Thursday, January 26, 2012

Remember Abundance?

This is the second time I have written this blog entry. 
A few days ago I wrote what I thought was The Best Blog I Ever Blogged & when I clicked, 'Publish Post', the pictures stayed, but the text disappeared.
I was crushed & didn't know if I could write another one.
But, after watching almost half of a revolting reality show called 'Millionaire Matchmaker' featuring the 58 year old surgically altered owner of 'The Chippendales' (not chipmunks, but Dancing Male Strippers),  I'm giving it another shot, hoping against hope that I haven't missed the moment which I probably have because I arrived back in Sydney yesterday morning & I'm about to go back to school tomorrow which was rather a nasty shock because I thought it wasn't until next Monday.
How's that for a Long Sentence? I just couldn't decide where to put the full stop.
So, let the Travelogue begin.
As some of you may remember, I'm always watching for Helpful Signs, particularly as I tootle along the freeways sitting in the beautifully warmed passenger seat of Marge's Hybrid. The sign above, on the road to Pasadena, really summed up my whole holiday.

My least favourite Beach Boys (or is it, Jan & Dean) song has always been 'The Little Ol' Lady from Pasadena'. I wonder if any of you remember it? It's awful.
Marge is nothing like the subject of that song as she poses outside The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.
She looks like Real First Lady Material in her new aubergine leather driving gloves she freshly purchased from 'Banana Republic', a shop that I failed to purchase anything in spite of a up to 70% off sale on Certain Items.
Jackie Kennedy, during her time as First Lady loved to appear in white gloves which always created the impression that she may have been Germ Phobic.
Luckily, Marge isn't.

I'm certainly not afraid of catching germs from that rather Dark Looking Gentleman created by Rodin, who regally stands in the entrance to the Museum.
If there was ever a competition for people wearing the Most Layers, I would have won it in the above outfit:
Layer1: Black Bonds Singlet.
Layer 2: Silk Animal Print Carla Zampatti blouse that once belonged to Marge's 97 year old Mother, Aileen, who sadly died last year;
Layer 3: (actually, technically it's Layer 2, but I couldn't be bothered changing it) Black Wool Old As the Hills Trent Nathan dress;
Layer 4: Cream linen 'Ralph Lauren' jacket thrifted last week at the Jewish Women's League in Santa Monica'
Layer 5: a long black scarf.
I felt so weighed down, it was an effort to move.

Marge is examining our almost favourite painting that we saw - some house that Cezanne might have lived in, or summered in.
I only know two things about Cezanne: 1. Woody Allen lists Cezanne's Apples as one of his favourite things in his film, 'Manhattan;
2. Cezanne chucked out most of his paintings. Thank God he didn't chuck the one above out. It's so adorable, I was fantasising about living in it.

When I visit Art Galleries, I'm always fascinated with the other patrons are doing. Sitting/lying in front of a little gaggle of Impressionist Masters is a fantastic place to declare your Everlasting Love to somebody, don't you think?

No trip to Pasadena is complete without a visit to their Monster H&M & Forever 21.
In fact, we shamelessly spent more time in both of those shops than we did inside the Norton Simon Museum.
I bought a great big green Toy Tusk & a bejeweled & enameled turtle pendant & some bracelets that I'm aching to wear & will probably wear to school tomorrow to remind me of my trip.

If you were ever wondering if you should wear Heart Shaped Sunglasses, look below at Marge in them & you'll immediately know the answer.
Absolutely Not.
NO one above the age of two & a half ever looks any good in them.
Good, I'm glad we've cleared that one up for once & for all.

Next, we move on to a Candy Store in Palm Springs, where we spent two nites (not in the Candy Store, but in the oldest continually running accommodation in Palm Springs - Casa Cody, originally owned & operated by Harriet Cody, the niece of Buffalo Bill, an associate of Tough Girl Annie Oakley, who I really wanted to be like when I was a kid.
Small World.
You can see Marge peering over the trays of Assorted Chocolate while I wait outside, not daring to enter in case Temptation Struck.
And here I am below waiting for a v. large Margarita to arrive at an outdoor restaurant in Palm Springs. It was freezing cold, which is absolutely no excuse for wearing a Polar Fleece scarf in Lavender. 

In my defence, I must say that it isn't mine (it's inexplicably Marge's).

Oh, maybe the offensive Polar Fleece scarf was actually Baby Blue & not lavender as you can see under the v. bright lights in a shoe store that sold these Sequinned Ugg Boots.

The next day, we consulted Marge's new iPad for the best Thrift Shops.
First up was Angel View, a huge Charity Conglomerate that supports Crippled Children.

It took us quite some time to adjust our eyes to the light in the shop as we were almost blinded by the colourful clothes, none of which tempted us.
I, of course, was on a Relentless Search for Navy.

It turned out that the Darker Items were hiding up the back of the shop. You can see us both, relentlessly surveying the scene as if we were in Darkest Africa in search of Wild Animals.

Marge was bedazzled by a Shiny Golden Ski Parka with a Made in Japan sign on it. We both smiled when we remembered our childhoods when 'Made in Japan' was a guarantee that you were buying junk.
My, how things change. Or something.

In my desperation, I finally picked up an oversize Louis Feraud jacket but you'll be relieved to know that I wisely put it back on the shelf not long after the photo was taken.

Surprisingly, I ended up making a couple of purchases from Angel View -1.  an old rotting huge Starfish which I didn't bother to declare when I went through customs yesterday. I felt quite The Renegade.
2. A linen Michael Kors jacket again in linen. I've always eschewed linen because it looks a little too much like what all the other Middleaged English Teachers wear & also because of its crushability which is always a consideration for me as I lack Proper Ironing Facilities.

Next stop on the Thrifting Trail was Revivals, a charity of the Desert Aids Project, entirely staffed by Creative Volunteers who create store displays worthy of Barneys New York.
I felt quite at home with the Porcelain Wild Animal Store Dummies.
Note I am wearing Green Pants, freshly bought from H&M, Pasadena. But they look like leggings. But they're not.
At Revivals, Marge bought a whole gaggle of earrings, mostly clip ons. I am beginning to prefer Clip Ons which I hope is Not a Sign that I'm gradually turning into My Grandmother.

Finally, look below at my little cache of Palm Springs Thrift Purchases:
1. A Ralph Lauren striped turtleneck, $10. I wore it out to dinner last nite at a v. hot restaurant in Sydney & my neck sweated to death.
2. Giant Starfish, $3.
3.Two Pairs of Fabulous Ferragamos for $8 for two. I don't care if they're a little Dignified, I'm still wearing them.
4. One pair of red & white Bruno Magli shoes, $35, which I thought was a little steep.
5. A Michael Kors Jacket, $20.
6. A cushion that says, 'Men, coffee & chocolate, the richer the better', $2. What a steal.

When I was walking out of the Customs Hall yesterday at the airport, I couldn't help but notice a big sign right at the exit that said 'G'day, Welcome Home'. Surprisingly, I found myself getting all teary as I lugged all my bags out the door & down the ramp & into the Taxi Rank.
I had the Best Time, though.
Thank you LAX, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Santa Monica, Malibu, Sycamore Cove, Hidden Hills, Pasadena, Montecito & of course Palm Springs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Thrifters

 OK, I'm in LA.
There's no way that I could fake the following photos that were taken last saturday afternoon on an excursion to The Jewish Woman's League Thrift Store in Santa Monica.
The tone of today's blog entry is light, breezy & informative, with a kind of Travelogue feel to it. You can fill in all the angst yourselves. I'm far too busy for all that stuff as I am about to leave for a nite or two in Palm Springs.
Anyway, I tootled along the Pacific Coast Highway sitting in the beautifully warmed passenger seat of Marge's Hybrid. In the back sat Letitia, Marge's lovely daughter-in-law. I had been given the name of the thrift store from a friend in Australia & Marge was able to easily locate it on her newly-acquired iPad.
As we sped along the PCH, I frantically photographed the scene outside.

We sped up a ramp & I quickly managed to photograph people on the beach. It was a bit chilly & the light was surreal.
I love the remnants of Sam Spade or maybe, Philip Marlowe about Santa Monica.
And the brief fragment of Marion Davies on the beach. And maybe Gidget. And possibly Mildred Pearce.

We then took  a left up Wilshire.

We drove until we found a park right outside the Jewish Woman's League Thrift Shop. I had been told that this place was The Holy Grail of Thrift Stores. And just like Dr Frankenfurter, I was trembling with 'Anti-ci-pat---ion' or Whatever.

Here's Marge & Letitia outside the shop. In fact, this photo is taken slightly out of sequence as we were leaving with all our purchases. But I wanted to give you an idea of what it looked like.

But here's a genuine photo of what we were like when we first arrived. I'm wearing a v. skimpy dress I found in the closet of the room I'm staying in that I've peared with a striped top freshly bought from the Salvation Army Depot the previous day.
(FYI, I intentionally spelled peared that way. I thought it was adorable)
The royal blue footless tights were from 'Forever 21.( BTW, what a silly name that is. Imagine what a nightmare it would be to be Twenty One Forever?)

Once inside, we immediately began trawling the immaculately colour-coded & catagorised  racks of clothes. Of course I had to suffer the Inevitable Letdown & Subsequent Ennui which always arises when the place isn't bursting with Vintage Lanvins.
Instead I found what could possibly be a Vintage Versace & tried it on. Perfect for Apres Wrestling.
Marge always looks splendid in a hat.

Wisely, I put the Versace back on its hanger & headed to the Jacket Section,  gravitating to a linen Ralph Lauren Jacket with no price tag on it. I immediately wanted to race over the to sales clerk & ask the price but Marge cautioned me, suggesting that if I was too eager, they might bump it up. I complied,  & made a sensible plan to hold on to the jacket until I was ready to purchase & then  casually dump it on the counter with the rest of the stuff.

Meanwhile, I was waylaid by the Lure of Celebrity.
This jacket had a 'Bob Mackie' label on it. I felt sure that  Ol' Bob was an iconic American designer who designed many of Liza Minelli's stage outfits. But this wasn't a great example of his work. Nor am I a great example of channelling  a tortured celebrity.
Oh, but maybe I am.

Sadly Marge tried on a number of jackets but none hit the spot. I was getting slightly put out by this because a Thrifting Outing isn't really complete without everyone in the party finding something, particularly if one person finds something good & keeps going on & on about it.
Luckily, at the Eleventh Hour, Marge picked up a pair of Calvin Klein Bootlets with a rather large heel. She tried them on & they looked fab, but she was worried about:
1. The Comfort Factor, like all us Old Ducks have to waddle around in Hush Puppies or it's Not Safe ;
2. The heel made her look even taller.
I completely hosed all this down, giving the example of my Style Icon, Jenna Lyons from J.Crew (not that I would ever buy anything from there) who is over six feet tall &  only wears sky high stilettos. Admittedly, she is probably about twenty years younger than us, but who notices?

This was me after I walked out of the shop. I also bought another jacket, this time with a  Gap label. I was thrilled.
FYI, the cost of the Ralph Lauren & the Gap was one was the same - ten bucks.
I love that kind of egalitarianism.

After we finished, we got back into the car & headed to a popular local cafe, Literati.
Marge had cheesecake & I had a bagel which I loaded up with cream cheese. When I sneered at the cheesecake, Marge said that my choice would probably have as many calories as hers. Who would Know?
Well, actually everyone in California now knows how many calories their selection at any restaurant has because there is a sign next to each piece of food on sale showing the calories. Marge thinks this is an initiative of Michelle Obama's.
So,  I was totally shocked at the sign next to a v. innocent looking foccacia at Starbucks that proclaimed it had 670 calories. I may as well eat a packet of Tim Tams (or perhaps Oreos, if you are not Australian).

On the drive back to Thousand Oaks, I photographed many signs that spoke to me in their own sweet way.
Off to Palm Springs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where Am I?

 Remember when I said that I'm in America?
Well, here's some photos that MAY or May Not prove that I'm actually there.
Or here.
I Might be pretending.
You decide.

One of my favourite pastimes when in Los Angeles is to take photos inside a car whilst it's moving.
It's the natural thing to do.
Here's a couple of Instagrams that I may have taken on my iPhone just after I finally got out of LAX.
You may wonder who John Carter is & why his name is featuring on a v. large billboard.
It may be Tarzan's Real Name.

This next photo, below may have been taken on Thousand Oaks Boulevard whilst in Marge's car. We both loved the Stigmaterised Burning Hands joined in Prayer.

 It seems that every time I go away I leave some Important Electronic Device at home. This time it was the turn of my Nikon Camera Charger to be left behind. You'd think that it would be easy to get another one. Of course not.
1. I went to 'Best Buy'. They sold me the Wrong One.
2. Thousand Oaks Mall no longer has a camera store.
3. Finally, the friendly staff at Hooper's Cameras were able to order one in for me. That's me, below trying my best to fit in with the rest of the other tripods in the store.
Note I'm wearing a Comme de Garcons for Adidas sporty top & a hankerchief hem skirt that is perhaps a little too reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. But still do love 'Gold Dust Woman' & even 'Landslide'.
BTW, I wonder if you can call a item a 'Designer Label' if its like the one above. Or Missoni for Target which I'm so sour I wasn't here for. Or Versace for H&M which I'm even more sour about. In fact, I'm soo desperate to get my hands on a V for H&M that I'm going to plead with Marge to drive me to the nearest H&M which May be in Pasadena. Maybe they'll have some left.

Even though the Huge Mall didn't have a camera store, it did have Anthropologie. We don't have this store in Australia, but there is nothing in the next two photos to indicate that I'm not simply visiting any boutique in Sydney. Unless, of course you've just been to Anthro & seen the display of letters, below.

I wonder if the Universe is trying to tell me something?

 I'm carrying a little shopping bag that I bought at 'Forever 21, along with the cheapest colourful footless tights I've ever bought that are coming up in the next photo or so.

 Yesterday, we MAY have gone to the v. large Salvation Army Depot at Newbury Park to stock up on supplies. If this place was in Australia it would be called The Salvos Depot.
I'm sure it's been years since anyone's called it by it's full name. Even The Salvos themselves.
Marge found a v. large poncho that we had a fine time playing with.
Note I'm wearing the v. colourful F21 footless tights. It's my little concession to colour.

 Lastly, Marge urge me to try on a v. tailored jacket clearly custom made for a Small Child. I resisted the urge to purchase it, but did make some quite good other purchases that will fit in nicely with the Patrician Section of my wardrobe that heavily features Navy, Toy Gold & Pearls.
I bought:
1. A v. convincing Toy Gold fob watch chain that Marge spent quite some time closely examining in case the Salvation Army People hadn't realised that it was Real Gold.
2. Pearl & Gold clip on earrings
3. A blue & white striped shirt.
Total price: $21.90
Luckily, I bought my Navy Toy Chanel scarf with me. I'm all set.

Well, do you think that I'm in America?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top Ten Middleagedteacher Outfits of the Year

 Hello & Welcome to Me in America which is pretty much the same deal as Me in Australia.
In case you're wondering, I'm in Thousand Oaks, California in the home of my great friend Marge & her family. It's currently 18 degrees Celsius & it seems that I've brought the wrong clothes with me. But that's a whole other story.
For now, let's focus on the Clothes that I Wore Last Year. In fact, I've gathered together My Top Ten Outfits of 2011.

Outfit #1 Above: The Most Unflattering Outfit of the Year.

I was soo thrilled when I spied this Lisa Ho suit at my favourite op shop, 'BednobsEtc'. In fact, I clapped my hands together in glee at my cleverness at discovering it hiding in the 'Designer Rack'. But even as I was paying the money, doubt began to creep in. Perhaps it was Donated For a Reason.  Maybe those Big Baggy Pockets that sit just above the waist of the jacket aren't particularly slimming. Ditto for the bunched up pleating at the front of the skirt. And the button treatment was uncomfortably reminiscent of a Drum Majorette.
My doubts were confirmed when Di, the Barista at Zinc Cafe started singing 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band' as she was making my latte.

 Outfits #2 &3: The Smug Triumph of Owning Two Diane Von Furstenberg Silk Wrap Dresses.
 Again, I bought them both from the 'Designer Rack' at 'BednobsEtc but not at the same time. The fabric on the top one MAY be a little faded in parts, but that just Might be my Imagination as it is often v. difficult for me to believe my luck sometimes.

 Outfit #4:  The Plainest Outfit of the Year.
Sadly, I wore Black to Death last year even though the Fashion World spent almost the entire year heralding the Impending Invasion of Colour in everyone's wardrobes. Upon reflection, though, I'm not so sure that people are wearing colourful clothes any more than they usually do.
Do notice the Two Eiffels I'm wearing on a long chain.
Perhaps I should make another catagory: Best Accessory: The Eiffel Tower.
Oh, & I must mention the black patent Ferragamos that I'm wearing with Black Sockettes which slightly dampens the effect I think. 

Outfit #5: The Most Eagerly Anticipated But Most Disappointing Outfit of the Year: A Marc Jacobs Dress.
I almost had a heart attack when I discovered it  at 'BednobsEtc. Finally, finally, a Real Marc Jacobs Dress Without Any Visible Stains. And, it fits! And it's All Mine.
The following evening I wore it to The Year 10 Harbour Cruise. It was kind of a pity that I wasn't going to something a bit more Age Appropriate like The Opera (Sadly, I have a v. narrow window of enjoyment with Opera. In fact, it's not really a window, more like a Crack.
But it's an Adult Thing to Do.  Children don't clamour to go to the Opera. Have you ever met a kid desperate to see 'Lucia di Lammermour or perhaps The Marriage of Figaro?
Anyway, it didn't take me long to realise that the dress was Every Shade of Wrong. In fact, we hadn't even boarded the cruise ship when it hit me for the following three reasons:
1.  Shocking easily creased fabric (even though I got the dry cleaner to iron it just before I put it on. I rarely iron)
2. Unfortunate sleeves that made my arms look weirdly like they'd been carelessly glued on.
3. A shade of white reminiscent of Nurse Ratchett in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
No wonder whoever it was donated it to 'BednobsEtc. She should have Binned It instead.

Outfit #6: The Most Worn Outfit of the Year: a Patricia Field Dress.
Yes, Patricia Field, the SATC designer. I think my thinking on this one was that if I wore it often enough a bit of Carrie Bradshaw might rub off on me, which, when you  come to think of it is a bit scary.
Anyway, it didn't.
And there's nothing like wearing a floaty dress with ruffles at the hemline to create the Illusion of Sashaying.
Famous Sashayers Whose Style At Least Consciously, I Don't Emulate:
Dolly Parton
Bette Midler
Mae West
Miss Peggy Lee.
(But maybe the last two just stood there & only looked as if they'd sashay if they bothered walking)

Outfit #7: The Outfit Worn When I Looked the Most Shocked/Traumatised: a grey MaxMara Weekend shirt with big bow at front, striped Hong Kong tailored jacket & black Armani skirt.
What else can I say except that I often look like this. Why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't any of us?

Outfit #8: The Most Whatever Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas Outfit: V. short dress made from some Unspeakable but Uncrushable Fibre worn with a Target Jacket & one of my student's Grandmother's Chanel Shoes that sadly I didn't fit into properly.

Outfit #9: The Most Prestigious Designer Brands Worn at Once Outfit: a vintage Lanvin dress worn under a Valentino felt jacket. Luckily, the words, 'Lanvin' are thoughtfully printed at discreet intervals on the fabric of the dress so that acute observers will note its provenance. The pussy bow hides the fact that the buttons pop at the front.
A small price to pay.

Outfit #10: The Outfit That Most Resembled a Circus Costume: a Carla Zampatti striped silk skirt worn with a Pink blouse. My friend & Style Guru Marge advised that next time I could wear this shirt with a plain black skirt.
Perhaps I will.
Back to Being in America.