Thursday, February 28, 2013

Date Night With My Husband

Date Night With My Husband

Tonight was date night. Even though we’ve been together several years, my husband and I still try to enjoy a date night once per week. When neither of us is traveling for work we make a concerted effort to commute into Washington together once per week and then before heading home try a new restaurant, explore a local market, have pizza at our favorite pub in Leesburg, Virginia, meet friends for happy hour, or head back to Winchester for a bite at Chop Sticks, a favorite local establishment with top flight Asian cuisine.  We text and email each other with restaurant menus, make impromptu stops at interesting shops and put behind us the stresses of the work day.

If we can’t manage an evening during the week, we plan an outing on the weekend such as a visit to a local winery, a wine tasting and lunch at the Locke Store in Boyce, Virginia, a nice dinner after a Civil War reenactment, or a joint trip to the hardware store or supermarket with lunch or brunch at Panera Bread, Bob Evans or a local place on the Winchester walking mall.

We make it a point to tell one another how we appreciate our relationship and value the connection that we’ve made, remind ourselves how fortunate we are, and laugh together.  This week is a bonus week – date night and a weekend trip to the hardware store to buy a new kitchen faucet. It really is the little things!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Favorite Resource for Reproduction Victorian, Georgian & Edwardian, and Art Nouveau Jewelry

My Favorite Resource for Reproduction Victorian, Georgian & Edwardian, and Art Nouveau Jewelry

My “go to “ resource for finding reasonably priced reproductions of fine jewelry of the Georgian and Victorian eras in particular is an eBay merchant, Jewelry By Yoran and Inez, also known as sweetuzer. This eBay store has a 100% feedback rating on more than 18,200 responses. The offerings are exact duplicates of originals, albeit crafted in sterling silver rather than gold or platinum. And the prices are amazing, including the shopping and handling from Tel Aviv.

Yoran and Ines use semi precious stones such as seed pearl, tourmaline, opal, peridot, iolite, moonstone, garnet, lapis lazuli, turquois, citrine, and amethyst.
They’ve been selling on eBay since 2002 and offer top-notch customer service

At a re-enactment in Unison, Virginia a few years ago I was wearing a pair of moonstone earrings that I’d purchased from Yoran & Ines and was told I shouldn’t be wearing such valuable antiques in such an environment. The workmanship is lovely the prices are great. Check them out!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why I Eschew the Tattoo as an Accessory

Why I Eschew the Tattoo as an Accessory

I know that in recent years it has become fashionable for women of all ages to sport tattoos. Some display works of art that are readily visible to the general public. Others wear a more discreet design seen only by their loved ones. As a libertarian, I heartily defend the rights of any woman who wants a tattoo. I also have a brother-in-law who is a true artiste with ink. But personally, a tattoo is not for me.

My decision is based primarily on the fact that I am fickle. I cannot imagine deciding on a design that I would love forever. I can’t even love a handbag or a pair of shoes for more than a year. It’s not as if I could stuff a tattoo in the Salvation Army donation bag when it no longer serves me. My hair is at least a slightly different color every month.

And I have no need to sport a tattoo for ornamentation. I buy new makeup every season. My ex-husband gifted me with some lovely jewelry that serves that purpose well. Gold goes with absolutely everything, never goes out of style and can be sold for cash if times are tight.  I’ve no need to ensure it goes with or coordinates with my outfit.  Since I am so particular that my under garments must match, it would send ripples of discomfort through my very being if my artistic ink did not work with my color scheme, my under garments or my outerwear.

My color preferences have also changed over the years. During my blond years, I tended to wear cool colors with an emphasis on hot pinks, fuscia, deep burgundy, and cobalt blues. I also drank white wine and wore a preponderance of dry-clean only garments. Dirt and yard work were foreign concepts. Now as a redheaded country girl, I am drawn to warmer colors such as corals, deep russets, purples, coppers and warm reds, prefer to drink full bodied red wines, and find peace and serenity digging in the soil, planting and remolding my landscape.

Had I decided to indulge in a tattoo at 35, the color scheme would not work with my present day personality.  No doubt the choice of design would have represented a different me as well.

Perhaps that is why one of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is this: “All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

I seriously doubt there would be one tattoo that would work for my seven ages.
And there is that little issue that I work in a conservative industry where facial hair for a man is still looked upon with suspicion.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Civil War Historians in My Kitchen

The Civil War Historians in My Kitchen

The Baltimore Light Artillery (“BLA”) camped just outside Winchester, Virginia last night. We had the privilege of hosting the BLA winter meeting at our home. The BLA are volunteers who present Confederate artillery / cannon demonstrations and educational programs at various National and State Parks that were once Civil War battlefields.

Members of the BLA are Civil War living historians of the highest level of authenticity portraying the 2nd Maryland Light Artillery also known as the Baltimore Light. The group was formed in 1985 and my husband has been a member since 1986. While many groups participate in living histories or reenactments, the members of the BLA are the crème de la crème.  Their reproduction uniforms are known as the best of the best based upon extant originals. The members came together out of a mutual desire to correctly portray a museum quality Confederate artillery unit for the express purpose educating the public at National Park military historical sites, most notably, Antietam National Battlefield, Harper’s Ferry National Historic Site, and Gettysburg National Military Historical Site.

The BLA are passionate about their love of history and the Civil War in particular. Among its members are noted military historians of material culture, published authors, museum curators, researchers, uniform experts, pattern makers, textile weavers, and tailors.  

The wealth of knowledge in my kitchen last night and this morning was priceless. And the experiences the BLA members have shared bond them together like a family. Some of the gentlemen participated in events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Civil War and are continuing to participate in the 150th cycle events.  The BLA are generous in sharing their knowledge, delightful companions, ready to laugh, and easy guests.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Favorite Tee of Spring 2013

I am always on a quest for a flattering tee for a woman of a certain age. At this point, I don’t bother with a silk shell or blouse under my suit jackets. Silk needs to be dry-cleaned and at my current stage in life my top would have to be cleaned after every wearing. Tees are washable, but they must be of a professional style and flattering cut.

Crewnecks are stifling. V-necks will do in a pinch. A scoop neck is perfect, but hard to find. But a most appealing option is the current offering by Coldwater Creek of a square neck tee with cap sleeves and just the right amount of spandex for stretch.

This top is currently available in 6 colors and is extremely flattering on any body type. I bought it in 4 of the color options with a temptation to purchase the other 2.

I do recommend you size down. It is a roomy cut. It is such a beautiful top. And it is so rare to find a square neck top. I would urge the buyers for the various purveyors of women’s wear to think about flattering necklines. Really, the crewneck favors nobody!

I have to admit I’ve never been a regular customer of Coldwater Creek. In the past, I’ve found the fashions to be somewhat skewed towards matronly, which is a curse word in my world. However, I’ve tried to be open to the offerings of any number of boutique style stores and have concluded that with keeping a keen focus on what is fashionable, there are clothes at Coldwater Creek that are eminently wearable. Give it a try!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Job Seeking for a College Graduate in 1980 versus Today ~ Triggered by Millennial Angst on the Diane Rehm Show.

Job Seeking for a College Graduate in 1980 versus Today ~ Triggered by Millennial Angst on the Diane Rehm Show.

During my commute I often have the radio tuned to WAMU / NPR. Monday morning the Diane Rehm Show had assembled a panel of Millennials to discuss their views on life, which as usual resulted in complaints about their student loan debts and inability to find a good job. The panelists asserted the US Economy was at its worst for recent grads since the Great Depression. Apparently, many Millennials missed classes on 20th Century History and Economics.

The economy has always been cyclical with the job outlook for recent college graduates ebbing and flowing and ever changing. When I was graduated from my small Midwestern university in 1980, the world was in crisis, Jimmy Carter was president and had put a freeze on federal hiring, the hostages were still held by student radicals in Iran, there was a recession, an oil shortage, and it was a white man’s world. But returning to the parental nest was not an option for me. My siblings and I were raised to be independent and make it or not on our own.

I was fortunate in that I did not graduate with the burden of huge student loans.
For one thing, lending institutions were more cautious and would not have loaned that much money to a student borrower without any collateral. A parent had to co-sign. But there was never any question I would attend college for at least one year. Unlike many students today who stretch what should be a 4 year degree into 5 or more, I made the conscious decision to take extra credits (at one point 20 credits per quarter), worked at a radio station and a pizza parlor, and graduated in 3 years with the ever-so-useful liberal arts degree in French. But I believed and still do today that a liberal arts background prepares one to be a well- rounded person who can exhibit the skills necessary to compete in any job environment.

With the job outlook quite challenging and the understanding that I needed employment, I decided to apply for any job that would consider a female liberal arts graduate a viable candidate. When I applied for the job as a claims adjuster for the now defunct Commercial Union Assurance Companies, I did not even know what the job entailed. I’d never heard the term before. Before I was offered the job, I was required to take series of personality tests, which were purported to gauge whether I was suited to the particular job. Either I passed the tests or the company was under significant pressure to diversify its work force. I was offered the job for $12,500 per year and a company car – a 1980 green Ford Fairmont with a cream landau top.  I was the first woman field adjuster hired in the Indianapolis office.  When I accepted the job, I still didn’t know precisely what it was. But, it was a job. My foot was in the door.  And I made it a career.

So the lesson for young people entering the job market today is this~be open to any opportunity. You won’t have to earn a fortune to pay loans if you attend a state university in the state in which you live to keep tuition costs down. One shouldn’t expect to start at the top, or even the middle, or even make a decent income at first.  But the best way to get a better job is to have work experience. And it is easier to find a job when you have a job. So take a job, try it, and if you don’t like it, keep looking. And finding a work/life balance is not always possible at first. But you can get there after earning it through hard work.