Monthly Archives: January 2016

Dumfries bride donates wedding dress to non-profit group which turns gowns into funeral robes for babies

It was the dress she wore to marry the man of her dreams.

And when Lisa Callander-Bone’s big day was over, she didn’t want her beautiful dress to just hang at the back of her wardrobe gathering dust.

So she donated it to a cause close to her heart.

Lisa has lost three babies through miscarriage

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She is one of hundreds of brides across the country who has gifted her dress to a not-for-profit company – Cherished Gowns for Angel Babies – that turns much-loved wedding dresses into tiny funeral robes for babies who are stillborn or who die after their birth.

Lisa, 43, of Dumfries, who married Colin in January, 2013, has lost three babies through miscarriage.

“Losing a child is something that so few people speak about,” said Lisa, who has a 10-year-old son, Finn.

“But you still grieve for that baby and for the person they would have grown up to be.

“When you lose a baby, it must be so important to spend time with that child and dressing that baby is an important part of that bonding and grieving process.

“To be able to pass on my wedding dress, which was so special to me, to someone who might be brought a tiny bit of comfort at such a difficult time, did seem like the absolutely right thing to have done with it.”

Cherished Gowns for Angel Babies was set up by Lynda Garrett, 43, and her friends Megan McKay, 28, and Hayley Mullen, 28.

The company, which applied for charity status, has just launched in Scotland and is making contact with maternity units.

Lynda had a stillborn baby son 25 years ago. At the time, she didn’t get a chance to hold him in her arms, let alone say a proper goodbye.

Now she is helping ease the grief of other parents who have lost a baby.

And she says they are grateful to not only the Scottish brides who have donated their dresses but the army of volunteer sewers who help transform the gowns into tiny robes for the babies.

She said: “Often babies who are born sleeping or pass away shortly after birth can be very small and it can be hard for the parents to find something appropriate to dress their child in. So we have put together gift boxes that we have given to hospitals that contain really special gowns and the response has been overwhelming.”

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Still in legal limbo despite ‘Wedding Heard ‘Round the World’

The first gay couple to get married in Minnesota are once again fighting for their legal rights, almost three years after the state legalized gay marriage, a year after the U.S. made the same move — and almost 45 years after they legally married here. The problem? Blue Earth County never recorded the marriage license it issued the couple in 1971.

When Jack Baker asked Michael McConnell to marry him in the late 1960s, McConnell agreed — so long as it would be legal. “That was the way it was done in my family,” he said. “We had longevity in love. Once you made that commitment, you expected it to last.” So Baker, determined to make good on his promise, went to law school and studied the marriage statutes, and found that gender was never specified. No gay couple had ever married, but there was nothing that said they couldn’t. So they did.

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First, they applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County as Michael and Jack, and were rejected. So Michael legally adopted Jack, enabling him to change his name to the gender-neutral Pat, and their application for marriage was accepted in Blue Earth County. After their marriage ceremony, they sent the paperwork in, and went on to enjoy the rest of their lives together — give or take a few other legal battles, such as Jack’s military discharge and Michael’s fight with the U of M over a job it offered him and then withdrew when his relationship with Jack — then student body president — was discovered.

They didn’t discover that the county never recorded their marriage until after they gathered their papers to write “The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage” [University of Minnesota Press] with Gail Langer Karwoski, the biography of their love story, complete with legal struggles. Today, they are in a legal limbo, unable to claim Social Security survivor benefits and unable to marry another — or remarry each other, under current law — because their original license still stands, although unrecorded. As of this time, Blue Earth County refuses to record the marriage license it issued.

MinnPost: After writing this book, you donated a massive archive about your life and Minnesota gay history to the University of Minnesota. What did you find when reviewing all that material?

Michael McConnell: It was unbelievable. We were transported back to that time. A lot of it was painful, heartbreaking; so many people lived in fear and guilt. Many people felt they could not come out to their families. We’d get letters from people who were so lonely, so isolated. “I live in a small town in Georgia, and I worry that I will never find someone.” So much has changed, yet it’s important that future generations understand what life was like. We wrote this book with Gail because she has written many books for young adults, and we wanted to reach that audience, and show them that it is possible to find love, even when there are obstacles.

MP: You were both out during a time when many people were not, and Michael, your family in particular was very supportive. Yet you describe your church and community as full of people who would “gleefully murder” you.

MM: The culture in Oklahoma [where both men grew up] is a mix of Southern hospitality and generosity, tempered with a real meanness. Everyone is sweet, loving and kind. But there’s this sense of backstabbing, meanness under the sugary surface: “Why precious, I love you to death. But you do have stinky breath.” It is hard to know who to trust. It was clear in the sermons we heard about Sodom and Gomorrah that we were less than welcome.

My family was very religious, but interpreted that as based in love. Jesus was not about hatred, judgment or criticism. They accepted us as a couple just as they did every one of my siblings’ spouses. We were just ‘Michael and Jack,’ and my mother called him her other son.

MP: Harassment by law enforcement is a re-occurring issue in your story and for the gay community in those years. How has this changed?

Jack Baker: The police in Oklahoma took great pleasure in parading people in front of the cameras and shaming them, trying to destroy their lives. This was widely supported by the local governments. But when we moved to Minneapolis, it was better. The police were not our friends, but they had been told by local politicians not to be offensive.

There were periods of time when police would harass gay people here, though. Back in the days when “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” played every weekend in Uptown, and people would leave the theater late at night in costumes, police would try to bust people, make life difficult. But they wouldn’t generally go to great lengths to ruin your life —expose you to your family, get you fired — which was happening in other parts of the country.

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A Letter to 24-Year-Old Me on My Wedding Day

“I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.” -Lena Dunham

Hey girl,

(Just so you know, in about six years, those two words will mean something entirely different, thanks to Ryan Gosling and Instagram and the explosion of memes on the Internet.) Prepare yourself for that.

Are you happy?

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Truly, undeniably, happy?

I know you feel like you are. It’s a beautiful February day, on that villa overlooking Lake Travis, with a crowd of family and friends gushing over your dress selection. You typically hate attention of all kinds, but today it feels alright. Manageable. That third glass of champagne may have something to do with it, but as your Maid of Honor keeps saying repeatedly, this is your day.

So drink up.

And while you are, I ask that you pause and breathe. Deeply. Not simply because the photographer is beyond frustrated at your inability to sit still (he is) or the fact that your mother remains terrified that your dress will come unbustled in the middle of the ceremony (more like the beginning) but because of this:

It’s going to be the last deep breath you’ll take for awhile. Five years awhile.

Make it a good one.

I debated whether or not to spend the entirety of this letter berating you for the laundry list of poor choices you made in the first half of your twenties, but fortunately for you (and your flawless makeup) I opted to take a different path. One that will leave you relatively tear-free and hating Future You far less than otherwise.

I’m choosing to applaud you. For your terrifyingly believable acting skills, refusal to listen to your gut, and faith in mankind. Faith that people, your spouse in particular, embody the ability to change for the better with age.

It’s that hope you’re clinging to while standing at the altar, bolding stating those vows, and staring back at a face that brings you more heartache than joy. But isn’t that love? I hear you shouting back at me. It’s ugly sometimes, but the messiness makes it beautiful.

Sure. I’ll play along. It sounds a bit like the millennial relationship version of Chutes and Ladders, but let’s go with it.

Uncertainty is surging through your veins right now at lightning speed, and while tempting to offer words of warning and advice, all I can really do is stand in silence at your bravery. And stubbornness. The dream of yours to be married by 25 will happen in mere hours, and being the goal-oriented overachiever that you are, the word “victory” keeps streaming through your head on a loop.

So enjoy your day.

Really.

Enjoy the view of the water during dinner, and that amazing chocolate groom’s cake (which you’ll dream about for months to come). Don’t think too much about your mascara. And stay away from the fourth glass of champagne, even though you’ll be tempted to inhale it before the first dance.

Above all — and most importantly — know that, when your marriage ends five years later, you’re going to be ok.

Lean on that wild strength of yours that will so brilliantly hold you up at the altar.

It’ll come through when you need it the most.

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Dress Code

In a week in which a primary school head blasted parents for not dressing children properly,

Neil Hudson asks if modern parents just too busy?

For parents everywhere, getting the children ready for school in a morning is probably one of those tasks that, if they could get out of, they would. The prospect of having to wrestle with miniature versions of yourself and get them washed, fed and into the correct clothes is a job in itself.

Never mind the fact many parents then head out for a full day at work in the knowledge that even after their working day is done, there are still numerous after school clubs to ferry the little ones to.

Sometimes, it can seem never ending and this week, one headteacher at a school in Yeovil, Somerset, blasted parents for sending children to school “dirty, unkempt and not in appropriate school uniform.”

In an open letter to parents on the school’s website, Judith Barrett even accused some parents of staying in bed and letting their children get themselves ready.

Here in Yorkshire, Ian Stevenson, the regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers for the Yorkshire region, said he believed such problems had their roots in social deprivation and were best addressed on a more personal level.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, he said: “I think problems such as this are caused by high levels of deprivation and poverty. I don’t think parents ever want to be in such a situation. In this particular case I think it would probably more useful to address such issues on a case by case basis.”

He went on: “I’ve not heard of anything similar in this area, apart from some time ago children at a school in Bradford who were found to be going to school without breakfast.

“I think we have to be aware that the UK has the largest number of food banks since the end of the Second World War and that the reality is some families are finding it hard to feed their children and at the same time to cloth them.

“These problems are directly related to poverty and lack of employment and if that is happening, it’s a problem we need to address.”

But poverty and unemployment may not be the only causes. Modern lifestyles, with their myriad of calls for our attention, mean we have less free time than ever before, so could it be that parents need to change their behaviours as well?

BHS school uniform

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Dr Steve Taylor, author of Waking From Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make them Permanent, who lectures in health and social sciences at Leeds Beckett University, is an expert in mindfulness.

He said: “One of the paradoxes of the modern way of life is we have all this technology and the way it was sold to us was that it would give us all more time. Of course, the reality is, we have far less time.

“Responding to texts and emails takes up an enormous amount of our time. Even our enterainment these days takes up a lot of time, just because there’s so much of it.

“Things like mobile phones and tablets were not around 20 years ago and so people, in general, had more time.”

Dr Taylor, who does not own a smartphone, said there was hope for hard-pushed parents.

“You can easily make time for yourself, by meditating for 20 minutes or going for a walk or a run. It’s really important to take time out from your demands. To begin with, it may seem to make you worse off but this is about enabling you to relax. You could even do it while you are ironing or doing something like that.”

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The Ultimate 7-Step Closet Cleanse for the New Year

The first sign that I could use more organization in the new year is that I am late for a consult on how to achieve more organization in the new year. It’s 8:50 a.m., and I am sprinting toward the coffee shop two blocks away from my apartment in an effort to make it back by 9:00 sharp, when a professional organizer is set to arrive. The second sign is that before I open the door to my closet, I preface it with, “Please don’t judge me, but . . .”

Suffice it to say, I know a thing or two about hoarding. So before heading into another year with all my same-old, I set out to clean my closet once and for all—or at least until next season—and decide to consult multiple experts along the way to find out exactly how to tackle this daunting project. Here, seven key points to keep in mind before you unleash your own editing powers on that wardrobe of yours.

Jacqueline Burke and Restaurateur Luke Ostrom’s Wedding in a New York City Townhouse

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Cleanse Your Way to Better Karma

If you get cold feet before the big cleanse, that’s normal. I am riddled with pre-closet-cleanse anxiety in the week leading up to the purge. These were things I liked enough to buy, once. What if I have another chance to wear that Marc by Marc Jacobs dress? What if I finally discover how to style that Moschino blouse? I don’t have the answers, so I call Karyn Starr, a stylist and cofounder of the aesthetic consulting firm White-Starr. “In order for the new you to come in, you have to get rid of something,” she says. “If it’s not serving you, it can serve someone else. It’s like good fashion karma.” So the next time you buy something new, consider giving away an item to maintain your pared-down closet and up your fashion karma.

Even Professionals Need Professional Help

As a Vogue.com writer, it’s reassuring to me when Starr debunks the myth that the sorts of fashion professionals who work in the industry do not face the same closet-cleansing problems that plague most other people. “You can be a fashion designer or a writer and still not be good at editing [your own closet],” she says, adding, “Every writer needs an editor.” Nor is it indicative of your fashion sense, or lack thereof. “I have a lot of clients with amazing taste and incredible style.” It can be hard to limit your options, not to mention find a pal with an opinion you trust and the patience to take on the task. That’s when a closet-cleanse professional can swoop in and be like the “brutally honest” bestie you never had.

Pass the Edit Test With Flying Colors

Immediately following an in-home consult with Maria Kontovas, a professional organizer from Neat Method, I place an order for 100 slimline hangers and 40 slimline hanger clips. Far from an impulse purchase, I carefully contemplate the range of available shades in what feels like a long-term investment: Black? No. I hear those rub off on lighter colors. Pink? No. The vision for my newly cleansed closet is more grown-up. Seafoam green? Yes! I recall Vogue.com Managing Editor Alexandra Macon once touting, “They make me feel at peace.” A cohesive closet starts with matching hangers, and the color sets the tone. But before you get hung up on rehanging, first do it by garment type, then within each section by season with lighter fabrics followed by heavier, as well as by color of the rainbow (ROY G BIV) with white at the beginning, black at the end, and arranged from lightest to darkest. It’s like merchandising your own closet.

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Who wore it better

Fans are more used to seeing her in various items of gym gear.’

But Tiffiny Hall showcased her quirky fashion sense with fans on Instagram as she posted a picture collage of her outfit on Tuesday evening.

The Biggest Loser fitness instructor sported a unique pale blue layered mini dress which featured pink strap, with her black bra just visible underneath.

Her blonde locks were styled back into a simple ponytail while she kept her make-up simple for the outing.

The 31-year-old playfully captioned the snap saying: ‘Who wore it better? Tiff, tiff or tiff?’

Lending hand: The 31-year-old also handed out advice on how to 'flatten the stomach'.photo:orange formal dressesOn Sunday, the fitness guru put her impressive skills to use as she shared some encouraging words to Instagram, urging her fans to usher in a healthy new year.

In the shots the blonde beauty is seen raising her muscular arms in the air as she puts her bulging biceps on full display, before doing a star jump.

Tiffiny’s petite frame is clad in a tight fitting black singlet and a pair of blue mini shorts which shows her toned legs.

‘Current feels! Bring on 2016,’ she wrote underneath the image. ‘New Year resolutions will kick in soon.

‘If you have any NY resolutions targeting weightloss and fitness I’ll give you my✨golden✨tip: don’t diet, just eat in line with your #goals.

She added: ‘Eating rubbish will make you feel rubbish and form rubbish results. It’s easier to make a healthier choice when you know it will take you one step closer towards your dream.’

Days beforeTiffiny left her social media followers speechless after sharing an image of her incredibly ripped figure once again.

The personal trainer flaunted her ridiculously toned six pack in the black and white image as she handed out advice on how to ‘flatten the stomach’.

While standing in front of the mirror for the selfie, she sported a black crop top along with a pair of white and grey tights which she rolled under her hip bones.

The trainer lifted her right arm high while forming a peace sign with her fingers as she flexed her equally impressive biceps muscles.

As she tied her blonde locks back with a bathroom towel, Tiffiny kept her face hidden behind her smartphone.

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5 New Year’s beauty resolutions you should make

Resolution season is upon us. Here are some suggestions for beauty-related habits to commit to this year.

1. Clean out your makeup bag

Makeup does not last forever. If you haven’t used an item in awhile, or if it’s so old that you can’t remember when you bought it, toss it. Experts generally suggest replacing mascara every three months. Foundations last for about a year, and lipsticks and glosses for two. And while you’re at it, clean those brushes. Use warm soapy water and allow them to air dry.

2. Get regular hair trims

Dennis Abbott and John Clayton converse while reviewing shots at their annual Santa Claus photo shoot. Clayton is the photographer behind the popular The Friends of Dennis Facebook page, which documents Abbotts' zany outfits and everyday interactions.

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If you have long locks or are trying to grow out your hair, it can be tempting to skip haircuts. But even in the grow-out stage, experts recommend trims at least every few months to get rid of dead ends and maintain shape.

3. Whiten your teeth

Unfortunately, some of the world’s tastiest beverages — coffee, tea, red wine — stain teeth. Make it a habit to use an at-home whitening kit every six months or so to keep your pearly whites gleaming.

4. Don’t sleep with makeup on

This one is obvious, but most of us could use a reminder to take off makeup — not to mention the day’s dirt and grime — every single night before bed. Sleeping with it on can clog pores and irritate eyes. Keep makeup remover wipes by your bed so you can take it off easily after a tough workday or night out on the town.

5. Take a risk with your look

The new year is a perfect time to change things up a bit. If you’re someone who never wears lipstick, visit a makeup counter to find a flattering shade. Try false lashes for a special event. If you’ve always wanted a pixie cut or bold highlights, go for it.

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