Friday, January 20, 2017

Lighting Up the Runway - LED Lights in Fashion

Secret deodorant sponsored this week's challenge - a Stress Test for the modern day woman. The finished items had to use LED lights wires in them as the focal element totally embracing and enhancing the design. With a budget of $350, the young designers should have been able to go a bit crazy on their material choices, but I was unimpressed with the finished designs.

Returning to the studio they found bins of LED light strips and coiled LED wires in many colors to add to their garments. This should be way fun, right? Tim introduced Maddy Maxey, an LED programmer who worked with Zac Posen on his LED designs. She was available for consulting for the entire day. I have a suspicion she worked pretty hard by the time these young designers got their designs mocked up. Since there was only a single day for the challenge, advice from an expert could have proved crucial.


Cartier, Chelsea and Allie were declared safe, leaving six designers. Here are some of their designs for you to look at:

Chris, per usual, had totally unmatched items, but used
the lighting well. 

Chris seems unable to really put an ensemble together, but he used the lights well, down the pant legs and throughout the jacket on which he used only red LED lights. The lights actually made the outfit combine into a wearable. Without the lights it would have been a hot mess.

Hawwaa - I wish I had a photo of Hawwaa's outfit, but couldn't find one to share. Maybe that's because it was horrible and really boring, poorly put together, a disaster of design, and basically just bad. I don't know who she's designing for, but right now she's a one-trick pony holding on by a very slim thread.

A'kai's design wasn't bad, but it was very poorly made
and just didn't make the grade. 

A'kai made some poor decisions this week. His use of the lights was actually really good, and the gown design wasn't bad, but his choice of a sheer fabric meant the wires were visible and he spent too much time figuring out where the battery packs should go and not enough time actually stitching the dress. It was raw and unfinished. He needs to learn to prioritize better, but he's very young - only 13 years old.

Teiler made a skeleton of a dress. It was an interesting concept. 

Teiler did the skeleton of a dress - the marks that designers follow and use to design an outfit. For each line used on a mannequin, he hand-stitched an LED light. I actually loved his concept, but it didn't come across well on the Runway, and he did nothing at all on the back. The dress fit beautifully, though.

Izzy's outfit was horrid - a skirt outlined in poorly-chosen
LED lights, topped by this "branded" jacket featuring
her name and her sprout. 

Izzy's outfit was a real mess. The judges "loved" that she branded herself on her jacket, but I thought it was a juvenile act that didn't really work well. Then again, it is Project Runway Junior and the designers are all juvenile in age. But call me super unimpressed with her design this week.

Molly - She played it safe but it was cute. 

Molly designed a sassy dress accented with pink LED lights around the neck, passing in an arc down the dress to the hem. She wove the lights into her fabric, allowing for exact placement in the design. It was really cute and well made.

Who won and who lost? The winner, barely, was Chris who was absolutely astounded and then bear hugged by Teiler. The loser? Dear A'kai was sent packing once again. He was so upset that he let Tim down since he had been saved in an earlier episode by Tim Gunn's "save". But, as Tim reminded all the designers, it is a competition and someone will be sent home every week.

We're heading into the final eight now, and there are no more immunities or saves of any kind. We've weeded out the weakest designers and now it's time for these young kids to let their skills show. I apologize that I didn't have all of the designs available for you to see, but this challenge was a bit of a "yawn" also. I was disappointed with most of the designs, although I like the concept of lighted fashions.

Enjoy your Friday and try not to throw things through your televisions if you watch the Inauguration. Chickie is taking tomorrow off to participate in the Women's March in Saint Paul, and I have other friends who are on their way to Washington DC to participate in the larger national Women's March on Saturday. I'm just going to hope that things won't be horrible over the next few years, but we made our beds and have to live with the consequences, one day at a time.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Domestic Cards -- A Celebration In Color and Foil

I'm feeling much better now, so I'm back on track. Last week I shared the international holiday cards I had received. Today, I'm taking a break from the 365-day meme to show some of the lovely domestic cards that I got from friends near and far. So here we go ...

International - Netherlands - Rhapsody11
There are glittery jewels along the sides of this lovely
card, as well as bits of glitter throughout the
tree. She said that her daughter chose it for me
because I make jewelry. It was the perfect choice! 

First - one international card that arrived too late to get it into the last card post. This beauty from Rhapsody in the Netherlands touched my heart when she said her daughter chose it specially for me. Hugs and many thank you's to you and your daughter!

California - Pam and Jim

Pam (Poo) and I have known each other for many years. We've roomed together at Bead & Button shows for more than ten years, and we've taught each other many aspects of craft and skill. I blame her totally for my diving into metal clay. I'm sure I was equally bad to her in other aspects of craft. She hand-made this gateway opening card with embossed and embellished panels and an oriental opening cover. Just lovely!

California - Shirebound

Shirebound, my long-time friend in California, gave me Monet! This wonderful winter landscape entitled "The Magpie" is evocative and so wonderful. Every time I look at it I see new things. What a perfect choice! 

Florida - Tinnean

Switching coasts to Florida, this wonderful and whimsical card came from Tinnean. It is a softly foiled background with silver foil words and colored foil embellishments, which of course doesn't come through well in a scan. But it's lovely, and sparkly, and asks the perfect question. I've never had the answer to this question, so I've never quite mastered the whole 'growing up' thing. 

Georgia - Tom and Mary

Friends of DH, Tom teaches flying and Mary is a high poobah at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. This card is a soft grey with silver foil for all of the center elements except the two cardinals in the trees. Do you see them? A beautiful card from long-time friends. 

Idaho - Kaishin

Kaishin is a relatively new friend and we just click beautifully. Her card had me laughing. I just love this old car loaded down with gifts. Is it real or is it a model? Or does that really matter? No - what matters is the colorful gifts and the dear, loaded down car. I really enjoyed this one, it was beautifully designed and a lot of fun to look at. 

Minnesota - Jenybeth

Last year Jenybeth made me a wonderful polar bear climbing a mountain of snow towards a star in the sky. This year she made me a shy fox with a holiday tree, a soft wire halo and an embossed background of stars against the soft black field. It a truly elegant card with whimsy and a sense of style all her own. She's a young and talented friend, it's an honor to have known her throughout her life. 

North Carolina - Alexcat

Alexcat has been an LJ friend for many years now and she sent this wonderful, very pudgy dove of peace - a very hippy and colorful dove. Of course I fell in love with it. The balance of colors, the bits of gold pulling the eye to the wings and the head, and of course the message - "Peace on Earth" - something that all of us want so very much. Thank you for such a lovely card. 

Nebraska - Samtyr

Only another person from the Great Plains could understand our crazy storms up here in Minnesota. Samtyr and a couple of other friends from the central US experience weather the way that we do - the highs and lows, the storms and the ice. Here, a very contented and well-dressed penguin had better be keeping a close eye out. He's heading for the trees, so better stay on the groomed slopes. It's an adorable card. 

Pennsylvania - Erviniae

Last, but certainly NOT least, is this absolutely scrumptious card from Erviniae. The rooftop and chimneys are actually cut out and snowy glitter is on the roof as well as the top of every garland and window. It't a holiday delight and I adored it. In fact, I really want to make one similar to it because it's so cute! 

So tomorrow it's a Project Runway Jr post (if it is broadcast tonight), then I'll be back to the 365-day meme. Have a fun Thursday, and thanks once again to everyone who brightened my holiday season up by allowing me to send them a card, and/or by sending me a card of their own. I am SO fortunate in my friends! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Late Today - Memories and Changes

Yesterday afternoon I got hit with a sudden sore throat so I decided to take things easy. I went to bed early and slept in until 6:00 am today to try and knock this cold out of me before it really took hold. Of course, that means today's blog is late, but I'm still here and here we go ...

The photo is dated October 23, 2016. We were almost finished here, but
as I recall, he did work another week or so on it. Still, not too bad
for a summer's work project and I'm so very impressed with all of the
work he did! 

4.     What is your best memory of last year?

Wow, so much happened last year, it's hard. But I think I'd have to say watching DH make "the castle" in our back yard was pretty amazing. I never thought he would do something so extensive and so wonderful. It large, all-encompassing, and not finished yet, but so close. This year will begin stage two of the project. I'm not sure how many stages actually exist, but it's going to be absolutely amazing!

There is always hope. I believe that much evil is caused by
circumstance and environment. In a place of no hope, it is easy to
give up and hard to push through to see possibility.
Spread love today and start those ripples moving in a
positive direction. 

5.    Can people change?

Of course people can change, we see evidence of that every day. Good people can become horrid, bad people can become saintly. I think it is this possibility of change that makes me have hope because even the worst person usually has the change of altering their behavior or demonstrating compassion and love. Of course, there are always sociopaths to show that my optimism is totally misplaced!

Here's hoping you have a wonderful Wednesday. It's my "day off" and I'll be running all around from the bank to the store. I'm also planning to get the 17 boxes of paperback books out of my front entryway and over to Half Priced Books. Someone else will be delighted to own them, and I'll be delighted to have them out of my house. The small amount of cash will also be welcome. I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully feeling much better, and back on my normal schedule.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Freezing Rain - NOT My Favorite Thing

Remember Julie Andrews singing about her favorite things in "The Sound of Music"? I guarantee that roads of ice and tractionless tires weren't on her extensive and rather exhaustive list of faves. They most certainly aren't on my list either. I have no idea how good/bad the roads will be for me this morning, but as I drove home last night we were already starting to get freezing rain. Since the past two winters were really mild, I haven't had an icy drive to the gym yet. Today may be the first. ICK! 

I'm not making a list of favorite things, but driving on ice
will never make that list. Nope - never! 

Aearwen found the missing prompts for the 365-day-meme list so I'm totally up to 365 days now. Of course, that means I'll be posting two a day until I'm caught up, and of course I'll normally be posting two a day on either Saturday or Monday since I don't post my blog on Sundays (my day to sleep in and be with DH). So here we go - two days for January 2 and 3. 

DH and I twist around each other, different and yet
the same. We approach things in opposite manners, yet
achieve the same joint goals. Usually we work pretty
well together and complement each other. 

2          What are you most grateful for?

I have to go with DH for this one. We've been together for 40 years this year, and we've had our ups and downs, but no matter how annoying he may sometimes be to me, deep down I know he loves me. I'm NOT an easy person to live with (nor is he), but somehow we manage to complement each other in the important ways. I often think of the two of us as the twin helix twist of DNA. 

This was DH a few years ago celebrating
his birthday with "the boys". Unfortunately,
since Matt's cancer, he rarely gets together
with them any more. I think he misses that. 

3          Are you content?

In the main, I'd have to say "yes". I have a wonderful husband, a nice house, a business that still manages to pay our bills and keep us going, I'm still healthy (looking for wood upon which to knock) and I still have a sharp mind (most of the time). I'm much luckier than many in this world, so for me to not be content would be ... well ... ungrateful and rather stupid. No, I'm very fortunate. 

I'm hoping I don't have much ice to deal with on the way to the gym. It's white out there, but it doesn't look like we got a lot of snow. Of course, we don't need a lot to have a nice, ice base. Here's hoping you have a wonderful Tuesday. Be safe, be happy! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Day - A Meme - And Yes, It's a Monday!

Happy Martin Luther King Day to my friends in the USA. Although many people will have the day off since it is a Federal holiday, many others (including me) will not, so I'm up, writing my blog, and ready to start my normal routine - swim, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, catch up on computer stuff, go to sleep. OMG - my life sounds so BORING on screen. BLEAH!

Aearwen's 365-day meme turns out to be a few days short,
but since I'm starting it on the 16th of January, I'm just
fine with that. 

My LJ friend and sister from a different mother, Aearwen, is doing something called the 365-day Meme. Obviously today is the 16th of January, but when I went through the list yesterday and numbered the prompts by the date, separated by months, it turned out to be a 348-day meme with the final entry scheduled for December 14th. Unless Aearwen finds additional days, I won't worry about catching up by doing two posts a day for January, I'll just call those first fifteen days a lost two weeks and start January 1st's entry on January 16th. That brings today's meme to the following:

1          What is your number one goal this year?

My personal goal is continuing to clean and de-clutter my house, while doing the same thing at my business. I have my sights set on retirement and the only way to do that is to divest things from our lives so that we can combine two separate and complete lives - work and home - into a single building. That's hard - very, very hard. But we're working on it steadily and I'm slowly feeling more and more confident. Silly, I know, but I have to try my best to make this a reality. 

Taboo is the first challenge for the Silmarillion Writer's Guild.
If you are interested in participating in the challenge, it features
a Bingo-style card with some very interesting story prompts. 

That said, I don't want to stop playing with my creativity either, and the Silmarillion Writers Guild has announced a new direction for their writing challenges this year. Instead of quarterly challenges, they are switching to monthly ones, and they are offering incentive stamps. I love getting stamps (silly, I know, but I enjoy it like a kid enjoys getting a sticker at the grocery store). Additionally, this month's challenge was set up like a Bingo board, reminiscent of the BeMeM Bingo challenge of a few years ago. It's a double love! I'll be taking a close look at it today and thinking about what I can write. 

We ended up with 2-1/2 shelves of DragonLance books, and
3-1/2 shelves of Forgotten Realms books. That equalled out to about
3-1/2 full banker's boxes, so a nice amount of books to organize. Finally
we're through the paperbacks. Time to move on. 

Bouncing back to de-cluttering, since mentioning The Silmarillion reminded me of paperback books, DH and I worked together in the library yesterday and got the last of the "save" books organized by author and shelved. The last few boxes were a bit of a pain because they were DragonLance and Forgotten Realms books - numerous authors contributing to single story lines. But DH got those organized as best he could, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. We still have room in the shelving unit, so I'm super happy about that. We got rid of a bunch of books, but saved the important ones. Now to start the hardcovers - a much harder task. 

I think the Minnesota Wild has one of the nicest logos. I even have
it on the back of my car. I'm very proud of how well our hockey
team is doing this year. Go Wild! 

Here's hoping you have a wonderful day, Yesterday's football games were phenomenal - down to the last seconds, our hockey game was down to the wire but the Minnesota Wild won, and Sherlock's season finale was interesting, thought-provoking, and somewhat troubling. I'm hoping that today is as much fun as yesterday was. Enjoy your Monday! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cold Weather and Mall of America

Here we are, it's the weekend once again. We're slightly above zero and dry, at least until 6:00 am Monday through noon on Tuesday when our next winter storm blows in. Right now, though, it's 5 F with a slight wind chill, making it feel like -5 F. I can live with that. Meanwhile, I'm going to hope that things calm down by Wednesday because I have a long list of things I need to accomplish on my "day off".

Mall of America is a "local" mall for me. It's about a twenty-thirty minute drive
away from my home. There are other large malls closer to home, but Minnesota
is famous for our weather and this ridiculous mall. 

It's been a cold week, customers have been staying home. Not so good for my bottom line, but I really can't blame them. I suspect the shopping malls are doing well. Most of the time I despise shopping malls, but when the weather sucks, staying indoors while wandering from shop to shop suddenly sounds appealing. I don't like to shop, though, so it's back to the gym, then to work and finally to get dinner at Chipotle and finally home. At least tomorrow I can sleep in.

The center of Mall of America is an amusement park. When I had a store
on the third floor, west wing, the rides were sponsored by Snoopy and the Peanuts
Gang (TM). Now I think it is Nickelodeon-based. All that time that I spent
there - more than three years - the only time I was on any of the rides was
at the Preview Party the night before the Mall opened to the general public. 

One of the things I bought for DH for a holiday gift was a "My Pillow". We have several friends who own this brand of pillow and DH was hoping it would help his neck and allow him to actually have a good night's sleep. Even with their "special" 2-for-1 " offer, they were expensive. DH has been using one ever since and says he really likes it. Guess that was a good holiday gift after all, so I'm happy.

We've been sleeping with our "My Pillow" pillows since Christmas, and I
have to admit, it's pretty good. It holds its shape, is easily adjustable when
needed, it's washable, it has a ten-year guarantee, and yeah - it was worth
the expense. I'm pretty happy with our "My Pillow" pillows. 

Short post today because I am too lazy to look up great photos, and because I'm cold. Well - I guess I'll be cold until May - LOL. Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Project Runway Junior - Step It Up From Day to Night

We were back to individual designs in last night's Project Runway Junior. The designers were each given a  designer FitBit (bracelets or pendants in metallic finishes) and told to design an outfit that could go from work to after-work playtime, accessorized with their FitBit. Instead of a trip to Mood, there was a Mini-Mood (a closet of fabric) set up for the young designers to choose from. They had 45 minutes to design and choose their fabrics for this one-day challenge. Several designers looked for neoprene fabric because they wanted the stretch. I don't know the appeal of neoprene - it's one of my least favorite fabrics. Give me silks, satins and chiffons, I like lux.

All ten designers succeeded in making outfits, and they shared opinions and even fabric between them, so the kids are actually getting along better that the adults often do. A'Kai, Molly, Chris and Teiler were declared safe leaving six in the top and bottom. One would go home after the judging.


I liked the print and the colors Allie chose for her
day to night outfit. It was really cute and something
I could see a lot of people wearing. 

First up was Allie who made this cute back-wrapped dress with cigarette pants. The main critique was that the top lining could have matched the pants, but in general, it was well received and she was in the top three.

The fabrics really don't come through in the photo, but
it was quite shimmery. If Cartier had designed the dress
to be more appropriate for work as well as for play, she
would have scored higher. 

Next was Cartier showing a simple shift dress with fringing on the top covered by a two-sided vest - black for day and gold shimmer for night. The judges felt the dress was too simple, but loved the vest. They also felt that it didn't meet the challenge criteria - that the outfit would be unlikely to be worn to work because it was very short and quite shimmery. She was also criticized because it wasn't an innovative look, being a simple design that could be purchased at many stores. Cartier was in the bottom three.

Chelsea designed in neoprene (ick) with this crazy
jumpsuit with a bandeau-style top. Yes, it was
fashion forward, but I really didn't like it very much. 

Chelsea invented a story for her girl that was, at the least, quite "out there" but fun. Her girl is the CEO of a spy company who, after working for the day, left to meet some business executives at an art gallery exhibition. The judges loved the look (neoprene - of course) and felt it demonstrated a strong sense of design. They also adored the backstory. She was in the top three.

Rene used his "trademark" cage of fabric down the
sides of the skirt as well as the sleeves of the
jacket. I thought it was actually rather cute, but then
I am closer to his demographic than the more
youthful designs. 

Rene followed Chelsea and stated that his "girl" was over 60 years old, had a face lift and nip-and-tuck. He used the same "cage" design down the sides that he has used before, but here it just didn't work well. The judges declared it "dated" and that the technique didn't add any "value" to the look.

Hawwaa mixed patterns and solids to make a really
cute multi-purpose dress. I really loved it, DH wasn't
very impressed, though. I think this was the first challenge
where she really allowed her playful side to come out
and it was refreshing to see. 

Hawwaa showed her style this week, declaring that her girl owned her own boutique. The judges loved the playfulness and the fabric placement, they also loved that the skirt panels were able to be switched from one look to another to allow for different day and night looks. I thought it was a really cute look. Maybe Hawwaa is finally showing herself as a competent designer after all!

Izzy used fabrics that were quite unusual for her, and it
showed in a design that was uninspired,  but cute and
well made. She didn't wow the judges with this one,
but I think it would be popular as an in-store design in
many traditional stores. It was cute, but not fashion forward. 

Izzy had a SoHo girl in mind with her bi-color dress, and the judges acknowledged that it was very well made, but they were underimpressed with the actual design. That was as good as it got for my favorite little "sprout" girl. She was in the bottom three. (Want to know more about wearing sprouts? Follow the link to an article from the NY Times and be in the know).

Who won and lost? Chelsea with her neoprene spy outfit won, and Rene with his caged look for the 60+ woman was sent home. He went out in style, though, with a cartwheel and split on the runway. So now we are nine. Who will go home next week? Have a wonderful Friday, stay warm, and I'll be back tomorrow!