The Vintage Advantage: Clothing Frugally

Vintage Fashion

I’ve loved clothes design since I was a little tyke. I can bring to mind the wardrobe pieces that set me apart; the lavender quilted flare skirt with matching vest, a hand me down from a neighbor, the “Cinderella” blended rainbow dress my mother got on sale, my red Hudson Bay jacket my Dad bought for me on one of his bus runs to Canada. When I started earning money in the Summers to pay for my college education I would save back enough money to buy at least one “cool” outfit. I remember the “poor boy” gray sweater and the black and white check skirt I bought to go with it. It was in high School my sewing skills reached the point that I could fashion my self some outfits. I kept up with trends that were slightly ahead of the mainstream. I made myself a tunic with matching pants when pants were still not allowed in upscale restaurants.One so called upscale restaurant turned me away. I queried, if I take the pants off would I then be allowed in with my tunic mini dress length? I did just that.

Once in art school I became friends with Larry, he was my ride to school (although I had to walk several long blocks to wait for him to pass my area). No matter, as this then gave me a few extra dollars  saved from taking the bus to buy detestable indigestible food from the vending machines at school or enough to spend as Larry and I perused the nearby thrift stores during our lunch hour. It is in one of these stores I made my first thrift store purchase, a black velvet with with white top stitching and pearl snaps western style jacket.  I loved that jacket. I wore it with my soft pink wool pencil skirt, another thrift store find.

While I was a working mother (I no longer had the time to sew my wardrobe) I resorted to upscale resale shops (before ebay). Even with enough money, when I became management, I could not see dropping a lot of money on suits.

Putting it All Together

ebay and Goodwill finds

Today we are on a fixed income and I buy most of my clothes either on online auctions/ vintage sites (Poshmark, Etsy) or Goodwill. Not a downer by any means as this gives a myriad of decades to chose my clothes from versus having to settle on mass market clothes of the current year that all kind of look a like. This year as I will be turning over 70 I decided I no longer want tie shoes for couple of reasons. 1. Pull ons are just that, much quicker 2. I no longer have to hold on the dogs leash while having to retie my shoes 3. My feet don’t like feeling captive in tie shoes. Never a brand name fanatic I realize that often brand names are well made. Recent purchases include Jordache overalls – well made and tough, Born sandals super comfortable, sturdy and easy on and off, Ariat Probaby boots – short with wide tops, great padding and cute to boot!  And I will refer you back to my post on jewelry de jour, lucite. Easy on and off, doesn’t need polishing and cost my under $10.

My daughter Kim came up with this formula on spending money…For every dollar you spend on clothes you should have to wear it that many times. So the Born shoes I picked up at Goodwill cost me $4.99. I found them last week. I have already gotten my money out of them!

I am glad I live in small town Oklahoma where buying frugally is something to brag about.

My Name is Muriel

Muriel at Three

Muriel at Three

My Name is Muriel

“sparkling, shining, bright, sea”

I call this a selfie blog, it is about my name. The eldest daughter in the family were named after our 2 grandmothers, Lucille Anne, the second was given her name by father. He may have just liked the name Susan but I do know that his family had a favorite cow named Susie. Her middle name being Ella after my dad’s sister. Being the third child and my mother hoping it would be a boy, the name Patrick was picked out for me. Alas it was not to be. My first name, Muriel, was selected by my dad. The story goes there was pretty nurse that took the Greyhound bus on my dad’s (he was a bus driver) regular route. My second name Joan was given by my mother. It may have been chosen because my initials would be the same as her little sister Mary Jo.

The family pronounced my name mur + el instead of the more common MUR-e-ell. It was a difficult name for me to pronounce as I could not say my R’s, L’s. My name came out Me-Oh when I tried. I found out very late in life that my family’s pronounciation was the Irish version. (The Irish spelling is Muirgheal). It went well with my Irish last name Norris, which of course, I could not pronounce since it contained R’s and S’s. Note: The 4 siblings that followed were given common easily pronounceable names. Seeing my difficulty dealing with my name my mother suggested I switch to Joan. She failed to relate this to my teachers and our extended family so I was left with no option but to go forward with Muriel. 

I learned the common English pronunciation from teachers and others who read my name before hearing me say it. As a result my public persona was different that my familiar persona when it came to my name. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins all knew by “Mur+el”.

There are very few of us Muriels around. I finally met my first one via phone when I worked in Chicago. I got a call from Enesco Giftware New York sales division. It went like this. Person on the other end: “Hello, This is Muriel” Me: “Yes, this is Muriel”. The air went dead and Muriel of New York hung up. We were both confused. Neither of us had ever encountered another with the same name. There are now a total of 61,000 Muriel’s in the US. That means meeting another is a 1 out of 5238 chance. Compare that for instance to my husband’s name Michael, where there is 1 out of every 75.

At American Greetings I was given the task of training the newbies in the Humourous Planning department how to create for the greeting card market. One of them, named Jim,  was told he would be working under “Muriel”. His assumption was that I was a doddering old woman. He was surprised to find out I was still in my late 20s. According to “The Meaning of Names” the highest recorded use of this name (Muriel) was in 1923 in the state of New York with 691 baby girls. So Jim was not far off in his assumption.

There is no short version, no nickname. I eventually grew into the name and because I am an artist with a unique first and last name there is not doubt when I sign a piece of art which Muriel Fahrion created it. (The only one in the world, really!).

Late in my career I moved into management. Part of my fold was cadre of 75+ freelance artists, sculptors who I mostly talked to by phone. I introduced my self by my full name Muriel Fahrion (a coworker once commented that when my name came over the PA system it sounded like a chemical spill) then I would ask, “Do you know any other Muriels?” The answer was always “No”. I would follow with, “When I call I will just use my first name then”. My name is Muriel.MurfGreenSweater

Here is a shout out to all the other 60,000 or so Muriel in the US!

Just for the fun of it links to ego surfing websites where you can learn about your name.

Find Places in the US with Your Name

How Many of Me are There?

Baby Names of Ireland

The Meaning of Names- Popularity

Popularity of names through the years. 


My New Transparency

Earthtones Embedded Stripes Pyramid Style

Embedded Stripes Pyramid Style 3D ©2014 Muriel Fahrion

Transparency is a word being bantered around in the American lexicon, specially in matters of politics these days. But “my transparency” has nothing to do with politics. I purchased a pair of clear acrylic eyeglass frames because frankly, I am tired of wearing glasses since I donned my first pair at age four. Clear frames would be they closest I could come to no frames. (It was determined years ago that contact lenses would not work for my “special” eye condition).

Translucent Orange Square Ring

Translucent Orange Square Ring ©2014 Muriel Fahrion

How it all started had more to do with my lateral method of thinking. “Ah” I thought I would now build around the concept of transparency. When one searches for “transparent plastic” Lucite pops up, a form of acrylic. Even though I was a young adult in the 1970s, I somehow missed the lucite bandwagon. In my possession was only a few translucent blue bangles. Two to be exact it had been sold as a trio but somewhere in my half a dozen moves one was lost. I am a frequent browser of both eBay and Etsy and I began my search by typing in “clear lucite”. The first piece that caught my fancy and fit my budget was an asymmetric clear chunky ring with sharp edges. It was obviously hand carved and polished. It had one small flaw, a 1/8 nick which you wouldn’t know unless you were told. Bought it, loved it.

Square Clear Lucite with Embedded Blue

Square Clear Lucite Embedded Blue ©2014 Muriel Fahrion

I also experimented by buying a “lot” of rings less than a half of which I kept (some were too small others to glitzy or pink). I moved the rest to a local gallery and put an impulse buy price on them. A few have found the right finger to go on. Other lots have come up but none too promising. So I have gone back to single stunners.

So many directions I could have taken (a few I took that weren’t right for me) I have settled on what I would be buy, mostly rings with an artistic twist. I prefer ones that are either translucent or combination of translucent, clear and opaque. FYI: Sellers often make mistakes here and don’t know the difference between

Red Sphere, OrangeDisk Clear Band 3D

Red Sphere Orange Disk 3D ©2014 Muriel Fahrion

transparent, opaque and semi opaque. The other restriction I put on my purchases is price staying under $10 including shipping. So yes, I’ve have to restrain myself and not go for the tempting pricier pieces and believe me there are a lot of those.

Clear Stacked Cylinders

It is hard to tell what decade my rings come from but no matter I am buying them for style first. Lucite appeared on the scene in the 1930’s but most of what you can find in rings come out of 50s, 60s, and 70s. Flash forward to today there are some new designs coming out. Alex Bittar lucite creations are interesting but way too pricey for me. Jackie Brazil Sorbal comes closer but outside where I’ve set my limit. If you are looking for some fun inexpensive lucite or Milano glass rings I might suggest “Carrot Box” who carries fun rings in a myriad of colors. But for me I will probably stay with vintage.

Lucite seems to fit who I am, it is light and more importantly fun with just enough flash for this artist. Besides having the rings gives me the opportunity to render plastic items in 3D. I am sure I will add some new Lucite to “ring” in the New Year!

Translucent White Square End

Translucent White Square End

Earthtones Embedded Stripes Pyramid Style

Earthtones Embedded Stripes Pyramid Style

Note: 3D renderings ©Muriel Fahrion 2014.

Just a Walk in the Park

As many with pets will attest walking the dog pushes you out the door. Ours dogs, Doolin & Kyffin, get at least 2 walks a day. Walking behind them are my husband and me.  I carry a purse that has doggie clean bags, doggie treats and my iPhone. Kyffin’s leash wraps around my waist leaving my hands free to take photos as I walk. Medicine Park is picturesque some days more than others. Our walks take us about a mile. Here are the main routes: 1. Creekside down Charley Wright Trail (AKA The Wright Way), 2. Rex Leath Rd which ambles down the Medicine Creek across from the Fish Hatchery then returning West Lake Drive, 3. West Lake Drive takes (AKA the other side of the Creek) takes us past cottages and houses. From there we turn up the side streets and back again. 4. Forrest Ave or as I call it Upper Wacker (a Chicago reference).  A hilly climb one block west of town center, 5. Big Rock Rd. our mountain (Mt. Cummins) road on the North side of town, 6. Buffalo Street, Longhorn Street, East Lake Drive.

The old stock of shops, fences and cottages were constructed of cobblestones, round grapefruit sized red granite most having been built from about 1910 to the 1920s. The majority have been restored while a number are in various stages of collapse. There are new homes that have been built many in the last 10 years. Most of them are too new to be interesting enough for me to photograph although some of the plantings are impressive. My photographing efforts have on and off depending if brought a camera with me but in the last year with my iPhone handy I have been able to snap what I see.

Some I put up raw, some I run through very iPhone apps like Camera+, CameraBag and iPhoto mobile. And if the image warrants it I will take it in to my Macbook iPhoto and/ or Photoshop. I have owned cameras, Polaroids, Nikons, Canons, Minoltas and Pentax. The first being SRL’s film cameras other being digitals. But frankly I like being able to move the photos without plugging things in. The majority of shots you will see in this slide show are shot with my iPhone, most within the last 2 years.




Salad Days

Chopped Salad with Bengal Tiger Iced Tea

Chopped Salad with Bengal Tiger Iced Tea

Every since I found out I had reflux, returning kidney stones and mold allergies my food restrictions feel like they have had a strangle hold on me. It all began back over 9 months ago. I had to give up on things that have become regular food/ liquids including all fizzy drinks, nuts, berries, some leafy greens, aged cheeses, mushrooms potatoes and more. Now that I have adjusted to new foods and dump the old eating habits I feel I can move on to the next area of conquest…my weight. I have lost and gained over the years, never easy for me (or any of my siblings). Reviewing how I gained so much weight I put much of the onus on high stress over the past 5 years. Ice storm, wildfire that came close to consuming our house, husband with cancer, daughter between jobs, asthma and massive kidney stones. Now that the stress levels have dissipated its time to tackle the problem.

Every morning I eat one of two things, 1. Cereal with fruit, 2. Homemade yogurt with fruit. I don’t seem to get bored of this combo, so I thought what if I take a similar tack with lunch. Going over in my head what make sense to eat that has minimal calories I landed on salad. What if I have salad for every lunch. Realizing there a number things that cannot go on my salad (see preceding list) I am having to be inventive in my combinations. Another factor is that I don’t have much patience for food preparation. Can I do it? And if I, can how long can I keep it going? Buoyed by my being able to stay off of soda/pop for over 9 months makes me believe I can pull this off. (FYI: My current beverages are one cup of coffee in the morning (one of my restrictions), herbal ice tea or hot tea and lemonade.)

Apple, Carrot, & Red Cabbage Slaw
Apple, Carrot, & Red Cabbage Slaw.

Let it begin!

Yesterday’s salad was no lettuce all veggie and feta cheese salad. Today’s Salad… Chopped salad with iceberg lettuce, red bell pepper (I can’t have green bell pepper), cucumber, scallions and a hard boiled egg topped with zero calorie honey mustard dressing. Wish me the will power to pull it off.