Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Home Grown Relaxation

Life, not unlike the seasons, is an ever changing thing.  It seems like it will be one way forever and then suddenly it's not.  I've seen a lot of changes to my way of life in the last few years, but one that continues to amuse me is the change in my role at home.  There's been a real shift in the way I feel when I'm at home.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
I spent ten years as a stay at home mom and I considered my home to be my workplace.  I watched a number of my friends who transitioned from the workplace to the home go through a depression.  They felt isolated and lost and bored.  They crawled into their pajamas and some of them never came out.  In order to stave off that mentality and to keep up my energy for working in my home at tasks which, let's face it, never end, I made myself follow a routine each morning.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
The first thing I did was get up and exercise.  I read somewhere that one should wait 20 to 30 minutes after exercising before eating anything if weight loss or weight maintenance is the goal.  So, right after my workout, I showered and then spent some time quietly reading and re-hydrating.  By the time those things were done, it was time for breakfast.  All of this may sound like a run of the mill morning schedule, but here's where the mental gymnastics come in to play.  Even though I was staying at home, I made a commitment to get dressed in something nice and do my make up and hair everyday in the same way that I did when I worked a professional job away from my home.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
That was my mental cue to get to work and I did everyday, rain, shine or illness I educated my children, cooked no less than three meals from scratch, and kept everything neat and organized.  It wasn't because I loved doing those things, but rather because I loved the people for whom I was doing them and I wanted the task of being in charge of those things so that I could be sure they would be done the way I wanted them done.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
Life has changed since then and I am no longer at stay at home anything.  I work, my children go to school, and we have a myriad of activities in between that keep us away.  When we are home, I am no longer solely responsible for the cleaning and cooking and that's more than OK with me (can I get an amen!).  I'm exhausted at the end of my day and not up to the double duty.   It's time my children lent a hand and learned how to cook a few meals and properly do their laundry and dishes, which they do even though it comes with a lot (A LOT) of complaining.  Since my role has changed, I no longer need all those mental tricks to motivate me.  When I'm home I get to kick back and relax.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
I still don't stay in my pajamas all day long; I still put on something nice, but I do get comfortable with tasteful loungewear sets.  I have several loungewear sets that make me feel cozy and fashionable and ready for anything the day might bring.  FemmeLuxe has a lot of great styles of loungewear sets to choose from and they're all quite stylish but this Lexi set in Rust caught my eye because I adore this autumn color and the flowy hoodie and relaxed fit joggers give me that soothed energy.  It instantly has me thinking of fall and cool days under the changing leaves.  
Rust With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set - Lexi from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
That doesn't mean I'll be saving it for autumn though.  I'll be out enjoying the scenery right now with all the wild sunflowers in bloom who like me intend to soak in as much sunshine and summer as we can while it lasts.  Now that my home is my home and not my job anymore I make it my purpose to make each of my days off less stressful, less busy, and a lot more zen and it's been going so well so far that I think I can keep this peaceful momentum going...at least....until school starts.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Inside Scoop

I firmly believe, even when I'm buried under mountains of evidence to the contrary, that the world is filled with beauty and grace.  Maybe it's a driving factor in my dress obsession that I want to fill my life with beautiful things and that perhaps by wearing something beautiful, and wearing a cheerful disposition as often as possible will brighten the world and the lives around me a little.  It's sentimental silliness, I suppose, but it makes me happy.  
Today, I decided to stop at this little forest on my drive because it was practically bursting with purple wild flowers.  The scent was so delicious, I wished I had longer to stay this morning and spend some time listening to the sounds and soaking in the scent and the sunshine, but I had to be on my way.
This Ice Cream skirt is a longtime admiration, but I've only recently acquired it.  The whimsical kid in me cannot resist a novelty print like this, but the overly serious adult  wins out for a while and says things like "act your age."  Most of the time I do, but in the end I remind myself that life is short and what's life without whimsy...and ice cream?  No life at all, that's what.
Angel Amour Crochet Top from ChicWish Collectif Ice Cream Skirt
 Shopping Info: Angel Amour Crochet Top from ChicwishCOLLECTIF MAINLINE JASMINE ICE-CREAM SWING SKIRT

Monday, July 29, 2019

Experimental At Times

The thing I love most about blogging is the way I can experiment with fashion before I wear it out into the world.  I currently live in a quiet little corner of the planet where the people dress in a very casual homogeneous way and nothing much ever changes.  So, I can pretty much count on getting a few looks when I step out my door in anything beyond jeans and a t-shirt.  I used to mind--a lot--but now it's no big thing.  Although it is hard to gauge whether the looks are from admiration, confusion or contempt.  And sometimes I wonder, how does this really look on me?  It's nice to try something on, snap some pics and post them here to get a little feedback from fellow fashion lovers.  So, how about it, what do you think of this outfit?  Post your comments below.  Be honest,...but be polite <3
Orange Gingham Shirred Top from Shein Printed City Scene Skirt from ChicWish
Shopping Info:Self Tie Shoulder Gingham Shirred Top - $10.00 from: SHEIN, City Scene Printed Midi Skirt from Chicwish

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Beachy Keen

Sand Piper PhotographAssorted Shells, Beaded crab, and Blue Crab oil painting from etsy.com
It's a beautiful morning by the sea in sunny Florida and I'm ever so glad to be back in the citrus state.  We weren't planning a trip here this year at all, but a couple of dates opened up at our favorite spot from last year and we decided to pack our bags and go.  It was last minute and the kids were against it, which totally baffled me.  

I grew up without ever taking a single family vacation, so I'm always ready for a road trip or a trip of any kind, really.  My children on the other hand have traveled frequently in their young lives to some pretty incredible places and they come off as a little jaded toward seeing the world now.  I get it...I guess, but I don't like it.  The world is a pretty big place with amazing things to see all around.
So, I very politely asked them to leave their crabby pants at home and only bring their happy pants along for this family vacation.  Did they?  Pretty much.  No trip is without it's mishaps and misadventures, but I'd say we did far more laughing than anything else and that is what makes a trip great.

For this trip I packed lots of great, healthy snacks since we were trying to keep our expenses down and we managed to make it the whole way without stopping for a meal.  And, I grabbed a few audio books from the library to make the trip go by a little faster.  I picked a little of everything--Little Women, A Walk in the Woods, Mr. Popper's Penguins--but the one that surprised me by being a crowd favorite was The Hunger Games.  

I read the books years ago, and watched two of the movies.  I loved the books, but there was so much they just couldn't fit into a two hour movie that I didn't love them as much (no disrespect to Jennifer Lawrence).  Everyone liked the book so much that we actually had a lengthy discussion about it and they asked me to check out the next two on audio book so we could finish the series together.

I don't know how we did it on such short notice, but we managed to have a really great road trip with a good book, good conversation, very little bad weather, and minimal sunburning. 
Shopping Info:Nautical Option Cropped Sweater in 12 (UK) - Short Sleeve Pullover by Royal Monk from ModClothPort Presence A-Line Skirt by COLLECTIF VINTAGE JOSIE CRAB SWING SKIRT

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Tattoos and Tutus: Be Who You Are

It's funny how many conclusions people reach with a minimal amount of information.  I know we say not to judge a book by its cover but to some degree that's just human nature and that's why I always insist that what you wear says a lot about who you are.  It's not the whole story, but it is very often the only piece most people will ever get to the wonderful puzzle that is you.  
I used to be a part of this mom group.  I say "part" but really I just showed up and sat in a corner listening quietly until it was time to leave.  It wasn't that I disliked everyone or didn't want to join it, it's just that the mom circle was a chaotic free for all of conversations and I was always too shy to jump in until eventually my role was just to sit and say nothing and no one really thought to talk to me anymore.  

The fact that I allowed myself to shunted off to a corner and forgotten is entirely my fault, but I do remember once, when I managed to chat with a few of the loudest talkers, I have no idea how I pulled that off, but as we talked I mentioned how difficult it was for me to go to a certain beach in Japan which forbid anyone who had tattoos showing.  "Why would that be a problem for you?" they asked.  "Because I have four tattoos," I replied.  They were oddly stunned.  Jaws actually dropped and one mom commented, "I would never have thought you'd have tattoos.  You seem like such a nice girl."  "Really?" I replied, "I thought I was this group's resident bad-ass."  Ok, I didn't really say that last part, because I am in fact a very classy girl who rarely swears even when the occasion calls for it.  But, I do (or at least once imagined that I did) have a bit of a bad-ass side and I don't see anything wrong with being both.  
When I got those tattoos (as well as a slew of piercings which I no longer wear), I thought I could only be one way or the other.  Now I am wise enough to know that there is room in my being for both of those facets and so much more.  I believe in balance to all things.  Why can't you be a princess in leather?  Or a vixen in high collared lace and a below the knee skirt?  Or a ballerina with tattoos.  I think you can be both, or even all those things.  I know I am.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Queen of Hearts

    I'm not much of a gambler these days, but I remember spending a whole summer of my childhood learning to play poker and various other card games with my brother and cousins.  Between us all, I'm sure we lost at least one allowance each before we switched to only playing with chips instead of money.  As we learned the rules of the games, we also tried our hand at card tricks, and in all that time we must have studied the faces on those cards because we noticed little details we never had before.  As we noticed we started wondering about the stories behind these figures.  We spent time discussing such questions as were they real and why was the King of Hearts so distraught.  
Queen of Hearts Dress Bleu Avenue
    I don't think we'll ever truly know who the faces are on our playing cards.  Rumor abound, but facts are far fewer.  What we do know is that have been around since at least the 14th century and have been used over the years to represent various political leaders.  As for myself, I prefer to think that the Queen of Hearts was King Henry the VIII's fiery ginger daughter Elizabeth the I of England, but it's more likely that the true Queen of Hearts, if she was a real person, lived a hundred years or more before Elizabeth was born.  Whatever the facts are, I think it's far more fun to wonder and imagine who these people might have been.
Shopping Info: Arrow Detail Bar Stud Earrings 1pair - $3.00
from: SHEIN Geo Print Dress from
https://us.shein.com/

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

I Won't Let Summer Go

Rockabilly Swing purple polka dot dress boysenberry buckle by Hell Bunny Vixen
July brings blackberry picking and long sunny days and I'm glad of both, but it seems like as soon as Independence Day is over people immediately start talking about how summer is over and it's all back to school and back to work.  I beg to differ!  There are still three glorious weeks left of summer and I intend to make the most of them and put off thinking about back to school and back to work at least until mid August.  
purple polka dot dress boysenberry buckle by Hell Bunny Vixen
I don't think it's healthy to spend so much time stressing over something still so far away and miss all those precious last moments of freedom.  Three weeks is still plenty of time for long evening walks picking wildflowers, early mornings listening to the crickets and cicadas, time for swimming and grilling our lunch outside.  Three weeks still left for hot roasted s'mores and campfires stories and ice cold lemonade under the shade of the old oak tree.  Three blessed weeks of no shoes and tangled hair and freedom from deadlines and homework and waking up early and I won't give up my summer til then.
Shopping info:  Boysenberry Buckle Dress by Hell Bunny Vixen

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Keeping My Momentum

Working out has been a challenge.  I've always hated to let my workout routine slip and then try to get back to it.  It gets harder each time I have to “get back into shape.”  I think it's a much better idea to just stay in shape, to be bikini ready all year round.  And for fifteen years, that is how I lived my life.  Not that I had a perfect body all those years, I didn't, but fitness was programmed into my day, so I didn't have to think about it I just did it.  But, life changes.  Routines change.  And now, three years after so many big and difficult changes have happened, I'm still struggling to get fitness back into my regular schedule.  

I've never been a jogger.  Ever.  If you ever see me out running, you'd better start running too because there is definitely something chasing me.  I've tried running a few times over the years starting in my late teens, but not only did I hate it, there have been a couple of times that I finally felt like I was making progress only to pull a hamstring and have to stop jogging for several painful months while it healed.  By the time I recovered, I would have to start from the very beginning again and that sounded beyond awful, so I usually gave up and tried something else.  
This summer a friend asked me to start jogging with her.  She's former military and was looking to try to get her military body back after years spent sitting at a desk.  I didn't want to.  At all.  But, I didn't really have a good reason not to.  So, three mornings a week for the past two months, we meet at a park and jog—not together, I could never keep up with her and she's not interested in going as slowly as I do.  I don't keep track of my time, but I know I've made progress since she only passes me once now instead of two or three times.  
These last few weeks however I was strongly considering canceling.  I just had zero interest in jogging.  No matter how many times I try it, I still hate it.  But, I did want to honor my commitment to my friend and I do want to make fitness a regular part of my day again, so as a compromise, I brought my bike to the park.  My friend cocked an eyebrow when she saw it.  I shrugged.  “I'm being active and that's the point,” I said.  It was her turn to shrug and she took off on her jog.  Within a minute or so, I was next to her and starting to pass her.  “Wow!” I shouted over my shoulder, “It feels so much better to be the one doing the passing instead of getting passed.”  We laughed and she mocked shaking her fist.  I rode twice the distance I normally jog in the same amount of time.  My heart was racing and my legs felt like jelly afterward—ask anybody, that's a good workout.
 I brought my bike again the next day and on our third day that week, I decided to hike one of the shorter trails instead of jogging.  I needed to keep going with my exercise, but somehow still get a break and riding my bike was the perfect compromise.  This week I'm back at jogging, doing only slightly less well than I was before the break, but still moving forward with my goal of getting exercise into my everyday.  In case you're wondering, I don't normally show up dressed like this for a workout.  I absolutely dress like this for a leisurely pleasure ride on quiet paths, but there's nothing leisurely about the way I ride when I'm exercising.  
I asked my friend to snap a few pics on the trail before we got started with our jog/ride and she obliged me.  I also caught a quick pic of this little toad who did not keep me company on my ride, but I could tell he wished me well.  Then I changed into workout shorts and tank and of course sneakers instead of heels.  Whether it's a workout or just a de-stressing sort of ride it always boosts my mood and puts a smile on my face and when you find something you enjoy it's so much easier to make it a part of your routine.

© Bleu Avenue. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.