Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

I hope you had a good Easter Sunday with family and friends.

It was cold and rainy here today but my whole family all got together to attend church with my parents. My Mom was so proud when her minister told Mr. Mickey and I that we looked like we just stepped out of a magazine.

There was about an hour break in the rain so that we could snap these pictures.

The nude shoes by BCBGeneration and the umbrella are from T.J. Maxx. The gold jewelry has been in my collection for many years.

I own very few dresses since I wear a size 8 on the top half and size 4 on the bottom half. Knit wrap style dresses are about the only ones I even consider because the cost of tailoring is usually more than I paid for the dress. That's also part of the reason you see me in so many separates. I bought this dress at Stein Mart last year and the handbag there this year. The champagne colored jacket was purchased at the Fig Leaf boutique in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Thank you for reading. 
I hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dinner with Friends

On most Friday evenings we join a group of friends for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Gourmet & Co here in Johnson City. 

Our weather continues to be unusually cold for this time of year but I am craving color with those warm jackets so I added a fuchsia long sleeve tee under this one you have seen many times before. The bright color really added a new interest to it. The lipstick is Merle Norman's 'Cranberry' which looks great with fuchsia.   

This jacket was purchased from Coldwater Creek last year and the gray side zip pants are my old favorites from Talbots. 

The matte silver chain necklace is from Stein Mart as is the tee. The clutch is Kenneth Cole Reaction via T.J. Maxx. The shoes are Ros Hommerson.

Thank you for reading!

The Final Sailing Trip

Many of you have written to ask how my gentleman friend is doing after the boating accident. He has recovered amazingly well! 

Mr. Mickey will be seventy-nine years old in June. Three years ago he had a stroke which left him in ICU for almost a week. He was also a diabetic with very high blood pressure and other health problems that were starting to slow him down. After the stroke, we both embarked upon a healthier eating journey. (Thanks to the book "Eat to Live".) 

The reason I am telling you all of this is to share with you that it's never too late to change the eating habits that might be contributing to your poor health

We have both lost about forty pounds since changing our choices of food a couple of years ago. Mickey has reversed his diabetes and his blood pressure is at the perfect level, corrected with only a fourth of the medication it once required. The other health problems have vanished.   

After the boating accident a few weeks ago in which he very nearly drowned, he is back to wanting to go somewhere special every night and laughing and telling stories non-stop. This past week he completed the last of his follow up visits with his physicians here in the states. In only a few weeks time, his broken ribs and kneecap along with numerous lacerations, and deep bruises have healed. Each of his physicians were totally amazed with his speedy and complete recovery at an age when most men would have had a much longer and more difficult time after such a severe trauma. They all agreed that his food choices have contributed greatly to his rapid recovery.

If you missed the first post sharing the misadventure, here it is again...

My beloved gentleman friend, Mr. Mickey, has had the same group of friends for most of his life. For more than thirty years, they have gotten together for lunch a couple of times every week. They have enjoyed countless ski vacations, tennis trips and Caribbean sailing trips aboard a chartered catamaran Captained by a member of this wonderful group of lifelong friends.

The group spends the week sailing from one harbor to another, creating great memories to share again and again.

Along the craggy shores of the British Virgin Islands, there are vacation homes and villas for those who prefer to enjoy the view from land.

A smaller dingy boat is used to deliver the men to a shore
 where there is no dock in a shallow harbor.

The men occasionally stop for a sip of something cold late in the afternoon.

As the sun starts to descend into the horizon it's time to make their way into a harbor for dining in one of the many nice restaurants dotting the shores along most of the larger islands.

Casual attire is perfectly acceptable for fine dining in the islands since the sailors often arrive cold and wet from their ride aboard a dingy from their sailboats and catamarans.

As the tides shift and in certain harbors much larger waves suddenly start rolling in with little notice. A calm and peaceful shore can become a dangerous and even deadly place to be in a few seconds.

The evening quickly changed from sharing a wonderful meal and joking with friends to clinging to life.

The group boarded the dinghy to make their way back to their temporary home aboard the catamaran. Suddenly a much larger wave rose up from the darkness flipping the small boat end over end violently dumping all five men into the sea. Mickey and one other man remained trapped beneath the upturned dinghy. The other man was able to free himself and make his way to shore. One of Mickey's arms had become entangled in the towing line so he could make no such escape. The tides washed the small boat back and forth on the rocky beach dragging him trapped underneath. His strength was gone and the pocket of air trapped beneath the boat was vanishing quickly. A final desperate gulp of air, sea water and sand allowed him to yell for help one last time. The other men finally realized he was still trapped beneath the boat and were at last able establish footing in the raging surf in order to pull him to safety.

Trembling with shock from their injuries and the trauma of what had just happened, the group knew right away that Mickey needed immediate medical help.

After a day spent in an island hospital getting wounds bandaged and x-rays of broken ribs it was time to make the long journey home alone for further medical attention from his own physicians and specialists here in the states.

Mickey's daughter and I picked him up at the airport at midnight on the following day. She told him through her tears "You are grounded!"

The fellows will be telling this story for years to come, but I think perhaps Mickey will choose to stay home when they embark on their next adventure.

Thank you for reading.
We wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Friday, March 29, 2013


We visited Jonesborough in the year 1857 by way of a monologue in the Storytelling Hall last evening.

Historic Jonesborough is about seven miles from my home. It is the oldest town in Tennessee and home to the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. The 41st International Storytelling Festival will be held here October 4-6, 2013.

We still have snow on the surrounding mountains so spring seems far away. I still wear layers to keep warm so tonight I wore a red long sleeve tee from Talbots under a red Geiger jacket with gray tweed pants from Ross

 The boots are by Nine West via Belk. The necklace is from Chico's. The sterling silver ring and the black faux leather clutch are from T.J. Maxx. The earrings were purchased at a boutique during our travels. Even if the items I am wearing are a couple of years old, I share the source with you so that you can get ideas for your next shopping trip

 Thank you so much for your nice comments on the previous blogs. I really enjoy hearing from you!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Blues

A mixture of blues with tan was my date night outfit for Wednesday.

The long sleeve navy blue tee and tan side zip pants are from Talbots. The teal blue topper jacket is by Geiger.

The shoes are by Guess via T.J. Maxx.

The clutch bag is from Stein Mart. I found the necklace in an artist's co-op gallery in Asheville, NC. The large oval stone ring and earrings were gifts from Mr. Mickey. When I wear a busy necklace such as this one, I choose earrings that are much smaller and more subdued. Large hoop earrings with this necklace would be too much going on in the same place.

Thanks for reading! 

I hope you have a great day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Arts

Last evening Mr. Mickey and I attended one of our favorite annual events. The Johnson City Arts Council 4x4 was held at the beautiful Carnegie Hotel.
We arrived early to do this photo shoot for you.

The Johnson City Arts Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to nurture the arts and inspire community arts involvement in our area. As a lifelong artist this event and this organization are near and dear to my heart. Among the many programs and services they bring to our area is Arts Corps. This is a free, after school arts program for underserved youth in our community. These children might not otherwise have the opportunity to discover their abilities or learn to appreciate the joy that comes from creating something beautiful. Their alternative might easily be drugs, gangs or teen pregnancy.

Each couple in attendance of the 4x4 event pulls a number out of the fishbowl when they arrive. That number corresponds to an original piece of art by a local well known artist. Attendees who are willing to trade their artwork are given a tiny flashing light to add to their name tag. If you want to trade, you look for those flashing lights and talk to the person with another one to work out the trade. We were thrilled with our masterpiece by our dear friend Joy McGinnis. The event includes dinner and wine as well as live entertainment and a silent auction. It gives us the chance to visit with many dear friends as well as to meet new ones.
The hotel is one of the most elegant our region. We always look forward to attending events here or having dinner at their wonderful restaurant, Wellington's. This photo was taken in front of their wine cellar on the lower level.

The Austin Springs SPA is located just to the right of the cellar. I am often a happy guest there!

I wore a silver and rhinestone necklace and a blue jacket from Coldwater Creek with black lined crepe evening pants from Chico's. The shoes and bag are from Stein Mart.

Thank goodness the downpours waited until after the event!

Thanks for reading! 

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Daffodils and Sunshine

On Saturday we had a few hours of sunshine and temps above forty degrees for the first time in a long while.

Today I carried the faux alligator skin bag I told you about earlier. I really like it a lot! The size and shape are perfect for me. Sometimes you don't know how much you will like something until you take it for a "test drive". I will look for this size and shape when I invest in a higher quality bag in the future. The navy blazer is by Austin Reed, the red jeans are from Chico's, the boots are by Ralph Lauren via T.J. Maxx. The golf print scarf is from Ross.

Here you can see evidence of my one good day in the yard so far this year. I cut back all the monkey grass edging the front gardens, trimmed shrubs and irises back and added mulch. In about another week we should have nicer weather so that one can go outside without shivering the whole time.

Working in my flower gardens has always given me serenity. I so look forward to warmer weather when something new seems to pop up from the earth each day. So far daffodils and few other early bulbs are the only things to bloom. The pink cherry trees should be in bloom next month. I'll be sure to share a picture of those with you.  

Below is one of my favorite little shade garden paths from last summer. 

Have a wonderful Sunday!
Thank you for visiting with me in my gardens.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Animal and Red

The combination of red with animal print is one of my favorites.

For our dinner date last night I wore a long sleeve red tee and a three quarter sleeve jacket with side zip pants, all from Talbots. The weather is still much too cold here not to dress in layers.

My jewelry included these small three strand drop gold and topaz earrings which were a gift from Mr. Mickey. They are by Michal Golan, a very talented artist from Israel. I also wore a red bangle with gold embellishments. Gold isn't a good color for me but the gold tones of animal print and the gold tones of the pants called for gold jewelry. 

It was also the perfect time to wear my favorite DVF ponyhair animal print pumps from last year. Everything I have ever owned from the Diane von Furstenberg line has been a pure delight to wear.

Thank you for reading! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Handbag Search

For several weeks I have been searching for a light neutral handbag for summer such as the style I carried in this outfit photo from Sunday.

I was coming to the conclusion that I might have to pay up to $150 to find a style I liked, when my sister told me to check out the bags at Tuesday Morning. (Really?)

I found the one above by Nine West and another faux alligator skin shown below for about $20 EACH at Tuesday Morning. Thanks Sis!

I also found a lovely woven bamboo texture and cream faux leather combination one earlier in the week for about $35 at Stein Mart

The lighter colors and more delicate fabrications of summer bags means they might not last for more than one season of use. When I know the item I am purchasing is not going to be a long term addition to my wardrobe I cannot justify spending a lot of money for it.

These clutch bags were purchased last year at T.J.Maxx. If I am going out to dinner or to brunch I don't carry a larger daytime bag. These clutches get less use so they last for much longer than one season. Timeless styles that will still work for me in the future are always good choices in clutches.

I store handbags on shelves in a rarely used guest room closet stuffed with tissue and in dust covers if the bags come with them. 

This is another Nine West bag I purchased last year. Each time I carry this bag I use neutral shoe polish to clean and protect it. I like to wear this style of bag with platform sandals and Capri pants. That's an outfit I wear often in the heat of summer instead of shorts (never!). This is a youthful style which balances well with that look. It also can be carried on the arm or on the shoulder.

Your handbag can pull together your look and add that extra touch of elegance that also serves a purpose. A handbag can also make you look silly or sloppy. 

Consider scale and balance when shopping for a bag. For example, if you are six feet tall and weigh a few pounds more than you know you should, a small top handle bag will not be a good balance for your silhouette. Instead look for a larger bag that you carry on your arm or your shoulder if you prefer that type.

If money were no object, I might purchase this bag. (I don't think everything in my wardrobe added together would equal the price of this bag.) This is the Cognac RL Gold Spectator 40 Calfskin Tote by Ralph Lauren. It is $5,030!

You can see how the style, shape and color influenced my choice of bags in the first three images. I often look at the high end designer styles that appeal to me and then I go searching for the version that matches my budget.

I hope that these tips help you to find the right summer bags for you. 

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What's the Difference?

We all know someone who spends a great deal of money on their clothes but rarely looks polished. Why is it that some women can pull things from the 50% off rack and look like a million dollars in them? 

My theory is that when you know what looks good on you and you wear those items in pleasing combinations you will look amazing while you spend most of your time enjoying your life. (Not shopping for more clothes or working to pay for those clothes.)

In our society it isn't acceptable to ask "How much did you pay for that?" but many of you have written to say "I could never afford to dress like you." I want you to know that you can shop at Goodwill and still look fabulous!

The picture above was snapped in my office on an average day during the week. Let's put taboos aside and talk about prices for a moment.

The sweater was about $21 at Stein Mart. I picked up the tank top there too. I think it was about $10. The pants are a tweed like material by Anne Klein. I found those for about $24 at Ross Dress for Less.

This navy blazer is possibly the most expensive thing ever in my closet. It's by Austin Reed (sadly the company has gone out of business now). The color, the fit, and the classic lines made it a great choice to wear with slim fitting slacks, especially jeans. It was an investment but I've been wearing it for more than seven years so it has earned its keep. When you find the perfect garment and you know you will be wearing it for the rest of your life spend the money to get the best you can find. All of the other items were found at T.J. Maxx or Talbots at the end of the season. I rarely ever buy anything at full price. Having grown up in retail I know to wait for a few weeks. It will be on sale or it just wasn't  meant to be mine.

This blouse was about $25 on the final end of season clearance rack at Chico's and the pants were found on a sale rack at Stein Mart for about $19 last year.

This jacket was purchased from a sale rack at Stein Mart. I also had a coupon that took 50% more off of the sale price. It cost me about $19! The tank top was from the same shopping day and it was about $3.50. The pants are from the end of season sale at Talbots.The Tahari handbag is from T.J. Maxx.

This is another jacket purchased from the Stein Mart haul mentioned above. The jacket and tank top were from the Red Dot Clearance rack. With my coupon, the jacket was $17.49 and the tank top was $3.47! The black knit pencil skirt is old from T.J. Maxx ($16.99).

How do you know what to buy? 
There are several considerations that come into play when I walk up to a sale rack. The first thing that gets my attention is color.

Cool summer colors work best with my coloring. Solid colors can be worn more often and in more combinations than prints which can be quite memorable. After I find a color I like, the next thing to consider is the fabric. How does it flow across my hand? Is it soft and supple? If the item is made of acrylic or acetate I will leave it on the rack.Those man-made fabrics are often stiff and scratchy. Worn looking pills and sagging seams occur almost on the first wearing. Some polyester and rayon can be very elegant with beautiful movement and drape. Those and any natural fabrics always get my attention. 

Timeless details and simple lines are high on my list of requirements. The way the garment fits my body type is more important than the number on the size label.

The purpose of this blog is to show you how to look your best no matter what your budget is. I will continue to share style tips and best practices for certain body types. I hope to inspire you to look your best every day so that you can have more confidence while you spend your time doing whatever it is that you love to do.

Have a fabulous weekend! 
Thank you for reading my blog.