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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn


Friday, April 11, 2014

Pre-Viva Fitness Check-In, Final Entry

I am so ASHAMED that I have not done a check-in for this topic since January! as some of you may know, I tend to start a regular feature here and then slowly abandon it due to lack of time. So I do apologize to those of you who were counting on this feature, or perhaps using it to share motivation!

I have been very busy with my Pre-Viva videos on YouTube and family responsibilities. But I have been trying hard to stay on track with my fitness goals in spite of unexpected events and even a trip to New Orleans!

As far as my measurements goal, I think I'm destined to have a 29 inch waist. I know it has been 28 inces in the past, but even though I can feel the muscles becoming firmer beneath that stubborn layer of loose skin etc that will persist, in spite of countless crunches, the measuring tape remains unchanged. So I will be content with that.

My fitness level has improved considerably since I started doing more of the HIIT Cardio routines on Fitness Blender. My squats are deeper and my endurance has greatly increased. The butt of my jeans feels tighter; I consider these all good things.

My water intake has increased as well, and starting March 17th, I have been mostly 'dessert free', other than the brief trip to Louisiana of course. I'm keeping my caloric goal to 'maintaining' level, but not replacing the ones I burn, so that I can continue towards losing those last few pounds. If it happens, great; if not, I have no intention of stopping. There is so much to be said for getting healthy!

I'm determined that even the 'Post Viva Blues' will not hold me back!!

So for the time being, this Check-In is complete. I will catch you on the other side, friends!

Onward and Westward,

Ashley


Monday, April 7, 2014

A Beginner's Guide to Viva Las Vegas-The Rockabilly Weekender


For a few years now, I've been meaning to provide a nice little compact 'guide' of sorts, for those who may be attending the VLV Rockabilly Weekender for the first time. The event has become synonymous with Car Culture, vintage lifestyle, and Rockabilly Music, so it continues to gain in popularity.

I went to my first VLV in 2007, when the event still took place predominantly at The Gold Coast, and I've seen it grow and improve over the years. However, I've also seen it become a bit of a nuisance in certain areas, so much so that many people have chosen to avoid it altogether rather than deal with the crowds, security, and media frenzy involved. I've seen the vintage style I love so much become no more than a novelty that is exploited by tourists and hotel staff alike. However, it is still possible to enjoy the Weekender, and hopefully this guide will provide some valuable hints that will help make your first Viva a good one.

If you follow my Youtube channel, you have likely seen my Packing Video and 'First Timers' videos that were posted this week. All (or most) of this info is available there. I have opted to create this written post for those of you who prefer this medium, but I will post links to those videos also, at the end of this entry. :)



So without further ado:

1.PLANNING:

First, download the free App for Viva. It's a huge time-saver when it comes to both planning and attending. The schedule for all the events is readily available, as are running updates on ticket prices and added entertainment. So that's a no-brainer.

Next, check the schedule and determine what you definitely want to do. My husband has definite acts he likes to see, so it's important that I know how to plan our time with that in mind. So plan your itinerary with the others in your group and if you have different tastes, you can plan to mesh your schedule where you can and separate for some things. If you want to see the Fashion Show and your fella or room mates want to head to the pool, don't sweat it. Do your thang. Let them do theirs. Everybody wins.

If you're going, as many of us are, principally for the music, don't tie yourself to just the acts you know. Look them all up on Youtube and you may be surprised what you find! I tend to always look up the acts from Scandanavia first; I am utterly thrilled by the grasp of American music that the groups from these countries showcase. I also love to research bands from Japan, where so much of the most authentic Rockabilly music is surfacing, and this year, I discovered a fella from Germany who just tickles me to death. :)



So take some time to give the bands a listen!

If you are a fashion lover, and the vendors are your driving motivation, I cannot stress enough how important it is to BE THERE WHEN THE VENDOR ROOMS OPEN! It's hectic, yes. It's mayhem, yes. But it is SO worth it. The best vintage items will go quickly so to have your pick of the litter, you must be on hand, be bold, and have some cash. Some vendors won't wait for you to go to the ATM. That perfect circle skirt is only yours if you can pay for it, friend.
Head for the vintage vendors first, since those pieces are one-of-a-kind. If you love something, buy it then. Don't wait. If you like something, but want to hold off...I say wait for Sunday when prices tend to go down. Do not, especially on Thursday, try to bargain with the vendors too much. These people have paid great expense to be there and most of them sell vintage every day, so they are pricing it according to what it's worth to THEM to sell it. Keep that in mind.

I usually buy reproduction or vintage styled garments that are manufactured in larger quantities at the Car Show. It's just more fun to shop there, I'll admit.

Finally, begin making your list. I put mine together thusly:

At the top of my list, I usually put all pertinent information to my trip: Confirmation numbers, flight information, this year's instructions for obtaining your pass etc. Losing this info is a big party -pooper, so stay on top of it!

Next comes anything 'tech' related. Cameras, computers, cords, batteries, chargers. I do not need to be without these things. Part of my trip is business related so this info must take precedence if I want to avoid unexpected expense and hiccups.

After the electronic devices, comes items I'll be carrying on the plane or in my purse. Books, sunglasses (I bring pairs in my luggage as well), phone, snacks etc.

Then comes the real list:

TOILETRIES


Go through your bathroom and write down EVERYTHING you use on a regular basis. Try not to miss anything, even small things like a headband to hold your hair back when you wash. All items from Shampoos to toothpaste to prescriptions go on this portion of the list. Where you CAN, buy travel toiletries to save space in your luggage.Don't forget feminine products if that will be an issue on your vacation, and pack a heavy weight conditioner and body lotion just in case the dry climate makes your hair unmanageable or your skin tight.

FIRST AID/EXTRAS:
The dry climate presents quite a few issues that I did not anticipate. There are also some 'good sense' things to consider. Here are a few items I recommend for the trip, in this category:

1.Headache Meds (Someone you meet or know will want them.)

2.Spray Deoderant (this is a perfect way to keep blisters as bay, when you use it on your feet. Prepare for the walking in any way you can.)

3.Moleskin Padding: Bring along a little pair of scissors to cut the padding to fit over 'hot spots' you develop on your feet. The best way to prevent blisters.

4.Blister Bandaids: the ones for this purpose keep out water, if you go swimming, and protect and heal the blister faster.

5. Water: (no, don't bring a 12 pack on the plane with you, but stock UP at a local market before arriving at the hotel and keep it handy in your room. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, drink 8 oz or more of water. It's so IMPORTANT to stay hydrated in the desert!)

6. Sunblock: Go for a high SPF so you can stay in the sun longer. The hotel is chilly...it is NOT FUN to walk into those hallways with a sunburn. Brrrrr!

7. Eye Drops: Moisturizing eye drops are a great choice for keeping the red out of your cat-eyes.

8. Saline Nasal Spray: Don't buy Afrin! Just the simple 'Ocean' spray is what you need to keep nasal passages clear and non-irritated.

9. Protein Bars: Drinking champagne late and eating dinner early can make you queasy in the morning, even if you don't overdo it. Protein bars in your suitcase will get you ready for the day even better than the first cup of coffee.

10. Sewing Kit: For unexpected button or hem problems.

11. Safety Pins: You or a friend will be forever glad you remembered them.

12. Cozy socks: for the hotel room...carpets are nasty,ya'll.

13. Preparation H: For puffy eyes, in the morning. Yep. I said it.


Once you get this stuff in check, move on to:

STYLING PRODUCTS/TOOLS:

Again, take stock of what you use regularly, over the course of a few days. If you're planning wet sets, make sure to pack a good setting solution. For a heat setting, include a heat protectant. This section of the list is also where you'd put hair accessories (consider which ones you really want to use, so as not to overpack), bobby pins, curling irons, pin curl clips, and hair spray. For the latter, I don't recommend a travel sized option since you're likely to use more than that with all of the 'dolling up' you'll do.


If you're planning to use rollers and pin curls as your principal setting, don't forget to bring a heated set or a curling iron as 'back-up'. You can't be certain how your curls will turn out if you've never experienced desert weather.

CLOTHES


Now it's time to plan your outfits!

As tempting as it may be to just throw your favorite stuff in a suitcase and decide what to wear on the fly, it will likely not be your best option for Viva.

Don't limit your fun by wasting time with making decisions! Plan your outfits and be done with it!

This portion of the guide will help you figure what is best for certain events. Then you're on your own..

For Daytime Events:

Go for stylish floaty comfort. Wear shoes that have been well broken in, since this is when most of your walking will take place. If you are most comfortable in pants, playsuits, and shorts, rest assured you won't be alone. Carry a sweater for your strolls through the hotel but carry a large bag so you can store it away when you're outside.

Below are some examples of past Viva Daytime Attire:

Thursday Afternoon:


Friday Afternoon Pool Party:



Saturday Car Show:


Sunday Pool Party:


For Evening Events:

For evening, you can go a little more formal, a little bolder. A bit of sparkle never hurt anyone in Vegas. So feel free to explore fashion that would be entirely too garish at home. Here are some evening attire pics at VLV, to inspire you:

Thursday Evening:

Friday Evening:

Saturday Evening:

Sunday Evening:


PACKING:

Once you've planned your outfits, move on to packing.

I get my planned clothing cleaned in plenty of time, so that I can keep those items put aside for about a month prior to packing. I am no packing expert, but I find that by putting shoes in the bottom of the bag, filling in the space between them with smaller items like underwear, really saves space. Also,put your foldable items in large gallon ziploc bags, squeeze all the air out, and place them on top. Place toiletries in a hanging organizer, to keep them together, and anything product-wise that doesn't fit, can go into the pockets of your case. But MAKE SURE that they are placed into a plastic bag first, so as to prevent leaks during travel.

AFTER YOU ARRIVE:
Obtain some cash, if you haven't already. Separate food money from spending money and plan how much you'd like to spend each day. Keep large cases of water in your room along with beer or any other beverage you plan to consume in larger qualities.

I always unpack as soon as possible to help my clothes recover and feel more 'settled'. I detest living out of a suitcase, so to speak.

Anyway, that about covers it!

Here are the links to the videos I mentioned earlier in this post:
Viva for First Timers
Viva Packing Video

Hopefully this helped some of you! I hope that your first Viva will be amazing and that these tips contributed to that somewhat. And I hope you find some time to relax as well.

It's a vacation after all!


Til Next Time,
So Long, Dearies!!

XXoo,
Ashley


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lady Marlene Bra Review

In the interests of finding a good vintage-shaped longline bra that also provides adequate support to the waist, I came across this one and thought it deserved some blog-time. 'Came Across' is actually a stretch of a statement, since actually Katherine, the extraordinary designer of Whirling Turban dresses, is the one who referred me to it.

The problem with the Goddess Bra I have been using is that it comes up pretty high on my chest, which means my Whirling Turban pieces as well as many of my vintage tops fall a bit below the bra line and it peeks a bit. :( I have edited this out of many photos but you can see the bra in some of my Viva photos, for sure. So I opted to find a black bra, but also a slightly different style.

Before purchasing the Lady Marlene, the Goddess Longline bra with a Rago Waist Nipper over the top of it has served me really well. The bra provides the clean vintage line without that signature padding prevalent in so many of today's modern bras, and the waist nipper gives me a lot of great definition at the waist. I discuss the pairing of these two items in more detail in this video:

)

But again, the height of the Goddess sometimes presents a problem, so Katherine suggested the Lady Marlene in Black to see how it suited me. The style number she recommended was the 986, as unfortunately not all the longline bras from this company are created 'equally'.

The 986, unfortunately, is DIFFICULT to come by. It seems to have been discontinued so is really only available at a limited number of boutiques and sellers on Ebay. The Ebay sellers I checked had it in my size, but not in the right color. I finally found it through the following shop, which I had not heard of previously, and so although I was worried about ordering from a company with which I was unfamiliar, I went ahead and splurged on the bra.
http://www.alexis4u.com/Lady_Marlene.htm

I paid a pretty good price of 69.99, and the bra arrived quickly and was indeed a new item with tags.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

At first glance, the bra looked different than the photos I'd seen. There is no 'nude' lining or sheer effect on the one I received,which I'll admit disappointed me a bit since it's the prettiest thing about the design, in my opinion.

That said, it looked very true to the photo otherwise and all the seams, garters, and closures were excellent quality.

The cups are not set extremely close together, which might be a problem if your breasts are situated that way, but since mine are more spaced out, the cup design was perfect. The elastic panels at the waist seemed very resilient, as if they would hold the mid-section in place much better than Spanx or the like. The zipper is placed OVER a set of hook and eye closures, so there is extra security as well as integrity to this portion of the bra, a key factor for front-closure bras or bustiers. The length is much longer than my vintage longline or Goddess bra, which both cut off at my true waist, and truly does mimic the look and length, at first inspection, of my Goddess coupled with the Rago I mentioned previously.

FIT:

To my satisfaction, the bra fit exactly as it should and has a lovely supportive shape that is perfect for strapless or backless vintage designs. It has a smooth look beneath clothes, the closures hold up excellently after hours of wear, and the garter straps are of the same quality as my Rago items... another plus! I always have to fill out cups without padding (these cups are lined, but not padded) using silicone enhancers, and this is true of the Lady Marlene as well. But I feel very supported in this bra and in my opinion, it's an extremely attractive option for vintage clothing!!

CONS:
My only complaint with this bra is that, although the elastic panels at the sides hold me in nicely and give me a very smooth line beneath clothing (much better than Spanx), the waist is not the best for definition. So my Goddess/ Rago combo is still the best for items that fall at my true waist and which can make me look a little thick in the middle if I don't help them along.


All in all, if you can find one, I say snap it up! It's a worthy investment for fitted bombshell styles and better than any other bra I've seen for low-backed gowns and tops.

More later, Dearies!!

xxoo,
Ashley








Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Week in Freemont Street: Rockin Rollers and Fitness

Ifeel like I've fallen out of touch with blog-world and it's a shame really, because blogging was my first online love. I miss checking in with my fellow beauty bloggers, and discovering new sites and styles with them. I guess I've put a little too much time into thinking about what might be an interesting to my readers and not enough time just diving in!

So here you go,a written, easily accessible link to what I've been doing all week in the way of fitness, style, and shenanigans.

I've been promising all of you a written review of those awesome little dealios called 'Rockin' Rollers'. I've been using the holy heck outta these things recently and a video tutorial was a must:



But without having to trudge through a tutorial for the sake of a review, here is the long and short of it:

These are the same rollers you've seen in the drugstore under a different name, repackaged by Lauren Rennells, the author of the book: Vintage Hairstyling. I trust Lauren's opinion wholeheartedly so I was especially pleased to see that she had written an easy-to-follow instruction booklet to accompany the rollers, including tips on how to use the rollers as a hair filler for elaborate styles.
My first thoughts were that I didnt think something that snaps in place can possibly stay put in my slick, fine hair. And in some ways that's true, since rolling my layered hair up while dry was next to impossible. But once I got the hang of it and texturized my hair a bit with some mousse and setting lotion, rolling it up was pretty easy. Snapping the ends together and linking the following roller to it, like a chain, also gets easier with practice. The end of the roller is also pretty flat so it can be pinned in place with a bobby pin to prevent slipping.

Sleeping on these rollers is a cinch. I put an invisible hair net over the top to keep them still and the next morning, they had not budged an inch. Hair that has been sprayed moist dries very quickly due to the porous fabric casing and they're very comfortable while snoozing.

The real appeal, however, is undoubtedly the results. The curls are tight but shiny, bouncy but durable. Even in my high humidity environment, the set was long-lasting and even though there are only 12 rollers, there were plenty to provide a variety of curl types.


So obviously I'm a big fan of these things and I absolutely feel that purchasing the ones on Lauren's site are worth the extra money. Not only because I want to support this lady in all she does, but because I doubt I would have given them a chance if her nifty booklet hadnt beckoned to me.


Product Score: 9/10
________________________________

Belated Fitness Check-In

Viva Fitness Check-In: Weeks 6 and 7

I missed a week in my plan to report weekly about my Fitness progress. During that time, I revisited the Dr Oz 3-day Cleanse. I still feel it's a great way to reboot the system and if you can curb your eating habits when you are done with the cleanse, can really jump-start good habits. I feel more fit than ever; I can get through the 100's workout without even getting very winded, and although I haven't measured my progress in inches lost, I can feel that my clothes are looser. I even bought some new underwear, to celebrate!

So that was the week in review.

Til Next Time,
So Long, Dearies!!






Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pre Viva Fitness Check In-Week Five


So here we are in week five.

Not much to report. I slipped up in my work out schedule due to a lot of unusual appointments this week. Kids to the doctor, Parent Teacher conferences, etc. And my Monday bike ride was hindered by extreme cold. So today was my first work out of the week.

I did my Cathe Friedrich step routine, as part of my cardio rotation. I absolutely LOVE Cathe's instruction style and her work outs are all challenging and efficient. I feel so much more 'fit' after I've stuck with a step program for a while than using any other method. I've heard a lot of negative things about this type of workout, that it's dated etc. Do I really look like someone who is worried about 'dated'? :-)


Anyway, I've been working out with Cathe since 1997 or so, so I kind of consider her my personal trainer. I wouldn't want a home program without her.

Foodwise, I've been doing pretty well. Making better choices, keeping the calories down.

No more inches lost but I'm okay with that.

Til Next Week,

So Long, Dearies!!




Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pre-Viva Fitness Check-In

And it's time for another Fitness Check-In, here on this fine Thursday. It is freezing here in Memphis and we Memphians are not used to cold, really. As you may or may not know, a winter in west Tennessee tends to fluctuate between sort of cold (40's or so) rainy weather, a warm snap where it gets up to the 60's and everybody gets sick, and a few winter storms. This winter, the storms have missed us but the cold spells have been insane. Today it is 22 degrees and I am sitting by my heater all day. But I DID work out, as this post will discuss, and am feeling pretty proud of that fact.

This week, I am finally showing some progress! I have been careful to keep the calories down and work out regularly, and although the scale still shows 130 lbs, I have lost an inch in my waist and hips So the waist is at 29 and the hips are at 38! So I am already to my goal in my hips and halfway there in my waist!

Visually, I don't observe much change but my butt is a little more pokey. That's never bad for a gal who was called 'SpongeBob Square Butt' at one time. ;-)

I should also mention that I saw an episode of The Brady Bunch a while back where Mike Brady was doing calisthenics before bed and this inspired me to do the same. How can you NOT be inspired by Mike's curly head and striped pajamas?? So, right before I jump in the bed, I do 20 leg lifts (10 on each leg), 10 deep squats, and 100 twists. The latter is in an effort to help stretch and slim my waistline. I do notice that my clothes fit a little better but that might be due to the work outs I'm doing during the day; I don't know if the bedtime stuff really does any good. But it was worth mentioning.

Til next week,
So Long, Dearies!!

Ashley




Monday, January 20, 2014

Vintage Hair for the New Year

As I get older, I am becoming ever more infatuated with the easy side of vintage styling. After all, my chief inspirations- Grace Kelly and Ginger Rogers, have always been gals who boasted soft, blowsy,and casual waves in their day to day life. This is probably typical of most vintage enthusiasts today and I'm presently clinging to that aesthetic myself, especially faced with the onslaught of tasks and duties that crowd my 'to-do' list each morning.

So I thought I'd use this post to showcase some of my favorite easy hairstyles in my 'vintage hair inspiration' folder, the ones I plan to use often in this coming year for all occasions.

The casual vintage look always starts, first and foremost, with the cut. A good quality layered cut is a 'must' to accomplish that breezy look in some of these photos, but still look 'put together'. When you are doing elaborate rolls or up-do's every day, it's easy to hide a less-than-perfect haircut. But when you're doing a basic wet set at night and relying on a simple brush-out to carry you through the day, the manner in which your hair is tapered and snipped can make or break the effect. So if you are like me and must do your own color at home in order to afford a talented and reputable stylist, then let it be.

Now on to the hair goodness!

1. The Signature Grace:
It's no wonder that this would come first, especially since my 'journey to grace' is nearly complete. I am still not quite this length yet. I realized after I got to the salon that there were still a few things I wanted to do before I went to this shoulder brushing length. I'm a few inches past my shoulders right now. But what I love about this style is how it can be smoothed for a more formal evening look and kept breezy and loose for day. Add a flower to freshen it up even more.



Mini Tutorial:
To achieve this style, use foam rollers or large pin curls aimed away from the face on all sides. Allow to dry and brush thoroughly.

2.The Rolled Partial Up-do:
So this is victory rolls-my style. As most of you know, I adore rolled hair styles but the modern voluminous ones don't really flatter me much. My favorite looks with rolls tend to be partial up do's that softly blend rolls and waves. This look is a variation on one of my favorite styles, which I do often. Mine usually involves one assymetrical roll with a side comb but the aesthetic is very similar.

Mini Tutorial:
Roll hair using your desired method. Separate top and sides into three sections and use combs and bobby pins to secure dry pin curls as you wish. No teasing necessary unless you want extra volume. Spray each section with a good hair spray before rolling to keep the rolls as clean as possible.

3.Center Parted Curls:

Center parted curls are aways retro and glamorous. With loose waves and longer darker hair, the look is really 'vampira'-esque. With a short bob like Ginger's, the look is still coquettish but also very wearable and chic. For a casual daytime look on center parted hair, pull the hair back into side combs and secure so that the front sections are evenly placed on both sides of the part. This works for naturally curly hair or hair that has been set into waves.

Styling Suggestion: This was a popular look with Hawaiian dresses. Symmetrical realistic-looking flowers placed above each ear immediately lend a Dorothy Lamour quality to this style

4.The 60's-era Faux Ponytail:
Of all the fake hair options available today, nothing is quite as simple as the faux ponytail. The look is timeless and by turns, elegant and playful. Just stick your hair into a simple bun, clip in the ponytail, and voila! Instant length and volume!

5.The Easy Updo:
There are scads of complex rolled up do's online and in vintage photos of the 30's through the 50's. But more often than not they are a headache and don't really work into most busy routines. Therefore, netted styles like the one worn below by Gene Tierney:




...or a simple chignon coupled with a faux braided crown around the head:



...can be life savers! The faux braid is great for evening-wear. For a less elaborate similar look in summer time, wear your own hair in peasant braids!

Mini Tutorials:
For the net: Using an invisible net from your local beauty supply store, part previously styled hair on the side, using pomade to smooth it down. Tease the hair below the ear and place into the net. Pin in place and use flowers to add some embellishment.

For the peasant braids: Part hair down the center, braid in two tails, aiming upward. Pin in place in a crown , making sure to secure the loose ends under the braided sections.

These are some of my favorites. I hope you all enjoy them as well.
xoxo,
Ashley