Let Them Eat Cake

Birthday cake, of course.

It's been a crazy week. I've technically been on vacation, but found myself dealing with important issues that I hadn't planned on for a good chunk of my time. My apologies to my fellow bloggers for my absence in reading your posts last week, but I was determined to have a little fun, too. After all, it was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate in style.

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Here you see wardrobe elements I've always loved. Polka dots, low-cut, body conscious frocks, retro shoes and jewelry. What puts them out of my comfort zone is whether my beloved wardrobe choices still look good on my 50+ body.

I purchased the Mlle Gabrielle dress for less than $20 and had it altered to fit me perfectly. I know I'm very curvy and 20 years ago I would've availed myself of some serious control top action to try to look less round - but I am round and no longer feel compelled to hide it. The shoes are Chelsea Crew Sofia Mary Janes. My skull clutch from Shi is making a return appearance. The lavender pearl bracelet was a birthday gift, as was the turn-of-the-century amethyst necklace.

These photos were taken inside the beautiful Opryland Hotel where I was treated to a fabulous dinner by my better half. I think we look pretty good together, if I may say so myself. In the future I'll be sharing my strategy for healthy eating - but not today. No, not at all. On one's birthday it's only fitting to eat cake. Specifically, a humongous slice of dark chocolate layer cake no sane person would ever attempt to finish in one sitting.

Call me crazy; I didn't leave so much as a crumb on the plate.

Linking up for Visible Monday and Monday Mingle.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

That's what all the boys say. But some of them have my best interests at heart.

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The handsome guy in the photo with me is Gary Robinson, a Certified Hand Therapist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Orthopaedic Hand Clinic. We've been spending a lot of time together because he's trying to prevent me from losing the use of my only good hand. What started as pain in my right thumb and wrist presumed to have been caused by an injury has become much more complicated to treat.

No doubt you've noticed in all of my photos that I can't hold my hands "normally". This is due to my Cerebral Palsy and I've never really given it much thought except when circumstances brought it back to my attention. So what if I have a grasping reflex? Aside from having to grip my mouse with excessive force while I paint for hours and the total inability to shape the perfect meatball it just isn't a big deal. I can't do up tiny buttons or open childproof caps, either. You learn to work around these minor annoyances - until your workarounds are becoming painful as half a century of incorrect movement starts to take it's toll. Now the workarounds need workarounds, too.

That's when you end up holding hands with a nice guy who whispers sweet nothings like "intercarpal joint hypomobility, median nerve entrapment, and reduced transverse arch". When he tells you you have a lot of tone it's not a positive comment about your workout results. Instead it means that my Cerebral Palsy makes it very difficult for me to relax the base of my thumb so that it's always pulling inward towards the rest of my palm. Lots pf people with CP benefit from Botox injections to open up their hands or uncurl their feet. But I'm "high functioning" (stop laughing) and Botox would be more of a hindrance than a help.

There are no easy answers; no tried-and-true procedures to fix the problem. Luckily, Gary is very motivated to help me. He views it as a challenge outside of what he normally has to deal with.

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He made me a custom splint I have to wear at night. Finding something I can wear during the day that will keep the base of my thumb in a beneficial position is proving to be more difficult. For my part I've offered up a cycling glove to serve as a base for attaching "ideas".

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If he can figure out a configuration that works I''ll be entertaining suggestions from all of you about what I should do to make it look attractive. Otherwise, Gary doesn't even think I'll wear it because it's won't look cool.

He's wrong, of course. I can make anything look cool.

I'm So Metal I'm Fearless

Well, not exactly.

Next month I will be celebrating my 52nd birthday. I'm not depressed or upset by it, but I do feel a pressing sense that time is running out for me to accomplish everything I'm planning to achieve before my warranty expires. So, in that vein, I'm going to venture outside of my comfort zone and try a few things I've always been afraid would look ridiculous. There will be successes and there will be failures, and I will be the first one to point them both out.

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I'm standing in front of Nashville's iconic Exit Inn night club. The wall behind me is actually a who's who of predominantly rock royalty that have graced the club with their performances. I've never been - they used to be inaccessible - but I plan on trying to check them out soon.

I'm wearing all white (terrifying), sleeveless (mortifying), and wearing florals to boot (mystifying). But I'm being brave about my leukophobia, anthrophobia, and cellulitephobia! Here I am in a white peplum top by Premise. I've always has big arms so I normally steer very clear of sleeveless tops and elasticized waistbands but this one is cut in such a way that it really works for my body type. Here are my white jeans from Chico's making their inaugural appearance. They are very comfy and fit just right. I do think they're still a tad too long and probably need to go back to Ann Rich to be hemmed even shorter. The floral scarf is from Shi. I was visiting my friend Matty there recently and I confessed that I was clueless as to how to wear a scarf. He draped it on me just so and said, "Like that". The beautiful silver multicolored cuff is from Stein Mart. The bandage on my other wrist is from Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Hand Clinic - more on that in the future. I'm reprising my metallic pewter skull clutch, also from Shi, as are the ZigiSoho metallic pewter spiked shoes from several seasons ago.

Linking up for Visible Monday, Monday Mingle and How I Wear My Metallics.

Gather Ye Rosebuds

"While ye mayOld Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying."

The first stanza of Robert Herrick's poem "To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time" tells us to live in the moment. Appreciate what you have while you have it because nothing lasts forever.

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The first red rose to bloom in my garden. I took a picture of it because in a few weeks it will start to wither and eventually die. Just like the backdrop for this week's photos.

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Behind me is what remains of the Bellevue Mall. Years ago, when enclosed malls were all the rage, it was a busy, thriving place of business. Then the stores began to close and were eventually replaced with flea market-like clearance and secondhand booths. About five years ago the property was purchased and plans were approved by the city to turn the area into a "lifestyle shopping area" with an outdoor strip mall, bike path, courtyard park, and restaurants. Then the economy soured, plans were abandoned, and the mall became a dried out, empty husk of its former glory.

This is a very dressed-down day. I'm in errand running mode here so this is my version of "slob".  Rosey red Bandolino jeans, Cable and Gauge black polka-dotted top, and Jessica Simpson bag. The Not Rated Get Shorty black oxfords from Shi are making their inaugural appearance. My rope twist silver and gold bracelet is at least 25 years old but the style is back with a vengeance. The watch is last year's genuine Betty Boop light-up model I picked up for a song.

Even if you're tired, harried and just want to run out the door, get what you need, and hurry home to collapse into your couch you can still look rosier than you feel.

Thanks once again to Patti for hosting all of us divas for Visible Monday and Jill for Monday Mingle.

Happy Peepster And One Year Anniversary

Belated Happy Easter holiday to you all. This post is an important milestone for Spashionista Report; more on that later. As the landscape around me starts to pop with color I am dedicating April's fashion layouts to Spring's Crayon Box.

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Since for the foreseeable future I have to go to Vanderbilt Hand Clinic several times a week I am presented with multiple opportunities to pose in the heart of downtown Nashville. To be honest with you Nashville is not the most wheelchair accessible city I've been to so it's been quite a while since I've tried to wander around it's busiest streets. This will be a revelation on different levels for me as well.

These shots were taken in front of the Wells Fargo Plaza and Fifth Third Bank Courtyard on 4th Avenue and Church Street respectively. It was still cool enough to warrant a jacket but warm enough for Spring colors to come out and play. Since the first tulip of the season that opened up in my yard to greet me is a deep pink I thought it only appropriate to use it as my inspiration.

The linen blend geometric print Larry Levine skirt is several years old. I love the mix of bold pink with muted lavender and lemon yellow. I bought the Cynthia Rowley tank top on clearance at Marshall's for $7. My Baccini jacket is really getting a lot of wear this year. So are the studded grey Not Rated oxfords. My Gaudi inspired grey necklace has also seen a lot of wear. The bag is a Jessica Simpson from a few years back - but it's not the first one I've owned. The original was purchased at Shi and the zipper broke after only four months of use. I was heartbroken because it is the perfect bag size and shape wise for me to both carry comfortably and use effectively. I've been searching for a replacement ever since and last month finally found one on Ebay for less than $20.

As my Mr and I cruised through the grocery store we came across a pink Peep cupcake and he said, "Looks just like your outfit". He was right.

Linking up again with Patti for Visible Monday, Glamamon for Monday Mingle, and Adrienne and Jill for How I Wear My Handbag.

April 1st marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I will be talking about this at length in my next post and I hope you'll come back to read it!

Love Is Love When It Alteration Finds

Shakespeare was wrong.

No conversation about renewal and graceful adaptation would be complete without discussing the most important element of any successful wardrobe. Clothes that have been altered to fit your body like a glove. If you don't have a good seamstress you're missing out on the difference between looking good and looking great. For someone like me who is short, round, and physically limited a tailor is indispensable.

Need proof? I often need to have long sleeves shortened on coats and jackets, even if they are Petite. My grey Petite Jessica Simpson coat in Where's That Groundhog? has had the sleeves shortened by a considerable 5". Here it is before the alteration.

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So has the green jacket in Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. I have trouble doing up buttoned cuffs so I had them removed to make it easier for me to wear.

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And this trench coat in Fashion Friday: #23 had to have 8" of sleeve shortened and the cuff reconstructed. I challenge you to see any flaw in the alteration.

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Then there are the pants that need hemming, the button-down and V-necked tops that need sewing up so I don't "burst" out of them. If I posted a picture of every garment my seamstress has made a perfect fit we'd be here all day. Instead, I'll post this one and tell you about this very special lady.

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Meet Ann Rich, proud owner of Rich's Alterations on the outskirts of Ashland City. She's been instrumental in insuring my clothes suit my particularly hard-to-fit shape for a number of years now. She knows exactly what to do to make any garment fit me like a glove.

I have yet to walk into her shop and find her relaxing with nothing to do. Although there are always lots of garments stacked up behind her counter waiting to be altered Ann always makes time to talk to me. This little wisp of a lady is smart, witty, and no-nonsense - just what I like in other people.  Every time I come in she tells me a story from her past or shares some of her views about the world that confirm my assessment.

The 81 year old has seen her share of hardships. She lost her husband years ago to pancreatic cancer and is a cancer survivor herself. But there have been lots of high points in Ann's life as well. Fourteen years ago her grandson helped her secure the space that is her shop. Those are his shirts to my right waiting to be tailored. "John's picky about how he wears his shirts," she confessed. "He brought me one that fits him just right and he wants the rest fixed up just like that one."

Have you figured out who her grandson is yet? That poster over her right shoulder with the gold record is a clue. Ann's grandson is one half of the country music duo Big & Rich. The rest of her shop walls are covered in Big & Rich swag and autographed pictures of other country music stars. What's really endearing is he helped her get into business before he made it big.  That's how much he loves his Grandmother. That's really saying something.

I owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Now I know if I find a piece I really love that doesn't quite fit chances are Ann Rich can make it look like it was made for me. She enjoys her life and her work, and she likes me because I'm "so colorful".

Rich's Design & Alterations is located at 1100 N Main St  in Ashland City, Tn. Her number is 615 792-1234.

Do you have a tailor you go to regularly to have your clothes altered? If not, why not?