Jeannie’s High/Low Stocking Review

Back in the day, when I had money to spare, I’d spare no expense on things important to me.  I’ve had to cast off my extraneous spending and that’s been okay.  Fortunately I can keep the hair and nails in budget but here’s something I rediscovered that is every bit as good – no, really – better than its pricier counterpart.

Silken Mist stockings.  Sort of a ‘Sheer Energy 2.0’ brand.  Updated for the 2000s.

Remember those?  Yep, the grocery store “pantyhose” from a lifetime ago when they came packaged in cheap, silver eggs.  A la L’eggs.  

When I discovered Donna Karan’s most awesome opaque tights in killer black, I wore them for years and years and swear by them still.  Despite the cost I can never give them up.  Trust me, they will die from washing-and-wearing before something like a run would happen to them.  They are a staple in my closet – even my Florida closet.  

But stockings are another story.  There are times when the opaque look just isn’t right and the occasion calls for sheer.  So I did what any other Donna Karan evangelist would do:  bought the sheer black stockings, choking down the price of close to $20 (could be more, these days) for a pair of oh-so-sheer, dangerously sheer, black stockings.

I was truly afraid to wear them.  These are not rough and tumble, like my beloved tights.  These are for grown up dresses and better shoes.  But what if they run?  They cost $20.  Trepidation.

Also, I’m the sort who likes to be prepared: I carry a second pair just in case, or at least, the requisite clear nail polish to salvage a potential tear.  At $20 a pair, though, now we’re talking forty dollars for just the stockings!  Never mind the right dress and shoes to wear with them.  Suddenly it’s all about the stockings and what about the outfit?

So one night in last minute desperation, when I needed stockings for a morning dress-up occasion and the tights would not do, I rode my bike to the neighborhood K mart (oh Target, I’m so sorry, please forgive me), determined to buy whatever cheapo stockings they had, damn the consequences.

I couldn’t believe I was back in the land of L’eggs but there they were, in all the shades I remembered: nude, suntan, black.  All priced in the $4 range!!  I snapped up two pair of ‘black mist’ thinking how bad could they be? and rode home gleefully.

Friends, I’m here to tell you that L’eggs Silken Mist in Black Mist or Jet Black sheer stockings are a value and a half. They fit like Spanx for the legs, from waist to toe.  They are sheer enough for a nice dress and I’m no longer scared to use the ladies room while wearing stockings for fear of snagging or tearing them each time I pull them back up!  And black is always chic – be they a Silken Mist L’eggs black or a DKNY black.  And while I’ll never give up my opaque Karan tights no matter the cost, you can have your pricey sheer stockings and I’ll stick to black L’eggs Silken Mist stockings.  

I haven’t had occasion to try the ‘nude’ stockings yet…but I know this:  if I show up in ‘suntan’, please understand that something is seriously wrong,  and get me to the doctor at once.  I do have my limits in taste and style.

My December Moon

Another thing I love about living at the beach is that you have a clear view of the moon rise in the eastern sky.  You can watch it come forth from the ocean, especially stunning in full moon phase when it hovers low and oversized and golden over the ocean waters at twilight.  Really spectacular moon risings at just the right time happen only a few times during the year.

You have to catch a rising moon in its early moments because it quickly loses its luminous quality and jumbo size and becomes ordinary.  The kind you notice but rarely give a second glance.  Today’s moon was (supposed to be) different:  it was predicted that this December moon would appear 14 % larger and 30 % brighter than the 11 previous full moons of this year.  This was due to the moon’s certain proximity to the earth and whatnot.  Moon rise was 5:26pm and skies were clear, which promised a great view and sunset hues. I was excited because a killer moon rise at sundown is something I manage to see about once a year.  Having waited on the beach to see the Harvest moon rising into a night sky back in October and being underwhelmed (last minute clouds formed at the horizon obscuring the moon’s arrival for several minutes so that when it was finally visible it had lost its magic) didn’t diminish my interest in this December moon.  After all, this moon was to be the biggest and brightest moon of all.

Two things.  I didn’t make it to the beach entirely on time for the moon rise.   Too much vacillating at home about whether or not to go meant that I missed the first several minutes of the full moon rising and therefore, its spectacular debut.  Secondly, the Canon Elph.  It’s no Canon Rebel.  My little pocket camera has been entirely satisfying in most ways but when you need a telephoto lens it just won’t do.  Absent the desired digital SLR and my late arrival, I snapped a few pictures of the moon that just…wasn’t. Pretty, yes,  it reflected onto the water romantically, and it was a perfect December evening at sunset with a nice Florida chill.

Don’t get me wrong.  I liked this moon even if it wasn’t the spectacular moon I’d for.  But, the Elph did this moon no favors.  Still, it didn’t appear to me to be 14 % larger or 30 % brighter… but it was a lovely moon. Certainly lovelier than the Elph conveys.

Scampering off the walkway I passed a neighbor in possession of the camera and lens of my dreams, snapping her own photos of my December moon.  I’d like to see her pictures but they wouldn’t be my own, which is the whole point, isn’t it?

Presenting my December moon: an average full moon rising at the end of an above average week.  And that’s good enough for me.

Sure It’s All Fun and Games…

til Someone Gets Hurt, Mother

Recently, we (that would be me) here at Atlantic Beachlife subjected the children to the annual Christmas card photography torture session.  

The good times start with Mother in a calm state.  She tells her children of her plan for the day’s activity which is met with much grousing and bargaining for postponement,  but she will not be deterred. They are smart children.  They know that mother’s calm spirit is a contrived attempt to infuse this obligatory photo session which will be lengthy and repetitive, with false cheer.  That Mother’s happy and upbeat demeanor will crumble at the first sign of their resistance, and she will become the tense and hissing woman they remember from previous family photo sessions. They wisely cooperate.  She promises early to take them to McDonald’s so as to prime their moods and elicit the facial expressions and body language that make for a happy looking trio.  She promises that if everyone plays their part well, it will be over quickly.

Because they are now older children she tells them straightaway that she means to take many photos, like, a lot, like, hundreds, because it takes hundreds, in fact, to get that one perfect shot (the one that will please her).  They get it.   They understand.  They allow their hair to be combed, pony tailed, gelled.  They wear the clothes she commands them to wear.  They get into the car.

All is going well so far.  Mother feels optimistic.  She drives to her favorite site; a place that allows for changes of scenery beachside.  Dune grass.  Palm trees.  Bench.  Sand and sea.  This gives Mother the options she wants.

Soon she has the children posing, and her voice remains friendly, coaxing.  She remembers to smile when she directs them to stand over here, no, no, put her in the front of you two…closer, turn your head just a bit…no, not you, you keep looking straight at me and keep smiling, just keep smiling, now you, will you put your arm across his shoulder, yes!  just like that, great, okay, oops, your eyes were closed, okay you two just stay like that…hey!  look at me, there we go, good, great. No!  Stop doing that, you are trying too hard, look relaxed, don’t clench, okay that’s better. Everyone!  Look at me and smile, okay, let’s move over here, why are you squinting? Okay, yes I can see that, the sun’s in your eyes, let’s move to the dune but no!  Stop climbing the dune, stop it now, it’s a crime to disturb the sea oats so come down now, there we go, now why don’t you all hold hands, keep them low, down by your sides, put the little one in the middle and just hold hands in a relaxed way.  Stop squeezing her hand, that hurts her, oh no.  NO.  Don’t cry, please don’t cry, if you cry it will take longer and I won’t let you get the milkshake, okay?  Okay?  Good, good, here we go now… And so on.  
Mother commands pose after pose, and the children, they are good, they cooperate so nicely. Mother is thinking that this is going much better than last year, when she screeched and berated the children when they fussed and fidgeted.  Mother is determined to be a better mother this time out as she does not want their childhood holiday memories to be of her scowling on the backside of a camera. Mother thinks this should be fun!  And if not fun, at least, bearable.  Capped with a happy memory of a Happy Meal.  Mother is old enough to realize that memories can be selective, so she does her best to maintain her photographer’s composure.  She cajoles them when she feels like snapping at them. She only curses to herself.  (She knows they are only children and cannot read her mind.)

For an hour she has them standing, prancing, sitting, looking at her, looking away from her, and finally, running toward her.  This elicits another round of directions from Mother as she sets the camera to ‘continuous’ and urges them to come running toward her time and time again, back and forth. She shouts the appropriate encouragement: look at me, keep holding hands now, look over at me, look back at me and keep smiling! she repeats, as the camera stutters off round after round of these splendid poses.   And then, it happens:
On perhaps their twelfth or sixteenth pass by her in her favorite ‘running toward me’ pose, the little one skids to the sand.  Face down. 
 This is a child who does not shake things off quickly.  This is the child who generally cannot be wheedled out of a crying snit.  Crying snits come easily to this one.  In an instant she is awash in tears and snot.  And sand.  All mixed up.
Game over.
This injury is more emotional than physical, the humiliation of falling suddenly face down into the sand, mid-run, mid-smile, camera catching her startling thud so perfectly.  She would not like seeing that.
Mother attempts vainly to staunch the flow with soothing words, but she knows this child is unlikely to acquiesce to mother’s urging her toward composure before she herself is ready to leave her wounded feelings behind.  So they quit the session for good, Mother thinking that if she didn’t get at least one good picture from these tens of hundreds she shot, well…
Well, she didn’t have to think of the options.  When Mother transferred the photos she noted that she only shot exactly 201, and of those 201, precisely two made the cut for Kid Photo 2008:
To these lovely children who suffered Mother’s whims all afternoon (because she made them go to Target with her after all that):  thank you.
Mother loves you!

Black Friday, Indeed

What is wrong with some people?  Here in the United States of America…lining up in the middle of the night, thronging outside the doors of Wal-Marts everywhere, straining with excitement as the clock ticks toward that much-hyped magic hour of 5:00am.  The tension builds, the crowds yearn to get in there, to race toward their treasured items, tick-tock-tick-tock…it’s almost there…and then, yes! 5:00am and store employees open the doors, the crowd goes wild, becomes savage, tearing through the entryway, damn anyone who’s in their way, jostling and shoving and finally, yes, finally knocking over people and trampling right over them, leaving someone for dead.

That’s right here in the United States.  Our civilized country, year 2008.

I hope you are happy, you Long Island Wal-Mart shoppers at that store. You know who you are.  You trampled a person to death to get to your plasma TV or your digital camera or whatever the heck it was that you had to have.  There are stories of several people knocked to the floor while you all streamed over their prone bodies, unwilling to stop in your material pursuits to assist an injured pregnant woman, or a man who ended up dead an hour later at a local hospital.  Did you think about that while you were standing in line, probably nudging your cart against others for your precious spot?

This whole Black Friday hype is sickening to me.  I love shopping, I am a shopper to the core, but I hate being played by retailers and when we become a nation so driven by our material desires that we are willing to run with our anxious feet over other people’s human bodies in order to be the ones to grab a low priced plasma TV or whatever it is we want: you can have it.  You make me sick.

I love stuff.  I love things. I love a deal, even.  Yes, I’m a material girl but I would never ever trample another person to get my things.  The reports say Wal-Mart is examining store video in order to see who, exactly, were those culpable in the trampling of the dead man.  

I say, “People:  you know who you are.” 
Shame on you.

Nothing’s Perfect…

(and somehow it feels just right)

So I won the Anthropologie Latte Bowls in Blissfest’s recent Auction for Nie Recovery.

The Latte bowls that Stephanie Nielson wrote so tantalizingly about in her own blog.  She rhapsodized about their beautiful colors.  Their delighful sizes.  And the way they fit so nicely into small hands.

And if one broke, that was okay with her.  She’d sweep up the mess, put the pieces aside, dreaming of a future art project comprised of her ‘broken latte pieces’.

That post of hers was so touching when I first read it, before Blissfest ever advertised the auction.  Not living in Mesa made bidding on some of the items impractical.  But then I spied those latte bowls and had to have them for my own.  By then I had fallen in love with Stephanie and her family.  So I bid, and won!  Thrill.

But as is typical with me, I just couldn’t just sit and wait for those bowls to arrive, so…I arranged to be walking past an Anthropologie store a couple of days later.  And ducked in and picked up six of these beauties which together with my “Nie” bowls would indeed comprise a collection of my own:

The auction bowls arrived a few weeks later and when I excitedly opened the box and unwrapped each bowl, I laughed out loud to see the red one in pieces.  My daughter wanted to glue them together but I told her, no, let’s do something with them, glue bits to our ongoing ‘terra cotta pot’ collage (mine looks like a kindergarten art project) or… something.  No, somehow it’s right that one arrived in pieces.

I wanted the bowls because I wanted to somehow feel close to Stephanie.  And her attitude toward the bowls was, hey, if they break, they break.  Sweep ’em up, put ’em aside, and maybe do something artful with them later on.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s all part of the experience.  

And I got to be part of ‘the experience’, too, now.  See?  With that lovely broken bowl, amidst the still perfect ones, I am relishing both cuteness and imperfection, wholeness and brokenness, both the small joys of pretty things coupled with their ultimate irrelevance in the context of what’s really important (go to CJane Run’s blog for those life lessons)  It was all as it should be, for me.  

Grateful for that broken red bowl.  

Someday, the kitchen will be remade into a newer, fresher version of itself. We’re so glad we hesitated…as the economy changed seemingly overnight.

But, you see, I’m practicing the Law of Attraction.  I’m working to make our dream come true.  

So until we’re ready, I’m focussing on the little things that brighten me – – that encourage me to create a little hearth here in the kitchen that we have.  Because it’s good enough.  

And I’m okay with that.  (Because I truly believe that our newer kitchen will come. In the due course of time.)

In Lieu of Granite Countertops…and Custom Cabinetry…

New Kitchen Towels.  And Bowls.
Practicing Gratefulness.

“Welcome, Rosie!”

I have to give a shout out to Rosie here, who is the first person to “follow” my blog!  I thought I was writing in anonymity but hey!  She saw my post about Nie Nie and wrote a lovely comment.  Having taken a look at Rosie’s creative blog I really must say, “thanks for the support, Rosie!”.  Now hers is a real blog.  I’m just getting started.

It was Stephanie, though, who inspired my post that moved Rosie.  Stephanie Nielson, who continues to dominate my thoughts and heart.  Stephanie Nielson, who, it appears, is gradually being roused from her deep, healing sleep.  Slowly they will bring Steph round…and I know the prayers for Stephanie will continue and be renewed once she’s aware and fully aware of what has happened to her.

I am so incredibly awed by how Stephanie, and by extension, her very cool and wonderful sister C Jane / Courtney (gosh, to start mentioning members of either the Clark and Nielson families could go on for paragraphs) has touched so many people around the world.  How being drawn in to this family, whether you’ve “known” Stephanie from her Nie Nie Dialogues or are just getting to “know” her now, through the love of so many bloggers, friends and family members, feels so personal. I mean, I’ve shown her posts to my kids – told them about the auction and latte bowls I’ll be getting – and how I want them to think of Stephanie when we start using the bowls here at home.  I’m not sure it’s possible for my children to have the visceral response to Stephanie et al. that I have…but I sure do want those bowls to mean something.  They will, to me, and I guess that’s enough.  They will serve as a reminder to strive for something more and to celebrate the everyday.  I’m no Stephanie and my blog is no Rosie…but in my own personal way, I want to be the best Jeannie I can.  Ya know what I mean?

Another thing is what I’ve been learning about the Latter Day Saints through my “relationship” with Stephanie and C Jane (and the sisters, and sisters-in-law) and Rosie here, who I also noticed is a Latter Day Saint.  Although I’m Catholic, I really enjoy getting to “know” people who live their Christian faith and are raising their kids in this modern and often immoral world.  I like to be amongst people who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.  I’ve seen so many people receive true blessings within my internet community of friends…and have also interacted with people who don’t believe, who just don’t understand.  I am finding I prefer to “hang out” (albeit cyber-ly) with like-minded people.  Look at how Stephanie Nielson’s situation has effected soooo many people:  this is how God can work in a terrible situation.

I believe He is going to continue to take of her as she wakes up to face her new reality.  And I think Rosie believes it too.

Good Hair Weather Arrives in Atlantic Beach!

October 23, 2008

It isn’t often that I can wear my hair down and feel good about it.  In the humid south, my already big hair swells and feels icky on the back of my neck.  So up it goes in a Sarah Palin-like pre-RNC makeover… a knot, with an edge.  (I do have a bit more style than her pre-stylist librarian bun.  And I do like Governor Palin just for the record, but I digress.  I gotta admit that her hair, though is looking awfully good since someone took over the blow dryer for her). I can’t take any more political talk as I fear that the liberals will be lurching through all branches of government, sadly, within a few weeks.  I’ve been driving myself crazy for the past several months and now that it’s down to just a few days, it’s not looking good for my ticket.  Big sigh.

So, let’s talk about my hair instead.

Good hair weather defined: it’s cooler, drier air that makes my hair feel lighter when worn down, is smoother altogether and keeps the style it had when I left the climate-controlled environment of my house.  Atlantic Beachlife is great but for my long hair, the inherent humidity just makes it go limp, puffy.  Good hair weather makes my hair feel strong, bouncy.

The last time I experienced good hair weather was in March 2008 during a trip to California.  It was blissful to wash and style my hair, wear it loose and feel it swinging on my back instead of growing wider and not moving much, on most days, here in my beloved Atlantic Beach.

There is something to be said for beach hair.  I can scrunch my long hair after washing it, let it dry all curly and IF I DON’T BRUSH IT, EVER it can even look kinda good.  But even then, I pull it up, knot it, but pull out curly tendrils for a look I can live with.  Some days.  Other days, not so much.*

So when the cooler and drier air finally creeps in around this time every year, it’s a good thing for hair.  For my hair.  But still and all, this is the south and while I love what the humidity means for my skin, I prefer the dry mountain or desert air for those good hair days.  I remember being in Beijing in 2005, on the Great Wall in fact.  It was terribly cold and dry in the early days of January but damn.  My hair looked great.  All swingy and healthy looking, just like a commercial for Pantene Pro-V!

So, hello Fall and Winter in Atlantic Beach.  I’m quite glad you’re finally here.  I don’t have to bundle up like those northern winters I remember, I can pull out my southen Fall fashions, and enjoy the absolute best that weather has to offer.  For the next several months.  And I can finally let my hair down.

*scroll down to the ‘Craft Impaired’ post to see a picture of my unfortunate humid air hair style.  There I’ll be, gaping with joy at my daughter’s ghost and wearing the aforementioned humidity hair.