Thursday, January 29, 2015

God Wink

I had the honor of speaking at First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, VA on Tuesday night. The topic was "Embracing the Mystery of God during Hard Times." I don't always speak about God at events. I also share my thoughts on writing, issues women face, and of course, grief. Usually it's a little bit of everything. I was a tad nervous about sharing so openly about faith because I figured there were a lot of grieving people there, and I don't ever want to come across as trying to push my beliefs on someone else, especially someone who is hurting. So, I just decided to do what seems to work best-- be myself-- and hope for the best.

I appreciated the warm hospitality, the thoughtful questions, and the stories that people shared with me during the book signing portion of the evening. As I had guessed, there were many people in that room, are there are in this blog space, who are dealing with great challenges with tenacity and grace.

Yesterday, I was home on my computer watching the video from the night before to make sure I hadn't said anything too annoying or off-putting. Tell me I'm not the only one who goes home from a party, event, or casual interaction and second guesses every darn word!

At 21 minutes into the video, I said this regarding Jack's death: "I wasn't sure whether I could survive the loss of Jack." I hoped those words conveyed just how ludicrous and impossible and painful it seemed to me at the beginning that I'd have to go on living without him.

The moment I said it, my computer, which had sat dormant for too long as I watched, switched to screen saver mode. During this mode, random images scroll across my screen. They could be family pictures, clip art, quotes I like, or pictures of boy bands Margaret has downloaded.

This is what came up when I said "I wasn't sure I could survive the loss of Jack"

Way Cool.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Tuesday that Feels Like a Monday

In the spirit of easing into the week, I'm having a catch-up pajama day over here. I just wrote an article to send to one of my all-time favorite magazines, and I hope they'll want to print it. Fingers crossed.

I've also been thinking about beauty products.

Back when I was spending my parents' money, I had expensive tastes in hair care and makeup. Clinique, Estee Lauder, and of course super-sized cans of Paul Mitchell hair spray cluttered my countertop. No "bonus gift" or "gift with purchase" passed me by, even if the colors were all wrong for me. But back in the 80's, sometimes the colors were so wrong they were right, you know?

It was as I got older (poorer, cheaper, thriftier) that I made the move to CoverGirl, Maybelline, and the occasional Wet'n'Wild product.

Well, at thirteen, thanks to Youtube videos and Pinterest, Margaret makes my previous champagne tastes seem more like Milwaukee's Best. She is familiar with every high-end product at Sephora and is skilled at using them. The good news is, she is introducing me to a few new products and helping me figure out how to keep my sparse yet unruly brows "on point" as they say these days. She also managed to help me look like I'd had a full night's sleep by dotting white eye shadow on the inner corner of my eyes. Who knew?

The bad news is, I am not comfortable supporting a $50 a pop toiletry habit, even though the desire for "bonus gifts" was passed down from my genes to hers.

Her desire for more products/more money led to a little mother-daughter furniture painting adventure, taking this sad little nightstand with its cheap plastic knob:

 To this shabby chic charmer.

Selling it on our local yard sale site means Margaret pockets $25.

Which I think translates to about 1/2 a high-end mascara and hopefully more mother-daughter enterprises like this one!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Soooo Close but No Cigar: Stitch Fix Box #1

So I finally decided to try Stitch Fix on New Years Eve, after reading about it for years online and seeing the adorable clothes my friends (Jenn Marshall, I'm looking at you) have gotten there.

Stitch Fix is a personal shopping service, where you answer questions about your clothing preferences and a stylist will send you a box of clothes to choose from. You pay a $20 styling fee, which is refunded if you buy any of the items they send you. You also get another discount if you happen to buy ALL the items at once. Prices vary, but they seem high to me because, as you know, I like to buy my clothes two ways: USED and CHEAP.

The box came a few days ago and Margaret and I had fun opening it together.

The good news is they absolutely PEGGED my style, likes and dislikes. You will see this in the accompanying crappy photos taken by my very reluctant and put-upon photographer. 

Every item felt well made and inviting and looked like something I would wear.

The bad news: the fits weren't perfect. I have recently put on 10 lbs, and even though I was honest about my current weight to Stitch Fix, items that would have looked great at my normal weight, just didn't do it for me right now. I could have been being extra picky, but since I'm not used to paying full price for clothes, I wanted to be IN LOVE in order to keep something.

Okay, want to take a look?

Here we go: Item #1 was a very soft gray scoop next tee shirt. It felt great and went with my personal style; I've never met a stripe I didn't like. The downside: it was a tad short.

Item #2: An asymmetrical French terry zip cardigan. Margaret hated this look when it was zipped, but we both loved it unzipped. It is super soft and has good long coverage in the back and a funky zipper detail. Sorry about the closed eyes. My request for a re-take was denied. This is the item I think I will keep!
 Item #3: Navy blue denim stretch jeans. I loved the look of these, but there was quite a size difference between my actual thighs and the thigh space in these jeans. I will spare you a photo, but I did try them on. You would think Margaret had never seen someone wriggle on the floor to pull on jeans before. Sheesh.

Black/white sheer arrow polyester blouse. I loved this! Hard as it is to believe that polyester blouses are back, I am really enjoying them. This one looks a tad short in this photo, but I think that's because my photographer was sitting down. In reality, it was a good length, but was a tad snug in the arms, making hugging difficult. I like to be ready for hugs at all times.
 Item # 5: Hunter green knit dress. This dress has a cool exposed zipper in the back. It is also right up my alley because it is nearly identical to the navy blue dress I've worn to at least 4 of my book events.  The stylist clearly understood my preference for smaller on top, larger on the bottom dresses.

Margaret liked this dress, and I wanted to like it, but I hated the color. It appears navy or black in these pictures, but it is really hunter green and super blah. Emerald green, royal blue, or pretty much any other color would have tempted me, but not this one. Also, my chest was busting out of this dress in an unflattering way. Front view: cute! Side view: bulge-y and constricted as if testing the limits of the stretch fabric.

Bottom Line:

Stitch Fix was easy and a lot of fun. I plan on trying it again.

I think the service is well suited to a variety of women who either don't have time to shop or who would like to break out of their comfort zones a little bit. Each clothing item came with photos of sample outfits and how to integrate pieces into your wardrobe, which would be great for women who don't have a lot of confidence in putting outfits together. Very cool!

No home run today, but as I give feedback to the stylist, chances are future orders will be even better!  My sister is trying Stitch Fix next. Like many of us, she has kind of a "uniform" that she wears to work each day, and I'm dying to see if she sticks with that, or if she breaks out of the mold a bit.

P.S. If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix, and you access it from HERE,  I'll get a discount if you end up placing an order:

P.P.S. If you follow An Inch of Gray on Facebook, you will have seen that I got my second "Fix" and kept all 5 items! A HOME RUN, for sure!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year

Hello Bedford Falls! Hello you old Savings and Loan!

Ok, so I haven't been as far afield as George Bailey, but it sure SEEMS like longer than just a week since I've been here with you. During that time Tim and I celebrated our 18th anniversary at a B & B, and I got Margaret to join me in a little furniture painting project, hoping that some cold hard cash (if it sells) will inspire more mother-daughter projects.

I hope your holidays were good, and if they weren't, I hope you are proud of yourself for just making it through. That is no small thing.

Now that we are easing into 2015, I hope to do a little more writing and speaking, and a lot less snacking.

My BIG NEWS for this winter is that my fleece-lined leggings and I will be going on a World Vision trip to Armenia! When I was invited, it only took me about 5 seconds to say YES! I am looking forward to seeing first-hand the work World Vision does to improve children's lives. I also have A LOT of learning to do about Armenia, its history, and its culture. I can't wait to share my experiences with you here.

I thought for starters you might like to read this World Vision blog post about Armenia and our upcoming trip.

P.S. If you are in the Richmond, VA area, I'd love for you to join me at First Presbyterian Church on January 27. Here's the info.