Everybody hurts sometimes (or, cats grieve too)

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Never let it be said that cats and dogs don't have feelings for each other, and don't miss each other when they are apart.

On our mantle, we have two sets of photographs, leashes, and collars. One is Chance's, one is Leo's.

Atticus is only interested in one of them.

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Places I never thought I would live

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I never thought I would live in Kansas. Or Antarctica. On the Alps. Or in Guam.

And I never, ever, though I would live here.

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Fashion blogs I love

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I realized, while cleaning out my always overly full Google reader, that I've started to read a lot of fashion blogs. Those who know me may find that odd. I've always been interested in style, in how people express themselves through their looks, but fashion, with rules and money and stuck-up skinny people telling you what to wear, hasn't ever really been my bag.

It started with reading My Wardrobe Today. I'm not sure who turned me on to it, but I liked Allie's blog from the beginning. There is something fun, for some reason, in seeing what someone else chooses to wear each day. Allie's style was (and remains, though she doesn't post as often as she used to) more conservative than my ideal, but still very nice. She hasn't ever worn anything I don't like, I don't think. And Allie is insistently positive about her body, other women's bodies, and how to best dress what you have. (Allie's other blog, Wardrobe Oxygen, focuses more on fashion in general and product reviews than on her own wardrobe, and it's also a good read.)

As much as I like Allie's blog, I've never found her outfits particularly inspiring. She always looks very nice, and her basic advice is spot-on, but she's conservative. Looking for something a bit less conservative, one day I found What I Wore Today. Kasmira is far more adventurous in her clothing. Like Allie, she posts her outfit every day, along with information about where each piece came from. She also talks about stylistic influences, including other bloggers and fashion magazines. Honestly, about half of what Kasmira wears I can't stand. She's much more in love with color and with mixing colors than I am. She wears a lot of clothes from Forever 21 and similar stores, which I couldn't fit into even if I wanted to wear them. That being said, the other half of what Kasmira wears is genius. She is inspiring. I look at things she wears and realize that there are things I could be putting together I never would have thought of. She encourages me to take risks.

Right around the time I started reading Kasmira's blog, I also started reading Work With What You've Got. Erin, too, takes pictures of her daily apparel. Her style is more in line with Kasmira's than with Allie's, but her angle is that she's attempting to remain stylish on what she calls a "blue collar budget." There are things I wouldn't have believed could be so cute that Erin pulls off beautifully--jeggings (jean leggings), thigh high socks over tights or leggings, moto jackets...the list goes on. Most of what she wears I can't actually imagine working for me, but I love seeing what she comes up with.

Recently, I've added two new favorites to the style blog section of my reader. The first is Already Pretty. I think Sal is a great mix of Allie's grown-up, professional style and Kasmira and Erin's more eclectic mix. Plus, she thrifts a huge number of her clothes, which makes it more interesting to me. She's part daily outfit blogger and part fashion advice blogger, too, which is great. (I'm hoping her tips will help me figure out how to wear a belt.)

Finally, I have to give a shout to my friend Bellisimama at Bonfire of My Vanity. Like the others, she posts her outfits daily, but what I really love is that she also posts pictures of the inspiration for a given day's outfit. And her style inspirations are very wide-ranging, from mimes to the 1970s to a certain set of Marilyn Monroe photographs. From her blog, I can see how outfits can be inspired by things without just copying them, which is great.

One final blog I have to mention, though it's not quite the same project as the previous five, is The Sew Weekly. On The Sew Weekly, Mena documents her project of each week sewing a dress from a vintage pattern (using a lot of vintage notions and fabrics, and even more thrifted supplies) and wearing it. Her eventual goal is to have all self-made clothes, which I think is amazing. I know myself well enough to know I'm never going to learn to sew well enough to create clothing, but it's still fun to read.

So, do you read style blogs? Which ones do you like? Feed my reader!

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We came, we saw, we thrifted

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First, sorry about that silent period. WINOW was down for several days due to technical issues, but we're back now and hopefully won't be down again (at least not for long).

But on to more important issues: I finally had a really really great thrift trip! My friends visited last week, and we took a mid-week trip to Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church (2956 Gallows Rd., open 10-8 Monday-Saturday and 11-6 Sunday). I've been to Unique twice before. The first time was a bust, the second I scored a nice haul of ramekins, napkins, and books. This time, though, was the mother lode.

lThe friends I was thrifting with did well too, and I promised I'd blog their finds as well. I don't remember what they paid, since I don't have their receipt, but what you see here is (clockwise from top left): a cool pair of black scrub pants with a scissors pocket (one friend is a doctor and she was jazzed about these); a super cute black sweater dress; a World Wildlife Federation water bottle; a metallic clubby type dress; a dri-fit shirt; and five books (four paperbacks, one hard cover). The books I know were super inexpensive--between $.69 and $1.99 each, I believe.

My haul was even more impressive (plus I can tell you more about it!). Clockwise from top left: a cute lavender and black plaid flannel shirt with snaps ($3.99); a gorgeous, new with tags silk dress by Jonathan Martin ($24.99, and one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I have ever thrifted); a workout hoodie with a ruffled hood by Lucy ($4.99, and SO comfortable I've barely taken it off since I washed it); a set of four new Crate & Barrel napkins in a great retro pattern ($4.99); a beautiful brown wool, fully lined, houndstooth skirt by Harve Benard ($4.99); three paperback books (between $.69 an $1.19 each); a gorgeous wool Banana Repubic pencil skirt in the ellusive size 16 tall ($5.99); a Patagonia fleece neckwarmer ($.49); and a pair of fleece socks ($1.99). Total with tax was right around $60.

So what's the secret? Well, first off, previous trips to Unique found me looking in the wrong section for clothes for myself. Unique separates clothes into Small-Medium-Large-Extra Large. I assumed my size 14/16 stuff would be XL. They call it large. Knowing that will certainly improve future trips. Unique is large and overwhelming--there is a lot of stuff there, most of it is crap, and some of it is weirdly overpriced. If this trip is any indication of the typical quality you can find, though, it's going to become my new go-to.

As a little thought experiment, I decided to try to figure out how much it would have cost to buy the things I bought new. Obviously I can't price those exact items, but I can look at similar ones. So let's see.

First, the plaid flannel shirt. The brand on it is Outdoor Exchange. I've never heard of that brand, so I Googled it, and I couldn't find anything. It's a nice shirt, pretty heavyweight, so I think something similar would probably be Carhartt. A mid-weight flannel shirt for women at Carhartt is regular priced $40.

The dress is by Jonathan Martin. A web search for a silk dress of that brand led me to Overstock, where they're selling a Jonathan Martin dresses, most of which are poly blends, for $30-$50. Since mine's silk, we'll call it $45.

Lucy workout hoodies are expensive! The style I bought isn't on their site, but the ones that are range from $48-$118. Assuming the one I got is mid-range, it would be $83. Close enough.

Crate & Barrel sells their napkins for $3-$8 each, or $16.95 for sets of four. Again, the ones I got aren't there anymore, but there are some similar ones.

I thought Harve Benard was a fancy brand, but it turns out it's sold at Sears. Still, the skirt I bought seems to be very good quality. Nothing they have currently on the Sears website resembles it in the least--no wool, for one thing. Everything I found online that looked remotely similar was at least $60, so I'm calling the skirt I got $50.

Unlike the clothes, the books are all in "used" condition (clothes are all new or like new), so I'm gonna go with Amazon Marketplace values for those. Those values are $1.79, $.97, and $.97.

The Banana Republic skirt actually is still on their website! And it's $79.50.

Patagonia sells their fleece neck warmers for $25
.

Finally, the most colorful fleece socks are $15-$20 per pair for adults, depending on the brand. Mine don't have a brand label, so I'll say $15.

So the total, if this stuff were bought retail, would be $358.18. Before tax. Even if I overestimated in some places, at least several times as much.

This isn't the only reason to thrift shop, but it is sure one of them.

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