Saturday, February 25, 2017

Project Runway Junior - Final, Recap, Photos, Spoilers

Thursday night was the final episode of Project Runway Junior, Season 2. I had to wait a day for photos to come up, but finally have some to share. If you haven't watched the episode, you'll want to skip this post - THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT. For those clicking off here to return later, have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back on Monday. So ... here we go!

Four designers made the cut after Teiler was eliminated last week in a head-to-head with Hawwaa for the final designer spot. Although his designs were beautiful, they weren't edgy enough for the judges. So, even though Hawwaa's designs had often been called "juvenile", she was passed through to the final. Hurray for Mankato, Minnesota - LOL.

Here are the four six-outfit collections that were shown on the Runway for the final showing. See what you think about them. I'll tell you who won at the bottom of the post.

Izzy - Notice she's still wearing a sprout in her hair. She chose
the outfit with the red and white top and black pants for her
in-depth review piece. 

Izzy was a bit off the wall all season and did not make my final four, but the judges adored her. Her final collection was structured around the geometric color blocks and basic styles of athletic wear from the 1960's and 1970's. I liked her use of hot pink and orange, they were colors from my own youth and are back into popularity now. The full collection, however, left me uninspired and unimpressed.

Hawwaa - Always a little quirky, today she wore green lipstick with a matching
fuzzy coat.  To be honest, I don't even remember which outfit she chose
for her in-depth review with the judges. They were all so similar. 

Hawwaa is a local desiger for me, she lives just down the road, an hour or so from the Twin Cities. I always enjoyed her playful aspects and she is excellent at working with color blocks which can be very challenging. Her collection was based on the circus or carnival. She wanted it to be fun, but she bordered on kid's designs with a few choices.

Chris - Chris brought the piece second from the left for his in-depth
review piece, but the items that really wowed the judges were the
top and pant on the far left and the dress second from the right. 

Chris was still mixing prints, but on the runway, it really worked. There were certainly a few throw-aways in the collection, but as a whole, I really liked it. I was pretty impressed with the various top-stitching and cut-out designs he made for this collection.

Chelsea - Time management is a problem for her, as is actually pinning
something down and running with it. The little red leather dress was a
stunner, but the piece that she brought for review was the white lace with
black bottom dress. Call me unimpressed. It really didn't fit well. 

Chelsea was still all over the place. She has real problems making up her mind and she flutters like a wind vane in a stiff breeze. I did like her mixes of fabrics - leathers, patterns, sheers and lace. The dress she was wearing was also really cute and her own design. She wore it for her 8th grade graduation (she's now a 10th grade student).

So who won? The photos are in reverse order. Izzy got 4th place, Hawwaa won 3rd. It came to a decision between Chris and Chelsea and the judges awarded the win to Chelsea. I don't know anyone who looked at the collections and thought the judges made the right decision. We seemed to all be on Team Chris. But, it is as it is. The judges have spoken.

It was a fun season. These young designers have sewn their way up to future employment and to schools of their choice for design degrees. I think it was a fun season and there were some very talented and gifted designers who may yet set the fashion world on edge.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dodging the Bullet

We so totally dodged the bullet with this storm. It ended up tracking south, so even though the Twin Cities probably did get some snow, it wasn't a lot. Me? ... I got ZERO. (At least so far.) A second run will be passing through later this morning and I might see some snow from that ... but maybe not. All I know for sure is when I awakened and went to check the outdoors to schedule shoveling into my morning, my grass was still brown - no white in sight! Call me VERY happy!

We missed it all. Not a single snowflake so far, although there
is still one chance for snow over the mid-day hours today. 

I think this is either the second or third major storm this winter that we barely dodged. If it ended up missing the Twin Cities entirely, we won't have had any snow here since a trace on February 1st. That's absolutely unheard of in the Frozen Northlands, but I'll take it! Of course March is coming and it's always one of our snowiest months, but right now, I'm extremely pleased.

There's nothing like a single snowflake. Each one is unique and
beautiful. I'd much rather appreciate their beauty in the individual,
rather than as part of an aggregate. 

Last night was the finale of Project Runway Junior, and I'm hoping to have some pictures for you tomorrow. The four designers - Izzy, Hawwaa, Chris and Chelsea - presented six-outfit collections on the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing) runway. The audience comprised former Project Runway contestants, earlier competitors who had been voted off, family members of each finalist, and a variety of prior guest judges. Alyssa Milano, judge and hostess of Project Runway All-Stars, visited the workroom to give the designers a pep talk, and Georgina Chapman also gave them a "rah rah" talk via a digital transmission. The kids just designed, sewed and stressed. I didn't agree with the winner this time, but I could see why the judges went the direction they did.

I love the delicate needles on this flake. The flake isn't perfect and
doesn't match exactly on all six arms, but that's part of the charm
of nature's fantastic geometry in ice. 

So I'm off to celebrate Friday with a snow-free drive to the gym and then to work. I'm hoping the snow line was south of my shop too, but no guarantees. If it was, I won't have to shovel at all! Huzzah. Have a wonderful Friday and, as I said above, I hope to have pictures of the final collections for Project Runway Junior in tomorrow's blog, if the cyber goddess of fashion is kind to me.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter Storm Quid is Coming

I'm looking at my calendar and it says today is the 23rd of February. Then I'm looking at my unread email list which usually increases by about 100+ a day and the last entry posted is from February 21st. Something is seriously wrong and I guess I'll have to spend some computer time at the shop trying to fine tune and get things back up and running properly. What a PITA. Still, I suppose it could be worse. No ... not really. I rely on my email and my LJ to keep in touch with my friends. So no. Right now this comes under the heading of Not A Good Thing.

I rely on email and usually get 100-200 on an average day. I can
whip through them quickly, but they actually have to be in my
in-box for me to do that. *sigh*

Assuming I can get that fixed, I'm going to enjoy this final day of our very unseasonable and very early Spring thaw. By the time I leave the shop tonight the rain will be falling and it will turn to snow overnight. The predictions are ranging from 6"-18" of snow by Saturday, so I'll be shoveling and DH will be snowblowing. If it has stopped snowing by Saturday, he'll be pulling snow off the roof Saturday morning. Darn, I was really hoping we managed to dodge the bullet on this storm, but it looks like it's put us right in the bulls-eye.

Winter Storm Quid will cut straight across Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa
and Minnesota before going to Wisconsin and Illinois. We'll get snow -
a lot of it, because we're in the deeper blue directly north of that bright pink. 

Today is still warm, though, and no snow boots necessary. I'm reveling in that. We're living in the Frozen Northlands. Snow at this time of the year is expected and normal. What we've had these past two weeks is massively abnormal but it was wonderful. It's been a lot of fun having winter temperatures in the 60's, but it couldn't last. So bring it on, Winter. We know you well and we can handle you even though we'll grump and curse when we are trying to get to work on Friday.

Here's our winter storm names for this winter season. The one we're getting
now is Winter Storm Quid. We still have a few to go before running out
of alphabet, but it's only February. March is one of our snowiest months. 

Short and sweet today. I hope each of you has a wonderful Thursday. A shout-out to my friend Just Ann Now who sent me a beautiful greeting card featuring a covered bridge from her part of the country. It's just stunning and totally brightened my day. I'll be back here tomorrow, same bat time, same bat place.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In One Ear and Out The Other

In one ear and out the other. How often have you thought instructions or words were just bouncing off the person you were speaking to? How many times have things been repeated over and over again and either occur again, or are never put into action at all? Sometimes it's like hitting your head against a brick wall, other times you're suffocating in a sea of "yes" that actually mean "no" or even worse, "whatever". *Sigh*

I'm usually pretty forgiving about errors, but I won't
allow things that might make a customer uncomfortable or
that might cause a customer to second-guess their shopping
experience with us. 

When mistakes are made over and over again, and they are little mistakes, or things that only impact you, it's not a big deal. When they are mistakes that impact others, it can become a big deal indeed. Did you know that most stores have a cushion of cash that they allow when closing out registers for the night? Your larger stores that have central cash-out areas or purchasing areas located within each individual department, often allow a small percentage error when settling their cash receipts at the end of the day.

Do you think about the other side of any sales transaction?
At the end of the day, that cash drawer must balance against
the register recap and the transaction terminals. 

It's a minor amount, usually 1%-2% total, but in a busy store, that small percentage can add up to $100 or more within a department or on a sales floor of your large department stores. As a small business, I insist on 100% accuracy. I don't have a cushion percentage. My allotment for error is $0 and staff pays from their own pockets if they make an error on a cash sale. Credit transaction changes are a bit more challenging.

It's common sense that the actual amount owed for any
transaction will include whatever applicable sales
tax the city or state requires. In our case, it's an add-on
of 7.265% for state, city and transportation taxes assessed
to each sale. It's automatically calculated and added to
the subtotal owed by the customer. 

Yesterday evening when I settled for the night, I was off less than $6. It's not a major amount, but it happened because my co-worker charged the credit card based on the subtotal of the sale instead of the total. That meant that the sales tax hadn't been added to the charge, even though the itemized receipt and the cash register screen would have stated the larger amount. The cash register EOD tape and the charge terminal amount collected didn't match. That was a problem.

It's not easy to make a change to a credit card charge amount. In today's world of extra security, I can't just go in and adjust the amount the way I used to be able to do many years ago. I had to phone customer service and they had to retrieve the credit card information. Then, with their assistance, I was able to change the amount charged to the correct total. The customer was charged the correct amount (the amount on their itemized sales receipt) before I settled the daily batch, but changing it was time consuming and totally unnecessary.

I hate confrontation, and I hate having to discuss things
that have been discussed before. I know what the
reaction probably will be, and I'm just NOT in the mood.
My customers come first, though. Accuracy is imperative. 

I've discussed this problem with my associate several times in the past, the last time within the past three months. Avoiding this is a simple fix - push the TOTAL key on the cash register before finalizing the sale to show the total amount owed on the screen. She didn't do that and it caused a mess. I'm hoping the customer won't be coming back asking why the amounts are different, it's embarrassing to have to explain an error like this. I don't like my customers to be uncomfortable or hesitant about any transactions they have at my store.

Something's affecting her attention span. It's time
to get her head back into the game. 

I'm upset with my co-worker. She knows better. She's worked for me for more than twenty years and has done thousands of sales. Lately her head hasn't been in the game and I'm not sure why. I guess it's time for another chat, and I'm really unhappy about having to do that. Routine can become rote. It's time to wake up.

I hope your Wednesday is fabulous and fantastic. I'm going to try and get some work done on my story for "Revolution" today. I'm within the story line, know where I want to go with it, but don't want it to be massive, so some serious changes in direction are mandated. But first, the gym and the pool. Yippee!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fashion and Gender Stereotypes

I'm at a loss today. I wanted to share fashion from NY Fashion Week, but ick! Lots of really unwearable styles that only a Kardashian could or would wear, street slouch without much appeal, and it seems that the bra has become the new everyday top. Well, maybe in New York if you're very skinny and under 25, but not here in the Midwest when you're fighting to keep a reasonable weight and are over 60. Bah humbug! I want someone out there who will design for a real person - the working girl of 30-50 years of age, the overweight person who can't find fashion anywhere, or the girl who doesn't go clubbing the moment she steps out of her job in the Financial District. Who buys these fashions anyway?

Here are some selections from Alexander Wang. Note - if you're not less than
115 pounds and under thirty years of age, you won't look good in these! 

Women get down and dirty. They're cops, cowboys and firefighters. They're all of those jobs that were usually illustrated by males in the storybooks I read as a child. Sure, women are nurses, teachers and mothers. But they're also garbage haulers, miners, and astronauts. I can't think of many, if any, jobs that are traditionally performed by men that cannot and are not also being worked by women.

Blend these together and you have a real person of any sex. All people can
be hurt emotionally, can weep in grief, can be analytical and can be nurturing. 

Fortunately there's cross-over the other way too. There are Mannies, not jut Nannies. There are male bank tellers, food waiters, teachers, nurses and receptionists. Motherhood isn't restricted to women; although men haven't managed to actually give birth, motherhood or the act of mothering is an important aspect of parenthood. Those sexual stereotypical lines drawn in the sand when I was a child have blurred and are disappearing. Thank goodness!

Gender stereotypical advertising like this was common when I was
growing up. Women were at home (although some had outside jobs) and
they were also responsible for all of the housework and child-rearing. 

There are still geographical or religious pockets where men's jobs are men's and women's jobs are women's, even in this country of job equality. Those barriers are breaking down and crumbling more and more every day. Still, although I want job equality, I also know that men are usually stronger, often taller, and also often faster than women in many situations. So, if given my choice, and while I'll still envy the ease with which the guys swim in the lane next to me, I'll be happy to have more males than females in the fire department and police department, and I'll leave most of the armed forces in active combat positions to men. However, I want to see women in all of those positions too.

Do I really care about who is wearing the uniform? Hell no! I want someone
wearing it who can perform the job. Man or woman - no difference. If my house
is on fire, I want someone putting that fire out who knows how to do it best. 

So here's to sexual diversity - male, female, and the many stages in between the extremes and stereotypes. Let's celebrate our differences and emphasize our similarities. Let's admit that we're all people who deserve equal respect and opportunity.

Face Off is on tonight, so I'm a happy person. Have a wonderful Tuesday, and remember to spread some kindness today.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Success, Failure and Origami

Sundays are a day off for both DH and I. I usually sleep in, shower, make breakfast and then we each settle in to our chosen task of the day. Yesterday's task was cleaning - we've been trying to get some housecleaning done each Sunday. DH pulled apart the headboard and drawers in the upstairs bedroom to spray for ants - yes, we're still having a ant problem *sigh*. I decided that the downstairs shower needed a serious scrub, so tackled that. We were both successful - in a way,

Since I'm discussing Origami later in this blog, I
decided to illustrate with origami forms. Here's
the standard crane. DH can fold one, but I'm
absolutely hopeless at it and have never made
a successful crane. 

The shower walls and glass door scrubbed clean beautifully, but when it came to the sill there was a problem. There's a section of the sill that has always been weak - it has fallen apart many times in fact. The latest grout had disintegrated a few years ago, leaving open the back side of a few small tiles. They chose yesterday to fall off the sill completely. DH will reglue and grout them into place later this week, but that means a week of showers in the upstairs bathtub for him. I'm relieved that I use the showers at the gym every day anyway, so I won't be affected until next Sunday, if at all.

A step up from the crane is the dragon. I couldn't
resist putting him here because he's ... he's
a dragon and it's well documented that
I adore dragons. 

DH's clean in the corner of the bedroom was pretty thorough. He pulled out drawers and moved the headboard's end unit completely out to allow access for vacuuming and spraying ant spray where he thinks they are travelling up from the ground level. After replacing the furniture and drawers, and airing the room out for a while, he declared himself satisfied and we continued with the remainder of the afternoon.

I am totally in love with this origami mastodon (or is it
a mammoth)? Either way, he's really quite beautiful. 

BUT last night while watching TV, an ant crawled up onto the wall on his side, near where he had just cleaned a few hours before. He was NOT happy. From the sounds after I went to bed, there were at least two more ants that ventured out to meet their death by his hand. So, in essence, our cleaning was only somewhat successful - we still have an ant problem and we have to reset and regrout some tiles in the bathroom shower. Great intentions did not, in this case, lead to great results.

The moose is by Robert J Lang, an acknowledged master of
origami. He used a single piece of paper and folded this in
2002. It stands six inches tall. Those horns are outstanding! 

I hope your weekend was a bit more successful. I know that these were only minor setbacks, but they certainly came under the heading of "frustrating"! On a positive note, we watched a rebroadcast of Nova last night about Origami (thanks for the recommendation, Shirebound!). It was excellent, so I decided to illustrate today's blog with origami forms. I'm rather hopeless at origami, fortunately I have other skills - LOL. It's Monday, so have yourself a good start to the week.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Disjointed Meandering Through the Colors of My Mind

Is it silly to awaken on Saturday morning but only think about sleeping in on Sunday? Usually I'm pretty used to my crazy schedule - I've been an early morning riser since my college days and I just kept pushing it earlier and earlier rather than later and later. Now I get up at 3:15 am during the week and 4:00 am on Saturday so that I can write my blog, check my emails, and get to the gym when they unlock the door. If I'm in the pool at 5:05 am (6:05 am on Saturday), my day gets off to a good start and the pool isn't super crowded until after at least 30 minutes of swimming. Still, I love the fact that I allow myself to sleep in on Sunday mornings.

I wake up really early, but I enjoy early mornings. I get my quiet time, sometimes
I write a little fiction,. I search for photos, write my blog, and slowly
wake up in time to leave the house 90 minutes later. 

I love seeing the sun rise. When I sleep later, I feel as if I'm missing the best part of the day. I also love seeing the sun set, but since I'm usually still stuck at work when that happens or I've already arrived home and am inside, I miss the incredible beauty of the light, the colors and the paintings that are made by the sun's rays and the clouds. Sunrises are usually a bit less strident across the skies - they can have the orange and pink coloring, but more often are a gentle progression through the pastels - faint yellow through to blue or grey.

I love a gentle sunrise although the bold colors of some sunrises are beautiful.
Even though sometimes the sunrise can be brilliant orange to
scarlet colors, I prefer the gentle rose through yellow to blue
ranges that often happen in our winter months. 

The colors of the sky are reflected in jewelry and ornamentation, household effects, paintings and clothing through the years. It appears that this year's fashion clothing will be lots of fringe, jewel-tone colors (think Byzantine for the colors - emerald, sapphire, ruby, all set in gold). To break the glitzy monotony, there were splashes of bold colors in olive green, neon orange and hot pink. Dark backgrounds with lots of shimmery fabrics are everywhere. There were some really pretty things on the runway at New York Fashion Week, but none of them will find their way into my closet. I love fashion but don't have any reason to wear gowns like these. I'm basically a denim and sweatshirt kind of gal.

I have this purple swimsuit along with one in
royal blue. It was hard to turn down, it's a style
I love and the two together were less than $40. 

I did indulge in a new swimsuit, though. I asked Santa for two new suits for Christmas, DH told me to buy them and give him the bill. They weren't expensive, and they'll get me through this year's pool days. I indulged earlier this week, the purple one is now getting daily use.

Disjointed thoughts are all I'm writing today. Good thing I'm not writing
any of this for a story. 

So what a meander through my disjointed thoughts this morning. The only thing pulling all of it together is color, and since I love color, I guess that'll work for me. Have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back on Monday, hopefully with a more coordinated blog post.