Presto change-o: An easy way to expand your wardrobe

One outfit, two looks

Some of you know that I’m on a journey to improved health. A year ago, I weighed 65 pounds more than I weigh today and had both Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Today, I have neither of those conditions and feel better and more energetic than I’ve felt in a long time.

In addition to more energy, I have a brand-new wardrobe. With the exception of a few one-size-fits-all wraps, nothing from my “before” closet works anymore. It’s fun to have more clothing options, but buying all-new outfits is pricy. I do a lot of shopping for basics at Nordstrom Rack, Steinmart, Marshall’s and other stores offering bargain prices. Then,  I and mix and match the things I’ve found with more unique items from stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People.

I wanted to share these two looks because they demonstrate how easily one piece can transform an outfit. At left, I’m wearing my favorite Joe’s Jeans with a top from the Thalia Sodi Collection, which is sold at Macy’s. At right, I’m wearing the same sweater and jeans but they have a whole different attitude thanks to the Cullen cashmere capelet I picked up at Nordstrom Rack.

If you’re on a journey to health and are finding it expensive to literally downsize your wardrobe, focus on separates you can mix and match to create several outfits. And don’t forget that accessories can make a big difference too. Changing your necklace, earrings, belt or handbag is another way to stretch your wardrobe without shrinking your bank account. – Ronda

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New Year musings and makeup

Happy New Year!

I had a subdued New Year’s Eve, just hanging around the house with my cats, Otis and Bea. We jazzed things up around midnight with peach bellinis (for me) and new catnip toys (for them), but that was about the extent of the celebrations. I’d planned to stay in on New Years’s Day — it was dreary, rainy and cold — but caved to superstition and went out for the southern tradition of collard greens and blacked-eyed peas. We believe eating collard greens on Jan. 1 brings financial security and black-eyed peas bring good luck. My 2016 was pretty miserable and I didn’t want to risk more of the same in 2017, so I ate every bite of those collard greens, even though I find them bitter to the taste.

Speaking of lousy 2016s, it appears I’m not alone. Many of my friends and relatives shared equally crummy years and are hoping for clean slates and improved fortune this year. My life is about to change, for sure. After years of doing the long-distance thing, my husband took early retirement from his job as a newspaper editor in Texas and will join me in South Carolina in February. Loneliness hit its peak in 2016, and I’m looking forward to his company and cooking. My cats Otis and Bea? Not so much, but he’ll grow on them. I hope.

I was good about sticking to my healthy-eating plan over the holidays. I treated myself a bit but didn’t go hog wild. I gained two pounds but have worked them off since I returned from Texas on Wednesday. Now it’s time to lose a little more weight (as long as it doesn’t show in my face, making me look older) and tone up before our June vacation in St. Kitts.

Did you add to your beauty arsenal over the holidays? I picked up some of the sweet peach products, which I love. The hype around them can be tiresome, but I like the sheen they give my skin — it’s just enough to make my skin look alive and healthy without exaggerating fine lines. I do think Too Faced would be wise to move to another fruit that’s suited to women with deeper skin tones, as the peach is best for fair complexions. Plum, strawberry, watermelon … they could keep things going for awhile and be more inclusive, particularly in terms of the blush. Here’s a look at my sweet peach haul (I already had the eyeshadow palette, and I like it very much):

Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Lip Oils and Peach Glow Highlighting Palette

Here I am wearing the bronzer, blush and highlighter from the Peach Glow Highlighting Palette, along with the Creamy Lip Oil in Poppin’ Peach:


Lastly, I wanted to share a few new makeup products, as well as two of my favorite Christmas gifts. The first gift, pictured at the far left, is a box lined in velvet that was a present from my father. He’s a woodworker, so he makes something special each year. Sometimes the gifts are big (hope chests or standing jewelry chests) and other times they’re smaller. I just love this box with the purple wood insets. The other special present  is the little sled, which is actually a gift tag made by my sister. It’s a tiny cross-stitched elf and I love it!

As for the makeup, clockwise from top right, Urban Decay’s Moondust Palette and Heavy Metal Liner in Glam Rock, Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight, Maybelline Master Contour and Dior Diorific Matte Fluid Lip & Cheek Velvet Colour in Luxury.

In closing, I want to wish you all the best in 2017 and leave you with this thought:

I got tired of being the ‘fat friend’ 

October, last week, today …

I’m fresh from a trip to the doctor — actually a nurse practitioner I like very much — where, in addition to blood tests and a flu shot, I had my latest official weigh-in. I’m sticking to my diet, but as I near my goal the pounds aren’t falling off as quickly. Still, I’ve lost 64 pounds, which is a success in my book.

Over on Instagram, where you can find me under makeup_plus_50, several people have asked for an update on my weight-loss strategy, so here it is in Q & A form:

Q. How much weight have you lost and how long has it taken?

A. As I mentioned above, I’ve lost 64 pounds. I started my journey in late January/early February and have been pretty committed.

Q. What prompted your lifestyle change?

A. I half-joke that I got tired of being the “fat friend,” but in reality I wasn’t feeling good about what I was seeing in the mirror. Plus, as I aged, the extra weight was starting to make me feel tired and run down.

Q. What, exactly, do you eat in a day?

A. For breakfast, I have a fruit smoothie or cereal with low-fat milk — often Raisin Bran, which is my favorite. Lunch is usually a fruit plate with cottage cheese or a salad. For dinner, I have a chicken breast, salmon or five-ounce steak with a vegetable. I love ice cream, but have replaced it with a nightly bowl of sherbet. The menu isn’t exciting, but it’s the choice I’ve made to control my weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

Q. Do you exercise?

A. Yes, at least five days per week. I usually walk four to five miles on the treadmill or cycle 10 miles on a stationary bike. I also take tap-dancing classes for fun. The exercise element is what helps me continue to lose weight.

Q. How much more do you plan to lose?

A. About 25 pounds. But the key thing to remember is that I can never go back to my old way of eating and my old behaviors.  I’m going to have to exercise and watch my calorie intake for the rest of my life. My body wants to be heavier; I can’t give it the opportunity to go there.

Q. Is your husband thrilled?

A. I think he’s more happy that I’m healthy than he is about the change in my figure, if that makes sense. He doesn’t really comment on the weight loss often, other than to say he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful no matter what my weight.

Q. What has been the best thing about losing weight?

A. Cuter clothes, of course. And better skin. I’ve always had good skin, but it’s clearer and brighter. I thought it might sag — a lot of people get loose skin when they lose weight — but I’ve been lucky and that didn’t happen. Increased energy, stamina and flexibility have been pluses too.

Q. How will you handle the holidays?

A. Fortunately, I’m not one to gorge at the holiday table. Call it sacrilege but I don’t like Thanksgiving food. Turkey is just OK, but I never eat stuffing/dressing (wet bread –yuck), cranberry sauce is a no and I don’t care for pumpkin pie. Green bean casserole? I’m pretty sure that has damp bread in it too.  I’ll eat some turkey, a bit of mac and cheese, and a little of this and that. It’s all about portion control!

Q. What’s my advice for people who want to lose weight?

A. At this point, it might be better to wait until after the holidays. Early success is motivating and important. Also, remember that weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint. And don’t start until you’re really ready and motivated. I’ve started and failed a zillion diets because I wasn’t in the zone –and there’s nothing worse for your mind and body than yo-yo dieting. Finally, know that if I can lose weight, anyone can lose weight. Just make up your mind to do it. You can and you will.