Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fight the Freeze with a Freebie

      Many of my favorite things in life are free.  For instance, I love going to the public library on my days off of work.  There’s just something about the atmosphere.  I attribute this habit to growing up among library culture.  Before retiring my dad was an academic librarian for nearly his entire career.  In addition, my mom spent a decent amount of time working in a library.  Combine this with the fact that the two of them spend an enormous amount of time reading and there was clearly no escape for me.  Books are in my blood, and even though my own literary habits ebb and flow, I need them to survive. 
   While libraries are ideal during the winter months, I often find city parks to be perfect for loitering during the summertime.  Not only can one easily tote their not-so-academic reading material to the park, but there are some ideal people watching opportunities there as well.  Of course these situations are available at the public library too…actually, scratch that.  The people watching at the library is supreme to any other setting.  In reality, if I really wanted to compose an interesting blog I would photograph and write about the marvelous characters at the library.  It's important to note I'm not mocking these people.  In my opinion, there are some delightfully quirky individuals out there if one can muster the patience to appreciate them.
   I also want to mention it’s now acceptable to eat and drink in the public library.  No longer do I have to smuggle in snacks!  The days of hiding deep within the forgotten back aisles, munching on contraband, while searching for swear words and explicit sex scenes in books like, “The Clan Of The Cave Bear” are over!  No, I’ve never done that…okay so yes, of course I’ve done that.  In my defense it was when I was like ten years old.  Also when one thinks about it, couldn’t it be argued I was merely a child prodigy researching the mating habits of cave people while enjoying an innocent treat of Teddy Grahams?  Come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever fully finished my studies.  I may have to pick that book up again…in the darkest corner of the library, of course.
   Speaking of Teddy Grahams, my love of free things definitely extends to food.  In my mind there's absolutely nothing better than free food.  During my teen years there was a broken down laundry mat on main street that had vending machine.  Surprisingly, despite the near derelict conditions of the business, the vending service was superb. I think it's important to mention that living in an extremely small community left few options for a kid to do.  It was not unlikely that a, “go-getter,” laundry loiterer like me could score a few free bags of expired Fritos on a Thursday afternoon.  Let me tell you, nothing tastes better to a foraging slacker than expired chips.  Of course, that slacker grew up…into a bigger slacker with a slightly more cultured palate.  Actually I joke a lot, however I have to state at home I cook constantly.  Now the quality of my cooking is certainly debatable, but I figure I haven’t killed Al and I yet so…  
   Due to the fact I cook so frequently, I think when I get the opportunity to enjoy someone else’s cuisine, AND IT’S FREE, it’s about the best damn thing in the world!  Here’s where I have to take a moment to thank one of my co-workers.  This phenomenal woman uses her time and talent every day to prepare fantastic food for not only many hungry kids, but this hungry lady!  Every time she hands me lunch I almost get teary eyed thinking, “Do you know how much it means to have someone cooking for me?...wait, and I don’t have to do the dishes?”  All I can say is it’s a luxury I don't deserve and a much needed bright spot on some dark days.  
   At this point you may be wondering what this rant has to do with the above pictures.  All I can say is the hat that I’m wearing was a freebie I recently acquired.  While it’s not nearly as good as Karen’s food, I believe it still merits a mention.  I anticipate it will keep me warm in those cold corners of the library while working on my…research..."yeah, that's the ticket."

Sweater:  Vince 
Jeans:  Gap
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  Sundance
Hat:  Hand knit freebie
Necklace:  (Gift from Al)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Her name is...Leo?"

   I have no problem admitting one has to be slightly touched to maintain a style blog during a South Dakota winter.  Several people have asked me, “Why not just take pictures inside?!”  While this is a valid question, I simply can’t consider following this rather sound advice.  The only justification I can give for my ridiculous behavior is the last picture of this post.  This image alone is why I can’t take blog pictures inside.  The fact is, I never would have captured this photograph indoors.
   I like to fancy myself a photographer, but really I’m not.  Yeah, sometimes I luck out and get a great picture that makes me privately slug myself on the shoulder and think, “You should have had a career in this!”  However, I’m aware that many of my pictures are a result of trail/error and dumb luck.  Basically, if one spends forty-five minutes snapping off ninety photos at least four of them are going to look decent….usually.  Admittedly, there have been those dog ugly days where I’ve simply hung it up.
   However, as the title of this post suggests I'm a Leo and therefore love being center stage.  I'll try until the cows come home to get that perfect shot and then, of course, I’ll photograph the cows…which seems to be really popular right now.  Has anyone else noticed how many home d├ęcor stores are carrying giant cow portraits?  If I ever get tired of my style blog I may start an, "Images Of Animals," series.  Arguably I’ve already done this, due to some of the not-so-great looks I’ve featured over the years. 
   Anyway, I’m proud to state that the last picture of this post is definitely an image I’m proud of.  Actually there have been several of them throughout the course of, “Little House Of Haute.”  I've privately considered framing some of them to hang in my home.  I would use them as reminders of my potential talent and beauty on the days when I feel just the opposite.  However, I can’t seem to justify really doing this.  It’s one thing to be narcissistic enough to post images of yourself all over the internet, but to have them hanging up in your home just seems gross.
   As a result, I’m left gazing at my favorite pictures on a computer screen.  I stare at them and think, “For the second it took to take that picture I looked like the woman I always wanted to be…and I have proof of it!”  The strangest revelation is the fact that most of my favorite images were taken when I was in great discomfort.  For example, the last picture of this post was captured when the temperature outside was well below zero.  As I stated earlier it was sheer lunacy mixed with Leo pride that made me attempt photographs on such a morning.  Well, that and the fact that I always seem to get a perfect picture on the harshest of days.  I guess I'll admit to being superstitious as well as stupid.  However, the facts are there.  Each time I’ve captured a favorite portrait of myself it's been under rather unpleasant circumstances.  During this particular occasion I had the real possibility of expiring from the cold.  I can’t help but wonder if an individual is their most beautiful right before death?  Deep...I know.  In continuation of this philosophical discussion all I can say is, “What a bummer.”
   Lastly, I want to persuade others to take time to photograph themselves.  Obviously you don’t have to be a professional to capture images that will make you feel amazing.  I’m living proof of it…well barely, since I almost froze to death…"eh hem"…several times.  Seriously though, I suggest finding that image of the individual you want the world to know and advertising the crap out of it.  If you don’t brag about your potential nobody else will.  Also, if you see me running towards the next tornado that hits town please try to persuade me to go back indoors.  Even when I argue that no other wind machine will make my hair look better.

Coat:  Thrifted
Sweater:  Vintage
Jeans:  Liverpool
Boots:  Ugg
Mittens:  Handmade  (local artist)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Who needs the, "Ring Of Power," when you have the necklace?

   It’s a long running tradition, between my boyfriend and I, that during the winter months we go antiquing.  I can hear it now, “Bleh…they’re the couple that goes antiquing.  I mean how clique, right?”  I’m embarrassed to admit…wait, what am I embarrassed to admit?  I guess I’m just not comfortable with the idea that I’m happy shopping on Saturdays with my honey.  The imagery of us strolling through the antique mall holding hands simply doesn’t mesh with that angst ridden artist persona I’ve been trying to conquer most of my life.  By the way…"HA!"  When I wrote, “holding hands,” what I really meant was we walk beside each other.  Okay, so we don’t actually touch while in public, but we have been known to have rather lengthy conversations that don’t always end in bickering.  After ten years of being together, I consider this a real triumph.
   Speaking of triumph, I’ve learned that there are certain things that can ensure a couple’s successful trip to the antique store.  The main thing being, keep all browsing limited to only items that interest both individuals.  While I’m certain my significant other knows I’m dying to hit the jewelry case every time we set foot into one of these establishments, I always pretend to have absolutely no interest in such things.  Instead I focus on items for the household…things that reflect our joint personality…purchases that include him…because that’s just the kind of girl I am.  I could care less about the expensive frivolity sparkling in the case over there…sparkling so bright I can almost see it’s reflection in the glass covering the picture of wildlife I’m pretending to show interest in…sparkling so much it burns a hole in my memory that can’t be repaired until I break down and return to the store alone, when it’s a more opportune time to consider, “wasting,” my money.   Yep, no one can ever call me selfish.  I sacrifice jewelry for quality time!
   Not too long ago I experienced just this type of selfless experiment.  My significant other and I were out on one of our antiquing trips.  Despite my valiant efforts to avoid the dreaded jewelry case, I unfortunately looked and suddenly found myself staring at my worst nightmare straight in the eye.  Lying there, obviously waiting for me, was the most intriguing necklace I'd ever seen.  To my total horror, the only person I could share my excitement with was my super, “responsible with money,” boyfriend.  I tried to look away!  I attempted to focus on yet another farm themed piece of crap from the past.  However, on this occasion the pull was too strong.  This time it was all about the necklace.  I mean really…ALL ABOUT THE NECKLACE!  I’m surprised I even recognized who my boyfriend was after seeing it. 
   I guess the pictures of this post kind of spoil the conclusion of my story.  Obviously, I ended up purchasing the piece in question.  How could I not?  Not only is this necklace made out of antique buttons, but the main pendant piece looks like the, "Eye Of Sauron," from the, “Lord Of The Rings,” movies.  There was absolutely no way I could leave this item behind.  I was simply powerless.  "The Eye,” was calling me.  The strangest thing about it was my boyfriend’s reaction to it.  The whole thing went like this…I caught a glimpse of it in the case.  Al didn’t even have to ask which piece I wanted.  I believe his exact words where, “The big necklace?”  I…suddenly rendered speechless…nodded my head only half aware of his impending speech regarding how many necklaces I already own.  However, that speech never came.  Instead all I heard through my muffled accessory fog was, “Yeah that’s pretty cool, in a weird way.”  “What?!” I thought.  “The Eye must have taken control of his mind as well.”
   I’m proud to state I didn’t lose all control that afternoon.  While both of us knew I was desperate to take home the necklace I refrained until about a week later.  On that particular afternoon Al was on his way home from a hunting trip when I suddenly decided to take advantage of my temporary solo status.  I hopped in the car and high tailed it to the antique mall.  However, on the way I was forced to take a rather crazy U-turn in order to make it to my destination on time.  All of a sudden, as I was exiting my vehicle I heard my cell phone ring.  To my dismay a rather serious voice was on the other end, “At first I wasn’t sure it was your car until I saw you pull that insane U-ey.  Did you get the necklace?”  Had he not started to laugh I would have thought it was Sauron himself on the phone.  However, then I realized it was just Al getting back into town precisely at the same time I was shamefully shopping.  Of course our vehicles would pass each other at the most inopportune time.  I guess the moral of this story is spend your money irresponsibly way before your significant other is due home.  Also, make sure the item you buy has the power of invisibility…much like Sauron’s other charmed pieces.  This will inevitably come in handy when one is trying to hide their embarrassment.

Jacket:  Vintage
Jeans:  Henry & Belle
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  Kate Spade
Necklace:  Vintage  (Handmade)
Belt:  Thrifted
Sunglasses:  Gucci

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Habits of Haute (A Year of Style 2016)

   I've referred to myself as a, “creature of habit,” many times on this blog.  I admit to being an individual who prefers routine.  In other words, I know what I like and am very comfortable living life within this familiar territory.  In the past, I recall feeling guilty regarding my lack of change.  People would ask me questions like, “Did you get married?  Have you had any kids?  Are you STILL hanging out at that same Starbucks all the time?”  Of course, my answers would always remain the same, “No…No…and Duh!”  I literally recall people looking at me with a smug, “Man, you’re in a rut,” smile.  To this day that smile irritates me.  In fact, it’s that specific facial expression that has inspired me to write this post…that, and the arrival of another new year.
   I want to first clarify that I find nothing wrong with those who don’t embrace change.  To me, it seems probable that these people are content in their chosen lifestyle.  What’s wrong with knowing which coffee house makes the best decaf vanilla latte in town?  Why should I force myself to slug down a bunch of bitter beverages when I’ve already found my favorite?  I guess I feel like that last sentence could be used metaphorically for most aspects of my life.  Basically, I’m happy with the way things are going so I encourage people to smile genuinely for me. 
   However during the year of 2016 there were times my own smile faltered.  Yep, this was the year that, “Same Ol’ Same Ol’,” felt inspired to make a major life change.  2016 will forever be remembered by me as the time I quite suddenly left my job of ten years to pursue…well, I had no idea.  That’s the peculiar thing about me.  When I finally do make a life change it’s usually swift, major, and semi-dramatic.  Again, I never just switch coffee houses…seriously, why would I do such a ridiculous thing? 
   While I've started adjusting to my new path, I can’t help but reflect on how different last year was for me since leaving my previous employer.  I can only explain it as a ripple effect.  One seemingly, “cataclysmic,” event changed my whole routine for the majority of last year.  Suddenly I was no longer reading my books…I had to look for a job!  I hardly stepped foot into the library…I needed a job!  I knew it was serious when my Starbucks gold card balance never changed because…who had time for coffee?...for the love of God, where would I find a job?!  Like I said, I can be very dramatic.  However, these were literally the thoughts going through my head as I frantically searched my soul for what my next calling would be. 
   While I’ve since found a new direction that is currently rewarding, I’ve noticed many of my previous habits have still not returned.  I have yet to pick up a book and I seem to be only frequenting coffee houses with other individuals.  Okay, I go to the coffee house with dad lately…and we’ve been going to Caribou.  “Sob!”...that Caribou thing was hard to admit...why would we do that?! 
   In conclusion, 2016 was a year of substantial upheaval for me.  There was a lot of running around, hands clutching my head, yelling, “What am I going to do!”  I guess that’s what makes me extra proud of some of the pictures I took last year.  Despite the fact that for a decent amount of time I felt like I was free falling, I look pretty damn confident in these photographs.  I guess it’s just further proof that clothes have the power to cure whatever ails you.  In 2017 I look forward to continuing my new career adventure and I pledge to embrace wherever it may take me.  In addition, this creature of habit can’t wait for all the new clothes this year may bring.  If I've learned one thing from last year, it's that nothing sweetens bitter coffee more than an outstanding outfit.