Friday, July 30, 2010

Wallpaper for the commitment phobe. Has anyone tried this?

As you may have read, I'll soon be moving in with my fiance just before our wedding and am faced with making a bachelor pad into a shared house that doesn't look half decorated.  I'm dealing with a lot of beige - carpet and walls - which is mandatory when selling but pretty dreary when you live there.  But since marriage is all about compromise, I can't paint the rooms to be bright and airy just yet.

I've been considering painting a random divider wall in our dining area some shade of blue and attempting a stencil, but ran across what I think is a pretty ingenious idea in Lonny magazine this month.  One of the homes featured was the apartment of Ellie Somerville, one of the editors.  Her style is to die for (look at that girly living room)

As I read further and figured out the best elements to copy in my own space, I saw a little blurb that mentioned her wallpaper being affixed without damaging the wall.  She marked off a grid using blue painters tape, then put double stick tape on top of that.  Then, wallpaper is attached so that it sticks to the tape and the only thing touching the paint is the masking tape.  Clever, huh?

I think an 8 foot square of pattern would go a long way in my house of beige, and if it's subtle enough I think I can talk N into it.  In my mind, the worst thing that can happen is that the paper starts to peel off and I'll need to add more tape.  Has anyone else tried something like this?

I'm looking at samples and thinking of patterns like the ones below to introduce some pattern and color for about $50.  What do you think?  I'm going for subtle... (P.S. is amazing)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best. Swimsuit. Ever.

Earlier this month I wrote a post about the hundreds of dresses for sale on and while browsing the site, I saw that they have a big selection of vintage inspired swimwear.  I've done a post about this style of swimsuit back in April, and sure wish I'd known about this site at the time.

Thanks to literally hundreds of positive reviews and a recommendation from a reader who purchased one, I decided to give the Esther Williams Bathing Beauty style swimsuit a try.  I am now the proud owner of the wine colored one piece and I love it.

I've been wearing a halter style two-piece with regular bottoms for years, and they're alright, but I wanted to see how I liked a one-piece style and I think it looks better with my body.  The suit is very forgiving and gives me a great shape and a lot more confidence.  I was worried that it would look like I'm ashamed of myself and trying to cover up, but I think it's definitely more vintage pinup than granny.  This is definitely an investment ($89) but the quality is fantastic and doesn't compare to the thin $29 versions at Target and is still cheaper than the $129 styles at Macy's and Dillard's.  Plus, all the suits come in a huge range of sizes (0-26) so nobody is left out.

I don't get overly excited about many things I buy, so know that I'm seriously in love with this suit.  Even you've rocked a bikini for years, I encourage you to give this style a shot and see how it looks.  I was shocked to see myself in such a good light and now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go to the pool with my giant sunglasses.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reader Request: What to wear for fall

I love fall.  It's my favorite season, and I wish that Texas had more than about 6 weeks of pre-winter weather.  However, 85 degree days will not stop me from rocking fall clothes in October and now that stores are putting summer clothes on clearance and stocking new collections, my friend Jo Anna has asked that I show some ways to look on trend this fall without shopping for a new wardrobe for the season (who does that anyway?)

From what I can gather, this year the big trends are gray, camel, plum, belts (again), leopard print, and looking like you've been out horse riding in your boyfriend's clothes.  We'll skip that last one.

If you've got the budget to buy 4-6 new things this year, here's how I think you can get the most bang for your buck:

Jewel toned cardigans
To me, nothing says fall like deep purple, burgundy, amber/topaz, and sapphire blue.  Jewel tones like these look good on everyone (one of the four will go with your coloring, I promise) and can be layered over the neutral dresses and tops that you already have.  LOFT offers a wide range of colors in their long sleeved v-neck cardigan, and Lands End Canvas has some nice colors on sale as well.

A Deep Brown Belt
Since belts are back once again, I've been noticing different ways to wear them and hardly any of them involve pants.  My favorite look is the belted cardigan (shocking, I know).  A deep brown belt over a jewel tone sweater looks very chic, but effortless, and lets everyone know you've got a waist beneath your slouchy top layer.  I'm also liking the look of a belted dress with flats instead of sandals to make it feel less summary.  However, I don't think you need to go spending $70 on a belt.  This one of the things doesn't get a lot of abuse during the day and I think it's fine to go cheap.  Check out The Limited for the best selection, followed by Lands End Canvas and Target.

Gray pieces that won't be covered up
I'm so excited that there are going to be lots of gray pieces to pick from this year.  It's less severe than black and (until now) less common.  However, I think head to toe gray can look a bit dreary so I'll be wearing my existing gray cardigan (love it!) and my gray pants and perhaps buy a cozier sweater to layer on top of colorful dresses and shirts.  The Limited, LOFT, and Gap have lots of gray to choose from already.

Riding Boots
These will be an investment but once you realize how often you'll wear them, they won't seem like such a big splurge.  I have a black and a brown pair of Corso Como riding boots that I got on super sale about a year and a half ago and love them both.  I wear them to death about 7 months out of the year, especially with skirts (with and without tights) and leggings.  You can also tuck your jeans into them if you can pull it off.  Since boots show so much, cheap ones usually look it.  I think real leather boots are worth the cost, and you can find lots under $150 if you shop sales and stores and DSW.   The flat sole is comfortable enough to wear all day and you won't miss your stilettos at all.

Something leopard
I'm glad leopard is back because I've always liked it, but I dread all the awful, tacky pieces that are going to crop up everywhere.  I think animal print is best in small doses, like on a bag, a shoe, a cardigan, or pencil skirt.  You all know the difference between classy leopard and stripper leopard prints (if you're in doubt, it's probably the latter).  And of course, wear one at a time. 

I could go on and suggest other fall items like rich brown hobo bags, super dark denim and trench coats, but I think these pieces are the most affordable and versatile if you don't want to buy much before winter.  What do you think you'll be wearing most this year? 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Wedding look (made of clay)

One of the first things I did upon getting engaged was spend an hour on Etsy looking at all the handmade wedding items that most other brides won't have.  I knew right away that I wanted a personalized cake topper and fell in love with the Mudcards shop.  Keren Mudahi makes the most adorable clay figures based off of photos you submit.  A few months ago I submitted photos of me in my dress and of N, and I am now the proud owner of this little sculpture

My hair and dress are spot on and N's hair is perfect.  It really looks like us and I'm so excited to put it on our cake, and later in our house.  You can add pets and personal items to the sculptures as well, and the detail is amazing (especially for the dresses)

If you're in the market for a custom cake topper, you should consider getting a likeness of yourself in clay.   It's way more interesting than your last initial.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What to read for free on the internet: Southern Flourish

It's no secret that I am a magazine addict.  I subscribe to 5 and buy 2 more each month (my British home magazines) and read Lonny online.  You'd think that would be enough, but no.  I'm always on the lookout for more and was thrilled to find Southern Flourish this week. 

It's like a Southern Living meets Domino and Real Simple, aimed at the under 40 demographic.  Being from Texas, I love that it features Southern artists, designers and recipes, but the content and homes featured will appeal to women from all over.  The magazine is published online at the moment (5 issues per year) but you can purchase a printed version if you're so inclined (I'll continue to read what's free).

Here's a peek at what the content is like, and I highly suggest you check it out next time you're looking for some ideas for your house or closet. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why I write this.

Today I got an email about the season's "sexiest, most affordable dresses." I love a good dress, so of course I clicked to see what was being featured and was let down once again.  Sure enough, $99.99 qualified as a super affordable dress that we should "stock up" on.  And it was made of jersey.  I don't  know about you, but a $100 dress is a splurge and it better be awesome. 

That email reminded me why I started this blog and I realized that I never really told you all why I do this for the whopping $2 per month I earn from the site traffic.  It's been six months and now I'm a little amazed that I spend so much time on it and that there have been over 11,000 visits to this page.  So in case you're interested, here's the back story.

The past couple of years I started to feel really left out of fashion and frustrated because each month I would happily sit down with my issue of Lucky and InStyle and then not see more than three things in 200+ pages that I could possibly afford and not much more that would actually work for my life.  I don't want to wear a dress, ankle socks, and platform heels or layer high waisted shorts with a blazer.  I also don't have more than $100 to spend on a shirt, but I don't want to buy things from Forever 21 that will fall apart.  Realizing that I must be in some minority demographic, I got good at making medium/low outfits and learning to get good deals on name brand clothes.

In addition to style, I was like all the other women who complain about not seeing bodies similar to theirs in print and in stores.  I'm on the large side of average (10, give or take a size) and it takes skill to be able to look at something on a rack and see if it will be flattering and walk past 70% of the stuff in a store because it won't work for your body.  I looked online for ideas, but found mostly complaining or the same few tips over and over.

I started thinking about blogging after I was interviewed for the Dallas news in January and the reporter said I knew more about clothes and shopping than other people she'd interviewed and encouraged me to share the knowledge.  I searched around and found lots of 'this was my outfit today' blogs (great for ideas, but you can't usually find what they're wearing) and lots that feature more daring ensembles like the ones in magazines, but none that posted clothes like me and my friends buy and hardly anyone writing about dressing different body types with actual examples.  I decided to give it a try and see if anyone would read what I wrote, and you do!

I try really hard to keep the content relevant and not too obvious, and I think I've developed a better eye for outfits and now home decor as well.   All of your comments remind me that there are lots of us regular women and I appreciate all of them.  I read every one and hope you'll keep coming back and tell your friends too.  Thanks for being part of my little venture into writing.  :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My favorite new decor site -

I hate mail.  I don't bother to open it and let it pile up until my basket gets full and then I throw it out.  Luckily, one catalog caught my eye during last week's purge and shred.  I'd never heard of Home Decorator's Outlet before, but was shocked at the variety of styles they offer in that middle of the road price range that other chains seem determined to avoid.

This stuff isn't $50 and ready for you to assemble with an l-shaped wrench, but it's not $499 for an end table either.  I love having 62 console tables to choose from instead of 5, and I think this will be my new go-to site when I search for West Elm copycat pieces.  There are also a variety of traditional pieces and even sinks and vanities, but I'm drawn to the modern options that look like you could have picked them up at Crate and Barrel for three times the price.  And now for my favorites:

Reflections Cabinet
I think this would be great in a living room where you have an empty spot on the wall and could use some storage.  It could also work in a dining room for storing serveware or bar supplies.

Craftsman Duo Frame Mirror
I love how classic this mirror is and think it would look good in bedroom, bathroom or even over a mantel (but not next to your Reflections cabinet)
Wicker Frog Hamper
I just think this is funny and would put it in a kid's room or a guest bathroom
Clark Coffee Table
I think this table would work nicely with mid-century antique pieces or other modern furniture.  It's sleek but not too much of a statement, and you can put baskets underneath to store your remotes (we have 7, I kid you not).  The Soho Randall table is very similar, but with a glass bottom.
Noho Chelsea Nailhead Chair
Hello lover.  I want this chair so badly. It would be perfect in a room with a neutral sofa (like mine!) or in a large bedroom with one of those weird sitting areas that nobody uses.
Parsons Desk
Look familiar?  Yes,  this is a West Elm copycat and it costs $100 less than it's twin.

Martha Stewart Living Chrysanthemum Rug
Say no to earth toned color blocks! This is not what I expected from Martha, but I like it.  It's not for the faint of heart, but in the right room it could be very pretty.
Rhineland Area Rug
This is a good neutral rug that doesn't draw as much attention, but is far from boring.
What piece is your favorite?  I'm still dreaming about the nailhead chair...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Sometimes I just wanna wear sleeves"

I was chatting with my coworker Jennifer today and we began talking about summer clothes and how hard it is to find a dress with some sleeves on it.   When you want one, you'll find only a sea of spaghetti straps.  In the event that some of you feel like we do, I've picked some of my favorite dresses that cover your shoulders

Modcloth Front of the Mezzanine Dress
It's Getting Haute in Here Dress
Fossil Jerri Dress
LOFT Jersey Wrap Dress
Boden Audrey Dress
 Eliza J Cotton Shirtdress (also in Navy)
Halogen Drape Neck Dress

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reader Request: Modern, Low Cost Living Room

As you'll see in the call for requests post, my friend Leah has asked for help setting up the small living area in her new apartment with a modern look and limited budget.  She likes earthy tones and wants a cozy feel without it feeling like an old person lives there.  I've never done a room request before, but here goes nothing!

Leah doesn't have a large space to work with and thanks to the open plan, lacks a lot of wall space.   Here is her floor plan:

I'm thinking that her flat screen TV should hang on the solid wall behind the refrigerator (hopefully it's wired for that).  Underneath it, I think she needs some kind of long, low storage unit to house books, dvds, the Wii and whatever else.  I like this one from Target.  Since it's not going to be bearing anyone's weight or get moved around much, I think it's fine to go cheaper on a piece like this.  If more storage is needed, I love the look of these ladder shelves from JCP that she can use to arrange stacks of books and cute storage boxes.  Plus, when she moves out, they'll easily adapt to an office or other new space.

Since she'll be needing a couch, I think Leah should go ahead and get one she wouldn't mind sitting on for the next 5 years.  Rather than trying to cram a couch/loveseat combo into a small room, I think she should get an L-shaped couch that will offer enough seating for multiple guests and is long enough to serve as an extra bed if needed.  I like this one from JCPenney since you can pick from a variety of fabrics in several colors and it's 84" long.  However, the best part is that you can reconfigure it by moving the chaise cushion to either end and sliding the ottoman unit over.  This would be placed against the wall opposite the TV.

When it comes to choosing a coffee table, I think that limited space means you need to select a table that offers some storage.  My favorite new site is and I think their Jackman coffee table is really chic but still offers room to store baskets with blankets, books and magazines.  (It's espresso but the photo looks black).  I think Ikea is a great place to look for end tables like this one because they look good enough to sit in the corner and are about $50 cheaper than other places.

In addition, I think Leah would appreciate having a chic upholstered chair with modern lines that she can take to her next home and recover as needed.  To be practical, I think she should look for one with some cushion since nobody wants to watch football games perched on a hard chair.  In this apartment, I think it would go near the door facing the television or next to the credenza by the TV, depending on how much space there is.  I like this chair from as well as this one, which has a more casual feel. 

By now, I know you're thinking "where's the color?"  Here it is - in pillows and in accessories.  Since Leah's budget is limited, I think she should only invest in neutral pieces that can be easily integrated into her next house or sold online.  In my opinion, pillow covers are the cheapest way to bring color into the room.   Modern prints like the ones offered at Willa Sky Home, Mariescosycushions, Mod Diva, and Lynne's This and That are inexpensive and can be made to fit pillows you already have.  Four pillows on the couch and one in the accent chair will make the room plenty colorful.  A colorful throw will also add some color to the beige room since painting is impractical (unless she plans to be there a long time).

I've said before that I think JCPenney and Target are the best places to shop for lighting since they don't demand $150 for a basic table lamp.  I'm a fan of this classic glass lamp as well as this silly 60s shape.

Finally, Leah will need something for the walls.  Since she doesn't have lots of open wall space, I think she can compile a collection of interesting photos and unify them with matching frames from Ikea or Target.  I think Feyhandmade and (of course) Etsy are the best places to collect unique prints over time.  (These are examples, I wouldn't hang them together!)

And finally, for the mandatory touch of ridiculous in the room, a flying pig bank.  Done.

If you'd like me to do a post for you, send me an email or leave a comment.  I enjoy it!


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