Search Results for: label/The Tabula Rasa

The Girl on the Train, Blogging, and the Whole Story

the girl on the train paula hawkins

I heard about The Girl on the Train on NPR; I caught the last bit of an interview with the author Paula Hawkins and was interested. I had finished the second book in the Outlander series and was looking for a change of pace before I delved into the third. I listened to The Girl on the Train via Audible on my commute to and from work and ended up not just with a change of pace from Dragonfly in Amber, but a new perspective on blogging, social media, and its audience.

The Girl on the Train is a thriller, very reminiscent of Gone Girl, but it’s also a great example of how looks can be deceiving and what happens when people become invested in the lives of strangers. Rachel Watson is a lonely, lost woman; she’s recently divorced and her life is a mess. She takes the train every day, and every day she passes the same row of houses next to the tracks. One is her old house, still inhabited by her ex and now accompanied by his new wife and baby; but the one that interests Rachel is a few doors down. A couple lives there, a couple that she sees as perfect. She doesn’t know them, but she imagines their lives between glimpses of them sipping wine or coffee on their patio or rooftop terrace. In her head she imagines their relationship, their professions, their hobbies; she even creates names for them – Jason and Jess. When tragedy strikes, Rachel ends up being involved in the life of this couple and realizes they aren’t the people in her morning commute fantasies.

Unlike bloggers and social media celebs, Jason and Jess don’t realize they have an audience. But like bloggers, what Rachel the audience sees is only a snippet of their life and she is making the decision to fill in the blanks.

While listening to this book, I couldn’t help but think about how bloggers and Internet personalities are analyzed, criticized, and sometimes idolized. I see on Twitter, on message boards, and on fan/hate blogs how people like Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train make the decision to fill in the blanks. That somehow, if one looked hard enough at the photos chosen by a blogger for their blog or how a paragraph is phrased they can determine if someone is having an affair, miserable at their job, upset that she can’t conceive, a terrible friend, a neglectful parent. Or the opposite, that by examining one’s Instagram account enough one can determine if someone’s husband really loves her, she’s such a nice and giving person, or she’s a really good mother.

The thing is you don’t know why someone chooses to share what they do. Maybe all the pictures turned out terrible except the one where she’s looking down at the ground. Maybe she always wears sunglasses because even after all these years she’s still awkward in front of the camera and the oversized shades hide her deer in the headlights gaze. Maybe she doesn’t share her husband on Instagram because he’s uncomfortable being photographed.  Maybe the post was written in a rush before the baby woke from his nap and she hit publish before proofing.  And maybe she knows how to play the game and sees from her analytics that she makes more sales when she has that smug smile than when she shows her teeth, or that when she writes something controversial she gets more pageviews, more hate followers, more fame, and more money.

The Girl on the Train is a good reminder that with those we follow on the Internet, and even those we know in real life, we make assumptions and fill in the blanks. And often, our assumptions are dead wrong.

I’m not saying getting invested in a blogger, vlogger, or even reality show star is a bad idea. I love blogs, and I have many favorite bloggers and personalities on social media, some who have become friends in real life and some who feel like a friend though I have never met them and likely never will. This isn’t bad, the Internet is a way to not feel so alone or unusual, to connect and relate to others across the globe. To find kindred spirits and gain inspiration. But it’s important to remember you don’t really know them, you only know what they choose for you to know and through the filter they have picked. It’s entertainment, it’s art, but it’s never the whole story.

The Girl on the Train was a well-written psychological thriller. I don’t want to share much more because it’s definitely the type of novel that is more enjoyable when you have no idea what happens before you start reading. And it’s clear I enjoyed how stereotypical characters were proven to be far more complex than originally thought; something that holds true for everyone you meet in real life, and on the Internet.

Hive on the Hill: The Shoe Hive’s DC Pop-up Shop

Like fashion, I believe in quality instead of quantity for my social life.  My evenings and weekends are primarily dedicated to my family, and only a few choice blog events.  Last night I attended a fabulous and quality event; Hive on the Hill from The Shoe Hive.

While The Shoe Hive has the most adorable and welcoming boutique in Old Town Alexandria, they are taking the next few days (through Sunday the 16th) to have a pop-up shop at The Tabula Rasa on Capitol Hill. While yes, you can find fabulous shoes (Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Hunter boots, and many more popular brands), they also have a wonderful selection of accessories and gifts. From candy-colored crocheted berets to drool-worthy Alexis Bittar jewelry, there have something for everyone, and every budget.

Last night was Opening Night for The Shoe Hive’s pop up, cleverly titled Hive on the Hill. The Shoe Hive asked me and Alison from DC Celine to co-host the event and curate a wish list to be on display. A mix of popular music with holiday tunes, plenty of white and red wine and three adorable men pouring Allagash White beer in Hive on the Hill pint glasses (which were adorable favors for us to take home), sweet treats and some of the most stylish women in DC… it was a wonderful event. While it was fun to see friends and chat over drinks, it was also fun to shop and meet new people. The Tabula Rasa was the perfect venue – crisp, white, modern, and beautiful. The Shoe Hive decorated with white birch branches and ribbons and the whole affair was tasteful yet so much fun. I was thrilled to finally meet social media/blogging friends Amy, KC, and Rosanna in real life and again see loveies like E, Lexa, Christen, and Vyque (and spend QT with my sister!).


A big thanks to Elizabeth from The Shoe Hive and her amazing team for a fun and successful event; rarely have I attended a shopping event that made me laugh to the point of tears, met so many new and wonderful people, while being surrounded by some of the most gorgeous shoes and accessories. If you’re in the area, stop by Tabula Rasa for Hive on the Hill or visit The Shoe Hive’s warm and welcoming shop in Old Town!

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Stacy London’s The Truth About Style Book and Tour

Thursday night I had the pleasure of seeing Stacy London speak at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC. Her book, The Truth About Style came out this past Tuesday and after seeing the book trailer I knew I had to be at the speaking engagement.


I met Stacy London a few months ago when she was at a local mall promoting the partnership between her company Style for Hire and Westfield Malls. The experience made me a London fan for life – she’s so real, and she truly cares about helping women feel beautiful and comfortable in clothing. Thursday night, I realized that she cares even more so about women feeling beautiful and comfortable in their own skin.

I don’t want to give much away about what she discussed or what the book is about because I truly think this is a style book that you should read. Borrow it from the library, loan it from a friend, sneak into a nook of Barnes and Noble or splurge on a copy – you won’t regret it. I can just say that Thursday night gave me such motivation regarding this blog.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t terribly happy about my body. I had a lot of opinions about fashion and style, a lot of rules, and a lot of snark. Through blogging, I got to know so many readers – you weren’t pageviews but people. I saw that I wasn’t alone in not liking the body I was in, and I saw that my snark wasn’t benefiting anyone. What’s the point of a fashion blog (or book for that matter) that dismisses those who don’t “get” fashion, that pigeonholes all women into one lump who needs a white shirt, tan trench, and a strand of real pearls?

Through blogging and through changes in my life (hello new awesome job and new awesome child) I began loving this body.  It’s not perfect… but then no one has a “perfect” body. I came to terms with it, and decided to work with it. And I also changed my voice on this blog – women don’t need another person telling them what they’re doing wrong, we need voices to give us food for thought and tips on how to feel comfortable, feel ourselves, and recognize our beauty.

 

I still have strong opinions on fashion and style, but now when I write I don’t just think about me and my little patch of Earth, but I try to make it more universal, more accepting. And Thursday night I learned that through her ten years on What Not to Wear, Stacy London has had the same experience. Dealing with real women has made her more sympathetic, sensitive, and understanding to others and also to herself. And her book The Truth About Style is about just that. This book won’t give you a list of ten must-have items in your closet, or tell you how to hide your hips or tummy. It won’t tell you what color to wear if you’re a brunette or redhead, and it won’t inform you of what items should be purged from your closet. But it will help you realize how fellow women have learned to find personal style… and may help you find yours along the way.

 

At the event with friends and fellow bloggers Nancye, Heidi, Alison, Chelsea, and Dana

And if Stacy London’s book tour is coming to a city near you, I encourage you to get a ticket to attend. She is funny, she is raw, she is honest, and she is inspiring. And she may just renew your faith in fashion, style, and yourself.

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Mick Rock & Fitz and the Tantrums – W Hotel DC

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an exhibit for Mick Rock at the W Hotel in DC. Mick Rock is a music photographer, known as “The Man Who Shot the Seventies.” He has photographed music greats over the past few decades, and some of his pictures of folks like Iggy Pop, Queen, Blondie, David Bowie, and even Lady Gaga are iconic. To celebrate the exhibit, the W Hotel had a performance by Fitz and the Tantrums and had Thievery Corporation DJing.

I really like Fitz and the Tantrums’ soul sound, Money Grabberwill get stuck in your head and never leave. I had heard they were great live and was looking forward to seeing them this past summer at the Silopanna Festival, but the fest was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. I was happy to have been invited to this event to see them… and I was not disappointed.

The W Hotel had Mick Rock’s work blown up to wall size glossy prints, placed on the walls of the hallway and two rooms. Incredible lighting, amazing music, and complimentary Absolut cocktails. We walked around and saw musical greats in such vibrant, engaging larger-than-life images. We headed into the less-crowded room and saw it was set up with a stage – we were able to get right up front where we found a cocktail table to park our purses and drinks. My husband brought his camera and was able to get some amazing shots of the performance:

Mick Rock himself, capturing the show

Fitz and the Tantrums were amazing, so full of energy and they sounded amazing.  It was awesome to experience them in such an intimate setting.  I was so glad we got a spot up close to really experience the performance, I hardly captured a photo myself because I was so busy dancing!


The set ended and Thievery Corporation took over spinning tunes. We decided to go up to the W rooftop bar and on the way I saw Michael Fitzpatrick near a bar. I just had to go up to him, and thank him for a great performance. I mentioned how I wished I had seen them this past summer and asked for a picture. He is so nice and charming in person, so happy to have gotten the chance to meet him!


The rooftop bar is amazing, with views of the White House and the Washington Monument. Even though I was born in DC and have lived in the area all my life, such a view made me a giddy tourist and we took a lot of pictures of ourselves in front of the White House.


We headed back downstairs where I saw Mick Rock mixing with the crowd, but never got a chance to meet him. However I was pretty close to him while he was shooting the Fitz and the Tantrums set; it was cool to see such a famous photographer at work!

Thank you BrandLinkDC and The W Hotel for a stellar evening of music and photography!

Photography by Karl Gary

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Forecastle 2012 Recap

While I have attended Bonnaroo several times, I had yet to attend a city-based music festival like Forecastle. Unlike Bonnaroo where you camp on the same grounds as the music festival, you have to stay offsite with Forecastle. We chose to stay at The Galt House, which was less than a half mile from the grounds and also had a great price for festival attendees.

The Galt House was HUGE! Two giant towers, restaurants, spa, gym, shops, pool and more! We reserved a room with a king bed but it wasn’t ready at check-in time. They apologized, gave us a room with two queen beds and a river view and even comped our parking as an apology. Even better, our new room ended up right across the hall from my sister!

The room itself was lovely – pretty basic but a huge bay window overlooking the Ohio River.  We bought a bottle of bourbon (when in Louisville…) and had cocktails enjoying the view.  My husband said it was looking at a live train set with the bridges, barges and boats, trains and more.

Friday:
The music started just after 5pm; we arrived around 5:30 to get a lay of the land. The festival site is predominately under a major highway which was actually pretty awesome because it shielded attendees from the sun and possible rain (it was set to rain all weekend). While the stages are far enough apart to prevent too much audio bleed, the grounds are small enough that you can easily dash from one stage to another to see every set you desire. The two biggest stages are right on the water, so through the stages you saw the Ohio, the bridges, and the most spectacular sunsets.

We bought a packet from the My Morning Jacket fan club which gave us access to the MMJ sound check, pit access for their performance, and access to the VIP entrance the whole festival. Friday when we went into the festival for the first time, we handed them our ticket and got a black bracelet. Then a woman saw our Roll Call cards and said we were missing a bracelet and gave each of us an orange VIP one. We were confused but soon realized that either they messed up or the package was far better than we expected because suddenly we had VIP access all weekend! We were able to get into VIP which had tons of seating, an air-conditioned lounge tent, air-conditioned bathroom trailers and their own beer and food vendors. I swear, this festival kept getting better and better!

We did a lot of bouncing around from stage to stage Friday night and caught a bit of Rebelution, The Head and the Heart, Atlas Sound, Atmosphere, Sleeper Agent, and Bassnectar. The only show I saw in its entirety was Sleigh Bells, and I got a great spot about a dozen people from the pit, a little right of center. I loved every artist I saw except Atlas Sound and Atmosphere. While both are extremely talented and put on a good show, Atlas Sound was bibbing about the “digital” coming from Atmosphere’s stage, and when we left and went to Atmosphere, we found that he was being a of a Gloomy Gus too, with negative snarky lyrics and conversation between songs. Such things wouldn’t usually bother me, but it just felt like a bad way to start the first night of a festival so I moved on.

After jumping up and down for a full hour at Sleigh Bells, I ended up catching most of Bassnectar from VIP – not a good view, but good sound and it was fun to watch the crowd (and also take advantage of VIP!).

I was already impressed with Forecastle by the end of Friday. Most of the grounds are gravel or concrete which means no mud and little dust. The views of the Ohio were amazing and we were treated to spectacular sunsets each evening. Enough water, more than enough porta-potties, plenty of food and trinket vendors. However the best part was the people – real music fans, few pretentious hipsters, no age-ists who looked down at us parents rocking out – a real mix of happy music lovers.

Saturday:
As previously mentioned we splurged on a special pass for members of the My Morning Jacket fan club to attend their sound check and get pit access for their actual show. The sound check was at 11am, before the festival grounds opened to other attendees. We got there… and it began to storm. They couldn’t let us out to the stage with lightening so they had us wait under the overpass until it blew through. Soon it was clear that the storm wasn’t going anywhere, but instead of cancelling and disappointing their biggest fans, My Morning Jacket gave us a special treat – they came to us! Jim James and team walked over to our group under the overpass and did an intimate acoustic set for us! It was amazing – they sounded phenomenal and did some of my favorite songs – they started with Tonight I Want to Celebrate With You (me and my husband’s song), even did Old September Blues, and everyone joined in to sing Wonderful (The Way I Feel) (do check out the links, they are YouTube videos of the actual sound check!).

After that amazing experience and being in blazing sun and then rain, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the evening. And what an evening it was! We did a bit of wandering, catching a bit of Justin Townes Earle, The Ravenna Colt, Galactic, Dr. Dog, Andrew Bird, and Real Estate. However, we were all feeling a bit distracted thinking about later that evening. As previously mentioned, we had a package to go into the pit for My Morning Jacket – they had one side of the pit for those who waited in line, and one side for us. This made for a very comfortable pit – not too packed, and only holding those who truly love the band.

The show was epic. I have seen My Morning Jacket in concert four times prior, and each time the show is different. I think that since they did most of their lower-key songs for us in the morning they amped it up for the evening show. The craziest part of the set was their cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” where they started changing the “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah” part to “Ba-na-na-na-na” and started throwing bananas at us!  Here’s a link to the entire performance.

While many of our friends went to see Preservation Hall Band and MMJ play on a paddle boat, we didn’t splurge on that and instead headed back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.

Sunday:
Like Saturday, the day started rainy, but cleared up in time for music. We had no major plans in the morning so we headed into town for brunch and ended up at Dish on Market. I had the most utterly sinful corned beef hash and one too many Bloody Marys; thank goodness the food was amazing because the place was understaffed and service was at a snail’s pace. Later, my husband and I went for a walk around Louisville and stopped at two different bars – one for a cocktail, and one for a lunch of oysters, tuna tartare, and another cocktail. Why? Because we COULD! Seriously, it feels so utterly decadent to be eating oysters one moment and rocking out in the pit of a festival the next.  As I said in my previous post, we really felt like we were festing like a boss!

We headed back to the festival in the afternoon, and again wandered around from stage to stage. Ones that stood out were Fruit Bats, Gramatik, Beats Antique, and Clutch. As a DC-native, I love me some Clutch. Since they were playing at the same time as Wilco, I was able to get right up in front in the pit, and have plenty of room to rock out. I often felt that Neil Fallon was singing right to me – at one point I jumped off the yellow jackets (the plastic things that cover wires and a great riser for short folks at concerts) to get out of the way of moshers, and Neil looked out into the crowd a bit confused. I jumped back on the yellow jacket and started cheering again and he went back to singing – I doubt he missed me but it was fun to think so!

After Clutch I watched Wilco from VIP. They sounded great – so great that this gal who is pretty “meh” about Wilco now wants to see them live again. However I was wiped from the weekend and my VIP futon was too comfortable to leave and venture into the crowd. Oh well, next time!

A big thanks to Cate, Allison, and Krista for connecting with me and offering suggestions on where to visit and eat while in Louisville. Much love to Hollie, Sarah, and the other Inforoosters I bumped into at sound check and didn’t get enough time to hang with while there – next festival for sure! And finally, a big thank you to Louisville, AC Entertainment, and My Morning Jacket for putting on a well-run, fun, and friendly festival. We had a blast and will be back!

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This is 40: My Winter Skincare and Beauty Routine

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This is what 40 looks like… and my skincare routine mentioned below after a couple hours of wear and no touch-ups. Mascara, liner, a bit of matte taupe shadow and Revlon BalmStain in Romantic.

After I shared a selfie last week on social media, I received a bunch of questions asking how I take care of my skin. I’ll admit I get tempted by new and shiny products and reviews on blogs, but I’m trying to stick to my current routine because it works, and for the first time in years my winter skin is happy and hydrated.

Night Skincare Routine:

  • Garnier Clean + Nourishing Cleansing Oil – I use this almost every evening. Two pumps in dry hands, rub on dry skin, and then rinse off. Okay, you don’t “just rinse;” rinsing isn’t that easy and you will be left with what feels like a film of oil on your skin. Trust me, this isn’t a bad thing. Unlike other drugstore-brand oil cleansers, Garnier doesn’t clog my pores and it does remove all my makeup, even mascara and liquid liner. I emulsify and rinse with tepid and blot (don’t rub) my skin dry.
  • CeraVe Cleanser (Normal to Dry) – I use this from time to time, just to switch things up. I’ve used it for years and like how it’s budget friendly, gentle, and cleans thoroughly without stripping. Once or twice a month and after a day where I wore hardcore makeup, I’ll use it with my Clarisonic, and then follow up with the Garnier oil cleanser.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream – I keep trying other brands, get disappointment, and return to this product. No irritation, absorbs nicely, makes the skin feel soft and I think helps with wrinkles and dry skin.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum – Again, I try other products and come back to this one. It works, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and it doesn’t make my skin angry. I apply this after the eye cream to my entire face, neck, chest, and the top of both hands.
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads – I don’t use these as often as I did in the fall and early winter because the rest of my body has gotten so pale it looks fake. But I do it sometimes if I have an event to go to, I’ll use in place of the Neutrogena serum. I wear a dark bra, and wipe it on my face, neck, and chest inside the lines of the bra for an even finish. Then I take the almost-dry pad and wipe down my arms and tops of my hands to give a touch of color and then wash my hands.
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Youth Regenerating Skincare Serum – I’ve written about this many times before. I’ve tried other serums and they don’t compare. I can’t clearly explain what this does but it makes my skin happy. Two pumps, on face, neck, a bit on chest and leftover on tops of hands.
  • L’Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler Cream – This is a day/night cream but it hydrates nicely without being greasy or clogging pores. I find the heavier night creams cause breakouts and this doesn’t but it still keeps me from cracking or getting red and miserable in cold weather. And how can you resist a decent cream under $10? I run on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.
  • Random Hippie Clove and Vitamin E Cream – I got this at a local shop made by a local artisan not online. But it’s a cream made with Vitamin E, cocoa butter, clove oil, and has a consistency that’s a mix between Chapstick and Vaseline. I rub it on my lips and sometimes I rub it under my nose if it’s red and raw, and I rub more on my hands and around my cuticles.
  • Water – I have a Kleen Kanteen next to my bed. I fill up, drink half, refill, and then sip on it while I read before bed and at times when I wake up. Water is a necessity to happy skin.

Morning Skincare Routine:

  • Water – I finish the Kleen Kanteen before I do anything else. Water, water, water and then more water!
  • Fish Oil – I take one Fish Oil pill first thing in the morning, and another when I get home from work. I often deal with dandruff and psoriasis in winter; taking these help greatly and make my skin and hair look better too. These don’t make me burp salmon; they’re big but I don’t have any trouble swallowing them.
  • Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel – I’ve used this for years. I apply it with a reusable cotton round. It’s way more gentle than traditional witch hazel, and smells great too! This is all I use to cleanse my skin in the morning.
  • Neutrogena Eye Cream – Same eye cream from the evening
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Serum – Same serum from the evening
  • L’Oreal Revitalift Day Moisturizer SPF 30 – This is the first time using it but my winter skin really likes it. It’s far too heavy and greasy for the summer, but right now my skin sucks it up and it leaves a dewy finish that works well with foundation for a nice healthy day look. I rub on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.

My Basic Makeup Routine:

  • L’Oreal True Match Concealer – I don’t love this, but it gets the job done. I like how lightweight and creamy it is because it doesn’t crease or look weird over my fine lines and creases. I dot under eyes, under the nose, around the mouth and on any zits. Then I tap, not rub until it’s blended but still visible. I use Fair Light Warm, the warmer color balances my dark circles better.
  • Revlon ColorStay Foundation for Normal/Dry Skin and Jojoba Oil – I put the tiniest dot of jojoba oil into my palm, then add foundation and mix. I then apply with my fingers. The jojoba oil was an idea I got from my beauty guru friend Sarah and it gives a dewy finish without causing the makeup to slip away throughout the day. For the foundation, right now I’m using Fresh Beige.
  • Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder – I sprinkle a bit of this in its cap, and use the MAC 190 foundation brush (much softer than others I have used yet still has a precision edge) and apply it under my eyes, between the brows, and under the nose. If I want a very finished look I’ll apply some elsewhere – the forehead, the chin, over the lips (helps lipstick stay). I don’t have to work hard to blend, and it doesn’t leave a powdery or overly matte finish. The yellow tone really helps to cancel out my dark circles and redness under the nose.
  • NARS ‘Orgasm’ Blush – I am not committed to this blush. When I turned 30 I bought this blush for the first time. A couple years ago I decided it was too warm and too sparkly and switched to creams, to pinks, to all sorts of things. But this winter I am embracing my paleness, and liking a dewy face, and the subtle shimmer and peachy glow of ‘Orgasm’ feels right again. I apply with a fluffy blush brush (not sure the brand, it wore off the black handle), smiling and applying just below apples of my cheeks and up towards my temples. A very tiny pat on the top of the nose and one on the chin.
  • TheBalm Mary-Lou Manzier – A reader told me about this product and I have been a fan ever since. Thanks to a six-year-old who finds my dressing table utterly fascinating, this compact fell on the floor and the product crumbled. So now I shake the compact, carefully open, and tap my finger on the mirror to get the right amount of product. A swipe on each cheek bone, a dot at the inner corners of my eye, a tiny bit below the brows (VERY tiny bit) and a bit at the bow of my lip. This gives a very natural highlight that just looks like healthy skin.
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse – It comes with a brush but I prefer to apply it with my Trish McEvoy brow brush because it’s shorter and stiffer and I have more control and it doesn’t look like I put liquid liner in my eyebrows. Dash dash dash from center to arch, then draw the end. I then go back and dash dash to fill in, and then use a brush to brush the hairs up, then in an arch. I wear Rich Brown.

The rest really varies on my mood. Sometimes I wear shadow (and don’t have any I really love and swear by right now), sometimes I don’t. I have mascaras for thick drag queen lashes, waterproof mascaras, lengthening mascaras. I do always curl first (I use Kevyn Aucoin’s lash curler), it makes a difference. And if I wear liner, it’s Maybelline Line Stiletto in Brownish Black; it’s not too shiny or black for day, it can do a very thin precise line right at the lashline, or get bigger for a cat eye. Mucho love for it. And as you know from my outfit posts, I switch up my lips all the time.

I’d love to hear from you as to what your favorite skincare and beauty products are. Some of my favorite products are recommendations from readers and your Holy Grail may be a HG product for me or another reader!

What My Brain Has Been Absorbing – Spring 2013

I’m not going to become a lifestyle blog, but I have read and seen and listened to some pretty fantastic and interesting things lately (and some not so awesome but popular things) and wanted to share. My friend Nicole calls her music reviews All Up in My Earholes and I love that; this is my less catchy way of describing what media I have been enjoying…

Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
Of course I had to read this. My mom got it for me for my birthday and I was SO EXCITED! It was on every stylista’s must-have holiday gift list, it had to be good, right?

Eh… I think it was on everyone’s list because they needed more orange-colored fashion books in their colorblocked bookcases, or because it’s a book that adds contrast to the solid black Manolo that is placed upon it for a home shoot. I feel that Coddington phoned it in until around page 275 when she began sharing tales of her time at American Vogue. Only then, did we see a peek into her personality and get fun stories about her colleagues. The entire time I read it, I felt that she wrote the book purely because she became a household name after The September Issue and some publisher told her to do this so she could have a cushy retirement. I always liked her work in Vogue and The September Issue really made me like Coddignton as a person; this book made me like her less. If you read this book, I’d love to hear your view on it.

Goats
There are some movies that are just so charming they stick in your brain for a long time. You remember parts almost as though you lived them. This happens often for me with books, but rarely for movies; I can think Little Miss Sunshine, Amelie, The Science of Sleep, Waitress, a few others. Well now I can add Goats.

Maybe it’s because I live in a hippie town with some folks who remind me of characters in this movie, maybe because I like goats, but I found this movie utterly charming. It’s a movie I would re-watch on a rainy Sunday, curled up in an afghan. This isn’t a movie with suspense or passionate love or an exciting twist but I loved it, and think I loved it because it meandered the way in which it did.

Regions of Light and Sound of God by Jim James
Fear Fun by Father John Misty
My husband has a habit of wearing an album out. He’ll put six CDs in his car’s stereo and not switch them out for six months, and will play one album on the iPod or Spotify until he knows all the lyrics. While this can be good (really getting to know a new band or learning the lyrics of cool songs), it can get you to the point where you never want to hear the band again (sorry Tool fans, but thanks to Karl I have had enough Maynard for the rest of my existence). So when I hear an album 40 times and still look forward to hearing it again, it’s gotta be pretty unique and pretty good.

I don’t think any of you are surprised that I love Jim James’ solo work (he’s the lead singer of My Morning Jacket). The thing is, the first time I heard it I felt very meh. The second time, I liked it. Now that I am on the 40th listen, I am a mega fan. This is why I like My Morning Jacket so much – there’s depth and weird little things you notice each time you listen that makes you like it more, makes you think more, makes you react differently each time. The same holds true for this album. I’d love to write more, but I can’t hold a candle to those who write music reviews professionally, and those I have read I agree with wholeheartedly.

And now we turn to J. Tillman, the crazy and obnoxious and weirdly sexy ex-member of Fleet Foxes and now performing at Father John Misty. A friend whose music tastes I respect mentioned he was playing Fear Fun nonstop so I decided to check it out. This was another album that did better with Karl playing it on non-stop repeat. I went from feeling ambivalent to becoming a mega fan and am psyched to see him in May at The 9:30 Club. I would never compare Father John Misty to MMJ, but this album is another where each time you listen you catch something else; with Tillman it is his lyrics. And then if you head to YouTube and watch some of the videos of his live performances and interviews you too many find him weird, obnoxious, but strangely sexy.  Again, if you want more detail about the album, check out professionally written reviews, I have found most to be favorable.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I am totally the type to pick up a book or download an album purely because someone I follow on Twitter or Instagram mentioned that they liked it or are reading/currently listening to it. And I did that with this book. I knew nothing about it, didn’t know the plot, never read anything before by the author, didn’t know it was considered a YA novel, just so happened I had finished my current book on Kindle and just got paid and downloaded it after seeing it on social media. And I couldn’t read it fast enough, I was so engrossed and in love and interested to see how it ended and I cried and I even cried just thinking about the book a week after finishing. After months of reading just for work or blog with a random chick lit or 50 Shades of Crap tossed in, it was a lovely change and made me make the switch back to the occasional emotional and well-written novel for a break from the 9-5.

The Sweet Valley Confidential “The Sweet Life” Series
If you’re around my age, you likely gobbled up every book from the Sweet Valley High Series while in high school. You knew they were sort of lame and cliché and unrealistic and a teenager’s version of a Lifetime Movie but you didn’t care, they were fun. The Sweet Valley Confidential series came out, got bad reviews and I wasn’t very interested. And then I saw a SVH mention on the forums of GOMI, went to check them out in the Kindle store, saw the first of the series was only $1.99 and decided to read. And I read the entire The Sweet Life series. And I want that part of my life back.

I HAD to keep reading to see what happened. And what happened wasn’t very interesting or very well written. I understand if you too feel the need to read them, I fully get it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Lazy Tux

Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Silk Bracelet: c/o lifetherapy | Boots: DUO (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in “Really Red”

I prefer rain to blustery cold days, especially in April. April showers bring May flowers, right? It rained all night and was still gloomy and wet when I left for work so I wore boots to be on the safe side.

Still playing with this hair, today is Day 2, I curled large sections with a standard curling iron, angling away from the face. Finger combed, then added Jonathan Silky Dirt for a piecey/Mandana from Rachel Zoe Project sort of look. The bangs are still wrong, I need to make an appointment with my stylist to fix this cut, but I just have not had the time. Even this weekend is booked solid but I need to figure it out before I go on a 2am hacking spree with my cuticle scissors!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, thank you so much for all your support, emails, comments, and tweets this past week. I blog because I love it, and because I love all of you. I love connecting with you, knowing my writing benefits you, and making new friends through technology. I seriously adore all of you and am so incredibly grateful to have you in my life!

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My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Jacket – Limited (at least 10 years old – similar)
Tank – Caslon (similar)
Necklace – J. Crew via eBay
JeansGap “Long and Lean” via the DC Sip & Swap
Shoes Miss Sixty “Jaiden”
BraceletsLauren Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor

So um… two things going on here. You’ll see that not only am I wearing my engagement ring, but also my wedding band! I was able to get it on this past weekend and have been wearing ever since. I haven’t been able to fit it since my first trimester and even then it was a tight fit!

Second… these jeans? I picked them up in a rush at the DC Sip & Swap and got home, hoping they would run large. I couldn’t even get them over my butt and thighs. This morning I was looking for my old Gap Essential jeans, thinking maybe I could cuff them like boyfriend jeans. Digging through the “To Donate/Swap/eBay” bag I found these jeans and gave them a chance. They FIT! Me, in a size 10 pair of jeans? This hasn’t happened in YEARS! Happy Friday to me!

This weekend is my friend’s baby shower, and there is a blues music festival in town. Otherwise pretty free. I hope me and the fam can relax, get this bug past us 100% (Emerson is pretty sick again and my husband is also battling it). What are your plans for the weekend?

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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:

Spotify
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.

Vinyl
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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Bonnaroo 2011 – Friday

I was really glad I brought Benadryl and Claritin to Bonnaroo as that the grasses were really aggravating me. I woke up middle of the night unable to breathe, and with earplugs in it’s a pretty freaky experience. However two Benadryls got me breathing and back to bed in less than 30 minutes.

I headed to the bathrooms and really got to understand the beauty which is VIP. The bathroom trailers weren’t very close to our camp, but there was never a line, the trailers were freezing cold, always super clean and stocked with toilet paper. They also had sinks which is such a pleasure when you’re covered with sunscreen, dust, and grime. I also could take a shower which wasn’t hot, but I could take my time and really scrub, shave, and even condition my hair.

Friday morning outfit: Green print spaghetti strap maxi dress (from Ross), cowboy hat, black Reef flops, silver hoops, same wrist of bracelets
Living scarecrows – me and my husband on the way to the Inforoo brunch. 
Me and my sister
My husband carrying his portable cooler – a grocery bag full of ice to keep the champagne and OJ cold.

We started the day by heading to the Inforoo message board’s annual brunch. We got a bit of a late start (my husband and I forgot it was Friday and went to get breakfast from a vendor, checked out the VIP lounge, etc.) and showed up after what seemed like half of the people left. However we saw some folks we knew and I got to meet reader Megan! We brought mimosas for the brunch – a carton of OJ picked up at Walmart on Wednesday and our contraband champagne.

On our way back, my husband and I found two glass bead necklaces hidden in the grass. Ground score! We each put one on, planning to wear for the rest of Bonnaroo.

We then decided to explore and find out all the perks of VIP (which I will get into in another post). En route, we got a bit lost and ended up walking almost the entire perimeter of VIP camping. Instead of getting to Centeroo like planned, we just got worn out and stopped by camp again to recharge. We then went the entrance we knew into Centeroo.

The plan was for us to all go see Bela Fleck but by time we got to that stage we just weren’t feeling his music. So we headed to the What Stage (the biggest stage at Bonnaroo where all the headliners perform) to check out the VIP offerings over there. VIP has a fenced in area right to the left of the What Stage – there’s a hill where you can pull up a chair and see the show, a tent where beer and beverages are sold (and you can get some shade), and a set of air-conditioned bathroom trailers. There is also a gate there that goes right to VIP (we were confused and lost earlier because that gate had yet to open). This became a favorite spot for all of us and we usually had a front row seat on The Hill for all the shows at this stage.

Me & my husband trying to keep cool while waiting for Grace Potter
Our view from the VIP Hill
The view from behind our chairs – that tent is where there is shade & beer sales for VIP; past that is a slope with bathroom trailers at the bottom.  There is also the exit back to VIP camping.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

The first show we saw on Friday in its entirety was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and we saw it from the VIP Hill. I have seen Grace perform several times before, the last time just a few months ago at the 9:30 Club. I have been a fan of hers before she became popular and a VH1 Diva, but the last time I saw her I left underwhelmed. She wasn’t even on my “must see” list for Bonnaroo. However, she totally redeemed herself as that Grace and her band totally kicked ass and gave us all a great show.

I would love to tell you what I did after Grace Potter, but for the life of me I cannot recall. I remember hearing some of The Decemberists and contemplating going to see Matt and Kim, but the next show I recall is My Morning Jacket which was 3.5 hours after Grace. I know at some point I changed my clothes… it may have been at this time. Ah Bonnaroo… I always end up with lost pockets of time while on the Farm!

EDIT: After publishing I remembered that during that time I went to see Florence + The Machine!  HOW COULD I FORGET?!?!   She is phenomenal but unfortunately because we were arriving late, we didn’t get great seats and couldn’t see the stage.

Friday evening outfit: Brown floral Old Navy sundress (sleeveless, empire waist, cotton, worn it to all 4 Roos), DUO “Bern” boots, same jewelry, green glass bead necklace
Me & my husband at MMJ in our matching necklaces. We’re starting to look a bit more dirty and sunwashed from the weekend…

For My Morning Jacket, we again chose to view from the hill at VIP. We got there early and scored seats right on the lip of the last tier of the hill for a view over all the crowds in the field, but as close as possible. I know many people prefer to be in the throng for shows and I do enjoy that, but with my height and my sister’s bad foot we found that for many shows, we preferred the Hill.

My Morning Jacket is probably my favorite band and they didn’t disappoint. At the beginning of their set, the audio was off a bit but they plugged through and gave a great experience to all in attendance.

We stayed where we were so we had a primo location for Arcade Fire. I know many obsessively adore Arcade Fire, I have never been one. I “get” them more after listening to The Suburbs in its entirety, and many people have told me that I MUST see them live to really understand them. So I made a decision to have them on my “must see” list, which wasn’t hard since they were playing unopposed at Bonnaroo.

I am glad we stayed put because we got to experience one of the coolest ad campaigns ever. Suddenly in the sky it looks as though there are a million twinkling blue lights, shot out in a stream. And then another stream. The twinkling blue stars start falling towards the earth, to us. Everyone is getting excited, reaching out to catch these falling stars. They were blinking blue LED lights attached to a piece of paper with a QR code. This video really shows what it was like:

Back to Arcade Fire. I liked them. I wasn’t overwhelmed and I didn’t fall in love, but they do sound amazing live and put on a great show. My husband on the other hand was not impressed and finds them “creepy.” So we left a bit before the end to head to camp to charge up for late night.

For those who have not been to Bonnaroo or another music festival, late night is where all the action is. Rules are broken and artists will perform past their schedule, other artists will join and jam with them, light shows are intense and the crowd is psyched. Glowstick wars in crowds, folks dressed up in crazy costumes and if you think the people watching is great by sunlight, it’s even more amazing when the sun goes down. Many people go to Bonnaroo and never head to Centeroo until 5pm to ensure they have enough energy to dance until dawn. In the past I have only been able to survive one and a half late nights; call me old but this body shuts down pretty early, no matter how many naps and 5-hour Energies I have.

My goal was to see part of the Black Angels, a bit of Lil Wayne so I can say I saw him, or Bassnectar, and then maybe head to Pretty Lights. Instead I got to camp and my allergies were killing me, my feet hurt, I was sweaty and grody. I took a shower hoping it would revive me but the hot water instead got me feeling all cozy. Came back to camp, had a beer, and almost fell asleep in my camp chair. Yeah, I’m a real wild child.

For more info on Bonnaroo 2011, check out:
Next Bonnaroo Post – Saturday!

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Night at the Theatre

My sister and I always buy each other tickets to the theatre for our birthdays. It’s our way of infusing a bit of culture into our lives, and creates great conversation at the bar afterwards.

I knew the play wasn’t at the fanciest of theatres, more of a small and historic theatre. Considering the play’s topic and actress, I knew the crowd would run the gamut from velvet to denim, pumps to Pumas.

Raspberry merino v-neck from Ann Taylor Loft that I bought on Friday for $19.99. Black trousers from Ann Taylor’s Triacetate collection. My black Enzo boots (only shoes I could wear from all the blisters I got the night before from dancing!). Two berry colored beaded necklaces from Express. Black beaded earrings from the Limited.

Hair was straightened, a large-barreled curling iron used to flip up pieces. A touch of pomade helped it stay a bit. Really, it was a terrible hair night because I am waaaay past due for a trim. Have an appointment scheduled!

Makeup is i.d Bare Escentuals foundation and concealer. Mucho Nars Orgasm on the apples of the cheeks. Shadow is a shimmery white color from Clinique on the brow bone, in the corners of the eyes, aound the lash line. I took my crease shadow brush and swiped it in the crease. The tough of shadow left on the brush gave the amount of color I was looking for. Two coats of mascara, a think line of black liquid liner. On the lips is Maybelline’s Forever Metallics pencil in Berry Glossy. These lip pencils are chunky and creamy – not the best for lip lining, but great for a matte color. At the theatre I had a drink, watched the whole show, went to the restroom and my lips still had a lovely berry color.

The Flu

Yep folks, I got the flu.  Luckily I think I have the old-school version, not the N1H1.  So no tummy issues, but I do look like the Before part of a NyQuill commercial.

I started feeling off last Thursday.  Friday I was coughing at work and feeling a bit weak.  Not a great thing as that I was leaving for Charleston, SC the next day to officiate and attend a good friend’s wedding.

I woke at 3am for my 7am flight and by time I got off the plane at Charleston airport, I was sick.  I thought I would be okay – just that post-flight ickiness.  My sister picked me up (she had driven down the night prior) and we went to the hotel.  I changed, freshened up and went to meet the bride and groom to be and other friends for brunch.  I had to leave brunch early because I was feeling so ill.

I spent most of my Charleston weekend cooped up in my hotel room.  I got through the rehearsal, but ended up arriving late and leaving the rehearsal dinner early.  The next day I doped up enough on B6, Oscillococcinum and Motrin to be able to perform the ceremony and attend the reception without wanting to curl up into the fetal position.  I will have to visit Charleston again so I can see more than the interior of the Holiday Inn on Calhoun and the pharmacy aisle of the Harris Teeter!

Anyway, no real pictures of me but I did have some fabulous outfits.

Flight down: Dark Long & Lean jeans from Gap, black ribbed tank, my fuzzy gray cardigan from Kenzie, black city boots, silver jewelry and my ivory pashmina.

Brunch: Navy jersey dress from Soprano, silver flops from Havanias, silver jewlery.  It was a casual place (Poogan’s Porch).  I brought my black belt and black patent T-straps to dress it up but the flip flops were actually more appropriate for the event.
Rehearsal: Same outfit.  I was so sick, I came home from the brunch, took off the flip flops and my earrings and crashed right into the bed.  I woke up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on some mascara and Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Fig and headed out in my sick funk.  This is me sitting on the front porch of the hotel waiting for my friends to pick me up and take me to the rehearsal.
Rehearsal Dinner: I took a very hot shower and some cold medicine and thought I was feeling better so I wore my black feather print dress from Muse (I took a picture of me in it last week but it’s on my work computer), black patent T-straps from Softt, black patent clutch from Ann Taylor Loft and silver hoops and cuff.  I looked cute, but the good feeling didn’t last.  I was hot and stiff and achy and out of it.  So out of it, I walked up the stairs to the restaurant lobby where the restrooms were and passed some college kids on benches waiting for a table. I heard them say, “damn, she’s trashed!”  I didn’t at the time think they meant me until I returned and carefully maneuvered the stairs and they clapped when I got to the bottom.  It did make me giggle, though it also made me want to go back and cough on them. 😉
No picture of the FANTASTIC dress (I will be rocking the heck out of it this winter!), but here I am with my sister upon arriving at the rehearsal dinner before I felt as though I was going to die…

Breakfast: We had reservations at High Cotton and I knew I had to eat something that day so I took a hot shower and went.  I wore my red print dress from Max Studio with the black patent belt from Ann Taylor and my black patent T-straps.  The place was quite lovely, but I was still feeling poor so we made the meal short and went to Harris Teeter to stock up on drugs and Gatorade for me.  I then spent the rest of the day sleeping so I could be in decent shape for the wedding.

Wedding: I wore my black Calvin Klein maxi dress that I wore for my friend Shelly’s wedding, gold sandals from Lands End, all of my gold bangles, some gold dangly earrings and a black pashmina.  Hair was messy/curly, smoky eyes.  I wore the pashmina for the ceremony, pinned behind me so it worked like a shrug.  I took it off for the reception.

Trip home: I rode home with my sister in her car.  I was not feeling cute nor looking cute.  Wore a dark red nursing tank from Bravado so I could easily pump while on the road, my Gap jeans from the flight down, and my Kenzie cardigan.  The Havanias flip flops rounded out the sick girl look.

So I left Saturday morning, came home Monday night and have been sick ever since.  I have not been to work.  I hope to be well enough to properly work from home tomorrow, but my brain is really fuzzy, I am dizzy, achy, and exhausted from coughing.

The Weekend

Friday night we went to dinner with very good friends of ours. Had a wait for our table, so we went next door to the cigar shop; the boys got some cigars to puff (it was nice enough to be outside) and the wife and I chatted about the upcoming wedding of her sister-in-law (you can’t pull me away from wedding talk!). The place was really lovely – a new joint we hadn’t yet visited. After we hung out at Starbucks until they had to get home and relieve the babysitter. Ah, the wild and crazy life of adults!

Saturday started with yoga as usual, then a few errands. In the afternoon my husband’s cousin came over for a game of Rockband and then we three headed to DC to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the 9:30 Club. There we met up with our good friends and had a great time. I only knew their music vaguely… but after that performance I am a FAN!

Hair was washed and conditioned in a rush and to the sounds of Rockband. Added a touch of Jonathan Silky Dirt while damp, blew it straight with a paddle brush and a round brush for the bangs and ends.

Dressed in a rush as well; black thermal top from Old Navy, burgundy merino shift from Banana Republic, tan “Bern” boots from Duo, silver hoops and cuff.

Makeup was Smashbox Photo Finish primer, Revlon ColorStay under eye concealer in Light Medium, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory in inner corners, khaki on lid, chocolate in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled and two coats of CoverGirl Lash Blast in black. On lips is Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Glossy Rose.

Sunday, we did a whole lot of nothing, and it was great! We watched a few episodes from Season 3 Lost that my husband missed, a Netflix movie (Curse of the Golden Flower), took a nap, cleaned a bit, had Chinese for take-out… very relaxing and lovely. No photo outfits because seeing me in a black tank and pink-leopard-print flannel PJ pants ain’t so exciting…

The Weekend

Saturday started as usual – feed and play with the dog, head to yoga, and then had tea at the local cafe with my mom and hubby to talk about our week. Ran a few errands.

My sister and my husband’s friend came over and we hung out until the evening, when we headed to Columbia for our friend’s birthday.

I was sad about the J. Crew dress, then Friday night at Target I found this dress on clearance for about $20; it’s from the Isaac Mizrahi line. Made of a heavy pique knit, it is the same silhouette, but a kangaroo pocket in front instead of the band with buttons. Score! Paired it with my trusty “Bern” boots from Duo, my seaglass necklace from Ross and my silver cuff.

Hair washed and conditioned, added pureology’s PureVolume Blow Dry Amplifier and then dried with a paddle brush, a round brush to smooth bangs.

Makeup is Smashbox Photo Finish primer, Revlon ColorStay Under Eye Concealer in Light Medium, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – khaki on lid, chocolate and olive blended together in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled, a coat of Cover Girl LashBlast in black with Imju Fiberwig over it. On lips is Revlon Shiny Sheers in Sheer Cocoa Glaze.

We ended up hitting a local pub to celebrate my friend’s birthday with about 25 of his other friends and loved ones. It was a very fun and chill evening.

Sunday, I went to breakfast with my sister, mom and husband. No pictures; wore my dark denim skirt from Gap, my black merino crewneck sweater from Banana Republic and my Duo boots. Hair second day, makeup minimal.

The rest of the day was pretty boring: chores around the house, some yoga in the living room, watched Layer Cake and 3:10 to Yuma with the hubby and had leftovers for dinner. Changed from the denim skirt to a pair of black yoga pants from ProSpirit for such festivities.

The Backstory…

Maybe it’s the time of year or my recent new product reviews, but I am getting a ton of emails about my personal makeup and skincare routine and my makeup collection.

So here you go, a peek into my makeup box (if you click on the image you get a big honking picture showing all the detail and all my foundation fingerprints on everything)! I have a traditional train case used by makeup artists. I got mine for about $50 at a Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale and it was one of my best purchases ever. Instead of little boxes and trays everywhere, I have all my product in one carrying case – easy to move around, slide under the sink out of sight, etc. As you can see by the size of the products inside, this is a lot bigger than those Caboodles you can pick up at Wal-Mart.

You can also see I have a lot of product, but if you read my posts, you see I use most of what is in there. I try to never purchase anything that doesn’t seem to work on a regular basis. I toss what I don’t use and check regularly for products past their prime. The only things I keep that I don’t use at least once a week are lipsticks or eye shadows in kooky/fun colors. I may not wear electric emerald green shadow on a daily basis, but it’s a fun thing to have for St. Patrick’s Day. Same with things like bright red lipstick or sparkly hot pink gloss – I don’t buy it often but when I do I usually keep it “just in case.” I rarely ever do this for my wardrobe, but a little lipstick doesn’t take up much space!

I try to clean this box out once a season or whenever I am in need of new product. Just as I always say to shop inside your closet, also shop inside your makeup drawer before you buy more. No point in having three half-empty bottles of the same foundation. When you have too much or your product is stored in 50 different places amongst clutter, you often end up purchasing more than you need and often not wearing it all.

So a breakdown of my collection:

FACE:
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer – two travel-sized tubes (bought one then got one as a freebie)
philosophy The Supernatural Airbrushed Canvas foundation (my current product)
L’Oreal Bare Naturale mineral foundation (will not be replaced – not worth it – doesn’t hold up nicely or look as nice on my face as b.e.)
L’Oreal True Match foundation (worn often with moisturizer as a tint, more of a winter shade)
Bare Escentuals mineral foundation (worn when need flawless face, will be sweating, etc. Have in two colors because got one as a gift)
Bare Escentuals concealer
MAC Studio Fix foundation (same purpose as the Bare Escentuals, but a summer shade)
L’Oreal true Match concealer (the only one I use)
Chanel pressed powder (my winter shade – for summer I have MAC’s Blot Powder, which is in my purse)

FACE EXTRAS:
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
Benefit’s That Gal
Smashbox Soft Lights highlighter/color
Cargo Matte BeachBlush
Body Shop Bronzing Powder
Nars blush
Maybelline Whipped Mousse blush
Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood (freebie)
Bare Escentuals Warmth (bronzer)
Bare Escentuals Clear Radiance (highlighter)
Maybelline brow powder
Body Shop clear brow gel
Tweezerman tweezers (hot pink, natch.)

EYES:
DiorShow mini mascara (freebie)
Imju Fiberwig mascara
Maybelline Great Lash (my waterproof mascara)
Body Shop’s Eye Definer pencils in white, black, slate and dark brown
Sephora’s chunky eye pencils in green, silvery-blue and blue-gray
Shu Eumura lash curler
Maybelline UltraLiner waterproof liquid eyeliner
Revlon ColorStay shadow quad
Maybelline shadow quad
Pop Beauty shadow set
Trish McEvoy shadow set (under the gold Pop Beauty set)
Body Shop Simmer Cubes of shadow – three different sets of color
About a dozen individual shadows from Body Shop
Individual shadows from L’Oreal, Clinique, Garden Botanika
Every sharpener size I could need – I think I have three.

LIPS:
A good 30 different lipsticks, glosses and stains. No preference for brand – drugstore and high-end and everything in-between. Unless it’s special or good for a costume/event, I toss it if it hasn’t been worn in three months. I have two lip pencils – a nude one from L’Oreal and Beech from The Body Shop (same color as MAC’s Spice but far cheaper). I hardly ever wear them though.

NAILS:
Opi’s I’m Not Really a Waitress and Coney Island Cotton Candy, a white polish in the offchance I get a French manicure and need a touchup (last used for a wedding where I had to have a French), a clear pink from Orly that is a great non-manicure manicure look in a jiffy.

And that is it. Nothing crazy out of the ordinary, may seem like a lot to some, and surprisingly little to others. I promise other than my powder and my Nars’ Dolce Vita and Revlon Super Lustrous in Glossy Rose, everything else was in this case.

I also have a decent collection of brushes. High-quality brushes rarely need to be replaced if cared for. Nothing classy, these brushes are stored in a coffee mug from my college sorority.

Among the collection, you see a bronzer brush from Sephora (front) that I use to apply bronzers in summer and Bare Escentuals mineral foundation come winter. The other big brush is my blush brush from Trish McEvoy – gives the perfect application to the apples of my cheeks. To its left is one of my favorite brushes – a little soft sable brush also from Trish that gives a great smudged shadow look along the lash line. In the center are two rounded brushes from Trish – these two are used daily for my lid/crease look. The flatter one applies color to the lid, the rounded one fits nicely into the crease and with a window-washer motion applies a nice shadow. Behind them is a foundation brush from MAC that I only use for special occasions and when I wear MAC’s Studio Fix, and a few random shadow and slant brushes from Body Shop. To the left you will see a white stiff brush – this is also from Trish McEvoy and when full of a dark shadow, wiggled along the lash line it gives the look of liner.

I was my brushes around once a month with baby shampoo and lay them flat to dry. To remove color between washes, I use Body Shop’s Chamomile Makeup Remover and a paper towel.

Questions Answered…
I’m curious to have to wax personal about your feelings on liquid vs pencil liner, powder vs. cream blush.
I don’t like pencil liner. I am a klutz and find them hard to manage. The only time I wear them, I rub them back and forth against a taut lash line for a “rocker” look. I find liquid liner to be easy to manage (prefer brush to felt tip). Maybe this is because I paint and the tool makes more sense to me? More often than not, I use a dark shadow and a slanted or stiff brush (see above) and wiggle it right against the lash line to mimic the look of a pencil liner.

As for blushes, I have a cream one (the mousse by Maybelline) but rarely wear it because I usually wear a powder-based foundation and the two do not mix well. I usually do foundation or powder, then blush or bronzer. This gives the effect I like best.

Regarding cosmetics… Do you own more than you use? Do you use exactly what you own? Do you buy new colors for a season, or do you stick with what works for your coloring, etc.?
I don’t purchase specifically for a new season, only if what I see that season inspires or intrigues me. I suppose I do own more than I “use” (see above), but I don’t purchase randomly. I know what colors I like on me, occasionally will get creative with a shadow or lipstick but rarely venture too far out of my comfort zone for any other product. I’m 32, I have a relatively conservative job, there are very few places in my life where I can wear a lot of the creative and funky new cosmetic styles. And I like the traditional smoky eye/glossy lip for a night out on the town. My husband said once I like my makeup to look like it belongs on a Playboy Bunny. I guess he’s right – I love thick lashes, liquid liner, smoky eyes, flushed cheeks and glossy pink lips. I always have and luckily it looks decent on me as well.

How often do you wash/exfoliate/moisturise? You have good skin, wondering what exactly is your routine?
I only wash my face once a day, usually at night (unless I pass out on the couch and forget). I wash with a multitide of items – it may be a new product from the Body Shop, something on sale, something a friend recommended. Right now in the shower I have St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub and Noxzema (I know, old school!). In the medicine cabinet I have Body Shop’s Moisture White Cleansing Powder (and love it), Body Shop’s Vitamin C Exfoliating Wash and Body Shop’s Vitamin C Cream Cleanser. I wash at night, apply eye cream (currently Body Shop Vitamin C Eye Reviver or Neutrogena Eye Brightening), any treatments (Body Shop Vitamin C Intensive Night Repair and/or Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment) and then night cream (Body Shop’s Wise Women – LOOOOVE it!). Oh, I use Body Shop’s Chamomile Makeup Remover for liquid liner and waterproof products before washing.

In the AM, I use Body Shop’s Moisture White toner to remove any leftover moisturizer, then use Body Shop’s Vitamin E SPF 15 for my lotion and the same eye cream as the night before (sometimes putting it around my lips a la Josephine Esther Mentzer.

I try once a week to give myself a facial, but it is more like once a month. Cleanse, exfoliate (usually with a face brush or else with the Neutrogena Microdermabrasion kit), sometimes do a mask, steam and then hydrate (Body Shop’s Vitamin E Face Mask is awesome).

How do you maintain your brows?
I get them waxed maybe once a year, then maintain almost daily with my Tweezerman slant tweezers. It’s far easier to grab one or two hairs daily than to pluck for half an hour every couple of weeks. It also helps me maintain the shape. I then use a short slanted brush (Trish McEvoy) to fill in my sparse and short brows with Maybelline brow powder in Dark Brown, then set with Body Shop clear Brow and Lash Gel – brush the hairs up, than out. I used to trim long hairs, but now I just keep them groomed with the gel.

How do you apply concealer and where on your face?
I am so not elegant with this. L’Oreal True Match is a liquid and has a brush applicator. I take the brush and draw a circle around each eye, then a dash under each nostril, then a dash on the bow of my lips and a slash on either side of my mouth. I then may spot dab on any zits. I rub in with my ring finger. The bow of my lips is a tad crooked and has a scar so the touch of foundation seems to make it less noticeable. Sides of my mouth have some weird scars and veins from living and having teenaged skin, so a little bit of concealer airbrushes it. Under the nose, I have the normal-person little red veins. And then I have allergies, so i wake up with purple eye sockets most days out of the year. A yellow-tinted concealer seems to work with all these skin issues.

Concealer before or after your foundation?
If I am wearing a liquid foundation – after. Powder or mineral – before.

I think that’s it for now! :-)

The Weekend

Friday Night – Concert. Black merino crewneck from Banana Republic, black footless tights from Old Navy, distressed denim skirt from Old Navy, leopard print ballet flats from Target. I don’t love the shoes, but my feet were killing me and I needed a quick fix for the evening. Got them on the commute home. Silver large hoops and cuff bracelet.

Same makeup, just added powder and lipgloss. Same hair, just brushed it.

We went to a place that has concerts of local and lesser-known bands. General admission, casual dinner before hand, night with husband and two friends.

Saturday – American Heart Association Walk in the city. My father and my uncle both passed away due to heart disease, my friend’s father is a survivor of a heart attack. About ten of us made a team and collected donations and walked for the cause.

Hair washed, conditioned and dried straight. No product.

Makeup was only a bit of Body Shop concealer, only the mascara part of L’Oreal Volume Shocking mascara and some lip balm from The Body Shop.

I wore a dark green fleece from The North Face, a long sleeved white tee from my college, a white ribbed tank under it. Black knit exercise pants from the Champion line at Target, New Balance tennies. I carried my stuff in a little backpack I got from when I worked for The Body Shop, slings across the body, small, black, perfect size for basic necessities, but big enough to tuck in the fleece if it got too warm.

Saturday Night – went to another concert, at a different general admission location. Went with my mom, my husband and his dad.

Plum crinkle tunic from Express with tonal embroidery, lowrise bootcut jeans from Gap, black city boots from Enzo. Long necklace of glass and wood beads from Claire’s. Large silver hoops. In the first picture you can see my beloved $9.99 brown suede coat from Express – my winter staple. I wore it with an ivory and brown zebra print fleece scarf from Old Navy.

Hair was washed, conditioned, a bit of Frizz-Ease Dream Curls applied, blown to be wavy, then changed mind last minute and made straight. Used a bit of Jonathan Dirt for texture.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation, Body Shop stick concealer, Physician’s Formula bronzer in light as powder. On lips is the Body Shop’s sheer lipcolor in 02. Eyes done with the Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in neutral, thin line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black, Volume Shocking Mascara from L’Oreal.

The SAHW

Pictures to be added latter… Blogger acting up at time of this post….
I recently received a few emails relating to fashion for the Stay at Home Woman, be she staying at home to be a mother, a telecommuter, or a lady of leisure/luck. This week my husband and I took an at-home vacation – a week away from work, yet a week full of errands, chores and socializing. I realized that a wardrobe for this lifestyle is utterly different from my normal clothing collection.

Versatility
When you are pulling weeds, washing dishes, running to the grocery and having coffee with your mom all in one day, your clothes need to handle all these situations. Many women run to their favorite yoga pants or worn-out jeans to fulfil the task. It is not necessary to sacrifice style for versatility.

What you wear on the bottom half often dictates how dressy or polished your outfit is. Consider a basic fitted tee shirt in white. Wear it with sweatpants, you look as though you rolled out of bed. Wear with old jeans, you look as though you work on cars for a living. Pair it with a nice pair of jeans and a belt and you could head out to the mall or even a concert. Pair it with cropped pants, a level of polish. Even pair that tee with a patterned cotton skirt and you could head to your cousin’s baby shower and look appropriate. Keep this in mind. I spent the majority of the week in cropped trousers out of cotton, twill or chino. A heavier fabric keeps wrinkles at bay and the look is just as comfortable but far more sophisticated than lounge pants from Old Navy.

As for shoes, flip flops are an easy choice, but often cheapen the entire look. Invest in a pair of comfortable slides that are made of leather or microfiber for a more adult look. I have a pair of leather slides with a small wedge heel in black and in tan – they go with skirts, cropped pants and jeans with ease and are comfortable to boot.

Comfort
No one wants to be picking up toys or discarded socks and having a stiff waistband dig into her belly button. Denim can be restricting, and when you’re busy the last thing you want to do is have to adjust a neckline, check for peeping bra straps or re-tuck a blouse.

Around the home, nothing is greater than knit sets. As I type this I am wearing a washed knit drawstring skirt and matching half-zip hooded pullover from J. Crew. Yesterday after running around town, I changed into a pair of black yoga pants and a matching zip-up jacket from Old Navy with a white scoop necked tee from American Apparel underneath.

However when you leave your four walls, these lounge suits are not appropriate, no matter what celebrities wear on their Jamba Juice run. These clothes are for LOUNGING, not errand running. Even if your makeup, jewelry and pedicure perfectly match your terry track suit, you are not dressed in an adult or respectable manner. To stay comfortable but look appropriate, consider investing in a few pieces of matte jersey. Matte jersey is also called slink knit, traveler fabric and a few other variations. This material has the stretch and comfort of knit, but a polished texture that is similar to crepe. Often times pieces of matte jersey bought at one store will match a piece from a different brand. I have accumulated a large collection of matte jersey over the years and often wear it to the mall, when I coordinate weddings, when I meet a friend for lunch, or when I am running errands around town. I have a few different shells, a button down fitted top, cropped pants, full length pants, a skirt and a cardigan. I can mix and match these for most any season and look far more polished than in terry or knit.

Again, consider your shoes. Sneakers downplay any outfit and you would never see a fashionista running about town in a pair of Nikes. Mules and slides are a great choice for summer; ballet flats are a comfy and chic way to achieve comfort in the spring and fall months.

Cost
No one wants to blow their entire budget on casual wear, yet you’re not portraying the right image of your personality and spirit in your husband’s old Big Dog tee shirt and Umbro soccer shorts. Care needs to be applied to your at-home attire as well as your socializing attire. Consider days when you wear the old ratty underwear in the back of the drawer versus the days you put on the new lacy panties. Though no one knows what you’re wearing under those pants, you do. You walk a little taller and feel a bit more beautiful when you know you are dressed nicely.

Invest in one or two pairs of easy-care cropped trousers. These can be worn with a camisole and slides in the summer, a turtleneck and ballet flats in the fall. Black may look dressy but often fades after a few washes. Consider neutrals that wash well and hide stains – khaki, gray, stone, putty, tan. These can look polished with a wrinkle-resistant button-down shirt, a tank and cardigan, a sleeveless sweater.

Consider a skirt. Casual summer and spring skirts do not require special undergarments and hose. A ribbed “wifebeater” tank suddenly has panache with a denim or twill skirt. Look for a heavier fabric with lycra that will resist wrinkles, can handle a trip in the dryer and will keep it’s shape throughout the day. A skirt that hits at the knees is feminine yet not too daring – you can kneel down to tie your daughter’s shoe or bend down to pick up a bag of groceries without showing all your bits. A skirt below this length can look dated – classic pieces are the safest bet. As for color, denim looks best dark in a skirt. This will look the most classic and clean. For a non-denim skirt, again consider neutrals. I have an olive green cargo skirt from J. Crew that I wear to DEATH on casual days. The color compliments pink, dark red, black, white, turquoise, navy… most every top in my wardrobe. I can quickly change my yoga pants and flops to a skirt and beaded sandals and suddenly I look appropriate for a casual dinner with the husband ort a quick trip to the nail salon.

For tops, you want comfort, style and wearability. American Apparel has great heavier-weight knit tops for a great price with flattering necklines. For summer I invested in four of their scoop necked tees. The neckline is feminine and flattering without showing too much cleavage. The sleeves are a bit longer than a regular tee, providing a more fashionable profile. The tops can handle several trips in the washer and dryer. I purchased the standard black and white, but also bought a dark red and brown for variety. I have worn these tops with cropped pants, skirts, jeans, even under suits for work.

The Finishing Touches
I have mentioned this multiple times before. If your hair is usually in a clip or elastic, it’s time for a new haircut. What is the point of having a flowing mane of hair if it’s always piled on top of your head? The time it takes to dry it must be exhausting, and leaving the house with wet hair piled up with a clip or GASP, a scrunchie takes all your hard work of looking fashionable and pours it down the drain. I have a layered cut with sideswept bangs. The hair it just past the shoulders – long enough to feel feminine but short enough to look professional and be easy-care. I can take a round brush and dryer to my dry bed-head bent hair and brush out the kinks in a few minutes. A good cut should be easy to make look polished, even in a rush. For days where your hair just won’t behave, consider an accordion headband. These give a bit of style to your hair, offer some lift at the crown and look as though you made effort to look fashionable. These headbands are great because they don’t dent the hair and they capture all the little fuzzies around your brow. I love to wear them to the gym for this reason.

Consider jewelry. Nothing dresses up a boring tee and trousers more than a cool necklace. Check out your local Big Box retailer for some bargains. I recently purchased a chunky tortoise shell necklace from Target for $14.99. People constantly compliment me on how unique it is. I can throw it on with my dark red scoop tee from American Apparel and my olive green J. Crew cargo skirt and I am ready to head to a cookout or the mall. Hoops and bangle bracelets create the same dressed-up feel without being dressed up.

And again, consider the shoes. If you require comfort, there are great stores like Easy Spirit and Aerosoles that cater to comfortable yet stylish shoes. Flip flops are not adult footwear. Anyone ever the age of 25 should limit their flip-flop time to the beach, running around the yard, and going to the pool. Even Target offers leather and fabric shoes that are just as comfortable but more polished than foam flops. As for sneakers, those are best left to athletic endeavors, not jaunts to the strip mall. Sneakers make your legs look shorter and thicker and draw attention more quickly than any other item on your person. For jeans and long pants consider a low-heeled ankle boot or the trendy new sneakers in dark colors that are leather and suede and very slim and low profile (check out retro styles from Puma and simple designs from Kenneth Cole). For cropped pants and skirts, consider a slide with a slight wedge or heel. These are easy to slip on, often are cushy and comfortable, and look far more sophisticated.

What About….?
What, no shorts? Unless you are lean, leggy and young shorts are probably not that flattering on you. They may seem comfortable, but a few extra inches on the leg will not kill you and will make you look leaner, more fashionable and more appropriate. Shorts ride up. They are often shorter than they should be showing too much skin/cellulite/veins/etc. The often cause your belly to look bigger. They are very rarely flattering. I have only owned one pair of shorts in the past eight years and have survived tropical vacations, sweltering summers in the south and along the Eastern seaboard, gardening and picnicking in August. If you remove shorts from your wardrobe, you will look thinner, trendier and probably younger.

No mention of sweatshirts and other cold weather wear? My opinion is that if it is cold enough for a sweatshirt, then it’s cold enough for real clothing. One can be just as comfortable in a pair of wool-knit trousers and a sweater as they can in a sweatsuit. Sweatsuits are left to athletes and camping. They distort your figure and make you look heavier and less toned than you already are. Invest in some jeans with lycra or some trousers with stretch that can handle machine washing and drying. These should replace all your fleece and terry monstrosities.

The Weekend

Saturday we shot our first paying gig for the photography business. I was more of a consultant, I don’t shoot, I tell the photographers what to do and assist the bride with coordination.

I wore my black slink-knit surplice-front dress from Roni Nicole (see my holiday party dress). To make it more conservative I wore a black Body By Victoria camisole from Victoria’s Secret underneath. As that it was an outdoor wedding in a field, I wore beaded flat sandals from Seychelles, six skinny gold bangles from Claire’s and gold chandelier earrings from Target. Hair was done curly – second day dirty and assisted with a curling iron. Black large plastic sunglasses from Target. Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, MAC stick concealer, Chanel pressed powder, The Body Shop’s Granite and Soft Black shadows on the eyes to create a soft smokey look, two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black, Physician’s Formula bronzer for face color and Goldie lipgloss in Blossom.

Sunday…. what in the world did I do on Sunday? If I recall correctly, I didn’t leave the house but to go hiking. Wore black yoga pants from Old Navy, a light aqua cre-neck tee from Target and New Balance trainers.

The Idea

I am watching the BBC version of “What Not to Wear” and for years, prior to this series even, I felt that I should write a book about what few pieces should be in every woman’s wardrove, be she a size 2 or s size 22. Be it 2005 or 2010, I think they would still be valid. My list has not faltered since 2000, so I believe this list is pretty standard. I feel I may appear cocky in thinking I can tell women how to dress. What are my qualifications? Several years in retail management, sales and visual merchandising. A lifetime of telling my friends and family what to wear and helping them shop smart (my mom “loans” me out to her friends for twice-yearly shopping trips to update their wardrobes). Lifelong subscriptions to almost every fashion magazine on this planet. Being a Size 2, a Size 16, and everything in between during my adult life (and always looking stylish, attractive and pulled together). Being on a strict budget and still attempting (and succeeding) in looking like a million bucks, and a voracious appetite for books on how to look great, how to color oneself beautiful, and survive on two black skirts.

I am a real person. I am not wealthy, I am not tall, I am not thin. I live in Suburbia, I do not have New York boutiques at my disposal. I have never owned a $300 pair of jeans or a pair of Manolo Blahniks. I shop at the mall and often at Big Box stores like Target. I internet shop on my lunch breaks. I think fashion is a great way to express oneself, but not a reason to go into debt. I believe all women in America can look great. Money, lifestyle and location should not be an issue in the 21st Century.

As a woman who has been on both sides of the fence – slim and able to shop in any store with success, and then heavy and petite and struggling to find stores that will cater to me, I feel as though I can give honest and USEFUL help to those REAL women in America. Those women like me.