Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomorrow is the Big Day!!!!!

Tomorrow is the big comp day.  I am going to try to take lots of pictures for the photo journal I want to share with you.

I'm packed, I did a trial run of my makeup.  I had two hours of practice today.  I'm going to do about 15 minutes of practice tonight, take a hot bath and try to go to bed early.

I'll need to be up at 5 a.m. to get my makeup on, do some last minute prep and drop my son off at school.  I'll be picking up a fellow dancer to ride with me into Chicago.  
I'll have a pro do my ballroom hair and begin competing at 11:30.  I will dance for about an hour....(not continuous) and then I have a HUGE, LONG BREAK until I dance at 7 p.m.!  I don't have a room at the hotel where the competition is I will have to find a little nook where I can hide and relax!  
Maybe I will have to bring my Kindle Fire....this is a looonnnnggggg break. 

I'm bringing my own water and snacks in a mini cooler because hotel prices for those items are sky high!  I hope my energy will remain high throughout the break and during my later dances.

I'll be carrying all of my things (touch up makeup, small camera, kindle, dance shoes, accessories, jacket, wrap and other goodies) in one very small wheeled suitcase and a small evening bag. My competition dress...which is voluminous on the bottom, will even be in a garment bag inside my suitcase.  It works with this dress because the fabric is very resilient....It can be neatly rolled into a small bag and just POP back into shape wrinkle free!!!   I hope I have this down to a very efficient routine.

Competing is very enjoyable, but it is hard work!

Soon I will be in full rest mode and channeling Ginger.

See you after the comp!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gearing Up....

This will probably be my last post until after the competition on Friday.
I'm pushing through the mountain of homework that was assigned during the first week of class.  I need to be well rested and up to date on all of my work and homework.
This weekend blazed by in a flurry of readings, homework, students emailing technical questions regarding a new online Human Development lab, visiting my mom who was hospitalized yesterday, representing the guardianship services organization I volunteer with at a health fair and finalizing some arrangements for one of the clients I guardian for.
I feel just a tiny bit behind and frazzled.
Plus, I needed to find time to practice, practice, practice...oh and be a mom...and babysit my grandson.  Sigh...deep breath.
Blogging soothes helps me summarize my week and sharpen my focus on goals for the new week.

Calvin Kline dress; Nine West sandals; Lia Sophia necklace
This is what I wore to practice for the comp.  Super hot day, but awesome practice.  I feel good, confident, like a contender.  

At the health fair.

Dress Barn dress; Adrienne Vittadini scarf; Ann Klein iflex shoes
This is how I dressed to represent the organization.

I stopped by Walgreens to pick up my falsies for the comp.  Yep....without them dancer's faces would fade away under the lights and sparkle.

I hope everyone has a great week.  I'm looking forward to getting through the week and getting to the comp.
I will be peeking in on everyone and comment on your posts...but I'm getting my work done and getting my head into dance mode...

I'm gearing up.........

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A very casual day; a spontaneous dance partner

One week from tomorrow, (or today, Friday, depending on when you read this) I will be in Chicago for the Windy City Open Ballroom Competition.  I'm so excited to be competing at this comp because the ballroom dancer who inspired my love for the International Standard style dance will be judging.

Please check out this video of Lorraine Baricchi dancing a dramatic tango.  You will see why I admire her so much.

I'm looking forward to this comp and plan to post a photo journal of the experience afterwards.  I'll bring you on my journey as I prepare, put on my makeup, get my competition hair done and maybe even look for a new competition gown.  Want to help me pick?  I don't know if I will have time for a quick post or not during the comp...but if I do I will share some of my choices and get some input.

This is what I wore today to help at the university convocation.  The university is in the very early stages of creating a student ballroom club and competition team and I'm on one of the planners. During the convocation, different clubs and departments recruit students and acquaint students with all the university has to offer.  There is free food, music and all kinds of freebies are given away. It was a super hot day so I dressed in a cool, comfy dress.  I wore my sunnies and a straw fedora to protect me from the sun and my pretty new coral sandals.

Sofft shoes; $12.00 at T.J. MAXX

While I was recruiting new ballroom club members, a handsome guy just walked up and took my hand to dance! A Salsa was playing, but he was definitely "steppin".

My hat went flying at some point and my hair was mess, but you can see we were both having fun!  I

I'm pretty swamped right now with readings and assignments due on Monday so my post is short, but I wanted to share a bit of my day and let you know that next Friday, IT'S ON.  I'm bringing my inner diva to life in Chicago at that comp!

 Please let me know what you think of the Tango video I've linked to.....and be prepared for a sparkly, glitzy glimpse into the world of ballroom competition next week!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bad Bad Bad

Today was my first day back to school and teaching.  I had butterflies last night and this morning, but once I met my class and got the ball rolling, I was fine.
I decided to wear a very proper and sedate black dress that I found at the Goodwill a couple of weeks ago.  It's a Karen Alexander for Boston Proper dress.  I think its very ladylike and the cut is very flattering to pear shaped figures.  How I love my simple black dresses.

Lia Sophia 'Cabana' necklace
To add some color and interest I layered two Lia Sophia necklaces; the one that I won at the big LS event last month and the one that I purchased at that event.  

Now this is the Bad Bad Bad as noted in the title of the post.  As thrifty as I have been in shopping for clothing this year....I was still willing to splurge (and splurge big) to purchase a new bag.  I really like small bags, but they usually aren't roomy enough to hold everything I need.  I don't carry a lot in my purse, but I need to carry my invisalign retainers in a case and I want to carry my Kindle Fire in my bag.  I could fit most things in the very small mini-bags that I typically carry, but it was awkward because everything had to be placed just so and I was always checking the contents to assure that I hadn't dropped anything.  As much as I love tiny purses, they just are not functional for me.
I told myself that I would pay a good chunk of change for a purse IF it fit all of my necessities comfortably, was beautiful, functional and had a cross body option as well and short handles.  It also had to be well made, leather with a pretty fabric interior and medium in size.  Oh, and it had to have several interior pockets, a structured design, no ostentatious logos and be either black or a deep, dark burgundy color.  Sigh....I found it.  Ouchies on the wallet.
T.J. Maxx has this deeply discounted past season Rebecca Minkoff and it fit every single requirement on my list.  I'm in love, but the price, even discounted, hurt.

If that was not bad enough...I was also in need of a new book/work tote.  I had basically the same requirements as I did for the purse, but it needed to be large enough to carry my school supplies.  Double ouch.  This bag is by Pulicati, an Italian designer I had never heard of. It was so beautiful and well crafted that I decided to take a chance. This bag is a keep forever bag.  The leather is supple, smooth and strong.  The colors are so rich.  I think I'm in love. This was also deeply discounted, but a pretty big splurge.

I'm very, very particular about bags.  If I settle for less than what I think works well for me...I'm replacing them in no time. I am willing to spend more on bags that meet every point on my list...and both of them did.  I thought long and hard about purchasing these two bags.  I decided to do it because I'm looking at them as high quality investments that will stand the test of time.  

I'm tired of replacing my bag every few months because it is functional or durable enough.  It was time to step up and choose quality.

I won't say how much I spent today, but I will say that I've never spent as much on a bag as I did today on each of these bags.  Ouch.   I feel bad, bad, bad.

When I sold my royal blue ballroom dress a few weeks ago, I had decided that I wanted to use the money to purchase something that had some meaning and was not frivolous.  I wanted to replace something very meaningful to me (my first real ballroom gown by a known dress designer) with something that would have some degree of importance to me.  
I'm not a designer name kind of girl when it comes to bags.....but I do like a quality bag and I do have strong attachments to my purses. I won't thrift a purse no matter who the designer is; my purses are too personal to me. While bags this expensive may seem frivolous, if they last and I still love them in three years...I will have done well.

In the meantime...I'm going to be smarting a little bit over paying as much as I did.
I'm just going to allow myself to feel Bad, Bad, Bad for a little while.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


"A dress has no life of its own unless it is worn, and as soon as this happens another personality takes over from you and animates it, or tries to, glorifies or destroys, or makes it into a song of beauty"--Elsa Schiaparelli

I just read this quote in the 9/12 issues of Real Simple magazine and it spoke to me.  Our clothes can be lovely, but its wearing them that brings them to life and gives clothing meaning.  I love clothes and I want to WEAR my clothes...not just stare at them in my closet.  I adore dresses and this is why I WEAR them...I own many of them and I don't save them for a 'dressy' day.  I just wear them as often as possible and appreciate the glorious way they make me feel.

DKNY; thrifted!
This simple dress made me feel glorious today.

....and it was never worn!
Did I mention that is probably my very best thrift buy ever?  Its a DKNY dress...that was new with tags.  The MSPR was marked $275.00.  It was priced at $48 in the shop but was a 'white tag' special and reduced by 50%.  It cost me $25.00 and it was WORTH that and so much more.  It's still a 100% polyester dress, even though a higher end brand, but the cut of the dress is supreme and flattering.

Nine West patent pumps.  I adore these shoes; I've had them for 6 years and they have served me well.  The fishnets don't compliment the shoes...but I always wear them dancing...they make ALL legs look great and the textures helps keep my feet from sliding in my shoes.
I wore the dress to a bridal shower and then to Marcel's (my coach) dance party.  I just felt so great in this dress.  I think the hallmark of a good dress is its ability to make you feel great but also to make you forget about the dress you are wearing and focus on what you are doing or who you are talking to.  I felt so at ease and so NOT distracted by my dress. This was an expensive dress by THRIFT standards....but such an incredible steal it blew my mind.  I love no article of clothing better than I do a simple black dress with clean lines and a perfect fit.  Sometimes simplicity is best....and when you find it at thrift prices its a gift.

Brighton necklace.
As always, I had a great time at the dance party.  There weren't a lot of dancers tonight but that was a blessing as it gave me many opportunities to dance with my instructor and prepare for the upcoming competition on Aug 31.  I am feeling good and confident in my dancing.  I'm ready.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Feeling Just a Tiny Bit Retro...and a Little Treat

The school work year begins for me on Monday.  I'm very excited and also have some jitters about meeting the new students I'm teaching and the professors for the classes I am taking.
I have had a great and simple summer.  I loved taking time to get reacquainted with my hometown.  Its so lovely and I don't think I've ever appreciated it as much as I have this summer.

New York and Company Flare Trousers;  Limited top, thrifted; Lia Sophia necklace and pin, John Wind necklace; Nine West shoes
It was very dark and rainy today and I wasn't feeling a dress.  I've worn a dress almost every day this summer, but to attend a training session today at the University I felt I would be most comfortable in trousers.

Pose per request of 7 year old photographer
Still, I wanted to be a little retro-y so I wore this pin dotted button up blouse and added the red shoes.

Lia Sophia pin....I love their jewelry!

I clipped the pin to a Lia Sophia two toned glass pearl necklace (from their most recent catalog).
Two strand pearl and chain necklace by John Wind; my favorite piece of jewelry.

Nine West
I think these red shoes have a bit of a retro feel.

Stop, don't stop......swoon...silent screen pose
Again, my son and I went to lunch 'on the square' as the historical town square is known.  Since we chose to eat at Valentino's ice cream parlor (named after silent screen star Rudolph) I decided to strike a silent screen pose......

This is a very bored photographer.

Got a few more shots of some of the beautiful architecture that I have never noticed before in all the years I've spent in this town....

....and a few shots of the old jail.  This is the one I had mentioned in a past post.  John Dillinger busted out of it with a fake gun and made it famous...Johnny Depp filmed a part of Public Enemy here.

I love this view of the window with the bars....I wonder how many inmates have peered through these bars.

Since I'm feeling just a bit retro today, I thought I would treat you to a couple of photos of Brooke, a local dance instructor who has a perfected the retro/pin-up style.
I attended her Argentine Tango group lesson and dance party last Saturday and really loved her outfit.  She graciously agreed to allow me to photograph her to share this lovely outfit with you.  
In this photo its difficult to see the detail of the trousers, but they have tiny pleats at the waist and look a bit like a modified palazzo pant.  I would expect Katherine Hepburn to wear these pants.

I love her unique style!

The weekend is approaching and I will be dancing goal is to attend two parties this weekend; my last truly free weekend.  

Wishing all of you a stress free weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dancing in the Rain...Really, and some thoughts on the hot topic of fast fashion

Peyton, my 7 year old son and I had another date in Crown Point, the town I was raised in.
I took him to see the old jail building (the one John Dillinger escaped from) which is now a banquet hall.
In front of the "Halls of Justice"....the old jail
I wore a new to me Ann Taylor wrap dress that I purchased for $18.00 at a lovely consignment shop I visit every time I have a dance lesson.  Its right across the street and they have beautiful, clean clothes at very reasonable prices.  I purchased two of these dresses.  The other one is a deep cranberry and cream print.  If you look closely, you can see I'm wearing the white teardrop necklace I purchased the other day.  I love the way it looks with the dress, but its actually going on a sabbatical until turtleneck season as it is very irritating and itchy against my skin.  I love the necklace and I'm going to keep it, but I'm disappointed that it will have more limited use now.

Since we had rain today, I decided to recreate my 'Singing in the Rain' post from the other day.  This time I have rain and an umbrella.

I've been thinking a lot about cheap/fast fashion  vs. (hard to find) higher quality fashion in the last two years that I've been following style blogs, reading more about Parisian style, remixing clothing, choosing high quality clothing and thrifting.  And I have read the book Overdressed, which has really illuminated the topic in a new way for me.  Its a great read and one that will have a lasting impact on me.

I've definitely rejected the lower end 'disposable' clothing retailers in the last year, but I still have some relatively cheap pieces in my wardrobe.  I've been very disappointed in the poor quality and lack of longevity of some of the clothing I've purchased in the past and I have tried to remedy that by carefully curating my closet, purging and donating to the Goodwill, thrifting and making better, more informed choices.  I've have decided that I WILL only buy higher quality pieces, but will keep the poorer quality ones I already own and wear them until they don't look nice any more. Then I will donate to the Salvation Army.  The SA turns over any unusable pieces to textile recyclers which is a small step in the right direction towards being more a sustainable planet and reducing waste.

I've been very fortunate to have found some high quality garments at thrift stores.  I will continue to use thrift and consignment shops as my primary clothing resource and give the highest consideration to garments made from higher quality fabrics and possessing enduring quality.  I'd also like to learn more about which companies and countries are more humane in their treatment of THEIR most precious resources; the workers on the front lines toiling to earn a living by filling our never-ending desire for new and trendy clothing.  
Much of what I have learned and read has tamed the constantly yearning fashion dragon inside me.  
I'm still buying quite a chunk of clothing, but I'm doing so with more thought and responsibility.
My eyes have been opened.

I forgot that I had these Franco Sarto shoes in my closet

A beautiful brick arch in the lower level of the old courthouse; some fun shops are located here

Do I dare enter?  This was Peyton's idea of a fun photo-op

"I'm innocent, I swear"

A poster outside of Valentino's cafe advertising the yearly 'Get Hitched' event.
I hope all of you have had a wonderful Monday and that your proceeding week will be blessed and safe!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Last Few Lazy Days of Summer....

The school year is drawing nearer and the last few lazy days of summer are upon us.  
I've had such a wonderful time living as a lady of leisure this summer..but I am so ready to for back to work, back to school and I'm especially ready to head into fall.  I wish I could have perpetual fall.
There is a certain energy during the back to school weeks and a crisp excitement in the air when fall arrives.  I'm ready for it...and I want it to last.

Dress Barn ankle length dress, Lia Sophia necklace.
All I need is a little umbrella and some rain..."Singing (and dancing)  in the  Rain"!
The town I grew up in is close to the town I live in now.  It's a lovely town with a vintage feel to it.  The buildings are primarily brick with lovely architectural details.  In the last several years, the sidewalks and street corners have been refurbished and resorted to resemble its 'old world' charm.

There are many exciting events in the summers and falls here.  The streets are alive in the summertime and year round, bursting with family activities.  Weekly farmer's markets and car shows take place, concerts on the old courthouse lawn, festivals and corn roasts and craft fairs and carriage rides on occasion.  There are unique restaurants and charming little shops. Antique shops line the streets and draw many vintage and antique enthusiasts.  Every year, a huge county fair takes place and that's everything a county fair should be.  The county fairground is a wonderful place to walk your dog or have a picnic.  I have fallen in love again with my hometown.

My little man and I decided to play on the town square today.  As we window shopped, I saw this necklace...and had to walk out with the new purchase.  It this is going to be a well loved and well used piece.

Purchase in one of the little shops...not branded, but I LOVE  it.

The flora and fauna...ok just the flora, is well cared for and thoughtfully landscaped.  This beautiful flower had to be at least 6 ft. tall or more.  

This is the old courthouse.  It was restored and repainted recently...its really a breathtaking building.  20 years ago, there was some talk about taking down the building to put in a parking lot but a tenacious group of people saved it partially by posing the question "For what; if we don't have this building, why would people want to come here?  Why would we need a parking lot?" In addition to all of the cool shops, there is a night court, a little museum and a grand banquet hall.    The inside of the building is as incredible as the outside, with wide wood moldings and huge wood doors topped by transom windows.  It looks looks like something you might see in the movie Citizen Kane.  Another building in town which was restored is the old jailhouse.  It is also used as a banquet hall and restaurant.  The jail is notoriously know as the jail that John Dillinger escaped from using a 'gun' that was carved from either soap or wood.  Johnny Depp caused a stir when he was here to film the John Dillinger biopic a few years ago.

The mister and the little guy.  They are look-alikes!
This covered bridge at the fairgrounds was also restored.

A view of some of the shops.

I turned the camera on the photographer....what a ham for the camera.

There is a short concrete wall surrounding the courthouse that kids large and small love to walk on like a balance beam....this is my little guy doing what I used to do as a child.

The lazy days of summer are numbered.  Its been fun.....but fall....I can't wait to greet you!