Over 50 – Dressing Up

When I was younger and had better skin (and lord knows a much better body) I didn’t worry too much about choosing a dress for a special event. I never stressed about it because as long as it fit my taste (and was within my favorite color scheme) I figured it would be fine.

Not anymore. In the last 5 years or so I’ve been horrified by photos of myself after the fact in dresses I thought looked quite nice.


On News Years Eve I went to a wedding and saw a few stunning over 50 clothing choices (ranging from the wedding and reception to a much more casual brunch New Years Day.)

So here is just a sample of the really stunning looks I saw.

I saw one look I really loved. High ruffle collar, sleeveless, fitted bodice, flared or gathered skirt. I haven’t been able to find the exact one but these are close.


I found this on the bigandlittleofthings.blogspot.com blog. I’m not sure where they found it as it isn’t labeled. I’m thinking a simpler belt.

2008 Ralph Lauren. Just gorgeous.

side view

Front view

I’m going to close with one item of clothing I think can elevate just about any over 50 ensemble into elegance. The wrap or ruana. Its a good idea to have several in different colors and styles. Here is one of my favorite shapes.

Found here: novica.com


Suburban Homesteading or Stirring my Way to Economic Calm.

My Lavender-Bergamot Soap

My Lavender-Bergamot Soap

I suppose everyone has their own way of handling economic uncertainty. Most of the people I know have been watching stock prices and financial news the way we all watch The Weather Channel when we know a hurricane is coming.

I, oddly, was hit by a major and unexpected case of homestead-itis. Really.

First I got all excited about making my own cheese.

Of course the original idea came from watching Gordon Ramsey demonstrate how to make Mozzarella on Kitchen Nightmares. The next thing you know I am driving all over several neighboring towns trying to find rennet tablets and citric acid. I finally resorted to ordering it from The New England Cheese Supply Company.

I’m sure the early settlers didn’t resort to mail order (which makes me wonder where DID they get the more difficult to find cheesemaking ingredients? I’m thinking of getting my own goat (for goat cheese of course) but don’t tell my husband.

Now my first batch of Mozzarella didn’t come out terribly well. Who knew you could actually knead it too long (it goes through a short kneading process). But I will try again. I now know the point at which it was probably ok and I’ll know to stop there next time.

My next project was soap. I’ve had the ingredients and most of the utensils for a couple of years now but the warnings and cautions about lye have been pretty successful at keeping me from making any actual soap. However a little over a week ago I finally decided to make a nice batch of soap which I scented with lavender and bergamot. The attempt was mostly successful. (Not perfect so I decide to “rebatch” it which was maybe not the best idea I’ve had lately).
All of this got me to thinking that there really was a time when making things yourself saved money. This really isn’t true anymore (except maybe the soap). You really have to want to make a lot of soap before the supplies are amortized and it takes a whole gallon of milk to make about the amount of Mozzarella I usually buy in the store.

I made butter out of some extra whipping cream we had lying around and that definitely wasn’t cheaper.

Why make Mozzarella? Well truly that was just fun. Soap? Well I might have an idea about that.
Even if my friends all look at me like I have three heads and say “You made what???

The Engagement. Thoughts by the Mother of the Bride

Little did my daughter’s fiancé know when he proposed to my daughter last week that miles and miles away in another part of the state he was transforming a regular garden-variety mom into a “Mother of the Bride”. More about that later.

My daughter is excited, happy and buried under a pile of wedding magazines. If they save the magazines they could potentially repurpose them as housing. A small stack strapped together might make a nice fat brick. We might all have to share this housing together commune style as weddings these days cost about a billion dollars.

Now here is my feeling about this.

It wasn’t until my daughter called to tell me she was getting married that a secret door opened allowing me a glimpse inside that part of my mother brain that I don’t ordinarily get to see.

You might think that making a big deal about a wedding is all about excess coupled with the fairy princess thing. And hey – not to mention all the social obligations you can take a machete to. The secret I never knew is that a wedding symbolizes and celebrates a number of simultaneous transitions and milestones and the combined power of those deserves our making a helluva splash.

There is definitely a traditional female coming of age and sharing common bonds aspect to engagement and marriage that is special and can’t really be described. I find myself randomly teary-eyed remembering her first day of school, various graduations, handmade cards and her dependable thoughtfulness over the years.
So I want to make a splash because this is a coming of age event for both of them and maybe for all the rest of us. But there is more.

There is something you need to know about my daughter. She has always, nearly 100% percent of the time, done what was expected of her. Even when it caused her great distress and I know it did because I remember. Even when it wasn’t exactly the direction she might have chosen if left to her own devices.

There were a lot of cooks in my daughter’s kitchen. We are your typical modern family complete with lots of step this’s and step that’s. The family is quite extended and everyone has had a pretty strong opinion regarding my daughter’s life-plan.

She worked excessively hard in school – actual sweat and tears hard, had good grades and in sports pushed herself physically well past where she should have.

She suffered from exercise induced asthma (but still ran) and shin splints (but still played field hockey). If you look closely you’ll see that several of the lines in my face actually say “bad bad coach”.
So this wedding will be a coming of age celebration, a “you are special” celebration, a “we have never seen you make a decision lightly so we absolutely trust he is the one for you” celebration.

We like him too. . .

And this will be a welcome to the family celebration. When my daughter’s fiancé proposed last week he began a process that will eventually transform two families from separate parts of the state into one connected family who will all get to add in-law to the end of our name. That’s probably so we’ll know we are related.

I’m back and its been a full year exactly

It’s been a full year exactly that I have been writing this blog.

Some of you may have thought I had abandoned my blog. Not really. There was a long period there where I was struggling through the trials and tribulations of the business start up first year. Having been taught at an early age that if I couldn’t say anything nice not to say anything at all I thought I would save my observations about surviving the first year of my new business for a time when I could do so with a philosophical, rather than emotional, in the trenches, point of view.

So I’m back. This new business of mine is going quite well thank you and I have exciting other news as well. The other topic is worth it’s own post so stay tuned.

Bleeding Heart, Hellebore and Cherry Blossom

After several weeks of almost Summer weather followed by several chilly and rainy days I walked around the corner of my garden and found this. The cherry blossoms were spectacular on the tree but this took my breath away.

Happy Spring!

Consider Donating Generously to the Small Business of Your Choice

I have been slacking on this blog thing for a while now. I apologize really.

I have been spending the majority of that time trying to solve the age old problem of getting clients to pay their bills. I am fairly new to business – at least as a full time paying-your-bill-means-I can pay-mine thing and am learning, absolutely every single thing, the hard way.

The problem is serious enough that I really wonder why small business doesn’t go extinct. Of course thats why little ventures are given a life expectancy of under two years but-that-wont-be-me.

There was a charity that advertised for years by stating that a dollar a day could support a child at one level, 2 dollars a day could support them at another level. The amounts were aimed at food, housing, clothing and schooling.

I considered drafting a list of my bills to include with my invoices and allowing my clients to check off which bills they were contributing to (or not). For instance a client could see that their decision to not pay $500 (or so) of an invoice would be the equivalent of saying “I choose not to let you make your car payment this month)

Greater amounts would be equal to the mortgage, my child’s (or my) college tuition payment or a month of groceries.

Of course this idea would probably (definitely) be considered highly unprofessional but still I enjoy the fantasy.

Besides. I’ve learned the lack of money can make the value increase as well. It IS permissible to charge interest. At least one clients interest is worth a hair appointment. Or shoes.

The Fine Art of Staying Positive. An Essay for Easter.

When are you grown up? I used to think the measure was based on an absolute age. The laws say we can drink at 18 or 21. We can drive at 16. There is an age we are allowed to marry and join the army.

Usually the legal age to do something is in inverse proportion to the maturity needed to do it successfully or safely. Then again its biologically possible to give birth to children you can’t legally transport to the pediatrician – but that’s not really my point.

Another often used measure are major life events. You are grown up when you get your first full time job, when you get married, when you have children.

Maybe you are grown up when you become responsible. When you have an insurance policy, savings and regular checkups. By some of these measures I’m not very grown up but I digress.

Lately I’ve begun to think that we are really truly grown up when we understand for the first time that not all people are good, that try as we might we cant get everyone to like us, that some people really do mean us ill and that evil exists in the world.

I don’t mean television or fiction. I mean the first time you really truly understand that maybe not everyone has a nugget of reason that can eventually be reached. Maybe this is the first time you realize that no matter how well meaning you are and how much good you try to do there are people who think that your good is their bad, You are judged for it. There is nothing you can do.

This is the grown up version of finding out there is no Easter Bunny.

In the end I’ve decided that you are really truly grown up when you reach that point and say: “There is hope anyway.”

After all, it’s Easter. There may be no Easter Bunny but we can still move that stone away from the door.

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Apple iTunes
The control-alt-delete playlist on itunes
The books I list below I own myself or have read and recommend.

LEAP, What will we do for the rest of our lives?
Sara Davidson

I Feel Bad About My Neck
Nora Ephron

The Principles of Gardening
Hugh Johnson
This book is where you start. I have had it for years and still turn to it.

The Natural Garden
Ken Druse
This is the book I turn to for inspiration again and again. If you like your plants in straight lines this may not be the book for you.

This American Life

Finally My favorite radio show comes to TV!
This American Life