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I Love Cheap Jewelry, But It Doesn’t Love Me

You would be correct to assume that a great number of these items are non-compliant.

I love cheap jewelry. You know, the stuff 12 year old girls buy featuring rainbows and sunshines and Hello Kitty. Bracelets, rings, earrings, especially necklaces. I love them all.

And life was all fine and dandy until I was in 10th grade. Then I got oozy ears.

Earrings I had worn on many occasions, for extended periods of time, were suddenly causing my ears to ooze yellow puss. It was gross. My mom took me to the doctor. I always remember that the doctor had a giant red bulbous nose (whose daughter incidentally has been my anesthesiologist on two occasions since then). I got the dreaded diagnosis: I had a nickel allergy.

Now, if you haven’t experienced this yourself or know anyone who has, you are probably just thinking of the U.S. currency coin in the amount of 5 cents, commonly known as a nickel. But nickel is in a surprising amount of items. Not surprising, if you realize that it is a cheap metal to add to other metals as filler. And for those who are allergic, it is an itchy nightmare.

The scientific name for nickel allergy is allergic contact dermatitis. I am guessing the cream the doctor gave me that day was some sort of corticosteroid, because it cleared that particular episode right up. Of course, I had to change my earrings. And overnight 95% of my earring collection I could no longer wear for fear of reaction. You can’t tell, but in my first drivers’ license picture I had oozy ear. The puss would literally drip off my earlobe, so I sat there dabbing at it as I took my written test at the DMV.

For a while (maybe a year?), I had had odd incidents that infrequently occurred of my upper lip being swelled up when I woke up in the morning. I figured it must be some sort of allergy, but I didn’t know what. I tried to trace it to some food I had eaten the day before, but no pattern emerged. After I found out about my nickel allergy, I realized that is what was wrong with my lip as well. I had one necklace, a souvenir from my gramma from Garden of the Gods. Every time I wore it, I sucked on the charm. Which was apparently made of my enemy nickel. Other women have to put collagen in their lips for the full look. All I need to so is rub some cheap jewelery on mine.

My Garden of the Gods Colorado necklace that triggered my first nickel allergy.

Then I noticed as I wore necklaces, the back and sides of my neck (where the chain touched my skin) would get irritated and itchy. I could no longer wear watches. Not because of the metal on the back of the face, but because of the metal in the buckle. One day I took a bike ride and I put my house keys in my sock as I usually would. By the time I got to my friends house, my ankle was already red and itchy and developing a rash.

Probably the worst time was when my glasses started to bother my face. I had metal frame glasses that sat on my nose. So, where they touched on either side of my nose, my face just turned to red itchy ooze. I learned I could put baby powder on it, and that would not only soak up the ooze, but also turn my bright red skin to a more normal pink. Imagine trying to study in college and all you want to do is claw your face off. I got to where if I was at home and wanted to watch TV, I would remove my glasses and just sit very close to screen. Someone suggested putting clear nail polish on the frames, maybe a layer between the metal and my face would stop it.

NOPE.

It did not stop the reaction and then where I had put the nail polish on the glasses it reacted and turned green. No wonder I never had any dates in college. I was quite the catch. Not.

When I went to get new glasses, I expressed this concern to the eye care professional helping me to pick out frames. Ones without nickel were so expensive that I let her talk me into ones with nickel, but she said the nose pads would keep them up off my face. Even though it looked as though there would be no direct contact, that pair irritated me as well. Now I go titanium all the way. It is worth whatever I have to pay for it.

You would be shocked at how tiny events in your day could lead to a rash. One afternoon I had like an hour between when I got home from college classes and when I needed to be at work. So, I pretty much took my winter coat off and fell over on the couch to sleep, using the coat as my pillow.

I go to work later, and someone asks me why I have a circle on the side of my head. I crawled up on the stainless steel sink to try to look at the side of my head in the mirror on the reusable fabric towel holder that hung above the sink. There it was. A perfect bright red circle with a pink hole in the center, roughly the size of a quarter. Like a rash donut (Yum?). I was befuddled, until I remembered the nap.

My coat had metal snaps with a plastic center.

At least it was on the side of my head, where it could be slightly obscured by my hair. It could have been worse. The bright red donut could have been in the middle of my forehead!

When I started my first real adult job, I went from standing for 8hrs a day to sitting for about 9 1/2hrs. Ya, it sucked. The good thing was, it was a casual work environment, so I got to wear jeans every day.

And then a new issue surfaced.

The metal snaps or buttons that make up jeans? Yep, you guessed it. Made with nickel. I would get a rash on my stomach right never my belly button (I ❤ Mom Jeans, remember?) I suffered that way for a while, before I got my BRILLIANT idea to put electrical tape over the metal buttons. It is sturdy, you can continue to use the button with only minimal addition of bulk, and it survives multiple washings (but not dryings:).

My husband bought me real diamond earrings from an actual jewelry store and I can’t wear them because they contain nickel. Boo to you Kay Jewelers.

Then I got a patent leather bracelet I loved. How to cover the back of the snaps? Electrical tape. I got a very awesomely goth dog collar at Hot Topic. I was careful to get one that snapped instead of buckled. The electrical tape trick was slightly less effective on that, as there were other metal studs on the outside. But it helped.

An Edward Cullen bookmark/bracelet purchased at a bookstore? Oh, that doesn’t give me any irritation at all. Seriously.  Go figure.

I was at a Good Charlotte concert on Halloween in Toledo, Ohio several years ago. I was trying to bounce with the kids around me who were like 10 years younger. My dog tag kept flying up and hitting me in the face. So I tucked it between my breasts (I was wearing a tank top). I even stopped to think,”This won’t give me a rash. It is my dad’s official WWII dog tag. They wouldn’t put nickel in that.” Oh, Uncle Sam, you did. I truly hope that is no longer the case, for the sake of all the poor soldiers with sensitive skin.

As bad as that rash was, the worst was a concert at an outdoor theater where it rained on my green-haired friend and I. If I was with anyone else, I probably would have sought out some rain-free shelter. But she wanted to walk around, so we did. In the pouring rain. And I had change in my front jeans pocket. I learned that night that, when that white lining of my pocket gets wet, I can get a nickel rash right through the pocket onto my thigh:( (Have I mentioned that quarters and dimes contain nickel as well?) *sigh*

So, that is my story. For anyone who has suddenly found out that they are allergic to nickel, here are a few tips:

1. Avoid nickel at all costs.

2. When you can’t avoid it, electrical tape makes a great barrier. It comes in a variety of colors.  Clear nail polish does not.

3. If you have an outbreak of rash, you can try to manage it with over the counter hydrocortizone cream and antihistamine.

4. Wikipedia says you can try cleaning the area directly after it comes in contact with nickel with soap and water and lemon juice or vinegar. [I have not tried this. I would love to know if it actually helps.]

5. Avon claims that all of their jewelry is nickel-free. In my limited experience, I have found this to be the case. (And sometimes they have Hello Kitty jewelry:)

6. Stop looking at the jewelery tables at craft shows (usually about 50% of the total booths) because you will never be able to wear that stuff again.

7. Transfer charms from chains that contain nickel to nickel-free chains or black rope.

8. If you wear glasses, buy titanium frames. Titanium is your best friend.

Wedding Jeans

The gazebo in the park we got married at

As a general rule, I do not wear dresses. Or skirts, for that matter. I don’t wear them on a normal day, to work, or to job interviews. The one exception I make is to wear them to weddings. Other people’s weddings. Not my own. Intrigued? Read on…(And no, I did not get married in the nude!)

My then-boyfriend and I had talked about marriage, but he wasn’t ready to propose to me yet. At twenty-four, he still felt he was too young to get married. But I was still thinking about my wedding, anyway. I was not one of those girls who day dreamed about her wedding for years and what white poofy dress she would wear. Nope. I think about high school age I decided my dream wedding would be to get married in Las Vegas by Elvis. I am still waiting for that wedding. *sigh*

So although my boyfriend hadn’t proposed to me, I was still wondering what I would wear to my own wedding. I knew a big white dress was out. I must have thought “If only I could just wear jeans”. And that is how the “wedding jeans” were born.

Reception


Do you remember how I like unusual sewing projects, such as the pharmacy giraffe, Christmas stockings, and the Werecart? Well, you can add wedding jeans to that list too. I bought all the white patches I could find. Most featured flowers or hearts. I put them on the legs and back pockets of the jeans. Then I bought thin white ribbon and iridescent seed beads. I sewed the ribbon along the tops of the pockets, and down the side seams of both legs. Then I sewed the seed beads on top of the ribbon. By hand. Sewing through a denim seam is no picnic. I bent several needles in the process.

Now, when I started this project, I kept saying I wasn’t really going to wear the jeans for my wedding. But once my future husband saw them being made and how cool they were, he told me I had to wear them. That he would make me. It is a good thing I started them like 6 months before he proposed, because I think I worked on them for a year. I had them ready a few months before we were married. My jeans were a little too big. Which was unfortunate, because I couldn’t try to wash and shrink them now, as it would have ruined the decorations. So I made a white and yellow ribbon braided belt for them. Sort of dorky, but it did the job.

Now, the hard part was finding a shirt to wear with it. I pictured something white and billowy, sort of like a pirate would wear. Not my usual style, but it was for my wedding day. I bought three different white shirts and I was unhappy with all of them. I ended up wearing just a plain white T-shirt. (I am still looking for the perfect shirt to this day. And if I found it I just might buy it.) On my feet I wore my favorite sandals–pretty basic, brown leather. In my hair, I had baby’s breath put into a half a French braid. The bottom of my hair was curled and hung free.

Ta-Da! The Wedding Jeans. (Front View)


On our invitations, we put “Casual Attire Suggested”. We had our wedding and reception outdoors in August, so it was a little warm. It was a sunny day, no rain. My husband wore a gray shirt and black pants. My bridesmaid wore a denim skirt. We got married in a city part that was just a block from our apartment. (We walked to our own wedding.) We had our reception in my mother-in-law’s backyard, with hamburgers and hot dogs. I didn’t have to worry about changing my clothes or “bustling” anything. I didn’t have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions (although I am sure that I probably worried anyway). In our wedding pictures, my husband and I have genuine toothy smiles, not the kind we usually give for pictures where we keep our mouths closed to hide our crooked teeth. All out smiles.

Wedding Jeans (Rear View)…Hey, quit staring at my ass!


My advice to anyone is to have your wedding your way. And ask for lots of help. I tried to do too much on my own. No one ever said a word about my wedding jeans. Which means either everyone liked them or knew how to be polite. What happened to Vegas, you ask? Well, we didn’t have our wedding there because my husband wanted his family to be able to come and they could not have all made it to Vegas. So my plan was that we would go to Vegas to get our vows renewed for our 5 year anniversary. Didn’t happen. But we should definitely go do it for our ten year anniversary–8/23/2013.

HAPPY 9th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TODAY TO MY HUSBAND!

Who doesn’t read my blog, but he supports me writing it, which may be even better.

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Support for “Mom Jeans”

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I support Mom Jeans. I have since before they were called Mom Jeans. Everyone agrees that male youth look stupid wearing jeans so large they have to hold them up to walk down the sidewalk (except, apparently, male youth). So how come no one can see that girls wearing jeans that show off their butt crack is stupid and repulsive?

I own a few low-rise jeans because there wasn’t any other style available to buy at the time. I want my jeans to be comfortable. If the waist is pushing in on the middle of my gut, that is neither comfortable nor attractive. I don’t find the draft between the low rise jeans and the high rise shirts comfortable either. And we all know no matter how tiny your underwear is and how often you tug up the back of your jeans, you are always showing underwear and/or butt crack. I guess young girls like that look to attract guys. Let me tell you, guys attracted by that are not quality guys.

I just went to shop for some new jeans because my favorite old pair is sprouting holes. What were the main things I looked for when searching for a new pair?

CHEAP: I’m unemployed. And I don’t believe in spending a lot on clothes. They are all the same shitty quality and made in foreign lands, no matter how much you pay.

PETITE: I am sick of walking on my too-long pant legs when I run around the house in my socks.

HIGH WAIST: I don’t want my underwear showing and I don’t want a backdraft.

SMALLER SIZE: Since I had a baby, all my jeans are too big. I bought a belt to hold them up. The belt is also too big. I want to be able to play with my toddler on the floor at library playtime without my pants feeling like they are going to fall off.

STRAIGHT LEG: I am a traditionalist.

What did I NOT look for when shopping for jeans?

Designer labels
Ultra-low rise
Flare leg

I have been waiting for like 10 years for the “fashion industry” to come to their senses and at least sell high-rise and low-rise jeans next to each other on the shelves. After all, as much as you think your grandma is out of fashion, do you really want her to come visit in low-rise jeans? With her Depends sticking over the top? I think not.

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