And I have a new blog now. Come visit me at Beauty Valued!
And I have a new blog now. Come visit me at Beauty Valued!
Being cost conscious and eco-friendly, I’m a well seasoned thrift/second-hand/consignment store shopper. But, in the last few years with all that is going on at home (that would be this and this and this), I’ve started buying clothes on e-bay.
I like that you can shop in your jammies, any time of day or night. You can linger, compare prices, ask questions and get seriously great deals. The only thing you can’t do is try the garment on. Sounds like a major downside, right? Well, let me share my strategies, and you’ll see there are ways to make this work.
1) Figure out your favorite brands/designers. You might have a couple of brands you like for casual wear, two more for jeans, a few for work apparel and a few more for shoes. If you don’t know or can’t figure out your favorite brands/designers from your own closet or shopping history, you will need to do some real life shopping first.
2) You also need to know what size you are for each of these designers/brands. Pay attention to if you’re a different size for tops/bottoms and, if you’re between sizes, figure out if you tend to lean one way for particular brands that you like.
3) Take your measurements (bust, waist, hips) with a soft tape measure, and note that down. This is especially important if you’re between sizes or if an item is not true to size. Ebay sellers often list measurements and it’s nice to compare before committing to buy.
4) Search ebay for those designers/brands and your size, adding any additional info you like, eg. “skirt.” As you browse, look for styles and colors that you know work on you. Yes, I’m color obsessed and have had mine analysed twice (see A Truly Personal Palette and From Her to My Season for details) yet I generally play it safe with color choices on ebay, sticking to colors that aren’t easily misrepresented. You’re aiming for a purchase you’re going to love, so stick to what you love. (Note: save your searches in ebay, eg Brand, size, by lowest price first.)
5) If, generally, you struggle to find a certain type of garment that fits really well, don’t buy it on ebay. For example, I do not shop for pants on ebay.
6) My exception about buying pants is that I have bought duplicates of jeans I adore. if you have an item in your wardrobe you love, and want it in other colors or simply a back up for when your beloved garment bites the dust, search for it on ebay. Bear in mind no two garments are ever truly identical. Chances are the cut will be ever so slightly different, in the tiniest of ways.
7) Compare photos of the same item to get the best sense of color and style. See if other sellers have the same item, or google the item and see if you can find a photo elsewhere. You’d be surprised how helpful this can be. Colors, weights and lengths can look different. You’ll gain a better sense of what the garment truly looks like. Ask the seller questions if you need clarification. For instance, “Is this a dark red or a true red?” or “How tall are those boots?”
8) Read descriptions carefully. The condition of the garment should be clearly stated. Is it new with tags? Is it in excellent used condition? If there is a flaw, what is it? I’ve purposely bought a top that had a few stitches coming out from a seam because I knew it’d be an easy fix and it was a great deal.
9) Read the seller’s return policy and consider what you would do if the item doesn’t make you happy. For instance, could you resell it? Alter it? Dye it? Gift it? Or would you be fine with paying return shipping charges, if the seller accepts returns? Think this through before any purchases. I’ve resold a couple of items and have a sweater waiting to be dyed.
10) Check the seller’s feedback too. If it’s a new seller, ask them a question and see how responsive they are.
11) Sellers are generally savvy about how to best list an item. For example, a blouse might be listed by brand, then “blouse/top” and the size and color/details. But if the seller writes only “blouse”and you search for “top” you’ll miss seeing their item(s). So, you need to be savvy in your search too. Use different words to describe the same item, enter the numerical and letter size for clothing, and try both European and American sizing for shoes.
12) Sometimes you can read reviews of clothing items elsewhere. For example many shoes are reviewed on Zappos and many of Anthropologie‘s items are reviewed on their site and personal blogs. Read reviews to see if items are actually true to size, if reviewers consistently say good things or if, conversely, they mention design flaws.
13) If something you receive is not up to par, write to the seller immediately and politely: assume the error was an oversight. I’ve only had one experience that wasn’t rectified as I’d have liked, and it wasn’t bad enough to contact ebay. Generally, sellers want you to be happy and to write a positive review for them.
14) “Buy it now” is most like real shopping. I started ebay shopping using items listed in that way only.
15) The better deals, however, are usually by “auction.” You may find yourself in a bidding war, so from the start have in mind an amount you’re prepared to pay. Remember the same item may be listed more than once or it may be posted by another seller soon, so if this one gets away, don’t despair!
It’s a different shopping experience than going out shopping certainly. But now that I’ve figured out my strategy, I’m having a lot of success. I hope my tips help, and lead you to some great, inexpensive, additions to your wardrobe!
My hubby yelled, “It’s Christmas! Somebody’s got lots of packages today!” Each item was a success. Hooray!
Early summer is my favorite time of the year – from late May when the days start off mild, hinting at the warmth to come, and ending in June when life’s potential feels at its peak. But Spring, I will admit, comes a close second.
and the wild abandon of poppies.
I love that consecutive days of rain are on their way out (even if my daughter does like splashing in puddles).
I love the increasing variety at flower stalls. At this one, I introduced Peaches to the intoxicating smell of lilac. (And then she went over to smell the…tulips!)
I love that Peaches, with her softly luminscent coloring, looks so in tune with this time of year. See From Her to My Season if you’re at all curious about Seasonal Color Analysis. Her wardrobe reminds me of dyed Easter Eggs.
And, personally, I’ve always thought that resolutions should be made in Spring, not at New Year’s. (Because, really, who has energy in the middle of winter?) No, I think we should all have a SPRING THING. Or maybe even more than one: SPRING THINGS!
What are mine? I admit, I thought I just had one and was going to write about that, but a little voice started spluttering and crying for attention, so apparently I have TWO.
1) I’ve been a fan of green cleaning products (Mrs Meyer’s Clean Day and Biokleen in particular) for a long time now, but only recently thought about making my own. I did a little research and it looks surprisingly simple:
I figure green cleaning will save us rather a lot of money and make me feel more self sufficient (even though I still need supplies.) It’ll also make spring cleaning feel more creative! Now isn’t that something to smile about?
And, the little voice that’s YELLING to be heard wants me to announce this, my second SPRING THING:
2) I want to get back into sewing, and up my skill level. I saw a skirt I liked a few weeks ago in a shop, but wanted it to not be in a stretch knit. So I found a very similar sewing pattern and now need to buy some lightweight wool. I’m so glad I have my individualized color palette (see here for details) to take with me to the fabric store. I also have a thrift store find evening dress that I want to add ruching to, changing it from a long, flared dress to a tapered ruched dress. AND for the warmer weather to come, I have a strapless dress that I’d like to add straps too. Quite a lot of projects to do! And, now that I’ve told you about them, I feel more inclined to get to them! Funny how that works!
I hope this season brings you a feast of color, some of your favorite scents and, most of all, joie-de-vivre! Happy Spring! (Or, for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Fall!)
I bet you’ve got some lipsticks lurking at the back of a drawer that you know are too bright or too dark for you. You do, don’t you? Maybe, every so often, you take them out and apply them ever so lightly so you feel like they weren’t a wasted purchase? Mmm-hmmm. Thought so.
Well, here’s a quick and easy way to put your too bright and too dark lipsticks to better use! Turn them into lip gloss!
You’ll need your lipstick and something like Vaseline. I like Alba’s Un-Petroleum jelly because unlike Vaseline it contains no petrolatum (a non renewable resource).
Alba’s product is also more moisturizing! See this article for why.
You’ll also need a microwave, a small microwavable container (like a ramekin) and a stirring utensil. A wooden chopstick would be great.
Finally, you’ll need a container (or containers) to put the final product in. I used sample containers from Alima because I love them so.
What do you do?
1) Squeeze some Un-Petroleum Jelly into the microwaveable bowl, eyeballing the amount so that when mashed with lipstick, the gloss will nearly fill your final container.
3.) Slice off some lipstick and mash it into the hot liquid, stirring heartily to get it all nicely mixed.
4.) Test a tiny bit (be careful not to burn yourself) and if you want to add more lipstick for greater depth of color, now’s the time.
(Oh and, yes, Observant Reader, this is the hoodie that I dyed with tea and coffee that I’m wearing! For more on that project, see here.)
4.) Then, when well stirred, scoop the final product into your container(s).
Ta da! Finished product!
NOTE: For ease of clean up, use a paper towel to wipe out the microwaveable container before you clean it with soap and water.
I love the color I created! It looks much darker in the container than it is actually on.
In addition to putting it on my lips, I used the tiniest bit on my cheeks, instead of blush. (Somehow it’s not sticky!)
Once you do this and create a lip gloss that you love, you’ll find ready made lip glosses seem outrageously expensive.
Here’s your take home visual:
A lip brush will stop your fingers getting messy.
So, hop to it! Salvage your lippies, save your lips. All in five minutes flat!
When I’m frustrated or dismayed, I try to remind myself that, “There is, almost always, more than one solution to a problem.” Then I:
I try to free myself from unhappy, unproductive and rigid thinking. It usually works. But sometimes I forget and, for a while, I get stuck in that negative place. In such a situation, I invariably turn to chocolate. Dark chocolate.
This kind in particular, as what could boost body and mind more than caffeine and ancient grains, right?
And pretty soon after my dose of DELICIOUSNESS, I’m remembering, “Oh, yeah, what else could happen? What else might help? What else could be tried?” And I’m in a BETTER frame of mind. In other words, I’m generally good at reaching a hopeful state. I just sometimes need chocolate as a catalyst.
But what’s been happening lately is that I’m not the one doing the brainstorming. I’ve always been very self-reliant but with our daughter’s anxiety and the stress it causes all of us, I’m in way over my head. I recognized the need for truly expert advice ages ago. The first therapist we worked with was alright; he helped some (see here). But this new therapist is REMARKABLE. I cannot believe my good fortune to have stumbled across her name on a message board. That I’m able to rely on someone else to do the problem solving for me, and they are doing an utterly fabulous job is just SO wonderful. I feel both comforted and relieved.
I want to tell you about her magic, and how she changes patterns playfully, but first let’s go back nearly two weeks. Remember how I posted (here) about our upcoming visit from Guide Dogs for the Blind? I told you how a dog was pretty much the last thing on our “To Try” list on our fridge door, as a potential solution to my daughter’s terrible separation anxiety.
And, just so you know, it’s not that we don’t like dogs, it’s that our lives are so stressed that to expand our family in any way feels most daunting.
Well, that meeting went exceedingly well… in all ways but one. Our cats were fine (less upset by a dog visiting than regular vacuuming), our daughter enjoyed herself, and the Community Field Representative from Guide Dogs for the Blind thought we were ideal candidates to adopt what they call a Career Change Guide Dog (a dog that fails to become a guide dog for minor reasons and instead becomes a pet for a visually impaired child). In fact, we had to ask Peaches, who’d made herself comfy, to stand up so the dog could leave.
They noted we’d require a dog that could function as a pillow.
However, as the rep, the dog trainer and the dog left our house, I realized that I’d been coughing/clearing my throat quite a bit, and that my breathing wasn’t as relaxed as usual. I suddenly felt disjointed. Here was a wonderful opportunity to get a highly trained and less than two year old dog - HERE WAS THE PATH OUT OF OUR PREDICAMENT and my LUNGS were sabotaging THE WAY TO FREEDOM.
I tried to think rationally: I was not wheezing, I was wheezy. I was not out of breath, but merely uncomfortable. It didn’t last long, maybe an hour. It didn’t escalate. It was niggling. Asthma? Allergies? I still don’t know. I’ve lived with a dog before with no problem, but I’ve also felt this gook-in-my-lungs sensation before around a couple of dogs and I didn’t (and don’t know) what this means for us.
So there I was, disheartened and confused, and still deliberating if I could even meet the needs of a dog. I decided not to come to any conclusions, but made plans to spend time with a dog that had bothered my breathing slightly in the past, to see what happened. I tried NOT to think about how much my daughter probably would benefit from a canine buddy.
You know how trying NOT to think about something goes, right?
Our appointment with the new therapist, Rebecca, soon followed. We haven’t been working with her for very long – this was the fourth time we’ve talked, I believe, and I was expecting her to listen fabulously, as she always does, but I wasn’t expecting a flurry of new ideas. Yet that’s what I got. I found myself scribbling her suggestions down. These were tactics I would have never thought of, and strategies she came up with based on things I felt like I was mentioning purely in passing, truly a testament to her listening and creative problem solving skills.
Along with the vision impairment and part and parcel of the sensory processing issues and separation anxiety, our daughter has difficulty with what child development specialists call transitions. These days it’s most noticeable transitioning from being with just me to being with both me and Daddy. And by “difficulty” I mean lots of screaming, hitting and throwing – just to clarify.
I’d mentioned to Rebecca that I was confused because Peaches is always happy to Skype with Daddy when he is at work or away travelling, but then she yells at him to go away when he returns home.
I also mentioned that Peaches always asked for Daddy five minutes after he’d gone for work, even though prior to that she wanted very little to do with him, despite my trying to explain, “Now is our time to play with Daddy. He has to go to work soon.” Rebecca nodded. (I figured she was letting me vent.)
Later, however, she asked us to try something that she admitted might sound ridiculous. She asked that we Skype in the morning before Daddy joins us in play, and again just before Daddy comes inside after work. She also asked Daddy to go away and come back, as playfully as possible whenever Peaches says “Go Away!” Finally, she said that when Daddy leaves for work he should go away, pop his head back in, go away, pop his head back in. My job, she said was to be as present as possible to experiencing Peaches’ feeling at these hard times for her.
The following morning we put our plan into action and, what do you know, IT WORKED! We skyped with Daddy before he came into the playroom and she was indeed ready to play! There was no yelling at all. Peaches then asked then to do a “family story”, which is something else Rebecca had taught us and which my daughter greatly enjoys. (These are stories to try and help her integrate difficult experiences, told in a particular way, and they’ve become a favorite family activity!)
Heading out to work, my husband then pretended to forget all his things and came back for his keys, then his coat, then his bag before leaving for good. Peaches didn’t ask to go see Daddy after he’d truly gone. Later that evening when Peaches yelled “Go Away Daddy!”, he hopped away like a bunny, and hopped back. My daugher started trying to hop in her booster seat, and laughing. “Want Daddy to hop!” she yelled happily. I was relieved. My husband thrilled. The next morning, my husband rolled away from us in bed when Peaches yelled, and then he rolled back. She watched, curious, then suddenly rolled the other way, copying him. I cheered when they both rolled back.
Rebecca has found us quick, easy, FUN ways to improve our daily life. She is changing our patterns playfully.
Now, nearly two weeks later, I’ll ask Peaches, “Should we skype Daddy?” or if I don’t have my phone I say, “Let’s pretend to skype Daddy!” and we make-believe we are talking to him and EVEN THAT works to ease a transition. These methods make sense: we learn best by play, so teach children through play. Take advantage of happy associations. Slow down things that take longer to process. But I’d never have thought of any of those strategies on my own. Ever.
We have worked with many specialists in many different fields with Peaches. Yet this is the first time I’ve been really aware that I’m not just working with a specialist, I’m working with an expert. I feel like I can relax and, funnily enough, breathe more easily because we have her as a resource. For the first time in years, I actually feel taken care of, and as a mom to a child with so many needs, that in itself is huge.
So dog? No dog? We don’t know yet. I’ve been reminded that there is not just one solution to this problem. I’ve realized that my “To Try” list is not complete. There are things written on it in invisible ink, that Rebecca can show me, if I keep talking. So whether we’ll have an almost guide dog or not, we definitely have expert guidance, and for that I am extremely, extremely, grateful.
What? Chocolate is good for celebrations too.
EDITED TO ADD: My friend, Kate, asked what about NAET for your allergies/asthma to the dog? And, YES, what a great idea. I’ve done NAET for allergies many years ago. And maybe that’s why I’m able to own cats now. I’ll go see the practitioner again and ask him to test me and treat me for dog hair and dog saliva! I’m so glad Kate saw my post and wrote. Great suggestions always WELCOME! Thanks!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about natural dyes. Quilters sometimes use tea to stain their work to qive the quilt a vintage feel, this much I knew. A little on-line reading and I discovered that people even tea dye wedding garments with stunning results (See here for pics).
I decided to experiment on a very faded hoodie. This is not a regular ‘ol hoodie. It’s a fantastic hoodie from Prairie Underground, made from organic cotton in a style that I just love. It was a fairly bright red and years of repeated washing and drying turned it slightly pink.
In my reading, I learned that coffee can also be used to dye fabrics. Now, it’s NOT recommended that you dye fabric that has actually been worn as body oils and/or stains can affect how the second dye takes, but this was a top that I was ready to recycle….so I risked it. You also can’t dye man-made fabrics with natural dyes very successfully. So if you want to do some natural dyeing, scour your pile of clothing for Goodwill for 100% natural fabrics.
We don’t make coffee at home…so this was all I had, but it seemed an easy option!
The lighter the container, the better you can see the depth of color of your dye. (I learned this the hard way.)
Then I got my garment wet – completely saturated – with cold water.
I lifted the wet hoodie out of the sink; poured my dye in and swished it around with a little more water; then submerged my hoodie and stirred frequently, for twenty five minutes. This was all the time I had.
I took the hoodie out and gave it a rinse, squeeze, rinse..until the water ran clear.
Then I washed my hoodie in the machine with soap, and dryed it as usual.
Coffee dying can leave your hands smelling of, yup, you guessed it, coffee. Wear gloves or remove the odor with lemon! (Just be sure you don’t have any cuts on your hands.)
My hoodie then looked like this (and I regret not having photographed close ups of the fabric to illustrate color changes more clearly):
You can see it looks less pink-red and less faded, but I’d been hoping for it to be a bit more browned too.
Tired of the aroma of coffee, I decided to tea dye it as well!
I added boiling water to 50 tea bags in a large bowl and, separately, saturated my garment in cold water. I waited for the tea to brew, then mixed the tea with cool water and submerged my garment in the mixture for half an hour or so.
English breakfast tea has a red-brown color to it whereas coffee is just brown. Here’s a picture of my tea dye solution.
I gave it a rinse…then into the machine it went again.
And now it looks like this:
It’s just a touch warmer. Subtle change, yes, but just what I wanted! The hoodie’s been revitalized and the color suits me better. (It was originally a fairly bright red, which doesn’t suit my DW palettte (see From Her to My Season) or my JK palette (see A Truly Personal Palette: Part Three).
Bee Creative Studio’s blog post here has a great pic illustrating the difference between tea and coffee dying, and if I’d seen this post first I might have only done tea dying.
There are lots of natural items you can use to dye your clothing to unleash new life: berry juices, all kinds of teas…anything that stains!
I hope this post inspires you to try something new with something old. Let me know how it goes and if you’ve got tips to share too. Cheers Lovelies!
Would it be crazy to get a dog or would it be crazy to NOT get one? That’s what I’ve been asking myself lately.
We have tried many, many things to help our daughter sleep. On our fridge door, we even have a ”To Try” list that has, over the last couple of years, become primarily a “Have tried” list. We only have a few things left on that list. And the only one that doesn’t involve another supplement (which is incredibly difficult to mastermind getting past her lips) is getting a dog. That’s right. A dog. To help her sleep.
Well, I should say it would be to help her anxiety in general, and therefore her sleep as a result. For those of you that are scratching your heads at this point, animals can be very soothing, and for some people they can be truly therapeutic.
We have two cats and my daughter loves them. But our cats are not lap cats. They don’t stay still for long despite Peaches’ learned gentle touch. They can’t be trained to sleep with her or to go to her when she cries.
I’ve never owned a dog. I’ve never trained a dog. And, I feel quite enough responsibility in my life as is.
Remember my Why Peaches? page? I’ve never envisioned more than living with some plants (preferably succulents), let alone a husband, a child, two cats and a dog.
Still, we’ve tried everything else, it seems…and she does LOVE dogs.
A dog is a lot of responsibility. If a dog helps her sleep and find more self confidence and calm, then GREAT. But if it doesn’t, how much more will having a dog add to my levels of stress?
I already have a lot more going on than the average stay at home mom. And ANY mom will tell you they have TOO MUCH going on. Just in terms of sleep, it’s as though we’ve had a newborn for 39 months. I count myself fortunate if I get four hours of solid sleep at night, and if my daughter wakes only three times a night, that is FANTASTIC. But, sadly, it is a very rare occurrence. We’ve never had a good phase of sleep. Ever.
During the day, I need to watch her more closely – much more closely, than you would a fully sighted child. (To understand her vision impairment, read my earlier post, Visual Expectations and my more recent post, Navigating the World.) I go to a playground with her where a Moms of Multiples group meets with their kids who are all a year younger than my daughter. Most of those moms are standing around by the benches chatting. I’m on the playstructure (or right next to it) holding my daughter’s hand as she goes up steps and down slides. I’m watching for kids running fast who might inadvertently scare her or collide with her, as she can’t see them coming.
Even at home, she needs more attention. She’ll slide on a jigsaw puzzle piece she doesn’t see at her feet or trip over a toy. She broke her arm at 18 months, crawling out of a box with me in the same room. Her vision is good for being visually impaired, but it’s still a hazard.
Her sleep is so bad that I have to walk her to sleep to get her down for a nap. Because she is so sensitive to light, walking her to sleep looks like this:
At night time, I have to hold her hand and with the other arm, stroke her to get her to sleep.
At around six months, she slept for five hours. That only happened once and I thought it was because teething had started. We tried homeopathic teething tablets that many moms swear by. No luck. We tried western over the counter drugs. No difference.
We tried sleep training at 14 months, with a specialist assisting us. NOTE TO OTHERS: Sleep training should work in three to seven days. If it does not, STOP! Our “specialist” seemed not to know that, and we persisted for a month under the delusion the problem was teething (even with drugs). Gulp.
We then realized – with the help of a neighbor who used to work with visually impaired children – that Peaches also has Sensory Processing Disorder. This greatly impedes the ability to self soothe, and therefore sleep. We worked with an amazing OT and had much success with everything but sleep. Then we saw a doctor who diagnosed the Separation Anxiety as the cause of her poor sleep. (See my post Suddenly Skydiving for how this manifests in our waking and sleeping life.)
We’ve done months of child/family therapy and have also tried, over the last few years and, in no particular order (because, what, you think I have any sort of memory left???): different sleeping arrangements, elimination diets to check for food sensitivities, homeopathy, melatonin, aromatherapy, various night lights, various pajamas/blankets, dropping her nap, a beanbag bed, a weighted blanket, joint compressions, chamomile and other herbal infusions, Feldenkrais, introducing a pacifier….I’m sure I’m forgetting things….We even had a Feng Shui consultant assess our bedrooms.
One day, determined to find out if something else was really WRONG that we were missing, I dared to look up something I’d seen advertised on a poster at the medical school I used to work at: a sleeping disorder that is fatal. I figured I should at least consider it, right? Thankfully, fatal familial insomnia did not fit at all. It starts in middle age.
As for me, and years worth of very disturbed sleep, my short term memory is most affected. I’m faring pretty well, I think. Though I have no idea how my adrenals are coping. And I imagine I must be reducing my life expectancy. I try not to think about that. I try to think, instead, about how I have so much more stamina than I ever imagined.
I, myself, have suffered since an early teen from what most people would call insomnia, and what others call polyphasic sleep. In university I’d wake after four of hours of sleep routinely and use the quiet time to write my essays, then go back to bed for a few more hours before dawn. It worked well for me during those years, and many first drafts of my blog posts are actually written in the middle of the night too. So, yes, I have my daughter’s sleep disturbances and my own to contend with. Although, I am inclined to think my decades of insomnia/polyphasic sleep have served to prepare me for this most trying time!
A dog would also help encourage Peaches to walk outside where terrain is uneven. At the beach, she’ll sit and play, but not run or even walk around of her own accord. Beaches are one of the hardest things for visually impaired children to navigate because of the glare and because depth perception really helps to navigate sand!
Incidentally, this wouldn’t be just any dog. It’d be a dog that has failed to become a guide dog. Sometimes they have skin allergies, sometimes they are too social, sometimes…well, there are a lot of reasons a dog might not make it to become a guide dog. Of these “flunkees”, as I affectionately call them, the dogs deemed best for becoming a child’s companion go into a K9 buddy program, becoming pets for children who are visually impaired (but not to the degree that they need a guide dog for navigating).
It’s quite a process. We applied maybe five months ago. In the last few months, I’ve talked with three separate people in Guide Dogs for the Blind: the outreach coordinator, the dog trainer and the child specialist. They do not have dogs lined up waiting to give away. If they see your family’s case as being a good fit and your home suitable, then you wait for the “right dog” to become available.
The dogs are well trained. I need that. There is no way I could train a dog at this point in my life, or learn to find the “right” type of dog from a shelter. Otherwise, I’d adopt, I promise.
The people that I have spoken with all agree Peaches is an ideal candidate. They told me a story about a family who had not slept through the night in a year that got a dog and the visually impaired son started sleeping through the night THE VERY FIRST NIGHT. Of course, they said they can’t promise that sort of response but said that they believed the cumulative effect of the dog’s presence would be wonderful for her. Their concerns are the immediate impact on me, and on our cats who’ve never had a dog in their home. They emphasize they want the dog to help the family, not just one individual (unless there is then a knock-on effect).
So, they are coming tomorrow with a dog. Not our dog. A dog. It’s for us to see how our cats respond and for them to see what qualities would be ideal in a dog for Peaches. I’m excited, but also a little worried – mostly about our cats and if they freak out or/and then take out their fear on each other.
I’ll keep you posted. If we get a dog, I imagine things will be crazier for a while, then better sooner. That’s my best guess now. Maybe tomorrow’s meeting will change my mind.
My three year old daughter and I are learning to see better. Learning to see better probably sounds ridiculous unless you’ve done drawing classes. And, even in drawing class, I thought, “I can see! That’s not the problem! It’s my hand-eye coordination I need help with!”
Figure drawing – time allowed 2 hours
But learning to see better is also something you do if you are a color enthusiast (me)…or are visually impaired (my daughter). It’s about learning to use your vision as best you can. It’s about fine tuning HOW you see things. It’s about noticing more.
At greater than arm’s length, my daughter cannot see details. This is part of her vision impairment and can’t be fixed. But other things she sees incredibly well. Better than you or I, I’d argue. Yes, a visually impaired person seeing BETTER than you or I. And by seeing, I mean noticing.
Look at this photo, below. I’d pushed her into the store in a cart, she looked up and said, “Light’s not working.” I had to look. She’s right. One of the rectangular areas is half lit.
She sees colors well too, and is captivated by those that are reflective. “What is it?” I asked as she refused to budge from outside this house. ”Purple windows!” she said. (They’re not really, it was just the sky and time of day.)
But while light captures her attention greatly, and she quickly notices irregularities in expected color or the pattern, she struggles to see other things that are obvious to a fully sighted person. (Read Visual Expectations for a fuller explanation of her impairment and sight issues, if you like.) With the help of Vision and Orientation and Mobility specialists, we are learning to help her navigate the world, and color plays a bigger role than you’d think. She’s being taught to identify landmarks on regular routes: yellow signs at the bus stops and dark blue for mailboxes, for instance.
While she is physically learning to navigate the world (or at least our day-to-day world), I am, for pleasure, trying to improve my ability to navigate color in terms of achieving color harmony on the human body. I have been analysed as a Dark Winter (DW) in the 12 Seasons approach. (See here for that post.) And later I then went for a customized personal analysis with John Kitchener (JK). (See here, here and here for those posts.)
It’s been a couple of months since seeing JK, and I’ve had time to try out the different colors between the two palettes. There is a lot of overlap. A lot. Let’s start there. Excluding the white dot, which I should have covered, these are the Dark Winter colors that match swatches JK included in my customized palette. (But bear in mind, he never saw my DW palette. He hand selected these, holding swatches up to my face and hand, choosing from a couple thousand colors.)
My ring finger is purposely covering a dark olive green that JK did not include.
And these colors, below, are most of the DW colors JK did not put in. Can you see they don’t work with my skintone like those in the first picture? Photography is tricky and compounded by our monitors varying, but I think I managed to capture this or else I wouldn’t be sharing.
Of the icy DW colors, I only have the purple in my JK swatchbook.
Let’s look at me draped in, or in one case next to, some of these DW colors that JK did not include in my palette: the icy pink and yellow, the bright (for DW) pink, and the apple green.
My personal feeling is that the pinks are the worst on me. I will add that when my DW fan arrived, I had immediate qualms about that yellow-green page. But I thought I must just not know what works on me. And the bright pink (again, relatively bright) was the dot that scared me the most. I actually went and bought that little planner in the color to see if I could acclimatize to it, thinking maybe it was a psychological aversion. Nope.
He also didn’t include the dark olive green. I had bought a purse in that color, using my DW fan. I thought that color was ok – not a color I’d worn before, but I was eager to have “new” colors.
I don’t think it looks terrible or even overtly bad. But then, well, let’s look at me wearing an example of one of my “calm/eye” (as JK calls them) colors in a coat. This golden brown is nowhere close to being in the DW palette. It’s True Autumn territory, but, undeniably, it works.
These are my eye/calm colors. I’m supposed to wear them in refined textures like silk and velvet. They range from True to Deep Autumn.
Go back and look at the full length photo of me. Compared to the coat, the dark olive purse color feels heavy and dull, doesn’t it?
Let’s move through the rainbow now…
My JK reds stretch into True Winter red and include a True Spring coral. That latter was the only color that truly surprised me in my palette. Yet, here it is, followed by a comparison of my DW and JK reds, and me in True Winter red. (Edited to add: I’ll replace this pic with one that’s not over exposed asap!)
My JK yellows and a handful of the greens are more subdued than those in my DW palette, though at first glance they seem very similar. The yellows don’t seem to match a different Season better, they’re just less saturated. There is an icy grey green in my JK palette too, which seems to have the icy component of DW but using a Soft Summer green as the base color.
My lightest blue goes dusky in my JK palette. See that bottom blue print? It’s not clear in feel like the DW lighter blues. I don’t have those DW blues in my JK palette. I have yet to find that lightest of my JK blues in clothing, but comparing it to other fans, below, it seems Dark Autumn has the closest color (bottom right fan), then True summer (fan on top).
My purples, like my greens, go lighter, stretching into Summer. I wanted to include a photo of me in the dusky periwinkle (bottom left JK swatch above), but it came out too blue – it’s bluer above, than it is in real life too. It is just beautiful on, and I’d categorize it as an iced Light Summer color.
As for neutrals, JK gave me antique or oyster white, not a soft white of DW. And my JK palette includes a medium and dark brown.
So where does this leave me in my quest to navigate the world of Personal Color Analysis?
I think that the 12 Seasons approach is amazing in that it’s a SYSTEM that works incredibly well for many, many people. It has taught me so much about harmonious color palettes. BUT like any system, there are imperfections. I would definitely be better off with my DW fan than without any color analysis. But I’d rather have my JK colors over it.
I appreciate that JK’s approach is not limited by anything but what color works – firstly with the skin and secondarily with the eyes and (natural) hair color. I am a DW in the 12 Seasons system, yes, but are those my best colors? Well, yes, if we’re only considering the 11 other seasonal palettes.
When you draw, you have to get into a zone, like an athlete would. No words in your brain, just seeing, feeling, responding. JK works fast, selecting swatches and deciding yes or no. Even the swatches he puts back are very, very close to the ends of your range of a hue. He’s in that zone, seeing the color next to his client’s face and hand and responding. Like an athlete or an artist, he’s trained for hours to be able to do this on demand, going through many, many colors in any consultation. He’s a color pro, for sure.
Gesture drawing – time allowed 2 minutes
I’m realizing that to navigate the world of color harmony on humans, part of what I need to do is be able to enter that quiet place of JUST SEEING. Color analysis doesn’t need, as JK demonstrates, to include drapes. It can be done with small swatches near the person’s face and hand. And I wonder if this isn’t easier: to see the gestalt, and not get distracted by details of shadows under the chin or eyes. I can’t say for certain, of course, this is just my thinking thus far. It probably says as much about how I work best as it does about any approach to color analysis.
I’m also convinced that to really create your most harmonious effect with a 12 Season palette, you need to use it to develop your understanding of color harmony. Which colors in your seasonal palette are your best? Which don’t work as well? (There shouldn’t be that many because it’s a good system!) What if you tweak these less good colors? Lighter, darker, brighter, less bright? Should some simply be discarded? And, also, which colors from other palettes have you seen work on you? Learn what you should look like – in your best colors, then create your refined 12 Season palette. I don’t think this is easily done, by any means. No, I think you should go see an expert, like JK if you can! I am just saying that this, in my opinion, would be the ideal refinement of a 12 Seasons fan.
JK doesn’t keep client records with photos of the individual’s face and hand and the colors in their swatch books. I wish he did and his database was open for study! I’d want to look at the clients who straddled seasons more than I do (because there are plenty of these people, I know), and study their coloring, then evaluate the 12 Season philosophy with that knowledge, because I trust JK’s eye/swatch choices.
I’d also love to have a whole bunch of DWs (or any season) go see JK to see if the 12 Seasons system could be further refined, but still be a system. For instance, do darker skinned DWs get icy colors in their palette? Do more autumnal DWs get the true DW olive and apple and cooler DWs not?
Could 12 Season trained analysts add eye color to a client’s color recommendations? I am so grateful I know mine and want those who have 12 Seasons fans to know theirs. But this, in my opinion, seems almost the hardest selection for JK to do. I could be entirely wrong…but I’d have never guessed my eye colors went so golden. These are my musings as I learn to navigate color.
Meanwhile, Peaches is learning to NOT focus on color or lights, but to scan.
This was the first toy she showed any affection for – and knowing what we do now about her vision it makes total sense.
Last week we went to our local playground with her Vision and Orientation and Mobility specialists for a mock Easter egg hunt. All the treasures were “hidden” in full view, on the play structure that is no wider than fifteen feet. Another little girl at the park ran over to see what was in the goodies, investigating each one. Peaches did not see anything out of the ordinary. She was relying on her visual memory. ”Look down. No. By your foot. Is there a toy?” the specialist would say. Peaches would look down at her shoe, seeing nothing special. “By your other foot,” the specialist would urge.
At the end of our time playing the “game”, Peaches had improved, looking down at the ground or on ledges for toys. She learned what her goal was, and focused as well as a three year old can.
I wonder, is she, too, entering the zone to see better? And, seeing light and color “more” than the rest of us, would color analysis come more easily to her?
She is quite the sidewalk chalk artist.
I’ll keep writing as I learn more about color analysis and investigate other systems and approaches. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially from others who have 12 Season and JK swatchbooks.
Do comment below and share your thoughts!
A few weekends ago, I came down with the flu. It hit, as it does, fast and furiously and I could do little more than lie in bed. This was the first time in a few years I’d been that sick and Peaches was quite thrown that I needed to stay in bed during the day. The experience was new to her and she does NOT like new. (See Suddenly Skydiving for more about that.) She crawled on top of me, stroked my face and said, “Now you’re better.” I told her how I wished I were, but that she needed to go play with Gram for a bit so I could rest. She clung to me, desperately.
Gram sat on the other side of the bed, and talked to Peaches, reassuring her that I would be fine and that I just needed to lie down for a bit. Eventually Peaches let go of me enough so that Gram could pick her up. With natural remedies to support my body and quiet to soothe my mind, I slept.
So what do I, a trained homeopath, take when I am sick with a cold or the flu? What do I do for sore throats and headaches? What about other aches? Do I only take homeopathic remedies?
Remember how I did a post on my favorite green makeup (here in Color Carefully)? Well, sharing my “feel better” remedies is just as exciting for me, a lover of complementary medicine! There are so many great products out there that naturally support your immune system and are non-toxic to your system.
Ok, first, let’s back up. PREVENTION. I’ll start with what I take every day: multivitamins and fish oils. I also eat well. (Mostly.)
I like Nordic Naturals for omegas, and Rainbow Light for multivitamins.
Then, AT THE FIRST SIGN OF COLD/FLU - this means when I have that first feeling that something’s not right, for instance, a scratch in my throat, a heaviness in my chest, a chill or the onset of sneezes – right then,
1) I take a dose of the homeopathic remedy Aconite in 30c and
2) about fifteen minutes later some Herbal Resistance Liquid.
This herbal mix includeds echinacea, goldenseal and yin chiao and more.
3) I also grab a glass of water and add some Vitamin C.
Ideally, you stop everything at this point and rest. (Not going to happen with a toddler!)
4) I make myself some non-caffeinated tea too, just to make sure I’m really hydrated. I’m a big fan of rooibos and I’m not sure many people know about it. It tastes similar to black tea and can be drunk with milk (dairy or non-dairy, but remember with colds it’s best to avoid dairy and wheat as they result in the production of more phlegm.) Different brands taste different, so keep trying them to find your favorite! This is mine.
Rooibos is sold in many stores, and you can find it in chai form too if you like a little spice in your tea.
5) I repeat the homeopathic aconite 30 c and the Wellness Herbal Resistance formula once or twice more that day.
Sometimes, that effort alone nips the sickness in the bud. Yes, really! I do need to remember to not push myself the next few days though or I’ll relapse.
If I get FULL BLOWN SICK,
1) I move onto these Wellness Formula tablets. (And I promise, I don’t work for Source Naturals or have any affiliation with them. I am just a huge fan.)
These contain vitamins, minerals and herbs like garlic, echinacea, elderberry and andrographis. Good stuff. Big pills.
2) I also take the appropriate homeopathic remedy in a 30c, if I have a striking symptom. (Homeopathy is great because it is individualized, but often colds and the flu are quite generic in symptoms.) For example, I would take Eupatorium for flu with body aches that feel deep in my bone; I do very well on Gelsemium if I have a cold with the sensation that my head is a bowling ball; and Hepar Sulph is my friend when I am unable to stay warm my illness, but need layers upon layers on. But often with a cold, I don’t take any homeopathic remedy beyond Aconite initially to attempt to ward it off.
There are many great basic introduction to homeopathy books out there, if you’re interested in learning. This is what the remedies at the health food store look like. At my closest store, they’re $6.99 a tube. They last indefinitely (though the FDA requires a use by date be put on them).
Some people like Oscillococcinum for flu symptoms. (You’ve probably seen the packages and wondered how on earth to say the name, as you’ve been waiting to pay for something at the store, right?) It doesn’t do anything for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help you. Homeopathy is very personal. At times, that makes it frustrating, but once you find the remedies you do really well on, it is WONDERFULLY reliable.
3) With a cold, I use a cold mist humidifier at night, sometimes adding a drop or two of essential oil like tea tree or eucalyptus. (I don’t add the EO if I’m taking a homeopathic remedy though as strong smells can antidote the right remedy.)
4) If you want to make a non-petroleum based alternative to Vicks Vaporub (in other words, more eco-friendly) use a spoonful of coconut oil or Alba’s Un-Petroleum Jelly and mix in a couple of drops of eucalyptus/peppermint oil. Apply to chest and upper back, then put on an old t-shirt in case in case the oil stains.
For a SORE THROAT/COUGH:
1) If you have a sore, sore throat that just HURTS or keeps you coughing, you NEED to try a throat coat tea. It’s amazingly soothing – so much more effective than any cough drop or cough syrup I’ve tried.
This is one brand. It tastes faintly of licorice and ginger, cloves and cinnamon, and contains an herb called Slippery Elm. Your throat will feel soft and happy again.
2) When I can’t have a cup of that handy, I have this Wellness Herbal Throat Spray with honey in it nearby – on the bedside table at night and in my purse in the day. It is SO nice to know what relieves pain and discomfort, isn’t it?
Much more often than colds and the flu, I get tension HEADACHES. Usually,
1) a hot bath with epsom salt does the trick.
2) Some might like to add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender oil. Personally, I much prefer rosemary over lavender. Go have a sniff of the oils at your nearby health food store and see what appeals. (And note, only a few essential oils can be put directly onto the skin. Buy a carrier oil if you want to use the oil for massaging onto your neck or body.)
3) I’ve also got this funny looking contraption that looks like a torture device but is the most lovely scalp massager! It’s like you suddenly have someone washing your hair at a salon when you use it. I never realize how much tension I have in my scalp until I’ve run it over my head for a few minutes. They are really inexpensive too.
(If you have curls, prepare for a frizzy, but headache-free head!))
I have an iron cauldron for a stomach and rarely get an UPSET STOMACH but if I do, 1) Ginger tea with honey is what I do for indigestion:
And if you do end up vomiting or with diarrhea,
2) Electro-Mix from the makers of Emergen-C is a good way to rehydrate.
I had Peaches at home, and as part of my homebirth supply kit I was to have Electro-Mix, for replenishing lost fluids and restoring the electrolyte balance. It’s very mild in taste, and not full of color and sugar like some other brands I could mention.
Finally, the Ow! of the title of this post refers to BRUISING. Arnica is the best thing ever to speed healing of bruised muscle. It’s also great for general muscle soreness such as from overexertion.
Tablets can be taken for after a fall/injury; cream can be applied directly to the area (not on open wounds though); and a gel exists for the face.
A few Arnica tablets (in 6 or 30c) can also be taken to help with sleep at night, if you can’t seem to get comfortable in bed.
Calendula tincture is nature’s wound healer. It speeds healing dramatically. Keep it around for cuts, scrapes and minor burns.
Calendula tincture was also in the homebirth supply kit, and if you can trust this to heal after having a baby, you can trust this with healing elsewhere on your body, right?
As for Peaches, she and Gram came back a couple of hours later, all smiles, with flowers, a balloon and a handmade get well card. My spirits lifted.
My homeopathy teacher used to say love was the best healer. Love is energy!
I thought everything with her was fine, but my sickness has set her separation anxiety back a bit. She was teary eyed as I left her at preschool the following couple of weeks and, one day, cried while I was gone. The teacher handled it superbly, and Peaches got back to playing happily soon after.
She has been talking a lot, and proudly, about how she “went to play with Gram when Mommy had to have a little rest” and how she cried at school because “something was a little different.” I didn’t enjoy the flu one bit, but I’m glad it gave her the opportunity to stretch her wings, even if it’s somethings she is still processing, weeks later. We all move at our own speed in healing. The important thing is to listen to our bodies (and our children’s bodies) and support them naturally in getting back to harmony!
Do you have any favorite tips or products you want to share? Post a comment, please!
Note: Some homeopathic remedies, including Aconite, are made from substances that taken straight would be toxic (in the case of Aconite Napellus, it is made from a plant called Monkshood). Homeopathic remedies are diluted many times, and made under strict guidelines in pharmacies. The remedies are so dilute, that very little, if any of the original substance is left. This is why homeopathy is referred to as a type of energy medicine, and this is why it’s criticized too. (How can it act if there’s nothing material in it? The essence of the original substance seems to remain.) The remedies themselves are entirely non-toxic. Once you’ve seen homeopathy work, you won’t doubt it any longer! For herbal medicines, always adhere to dosages on the bottle.
When I first moved back to San Francisco, I got off the bus one day after work and a man walked past me. A few footsteps behind me, I heard him stop. Then he turned around, walked the same direction as I was going and hurried past. A few more footsteps and he turned again, to face me.
I was starting to worry this was really not a good thing.
“I don’t suppose you remember where I parked my car?” he asked, half smiling, half frowning.
I love many things about San Francisco, including the people. And the delicious food. (Burmese, anyone?)
Another thing I love about this city are the houses. Look at the color of these houses! How cheery are these? (Bet you can’t help but smile!)
True Spring…and just so you don’t start thinking all houses here are painted yellow, more True Spring homes
I haven’t always lived in San Francisco, but spent the latter half of my childhood here, and it’s the only place I feel like I am from, and the only city in which I feel like I belong.
When I was thirteen, we moved to England. I associate red brick – endless, red brick (save for a few cities: Bath, Oxford and Cambridge) with England. I went to university in Scotland, and the red brick was replaced by large rectangular slabs of gray stone.
I missed many things about San Francisco during the ten years that I lived in the UK, but oddly enough, I never pinpointed missing color. It just seemed part and parcel of the city I adored. Or maybe it just didn’t seem like the sort of thing that was appropriate to miss?
Now, obsessed with color – primarily as it relates to working well or not on particular complexions, I pay closer attention to colors in all aspects of my life.
While my daughter is in preschool, I often use the time to walk. To be able to move unencumbered by diaper bag and stroller, and to be able to go at my own, naturally fast pace feels good. Really good. In a sort of walking meditation, I study paint colors, classifying buildings into the 12 Seasons. (For more info about the 12 Seasons approach of Personal Color Analysis, read From Her to My Season and Color Obsessed.)
There isn’t any point. It’s just for fun, for relaxation. There are many beiges and old, worn out paint jobs, that don’t lend themselves easily to my game, so I tend to focus on the more unusual hues and beautiful buildings.
My daughter being in pre-school is still relatively new. And also new – for the first time in my life, I have online friends. They are friends as obsessed as I am about color, hence I refer to them as my Color Friends.
Quiet and academic, I was never part of an athletic team or drama group. I didn’t play any instruments. My parents are different religions and we never went to church or synagogue. I also never had pen pals – people I didn’t know in real life as friends – as a kid. Yet, now, in my late thirties, I find myself part of an international online group – a group with a strong community vibe, a group that is like San Francisco, welcoming in anyone who comes along and makes themselves at home, and I love it.
I’ve met one Color Friend who lives in the area. I’m sure I’ll meet a few more over time. Though Color Friends talk of having a conference some day, I’m not sure who would host that and how many of us could actually go, but it’s not that we don’t want to meet. Some Color Friends met up in Prague a few weeks ago and others in NYC before that. And yet, though we are spread out by many miles, we do meet, most days, online – the Brits and Aussies drinking their tea, the Americans their coffee. Any time day or night, someone is up, posting about color.
Highlights of our posts and chats relate to Personal Color Analysis results for those in the community. We ask questions and offer congratulations about “finding your color home” in a way that I imagine only true color fans can understand. But I’ve been surprised and delighted to discover that we also celebrate birthdays and engagements; we track pregnancies, house moves and career changes; we honor anniversaries of those that have departed. We get assistance on salvaging bad haircuts and even venture completely away from color, discussing children and PhD thesis topics, too.
I am sure my Color Friends and our color chat fill a void. Married and raising a little girl who has made it hard for me to socialize (see Suddenly Skydiving for details ), I have missed female camaraderie. I used to live with fabulous women just off a street full of lovely boutiques. We could shop easily after work or on a weekend morning, and at home, we’d help each other figure out “what to wear.” It seems such an insignificant part of life in the grand scheme of things – shopping or planning an outfit for an occasion – but, I’m realizing, it’s often our smallest chunks of leisure time that makes life so sweet. So I am very happy to have a new group of women with whom to discuss clothing and jewelry, makeup and hairstyles, in pockets of time, as our days allow, always with a focus on understanding and achieving color (and hopefully style) harmony. That this group of intelligent women span several generations just adds to the mix.
Still, it is new to me, this business of having online friends. I admit, I’m not quite used to it. Other friends that live far away, I can picture, in their homes, either because I’ve visited or have seen photos. These Color Friends exist as photos on Facebook, with a few exceptions for those that I have heard and seen move, because they have made short videos to say hello to the group!
So while I walk, assigning Seasons to the buildings I pass, I find that I am also mentally housing my Color Friends, giving them a walled place to inhabit. Their Facebook profile name now marks their slot by the bell, and they are magically inside, moving around, not static like in their shared photos. In my “play”, I make them both more and less real simultaneously.
So, Color Friends reading this, this is where my mind goes as I wander the streets of the city I love. You all have homes here. I am grateful to have found such a brilliant, hilarious, supportive group in which to unwind and learn.
It’s fun and healthy and satisfying to find the places where we belong in life, isn’t it?