Day Off

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I took the day off yesterday. I had been depressed about how crappy of a winter it’s been, and knew with temps in the low 60s and no meetings all day, I couldn’t pick a better day to stay home. I got my nails done, did a few minor chores around the house and finally washed my poor, dirty car. It was a lovely day.

Alas, the one miss was the outfit photos I tried to take. I need to do more casual looks on the blog, but all the photos were blurry. I HATE taking pics with a tripod. Seriously.

Annoying, but it happens. Rest assured you missed a great jeans and sweatshirt combo. But maybe it was for the best, since I’m also trying to talk about more than just outfits, it seemed the perfect opportunity to bring up another topic: taking care of ourselves. I’ve been trying to work on taking better care of myself – both physically, such as through eating better and going to BarreAmped, as well as emotionally. It sounds like an obvious concept, but if your tendencies lean toward putting other people first as mine do, it’s one to consider. I think for fear of sounding selfish, I’ve forgone looking after myself in the past. This year, I want to put an end to that pattern. It’s not something I can do very often – but taking a day for myself felt great and re-energized me for the weeks ahead. I highly recommend it. :)

What I’ve Bought (and am Hoping to Buy) This Spring

So, book update: ugh. Writing sucks. I am 22K words in, and I realized at some point in the near future I need to go back and edit all this shit that I’ve written. And you know what sucks more than writing? Editing your writing. It’s like a black hole of shame that makes you question your entire ability to form a coherent sentence and/or the meaning of life. I actually do enjoy editing in real life. But my own work? Not so much. (Quick sidenote: do you like hearing about my writing, or am I talking about it too much? Please scroll down and tell me what you think in the poll on the right side of the blog. This is your chance to tell me to shut up already! :) )

But let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s talk about shopping. Shopping is much more fun, and bonus points, warm weather is coming! (Hopefully soon!) I’ve tried to curb my spring purchases because it’s still so damn cold here that there’s no point in getting excited about the days when a light trench is all I need to stay warm. But I have seen a few new arrivals at my favorite stores that I have my eyes on – and may have already ordered.

spring shopping

Banana Republic draped mixed-media tank – I saw this in the store and thought it was the perfect basic. The chiffon overlay gives it a luxurious feel, and I can picture wearing it with warm sweaters now or with a pencil skirt in the summer. I love it so much, I bought it in both ivory and coral.

Banana Republic sequin floral peplum top – I did have very high hopes for this top, but it didn’t fit quite right. I’m very sad to have to send it back.

Old Navy sweetheart skinny jeans – These jeans are amazing. Seriously. I love the dark wash (so navy it’s almost black), and the perfect stitching. They’re even a hint longer than most skinny jeans – meaning they’ll work for slightly taller girls like me. Old Navy has really stepped up their jeans game lately, and I’m loving it. Plus perfect jeans for $22! You can’t beat that.

While I’m still a huge fan of J. Crew vintage v-necks, I grabbed two of Old Navy’s version of the same shirt. For $7.50, they make the perfect weekend basic.

And those pieces I’m still saving for…

spring shopping1

J. Crew lightweight merino tunic sweater – the perfect weight to wear with skinny pants when it’s still a little cool out.

J. Crew pleated poplin skirt – This skirt looks like it was meant for breezy days walking through a field of wildflowers.

Gap classic trench – I love my favorite lightweight trench from Old Navy, but I’m ready to upgrade to something slightly nicer looking.

Hunters – Do I need Hunters? Hell no. I already have two pairs of rainboots, and some would say that’s one pair too many. However, Hunters are adorable, and I am a sucker for wanting things that everyone else has.

Saucony Originals – I am so darn happy that sneakers are in. Sauconys are my favorite because they are so comfortable. My only problem is deciding on which color to get.

What pieces are you excited to buy this spring?

Linking up with Fizz & Frosting and See What Katie Wears today!

outfit of the day: staying cozy

Winter layers: leopard and red, aka one of my favorite combos

Winter layers: leopard and red, aka one of my favorite combos

Old Navy coat BB Dakota sweater • Land’s End dress Target tights Talbots boots hat knit by me

I totally understand why people migrate (or just move entirely) to Florida/California/Arizona. As much as I love the four seasons and freshly fallen snow and cuddling in my coziest coats and sweaters, I am OVER winter. And this has been one of our worst (and in many places, Indiana’s snowiest on record). So I’m making the most of winter, which has decided to overstay by several weeks, by wearing my favorite cold-weather pieces: cozy sweaters, my leopard jacket and my favorite hand-knit hat. I really do start missing my cozy sweaters… in August. Maybe this year since we’ve had such a crappy winter, I won’t miss them at all.

Keeping cozy in an aztec sweater paired with a red dress

Keeping cozy in an aztec sweater paired with a red dress

P.S. I’m laughing in some of these pics (aka in the one above) because people kept walking by as I was posing. Laughing = way to mitigate embarrassment.

And though I sort of mentioned in my post about my love of romance novels, I wanted to let you know that I may not be posting very much lately. I’m trying to get my first novel written – and will be working on at least two more right after that. Prioritizing is hard, especially when it means giving up some time blogging for other things. I’m so excited about this book – I just know I need to dedicate more time to it than working + blogging will allow.

OY. Priorities. What I really need is more hours in the day!

 

J. Crew vs. J. Crew Factory – what to buy and when to save

If you’re a longtime reader, you know I could live in J. Crew. I absolutely love everything about that store, minus the prices. And while there are a few pieces I think are worth the price, some are better saved for your next trip to the outlet mall.

Comparing skirts from J. Crew Factory and J. Crew

Buy at J. Crew

  • No. 2 wool pencil skirt – I love the No. 2 pencil skirt for work – and I love it even better when I can find it on sale! The amount of wool is significantly different in the retail version – you can feel it when you put the skirt on, and you can see it when you’ve been sitting at a desk for eight hours a day and don’t have wrinkles when you finally stand up. The factory version of this skirt is noticeably less soft and wrinkles super easily. Save your money and buy the retail skirt. The skirt above on the left is from J. Crew Factory, while the one on the right is from J. Crew. See the wrinkly difference? 
  • Chino shorts – My favorites on a warm summer day, J. Crew’s chino shorts are thicker and less wrinkly (see above) than their factory cousins. They look nicer after several washes and come in an array of fun colors (I’m hoping to add melted caramel to my closet for the summer).

Buy at J. Crew Factory

  • Clare cardigans – virtually identical to their retail Jackie counterparts for half the price. The buttons are even the same, which used to be a complaint of mine – older Clares got crappy buttons that made the cardigan look cheap.
  • Anya shoes – also identical to the Cece shoes in retail. The only hitch is that Ceces come in 10.5, while Anyas don’t. I can usually get away with sizing down but it is a bit of a tight fit. And this is more of a personal issue – I have yet to meet many 10.5 ladies. :) And I’m sorry to say that J. Crew just discontinued Cece in favor of Emma, who I am NOT a fan of. (Sidenote: who comes up with J. Crew shoe names? Because I’d like to throw my hat in for that job.)

Toss-up 

  • Jewelry – I think bracelets are better quality at J. Crew by far than at J. Crew Factory. But necklaces seem to be better at the Factory.
  • T-shirts – I am the J. Crew vintage cotton tees‘ biggest fan, but I also love the layering t-shirt at J. Crew Factory. I own too many of these. Seriously, it’s embarrasing.

Is there anything you buy at J. Crew Factory instead of J. Crew? Or vice versa?

stitchfix box #5

I’m still trying to get caught up a little bit on the blog, and haven’t had a chance to review my fifth Stitchfix box! For those of you who haven’t tried Stitchfix, it’s a wonderful personal stylist service that’s all done online. Once you sign up, you’ll fill out a style survey and schedule a delivery. Your box will cost $20, but you can put that money toward any item you keep – and if you keep all five pieces Stitchfix sends you, you get 25% off everything! Since I’ve now ordered five boxes from them, I can honestly say I love this service. I think the hint is to adjust sizes as needed and be very honest when you check out and review items. After my fourth box from Stitchfix, I bumped up a few of my sizes since I think they carry a lot of brands that run small. Because I did that, everything in this box fit me almost perfectly, which has never happened before.

Daniel Rainn Kieraly heart print short sleeve blouse
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I was really torn on this blouse. I loved the print, and I knew I would get a lot of use out of this blouse over the summer. But this was the one piece that I could have used a smaller size on. I’m making a point not to buy anything that doesn’t fit me perfectly, which meant I couldn’t keep the blouse. Tear.

41Hawthorn Peggy embellished collar sweater

41Hawthorn sweater via Stitchfix

This sweater was nice, but nothing too special. The price was a little steep, and I wasn’t too in love with the color.

41Hawthorn Florence colorblocked dress

41Hawthorn dress via Stitchfix

Love the colors, but this dress was very lightweight and out of season. With months ahead of me before I can wear summer clothes, I couldn’t justify buying it now.

41Hawthorn leopard print infinity scarf

41Hawthorn infinity scarf via Stitchfix

Oh, how I was tempted to keep this. I can always use a good animal print, and I’ve fallen in love with infinity scarves this winter.

Sweet Rain Alan cowl neck assymetrical jacket (also available from Modcloth)

Kieraly blouse via Stitchfix

Loved this piece from the moment I saw it. I got this box right before Christmas (yes, I’m behind reviewing this!), and the color was perfect for holiday festivities. I actually wore this Christmas morning, and it was perfect!

Red moto sweater with black skirt and tights
I can’t recommend Stitchfix enough! It’s so much fun to get a package on your doorstep with clothes to try on. Everyone should have a personal stylist if they want – and now you can!

Please note that when you click on my link to Stitchfix, I may get a referral credit to use for a future order. I honestly do recommend Stitchfix to everyone to try – thanks for your support!

 

outfit of the day: spring colors

Spring colors in winter - pink and green

Spring colors in winter - pink and green

Gap sweater • scarf from Cactus Flower in Bloomington • J. Crew No. 2 pencil skirt • Target tights • Sam Edelman Petty boots

Can it be spring please?

My face hurts from the cold every morning I walk out the door. I almost fell on black ice three times this week. I want to burn my tights. And yet we are getting three more inches of snow (at least) tomorrow. Alas, the only way to have spring is through bright colors in my outfits – which is actually fine with me.

And ok, I’m fine with being in cozy clothes for a little bit longer. If only it can stay above freezing.

Spring colors in winter - pink and green

Don’t forget to enter my Stella & Dot giveaway!

why I love romance novels (and why you should too)

My love for romance novels started with a flood.

I love romance novels!

Actually, it started with finishing my Masters, not being able to find a job and then moving in with my grandparents because my house was flooded. It was a bit of a traumatic summer.

My brother and I were in line at Walmart stocking up on supplies, and I wanted a new book to read. Being fresh off grad school AND undergrad (I did my Masters right after getting my undergrad degree), my brain was shot from complex theoretical journalism papers. I needed something to read that could take my mind off the small craphole that had become my life. Something light and fun – like a paperback romance novel! I grabbed the first one that caught my eye near the checkout. The Romance Gods (or as I suspect, Goddesses) must have been smiling down at me because it was Julia Quinn’s latest release, “The Lost Duke of Wyndam.” I like dukes and really anything to do with royalty – surely I would like this book.

Julia Quinn instantly became my favorite new (to me) author that day. After devouring this book, I immediately went to the book store and bought four more of hers. Then I renewed my sadly very expired library card and checked out five more romance novels. After applying for jobs and helping out at my family’s drive-in during the day, I’d spend my nights in the company of lords, ladies, dukes and princesses. There was a whole literary world that was opening up to me, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t given it a chance until now.

And it’s a world that has room for everyone. I started with the regency genre, but if you’re interested in more contemporary books, there are plenty to choose from. Would have enjoyed Twilight if it had been well-written? The romance world has been writing about vampires and werewolves for far longer (and is far better at it). If like me you already miss football, there are tons of great football romance novels out there! Whatever your interest, there is a romance novel for you. Hell, there’s even dinosaur romance now (I DO NOT recommend the books, and yes there are more than one, but I DO recommend the HILARIOUS review of one of them. Seriously, READ IT.)

One of my favorite things about romance novels is the community they create. I follow several of my favorite authors on Facebook and Twitter, and not only are they smart and hilarious, but they’re incredibly supportive of each other. Most of the time I find out about a great book on sale because another author advertised it. It’s like one big romance author group hug!

If you’re looking for fabulous romance resources, my three favorites are Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Dear Author and All About Romance. I use all the above for recommendations, interesting discussions and the occasional laugh (SBTB’s Caption that Cover posts usually make me laughcry.) Heroes and Heartbreakers also has a great weekly newsletter that discusses not only romance novels, but also romances on TV and in movies (they had QUITE a lot to say about the “Fifty Shades” casting debacle).

And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you my romance recommendations. These are in no particular order, but if you’re new to romance, I do recommend starting with the first one!

  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase – THE romance novel for people who don’t like romance novels. It’s a Regency-era romance, and absolutely a must-read.
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn – my favorite book in the Bridgerton series (eight books about a set of siblings in Regency London), this book not only features a fabulously strong heroine, but also a loving and loud family that I wanted to be a part of immediately.
  • Breaking Point by Pamela Clare – A contemporary romance that still scares the crap out of me and yet is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. This one is part of a series on investigative journalists, all who are reporting on dangerous stories. Pamela Clare is one of the most kickass writers I’ve ever known. In doing research for another I-Team novel, she found out that in Colorado (as in many other states), it was commonplace to shackle pregnant inmates while they were giving birth. Clare did more research, contacted a (female) Senator and wrote a law – which then passed. Amazing and inspiring.
  • The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros – You can’t go wrong with a Scotsman in a kilt kidnapping someone else’s bride.
  • Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl – Picking one book by Victoria Dahl to recommend was REALLY hard. I feel like I could be friends with all her characters, and by the end of the story, I’m celebrating right along with them. She also has a fabulous Tumblr page. (P.S. That link is potentially NSFW.)

If you’re looking to be charmed and get lost in a good book, read a romance novel. It’s a community I am happy to support – and hopefully one day be amongst as an author myself: I’ve started writing a novel of my own! Now I just have to finish the damn thing…

Also – don’t forget to enter my Stella & Dot giveaway!

my favorite Stella & Dot pieces – plus a giveaway!

I have been a fan of Stella & Dot jewelry ever since my cousin gave me beautiful earrings and a necklace for Christmas a few years ago. This year for spring, Stella & Dot has introduced some beautiful pieces that I’m hoping to add to my jewelry box. I picked out a few favorites among their new arrivals, as well as a few pieces I’ve been wanting for a while.

stella and dot collage

Elodie necklaceSeychelles chandeliersIsla dropsRebel pendantRose gold renegade cluster braceletAmelie sparkle bracelet

And now the best part of the blog post – a giveaway! My Stella & Dot stylist Mindy has very kindly offered to giveaway a pair of Soiree earrings to one lucky reader. I have these earrings in turquoise and absolutely love them – they’re perfect for spring! The giveaway ends Sunday at midnight EST – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

outfit of the day: aqua in the snow

 

A comfy blue Aztec cardigan is perfect for snow days.

A comfy blue Aztec cardigan is perfect for snow days.

Sweater from my favorite boutique I just discovered in Bloomington, Piace • Gap tank J. Crew Factory Gigi pants Sorel Joan of Arctic boots hat made by me!

It snowed again.

You’d think I’d be sick of it now. We’ve had what feels like a ton this year. But every time it snows, my town has never looked more beautiful. It’s going to be cold for at least another month (or two), and if it’s cold, we may as well have beautiful snow. Plus it helps being able to snuggle in a new sweater that I got on major sale! Bring on more snow. As long as I don’t get my car stuck in my own driveway again. (Yep, that happened today.)

A comfy blue Aztec cardigan is perfect for snow days.

outfit of the day: red cardigan

A red wrap cardi belted over a tweed ruffled skirt

 A red wrap cardi belted over a tweed ruffled skirt

Talbots sweater, skirt, belt and boots • Alexis Bittar Miss Havisham teardrop earringsStila stay all day liquid lipstick in ‘beso’

It’s an outfit post; I can’t believe it! I have had such a hard time getting my head around a schedule this year as far as blogging goes. I really am going to try to get more consistent because let’s face it, I need a schedule. This sweater is one of the most comfortable ones I’ve gotten in a while. It’s major sale at Talbots in quite a few sizes – I highly recommend treating yourself to one (or two – I also got one in gray!).

A red wrap cardi belted over a tweed ruffled skirt

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