The Last Ride

I just wanted to leave a little note that I won’t be updating this blog any longer.

I want to thank all of my readers for sticking with me.  If you’re looking for something great to read, check out the sidebar over there – a lot of great blogs are on my reading list, so please check them out!

Bright Blessings, blogosphere.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Status Report – A New Twist

It’s Status Report time.  This is the first one I’ve participated in, I think? Thanks to Trystan for hosting!

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair, and always have done. It’s thin and fine, oily at the roots and dry at the ends, subject to static and fly-aways, and very, very fragile.  I don’t have the skills required to deal with hair like mine.  And unfortunately I enjoy having crazy long hair.

The problem with doing work hair, for me, is that I do like to wear it long and loose, but the texture just doesn’t allow for that during a full work day.  It takes forever to dry and curl, and I’m lucky if the style holds until I make it across the street to the bus stop.  Even when it does, the fine strands generally don’t stay put and are clinging to my face halfway through the day. As much as I love updos, I’ve never been good at them – I lack the necessary manual dexterity, as I’ve mentioned in a few other posts.  Generally I can manage to make the back look okay, but the front looks horrid.  So far, I have only managed to half assedly master one style and I think that’s due in part to the fact that the style specifically addresses the front/sides of the hair.

I would dearly love to be able to wear the psuedo-Victorian styles I see online, but most of them are beyond me.  The Freckled Fox is one of my favorite blogs for hair but I don’t have the ability or the proper type of hair to replicate most of her styles – even with her easy to follow directions.

Still, I derive a lot of excellent inspiration from her, and have been practicing! That led me to come up with the simple, yet elegant twist I’ve been wearing to work lately.  It’s easy to do (it has to be!) and it can look so sophisticated (when I do it right).

What it typically looks like in back.

What it typically looks like in back.

If you have thick hair, it simply involves gathering it into a ponytail, wrapping it around your hand to form a bun, laying that down and pinning it.

The day I nailed it - profile view of my new favorite style.

The day I nailed it – profile view of my new favorite style.

The other side....

The other side….

For me and my thin hair, I try to get some volume under the top section.  I generally gather that separately and try to pouf it up a bit.  Then as I flatten the bun part down, I slide it forward just slightly, giving the top part some lift.

And the front. This is why I say I nailed it that day - I rarely get it to look this good in front.

And the front. This is why I say I nailed it that day – I rarely get it to look this good in front.

It’s not this perfect every time.  But even on days when it’s not exactly as I’d like it, it’s a great style to wear to work.  It takes very little time, keeps my hair up and out of my way, and it looks great!  The best part is how thick and full and wonderful it looks in the evenings when I take it down.

Normally in the heat of summer I don’t bother with the blow dryer every day.  I let my hair dry on the bus ride, and put it up after I get to work.  But this year I’ve been using some heat activated thickening products to pump my hair up a bit – I’m loving them so much, I’m torn between wanting to use them and saving time/energy by skipping the heat!

Posted in Hair, Themes and Blogging Events | 4 Comments

Award Worthy!

Dr. Z. nominated me for a Liebster Award.  I’ve never been nomiated for any awards before…I think she’s trying to make sure I’m still alive.  I am – really!  There just haven’t been any blog worthy happenings lately.  Thanks Dr. Z for giving me something to write about!

The Rules:
1. Post award on your blog.
2. Thank the blogger who presented this award to you and link back to their blog.
3. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 blogs who you deserve this award and who have fewer than 200 followers.*
5. Answer the 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

A note here before I begin – I won’t actually be nominating anyone.  Not that I don’t read some fantastic, award worthy blogs!  Just look at my side bar.  Every one of those listed are awesome.  But many of my blog-friends have already been nominated.  Also, I don’t want anyone to feel like the have to participate.  But if you want to participate, by all means, do so!  The Questions from Dr. Z’s post are pretty good, so I’d say roll with those.

Eleven Random Things:

1. I am 100% childfree by choice and at 36 years old, not likely to change my mind.  I have never cared for children and I don’t enjoy their company.  It’s as simple as that.
2. My biggest pet peeve is someone trying to convince me that I will like something if I only try it/try it their way/try it again, especially food. This rarely (if ever) winds up being true, and generally serves to royally piss me off. If I hear “you don’t like X? That’s because you’ve never had it the way I make it!” one more time, I will scream.
3. I am terrible at math. Actually, I just am not good with numbers, whether it’s calculating them or remembering them. Dates, phone numbers, addresses, recipes – you name it, I’ll forget it. No, it won’t help if you tutor me. And no it’s not math anxiety. It doesn’t make me anxious at all, because it just is and always has been.
4. I also cannot read a map for beans. I don’t know why. I need landmarks, dammit.
5. I absolutely love pizza, and will eat way too much if I’m not careful.
6. I should never, ever be given a plant. It will die.
7. I can’t wear a watch at all, and haven’t been able to for years. It is guaranteed to stop running or goof up in some way after short-term prolonged contact with my body. Yes, even nice ones.
8. I have a serious thing for giant lizards and lizard-like creatures. Dragons are my first, best love, followed closely by the T. Rex and Godzilla. I sat through Transformers: Age of Extinction just to see Grimlock for a brief few moments, and would do it again!
9. As much as I love my current job and the company I work for, I sometimes miss being a legal secretary/assistant. I wish I’d gotten the chance to be a real paralegal while what I learned in college was still fresh in my mind. I honestly doubt I could do it now, and that makes me really sad.
10. I have no artistic talent whatsoever.  The only thing I can draw is an eye.  An eye, not both.
11. I was born and raised in the Beckley, West Virginia area, and lived there until 2011.  But I do not, and never have, considered it home.  I hate going back so much that I only do it once a year and then only for a weekend at a time.

Questions!
1. When and why did you start blogging?
I’ve been “blogging” off and on since I got on the internet around 2002.  I started at Diaryland and Diary-X, and then moved on to LiveJournal.  Some of my blogs have been private, some anonymous, and some very public.  When I started, it was to journal more than anything else.  Then, when I discovered LiveJournal, the social aspects came into play as a lot of my friends used the site and I made several new ones  (I met my husband there, actually, though we wouldn’t begin a relationship until many years later).  I actually loved LiveJournal and would have stayed on the site if it hadn’t gone to pot!  I’m not 100% sure what my objective is with Betwixt Two Graves.  When I started it, I thought I had something interesting to say.  I’m less sure about that these days.

2. With MP3s and internet streaming, do you still buy CDs and DVDs?
No.  I haven’t bought a CD in so long, I can’t even remember when it was.  I’m not sure when I stopped, really, but I think it was six months or a year before I left West Virginia. I do buy my MP3s, rather than do free streaming.  This is partly to support the artists but partly because, like radio, I find that I hate most of what gets played.  I do really miss the Sonic Cathedral Sirens station on Live365, though.  I was introduced to a lot of great artists via that station.

3. How would you describe your style of dress?
My preferred style is Victorian or Romantigoth. I like long skirts, high collars, velvet, and lace; cameos, chokers, and tall, sturdy boots. I love corsets but I have very few occasions to wear them, and thus don’t buy as many as I’d like. I work as an admin in a very conservative industry, though, so I tend more toward the CorpGoth most days. Even so, my look is dark, and I try to work in a touch of Victorian or 40s style glamour when I can.

4. What religion or philosophy do you ascribe to?
I jokingly say I’m a Pagan Nutjob. It’s as good a name as any for my weird brand of eclectic Pagan weirdness.

5. What are your favorite TV shows on the air right now?
I used to watch tons of TV, before I moved in with my husband. Now, not so much, because he hates TV as a general rule. Arrow, Flash, Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, and Archer are shows we actually watch. We liked Community for a while. And we do watch Game of Thrones, though I’m starting to wonder where they’re trying to take the show (it’s veered so far away from the books at this point).

6. What other hobbies do you participate in, besides blogging?
I read. A LOT. It is not unusual for me to be reading one book on my Fire on the bus, a different book on my Fire/regular kindle one the treadmill, and also have a hard copy book in the living room that I read while Alex plays video games, writes, or watches something I’m not interested in.  I used to like video games, and I do still play Pokemon or something on the DS once in a while but I’ve never been a “gamer” and I like them a lot less than I used to. Sometimes, we play board games/RPGs on the weekends. My mother made me learn to embroider, and sometimes I will paint a ceramic thing, but for the most part I don’t enjoy crafts at all and I don’t “DIY.” I hate pretty much every sport known to man, and I’m just not competitive. Workouts are work for me, and I go to the gym because I have to – not because I enjoy exercise!

7. If you participate in the arts, which ones do you participate in? Are you a hobbyist or professional?
I’m not artistic at all myself, unless you count makeup!   But we do love seeing plays, opera, ballet, musicals, and the NSO. Living outside of DC gives us lots of opportunities to see things at The Kennedy Center and Shakespeare Theater, plus we have a musical theater right in our neighborhood.  We also really like good stand up comedy.

8. If a movie was made of your life, which actor/actress would play you?
I love Natalie Dormer. I’m not sure what it is about her, but if I got to choose, I’d pick her.

9. Choose one: Coffee or Tea?
Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee! I actually despise the taste of tea.

10. What colors have you dyed your hair?
I kept it black for a long time, and once dyed it a really ugly red to please an ex. I developed an allergy to the PPD found in dye back in college, so it’s been boring, dull brown for a long time. I can use Manic Panic, but it’s a waste of time (I must wash my hair every day). I did once accidentally turn it a nasty shade of green (black Manic Panic over bad highlights will do that) if that counts.

11. Introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?
Introvert. I’d rather be someplace quiet reading a book…

Posted in Themes and Blogging Events | 6 Comments

This Must Be Where Pies Go When They Die

February 15th was our wedding anniversary.  Three years.  Go us!

We eloped to Barbados!

We eloped to Barbados!

We hadn’t gotten to really celebrate an anniversary due to various things. So my husband decided that I should have a trip this year, and booked one to somewhere I’ve always longed to see…Twin Peaks!

Welcome to Twin Peaks

Welcome to Twin Peaks

Hardcore fans know that the show’s pilot was filmed in and around Snoqualmie and North Bend, Washington.  Many of the most iconic images from the show were created right there in those two towns – and most of the landmarks are still there.

The Hotel

We stayed at The Salish Lodge & Spa – one of the world’s fifty best spas – which served as the inspiration for The Great Northern Hotel.  In fact, the exterior shots of The Great Northern actually show the view of the Salish from the falls.

Recognize the Great Northern?

Recognize the Great Northern?

Snoqualmie Falls, as seen from the overlook.

Snoqualmie Falls, as seen from the overlook.

Our room was absolutely amazing and perfect for what we had in mind:  a nice, relaxing trip.  We took great pains to make sure we weren’t overbooked with activities so that there was no pressure.

The hotel itself is beautiful inside and out.  It even features a library for guest’s use with The Seattle Times, books, games, and fresh coffee/tea service every morning.

The fireplace in the library.

The fireplace in the library.

Books and games!

Books and games!

The view from our room.

The view from our room.

Our room had a spectacular view of the falls. Standing on the balcony, that’s about all you could hear.  But the room was completely soundproof with the balcony doors closed.  It was so quiet and so dark without all the light pollution we’re both used to!  The bed was a bit softer than we’d both have liked, but I think we both slept fairly well even so!

Gothin' on the balcony outside our room.

Gothin’ on the balcony outside our room.

The fireplace in our room.

The fireplace in our room.

A roaring fire!

A roaring fire!

Alex loves a warm wood fire.  There’s nothing like the sound, the smell, and the feel really. We had one almost every night.

The jacuzzi tub.  It was huge!

The jacuzzi tub. It was huge!

Another thing Alex loves – Jacuzzi tubs! He was super excited to find that this was an option at the Salish. Basically, we had everything we’d need to relax.

And the food! The Salish boasts two amazing restaurants: The Dining Room, which is a fine dining restaurant with a fantastic brunch menu; and The Attic, which is a bit more casual  and boasts a wood fire oven.  Both restaurants feature herbs grown on premises and honey from the hotel’s own hives.

As good as The Dining Room brunch was that first day, we quickly found that we preferred The Attic in terms of menu and atmosphere.  It was a little more in line with the purpose of the trip – relaxing – and it was a lot of fun, too!

The Drink Menu from The Attic.  I stuck with the house wines, but I couldn't resist snapping a photo.

The Drink Menu from The Attic. I stuck with the house wines, but I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

The dessert selection at The Attic.

The dessert selection at The Attic. We tried everything except the creme brulee.

Cherry pie from The Attic.

Cherry pie from The Attic.

Salish is a spa, so as part of the experience Alex booked spa treatments for both of us.  A mani/pedi combo for me, an aquatherapy sauna thing for him, and a chocolate couples massage by the fire for us both.  The massage was probably one of the best things during the whole trip.

Both the hotel and the spa had separate shops.  At the Country Store downstairs, you could buy the hotel’s premium honey and beeswax products, pancake, biscuit, and scone mixes, Washington State wines, along with a selection of Salish Lodge apparel and bath and body items.

Around Twin Peaks – Snoqualmie & North Bend

Twede's Cafe - aka The Double R Diner.

Twede’s Cafe – aka The Double R Diner.

Practically the first thing we did the day after we arrived was head out to Twede’s Cafe in North Bend. As any Twin Peaks fan knows, Twede’s was the inspiration (and served in the exterior shots) for The Double R Diner.  What some fans don’t know is that the pie at Twede’s was so good, the cast and crew insisted on it, even after filming of the series moved up to Canada.  Twede’s pie was trucked in to the set!

Damn fine coffee!

Damn fine coffee!

Cherry Pie from Twede's.

Cherry Pie from Twede’s.

And yes, that is some damn fine cherry pie!

I don't normally even like cherry pie...but it's that damn good!

I don’t normally even like cherry pie…but it’s that damn good!

One entire wall at Twede’s is devoted to Twin Peaks Memorabilia.  Alex took several photos, but I only wanted one.

Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer.

Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer.

After lunch, we spent some time wandering around Snoqualmie.  The downtown area is really neat, full of little shops, restaurants, cafes, and the Railroad Museum.

We had passed an interesting looking neighborhood on the way to the Salish the day before, so we went back to it and looked around a bit, too.  It was like a carbon copy of Shirlington – restaurants, a library, even a grocery store.  It was called The Ridge, and it was love at first site for both of us. The best part was the walking trail, though.  It starts just past the Salish, at the railroad bridge, and goes all the way to The Ridge and beyond!

The Railroad Bridge.

The Railroad Bridge.

We actually went back to The Ridge another day, on foot, via that walking trail.  I got some great photos of the mountains on the walk back. We would go back to The Ridge a third time (driving!) to eat lunch at Aahaar and explore a bit more.  The retail area of the neighborhood is completely surrounded by townhouses and apartments.

View from The Ridge

View from The Ridge

Of course, I had to see the iconic first view of Twin Peaks, for myself.  If you didn’t recognize it, it’s the second image in the post.  It was taken on Reinig Road in Snoqualmie.  It’s not far from the Salish, but we took a wrong turn on the way back and came through North Bend again.

Both Snoqualmie and North Bend are small towns.  But there was a lot to love about both.  They’re both really close to Seattle if you want a dose of the city.  And…there’s an outlet mall really close by.  It’s small and doesn’t have all of my favorite stores, according to it’s website (we didn’t actually visit this trip). But it was just one more thing that made this area very attractive to me.

I’m not sure what I liked about Snoqualmie the most – the clean air, the trees, the lack of traffic, how nice the people were – but when when we eventually leave the DC Metro Area, I’d really like to live there!

The Park

What I didn’t know until we got there is that Snoqualmie Falls is a state park.  The park actually butts right up against the hotel grounds.  It’s been a popular destination since Victorian times.  There are walkways down to the best vantage points of the falls.  We got a lot of great photos.

The falls from the overlook.

The falls from the overlook.

The river valley.

The river valley.

The falls, shrouded in early morning mist.

The falls, shrouded in early morning mist.

Almost every morning, we got up early (because East Coasters!) and hiked the mountain – it’s about two miles round trip.  Once you get to the bottom, you have a choice to go to the river bank or along the boardwalk. We did both at various times, of course!

Alex on the Trail

Alex on the Trail

Approaching the visitor's center at the bottom of the trail.

Approaching the visitor’s center at the bottom of the trail.

The trail itself was quite beautiful.  The air is very clean and very moist from the falls.  Everything is really, really green.  There are mosses and lichens everywhere!

Alex contemplates a large tree.

Alex contemplates a large tree.

Look at all that green!

Look at all that green!

The sunlight filtering through the trees on the way back up the mountain.

The sunlight filtering through the trees on the way back up the mountain.

The river is also quite breathtaking.  I got several nice shots, both from the bank and the boardwalk.  And the view of the falls from the bottom is spectacular!

The rocky bank.

The rocky bank.

White water shoals!

White water shoals!

Alex on the bank.

Alex on the bank.

I took more than one photo of this log balanced on a rock.  I don't know why.  But it tickled me.

I took more than one photo of this log balanced on a rock. I don’t know why. But it tickled me.

I LOVED the hiking.

I LOVED the hiking.

Worth the hike!

Worth the hike!

The Falls from the bottom.

The Falls from the bottom.

The Falls was actually the site of the first underground hydro electric plant, first built in 1899. At the bottom, the boardwalk winds around the newer plant (built in 1910).  These are functioning plants, and are not open to the public.

The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time we were there.  While DC had a snowstorm (and my office shut down!) we enjoyed temperatures in the 50s and 60s in Snoqualmie!  I got by for the most part with just my zip up fleece.  My hiking boots certainly got a workout on this trip, though!  One day, between our usual mountain hike and the walk to The Ridge and back, we logged a little over eight miles.

The park had it’s own gift shop with a coffee bar inside.  Apparently it was quite popular, judging by the number of people at the coffee counter at any given time!  Silly or not, one of the things I got for myself was a geode necklace – you know the kid the sell for kids? – it was the only black geode I’ve ever encountered though, so I really couldn’t resist.*

 

*Total haul including both gift shops and the spa were: Two “spa bras,” an entire set of the hotel’s body care (travel size), two shirts, a hat, a sack of gemstones, a geode necklace, a magnet, and three tiny baby apples.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Anywhere You Go Let Me Go Too…

?

This month, Professor Z’s homework assignment is our fur kids!  I can’t get over how timely these blogging themes have been lately…as our fur family just increased by one!

On Tuesday I received a text from my husband that said “I found a kitten.  Can I keep her?”  Thinking he’d found a poor little abandoned baby outside in the cold on his way to run errands, I said “Sure.  Get it vetted and bathed.”  He’d actually “found” the kitten at Petco.  She was there from Last Chance Rescue, and had been in a kill shelter.  I agreed that he should go ahead and get her.

She is my Angel of Music

She is my Angel of Music

He took her to the vet that evening, where she promptly fell off the exam table.  Twice.  She already reminded me of my Princess Leia coloring wise.  But Leia was the most graceless, klutzy cat I ever knew.  Honestly I was in love with her before I ever left my office.  But when we got her home and let her out of the carrier and she started giving me body rubs right off the bat…well there was no doubt I’d found my kitten. Because she reminded me of Leia in so many ways, I decided to name her Angel of Music.  Leia always loved to hear me sing (even after she lost her hearing, she’d put her head against my throat when I sang to her) so Angel of Music was one of her many nicknames.

"I'll help you write this blog post!"

“I’ll help you write this blog post!”

She came to us with an upper respiratory infection, so she’s mostly been sequestered away from Shelly and Malice.  We keep her in our bedroom during the day and at night, she goes into Baby’s old cage so the door can be opened.  The few times she’s been around Shelly, Shelly has reacted well – “well” for someone who’s terrified of kittens, that is.  She basically sniffed her, licked her face, and went on.  Malice on the other hand is livid. She comes into the bedroom randomly and growls in the direction of the cage.  She hates to see Alex interacting with the kitten.  So we’re taking it slow.  Once she’s off her antibiotic and feeling better, she’ll get a bath and be allowed supervised play with the other girls.

Before we realized she had a URI.  Shelly was content to hang out with her, if you can believe it!

Before we realized she had a URI. Shelly was content to hang out with her, if you can believe it!

Angel is ridiculously happy to have a home and a family, even if she’s confined to one room and spending some nights in a cage.  She’s very playful, and we discovered that she’s perfectly capable of entertaining her self when she has to – given the right toys, of course!  She’s also very sweet and snuggley, and very good at full body rubs.

Tuesday was kind of a big day for Angel.

Tuesday was kind of a big day for Angel.

I’m glad we got her when we did, even if we had family visiting for the holidays.  I have gotten to spend more time with her than I normally would, since I had time off.

I’ve told Malice’s story before thought I don’t think I’ve ever clarified why we named her “Malice.”

Alex and Alice at the vet.

Alex and Alice at the vet.

When we first saw her at NoVA Cat Clinic, she was Little Alice.  While I was fine with the name (she was my little Alice in Wonderland) Alex was not.  And oddly enough, neither was she.  She cringed away when we used it; we finally realized it was the harsh “Ay” sound.  So for two weeks, we fought over her name.  Alex wanted to name her Bitey or Hanako (Japanese toilet spirit – um, how about no?). Finally I got sick of arguing over it.  I decided to stick an M on her name and see how that went.  She took to it fine! She she became Duchess Malice Kittington, and thus she remains.

Malice grew up into a beautiful tabby cat.  If you follow my Instagram (or look at it in the sidebar once in a while) you’ll see a lot of pictures of her.

Kittens say fresh longer if stored in paper sacks.

Kittens say fresh longer if stored in paper sacks.

Look at this crap!

Look at this crap!

She is a walking photo op.

Santa Cat!

Santa Cat!

She’s very much Daddy’s Girl, though.  She took to Alex that first day, and has been his kitten ever since.  And yes, we do still call her Malice Kitten.  She never quite grew up (though she did grow out!) and she’ll always be our Kitten.

Shelly Burrfoot has been with me thirteen years.  It’s hard to believe, really.  But I got her back in 2001, when I was still in college.  She was found by some friends of my mother’s who, while not taking her in exactly, made sure she was fed.  Mom saw her, and wanted her, so they had no problem giving her away.  We believe she was about a year old then.

The first photo taken the day after we got her.

The first photo taken the day after we got her.

She walked in like she had lived with us all her life.  She slept most of the first day, but then after that she didn’t stop moving for about eleven years!

She's so pretty.

She’s so pretty.

Shelly was always the playful one, though she was also somewhat timid. She would pick at Boo, trying to get him to play, until he’d eventually turn on her and beat her up.  Leia was always her champion.

"I like Xmas."

“I like Xmas.”

Shelly was even afraid of thunder, which I’d never heard of in cats.  I say “was” because she’s now on anti-anxiety medication.  She does a lot better during storms, but she was still terrified of Baby Malice when we got her last year.  I’m not sure why she isn’t scared of Angel.  Maybe because she reminds her of Leia.  Maybe because she’s bigger and looks less like a baby kitten.  Whatever it is, I’m not questioning it!

"I'm pretty."

“I’m pretty.”

Shelly was always ridiculously healthy, until we moved to Virginia.  Then it seemed like everything went wrong really fast.  She had to have teeth pulled.  Then she had hyperthyroid and had to have radiation therapy.  Then she was misdiagnosed with kidney failure, and almost died from the inflammatory bowel that was the actual cause of her weird bloodwork. But these days she’s doing really well.  She’s gained a bit of weight, but otherwise seems happy and healthy.  I’m lucky to have had thirteen wonderful years with her, and I hope I get to have many more.

So there you have it – My Girls. They’re all very different from one another, but I love all three of them with all of my heart.

Posted in Pets, Themes and Blogging Events | 4 Comments

Status Report: My Commute

Commuting is the subject of the Mid-Month Status Report from Trystan, proprietress of This is CorpGoth.  How timely…

Until I moved to the NoVA/DC Metro area, I drove to and from work.  Southern West Virginia has no public transportation system that I’m aware of!  The “city” of Beckley certainly didn’t.  And for most of my working life, I lived a few miles outside of Beckley.

In Spring, summer, and for most of fall, it was a fifteen minute drive.  Both the law firms and the University I worked at were in the same general area.  I had my choice of routes to take to get there; I noticed though that I tended to take the exact same route in the mornings and only ever varied the way I went home – this was usually due to having to run errands on the way home.

Winter was a completely different story! The drive that took fifteen minutes on a clear, dry day could take up to forty five on slick, untreated roads.  And they never treated the roads!  If it started to snow/sleet after 4:00 p.m., or if school was cancelled, you might as well forget it.  They weren’t going to bother.  Slick roads also changed my route.  Only one way home was “safe” to take, as with the others you risked winding up in a ditch, rolling over an embankment, or getting stuck behind someone in a small car who couldn’t take a hill.  I had some close calls in the years I drove back and forth from my little town to Beckley, and I am damned lucky that I never lost control in a bad place, got hit/hit someone, or got stranded.

I hated driving on bad roads, even after I got a small 4-wheel drive SUV.  The only winter I ever spent not freaking out about every flake of snow was the year I lived in the “city” limits and much closer to the University.  I took a poorly graded, curvy secondary road to work every day, but there were no embankments and worst case scenario I was close enough to walk if I did happen to wreck.

I always kept a flashlight, blanket, extra gloves, an umbrella, a hat, and a snow broom/scraper in my vehicle.  Even after I got a smart phone I insisted on having a phone book, note pad, and pens too.  In West Virginia you just never knew when you’d lose your signal and have to hoof it to the closest pay phone in an emergency.

Now, I live in a city with a fantastic public transportation system.  I am lucky that I can take one bus – it’s just a twenty minute ride and it even picks me up right outside my building! Which is great, because I’m used to driving in suburban/rural areas; “big city” driving isn’t for me! I usually spend the time reading or studying.

Of course, commuting by bus isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  This very morning, the bus I was on started leaking some strange fluid, and we had to evacuate.  We ended up waiting for almost twenty five minutes before another bus arrived!  The driver wasn’t sure what was going on or if it was safe to be near the bus, much less on it, so most of that was spend outside.  Of course we would be experiencing a cold snap this week.  It’s a really good thing I dressed for it today.

I’ve noticed a lot of differences now that I commute by bus rather than by car.  For one thing, I dress completely differently.  I have to stand outside and wait for buses now instead of going straight to my car.  So I have to make sure that I’m dressed appropriately for that – I’ve had to completely give up stockings on the hot, humid days of summer and winter means wearing or carrying a hood, scarf, and gloves in case of temperature changes.  Actually, I’ve learned I can’t get away with carrying a smaller bag to work at all.  It has to fit pretty much every thing I need for the day – gone are the days of tossing a grocery bag, coat, and other essentials on the passenger seat! I often have my Kindle Fire, a paperback, my lunch and snacks, medicine, an umbrella or parasol, and earbuds in addition to the makeup, wallet, keys, and phone I’ve always carried stuffed into an oversized bag!

When driving I rarely had to walk very far to and from my car.  If I had to run errands or go out for lunch, I drove.  Now, I have to walk to and from the bus stop and to the bank, grocery store, mall, or whatever restaurant I’m meeting someone at.  This is really hard on my nice shoes.  My deformity causes me to wear shoes really strangely anyway; the heel cap dragging on the concrete or brick isn’t good!  But I’ve taken to wearing my wedgey flip flops, hiking boots, or other “walking” shoe that’s easy to repair and keeping my nicer pumps at work.

There are pros and cons to either method of travel here in NoVA.  For me, cost (bus is much cheaper given the costs of gas and parking) and the peace of mind not having to drive brings are the determining factors.  I’m very lucky to not only have the option, but to live in a place where the system is as fantastic as it is!

Posted in Shoes, Themes and Blogging Events | 2 Comments

Sadness and Memory

We lost Baby on the 26th of September.  It wasn’t exactly sudden – she had been sick for a while – but no matter what anyone says you can never truly be prepared or ready for it.

Her absence has affected our entire family.  I was in the habit of checking on her every time I went back to the bathroom…that continued for a while.  We finally rearranged the bedroom, which helped some.   Rabbits aren’t noisy pets, but still the apartment seems so very quiet without her.

Shelly accepted it pretty quickly and got really, really depressed.  She’d lay under the dining room table with her head hung over one of the slats and just…stare off into space.  Malice looked for her for a long time.  I’m still not sure she truly understands. But she sleeps in Baby’s favorite spot most nights.

Of course, it was hardest on Alex.  He’d had Baby since she’d been a tiny Baby.  Some friends of his found her while exploring in the woods, all alone, her family dead.  So they picked her up and brought her to him and Chewie to take care of.

Look how tiny she was!

Look how tiny she was! – Taken by Alex’s friend

So adorable....

So adorable…. – Taken by Alex’s friend

Who knew that this cute little baby, dubbed Little Baby Bunny, would grow up to be a big, bossy, cat-loving, craisin-stealing, book-chomping, hat-wearing, bundle of joy?

She loved willow baskets.

She loved willow baskets.

When Chewie was sick and Alex had to assist feed him, this is how we entertained ourselves.

When Chewie was sick and Alex had to assist feed him, this is how we entertained ourselves.

Baby was the hat wearer in our family.

Baby was the hat wearer in our family.

 

Posted in Pets | 3 Comments

Out With the New, In With the Old

 

It’s Monthly Theme time!  I swear Ms. Kitty must have picked this one with me in mind!  I love makeup.  I have since I can remember.  In fact, when I was three or four years old, Mattel debuted a line of Barbie Cosmetics.  I asked for that for my birthday, and my uncle complied…buying me one of every single item in each color.

I think I got to play with it for all of two days before my mother made it all disappear.  She was never much for makeup herself (beyond a little lipstick here and there) and she always hated that I was so interested in it.

I’m not the most creative person in the world.  I don’t paint or draw or craft or sew or anything like that.  It’s makeup where I get creative, and my face is my canvas. I wish I were better at getting makeup photos, actually, because I could see makeup and makeup looks taking up a much bigger part of the blog if I could.

In this post, I’m going to do two things: talk about my very favorite makeup brand, and show off my dressing table.

I was first introduced to Merle Norman in 2004. I had been searching for years for the perfect foundation for my fair and very oily skin.  Their Lasting in Cream fit the bill more than anything ever had.  It went perfectly with the Flawless Effect pressed powder.  It was pricey, but it was worth it for me.

You can’t buy Merle Norman cosmetics online – it’s only available in their independently owned studios.  The first thing I did when I was considering moving in with my husband was check to see if there was one nearby!  And there was.  Unfortunately the Alexandria store closed soon after I moved here.  That left the nearest one more than ten miles away in heavy traffic.  I was hesitant to ask him to drive me that far, given how much he hates driving and traffic. So I just…did without.

But the Clinque I’d been using for the last few months didn’t seem to be agreeing with me.  On my trip to West Virginia in June, I popped into my old studio for some Lasting.  They were out!  But they were nice enough to give me a tube from the makeover station to tide me over.  And then they special ordered it for me.  My aunt then picked it up and had it shipped.  Sure enough, the weirdness with my skin cleared up, and Alex agreed that it was worth the drive to Vienna if I loved Merle Norman that much (and it loved me right back).

If you have trouble matching foundation, or with finding a formula that works with your skin, I suggest trying Merle Norman.  The staff is actually trained for it.  Personally, I haven’t had a bad experience in a Merle Norman studio yet.  I always enjoy my visits and I always leave feeling good.

Below are some of my favorite Merle Norman products…old and new.

Lasting Foundation.  It's a matte finish liquid for really oily skin.  And it does last!

Lasting Foundation. It’s a matte finish liquid for really oily skin. And it does last!

Flawless Effect pressed powder.  By far my favorite pressed powder ever. It gives a wonderful soft focus effect.

Flawless Effect pressed powder. By far my favorite pressed powder ever. It gives a wonderful soft focus effect.

I've had these for ever.  I don't think they make Remarkable Finish anymore, actually.  And certainly not in Fair. The sparkly powder next to it was a limited edition.

I’ve had these forever. I don’t think they make Remarkable Finish anymore, actually. And certainly not in Fair. The sparkly powder next to it was a limited edition.

My two tiny powder compacts.  The one on the left is a purse sized special edition.  The other was part of a free gift.  I'm not sure how I've held on to them this long.  The teeny one has never been used.

My two tiny powder compacts. The one on the left is a purse sized special edition. The other was part of a free gift. I’m not sure how I’ve held on to them this long. The teeny one has never been used.

Ultra Powder Foundation in Ultra Fair.  I  underestand that this is now the fairest product they make.  Unfortunately, it was a bit too heavy for touch ups for me, so I did go snag some Flawless Effect.  But the next humid summer I think it will be perfect.

Ultra Powder Foundation in Ultra Fair. I understand that this is now the fairest product they make. Unfortunately, it was a bit too heavy for touch ups for me, so I did go snag some Flawless Effect. But the next humid summer I think it will be perfect.

“Back in the day,” I also loved Merle’s eye shadows and mascaras.  I can’t wait for my next trip to the studio – I’ve already picked out the shadow shades I want (okay, it’s the same ones I used to wear) and they also have a cold cream I’m itching to try.

And now, some photos of my dressing table and and how it’s organized.  This isn’t everything – I still have a box of stuff in the bathroom closet – but these are the products I use most right now and the ones I want to be close to hand.  I was very lucky to find this particular dressing table at a great price.  Malice is quite the thief and she loves makeup brushes.  I keep the drawers lined with Viva paper towels, so that they’re easy to keep clean.  I also keep a Swiffer cloth handy to wipe away the fall out from my brushes.

My new dressing table.  This is where the magic happens.

My new dressing table. This is where the magic happens.

The face makeup drawer! Powder, foundation, and etc. live here.

The face makeup drawer! Powder, foundation, and etc. live here.

The lip drawer!  I have a lot of MAC lipstick.

The lip drawer! I have a lot of MAC lipstick.

Eye shadow.  It's hard to see, but there is an absolutely huge box of Victoria's Secret shadows in the back. This isn't all of my shadow, just what I've been using the most - NYX, Urban Decay, Clinique, and VS.

Eye shadow. It’s hard to see, but there is an absolutely huge box of Victoria’s Secret shadows in the back. This isn’t all of my shadow, just what I’ve been using the most – NYX, Urban Decay, Clinique, and VS.

Eye liners and mascaras!  Yes, there are two Merle Norman eye pencils in here.  They no longer make this formula, more's the pity.  These are grey.  The rest are L'oreal and Urban Decay.  The mascaras in the back are Maybelline, Clinque, and NYX.

Eye liners and mascaras! Yes, there are two Merle Norman eye pencils in here. They no longer make this formula, more’s the pity. These are grey. The rest are L’oreal and Urban Decay. The mascaras in the back are Maybelline, Clinque, and NYX.

And finally, the brush/sponge drawer.  My brushes are mostly Victoria's Secret and mark. The gorgeous foundation brush on the right is Urban Decay.  I love it...I am afraid to use it with the Lasting, though.  I once ruined a brush with it.

And finally, the brush/sponge drawer. My brushes are mostly Victoria’s Secret and mark. The gorgeous foundation brush on the right is Urban Decay. I love it…I am afraid to use it with the Lasting, though. I once ruined a brush with it.

A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of leaving the face makeup drawer slightly ajar when we left to run errands….

I found this when we returned.

I found this when we returned.

What makeup post would be complete without a couple of shots of me at the table?  First a shot of me getting ready for work one morning:

A rare morning when I actually did my hair at home, rather than letting it air dry and putting it up at work.  It warranted a photo.

A rare morning when I actually did my hair at home, rather than letting it air dry and putting it up at work. It warranted a photo.

And a post-errand photo from today.

And a post-errand photo from today.

Thanks to Ms. Kitty for hosting today’s theme.  It is sure to go down as one of my favorites.

Posted in Makeup, Old Things, Themes and Blogging Events | 4 Comments

No, It Cannot Be Summertimes Nao!!

Was it really three months ago that I wrote this post?  Unbelievable!

This summer has mostly been a bust.  Northern Virginia/DC just didn’t have the high temperatures and humidity we normally get.  I don’t think we ever hit 100 degrees this year! I got to go to the pool all of twice.  Several weekends were stormy or threatened to be; but mostly the water was just too cold and it wasn’t warm enough to really enjoy reading by the pool.  I did find a nice shady spot to set up, but even so Alex joined me for a little bit only once.

At least I had it all to myself...

At least I had it all to myself…

We tried to take a road trip to Alex’s mother’s place in Rehobeth Beach.  Of course Baby chose that week to decide not to eat.  We wound up taking her to the vet instead.  It looked like the problem was with her teeth so they did a tooth trim.  We were talking about rescheduling that trip for September…but it looks like she’s going to have to go back again (maybe as often as every three weeks!) so we’ve scrapped that for now, too.

The worst part is that the gym in my building has been closed.  I’m not sure what they’re doing to it but it’s taking forever.  No one seems to know when it might be ready to open again.  I’ve been taking the stairs more, getting off the bus farther away in the evenings,  and walking around my office’s neighborhood at lunch as much as I can, but it’s not the same workout I can get on the treadmill.  Unfortunately, it shows.

We did have a lovely time for Alex’s birthday earlier this month.  We had brunch at the Terrance Restaurant at The Kennedy Center for the first time.  That was really wonderful!  And then we had tickets for the last performance of The Lion King.

Summer isn’t really “over” until the Solstice, of course, but the Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the season.  That means our pool will close after the holiday and a lot of the little touristy places Alex wanted to take me to at the beach will be closing too.

I normally look so forward to the autumn…but this year, the end of summer has me feeling very melancholy.

Posted in Adventures | 2 Comments

Tuck and Roll

I love updos. They can be sophisticated and elegant, or messy and cute.  I’m just not very good at them, and never have been (I can’t even get the most basic of up styles – the pony tail – to look right).  For years the very best I could manage was a simple bun.  And let me tell you, that wasn’t a very flattering look for me.  If you thought Lilith looked severe….

And then I found The Gibson Tuck on Pinterest.  This very elegant and yet very easy style quickly became my go-to.  If you follow my Instagram (or just pay attention to the sidebar on the blog page) you’ve probably seen a lot of photos of it.  I’m even sporting it two of my Red and Black Week posts, here and here. As much practice as I’ve had, it’s never once come out “perfectly,” and some days are definitely better than others!  But I still manage to get a lot of compliments on it.

A good photo of the back of the Gibson Tuck.  This one was done more or less properly.

A good photo of the back of the Gibson Tuck. This one was done more or less properly.

It’s an easy style to achieve, truly.  The Freckled Fox has complete illustrated instructions on her site, so I won’t repeat them here.  One thing I do that’s not in the instructions is use a pick, comb, or lift to pull up some of my hair in front.  I have a really deep part that I’d rather disguise if I can! So my version of the style tends to look poufier than the original.

I will say that the elastic seemed to me to be pretty crucial to the style.  Gathering the hair into an elastic prior to rolling and tucking the hair under keeps it together and is probably why the style is as easy to do as it is.

Of course, I got to work one morning with no elastic and had to improvise!

What I’ve dubbed the Gibson Roll isn’t as easy to do.  It’s not as neat, or as elegant (at least from the back).  But now that my hair is insanely long again, I find it lasts longer if I do it this way – sometimes if I use an elastic, I’ll find halfway through the day that the tail has come unwound and is poking out the back!  It takes a lot more pins to do it this way, however.  I’m fortunate that I found some large “heavy duty” pins at the Beckley Wal-Mart many years ago.  I’ve never found them again and I’ve only managed to keep up with six of them over the years…but they’re a huge help with pretty much any style.

Basically for the Gibson Roll, you do everything exactly the same…except you don’t use an elastic.  Because the hair isn’t gathered and secured, it’s not as easy to hold on to or to roll.  I’ve tried rolling it several ways and in several directions, and all of them have worked.  It does wind up a little messier looking than what I can achieve with the Tuck, but sometimes that’s okay.

Below are some photos of one of my early attempts at the Gibson Roll.  I was so excited that it came out as good as it did that the first thing I did when I got home was ask my husband to get some snaps – my new phone has a great camera, but no dedicated button…making “selfies” of the back of my head impossible. It’s a little disheveled as it’s the end of the day, but I still think it came out good enough to share!

The front!  It's not as poufy as I normally do.  But I thought it looked alright.

The front! It’s not as poufy as I normally do. But I thought it looked alright.

Side view.  It's actually fairly symmetrical, but you can still tell that my hair is just ticker on one side than the other.

Side view. It’s actually fairly symmetrical, but you can still tell that my hair is just thicker on one side than the other.

The other side!

The other side!

And the back.  I think it looks great to say I "winged it" without an elastic, and it was one of my first attempts.

And the back. I think it looks great to say I “winged it” without an elastic, and it was one of my first attempts.

I’ve done it this way many times since with mixed results, and of course I continue to do the Tuck the correct way.  But I am really glad I was able to figure out a way to improvise without the proper tools.  One never knows when one will be required to manage an updo on the fly, after all.

Posted in Hair | 6 Comments