Thursday, November 18, 2010


It's a little early to be thinking of New Year's resolutions, but I've already decided on mine. My inspiration was Hollywood costume designer and winner of eight Academy Awards, Edith Head.

Earlier this year, I read Edith's unintentionally hilarious 1967 book How to Dress for Success. This book includes chapters such as "How to Dress to Get a Man...and Keep Him," "How to Use Color Successfully," and "Nothing Succeeds like Success." It also includes some darling sketches. As out-dated as a lot of the material was, it made me think about my approach to dressing.

For me, I like dressing up and I like trying new things. In my teens and early twenties, I wore whatever I wanted and did not give a hoot what anyone else thought. As I've gotten older, I've learned some restraint, which I think is a good thing, but I've also taken the easy route too often. It's easy in the corporate business-casual workplace to just throw on a pair of pants and a sweater, especially when that is what so many of your co-workers are doing. But it's boring, and most of the time, it doesn't look good.

So, in 2011, I am going to ask myself "What Would Edith Head Wear?" as I get dressed each day.
For instance, let's say I am going to the market. In her book The Dress Doctor, Edith recommends, "Sport suit, day dress (not housedress) dress with jacket, or skirt with sweater or blouse and jacket + coat, if needed, + street shoes. Hat and gloves optional." Notice she did not say, "Yoga pants with tank top + hoodie + dingy old flats. Bra optional." Interesting.

If I am going to a cocktail party: "Cocktail suit, cocktail dress or dressmaker suit (black or dark for winter, pastels or prints for summer) + cocktail or dinner hat + gloves + dinner shoes. " Not, "Jeans + some sort of black top with cat hair on it + dingy old flats."

But Edith, what should I wear to a baseball game? "Sport dress, sport suit or skirt + sweater or sport blouse + comfortable shoes + hat or cap to shade face + gloves if you wish to protect hands from the sun." Hmmm, in this case I think I will stick to my "jeans + Twins T-shirt + baseball cap + foam finger." You have to show team spirit, and the foam finger can protect my hand from the sun.

Yes, Edith has some real lessons for us. And in 2011, I will try to make her proud.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The not-so-great pumpkin

Twenty-six hated Halloween.

But Oscar made it all better.

In other news, I renamed Twenty-six "Sneezy Catsopolis" today on account of her recent sneezing fits and me needing a life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stopped Short

One thing about myself that I have recognized over the years is that I am really bad at finishing things. I enjoy starting things, I like planning them out and imaging what my life will be like when I accomplish my goals (I often spend hours doing this), but I rarely get there.

For example:

1. School. I happily started my post-secondary education at the famous-on-TV Art Institutes International, but after less than year, decided Interior Design was not up my alley. Although i love design in all its forms, I wasn't too thrilled to be going to a school where my teachers consistently misspelled simple words. I'm kind of a spelling Nazi. Also, I think I'm too old for school.

2. Any workout. Ever. Most recently, this would be the Insanity workout. Granted, trainer Shaun T. tells you not to even start the workout unless you are ready to get "INSANE!" I guess I severely underestimated my sanity, since after three days it was obvious I was too mentally fit to become physically fit. Also, I started this right before my birthday, which was not a good idea.

3. Most redecorating projects. For the last few months I have been obsessively redecorating my bedroom in my head. I actually got pretty far on this one. I painted, rearranged furniture and hung some new artwork. But I haven't finished (bedding, curtains, huge mirror, bed table made of coffee table books) because I got distracted by...redecorating my dining room! So far I've managed to paint and replace my totally 80's ceiling fan with a revamped Ikea light. But then the paint on the molding all flaked off and it all became a bit overwhelming.

4. Bathtub. So, over a year ago (possibly almost two years, I lose track) we noticed our claw-foot tub had a tendency to rock back and forth as you moved about in the shower. We remedied this by being very, very still while showering. That worked for a while. Then one leg fell off. No biggie. We'll just lift this really heavy tub up and slip it right back in. Ta-da! Then, one morning I am laying in bed when I hear a tremendous crash from the bathroom. Oh no! Husband down! I run in to find that husband has not been hurt, as he had not actually entered the tub yet. But two legs have fallen off, a wall tile is cracked and the pipe that brings the nice hot water up to the shower head snapped off. After two days of whore-baths, we managed to fix the pipe and J-B Weld three of the legs back in place. The fourth leg (the one that started all this trouble) was bent and unable to fit flush against the bottom of the tub. No problem, we'll just stick some bricks under it. Yeah, we still haven't fixed this.

5. Cleaning regimens. I don't like to be dirty. I actually like things to be in their places and to not have to step over piles of magazines to get to the table. But I have never really been a neat person. I can go weeks, maybe even months, where I am very neat and stick to a cleaning schedule. But in order for this to happen, I can have no distractions. That means I can't have a bad day at work that makes me want to lie on the couch and watch videos of kittens falling asleep, I can't get a new issue of Whole Living (or Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living or InStyle) in the mail, and I certainly can't go out to happy hour. So, usually, my house can be found in a semi-messy state, I need an hour or two to make it parent-approved. Which isn't too bad, but I wish I was better at this. Also, cleaning seems to fall solely to me. I don't think husband has ever spontaneously cleaned.

That was kind of depressing. Here are some things I have actually finished.

1. Planning a wedding (and saying "I do!"). Trust, this is a lot of work. And while husband helped out where he could, most of the planning, favor hunting, invitation making, invitation addressing and budgeting fell on my shoulders. But we managed to make to the big day and managed to get hitched. Best. Day. Ever.

2. Lots of books. Reading them, not writing them (although I did come up with a genius idea for a children's book the other day). Maybe that isn't something to really be proud of, but I am. I'm proud I'm not one of those people who says, "I read magazines," or "If the book is good they'll make it into a movie." I don't care what kind of books you read, but you should at least be trying to read something or this world will turn out like the movie Idiocracy.

3. Art. I am really trying at this art thing, and though I may not be as fast as I hoped or as dedicated as I'd like to be, I'm not giving up. I'm really proud that I did the Red Hot fair this summer and I'm hoping I can get my crafty-act together to do this gallery thing this month.

4. Volunteering. I am now partaking in my second year as an Art Mentor with Free Arts Minnesota. Both years I have chosen to work at People Serving People, which is a long-term shelter downtown. It's a weekly commitment, and I really enjoy spending time with the kids and making art together.

5. Quitting smoking. While it hasn't been that long since I started to kick the butts, and there have been set-backs, I am putting this here as positive reinforcement that I can and will stop for good. Go, me!

I'd like to say I'm not going to get down on myself for not finishing everything I start, but I know myself. Instead, maybe I will try to set smaller goals. And maybe I should fix that tub.