Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Watering the Garden -- The Invisible Progress Below the Surface

Lately, I have found myself looking for visible and measurable progress in many of my personal projects. It got me thinking that much of our progress in a long-term project is not visible or easily measurable. It's a little like watering a garden. You till the soil, plant the seeds, water the garden... Things are invisibly happening below the surface, but it is some time before you see sprouts appearing in the soil, and even longer before you see the plant in its full maturity.

Below, Young Woman Watering a Shrub by Berthe Morisot

So, very recently, I have taken to list making in order to encourage myself that I'm doing something right, something which in some way moves me closer towards the end result. I also know that it helps to enjoy the process, to find the process rewarding, not just the end result.

It's hard, at times, for me to feel that reading a book as research for a writing project is as much of an accomplishment as adding words, paragraphs, pages to the actual work in progress. However, in reality, of course, these things are important. The written work is built on inspiration and information drawn from many sources, so each stage of the creative process has some value. In a little notebook I keep by my bed, I take note, "I read so many chapters of such and such a book by which I hope to learn such and such." It somehow gives encouragement to see it noted in a visible way.

Although I am trying to focus on one book project currently, I have many irons in the fire, many book projects, with a notebook for each one. When I get ideas, I note my plot outlines, character descriptions, other bits and pieces of loose ideas, maybe even bits of dialogue into my notebooks. I keep another notebook for almost everything else: prayers and prayer requests, general to-do lists, general planning, other thoughts that seem worth noting down in writing. This is the one I've been using to encourage myself on my personal progress.

At work, I'm employing some similar methods. As a reporter, I spend a lot of time on hold for various things, waiting for return phone calls, while I have several documents for stories open, plugging along as much as I can on each simultaneously. I've always had a way of tracking all my attempted calls along with the times I left messages. Lately, I list this in one place along with each thing I do towards progress in the final story. Somehow, in spite of the frustration of phone tag and waiting, it helps to visually see I'm taking all the proper steps towards the end result.

Another personal goal that has its ups and downs is my goal for weight loss. It is such an act of perseverance when you have more than just five or ten pounds to lose. A friend of mine, who was also working on his weight, once said, "The scale is demonic." Although we are both Christians and believe in the supernatural, he meant this more facetiously than literally. However, stepping on the scale is often a source of discouragement. The scale measures everything: the meal you just ate and are still digesting, any clothes you happen to be wearing, the extra water in your system. Those numbers just bounce around, five up and then five down. At times, it's hard to tell if you're climbing upwards towards the goal or walking backwards down the stairs. Sometimes, you just have to avoid that "demonic" scale for a longer period of time and believe that if you do the right things -- consume less food and exercise more -- you will eventually see the right kind of results.

With weight loss, note taking is also important. Keep track of what foods you eat and what type of exercise you did for how long on what day. As mentioned before, enjoying the process certainly helps. To keep to a fitness plan, find a type of exercise that you actually enjoy. For me, I find that I enjoy any type of exercise more when it's set to music I like and that gets me going. Also, I discovered I like dance exercise and have tried it in multiple styles and forms. The process is rewarding, because it is fun, the creative aspect of it is endless, and it releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones.

Setbacks will happen. For me, some niggling physical issues have given me trouble in recent days, putting me a little behind with some progress in some areas. If you have a worthy goal, whether they are the same as mine or otherwise, don't give up.

One Scripture I keep thinking about in recent days is Galatians 6:9 "Do not be weary in well-doing, for in due time, you shall reap, if you faint not." The apostle Paul here is writing about spiritual goals and doing good works. I don't want to stretch the verse to take on a meaning that was not intended, but God does care about our work and our endeavors that are not clearly spiritual in nature. Although it's possible to have a goal in mind that God would not choose to bless -- it's important to ask God's guidance and let Him direct or even redirect us -- God cares about every aspect of our lives and all of our work. My father, a retired engineer, has often told me he feels that God has helped him solve tough problems as an engineer when he prayed over his work.

"For in due time, you shall reap if you faint not."

Watering the Garden by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

"Through perseverance, many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure." -- Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Visual (Partial) Genealogy of the Three Royal Cousins, Ruling Monarchs During World War I

I have very much been enjoying the book "King, Kaiser, Tsar" by Catrine Clay. The book describes the three royal cousins who ruled during World War I: King George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The book does more than describe political situations but gives many details about the upbringing, education, courtship and lifestyle of all three monarchs, taking many excerpts from personal letters and diaries.

As the royal relationships between the three are somewhat complicated, I thought it would help me to visualize it, so I collected some historical photographs.

All three cousins are descended from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Queen Victoria reigned in England from 1837 to 1901.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and children

Unfortunately, I do not know precisely who is who among the royal children in the above photo. I do know that Princess Vicky was the oldest daughter, Princess Alice was the second daughter and Bertie (who became King Edward VII) was the oldest son, so that may give us some idea while trying to interpret this photo.

King Edward VII and Queen Consort Alexandra

King Edward VII reigned in England from 1901 to 1910.

King Edward VII's wife Alexandra was a sister to Russian Empress Maria Federovna, who became the mother to Czar Nicholas II. The two sisters were Danish princesses, children to King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel.

Queen Consort Alexandra of England and Empress Maria Federovna of Russia, sisters

King George V, son of King Edward VII and Queen Consort Alexandra

King George V reigned in England from 1910 to 1936.

Princess Vicky, daughter to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Kaiser Frederick III, Kaiser of Germany, King of Prussia. She became Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia. Kaiser Frederick III reigned in Germany from March 9 to June 15, 1888.

Kaiser Frederick III of Germany and Princess Victoria

Kaiser Wilhem II, son to Kaiser Frederick III and Princess Victoria

Kaiser Wilhelm II reigned in Germany from 1888 to 1918.

Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Grand Duke Louis IV of Germany and became the Grand Duchess of Hesse.

Princess Alice (Grand Duchess of Hesse)and Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse, of Germany

Empress Alexandra Federovna of Russia, daughter of Princess Alice (Grand Duchess of Hesse)and Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Czar Nicholas II

Just a reminder -- Czar Nicholas II was also related to King George V by their mothers who were sisters, Empress Maria Federovna of Russia and Queen Consort Alexandra of England, Danish princesses. Czar Nicholas II reigned from 1894 to 1917.

Czar Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra Federovna

Photo of King Edward VII of England and Czar Nicholas II of Russia with families

The photo above was taken during Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight in 1909. From left to right: David (future Duke of Windsor, his mother Princess of Wales Mary (later Queen), Grandmother Queen Alexandra, her granddaughter Princess Mary, Czar Nicholas II,Princess Victoria(daughter Alexandra, King Edward VII, Grandduchess Olga of Russia, her Mother the Empress of Russia Alexandra, her daughter Grandduchess Tatiana,Prince George of Wales (later King George V) next to him Grandduchess Maria and in the front, Grandduchess Anastasia and Czarevitch Alexis.

The children of Czar Nicholas II: Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia, Olga, Alexei

King George V and Czar Nicholas II

In the above photo, first cousins Tsar Nicholas II and King George V exchange uniforms since they looked so much alike.

So, hopefully, this collection of photographs and captions helps to visualize the succession of royalty and their various relationships. In review, all three cousins were related to Queen Victoria (one through marriage). King George V, son to King Edward VII and Queen Consort Alexandra, and Kaiser Wilhelm II, son of Kaiser Frederick III and Princess (Empress and Queen of Prussia)Victoria, were grandsons to Queen Victoria. The wife of Czar Nicholas II, Alexandra Federovna, was a daughter of Princess Alice and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Czar Nicholas II was also a first cousin to King George V through their mothers who were sisters and Danish princesses.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Books That Captivated Me at Barnes & Noble

Today, I thought I would be blogging about the play Damn Yankees. Friday night, I drove down to the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey to meet my friend, Sharon. Our plan was to eat dinner in the food court there and then go on to the nearby Roosevelt Park for Plays in the Park, the play of the evening being Damn Yankees. But, alas, we arrived at the park just in time to hear that it was cancelled due to rain. It had, by that time, already begun to drizzle. So, deciding to come back for another try in better weather, Sharon, my fellow bibliophile, and I headed back to the mall for our favorite hang-out, Barnes & Noble. After a few moments of browsing, Sharon had found a book that intrigued her and began to peruse it. My attitude at a bookstore, or with reading in general, is like a sumo wrestler at an all-you-can-eat buffet, so I found a pile of five, a fairly versatile selection, which I carried to our table in the cafe section.

I can not give full recommendations for the books I picked, because I did not read all five books while sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe over an iced caramel macchiato, but I can give a little description of each and tell you why they intrigued me. Each of them initially caught my attention either by the title or cover picture or both which compelled me to read the back covers. Sitting down with them, I read a few opening pages.


Sharon's pick -- Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time by Carissa Phelps

This is the one Sharon picked up, but I quickly agreed with her that it was an interesting book. It is an inspirational autobiography. The author ran away at twelve and got connected with a brutal pimp. Eventually, she ran away from that life, feeling abused and neglected. By age 30, thanks to a teacher and counselor, she graduated UCLA with a law degree and an MBA. Now, she works with the homeless and with at-risk teens.

I wish it was more widely understood, especially by men, that women who get into the prostitution business aren't necessarily in love with what they do. For some, it's a desperate attempt at survival, and many are entrapped. They may be abused and may be compelled to do things distasteful to themselves. In the current trends of human trafficking, many girls are ensnared into it by deceitful means. No wonder Jesus was a friend of prostitutes. He understood their pain and believed them to be totally redeemable.

I really appreciate this organization, Nightlight Bangkok. This organization helps the intervention and rescue of victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Women are given vocational training in jewelry making. Purchasing jewelry from the website will support these women in their new lifestyle.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This first caught my eye by its dramatic cover in red, black and white and the words #1 National Bestseller, which is no indication that it will be a favorite of mine, but it is an indication that it is a favorite of many other people. One reviewer called it "a literary fantasy," and the author herself stated that all her books are "fairy tales in one way or another." The story is of two fiercely competing magicians, Marco and Celia, at Le Cirque des Reves, who, in spite of everything, fall in love. After perusing it very shortly, one thing I noticed was that its format and organization seemed creative, the style was engaging, and I immediately felt like I was expecting something exciting to happen.

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

I will need to tell my Greek American writer friend Stephanie -- check out her blog -- that this novel set in Greece caught my eye. She and I had just been commenting on a photo she posted to facebook. The photo showed a man climbing a hill, leading a flock of sheep which seemed to occupy the whole span of a public road. Stephanie posted that this was a common scene near her home in Greece.

The sentence on the back cover that caught my attention was this, "Thessaloniki, 1917: As Dimitri Komninos is born, a fire sweeps through the thriving multicultural city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side." The story seems to be some historical saga spanning 80 years of "Nazi occupation, civil war, persecution and economic collapse."

Although, I identify with the first group mentioned, Christians, I have a great interest in Jews and Muslims and in stories where the three religious and cultural groups have lived in close proximity, such as in Bosnia. One fictional book I read recently along this line is People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. The story traces the history of a mysterious illuminated Haggadah that is found in Sarajevo. The book, although fictional, is somewhat based on an actual find.

I liked Hislop's descriptive style, giving you the feeling that you are in the setting she describes, as in this sample, "With the lifting haze, Mount Olympus gradually emerged far away from the Thermaic Gulf and the restful blues of sea and sky shrugged off their pale shroud." I did not, as with reading The Night Circus, feel like I was being set up for something exciting to happen. That may have been misleading as one reviewer called this book "a page turner," which to me suggests fast-paced. But even if it does not read like a thriller, that is not a deterrent to me. I enjoy books which show some lulls between the action and takes the time to make you deeply acquainted with the characters.

Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper

A fan of the costume drama, the medieval gowns on the cover caught my attention at first. From the back cover, "London, 1501. In a time of political unrest, Varina Westcott, a young widow and candle maker for court and church, agrees to perform a clandestine service for Queen Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII--carve wax figures of four dead children, two of her offspring lost in infancy and her two brothers, the Princes of the Tower, whose mysterious disappearance years ago has never been solved."

This hooked me. I remember the story of the "Princes of the Tower" as told in one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, Richard III. Why I like this play is a mystery even to myself, because it is a tragedy and full of bloodshed. In college days, I saw it performed when the college hosted a series of Shakespeare film nights, and it has been a favorite ever since. I think I like the banter between Richard III and Queen Elizabeth (Woodville), queen consort of England as the wife of King Edward IV. I remember these lines. The murderous Richard III wants permission to woo her daughter, Elizabeth of York.

"Richard III: Then in plain terms, tell her my loving tale.

Queen Elizabeth: Plain and not honest is too harsh a style.

Richard III: Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.

Queen Elizabeth: Oh no, my reasons are too deep and too dead, too deep and dead, poor infants in their graves.[A reference to the "Princes of the Tower."]"

Lately too, I am very interested in learning about the history of British royalty, both through film and books. Watching The Young Victoria, which I loved, inspired me to read Queen Victoria's biography by Lytton Strachey. After I saw The King's Speech, I was inspired to read The King's Speech: A Lesson in Perseverance (What George VI Can Teach Us) by Susan Crimp.

The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh

I don't have a very definite opinion on the guilt or innocence of Amanda Knox, the American girl who, while studying Italian abroad in Perugia, found herself accused of the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher. I am a little interested to see what the author's conclusions are. The book appears to be well-researched. The opening pages featured a detailed diagram of the house where Amanda and Meredith lived, a map pointing out key places in Perugia and their relationships to one another, and a listing and description of all the people pertinent to this story. The book's title is taken from a Lord Byron quote which is given its own page, "Oh Italia, Italia! Thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty." I wonder though if the author has given that phrase more than one meaning.

The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason

The book I saw in Barnes & Noble had a different front cover than the one shown. That cover picture featured a girl with a bicycle, but the head of the girl was past the picture's frame of the picture. It is odd, and perhaps purposefully mysterious, that the girl in the picture, whom we could assume is the title character, does not show her head, never mind a blue beret.

This historical novel, set in World War II, starts in an exciting way, with a fiery plane crash. I was thinking at the time that I was reading that this bit of writing was quite an accomplishment for a woman since I know very few who are knowledgeable about planes or have first-hand experience as pilots. The story is based on the real war experiences of the author's father-in-law. I can see that she likely interviewed him extensively to give you the feeling that she did have that first-hand experience.

The story is of Marshall Stone, a U.S. flyboy stationed in England, who is forced to crash land his B-17 in Belgium near the French border. Ordinary citizens, members of the Resistance, help him find an escape route back to England. Decades later, he returns to the crash site, wanting to find the people who helped him and especially one girl who risked her life for him, the girl in the blue beret. Lovely thought, right?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Six (Or Maybe Three?) Degrees to Tolkien -- Aesthetic Inspirations

Below, a rare beautiful binding of The Hobbit from abebooks.com.

J.R.R. Tolkien fascinates me for many reasons. I think of him as a super-talented Renaissance man. He created an elaborate fictional world in Middle Earth. Not only did he show himself a master of letters in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, he illustrated his stories himself with skill. He is a writer, illustrator, cartographer,letterer, philologist, simply a creator on many levels.

Tolkien's illustration of Rivendell, a region of Middle Earth

A Tolkien illustration for The Hobbit

Mary Podles, a retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, wrote in Touchstone magazine that Tolkien may have been inspired artistically by illustrators Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham, John Bauer and Kay Nielsen and even by the Art Nouveau jewelry of Rene Lalique, in his descriptions of various jewelry for his fictional characters. The Art Nouveau style, most popular from 1890 to 1910, would have been prevalent in Tolkien's childhood. Tolkien was born in 1892.

Lalique pendant, below

Notice that the Lalique pendant is inspired by nature just as in Goldberry's belt of golden flag-lilies, Aragorn's eagle brooch or the hobbits' enameled leaf brooches.

Reproduction of Frodo's leaf brooch from The Lord of the Rings movies

Whether or not these other illustrators influenced Tolkien, I appreciate all of them. Arthur Rackham (1845 - 1939) had a style that is sometimes described as a fusion of European Nordic style and Japanese woodblock. Rackham would do soft pencil sketches, block in shapes around his outline, add details in pen and India ink and layers of washes of transparent tints.

I know, from numerous sources, that Tolkien was influenced by Nordic mythology, so it would not be surprising that he might be influenced by a 'Nordic' illustrator. In fact, Rackham did illustrations for The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods by Richard Wagner. Wagner's operas were based on Nordic mythology, and Tolkien's friend, C.S. Lewis, was an avid Wagner fan. Here are some of Rackham's illustrations, one of which is for one of my favorite children's books.

An Arthur Rackham illustration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Dancing with the Fairies by Arthur Rackham

Walter Crane (1845-1915) was an illustrator of the Arts and Crafts movement as was William Morris, whose fantasy writings such as The Wood Beyond the World, 1894, and The Well at the World's End, 1896, also influenced Tolkien's writing. Crane was similarly influenced by Japanese woodblock design. He worked in watercolor and also in woodcuts.

Walter Crane's illustration for Little Red Riding Hood

Walter Crane's illustration for Beauty and the Beast

Compare Rackham and Crane's illustrations to the examples below.

The Great Wave by Hokusai, a Japanese woodblock design

Kay Nielsen illustration

Kay Nielsen (1886 - 1957), like Lalique, was an Art Nouveau artist. Nielsen, who was Danish, illustrated a collection of Nordic fairy tales in East of the Sun and West of the Moon. He even did some illustration for Night on Bald Mountain for Disney's 1940 Fantasia.

Night on Bald Mountain from the 1940 Fantasia

I see some similarities in each of these styles, in the strong use of outline, in the contrast of dark and light and the stylized shapes. Compare the curving and arcing lines in Night on Bald Mountain with Hokusai's The Wave. Compare both to the circular billows of smoke in Tolkien's own illustration from The Hobbit. I see both Japanese and Art Nouveau influences in Crane's illustration for Beauty and the Beast.

Are we playing six degrees to Tolkien? Maybe. Really, I think the relationships would be easier to diagram with bubbles and interconnecting lines than with a linear outline. Rackham and Nielsen may have influenced Tolkien with their style of art. Japanese woodblock art influenced Rackham and Crane. I personally find it very interesting to see the different philosophical or historical influences on a new trend or movement or relationships between different artists and their influences.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Musical Theater, Many Art Forms Melted Into One

Above, Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo and Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill in the 1962, The Music Man.

I'm a fan of the musical comedy. A musical comedy can always make me smile, relax and de-stress. I know songs from musicals and their lyrics to an embarrassing degree. I once saw a T-shirt on zazzle.com that said, "Yes, I know all the lyrics to every musical, so sue me, sue me, shoot bullets through me," which was funny to me, because I recognized the "sue me, sue me" part as lyrics from Guys and Dolls.

Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit singing Sue Me, Sue Me to Vivian Blaine as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, 1955.

I think I like the musical, because it combines so many art forms I like into one: singing, dancing and storytelling/acting. At various times, I have sung in choirs and concerts, acted in dramas and danced for my own benefit and exercise, but I have never performed in a musical. You can, however, see how it might suit me.

Visual art is also an important element of the musical that can't be underestimated, the art that goes into costume design and set design. Musical comedies are often an explosion of color, with colors that pop and vibrate against one another...

Scene from West Side Story, 1961.

Or unrealistically monochromatic as if a whole town decided to dress alike for no particular reason.

The Shipoopi song from the 1962 movie, The Music Man

Think Pink from the 1957 Funny Face

In the above scene, the explosion of pink does have some pertinence to the plot in that it deals with employees of a fashion magazine and a new fashion trend.

It is the careful arrangement of color and beauty that adds so much to the musical experience. This past March, I went to visit a good friend in Florida. She and I visited Walt Disney World with her mother who said at one point that a visit to Disney World could give you sensory overload. The musical experience can be like that too, with so much for your eyes and ears to take in.

I realize not everyone is a fan of the genre. I remember, back in college days, overhearing a guy in the cafeteria making fun of musicals and, specifically, West Side Story. With a cheesy, pasted-on smile, he snapped his fingers and made up his own lyrics for the fictional gang members, "We've got your drugs, and we're going to kill you." Looking back on it, I laugh. I can understand why he would see the ridiculousness of a bunch of tough guy gang members slinking down dark alleys and breaking out into spontaneous dance, especially as some of the dance moves in the movie are ballet-related. (Those moves are, however, masculine.) A more modern retelling of the story might have the Sharks and Jets dancing hiphop style. Not all musicals are comedies. Some, such as West Side Story and Les Miserables, can communicate drama, tragedy and serious ideas.

Dancing Jets in West Side Story

I think it is this spontaneous song and dance in the midst of the story that those who are not fans find hard to understand. A friend of mine once, speaking to me about it, complained that musicals were unrealistic. I then told him, "Well, comic books are similarly unrealistic," since he is a fan of comic books. He then acted as if I had stepped on his toes. It wasn't my intention to insult something he liked but only to point out that people enjoy many art forms that are not strictly realistic. The 2007 Disney movie Enchanted has a song and dance scene that mocks the very idea of a spontaneous song and dance breaking out of nowhere. And you know what? I actually love it.

That's How You Know from Disney's Enchanted

I think of these spontaneous songs as like unto a Shakespearean aside or monologue. It is not realistic for a person to make little speeches to himself either. It is merely a technique to make us privy to that character's feelings at the moment. Songs in musicals serve the same purpose. Instead of expressing feelings in a monologue or dialogue or some other action, the character expresses it through song and dance. So, if you don't get hung up on the lack of strict realism, you can enjoy the format.

Maria Von Trapp, in The Sound of Music, can work out her anxiety in I Have Confidence in Me, and Anna Leonowens, in The King and I, can do the same thing in Whenever I Am Afraid.

Deborah Kerr as Anna Leonowen and Yul Brynner as the King of Siam in the 1955 The King and I

I don't think I will get tired of the musical, of discovering new ones or discovering old classics.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Romantic Fashion Picks

Today's post in inspired by some of my fashion picks on Pinterest. I love this top above by Anthropologie. It is romantic and feminine, flowing but not shapeless. It would certainly be cool and airy for the summer weather. It is made with polyester,cotton, wool, nylon and acrylic. I think it would look good with a pair of jeans or with a pair of slacks.

It is also $138 which is more than I personally have ever spent on a single top. Sometimes, it is worth the splurge. Depending on your budget, it may be worth your while as quality well-made clothing has more endurance. If you are a skilled seamstress (or happen to know one), you may be able to draw some inspiration from this and create your own version. A creative one-of-a-kind fashion statement is a wonderful thing.

Pair that with this floppy sunhat with flower by Luxury Lane.

The hat is $48 from lookingfabulicious.com. It's lovely for summer, for a day on the beach or out at the sidewalk cafe, both functional and fashionable. The cream rose brings out the cream color of the top.

These espadrilles by Michael Kors, $79.99 from zappos.com, would be a safer pair of heels for the boardwalk. The gold tones complement the creams.

I adore this bag from Fossil, inspired by Italian bags of the '70's. It is feminine and folky at the same time. The applique and embroidery are charming and reminiscent of traditional folk art flowers. It would add a punch of color to the outfit, and the pink flower accents would pick up the pink of the hat. The material is a cotton and leather blend. The interior is 100 percent polyester jacquard, and there is a magnetic closure.

It is $139.99. So, again it may not be the best choice if you are on a tight budget. Maybe, you can only afford one splurge, maybe all, but these are just some of the fashions that have caught my eye recently. Maybe, these ideas will just serve as a springboard for your own creativity. If you are skilled in needlework, you can easily replicate the folk flower look on a fabric bag, knowing your style is both classic and current.