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Spring 2014

Reflections on Trends

Button-Down Shirts via

“What was I thinking?” I asked myself when I reflected on titling Tuesdays ‘Trending’. It goes against just about everything I believe in because I really do march to the beat of my own drum. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a phrase I’ve always loathed and would go to great lengths to do the opposite.

So in thinking about trending my mind gravitates to the word following and then aversion. I don’t think I’ve always felt or believed in this philosophy because growing up poor I distinctly remember wanting, not to be rich, but not wanting to be so poor. After becoming an adult I still didn’t have a desire to be rich but I just needed to be able to make ends meet.

I have a deep appreciation for quotes and my favorite, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, could very well be my personal motto.

One of the things I like most about life’s experiences is diversity. Diversity as we approach each brand new day; diversity of plant, animal and human life; diversity in our cultures, ethnicity, sex, belief systems, etc. is what makes life interesting. Diversity is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about inclusion especially as it relates to those with disabilities.

We are all different. The other day I mentioned that there are over 7 billion people in the world and it blows my mind to think that out of all these individuals we are ALL (each one of us) unique. I can’t even comprehend the number 7 billion (throw in all those who’ve gone on before us and those who haven’t been born yet) and it is unfathomable the idea that not one of us is identical. Sure, we can share some common traits across a wide range of characteristics but we are still inherently different. Poet, essayist, and novelist, Audre Lorde, once said “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

All White outfits via

So in thinking about the current trends which I will get to in a moment, I just really wanted to express that we should embrace our differences and be able to say to ourselves ‘just be the best me that I can be’. I didn’t intend to sound like Dr. Seuss but I seem to recall back in grade school that rhymes are fairly easy to remember.

Each and every one of you is precious beyond compare and there is none like you. Self-expression is how we can best set ourselves apart and define our individual style. So when I look at trends they are merely a guide and not the absolute and my best advice is to take the information in, churn it around to obtain an outcome that suits you.

New York Fashion Week is a huge to-do held twice yearly in February and September. The event is a who’s who of fashion industry gurus eagerly anticipating the next season’s biggest influencers.

What’s on Tap?

Black & White via
Black & White

Following are four 2014 spring trends from Glamour and a sampling of designers featured:

Pastels, when I hear this word I always think about Easter eggs. It’s probably just due to these soft shades being associated with the bloom of spring. Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Rebecca Taylor among other designers presented a range of pastels including lilac , baby blue and minty green.

Boxy, Cropped (Non-Moto) Jackets come in a wide variety of prints and textures. Per their name their short, square cut shaped design makes them flexible enough to go with skirts, trousers or jeans. Designers BCBG Max Azria, Rebecca Minkoff, Thakoon were represented in the photo on Glamour’s site.

Contrast Collar Button-Down Shirt – make a statement with the color contrast on the collars and cuffs of these menswear inspired shirts. (Alexander Wang, Costello Tagliapietra, Altuzarra)

Wide Legged Trousers – The writer for Glamour said that these, I love this word (billowy), trousers are not just for leggy models but personally unless I could wear heels I know that I would appear much shorter than I already am in these. The look is nice on the models though. (BCBG Max Azria, Trina Turk, Rosie Assoulin)

These are just four of the spring 2014 trends and I hope to share more with you next week.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” ~Harvey Fierstein

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Bag of Tricks

The Art of Makeup

Mascara Shield & Guide $10
Mascara Shield & Guide

Last Monday I said that I would spend the next couple of weeks talking about makeup application. The art of applying cosmetics for the vast majority of women takes a certain amount of patience and skill. Few of us are born with the natural ability to use makeup as an art.

For most of my life I was able to skillfully apply my makeup and even with my vision loss, because I had my technique down, I could still manage using some of my cosmetics. Some I could no longer use and I had to make special adjustments for others. As I was going through this process of altering my makeup routine I would oftentimes wonder how I could make it an easier procedure.

Technology is amazing and I can’t help but be awe-inspired with some of the most recent advances. Take for example smart phone technology; who would have thought that blind/vision impaired people would ever be able to take part in being able to navigate touch screens?

And how about 3-D printing? Just when I thought there was nothing better than puffy paint (3 dimensional craft paint commonly used on t-shirts) someone invents a 3-D printer of which we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of its capabilities.

In view of some of these miraculous inventions, I was wondering hmmm, why can’t we employ some of this same thinking towards makeup for blind/vision impaired women? Of course this is way beyond my scope of knowledge but what if we could create some makeup products that would make application a little easier for those of us who like wearing cosmetics?

Eyebrow Stencil Kit $3.00
Eyebrow Stencil Kit e.l.f.

Makeup Bag of Tricks

Until such products are developed I found a few that can aid in helping with eyebrow, eye shadow and eyeliner makeup that I wanted to present for your consideration. Eyeliner, eye shadow and eyebrow makeup can be very challenging to use after vision loss but not impossible. I got so excited over some of these items I couldn’t wait for today to come so I could share my findings with you.

Mascara Guides

Almay intense i-color satin-i™ kit
Almay intense i-color satin-i™ kit

Eyeliner Guide

  • Amazon Rosallini Soft Silicone Eyeliner Assistant Aid Guide Makeup Tool by uxcell $2.18

Eyebrow Stencils

Eye shadow

  • Almay intense i-color kit

For many years I used liquid eyeliner on my upper lash line however after my vision loss I found it difficult to apply and have not been using any liner in this area. I do use a liner pencil on the lower lash line and I’m going to look for a different type of pencil for the upper area because I think the pencil will be a little easier to use without making a mess.

I have not used the mascara or eyeliner guides but since they are very reasonable I will give them a try and let you know my opinion. Eyebrow stencils are a great help for filling in sparse brows like mine or creating a new look with a different eyebrow style.

The Almay intense i-color kits are very cool because they are shaped like an eyelid and the 3 colors are situated as you would apply to your own lids in the following 3 steps:

  1. apply the bottom shade from lash line to crease blending upwards
  2. blend the center shade into the crease
  3. sweep top shade on to brow bone to highlight

As I’ve previously stated it takes considerable patience to perfect a makeup regimen but if you keep at it and solicit feedback from a close friend or relative in no time at all you’ll develop your own technique.

If you haven’t done so yet Vision Aware Makeup Application After Vision Loss contains very useful information.

Hopefully next week I’ll be able to give you my insight on some of the guides referenced in today’s post.

Chat again soon.

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” ~Yves Saint-Laurent

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Jewelry Storage Solutions

Babies and Baubles

This silver filigree music box from Vicenza features a wind up handle to the bottom, an intricate patterned design decorated with diamant studs and a pearlescent oval centre. The interior contains a large compartment, a small compartment and a ring hold section. - See more at: Debenhams
Debenhams Jewelry Box

It was the wee hours of the morning and daylight wasn’t even beginning to peep through the mini blinds. Yet I heard the unmistakable sound of a low growl. In a pitiful attempt to ignore it, I gently turned on my left side pulling the blankets over my head to get more comfortable. Grrrrr there it was again and then the sound I didn’t want to hear, a gentle rustle of movement and an ever so slight cooing sound. As Mollie continued to try to pull the blankets off me, as tired as I was, I couldn’t ignore it anymore because she would wake the little one.

About 29 years ago when I was between jobs to pick up a little extra money I would babysit for my cousin. I loved watching this baby, I was there when he was born and since he was the first baby that I was in close contact with I could not get enough of him. I would wait with great anticipation for his mom to bring him over each day. Why then at the end of the day was I just as excited to pack him up and send him on his way?

I seriously had my doubts about motherhood and in a moment of clarity I understood why. After the birth of my firstborn I thought my heart would burst, I felt so much joy. He was the sweetest most precious thing I’d ever laid eyes on and the love I felt for him was like none other.

At the end of our first day home when my grandmother asks me what I’m doing I look at her like “duh” but I patiently explain that “I’m putting on the baby’s snowsuit so he can go home.” As soon as the words left my mouth it hit me that this baby wasn’t going anywhere because he was mine and he was home.

Two more sons and 24 years later I have a 1-year-old grandson that I’m just gaga over. Every time he comes over I’m so excited and I have so much fun with him. He has this smile that just lights up a room and even when he cries it’s the cutest thing.

Yesterday, like any other day when I babysit Orion was uneventful, that is, until it was time for him to go home. It was snowing all day and with the bitter cold I couldn’t say no when my son asked if the baby could stay the night. Since my son’s car was out of commission he didn’t want to expose the baby to the extreme elements by walking home and neither did I.

Back to this morning and my need for more rest; I knew I’d have to forgo sleep to care for my charge. Time has a funny way of creating amnesia. I forgot what an energy draining experience it was to have an independence demanding toddler around.

Planning for the unplanned

When you have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies, order and systems rule the day. I’m not so good with unplanned anything. I plan my plans and then have backup plans for those plans. So when I’m thrown a wrench in the plan it sucks my energy. Add to it the never-ending snowfall and 10 degree temperature and it’s not a pretty combination.

Coaster Traditional Jewelry Armoire, Cherry Amazon $149.56
Coaster Traditional Jewelry Armoire, Cherry

Since I’ve taken the circular route to organization I thought today I’d share some jewelry storage options. I never had a musical jewelry box complete with a little ballerina when I was little and promised I’d treat myself to a nice one in adulthood. I eventually ended up with a Queen Anne style jewelry armoire which suited my needs perfectly for my growing collection of high fashion pieces. That was 10 years ago.

Jewelry Storage Solutions

Umbra-Little-Hanging-Jewelry-Organize 39 clear pockets on one side, 24 hook-and-loop tabs on the other
Umbra Little Hanging Jewelry Organizer

After becoming legally blind almost 5 years ago, the armoire was no longer as useful especially when storing my earrings. What I used to do was keep each set of earrings in these tiny plastic baggies and put them in the armoire drawers. When you can’t see very well it can be a little nerve-wracking trying to locate most things let alone a specific pair of earrings.

The answer to my earring storage dilemma came to me completely by accident when I went to Marshalls with a friend of mine. I found the cutest little black dress on a hanger (not one you can wear) but one that has clear plastic pockets on both sides for earrings. There was no denying the black dress was adorable but I opted for the plain rectangular shape hanging storage. The one I bought has 66 pockets 6 of which are big enough for cuff bracelets.

The nice thing about either of these options is you can label the individual pockets to clearly identify the contents within. Also, for low vision users, different color options can provide useful contrast. Another benefit to this type storage is that it takes up very little space and it keeps sets together.

Following are 3 different resources along with costs associated with each organizer carried by the retailer(s):

 1.      Amazon

  • Umbra-Little-Hanging-Jewelry-Organize 39 clear pockets on one side, 24 hook-and-loop tabs on the other comes in pink, red or black 18.24
  • Household Essentials 80-Pocket Hanging Jewelry and Accessories Organizer, White Vinyl by Household Essentials 10.39
  • Hanging Jewelry Organizer White 37 Pockets Bedroom Closet Accessory Storage by Richards Homewares 8.18
  • Hanging Jewelry Organizer 72-Pocket, 2-Sided by Simply Genius 6.98

2.      Bed Bath and Beyond

  • Umbra Luxury Little Black Dress Jewelry Organize 29.99
  • 39 pockets 24 hook & loop closures (for necklaces)
  • The Macbeth Collection 42-Pocket Hanging Jewelry Organizer in Shag Madison 19.99
  • Crystal Clear Vinyl 37-Pocket Hanging Jewelry Organizer 9.99
  • Umbra® Little Black Tee Jewelry Organizer 9.99

3.      The Find

  • On are many retailers like Etsy, amazon, Walgreen, etc. who carry a variety of hanging and roll-up jewelry organizers with a price range from $9-$48
  • Colors are varied and I found pink, black, white, beige, camouflage, green

About 2 years ago I ordered another hanging jewelry organizer from Avon. What I liked most about this one was it has a separate section that detaches and can be used as a roll-up travel organizer. The cons of this particular item are the very tight/small pockets and even with my small fingers I had trouble inserting and removing earrings. I did use the hook and loop tabs on the other side for my necklaces but found for heavier jewelry it isn’t very effective. While I still have this organizer I’m not too fond of it and I’m still looking for a better way to deal with my necklaces. Currently I’ve settled for hanging some of the shorter ones on a jewelry tree but I’d prefer to keep all of them in one place. I’ll keep you posted on how I make out with this.

Until tomorrow Ciao!

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone….”~Sam Levenson

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Shoe Smorgasborg

Thank you

"I used to wear heels because I wanted to shoe people I wasn't ashamed of being tall. But I don't wear them any more because you don't have to wear heels to be beautiful." Elle MacPherson
Shoe Quote

Over the past few days I’ve heard from many of you who are blind, vision impaired, and sighted and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support. It is so gratifying to receive your positive feedback and encouragement on this project that is so very close to my heart.

It’s hard to believe 4 years ago I was on the receiving end of my eye doctor’s “we’re so sorry there’s no more we can do for you…” speech. Self-imposed isolation became my best friend. I did everything within my power to seek a positive resolution on my situation to no avail and was left with fear, anger and self-doubt. Though family and friends did their best to stand by me, they couldn’t comprehend what it was like to no longer see.

Nine years ago is when I began my excursion into vision loss and I never would have imagined that the journey would take me to this place of acceptance and through the process allow me to meet so many amazing people. I’ve always believed that we humans are interconnected but I really didn’t get it until I endured the loss of my vision.

In an earlier post I alluded to how the self-esteem can suffer with the loss of vision in part due to the loss of independence, and the loss of living a life that was once so familiar. Once you connect with people who can understand your plight it’s at that point you are immersed in a new world. A world consisting of white canes, audio books, accessibility software, tactile systems, service animals, and, advocacy to name a few.

The white cane intimidated me. I felt exposed and the subject of unwanted attention but at the same time I deeply needed to find myself once again. One of the reasons why this transition was so difficult was because of the misplaced expectations I put on others.

Prior to the last 4 years I was so confident of my style and I even had dreams of being a model when I was much younger. The model dreams were shattered because at 5 foot 4 inches tall I was too short. This is probably one of the reasons why I always preferred heels and therefore had myself believing I was much taller than I was.

So it was with a heavy heart that I made the smart decision to donate my heels and opt for more reasonable ones for my personal safety. I used to think that heels lower than 3 inches was for lack of a better word blasé but I have never been so glad to be wrong.

Buffet of Shoes

Smorgasborg is the word that pops to mind when I think of shoes and I get so inspired when adding a new pair to my collection. There are just so very many different types, shapes, materials, colors, heels, textures and embellishments to choose from, that it’s mind boggling. And the pièce de résistance is I don’t have to sacrifice my femininity in wearing lower heeled shoes, quite the opposite as I’ve collected a few that are quite sexy.

My shoe preference, with the exception of a couple of pairs of wedges, has always been the pointed toe. So I thought I’d begin this series on some of my favorites and in later articles I’ll talk about how I build an outfit around them.

Isaac Mizrahi New York Grisel Coral 1 and 1/2 inch kitten heel from
Isaac Mizrahi New York Grisel

Kitten heels, sounds so innocent and cute but make no mistake these type heels ranging from 1 to 2 inches in height can be the cat’s meow.

d’Orsays are synonymous with sexy. With the sides are cut away leaving the toe and heel you can’t help but feel like a siren.

Chinese Laundry Kristin Cavallari - Cadence suede lime-punch (Yyellowish color) d'Orsay flats from
Chinese Laundry Kristin Cavallari – Cadence

Slingbacks are in my opinion, right up there with d’Orsays. Combined with a kitten heal the strap on these shoes wraps behind the back of the heel or ankle.

Nine West RemHie dark red suede slingback kitten heel from
Nine West RemHie

Even though I no longer wear the high heels of my youth the feeling I get when putting on the ones I mentioned here today is transformative. So take heart and know that if you too choose to go with lower heeled options you can still get that umph feeling that only a new pair of shoes can provide.

Have a wonderful weekend!

“A single day in my own shoe that is comfortable for me is better than 365 days in someone else’s shoes that does not fit me at all.” ~Israelmore Ayivor