This is Wendell.
To those of you who are avid followers of the famous website Humans of New York, this man probably looks familiar. You have read posts about him here, or here, or perhaps here. Needless to say, he’s a regular sight to NYC residents as he travels around displaying his self-made fashions and modeling them on some of the area’s most famous statues, including this prominent homage to Gandhi.
Seeing Wendell’s photo pop up on my Facebook mini-feed this morning instigated some serious thoughts about why fashion is something that I care about in my day-to-day existence. While some people may love fashion because they care about branding themselves with elite designer labels, I couldn’t possibly care any less about having money, fame, or upscale duds.
I came to the realization that fashion is a fascinating entity because it offers a physical outlet for self-expression. What appears to be a hideous mess to one individual is a beautiful treasure to another, all because of our differing tastes and inclinations as humans. If we take the time to ponder why people gravitate towards certain garments and integrate them into their lifestyles and identities, then fashion can truly be a study in anthropology and psychology.
Some of the most fashionable people I have ever encountered have been members of our society’s most poverty-stricken populations. Just recently, I saw a woman in a Charlotte thrift store who was wearing a threadbare, leopard-print trench coat paired with very faded black jeans and scuffed boots.
While I’ve never been a fan of animal prints, I found myself staring at this woman in admiration, enthralled by the goddess-like way in which she carried herself. She had a greater sense of fashion than any celebrity or supermodel I have ever seen, all because of the confidence and security in her identity that she oozed in the most ordinary circumstances.
Perhaps she couldn’t afford newer clothing, or maybe she just loved those items and wanted to rock them as long as she could. Regardless, she flipped through the racks of $4 women’s shirts with more grace and sophistication than the women who spend hundreds- even thousands- on designer threads at South Park Mall’s finest specialty stores.
I enjoy experimenting with and blogging about fashion not because I’m a materialist who lusts over labels. In fact, the most elite items I own are those gleaned from the crowded sale room at Anthropologie. Rather, I enjoy the aesthetic beauty that comes from unique combinations of colors, fabrics, and silhouettes that are appealing to me as an individual.
If fashion is truly about passion, innovation, and a flair for all things fabulous, then Wendell is just as much of a designer as Vera Wang or Diane Von Furstenberg will ever be.
Who’s the most fashionable person you have ever encountered and why? Tell me all about him or her below!
“Bless your heart” is often an insult coated so heavily in sweet tea and hush puppy batter that its sentiment cuts deeper than a more outward brand of meanness.
But just as frequently, if not more often, it is an empathetic phrase Southerners use when they hear that bad things have happened to good people. While it was sarcastically blasted at me on occasion by disgruntled customers when I worked at a grocery store during my college years, I have never heard the phrase more than when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer or when my sister wrote off my entire family with no logical reasoning behind her severance. Instead of making me feel disrespected, the phrase brought tears to my eyes because the person who said it was attempting to reach out and make me feel as though someone understood what I was experiencing.
Yes, people have the power to churn up feelings of pain and sadness with their words, but they can use those same words to spread joy and happiness to those they encounter. “Bless your heart” is a phrase that consists of three simple building blocks, yet the intentions and emotions behind them is what ultimately decides whether the phrase is uplifting or degrading.
I’ll admit that, at times, I expect the worst from people because many of the individuals in whom I had instilled the most trust in my life turned out to be anything but trustworthy. However, as I’m maturing both in years and in state of mind, I’m coming to realize that the only time wasted in life is that spent focusing on negativity that I can’t control.
I firmly believe that there are people in life who are intrinsically “bad,” who allow themselves to focus their energies on hurting rather than serving others. I will also ashamedly admit that I have spent a lot of time crying over this type of person, musing over how they can be so cold and disconnected. In doing so, I was allowing “bad people” to dull the brightness I try to exude to others, diminishing my potential to do good and make a difference in the lives of those I encounter.
I refuse to do that ever again. As Martin Luther King, Jr., famously asserted, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Instead of seething over the person who cut you off and flipped you the bird, patiently wait as an elderly person takes five minutes to pull out of his space in a busy parking lot. Rather than cry over a family member who disowns you because you don’t share common religious beliefs, show your new neighbor how much you appreciate the diversity she brings to the community by complimenting her ethnic clothing and showing interest in her culture’s traditions.
Wallowing in a depressive darkness over those who have done us wrong will accomplish nothing. I know first-hand how tough it can be to avoid focusing on the ways in which people have hurt us, but spreading love, empathy, and kindness to all we encounter will achieve greater things than we could ever imagine and drown out those with harmful intentions.
Chris and I recently spent a weekend in one of my favorite towns in the entire United States, Asheville, NC. It’s incredible to me how the entire city of Asheville can collectively exude feelings of hospitality, kindness, and respect for any type of person who may walk its streets. On our way to nosh on jam-smothered biscuits at the delicious Biscuit Head restaurant, it seemed only fitting that we would park our car next to this tiny garage-turned-preschool with the words “Bless your heart” painted on the side.
Regarding street style, every outfit I wore during our short stay in Asheville consisted of multiple layers. While we were naturally warmed by the sun during an afternoon spent picking apples, we were freezing that evening when a light dusting of snow flurries transcended upon us. This outfit was my personal favorite because I layered feminine pieces and paired them with slim pants and boots in shades reminiscent of fall leaves. There’s no reason to dress in all darker, neutral shades simply because we are in the midst of a cooler season.
Sweater: Kay Cardigan by Moth (Anthropologie)
Most of you know that while Veggies and Glitter is my own personal writing endeavor, I am also a freelance writer by trade. Many of the publications with which I work regularly have been all about preparing for Black Friday, and I’ll admit that I have been assigned to write a handful of articles about how to prepare for and get the most out of the biggest shopping day of the year.
All of this discussion about Black Friday has led me to seriously contemplate its evolution over time. During my “growing up” years, I stormed the floors of the Mall of America with my aunt on Black Friday as a sort of tradition almost every year, but times were drastically different back in the mid-1990s than they are now. We never arrived at the mall before 6 a.m. and certainly never camped out in front of our favorite stores on Thursday night. Our focus on Black Friday was on spending quality together rather than filling shopping bags with designer goods for bargain bin prices.
Black Friday has evolved from being a rather lighthearted, post-Thanksgiving “scavenger hunt” for treasures to an extremely rabid race for deals that, more often than not, aren’t even that great. The fact that so many stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving morning, keeping them open until Friday night, has convinced me that Black Friday has become a beast I’m not willing to take on this year. While I love to shop and am usually up for a bargain, I’m too concerned about the human casualties being sacrificed in the face of profits.
When my husband was first a manager at a popular “mall store” selling designer denim, the bustling Black Friday crowds were undoubtedly stressful for him to handle, but he was still able to leisurely enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving before taking on the madness of the following day.
However, as the years went on, his scheduled time of arrival crept up to the point that he and I could no longer spend the holiday with my parents, who lived just three hours away from where we resided, because he had to be clocked in at such an early hour on Friday morning- or, ahem- Thursday night. Instead of enjoying Thanksgiving, he ended up spending most of the day stressing about the fact that he had to be prepared for a 12-hour (or more) shift at the end of the night.
A growing number of retail giants are feeling the pressure from competitors and consumers to open their doors on Thursday and keep them open through the night. While it seems as though only the traditional big box stores like Target and Best Buy would do so, smaller and more specialized retailers like Old Navy and Bath and Body Works have jumped on the bandwagon this year.
As much as I dislike “big business” and would love to entirely blame the problem on the corporate world, I have to admit that our culture plays a huge part in making these retailers believe that such drastic actions will be profitable. Despite that many of the people I know and love will be stuck in stores instead of spending time with their families on Thanksgiving, I also know just as many individuals who are excitedly waiting to head out to the stores on both Thursday and Friday. What many of the most extreme Black Friday shoppers seem to forget is that these stores must be stocked with not just a normal staff but with an abundance of manpower, pulling many employees away from their families and preventing many of them from traveling to see loved ones.
I’ve heard the argument so many times that those employees who don’t want to work on Thanksgiving should just ask for the day off, but those who have spent even a short time working in retail can attest to the fact that it’s just not that simple. While I was in college, I remember working retail and having my manager ironically black out the store’s “request off” chart for both Thanksgiving and the following day. The only way anyone had either day off was if someone died or if they were basically on the brink of death themselves.
Thankfully, I worked close enough to home that it never impacted me much, but many of my coworkers were forced to spend Thanksgiving apart from family members simply because they couldn’t go home and be back at the crack of dawn on Friday to work, and this was at a time when most stores opened later on Black Friday than they do now.
While some people label all Black Friday shoppers as shallow and materialistic, I completely understand that for many families, Black Friday is simply a fun outing rather than an intentional slap in the face at the sentiment of gratitude that Thanksgiving represents.
While I firmly believe that you can make the biggest impact by abstaining from shopping at all on Black Friday, there are several things you can do to show retailers that you disagree with their decision to make their employees choose between work and family time this holiday season:
- Shop online. Many retailers feature the same deals online that they do in their brick-and-mortar stores; showing retailers that shoppers are just as happy picking out deals via their laptops sends the message that it’s not necessary to keep their stores open on Thanksgiving and/or the wee hours of Friday morning. Additionally, if you’re patient enough to wait until Cyber Monday, you may find that the deals are even better than those featured on Black Friday.
- Only shop during normal hours. Try to refrain from lining up in front of your favorite store at 3 a.m. Retailers pay attention to when they are making the most profit, so if it doesn’t actually pay off to open before the sun rises, there’s no reason for them to do so. By shopping during regular operating hours, you can show retailers that it’s completely unnecessary for them to open on Thanksgiving or at the crack of dawn on Friday morning. Retailers like Dillards and Von Mar have already jumped off the extreme Black Friday bandwagon; they will remain closed on Thanksgiving and won’t open their doors again until 8 or 9 a.m. on Friday morning.
- Only buy what you need. There is the argument that some families are financially restricted this time of year and take advantage of Black Friday deals to get the most for their money. If that’s the case, buy only those items at the top of your list. Better yet, scour the Web for deals available before and after Black Friday. For example, I recently bought a pair of pants at a department store the other day that were cheaper than the cost advertised in the store’s Black Friday flyer.
- Make some noise. In the age of social media, we have more outlets to express our feelings and opinions than ever before. Use Twitter, Facebook, and “the blogosphere” to express to retailers that Black Friday has gone too far. Together we can make a change, but we can’t complain about the way things are if we aren’t willing to stand up for what we believe is right. After being married to a retail manager, I also want to urge you to please keep in mind that most of the managers-on-duty at these stores didn’t choose to open their doors on Thanksgiving and are simply abiding by corporate orders. You’ll make more of an impact by sending your thoughts to corporate offices instead of raking the employees who are in the stores over the coals!
- Make a new tradition. With all of the press about the craziness of Black Friday, nonprofit organizations and retailers alike have teamed up for what’s been deemed as “Giving Tuesday.” Spearheaded by The United Nations Foundation, this movement is focused on challenging people to move away from the extreme consumerism of Black Friday and dedicate more of their time and/or money to supporting philanthropic causes on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Why wait until Tuesday? I think it’s a great idea to change up a Black Friday tradition by channeling the sentiment of Giving Tuesday and volunteering as a family or group of friends on the day after Thanksgiving.
The decision to shop or abstain on Black Friday is a personal one that is ultimately up to you to make. Regardless of your choice, keep in mind the spirit of Thanksgiving even after the turkey and cranberries have been put away and remember to treat people as you would want them to treat you or your loved ones.
What are your personal opinions about Black Friday consumerism? Share your thoughts below!
I’m not too big on extremely sweet drinks, but this time of year, there’s just something warm and inviting about a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Chris and I usually have a box of instant mix on hand for evenings when company may drop by, even if cocoa mixes are pretty unimpressive when it comes to nutritional quality.
However, the instant packets are now forever banned from our little family’s pantry. After seeing a display featuring both pumpkin-flavored baking mix and traditional hot cocoa on my last trip to the grocery store, a brilliant thought popped into my brain:
Why not combine those two unique flavors to create a pumpkin-flavored hot cocoa?
As I was gathering the ingredients I needed to test out the recipe and see if my idea would actually work, I realized I had neglected my morning cup of coffee. Then an even better thought replaced that from my original moment of genius, and I decided to add a cup of coffee to the saucepan, creating a creamy pumpkin mocha latte instead of pumpkin hot chocolate.
If you aren’t a fan of coffee, simply omit the last ingredient and you’ll end up with an incredible pumpkin hot chocolate. My husband detests the taste of espresso, so I made this same recipe without the coffee addition, and he was in cocoa heaven.
Before I share the recipe with you, I want to thank Trader Joe’s for having exceptionally long lines on Sunday afternoons and leaving me to ponder thoughts of brilliance. I’m going to make a point from now on to visit your store during the busiest moments in hopes that I will continue to be inspired by your store displays.
What do I need?
- 3 cups of a milk of your choice (I have used almond milk and skim milk on separate occasions, and both worked well.)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tablespoons agave
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee of your choice (Both times I whipped up this drink, I used Caribou Coffee’s Reindeer Blend, which is a darker, bolder roast. The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee taste will be.)
What do I do?
Okay, get ready: This one is especially difficult. And yes, for those of you who have a difficult time picking up on it, that is indeed sarcasm at its finest. ;)
1. Whisk together the ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Heat on the stovetop until it is steaming, being careful to continue stirring so the drink doesn’t burn. Divide between two mugs and cuddle up with a loved one to watch a holiday movie while you enjoy the delicious flavor combination.
Have you missed the other recipes in my “Pumpkin without the Pooch” series? Don’t fret. You can still catch up! Just check out my “Healthy Eats” page to access the recipes I have previously posted.
I’m convinced that whoever first invented macaroni and cheese must have never tried campanelle noodles.
While Chris and I have always been huge pasta fans, it wasn’t until we started regularly visiting uptown Charlotte’s Vapiano that we were exposed to the majestic wonder of campanelle pasta. Just one taste of Vapiano’s creamy alfredo sauce poured over campanelle pasta made in-house will change your life forever.
Because of its hollow center and fluted edges, campanelle pasta is the perfect shape for capturing whatever zesty sauce in which you have immersed it, blending especially well in texture and taste with cheesy alfredo sauces. Besides these obvious qualities that make campanelle superior to macaroni, doesn’t “campanelle and cheese” just have a better ring to it?
As much as I would love dining in our regular booth at Vapiano every night of the week, there’s no way that Chris and I could ever afford it. Even though it would obviously be expensive, I’m also referring to our health. While Vapiano’s alfredo campanelle is incredibly delicious, it’s also undoubtedly loaded with heavy cream and more grams of fat than either of us should eat in an entire week. I’m normally one who wants to know the truth about everything, but I prefer the exact calorie count of my pasta of choice at Vapiano to remain a mystery.
This delicious pasta bake combines the taste of campanelle pasta and creamy alfredo sauce with half the calories. Baked in a sauce made with skim milk and reduced-fat cheddar cheese, this decadent pasta dish also gives you a full serving of veggies with the addition of broccoli florets.
What do I need?
- 1 package of broccoli florets (I often use the Green Giant bag from the fresh produce section at my local grocery store. You could also use about 4 cups of broccoli florets that you have cut yourself, but I sometimes feel like being lazy and encourage you to also save yourself some work whenever possible. ;))
- 8 oz. (1/2 box) campanelle noodles (I unfortunately cannot find a whole grain or whole wheat variety of campanelle in the grocery stores near our apartment. PLEASE let me know if you can find this anywhere, and I’ll be on it! )
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper (just a pinch of each)
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 cups reduced-fat cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (for topping)
- 1/8 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese (for topping)
What do I do?
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the campanelle for about six minutes. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water and boil both ingredients for another 4 minutes before draining and setting to the side.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook gently for about a minute. Then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and cook for about five minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Stir in cheese until it has melted; then remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
- In an ovenproof casserole dish (I used a 1.5-qt. size), combine the pasta, broccoli and sauce.
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese and broil for about 3 minutes.
While I did make several changes to make it my own, this recipe is based on Whole Foods’ “Macaroni and Trees” recipe.
I’ve been M.I.A. in the world of blogging this week because Chris and I traveled to Raleigh for a very important occasion. This event required lots of hard work, dedication, and perseverance, wholly demanding our undivided attention.
I’m making it sound as though I’ve been doing completing professional tasks this week; in actuality, I have been lusting over Mr. Justin Timberlake. To be fair, maintaining patience while scouring the Web for affordable tickets did require all of those honorable attributes, and it was certainly impossible not to be engrossed in his entire performance.
Chris and I traveled about three hours from our home in Charlotte to see JT bust a move in Raleigh, NC. This was a pretty big deal for me, as it’s been a while since Justin and I were together in the same venue. The last time I saw JT perform was when I was about 13 and he was still sporting that blonde-dusted afro and coordinating outfits with Britney Spears. Needless to say, he’s come a long way since then.
This is slightly embarrassing, but I recall actually shaking when my parents handed me a pair of tickets to *N SYNC’s “Celebrity” tour on my birthday; the prospect of seeing JT live was just too much for my little body to take. I rocked out in the nosebleed section all night long, ignoring my sister’s boredom as she waited for the night to end so she could be done chaperoning and move on with her life.
While the event was unforgettable for me, I do have to admit that we could barely make out the giant LCD screens at the front of the stadium and only knew Justin was on stage from the sound of his voice pumping out of the speakers. We had the disadvantage of living in a huge metropolitan area with an equally gigantic arena, so unfortunately, there were LOTS of bad seats in the house.
JT must have remembered pathetic kids like me from back then as he planned this tour. He made a deliberate point of performing for everyone in the audience at his show in Raleigh, regardless of whether they were close enough to touch the stage or shoved against the back wall of the arena.
As you can see from my admittedly grainy photos (Sorry, I had to rely on my cell phone!), there was a long period of time during the show where a portion of the stage was transported above the audience on the floor so he could perform more directly in front of those of who were further from the stage. At some point during the concert, each audience member had a relatively up-close encounter with Mr. Timberlake.
The entire show was reminiscent of a classy lounge act, as JT sported a killer suit and a polished demeanor throughout the show. The way he incorporated his new band, The Tennessee Kids, into performances of his older work demonstrated how he has been able to maintain his identity but also evolve as an artist.
Taking only a ten-minute break in the middle of his set, he performed flawlessly for about 2.5 hours; we didn’t even drive out of the parking lot until well after midnight. Now that he has announced a Charlotte tour date this summer, I am officially on the prowl for tickets. While the show in Raleigh was excellent, it would be awesome to be able to see one of my favorite artists of all time perform in my current city.
Necklace: From a local vendor in Austin, Texas (I hate that I don’t know the name of the place!)
Top: Soprano (Nordstrom)
Skirt: Flurried Plumes Midi by Edme & Esyllte (Anthropologie)
Boots: Emma Linen Booties by 67 Collection (Anthropologie)
Jacket: Forever 21
Tights: Xhilaration (Target)
While coming up with concert outfits is normally an easy task for me, I had a really difficult time deciding what to wear to this show; unfortunately, I had to come up something two days in advance because we were traveling to Raleigh.
I knew I would be doing a lot of dancing and was bound to increase my body temperature as the night went on, but it was FREEZING in Raleigh. I wasn’t about to join the mass of women who were wearing tanks, mini skirts, and strapless dresses as they entered the venue. And I certainly wasn’t about to recreate my 2001 *N SYNC outfit of a red Old Navy halter top, black pedal-pushers, and sparkly flip-flops. Unfortunately, there is photographic proof that the outfit existed, but you won’t see me sharing it here.
When Anthro first released this skirt, I instantly fell in love because of its versatility, pattern and structure. Not only could I wear it in my teaching days, it was also an appropriate piece for any nice event I could possibly attend, from dinner parties to family gatherings.
However, I never saw myself wearing it to a JT concert. Paired with a loose dove-gray tank, brown tights, and booties, I felt like the skirt went well with JT’s new “grown-up” vibe. Slipping a moto jacket atop the tank completed the look and was also practical for the event; while I wore it as we approached the venue, I was able to take it off when I wanted to dance and “Take Back the Night.”
Sorry, I couldn’t help being corny there.
The Raleigh Set List:
- “Pusher Love Girl“
- “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)”
- “Rock Your Body“
- “Don’t Hold the Wall“
- “Like I Love You“
- “My Love“
- “Strawberry Bubblegum“
- “Summer Love“
- “Until the End of Time“
- “Holy Grail“
- “Cry Me a River“
- “Only When I Walk Away”
- “True Blood”
- “Drink You Away”
- “Tunnel Vision“
- “Let the Groove Get In“
- “That Girl”
- “Not a Bad Thing”
- “What Goes Around“
- “Take Back the Night“
- “Suit & Tie“