Tiny Fashionistas

I’ve been mildly obsessed with little girls’ fashion since I was a little girl, myself. The obsession gave birth (no pun intended) to my creative pursuit, Menina. To me, there’s nothing so charming as a sweetly dressed little girl, made all the more endearing if it seems she dressed herself. When I see a girl wearing a princess dress or fairy wings in public, I melt. Today I was treated to the sight of two girls on a street in Brooklyn, each expressing themselves through fashion, but with very different results.

The first was a girl of about three or four. I caught sight of tiny black ballet flats with ribbons, then my eyes rose to see black and white striped leggings, a pink floral skirt, and a pink hoodie emblazoned “Brooklyn” across the front. Nevermind the pinks did not match; the outfit was enough to render her cute as a button. But then, atop her head was an honest-to-gosh pioneer bonnet, à la Laura Ingalls. The bonnet was such juxtaposition to the hip little outfit- made of light blue cotton, with tiny pink flowers- and I am certain the little girl thought the bonnet was the pièce de résistance to her ensemble.

I looked to the woman whose hand the little girl was holding: a tall brunette, chic in heeled boots, jeans, and a mid-season leather jacket. My instant thought: “Now there is a confident woman, raising a confident daughter.” A woman less sure of herself would have insisted the little girl leave the bonnet at home. A girl less sure of herself wouldn’t have thought of the bonnet in the first place. They made a great pair and made me smile.

The very next people I saw were another mother-daughter combination, only this girl was slightly older. She was also wearing sweet ballet flats. and in the brief moment I passed her and her mother on the street, I heard the woman say, “See. Everyone else has their ankles covered.”

My heart broke a bit for this girl. I imagined the scene at home that morning: all she had wanted was not to wear socks, and battle ensued. Mom declared it was too cold to go sock-less; Daughter declared she didn’t care. Back and forth until Daughter won and was allowed to leave the house with bare ankles. But Mom was not going to miss the opportunity to point out Daughter was wrong in her choice, as all the world could prove, in their socks and boots and long pants.

The thing is, it wasn’t that cold. It wasn’t raining or slushy. The little girl was not going to catch pneumonia in her state of undress. But her life, I imagined, would be very different from that of the girl in the pioneer bonnet. This idea might be a major projection on my part, yet I wish both these little girls well in learning to express themselves through fashion, and in their relationships with the women who love them most in the world, and who may- or may not- guide them around pitfalls.

Thirty-One Days, Wrap Up

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Some thoughts on participating in 31 Days 2013. I considered not writing this post, but decided it’s important for me that I do.

I knew the moment I read about this challenge, I had to try it. As a fledgling and hopeful writer (not blogger, writer) I knew one of the most helpful challenges for me would be to write everyday. Due to my nature, my work, and my lifestyle, I have a hard time doing anything everyday, so I knew 31 Days would be good for developing a writing routine. In fact, this is the very reason I started my blog: to create a place and purpose to write. Thirty-one Days came soon after I began the blog and I knew would be a good stepping stone.

In the end, I didn’t write and post on all of the days in October. I am disappointed that I didn’t, but pleased by how many days I did actually write- most of them! I cannot say, however, that I developed a writing routine. My lifestyle is best described as transient with nesting instincts, but I have a difficult time creating routines. Just when I get a pattern started, wup! my schedule changes and I don’t adjust right away; writing goes out the window. That said, my work schedule is becoming more regular, in that the time of day I work is more regular. I think the change back to Standard Time might also be helpful for creating a writing routine. It’s light earlier, when The Large Breed wants to go outside in the morning. I can take him on a quick jaunt, then write for a while before the rest of the world wakes and the day gets going. Though, this just applies in Brooklyn; weekends in Hudson have a completely different pattern so I’ll need to figure out something different there. Also, we’re still all-consumed with the floor project in Hudson, but just for a few more weeks, hopefully. TBM and I wonder aloud what life will be like when we’re no longer “doing floors.” One thing for sure, it will be nice. But in the meantime, in Hudson, there’s just no luxury of time to write.

Another disappointment about 31 Days: I thought I would connect with a lot of other bloggers/writers who also were participating. I tried at first, but found I just didn’t have time. That might seem like an excuse, but I really don’t know how to keep up with multiple blogs- it means spending a lot of time online, and well… I don’t spend a lot of time online. I don’t like to. I recently read a post where the blogger detailed her daily routine for readers. She spends four to six hours a day online! In addition to online time, she spends multiple hours pursuing projects and photographing. Blogging is her full-time job, and she treats it with seriousness. Lucky her, to have the ability to do so.

I know there are plenty of writers who also have full-time jobs, and I admire their dedication to their craft. It takes a lot of time to write, to write well. I admire a good writer even more than a blogger who manages to keep all “blogging balls” in the air- from posts, to reading and responding to comments; from DIY tutorials, to taking beautiful photos of their work. Because to be honest, there are a lot of beautiful blogs out there, full of great ideas, but they’re not writing blogs; the wonderful projects and ideas they feature are not matched by wonderful writing. thekitchensgarden is an absolute exception to this. I admire and enjoy this blog so much; it’s like receiving a small gift with each read.

I heard that Anthony Trollope, who had a full career with the Postal Service in the UK, wrote for three hours every morning before work. Wikipedia increased that store of knowledge today with this: “Trollope began writing on the numerous long train trips around Ireland he had to take to carry out his postal duties. Setting very firm goals about how much he would write each day, he eventually became one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote his earliest novels while working as a Post Office inspector, occasionally dipping into the “lost-letter” box for ideas.”

For me, the key and the takeaway is setting very firm goals about how much to write each day. I can do that. So, 31 Days may be over for another year, but through setting goals, I look forward to becoming a more disciplined and better writer. And to figuring out how to make and maintain connections with others out there who share similar writing aspirations!

Yes, We Have No Bananas

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Two years ago this month, my mother, sister and I went to Paris to celebrate Mom’s Seventy Fifth birthday. My sister had lived in France; I travel there regularly for work; but Mom had never been. It was a to be the trip of a lifetime for Mom, but things got off to a rocky start when she missed her first flight (we journeyed separately at the beginning from our respective homes). The reason: she needed bananas. No kidding. She didn’t have any bananas at home and felt she just couldn’t make the trip without them. So she stopped by a supermarket for bananas on her way to the airport, and as a result she missed her flight. In fact, she missed an entire day in Paris, due to the domino effect of missing that first flight. This story is now a big joke in our family, and we make sure to ask Mom before she travels, “Do you have bananas?” She doesn’t appreciate the sarcasm. Continue reading

Windows to the Soul… Of a Home

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After the floor restoration project is complete, it will be checked off a list of Daunting Projects we hope to complete at our home over time (a lot of time). Our house is not of major historical significance, but she was built by a family seeking a certain grandeur and she once knew better days. The person who owned her previous to us did much to return her to a former state of glory, but there’s still a way to go.

Continue reading

Restoration Story: Update

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A couple of weeks ago I posted about realizing that our floor refinishing project is actually a restoration project. I need to remind myself that restoring takes time and requires sustained patience. We really are making progress, but there is still so much to do that I become overwhelmed. Friday evening I told TBM I would probably have a meltdown before the weekend was over, and today was the day. Continue reading

Alternative Living, Part Two: No Impact

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A number of years ago I heard a radio interview with a man who was striving to live for an entire year without creating a carbon footprint* on the earth. I was immediately captivated by the idea and the details of his plan, and impressed that he had taken on the challenge with a somewhat less enthusiastic wife, and a toddler in tow. Colin Bevan, aka “No Impact Man” lives in New York City, which both eased and complicated the lifestyle experiment he took on in 2007. Imagine living a whole year in the city, your only means of transportation your own two feet (which also are used to power the family bike); not using the subway or elevators; buying nothing encased in packaging (buying almost nothing new, for that matter); not using air conditioning or watching TV; using nothing made of plastic; and composting ALL your waste (and I do mean all!). There’s even more. Continue reading

Le Beaux Verre

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I spent a rainy afternoon this week wandering my favorite Parisian neighborhood, Le Marais. This tiny shop on a meandering side street captivated me from the moment I saw its jewel box contents.

I admire so many French customs, and the stylish ease with which the French live. Re-loving old and beautiful things was, I believe, original to the French, who even hand down their homes, filling them with treasures from the past. It’s hard to imagine how precious goods such as the glass pictured here has survived into the 21st Century, but I’m thankful it has, providing an elegant example that living mindfully need not be beauty-deprived.