Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting the LOOK (not the stares of shock!)

I make no apologies for being a "girly" type woman. I like girly things. No, my house isn't pink (although I do have some small pink Christmas trees), and I don't have a little pink poof of a dog. I'll leave that sort of thing to the Barbara Cartland wannabes. However, I like pretty dresses. I like the feel of silk on my skin and I'm fascinated by really expensive lingerie. I don't buy it, of course, because really expensive lingerie only comes in size "Not with that butt, toots".

So when I decided a while ago that it was time I developed a "style" for myself that didn't include t-shirts with coffee stains on them, ancient sweatpants dating back to the fall of Rome and a couple of hubby's shirts, I asked myself how I really wanted to dress. And you know something? That's a VERY tough question to answer truthfully.

It's much too easy to say, well I'm a housewife (or writer) who is mostly at home. I don't do fancy dinner parties, red-carpet events or charity balls. So I shouldn't be thinking of myself in sweeping gowns, chiffon or sparklies.

Then I paused and thought - why the hell NOT??? Just because I go to the supermarket a gazillion times more than I go to evening parties doesn't mean I should live in jeans. Just because I sit in front of my computer for many hours (which explains the cotton clad butt and lack of expensive lingerie) doesn't demand I populate my closets with workout gear.

Au contraire, my friends. I had an epiphany. I CAN get the look I want. The softly romantic, ultra feminine ME that lurks beneath the ten-year-old baseball shirt. I'm not going to chuck the practical stuff, but I am going to add the odd piece of flirtatious fashion now and again. Why? Because it will make ME feel GOOD. And I don't think there's a darn thing wrong with that.

So...if you're into the girly stuff, read on. If you're not, then you might want to wave bye-bye before you get a bit nauseous. But if you yearned for one or two of Rose's gowns from Titanic; if you've got a bit of Faery in you and have been known to flit about when you're alone trailing a sheer from your laundry basket behind you, then stick with me. Because I'd like to introduce you to a designer you're gonna love.

Her name is Nataya. I believe she's Russian, and all you have to do is Google her to find out her life story. I didn't, simply because it's her designs that have enthralled me, not her private life, which I believe should be her own.

She presents collections that make a girly-girl weep. Soft pastels with a detour into black or berry shades. The occasional lavender or accent color lifting a dress into the realm of spectacular. Mostly dresses, Nataya turns her hand to creations which exemplify the true spirit of everything feminine - hugging curves without strangling them, floating around legs in a graceful way reminiscent of those wonderful 1930's gowns. Take a look at her website to get a better idea. Pretty neat stuff, huh?

And yes, many of these come in "women's sizes", (i.e. human sized) so there's usually something for everyone. Now there's a hefty price tag on most of these clothes - they're unique and I'm not surprised to see them cost more than something off the rack at Macy's. However, with some diligence, you may get lucky and find one or two Nataya dresses or outfits on eBay. I lucked into a shawl recently - a rare find since most of them are no longer available. It takes time and patience, but the buys are out there.

If you're eager enough to pursue them, here's one place I absolutely recommend. The Romance of Yesteryear offers a delicious assortment of Nataya dresses, and the prices on many of them are much more reasonable. Since Nataya presents new collections each year, you'll find previous years' dresses marked down. And how can you tell? You can't. They're all gorgeous. The folks at this website are helpful, shipping is rapid and their communications are great. I've bought several items now and I heartily recommend you check them out. No, I don't get a kickback - I wish I did. LOL This is just for those who love to "waft", as much as I do. There ain't a damn thing wrong with wafting now and again.

And let's face it, you just can't waft effectively in sweatpants!

Happy girl time,

P.S. The Romance of Yesteryear also has everything from teacups to sealing wax to velvet corsets, so even if you don't want to look at the Nataya collection, I bet you'll find something else really neat!!! Gotta love websites like this. They validate the usefulness of the Internet a helluva lot better than all those XXX mudpuddles, IMHO.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Random Musings on Fun, the Fourth - and FOOD

Did you ever wonder why so many of our holidays are associated with food? Is it simply the fact that certain things require harvesting, therefore we make sure they're part of a certain holiday? (This works for ham and fresh green things in the spring for Easter and cranberries for Thanksgiving. So why isn't there a holiday associated with those endless bags of zucchini that your neighbors inundate you with?)

Of course traditional meals are lovely - part and parcel of our heritage, whatever that may be. Brits certainly cling to the tried and true...sausage rolls, mince pies and Christmas pudding, for example. And here in the USA, nothing says Independence Day like the smell of barbecue...hot dogs, steaks, chicken...anything that can be slathered in sauce and doesn't slip through the bars of the grill. (Okay, something always does, but what the heck. It's the Fourth of July. Leave the lid off and something will come and eat it. It's the circle of life, new millennium style. Burned chicken bits + a crow or two after the grill cools down = happy birds.)

However, in this day and age of the latest diet, the fact that untold millions of us are currently obese and we acknowledge the health risks of that extra avoirdupois, I have to wonder why The Powers That Be (i.e. Madison Avenue and/or Apple, which can i-everything these days) haven't begun to steer us away from the baked beans and potato salad so beloved of party goers on July Fourth. Where are the soy-substitutes? The mounds of pretend potato salad that couldn't find Idaho on a map or recognize real mayonnaise if it fell on 'em? Don't even get me started on "fat-free lite" mayonnaise. My adjectives pertaining to that little mess of unpronounceable chemical components...well, they start with "eeeeuuuwww" and go downhill from there.

Yes, I'm sure there are healthy folks out there planning on barbecuing a fat Portobello mushroom and pretending it's a hamburger. (After their morning five mile run, of course.) Er... I ain't one of 'em. As far as I'm concerned, a fungus on a bun is a science experiment not a meal. Making healthy "substitutes" is all well and good. But now and again, I ask myself why we've come to make these associations in the first place, and I'm coming up short of answers.

I don't know why we eat baked beans on July Fourth. The cans are ripe? I'm not a cowboy out of Blazing Saddles, so a need to produce methane has nothing to do with it. And I sure as heck don't know why potato salad (which I adore, btw) is such a big summer hit, since it's made with mayo and will go off if the temperature goes up, resulting in a nasty case of summer tummy. Wouldn't it have been smarter to make a salad with all the good fresh green stuff and a boatload of those first fresh red tomatoes? Then insist that it's "Independence Salad" and toss in some chunks of white cheese and a few blueberries. Patriotic goodness in a bowl.

It's odd, really, this incredibly solid connection we humans have made between our celebrations and the food we serve at them. There are lots of GOOD reasons, I know. Ones that are logical. But every now and again one or two of these associations sneak up on me and smirk, daring me to figure them out. Usually when I'm in the supermarket wondering who would, in fact, BUY twenty cans of baked beans for such a low sum of money. And why another shopper is apparently rushing to collect as many jars of dehydrated things-she-can't-pronounce as she can get. Remind me to pass on the potato salad at her house.

So I will follow my own holiday traditions when it comes to food. Basically if someone else cooks it, it's probably wonderful. And if somebody else cleans up afterwards - it's a gourmet meal fit for a king. I'm a woman of simple tastes and I'll keep on scarfing up the potato salad on July Fourth because I love potato salad and it makes me feel festive. I just need to stop asking myself why, and make sure that's the ONLY day I scarf up potato salad. Maybe that's the next big diet...only eat certain foods on certain holidays.

Betcha there'll be a lot more holidays appearing soon if this diet catches on. And none of them will involve those damn zucchini....

Happy Independence Day,

Flavia's Flying Corset by Sahara Kelly
A new steampunk story, coming November 30th, 2010, from Samhain Publishing; part of the "Silk, Steel and Steam" anthology.

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