Friday Faves: Fall Fashion Fluff

This is fluff about clothes and other things that aren’t vitally important in the grand scheme of things. It’s all in good fun.

November is a busy time of year, but also a fun time. The collision of obligations, deadlines, and celebrations can provide an interesting challenge for those of us who are wife dressing. That is, we don’t own the option of sacrificing femininity and beauty in exchange for the comfort and expediency we’d like in order to get things done. The good news is that we can do both.

We don’t really experience a change of seasons here. Because of that, a lot of fashion conventions fall flat in this neck of the woods. For example, it’s warm nearly year-round, so sandals are always in order and Floridians don’t generally adhere to the “no white after Labor Day” convention either. Although…I’ve learned that there is such a thing as “winter white“, which makes me wonder if any place adheres to that rule anymore. But I digress. The goal of this post is to list five of my must-have essentials to get dressed quickly, easily, and fashionably enough.

  • Wide belts: I love a wide, genuine leather belt. They’re not cheap, but I’ve found that the best way to get them at a reasonable price point is to go through Etsy. Each one I bought has been shipped from Eastern Europe, where there is a robust collection of women performing quality artisan leathercrafting. I own this one, as well as the belt I’m wearing in my gravatar.  I also have two others  in different shades of brown that I ordered from Etsy. They’re categorized as corset belts, so be aware that the advertising will run the gamut, but the quality of the leather is excellent. One belt which I bought stateside is of vastly inferior quality for a similar price, so I decided it was worth it to order them from overseas.
  • V-neck sweaters and fitted long-sleeved shirts: In whatever colors look best. For me, those colors are saturated colors: blues, reds, browns, and also off white, which matches just about anything.  These also look good with both jeans and midi skirts. For me, however, those tops require an additional go-to item:
  • Camisoles: The blessing and the curse of my body type are that I look better in fitted clothes. I think this came up in my review of the 50s fashion book, Wife Dressing. I layer my fitted clothes with fitted camis underneath. I’m pretty open about that because I think women should look good in our clothes. Although I exercise hard and take good care of my health I’ve also had five babies, so accommodations must be made. My stomach is naturally flat, but also extremely soft, so I layer with lightweight, fitted camisoles.
  • Midi Skirts: Who doesn’t love a good midi skirt?  They are versatile, comfortable, feminine and pretty. They’re not too long, not too short; just right. They look good with sandals, heels, and even Sperrys. I like a great maxi skirt as well, but my fondness for midi skirts has grown recently.
  • High rise jeans: I must admit, I don’t share the typical American’s love of blue jeans. At least not for the reasons other people seem to like them. I don’t find them particularly comfortable, and living where we do, they can be rather stifling. That said, I do appreciate a nice fitting pair of jeans for their fashion possibilities. Put with a few simple, no-fuss elements (dangly earrings, a cute wedge heel, and a smear of lip gloss for instance), jeans are an easy way to get dressed in 5 minutes without looking like you threw your ensemble together in 5 minutes. That’s why I wear them. And when the temperature does finally drop, they are warmer than a midi skirt.

This is always the most fun part of these posts; finding out what you like best.

So…what are the essentials of your wardrobe that make getting dressed much easier than it would be otherwise?

*You might also be interested in my review of The Lost Art of Dress.

Friday Faves: Seasonal Anticipations

Halloween is over and November has arrived, so it’s official: The high holiday season is upon us. With that, we all start preparing for that most wonderful, and most expensive, time of the year. For those of us who celebrate the Incarnation, however, there’s more to this time of year than wrapping paper, Scotch tape, and near-constant Amazon Prime deliveries. For many of us, this time of the year is about pausing to remember the most important things in life; the eternal things.

With that in mind, I thought we’d start November with a few things I most look forward to at this time of the year. Shopping is not on the list:

  • Cooler weather: We live in a very tropical climate; so much so that the temperature this Halloween was 90 degrees. The hot humid blanket has been hanging on to us for what seems like longer than normal this year. However suddenly, as if on cue, the projected high temperature for today, November 1st, is between 79 and 80 degrees. That may not sound like cool weather, but relatively speaking, it’s fabulous. Hopefully, from here we can settle down into our normal “wintery” mid-70s temperatures.
  • Outdoor fall festivals: This is the time of year for art festivals, free movies in local parks, charitable 5K races, and numerous other opportunities to get outside and soak up the weather that made Florida a favorite winter vacation spot from the late 19th century onward.
  • Thanksgiving: This is the holiday that we spend the most time with extended family, and because ours is a family full of women who not only can cook, but enjoy cooking together, preparing the meal is more fun time than a burden, as it should be. I am suddenly remembering this book, which I read to my kids:
sweet potato pie book

Those of us with Southern roots do enjoy our sweet potato pies!

  • Christmas Decorating: To be honest, this is not my favorite thing, but it’s included here because I love seeing the joy it brings my husband and kids to decorate for the Christmas season. And once it’s all done, the festive atmosphere is very uplifting. I do enjoy seeing the wreath on the door!
  • Advent Devotions: One of the things I have become increasingly wary about over the past ten years is the crass commercialization of Christmas that we excuse by slapping platitudes such as “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” on things that have little to do with Christ’s Incarnation. Picking and reading a book devoted to reminding me of why we celebrate and how we should celebrate tempers a lot of that uneasiness in me. Jesus does indeed become the reason for the season.
  • Holiday movies: We kicked things off on Halloween with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and every week I hope we’ll be enjoying an uplifting, family-friendly production that reminds of the angels’ greetings to the shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night: “And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

Those are a few of the things I anticipate as we move into the most wonderful time of the year.

What are you looking forward to now that November is upon us, the holidays loom, and the year is speeding to a close?

Friday Faves: Auditory Enrichment

One of the things I have been doing over the past several months is listening to podcasts while I work. These are comprised of various types of listening; from sermons to news and politics, some informative broadcasts and also educational encouragement. Podcasts have evolved into my first option for engaging the mind and contemplating ideas. They are, for me, more cognitively enriching than reading articles online.

I still have a list of favorite, friendly blogs but overall, I find podcasts more enjoyable. I can listen to several while my kids are in school (they go to school a couple of days a week) and still get lots of household tasks accomplished.

I’ll confess that I’ve wondered if the trading of screen time for podcasts is tantamount to exchanging Cheetos for Smartfood, but decided that since I get a lot more done listening than while indulging other forms of distraction, the podcasts are here to stay for a bit. I listen to random podcasts on occasion but have subscribed to eight, in particular, and I listen to these regularly. This Friday Fave will highlight my current favorite podcasts. I installed the Castbox app on my phone, which makes it much easier for me to see when my favorites have a new episode as well as dig around for others that might be interesting.

Here, in no particular order, are the podcasts I subscribe to along with a little bit about why I enjoy each one.

Proverbial with Joshua Gibbs: This one is a part of the Circe podcast network. Unsurprisingly to anyone who has read here for any length of time, this is my favorite of the three Circe podcasts on the list.  In his podcast, Gibbs “explores the wisdom of the ages as it comes to us in proverbs, by which [he] means wise sayings a man may live by if he’s not so arrogant as to think himself special”.  He opens every weekly episode with that quote, and I have yet to tire of it.

The Commons: Part of the Circe Institute’s podcast network, The Commons is thoroughly focused on topics related to Christian classical education. It helps me to remember why we have chosen the education path we’ve chosen. Especially when the road seems hard.

Ask Andrew: Ask Andrew is also offered through the Circe Podcast network. In it, Andrew Kern asks specific educational questions that Circe readers submit. Again, Circe is dedicated to Christian classical education.

The Candace Owens Show: I really enjoy listening to this young commentator who covers a range of topics from a thoughtful, countercultural, unapologetically conservative perspective. She always has interesting guests, too.

Voddie Baucham via SermonAudio: I have always enjoyed Voddie Baucham’s scripturally systematic, intellectual approach to teaching. I always learn new things and am challenged in new way by listening to him.

Primal Blueprint: This is a podcast produced by Mark Sisson, author of Mark’s Daily Apple.  He doesn’t always host the podcast, but it’s still chock full of good information about health and nutrition.

The Ben Shapiro Show: I hardly think I need to get into a lengthy description of this one. Almost everyone knows who Ben Shapiro is. He is so smart and intellectually honest that he manages to produce a hugely popular video show and podcast in spite of his rather annoying voice.  It took some time, but I got used to it. For the uninformed, he discusses the hot political topics and headlines of the day from a libertarian perspective.

The World and Everything In It: This is a daily news and issues podcast that reports and analyzes from an explicitly Christian perspective. Somehow, they manage to do it in a way that doesn’t feel like proselytizing. They are thoughtful, honest, and balanced.

The Way I Heard It: Mike Rowe’s amazing voice and stellar storytelling ability combine to offer uncommonly known insights into people and events most of us are familiar with. His website describes it as “a series of short mysteries for the curious mind with a short attention span”. Yep. It sounds like a podcast for me!

Those are the eight podcasts I am subscribed to and listen to on a semi-regular basis. Some of these I listen to more consistently than others, of course. Now on to the important question:

What are some of your favorite podcasts and which ones do you think I might enjoy but haven’t yet heard about?

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves: Apple Season!

“Pumpkin spice” is advertised everywhere we look from September through Thanksgiving (and I’ll admit I made these “pumpkin spice” energy bites yesterday), but for me, the real treat of the fall season is a crisp, sweet, tart apple.

Sidebar: The quotes around the words pumpkin spice are because in reality, there is no such thing as “pumpkin spice”. Flip over any package of the stuff, which is ubiquitous on spice aisles this time of year, and you’ll find a list of ingredients that you already have in your pantry. Or at least you have them when you cook as much as we do: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and possibly allspice.

While these are indeed used to flavor pumpkin pie, they’re also used for sweet potato pie, some apple pies (minus the ginger, of course!), butternut squash recipes, and many more that I won’t bother to list. My point is that the pumpkin spice gimmick has been a cash cow for the food industry when most home cooks already have the stuff in their cabinets. You can even flavor your own coffee with it for a fraction of what Starbucks charges! But as usual, I’ve digressed from the topic at hand, which is the happiness apple season brings me!

For today, I was trying to decide how to list my favorite apple varieties. I concluded that I’ll list my top five -in no particular order- along with what I use them for. Not all apples shine best in the same ways!

Granny Smith: a great baking apple. These were cultivated in Australia in 1868 by a “granny” named Maria Ann Smith. Something about Granny Smiths makes just about anything you bake with them taste phenomenal. I suspect it’s that bit of tartness juxtaposed against the sweetness of the other ingredients it is baked into. I will occasionally eat a Granny Smith just because, and one of my daughters only ever wants to eat Granny Smith, but I consider it best as a baking apple.

Pink Lady: Cultivated and principally grown in Australia (in 1973), pink lady apples are a cross between tartness and sweetness. They are a little crunchier and a little sweeter than Granny Smiths, and they work well when making drinks such as apple lemonade. We’re big around our house about making eclectic drink combinations for Sunday dinners.

Gala: Cultivated in New Zealand during the 1930s, these are my favorite economical snacking apple. The perfect combination of crunchy and sweet makes them a favorite to slice and eat along with a salad for lunch.

Honeycrisp: Hands down, the apple I most look forward to this time of year! These apples, cultivated in the 1970s in Minneapolis, taste like a very decadent treat. They are more expensive than most other varieties of apples, but in my book, every bite is worth the added cost per pound. Cooking Light explains here why Honeycrisps are so expensive.

Those are my favorite apples along with some random trivia about when and where they were cultivated. We don’t experience much resembling a change of seasons down here, so we have to take our bits of fall however we can get them. For many Southerners, that’s pumpkin spice. For me, it’s all about the apples.

Do you enjoy the apple season? If so, which are among your favorite varieties? There are so many, after all!

Friday Faves: Literary to Film Adaptations

When a new movie is released that is based on a renowned piece of literature, my usual approach is to not watch the movie until I have read the book. That hasn’t always been the case, and  plenty of times where I finally got around to reading the book years after having watched the film.

Today, I decided to share my favorite page to big screen adaptations, and to find out which ones are your favorites. In no particular order:

~The Godfather (1972): This movie, featuring Al Pacino in a masterful portrayal of mob boss Michael Corleone, is a great film and one of my favorites. Yes, it’s violent and all that other stuff, but the combination of wonderful performances and a gripping story is why it made my list.

I was slightly older than newborn when this movie was released, so it stands to reason that there was no way I could have read it before the film was released, but I still haven’t read it. I’ve decided that I will read it after the Advent season has passed, at the begiining of next year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. That there is your southern idiom lesson for the week. 🙂

~Sense and Sensibility (1995)– As I’m sure many of you might guess, I have read -several times over- the book from which this film was adapted. Jane Austen’s classic trope of lovely yet penniless young women seeking marriage and hopefully love is brought delightfully to life in this 1995 adaption. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, as sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood make this a worthy adapation.

~True Grit ( 1969 or 2010 take your pick!) – Whether we’re discussing the 1969 version starring John Wayne, or the 2010 version starring Jeff Bridges, both of these movies are really great adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel. I have a strong bias towards Jeff Bridges so my vote goes to the later version, but as I said, both are great.

~The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)– This adaptation strays far from James Thurber’s 1939 short story, but it’s a fun movie and it’s one of the few where the time and trouble to read the original and compare notes is easily accessible. The short story doesn’t wrap up with a happy ending gift wrapped and handed to reader with a bow on top the way the film does. But having experienced both, I did come away wondering if it were possible for the original Walter Mitty, even at his more advanced stage of life, to break out of the doldrums and live a happier life in the reality he was born into. We recently discussed Thurbers story right here.

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)– Based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a very fun film. Much more fun than the 2005 version which we didn’t like all that much. I wasn’t born yet when this movie was released, so again, I didn’t read it before it hit theaters. I was born a little later that same year, but I didn’t read the book until I was a married mother. It’s a great book.

The Help (2011)– I tend to weary of movies that depict slavery or the Jim Crow south, unless there is a very unique unheard angle worth exploring.  But this film (and the 2009 book) had so much humor woven through it and the performances were so well done that I got past it. Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and Allison Janney (had to Google the cast members!) made me laugh so much that it was worth it to me to watch the film.

That’s my short, but certainly not exhaustive, list.

What are some of  your favorite book to film adaptations?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves: GPS for Living Edition

 

As I posted recently, September is (for me) the ideal time of the year for planning and setting goals. It’s almost my defacto New Years. A perfect season in terms of making the adjustments I need in order to keep moving forward in areas I have heretofore ignored, grown stagnant, or even simply seen my forward progress slow down a little bit.

My number one way of keeping things on track is by using tracking tools. Some are old-fashioned and simplistic but helpful for daily use, others are apps which I have found amazingly useful, and some are just products and services which add value in ways that I appreciate. So here are some of my favorite tips, tools and trackers to help me get where it is I want to be as we move through this time of year.

  • Goodreads: This is the best place to find reviews of books I may be interested in, and an excellent way to decide whether I think I want to follow up and read certain books. Goodreads member reviews are far and away better than Amazon book reviews because they’re written by book people, and most importantly, they are less likely to  be reviews written by people who haven’t read the book or have some other agenda.
  • Whiteboard for daily lists: I have to admit, that for a long time I felt kind of inept as a homemaker when it became increasingly clear to me that without a list of tasks I am far too easily distracted and flight to get stuff done. By list, I mean a big, red reminding me throughout the day, one that I can check off as things get done. It’s not that I won’t do anything without a list. It’s that I won’t finish as many things without a list. There is always something to be done, and it’s very easy for me, in the middle of one task, to get pulled away into beginning another. The ever present list and the innate satisfaction I get from seeing all those checked items, keeps me focused.
list

recent to-do list

  • Planner (paper kind): Despite the ease with which I can save appointments on my phone, and I often do it that way, there’s still something nice about whipping out an old-fashioned planner book. Judging by the numbers of shelves they occupy in Barnes and Noble as well as other book and office supply sections this time of year, I’m clearly not alone.
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch: This is not only a fitness tracker (although that is my primary use for it).. It is helpful on less busy days to be able to see which hours of the day I can up my activity level  if possible. I also like my smartwatch because it makes it easier for me to not have my phone on me as much. When you have a big family, and I realize how postmodern this sounds, not missing texts and calls can be important.
  • Lose It food tracker: Love this as a way to keep track of my calories and nutritional macros. Having gone back and forth about this (as it’s another one of those areas where those of us of a certain age are supposed to just *get it*), I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever I need to do to get a thing done is what I need to do to get it done. And keeping a record of what I out in my mouth is useful to me. Is what it is.
  • Large, insullated water bottle: Staying hydrated is supposedly one of the foundations of health, along with sleep, nutrition, and movement. So I fill my 40 ounce Camelbak up every morning with the earnest intention of depleting it, and then filling it and depleting it again. Most days, I only get one full bottle down, but between that, my morning decaf, and the glasses of iced green tea (sweetened with stevia), I am much more hydrated than I would be without it. And it’s in my favorite color:camelbak blue

I could go on but you get the point. If I’m going to make any kind of forward progress in my life in areas that matter (including several not outlined here), I need a map. Several it seems, for every goal I’m working towards.

What about you? Are you a naturally disciplined person who takes the bull by the horns and gets things done without training wheels? Or are you more like me, sadly lost and wandering without a handy guidebook to keep you focused?