Get an Eye on This: Firmoo Review

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

We signed our photography contract in October and I really, really wanted to set up our engagement shoot for the same weekend 2012 as our wedding would be 2013, kinda get an idea of just how everything would most likely be 1-year out. After all, one of the perks of signing with Honey Lake Plantation is that using the grounds for engagement pictures is included in the contract, might as well make the best use of it!

Unfortunately we’d left it until too late and not only was Kara (our photographer) unavailable but there were events on her available weekends for the rest of the month. It just wasn’t going to work out before the holidays, so we went for the next best thing: Saturday, January 12th.

Now, we’d scheduled this with plenty of time to spare, so what was I doing New Year’s Day?

Realizing that neither Todd nor I had done anything about our glasses situation, that’s what.

Here I was, 12 days out from our shoot and I still had major glare to deal with and some semi-distracting frames, and Todd still had those Transitions lenses. Todd was going to need a new prescription and while he tried to get an appointment in the coming week it just wasn’t going to happen fast enough. He had a plan B, though: stunt glasses! Sure, they were just reading glasses that he couldn’t actually see much through, but they’d do for the photos without darkening in the sun.

I, on the other hand, decided to take a chance with an online site I’d heard good things about from some other bloggers:

Like many online eye wear companies, Firmoo offers designer frames at low prices. And like some, they also have a deal for first-time customers (there were big banners while I shopped with the offer and code “firmoofree”; always verify for yourself, though, as that could change). In this case, it’s your first pair of frames free–you just pay for the lenses, any special requests, and shipping.

Knowing that one of my wish list items was some low-profile glasses–the kind that wouldn’t obscure my eyes or take attention from the rest of my face–I focused (hah!) on their wireless frame selection and went with the “Sarah Palin” style (0212P, can’t seem to link directly to it, so they might be out of stock) since it came in a width that I needed and an unobtrusive gunmetal color for the bridge and arms. Size selected (based on the arm length and frame width information on my current glasses), I entered the prescription information from my last check up (in April) and that was most of it. The only thing I had to figure out on my own was Pupil Distance–the actual width, in millimeters, between the center of your pupils. Usually the optometrist does this when they fit you for glasses and it’s something you can request to be on your prescription, but you can also do it yourself.

It just takes you, a mirror, and a ruler with millimeters on it, plus the ability to look straight ahead and down sort of at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to get a friend to help, but I was impatient so managed on my own.

I was a little worried about them getting to me on time, so I paid for the Express Courier Service ($12.95) figuring I might cut it close but it should still be okay. After the first-frames-free discount ($38–a steal even if I’d had to pay full price, considering my last frames I paid around $200 for) my total, with shipping, was only $42.85, a price worth the risk of ordering from an unknown entity.

The glasses arrived in their case, with a cleaning cloth and wrapped in bubble wrap inside and out.

The glasses arrived in their sturdy case, with a cleaning cloth and wrapped in bubble wrap inside and out.

My glasses arrived on January 9th after coming all the way from Japan–good thing I went with the express service! They also took some serious getting used to. I thought frameless glasses meant they’d just have the little fishing line-type of bands around the lenses–I never even thought about how the bridge attached. And how it attached is with two bolts into the corners of the lenses and, at first, those two center bolts were really distracting, especially when I was working in the computer.

But, just like anything else, you get used to your new normal pretty quick and I didn’t feel the need to make use of their 3-day return window.

Little bits and pieces to keep your glasses in proper working order.

Little bits and pieces to keep your glasses in proper working order.

Speaking of those bolts, apparently they can come loose easily (though I haven’t noticed it happening to me, yet) so Firmoo kindly includes a little key chain-addable all-in-one tool to tighten them up, along with some extra screws and nose pads. They were tucked inside a black drawstring pouch that also held my receipt and some wear and care instructions. I thought that was pretty thoughtful.

And how did they do for pictures?

Jenn & Todd at Secret Headquarters

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography

The last thing I’m noticing in this one is that I’m wearing glasses at all, so I call that a win!

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


Would you order glasses online without being able to try them on first?

+1 Sparkly Cardigan of Arm-Covering

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Like a lot of plus-sized brides, I’m not a huge fan of my upper arms and wear half to full sleeves pretty much year-round. The thing is, it’s not so much the size of my arms that bugs me the most, it’s the pale-yet-blotchy skin tone that makes me feel more comfortable with them covered. That and my nervous habit of scratching at my arms if they’re not covered (which doesn’t help the blotchy skin tone).

All that to say, I knew from the beginning that I would be wearing a sweater, shrug, or bolero along with my wedding dress. And that I shopped for my dress with an eye towards compatible necklines.

Since I am most comfortable in knits, and I do knit from time to time, I figured I’d be happiest if I knit my own shrug, etc. and began looking for suitable patterns ages ago. Thanks to Duchess Katherine’s second wedding look (which included a cropped angora jacket over her evening dress), Vogue Knitting dreamed up a close-enough version and offered it as a free download. As usual, the sizing wasn’t quite right for me as written, so I decided to give the pattern a go in a larger, less fuzzy yarn and different needles and see how close that got me.

Color me shocked when my test-run turned out to be a pretty close match to the shade of dress I ended up choosing, and that the pattern adjustment was just right. Happy accident, that! All that was left was some sparkle to make it wedding-worthy.

Beaded trim, if you’ve never priced it yourself, is damned expensive. For good reason, mind you; it takes a lot of work, usually by hand, to achieve just the right look, but I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we’ve got more time than money to put towards this wedding, and I’m already pretty adept with several styles of beading.

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

Since we Road Trips have a standing date with our DVR on Friday nights, I’ve been working on the necessary length to edge my cardigan (a little over a yard) during those date nights–it’s nice to have something to do with my hands while we’re otherwise vegging out.

I’ll do a better how-to of it in another post, but this beading took somewhere between 15 and 20 hours to complete. I’d have to check my receipts to see how much it cost me, but I know I’ve only used half the beads I purchased (I want to do more trim for the dress, plus a belt) and I doubt I’ve spent more than $50 total, so maybe $25 in materials, but something like $300 in time (at a rate of $20 an hour–not that high for custom hand-work).

Look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

The finished trim–look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

Even though I pinned out the length of ribbon I’d need to bead to trim the sweater, after hanging for a little while the neckline had “grown” as can happen with knits. It took a couple of tries before I got the trim and knitting to match up correctly without the body of the cardigan puckering, but it worked out in the end.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn't quite fixed yet.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn’t quite fixed yet.

To make sure the beading held to the knitted edges, I placed another length of ribbon on the back side of the knitting so that the trim would have something sturdier to anchor to. This also had the effect of stabilizing the edge of the sweater–it was curling in before the trim was added.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater's edge.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater’s edge.

And here she is, all ready for wearing!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

One of the major “rules” about bridal diy is that you don’t plan something that means acquiring additional skills or expensive equipment. Thankfully this project required neither, just a lot of time.

Have you undertaken any ambitious diy projects lately?

It’s More Than Just the Dress

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

With the dress procured, what else to wear was still up for debate.

Let’s start from the bottom and head up.

When I tried on my dress I was wearing 3″ heels (pretty standard for me) and they were just about perfect for the existed hem. While they are not the shoes I will be wearing on the day of the wedding, they at least gave me an idea of what I needed to look for.

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans?

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans? (personal photo)

To say that I have a thing for shoes would be putting it mildly. I haven’t counted recently (there’s been no good reason to), but the last time I wondered enough to do so I counted 85 pairs, and I’ve bought several since then. I’m definitely in the triple digits by now.  And most of them are heels because I find it painful to wear flats for more than a day. (I have Achilles tendinitis in both heels that developed several years ago, amusingly enough while I was wearing flats a lot thanks the multiple dance practices a week–usually it’s caused by wearing heels too often, not the other way around.) I also just love the confidence boost a good pair of heels can offer, and definitely have my favorites for when there’s an important meeting at the office.

So when I considered what I wanted in a pair of wedding shoes, I knew it needed a decent heel, preferably a platform for stability, closed toe, and an ankle strap to keep me from accidentally walking out of them–security is key! It was a while before I found my ideal wedding shoes, and for a while something like these (found via Offbeat Bride) were definitely a contender.

Images via

I’m definitely on the colored-shoe train, but not because it’s trendy: I just can’t stand white shoes (fallout from surviving the ’80s) and don’t want to buy a pair of shoes that I’ll never wear again.

The thing is, I have plenty of shoes around our wine color, but none of them are comfortable for an hour plus of standing around OR they’re way too tall. So I think I’m leaning a bit more towards cream or brown. I think it’s just a case of I’ll know it when I see it. Which is exactly the case when I found these Madden Girl shoes via Zappos.

image via Zappos

image via Zappos

I took them for a test-run at a charity event in April and I almost counted them out. They’re the first shoes I’ve worn in ages that rubbed blisters on my little toes–definitely not something I’d count in the pro column. But then I tried them on with the dress (which, by the way, still fits perfectly a year later–no alteration fees in my future!) and they were the perfect height. Unless something else comes along that’s even better I think I might just add some moleskin or other friction barrier to the littlest piggies and go with it.

As to the rest of the ensemble, I’m not planning to don a veil, so there’s the choice of hair decor to decide (remember, the girls loved me in a tiara, so that’s certainly an option). I’ll wear the journey necklace Mr. Road Trip gifted me on our first Christmas together and maybe a dressier version of my usual hoop earrings, so jewelry is mostly sorted out.

There’s also the matter of the jacket or sweater to cover my shoulders. I spent part of last winter knitting a cropped cardigan as a test for my wedding-day ensemble (patterns seldom work for me as-written, I always have to use the knit-and-see approach), only to find it matched the shade of ivory of my dress pretty much spot on! It still needed a little bit of dressing up, though, which brings me to: the bling.

I love the trend of sparkly belts, so plan to make one for my dress in cream beads and tiny ivory pearls. I’m also considering some trim to peek out just under the folded cuff along the top of my dress, and then edging the sweater’s neckline with the same beading so everything looks like a set, not just disparate parts.


The beaded neckline of one of my favorite shirts | personal photo

This shirt I’ve had for ages, and it’s one of my favorite pieces to wear. It’s a Henly-style top, but instead of buttons, both plackets are covered with this piled-on beading and that’s what I’m thinking will look best for the accents on my outfit. It’s a fairly simple technique, it’s just a matter of assembling the supplies and getting it done (tutorial to come).

What pieces are you still hunting up for your bridal ensemble?

If I Had $100 for Every Proposal I’ve Had…

64 Arts

I could pay off my two lowest-balance store cards.

No. Wait. If we include all the times the first guy asked me after he took it back, mid-planning-the-wedding, I could pay off my third store card.


What have we learned so far?

  1. Scraps has been proposed to lots. (6 engagements before I was 26)
  2. Scraps recently totaled up her credit card debt. Ouch. (I can’t be the only one who glances at the account balance and concentrates on the available credit, right?)

And even the guys that didn’t propose, they liked to give out jewelry. Several of them liked rings, especially, and up until a recent purge of my bauble collection, I had all of them stored away.

I have a motto: Why waste good jewelry?

Of course, what makes a ring “good” or not, is largely a matter of taste.


Rings on a Mandrel

My Preciouses

Tastes Change

Growing up, I wasn’t the girl who fantasized about her wedding as much as I knew what sort (or shape) of diamond I wanted. Not something too fancy, a simple solitaire in a marquise shape on a gold band and I would be a happy girl.

The first of those engagement rings I received? Pear-shaped.

It wasn’t quite right, and neither was the boy. Though I wouldn’t believe it for quite some time and a repeat of the situation. Weren’t we all that way, once?

I did get that marquise-shaped diamond, eventually. Still have it, in fact, and one of these days I might get around to having it reset in something I’ll be able to wear.

Repeat after me: Why waste good jewelry?

But these days not only am I less enamored of diamonds in general (though, being my birthstone, it’s never a truly bad choice) but the “little boat” shape of the marquise does very little for me. In fact, I seem to be gravitating more to a square-shaped stones (maybe because it’s a shape not currently in my personal inventory).

Thinking Outside the Diamond

Thanks to DeBeers, a diamond is what most people expect when marriage is on the table and, let’s face it, society is changing but the engagement/wedding ring is still the most important piece of jewelry in many a girl’s life.

But there are options, ladies, and some worth serious consideration–even if you’re shopping for yourself, just because. We’re going to borrow those 4 c’s of diamond selection and take a walk on the wilder side of finger-wear.

Cut: Not the Same as Shape, But Who Cares?

In diamonds, cut refers to the number of planes and surfaces on the finished stone and is incredibly regimented. If you’re not shopping for a faceted stone or a major investment, cut isn’t going to matter as much to you as the shape.

Do you know what makes some of those stones so expensive? (Besides, of course, the marketing campaigns that convince us certain stones are “acceptable” and others aren’t.) The amount of work that goes into them (number of cuts) and the risk taken every time a cut is made–all that risk and money to take parts of it away!

That’s why, if you want more bang for your buck, looking at less-processed stones may fit your bill. You can find many semi-precious stones in all the major shapes (round, square, pear/teardrop, marquise, oval, etc.) as well as in unfinished states.

Color: All the Rainbow and Then Some!

While diamonds do come in other colors than white/clear (I’ve been known to drool over those chocolate diamonds, myself), they’re not as common as the clear version. With so many other options out there it seems almost foolhardy to limit yourself to just one stone.

Aside from the color of the stone(s), let’s talk about the settings and bands, as well. Gold and silver are your basics, with platinum making up the holy metal trinity. I used to wear gold pretty much all the time (and there used to be a rule about not mixing gold and silver but I think most folks ignore that these days) but something always bugged me: I could see the difference in color between 10K, 14K and 18K yellow gold.

And they clashed.

So I switched, several years back, to all silver (or white gold), all time time. Because sterling silver has pretty much one designation if it’s worth wearing: .925 and it all looks the same.

And, too, for the buyer on a budget, silver prices remain much more reasonable compared to the wildly escalating gold market.

Clarity: Know What You Want and Why

Again, in diamonds, clarity is a specific measure of the “identifying characteristics” of the stone–namely blemishes (outside) and inclusions (inside). And, of course, the fewer flaws the more valuable it is because the more rare is it.

But everyone has flaws, why shouldn’t our jewelry?

Those so-called “flaws” are what make us unique and a few inclusions here and a scuff or two there show a stone that is worn and loved and has been through a life.

Take my mainstay ring: the big teardrop lapis lazuli. Pyrite (fools gold) is a part of all lapis but many jewelers try to minimize the amount present. When I shop for pieces for myself, I’m on the lookout for the pyrite streaks–they show me it’s less likely to be a fake if present–and the deepest blue I can find.

I want a ring with some character, one I’m not afraid to wear for fear of messing it up. Kinda like the people I surround myself with: they’re all characters!

Carat: Size Matters, Am I Right?

Ah, the old quantity vs quality debate.

I think miniatures are amazing, truly breathtaking when done well. But small stones? Those chips are hardly worth the money you pay to have them set.

Those little diamond chips you see in some jewelry? Each one is a point (roughly 1/100 of a carat) and their resale value is absolutely pitiful. They don’t even sparkle enough on their own, they have to be set with plenty light-reflecting material around it to give the illusion of more carats than are really pleasant.

As much as I appreciate delicate craftsmanship, when I’m looking for a ring I’m looking to make a statement so I want something with a little size to it–either the stone or the setting or both. This is why I love that cocktail rings have come back in style in a big way.

Rings on Paper

Rings on Her Fingers

Rings on Her Fingers

For those of you who know I draw comics, too, you probably won’t be surprised that I made a comic (though not a mockery) of my ring-centric history with men. To understand just how I ended up so many proposals (but only 2 marriages and the divorces to match) and why Todd was told (in no uncertain terms) to never buy me a ring, head over to Cocktail Hour to read Rings on Her Fingers.

And, for those of you who’d like a signed copy of that story (professionally printed, 24 pages plus cover, I have about 16 in stock and no immediate plans for another print run) I’d be more than happy to sell you one. They are $5, payable by PayPal, and include mailing.

[If you’re reading this via RSS fee, click through to the post to see the PayPal button.]

Hand-Knit Cowl

Today’s Cowl

64 Arts

If you read a lot of historical novels and the like, you probably think of hooded monks when you hear the word cowl. Why would anyone want to wear one these days when hoodies (which, by the way, I cannot comfortably wear to save my life) are so easy to find?

That’s not what I’m talking about, here.

Today, a cowl can just as easily refer to a knitted tube, worn around the neck like some cross between a fluffy necklace and a scarf  but without the tails. Some cowls–often called clouds and knitted in wonderfully fuzzy mohair for a nebulous effect–are long enough to pull over the head like a hood and keep the ears warm and toasty.

My version was a product of a single skein of camel-colored wool found at Tuesday Morning while shopping for new bath mats and some time on my hands post-move. I’d been itching for a simple knitting project to keep my hands busy and, after flipping through my copy of One-Skein Wonders I settled on the Sofia Cowl. It was a simple lace pattern that kept my hands busy a few nights and gave that awesome sense of instant gratification that good, quick knitting projects always do.

How to Wear a Scarf with no Tails

Pretty much any way you want to.

Wait, not exactly what you were expecting? Okay, I can do a little better than that.

Sofia Cowl Worn 3 Ways

Sofia Cowl, 3 ways

After playing around with my newest accessory, I came up with several variations: these were my top 3:

  1. Fold the back of the cowl down, doubling the warming layers around the nape of your neck, and pouf out the front to fullness. This looks great peeking out of a coat or v-neck sweater–a great way to transition from Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring when you may not need full-on bundling but a little extra warmth wouldn’t hurt.
  2. A fun, slouchy, casual look can be achieved by twisting the tube inside itself a few good turns to create a continuous spiral effect. Try it against a contrasting turtleneck or just on it’s own as a statement accessory.
  3. My favorite look is to arrange it high in the back and fold the edges over at the neck, securing with a pin or clip (like the large French twist clip in the photo–think outside the brooch!). This looks so nice and tailored that it can work as a wardrobe element, not just a cold-weather protector.

If You Love Something, Set it Free!

Hand-Knit Cowl

Enter to Win!

I wanted to knit something and I did. Problem is, I live in Florida where it doesn’t really stay that cold. For pity’s sake, we were the only state in the Union without snow on the ground this past week–this is not an item that’s going to get a lot of use in my neck (hah!) of the woods.

So…. Hows about I offer up to one lucky reader?

If you’d like a chance to win this hand-knit accessory, there’s one simple rule:

Leave a comment on this post.

See? I told you it was simple!

Now, if you’d like an additional chance to win, you can follow the blog via RSS or e-mail. There are links for both options at the top of the far-right side-bar. After you subscribe using the method of your choice (or if you already do!) leave a separate comment on this post for 1 additional entry.

That’s all there is to it.

Cowl Details:

  • Dimensions: Approximately 27″ around, 13.5″ wide (when flat), and 7″ high with quite a bit of stretch.
  • Knit out of “Deluxe Worsted” 100% Wool, Made in Turkey, Imported by Universal Yarn Inc (Concord, NC)
  • Suggested Care: Hand wash in 85 degree F (30 degree C) water

Comment-entries will be accepted until 5pm EST, Wednesday, January 26, 2011, and the winner will be announced the following day.


Don’t forget to leave those comments! This post takes care of our Art of Dressing discussion. Our next art on the horizon? Jewelry!