A reprint of today's New Castle Courier-Times column.
by Donna Cronk
If memory serves, I went with Mom to Rose Chapman's home jewelry party that evening, circa 1969. Hanging out with her daughters, Vicky and Cheryl, were my motive for going along; that and the refreshments that all women’s parties offer.
Whatever the specific circumstances, the evidence of that home party – half a century later – remains in my own costume-jewelry collection. The Sarah Coventry leaf pin is a former resident in my late mother’s battered, pink, jewelry box with the well-worn velvet interior.
Growing up on the farm, I was equal parts girly-girl and tomboy. I cuddled piglets while Dad fed their mamas, moved cattle from one pasture to another, bridled Ginger and tore off across the pasture riding bareback, fearless.
It’s only by God’s grace that I survived childhood with my falling out of a tree, off a moving tractor, and being suddenly tossed flat on the ground from a terrified horse, startled by a German shepherd.
At the same time, there was nothing l liked more than playing house with cut-outs from the Sears catalog, tucking in my dolls for the night, and rifling through Mom’s jewelry box, trying on the colorful costume beads and bangles.
The only time I wear the faux-gold leaf pin is the fall. Of course trees and their leaves are perfectly fashionable year-round, but I guess I just want to keep Mom’s still-shiny pin with the tiny fake pearl set apart by getting it out at only this time of year.
In the past I struggled to fasten it to my sweater right-side up until I realized when I went to put it on Thursday that – duh – Sarah designed it to go the other way, to depict a falling leaf – thus the season called fall, right?
My Thursday outfit was on the cheap. I threw on three strands of fashion pearls of varying sizes to coordinate with that single pearl in the leaf. Probably too matchy-match for some, but I like it. I have no idea where those beads came from!
Through these almost 61 years I’ve collected lots of costume jewelry, including a number of strands similar to these. I think they are all from thrift shops or yard sales. And the goldenrod-hued sweater? I recently picked it up on final clearance for a buck at a local consignment shop.
I’m trying to enliven the way I dress with new and quirky old finds. alike. Brian says I wear too much black and gray. I think he’s probably right, although I’m drawn to those shades, especially in the winter and they'll remain wardrobe staples.
While looking through Pinterest for fashion ideas for the – ahem –mature woman, I came across a California stylist named Brenda Kinsel (BrendaKinsel.com). While I don’t adore all the outfits she puts together, a good many of them I find striking, and very much the kind of classy/casual looks I’d like to strive for. I can also learn plenty from her tips and techniques. I also like knowing she was also raised a farm girl.
It’s fun at my age to find a style mentor who resonates, and at the same time, tweak her ideas to make them my own. I’m too old to dress too young, and too young to dress too old. So I’ll suit myself and to suit Brian, try to add more color. I had that notion in mind when I bought the gold sweater--a color I'm not normally drawn to in clothing. But don't you know, I'm wearing the dickens out of it!
I’m wondering what fashion finds you’re still wearing that once belonged to your grandma or mom, or pershaps something you picked up for a song on the cheap. Share a photo of you wearing them and tell a little about them, won't you? I'm giving Courier-Times readers this challenge to send them to my work email at email@example.com.
But for others out of the Henry County area, let me hear from you as well and I'll post here.
Are we ever too old to enjoy a romp through Mom’s old jewelry box or through a thrift store? I'm not!
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The fall/holiday issue will be inside your Courier on Saturday, Nov. 9.
So, I needed, no wanted, some pumpkins to scatter in our landscaping. The sign placed along the highway pointed to a rural pumpkin patch. When I got there Friday, I spotted a large assortment of orange pumpkins of various sizes, along with a good many miniatures in white and orange. But where were the prices? Then I saw this money box, above, and this sign, below.
WHO does that? Who entrusts his large crop of pumpkins to consumer goodwill? The Hoosier farmer who lives at this residence, that's who.
So I looked around, trying to decide which pumpkins I would cart home, how many I needed, and where I'd place them. The farmer spotted me and walked down his driveway. He told me to take what I want and leave what I thought was fair. I looked around some more. Maybe they weren't perfect, but neither am I. And how perfect do they need to be to adorn our landscaping and porch just fine?
Then ... he walked back to the house and left me to my own assessment on what the bounty is worth. I hope he liked what I left. I think I was actually more generous than had I bought them at a pricey agri-tourism attraction, well known for its annual harvests.
I was touched.
And inspired by the generosity he offered to not only do up the exterior of the house, but hang the fall wreaths, get out the beautiful fall pillow friend Gay gifted me with in the summer, and fill a bowl with cinnamon-infused potpourri.
Then Sunday morning, when I got ready for church, I decided to wear my new sweater. It's a goldenrod hue, a color I never wear, but I like it. It was on the final clearance rack at a favorite local consignment shop, Sisterhood Exchange, in Pendleton. I was drawn to the subtle ruffle along the row of buttons. But what sealed the deal was the $1 pricetag. I'll be sporting this a lot this fall.
Happy fall, y'all!
In our many years visiting friend Terri's place on the lake in southern Indiana, the Midlife Moms of Ovid Community Church enjoy a variety of activities that include boating and swimming, tubing, and eating, devotions on the boat. We pepper the time with lots of laughs and stories. Think slumber party without the preteen drama. It's a weekend of heaven on Earth.
Someone usually brings a craft for everyone to do. Just because.
We've outfitted terrariums from thrift-shop glass containers,, constructed paper flowers for a church event, scrapbooked, made bath bombs, embroidered bookmarks, seen who can make the most creative up-cycle from empty metal mint boxs and made Christmas ornaments.
This year I volunteered leading our craft time. We made hats out of newspapers. You can too. Read on.
Now that you have the hat custom-formed to one's head, you secure with masking encircling the outer newspaper and remove it from the head. Now it's time to figure out what type of hat you'll create. Interesting how all our hats were so unique.
Patty folds her pages to form a bill. Use a stapler to secure the paper.
Nice work there, Donna.
Sisters Phyllis and Karen are stylin' in their hats.
Donna's hat, left, includes a paper flower, and scrap ribbon decks out Sharon's creation.
So it's the February that won't end. But it's April, you say? Yes, that's pretty much my point. It's cold and snow is flurrying just beyond our central-Indiana windows as I write this.
Indeed, it's a perfect day to talk about summer shoes. I'd rather be walking in them, but since that isn't likely to happen until, oh, about August, the way things are going, let's at least talk about sandals.
Believe it or not, I'm not a shoe person. When it comes to feet coverings for fall, winter and early spring, my shoe wardrobe includes one brown pair, one black pair, one pair of sneakers and some boots. The irony is that I have no odd sizing issues, wearing either a 7.5 or an 8 M. There are tons of shoes to choose from on the market and I don't like any of them.
But sandals? The shoe's on the other foot. For one thing, my feet love summer. They particularly like thick, spongy flip flops and open air all around. Most of these models tend to come with bling on top, which I could do without, but I'll take them for their comfort and ease of wear. Even though the spongy ones are my comfort zone, my favorite personal pair of sandals are the black patent-leathers in the upper left-hand corner.
When I was a small girl, I had a pair of bright green patent leather sandals. I loved those shoes! Patent leather isn't the easiest shoe to find for an adult, but these remind me, somehow, of those shoes. Plus, they are amazingly comfortable. More so than a sneaker. I am not a sneaker person.
I like the red shoes. They make me feel stylish, but the color is limiting in what I can pair with them. The ones that get the most wear for church and work are the two neutral-toned pairs, platform-cork numbers that are pretty comfortable and make me feel of normal rather than short of stature.
The black ones, lower middle, are in a bit of a rough state. These will likely be my yard shoes this summer. They're comfortable but well-used.
My least favorite among the summer roster are the coppery-tone ones with the beads in the upper right-hand corner. I've had them two or three years -- maybe longer -- and I think I paid more for them than for any in the group. They aren't particularly comfortable. But they are well-made and I will probably still have them around a decade from now.
I put the sandals together for a photo not originally for this blog post. In fact, the photo inspired the blog post. The idea is to photograph the abundance of my summer shoe inventory so I'm not seduced by shoes I spot and don't need. This way I can call up the phone photo in the midst of temptation.
How about you? Are you a fan of summer sandals? Is an inventory of nine an obscene number? How many summer shoes are in your closet?
I didn’t set out to collect leaf pins. I suppose that’s how all collections begin. You start with one, and as soon as another is added, boom, you have a collection.
I tend to wear pins anyway as my jewelry of choice with a preference for the big, grandma brooches of old. Maybe that’s because I spent a fair share of childhood time rummaging through my mother’s and grandmother’s jewelry boxes admiring the sparkles and shine of their costume jewelry.
One of the most elegantly dressed (and beautiful) women of my childhood was my eighth-grade history teacher, Joan Kratzer. If you knew her, you will likely recall the gold, circle pin she wore daily. I once asked her about it and she said it was her signature fashion statement.
My first leaf pin was a resident of mom’s jewelry box. It’s the gold-hued one with the tiny pearl. It came from a neighbor’s Sarah Coventry Jewelry party in the 1960s. Who remembers those? And whatever happened to Sarah? Oh, I’m sure I could have my answer with a Google search and probably find other pins like this one online. When I think of that pin, I think of mom wearing it on a scarf.
The red, leaf one came from a second-hand clothing store in New Castle, if memory serves. Of my leaf pins, I think it’s my favorite. It seems to go well on jean jackets and black sweaters, both of which I’m partial.
The silver leaf is another pre-worn find, and it probably cost a buck or two.
I have a pair of tiny leaf “scatter pins.” The scatter pin isn’t something trending right now and that makes me even more of a fan. The leaves are very thin and have beautiful shimmers. I think there was a third in this trio that I gifted to my nature-loving friend Cheryl. They came as a set but where, I don't recall other than from a consignment store somewhere.
I also have a wreath-styled bronze pin of autumn leaves. I’m a big fan of wreaths as well as pins so when I saw this one in a thrift store, I snagged it. Yesterday it fell off in the middle of a parking lot with a lot of traffic around. I’m glad I heard it hit the ground or it would have been gone forever.
I don’t know why, but I never wear these cuties at any time of the year except for fall. Even though I should wear them year-round, I doubt that I ever will. It’s kind of fun to have some seasonal pieces to save and enjoy during, well, leaf season.
How about you? Do you have any fall collections?
When I was a little girl growing up in the 1960s, society was much more formal, even in rural Indiana. This was particularly apparent at Easter when each year, the little girls each got a new Easter dress and bonnet. White patent-leather shoes were also purchased, and we pulled out the white gloves and knee-high white socks.
Easter dresses were always pastel, and when you were preschool-age, there was a lot of smocking. I remember the layers of flounce and frothy fabrics in hues of lavender, pink and yellow. One year, when I had a particularly pretty dress, I begged Mom to let me debut mine on Palm Sunday, a week early. I don’t think she let me.
But that’s OK because the dresses would be worn again and again, Sunday after Sunday, special event after event, until they were outgrown and replaced by the following Easter’s "good dress."
I felt pretty, but not particularly comfortable, in Easter clothes. One dress in particular had scratchy under-layers but worse were those bonnets with the elastic chin straps. Those cut into our necks but I don't think the straps survived long from all the pulling we did at them.
I'm not sure how many times this happened, but at some point a pastor pointed out that it wasn't our pretty new dresses and Easter duds that Jesus cared about. So I felt a little guilty about the satin and tulle after that, and I suppose due in part to his comment, it has never been a stretch for me to believe it doesn't much matter what you wear to worship.
Do you remember the hand-held paper fans? Seems they were compliments of a funeral home and the photo on them was of a sweet little girl dressed for Easter.
The first time I ever wore pantyhose was on Easter. I could not wait for the morning to arrive so I could get them out of the package and wear them with my yellow-checked mini-skirt-length dress. This was fifth grade.
I suspect that women always wore hats as typically as they would have hose -- until the late 1960s -- and we're not likely to wear them as a matter of custom ever again. When I worked at a department store my senior year of high school, there was still a hat department but I don’t recall ever seeing a woman in there trying on anything. I suppose it was a nod to the older-lady crowd that still believed hats made the outfit.
Remember the “I Love Lucy” shows? Lucy loved hats and I remember one episode where she discussed with Ricky her love of a beautiful hat she had purchased. And who could forget Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox toppers?
We’re always hearing that hats are making a comeback, and while I see a few fashion-forward younger women rocking them beautifully, for most of us, they just don’t look right. There’s a Knightstown attorney-author I know, Patricia Goodspeed, whose signature look includes a hat. And she has some beautiful ones, as well as she looks great in them. But honestly, most of us don't have what it takes to pull them off. And frankly, I'm not quite sure what it does take but it's something I don't have.
I enjoy accessories as much as the next woman but, I’m grateful that fashion doesn’t dictate that I add hats to my wardrobe.
I’d rather have another purse. Or some patent-leather shoes. And I wouldn't mind a corsage. For old times' sake.