Search Results for: label/weekly tips

Weekly Links?

I have toyed many times with doing a Weekly Links post. Going through my feed reader, visiting Facebook and Twitter, listening to NPR on my way home or reading something in a magazine in my orthopedist’s waiting room I find something and think, “I MUST SHARE THIS!”

But life is unpredictable. I can’t guarantee such a post would happen, or be timely. So instead, I share these nuggets on my blog’s Facebook page. What’s cool about using Facebook for links is that a discussion can take place right there below that one link. There’s some pretty intelligent, witty, and opinionated individuals who already follow me on Facebook so a lively conversation could ensue.

While I’m discussing Facebook, the site keeps changing things to force brand pages to buy ads to reach their followers and gain new ones. There’s plenty of drama about this practice and many brands are shutting down their Facebook pages because of it. I’m bringing this up because brands and blogs you have liked on Facebook may not be showing up in your feed. The way to get that content on your feed is to occasionally visit the actual brand page, and like and comment on what is shared. The more you interact with a page, the more you will see from that page. Supposedly, it has to be a minimum of three times in a calendar month, and if you go one month without interacting Facebook decides you’re not interested and that page will no longer show up on your feed.

I’ve chosen Facebook instead of Twitter to share these links because of the ability to comment and discuss with others, because it’s easier to search back and find a link and discussion, and because I have seen that more of you use Facebook. So if you’re on Facebook and have any interest in seeing what links intrigue me, come on over and say hello!

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Ask Allie: Collars and Crews

The ever lovely Natalie emailed me and asked,

“Allie, when I try to wear a crew neck over a collared shirt, I look dumpy. How do you look so un-dumpy? What am I doing wrong?”

My email response:

My secret is… the only two buttons buttoned are the second one (the very top one makes me dumpy) and the bottom one (so the untucked shirttails look straight). The rest is gaping open underneath. I did this the first time with this shirt because it’s now too small, but was amazed at how it improved the look of a shirt under a crew, and now do it all the time with all my shirts whether they fit or not!

So there you have it!  I find this helps since I am so top heavy – somehow the buttoned-up shirt emphasizes all my roundness, but when I let it gape open, my figure shows a bit better.  Of course this works far better with a thick sweater that won’t show the buttons and gaping fabric, but if it’s a thinner crew, I will not button the last button, let the shirt sort of go to the sides of my body and tuck it in so it’s out of the way and more invisible.  Sort of like a dickey with sleeves!

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This Week…

Monday:
- Black cowl neck sweater from Ann Taylor
- Black pencil skirt, also from Ann Taylor
- Black cami from Second Base
- Black tall boots from Ros Homerson
- Gold “twig” bangles and a hammered gold knot necklace (both from… shocker… Ann Taylor).  Wore the necklace under the cowl so it just peeked out a bit on the side
- Hair wavy/curly, slightly smoky eye

Tuesday:
- Teal shawl collar sweater from Banana Republic
- Black cami from Second Base
- Black trousers from Talbots (completely forgot I had these – put away my husband’s dry cleaning and found them)
- Black city boots from David Tate
- Silver and green/blue cuff bracelet and earrings from Anne Koplik

Today:
Well I am right now with wet hair and in my husband’s bathrobe but think I will be wearing my purple cowl neck sweater dress from Banana Republic and my black tall boots!  Better hop to it, I need to leave in less than 30 minutes to be at work on time.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I have an INSANE day at work that starts at 7am and ends around 6 or 7.  Le sigh.  My husband is hoping he can stop by later in the day after my first meeting is finished so he can show off Emerson and maybe take me to a late lunch.  Best present ever!  After a year, we have yet to bring Emerson to the office and my coworkers are constantly on me to meet her.  Anyway, I am going to treat myself on my birthday to wearing jeans – very likely the new ones from Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (man, if they WERE my daughter’s jeans they would hardly fit my hand!).

Winter Weather and Commuting: Style Tips

Wind, rain, snow, and sleet can wreak havoc on a morning commute… and your commuting style. When it comes to dressing for inclement weather I learn so much from my fellow DC office workers and commuters. Some is what not to wear, but more often than not it’s tips and tricks on how to stay protected, comfortable and stylish when the weather outside is frightful. This week is cold, rainy, a bit windy and down-right gross in DC; here’s some things I’ve learned on my walks to work:

Go Monochrome. Walking up the escalator from the Metro, I was behind a woman in all shades of blue and green. Teal tweed wool coat that almost hit her knees, dark jeans tucked into seafoam wellies, indigo leather tote, and a navy umbrella. The monochromatic look made each separate look so cohesive, so purposeful, and like a true ensemble. I am not a fan of wellies  (how often does one deal with water over the ankle when walking to the office anyway? And I am not asking those of you in Seattle and similar climates or those in rural areas…)but with her look… it worked. I could imagine flats or booties in that indigo tote ready to be slipped on once she reached her desk.

The other day, I saw a woman in a black belted wool coat, a raspberry chunky infinity scarf, plum knit beanie, and deep purple wellies. None of the colors were the same, but the consistent color story made the ensemble cohesive and downright stylish. If each piece was a different color the chunky knits and shiny boots would have looked childish; the consistent color gave it polish and professionalism.

Have Neutral Commuting Shoes. I was walking behind three women chatting with one another. They were varying sizes, ages, and personal styles but all had one thing in common – black tights or pants and black flats. I could tell that these were their commuter shoes – they didn’t quite match their outfits, they looked well worn, and pretty comfortable. However, by them being the same color as their legs the shoes weren’t on display and didn’t take away from their outfits. I turned the corner and saw two women waiting for the light to change – one had gray tights and red flats, the other had black pants and yellow patent flats. While their shoes were in better condition than the women in black, their shoes looked just as out of place as a pair of white sneakers. While it’s tempting to add “fun” to a pair of shoes you only wear on your commute, it can really detract from your personal style.

Own a Tiny Umbrella. While many companies claim that they sell travel umbrellas, what it essentially means is a non-Mary Poppins style that has a collapsible shaft. However, some brands sell really small umbrellas that are reliable, but take almost no space in your purse or laptop bag. While you want a durable umbrella that can survive strong gusts, having this little bitty umbrella tucked at the bottom of the bag is a lifesaver for unexpected showers or if you accidentally leave your big umbrella on the train.

Have a Spare Pair of Gloves. Same reason as the umbrella. Especially handy when the bus is late, you have to carry large things home, or you need to hold the rail on the train and you don’t want to catch the flu. While I have gloves in my two work coats, I have lost a glove on the commute, have changed coats last minute, and have many times wished I had a pair tucked in the bottom of my purse or laptop bag.  Since I got another pair for Christmas, I have remedied this situation.

Wear a Hat. While you may be more likely to get Hat Head, a hood flies off in the wind, and the weather will already destroy your hairstyle. Having a hat, be it a cloche, beanie, fedora or otherwise will keep your ears warm, your hair in place, and your body far warmer than a bare head. If you loosely tuck your hair in your hat, you’ll be less likely to get dents in your ‘do.

Wedges Rock. While they give a bit of lift, they are far kinder on the foot when standing, walking, and even dashing across the street to make a light. I see many women who seem to have wedge commuter shoes – they don’t have to worry about cuffing their trousers but have more comfort than heels. Wedges have come back en vogue, be they on pump-like professional shoes or a pair of trainers or TOMS.

Own a Water-resistant Winter Coat. When there’s frigid temperatures, there’s often precipitation, and it’s not always fluffy white flakes. A wet wool coat can be a drag; if you purchase a quilted, waxed, or water-resistant fabric coat, you will be far more comfortable on those days that are both cold and wet. Choosing a style with a unique detail (read this post for great examples) will prevent you from looking as though you just came from the slopes.

Have Matching Bags. I regularly see this woman on the train who has a gray leather purse and gray leather tote. The combination is so lovely and she doesn’t look as hunkered down with multiple bags. Today walking to work, I saw a woman with a red leather purse and a red and navy print microfiber tote for her yoga mat and likely workout clothes. If you need to carry more than one bag, having the two bags match or coordinate really does add polish and cohesion to your ensemble. I wrote about work totes here, but this is something I hadn’t before considered and will be thinking about the next time I am purchasing a tote or everyday purse.

You Never Know Who You Will Bump Into. So you’re wearing a power suit and have a pair of sensible pumps tucked into your bag, yet on your commute you’re wearing a knit cap with earflaps and cat ears, have a hot pink sparkly faux fur snood, and sequined boot liners under your polka-dot wellies. And then you bump into your CEO at Starbucks. Sort of defeats the purpose of your power suit. If your job is a career, work doesn’t end when you walk out of that office door, and if you work in a city you are very likely to bump into a colleague on the train or street corner. Consider this when shopping for accessories and outerwear and have them match the professional style you show in the workplace.

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My Favorite Simple Style Tips

Over the years I have learned a few things from trial and error, many from fellow bloggers, and a heck of a lot from you readers. A few style-based lessons I have learned that have improved my life that I thought may also help you:

Apply Dry Shampoo Before Bedtime. Colored dry shampoo can drip and gets on my hands if I forget and scratch my head and “invisible” dry shampoo makes my brown hair look ashy. One of you readers suggested I try applying dry shampoo before bedtime and let it work its way into my roots while I sleep. Brilliant! I prefer Klorane Dry Shampoo because it has a soft mist and subtle smell, but this also works with cheaper brands like Salon Grafix and Suave. I apply, I don’t really rub in so I go to bed looking as though I have gray roots. However when I wake… awesomeness. Enough time for it to really work in, not leave an ashy look, it’s not as sticky/dry feeling and gives that dry/full look I desire.

Buy Leather a Size Too Small. Leather stretches. Even lined leather stretches. My lined pleated leather skirt I almost returned because I bought a 10 and it was skin tight and I couldn’t fully zip it. So a couple days after work, I came home and changed into it. Made dinner, watched TV, and stretched it out enough to zip. Three nights and the skirt was ready to wear to work. Since then, the skirt has grown even more to where it sort of sits on my hips. Same holds true for leather pants – all my size 10 leather pants (that I shall wear again!) are actually 6 and 8 because they stretch and I broke them in with this method.

Buy Boots a Half Size Too Big. A little more room in the boot means you can wear thick cozy socks without an issue. Come winter, I often wear a pair of knee-high socks and then a pair of thick snuggly anklets over them so I have warm tootsies; the extra space gives my feet plenty of room to wiggle with all the layers.

When Line Drying Pants, Hang Upside Down. Fold the legs seam to seam and hang them in this manner, use those hangers with clips, and the waistband won’t stretch out and you end up with a nice clean crease down each leg.

Store Costume Jewelry in Plastic Bags. Fake gold and silver tarnish easily, and don’t shine back up like the real thing. If you store in Ziploc baggies (or save the plastic bags from purchases and shipments) you can see what you have and also make it look nicer longer. This especially holds true for rhinestones, which can dull over time. So you don’t have a pin-worthy jewelry collection, but at least your collection will last more than one season!

Polish Silver Jewelry with Toothpaste. Works so well, gets the job done fast, and you don’t have to dig around under your kitchen sink for the solution or in your junk drawer for the polishing cloth. Paste, not gel. Rub with your fingers, rinse off, dry with a towel or soft cloth.

Get Out Any Stain with Peroxide and Dawn. Here’s the recipe, and yes, it works like a charm on most any fabric, stains old and new.

Wash Your Makeup Brushes Regularly. When is the last time you washed your makeup brushes? I wash mine once a month with baby shampoo, swirl them on the bottom of the sink to get out the suds, and let dry on their side with the brushes hanging over the edge of the counter or back of toilet so they get good air flow. Try to not get the metal part of the brush (where the bristles are attached) wet, but wash regularly for better pigment, more even application, and fewer breakouts.

Coconut Oil is Awesome. I get allergic reactions to metal from time to time, usually on the back of my neck or on my fingers. This especially happens on my hands, and I’ll end up with raw, red, flaky and burning skin. I have tried cortisone, prescription creams, and the only thing that has really worked is coconut oil. Take off my wedding bands, apply some coconut oil, go to bed and wake up with happy skin. I also use it on my hands and elbows as an intense moisturizer, as well as a hair conditioning treatment. My friend also told me it cleared up her Keratosis Pilaris (those little bumps on the back of upper arms). We use coconut oil in place of butter and most oils at home, so it’s easy to stop in the kitchen and scoop some out for beauty use. Google or Pinterest search coconut oil and you will be amazed by all its health, beauty, pet and home benefits!

Don’t Fold Your Bras. It’s so tempting to fold your bras, especially if they have molded cups, but this stretches them out and changes their shape. Lay them flat in your drawer and they will maintain their shape longer and be less likely to have the wires poke out of the fabric.

Stitch Witchery. It’s the bomb. Tear off a strip, stick it in a fallen hem, can even make it work with your hair iron. Good stuff.

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Blogger Burn-out: How to Get Reinspired for the New Year

The fabulous Kat at Ginger, Adorned recently asked on Twitter what fellow bloggers do to get through burnout. It reminded me that I had started a post on this very subject a few months ago but never did anything with it. Kat inspired me to finish my thoughts, and made me realize that my experience may help those of you who have a blog, site, or similar project.

I’ve been blogging for over seven years, and have experienced writer’s block and burnout more times than I can count. I have almost shuttered Wardrobe Oxygen a couple times, and if you go through my archives can see many times where I just went MIA because I had nothing to offer. Over the years I have gotten better at finding ways to quickly get out of a blogging rut, below are the ways I fight blogging burn-out and writer’s block.

Write for Yourself. When I am in a rut, I open up Word or a journal and just write. Maybe it’s a list of what I’d love in my dream wardrobe, possibly it’s documenting a dream I remember, a rant about a situation at work or in the blogosphere, maybe it’s some random rambling fiction that I make up as I go. Just putting the fingers on the keyboard or the pen to the paper is the important part – making the words. Then I save it to my desktop or close the journal and move on. A day or so later, I re-read what I wrote and often learn a lot from it. Sometimes it turns into a blog post, often it gives me a fresh view of how my mind works and recharges the writing part of my brain. Sometimes it’s just nice to write just for yourself; it’s freeing. You can be wild and creative and sloppy and silly and not even make sense like running down a hill screaming and laughing. We all need a bit of wild and silly and sloppy in our life from time to time.

Check Your Stats. Can’t think of a topic for a post? Hit up your blog stats and see what keywords are bringing people to your site, and what are the posts with the highest traffic. The keywords are great for a new topic, the popular posts give you an opportunity to revisit that topic and add detail or update for the new year. Not only this, seeing how your reader’s mind works helps you know what to deliver to keep them as readers.

Create a Series. Maybe it’s a Friday link-up, possibly it’s a monthly feature on a brand or fellow blogger. Having a series means at least one day a week or month you have guaranteed content. Keep it simple and keep a uniform template to these posts so your readers get that it’s a series and they will look forward to it. Often the content of the series will inspire you in other ways in regard to blog content.

Be Real. While it’s lovely to look at gorgeous photos of gorgeous outfits and collages of drool-worthy goodies, it’s also nice to know about the person behind the blog. Have writer’s block? Why not let your readers know and ask them what they would like to see or read on your site. Why not write a post about your life instead of your wardrobe – it brings depth to why you wear what you wear or why you feature the fashion and style you do on your blog. A great example of this is Alison at The Average Girl’s Guide – she has a “Vent Sesh” series where she steps away from style and vents about something in her life. This provides a great human element to her site, and also engages her readers to also vent and realize they aren’t alone in their personal frustrations.

Do a Review. You don’t have to just review what brands send you in the mail. An honest review that you’re not paid for can be quite refreshing these days in a blogosphere. Maybe your top five beauty products, your experience at a new mall in town, or even a concert or restaurant you recently attended. Even if you always write about fashion or beauty, the occasional review of a book, CD, concert, restaurant, or exhibit can be refreshing and help your readers understand how your mind works.

Poll Your Readers. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are a great way to promote your blog, but they are also a great way to connect with your readers on a more intimate and honest level. Use your social media channels to ask your readers what they want more of. Maybe use Formspring or Survey Monkey to get anonymous feedback or what they like, dislike, and want more of. Accept that you may get negative feedback, but negative feedback can push you to improve your blog and toughen your skin. Such feedback can really help you step back and assess yourself, your blog, and its future as well as inspire you to write.  I did an anonymous survey when I changed the direction of this blog a few years ago and the feedback was invaluable; some a bit painful, some brought happy tears, all of it inspiring.

Step Away from Social Media. I sometimes take a Twitter break so that I can be a better blogger. Spending a lot of time with fellow bloggers can get you competitive, make you doubt your direction or ability, and get you frustrated. By taking a vacation from social media (as well as your blogroll) you can get back to the person you were when you started the blog. Returning to writing for passion instead of fame can quickly bring back your blogging mojo and the best way I have found is to distance myself for a short bit from my peers.

Start, Stop, and Save. I must have a couple dozen half-written posts on my computer. I start, I lose track, I save and close it. Sometimes I come back in a week when I have inspiration, sometimes it’s even a year. Heck, this post started six months ago, I was re-inspired by Kat, went back to it, closed it and came back a couple days later. You don’t have to write everything in one sitting, sometimes the best inspiration comes after letting an idea marinate for a bit.

Talk About It. I remember a few months after having Emerson I was burned out. Fried to a crisp. I had no desire to blog any more, no time, nothing. I had a baby blog, my personal style blog, my fashion advice blog and I just wanted to delete all of them and run screaming from my laptop. At the time I was part of a monthly women’s circle and that month we met at my house. We were drinking wine and chatting about life and I shared my frustrations with them. One suggested I pare down, concentrate on just one, maybe merge them together. I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that, and within a month I had merged the two fashion blogs and dropped being a proper baby blogger. Gosh, it was so freeing, and it brought back my enthusiasm for the craft. I also have a group of amazing fellow bloggers I consider friends; they (especially my dear friend Alison) are there for Gchat, an email, a drink after work to vent about blogging, to discuss the technical aspects, and to reinspire. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or frustrations, your loved ones or a fellow blogger may know just the thing to get you back on track!

And now I ask you, what do you do to stop writer’s block or get over blogger burn out?

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My Savvy Shopping Tips…

I am often asked how I can afford all I purchase, and how I am able to maintain a
wardrobe without giung into debt. Well here’s a few of the things I do when shopping (most of my shopping is done online).

1. Credit card debt won’t help you… but credit cards occasionally will. I have made a concerted effort the past couple of years to get out of credit card debt. If there isn’t cash in my checking account, there isn’t a garment that will be purchased. Credit cards are too easy, you can say, “oh I’ll pay it off with my next paycheck,” but then you forget and interest starts racking up. To avoid temptation, I have gotten rid of most of my credit cards.

Most, but not all.

Some credit cards are beneficial, if you take care of the accounts. Often, a store card has a lot of perks for the user; if you shop at that company regularly it may be in your best interest to have a credit card with them. For example, I have a Banana Republic credit card. Banana Republic offers its Luxe cardholders (I have had the card for over a decade so I am Luxe) free shipping at Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy online. Many promotional emails are sent only to cardholders, and I receive coupons in the mail almost monthly. When I make a purchase on my Banana Republic card, I immediately head to my checking account’s online banking and write a check for the exact amount I spent. No interest is accrued, yet I still rack up points towards savings rewards with the company. This concept also works for major credit cards that help you rack up miles or points.

2. Google it. There are two ways that Google can save you money. First, before you enter your shopping cart at an online retailer, Google the retailer’s name and something like, “promotional code,” “discount,” or “coupon.” Usually within your first three clicks you will find out whether there are any available discounts for that retailer. Nine times out of ten, this five-minute Internet search saves me shipping costs, and sometimes gets me free gifts with purchase or even 25% off my entire order.

Google also helps when trying to find the lowest price. Say you fell in love with a pair of Franco Sartos at Nordstrom. You tried them on, they fit great and look even better. Before dropping dough on these shoes, get the style name and head to your computer. Googling the brand and style name of the shoe will help you find the lowest-price retailer, or at least a company that offers free shipping and returns or No Final Sale (always great if what you believe to be comfy shoes end up tearing your heel in half by lunchtime).

3. Shop through another site. I personally am loving Ebates, where in just one month I have made over $10 cash for normal online shopping. Ebates is a free service that works with hundreds of online retailers – get to your favorite company through the Ebates Web site and you will get back a percentage of your purchase in cash.

There are many other sites that do this; one of my best friends uses Upromise for this to help pay off her student loans, and many love Points.com to collect points toward flights and hotel stays.

4. Check eBay. I never purchase a new bag at full price. Purse owners are often fickle, getting a new one and tiring of it a month later. By checking eBay for the brand and style name or number of a bag I am coveting, I can always find a few sellers offering new or gently used versions of the bag at major discounts. This spring I bought a bag I was drooling over at Banana Republic for 50% off on eBay. Bag came in mint condition, just sans price tag. Two years ago, I purchased a different bag through eBay and got it 60% off the current retail price, with the tags still attached and the dust cover.

I also do this with style names and brands I know. Maggy London, Banana Republic and Gap dresses look great on me; I search eBay by brand name and then size and can often find last year’s styles in mint condition (often with tags still attached) or this year’s style new or gently used for a great price. If you know what you want and shop with a reliable seller, it makes sense to first check eBay.

5. Make a list and check it twice. You go to a Web site to purchase jeans and 30 minutes later, your total is for over $1200 and not a speck of denim is in your shopping cart. Cresting a list of what you need each season will help you stay on track, benefit your budget, and make dressing easier each day. Who need another printed top when you don’t have the proper trousers or skirt to pair with it? Do you homework – read magazines, visit blogs, watch RV and get a sense of what is in style this season and what appeals to you. Then narrow down that list to what will flatter your frame and work with your lifestyle. Make a list and put it in your wallet or purse so it is with you every time you shop. Tell yourself you won’t buy anything else until you acquire these essentials. Items like new bras, jeans, swimwear and the perfect black pants are hard to find, and the search can be utter torture. It’s very tempting to give up and buy a great purse or little frock. Problem is come Monday you will be crying in front of your closet because you have nothing to wear. So stick to your list and you’ll save and be more stylish!

Week Recap

I have been loving the library at work. We have a couple tall bookcases in the kitchen on my floor of the office – coworkers drop off books they no longer want, take what looks interesting, bring it back when finished. Sometimes I know who dropped the books (like a coworker I think is fab came in last week with a big shopping bag and I couldn’t wait to see her haul), some I wonder (hrm, who loves Debbie Macomber so much that there’s freaking 20 of her books there? ), and sometimes there’s a clue (plane flight ticket stub from the Deputy Director, receipt from a bookstore near one of the other offices, etc.). I think this collection is extra-special to me because I know a coworker read it, and I work with an amazing group of intelligent, curious, open-minded, well-traveled and well-read folks.

I recently finished, I Was Told There’s Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Crosely often writes for the NYT, and this book is a collection of essays about her life. Think Sedaris, but instead it’s a Vegetarian Jewish recent college grad. Some of her pieces I found to be terrible cliché, others were well written, funny, and made me want to write more. Not a must-read at all, but I found it inspiration to get back to my journal writing and it was excellent Metro Commute reading (can stop when transferring trains or when at destination without feeling major pains of regret and longing).

Right now I am reading Mister Posterior and the Genius Child by Emily Jenkins. This story takes place from the point of view of an eight-year-old girl in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The more I read, the more I am interested in knowing how this story ends. I am on page 261, it ends on page 295 so I will be finished with the book before I finish my evening commute. I think the reason I like the book so well is that it really does feel like the voice of a child that age. I could see myself thinking and doing the same things at that age. The child isn’t horribly abused, burdened, wide beyond her years like children who are the voice in many novels. It’s hard to review for I am at a point where I really have no clue how this book will end. I have enjoyed the ride so far…

This weekend my husband and I saw the movie Buddy. It’s a Norwegian film with subtitles, and is currently available through the Sundance Channel on Comcast OnDemand. The protagonist Kristoffer (played by the uber cute Nicolai Cleve Broch – seriously Google Images him) is utterly charming, and we found this movie to be a great date movie that both hub and wife enjoyed.

Saturday night we went to my sister’s for dinner. She steamed clams, had sautéed some green (tasted and looked a bit like bok choy to me – oh the adventures of farmers market shopping!), crusty bread, wine, and these adorable macaroni and cheese cupcakes. We returned the favor last night when my husband slow cooked a roast from the farmer’s market on the grill and paired it with biscuits and peas. I am so happy that she lives so close that we can have family dinners like this on a regular basis.

Sunday I volunteered at my community’s baby and kid swap. What the event is, bring your old baby and kid stuff (clothes, shoes, toys, books, nursing equipment, maternity clothes, etc.) and take what you need. Whatever is left over at the end of the event is donated to charity. We have this event a couple times a year and I always volunteer because I think it is such a wonderful act. This time, we had a couple tables set up at the community farmers market. A lot of people who didn’t donate came by and were shocked we were giving away things for free. A couple families were so excited, one woman with four children was tearing up and wanted to give a donation. I said her contribution was having me lug less stuff to a thrift store at the end of the day. I could see the clothes her kids were wearing seemed very worn and the older kids had pants and coats that were too short.

I brought a lot of clothes and shoes that Emerson had outgrown and weren’t of sentimental value and not in any condition that I could sell on eBay (currently selling some of her like-new shoes on there to make fundage for new pairs). Lots of very nice stuff, all in good condition. In turn, I got some fantastic stuff for E – a pair of lavender snowpants, a couple cute dress/legging combos and some tops in 2T and 3T, two like-new fleece sleepers in 2T (she is currently wearing 18-24), a pair of gently worn Stride Rite Mary Janes, a rashguard shirt for this summer, a Vimse Imse swim diaper, and two wooden puzzle toys. My portion post-swap I gave to my neighbor who works at a DC public school – she says parents come and can’t even afford diapers for their babies or shoes for their school-aged children. She was thrilled for the three lawn & leaf bags of leftovers, and I was thrilled to know they were going to people who will appreciate them.

I won tickets to see Jonsi in concert at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday night. If anyone is interested, there are still tickets available for that night. I think it will be a fun show!

Tomorrow I am also meeting with a woman who is doing a project about fashion blogging, sponsored by Microsoft Research. Kinda cool, I am looking forward to it and reading the results once she is finished. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thursday I have the opportunity to check out the new Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio in Rockville, Maryland. They are having a press event that morning and the Grand Opening is the next day. I will be sure to come back and report all about it!

I can’t believe we’re already neck-deep into November. I don’t even want to THINK about Christmas until I have had my fill of Thanksgiving turkey (yeah, decided, well told my mom I wouldn’t go back to vegetarian or pescatarian until after the holidays) but it’s hard not to. I have already gotten email requests from my mom for my Christmas list, and everyone wants to know what Emerson needs. We’ve decided to get Emerson a play kitchen because she is really loving her little pots and pans and pretends to drink tea all the time. I have decided to get the Kidkraft Retro kitchen because it’s not too gaudy and will fit in the corner of our dining room where we can see her from the living room or the kitchen. My mom has already bought her some new pots and pans and I have been scoping out fake food kits that don’t include stuff like hamburgers and bacon.

I have already requested off the time between Christmas and New Years but don’t think we’ll have the money to go anywhere. However after this very busy and chaotic year, it will be nice to have a Staycation with my lovely family. And if it snows, well Emerson is now prepared with her new-ish lavender snow pants!

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!

End of Week

my wardrobe todaymy wardrobe today So I never got to Target to get a new mirror. I know the quality of these full-length shots suck… hopefully I can remedy the situation this week.

This is me on Wednesday. Blue print matte jersey wrap dress from Ann Taylor, red patent leather t-strap sandals from Sofft.

On Thursday, I wore my cobalt and gold print jersey top from Nordstrom with black ponte trousers from Old Navy.

Friday I wore Essential jeans, white ribbed tank and my gray and yellow striped cashmere blend cardigan – all from Gap.

Friday was me and my husband’s Five Year anniversary. He sent me a dozen roses to work which was so sweet and nice after such long stressful weeks. I actually got off work early and we headed to our favorite sushi restaurant for their Happy Hour. We picked up Emerson from my mom’s and headed home. My husband bought a bottle of port because he read that is what you are supposed to drink for five years. We each had a glass with some awesome super dark chocolate and watched Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Emerson got sleepy so we put her to bed, had ourselves a lovely bubble bath in our newish bathroom, another glass of port and talked for hours. Then early to bed. I think it was the most romantic and lovely anniversary we have had since getting married. Who says you can’t have romance with a kid? :)

Rest of the Week…


I have been dreadful with the picture taking lately, and do apologize. this has been a very busy couple of weeks, the mornings jam-packed with getting chores completed because the evenings are full with activities. I end up halfway at work before I realized that I forgot to take my photo. Also we are doing some rearranging around the house and the room with the mirror seems to be the drop-off point for all junk, making it hard to take a picture without looking as though i live in a dumpster.

So this is… Wednesday? I think so… Black dress from Velvet Torch, black ribbed tank with lace trim from Gap, silver chain from a Renaissance Festival, silver pocket watch on chain from Ann Taylor Loft, black open-weave peep-toe pumps from Steve Madden, silver hoops and cuff bracelet.

Hair is washed and conditioned, FrizzEase Dream Curls applied and allowed to air dry, then curled a few pieces with the curling iron, and a bit of Jonathan Dirt to keep it piecey.

Makeup is L’Oreal true Match foundation in C3, Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on the apples of my cheeks, The Body Shop’s Slate shadow on lids and Soft Black in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled and DiorShow Unlimited mascara in black applied to both sets of lashes. Revlon LipGlide Sheer in Sheer Burgundy on lips.

I think Friday I wore my black merino v-neck from Ann Taylor and my patch-pocket cotton jeans from Gap Outlet. But I can’t fully recall. I promise to be better with the pictures this week!

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!

Sunday:
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!

Saturday:
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.

Friday:
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.

Thursday:
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:
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:
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…

Tuesday
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
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.

Thursday
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.

Friday
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.

Saturday
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!

Ask Allie: Tips on Wearing and Buying Prints

I find prints so much more appealing than solids. If a shirt is offered in black, red and floral, I’ll inevitably get the floral. But then I find I love individual pieces but have a hard time combining them. So I just do the whole “printed dress and cardigan” or “printed shirt and jeans” thing.

I’ve been buying more solids to build my basic wardrobe but find too much solid action is just not me! Do you have some advice for print-a-holics like me? How can we get more wardrobe mileage out of prints? What are some good rules of thumb for buying prints?

I know you read my blog regularly, and you know I don’t promote prints because you can’t get as much mileage out of them. They show age faster, they are more memorable, they don’t dress up and down as easily… but they really are a ton of fun. Just mentioning that you mix prints shows that you have a pretty defined personal style, and I think a person who knows herself, her lifestyle, and her personal style can totally rock prints.

Again, let me say I don’t suggest prints if you are starting to build a core wardrobe or trying to simplify your closet and purchase a few quality pieces to span many years. But prints ROCK when you want to show your personality and add interest to a closet of staples. I love me some prints, and if you look in my closet you will find many of them. Here’s some tips for buying prints:

Find a Neutral Print and Make it Your Signature
Yes, prints can be a neutral. Leopard print, stripes, your family tartan, or something subtle like houndstooth or tweed. I personally love leopard print because it mixes both black and brown and is accented so nicely with the bright jewel tones I adore. I wear leopard print so often, it has become a neutral for me – a shoe to wear when nothing else seems quite right, a belt when a solid seems too harsh, a scarf when an ensemble is too severe, a skirt when the sky is blue (seriously, I could own a dozen leopard print skirts and still desire more). I also do this with stripes – I seriously have an entire drawer of striped tops because I find them so versatile and more interesting than a solid tee or tank (and they do look quite spectacular with leopard print!).

Be it Black Watch or polka dots, once you have a certain type of print that is your signature, it becomes easier to mix it with other prints. You become so comfortable in that print you end up wearing it like a neutral, and it comes across as such. Just as one may find unexpectedly beautiful combinations with olive or camel, you will find it easier to mix Breton stripes with cabbage roses than another because you know the print so intimately. Not only that, those around you will know that print is your signature and find it to be a bit of a neutral, and your choices of pairings more interesting and less like dressing in the dark.

Mix Big with Small
Cabbage roses with a tiny dots looks adorakable, cabbage roses with giant polka dots can veer on clown costume territory. I have found much success in mixing a bold and large print with a smaller, more subtle one. I have a pair of skinny jeans with subtle polka dots that I love mixing with printed tops. The jeans are more interesting than a solid and I believe give a better backdrop to a large striped jacket or Ikat-print blouse. A small dot, subtly colored stripes, and watercolor prints are great partners to bolder and bigger patterns.

Have an Underlying Color Theme
I’m not saying you should pair pink gingham with pink paisley and pull it together with a pink polka-dotted scarf. The pairing should be more subtle – a navy paisley dress with a hint of teal cinched with a teal plaid fabric belt. An orange, purple, brown, and olive Ikat print skirt paired with a purple snakeskin blouse. I like to pick the least obvious color in a print and use that to choose accessories or contrast patterns – it makes people analyze the combination more closely and adds depth and thought to an ensemble.

Accessorize
A plaid skirt with a floral blouse can make you look as though you dressed in the dark, but if you pull it together with a smart belt or a fabulous pair of shoes, it makes the combination more purposeful. I have a ton of skinny belts in candy colors just for this reason, and I find adding a third print with my shoes (I own six different pairs of leopard-print shoes for this very reason) makes pattern mixing look more cohesive.

Choose Classics
There are some prints that never go out of vogue. Leopard print, Breton stripes, polka-dots in a classic color combination and size. Mirror prints, Ikats, photo prints and such will come in and out of favor. Extend their life by mixing with classic prints, and veer towards classic prints to have pieces that can be staples for more than a season or two.

Befriend a Tailor
to be a successful print-a-holic, it is imperative to have good fit. Too small or too large is far more obvious when you have a garment screaming for attention. A well-fitting garment is also a sign of purposeful styling, which makes prints more stylish and understood.

Along these lines, have silhouettes that are as signature as your prints. When you show up one day in skinny jeans and a tailored blazer, the next day in a circle skirt and twinset, and the day after in distressed boyfriend jeans and a stretched out band tee shirt the prints may not make as much sense. Own your prints, and choose them in silhouettes that flatter them and you. Always buy for the full package – the fit, the cut, the relevance to your personal style as well as the awesome pattern.

Go Big or Go Home
If you’re going to be known for your prints, do them well. No shrinking violets, have your closet full of bold patterns that demand attention. A bright blue print will make more of a purposeful statement than one in a pale cornflower hue, black and white dots make more of an impression than those same circles on a tan ground. When you look at fashion icons who rock patterns on a regular basis, they are wearing jewel tones, strong patterns, and bold contrasts. Own your personal style and wear it with confidence!

Collage made with Polyvore.

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End of Week Recap

You guys know I adore Ann Taylor LOFT clothing, well they now know it too! Check me out on LOFT’s Facebook page and be sure to check out the other fabulous bloggers they have featured (and if you leave a comment it would be very lovely…). There will be more photos in the future of me and other bloggers, so check back in a couple of weeks!

While we’re discussing LOFT, they currently have 30% off everything in their stores and online (use code GOFORIT)! I found the selection of sizes online to be a bit lacking, but ordered some jeans and a sweater and am crossing my fingers that I have style success. My last order with them was about 70% success, and 30% in a bag ready to be returned this weekend, however I have had more success with them this season than I have had in years. Good job LOFT in having more consistent sizing and achieving on-trend fashion with a usually budget-friendly pricetag.

And while we are discussing sales, Lands End Canvas is currently having an additional 20% off all their sale merchandise and free shipping on orders over $50! Use Promotion Code CANVASPLUS20 and PIN 2050.

My cousin Samara is in college, studying Fashion Design. She is tres stylish, and also tres talented! She just started a brand of adorable wrap charm bracelets called Ribbonwood by Samara. Check out her Facebook page for more pictures of the beauties and to find out how to score yourself one. I can totally see this as a staple in my summer wardrobe with sundresses and sandals!

I thought I had been journaling my daily outfit a long time, but this blogger has me beat! Seven years and counting, though I don’t think there is a book deal yet… enjoy!

It has been an interest week for Internet news – if you follow me on Twitter you know my opinion on Marie Claire’s choice to run that blog post by Maura Kelly, what I think of sides like Weardrobe and Chictopia, and the baby who died due to Farmville. I really feel that every blogger in the world has written enough on the subject (some because they really have strong feelings, others in a sad attempt for hits and SEO) that I don’t need to.

Weight Watchers has been a bit of a bust the past two weeks – work has been utterly insane (that morning I decided to shower and lay out my clothes the night before and instead woke at 4:15 but it was still painful when that alarm went off), and I have missed two weeks of meetings because of late days in the office. I don’t own a scale (and never will – I find a scale causes me to obsess over a number and not health). I have made a promise to myself to get back on track and go to my meeting next week no matter what.

It’s Halloween weekend, what are your plans? Have a great costume set up? We plan on taking Emerson Trick or Treating Sunday, and Saturday night we’re going to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show (and yes, we had this planned far in advance of this week’s Glee episode)! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

End of Last Week

Sorry I have been missing from here. Life has been pretty hectic to put it mildly. Work is sooo busy, living with three dogs is not the same as living with one, there have been non-work activities taking place… etc.

So anyway, here’s outfits from Thursday and Friday last week…

Thursday:

Attire:
Talbots – Orange and brown print matte jersey dress
Sofft – Brown suede Mary Janes
J. Crew – Gold necklace
Ralph Lauren – Gold bangles
Ann Taylor – Gold hoops

Hair & Makeup:
(no pic of hair and makeup)
Hair washed and conditioned night before
Matrix Curl.Life Contouring Milk
Air dry overnight
Next morning, large sections in curling iron

Typical makeup with the Revlon ColorStay shadow quad (made it a daytime version of smoky eye), Benefit lipstick in Bouquet Dive, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife and my Cover Girl LashBlast mascara.

Friday:

Attire:
Banana Republic – Black cashmere puff sleeve sweater, black jersey cami underneath
Old Navy – Black ponte trousers
Ann Taylor – Black stretchy belt with patent leather buckle
David Tate – Black leather city boots
Silver hoops and cuff

Hair:
Next day, cleaned up a bit with curling iron in sections and finger-combed

Beauty:
L’Oreal – True Match foundation in C3
Stila – Illuminated Tinted Moisturizer (the two mixed togther), Lip Glaze in Fruit Cake
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty – Shadow palette for Brown Eyes

Your Challenge This Week

Your challenge – until Memorial Day (we’re talking only 12 days, 10 if you exclude today and the 26th) be good to yourself and your fellow woman. What do I mean?

1. Accept that you are a woman, not a moving mannequin. Of COURSE you will have some softness, bumps and lumps in various places. Moaning over them, cursing them and tugging at them doesn’t make them disappear and just ruins your mood, which affect your appearance. Every time you are ready to scowl at your reflection, stop in your tracks and find something you are happy about. Fabulous pedicure? Feminine ankles? Stop-in-your-tracks lashes? Maybe you are starting to see results from your new gym membership, or are always told you have the most infectious smile. Those who have high self esteem are seen as being more attractive to others – for a week allow yourself to accept and heck… even LOVE yourself and see how reactions will change!

2. Go a week without the rags. Can you do it, a week without TMZ, Perez, InTouch and OK!? A week without guessing who’s cellulite is being pictured on the front of the Inquirer, and what It Girl was caught sans makeup (or panties) the day before. Why do we find such entertainment in finding fellow women not look their best? It doesn’t help our appearance, or our soul. You may find a week without the gossip sites and rags may actually make you feel better about yourself.

3. Before you judge, try to place yourself in her shoes. “Omigod, did you see what SHE WAS WEARING?” “That woman should NOT be wearing that with HER figure.” “What a fat-ass, her skin is disgusting, wow she looks so old for her age!” How many times have you caught yourself whispering something similar to your friend (or whispering it to yourself)? Often times, those we judge we judge unfairly. Possibly that woman has a medical condition, is pregnant, just gave birth, is going through a nasty divorce, is cramming for The Bar, had a death in the family, had her house burn down and is wearing donated clothes… gosh the reasons could be endless and extreme. Thing is, we are so harsh on our fellow woman without stopping to wonder WHY, or to offer assistance. Have an acquaintance who can’t style her way out of a paper bag? Instead of gossiping about her tapered chinos over mojitos with your friends, offer a makeover day with a shopping trip (or a shop in her closet day). See a stranger at the fitting room admiring her reflection while you know that dress does nothing for her hips? Instead of sneering or giggling, why not gently offer her your opinion and an alternative choice?

No woman WANTS to look unflattering, she usually doesn’t have a clue how to change her style or get out from under her personal woes. Try to get into her shoes and think, if you were she, what would you like to hear or what would you need at that moment? You never know when karma will come back and assist you during a time of need.

One week of being considerate and compassionate to your fellow woman, and to your self. Amazing how one week can totally change your outlook on life and alter your priorities. Start the summer off great by detoxing your mindset. I challenge all of you to try this and come back and let me know how it went!

Morning-Saving Tips… AKA How to Get to Work on Time

We’ve all been there… we look at the clock and realize we are 10 minutes late and still have sopping wet hair and our bathrobe on. As a blogger who posts her outfit daily for all to see, has a dog, a decent commute for work and a ton or responsibilities that pile up each day, I have worked hard to streamline my morning routine so I can get to work on time and still be polished and prepared. Here’s a few tips:

1. Don’t hit the snooze button. I know it is sooo tempting, a few more minutes under that comforter all snuggly and cozy. But really think of what you could be accomplishing in those extra nine minutes. Also hearing your alarm TWICE in one morning makes anyone a twinge more grumpy.

2. Be realistic with your tasks. This coming Monday, really see how long it takes for you to feed the cat, take the dog for a walk around the block, put out the recycling, pack the lunches. Also be realistic with what HAS to be done in the AM, and what could be done at a different time of day. When you over-schedule your morning, you set yourself up for failure. Consider packing lunches at night, laying out your clothing, even showering before bed.

3. Keep the TV off. If you want to hear the news, listen to the radio. When you have the TV on, you are more likely to sit down “for just a minute” and wait to leave the house or hop in the shower until a commercial break.

4. Invest in your hair. If you have a great cut and color, you will spend less time cursing your mane and torturing it under hot tools. I have difficult hair – thin but lots of it, not fully wavy but not straight and it seems to never curl in the front and curl too much in the back. And the cowlick? But getting my hair properly cut, trimmed every 6-8 weeks and my color maintained has made hair styling each morning almost product-free and a breeze. It really is possible to get a good cut for ALL hair types. It may not be what the It Girl of the week is wearing, but if it is flattering to your face and hair, then it is stylish.

5. Gut your closet. Take out all your out-of-season pieces, hide in the back the things you don’t wear on a regular basis (interview suits, cocktail dresses) and leave in the forefront only that which fits, is clean, pressed, and looks good when on your body. Donate that which depresses you, doesn’t fit quite right or is not in optimum condition. Remove any item that requires repair and don’t let it back in the closet until it is fixed. Now after this if you only have one pair of pants hanging there… well heck it’s going to be much easier to dress in the morning! Less options means less time to fuss over what to put together. It is far better to own one pair of black pants that fit like a dream and wear them every day, than to have a closet full of ill-fitting, stained and ugly trousers that make you wince each time you catch your reflection.

6. Do your laundry. Often times we fret over what to wear because what we want to wear is balled up at the bottom of the hamper. You should be doing laundry at least once a week. If you only have time (or the quarters) for one load, stop and think about your coming week and what takes precedence – is it jeans and tees for casual events, or is it sweaters and trousers for work? I often put a load in the washer before I go to bed, in the morning throw it in the dryer while the dog is doing his thing in the yard and then fold and put away when I get home from work (this works best for things like towels and workout clothes that can handle being a bit wrinkled).

7. Save the beauty treatments for the weekend. You don’t need to scrub, steam, mask and bleach every day; find a day (or evening) that isn’t the AM to get these things done. My weekday shower consists of shampooing, conditioning, leaving it in as I wash my body, do a quick swipe with the razor to the underarms (and anywhere else if I am wearing a dress or have a special event), rinse hair and go. I wash my face at night, I do the fancy shaving and the scrubbing and the foot polishing on weekends. If your hair, face or skin require special treatment, consider switching your showers or routine to evening.

8. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Your mother probably said this to you multiple times as you grew up, but if you took the time to put things back after using them, you would spend less time later cleaning up your mess. Same holds true for your morning routine – take the time to put back your brush, hang up your bathrobe, store away your cosmetics and you will spend less time searching for something or digging through piles to find what you need. If your moisturizer, your contact lens solution, your deodorant, your shoes, your earrings are always in the same place, you can easily assembly-line through getting ready each day.

9. Keep it simple, stupid. Who needs three concealers, a mattifier, a primer, a foundation, powder, highlighter, four shades of shadow for a weekday? On a day when you have time, play with making a simpler face uniform (hopefully you have started to make a bit of a wardrobe uniform based on previous posts). There are so many new two-in-one products on the market that you may be able to consolidate. For me, I found a powder foundation that does triple duty for all day wear, good coverage and shine control and a shadow quad of long-wearing colors that go great with my entire wardrobe and look great for day wear.

10. Make time for breakfast. Even if it’s a piece of toast as you head out the door, eat something. You may not be hungry now, but you will be ravenous later and it will ruin your whole day, your appetite, your diet, your metabolism and your mental clarity. Instant oatmeal, a whole wheat tortilla with some cheese and leftover meat or veggies from last night’s dinner (fold and cook for like 40 seconds) is a great dine-and-dash solution. Get your breakfast to be a routine and it won’t end up being left out due to lack of time.

Tuesday’s Tip – Quick Tips to Look and Feel Great This Summer

1. Replace your facial moisturizer with a lighter weight or oil free version. Your skin doesn’t require as much nourishment in the hot and humid months. This change will make your makeup apply and last better and help keep your skin clear. Of course your moisturizer should have at least an SPF of 15!

2. Give the flat iron a break. In all the magazines models are sporting beachy waves. This is easy for most types of hair, just scrunch in some styling product, let the hair air dry or use a diffuser. This will give your hair a holiday, you will look hip and you won’t stress out about the humidity causing havoc on your ‘do. There are many products out there geared towards achieving “beachy waves,” often containing real sea salt water or synthetic versions. Try it out, using a curling or flat iron for any unruly parts. Your hair will thank you.

3. Add salmon to your diet at least once a week (or if you are a vegetarian try to fit flaxseed and flaxseed oil into your diet – great for salads!). Salmon and flaxseeds have large percentages of Omega-3 fatty acids. After three weeks you’ll see a difference in your skin tone and texture. Feel your elbows – you won’t recognize them, they will be so much softer. And don’t be surprised if someone says you seem to be glowing, your skin will feel good from the inside out!

4. Buy a new pair of sunglasses. Even if it’s a pair under $20 from the kiosk in the mall, if you like them, you’re more likely to wear them. The more you wear sunglasses, the longer you keep crows feet at bay. Think about it, when you go out in the sun without shades you squint, and squinting does nothing but crease the skin. That plus the sun’s ability to break down the skin’s elasticity can do some severe damage. While protecting your youthful appearance, you are also protecting your eyesight. Seems worth that $20, huh?

5. Stay refreshed with a spritz. Hot weather and sweat can make you feel sticky and gross in no time. Companies like Evian and The Body Shop sell face spritzers of water or lightweight moisturizers that quickly perk you up, freshen you without ruining your makeup. I keep The Body Shop’s Vitamin E mist in my purse and at my office desk – it’s light rosewater scent is calming and the mist perks me up, hydrates my face and doesn’t make me feel greasy. For an extra hot weather pick-me-up, place the spritzer in the fridge – what a welcome treat at the end of a hot day!

6. Make sunscreen more appealing. We all know we should use sunscreen, but it’s such a hassle. It’s sticky, it’s hard to rub in and how the heck are we supped to properly coat the backs of our knees and our shoulders? Several companies (I like Coppertone) have come out with aerosol sunscreens that don’t need to be rubbed in. The scent is mild, the texture is light and easily absorbed and you can easily coat your whole body without assistance or a Charley horse.

7. Lighten up your fragrance. That lovely floral or musk can be a bit too heavy in the summer when your skinh is hotter. The scent gos from being mysterious to overpowering. Consider switching to a body spray. The allover scent is light enough to reapply before a night out but heavy enough to leave a fresh scent and feeling all day. Bath and Body Works has several to choose from, I enjoy their “Breathe” collection. Breathe Energy has a grassy crisp scent that smells clean, Breathe Delight smells like orange blossoms and is delicate and juicy and not too candy-smelling or strong.

8. Drop the foundation. Even if you are dedicated with the sunscreen, your skin will get a touch of color this season. That and the humidity in the air will help your skin retain a nice glow. Consider using just concealer, or switch from a heavy foundation to a sheer tinted moisturizer. Your skin needs to breathe, and foundation doesn’t stay put when you sweat anyway. Why fight nature? Instead try a bronzing powder to keep shine at bay and provide coverage and color.

9. Flavor that water. Having a hard time achieving the recommended eight glasses of water a day? Why not make it more appealing. Companies like Crystal Light have created individual packets to flavor a bottle of water. Emergen C is a product with the RDA of Vitamin C as well as many other nutrients; it too comes in individual packets. Even a small drop of lemon or lime juice in a tall glass of water will give it a bit of zing that will keep the water from being boring. Drinking plenty of water is even more important come summer, so drink up!

10. Watch your posture. Come summer we don’t have bulky sweaters and coats to cover our figure. The quickest figure fixer is standing and sitting up straight. Use a small pillow or a rolled up towel in the car or at your desk chair to help you sit upright; placed in the small of your back it will force your spine to stand at attention. While standing in line, be aware of your posture. Pull back and down your shoulders, pull your chin away from your neck. And smile! It takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown, and we know the more facial muscles you use, the quicker the wrinkles appear! Stand tall and smile and you will look five pounds thinner and five years younger!

The Artist’s Way: Week 5 Recap/Starting Week 6

I must say, starting The Artist’s Way has messed with my head a bit. I was really doubting myself, feeling as though I was holding myself back, not accomplishing what I was capable of. And this week, my Morning Pages got me back on track. Comparing myself to fellow bloggers I feel as though I am not accomplishing all I could, but my Morning Pages reminded me that I may not have the same lifestyle, the same age, the same needs, the same goals as others. I am putting this pressure on myself not for my personal growth, but to be in some sort of invisible competition with others. And so I gave myself permission to lighten the hell up.

Friday I was a different person. Even Karl said that I got my “BAMF-ness back.” It literally felt as though a cloud was lifted. That morning I did my Morning Pages and write the ten ways I am mean to myself, I wrote how I put too much pressure on myself to prove to others that I am smart, creative, successful. And it’s true, I’m a 39 year old adult with a family, a career, this blog. I’m happy with who I am, why am I torturing myself on what I feel I SHOULD be versus what I am right now? It’s as though the past few weeks of The Artist’s Way has brought up all my teenaged insecurities. But as the exercise for writing the ten ways I am mean to myself states, making the negative explicit helps us to exorcise it.

Week 6: Recovering a Sense of Abundance
One positive thing about modern blogging is that you see how life will give you the money to be creative. I’ve seen that when I am stuck creatively, I receive fewer opportunities with the blog or have the wrong types sent my way. I was amazed this past Friday how I woke with a new outlook, felt free, and my inbox all day contained cool opportunities, emails from readers that were inspiring and positive, replies to old emails that kept me in the right frame of mind. As soon as I read the beginning of this week’s chapter I knew that Cameron was right.

We act like it’s God’s fault we didn’t go to Europe, take that painting class, go on that photo shoot.

I’ve never felt this way. I have always known that life/God/whatever provides the opportunities, but we are the ones who decide whether to take them. I have always felt that if I am in a bad situation, I am there by my own accord, and I am the one to get myself out. I read this section of this week’s chapter and thought immediately of this blog. This blog became a form of income right when we as a family needed it to achieve our life goals. It offers just enough to cover our bills so Karl can stay home with Emerson, so I don’t have to search for a different job that may pay more but may expect more time and emotional stress, so we can have a life where we can accomplish some dreams and goals.

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do.

The older I get and the longer I blog the more I realize I don’t want to be a full time blogger. I don’t want to be on TV, I don’t want to be hosting events every month, I don’t like the pressure of figuring out how to style gifted items or photographing every life event in a creative manner. I like being able to do this creative outlet on my terms, being able to say no, being able to unplug every so often. What I really want to do is spend more time with my family, write more but write what I enjoy not what I am contracted to write, travel, make my house a warm and welcoming space for us and our loved ones. When I think about what I want… fashion is low on the list. Being famous is even lower.

Authentic Luxury

When I did The Artist’s Way in 2006 I felt as though my creativity was stifled. I bought a box of 64 crayons, and organized them by color. I got a pack of markers, and organized them as well into a rainbow. I purchased one of those velvet posters that you can color in, and spent hours by myself filling it in. I ended up taking that poster and covering my journal with it. Just a few bucks at Target reclaimed my artistic inner child, and it was amazing, it was luxurious.

My life right now is busy, but I do have the luxury of time. I’m sitting on my couch right now banging away on my laptop while Karl and Emerson cuddle on the other couch watching The Olympics. I have nothing I NEED to do today. I can write, I can play on Polyvore, I can doodle in my journal or whip out my sewing machine. Together, Karl and I have worked hard to get to this point, to have time to do our passions without being selfish or sacrificing our quality of life or the life of our child.

Money Madness

Wow, this totally fits with my Little Bits of Luxury series, and I started it not even remembering this portion of The Artist’s Way. It’s something Karl and I have been trying to master since we decided to have him quit his day job and stay with Emerson. Watching how we spend just a couple dollars here or there which add up and prevent us from doing something more substantial and pleasurable. Scheduling get togethers at our home to force us to clear out and clean up our space; each time we end up finding things to donate, to sell, to reorganize and redecorate.

Having Emerson is a daily reminder to find the beauty in nature, the picture above is of a shelf in our downstairs bathroom. When I chose this medicine cabinet I imagined little candles or a collection of glass paperweights that I didn’t yet own.  But we had a baby and both ideas seemed too expensive or inappropriate. It stayed empty for a long while, and then we found an amazing shell on a trip and placed it there. Over the years, it has filled with more shells and rocks from walks in town or trips to other states. Emerson adds to it too, often coming home from the playground with a teeny little stone that she found special enough for the collection. I love how this tradition has forced all of us to be aware of natural abundance.

The more I do this process, the more I am remembering who I am and respecting it. I don’t need or want to be anyone but me, and The Artist’s Way is confirming this.

We’re halfway through this project, how are you feeling? It has been a crazy couple of weeks, what have you learned about yourself or changed in your life to encourage your creativity?

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