Monday, April 24, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Get Into the Mood

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of yourself (or someone you know) reproducing one (or more!) of the moods in the AOL Journals Mood Menu.

For those of you who don't want to have to look at the menu at the moment, the options are: Happy, Mischievous, Worried, Silly, Surprised, Flirtatious, Silly, Ecstatic, Frustrated, Loopy, Embarrassed, Hopeful, Anxious, Sad, Quiet and Chillin'. It's like all the dwarves that didn't make it into Snow White (well, and Happy, who was there, but has apparently decided to pop by).

OK...so I'm not on AOL Journals any more. And the template I use on Blogger doesn't have any "moods" to choose from. But! I do have a couple of very recent photos that fit the bill for this week's Monday Photo Shoot.

Behold Ecstatic AND Surprised in one shot! That is Tyler on Easter Sunday when he finally located his Easter Basket hidden in plain sight in his time-out chair. Oh that tricky tricky bunny!

And then there is Happy...my mother-in-law showing off her new kitchen. You can see more of the kitchen makeover in my Shutterfly photo album, including "before" photos (my own mother was very curious to see the remodel results).



Saturday, April 22, 2006

"I feel pretty...oh so pretty!"

If you love fashion, there is no better place to go than my own mother's closet. She is and has always been a clothes horse with a powerful penchant for shopping. Combine this urge to purchase with an almost psychotic inability to throw or give anything away, and you have the fashion equivalent of an archeological dig site located in all the closets in my parent's home.

Currently, I can find clothes that date back to the 1970's (many with the tags still on them). When I was a child of five or so, I could find clothes that dated back to my mother's high school days. I used to sneak into her closet and squeeze myself between the tightly compressed, plastic wrapped, hanging items into the small space at the back of her closet. From there, I could tug and pull at each of the cello dry cleaner covers, examine the contents and shove back the rejects until I located a dress or pant suit I wanted to examine more closely.

I would peel apart the plastic sheeting and slide my body up inside so I could press my face against the vast variety of fabric types. Smooth and cool satins, slippery silks, light and airy chiffons, nubby wool, poofy and itchy tulle...and no, it never occurred to me that those long plastic sacks were a suffocation hazard. They hadn't started printing those warnings on them yet.

I wasn't supposed to play in my parent's closet, but it was inevitable that one day I would be discovered. To my amazement, my mother didn't punish me. Instead, she pulled out one of the many semi-formal dresses hanging in her collection, slipped off the plastic, and asked me if I liked it. The dress was a deep flame red, sleeveless with wide straps, a sweetheart neckline, and made of a combination of satin appliquéd chiffon over a poofy crinoline underskirt. The satin appliqués were actually large poinsettia blossoms. It wasn't surprising when my mom told me the dress had been made for a Christmas semi-formal dance when she was in high school. What surprised me was the fact that her mother, my grandma, had MADE the dress.

Back when my mother was growing up, her family didn't have a lot of money. They weren't poor, but buying things like fancy party dresses was simply out of reach for their limited budget. What was a popular girl with loads of male suitors to do? Instead, my mother would comb the fashion magazines, cut out pictures, and my grandmother would sew the most amazing counterfeit versions for my mother so she could attend the vast array of dances and tea socials she was invited to. (I guess being deprived of "real" designer duds as a youth made mom a little obsessive for the real thing later in life.)

I was completely enraptured by my mother's stories. Every dress held tales of handsome boys, twirls around the dance floor, and stolen kisses on the darkened front porch of her parent's home. My mom was a "good girl" (and I was very YOUNG) so that was as spicy as things ever got. *wink* The point was...these dresses were a tangible connection to my mother's past. A colorful fabric timeline documenting the high points of her youth.

What I never expected was for her to GIVE ME one of those dresses. But she did. At first, I just got to try some of the dresses on. Eventually, I think my constant requests to raid her closet and try on more and more of her treasures wore my mother down. She finally asked me if I wanted to pick one to play dress-up in. I selected the flame red Christmas party dress as my first choice.

Naturally, I was lost inside it. The dress was way too big for my tiny child's frame. But I didn't care. Nothing a few dozen safety pins couldn't fix. I managed to coax a few more dresses away from my mother's closet and into the old toy chest in my bedroom (where I kept my dress-up treasures).

Let me tell you, I was THE most popular girl on the street when it came time to play dress-up with my little girlfriends. We had a blast putting on those dresses and pretending we were all the belle of the ball. I had the faux pearl crown and veil from my First Holy Communion, my baton from my twirling class, and some old high-heeled shoes from mom's endless collection; together with a navy blue and cream colored satin number, I was Cinderella with very little stretch of my imagination.

I wore those dresses to shreds...literally. I don't recall exactly when I stopped playing with them, but I know I was at least 10 or 11. I had started using fabric from the dresses to sew outfits for my Barbie dolls. Turned out I had some significant skills with needle, thread, and sewing machine. My grandmother actually gave me her old sewing machine (her eyesight had gotten too bad to use it any longer) when she realized that the sewing bug had skipped a generation...my mom could barely thread a needle herself.

A few months ago, I was searching the net for fabric sources. I was hoping to find just the right Asian inspired brocade to sew a seat cushion for a new bench I'd purchase for the living room. I wasn't sure if I'd tackle the job myself or have a friend do the sewing (it's been YEARS since I've sewn anything other than a lost button or split seam). What I DID find was an internet shop that sold vintage clothing. I gasped when I came across a dress that looked amazingly like one of my mother's from way back when.

That set me off on a tangent search for vintage clothing. I was swept away by my memories and cried when I came across an auction of clothes that had once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. Many of her dresses could have come out of my own mother's closet. I suppose it's silly to feel such strong pangs of sorrow over old clothing; but there have been few other times in my life where I felt that pretty.

Even on my own wedding day I didn't feel as pretty as I did back when I was five, twirling around my bedroom in vintage party dresses that were 10 sizes too big.

Monday, April 17, 2006

So where's my nuts?

I read an article this morning on AOL that surprised me. It probably shouldn't have, since things have been headed this way for a long while. Turns out many of the major airlines are cutting out ALL the little extras they used to give you as part of your in-flight experience. Pillows, blankets, snacks... Most of you who fly with any regularity already know they did away with most of the meals. It's BYOFood on most flights now.

But no nuts? No pretzels? Come on! How much can those little bags cost? I can do without the pillow and blanket. Honestly, how clean are those things REALLY? I'm sure there have been studies. I tend to turn the TV off when news stories like that come on. I don't want to know what is lurking in my hotel room under a UV light. I don't. want. to. know. Fingers in my ears...LALALALALALALALALA I can't hear you!

Does anyone else share a memory like this? I remember back in the late 60s, early 70s getting on a plane with my parents. The stewardess would greet me warmly and ask if I wanted to meet the Captain. I'd get to see the cockpit, try on the Captains hat, and earn a pair of shiny gold wings just like the Captain wore. I'd wear them proudly pinned to my poncho as I was escorted back to my parent's seats. There the stewardess would hand us all a pillow and blanket and I would get a cellophane wrapped deck of cards with the airline logo printed on them. Sometimes I'd get a coloring book and crayons too.

Shortly after takeoff, we'd get drinks and snacks. Later, a nice hot meal would be served. Not just a cold sandwich, but a full course dinner. Still later, there would be more snacks and drinks. I remember keeping the cool airplane shaped stirrers from my parents' drinks. Oh yes, alcoholic beverages were complimentary. The stewardess would even give them extra tiny bottles of my parents' favorite liquors so they could "freshen" their drinks as the ice melted.

Oh how I wanted some of those tiny little bottles. They were the perfect size to use with my dolls. And am I the only one who loved the smell of gin as a kid?

Hmm. It's a little creepy that so many childhood memories of mine include my parents drinking alcohol. Heh. But they were part of the cocktail generation. And the free stuff when you flew generation, I guess. I'm getting old and nostalgic.

Flying just isn't the same anymore.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Look! Up in the Sky! It's...

Nothing like a fun afternoon of Superhero Pretend and "flying" on a trampoline! I swear, this thing was one of the best investments we've made yet. Tyler loves to jump and bounce.

Then we had the annual town Easter Egg Hunt that happened last weekend. Ty has gone every year since he's been old enough to participate. And it's FREE! I don't know of any other towns in this area that have a free event like this.

The Easter Bunny is still waiting for a hug or a hand-shake. It didn't happen THIS year. But at least he went up close enough (and on his own) to reach into the basket for a treat bag. Ty had to plant one foot as far back as possible and really reeeeeach for the basket...but he did it. Hee hee! He wasn't going any closer to the bunny than was absolutely necessary! He did wave to the bunny once he was safely back by my side. What a ham!

I really adore the Easter Basket I got for Ty this year. It's quilted fabric and has his name embroidered on it...from Pottery Barn Kids. He really loves it. It was the perfect size for the hunt. (Last year, his basket was just too small and eggs were falling out of it.)

The four year olds were presented with an open field full of eggs in plain sight and John and I shook our heads in a bit of disgust. These kids aren't babies anymore! They really need to make an effort to HIDE the eggs a bit. Give the poor kids some kind of challenge other than who can run the fastest and pick up the most eggs. Still fun tho.

View album

Not much else going on. We had started to get the house ready for Easter company, but it turns out Grandma isn't coming. So now maybe I can talk the husband into going to Willow Valley for the weekend after all. (hint, hint!) He has me in budget mode, however, so I don't think a weekend away is likely at this point. I'd be happy with reservations at Larison's Turkey Farm too, I guess. :-)