Monday, January 19, 2009

Ikea Hacker

My cousin Kim sent me this blog (Ikea Hacker).  People are really seeing things in a new way and exercising their creativity muscles!  I'm going to send in Ted's and my armoir/computer desk station,  all components bought at Ikea... 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wedding Shopping

It's not too early.
In fact, it might be the tail end of the end of Holiday Clearances already so get out there!  
Things to look for now, 'cause you will wish you'd found them at a bargain price:
  1. Strings of white tiny Christmas Lights (12 strands, depending on the size of the reception hall)  Ted's friends Greg and Chris made our hall look that much more festive the day of the wedding.  I felt like the stars had come down into our little celebration!
  2. Various Ornaments that relate to your theme (Haven't chosen a theme yet?  It's time!).  If red, gold,  or green is one of your colors, the easier for you!
  3. Plates, cups, napkins, utensils.  
  4. Favors.
  5. Faux Greenery, Garlands, and Wreaths.
  6. Table runners and cloths.
Pictured above are the tiny glass love birds I found in bulk in an art store sale.  I used them as favors as birds are a theme in Ted's and my love of nature.  The sunflowers were made as curtain tye backs and I used them to enclose scrolled ceremony programs.  Our colors were cranberry and butter yellow.
All of the items you find at these post Holiday Sales can be used in a wedding without people knowing that they were meant for Christmas Decorations.  Use your imagination and the sky's the limit!

Myles of Style

I never watched Design Star, but one of the winners, Kim Myles, has her own show now on HGTV and she's my new hero.  
The show I caught yesterday had her making a very chic chandelier out of clear plastic Christmas balls.  She really explains how color and texture work.  I say yes.
Check out Myles of Style.

Operation Salon Amie

My friend Amy is the newest Renaissance Girl.  
She recently posted a message to her friends on Facebook that she had an audition that required an "updo".  Amy has had a cute short hairstyle for most of her life and not much experience with hairstyles.  In her message, she asked for advice, trying to avoid the cost of a professional stylist.  She got a lot of responses but I wrote back saying it would be fun to do her hair myself, just for fun!  I don't claim to be a professional, but I was in pageants in college (the Miss America Local and Stage Pageant.  Yikes.) and have always loved "playing beauty shop".  
So my point is, why not ask?  And why shouldn't we all support each other in this crazy business?  
Great idea, Amy!  Hope you got the job.

The Devil Wears Prada.

And Angels find more practical, affordable and creative ways to stay stylish.
I'm watching the movie for the first time tonight on TV (I know, as crime!) but can I just say that if Anne Hathaway is a size 6 I'll eat my shorts.  I got a bit tired of people telling her she was fat.  And if she is, it's only because she's five foot eleven.  And can I also say that size 4 is overrated.
Enough said.
Angels are definitely smarter.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Your Own Gypsy Robe

There is a tradition on Broadway.  
 Gypsy Robes are made up of scraps and pieces from and representing hundreds of Broadway Shows of yore.  The actor/singer/dancer in the chorus of each show that opens who has been in the most Broadway Shows gets to wear the Gypsy Robe with a scrap from her or his show most recently added.   
I remember my first show T-Shirt.  I wore it with pride, created outfits around it, never dried it in the dryer.  
Fast forward __ years and umpteen shows and bands later and I had too many t-shirts crammed in the back of my drawers, most oversized and style-free.  What is a Broadway Diva to do?
Why, make his or her own Gypsy Robe, of course!
You can make a quilt, of course, but why not surround yourself with your memories while you're getting ready for your next show?  
This project is not for the faint of heart.  It takes hours and the guts to cut into your beloved t-shirts.  First, find a robe, new, one you own or at a resale shop.  Mine was a second hand terry cloth with a nice weight to it.  Notice I cut small shapes out of remaining t-shirt fabric to fill out the design. Leave plenty of fabric around each emblem to fold under in a hem and then pin on your robe, rearranging and pinning it until it looks right.  Handsew your theater history in place using a slip stitch.
Et voila!  Your own Gypsy Robe!  
Oh, and also, make sure you leave room for your next show t-shirt...
(pictured here is my gypsy robe  on the stage of the Barrymore during warmup with the cast of "Company")

It's a Girl! And another girl!

My friend  is having twins!  
And I was invited to the shower and I hadn't shopped yet.  I was about to log onto her registry, but then I thought, that's not What Leenya Would Do.  See what I've gotten myself into?
If you don't want to sew baby clothes from scratch (pretty fun as it's all in miniature!), find some simple white cotton onesies or p.j.s from a baby store.  You can even buy them in packages of multiples so if you mess up, you're okay!  Or if your friend is having twins, you can make 2 outfits!
There are so many ways to personalize your friend's baby clothes.  One of her friends painted onsies with the Actor's Equity Logo!  Fabric paint is pretty easy to use and set with heat.  You can make a stencil, sketch with pencil first, or just paint free hand.  (see my former post, Inspiration for more details)
I like the look of appliques of colorful t-shirt fabric swatches (shown here), hand-sewn in large visible contrasting thread.  Or just  use embroidery alone.  I made each little shirt slightly different.  It was fun to think of them wearing them as I stitched each flower.
Another idea is to give a gift certificate for baby sitting.  That's worth a night out for your parents-to-be and could be fun for you, too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Like a Fox!

Creating a beauty regimen that you can stick to is important but with 1.5 ounces of overnight moisturizing anti-aging cream costing 16 dollars and counting, it can be expensive!  
I'm not a scientist, but consider me your guinea pig.  Also, note that though my skin tends to be on the dry side, it falls in the normal category.  
But here's the deal:  Looking as young as you can with clear skin is really important in my business and doing what I have had to do to make it a lifelong daily ritual has been key.
Here are the steps for two times a day (morning before makeup and before bed):
  1. cleanse
  2. tone
  3. moisturize
Then, exfoliation is great once a week.  
Now some of these secrets sound unconventional if not downright weird, but I've tried them all to varying degrees of success.  And when I can afford to upgrade, I can usually find some reliable brands (L'Oreal and Oil of Olay anti-aging moisturizers) at Jack's 99c World.  But bear with me!
  1. cleanse:  Try a generic version of Oil of Olay Daily Facials (available for dry, normal, or oily skin).  Make sure they're dry and you just add water.  If you cut each cleansing cloth into 4, it's plenty of surface area and they last four times as long!  I moisten and then wash, then rinse, then use it to rinse my face and there's minimal waste.
  2. tone:  Buy a large bottle of witch hazel which is usually on the bottom shelf of First Aid products in a drug store or even a grocery store.  I apply this after the cleansing with cotton balls (make sure they're real cotton).  It takes off any remainder oils and closes the pores without drying.
  3. moisturize: Daytime moisturizer, always an SPF of at least 15.  Period.  I find decent products at Jack's.  Or it could be in your foundation, but you can always add color to your face.  I know we used to lay out with baby oil slathered all over, but now you know daily SPf will keep the wrinkles away the longest. Next, think olden days Italy.  Women still use olive oil on their faces to keep their youthful beauty.  I actually read in The World's Best Kept Beauty Secrets by Diane Irons that hospitals have been using Crisco for years as an enexpensive but effective moisturizer.  It has a surprising amount of Vitamin E and absorbs better than anything like Vaseline.  People have called me crazy (like a fox!), but I have used it on and off for years before bed and it makes my skin so soft in the mornings.  I keep a separate tin in the fridge.  Buy the smallest one you can find.  For lips, elbows, and dry heels I swear by Bag Balm.  It was created for chapped teats on cows (I know, hilarious!) but farmers noticed how soft their own hands were after applying it and it has been a skin care secret for almost a century.  It contains Petrolatum, which doesn't clog pores like Petroleum (the key ingredient in Vaseline.  Bad.  No Vaseline.).  
  4. exfoliate:  Masks are great and you can buy one for any skin type, but they are also very fun to make.  There are many listed in The World's Best Kept Beauty Secrets and it feels so good when you finally take one off!  The craziest one I've tried is Kitty Litter.  You have to buy the cheapest, one with absolutely no additives and when you just add water, it turns into a soft simple grey clay. I'm guessing it's the better for oilier skin types.   The downside is that it's very messy in application and in removal.  But why not try it in a bathtub?  And while you're there, take a couple tea bags with you;  real tea, not herbal, and place them moistened over your eyelids.  The tannic acid reduces swelling and it feels soothing to the eyes.   
As for makeup, there is an ever-changing variety at Jack's World, including expensive department store brands.  It's all discounted by at least 50 percent and I've always found it to be just as good as the full priced items.  Also, I don't know how long it's been since you've checked Avon out, but there are some cute and innovative new products and colors for very affordable prices.  I love their new liquid eyeshadows.  Much easier to apply when you're in a hurry.  You need to buy with a representative, but you can browse online.  My neighbor, Laurie, is a representative and if you note the product numbers, she can place an order for you and send it to you when it arrives.  Email me...
It's so easy to spend too much on beauty products.  Just walking into a drugstore is asking for trouble.  You are bombarded with so much advertising.  But stay focused!  
And stay foxy!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Last Coat Sale!

  I've got good news and bad news.  
The bad news is that the final Salvation Army Coat Sale of he season is being held Saturday, January 10th from 9am to 5pm (see my former post, Coat Sale,  for very helful hints) at the Salvation Army on 46th St. between 10th and 11th Ave in New York City (pictured here is me at a reading of a new musical with Rebecca Luker in a fun fake fur I found at the last Coat Sale).
The good news is that if you are still searching for that perfect item that you didn't get for Christmas and you miss this sale, almost everything everywhere is on sale!  My cousin Molly pointed out that though I blogged early about outlet malls being a sort of mirage in the desert of bargain shopping, there are amazing bargains to be had there now.  She spent 300 dollars at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (You can actually take a bus out there!) last weekend and beefed up her work wardrobe with fifteen or so items, including a new winter coat and three suit jackets.  Go, Molly!  
Let me know what steals you've found in the post holiday sales.
And have fun at the Coat Sale!

New Year's Eve

My cousin Molly and her husband, Richard,  met Ted and I at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear my brother, Vale, sing at the New Year's Eve Concert for Peace.  I was so proud of Molly when I heard that despite the frigid cold, she still tried to take mass transportation that night. Richard said that she kept saying, "Come on, what would Leenya do?"
Unfortunately, I must confess, the answer to that question was easily answered with "She'd take a cab." 
  When it was this cold and as we came out of the building, we watched a bus just pulling away from the stop and we were running late and I was wearing high heels, a cab was our unfortunately non-green, non-bargain transportation choice.  
But what a concert!  As always, I was terribly proud of my brother as he sang "Maria" from "West Side Story" with a 40 piece orchestra and was preceded by Judy Collins.  The whole night opened up with Fanfare for the Common Man, it's opening trumpet fanfare and tympani hits transcended the walls of the largest cathedral in the country.  It was a call to us all for peace.  
Normally, Leenya would try to utilize the many mass transportation available to her. But she did wear a stylish but very warm coat that she bought previously from a Salvation Army Coat Sale!  May we all strive for greener living and a peaceful existence in 2009!