Monday, October 31, 2011

My very first (and maybe my last?) Outfit of the Day

One five-dollar dress, two ways

I absolutely love outfit-of-the-day posts, but I've never done one myself. I decided to step outside the box and take a chance for two reasons:

1) I want to participate in Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday bloghop. (I LOVE the title of that blog! You'll probably only identify if you're 40 or over. :))

2) I got this dress for 4 DOLLARS and 56 CENTS (plus tax) at Target!!! And I want to show you a couple of ways I've worn it so far.

The dress is a slate blue/gray Mossimo knit dress with a dropwaist, blouson-type style. It's soft and comfy.

On Sunday, I wore it over a black tank, with black tights and 3-inch black peeptoe shoes. I wore a choker my sister Beverly gave me, and I went out of the box a little (for me) and wore a black decorative headband.

(By the way, the choker, including the little stone in it, is from Ireland! I dream of going there someday.)

The dress reminds me a little of a flapper, roaring 20's silhouette, so I wore my hair curly and added the headband.

I don't have a full-length pic of that look, but you can see a headshot above.

Closer view of the headband. Now ladies, I debated whether a woman of my age should be wearing something like this, but I decided, again, to step outside the box. And I got a lot of compliments on it! The best part is it was $1.99 at the same store at which I got the ring you'll see below.

Today I wore the dress over an ivory tank, with a scarf I got on clearance at Target for $3.24 plus tax, a denim jacket, gray pantyhose and my brown boots.

Here we go!

Dress--Target clearance rack
Scarf--Target clearance rack
Denim jacket--JC Penney Outlet, a few years ago

A closer look at the scarf

My boots. My hose look white here, but they're definitely gray!

I got the boots a couple of years ago from a clearance table at Shoe Carnival.

Don't you love this little ring?! I got it for $1.99 at a little beauty supply store near where I live.

So, that's first Outfit of the Day! I have to say I was encouraged to do it by looking at some wonderful blogs written by women my age, who clearly show that you can be classy, attractive and fashionable at any age!

To participate in Not Yet Dead Style's Visible Monday,
click on the icon!

Join us! Click the Spotlight

Halloween Memories

A year ago, I participated in Mocha with Linda's Flashback Friday by recording my answers to Linda's questions about Halloween memories. Worth a re-visit!

It's a little over 7 minutes long.

(Originally posted October 28, 2010)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Participating in Followers Fest!

Welcome to Notes in the Key of Life! My name is Cindy Swanson.

I love to write, and anything that captures my interest will find its way to this blog.

Whether it be matters of faith, current events, family issues, beauty and fashion, books and entertainment, health and fitness, diabetes issues, or a wide variety of other topics,I hope readers will find my writing appealing, engaging and relevant.

I love to laugh, I love music, I dream of traveling to Ireland, Scotland, England and Paris. I'm into beauty and fashion and trying to be the best "woman of a certain age" that I can be!

I believe that grace, love and kindness have a ripple effect, and I want to be a light in the darkness. My faith in Jesus Christ defines me.

I'm a radio newscaster and a voice-over artist who is passionate about reading. I'd love for you to visit my book blog, Cindy's Book Club.

I've been married to Doug for 33 years!

We have three grown children--Jonathan, Justin and Elizabeth. Jonathan is married to Daylyn, and they are the parents of the loves of my life--my little grandsons, Payton and Josiah.

I adore my family, and spending time with them is what makes me happiest.

I hope you'll leave a comment, and please come back again!

P.S. I'd be thrilled to death if you'd "like" my blog's Facebook page. Find it on my sidebar and click, or go here!


October Followers Fest is a linked blog hop hosted by Casey Wiegand, Much Love Illy,Changing Lanes, and Boho Baby Bump! Go to any of the four blogs to get more info.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm finally wearing more scarves!

Since re-watching this video by Judy Chapman, AKA Modern and Mature, I am finally incorporating scarves into my wardrobe more!

I'm determined to use scarves more. It's awesome how a scarve can completely transform an outfit!

Here are just a couple of recent examples.

This scarf is one of a few my brother brought back from Afghanistan for the ladies of the family. I think it's gorgeous!

Coincidentally, in both of these photos, I've tied the scarf in a manner I learned from watching the Modern and Mature tutorial on scarf-tying. I plan to experiment with other ways, though.

This scarf was given to me a few years ago, and I'm sorry to say it has mostly languished in my closet until now. It's a bit shorter than some, but I think it's lovely.

I paired this scarf with a tan tank top, purple shirt from Macy's, and brown skirt from Cato. I think it all came together rather well.

Here are a few lovely scarves I found on Pinterest:

Source: via Leona on Pinterest

Duchess Kate often wears scarves, to lovely effect

Source: None via Cindy on Pinterest

You'll often see photos of Jennifer Aniston wearing lovely, chic scarves to dress up a plain T or tank top. Some examples:

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

So why did I wait so long? I'm definitely going to be wearing more scarves.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beauty/Fashion Book That Was Ahead of Its Time

One of my favorite YouTube beauty gurus, Emily Eddington, asked the question on Facebook today: "What is your favorite beauty-related book?"

The book that immediately popped into my head is one I haven't read in many years. In fact, I was probably in my teens when I checked Pull Yourself Together: How to Look Marvelous on Next to Nothing out of my local library.

I was always going on self-improvement kicks, and I remember this book as being a very down-to-earth, reader-friendly, practical treatise on beauty and fashion that was way ahead of its time.

The book was written by Barbara Johns Waterston, who, interestingly enough, was married to actor Sam Waterston at the time.

This reader wrote on

"The paper back version of this book has been on my bookshelf since 1968 when I was a teenager. When I found the hard copy version I had to have it for my collection. The tips, advice and wisdom in this book never go out of style. If you have a copy of this book, keep it forever. If you don't have a copy, try and find one. It's a simple but great read and it is definetely (sp) a motivator."

Marlo Thomas as "That Girl" in the era of "Pull Yourself Together"

Unfortunately, if you try to buy a used copy of this book, it can run you over 100 dollars, and the cheapest soft-cover copy I found online was $64.00. It's apparently not in my local library system, either.

I did find a few tidbits about it online, though. Simon Doonan talked about it in a 2000 New York Observer article:

"In 1967, Ms. Waterston wrote the Mein Kampf of self-help books, Pull Yourself Together Or, How To Look Marvelous On Next To Nothing . This book is bursting with delightful bossiness, accusations and forthright solutions, and I strongly advise that you get yourself a second-hand copy..."

I even found a Facebook fan page for Waterston--titled, of course, "Pull Yourself Together"--where participants share how they got copies of the book, and quotes from the book.

Here are a few:

(from p. 47 of the book) "I have this friend Marra, who - in spite on her very fine figure, her warm personality, her zest for living, her taste in clothes, her quick wit and intelligence - had a repellent quality about her.
She never looked clean. In fact, she looked as though she smelled."
(from p. 108) "Beauty is beautiful, let's face it. Otherwise why have artists been wasting their time all these centuries? Beauty is uplifting. When I see a greasy-faced, greasy-haired girl walking down the street I feel squirmy. I imagine my scalp is itching. But if I see a freshly scrubbed young thing, all clean and neat, I feel uplifted, just as a smile is always more uplifting than a frown."

Another edition of the book

So, yeah. I remember loving that book as a young girl, and using its down-to-earth wisdom as a tool to help develop my personal style. Maybe someday I'll get to read it again!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do you have a favorite "greasy spoon" eatery?

Source: via Gena on Pinterest

October 19th, according to, is "Greasy Spoon Day."

Several years ago when I co-hosted a radio morning show with Darren Marlar, we invited listeners to call in with their favorite local greasy spoon restaurants.

We were flooded with callers letting us know about these often little-publicized, often out-of-the-way, sometimes hole-in-the-wall, usually Mom-and-Pop operations that serve incredibly delicious food.

Which is what we meant by "greasy spoon." But apparently the common definition is not nearly so flattering.

Like this one from
"a small restaurant specializing in short-order fried foods."

Or this one: "The American Heritage dictionary defines a Greasy Spoon as 'a small, inexpensive, often unsanitary restaurant.' The term 'greasy spoon' speaks to careless dishwashing practices, hence grease on the cutlery."

Source: via Morgan on Pinterest

So what really is a "greasy spoon"?

Our aim with that radio show was to give a prize to the Rock River Valley's Best Greasy Spoon, but with those definitions, it's doubtful any eating establish would have been proud to hang up a plaque with that designation.

So, what do we call it? Obviously not "Greasy Spoon." The places we unearthed in our search were definitely clean and definitely didn't cook everything in gallons of lard.

"Out of the way hole in the wall under-publicized eatery with incredibly delicious food"? That's a bit of a mouthful...pun not intended. :)

Source: via Chris on Pinterest

I remember a place in Beaumont, Texas, when I was a little girl, called "Carnation." (I think it had something to do with Carnation milk, because it was an ice cream parlor as well as serving food.)

I actually found someone reminiscing about this place online. These are the memories of Jeff "Rusty" Russell III:

"The Carnation was the epitome of all things good and great; it was the quintessential dining experience. The burgers and fries were ambrosial, and the shakes and malts breathtakingly luscious.
And, on really special occasions, we would be treated to one of their decadent sundaes, hot fudge, banana split, Tom and Jerry (one scoop vanilla + chocolate with chocolate sauce) and The Peter Pan (chocolate with marshmallow sauce).

As the customers walked through the entrance, just to the right was the ice cream display. It was always a challenge to pass it by on the way to a booth or counter seat.
The entire cooking operation took place in the center of the room in an open air setting, and the aroma of the griddle fried burgers would fill the restaurant with mesmerizing consequences.

On those times that we didn't order sundaes, a visit to the ice cream counter was de rigueur. Two scoops of peppermint, please! Some things should NEVER go away!"

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

So do you have such an eatery that lives on in your memory--or maybe you have one that you still frequent? I'd love to hear about it!

(Here's another cool post about the Carnation--there's even an illustration of how it looked in 1953--before my time, but it hadn't really changed a lot by the late 60s!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday 13: Thirteen Most Common Last Names in Ireland

Beautiful little church in Ireland

OK, so it's nowhere near St. Paddy's Day, but being the Irish freak that I am, I thought this would be a fun one...the thirteen most common last names in Ireland. Go here to see the complete list of 40.

Counting down:

13. McCarthy

12. Doyle

11. O'Reilly

10. O'Neill

9. O'Connor

8. Ryan

7. Byrne

6. O'Brien

5. Smith

4. Walsh

3. O'Sullivan

2. Kelly

1. Murphy

Is your name on the list?

I'm participating today in Thursday Thirteen! Check it out here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I give weird nicknames

(This was originally posted June 3,2004, so some of the particulars have changed--I no longer work with Charmel, and my dog Stormy has since passed away--but the weirdness remains the same. :))

It's a compulsion. I can't seem to let people who are close to me just have their given name...I have to give them a nickname, and often it gets completely out of control.

For example, take my daughter Elizabeth. It started with me calling her "Lizzy Boo." Then, for some reason, it progressed to "Lizzy Boo, the Tiny Roo." Not content with that, I had to shorten it to just "Roo"...which then morphed into "Roony Toon." From there it became "Roony Toons Adventures" (yes, I know it's weird!!!), then "Roony Toons Adventures in Odyssey," then just "Odyssey." Oh, the Odyssey of a nickname! Nowadays, I will often say something like, "Roo, will you answer the phone?" or something to that effect, so I guess it's calming down. Although for a while I was calling her "Roo Paul," and she just put her foot down on that one. You have to draw the line somewhere!

My husband Doug was first "Dougie-Wuggie" while we were dating (please don't get nauseous...I know it's syrupy!) Then I shortened it to Wugs or Wuggles. Sometimes I even call him "Wuggles the Clown." He totally answers to Wugs, though, because I've called him that for years.

Sometimes, the nicknames stick. When were were very young children, I started calling my sister Lisa "Lido." I have no idea why...but now that's what I call her, more often than not. We both attended the same Bible college, and as others would hear me calling her "Lido," they picked up on it too. Soon, complete strangers were calling her "Lido"--which she wasn't crazy about. "Lido" was a pet name that should have been reserved for close friends and family!

Then there was my good friend and former co-worker, Joel Griffith. (Joel is now a staff writer at Slavic Gospel Association.) I found myself calling him "Joel," with the emphasis on the second syllable. That reminded me of a girl I went to high school with, whose name was Joelle Palermo. So I started calling him "Joelle Palermo," and that got shortened to "Palermo." Soon, just about everyone who worked at the radio station at the time was calling him "Palermo," and I even still call him that to this day...and he answers to it!

Now, my co-worker Charmel is often called "Charmie"---thanks, of course, to me. It's caught on to the point that people even call her that on the air sometimes. (Actually, it started as "Charmie-Pooh." Yep. Really.

Even the dog is not exempt. Our German Shepherd's name is Stormy, but for some reason I morphed that into "Stormcloud Trooper," and now, more often than not, I will just call her "Trooper." Smart dog that she is, she answers to either one!

Interestingly enough, given I'm the great bestower of nicknames, I don't really have one myself. Unless you count the fact that my real name is Cynthia and I'm almost never called that. Although, my dad used to occasionally called me "Cindoza," and my brother-in-law Steve called me "Cindinka." Come to think of it, my brother David has called me that too, and even "Dinkers" for short.

This weird nick-naming thing must be genetic. Apparently, Grandpa Garrett was a great giver of nicknames. And my sister Lido and I found out something really strange recently. One of the nicknames I had given Elizabeth at times was "Creekie May." (Don't ask...I have no idea why.) Come to find out, completely ignorant of that strange nickname, my sister sometimes called HER daughter "Creekie La Luna"!!!

I often call my sister Bev "Buv" because of the way a friend of hers used to pronounce it. And don't even get me started on all the strange nicknames I gave my brother when he was a kid. The one that has stuck through all the years is "Dave-o," which is useful to help distinguish him from my sister's husband, who is also a David.

As I re-read this before posting, I am once again reminded that I am REALLY weird. (sigh.)

For more on nicknames:

Here is a nickname generator, where you can find a nickname ranging from mobster to superhero to vampire to rap star and a ton of other choices.

Do you know who was called The Sweetness? How about The Big Hurt? Here's a quiz to see whether you know your sports nicknames.

We can all identify The Big Apple and The Windy City, but what about Big Raggedy or The Fruitcake Capital of the World? Here is a list of American city nicknames...TEXAS gets its very own list!

How about you? Got any weird, funny or cute family nicknames?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Oh, How Pinteresting! 10/5/11

I'm linking up to The Vintage Apple today for Oh, How Pinteresting! It's basically an assortment of cool things I've found on Pinterest recently.

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

How beautiful is this picture, taken in Utrecht, the Netherlands?

I adore baths anyway, but if I had one like this, I might never get out of it!

Mary Poppins! Is this not the cutest idea for a costume?

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

A lovely idea for a pumpkin display

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

I have no idea where this is, but what a charming little structure!

Funny and SO true!

You can follow me on Pinterest here!

And link up to the Vintage Apple here:


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

My Delicious Healthy Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Muffin Recipe!

It's that time of year again...time to whip up a batch of delicious, diabetic-friendly Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Muffins!

Ssh...don't tell anyone they're healthy, and they'll never know. Although they're not as richly sweet as other pumpkin muffins, they ARE very tasty--and a dollop of cool whip (sugar-free for me) on a warm one makes you feel like you're having a decadent treat.

I got this recipe out of a Prevention "Outsmart Diabetes" magazine a few years ago, when I first found out I was Type 2 Diabetic. Having some pumpkin treats that I could indulge in made me feel a lot better about going through pumpkin season as a diabetic!

My mom also loves this recipe, and usually adds nuts to the mix. They're delicious that way as well. (She makes them all year round.)

Of course, they're best straight out of the oven, but a few seconds in the microwave will bring them back to yummy warmth in no time. I've been know to freeze them to enjoy later.

Here you go!

Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or use liners.

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Beat egg in a small bowl 30 seconds, until foamy. Add milk, pumpkin, oil and orange zest. Beat well. Add to flour mixture and stir until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until tops spring back when touched with finger. Turn muffins out onto a rack to cool.

PER MUFFIN: 146 calories, 3 g protein, 22 g carb, 5 g fat, 0.5 sat fat, 18 mg chol, 2 g fiber, 189 g sodium
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