Tag Archives: shopping


I sing in a choral group. In order to perform with this group, I need appropriate concert attire. I’ve been singing with this group for twenty years and I’ve been wearing the same gown for most of those years. I love that gown, but I realized this past week that it was time to admit that I am not the same size I was twenty years ago. I had a concert on Sunday, so I pushed myself out the door Saturday morning to go in search of new attire. I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, no, I couldn’t make myself start this search any earlier than the day before the concert.

I knew the guidelines. It had to be black. It had to be floor-length. It had to have sleeves. It couldn’t have any other colors on it, or rhinestones or sequins. It needed to be tasteful and not distracting – in other words, no plunging necklines, no cut-outs, and no thigh-high slits in the back or sides. It could be a skirt and top, or it could even be palazzo pants and a top, as long as they were formal.

I knew I wasn’t going to find tasteful formal attire in any store that wasn’t at least pretending to be upscale, so I started, of course, at Burlington Coat Factory. You didn’t think I was going to pay retail, did you? Burlington did have a few formals but the only black ones were covered in huge fake gems or sparkly silver trim. No luck there, so I moved on to T. J. Maxx.

T. J. Maxx had come through for me when I needed clothes for jury duty, so I had high hopes when I went in there. They did have formals. They even had black formals. I found one pretty dress and another jumpsuit that I hoped might qualify as palazzo pants, and I took them to the fitting room. I tried the dress first. It was smaller than my normal size, but it looked big, so I hoped for some vanity sizing and I was not disappointed. I put it on and, oh, my goodness – it fit! I looked in the mirror.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. I looked stylish. I looked elegant. I looked beautiful. The dress could have been made for me. I loved that dress, until I turned around. Oh, dear! The dress emphasized a part of my figure that I definitely wanted to camouflage. I was whining about this to my daughter later and she said it was not a mistake; it was a trend. Um…no. At my age, I do not want to look “bootylicious.”

I put the dress back on its hanger and tried the jumpsuit. It fit, but it did not look like palazzo pants. It just looked like pants. I’ve seen other ladies in the group bend this rule a bit, but I just couldn’t do it. I was the original chairperson of the attire committee; I had to set a good example.

For the record, I did not volunteer to be the chairperson. I was drafted. I did volunteer to be on the committee, but that was just to make sure nobody tried to put us all into puffed sleeves and sweetheart necklines. I’d seen it happen in my daughter’s high school chorus and, believe me, not even the few girls with perfect figures looked good in those dresses. God help the big-boned or flat-chested.

But I digress. I was shopping for a new gown and I was not finding it at Burlington or T. J. Maxx. I was forced to go to the mall. My nearest mall has four big anchor stores. Surely one of them would have something that would work. I parked at Sears and went inside. They had formals but they were aimed at teenagers and covered in bling. I headed for Dillards. No luck there, either. Belk had more formal attire than any other store in the mall, but none of it was simple and elegant and black.

That left J. C. Penney, which happened to be having a huge clearance sale. I was desperate at this point, so when I found a straight, black skirt that would go with the top I had bought for jury duty, I figured I would find a way to make it work. I ended up having to replace a big brown button on the top (oops! I forgot about that) but I did make it work.

The New Outfit

The New Outfit

I know. I looked like a short, red-haired Bea Arthur…but I could breathe!


I didn’t really mean to wait until the day before my vacation to go shopping for new jeans. I tried to start the quest earlier. A couple of weeks ago, I needed clothes appropriate for jury duty. I was spending time in department stores, looking for plain black pants. It made sense to look at jeans while I was out and about. It made sense, but it was depressing.

Jeans aren’t jeans any more. When I want new jeans, I want five pockets, straight legs and one hundred per cent cotton denim. Dark blue denim, not faded or stone-washed and certainly not already worn out. Why in the world would anyone want to pay good money for jeans with holes in them? I can wear holes in them all by myself, thank you very much. And don’t even get me started on embellishments.

So I looked at jeans a couple of weeks ago, but my real goal was to get black dress pants and that was a whole lot easier, so I gave up on the jeans. I had time. I had weeks. Surely there would be better hunting after I fulfilled my obligation to the judicial system. That’s what I thought.

I kept putting it off. I remembered a previous jeans-shopping trip when I tried on twenty-four pairs of jeans without finding even one that fit. I didn’t want to face it, but I needed new jeans for this vacation. There will be canyons. There will be deserts. There will be hiking. My old jeans were getting so frayed, they were almost trendy. I’m an old lady; I don’t wear trendy jeans.

This morning, I set out. My usual first stop on a quest for jeans is the local thrift store. Manufacturers don’t seem to make classic jeans any more, so I try to find them gently used. I drove to the thrift store, but it was closed. According to the hours posted on the door, it should have been open, but there was another sign on the door, a handwritten sign that said, “Store is closed.” Succinct. Undeniable.

I was forced to move on. To a real store, with actual new blue jeans. Two stores. The first store had some interesting knit pants, but not a single pair of jeans that I even wanted to try on. Not only did they all have spandex in them, they were all “skinny.” I don’t do skinny. I did buy some knit pants, in a size I couldn’t believe was really my size. The brand runs small, that’s what I’m saying.

Fortunately, the next store had jeans. They even had some with straight legs and some that were boot-cut. I was thrilled. They’re not perfect jeans. One pair is too long and the other pair has odd pockets. Both pairs have a tiny bit of spandex in them, but neither pair is frayed or slashed or faded or skinny. I called it a successful shopping trip and hurried home to pack. Yes, I washed my new jeans first. I don’t want to be hiking those canyons in jeans with odd lint patterns where the size stickers were.

It’s Always Something

I was pretty sure I would not have a painting to blog about this week. We’re into May now, and that means all our time needs to be spent making tie-dye. We’re getting ready for our biggest event of the year. It’s the Florida Folk Festival and it happens on Memorial Day weekend, which comes particularly early this year. We’re down to just three weeks and that makes every day a work day. If the sun is up and it’s not storming outside, I need to be making tie-dye.

When the sun came up this morning, it was not storming outside. I allowed myself time to eat breakfast and then I went out and started making tie-dye. I was working on Purples and I had dyes left from yesterday, so I was able to get right to work without mixing. After a while, I ran out of Deep Purple and Warm Purple, so I went into the garage to mix more dye. I had thrown a plastic tablecloth over my chest freezer to turn it into a mixing station and I mixed up the Deep Purple with no trouble. Then I put the ingredients for Warm Purple into my blender and turned it on. I went outside to rinse my measuring spoons in the bucket of water I keep by my dyeing table and I heard a strange sound from the blender in the garage. I ran back in there and the darn thing was smoking.

I hit the off button and pulled the plug. I don’t know much about blenders, but it’s my considered opinion that when one starts smoking, it’s time to get a new blender. This required a phone call to my daughter. I was in urgent need of a blender but I knew I didn’t want to get the same brand as the one that just went up in smoke. It hadn’t lasted a year. Our first blender lasted six years, but it was the same brand, so I had no clue what blender to try next. All I knew was that my daughter would have an opinion.

My daughter always has an opinion. She researches everything online before she buys anything. She reads reviews. She canvasses her friends. She does her homework. I was desperate for an opinion and she did not fail me. She said I should get a blender like hers. I asked where she got it. She said she got it at Target and if I was going to Target, she wanted to come along. She needed kitty litter.

I needed to be dyeing but I couldn’t dye without a blender, so I picked up my daughter and we went to Target. She had to wake up her husband to watch the kids, but all she had to say was “blender emergency” and he completely understood. We’re tie-dye artists. It’s our busy season. There was no time to lose.

Of course, once we got to Target, we managed to misplace some time. My daughter needed a few other things besides kitty litter. We had been thinking about buying a deck box for the business ever since my husband sold the old RV where we used to store the tie-dye while it was batching. This seemed like a good time to take care of that, so we balanced a large deck box on top of our shopping cart, which didn’t exactly speed up our progress through the store. By the time we got back from Target, it was almost noon.

When we did our first Florida Folk Festival, we skipped a lot of meals in order to get enough tie-dye done before Memorial Day weekend. The upside was that we both lost weight (actually, that was only an upside for me; my daughter never needs to lose weight). The downside was that we were totally exhausted and were unable to actually enjoy the festival. We could barely manage to be charming to our customers. Well…polite, anyway. The point is, we are no longer willing to skip meals in order to make more tie-dye. We stopped for lunch.

After lunch, we went outside. I set up the new blender while my daughter put the new deck box together. I mixed my Warm Purple dye and I started working on my Purple Rayons. There were only three of them and I was still trying to finish the last one when the rain started coming at me sideways. I was working under a canopy, but I couldn’t endure sideways rain. Or lightning.

I packed up and came inside. I thought about starting my weekly blog post, but my daughter (who was tying things at a table in my living room) said I should paint. There really was nothing I could do about the tie-dye in the middle of a storm, so I allowed myself to paint. I didn’t have a lot of time, so it’s another itty bitty painting, but it is a painting. It counts.

Apple and lime

Apple and lime