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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Becoming invisible

17 Jan

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit wearing magenta t-shirt, violet cardigan, black skinny jeans, black knee-high boots

{ personal: }

I just read an article about aging and becoming invisible. Yes, I think about this sometimes. I don’t dwell on it much but there are times I worry. There is nothing anyone can say about my current state that guarantees that I will not become invisible with time. Invisible to younger people, invisible to men. Just invisible. We live in a youth-centric culture and this is the reality.

I look in the mirror and I’m confused. I see the changes on my skin, I’m mostly fascinated with it. It, the skin of a 44 year old woman. It’s different. We’re all different but I what I mean is that my skin is different than it used to be. If you’re not there yet, get used to the idea, you’ll see when you get there. If you’re there, or you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s fine, really. But there is this small voice in my head that asks a lot of questions. Like, will I be equally surprised with my appearance at 60 as I am now? Will I ever feel that my insides and my outsides match again? When did that stop? How will others continue to see me? When will I stop looking as sprite as I feel? Will it make me sad? I’ve enjoyed it this far, will I even be bothered to care? I’m inclined to think I’ll care some.

I don’t want to become invisible. I think it’s more than vanity, I think it’s primal. The old and the weak got left behind because they no longer served the purpose of procreating or hunting and gathering. No one wants to be left behind. No woman, no man. What’s my plan? I have to have a plan, I can’t just plow through my 40′s and 50′s with reckless abandon and wake up to the shock of having become invisible. I’m really comfortable with the gradual changes taking place, let’s keep it that way. Besides, when I turn 60 I probably won’t think that’s very old at all and I’ll be confused by the whole damn experience.

Not long ago, I would walk to the train station everyday by myself the five blocks from my house. Every once in a while, a total stranger would say something very nice to me as I made my way with purse, lunch bag and gym bag in tow. Every single time it took me by surprise. It’s not that I don’t think I look nice, it’s that they made an effort and went out of their way. The kindness of strangers. And I would wonder, what did they see? I just doesn’t matter how good I look, how young one might think I appear, there is no doubt in my mind that some things cannot be falsified, such as the fact that I’m not 25, or even 30. I see my face, my body, every morning. I know what I look like. It doesn’t matter. Even if I embodied absolute physical perfection, they were compelled to go out of their way. They had no obligation to verbally express what they experienced. I would have been none the wiser.

I lived in San Francisco, a city teaming with young beautiful women walking down the same streets as me. What made me different?

It’s not that I don’t accept that some might find me attractive, it’s that I truly believe that something else made me stand out. The kindness within. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more and more comfortable being nice. Not polite. Nice. I will stop and ask if someone needs help. This next part is actually more significant. If, and when, I hear my judgmental inner voice spout something I don’t like about anyone, I will correct it. I check myself. Why did I make that judgment? Has a button been pushed? It’s not what I think, it’s what I do with that thought, that judgement. It’s static noise that has no power if I ignore or correct it. And guess what? It’s made me nicer. I’ve always been that person but I haven’t always given that person power. Now I have and I think others see it.

Kindness. Fairness. Generosity. As I’ve been changing how I see the world, I’ve been changing how the world sees me. So if you want to know what I intend do about becoming invisible with age, I just shared with you the only trick I have up my sleeve.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

{ deets: }

Magenta t-shirt/Urban Outfitters, violet cardigan/Anthropologie, leopard-spotted jacket/Sandro, black skinny jeans/Urban Outfitters, knee-high snake-skin pattern boots/Kelsi Dagger, multi-color scarf/gifted.

{ last note: }

You might have noticed my Google Friend Connect widget has been taken down. I found out that Google is discontinuing this product soon, I figured I might as well get used to no longer relying on it. There are still a variety of ways to subscribe to updates for this blog. In the meantime, I’d be delighted if you left me your url in the comment box, I’ll do my best to visit.

 

Happy Holidays!

27 Dec

{ Christmas: }

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season with your family and friends. May it be filled with good food, lots of love and much laughter! Happy New Year to all my friends!

xo,

f

 
 

‘Tis the season to be green

08 Dec

{ shopping: }

Daily outfit wearing burgundy boyfriend sweater, navy pencil skirt, black booties

Things that are green: Christmas trees. Also, cash money. I’m a consumer, a machine that uses stuff up and then buys more. While my heart may lie somewhere more utopian I cannot lie about my habits. I consumed when I had very little money. Hello, consignment shops and second-hand stores. I consumed even more when I had more money to burn. Blouses from Paris whose cost I could only justify by wearing year-round for four years in a row. And then there’s that place in the middle where I landed comfortably with time, (still consuming.)

As an idealistic teen entering her twenties, I had a set of core beliefs that I firmly put into action. I recycled years before my city had a recycling program, I adhered firmly to a plant-based diet, I passed on my used goods and gave them a second life elsewhere. I shopped locally with a strong emphasis on shopping. Herein lies the weakest link. As much as I wanted to love the organic cotton t-shirt dress and socks whose story pulled on my heart strings, I admit the styles left me yearning for more.

Through time, I’ve had to re-examine some of those core beliefs out of necessity. While my heart liked being vegan, my body did not. Having celiac along with being soy and dairy intolerant left me with difficult decisions to make, I made them mindfully. I’m proud of the way I have managed most of my life choices but I’ve always felt I could do more. How does a woman manage her idealistic fantasies after years of brutal reality, challenges, and sometimes, a primal desire for things to just be easy?

When I started blogging a year ago I quickly realized that I am on public record for my compulsive consumption. I’ve gone cold turkey a few times by participating in Kendi’s 30 for 30 remix challenge. It proved to be easier than I thought but my interest in bringing new things home to adorn myself never waned. I did, however, start to think longer and harder about the choices I was making. To be clear, I have no interest in stopping. I like clothes and accessories. I like new things. What I want is to make decisions around what I’m already doing that feel stronger. I want to live harmoniously with my youthful ideals.

I’m going on record here to say that I will be making more of an effort to pay attention to those purchases, to be more mindful of who and what I’m supporting. My goal is to participate in a cycle that feels good rather than one-sided. I’m not here to preach, I’m more interested in sharing what I discover on this journey. I’m more interested in getting your suggestions and recommendations. Do not expect an overnight revolution, I make my changes at a comfortable pace because I like them to stick. I give a lot of credit to the bloggers out there who have inspired me by shopping second-hand, altering vintage pieces to fit and creating their own fashion such as Bella, Michelle and Anika.

If you follow The House in the Clouds on facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I’m plugging local and eco-chic options during this holiday shopping seasons. If you haven’t looked recently, check it out.

Feeling good on the inside makes you beautiful on the outside; this I believe with all my heart.

{ hat love: }

Daily outfit wearing navy blue and cream baby doll dress, black cloche hat, over-the-knee snake pattern boots

Daily outfit wearing blue bows dress, black Versace for H&M bolero, black Victor Osborne handcrafted hat

{ deets: }

1: Burgundy boyfriend cardigan/Urban Outfitters, vintage pins/gifted, infinity scarf/hand-knitted by me, black skinny belt/Nordstrom’s, navy pencil skirt/Show & Tell, black tights/unknown, black leather ankle boots/Munro.

2: Blue and cream babydoll dress/ModCloth, black boyfriend blazer/Urban Outfitters, nude floral fishnets/Nordstrom’s, black snake pattern over-the-knee boots/Kelsi Dagger, cloche hat/Goorin Bros. Heritage Collection.

3: Blue bows dress/ModCloth, black multi-colored bolero/Versace for H&M, swirl cap/Victor Osborne.

 
 

The unexpected

29 Nov

{ shopping: }

Daily outfit, Versace for H&M silk skirt, black blouse, black tights, black sandals

Let’s face it, this look is pretty hot. This would be my fall-back outfit if I couldn’t find a way to make this new skirt work. My new Versace for H&M skirt. There, I said it. I was one of those people who made the trek and tested her luck. Here’s how it all went down. My husband and I had taken a red-eye to New York; we were going to stay in the East Village and spend Thanksgiving week with one of our best friends and have dinner with his family. A few days earlier I was telling a friend of mine at work that I was excited about the upcoming release Friday, I thought I might check out the store before going to work. Here is where the first part of the adventure starts. I had the date wrong. The release was set for the Saturday of my early morning arrival.

Next thing I know, I’m contemplating whether I could have the cab detour on the way from the airport to the closest store to my friend’s place after landing. Anyone who’s taken a red-eye topped nicely with a sleeping pill knows that couldn’t possibly happen. I slept through the flight, as expected, remaining only moderately coherent for the next few hours while the successful attempt at managing my slumber wore off. I was in no condition to face a crowd, let alone handle any type of monetary transaction with precision. Or trying pants on. So I laid my head down and slept.

I woke up around 11:00am and decided that once properly fed and showered, I might investigate the idea. I had reneged on my previous commitment to actually go, I was now in a contemplative state while sipping hot coffee. It might sound like I took a few steps back on this whole thing but stay with me. Around 1:00pm, a quick internet search revealed that the nearest store in SoHo was indeed walking distance. I knew I was getting a late start, I’d heard about the lines; I also knew I had nothing to lose. What I knew most of all was that I was not going to subscribe to any kind of frenzy. I was willing to check it out but if it looked like a zoo, I would turn back and leave. Honestly, I assumed that I had missed my chance. Still, I walked down the five flights of stairs, made a left and headed out into the brisk November air.

I spotted H&M easily enough; I popped in and found nothing. A little disappointed that there wasn’t even a trace of a display, I quickly realized this store had probably not carried the line and that the store listing online had been erroneous. Nonetheless, I asked a dressing room attendant where the nearest store carrying Versace was only to be told it was right down the street. A block away, maybe two at most. I strolled over while the clocked ticked. A few minutes later, I walked down a flight of stairs to a line of people and started asking, “is this the…” to which an affirmative nod told me all I needed to know. So I got in line. It was that easy.

It was that easy! There were maybe twenty-five people ahead. It turned out they were letting people into the gated area as others left which kept things incredibly civilized. I had missed the rush, the time slots, everything. The woman in front of me and I chatted to pass the time. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Before I knew it, my turn was up. I picked through and found a few things I liked and made my way to the dressing room, elated and a little giddy.

Look, I’m just as surprised as you are how this whole thing went down. I had no expectations, if anything, I was madly curious. I wanted to see the clothes first-hand. Versace’s style isn’t even right for me, it’s completely over the top. But like any curious and adventurous fashion lover I had to see. Fast-forward to the present. It’s safe to assume I tried every possible suitable combination in my wardrobe to come up with a way to personalize the skirt. And so while the look at the top is hot and perfect for a night out, it’s also predictably safe. I want to wear this skirt to work; this is how I’m going to do it.

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit, Versace for H&M silk skirt, rust tights, green cashmere sweater, vintage necklace

Vintage Vendome crystal necklace

{ deets: }

Black top/Laundry by Shelli Segal, paradise skirt/Versace for H&M, black tights/unknown, sandals/Franco Sarto, green cashmere sweater/Bloomingdale’s, rust tights/WeLoveColors.com, brown studded booties/Dolce Vita via Poshmark, vintage crystal necklace/Hell’s Kitchen flea market.

{ promo: }

I have a confession to make. I’ve become completely addicted to Poshmark. It’s an iPhone app that allows you to take pictures of your clothes to sell and follow other sellers to buy their clothes and accessories. It’s a much classier solution to ebay, complete with fun photo filters and the approachability of apps like Instagram. Check it out and tell me what you think. You’re going to be seeing a lot more cute things that I bought via Poshmark in the near future. Check out their facebook page for more info. I was one of their early beta testers and am absolutely loving it.

 
 

Anniversary special: A year of hair

15 Nov

{ hair: }

{ 1 }

On November 1, I turned 44. On November 7, The House in the Clouds turned 1. November is a pretty special month! I decided to put together a couple anniversary specials, starting with a year of hairstyles. Those of you who have been around for this past year know that my hair is a perpetual work in progress. In other words, it never looks the same for long. Each cut and color evolves into the next thing; there’s no road map, no destination. The only thing that is not currently in the cards is lopping it all off. It’s taken me exactly 8 years to grow it out to the length it is from the short spiky platinum ‘do I was donning when I first met future hubby.

short spiky platinum blond hair

There were many false starts. One salon processed it for so long that it broke off and after spending an entire morning crying about it, I cut it off and started again. A couple years later, one particularly dusty Burning Man dehydrated it to the point of no return and the growing out process took a turn for the worse. An emergency home dye job turned it green, the following weekend I found salvation at a highly-recommended salon. Not still out of the woods, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But it cost a pretty penny.

A couple years later an aggressive savings plan put me back in the home dye camp. While I didn’t do any damage this time around, I didn’t do anything noteworthy either. This wasn’t a memorable year in terms of color or cut. Almost all one length and mostly flat honey blonde. I have too much hair not to have it thinned out regularly. It looked like the letter “A” and did nothing to enhance my features. Then I met my future friend and hair stylist, Nicole. A genius with hair. It’s safe to say that I’ve never looked back.

a year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstylesa year of hairstyles

Having seen the diversity of my hair color and styles in the past year, what do you think I should do next? Do you have any particular favorites? I’m curious what you guys think.

 

 
 

FBFF Visual: The naked face.

11 Nov

{ fbff: }

Wearing no makeup

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Fashion Beauty Friend Friday but I couldn’t pass this up. After talking up the fantasy of make-up a few days ago, I had to bare it all. I did not retouch these photos in any way, shape or form except to adjust the lighting slightly. It’s all here for you, laugh lines and everything. Some people call them crow’s feet. I say it’s just proof that I’m having fun. If I’m going to wrinkle, which is inevitable as I age, then heck, I want good wrinkles. The kind you get from living a good and happy life.

Oh, make-up, how do I love thee? A lot! It’s fun, it’s decorative, it can emphasize my big hazel eyes and downplay dark shadows below them. Ultimately, I like my face. I may wear make-up every day but I’m not embarrassed to be seen without it. I don’t think I’m uglier without it. It’s my face. Highly expressive, slowly changing with time, imperfect, forty-four years old now. Still, my face.

Franca of Oranges and Apples is hosting this week. Visit her to check out participating bloggers. Thank you Katy of Modly Chic for encouraging this topic. Fashion Beauty Friend Friday is an opportunity for fashion and beauty bloggers to share their thoughts on a specific topic and read what others have to say on that same topic. For more information, check out Modly Chic and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!

Wearing no makeup

And a special thanks to the hubby for taking advantage of this opportunity to photobomb me. It’s no wonder I have laugh lines.

 

Transformative powers

10 Nov

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit, mixing patterns

Daily outfit, grey wedge sneaker, grey tights, grey wool coat

Daily outfit, wearing red mini skirt, vintage cowl neck sweater with orange and grey stripes, grey wool coat, grey tights

{ personal: }

One of my closest friends called me the other day, my husband and I were in the car driving home. Our car had just decided to make an unsavory alarming sound, probably due to some after-market install. I couldn’t really talk over it and told my friend I’d call him right back. As soon as we got home my husband started investigating the problem while I unloaded the car. I had been at a design conference for two days in San Francisco, literally one block from Sephora. I had stopped in on the way back home to pick up a gift for a couple friends. And myself, apparently.

Unloading the car is handled one of two ways in my household. Based on the day of the week, I either dump everything on the bench by the front door and ignore until the next day or I meticulously put everything in its rightful place. On this particular Friday I chose the latter. Let me elaborate on the meticulous part — it involves the trying on of suitable purchases, such as new clothes or make-up. My reality is often intermingled with such fantastic interruptions. I had given in to the temptation of a natural eyeshadow and blush kit that barely cost twice as much as the single eyeshadow from Make Up For Ever that I normally buy. Impulse shopping at its finest.

While taking the kit out of its box, I found myself mesmerized by the silver shades and gave them a try. One thing led to another, close to an hour flew by. As I found myself snapping a picture of it to share on Instagram I remembered my friend in New York. I called him back immediately and explained the series of events that led to the delay. “I was playing with make-up and I forgot to call you back.” As we FaceTimed each other on our phones, both of us laying down — he on his bed and me on a cozy rug in my bedroom — I delved further into the female psyche, specifically mine.

Make-up and fashion are not just a form of expression, they are also a form of escape and fantasy. Those of us with a passion for one or the other, or both, understand the transformative powers they each possess. I am not a celebrity with a perfect life, I’m a woman in her forties who celebrated her birthday with tea instead of a proper cocktail because of the lingering effects of having pneumonia. I’m a woman who’s a little exhausted by the demands of work. Getting lost in the moment of make-up is a brief escape — I admit to getting completely absorbed by the precision of applying silver eyeshadow on the inside and mid-section of my eye lids, (but definitely not by the lashes or the outer areas, that wouldn’t work.) It’s similar to junk TV for my brain. There’s a Zen to it. While I pride myself in my ability to multi-task on a day-to-day basis, when I get lost in putting an outfit together or working out a new way to wear eye make-up, I get lost in the moment.

Being able to escape reality is important, it’s especially important to me to be cognizant of it. I like forgetting my troubles. I’m not neglecting them, I’m taking a break. As children we played make-believe and it was perfectly acceptable. We nourished our creative sides with fantasy, unknowingly developing problem-solving skills by thinking outside the box. It didn’t matter that we lived in an apartment. There was a farm with a dog and a cow in the bedroom, right next to the castle to the left of the bed. Imagination knows no bounds. I work in a creative field, interestingly enough, the most demanding aspects requiring imagination are not specific to design. They are more often called upon to solve logistical problems, whether it be scheduling or process driven. They further come in handy with regards to working with others.

If I can imagine the way someone else thinks and processes information, I am better able to speak their dialect. That’s a very adult thing to do with imagination. Then there’s make-up. If I can play with silver eye-shadow and make my eyes sparkle, I feel I sparkle. It doesn’t have to be a conscious intention, it just happens. The only thing I need to be conscious of is whether the transformative power is positive or negative. My friend understood and forgave me for getting side-tracked. I sent him off to his slumber with a kiss and plans to visit the following week.

 { fbff: }

Check back in on Friday, November 11 for Fashion Beauty Friend Friday. The visual topic is for us bloggers to show a picture of ourselves without any make-up on. See me in my natural state.

{ style tip: }

I may have only been pattern mixing in the last year but I feel like a pro with some of my bolder choices. What made this outfit work was that I kept the palette limited to only a few primary colors: grey and red-orange. The use of grey helped neutralize the impact of the red tones. Try it out! And then leave me your url in the comment section so that I can see how you styled your patterns. Remember, you’re even more beautiful when you’re having fun!

{ deets: }

Red mini skirt/Urban Outfitters, vintage striped cowl neck sweater/eBay, grey wool coat/Bebe, grey tights/WeLoveColors.com, wedge sneakers/Tsubo.

 

 

 

 

Personal shopper

17 Oct

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit, wearing watercolor mauve, grey, black sheer blouse over skinny jeans

Daily outfit, Daily outfit, wearing watercolor mauve, grey, black sheer blouse, Alexis Bittar necklace

{ personal: }

On Monday, October 10 at 7:03pm I received a text from a friend. I was sitting at a hair salon with violet, magenta and mahogany in my hair while my husband was getting his hair cut. She wanted to know if I would wear a fully lined, chartreuse jacket with ruffles. TJMaxx had one in my size for $29.99 and she thought of me. Several texts followed announcing other miscellaneous items that were apparently perfect for me. Not quite knowing what I was in for I gave her the green light. I didn’t ask for pictures, I like surprises.

The next morning I arrived at a photo studio at the crack of dawn to be greeted by smiling faces and a bag very full with clothes. While the first shot was getting set up I modeled my new finds. Almost everything fit flatteringly. For perspective, I will add that she’s at least four or five inches taller than me, very lean with fair skin and blond hair. We could not look more different, yet she was incredibly successful with her choices. That’s quite a talent. As I wrote her a check I realized how special this was. Not only did she think of me, she acted without hesitation and had made peace in advance with handling any returns. She was surprised that I kept most of her finds, I was surprised at her thoughtfulness.

How often do we think of our friends? How often does a certain life magic occur that allows us to act on that thought? Perhaps a text or an email. Sometimes that thought results in a purchase, a card or a gift. Some of those thoughts graduate from words to action. I had been feeling a little down recently. A lot of work and some minor, yet chronic, health issues had been sapping my energy. I stated loud and clear to myself that feeling depleted had given the clarity to realize that at this time I must only put energy into relationships that give back.

Another friend of mine has made the forty-five minute drive to have lunch with me several times in the last year. She checks in with me regularly, it always takes me too long to get back to her. I’ve never gone to meet her in her neck of the woods. She’s a musician and composer yet I had never seen her play. Something has always come up. Maybe I have never made the effort. Last week I drove after work to see her perform for the first time. I had made an agreement with myself that I would not flake.

I drove by myself into the sunset, Mill Valley is west from where I live. The black silhouette of Mt. Tamalpais against the green-hued sunset was surrounded by the icy blue reflection of the San Francisco Bay. I drove over the Richmond bridge during my favorite time of day. The imprint of dusk filled me with peace, I arrived at my destination forty-five minutes later. At eight, she and her band-mates took the stage. She’s a small woman with a very calm energy, this was her band, these were songs. This was her moment.

The first thing I realized is that I had not been a particularly good friend to her. I had not been bad but I could not claim to have been good. I had dismissed the effort it had taken her to keep us connected regularly. The second thing I realized is that she is incredibly talented, her complex timing and melodic jazz compositions were enveloping me, body and soul. Fortunately, bad behavior, once recognized, can be amended. I left the performance lifted.

A couple years ago, ready to celebrate another friend’s birthday, I found myself presented with a gift instead. The birthday girl’s sister had sent her a t-shirt. She liked so much she bought me an identical one. Random, unexpected, unabashed love. Driving home from the performance that night I was warmed by the thoughts of love and friendship in my life. I have thoughtful friends everywhere, in and outside work, in my sisters, in my husband, in the blogosphere. When arrived home last Tuesday after the photo shoot, the first thing I did was try on my new clothes all over again. I enthusiastically assembled outfits, as I am fond of doing, deciding to wear a diaphanous mauve, grey and black patterned blouse over black skinny jeans the very next day.

The May before last, I salvaged a bright pink t-shirt with black kitties all over it from a bag on its way to the nearest Goodwill. One of my friends had talked me into running Bay to Breakers with her in the sunny spin of a margarita-filled afternoon the day before. After crossing the finish line, we walked back to her car, sweaty, filled with adrenaline and a sense of completion. She offered me a t-shirt as the coastal winds picked up, I grabbed the one that had been a favorite of hers a few years back and I gave it a new home.

I wear it with my raspberry pink pajama bottoms when I’m drinking coffee in the mornings. Not a single wear goes by that I don’t think of her. Friendships are fluid, constantly shifting and evolving. Sometimes they happen while we’re not paying attention, such as with my lunchtime friend, others delight and surprise when we least expect it. The common thread that connects and strengthens friendships, that creates relationships that give back, is a thoughtfulness that extends beyond expectations, such as when a friend randomly decides to act as your personal shopper. It would seem that I need not look further than my own closet for a little love.

{ hair: }

Daily outfit, violet and magenta haircolor

It was time to touch up the roots so I did what any respectable adventurous, color-loving girl would do. I had my friend and stylist, Nicole,  add violet and magenta. And as my father-in-law, unknowingly quoting Ministry, said, “every day is Halloween.”

{ deets: }

Watercolor pattern blouse/TJMaxx, black skinny jeans/Urban Outfitters, black camisole/unknown, cocktail ring/Ariella, watch/DKNY gifted, Alexis Bittar necklace/gifted, black sandals/Dansko.

 
 

Taking lessons

22 Sep

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfits and style tips, mixing patterns wearing red skirt, red striped top

{ personal: }

I’m certain that my husband has an advanced degree in relaxing. Chillin’. Chillaxin’. Call it what you will, he’s got it down and I could learn a thing or two from him. When I lived in the Upper Haight in San Francisco I had a routine. I worked from home and would leave the house every afternoon to walk to the store and buy a cookie. I really did this for years. What can I say, I like a routine. Three blocks each way, one cookie and fresh produce for dinner. I would cross the panhandle, slowly, taking it all in; the dogs, the cyclists, friendly faces and neighbors.

I also started my day with a soy latté just around the corner, journaling and daydreaming. I spent an hour in the quiet hush of early morning orders by myself documenting every thought and emotion, turning stream of consciousness into poetry, day after day. My neighborhood cafe played great music, I rediscovered my love for electronic music. I once told a group of somewhat younger women about my morning routine. “You must really love yourself,” one said. Actually, yes.

Fast forward ten years. I no longer work from home. I have very little control over the kind of demands making their way across my day; I have some control over how I deal with the stress. Running, sometimes a drink after work, sometimes not. The most draining days require prescription strength television watching. We don’t even have cable. My husband and I met at work and carpool together, sharing one car. The routine is gone. It’s been replaced with coordinating schedules, grocery shopping, laundry days. Oh, and blogging.

I was washing the first batch of dusty Burning Man bins on Sunday when said husband exclaimed that he was going to chill for a while, complete with beer in hand. Envious, perhaps, I asked if he hadn’t just been relaxing. (This conversation can now go two ways.) Yes! He was going to relax again he proudly announced. He asked me to join him. Uncharacteristically, I put down what I was doing and grabbed my own beer. We sat and appreciated the million dollar view we’ve been blessed with and listened to hummingbirds whir.

View of San Francisco Bay from Oakland hills

LIke I said, I could learn a thing or two. The impressive stack of laundry that needs to be put away sitting in the back room is not going anywhere. Does it matter if I deprive myself of relaxing with my best friend only to put it away three days earlier? Of course it doesn’t. What matters is this: Carpe Diem. When I’m relaxed I photograph better. I write better. I dress myself better. I’m more creative. I’m nicer to myself and everyone around me. I would bet money that I will age less quickly if I subscribe to my husband’s plan. He’s not lazy. He gets things done. I try to get even more done and then beat myself up for not having done enough. I must be taking funny pills because that kind of math does not add up, does it?

Daily outfits and style tips, mixing patterns wearing red skirt, red striped top

What you see above is proof, actual photographic proof, that I came home tonight, popped open a hard cider and enjoyed our warm summer evening. After a day of such intense pattern mixing who wouldn’t need to unwind?

{ style tip: }

Ah, mixing patterns. The old taboo. This one is not always easy to pull off. It’s easier when there are elements in common. In this case, the color red and the graphic nature of the clovers versus the stripes worked. One didn’t overpower the other which kept the outfit balanced, this is key. There are many tips out there on how to do this well. The Chic Fashionista has some good advice.

Don’t be afraid to give it a shot, it takes guts to step outside our comfort zones. There will be misses but there are sure to be hits, too.

{ deets: }

Red clover skirt/Urban Outfitters, striped shirt/Michael Kors, daisy ring/Hatch, red leather cuff watch/Nixon, red jacket/Precious Boutique, black sandals/Dansko

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Don’t forget to enter my giveaway. I’ve got a lightweight scarf straight from Paris just begging to go home with you. Male or female, it matters not. This scarf is genderless and will flatter everyone. Check out The House in the Clouds on facebook to enter.

 
 

FBFF Q&A: Words of wisdom

15 Sep

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Don’t worry about what anyone else says, be proud to just be yourself, girls.

That’s my mom talking to me and my two sisters. While I may have spent a good portion of my life trying to blend in and look like other girls, I failed. In August of nineteen seventy-six I arrived to the United States an eight year-old olive-skinned French girl from the Middle East with no American vocabulary. I had no clue what kids were saying, what games they were playing nor why I looked so different. Parading awkwardly in my cousin Peggy’s outdated hand-me-downs, what had once been the coolest tie-dye pink bell bottoms were now the source of ridicule. I wanted so badly to fit in that it tormented me. I wore the pants anyway because I loved them.

Enter the transition between middle and high school. Two ugly ducklings devoted an entire summer to becoming swans; the hours spent experimenting with make-up and raiding my best friend’s mom’s closet were too numerous to count. We started high school as new students, almost completely. Unrecognized, we both had the freedom to be newer, more improved versions of our awkward tween selves. We were also trapped by trying so hard. In no time at all I discovered new wave, punk and goth music and style. I experimented and expressed my love for fashion and music in a way that was destined to get me noticed as odd or weird. I did it anyway.

I work in the corporate headquarters with approximately fifteen hundred people. Fifteen hundred business people: Buttoned-down shirts, slacks, black, grey, tan, beige and off-white. I’m not trying to stir the pot or get others to talk, I haven’t chosen to express myself visually to draw attention. I don’t require that level of validation for my appearance. Yet, I know that I will draw some attention for my aesthetic choices. That’s ok, ultimately, I still have to be myself. I answer all queries in the elevator graciously and with a smile.

There’s a level of integrity that resides within me, even if at times dormant, that comes from the belief that I shouldn’t worry about what others think. That by being myself I don’t have to justify the way I look nor the way I behave. This statement doesn’t come from a place of cluelessness, I understand that this expression doesn’t permit me to misbehave onto others. It doesn’t mean being rude or insensitive to certain situations. I get it. But, wherever and whenever I can, I will do my best to live as closely to that dogma as possible.

My mother’s advice has permeated my existence; the closer I live each day to the way I believe I should, the stranger it feels physically and mentally when I don’t.  Bad choices inherently feel wrong. More accurately, they feel “un-right”. The metamorphosis of my character through time is good. I mean, really good. As hard as I tried to belong through my formative years I couldn’t help ending up just being me.

Don’t worry, mom. I’m not keeping myself up at night by thinking of what others think of me. I’m more concerned with what I think of me.

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For this week’s topic, we were asked to share the best advice we’d ever received. After much rumination, I decided that this particular bit of advice has stayed with me through and through, impacting my life powerfully. Thank you Katy of Modly Chic for crafting this topic. Friend Friday is an opportunity for fashion and beauty bloggers to share their thoughts on a specific topic and read what others have to say on that same topic. For more information, check out Modly Chic and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!