Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Cards

I have a question for you guys...

More than almost anything else in life, I love picking out cute holiday cards, writing my friends' names on them, adding pretty stamps, and bringing them to the Post Office.  The process brings me great joy.  It reminds me of the wonderful people in my life.  And it lets me play with colorful paper.

My question is -- when is the earliest time we can send them?  Nobody wants to be the first person to send a card; that smacks of desperation.  But I don't want to wait until the last minute and have my cards delayed by the holiday mail-crunch.

When do you send your cards?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bringing Back The Eighties

The Eighties were a time of extreme fashion -- colorful, wild clothes that played with past conventions.  Yes, sometimes they went too far (big hair! blue eyeshadow!) but you know my taste in fashion runs that way.  Nothing is too extreme for me.

In honor of the decade, I'm commencing a mission to single-handedly bring back one of the trademark items from that period -- leg-warmers!  They were HUGE back then.  Every girl had several pairs and you could mix them with anything.

Here's my opening salvo.  If people wouldn't make fun of you, would you include these in your arsenal??

No look back at the Eighties would be complete without visiting the big hair that was popular then.  Here are examples of what I'm talkin' about...

Fashion Without Clothes

In its history, fashion photography has included photos of models without clothes.  Removing clothes can actually add something to pictures by focusing our attention on the pose, the light, and the feminine shape of the model.

It is in this spirit I present the clothes-free pictures shown below.  I am attempting to create art. 

Truth be told, there's also something else going on.  I'm making a leap in my journey toward female identity.  For me, these photos have a different meaning than they would for a young, biologically-born woman.  For a man, this type of behavior is culturally condemned, physically difficult and aesthetically challenging.  I am braving through that in pursuit of something important.  I ask, before you judge this experiment, that you try to understand the unusual meaning this activity has for me, in the context of my unorthodox life.

I hope these images don't offend you; if they do, I apologize.  I have no intent to disturb anyone.  Long-time readers of my blog know I often push the envelope to see what will happen.  This post is an example of that adventurous attitude and my striving for feminine beauty.

P.S., I'll give a dollar to the first person who writes, "Nice outfit!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mixin' It Up

The best thing about fashion-blogging, in my experience, is mixing up different elements to create a new outfit.  The process of conceiving, executing and revising a new ensemble is infinitely creative and fun.  I love it!

This outfit includes a top I recently bought from Kat, paired with a ruffled skirt just given to me by Debbie.  I enjoy brightening outfits with colored tights so I went in search for a pair of mustard yellow.  It took me a while to find some and when I finally did, at Target, the price was right ($5).

I experimented with two different belts.  Which do you feel works better?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the holiday, I want to say that I'm grateful for the opportunity you give me.  By coming here and listening, you give me a forum where I can be myself, express myself and expand myself.  That's no small gift.  It's a treasure I've sought my entire life and appreciate immensely.  Thank you.

I hope you enjoy the holiday.  And, if you care to share your experience, tell us how your day went.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Holidays

When I was young, the holiday season didn't begin until after Thanksgiving.  But, over the years, retailers have tried to start it earlier and earlier, to lure us into buying stuff.  Two weeks ago I went to the mall and saw it all festooned with Christmas decorations.

When do you start celebrating the holidays?  Are you in the holiday spirit yet?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sock It To Me

Small things give me big pleasure.  These socks, for instance.

I was walking through Kmart yesterday (no judgment, please) when I spotted these Joe Boxer socks ($7) hanging on a hook.  They are bright pink with furry tops and, best of all, dangling fuzzy balls.  I've always wanted socks or boots with dangling balls.  (No psychology, please.)

They also have little rubber nibs on the soles so you can wear them around the house like slippers.  I mean, if you had socks this cute, would you want to cover them up with shoes?!

BTW, for those of you under 50, the title to this post refers to a common hip experession used in the late 1960s.  It originated from the coolest show on TV back then -- "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In."  The show was a collection of funny sketches by numerous crazy performers.  It was must-watch viewing for most of America, certainly everyone under 30.  The show gave Goldie Hawn her start, boosted Lily Tomlin's career, and brought Flip Wilson and Tiny Tim to everyone's attention.

Did you ever see it?  Or hear any of its famous phrases?  Like, "The Fickle Finger of Fate," "Here come de Judge," "I'll drink to that," "Verrry interesting...", "You bet your sweet bippy," etc. 

I guess you had to be there.  :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vintage Anew

I love vintage clothing but, up until now, didn't own any.  Then a package unexpectedly arrived in the mail this week -- a gift from fellow-blogger Kallie!  Her blog (happy, honey + lark) is one of the best around, so go visit it.  Kallie is a New Yorker like me.

Kallie sent this lovely dress, which reminds me of clothes women wore when I was young.  Back then, I ached to wear things as pretty as this but was forbidden from doing so.  Wearing this dress now is like having a long-held dream come true.

The dress has a classic design which I'm sure your mother once wore.  The color is interesting.

I played with the dress several ways.  Which do you like?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Online Behavior

A blogger I know said something that gave me pause.  She said that "in real life, women are catty and competitive."  She's surprised how polite and considerate bloggers are online when, in her personal life, she sees women behave differently.

Is this true, in your experience?  Do women behave differently online?  Or is the explanation that fashion-bloggers are nice people and the women who behave badly aren't bloggers?  Are all women "catty and competitive" or just some?

I've had the good fortune to be able to converse with several of you and I've found you all to be kind, sweet and caring people.  I don't see women acting badly online or in real life.  I concede, however, that my interactions with women aren't representative of female behavior.  In person, women perceive me as a man, not a woman, so they don't show me the same behavior they show other women. 

What do you think?


To introduce my new hair, I spent a lot of time on my makeup.  I tried to create an attractive face and used what I've learned over the past year.

Here's a closer look that helps show what I did.

I used black eyeliner on my upper lid, green and gold eyeshadows blended where they meet, brown powder for my eyebrows, false eyelashes (cut in half for easier application) and obviously lipstick.

I have oddly-shaped eyes so, to correct that, I extended their width with  eyeliner.

This look may appear simple, but the package is the result of many failed past efforts and lots of time spent imagining how my male face might be transformed into a more feminine one.  I realize my success in achieving that is limited, but my hopes aren't high -- I'm simply reaching for a better look, not a pretty female face.  At this stage, I merely want to move in the right direction; I don't have to cross the finish-line.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Champagne Run

Fourteen years ago, I joined a motorcycle gang.  Brimming with enthusiasm, I transformed the club from moribund to boisterous.  I was soon elected Leader Of The Pack.  During my reign, I boosted membership and participation by unprecedented magnitude.  Fun became our priority.  Those were great times.

In the process, I learned a lot about social organizations and how people behave in them.  That was invaluable knowledge which I continue to use today.

Do you belong to any social groups?  Do you enjoy them?

I am, by choice, less involved with the group now but there are a few events I make every year.  Today was "Ralph's Champagne Run," for which I lead a large group of bikers out to the North Fork of Long Island.  It's a pleasant, leisurely ride through bucolic farmland.  We visit 4-5 local vineyards and pick up gifts for the holidays.  It's the last ride of the year for most of the riders, so I fill it with comraderie and lots of social interaction.

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


There are many female experiences I crave and have not had.  There are practical reasons for this.  Recently, I've been debating in my mind whether to overrule my adherence to practicality.  I've decided to dismiss convention and capture joys intrinsic in fun experiences.

I am able to live as a woman in private but am forced to act like a man in public.  Private life allows me the freedom to engage in some female activities, like dressing in cute clothes.  But because I'm indoors when I do that, there are some clothes I have never worn.

A simple example are coats.  Since I don't go outdoors, why would I bother to buy a stylish woman's coat?  What purpose would it serve?  How can I justify spending money on an item that never gets used?

This thinking accepts the practical limitations on my life and ignores the intense desires I possess to have female experiences.

Another example is the subject of this post -- perfume.  Why would I buy perfume if I never wear it in public or even in anyone else's company?  That makes no sense (scents).  While this is undeniably true, I still feel deprived at being unable to enjoy the pleasure of wearing a nice perfume.  At least I did until recently...

Last month I realized that pleasing myself is sufficient reason to buy perfume.  So I did.  I went to Sephora, sampled their wide selection of perfumes and selected one that appeals to me.  It is Clinque Happy Heart.  I like its fresh scent; it reminds me of watermelons.

I wear this scent now whenever I dress up.  Doing that makes me happy.  I love catching a whiff of the perfume as I move around.  I hove to spray it on and sniff its sweet scent.  Even though there is nobody else around to share this with, I've decided that making myself happy is adequate justification for impracticality.

Do you wear perfume?  Why?  What brands do you like?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Time Travel

Ally?  Ally?  Is that you?!

Yes, dear friends, it's me -- in the future.  I stepped into a time-machine and travelled two years forward to a time when my hair has grown ten inches and changed both style and color.

If you don't believe in time-travel, then you probably won't believe this is my hair.  And, of course, you would be right.  This new hair is actually a wig I gave myself for my birthday.

I like it.  I've never had really long hair before and it pleases me.  What do you think of it?

And, btw, have you ever worn a wig?  Would you try one?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gifts In The Mail

Nothing excites us more than receiving something in the mail.  Something real, something tangible.  E-mail and tweets can't compare to a big package with your name on it.

Yesterday was a red letter day for me -- I got three boxes!!

The first was my birthday present to myself -- which is a closely-guarded secret until I show it to you later this week.

The second was an adorable HANDMADE birthday card from Ashley which had me rolling on the floor laughing.  She's so funny.

The third was a thoughtful present from a blogger whom I started following recently -- and for whom I've quickly developed affection.  Her name is Loren and she's a delightful person in Louisville, KY.  Loren's outfits are adorable; her personality is charming; and her blog is entertaining.  I strongly encourage you to give her blog a look.

For Halloween last week, Loren and her boyfriend dressed up as Roger and Jessica Rabbit (from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit").  When the curly-haired boy suggested those costumes, Loren said she'd do it -- but only if she got to be Roger and he was Jessica.  He good-naturedly agreed and their costumes are cute.

After the holiday, Loren's boyfriend didn't have any further need for the size-12 women's red shoes they'd thrifted for his costume.  Loren, to her credit, thought of me as a potential recipient and I gratefully accepted her offer of the shoes.  They arrived yesterday and are quite cute.  Bright red pumps with a kitten heel. 

I've never worn a kitten heel -- have you?  How do they feel on your feet?

Anyway, I plan to incorporate them into an outfit soon.  When I saw the shoes, I thought of Dorothy from "The Wizard Of Oz" whose ruby red slippers are every girl's dream.  Now I have my own!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Again

I did something new and exciting -- I bought clothes from another blogger.  Of course I shop in thrift-stores but I've never worn something previously owned by someone I know.  Now I do!

Kat, whose blog is Atavisions, was thinning her closet and put up some nice things for sale.  They were attractive and priced to move.  I bought several items and, when they arrived, Kat even included a copy of a book she wrote!  How nice of her.  It's a novel.

Here's one of the items.  It was a dress on her and is a tunic on me.  (She's normal-sized and I'm a giant.)

I am attracted to its color and the shape of the collar.  Also, its simplicity allows for creative styling.  I added a belt that Megan made for me from one of my male neckties. 

What do you think?  How would you have styled it?

Staying In Shape

As I mentioned last Saturday, I'm participating in a weekly project on physical health.  It was created by Callie (who has a nice blog) and Lauren.  You can find information on it here.

This week's topics are to report on our progress and to share a healthy recipe.

My tendency is to get into a good routine of exercise for a few months and then fall off the wagon.  During my sloth, I put on ten pounds, see I need to move up a notch on my belt, get depressed and realize I need to start working out again.  So I do -- and the cycle repeats. 

Right now I'm in the middle of a good phase.  As incredible as this sounds, I'm motivated to get in better shape by blogging!  I want to look good in my pictures.  I get sad when I see too much waist around my middle. 

This leads me to ask -- what motivates you to stay in shape?  Is it looking in the mirror?  Or caring what others think?  Wanting to be attractive to a mate? 

Am I the only person who wants to look good for her blog-readers??

Now, the "recipe."  I eat a lot of vegetables 'cause they're nutritious and, if you cook them right, they can be very tasty.  Growing up, my mom overcooked vegetables and served them bland, which made me think I didn't like veggies.  Only later when I started cooking for myself did I realize that the fault was the bad cooking, not the ingredients.

Vegetables can be incredibly delicious if they are fresh and prepared well.  A trick I learned is to season them with whatever appeals to you personally -- and for everyone that's different.  I like intense flavors and spicy foods, so I'll stir-fry or steam some vegetables and add any combination of garlic, Tamari (soy sauce), anchovies, Tumeric (an Indian spice), jalapenos, and herbs (dill is nice).

Of critical importance is cooking time.  Due to varying water-content, different veggies take different times to cook.  If you put them all in a pot at the same time, some will be overcooked when others are just right.  Experience teaches how long each vegetable takes.  You want it to be tender but chewy.  Texture is a big part of eating.

So, my most common dish is to fry up some garlic and seasonings in olive oil, add tomatoes early to soften into a liquid base, and then toss in whatever you want to eat -- some mushrooms perhaps, some green or yellow peppers, a little broccoli or cauliflower.  Near the end, toss in stuff that doesn't need to be cooked much or at all, like celery or scallions.

Serve in a nice bowl and (if you eat dairy) sprinkle on some grated cheese.  (Grating cheese yourself makes it explode with flavor.)

What do you like to cook?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me...

Today's my birthday!

I won't tell you my age 'cause it'll scare you worse than Halloween.  I will confide, though, that I was born in 1957, way back when Eisenhower was President.  That means I was a kid during the 1960s and a teenager during the 1970s.  I lived through interesting and turbulent times.

A funny thing about getting older is nothing really changes.  Your inner core remains the same, even as your external body ages.  If you work on maintaining your health, then that outside shell can remain pretty stable, too.

A benefit of getting older is the acquisition of wisdom.  You shed cultural ideas that lack merit and focus on things with real intrinsic value.  For me, that's living authentically, treating friends well and helping people.  Social status has no value to me any more.  I appreciate who I am and don't need anyone else's approval to feel good about myself.

How do you feel on your birthdays?  Do you welcome them, dread them or ignore them?

I want to thank those of you who sent birthday cards.  Megan drew a handmade card that I'll cherish forever.  Tracy sent a gorgeous necklace I'll wear often (it's the first one shown below), and my friend M. from Sweden also sent me a pretty necklace (it's the second one below).

It's my tradition to buy myself a gift on my birthday.  I started doing this years ago when I didn't get gifts I wanted from other people.  Rather than feel sorry for myself over that, I remedied the situation by coming to my own rescue.  I always know what I like!

This year, I got myself something which is long, flowing and beautiful.  You'll see it soon in pictures.  I know you're not naive, so when readers say, "Ally, your hair grew so fast and got lighter in color," you'll realize what I bought myself for my birthday.  :)