Friday, February 19, 2021

Gray Sweater Beautiful Flowers and More

 Lady Gray Shares This And That


I'm Lady Gray today sharing a gray sweater with you along with several other items such as flowers, crafting, food and cats in true "this and that" fashion. Hope you enjoy this post as there is something for everyone! So, let's do some catching up and be sure to leave a comment letting me know what you have been doing!


I ordered this sweater online from J.C. Penney and picked it up curbside. It is a.n.a. brand and is oversized. I decided to style it closed with a magnetic brooch and open as a waterfall style to see which I liked best. This sweater is definitely oversized. I ordered medium and could probably have gone with a small due to its roominess. I like to have room underneath for layering, though. 


The sweater is ultra warm and fuzzy and very comfortable for wearing around the house relaxing as well as wearing out. Glad I got it. 


And what a perfect match my gray wrap bracelet is with the sweater! Don't you love it when things work out perfectly like that?!


I want to share these gorgeous flowers from Valentines Day. 


They have gotten more beautiful each day as the roses and lilies have opened up even more. I should probably separate them into several arrangements but right now I'm enjoying them as one large bouquet. I hope you treated yourself kindly and with love on Valentines Day whether you have a significant other or not. 


And I snapped this photo to show you a little pattern mixing I did with a blouse and my striped sweater. I thought it made an interesting combo. I call this my "happy sweater" because I just love the colors on the stripes all combined in one sweater. To me, these are happy colors. 


And here is a recent meal I fixed that The Mr. and I thought was quite tasty. I cooked thin chicken breasts in a skillet and then simmered them in cream of mushroom soup topped with mushrooms. 


I served the chicken breasts with microwave steamer bags of rice with vegetables and green beans. So easy and so delicious. This is a great go-to meal when you can't think of what to make for dinner. 


I've been doing a bit more card crafting and here are a few of my recent creations. I'm enjoying working with a combination of stickers and stencils. Like blogging, I find that I can "lose myself" when I do card crafting. It is a relaxing and satisfying hobby for me. 


And finally, if there are days when you just don't feel like getting out of bed you are not alone! As you can see, Cassie and Garden have days like that almost every day. In fact, it looks like Cassie is suffering from a hangover! Perhaps she and Garden spent too much time the night before at the Cat Cantina?! (Cassie wishes for me to tell you that she is merely hanging over the side of the bed thank you very much!) 

I hope you have a happy weekend and enjoyed catching up!

Until Next Time,

Debbie

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Looking Glass Falls, Cradle of Forestry and John's Rock in North Carolina

 Adventure Day In Pisgah Forest


Yesterday was an adventure day for The Mr. and I as we took a drive to several scenic spots around our area. Our drive took us to Pisgah National Forest where we stopped several times enjoying the sights. 



Looking Glass Falls is such a beautiful waterfall. Typically, when we have visited there it has been extremely crowded but we lucked out and almost had it to ourselves. There was a young man flying a drone over the waterfall which was interesting. 


Proof that we were, indeed, at the waterfall!


We continued on our drive into the Cradle of Forestry area and stopped at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and scouted the trailhead for the trail to John's Rock. The Mr. hopes to hike that trail soon. I have brought students to the center in years past for field trips so it was interesting to see this area again.



You can look up from the parking lot and see John's Rock. Quite an impressive sight as you can see. 



We then drove to see some of the old buildings that housed the original Cradle of Forestry School. This was the first school of forestry established in the late 1800's. 



As you can see there was still snow on the ground here although the snow has melted off in the Asheville area. 


Driving around to see scenic sights is one way we have gotten out and about during the pandemic. This drive also took us on a long twisty road up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and past the Pink Beds. These are such lovely places to explore. Years ago when we were young marrieds and newly arrived in Asheville, we spent a lot of time in this area exploring and hiking the trails. Now, as retirees, we are returning to these places and look forward to more days of exploration in the future. 

How are you spending your time right now? Do take a moment to leave a comment. 


Until Next Time,

Debbie

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Ankle Length Camel Color Wool Coat

 Scoring A Long Coat From Poshmark


I've been searching for a few years now for a longer length coat and I can tell you they have been hard to find! That's why this ankle length camel coat from Poshmark was a true score!


Since we had a big snow here overnight, I figured I would test out the warmth factor of this coat and get The Mr. to snap some photos to share with all of you. I can tell you that the warmth factor is fantastic. And The Mr. did a good job with the photos, as well, LOL!


This coat is a metrostyle brand and is double breasted and fully lined including the sleeves and pockets. The coat itself is 100% wool so having full lining is essential for me as wool tends to make me itch. I have experienced no itchiness with this coat. 


The back of the coat is decorative, also, with a faux belt and a kick pleat. Pretty much everything about this coat is exactly what I was looking for. I really had not heard of metrostyle brand before so I did some independent research of the brand when I saw this coat advertised on Poshmark. As with most reviews, some were good and some were bad, but overall I saw good reviews especially of older goods from metrostyle. 


I also corresponded with the previous owner of this coat via the Poshmark site asking some questions about sizing. When you buy pre-owned clothing you are always taking a bit of a risk but the previous owner was kind and able to give me helpful information that aided me in making a final decision. I had been looking specifically for a camel color coat which is a classic style. I had looked at other sites for them, including amazon, and was concerned that the sizing wouldn't work and I also saw big prices for camel coats which were only wool blends and which weren't even lined! How do you sell people coats without linings?! And, who would want them? So, I kept coming back to this coat again and again and, luckily for me, it hadn't sold yet. 


One of the things that I like about Poshmark is that you are able to offer bids on items if you want a lower price than what the seller is asking. So, after deciding that I wanted to go ahead with this coat I bid a lower price and lo and behold the seller accepted the price. Are you ready? I purchased this coat for $20. Yeah, I think I got a deal. Of course with tax and shipping the final price was $29. Still, a deal, for a coat that is everything I was looking for. No smells, no stains and fits me well. And, I have seen coats of lesser quality online for between $100-$200. 

I have now bought several items from Poshmark and, so far, I have only gotten burned one time. And that was on a paisley top that had a tag marked large and I could barely get it on. I don't know if the person selling it knew that it was a misfit or not. But, I turned lemons into lemonade and made the paisley top into pumpkins! It is possible to "reposh" items that don't fit or that you decide you don't want by re-selling them on the site, but I haven't done that so far. I have found that it is really, really important to do research on brands before deciding to buy whether I'm buying from Poshmark or another site. I also try to read lots of reviews for the items I am looking for and the companies I am thinking of doing business with. It is nice to be able to return items like when I buy from J.C. Penny or Amazon. But, I enjoy knowing that I am not using extra resources when I buy pre-loved clothing from places like Poshmark, Thred-Up or Goodwill. So yes, I took a bit of a chance in buying this coat, but it was a careful chance as I did as much homework as I could do before purchasing. 

So, what is the purpose of my post today? Well, to show you my coat, for sure. And, to give a few hints about buying from Poshmark and other sites that sell pre-loved clothing. And, of course, to show you our pretty snow! And, just to check in and say hello. I hope that each of you is healthy, warm and enjoying your day. For those of you reading in the US, this is Super Bowl Sunday so you may or may not want to wait to read this post until after the big game. Have fun, though, however you are spending your day!

Until Next Time,

Debbie

Thursday, February 4, 2021

How to Wear Pearls

 How Do You Like To Wear Pearls?


Pearls are an on-trend accessory this year and, although I've never needed an excuse to wear my pearls, I do like the different ways pearls are being worn these days. I've been inspired by some of the styling I have seen to try some mixing and matching with my pearl strand and other necklaces. 


I love layering pearls with other jewelry like I've done here with a simple necklace with several pendants hanging down. Pairing a casual necklace with a longer pearl necklace is such a great combination and provides lots of visual interest. 


I also like the look of pairing pearls with a couple other necklaces to add some sparkle. Here, I've added a Paparazzi faux pearl/diamond necklace with a simple faux diamond necklace with my long string of pearls. 


I think the three lengths of the necklaces look so good together. And, you'll notice I'm styling these necklaces with a simple flannel shirt and a sweater. Casual with pearls and a little sparkly looks good together!


See, pearls even look good when wearing blue jeans! For this look I took off the long string of pearls and the Paparazzi necklace and just went with the smaller necklace. But, I added a chunky four strand pearl bracelet. I felt like the other two necklaces plus the pearl bracelet might have overwhelmed this look. The fun thing about wearing pearls, though, is that you can mix and match and just have fun with the different looks you can create!


I hope that you will check out your own jewelry box and have some fun mixing your pearls with other necklaces or bracelets. Don't have any pearls? No problem. Just try mixing and matching what you do have and see if you come up with some styling that you will enjoy wearing. Playing in our jewelry boxes is as much fun as playing in our closets! Shopping what we own is the way to go. 

Be sure to let me know what you think about pearls in the comments section. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Monday, February 1, 2021

What Makes You Smile?

 The Power of Smiling


As a blogger, smiling a lot is something I do.  Everyone seems to expect it when you are doing fashion styling although fashion styling is only a small part of my lifestyle blog. Look at any clothing catalog or fashion blog and most models look really happy to be wearing what they're wearing and are having all manner of fun while they're at it. I have found, though, that smiling on cue is not so easy. If I don't feel like I look good or I'm not in a good mood or having one of "those" days, the smiles just don't come so easily. 

I've been doing some reading lately in a book about mindfulness and one part of the book was about how we, as children, learn to relate to other human beings and get our needs cared for. The author of the book told this story of a women who was travelling by train and boarded the coach in a horrible mood. She had experienced a really rough day and just wanted to get home. But, seated next to her was a husband and wife and their baby. The baby managed to get the woman's eye contact and smiled at her. The woman really didn't want to be bothered and glanced away at other areas of the coach and then back at the couple and found the baby was still maintaining eye contact and smiling at her. It was so compelling that the lady smiled back at the baby and then the young couple joined in with the smiling and the woman suddenly realized that she felt much better. She wasn't feeling as stressed as she previously had been. The baby then began smiling at other people on the coach and the whole mood of the area lightened. All because of the sweet smile of a precious baby! This baby was learning how to interact with other human beings and had already discovered that when she smiled at others there was a reaction and her needs could be met. Sometimes, it was just a smile back. But other times, she received a basic need. Especially, when her smiling interacted with her doting parents! But, the needs of the disgruntled woman were also met that day and she found that her need to be in a better mood was met because of a child's smile.

Smiles can have power. I remember years ago being called to jury duty. I had been called several times previously but had not needed to go. This time, my number was called and I had to make my way to the courthouse. As luck would have it, the day started out with snow and I was not in a very good mood as I drove downtown. The schools were called off for the day and yet I still had to go out and drive which I never wanted to do in snow! I found a parking spot and entered the building and made my way to where the jurors convened only to find that the lady who was supposed to check us in wasn't there yet because...you guessed it....she couldn't get in due to the snow! Finally, after about an hour of waiting, the woman arrived and checked those of us in who had arrived in a timely manner and we settled into the waiting room to wait as she checked in others who were just getting there. I had brought a book to read and was half reading and half looking around when I saw a woman entering the room of similar age to mine who seemed as uncertain about being there as I felt and she was looking for a place to sit. I observed her for a few seconds and when our eyes locked I smiled at her. She smiled back, looked around a little more and then made her way over to where she sat down next to me. We greeted one another and made a little small talk about the weather. I somehow mentioned that I was a teacher and regretted having to come out on such a day as this and she shared that she was a recently retired teacher. What ensued was a long conversation about teaching as we waited and went through the day together being comrades in the jury waiting room. We even ended up having lunch together and talked some more and one thing she mentioned was that my smiling at her let her know that I was a friendly person to be around and she was glad we had met up that day. Neither of us was chosen for the jury and I couldn't even tell you her name now. But, I remember the experience of having a bad day turned into a good one just because I chose to smile at someone. You might say that, just like that little baby, both of our needs for the day were met. Yes, smiles have power. 



In a recent post, I shared about how music and books can touch our lives. Music and books also make me smile. How can you not smile when you hear a melody that is so beautiful it brings happy tears to your eyes or makes you want to dance? Or, when you laugh out loud at something you read that is so funny or that is something that you can relate to so much you can't help but smile? Last night I was reading in bed (something else that makes me smile) and had chosen a book of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher called The Blue Bedroom. I find that I return to this book time and time again because it contains stories that are light in nature and make me feel good and relaxed which is just what I want at bedtime. As I read, I suddenly realized that I was smiling because the characters were so poignant and their experiences things that I could identify with and I felt happy. 


And then there are other things which make me smile like blogging. And even more so if I have a cat assistant curled up next to me. I find that I lose myself when I am creating on the computer with a new blog post. Finding the right words, searching for the correct phrasing, editing pictures, thinking about just the right word choice, it all spells happiness for me and can bring a smile. Yeah, I get frustrated on occasion, but mostly not. As you can see, Garden has been assisting me here of late. But, Cassie also likes to chime in from time to time with a furry opinion. 


How can you not smile when you see this sweet furry face with her head on her paws and sleepy eyes?! Yeah, I know, you can't!!  My fur babies make me smile every day. 




Did you know that there is a world smile day that happens every first Friday of October? I didn't. Now we all know. I have also read that smiling does really good things for our brains and that our brains release good things for our bodies that can even act in an anti-depressant type way and pain killer type way. So smiling is a really great thing for all of us to do on a daily basis. Even if we don't feel like it. Even if we have to force a smile just a bit. I know we have all heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. So, let's all get smiling!


Tell me....what makes you smile?  Hope you will share in comments!

Until Next Time,

Debbie


Sunday, January 24, 2021

How To Wear Shades of Brown with Hints of Blue

 


I've been on a bit of kick lately of wearing shades of brown. This latest outfit features dark brown, beige and cream with a little blue thrown in for good measure! The dark brown pants are old Basic Editions skinny pants, the cream is a faux turtleneck and the beige sweater is a Poshmark find. We'll get to the shoes later. 


You can just barely see part of my blue addition in the butterfly necklace I'm wearing. This necklace was a retirement gift from the lovely AIG group to me. So, it is definitely a treasured piece. The other blue comes from the navy blue and brown boat shoes I'm wearing. These are Skechers and I ordered them from DSW recently using a Christmas gift card. These shoes are so comfortable and lightweight and I have been wearing them frequently since they arrived. They are also machine washable shoes, which is true for most Skechers shoes. I plan on wearing and enjoying these shoes for a long time! 


This next look comes courtesy of The Appalachian Trail as The Mr. and I enjoyed a hike there on Friday. I'm wearing a champagne color down coat (link is similar) which is oh-so-warm with blue jeans and blue fuzzy gloves. Too bad I didn't have a blue hat to go with those gloves but, alas, I had to make do with my trusty black hat. 


If you look closely, though, you can see a champagne colored fuzzy neck scarf tucked into my coat. This scarf, gifted to me at Christmas, is so soft and warm and I just love it! 


I think that adding touches of blue to outfits that feature shades of brown is a great idea. The color combo seems to work well together and I like the look very much! Brown just appeals to me in all of its shades. 


Interestingly enough, we found shades of brown in things we saw on the hike. Like this trail sign.


And this silo we saw driving toward the trail.


And in this old tobacco barn.


And, even in this beautiful house on the drive back home. This house, by the way, is an original Sears Roebuck house that was ordered from a Sears catalog back in the day. So cool!

Take a moment to look in your closet and see if you have some shades of brown that you can pair with some hints of blue. I think you will really enjoy the combination! Let me know what you find!

Until Next Time,

Debbie

*not a sponsored post

**photography by William Ross

Thursday, January 21, 2021

How Books and Music Touch Our Lives


 There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry
Emily Dickinson

'Tis you that are the music, not your song...
Amy Lowell

Where would our world be without music and books? I don't ask this question lightly, for both have been a formative part of my life since my childhood. I believe I have already shared my first experience with walking into a public library with my mother to get my very first library card. The smell of the books that day was an intoxicating scent to me. To think that I could come here to this beautiful place and check out books that would, indeed, take me to lands far away was an exciting prospect to my young heart. To this day, the smell of a book gives me joy and the feel of a book in my hands brings an excitement of what adventures lay in its pages. I especially enjoy reading books in a series because the characters become my "friends" and I typically re-read those books over and over again. 

Likewise, music is a part of all that is dear to me. I am told that, as a little baby, I loved to clap and sing along with songs and nursery rhymes that my sisters would sing and recite with me. Later, in elementary school, I auditioned to sing in the school choir and began taking violin lessons offered in our school system. This later led to my playing in school orchestras and bands and even directing the choir at my church while still in high school. It's quite telling that I remember part of an essay I wrote in elementary school about how one would describe rhythm. I said that, "even in the swinging of an umbrella there is rhythm." The teacher seemed impressed that I recognized rhythm in ways that went beyond typical music venues. I have carried music with me throughout my life...into adulthood, into my education, into my teaching and into my serving of God. Now, in retirement, I continue to make time in my life for music as I learn a new instrument (flute) and direct the handbell choir at my church. The Mr. and I have listening sessions with music from different time periods which I really enjoy. And, yes, I sometimes swing an umbrella on my arm and think about the rhythms that I am creating. I can truly say, along with Amy Lowell, that "'tis me that is the music." Where would I be without it? 

Reading and music are not just good for me, though. They are good for all of us. According to healthline.com reading improves brain connectivity, increases vocabulary and comprehension and increases the ability to empathize to just name a few benefits. Music also touches our souls and emotions in my opinion. In fact, I have to be careful about the music I choose to listen to as it can really affect my mood. Sometimes, I have to change the music if a piece is particularly somber or melancholy as it can bring me to tears. Here is what healthline.com says about music and its effect on us:

"Music exerts a powerful influence on human beings. It can boost memory, build task endurance, lighten your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, stave off fatigue, improve your response to pain, and help you work out more effectively."Apr 1, 2020 (Healthline.com)


As a retiree, I look for things that keep my mind sharp and reading and music are both great avenues for this task. According to Philips Lifeline reading benefits seniors in many ways such as enhancing memory, sharpening decision making skills, delaying onset of Alzheimers and dementia, reducing stress and promoting better sleep. These benefits make me want to grab a book right now! Luckily this is not an issue as I typically read every single day. 


Likewise, music is healthful for seniors, as well. The Vault reports that, according to Johns Hopkins, music is medicine for the mind and that listening to or playing music is like a total brain workout. So, as a senior, I definitely want to keep music in my life! 

How does reading books and listening to and/or playing music fit into your life? Be sure to let me know in the comments. 

The thing is; you don't have to read Moby Dick or be a concert violinist in order to enjoy reading and music. My preferred reading is typically light in nature and incorporates gentle fiction and cats if possible. Mysteries are a huge favorite but nothing gory for me thank you. Likewise, I have always enjoyed an eclectic mix of music from disco to classical and much in between. Although I usually don't go in for country, I was always a huge fan of The Judds back in the day. I still have some of their CD's. (Yes, CD's. I know....old school). 

Over the years, I have realized that many times things can happen in life that may make us feel "less than" in some way when it comes to reading or making music. Life experiences are not always rosy. 

For instance, as a musician, I have struggled over the years with not being "good enough" and suffering from crippling stage fright when performing. I am working hard, in retirement, to simply enjoy music for myself and not be controlled by it or the expectations of others. Majoring in music gave me lots of pleasure, but also opened the door for lots of criticism. It simply comes with the territory because music involves auditions and juried performances and the ever present "attitudes" that are present in the arts. Although many musicians handle this with no problem, my highly sensitive personality got a bit bruised by it all and it has literally taken me years to understand that all of the angst of music really had very little to do with me personally. This realization had allowed me to set my inner musician free and to come to a peaceful understanding and acceptance of some of the pain that was caused by the competition aspect of it all. Something as wonderful and beneficial as music should not cause painful emotions and I am happy to count myself among those who call themselves "musicians." 

Another example of a less than rosy experience occurred with reading when I was in the first grade. I was sick a lot that year and missed school frequently. Those were the "Dick and Jane" years of sitting in little chairs in a semi-circle and reading aloud for the teacher. My teacher that year thought it a good idea to rank the students in the semi-circle from poorest reader to best reader. When I was able to be in school I would be at the top chair in the group. But, after missing for several days, my teacher thought it would be good to place me in the very last seat, have all the children read aloud and, "see how long it takes Debbie to rise to the top seat." While I don't wish to sit in judgement of my teacher, I can't believe that this activity was good for ANY of us small and impressionable children. And for me....well...not good at all. This goes a long way in explaining why I threw up many mornings in first grade and couldn't go to school. Yeah, not a rosy experience at all. But, surprisingly, this never stopped me from loving reading just as the competition and attitudes I experienced in music groups never stopped me from loving music. I wonder why? 

Have you heard of "Multiple Intelligences?"  These intelligences were coined by Howard Gardner and speak to the different ways that people are born to learn and interact with the world. Gardner's multiple intelligences theory has been hotly debated over the years but I, along with many other educators, feel it has merit. It is generally believed that everyone has all of the intelligences but that two or three tend to dominate. Thus, a person relies on the dominant intelligences for their learning and interaction in the world. It was no great surprise to me that my two dominant intelligences are verbal/linguistic and musical. These intelligences "call to me" and help me to define, understand, learn and live in the world. They always have and, I'm sure, they always will-even in the face of less than rosy experiences like the ones I shared above. 

So, I ask again.  How do music and books touch your life?  I surely know how important they are in my life. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie

*Not a sponsored post.