Thursday, August 30, 2012

End of Summer

I've always liked the idea of vacationing for the month of August, not for a week before the kids go back to school or a weekend at the lake but taking weeks off to go to the coast or to travel through Europe and recharge. There is the dream and then there is reality. 

So to recharge I'm heading to my family's home in the Colorado mountains this weekend (picture was taken on the deck at the mountain house). We don't have much planned, wandering the small towns at the base of the ski hills, tasting local craft beers, shopping while Paul mountain bikes down the trails, cooking, playing Mexican Train and watching the sunset over the mountains. 

Here's hoping your long weekend is equally as relaxing. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dare to Dash?

On Saturday Paul and I competed in the Warrior Dash, a 3.2 mile run and obstacle course that takes place at various locations throughout the country. Run by Chicago based company Red Frog, Warrior Dash combines a 5k with a festival atmosphere of live music, beer and food vendors, awards and lots and lots of mud.

We teamed with 4 of our friends on Team Booby Trap and competed at the Wisconsin location which included crawling under barbed wire, climbing over rope bridges, barricades, wooden walls, mud pits, swimming through ponds and jumping over fire. You can view the course here. From start to finish the race was about an hour long, with approximately 600 people racing every 30 minutes or so, the obstacles would get congested but the running or walking in-between allowed for people of various fitness levels to participate at their own pace.

Participants are encouraged to compete in team costumes and there were some good ones: ballerinas, super heroes, 80's disco and many others. Everyone racing were very friendly and always willing to help someone who had fallen or had trouble completing the obstacles. It was absolutely the dirtiest I have ever been, from the murky water hazards to the multiple mud pits there is no way to avoid getting wet and muddy. Upon race completion, you get a medal, t-shirt, fuzzy warrior helmet and a free beer! We jumped in a pond, tried to clean off the mud and finally just ditched our shoes, drank our beer and listened to the music.

There is camping available at many of the Warrior Dash locations, however we stayed at our team members cottage in nearby Lake Geneva and relaxed after the Dash at a Cheap Trick concert. We plan on doing the Warrior Dash again next year, maybe I'll see you in the mud pit!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Beagle Book

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been collecting rare and unusual books for years now. A few weeks ago while my sister was visiting we spent an afternoon wandering through resale stores and I bought an old book for $1, The New Complete Beagle: New Edition by Noted Beaglers, originally written in 1956 and republished in 1971. Regular readers will also know that I have a beagle. A rather infamous dog known as "The Talking Beagle" who once upon a time was the subject of my first blog.(That is her in the pic to the left).

A recent conversation with Paul's sister who is also a beagle owner revealed what we already knew...there is no stranger, stubborn, or funny dog than the beagle. As we shared stories of their never-ending quest to find out what food might be at the source of everything they smell, their ability to escape backyards to follow a rabbit or squirrel and their need to be part of a family "pack" I remembered the book I had recently bought. I decided to read through it and see if there was any wisdom when it comes to this unusual breed.

While the book has great photos and drawings of beagles as well as chapters on the history of the beagle, the ideal build and temperament of a beagle and tips for training them for hunting and field trials, the book is not written for the family who owns one as a pet. So for anyone who has a beagle or is considering adopting or rescuing one, here are a few things that make them the coolest but strangest dogs you can imagine.

  • Beagles will eat ANYTHING. 
  • Beagles will do ANYTHING to get to food to eat it. 
  • Beagles are incredibly intelligent. My Beagle learned how to open the refrigerator door to eat everything inside. I now have a steel lock on the refrigerator door. And no I'm not kidding. 
  • Beagles never learn. Did eating that box of cereal they grabbed off the table make them ill? Did they get sprayed by a skunk when they approached the animal in the bush? They will do the same thing over and over again no matter the outcome. 
  • If you are not alpha to a beagle than you are in their pack. Good luck changing the hierarchy.
  • Beagles are wonderful family dogs and excellent companions.
  • Be prepared, they are the most stubborn, exasperating dog you will ever have.
  • They are undoubtedly worth the trouble, when they are not eating, smelling or sleeping they are pure love. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Was Your Favorite Moment of Olympics 2012?

Like viewers around the world, I was glued to the TV every evening during the past 2 weeks to watch the world's top athletes compete in London.

Years ago when it was announced that London would host the 2012 summer Olympics I planned on attending with my son. We have watched the Olympic games together, summer and winter since he was a little boy and the dream of taking him to London to see the Olympics was a great one. I signed up for internet newsletters and early ticket alerts as soon as the official webpages were created and read the progress of the Olympic village and facilities through the British papers. My son enlisted in the military and spent the summer in bootcamp so our Olympic trip did not happen but I faithfully recorded his favorite events so he can watch them when he returns home.

One of my favorite aspects of the Olympics are the personal stories about the athletes. The interviews with their families, the dramatization of hardships and the inspiring path to their Olympic dreams. This year I noticed more stories about the athletes who were raised by single moms including gymnast Gabby Douglas and superstar swimmer Michael Phelps. There were also the stories of the sacrifices the families of Olympic athletes make to pay for the training and travel that world class athletes require. It takes more than great talent to get to the Olympics and that's what makes the games so inspiring.

Now that the Olympics are over, websites and television are highlighting the "Greatest moments of the Olympics". There were so many. Watching double amputee Oscar Pistorius, "The Blade Runner" run in track and field was incredible. Michael Phelps winning his final Olympic medal was a highlight. The American women win their 3rd gold medal in beach volleyball. The complete disbelief on the face of British runner Mo Farah when he crossed the finish line to take gold twice made me cry every time I saw the replay.

But my favorite moment? When American Ashton Eaton completed what may be the most grueling event in the Olympics, the 2nd day of the decathlon to win gold. After his victory he walked to the stands where his mom, a single mother sat with his girlfriend. As the cameras rolled they embraced, hugging and crying so much you can barely understand what they are saying to each other, what you can hear is Ashton say to his mom, "It's the gold medal Mom" and his mom replies, "You did so good". That was my favorite moment of the of the greatest athletes at the games being told by his mom that he did good. Sometimes that is all a child, no matter who they are, needs to hear.

Watch Ashton win the decathlon and then go to his mom here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From Norma to Marilyn

This week is the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe. Websites and magazines have featured Marilyn in articles, released "never seen" photos, rehashed her mysterious death, condemned and praised the most famous woman of the 21st century.

Marilyn's style is classic and continues to be imitated today. For the ladies who are interested in how to create Marilyn's look, often seen on celebrities such as Dita Von Teese, below is a video tutorial by British makeup artist Lisa Eldridge.

If you are interested in books on Marilyn, here are a few I've enjoyed:

Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe by Christopher Nickens
Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla by Andrew Hansford
Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years by Keith Badman

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vintage Style Goes Mainstream

While reading the Chicago Tribune on Sunday I noticed this full page ad and realized vintage is more mainstream than ever.
Maybe it's the popularity of TV shows like Mad Men or Downtown Abbey, or films such as My Week with Marilyn or The Artist. Perhaps it's the return to a classic and timeless style after years of being bombarded with trashy celebrities, flammable cheap clothing made in China and the look-alike style of yoga pants, a North Face jacket and Ugg boots. Whatever is happening, vintage style is everywhere and I'm thrilled.

What particularly delighted me about this ad is her hat of which I own a similar vintage one and her luggage. I have a collection of vintage suitcases and train cases that I use as purses and as carry on bags and in my home as sidetables and as extra storage. You can see a vintage suitcase and wicker train case I currently have for sale at Lively Vintage.

And that brings me to the announcement that Lively Vintage is open! My store on Etsy went live a few days ago and within 24 hours I had my first sale, a small wicker handbag that a young woman in France purchased. However due to the fact that she needed it within a week for a wedding we agreed that express shipping to France would be too costly, 10 times as much as the $12 cost of the purse. So the item has been re-listed. There are currently 23 items in the store, I have at least 2 dozen more items to list including vintage handbags from the early 19th century to the 1950's. The collection is my Mom's, she has been buying vintage bags for years and includes some amazing Whiting & Davis 1920's era purses. I also have more clothes and household items to list and as I become more creative with the styling the pictures will get better and better.

If you are looking to do some vintage shopping in the Chicago area and want some tips or if you are looking for a particular vintage piece, let me know via email at livelyvintage [at] gmail [dot] com.