awkward to others in his self-confident exuberance phase of life and the girl was a bit angry, wearing sloppy black eyeliner and boots with safety pins. They have this frolic of a romp through New York City and then she leaves. He tries to stop her and she says, "Don't, you'll ruin it."

I think the movie has a time span of something like seven years. They meet each other in contrived ways which because of their growing friendship seem entirely natural and spontaneous. They have invested relationships with other people. She gets engaged. But really the everyday happenings in their individual lives are so secondary, and not just to the story surrounding the two main characters, but to the prevailing theme of the movie that no matter how many years have passed, when they do come together it's as if no time has passed at all.

I've had great friendships like that. Some became love stories, some continue on just as they are. One in particular I married.

There was a period when it seemed this movie was on every Friday and Saturday night, and being a bit of a housecat with a puppy to care for and willing to take any excuse to stay in and enjoy the sofa I bought with my very own money, I probably watched it the better of a dozen times. And then I moved in with my new fiance and it wasn't on anymore. Every once in a great blue moon I would catch the tail end or see that it would be on at some obscure time during the day, but those weekend night viewings came to an end and after a while I didn't even remember to miss it.

But it was on tonight. And with such perfect timing that I have to wonder - who's really in charge of television programming these days? Sugar cookies were out of the oven, husband had had his fill of baked goods and xbox gaming and was now passed out on the couch, blankie style. I made myself a cook's glass of wine and stretched out on the second favorite sofa of my life. My movie was on in all its glory and the memories of my apartment, girlishness, and a fuzzy-haired, puppy-breath version of my baby Daphne came flooding back. It made me want to relive days gone by, put on a bright green face mask and call my boyfriend from under my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic bedspread that marriage and compromise have since banished to storage.

Outside, the snow was glittery and still untouched and even the 27, almost 28 year old, married, and arguably full-blown headcase version of me had to agree...

...all was right with my world.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And just like that.

My husband, whose name is Mike by the way, blew my mind in the car today. I'm not talking "tipped my head to the side, said 'huh', and then moved on with life". No, this was like "wiped the slate clean, removed every wrinkle from my brain, forgot I was human and responsible for safely operating a moving vehicle" mind blownation. And he wasn't even there.

I can't remember when it was... Saturday night, Sunday...? but in a recent enough period of time we have had a succession of fairly horrible fights. They are about so many things, but really what they all boil down to (prepare for completely unoriginal thought here) is that we communicate our disappointments and unmet needs differently. It's like there are love languages or something...

While I do care, very much so actually, when the house is a mess, the bills are piling up on the dining room table, and the dirty laundry outnumbers the clean by a daunting ratio, I can still look at my husband and feel the desire to love. When the environment around me is unsettling, I seek him out, enter the mancave, and kiss the freckle at the back of his neck. It's soothing, and it's a moment I can steal before the inevitable.

Then I feel him recoil. I come around to face him and see him looking at me with eyebrows raised... What are you doing here? And further still... What are you doing in here when there is so much to do out there? And my comfort spot is gone, hurt and confusion, sometimes even desperation, fills the space.

He's not wrong. I did promise I would tackle the laundry after I was done studying for my next exam, and I sat here in this same spot last Wednesday swearing to the moon and back that I would clean the bathrooms and organize my make-shift office on the coffee table by sundown Sunday evening. In my breaking heart, I wanted to. I wanted to make things right in this house.

When the situation is as described, house = mess, bills = piling, laundry = undone, my husband does not feel the desire to love. He feels the weight of being the sole income-earner, the refrigerator that needs filling, the gas and electric bill that doubles seemingly without cause. He may recall the time I told him that his methods of cleaning were hardly even, and that I would much prefer if he never scrubbed the toilets again. I may have added that if he dusted the furniture like he detailed his car he wouldn't even need a wife. Those criticisms were a promise, now broken. Like I said, I'm not innocent.

Transitioning from a full-time employee to an overtime student never happened. I never figured out how to balance eight-hour days in the classroom, two to three-hour (and some days, till dawn) evenings of school work and studying, sleep, and hospital rotations with continuing to be a partner, as well as a wife.

So I've basically just been promising, and promising and promising and promising.

We had our huge fight. It went on for hours, turned into a heated discussion, which was actually worse than the yelling. Take it from me - calculated responses delivered to a listening and attentive ear can be crippling.

Towards the end, my husband said that what he wants is simple. Don't tell him I'm going to do anything, and just do it, or don't do it, but don't tell him either way because he won't be expecting more than I can do. Do yourself the favor, he said.

It made no sense to me until today.