Friday, July 27, 2012

Be Right Back!

Just a quick post to say that Juli will be back to blogging soon! In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy the Opening Ceremonies tonight! (I, for one, am incredibly excited for the Olympics in general...)

John Mark Olympic Torch Bearer, London, 1948.
Olympic Torchbearer John Mark carries the flame into Wembley Stadium at the 1948 Olympics in London, the last time that city hosted the Games (c/o Flickr Commons)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Find: Oil Paintings

 I bought this miniature painted wood-and-leather chair from Pier 1 years and years ago.

It has a new buddy, as of this past weekend.

Behind the miniature chair is an oil painting by Stacey Heaver, a talented local artist who also is a trainer at my gym.

Months ago, she exhibited this painting at the gym, and I fell in love with it. But it was a little pricey, so I put it out of my mind. Except I couldn't forget the dramatic, stormy sky filled with steel-blue clouds.

So a few days back, I screwed up my courage and asked her if there was a little wiggle room on the price. Turns out, she gave me a LOT of wiggle room! And now this landscape with the roiling clouds keeps me company when I sit at my laptop.

It reminds me of storms during my childhood in Kansas, although the trees look more like the eucalyptus trees that grow in Los Angeles. I can almost hear them hissing in the restless, cold air.

Two days after I bought this painting, another one fell into my lap.

Last Sunday, I was walking one of my pugs when I stopped to chat with a neighbor having a garage sale. I know her only a little bit. She is another local artist, newly divorced, and she's moving out of the area. She and her young daughter are beginning over again in a seaside art colony. She is selling almost everything she owns to fund the move. She has lovely taste, and I'd already bought some of her blue-and-white china a few garage sales ago. 

I told her I wished I could buy a bit more of her beautiful things, if only to put a few more dollars in her pocket. She deserves that, I said. But The Hubby and I are still smarting from the recent vandalism/theft on Lovely Daughter #2's car, and I couldn't justify buying any more goodies.

I guess she caught me gazing fondly at this painting:

On impulse, she picked it up and pressed it into my hands. She said she bought it at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, and she wanted me to have it. I nearly cried; she has lost her marriage, her house, and almost all her lovely things, yet she's urging me to take something from her.

I thanked her. She thanked me. I walked away with the painting tucked under my arm, stunned at the goodness and strength and clarity of purpose some people have.

"It's only stuff," she said.

And she's right. Everything important is moving to her new town with her--her dignity, her resolve, her aspirations, her sense of worth, and her beautiful daughter.

Now every time I look at these two landscapes, I think of the two women behind them, and how generous they were.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Two New Tops

It was scorching hot here in Los Angeles last week. One evening, shortly after 7 p.m., it was still 93 degrees! In heat like that, even my short-sleeved tee shirts are too hot. Too clingy.

So I went to my favorite resale shop to search for light, floaty, summery tops. Bad news: I didn't find any tops that were exactly right for me. Good news: I found two lovely mini dresses that, with a bit of tailoring, would be perfect lightweight tops. The terrific price I got them for allowed me to justify the cost of tailoring.

Here they are, back from the tailor. The first one is a black-and-white, gauzy tunic, taken up to hip length, with slits on the sides (the tailor simply took the slits up a little higher than they were when it was a mini):

It looks ladylike worn with a flesh-colored bra. With a black or dark, jewel-tone bra underneath, it would be a bit more daring. It'll look great worn with white skinny jeans.

The second mini is from BCBGMaxAzria. No way would I pay what this must've cost, retail. But it was a steal. The silver bugle beading and icy blue color are absolutely gorgeous with my coloring (pale Anglo skin, silvery hair). I had the tailor lop off a chunk of the bottom of the mini to bring it up to rest just at the top of my hips. He also nipped it in under the arms a bit to get rid of a little gapping problem.

This is the view of the back:

Straps this skinny make it hard to avoid errant bra straps showing, so I asked the tailor to add some lingerie straps. They are added to the underside of the top of the strap, just where the top of your shoulder is. A simple fix and very effective:

Is there a minidress in your closet or at the store that you just can't see yourself in because it shows too much leg?

Maybe it's really your next tunic or top, just waiting for a little tailoring.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tiny Beautiful Things

Yesterday was dominated by two different things, both tiny and beautiful. First, I made my first-ever fabric Yo-Yos. The one on the right--which has been lightly ironed--was given to me as a sample. I made the one on the left, and I kept it un-ironed, for more of a "poofy" look:

Yo-Yo's are puffy little circles of fabric sewn by hand. They're a great way to use up small scraps of leftover material. Yo-Yo's can be used in a gajillion ways. You can decorate gifts or create garlands with them:

 photo credit: iriskh

You can sew them on tee shirts, cloth headbands, little girl's dresses, purses, pillow cases, or sachets:

 photo credit: A Bit of Heaven

Yo-Yo's can be sewn into table runners, place mats, decorative scarves, or mounted as art:

photo credit: robayre

With enough time and patience (and 1,600 Yo-Yo's!), you can even make a gorgeous coverlet, like this one:

photo credit: Knittingand

I used this short video to learn how to make them. It was ridiculously easy. If you want to try your hand at making Yo-Yo's (try it! it's fun!), do yourself a favor and watch the video first. Extra bonus bits: The lady on it has a sweet accent.

I won't go over the steps, because she does a better job. But you can get the idea from my photos, in case you don't want to look at the video right now:

I took my Yo-Yo-making materials outside to watch the dogs play in the sunshine. While I sat there, I cracked open a book that Lovely Daughter #1 had just mailed me, a "just-because" sort of gift:

I lovelovelove this book and started marking my favorite passages right away:

Do you know it? The title is "tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar." It is written by the gal who wrote "Wild," another favorite book of mine. Anyhow, by bedtime I'd devoured half the book. It's that good.

I love the coincidence--that I made tiny, beautiful things, and that I then sat down to read a book by the same name.

Sometimes a day just works out that way.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blowin' in the Wind

 My pugs... 

are blowing off...

their winter undercoats....

Can you tell?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Wonderful Day at the Park

This past Sunday, I volunteered again at my local park, helping find "fur-ever" homes for some of L.A.'s pound puppies and kitties. What a successful day! We placed 14 dogs and 6 cats. We were elated--that's about twice as many pets as a good day at the park.

Look at these terrific family portraits, all taken just moments after these lucky fur babies were adopted. All photography by Karl Loveys. Thank you, Karl, for all you do to promote animal adoptions.

I betcha this little girl will never forget the day her daddy adopted her a kitten.

 Gaa! They're wearing the same colors!

This is Pee Wee, above, one of the dogs I handled. If you even looked at him, he'd roll over for a belly rub and show you his adorable polka-dotted tummy.

This gentleman, above, came in specifically looking for a senior dog. His kindness made our hearts melt.

Look at those smiles! These two already kinda look like each other.

What a perfect day at the park! Please, spread the word; tell your friends and your family to consider adopting a shelter pet. The critters will be so grateful!

Monday, July 16, 2012

City Perks

When I read my favorite bloggers, sometimes I get jealous that I don't live on a beautiful, windswept prairie like this gal or deep in the country like this gal.

But then I would miss certain things, like being able to walk to a Starbucks for iced coffee with my dogs.

photo: marcopako

Or this--my women-only gym, one mile from my house:

Don't you love this picture? These are actual gals at the gym.

Caffeine and my gym: They keep me going!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Still Grateful

 This past week has been difficult. I've been kinda sad.

The worst thing was this: While we slept one night. Lovely Daughter #2's car was torn up:

The Bad Guys did $7,000 worth of damage and theft. And the car was only worth $9,000! So, we now have a heap of scrap metal shaped like a blue Prius.

It's a blow to think that, right under our noses, this level of maliciousness happened.

And yet, and yet: Nobody's going to go hungry because of this. No mortgage payments will be missed. No bills will be left unpaid while collectors hound us.

And meanwhile, our tomatoes are pumping out delectable goodies like nobody's business.

I have enough tomatoes to give the pugs a cherry tomato treat on a daily basis. (They now come running when I say, "Let's go pick tomatoes!")

The garden--even the noxious Morning Glory--is bursting with blossoms and deep, green shadows.

Roosevelt the Cat is recovering nicely from a little surgery on his neck, and his fur is growing back:

The Agapanthus look glorious.

There's still so much to be grateful for.


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