Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Portland style - Part 2

While the people of Portland dress fairly casually, they trend toward the edgy side of casual.  I saw a lot of tattoos - and usually not one isolated tattoo.  The body art appeared to be spreading.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Portland style

I love the style of Portland, Oregon.  It is very casual cool.  One person described it as "hipster".  It is a comfortable (yet put together) style of dressing. 


With all of the coolness that Portland has going on, I was a little apprehensive to approach people on the street.  However, everyone was very nice and seemed to enjoy talking about their city.  Jonathan (pictured above) described Portland as having a "small town vibe", which I thought was very fitting.

This trio (although not from Portland) show the more bohemian casual style that I also saw -

This girl looked ethereal walking down the street in her white lace dress.  I found out that she was on the way to her high school reunion.  I'm sure she made a great impression on her former classmates.


More style to come tomorrow...

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Sorry I have been M.I.A. for a few days.  I just returned from Oregon.  "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."  I had a blast.  I had a meltdown.  Staying in a house with 28 people and only 4 bathrooms was the ultimate test of my sanity...and I failed.  However, in order to keep this light and airy, I'll start with fashion from Portland on Monday. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Balance Friday - Who are You?

I cringe a little whenever someone asks me, "What do you do?"  I realize that my response is about to put me in a box. They are asking because that is just how you start a conversation in America. (I've read that Europeans are more likely to ask, "Who is your family?")  I dabble in painting, blogging, clothing design, photography, and parenthood. However, I don't find my identity in any of those activities.

After being asked that question several times last week, I started to have an identity crisis.  I don't really know where I fit and started to desire a better "box" than any of my typical answers could provide.   How do I see myself?

While I was reading Einstein by Walter Isaacson, I was getting excited about his "thought experiments" and feeling my brain expand.  He worked in a patent office 8 hours a day, but you don't know him as a patent application reviewer.  He managed his work and life in order to have space to think.  And he came up with some pretty brilliant thoughts. 

I started to see myself in his life.  Then, a light bulb went off.  That's when I realized that I am a thinker.  I don't know if I'll ever come up with anything that anyone will remember, but this realization helped me to make sense of my life.   I love literature and chemistry, art and math.   I once was an accountant and now I am a clothing designer.  How do all of those things go together?   It's all about the idea.   I already describe myself as loving "the spark of a new idea".   Ideas light up my world. That's why I am a browser in activities.   I love learning, and I'm always looking for new ideas.

As I construct my days and my weeks, I now realize that I have to allow myself space to think.   I can look back and see that I start to go crazy when my schedule is so packed with activities and people that I can't let my brain breathe.   I feel completely unbalanced when I can't THINK.

So, who are you?  And what makes you feel most like you?   Make sure you experience that often.

How do we change the question "What do you do?" into something that will really tell us about who a person is?

My thinking outfit

Blue shirt

Long maxi skirt

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There's something yummy in the backyard

We have a small garden in our backyard, which I thought would just be a fun project for my kids to do with my husband.  But it really has turned out to provide some benefits.  It is hard to get my kids to eat a lot of vegetables.  Occasionally, they will go crazy on the salted cauliflower hearts or roasted brussel sprouts (I know, odd preferences), but generally it looks like torture when they eat vegetables.  However, when I tell them to go to the backyard to get some herbs, they eat them by the hand full.  They think it is so fun to eat plants that are growing in our yard.



Herbs are actually even more nutritious than spinach.  They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.  So, my kids just eat all of their green vegetables out of the garden now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To Kindle or not to Kindle...That is the question.

I am planning a few trips and considering how to transport all of the books that I am reading.  If I were to leave today, this is the stack I would take -

If I were going very far, I would pare it down a little, but I like options.  It would be much easier if I bought a Kindle -

I actually borrowed this Kindle from my mother for my trip to Palm Springs.  It was much easier to carry around than a stack of books.  However, it just didn't feel the same.  Books feel like friends, but a Kindle is like a computer, which feels much less personal.  I won't even talk about how frustrated I got when I would turn too many pages at once and lose my place.  Then, my book ended when the Kindle said I was at 77%.  I was a little taken aback.  And how strange is it to have to stop reading during take off and landing?

I guess I have talked myself out of it for now.  I will be building up my muscles with my stack of books.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Hanging out with Albert Einstein

There is no absolute time.  "There is no audible tick-tock everywhere in the world that can be considered as time."  Albert Einstein said that, and I've never heard that before. Why don't they start physics class out with that statement? It might grab some attention. I love ideas like that. I read it this weekend in a biography about Einstein and literally got chills. Ideas like that make my mind feel as big as the universe.  (I may give you more specifics regarding his theories later this week, but I'm trying to decide if that will interest you in the least bit.)

I think I would have enjoyed hanging out with Albert.  He was a thinker, but he wasn't a complicated mathematician.   He comically said, "Since the mathematicians have grabbed hold of the theory of relativity, I myself no longer understand it."  He liked to sort through ideas in pictures.  The biographer noted that he was able to hold two distinct ideas in his head to study their conflicts and "underlying unity". I can ponder both the theory of relativity and fashion at the same time. So, this is what I would wear if I were hanging out with Albert Einstein -

There is no absolute time

* The clocktower pictured above is my photo from Zurich, which is where Einstein received his education.  I feel a little connection.

Daytrip plaid shirt

Linen top

J.Crew wool pants
$110 - net-a-porter.com

High heels

Lipsy leather watch
$54 - lipsy.co.uk

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sparkly Toms

After months of promising, we finally made our way to Nordstrom to buy some Toms.  The girls immediately went for the sparkly ones.  Then, they had to lounge on the pink chaise on our way out.  Sparkly Toms make any outfit.  Now, my plain gray Toms are looking a little drab.  Sparkly black ones may be calling my name next February.

Balance 101

Drawing by my daughter

Last week, I dedicated Friday to talking about balance.  I can give you a lot of advice about how to achieve balance at any certain point in your life, but in order to continually maintain balance, I think you have to go deeper than tips and tricks.  I don't want to just keep all of the plates successfully spinning in the air.  I want a sense of completeness, wholeness, peace, joy, purpose, life, and freedom in the midst of everything.  That's why I am looking for "soul balance".  I want it to be real and deep to my core. 

After "finding soul balance" for over a year, I've realized that I only feel balanced when I totally depend on God for my life and direction.  I can try to orchestrate my life and work and people so that everything fits together perfectly.  But I don't know what is around the corner in the next minute.  I feel balanced when I open my hands and recognize that only God, who created the world, can bring it back into the balance which he intended from the beginning.  I am learning to literally say, "God, what do you want me to do today?  And help me to do it."

It is only from this starting point that any of my other balance advice may help.

"There is only one will of God...in it there is established the freedom and the simplicity of all action." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What I want to wear tomorrow night

One of my biggest fears when I gave up buying clothes for a year was being invited to something for which I don't have the appropriate attire.  Tomorrow we are going to my husband's boss' birthday party - "cocktail attire". And, yes, if I were buying clothes, I would have been shopping like a maniac for the last 2 weeks trying to find the perfect dress. I did have an inkling to make something, but I haven't had the time or energy. So, really my year long hiatus has saved me a lot of heartache.

Here is what I have learned regarding parties -

1) No matter what the invitation says, people in Atlanta will wear a wide variety of dress from casual to dressy and in between. Wear something that looks good on you and looks respectfully close to the designated dress code, and you will be fine.

2) I only have a few options for really dressing up. That's fine if you are going to different parties with different people, but my husband's boss is the only one that invites us to really fancy parties. So, the same people are there every time. Then I learned something from a fellow party goer.  When I complimented her on her dress she responded, "This is the same dress I wear to everything." And she has the resources to buy a new dress every day. I realized that unless you are a movie star, you don't need a closet full of fancy dresses.

So, tomorrow night I will be wearing a green dress that I have had for 5 years.  And, honestly, I always feel more comfortable in something I have worn a million times than something brand new.  But that's no fun for you, so I dreamt a little.  If I had the option (and $2,000), I would wear this -  

What I want to wear tomorrow night

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Last night as I was washing dishes by candlelight (our power went out), I was trying to decide if I would rather give up electricity or running water.  I've been without both, and I think I would choose to give up electricity (although I would prefer to make that choice in a less hot time of year).  I was also thinking about the fact that most of the people that have ever lived before me did not have electricity or running water.  Not having those two things slows you down - maybe to a more decent pace of life.

When I started my blog, I felt very scattered in my brain.  Lately, life has slowed me down through sickness and power outages, and I have realized I may need to take more deliberate steps to slow down in the future.  Turn off the computer.  Turn off the TV.  Read a book by candlelight.  It was really amazing the effect the power outage had on my family.  My girls had more fun and got along better.  They went to bed faster.  My husband and I had a conversation.  I need to unplug more often in the future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gifts for the soul

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  I just realized (it takes me a while) that my husband always gives me something based on the "traditional anniversary gift" list.  Fortunately, the traditional gift for the 12th anniversary is silk.  So, he thoughtfully bought me a silk top.  (I bought him a croquet set.)

Rebecca Taylor blouse

Most of you know that I am not buying clothes for a year, so you can imagine how significant this gift was.  I was nervous to try it on.  It had to fit.  And it did.  Because I am becoming more resourceful, I immediately noticed that this blouse is "reversible" -

I like how this direction gives the blouse a feminine "moment" in the back -

Two other friends have given me clothes during this "shopping fast". Each time I am given something, I am reminded - "The Lord will provide".   He provides for my soul as much as he provides for my body.  God knows I don't need any more clothes, yet he gives me little gifts along the way.  And now as I am getting dressed, I am reminded of the people who care about me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Details in nature

It is interesting how the top side of this butterfly's wings looks so different from the under side.  Even God likes to mix colors and pattern.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Balance

I have realized recently that my blog is helping me to find balance, but it probably isn't helping you to do so.  I have been considering a blogging "schedule" to add some structure to my posts and to guide you along, but I often don't know what is going to inspire me in any given week.  Then, I started thinking about my natural writing inclinations and realized I tend to re-evaluate my past week and plan my next on Fridays.  It is the day on which my pent up dreams and desires come out.  It's when I pay more attention to my family and friends.  I think Friday is when I naturally re-balance myself.  So, each Friday I will offer a tip or thought about balance. 

My balance thought for today is this -

What is the intrinsic value of what you spend most of your time doing?

This is a difficult for me, because what I am drawn to do may not be the most valuable thing in my life.  I am a task-oriented introvert, which means I love reading, thinking, and doing projects BY MYSELF.  But God has given me 2 little people to take care of (3 if you include my husband).  So, I have to constantly balance what feeds me (time alone) with what feeds them (time together). 

I can often justify what I am doing as - "I need time by myself".  But I have to push myself to determine whether it is valuable time by myself.  Am I making a dress, because I need to create and grow or because I need a pat on the back?  Am I spending hours reading blogs for inspiration or to "escape"?  Is watching this TV show helping me or should I really be sleeping? 

Now, I'm going to post this and get off the computer, because reading a book to my daughter is intrinsically more valuable than checking my email one more time.  (And Mondays will be about Fashion, because I don't want to be serious too many days in a row.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kitchen ideas

Someone thought that my kitchen interpreted as fashion is what I am going to show to the interior designer next week.  No, I was just having fun.  This is what I am really going to show her -

I love everything about this photo - the wood and metal table with the acrylic chairs, the huge window with the black metal mullions, the rustic beams, and the wild flowers with plain white dishes.

Hanson General Contracting, Inc. *

I am looking for a sink that is not as hard as the porcelain covered one we have now, since someone in my family has broken half of our dishes in it.  Stainless steel is an option, but I would like to look into this copper -

Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams for St. Charles *

In keeping with the gold toned accents, these knobs are like jewerly for your cabinets -

Anthropologie *

I love the look of banquet and bench seating; however, I don't know about the practicality of them with my antsy kids. 

William Hefner Architecture Interiors and Landscape *

I want to use some eye-catching light fixtures like this -


I have had this picture forever, because I love the uniqueness of the steel cabinets -

And, of course, I need some big, colorful art -

I love color, but it is so hard to find kitchens that are colorful without being country or kitchy.  So, I would like to applaud this designer who not only used color but pattern very successfully in a sophisticated kitchen -  

O Interior Design *

I will keep you updated on the process...

* - Photo obtained from www.houzz.com.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Freeing thoughts for Independence Day

I have had some deeper thoughts these past few days while I have been literally sitting in one chair all day long for days (sick).  Some of those deep thoughts have come from Henri Nouwen's Turn my Mourning into Dancing.  The title makes it sound like it is a book for depressed people, but it is really is about relationships and interestingly relates to this week's American celebration of Independence and Freedom.  Here is one deep thought -

"Think about the people who have most influenced you.  When I remember them I am always surprised to discover that these are people who did not need my response.  Instead they radiated a certain inner freedom...They pointed to a reality greater than themselves from which and in whom their freedom grew.  This centeredness, this inner freedom, this spiritual independence had a mysterious contagiousness."

He echoes a lot of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer discusses in Life Together about allowing others the freedom to be who they are.  Nouwen says that we don't do this, because we are trying to get our needs met by each other and our culture encourages this.  "...We import a consumer mentality to our intimacies.  We expect more of our friends and partners than they can (or want to) give.  A fair amount of our suffering comes from our loneliness, a loneliness intensified by our high needs."  He says that this puts a great strain on our relationships.

I have to stop trying to manipulate and control other people in order to truly love them.  In order to do that, I have to get my needs met somewhere else before I ever approach other people.  I believe God can meet all of my needs.  But do I really believe that?  Can He change my demanding into receiving?  I love the possibilities in this quote -

"When we pray we admit that we don't know what God is going to do, but remember that we will never find out if we are not open to risks.  We learn to stretch out our arms to the deep sea and the high heavens with an open mind and heart.  In many ways prayer becomes an attitude toward life that opens itself up to a gift that is always coming."

It sounds risky, but doesn't freedom always involve risk and sacrifice?  Fortunately, the sacrifice has already been made for us.  We just have to take the risk.  Well, it feels like a risk.  But once we step into it, we realize that it is freedom.