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Movie Review: Something Borrowed

Last night Popsugar had free screenings of the new movie Something Borrowed in six different cities in the US. DC was one of them, and I had the opportunity to attend. The last time I saw a movie in the theater, I was pregnant. I think it was the first Sex in the City movie. I just never have the time or opportunity to go.

My husband and I have Netflix and usually put movies on our queue as soon as we see the trailers for the theater opening, but we try to choose movies that we would both enjoy, and I KNEW he wouldn’t be interested in Something Borrowed. I on the other hand, was really excited to see it.

I love to read, and I am not picky with my choices. Nonfiction, biographies, crime novels, self-help, cook books, psychological thrillers, poetry collections, Oprah’s book club; I am known for picking a book from my office’s communal library solely on the color of the spine. If the book sucks, I just trade it for a new one. I feel one can get pleasure and benefit from any reading material. And that includes chick lit. Sometimes you just need a good chick lit book.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel & Kate Hudson as Darcy in Something Borrowed

A few months ago I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, not even knowing that the movie was coming out. My sister had cleaned out her library when moving into her new house and donated books to my work library; Something Borrowed was one of them. I read it, and enjoyed it. Not too fluffy, enjoyable characters, pretty well-written for chick lit. I liked it so much I read the second book in the series, Something Blue.

Anyway, Something Borrowed was still fresh in my mind when I heard the movie was coming out. Then when I heard the cast (hello Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski) I knew I would have to plan a girl’s trip to the theater. Just as I was considering plans, I got an email from Popsugar notifying me of this free screening in DC! Fate!

I met my sister around 6:30 at Mazza Gallerie. By this time there was already about 50 women in line. I was expecting to be one of the oldest women there, but it seemed the average age was 30, and lots of them were busy Tweeting and emailing about the event. At 7:15 or so they started filing us in; I then was able to see the line and how many folks were behind us. It snaked all over the lobby of the theater! In that line I saw fellow blogger Marta and her friend; it was great to run into her!

When we got into the theater, the only rows that had two seats together were the ones in the very front where you have to strain your neck to see the screen, and the very last row against the back wall. My sister and I got seats in the center of the back row.

How can you not love two chicks dancing to Salt-n-Pepa’s Push It?

And now on to the movie. It was good. Like really good. Like one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a very long time. Like it should be ranked up there with Bridget Jones’s Diary. Maybe I liked it so much because I hadn’t seen a romantic comedy in a long time. Maybe I liked it because I read the book so recently and know the backstory. Many reviews online give this movie lukewarm ratings; my sister however agreed with me and thought it was utterly delightful. One has to keep in mind this isn’t the type of movie that is made to win an Oscar; this is a movie to see with your girl friends after margaritas and fish tacos or to rent on a rainy Sunday, bundled up in your bathrobe.

The four main characters of the movie – Spaghetti dinner in the Hamptons

Ginnifer Goodwin was adorable – charming, relatable, real. Kate Hudson was a great Darcy – she was over the top, overly confident, in your face and self-absorbed in a charming way. Colin Egglesfield was a great Dex, but really that character doesn’t have much depth. He was good looking, seemed smart and real. John Krasinski totally stole the show – he was so witty and endearing. Goodwin and Krasinski were the true stars of this film.

The stars of the film – Ginnifer Goodwin & John Krasinski

Recent trailers and online reviews can give you the summary of the movie; I have to say they did a fantastic job of adapting the book. Some portions changed (for example, Krasinski’s character was not in New York in the book), but those changes helped the plot move properly in film format and didn’t take away from the story. I really liked how real these people were – though they live in New York and lead different lives from me, I could see myself being friends with them, knowing people like them, acting in the manner in which they did. Often when movies are that “real,” it ends up being boring or not as entertaining. This movie was still fun to watch and easy to get wrapped up in the story (I have to admit I teared up once or twice and was tempted to clap at the end).

If you do go to see Something Borrowed, be sure to stay until the very end of the credits. As my sister and I were walking out of the theater, suddenly the credits stopped and the film continued. They have a little clip that hints at a sequel, and adaptation of Giffin’s Something Blue.

Have you seen the movie and/or read the book? What do you think?

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My Wardrobe Today – Thursday (and movie review)

Picture taken in the bathroom of Mussel Bar, where I had dinner last night.

Jacket – The Limited (no longer available), Black tankAnn Taylor, Lace skirtAnn Taylor, ShoesSofft “Pavia”, Bracelet – Anthropologie (no longer available), Bag – Mulberry for Target (no longer available)

This weekend Bethesda Row is hosting The Front Row, a series of fashion events.  Thursday night kicked off The Front Row with a screening of the documentary Bill Cunningham New York.  Today there are many trunk shows in boutiques along Bethesda Row, a fashion show and book signing by Kelly Cutrone.  On Saturday they are hosting the Chic Children event with all sorts of activities for the little ones.

Last night I attended the DC screening of Bill Cunningham New York.  If you haven’t heard of Bill Cunningham, it’s about time you did:

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.”
– Bill Cunningham

This is why I love fashion – fashion is a suit of armor to help you get through life, to have the confidence and strength for what comes you way. Caring about how you look is a way to express yourself, define yourself, and defend yourself. Bill Cunningham captures street fashion – he doesn’t care about celebrities, brand names, socialites.  He looks for the unique, the expressive, the beautiful.  He has been chronically fashion trends for over 50 years.  You can find his weekly slide show and commentary entitled, “On the Street” on the New York Times website.

And do look for a screening of Bill Cunningham New York at a theater near you; if one is not available put it in your Netflix queue so you get it once its available.  This film is a documentary about Cunningham.  You see how he works, but you also get a peek into who he is as a man.  There are interviews with fashion, art, and society greats like Patrick McDonald, Anna Wintour, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Tom Wolfe, Annette De la Renta, and Anna Piaggi.  The documentary was so well crafted, it lead up to a very emotional and powerful moment, but ended on a positive note.  I laughed, I cried, I wanted to see it again!

After the screening, there was a VIP after party at Mon Ami Gabi were we all could chat about the film, and get to know other fashionistas in the DC area.  I was honored to be the guest of Alison from DC Celine.  She invited me and Liz of So Much to Smile About to come and we had a fab time enjoying St. Germain cocktails and Georgetown Cupcakes.

Me & Alison from DC Celine


Liz’s fab shoes from Banana Republic  
(she hosted an event at Banana before the movie; check out her blog for details!)

Liz, Alison, Me

I had met Liz before at a couple DC Fashion Blogger events; Alison I had yet to meet even though I had been reading her blog for years and we are virtual friends through Twitter and blog comments. It was awesome to finally meet, she’s as great as I expected and she has the greatest husband too (not in the pics since he was the photographer).  A lovely experience, I only wish I could attend tonight’s events at Bethesda Row.  If you’re going let me know, and be sure to come back with a recap!

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Week in Review

Hey guys, long time no talk!!

So as you know, Monday I went to work and looked relatively put together. Hooray!

Tuesday I worked from home, and no one wants to see me in my yoga pants, so no picture was taken.

my wardrobe todaymy wardrobe todayHowever that night I went to a concert (Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction – utterly amazing BTW) and did clean up a bit. A BIT. The rain was insanity, though it completely stopped a bit before the show started and stayed clear the rest of the evening.

My hair was dirty, but it was behaving nicely and I knew once I got outside it would jsut become a curly/frizzy mess. Surprisingly it got curly/frizzy in a cool beachy way and not in a headbanger way.

I wore a black nursing tank from Gap, my Gap Essential jeans and *gasp* Crocs. You KNOW I despise Crocs, but it was a necessity as that we had lawn seats and the place was utter muckety-muck. I would have busted my arse in flip flops or destroyed a perfectly good pair of proper footwear. So Crocs it was. My sister and I HAD to get a picture of a ticket with the Crocs because it was so ridiculous.

Times like this I wish I still owned a pair of Doc Martens…

Well the Crocs help, I still slipped down a hill when heading to the bathroom. However it was already dark and later in the evening so I wasn’t TOO embarassed. However I may have been one of the only sober folks who fell in such a manner. My friends HAD to get a picture of my muddy back as I was dancing to Jane’s Addiction…

The show was awesome, we went with a whole group of friends and we all had a grand time. My husband’s cousin watched E so we could get away. If it were a differnet show and different weather, I think we would have brought E so she would get used to live music. We already have a pair of baby headphones ready for the next concert!

Tuesday I felt a bit icky, and that night E and I both weren’t feeling our best. Wednesday I took off work to take E to the pediatrician and get myself some needed sleep. She and I are now fine, just a little stomach bug going around.

Thursday I went back to work, though not feeling my complete Allie self. I wore a tangerine colored puff-sleeve tee from Old Navy, my blue-gray low-slung pants from Gap, some orange leather thongs from Born, coral cut glass bead necklaces from a shop in Rehoboth Beach and second-day hair. No picture because my husband also worked and the only picture I would be able to capture would be dark.

So now we are on to today – Friday. Feeling good, so though it’s Casual Friday I decided to clean up a bit. Hair looks a bit strange because it was still wet (only dried the bangs, the rest dried by time I got to the Metro).

Black matte jersey wrap dress from Ann Taylor, red patent leather heels from Sofft, Silver hoops.

Makeup is really basic – just a bit of L’Oreal True Match foundation where needed, Nars blush in Orgasm, Benefit lipstick in Bouquet Dive and Cover Girl LashBlast mascara in Rich Black.

This weekend looks as though it’s going to be pretty insane. Tomorrow we have a 2-year old’s birthday party and a photo shoot immediately following. Sunday I may go house hunting with my sister, and I will surely be stopping by the farmer’s market for produce for the week.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I will “see” you on Monday!

A Week in Review….

I am sorry my dearies for being so dreadful in logging my attire. This week has been horrendous work-wise and the last thing I have wanted to do after ten hours of typing proposals is visit the web and type some more.

I must say I am in desperate need of a camera because this week’s outfits have been terribly fabu!

Black v-neck stretchy sweater from Banana Republic. Denim trousers from Ann Taylor. Black thong heeled sandals from Mossimo. Two chunky turquoise necklaces from Target. Silver cuff.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, Body Shop concealer, Chanel pressed powder, The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads. On lips was The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel. On the eyes was The Body Shop’s Warmth Shimmer Cubes and MAC X mascara in black. I was doing a Body Shop Party so I had to look the part!

Most of Saturday was spent in bed or doing chores. Friends came over in the evening for a cookout, I wore my Gap Straight Bootcut jeans in vintage wash, my beaded thong sandals from Seychelles, a white ribbed tank from J. Crew and a gray tissue-weight boatneck ¾ sleeve hip-length tee from Mossimo. Hair was air dried and looked not too bad. On my face had only a touch of L’Oreal True Match foundation mixed with Neutrogena oil-free moisturizer SPF 15, some MAC X mascara in black and The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Blush.

Black stretch knit v-neck sweater from Banana Republic. Slim fit, underneath I wore my favorite Frederick’s of Hollywood push-up bra. Ladies with large breasts, do not discount FOH. Yes they sell stripper garb and hooker shoes, but they also cater to the large-breasted women who don’t want to wear lingerie that look like nursing bras and granny panties. They have some great bras that provide a lot of uplift and are sexy to boot.

Anyhoo, black sweater with my ivory sueded cotton bootcut trousers from Ann Taylor. On my feet are my black Steve Madden peep-tie pumps with a braided/strappy leather design in the front. I call them my Carmen Miranda shoes. My large tortoise shell necklace from Target and my silver cuff.

Hair was second-day dirty and ironed straight, a bit of Sebastian Mud on the tips for a shaggy look. Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation of Smashbox primer, The Body Shop’s concealer, Chanel powder, The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads as cheek color, BeneFit’s f..y..eye! on the lids, a touch of ivory Stila shadow, black liquid liner from Maybelline and two coats of MAC X mascara on Sue Eumura curled lashes. On lips was Goldie’s lipgloss in Blossom.

Emerald green stretch hip-length v-neck sweater from Banana Republic over my denim trousers from Ann Taylor. Brown tooled leather hip belt from my mom’s 1970’s wardrobe and brown leather knotted leather heeled sandals from Target/Mossimo. Tree skinny gold bangles from Claire’s and gold chandelier earrings from Express.

Hair was straight – Pantene thickening spray and Sexy Straight Hair balm applied when damp. Hair straightened with a large boar bristle round brush and my dryer, then smoothed with a straightening iron. A bit of Sebastian Mud to the tips for a shaggy look. My new highlights and lowlights really stand out with the hair straight.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, MAC stick concealer, Chanel Pressed Powder. Eyes have the Warm Shimmer Cubes from The Body Shop – the beige on the lids, the chocolate on the crease and along the lash lines. Two coats of MAC X mascara in black. On the cheeks is Bare Minerals in Warmth. On the lips is the Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel.

Wednesday I went to a concert after work so I was a bit more casual. Bright coral gauzy babydoll-style hippie tunic with crocheted lace trim. Two strands of coral glass chips around my neck, my silver cuff, my beloved vintage-look Gap Lowrise Bootcut jeans that are perfectly frayed at the hems. On my feet are ornately beaded tongs with a wood heel from Seychelles. I got them from the Victoria’s Secret catalog last summer.

Hair is curly – on damp hair I applied Pantene’s thickening spray and Suave’s curling mousse (a la Matrix). I dried with a diffuser and the dryer on low. I then hit the whole head of hair with Marc Anthony’s Strictly Curls Humidity Spray and then curled the unruly pieces with a curling iron.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation over Smashbox primer. MAC stick concealer and Chanel pressed powder. Benefit’s f…y…eye! on my lids. A wash of The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads over the face for glow, concentrated on the cheeks. The Body Sop’s Warmth Shimmer Cubes on my lids and The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel on my lips.

Tuesday was my blue merino v-neck from J. Crew, my ivory and black zebra print skirt from Isaac Mizrahi for Target, and my teal suede wedges from Seychelles. Silver cuff bracelet, teal glass pendant on a white gold chain.

Hair was curly thanks to the Suave/Matrix line for curly hair. Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, The Body Shop concealer, Chanel pressed powder. Nars Orgasm blush on cheeks. The Body Shop’s Sheer Strawberry Sheer Lipcolor on the lips. Eyes had Stila ivory shadow on the lids and corners of the eyes, a thick line of Maybelline’s Ultra Liner liquid liner in black and two coats of MAC X mascara in black.

Week in Review…

For the life of me, I cannot remember what I wore to work on Tuesday! I think it was jeans and a black merino v-neck… something terribly boring and simple. LEt’s forget Tuesday, I know I did.

Wednesday I worked for two hours then had to hop a flight to a different time zone and weather zone. Int he two hours of work I had to conduct two interviews so I needed to look rpesentable. Then I was driving straight from work to the airport.

Electric blue tape yard square-necked cap sleeved shell from Marshall’s, silver chain with green glass disc from Italy, denim blazer from Ann Taylor, black trousers with sewn-in front creases from Ann Taylor, black Enzo boots. Once I got to Houston I lost the blazer and felt quite comfortable.

Same denim blazer and same boots, but this time with an indigo v-neck silk knit shell from Ann Taylor, two chunky turquoise beaded necklaces from Target and ivory sueded cotton bootcut trousers from Ann Taylor.

That evening we went out to dinner, I changed out of the blazer and ivory pants, went back to the black pants from Wednesday.

Coral silk knit v-neck sweater from Ann Taylor, gray cuffed suiting trousers from Tahari, same black Enzo boots. Two strangs of seaglass and silver beads around neck.

Every day, hair was straight with Pantene volumizing spray, Sexy Straight Hair balm and my trusty straightening iron.

Makeup was the same every day as well – i.d. Bare Escentuals foundation and concealer, Nars Orgasm blush, Goldie ligloss in Blossom, The Body Shop’s shadow in Fawn Pearl with a touch of Damson in the crease and along the lash line, lashes curled and MAC X mascara in black applied.

And today? Today so far I am wearing a turquoise tissue-weight tee fdrom J. Crew and a pair of my husband’s boxers from Banana Republic. Plan to put on a bra and some yoga pants, head to the gym, and then this afternoon we have a cookout. Not yet sure of the outfit, but once I figure it out, I will be sure to notify all of you!

Wicked Beauty: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water Review

Wicked Beauty by Phyllis Bourne for Wardrobe Oxygen

Most facial cleansing products promise to make quick work of make-up removal. I usually just grab one from a department store beauty counter or drugstore, and then mentally prepare to put some elbow grease into the job.

It often takes two attempts or another cleanser to get my face completely clean. No matter how pricey the product. So when I picked up Simple Micellar Cleansing Water at Walgreens, I automatically grabbed another new-to-me cleanser as a back up.

I started the day in full war paint mode – tinted moisturizer, concealer, mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, bronzer, blush and lip gloss – more than my typical five minute face. Later that evening, I cracked open my new bottle of cleansing water and a pack of cotton pads. Following directions, I applied the cleanser to a pad and wiped my face with it.

The instructions pointed out there was no need to rub. So I didn’t. Discarding the dirty pad, I soaked another one and wiped my face again – and was amazed.

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water Review

Not a smidgen of make-up was on the second pad! Zip, zilch, nada! Simple Micellar Cleansing Water had rid me of a face full of makeup with very little effort. But that’s not the best part, afterward my skin felt soft and moisturized. I didn’t even bother with moisturizer.

Never again will I go into a store and grab a random facial cleanser thinking they’re all the same. Simple Micellar Cleansing Water has become my go-to brand in just one swipe. I caught it on sale for $5.99 at Walgreens.

Phyllis BourneA Harlequin romance author and former newspaper crime reporter, Phyllis Bourne writes to feed a growing lipstick addiction. When she’s not at the computer, she can be found at a cosmetics counter or her favorite hair salon spending the grocery money. She lives in Nashville with an understanding husband, who in one kiss can discern the difference between department store and drug store lip gloss. Check her out online at

Review and Giveaway: Reebok #Skyscape

I gotta admit, I’m not a big fan of traditional sneakers. While I need such a shoe for exercising, I hate how they look. I’ve always desired a shoe that’s great for walking and the gym, but can also look great with weekend clothes while running errands. Enter the Reebok Skyscape, a shoe designed for the 23 hours of your life not spent in the gym. Commuting to work, taking the dog for a walk, or relaxing on the weekend, this shoe is perfect for that as well as your exercise routine.

Not only that, the Reebok Skyscape is a great travel shoe. This shoe is crafted borrowing the materials and soft molding process used to create lingerie, which provides all-around comfort and creates a shoe so lightweight that it weighs only 5.0 ounces. They will tuck into your carry-on luggage easily to be your travel gym shoe and a cute sight-seeing shoe. Skyscape’s motto is, “So comfortable you’ll forget they’re on” and it’s true.

Once I received my pair of Reebok Skyscapes, I’ve worn them every day. In the morning they’re easy to slip on with yoga pants and a sweatshirt for a morning walk. Later they’re fantastic for the commute, taking up less space in my work tote than my office shoes. On weekends, they look cute with cuffed jeans and a striped tee. All this, and Skyscapes are machine washable! Check out the Skyscape at Reebok and even customize a pair for yourself!


Would you like a pair of your own Reebok Skyscape shoes? One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win $65.00 from Reebok to purchase the pair of Skyscapes you want!

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And be sure to enter the Escape with SkyScape Sweepstakes for a chance to win an all-inclusive spa weekend for two! Learn more by following Reebok on Pinterest and Facebook.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Reebok Skyscape via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Review and Giveaway: LiveTheLook

Here at Wardrobe Oxygen, I write about personal style instead of fashion trends. I believe in dressing for who you are, not what is on the runways. Usually, this goes against many of the fun promotions, shopping programs, and sample boxes that are popular right now. So when Live The Look contacted me and told me how their site lets you shop by your personal style, I was very intrigued.

When you visit Live The Look, you’re asked to complete a questionnaire. What wardrobe staples you’re looking to style, what style aesthetics you gravitate towards, what size you wear. From this information, Live The Look creates a collection of items that should appeal to you. But don’t worry, you’re still able to easily shop from any of the style aesthetics. As for what Live The Look offers, it’s also different from similar sites. Live The Look carefully curates collections of artisanal, unique, and quality accessories and separates, most made in the United States. Necklaces that will ask people where you got them, sunglasses that stand out from the crowd, novelty tee shirts that are mini works of art, pieces made by indie artists, and unique yet very wearable clothing.

As someone who is on the cusp of plus size clothing, I was disheartened to see the sizing stopped at XL/12, but was pleased by the extensive amount of accessories available. Live The Look offered me a credit to take their program out for a spin, and I chose to use it for The Destroyed Denim T-shirt (which I envisioned with my leather pleated skirt now, and with white jeans come spring), and the Flourish Sterling Silver Initial Necklace (I’ve always wanted one, and I loved that it came in silver and was a fancy yet readable letter). I loved that each product page gave a story about the brand, showing how LiveTheLook isn’t offering cheap mass-produced pieces, but quality crafted artisanal pieces from indie designers. I also loved how most of the designers and artists were based in the USA, made their products in America, and some even donated a portion of their profits to charity.

My pieces came quickly, shipped directly from the designers. The necklace came first, and it reminded me of an Etsy purchase, packed in a cute little gift box and tied with a red ribbon. I’ve worn the necklace by Juan Pablo Arango Cano almost daily since receiving it, you can see it on my Instagram and in this outfit post. The tee shirt from The Squad came a couple days later, and to be honest, I was half expecting me to hate it and not know how to write this post. Oh I was so wrong, this tee shirt is UH-MAY-ZING (see here on my Instagram account). How they can make a tee shirt heavy yet silky and drapey is beyond me. And it doesn’t look like acid washed denim, but is a dark gray-blue color that is perfectly distressed and perfectly drapey and makes me understand why some tee shirts cost so much. Not only that, it even came with a little evil eye pendant as an added gift. Again, it was packed in a small business-like way with tissue paper and personal touches like a notecard.

You can learn more about Live The Look by visiting their site (go ahead and sign up with an account, you won’t have to enter a credit card or anything, but take a tour around), visiting them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Fancy, or visit their blog.

Like what you read? Well one lucky Wardrobe Oxygen reader will receive a $150 credit to Live The Look!

One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $150 credit to  This giveaway is open only to residents of the United States. You must be 18 years old or older to enter. Giveaway runs from January 20, 2014 to February 2, 2014 at 11:59pm ET.

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2013 Music in Review

As you know, Karl and I bond over music. About once a month, we get an overnight babysitter and have a date night of dinner and a concert. Our big yearly vacation is to a music festival, our house is full of vinyl and CDs, our phones and iPods with MP3s, one of the best splurges on our home remodel five years ago was outdoor speakers so we can listen to our tunes on the back deck. I thought I’d do a little 2013 music recap post, sharing the best things I experienced music-wise this year.

Favorite Music-related Stuff of 2013:

This year we upgraded to a Spotify subscription and we adore it. I know, Spotify pays a millionth of a cent in royalties to artists, but the way we use it is to check out new and new to us artists, and then we buy the album. Spotify has a lot of smaller artists so it has been a great way to explore lesser-known musicians and I love the “Discover” feature which has introduced us to a lot of new bands.

Karl’s dad Chief (what we all called him, a nickname from when Karl was a little kid) was a music geek, he went to concerts with us, his car was littered with CD cases, and he could spout so much music knowledge we’d call him Google Chief. When Chief passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2008, we inherited his album collection, and you can bet it was a pretty impressive collection. We had a few records of our own, but never listened to them. We couldn’t get our turntable to fit in our entertainment cabinet, we never listened to music in the office, the albums collected dust.

At the beginning of 2013 we bit the bullet and bought a turntable; we chose the Ion Audio iPTUSB Portable USB Turntable because it was cheap, was portable (even battery operated so we take it down to the fire pit in our backyard), had a built-in speaker, and could turn records into MP3s. I gotta say, we haven’t made a single MP3 from it, but we use the heck out of this little guy. It usually resides in our bedroom which is next to the office/album room, but we have carted it all over our house and even taken it on trips with us. We plan on investing in a higher quality turntable, but for now it gets the job done.

Then, I hit the mother lode of all Freecycle scores (yes even better than my brand new IKEA chair and compost bins)… my friend’s parents decided to give away their record collection. I didn’t at the time know it was her parents, but when I pulled up I recognized the house and her dad. We left with four wine crates of vinyl in good to excellent condition with awesome music from the late ‘50s all the way through the mid ‘80s (if you followed me on Instagram back then you likely remember me sharing all the amazing albums).

Since then, we have bought new records, have gems at thrift stores, and some of Karl’s yoga students have brought him albums from their collections as gifts. After Emerson goes to bed, we regularly hole up in our bedroom listening to records and decompressing. Often we bring down the turntable and play records when we have friends for dinner, and the turntable is so easy and Emerson so technologically inclined that she will often spend an afternoon rocking out to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Disco Mickey, or one of those, “BONG turn the page!” records that accompanied books and hasn’t scratched a single album. I love the portability and sound quality of digital, but there’s something so beautiful and comforting of a vinyl record.

Favorite Albums of 2013:
Here’s a roundup of my favorite albums this year – some are new releases in 2013, some are just new to me. I won’t go into deep reviews because that’s what Pitchfork and Sterogum and Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound and all the other great music sites and publications are for.

  • The London Souls – The London Souls. Listen with friends in the kitchen while drinking red wine and preparing dinner.
  • Drenge – Drenge. Listen when you’re cleaning a bathroom or raking leaves or pounding the elliptical.
  • Lorde – Pure Heroine. Lorde’s album is far more than “Royals.” Listen at pretty much any time.
  • The Sea and Cake – Runner. Listen to while driving on a sunny day on a smooth highway that lets you comfortably cruise over 55 MPH.
  • Savages – Silence Yourself. Listen to when in the car by yourself after a shitty work day. Play it loud.
  • Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends. Listen after the kids have gone to bed and you have an hour to just get lost in thoughts, hear the words and maybe check out a few of their videos on your phone and have a conversation with a friend or your partner about what you think of it all.
  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun. Love me some FJM, saw him live twice this year and would see him again if he came to town. Listen when doing something else, then listen again when you have some time to hear the lyrics. Listen with a friend so you can discuss the man and the music.
  • The National – Trouble Will Find Me. It took this album for me to understand and love The National. I like listening to this when driving in the morning, it helps me relax and think.
  • Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg. He has a brand new album out and it’s good, but it feels like a lot of the same. I’m partial to the original. Saw him live, think he sounds even better in person. Listen when you may normally rely on classics like Dylan.
  • HAIM – Days are Gone. Listen when making pancakes on a Sunday morning and the sun is shining through the kitchen window and you already had your cup of coffee. Then listen to again when you’re driving to run errands later in the afternoon.
  • Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City. It took their third album for me to come around. Listen when you got to leave work early, the sun is still up and rush hour traffic hasn’t really started yet.
  • M.I.A. – Matangi. Listen when you have a project at work you don’t want to do but have to power through.

Favorite Concerts of 2013:
As for live performances, I saw quite a few, but my favorites for 2013:

  • Jim James at 9:30 Club, April 2013. Well this is a duh if you know me. Didn’t hurt that Karl “finger rimmed” Jim James and got mocked on a message board for being an obnoxious hipster and it was a fun and fabulous date night for us kiddos.
  • Bombino at the Forecastle Music Festival. Best part of music festivals is discovering new artists. Never heard of Bombino but found their performance at the fest amazing and ended up researching them, buying some of their music, and loving them.
  • Father John Misty at 9:30 Club, May 2013. Even with a freshly torn calf muscle, the show was amazing and my adoration of J, Josh, Joshua, FJM grew immensely.
  • Robert Plant at the Forecastle Music Festival. Bucket list and he exceeded my expectations. Wish it didn’t rain because I think it would have gone longer.
  • My Morning Jacket at the Americana Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion (not pictured). As an MMJ fan who has seen them several times, this ranks as one of my top performances by them. First time I saw them in the daylight, and they were an opener, not headliner. Imagine your favorite band on stage for a high school talent show, it felt like that and was awesome and fun.
  • Morrissey at Strathmore, January 2013. Haven’t seen him live since 10th grade, thanks to Emily for selling me her tickets and making a gal’s dream come true.
  • Clutch at 9:30 Club, December 2013. I haven’t gone yet, but based upon every other time I’ve seen Clutch (including same time same venue last year, a great Christmas gift from my sister along with overnight babysitter), I know it’s going to be hella amazing.

And now I ask you your favorites of 2013. I have learned about so much great music from all of you, and I know you have learned from each other. Share in the comments your favorite songs, albums, artists, shows, and gadgets from the year!

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Review and Giveaway: Mary Kay

As a blogger, I have the opportunity to receive free products for review. While this can seem pretty nice, it’s hard when the free product I receive underwhelms, and that happens more often than not. And then there’s Mary Kay, who impresses me on a regular basis. I must admit, growing up I felt Mary Kay was a bit cheesy. And then they sent me some products to review through BlogHer, and not only did I like them but I liked them so much that I’ll continue purchasing some of the products. Each time I am asked to review Mary Kay, I jump at the chance because I know I am going to be impressed and very well may find a new favorite beauty product.

Recently Mary Kay sent me a box of goodies – a collection of their best sellers as well as some new products. And let me tell you, I have some new favorite Mary Kay products because of this.

Mary Kay® Ultimate Mascara™ in Black
I had been a DiorShow mascara girl for years. When Mary Kay sent me their Ultimate Mascara a while back, I was shocked to find that I liked it BETTER than DiorShow. Mary Kay’s Ultimate Mascara has a wand that looks quite ordinary, but it does a phenomenal job of separating and lengthening. The wand makes it possible to do multiple coats without creating spider lashes, and the final result rivals false lashes. As someone who wears contacts and has seasonal allergies, I love the fact that while Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara washes off easily at the end of the day for me, it stays put through the day. This mascara is as close to perfect as I have ever found. Seriously.

Mary Kay® Lash Love™ Waterproof Mascara in Black
Mary Kay sent me my beloved Lash Love mascara in a waterproof formula, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The formula dries very quickly, feels soft on the lashes, and will not budge. I wore it swimming, photographing a wedding on a very hot and humid day, and hiking without a single smear or flake. However, it came off quite well with some makeup remover wipes. Many waterproof mascaras fall short in delivering volume and length, but Lash Love Waterproof is almost as fabulous as the traditional formula. I’m quite a fan and will be buying it again.

Mary Kay® Lash Love™ Mascara in Black
Lash Love is a pretty awesome mascara for those who like long, fluttery lashes. The wand really separates and coats every side of your lashes without any clumping. My lashes looked really long and felt soft and natural. This has become my go-to workday mascara because it’s not as pumped up as the Ultimate Mascara, but it still makes my lashes look long and lush and natural. The other day I was in the bathroom with a coworker and she said I was lucky to have long eyelashes. I told her I had pretty average lashes but a fabulous mascara. Have you ever had a mascara so good that it starts a conversation? If not…seriously…check out Mary Kay’s line.

Mary Kay® Lash Primer
When lash primers came out a few years ago, I tried them out and hated them. They were heavy, hard to use, and didn’t make my lashes look any thicker or longer. I like the Mary Kay version, though. It’s as if they took all the negative feedback from traditional primers and made something that actually works. The spiral brush makes it easy to lightly coat each individual lash. I had the best results when I would curl my lashes first and then do a gentle wiggle of the primer brush through my lashes. While still damp from the primer, I would apply mascara and then use the mascara wand to bend up the lashes until they dried. This way, my lashes maintained curl under the weight of the products, plus they got all the plumping and lengthening benefits of the Lash Primer. While this isn’t something I would do on an average day, I have liked using the primer for nights out because it really amps up the lashes!

Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus™ Lip Gloss in Mango Tango, Rock n Red, and Café Au Lait
I like the packaging of these lip glosses – short, fat tubes that can easily fit in a tiny coin pocket or clutch purse. The formulas are creamy, smell a bit like birthday cake, and feel good on the lips. Café Au Lait has become my go-to day gloss; it is a hair darker than my natural lip color, shiny without sparkle, and can be applied without a mirror. Rock ’n’ Red was a bit too bright for my taste, but I did like it as a layer over a darker burgundy lipstick. Mango Tango was a fun color for summer, with just a hint of tan and since then has become a fave with a fresh face and my fair skin. Like other glosses they would wear off with time and eating, but they kept consistent pigment (no ring around the lips), and kept my lips feeling soft and conditioned.

Mary Kay® Compact Mini
I received one of these compacts from Mary Kay in the past and I think it’s brilliant. The compact itself is attractive, and it has a good clasp that will stay shut in your makeup bag, a big mirror, and a compartment to hold brushes. The compact is magnetic so you can put your favorite combination of products in there – six shadows, two blushes, or any combination of these. For the compact, I received Mary Kay’s Mineral Eye Color in Golden Vanilla, Truffle, Lavender Fog, Midnight Star, Sweet Plum and Black Pearl, as well as Mineral Cheek Color in Shy Blush. The shadows have a lot of pigment and last a long time, but I wasn’t a fan of the slightly crumbly formula (which is quite typical for mineral shadows). Shy Blush Mineral Cheek Color is very similar to NARS Orgasm, my daily blush; I put one on each cheek and couldn’t tell the difference. Since it’s a mineral product, it has high pigment (a little goes a long way), and lasts all day. The only negative is the size of the blush; while I appreciate it being able to fit into the compact, the blush was too small to get proper coverage on my blush brush, and therefore, without some finagling, I wasn’t able to get even color on my cheeks.

TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Set
Since I am closer to 40 than 30, I have been checking out a lot of products that will keep my skin looking soft and young. I have tried a few microdermabrasion kits – some fabulous, some meh. The two-step Mary Kay TimeWise® kit is fabulous. You start with the exfoliator, which has tiny crystals that feel a bit like sand, and you massage it on wet skin for 1 to 2 minutes. You can feel it working without scratching. Rinse (and it did rinse quite easily – no crystals in the eye or stickiness), and then apply the replenishing serum. I LOVED the serum. It didn’t make my face greasy or sticky, just smooth and hydrated and happy. This kit really did make my face glow, but didn’t make it red or irritated. This is a combination that is effective yet gentle enough that you could use in the morning before heading to work. I have only used it twice, but I do feel that with repeated use it will improve my skin texture.

NEW Mary Kay® TimeWise Repair™ Volu-Firm™ Eye Renewal Cream
I faithfully use eye cream every morning and evening and always wonder if it’s making any difference. I have dark circles, bags, fine lines, puffiness, and I rub my eyes a lot. I always hope that an eye cream is at least not making things worse, but I also never see it actually improving anything. That is until I used this eye cream. Within three weeks I saw an improvement in the appearance of under-eye puffiness and sagginess and not only did I notice but my husband noticed too. The product comes with a slanted metal applicator to apply the cream, but I found that a bit awkward and have been applying it with my ring finger. I love that it really absorbs; there’s no greasiness, and I can put my makeup on soon after without it slipping or fading. There was no irritation, no heavy fragrance, and it feels good on the skin. This is a product that I will surely buy again.

If you’d like to learn more about Mary Kay, visit their website, Facebook page, or their YouTube Channel. Also, you have the chance to win some Mary Kay products of your own!

Giveaway: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified.  Thank you all for entering!

I was provided with Mary Kay products to use and review, and was compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own.

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Review and Giveaway – Foxcroft Apparel

When Foxcroft found out how much I liked this shirt, they sent me this Mixed Media Cotton Shirt to check out. Utterly brilliant – it’s crisp cotton in front and on the back, but the sleeves and side panels are stretchy jersey. No gaping at the bust, no pulling at the shoulders, no binding on the upper arms, yet a crisp button-front look!

This giveaway is now closed.

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Review – DUO Boots

In my last post about DUO boots, I discussed my previous experiences with this company that offers wide calf boots in sizes up to 50 centimeters in diameter. I mentioned how DUO Boots chatted with me via email offering their suggestions on the best boots to fit my need (a low-heel tall black boot with classic styling that could work over skinny jeans as well as with dresses and skirts), and my body (petite, wide calves as well as large shins and ankles). DUO suggested the Catalonia, a classic riding-style boot that is known for being generous in the ankle. With DUO Boot’s free international shipping I decided to get myself a pair.

The Duo Catalonia Boot

The boots were backordered, but DUO let me know that before I even placed my order. They kept me posted via email on their status and arrived two days before I expected them. I had them delivered to my office so I would ensure a person would be there to sign for them (DUO is based out of the UK and you need a signature for delivery).

I got them… and they didn’t fit. While I ordered a size 39 UK/8US (same size as my Bern boots and most of the shoes in my closet), my feet were positively swimming in them. I also went down a few centimeters from my Bern boots because I knew they stretched, and well I went down too far – could hardly zip the left boot. I emailed DUO asking what I could do – the last time I had to exchange with them I had to pay $40, deal with customs at the post office, and it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Well DUO has updated their return policy – they sent me a link to fill out a return. My card was charged $20, I repackaged the boots in the heavy shipping bag they came in, and DHL came to my office and did the rest. While the $20 return fee sucks, it’s not that dramatic compared to so many other US-based online retailers in return for international shipping, front-door service, and stellar customer service.

And in less than two weeks my new boots arrived. This time, they fit great. The only thing was the boots did a weird pirate-sort of thing at the top (see above). This happens because my calf is so much wider than my knee, and I am on the short side. I had noticed this in the original pair, and before exchanging researched to see if a cobbler could actually taper the boot to not bow out so much. They could, and so I took my new Catalonia boots to my cobbler.

My cobbler refused to taper the boot shaft, saying it would ruin the boot. “Legs don’t curve that way.” The thing is, my legs curve that way. So I went to another cobbler who didn’t bat an eye at my request, asked me to put on the boots, even suggested I put them over my jeans to ensure there’s room for that, got on his knees and measured. The Catalonia has a back seam so the alteration is virtually invisible.  Two weeks and $45 later I had boots that curved with me (see above). Was so impressed with the price and ease, I am taking an old pair of “pirate boots” in to be cleaned up and tapered.

And now the review of the actual boots:
The DUO Catalonia is a pretty classic-styled riding boot with a low heel, rounted toe, and pull tabs at the top of the shaft. I don’t believe my pictures do the leather justice for it is very soft and supple – the boots look expensive. There isn’t a single bit of blatant hardware on them which I love – the zippers and pulls are black, the elastic gussets are black, the wood heel is stained black.

DUO rarely shows a photo the inner view of their boots, because that is where they hide the zipper and gussets. Like my Duo Bern boots, the Catalonia has a sturdy metal zipper and two horizontal gussets 6.5” long; these gussets will stretch with the leg so you don’t always have a bit gap of elastic showing (see above).

The foot itself runs HUGE – I am a 7.5 wide or 8 medium and I was swimming in an 8. Even with a size smaller, my foot still has a lot of room and I can comfortably wear really thick socks. The ankle area will slouch on many – this is not a stiff leather boot and it is roomy in the ankle – this is not a boot for someone who wants a sleek, fitted style. The boot is unlined, but the leather inside is soft and brushed. DUO boots aren’t known for their cushy insole, but I just buy a pair from Target to make them more wearable all day.

The boot is tall – if I was a half inch shorter they would probably dig into the back of my knee when walking or sitting. Do keep this in mind if you are petite (I am 5’3” and find most petite pants to be a hair short if not in complete flats).

I have worn these boots a LOT in the past week – almost every day. They are very comfortable, and look great slipped over jeans and leggings. I also wore them with my gray White House Black Market dress and it looked cute; you can also see here when I wore them with a pencil skirt. The leather has stretched slightly – just enough that they have molded to my leg and foot. They cost me $250, a price I find extremely reasonable for such quality, style, and fit.

DUO Boots is known around the blogosphere for making wide calf boots, but they make boots of any size – if you have very narrow calves this is also a great place to shop. Before dropping dough, I recommend you contact them by email – they reply usually within 48 hours and can give you specific advice on boots to ensure you get a style that will fit you best. And for those in the US who were turned off by the old shipping and return policy – consider giving DUO another try, you’ll be pretty pleased with the change.

Note: I did not receive any compensation from DUO for this post; DUO didn’t know I was writing this nor do I even think they knew I was a blogger when I placed my order.

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Review and Giveaway – Olay

I’m not afraid to admit the behind-the-scenes actions I take to feel feminine and beautiful on a daily basis. The steps I take to prevent sweat, smell, and yes, unwanted facial hair. Every two weeks I pull out my tube of smelly white cream and slather it over my upper lip. I hate it; it stinks, it often causes redness and breakouts, and usually leaves that part of my face numb for the rest of the day. Not an enjoyable act, but it gets the job done.

So when BlogHer contacted me asking if I would like to try the New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo, I jumped at the chance.

I read that New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo is a uniquely formulated two-step system designed to gently, yet effectively remove unwanted facial hair, leaving skin smooth, conditioned, and visibly hair free. This gentle hair removal system contains a Skin Guarding Balm, applied before the removal cream, that hydrates the skin to minimize irritation, redness, and other tell-tale signs associated with hair removal creams. It sounded like perfection!

This weekend I tried it out. The box comes with two products: a tube of the Skin Guarding Balm and a tube of the Hair Removal Cream. The balm is a stick, similar to lip balm; I applied a thin layer to my upper lip and rubbed it in completely. Then I applied the cream for six minutes. After six minutes, I removed the cream with a washcloth.

After those six minutes, I was a New Olay Smooth Finish Hair Removal Duo convert.

I have used many different drugstore depilatories, and they all were the same cream in different boxes. Olay is the first one to be drastically different. The Skin Guarding Balm really does work; it ensures that the hair remover doesn’t touch and irritate your skin. As for the actual hair removing cream, the scent is hardly noticeable.

New Olay Smooth Finish Hair Removal Duo didn’t cause redness, irritation, breakouts, or numbing of the skin. It just left smooth, happy, hairless skin. As a busy working mom I find this awesome; now I don’t have to block out time on the weekend so I can heal in the privacy of my home, I can do it in the morning while getting ready for work. Gentle on my skin and it simplifies my beauty routine? Who could ask for more?  How about getting this product for free? Today is your lucky day, BlogHer and Olay are offering one Wardrobe Oxygen reader a $50 gift card!

How to Enter:

To be entered for a chance to win, please leave me a comment explaining how you express your inner beauty through your beauty routine!
No duplicate comments.
You can enter to win up to two (2) times, using any combination of the following methods:
  • Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  • Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  • Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  • For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

The sweepstakes runs from 1/3/2012 – 2/3/2012. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here.  Also be sure to visit the Promotions & Prizes page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win! Good luck!

While we’re on the subject of looking good, you might want to check out the “Looking Your Best” posts in the Life Well Lived section of There are some great tips and expert posts!

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Review and Giveaway: Jordana Paige

When Jordana Paige contacted me about reviewing their line of vegan knitting bags, I jumped at the chance even though I am neither vegan nor a knitter. Want to know why and get your chance to win this bag pictured above (an $89 value)?

Click for more…

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My Weekend (and Concert Review)

This was an awesome weekend. I had plenty of fun time, family time, friend time, relaxing time.

The weekend began early – I worked from home the first half of the day and then took off the second half so I could get ready for the Neko Case/My Morning Jacket concert.  My Morning Jacket  is my FAVORITE band, so you know I was excited! We got pit tickets (I am a major MMJ dork and am a member of Roll Call – their fan club so I got early access to ordering tickets) and there were five of us going together so we decided to tailgate prior.

What I Wore: Denim cutoffs from Old Navy, a bold printed rayon tank with a black studded bib/straps (picked up at Downtown Cowgirl in Rehoboth), my Softspots sandals, Hobo International “Libby” bag in pumpkin.

Almost the entire group – somehow I never got a picture of our friend M with me!

My friend S picked up kabob goodies from a restaurant near her home – lamb, chicken, veggies and all-necessary tzatziki sauce. Her husband M brought moonshine – it was berry flavored, with strawberries and blueberries floating in it and was in an old-school Bell jar. I normally would steer VERY clear from moonshine, but I filled a glass ¼ with it, and the rest with club soda and I must say it was pretty darn berrylicious!  I felt so chi chi sitting in the Merriweather parking lot with an oversized plastic wine glass full of moonshine cocktail!  Oooh la la!

Off to the concert! We headed to the right side of the pit since we knew that’s where Jim James usually stands when performing. We caught 75% of Neko Case’s show. Before this concert I liked Neko Case. She’s not totally my thing, but I have some of her songs on my iPod. Well after her set, I am a major fan. That woman is oozing talent, and she has the sort of talent that will just increase with age.

Between sets I got a chance to check out the crowd around me. I guess my husband did too because he whispered to me, “I think we found our tribe.” I don’t find myself to be a really unusual person, but I always feel as though I stick out in most group settings (except with my closest girl friends, maybe that’s why we’re buds!). I’m overdressed or underdressed, too shy or too outgoing, older or younger, too liberal, too hippie-dippy, too preppy, too something. But this crowd was like a bunch of Allie and Mr. Allie clones. I even saw many faces that looked familiar – I think I went to college with them.

I did recognize one girl from college. She looked so familiar but I couldn’t place her until my sister admitted she too recognized her. I worked with her at the fraternity/sorority merchandise store (as did my sister). She was in a different sorority that was known for stuck-up snobs but she was always very sweet and real. In fact, she almost convinced my sister to join her sorority instead of mine (I don’t think so lady!). She was there, with a bouncy shoulder-length bob, an a jersey dress with a Morrocan-inspired print on it. She looked just like she did in college, except she was 14 years older and a few sizes larger. And with these changes she looked BETTER. She looked fun and spunky just as she did at age 21, but smarter and more confident. I said to my sister, “If I have aged the way she has, I’m a happy gal.” Seeing her and this entire crowd was a real eye-opener.

It’s hard to get older, especially when you partake in activities you also enjoyed when you were younger. At a concert in GA, I feel the age of my knees, my feet hurt, my back aches a bit. I get annoyed when someone sloshes beer all over my sandals and I wonder if folks are looking at me wondering what this old fogy is doing at a show. It was so awesome to be surrounded by our “tribe” – people our age, people who have the same passion for music that we do. We got to know our neighbors, some who had traveled cross-country to see My Morning Jacket. People who knew more about the band than we did, and were happy to drop their knowledge on us. As the concert progressed, we worked as a team, holding one another’s spot when people dashed for the bathroom, kindly asking rowdy folks to take it elsewhere, giving each other big grins during amazing parts of songs. It was a wonderful reminder that age should never stop you from doing what you love, and that instead of seeing myself as the old fogy at the concert, I should see myself as the woman who is still cool and still rocking it even though I’m a 36-year old suburban mom.

 When he went to my right, I was even closer!

So anyway, back to the concert. It. Was. Amazing. Seriously one of the best shows (or maybe THE best show) I have ever experienced. They are so incredibly talented, and Jim James is quite the performer. I was just three people from the stage, and Jim would come right up to the edge, hang over the crowd and make eye contact with all of us. The whole crowd was such strong fans of the band, it made the experience all the better – we cheered together, threw our arms in the air together, whooped and cheered together. It was quite a fabulous experience and I am an even bigger MMJ fan because of it!

After the concert we got all old school and went to a Denny’s for a midnight breakfast. I had my first Moons Over My Hammy in over a decade!

Saturday was rainy and glum, we ended up going to Annapolis Mall after we all took naps so we could have a dry (and free) place for her to burn off energy. It is amazing what malls will provide to lure people in to shop.

What I Wore: Another pair of Old Navy cutoffs (so cheap and basic), white ribbed tank from Caslon, beige crocheted sweater from Ann Taylor, my Softspots sandals (in fact, same outfit as seen here but different shoes)

 “Daddy want shoes?” What kid wouldn’t want bedazzled light-up sneaks with Dora on them? (Sorry kiddo, the answer is no.)
Having a blast in one of the play spaces in the mall

We hit two different play spaces, giving Emerson places to crawl and jump and run for two hours straight. And nope… I didn’t shop! I walked through Nordstrom and we went through Lord & Taylor but I didn’t want to spend and I had no temptation. This is a pretty big feat for me; for many years I avoided malls all together. One reason is because I spent far too many years working in them, but the other reason was because I could always justify buying something and my wallet took a beating. I have spent many years planning out my mall visits to keep them short and well-scheduled to avoid temptation (and hyperventilating and flashbacks from my retail days) but this trip was unexpected. I didn’t even think about it until my husband made a joke on the way home that the only bag I had was my leftovers from California Pizza Kitchen. It felt really good to know that I had gotten over all my mall-related issues!


Sunday is Farmers Market Day in our household; even though the sky was still gray we still strapped Emerson in the backpack and headed to the town center. Fresh berries, greens, bacon, and of course some peach ice cream for Emerson from Simple Pleasures. It began to rain so we dashed into the local café to stay dry and enjoy some live jazz.

What I Wore: Navy cotton sundress from J. Crew (spaghetti straps, drop waist, small floral print), Softspots sandals (my husband calls them my Farmers Market shoes because I bought them to be able to walk places like the market)

“Talking on the phone” at Aunt Debbie’s house

We went home to put E down for a nap and my husband and I made BLTs and watched a movie. When Emerson woke, we took a walk and stopped by my sister’s to say hi and check out her newly decorated bathroom (now I want a lilac-colored room!). Went home where I made some kickass marinara and we had a simple spaghetti dinner.

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Review and Giveaway: bodycology

I often catch myself getting into a beauty rut. I keep using the same products, even if I am not completely satisfied with the results. That’s why I was excited to be able to try out the new bodycology rich&creamy Body Lotion and Body Wash. While the body wash and moisturizer I was using was fine, I felt that my skin was still dry and looking dull. The new bodycology rich&creamy line states that it is proven to lock in moisture for 24 hours, which sounded just like what I was lacking in my beauty routine.

I received the bodycology rich&creamy Hydrating Body Lotion and Body Wash in the mail and was so excited, I immediately decided to take a shower and try it out. The Body Wash was a thick cream consistency that lathered easily, washed away clean, but left my skin feeling so much softer than with my standard body wash. I also liked that the bodycology Body Wash didn’t have a strong scent; it just left my skin smelling clean. After my shower, I applied the bodycology rich&creamy Hydrating Body Lotion to my still-damp skin. The Lotion isn’t really thick, which I was happy to see. While I have dry skin, I find a really thick lotion leaves a greasy feeling in the summer. The bodycology Body Lotion absorbed quickly, leaving my skin soft and silky and not at all sticky.

As the day progressed, I was impressed at how my skin continued to feel soft and hydrated. While many products will make my skin feel soft at first, they usually wear off within an hour or so requiring me to “touch up” with additional applications of lotion. Not so with combination of bodycology rich&creamy Body Wash and Body Lotion. It really stood up to its claim of locking in moisture for 24 hours!  It also seemed each time I used the Body Lotion and Body Wash my skin got softer, felt more hydrated, and looked younger.

The new bodycology rich&creamy line is available in six different formulas such as Skin Softening, Hydrating (the formula I tried), and Advanced Healing. Each formula comes with subtle specialty fragrances that treat the senses without being overwhelming or competing with your perfume. All of the bodycology rich&creamy products are formulated with aquation Hydration Technology, an exclusive moisture complex of essential nutrients including:

  • Glycerin to add silky, all-day hydration
  • Jojoba Extract to improve skin’s texture
  • Petrolatum to act as a barrier to harsh elements

The Hydrating formula that I tried also has the combination of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E which gives rich moisture and quenches skin’s thirst throughout the day.

Sounds pretty fabulous, yes? Well BlogHer and bodycology would like you to also experience and fall in love with the new bodycology rich&creamy line! One of you will win a bodycology gift basket worth $100!

How to Enter:
Visit then leave me a comment here sharing which rich&creamy formula is right for you and you’ll be entered to win. Also be sure to check out bodycology on Facebook for hydrating tips and a hydration quiz.  Giveaway runs from August 1 – August 14, 2011.

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.
You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
* You must have a valid email address in your comment or Blogger profile to win.

Be sure to check out check out BlogHer’s Promotions & Prizes page for other reviews and giveaways!

Good luck!

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Review and Giveaway – Karen Kane

How would you like to win a $200 shopping spree and personal styling event with Karen KaneClick here to hear about my experience with Karen Kane fashion and how you can win!

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Review and Giveaway – Mary Kay®

Want to hear about my experience with Mary Kay® and have a chance at winning a gift basket of Mary Kay® products valued at $100?

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CAbi Clothing – An Honest Review

My friend Lisa has recently become a CAbi Consultant and offered me the chance to come to her house and check out the Spring 2011 line. For those who haven’t heard of CAbi, it stands for Carol Anderson By Invitation. It is a line of sportswear that is only sold by independent consultants (think Pampered Chef for fashion).

I jumped at this chance; for years I have had readers and fellow bloggers rave about CAbi clothing – the great fit, great quality, the ability to mix and match. Many of you readers have suggested CAbi clothing to me saying it fits with my style and beliefs that clothes should be stylish, but also versatile. I didn’t attend a CAbi party; instead Lisa had me over and gave me full rein to try on anything I wished and get a real feel for the collection.

Carol Anderson at Work

Carol Anderson has been a fashion designer for over 28 years, with her first sale to Nordstrom in 1977. Anderson eventually left the traditional retail industry and decided to cut out the middle-man and sell her fashion directly to her consumers.

CAbi – Carol Anderson by Invitation prides itself on great quality and even more amazing service. By attending an at-home event, you get the experience of a personal shopper – great attention, a salesperson highly educated on the line and how it works for different women, a collection of clothes that work together.

The “Blogger” Collection

CAbi changes up their line each season, but does seem to stick to silhouettes and fabrics that are best-sellers. They create mini-collections within each season – pieces that can work alone, but also coordinate with one another with ease. This spring they had nine collections, all named after professions (Art Teacher, Apprentice, Shop Keep, Photojournalist, Musician, Designer, Domestic CEO and even Blogger). The clothing comes in sizes XS-XL or 0-16 and from what I found, many pieces are stretchy and most seem to run large.

Lisa had a large portion of the collection available to try on, I must have been running from the bathroom to the dining room for two hours straight, doing mini-fashion shows for her and my sister. I was impressed with the quality – the attention to detail, the consistency in sizing and fit.

What I Liked:
CAbi does a great job of interpreting the trends without making pieces seem passé in a season. No one will look like a fashion victim in CAbi clothing, and no woman will look unstylish or outdated. I really feared finding a collection that would be full of stretchy polyester flowing separates and overly-embellished jackets; instead I found a great line of pieces that could work for a woman who usually shops at The Limited and Ann Taylor LOFT, or a woman who usually shops at Chico’s or J. Jill.

The collection isn’t specific to one age of customer – I tried on pieces that I liked, but also knew my mother would like and wear beautifully. I also tried on pieces that flattered my figure, but also flattered my friend Lisa’s slim athletic frame. I really felt as though these pieces were made thinking of a variety of women’s bodies, not a fit model.

The pieces really were versatile – knits that could be paired with jeans or dressy trousers, tunics that also looked great tucked in, and unexpected combinations like gathered knit tops under cardigans that didn’t leave a lumpy mess. Everything was color-coordinated – not just within mini collections, but within the entire line. You could easily take a top from the Designer line and have it coordinate with pants from the Blogger line. There were also pieces that could really dress up nicely – a knit jacket and skirt from the Apprentice line could easily be corporate chic with a simple shell, be a more sophisticated look with a silky cami, the pieces as separates would look great for stylish yet comfortable weekend wear. The Hook Back tunic from the Shop Keep collection would be adorable with skinny jeans for a concert, could be worn as a dress on a shorter woman, and Lisa told me she knew a woman who purchased it to be a beach coverup. It also would have a completely different silhouette with a belt or topped with a shrunken jacket.

The Phoebe Coat

The line is crisp, the prints aren’t overly-fussy, the details make sense. I was in love with many of their jackets – the Gabrielle Cardigan is Chanel-esque with its quilted knit, ruffle trim, and black stone accents; the Daisy Jacket looked far more expensive than its pricetag and could look professional with a pencil skirt, but also be a great downtown look with jeans and a tank. I almost purchased the Phoebe Coat, which is a collarless tweed jacket with a frayed edge also had a Chanel vibe and would look great with the CAbi Transition Trouser, as well as denim or over a simple sheath dress.

Unexpectedly Awesome Tops – Drape Striped Tee, Gypsy Top, Shakespeare Tunic

The fabric and color choices are brilliant. The Draped Stripe Tee from far away looks like a simple Breton-striped top. However upon closer inspection, you find this is an unusual stretchy and almost spongy textured fabric with an unsual neckline. It has the most unusual cut – it looks to have a drape neck but the fabric is actually on their weird bias which creates this wrap look in the front, really whittling the waist and tricking the eye into seeing the wearer’s torso as longer and leaner than it actually is. This top could be a simple sailor tee to wear with jeans, but can also be dressed up, rouched to the waist, pulled down like a tunic, and easily tucked into a skirt or pants without showing bulk. The Gypsy Top from the Domestic CEO line is something I would normally not even take off the rack at a store – girly floral, blousy tunic of a shiny fabric. However once on I saw it was incredibly flattering – though it was blousy it wasn’t overly so, it skimmed where it needed to so not to look maternity, the sleeves flowed without being tent-like, the neckline the perfect level of scoop to be feminine and flattering yet modest. It made me almost a floral blousy-top convert.  The Shakespeare Tunic was another piece that amazed me – it was something I would never ever EVER wear – a bold floral print, colors of brown and orange, sheer layered cardigan-like top.  However Lisa pressed me to try it on and even my sister was amazed at how incredibly flattering it was.  The sleeves made my arms look long and slim, the slightly curved back gave my body an amazing shape and really made my rear look fab.  I could really see myself wearing it with a pair of dark jeans, some big hoops and heeled boots to a concert or date night with my husband.

Real Women in CAbi 
(BTW that dress is actually the Sigourney Skirt)

I was impressed with the catalog I received – at the back it dedicates six whole pages of real-life CAbi consultants wearing the clothes.  It showed how the clothes really can fit and flatter a variety of sizes, ages, and personal styles of women.  In fact all of CAbi’s marketing, branding, website and materials are brilliant – polished, sophisticated, easy to read and navigate, prices and sizing always clear and available.

Many complain that CAbi clothing is expensive. Well it’s not cheap, but I think the prices are equal to higher-end department store brands and retailers like Talbots and Ann Taylor. I feel the quality is equal to these brands as well. This isn’t disposable fashion – Cabi clothes could easily be flattering and stylish a year from now, and many pieces would still be on trend a decade from now.

What I Didn’t Like:
No petite, no tall, no plus sizes. In this day and age I can’t believe that any brand of clothing wouldn’t at least carry their best selling pants in lengths, and at least a couple pieces in larger sizes. The average American woman is a size 14 – this means there are plenty of women in this country who are over a size 16. To really tap into at-home sales, you would think a line would try to cater to women who hate shopping at malls. I can often wear regular length trousers at many retailers, but found every single pair of pants from CAbi to be at LEAST six inches too long for me.

No real basics. I did like their camis, which had brilliant adjustable straps and the perfect amount of Lycra to keep shape, hold you in, be comfortable and not roll up. However I was looking for the straight skirt, simple tees, maybe a collection of heavyweight knit/ponte pieces you could mix and match (skirt, one or two jackets, sheath dress, capris, pants). The closest was the previously mentioned Delicious Blazer and Skirt, which was begging to be joined by some other pieces in that fabulous refined knit.

No dresses (at least this season), and hardly any skirts. Again, untapped opportunity. As a curvy woman, I find skirts to often be more flattering and forgiving than trousers, and a garment that can work for a larger variety of female shapes. On top of that, many women in this country choose to wear skirts instead of pants for modesty and religious reasons. I would think a couple bias-cut shifts and/or simple sheaths in heavyweight fabric with stretch (twill, ponte) would work really well with the current CAbi look and style.


My friend Lisa was fresh from the CAbi conference where she was loaded up with product information, tips on how to fit women, and excitement and passion for the brand. With the terrible customer service found in many shops these days, a CAbi party is a breath of fresh air – a consultant who really cares about your needs, knows her product, taking time to help you find the right clothes. She may want you to spend money, but she wants you to be a happy, loyal and repeat customer and knows a hard sell may make a fast buck, but will not make you return the next season. As someone who loves fashion, I would think a CAbi party would be a heck of a lot more fun to attend than other at-home products.  Imagine sipping wine and chatting with your friends while trying on clothes in the comfort of your own home, with a personal shopper at your beck and call?  Brilliant!

CAbi is geared towards the woman who wears many hats – she may be a full-time office worker, but also a 24/7 mom, a community volunteer, an artist, a social butterfly. The clothing is made to be versatile, wearable, flattering. It’s not cheap in price, but it’s also not cheap in quality or style. It’s simple pieces to make a woman’s life more stylish, but not more complicated. If you’re at least 5’5” and under a size 16, it’s worth checking out.  Hopefully in the future, CAbi will extend their line to accommodate those of us who do not fit that specific mold.

Note: All opinions are completely my own.  I was not asked by anyone to do this review, and did not receive any compensation for it.

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Review and Giveaway – Scarves by Maria

As you know, I love a good accessory. If you have a basic wardrobe of clothing staples, you can add variety and personal style with an amazing scarf, necklace, or belt. My mom has an amazing scarf collection – pieces she has picked up on her travels around the globe, gifts from friends, pieces she has inherited or found for a fab price at places like TJ Maxx. I learned from her, and have been collecting scarves over the years.

I love how a great scarf can transform the silhouette and neckline of a blouse, transform the look of a dress by being a belt, even add color to a purse when tied on the strap. One of my favorite styles of scarves are silk oblong scarves – they can be doubled up at the throat, worn as a belt, looped at the neck for a casual look, make a great headband. So versatile!

I recently learned about Scarves by Maria – Maria Vonderheide is a fashion designer who designs handpainted silk scarves. She paints all the scarves herself from her studio in her basement. The prints are utterly gorgeous, the scarves so soft. I was lucky to receive one, and one of you will be lucky enough to have one for yourself!

Click here to continue reading and to enter the giveaway…