Taste – is it Acquired, Overblown or just a Budget Buster?

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“Americana” 16×20 mixed media on canvas

I hate how things go in and out of fashion so quickly. Something is both “in” and chic or it’s out of style and passé. We scramble to be the first to show just how up-to-date we are — how with it!

Some stand in long lines streaming into Apple or Tiger Direct for the latest technology. We scour magazines and the internet soaking up current trends in clothing and home goods. We entertain our friends to show off our latest finds. We attend parties not just to socialize, but “to see what everybody’s got.”

Our Possessions possess us! We hunger for the newest and greatest. We save our hard earned cash in order to get what we want. Some of us even go into debt to compete with our friends and neighbors. But is it worth it?

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My pink ceramic pig smiles at me from the kitchen counter. I knew I wanted her the moment I saw her a decade ago, or was it two? How time flies! A black and white cow is not far away, along with a silly mooing cow pitcher I fell in love with “when cows were in.”

I have some collectable Lennox plates painted by Warren Kimball that adorn the wall over my cupboards. Outdated country charmers that depict barnyard animals in a flourish of fantasy and color; a polka dotted pony, and a square cow painted in a primitive flair. Not a cheap purchase, these.

Now geometrics are in and “country” has gone the way of Mediterranean, Country French, and Eclectic. These angular designs and contemporary shapes were “in” when I was a newlywed. Now they don’t appeal to me in the least. They look ancient and outdated from my vantage point.

Most of us can’t indulge the whims of designers and trend setters. We simply don’t have the money. What to do? I’ve discovered if you wait long enough, the trends are recycled like yesterday’s leftovers, but in a new package.

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If you can’t join them, you can at least add a few trendy pieces to liven things up: the latest colors may add a dash of pizzazz on a new pillow or throw, or on a tired uninteresting wall. Used furniture in the latest craze can spark an entry or conversation area. Consignment stores are great places to find these pieces at reduced prices.

Over time, your traditional style will fit right in and you’ll have saved bundles of money. It doesn’t pay to get bent out of shape trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” or anybody else. Are they really that important in your life? Do they offer to pay your credit card bill? If they don’t, you need a new role model. One who inspires you to be a better person rather than a stylish pauper.

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“Skudeneshavn Norway” oil on canvas (SOLD), prints and giclee’s available

Many wealthy people end up in poverty when they can no longer support their lavish lifestyles. Once their looks or their ability to work fails them, they are so set in their ways and too impoverished of spirit to change their mode of living.

Since “you can’t take it with you,” you may as well enjoy what you have and save your money for a comfortable retirement, your children’s education or a rainy day. Focus on the things that matter most like faith, family and country. Then if someone pulls the plug on your income you can weather the storms of adversity because you’ve learned how to manage your time and your money.

How you Roast Marshmallows says a lot about you!

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Group Fun Roasting Marshmallows!

Whoever thought that roasting and eating marshmallows was a simple proposition has missed the point. While watching my friends, I decided there definitely are styles and preferences when it comes to this almost lost art. See what it may tell others about you.

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The golden brown marshmallow.

Do you roast your marshmallow a light golden tan and then take pleasure in putting the whole mallow into your mouth and sinking down on the sweet warm center? That puts you in the sensual category. You want to cut to the chase and get down to business as soon as possible. Once you get what you want, you savor each perfect creamy bite.

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Yum — the succulent center!

Or do you fancy a crisp outer covering with a tinge of black? Do you delight in the crust and pull it carefully off the barely warm ball that still clings to the roasting stick? And while you devour that first crunchy mouthful, do you carefully turn the mini-mallow over the fire until it, too, turns dark and crispy? Then you pop its succulent remains into your mouth while grabbing a second marshmallow and repeating the same procedure all over again.

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The crunchy black outer covering.

If this describes your style, you love the process even more than the finished product. You are fun-loving and adventurous. You like being around people and are usually willing to wait for gratification and pleasure. You like to get involved and tackle life’s challenges with zest.

The third type of roaster has distaste for anything sticky or messy. Cautiously they pierce their mallow (or wiener as the case may be) with a stick and then proceed to wipe their chalky fingers on the nearest item available; usually their partner’s pants or on someone else’s shirt.

They stab at the fire a few times trying to find the perfect “hot spot;” and in the process, drop their mallow (or wiener) into the fire where they snatch it back just in time, but not before it’s partially covered in ash. Is this you?

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You’re obviously not a rugged wilderness person. When you finally get your mallow roasted, you seldom want to eat it. But give you a snack from the Ritz or hordevores on a toothpick and you’re happy as a clam. Better yet, give you a dish of crème brû∙lée and a spoon and you’re all smiles.

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But he’s sooo cute!

You’re a high flyer that disdains the lowly practice of roasting marshmallows or wieners. You’re willing to give it a half-hearted attempt and simply go along to get along.

There may be other roasting styles and personality types I’ve missed. If you have a unique story to tell, I’d love to hear it!

We’re being Sold a Bill of Goods

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"Reggae Night" acrylic on canvas

“Reggae Night” acrylic on canvas

Did you ever wonder why styles change – and so often?  Believe you me, it’s all about money!  You think men’s suits are tailored tight to show off their muscles? Wrong! Less material is required which translates into prices the consumer can afford and more profits for the manufacturer.

Some men definitely look good in the slim cut, but most do not. Masculine shoulders may appear smaller and midriffs larger. The overall impression is one of looking at a young man who has outgrown last year’s suit. The manufacturer can charge the same price as a regular cut garment and it costs him less or at least the same. This is one way to beat rising costs.

Women’s clothing is being handled in much the same way. The fashion world has convinced us that tight is sexy. The more cling a fabric has, the better. Some women would be better off not revealing so much. No longer can we cover love handles and inappropriate bulges on backs or thighs. Yet, we’ve been convinced that this is the ultimate in fashion.

Using skimpy foreign fabrics that seldom last as long as materials from previous years, the manufacturers are outsmarting us for higher profits. The consumer continues to pay inflated prices each year for less wear and minimal quality.

"Release" Panel 1 Tropical Parrot

“Release” Panel 1 Tropical Parrot

I have used Bali products for panties, girdles and bras for years. When I discovered that I could no longer get the same quality, I was angry. Their excuse for a girdle now is a flimsy synthetic fabric that is hot and makes you sweat. No longer can you find the substantial materials of yesteryear, and the prices are astronomical.

Whatever happened to that wave of hatred for polyester? Now that’s all they use. We’ve lost our love for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool and silk. They’ve all been replaced with synthetics because they supposedly “never need ironing.” But that’s a crock, because they almost always do.

"Dainty Diva" mixed media on canvas (SOLD) (synthetic fabric)

“Dainty Diva” mixed media on canvas (SOLD) (synthetic fabric)

Synthetics are hot. In Florida the newer fabrics stick to your bottom, and make you feel like you’re having hot flashes even when you’re not. The feminine fabrics are beautiful and irresistible, but most of them are sheer and require buying either a slip or lining and a tank top unless you’re willing to look like a hooker on Saturday night. Having to buy extra accessories means more sales, more profits.

The young don’t care about cost or comfort. I remember wearing stilettos when I was in my twenties. They were excruciatingly painful after wearing them for only a few hours, but we wore them anyway. I blame them for the arthritis I have in my feet today. Youth will sacrifice ease for beauty any day of the week, and the manufacturers are all too eager to make that happen.