Navigating through this midlife journey and trying to retain my sense of humor.
I’m not a big shopper these days. I spent almost five years producing a shopping magazine and radio show, so bargain hunting still seems a little like work to me.
I am, however, still frugal. Okay, I’m cheap – I don’t like to pay a lot of money for clothes, shoes, purses – you won’t find designer brands stacked up in my closet. You will find a lot of clothes I don’t wear anymore since I started working from home. All those skirts, trousers and sheaths are starting to gather dust, along with the high heels.
What I didn’t have is a great pair of comfy jeans.
I don’t mean to say I am jean-free. I have about ten pair, of assorted colors, sizes and weight. Some are barely worn (did I really think I was going to wear white jeans?) and at least two pair are almost a decade old, and in danger of going threadbare in places you don’t want to be threadbare (no one wants to see that).
I found myself in Steinmart recently, looking for a nice blouse to wear for a TV appearance. The “tips” they sent over said to wear solid, bright colors. My closet is 90% black, and 10% faded, so I needed something new with a little color. I found a great teal blouse on sale for $17 and as I was walking back to the dressing room, I spied a rack of skinny jeans in a deep blue hue for $29. Soft, stretchy…sold!
They turned out to be Bandolino, the Selene version. I’d only seen Bandolino shoes before. These were the knit-to-fit style, and soft as yoga pants. They have a zipper and pockets, which makes them handy (I love to put my cell phone and a Kleenex in my pocket when I leave the house).
The thing I love most about them is that they are comfortable. I mean pajama-jean comfortable! But they look like regular skinny jeans. This particular color is so dark that is can pass for black with the right color (not that there’s anything wrong with blue). And they didn’t stretch out. No sagging at the waist, seat or knee after a few hours like some stretchy jeans.
It took a little while for me to come around to the skinny jean style. That probably means it won’t be “in” this season, since I am never “on trend”. I resisted going for the skinny jeans ever since Stacy London on What Not To Wear told us curvy girls to not even try them on – stick with the boot cut. But I don’t care anymore. I’ve worn these jeans four times in two weeks. I love them so much I went back to look for a black pair (yes, I have an addiction to black clothing) and, even though they didn’t have black, I ended up buying another blue pair, just so I can have a spare.
I looked online, but I have not found a source for this exact jean. These are not the pull-ons or the capris. They hit right at the ankle. I’m a little worried that they will shrink. The label says to turn inside out and tumble dry on low – not sure I can keep that up. Jeans don’t get special treatment at my house.
I think they work well with almost every shoe I’ve tried except sneakers (I’m only 5’4 – you may be able to pull that look off if you are taller). I like them best with my ballet flats.
They looked nice on TV with that teal blouse and my heels! You know I’m comfortable in these jeans if I dare to show a pic of my backside. Thanks to my hubby for volunteering to take the shot J
This is not a sponsored post, I just love the jeans!
UPDATE 4/9 - found some Selene style/darkwash onlne at a source called Stage Stores. I have not ordered yet. Looks like SteinMart, BonTon and Belk are sold out of these jeans.Grab them wherever you can find them! They run small - if you are curvy, order one size up. I usually wear an 8 and I needed a 10.
I’m in my reinvention stage! Currently touring as the co-founder of Tykester App. Follow me on Twitter as I find great things for vibrant, real women or at www.tamtalks.com
I wish I had longer, lusher lashes. I must not be alone., the selection of mascaras out there on the market is staggering. I’ve tried at least two dozen of them in the past few years – drugstore, department store, beauty boutique and online. I never seem to last with one brand very long. My lashed are blond - practically invisible, so mascara is essential to me. My aging eyes need some help to look, well, lets just say “fresher”.
So far, I’ve purchased false fiber mascara, waterproof mascara, mascaras that lengthen, thicken, separate, fan out and supposedly curl.
I haven’t yet found the perfect one, so I’ve settled for mascaras that don’t smudge or wear off. Most mascaras do a credible job, but staying power is key with my long hours.
I wandered into Ulta yesterday to grab some eyebrow gel (I also have blond eyebrows – part of the fun of being a redhead, I guess). As usual, a salesperson with perfect makeup found me wandering the aisles. Her eyelashes were amazing, so I plunked down $25 to try the brand new Roller Lash by benefit.
Have you tried it yet?
It comes in a neat retro tube inspired a 50s inspired hair curler. New mascara is always fun since it isn’t clumpy yet and there is always that gleeful feeling that you may have stumbled upon something wonderful.
I wanted to give this one a good shot, so I headed to my bathroom mirror to take off what little makeup I had on before trying this one out.
It has very little smell, which I think is a plus. The brush is actually a comb, in a somewhat unique shape that combines a lot of elements of the drugstore brands. I’m pretty sure that the only real difference we pay for in mascara brands is the applicator. This one is curved slightly, with shorter “teeth” on one side. I’m not sure why a brush has teeth all the way around if it is curved. The smaller size of the applicator made it easier to wield around my smallish eyes.
This applicator is also thin, which I like, since I can get down to the roots of my eyelashes without smearing the product. I wiped on a few swipes quickly. It adhered to the lashes nicely for a first coat. The major “selling point” on this mascara is it’s supposed ability to curl your lashes. I have a problem with heavy product weighing down my sparse lashes. My lashes did not curl, however, they did look slightly “lifted” and the color is a satin black, so one coat suffices for a quick fix. Today, I wanted to check out the staying-power, so one coat is all I did. Six hours later, when I went to take it off, it was nicely in place, no smudges, and came off easily enough – easier than the waterproof that I usually wear (my eye makeup remover is Almay Moisturizing Pads).
I spent a little more time today prepping my lashes to make sure they were dry and product free. Again, easy application on coat #1. I took my time and brushed upwards with long strokes, and held the brush in place for a little longer than I usually do. I keep a Q-tip handy for clean ups, but I did not need it with this applicator. A slightly annoying thing is the little clump of product on the end of the applicator that I had to wipe off. Each time I dipped it back into the tube.
One of my go-to mascaras is They’re Real, also from benefit (it never smudges, but it weighs down my lashes so they never curl, even with a curler). It has this neat little ball of bristles at the end of the brush to help you with tiny little end lashes and clumping. I wish they would combine these two applicators if it would work out to curl and declump.
I worked on coat #2 a few minutes later and could see some real results. Again, it did not curl my lashes, but did lift them slightly, and didn’t make a clumpy mess with more product applied. I finished off my lipstick and applied a tiny coat #3 to the outside lashes. At the end of the day, no smudges, lashes still lifted slightly. I wouldn’t say they looked long and lush, but improved a bit over my regular mascara.
Usually I am either sold or not sold by this time, but the jury is still out on this one. I did the same routine, taking a few minutes longer to try to get it right. This time, I curled my lashes to see if it would help – I didn’t notice any difference at the end. I used a dry eyelash brush before and after coat #1 to see if it helped on eyelash separation (not really, but this mascara doesn’t clump that much).
I feel bad for my left eye. I start out with good intentions, always on my right eye. I take lots of time with “righty”, and then get started on “Lefty”. I always have trouble with the left. I don’t know if it because the angle or my shaky hand, but my left eye eyelashes are always a little clumpier, a little less separated, and flatter. I’m not going to blame the mascara on that. As with Day #2, I got the same results – a slight lift in the tips, nice flat black color, but no show-stopping lashes. I will give it a rave review for long-wear – there was no smudging at all for three days, which is a big plus. But since it didn’t do much for making my lashes look longer or fuller, I probably won’t be shelling out $25 each month just to get a slight lift.
Can I “face” the world?
So, has anyone sent you #TheNoMakeupSelfieChallenge on Facebook? At first, I just ignored it as my friends passed it around. I do love my makeup.
It might stem from being a child in the south during the 60s and 70s, watching moms put on a dress and lipstick just to go to the grocery store. It may be a compensation for growing up in the shadow of an intensely beautiful mom, who turns heads still at 75.
Or maybe I’m just a little vain? Ding. I think we have a winner.
My moisturizer takes a few minutes to soak in. This morning, in my hotel room, I started doing my usual inspection and “critique” of my face in the mirror as I waited for it to dry. Wrinkles, dark spots, redness - I guess I’m checking to see what has deteriorated overnight. I may not hide my age from the world, but I don’t like my face to announce it, either.
As my body impatiently screamed for coffee, I sat there, waiting for moisturizer to set. I was puzzled, and maybe a little embarrassed. Who, exactly, was I trying to impress this morning? I was in a hotel, in a town where not one person knew me –so what if I trotted out in the world with a bare face? What’s the worst that could happen – people faint, babies cry, birds fall out of the sky?
I picked up my phone and snapped a photo so I could compare it to one I took yesterday, right after a TV appearance (it took me over 20 minutes to do my face and hair yesterday morning). I was shocked to see there wasn’t a ton of difference. Yes, one looks a little more polished and colorful, but the face is – for better or worse – still me.
So I threw on some shoes and toddled out into the world with my sports top, yoga pants and bare face. No one in Starbucks fainted. The doorman didn’t say “jeez, put on some lipstick, lady”.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be tossing the lip gloss any time soon (stockholders in L’Oreal can breathe easy). I’ve discovered that, while I CAN go without it, I still enjoy the whole ritual and routine of what my grandmother used to call “putting on my face”. So, I choose to keep doing it – for me, because it makes me feel more like the “best” me.
I think I’ll take a pass on sending that No Makeup Selfie Challenge to any of my Facebook friends. I hope every woman chooses to face the world each day with her best - and she also lets her own heart determine WHAT her best may be.
Is Valentine’s Day becoming a thing of the past? I hope not. When I was in junior high, a boy I hardly knew gave me a huge, ruffled, sparkly box of chocolates – in the middle of a bustling, loud hallway filled with 13 year olds, most of whom stopped to gawk at the exchange. I was mortified and thrilled at the same time, and I kept that box for a decade.
My family is blessed to span four generations. I think we all look at Valentine’s Day differently, except for the fact we want to share our affections with the people we love. Here are some tips on the best way to reach out to your Valentines, no matter how old or young they might be.
The Greatest Generation and Pre-Baby Boomers (anyone born before 1946): Visit in person. These loved ones deserve a hug and a “thank you”. Remind them how much they mean to you. Bring flowers. Be thankful you can visit with them and not just leave a bouquet in their memory.
Boomers (born 1946 – 1960): Send a traditional Valentine by mail, then pick up the phone and call. If they don’t answer their cell, try their landline because you know they still have one. Speak up! Don’t forget to say “I Love You”, because it will mean the world to them.
Gen X (born 1961 – 1984): Email these guys because they are way too busy with soccer games, PTA meetings, business trips, aging parents and family bonding. Want to make them laugh? Try a JibJab video or a BitStrip.
GEN Y (hard to define, maybe born mid-70s – 2000): Post something on their Facebook. Overshare. If you’re romantically involved, change your status to “in a relationship” and text them something slightly naughty. If you can meet in person, bring cupcakes – preferably vegan, possibly baked with Kale juice.
Millennials (mid 80s to 2004): Keep it simple because you probably only have six seconds of attention. ‘Gram ‘em, or send a Vine video. If you are more than casual friends, try SnapChat.
Tweens: Don’t even try. Really. Leave the chocolate on the table and back away slowly.
Toddlers: Buy candy, then unwrap it slowly and quietly while standing behind the door in the laundry room. Trust me - they will find you.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Did You Get An Unexpected Valentine?
Don’t we all need a little validation, just to know that we make a difference in someone’s lives?
Confession – I’ve been married for years. Valentine’s Day was never a big deal for my husband, who just isn’t a gift-giver. It’s OK – he makes up for it in so many other ways, I don’t mind (most days). He validates me with his words and actions every day. I hope I do the same for him.
I’ve never been a woman who needs a lot of approval from those around me. In fact, I think most of my friends would say that I don’t handle compliments that well. But I do need to see little signs that what I’m doing is worthwhile. I once heard a wonderful Ted Talk about carrying imaginary little silver boxes to hand out to people who make a difference in your day. So I try to do that – thank people who are helpful, share a laugh or a smile with someone giving special effort in their job, etc. It brightens my day to give out these little boxes. I hope they see it in some small way as a validation.
Since launching our new app, Tykester, I spend a good amount of my day looking for validation. Trying to find out IF people are using it. And WHY they are using it (or why NOT?). I can see visible proof that thousands of people are using it. But we see very little feedback on what their experience is, unless, of course, they are having a problem (spotty WIFI providers, you are my enemies!!!).
I didn’t go into this endeavor trying to be an app developer. My partners and I went into this project thinking “maybe we can help ease a new mom’s pain of being away from their brand new baby when they go back to work.” That is all. We didn’t know exactly how to fix the problem, we just knew we wanted to help – and specifically, we wanted to help our partner, Megan, see updates from her nanny for her baby boy, Ben.
We started with a purpose and let that purpose lead us to the answer. It was a loooong road, just in case you’re wondering if launching an app is a simple and speedy process. Validation came in only tiny little spurts. It was a lot like trying to save money by collecting pennies – it isn’t obvious you’re making any headway until you’ve got a full spare coin jar in front of you.
So it is so nice to find these little tidbits on my Twitter feed - or in my email inbox - that tell me, yes, someone IS using the app, and they love it! I get them from unexpected sources, like a brand new day care center in a small town trying to upgrade their daily communication, a summer day camp looking to stay in touch with parents, or a teen saving for college by babysitting who wants to use the app as a competitive advantage. These are my Tykester moments.
I will gladly take these as my validation – my little silver boxes that prove we did it. We are making a difference in people’s lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day to me!
I don’t know what it is about fall that makes me crave apples and cinnamon. Maybe it is those huge Honey Crisp apples that I see in the grocery store this time of year. I can’t resist picking up a few, even though they are too big for one just person to eat.
Halloween brought cool weather to us, and I have a rare weekend off (okay, maybe I worked a little this morning, but I’m free tonight!) so this seems like a great time to use the oven. I only spent 20 minutes on Pinterest picking out a recipe - yay, me. Usually, I end up spending an hour and pinning 25 things before I remember what I was searching for.
Martha Stewart said the prep time for this Apple Cranberry Crunch was 10 minutes.
I fired up the oven, picked up a little paring knife and grabbed an apple the size of a small melon.
I used to watch my grandmother peel apples, pears, turnips – she made it look so easy. She could start to peel at the top of the fruit and would have a perfect peel spiral a few seconds later. Her knife was so old and sharp that it had a crescent groove in the middle from decades of peeling. She wielded that knife better than a ninja – I always cringed to see her deftly slicing toward her thumb or palm. I never did gain that confidence with a knife.
So I started to peel, and quickly decided my serrated edge potato peeler would be quicker (it was). I chopped, and chopped…and chopped. Those apples are big, I tell you.
I added in the cranberries (full disclosure, it was a can of cranberries, not the fresh ones) added sugar, and then went a little rogue with the recipe and added cinnamon and a touch of vanilla, which was right there on the shelf next to the cinnamon and because…vanilla.
I was 15 minutes in and Martha was wrong. I dumped the flour, brown sugar and salt into a bowl, opened the oats and got a little liberal with them. You have to buy a big can of oats, and we just don’t eat many recipes that call for them. My dog, Zip, was batting cleanup in front of the sink and helped me with the flyaways. I reached for the stick of butter, which I had set out to soften before I started. Granite countertops hold the cold pretty well, don’t they? I nuked the butter in the microwave for a few seconds to help it along.
This is where it gets messy.
You have to cut the butter into the oat/flour mixture. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes tolerance for "gooey" - really get your hands into the mix and make it crumbly. I’ve never been that good at dough and this was no different. But eventually the crumb mixture was “no bigger than peas” as Martha suggested. Prep time – 35 minutes. I popped the pan into the oven and Zip helped me tidy up the mess.
Martha was spot on about the 45 minute bake time. Delicious. Very sweet, a little tart, and I think the vanilla made a good addition to the recipe. Your results may vary!
Baked Bucatini Casserole
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Heat olive oil in a large skillet
Add garlic, sauté finely chopped onion, green bell pepper and red bell pepper
I’m kidding here – I just added a bag of onion/pepper mix from my freezer.
Add one package of sweet Italian sausage
Make homemade Italian meatballs by hand (kidding again, I threw in a handful of the frozen ones, also from my freezer stash)
After meat browns, add fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper (or not – you can also use a large can of Hunt’s Garlic and Herb Pasta Sauce). Throw away can lid.
Bring to a bubble, then simmer while pasta cooks.
Fill a large pot with water, add a little salt and bring to a boil. Go to cabinet to get box of Bucatini. Toss out almost empty box of Bucatini.
Follow instructions above.
When water boils, add a package of Fettuccine (make that half a package since the Hubby just called to say he wasn’t coming home until late)
Turn off heat under tomato and meat mixture, grab container of cream cheese and a large spoon.
Run to check the Tykester email when your computer chimes, then spend two minutes seeing if anyone retweeted your last tweet.
Pick up container of cream cheese, dump into tomato and meat mixture. Stir.
Comment on how creamy the mixture is.
Re-check recipe. Discover you cannot remove ¾ cup of cream cheese from mixture.
CREAMY BAKED FETTUCCINE CASSEROLE
Follow directions above.
Drain cooked fettuccine, add to cheese, tomato and meat mixture. Stir well.
Pour into a casserole dish and decide that – what the hell, you’ve already blown the fat content, so cover the whole dang dish with mozzarella cheese and throw it in the oven.
Get out salad ingredients. Check Facebook on computer (conveniently left on kitchen counter)
After 20 minutes, decide to forgo the salad (since this dinner has no chance of being healthy anyway).
Take casserole out of oven, let sit for ten minutes while you double check that husband is not coming home for dinner and recheck your Twitter feed.
Best eaten right out of the dish, using the serving spoon, accompanied by a large glass of wine.
Makes one serving.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM WATCHING FROZEN
During a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studio this past summer, we took part in one of the Disney Animation Studio classes. I had no idea who the character was that we drew – it was just some snowman named Olaf.
Last night, there was absolutely nothing on TV we wanted to watch. So I flipped through the channels and we ended up watching the special on the making of Disney’s Frozen.
We were so intrigued by that special, we then went right over to one of the premium channels and watched the movie.
I love knowing the backstory on movies – it makes it more compelling to watch when you know who wrote the story, and why. If you haven’t seen the special, I’ll clue you in – Frozen was supposed to be Disney’s The Snow Queen, but the studio didn’t want it to be just another “Princess battles the wicked queen and is saved by the Prince” story. The final storyline in Frozen evolved due to several factors, but most importantly by the music that was written, and the actors who voiced the part.
And that brings me to lessons I learned from watching Frozen
1) You can’t write how your own story ends.
People you love, events you live through and even the music you choose will change the plans you have for your life, no matter how hard you try to stick to one path. They will change you.
2) There will be doors you can’t open.
This movie made me cry, I have to admit, but probably not where you’d expect. I found myself welling up at the image of a little girl, sitting outside her sister’s door, whispering “Do you want to build a snowman”? That one got me where it hurts. It made me remember all the times I wanted so badly to be close to my sister, but we just don’t have that kind of relationship. I mourn never getting to whisper and giggle with her as kids, or swap secrets over a glass of wine as adults. How we missed that connection, I don’t really know. Sometimes, I have to question which side of the door I was on – was I whispering through the door, or standing on the other side, listening?
3) Sometimes, you just need to be your own hero.
I’m glad Anna didn’t need a prince’s kiss to heal her frozen heart. She healed it herself. I’m still learning how to do that. It may take more time.
And, you knew it was coming…
4) Let It Go.
Those gloves on Elsa’s hands - masking her power - spoke volumes to me. How many of us are holding back our talents because they don’t fit into a traditional mold? Do you downplay your own strengths? Why are you holding back? Let ‘er rip.
I’ve been worrying a lot about failure and people’s opinion lately. I think we all do it when faced with a daunting challenge. The prospect of failing is pretty gut wrenching. It will make you hesitate. And then the hesitation will make you second-guess your strengths.
I’ve had some disappointments lately. It all comes from trying to grow, however.
It has been too long since I was a toddler learning to walk. I have forgotten how to fall down. More importantly, I’ve forgotten how to get right back up. That is the important thing, right? Not that you fell, but that you bounced right back up and took the next step. So I can learn a thing or two by watching a baby take those first steps.
What does a baby know when he steps out those first few times? He knows he wants to get from point A to point B, and those two little feet can take him there quicker than crawling.
He doesn’t know the coffee table might block his path. He doesn’t know that the cat might trip him up. Or that his big brother might reach out a hand and knock him backwards onto his little Huggies. Nope, the prospect of getting across the room to reach those Lego blocks is all the incentive he needs to set out.
So I need to focus on getting to the gold ring across the room, too, and to stop worrying about bumping my head on the coffee table, or landing on my Huggies. No one said my journey was going to be bruise free anyway.
After I get across the room, I’m setting these two little feet on a path clear across the country. Hoping for the Today Show, but I’ll take the local morning show in McAllen if they ask. I’m going to reach out to the hotshot president and also email the assistant producer, too. Baby steps might just turn into giant leaps, after all. I’ll never know unless I pull up, and start walking.
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