Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look Back at 2015

2015 has been a year of growth as a blogger: in types of posts, quality of photos and learning more about dressing for my shape. When I made the decision to return to blogging in March (after honestly, barely even starting), I wasn't sure how long I would be able keep it up. But, as I've become immersed in this community - and the fantastic women in it - I have truly grown to love this little space and I thank each and everyone of you who chooses to stop by, leave sweet comments and your continued support. I can't wait to see what 2016 brings!

favorite outfits

one  |   two  |  three  |  four  |  five  |  six

I'm not sure if any of these outfits have a common look/theme, other than these outfits have a bit more structure and a more neutral pallet. For my body-type, I definitely prefer a cinched in waist and light layers to slim. Out of all the looks, I think the poncho and maxi dress is my absolute favorite. It was so far out of my comfort-zone, but I loved the way I felt in it, the bold print with a more subdued color pallet and the booties with the dress. It wasn't the most slimming, but it might have been the most fun!

least favorite outfits  

one  |  two  |  three  |  four  |  five six

Do these outfits even really need an explanation? Either the fit is completely off (outfits three, five and six), I look like one of those extreme religious folks that refuse to cut their hair or show their ankles (four), am channeling Sandy from Grease and not in a good way (two) or look completely washed out in a sea of grey (one). Yuck.

favorite purchases

one  |  two  |  three

Vince Camuto booties: These boots have proven to be perfect for fall/winter in Florida. I get to feel like I'm wearing winter stuff without sweating to death. I was so worried that they would look silly on me, but I think the trick was finding a shoe that worked for me (neutral color, dip in the front).

Hunter Adjustable Back Gloss rain boot: These adorable boots fell into the category of love, but couldn't justify spending our household income on expensive wellies. I'm so thankful for everyone who clicks through an affiliate link, because not only does it help me understand what you like (based on number of clicks), it also helps justify the occasional splurge. Now that I have them, I love them, they're just so much fun!

Kendra Scott necklaces: I probably own too many of these now (in black, mother of pearl, rose gold/navy and chalcedony) but they're really become my grab and go necklace. If I had to choose, the chalcedony and mother of pearl are probably my favorites. The first because it was a Mother's Day present and in one of my favorite shades and the second because of it's versatility. 

regret purchases

 one  |  two  |  three

J. Crew Factory eyelet shirt: This shirt is a regret purchase only because I "hulked" out on it after only two wears. The seam along the shoulder ripped so badly it couldn't be repaired. Cute shirt, but kind of a waste of money for only two uses.

Loft striped cardigan: I love everything about this sweater: the weight, the pattern, everything except for the fact that after a few wears it's starting to pill horribly. I hadn't even had a chance to show it to you guys on the blog! I wore it to the hospital and it looks a mess. I'm hoping a sweater shaver (if I can find the darn thing) can salvage this purchase.

Baublebar Crystal Mason Ring:
This ring just makes me sad. The design is so cute, but the darn thing kept loosing stones. The first time I contacted customer service (who were super helpful, so points for that) and they sent me a replacement, only for the exact same thing to happen to the replacement ring. I decided to live with the missing stone only for the ring to turn green. Every time I wore it, I'd have a green "x" on my finger afterwards. I finally had to accept it wasn't going to work out and trashed it. :( Anyone know where I can get one that doesn't lose stones or turn green, because I really do love the design.

Most pages views*

one  |  two  |  three

It's rewarding that some of the posts that were more time consuming to put together actually ended up being the most viewed! The Five Day Getaway Packing List was perfect in Gatlinburg. I wore all my pre-planned outfits and it made packing (and getting ready every morning so much easier. The 12 Outfits for Christmas post was probably the most crazy to put together, mainly because I decided to do it last minute (it's always so much better to have a plan). My poor husband shot three-four outfits everyday for three days straight on our lunch break. I was editing and throwing everything together at the very last second. I'm still glad I did it since I was in the hospital the week leading up to Christmas (and didn't come home until Christmas Day) I missed out getting to wear these outfits in real-life. At least I got to wear them for the blog. Of all three posts, Six Ways to Tie a Blanket Scarf was probably the easiest. I just kept the same basic top and pants on and changed out accessories. One Saturday afternoon we shot photos in front of our front door. I'd have a look, we'd shoot a few photos I'd go back in and figure out how to style the scarf next, we'd go back out and take a few more.

*I didn't include Budget posts in my top three (the top three then would have been my July Budget, August Budget and Five Day Getaway Packing List).

Favorite Instagram photos

one  |  two  | three

I love how on my blog Instagram I can put things like my shoes by a stream or pretty flowers and it's totally and completely normal. Just an "oh what a pretty picture" moment. Now on my personal account my friends and family would be all like, "um, no, who do you think you are, Ansel Adams or something? Now, where are the pictures of the baby?" Speaking of the kiddo, you guys, this photo cracks me up every time I look at it. I went to the bedroom for maybe an hour to work on something and left daddy in charge and this is what I came back to: the room in shambles, kiddo running around squealing in delight and her destructiveness and husband blissfully sleeping through it all. Seriously, how can guys do that?

What I've learned
It's okay to start (and stay) small. I don't want this space to ever become all about page views and money, but about connecting with people and sharing something I really enjoy and hope you do too. I'm not saying the page views and a little additional shopping income aren't nice, because they are, I just don't ever want them to become the driving force. For those of you who have read awhile know, you know I work full time and I have a toddler, so blogging is a definitely a hobby and that's okay. I see all these great blogs with amazing content and photos, and I want that for this space, but I also have to remind myself to take a deep breath, remember that I can't do it all, and above all else, this is suppose to be fun! I hope you enjoy it too. :)

Future posts
While I love sharing my day-to-day outfits, I have been missing getting my DIY/craft jam on. I definitely plan on having more crafting posts as well as dressing room reviews and "adventure" posts. I've starting linking up with Anne from In Residence on her Currently series, so that will also become a monthly feature as well. Make it Work Monday isn't gone, I'm still posting everything third Monday, but have suspended the monthly linkup. Are there any posts in particular you would like to see? Please let me know in the comments below!

I hope you all have an amazing New Year! Our big plans are to have a lazy pajama morning and watch Elf (because I missed out on all the Christmas movies in the hospital - unless you count Halmark, my roommate and I binged on Hallmark holiday movies), take the kiddo out to see Nana and Papa this afternoon, then it's a early night for this girl (and I can't even blame it on recovering, I'm just getting too old for late nights). :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mix of Old and New

As I've continued along my blogger adventure, there's been such temptation to keep buying new. I feel like I have absolutely nothing to wear, when the closer truth is that I have haven't tried to remix what I already own, or I own a bunch of things that are close, but don't quite work. Don't get me wrong, I love new clothes - the excitement, all the wardrobe possibilities - but going forward, I want to rely less on new and more on rethinking what I have. I have so many clothes I never wear, and I'm making it a goal to weed out what doesn't work or isn't getting worn and concentrating on pieces that will actually have longevity in my closet. Of course there's still new clothes in my future, I just want to be smarter about my purchases.

For example, how many times have you seen me wear these pencil pants? I know I easily wear them once, if not twice a week. In fact, I've worn them so much that they are starting to get all stretched out and faded. Not such a great look. Thankfully, The Limited still carries them, so I foresee re-buying them in the very near future - and being better about how I treat my black clothes. I've heard black woolite is the way to go!

So, most of the items in this outfit are old: sweater, top, pants, necklace, shoes and watch, but I added a newer bracelet and earrings so I didn't feel like I was wearing an old/rehashed outfit. In fact, I wore a very similar outfit in May, but the different sweater and shoes give it a whole new look (many thanks to my husband's photo skills and patience, because they look sooooo much better now!)

Cardigan: Loft (similar)
Pants: The Limited (exact)
Shoes: Target (similar)
Necklace: Charming Charlie (exact)
Watch: Fossil (almost exact in rose gold)
Bracelet: Loren Hope (exact)
Ring: Loft (cute alternative)

Also, this will probably also be the first and last time you see these shoes on the blog. As mentioned before, I went from a 9.5 back to a 9 in shoes and these fall into the category of too big. Plus they don't breath. Seriously, who wants stinky sweaty feet? I just ordered the Madewell Mira flat (at more than 50% off!) to try, so if it works I'm donating/trashing all my other cheap black shoes!

Monday, December 28, 2015

December Budget

$323.32 November Budget
(Starting budget $150 + $11.60 remaining in November + $161.72 blogging income)
-$356.67 in purchases
$33.05 over

It was a month to buy all the red, navy and black! 

First up: J. Crew Factory. I originally got this ponte dress in black (see how I wore it here) and loved it so much I promptly ordered it in red as well (see how I wore it here). I purchased both in a 16 and the fit is super flattering. The online reviews complained that this dress has a really high waistline, but these dresses ended up working perfectly for me. With the holiday season coming up, I realized I didn't have a red sweater that fit anymore, so the Sawyer filled the closet hole nicely (see how I wore it here and here). For reference, I got it an XL. Confession: I now have the herringbone vest in grey and black. I received the grey version as a birthday present a few months back, but I really, really wanted the black. When J. Crew Factory decided to bring it back, and it went on major sale, I snatched it right up (see how I wore it here). The grey is perfect for all my navy bottoms and the black with everything else! At the same time I also picked up a navy puffer. For reference, I got both vests in an XL. The next cold day, I'm wearing my navy puffer, Hunters and Aerie check scarf (see how I wore it here). 

After seeing this Loft polka dot tunic on Fran, I thought it would be perfect with leggings (see how I wore it here). Based on online reviews, I ordered a size down to an L, which is actually a little tight in the arms. :( I'm on the fence about keeping this one or exchanging it for the current black with white polka dot version. The shiny plastic red clutch I've been using in photos had to go, it was so dated. I ordered this one from Amazon with the idea that I'll actually carry it. :) The iridescent Loren Hope cuff was from my latest Rocksbox and it was instant love (see how I styled it here). This is the last month I'm doing Rocksbox, it was fun, but I haven't been liking my boxes as much lately and have been slow to remember to return them.

Gift to myself / What I received as a gift:

I knew right away these Vince Camuto booties (see how I wore them here and here) would be a budget buster, but they are so, so worth it! I decided to make them a Merry Christmas to me gift of them instead of taking up my regular budget. I find they run true to size (I'm a size 9) and have nice extra bit of cushion of the ball of the foot. Perfect for Florida's not so cold winters. I'm so excited my mom got me this beautiful gold watch for Christmas! I've mentioned before, I've been getting a bit tired of wearing my delicate gold Fossil bracelet watch all the time, so it's great to be able to mix it up with more of a statement piece. To go with my new watch, she also got me this pretty watch case for my ever growing collection. I'm excited my watches are all going to have a new, organized happy home! I mentioned some time ago that after having my daughter my feet grew to a size 9.5, but strangest thing, 18-months later, they've gone back! My Madewell leopard print skimmers and holepunch skimmers are literally falling off my feet, so my dad got me these new skimmers in a 9, and the fit is great! 

Going Forward / Goal for 2016:
I keep saying this, but my goal is to spend less going forward and be better about sticking to a lower monthly budget even if I am fortunate enough to make a a little blogging income as well. I need to rethink my budget structure so I have enough room when I need to make a bigger purchase I can, but not go crazy spending $300+ every month either. 

In some ways I feel like I was rebuilding my closet this year, but now I have so.many.clothes. that I need to do a major purge/sell/donate. I'm going to try a combination of Poshmark and Thredup and the rest goes to Goodwill or straight in the trash. A closet clean out is my top upcoming priority, I'm just a bit sad my recent surgery means I can't take advantage of this week off. But soon I'll be feeling well and ready to clean and purge! 

//  Today I'm linking up with Franish and all the other Budgeting Bloggers!  //

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Thoughts and Whatnots 12.27.15

 one  //  two  //  three

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I apologize for being so quiet, I was excited about several posts I had plans for last week, but Monday morning was admitted to the hospital after being up all night with horrible top of stomach pain. The ER doctor told me I had a large gallbladder stone, blocking a duct and causing infection and possible additional stones in the duct to the liver. What should have been a simple outpatient gallbladder removal procedure ended up being a five day hospital stay! Because of the extended stay, I developed a high pulse rate - and after a battery of tests - discovered I had diminished lung function and the suspected beginnings of pneumonia. I finally got to go home Christmas Day and am already feeling a million times better! Though I'm still moving pretty slow, it's so, so it was wonderful to be home with my husband and daughter.

Though I spent most of Friday and Saturday sleeping, today I feel slightly more human, so I wanted to get on here and give everyone an update since I hadn't blogged in so long. I beyond grateful to my husband during this time, he was an absolute rock - taking care of our daughter, by my side whenever she was a daycare - on top of everything at the hospital (I was pretty out of it for most of it) and being my mental support. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life. My mom and step-dad came down frequently to visit, and my dad, stepmom and brother came down a few days early for their annual post-Christmas visit, so it's been wonderful to be surrounded by family. Many, many thanks to everyone who prayed for my recovery and that I'd be released by Christmas.

This gallbladder attack/removal was a crazy thing, I had no warning, other than what I thought was some acid reflex a month prior.

I'm home, on the mend and really looking forward getting "back to normal." Silly the things you want to do because you can't at the moment - like I can't wait to go to our local Loft once I can move around a little better. Right now everything's 50% off with code HOLIDAY50 and I'm obsessed with their striped foiled dot tee (stripes and gold polka dots, what's not to love?) and am equally in love with the solid in navy with foiled dots - I love the elbow sleeve length. I think the piped detail front on this navy gingham tunic is so cute (I can easily picture is with my navy Hunters). I got the white with black dot tunic Loft had on sale last month, but I might like the black with white version even better! Based on reviews, I ordered the white a size down, but it's a smidgen too tight in the arms, which I'm not crazy about. I'm going to try it in the other other color combo in a size up to see if I like it better! (Thankfully I only wore it briefly for the 12 Outfits of Christmas post, so it still has it's tags.) I'd also like to see this pretty gold pendant in real life, it looks like it would be so versatile!

After reading Fran's post on how she fixes her hair, I'm super excited about some new products I ordered to try! We seem to have a similar hair texture, so I'm hoping a new routine will give my hair some new life in this Florida humidity. Also on the top of my beauty to-do list is a haircut and highlight. Since my sis is too far away in Tennessee, my quest begins again for a local hairdresser. I didn't realize how bad my roots had gotten until my white hairs were blazing out at my four-day unwashed hospital hair. *shudder*

Thankfully I'm off for the next week (the campus is closed until after New Year's) so I should have plenty of time to rest and recuperate. I plan on linking up with Fran tomorrow for Budgeting Bloggers and depending on how I feel, will try to stay more up-to-date with posting, but mostly want to concentrate on feeling better and spending time with family. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Take Two

This is actually my second attempt at wearing this outfit. About a month ago I tried to wear it, only to discover weird light brown spots on my chambray. In a outfit panic, I ended up dressed in layers way too light for the weather and froze my tush off. So I patiently (okay not so patiently) waited for next day cold enough for thick sweaters. Last Friday we finally had a delightfully cool day, the outfit all came together (no spots to be seen), and all was looking good - only to get this crazy, insanely windy day. Sooo...I know I look like I'm about to fly away, but I really wanted you to see the outfit I was so determined to wear. :)

Chambray: Loft (similar)
Jeans: Loft altered by me (similar)
Boots: Vince Camuto (exact)
Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)
Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)
Scarf: So old I have no clue where it's from...possibly T.J. Maxx? (similar)
Purse: Lulu*s (similar)

On a side note: if you still have gifts to buy and don't want to fight the crowds, today's the last day to get guaranteed holiday delivery from a few of my favorite stores including Anthropologie, Banana RepublicGAP, J. Crew Factory, Old Navy and Amazon (if you have Amazon Prime). Check out yesterday's post for a few of my last-minute picks.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Thoughts and Whatnots 12.20.15

One maxi dress three ways: one  //  two  //  three

Blog Love:

On Teal and Polka Dots:

Favorite Sales (Last minute Christmas Gift-Giving Edition):
If you're like me and still have a few gifts to buy, there are a few retailers that are guaranteeing Christmas delivery. My picks are:

  • What I'm making: Cookies for my co-workers and the kiddos' daycare teachers! I got the cutest metal tins from Michael's yesterday for 60% off, so they came out to something like 50 cents a piece. There's a coupon today for 20% off your purchase including sale, so you can get them even cheaper than I did! I also picked up some polka dot craft paper and ribbon for a steal. It's worth stopping by your local Michael's to check it out. :)
  • What I'm watching: All the Christmas movies: The Muppet's Christmas Carol, Little Women (not technically Christmas, but still my favorite time of year to watch), Elf, Love Actually...what are you favorite Christmas movies?
  • Coming up on the blog: With all the Christmas crazy, it's going to be a simple week with some outfit posts and a Merry Christmas post featuring our latest family photo shoot (spoiler, the little one totally - and rightfully - steals the show!).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

12 Outfits for Christmas

'Tis the season to be holly, jolly and wear every piece of red clothing you own, because, you know, it's Christmas! By far my favorite holiday of the year, I love any excuse to get dolled up and look festive. Since t's definitely not feeling like winter this holiday season, these 12 looks are for when it's really not that cold outside. No coat required. 

So, without further ado, and in the spirit of the "12 Days of Christmas," I give you my 12 Outfits for Christmas (I'm a nerd :).

I'm all about easy layers and stretchy pants when it's time to power-shop. Cute flats that keep your feet comfy are a must when walking through stores in search of the perfect present.

Shirt: Target (similar)  |  Pants: Loft (exact)  |  Vest: J. Crew Factory (checkered option, knock-off via Amazon)  |  Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |   Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Shoes: Target (exact in other colors, similar red)  |  Bag: Coach (current version)
I'm all about capturing the memories while decorating the tree and house. This outfit's easy to move around in while putting up the tree and looks good in photos. With the toddler, this year we were lucky just to get the tree up and slap a few ornaments on the thing, much less take photos of the process. But if we had, this is what I would have worn. Oh, well, next year...

Sweater: Old Navy (similar)  |  Shirt: Ann Taylor (cute similar)  |   Jeans: Banana Republic (similar)  Scarf: Charming Charlie (very similar)  |   Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |  Booties: Vince Camuto (exact)  |  Bag: Coach (current version)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)

A girls' night out during the holiday season as a great way to take a break from all the Christmas crazy. I'm a firm believer that we girls dress up more for each other than we do for boys, so I pulled out all the stops when putting together this outfit for drinks and celebrations with girlfriends.

Sweater: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Skirt: Boden (similar)  |  Necklace: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Bracelet: Loft (similar)  |  Clutch: Clare V. (exact, save)  |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar) 

This look is perfect for a during the day work party. Ours is at lunchtime, so everyone comes in their work clothes, hangs out for an hour or two, then heads back to the office. For these type of events, it's great to look festive, but not over-the-top, since there's still work and meetings and such for the rest of the day.

Sweater: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Shirt: Target (similar)  |  Pants: The Limited (very similar)  |  Clutch: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Necklace: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Bracelet: Loft (similar)  | Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar)

Though my husband and I now work in a more casual environment, in the past I loved going to an after-hours, formal work party. Drinks and dancing are always fun! I love the bright hue of this dress and that it's made from a structured ponte knit which helps enhance the figure while hiding lumps and bumps. Plus, the fabric has plenty of give, which is perfect for dancing.

Dress: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |   Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |   Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Clutch: Clare V. (exactsave)  |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar)

This outfit is perfect for going out for cocktails with friends, or one of those parties that isn't formal, but isn't really casual either (don't you hate trying to dress for those events?) The plaid is fun and helps keeps the outfit from looking like you just came from work.

Shirt: Old Navy (similar)  |  Skirt: Eloquii (exact-plus, similar)  |  Clutch: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Necklace: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |   Bracelet: Moorea Seal (similar)  |  Ring: Charming Charlie (similar)  |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar)

Tacky sweater parties are the best, but I'm not down with buying a pricey ugly sweater (dang, those things can be expensive!) I originally wore this outfit several years ago and it's been hiding out in the my closet ever since. To make it, I stole one of my husband's sweaters and safety-pinned on tinsel and fuzzy pom poms - and voilĂ  -  a literal Christmas tree sweater.

Sweater: Old Navy: (similar men's sweater embellished with tinsel, pom poms and star tree topper) (fabulously tacky tree sweater, also in plus)  |  Pants: The Limited (similar)   |    Shoes: Target (exact in other colors, similar red)  |   Ornament earrings: Target (similar)

A festive outfit is perfect for the last day of work before the holiday break. No one wants to be at work, so you might as well dress cheerful and make the best of it (and hope that the boss lets everyone leave a little early)!

Shirt: Loft (exact)  |  Pants: The Limited (similar)   |  Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |   Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Bracelet:  Loren Hope (exact)  |  Clutch: Clare V. (exactsave)  |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar)

My all-time favorite holiday tradition is Christmas Eve services. Even my casual church breaks out the hymns, light candles and read the story of our Lord and Savior's birth. It's just so good to be reminded the real reason we're celebrating. The usual jeans and flip-flops don't feel appropriate, so I tend to stick with a simple dress and dress it down with simple accessories like scarves and booties. 

Dress: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Scarf: eBay (very similar)  |  Booties: Vince Camuto (exact)  |  Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |   Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)  |  Bracelet:  Loren Hope (exact)

One of our family traditions is to get new pajamas on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning everyone looks fresh and somewhat put together for pictures. (Oh, and your eyes aren't deceiving you, there's only ornaments from mid tree and up. The toddler tree is a very real thing my friends.)

Sleep bottoms: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Tee: Target (similar)  |  Knit cardigan: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Slippers: Target (similar)  |  Gift box: Target (exact)

After opening presents, Christmas Day is a whirlwind of visiting our families and eating a lot of delicious goodness. A cozy sweater and stretchy jeans (for food babies) are definitely the way to go!

Sweater: Old Navy (similar)  |  Shirt: Old Navy (similar)  |  Jeans: Banana Republic (similar)  |  Booties: Vince Camuto (exact)  |  Bag: Coach (current version)  |  Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Necklace: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Bracelet: Moorea Seal (similar)  |  Ring: Charming Charlie (similar)  |   Watch: Fossil (very similar)

After Christmas is over, the gifts are unwrapped and cookies eaten, there's still New Year's to look forward to! I like the idea of a little sparkle (like this skirt) to start the new year off right. Because everything is better with glitter (or in this case sequins).

Shirt: Ann Taylor (cute similar)  |  Skirt: Chico's (similar)  |  Clutch: (similar)  |  Necklace: Kendra Scott (exact)  |   Earrings: J. Crew Factory (exact)  |  Watch: Fossil (very similar)   |  Shoes: Old Navy (similar)
I hope you enjoyed my 12 Outfits for Christmas post as much as I had putting together! It's nice to have a plan and not to scramble around last minute trying to figure out what to wear (which is my usual MO). I'm all about anything that alleviates some stress. Merry Christmas everyone!

//  Today I'm linking up with Work Clothes, I Suppose for the Third Thursday Threads prompt: Holiday Cheer.   //