Pink Haired Girl

This illustration is based on a photo shared as part of the #Tekenuurtje challenge on Instagram. I thought the pose and clothes would be fun to draw and I really did enjoy working on this illustration, especially the hair and the folds in the sleeves.

Pink Haired Girl

*The only way I can figure out to share the original image is via the post on my Instagram account where swiping will take you to the source photo.

Stylish Couple

One of the things I really need to practice and refine is the drawing of poses and of more detailed clothing. Therefore, when I stumbled across the #Tekenuurtje challenge on Instagram, I thought I would have a try at participating. The host artist, Linda van den Berg, shares photos and artists are invited to create an illustration of one of the images in whatever medium they like.

I was immediately enchanted with a portrait of an older couple wearing stylish clothes, complete with statement hats and scarves*. It was fun drawing their poses and all of the elements of their clothing. I think I will try participating in this challenge again.

Stylish Couple

*The easiest way I can share the source photo with you is to link to my Instagram post.

Small Differences: Mom Uniforms

I have noticed a definite trend among the mothers I see at school drop off and pick up time or the mothers who are pushing carts around the supermarket.  By and large they dress in an almost identical way and it seems that the donning of yoga pants to do things other than yoga is compulsory.  These moms do not appear to have poor personal hygiene so I am assuming they each have multiple pairs of identical yoga pants making up a considerable proportion of their wardrobe.  The yoga pants are usually black but some non-conformists wear grey.  I did see one very daring mother sporting purple yoga pants once.  But just the once.  The yoga pants are often worn combined with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt or hooded top and I have noticed that often a key accessory to this mom uniform is an insulated flask, especially in the mornings.

I have no objection to yoga pants.  I’m a big believer in the principle that if you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing then you should wear it.  It is, however, not a uniform I will be wearing any time soon.  Or ever. Other people might feel comfortable and confident wearing yoga pants out in public but I just would not.  I actually own two pairs of yoga pants: one pair are old and I wear them when doing grubby household chores; one pair look good as new and are reserved for exercising in.  I am definitely comfortable in them but I would not wear them out in public because, quite frankly, I don’t look very good in them.  Have you ever seen a black pudding bursting out of its skin?  That’s what I look like in yoga pants.  Which has probably more than a little something to do with the fact that my exercising yoga pants look good as new.  I would not feel confident wearing them out among other people, hence I do not wear them other than in the privacy of my own home.  

While I shall not be filling my wardrobe with yoga pants, I do, however, feel that my own “mum uniform” needs tweaking a bit since I moved here.  I don’t think that is because I am no longer in Scotland and America demands a different style; I think it is more because my mum uniform developed over a decade living in a rural location whereas now I live in suburbia.  If you have been following my blog long enough to have caught a glimpse of me in the photos then you will have seen my uniform because I really do wear variations on the same thing every single day.  My staple item is jeans.  No, not those horrible high-waisted, pleated fronted “mom jeans” (I judder at the memory).  Just standard blue denim jeans, sometimes bootcut, sometimes wide legged, mostly just standard.  I then pair these with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt or maybe – if I am going smart casual – a tunic top of some kind.  I even tend to go for the same colours over and over, either neutral colours or peacock jewel colours.  My footwear is seasonal but is a rotation of walking sandals, walking shoes and walking boots.

I was always a tomboy, have always been a bit of a scruff, don’t follow fashion, don’t wear make up or dye my hair and admit to being pretty lazy when it comes to my appearance.  Living in a rural area of Scotland, therefore, suited me down to the ground because my “style” (you can go ahead and snort at me referring to it in that way) was practical for my surroundings and was in keeping with what my friends all wore because we were all being practical. The walk to school was half an hour so I wasn’t ever going to do that in stacked heels even if we imagine I can walk in anything other than flats.  A lot of the places where I walked were damp and muddy.  A pair of suede ballet pumps were never going to cut it.  Jeans, of course, started out as work wear so are eminently practical for all sorts of environments and they can also withstand a great deal of washing.  I moved to Argyll at approximately the same time as I became a mother so the two influences, rural setting and parenthood, evolved and cemented my style.  Gone were the skirts and pretty tops from my days as a High School teacher and on with the jeans and tunic tops (easier for breastfeeding and for not having to buy maternity clothes – wise investment since I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for 8 years).

When we travelled into Glasgow was when I became more acutely aware of the fact that I had adopted a style somewhat out of kilter with my urban counterparts.  There I would see perfectly groomed, fashionable women in stacked heels pushing immaculate, pristine buggies (strollers) around the city centre.  Meanwhile I was in my scrubbed up version of my mum uniform (meaning checking that the jeans I was wearing were perfectly clean and as devoid of fabric skuffing at the hems as possible) and my baby was being pushed around in a buggy that was splattered with mud from walks along the canal bank or a forest trail and battered and buckled from being shoved in the boot (trunk) of the car on long journeys or thrown around in the belly of an aeroplane.  However, my look was justified by my home environment and, of course, I was comfortable.  Comfort always comes first for me.

But now I am living in American suburbia and maybe I need to revise and edit my style again.  Certainly I don’t need to limit myself to sturdy walking footwear anymore.  I now even own a pair of plimsolls with sequins on them.  My hair is still scruffy but I am cool with that.  My hair is bad and I have a phobia about hairdressers so my hair is never going to be anything other than scruffy.  But maybe I could explore broadening my wardrobe beyond the staples that have been my mum uniform for the past eleven years.  I still want to be comfortable and confident and feel like me, of course, so I don’t think there is going to be any massive makeover, just a few tweaks here and there as I gradually replace old, worn out clothes with new bits and bobs.  I may even start to wear more of my jewellery again since I have a pretty reasonable collection that I barely ever wear these days.

I definitely won’t be wearing yoga pants in public though.  Never.  The world is a better, happier place without that in it.

Couponing Versus Bargain-Sniffing

As I have confided in my blog before, I suck at couponing.  I have never been one to shy away from using vouchers for this, that and the other so in Scotland I was considered pretty thrifty with the way I could save money using vouchers and deals.  Here in the US, however, so many people have managed to make couponing a hobby / talent / extreme sport that I am very much in the dunce corner of the remedial group when it comes to saving money using vouchers.  This annoys me because I absolutely love being thrifty.  I am no Ebenezer Scrooge but I definitely experience a thrill knowing I have saved money.

My difficulty here is that the vast majority of coupons – and I am referring to the thick wodge of paper that is deposited in my mailbox once a week – are completely irrelevant to me as they are for products I would just never purchase.  It seems to be that the companies who run these promotions are the ones who sell junk, snacks or processed foods.  I, therefore, use the few coupons that are for food products I use or for household cleaning products and then I shop the in-store deals to drive my grocery bill down.  I do pretty well despite the pile of coupons that just go in the recycling bins each week.  In an average week I can shave almost a quarter off my week’s grocery bill.  Not bad.  Certainly better than I could achieve back in Scotland.

However, I am then reminded what a “loser” couponer I am when I am behind someone in the checkout queue who has managed to reduce their bill from $83 to $32.  My jaw was literally agape last week when that exact thing happened.  Sure I had the supercilious glow of knowing my trolley was a whopping deal healthier and more nutritious than the shopper in front of me but my goodness the thrifty side of me felt like such an also ran.

So here’s the thing that prompted today’s blog entry.  My husband is used to wearing business smart for work.  Back when he worked in London and then when he worked in Scotland, his uniform was a suit, shirt and tie.  Sometimes the shirt was so formal it required cufflinks.  Here in the US he is working somewhere that requires smart casual attire.  In his suits, he feels too formal.  He, therefore, needs a whole new wardrobe of work clothes that fall somewhere between his two usual modes of business smart and at home casual (which sometimes veers on the slobby but hey ho).  That is a whole load of clothes to buy in one go so, of course, it was the perfect challenge for Little Miss Thrifty.

I found the website of a store that sells brand name clothes at reduced prices.  I headed to the clearance section for men’s clothes and I scoured each page weighing up the options, adding things to the virtual basket, occasionally editing the basket as I went on and found a similar item for even less.  Some of the items were as much as 75% off the original price so I was picking up some really good deals, the type that make me feel accomplished.  One jumper (here they are sweaters) was reduced from $45 to $9 so I decided to go into futures at that point and buy several of them.  Once I had created a virtual wardrobe of shirts, jumpers and trousers I set about reducing the total even further by inputting the perfect combination of voucher codes and I had a code for free shipping to boot.  In the end, once I divided the total up, the average came out to $13 per garment.  That is eight pounds sterling, people.  For brand name clothes.

I felt so super-thrifty I had to do a little happy dance and then text my husband to show off.

So I do absolutely bite at couponing but I am still an ace at bargain-sniffing.