Monthly Archives: November 2012

I am a Peace Warrior – Armed with my Sword & Shield

First it was a stunning purple spirit crystal wrapped in buttery soft, ivory elk leather that caught my eye. Then, I spotted a fabulous elk leather hip belt. But what ultimately got me, was this statement-making black elk leather wrap-around cuff with a large turquoise cabochon hand-woven into the center of it.

Black Leather Cuff with Center Stone

Theresa Wangia is a very talented indie designer I discovered when I went to the Randolph Street Modern Vintage Market back in October. Her line, Beltshazzar Jewels, is an assortment of hand-made jewelry & leather goods for the Native Spirit made from natural elements such as feathers, leather, bone, horn, and seeds from the Amazon.

Her inspiration comes from her world travels, nature, color, texture, music and her multi-cultural heritage. Her Great Grandfather was a German cobbler working in the United States who made leather moccasins for the Indians & boots for Buffalo Bill; and her Grandmother was part Blackfoot Indian. Her free-spirit designs often have tribal undertones, as she often takes into account the Native American lifestyle and their philosophy of living off the sacred land.

The modern urban creations incorporate a mixture of color & texture and her traditional methods of working with materials are those used by tribal people from the Amazon, Kenya, and Papua New Guinea.

Seeing the intricate, quality craftsmanship first-hand, it’s obvious why Theresa was recognized as one of the top three RAW Artists accessory designers in the city of St. Louis. RAW: natural born artists, is an independent arts organization made up of artistic talent within film, fashion, music, visual art, hair & make-up, and performance art. The community welcomes all genres of art and strives to provide independent artists with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire & cultivate creativity and encourage success within the first 10 years of their career.

I’ve accumulated a lot of stone accessories lately and for a long time I’ve been wanting to look deeper into the meaning behind the different gemstones & crystals I own. So, I recently bought the book, The Book of Stones, Who They Are & What They Teach, to source my research.

My research into the 2” cool blue-green turquoise stone that’s woven into the center of my cuff has taught me that turquoise emanates tranquility and the desire to find wholeness & truth, several properties of the stone. It is also a stone of protection, strong & opaque, yet soothing to the touch and healing to the eye. The Navajos used turquoise to bring needed rain by throwing a stone into a river while praying to the rain god. Apaches thought Turquoise could enhance the accuracy of their weapons, and the Zuni believed it could protect them from demons.

When I wear my cuff with my Free People dagger necklace, I can’t help but feel like I’m a peace warrior – armed with my sword & shield…

This is just a tidbit of information I learned about the turquoise; I have many more turquoise pieces in my collection so I’ll elaborate more on the stone in another post. The study of stones is very complex and requires you to suspend your preconceived judgements and looks beyond the physical composition into metaphysical properties. I’m excited to learn about the beautiful crater creations  and look forward to sharing my findings with all of you!

Do you believe in the power of stones?

Sources: www.rawartists.org, The Book of Stones, www.crystalvaults.com

My ‘New’ Old Wood Box – More Meaningful than the Mass-Produced

I’ve been in the market for something to store my Women’s Wear Daily newspapers in lately since my stack of papers has been piling up (and it’s quite frustrating when I bump into my side table and they scatter all over the floor)!

WWDs Stacking Up

While looking online for something to put them in, I came across the Vintage Wood Rolling Cart at www.urbanoutfitters.com available for $139.00. It’s a unique piece that’s apparently crafted from wood used from packaging materials for the U.S. Army during the Gulf War.

Urban Outfitters Vintage Wood Rolling Cart

I like the idea of recycling an old wooden box and using it for storage; but for some reason, I feel ‘rare’ finds such as this loses some of its ‘exclusivity’ when you buy it from a mass retailer like Urban Outfitters.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that they’re offering vintage finds such as this & others because many people 1.) don’t know where to search for rare, refurbished pieces like this, or 2.) don’t have quality vintage shops, antique stores or flea markets near them to find these found objects. But I prefer to find them myself.

Seeing this salvaged storage case online sparked my inspiration and sent me on a treasure hunt to find something similar. While Chicago has a lot to offer for vintage clothing & accessories, I feel the city stores have little to offer when it comes to old-fashioned furniture and home decor. And when I say I’m searching for vintage I mean – I’m searching for vintage. Vintage floral print fabrics, fine bone-china, tarnished silver, and sturdy, solid oak…real old-school stuff that has stood the test of time and has a story to tell (not Crate & Barrel circa 1995).

Yes, it takes time to sift through all the second-hand stuff, some of its junk and some just not my style; but when I spot something that catches my eye, usually hidden underneath it all and probably full of dust…I’ve often found my diamond in the rough – my treasure. Whether it’s a hand-painted gold trim serving plate or a delicate ceramic vase, a worn-in, woven horse blanket or a beautiful silk scarf with hand-rolled piping around the edge – it’s my treasure.

Since my home goods hunt was at a halt here in Chicago I waited until my most recent trip home to Minnesota. While back, I stopped by Pines-n-Tiques, the antique store down the dirt road from my house. I only had 15 minutes to browse through the two-story barn-turned-into-store, but in that short time I found this…

My Vintage Find - Old Oak Grove Dairy Wood Box

My Vintage Find - Old Oak Grove Dairy Wood Box

My “new” old ‘Oak Grove Dairy’ wood box is exactly what I was looking for! It’s the perfect storage case for my WWD’s and furthermore, this functional piece even holds a few family ties! Oak Grove Dairy was an old dairy creamery not far from my hometown. It’s since shut-down, but when I was growing up and my dad was milking cows, that’s where he sent all of his milk to be processed.

Seems as though I just saved myself a little piece of history…and some hard-earned cash – my wood box was only $15 bucks! Thanks Urban Outfitters for offering up your rare, vintage finds, but for now, I’ll continue to search for my own :)

Are you a second-hand shopper? Where does your treasure hunt take you?

Black Friday…Thankfully it Wasn’t too Bad!

Echoing the sentiments of Thursday – I am thankful that I survived Black Friday! I’ve never actually got up to shop for the door buster deals on the most popular shopping day of the year…but being in the retail biz, I’ve been required to work them the past several years.

I do love my job, but Black Friday is always the day I dread going to work! But surprisingly, I must say – yesterday was way better than what I expected. I always brace myself for the worst on biggest day for the worst, but our management team had a strategy prepared to offset the high number of shoppers we anticipated and the large amount of merchandise we expected to process to reach the sales goals we projected – and that says a lot considering I work at one of the biggest & busiest Anthropologie stores in the company. If things are not well organized from the start than things can go south real quick!

I woke up at 5am for my shift. I typically watch the morning news while I get ready for work, but yesterday I had to turn off the TV because I was tired of hearing the repetitive buzz about Black Friday – the crime reports consisted of people pushing each other to get into stores and fights that broke out to get limited products. Instead of the usual traffic report predicting the time delays during rush hour the skycam was hovering over mall parking lots foretelling how much time it would take to park. And the weather report – yikes! The drastic 30° drop in temperature from yesterday was bitter cold! I barely made my six block walk to work without freezing, I can’t imagine how the people who camped out in front of stores all night must have felt (and I don’t feel bad for the crazy fools who subjected themselves to those conditions!)

Even though I was exhausted after my eight hour shift of processing mass amounts of merchandise and dealing with customers, I braved Michigan Avenue for a few things I had to pick up. The sidewalks were filled with mobs of people and Watertower Place was a zoo. Personally, I just don’t understand what people find enjoyable about waking up at the crack of dawn, waiting in lines, frivolously filing through racks of clothes and fighting over things.  Is it really worth it? It’s just stuff. Yes, everyone loves a good bargain…but people turn into animals! Especially since the day before we are supposed to be thankful for everything we have. It’s sick.

Black Friday Shoppers - Michigan Avenue

Black Friday Shoppers - Watertower Place

Black Friday Shoppers - Watertower Place

Black Friday Shoppers - Watertower Place

I did score on a pretty cool pair of boots – the Holding Horses Basalt Military Boots from Anthro. Since I have to wear black all the time I figured they were practical. The boots, which were originally $258.00, were on sale with an additional discount; plus I had an exchange to do, so I walked out with them only having to pay $30.00 out of pocket. Not too bad, I’d say :)

Anthropologie - Holding Horses Basalt Military Boots

Were you one of those crazy Black Friday shoppers? What deals did you get?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed your day with great company and good food. Whether you feasted over a carved turkey, stuffing, cranberries & pumpkin pie before taking an afternoon nap (which was a tradition for me growing up) or watched football with friends, today was all about giving thanks for what you’ve been blessed with in your life.

Since moving to Chicago, my Thanksgiving Day celebration has been a bit modified – last year, a friend and I went to the grocery store morning of to shop for the meal we were going to prepare. Since we only came across 20 lb. frozen turkeys, we ended up cooking a bunch of sides and had a steak delivered. (Thank you, GrubHub :) This year I simply cooked up a box of spiral mac ‘n cheese.

Thankfully, the weather was beautiful today (in the unseasonable 60’s), so I went on a run along the lakefront and reflected on all of the other things in my life that I am thankful for.

Chicago Skyline

I am thankful for my loving family, and I’m thankful that I got to spend time with them last weekend celebrating my father’s 60th birthday and my nephew’s baptism. I’m forever grateful for the unconditional love & support my parents have given me and for what they’ve taught me. I’m happy to have two older sisters, two energetic little nieces and a new baby boy in the family. I’m also thankful for the amazing friends and coworkers that I’ve met, who have become my other family here in Chicago.

Family Photo at Katie & Mikes Wedding

Addie & I Blowing Bubbles

Coryn & I at the Beach

Baby Peter & I

I’m grateful to have chosen the path I have; I’m glad I grew up on a farm, and that I moved to the big city. I’m thankful for my life experiences thus far, and what I’ve learned from them. I truly love what I do; I love fashion, I have my education and work two jobs that I enjoy. I’ve been blessed with good health, food, and my studio apartment I call home (which I decorated with holiday décor today!) Sneak peak…

Holiday Decor

I’m also grateful for all of you, who visit my site and continue to inspire me to keep up with my blog and share my styling ideas with you! I originally started this just for something to do and I recently hit 10,000 views – it’s become something much bigger than I ever expected and I couldn’t be more excited!

I hope you all took a moment today to appreciate all of the things in your own life and I hope you have an amazing holiday season full of family, friends and fortune!

Fifty Shades Freed…now back to Fashion!

Forgive me for lacking in new content lately! After writing the blog about my Fifty Shades of Grey inspired outfit I decided to go out and buy the book; and I’ve spent almost all of my spare time since reading about the whirlwind relationship between the beautiful, but bossy billionaire Christian Grey and the young, innocent Miss Anastasia Steele. I’ve been captivated by the chaotic relationship between the couple who, in the beginning, seemed to have very little in common; but instantly, found themselves inseparable. The polar opposite personalities attract in the romantic thriller; and as their lust turns into love, they’re challenged to relive memories they’d rather forget, open their minds to new experiences, and explore emotions they’ve never felt before.

As enjoyable as it’s been to live vicariously through the complex love story, I really do need to get back to reality. After two more trips to Barnes & Noble, three weeks of none stop reading, a plane ride and a six hour car drive, I finally finished the last book in the series, Fifty Shades Freed, and now – I’m freed! I can go back to real life; spend time styling Lola, write blogs, and work on the random little projects I’ve started. I haven’t read a fiction novel in years (I stick mainly to fashion-focused books) and it seems that I’m much more productive when my life is lacking literature – so it may be a few more years before I pick up another book…unless of course, there’s an addition to the Christian Grey collection in the meantime :)

Universal recently announced plans to turn the best-selling book into a motion picture. Rumor has it some of the prospects that could be cast to play the alluring Christian Grey are Ryan Gosling, Chace Crawford, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Pattinson, Matt Bomer, and Henry Cavill.

Christian Grey - Ryan Gosling, Chace Crawford, Jake Gyllenhaal

Christian Grey - Robert Pattinson, Matt Bomer, Henry Cavill

No one knows who’s piercing eyes, devilish smirk, and brushed bronze hair will dominate the big screen so until the movie premiers the smoldering Christian Grey lives only in our memories. Perhaps if I had my own Fifty Shades in my life, he might look something like this…

Possible Christian Grey Look-a-Likes

Possible Christian Grey Look-a-Likes

I always appreciate a well-dressed man in a stylish outfit with sharp accents – it shows that he cares enough about his presentation to make an effort to be fashionable and put himself together. Here are a couple menswear combinations I’m in favor of…

Menswear Combinations

Menswear Combinations

How fashionable is the Fifty in your life?

Laters!