Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Travel Chicly - Without Sweatpants!

I'm not going to pretend that I always dress up when I travel, especially for extra-long flights.  However, there's a difference between being comfortable and being sloppy, and I think lounge wear in the airport is unnecessary.  There are so many soft, stretchy things you can wear without resorting to yoga pants that say PINK on the butt.

Sadly, we'll be seeing lots of Ugg boots and pajamas in public this week, so I wanted to share a little bit of inspiration for a super comfy travel outfit that's still high on style:


Believe it or not, there are stylish pull-on jeans that are soft and stretchy and not intended for grannies.  If you haven't already, get yourself to Last Call and check out Fade to Blue jeans.  They're under $60 and come in lots of different cuts and washes, including a regular boot cut for those who don't like skinny jeans.  (Pro tip: go up a size)

I'm also a huge fan of structured sweater blazers like this one from Gap.  I checked it out in store, and it's the perfect length and looks like a blazer from afar, but much more comfortable and not likely to wrinkle.

Target has got lots of great drapey tees (like this one, pictured) but I'm intrigued by this one with faux leather trim that would add a little edge to basic jeans.  (I haven't seen the tee with trim in person yet, though)

And finally, if you can get your hands on some Elorie ballet flats, buy them.  They are so well made and comfortable (go up a half size, though) and a great deal on Gilt.com.  Mine are the black metallic suede, which have a really subtle shine, and I am seriously considering buying a brown pair as well.  (Update: For $49, I just did!)

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Safe travels, everyone!!  I will be taking the rest of the week off, so please check back Monday for your regularly schedule fashion, baby rooms, and randomness.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Style: Long Weekend Packing

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had fun this weekend, and that this short work week flies by for all of us.  Since this is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, I put together a bit of Thanksgiving weekend packing inspiration for those of you who will be away from home.

Here are some outfit ideas that will fit in a carry-on, and take you from airport to eating to shopping to watching The Family Stone while drinking hot chocolate on a sofa (everyone does that, right?)


Have safe travels, ladies!  Let's try not to over pack...

P.S. I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my mom.  I love you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday internet! I hope your week was great, and that you're up to something fun this weekend.  I'm excited to host my family and have an early Thanksgiving dinner, although winter in Dallas appears to be arriving tonight.  Let's all wear sweaters!

Before I freeze, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. I love love love the design that Emily Henderson installed for Joanna Goddard's family apartment.  It's the perfect mix of midcentury and electic, and I would happily copy it in my house.



2.  I really want a spiky turquoise necklace for Christmas, and the ones I want keep selling out on Etsy.  That means I'm not sharing the one I actually want, but this baby is a close second:



3. This week N and I went shopping for the "angels" we adopted for Christmas, and the preschool-aged girl I chose asked for a doll house.  Since she also needs a coat and some other things, I was forced to get a more affordable Barbie "glam vacation" doll house and some Barbies to go inside of it.  Can I just say that I became even more excited to be having a boy after having spent 15 minutes trying to find the right combination or doll and outfit that looked the least like a prostitute?!  I ended up buying two dolls in bikinis, with some dresses that did not look like they belonged at the Bunny Ranch.  What the heck, Mattel?



4. I'm currently reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and it's such a good story so far.  I can't believe it's not already a movie starring Bill Nighy.



5. If ever there were a wrapping paper that I would frame in a triptych of panels, it's probably this one by Rifle Paper Co.  You can get three sheets for $8.50, which isn't bad if they're destined for a life as decoration rather than garbage.



Have a nice weekend, ladies!  Stay warm!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How do you get stuff so cheap? (Holiday Edition)

Since holiday shopping season is upon us, I thought it would be helpful to revisit some of my cheap shopping secrets and add a few new ones.  I actually enjoy buying Christmas gifts, and consider staying within budget a fun challenge, so here are a few tips I've picked up over the years:



 Shop in store
Unless you have a free shipping code or a large order, you'll usually get a better deal in person once you add $8 to the cost of the item you found online.  I tend to use websites to scope out things I want, and then purchase them in person (and often cheaper!)  If the website doesn't have a "find in store" feature, I'm not shy about calling a store and asking them to look up the style number to find what I want.

Shop often
If you only go to a store once a month on Saturday afternoon with everyone else, you won't have much of a chance of scoring that piece from the previous collection that was returned and marked down because the lunch time shoppers already scooped it up.  It's a numbers game - the more you shop, the better your chances of getting lucky.

Shop during the work week, if you can
Shipments of new merchandise often arrive on Mondays and Tuesdays, which means that stores are looking to move existing stock over the weekend to make room.  If you show up late in the week, you'll get first dibs on the markdowns.

Keep an open mind
If you walk around looking only for the perfect leopard loafers for your sister, you'll be unlikely to find exactly what you want in a single afternoon.  However, if you're constantly looking at sales, then you will have a chance at scoring an amazing pair of wedge booties in her size (or yours). 

Constantly shop for gifts that don't come in sizes
I'm known to come across great deals on jewelry and accessories (which don't take much room to store) and buy in bulk, then worry about who gets what.  Banana Republic is one of my favorite sources for cheap jewelry, I get to appear as though I've spent a lot when in reality I sometimes paid about $7 for something that was originally $49.  I know this is controversial, and that sometimes the items aren't returnable, so I only do it for friends I know very well and are sure to like what I choose for them.

Find out where the markdowns live
I'm lucky to live in a large city, and most stores I shop at have several locations within a 20 mile radius.  I am not shy about chatting with salespeople (I used to be one) and will flat out ask if there's a store where the clearance goods get shipped to.  Often, a retailer will keep full-price merch in an affluent location where it's likely to sell faster, and send the markdowns to a store with the space for it and the traffic to move it quickly.  Gap and LOFT both do this in Dallas, and those are the locations I hit most often.

The reverse image search is your friend
If you are buying from a company that sells things they do not manufacture, chances are the photo they have online is the standard product image.  By saving this picture to your computer and then doing a reverse image search (with Google, click on "Images" in the top right, then click on the little camera in the search box), you can see who else is selling it.  This has worked especially well with online boutiques like Lulu & Georgia, where I've found items they sell for less than half the price on Amazon or Overstock.com.  I've also found the same pair of boots on sale at Anthropologie and Piperlime, and even though the price was the same, having options like this might allow you to avoid shipping costs or use a coupon code.


Download an app that will allow you to scan barcodes and compare prices (Amazon, ShopSavvy, Pricegrabber)
If you're looking to purchase something electronic, or widely sold, be sure to scan the barcode with your Amazon app to be sure you're getting a good price.  Unless you've procrastinated, it's typically worth it to wait a few days and save $7.




What's your favorite tip for staying in budget?  Do tell!

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's done! Bathroom Renovation Before & After

At long last, our bathroom renovation is done!  I could not be more proud of my husband for sacrificing his evenings and weekends all summer and fall, and I think the end result looks pretty great!

We live in a mid-century ranch house, and there's not much space to work with, so we did a lot of designing before we figured out how best to utilize the layout.  I also wanted to keep the look modern and fun, but without too any finishes that a future buyer may be scared of.  (It turns out that most people who buy houses think beige is fantastic)

Here was the before shot:



This was the design plan:



And, the finished product (which was REALLY hard to photograph because that room is tiny and the lights are bright):

I decided that gray cabinets would add some contrast to all the white, without blending in with the floor, and a Silestone countertop will offer the same look as marble but without the need for maintenance and no risk of stains.  The existing tub was refinished, and N installed white subway tile all the way to the ceiling to make the dark end of the room feel brighter and more open.



To add storage space, we decided to install two sets of drawers opposite the vanity with a matching countertop, and built-in shelves on top of an ikat wallpaper that the next owners can paint over or rip down if they want to be boring.   Several baskets from Homegoods will let me hide things I don't want sitting out, although most of our drawers are empty at the moment.


Overall, I'm thrilled with the end result and am so relieved for this project to be over.  Doing projects like this yourself obviously saves lots of money, but the timeline is measured in months instead of days.  I'm super proud of my husband, but I'm excited for him to be able to relax after work instead of putting in 3 hours of manual labor.

That said, any ideas for amazing Christmas gifts for the man willing to build this for me will be much appreciated.


Source Information:

Mirror - Purchased from the chip and dent room at Horchow Finale (with a small crack), repaired by Malloy Glass in Dallas, TX

Cabinets - Ordered from Second & Surplus in Dallas, made by Shiloh Cabinetry

Countertops - Lyra by Silestone, purchased as a remnant from Irving Countertops

Floor Tile - Exotica Walnut porcelain plank tiles purchased from Floor & Decor.  We have these throughout our living area and kitchen and love them!

Wall Tile - White subway tiles purchased from Floor & Decor

Wallpaper - Soft Ikat by Patty Lonsinger via Spoonflower

Shower Curtain - via Amazon.com

Rugs - Nate Berkus Aztec Diamond rug via Target

Baskets - via Homegoods

Pineapple Thingys - Nate Berkus for Target (on clearance, no longer available online)

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Things Friday + Last Day for Uncommon Goods Giveaway!

Thank goodness it is Friday! I don't think I've been this excited to wrap up a work week since 2008.  Now I get to get my house in order for 30 guests at our annual Fry-Day party (think Texas State Fair food assembled by amateurs in the backyard) and do some work on our registry for Baby Cardigan.

While I start tackling my To Do list, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. I just purchased this pillow/cover from Society 6 and it is officially the jumping off point for Baby Cardigan's nursery, color-wise.  I'm going for a vaguely midentury-esque room with fun colors, gold washi tape trim, and subtle additions of Marvel characters because it makes my husband happy.  Wish me luck!



2. We all know that Rugs USA is a pretty amazing source for affordable rugs, and I just thought I'd bring this one to your attention.  It's such a cool pattern that is NOT CHEVRON!  (My only concern is that the rug that looks 100% navy or cobalt to me is being labeled as black)



3. What do we think of these shoes? I LOVE my Gap smoking slippers, and wish I could find a good leopard pair, and these look similar but I've never had any Aldo shoes and don't know how they hold up. 



4. This outfit photo via See Jane is so "me", except I'm not a ripped denim person and I like my scarves a little smaller and I'm short and brunette.  I can confidently say that my brown leather jacket has been one of my best investments ever (very similar), as was my saffron colored scarf.  If you're on the fence... BUY!  Look how cute you'll look!

image via See Jane


5. Don't forget that you have until midnight Central time tonight to enter to win the Uncommon Goods gold cuff bracelet.  Just leave a comment on the giveaway post (not here, please) and I'll pick a winner!



Bonus 6th Thing:  Are there any other HIMYM fans out there?  I hate that I'm hating this season, but I do like the mother a lot.  I keep hoping it will get better, but the characters are getting more cartoonish and there was a storyline about scrambled eggs.  It's painful, I tell you!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Real Life: Naming People is Difficult

First of all, I realize that naming children is one topic on which everyone and their cousin has an opinion.  You can't help what you like, and neither can I, so please know that it's not my intention to insult anyone with the following remarks.  If you tend to get worked up about such matters, you may want to come back tomorrow. 

 I just like this picture. (source unknown)

Ok, disclaimer aside, I want to talk names.  This is one of the biggest decisions that I will ever make on behalf of another person and it is weighing heavily on my mind.  I have an ever-evolving list on my phone, and I am married to someone with equally strong opinions, so this decision is probably going to be quite an ordeal.

While I've perused long lists of little boy names, I also love hearing suggestions from other people.  That's where you come in!  Below is a list of my boy name criteria, some serious and some silly, and I'd love to know your opinions. 

Official Naming Criteria and Preferences:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Favorites: Cardigan + Leopard

If you haven't guessed from the name of this blog, I am a cardigan connoisseur.  I am also very aware of how best to dress different body shapes, and a not-too-long v-neck cardigan without much bulk is universally flattering.

If you agree, check out the LOFT boyfriend cardigan (currently only $25).  I have three, and they go with all of the things.


You know what else goes with everything?  Leopard accessories.  If you're starting to assemble a wish list, I highly recommend adding a great scarf, pumps or flats, and a bag that you can wear year-round with all sorts of outfits.  They're the kind of item that people like to give, especially scarves and bags that can't be the wrong size!  (I'm hoping to receive this scarf from Banana Republic because the print is not hooker-ific and it's very soft)

P.S. You know what else also goes with everything?  The gold astrology cuff that I'm giving away courtesy of Uncommon Goods.  Leave a comment on the giveaway post by midnight on Friday to enter!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giveaway: Gold Cuff from Uncommon Goods!

Happy Monday, internet!  I know it's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway, mostly because I am very selective about what I offer and have made it a rule to only give away something I'd want to win.  That's why I'm pretty excited about today's giveaway sponsor, Uncommon Goods!

Their website is a great source for finding unique pieces that you won't see at the mall, like this awesome gold-plated astrology cuff that's handmade by artist Julie Nolan.  You just pick your sign, and the constellations are hand stamped around the bracelet, which makes it a lot more personal than the candle you were considering for your sister-in-law. (Check out other personalized gifts here!)

The nice folks at Uncommon Goods have offered up one of these lovely bracelets to the winner of this giveaway, and if you win you will look like the most generous gift-giver, or one of the most stylish guests, at your holiday party!



If you want more Christmas or Hanukkah shopping ideas, check out their suggestions here (or this page, specifically for the women on your list)!

 
The Rules:
Entering is easy, just leave a comment in the Disqus thread below.  You don't have to create any sort of account, but you'll need to supply an email address or Twitter handle so I can contact you if you win.  (If you don't, I will pick another entry) The cutoff for entries is midnight central time on Friday, 11/15 and the giveaway is open to US residents only.  I'll announce the winner on Monday!  Good luck!

Disclosure: The prize for this giveaway is being provided by Uncommon Goods, but I have received no financial compensation for hosting and selected the item myself.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, internet!  I hope y'all had a great week full of lovely fall things like scarves and boots and lattes.  I feel like the month is flying by already, and that I need to be making holiday preparations or baking more stuff involving pumpkins. 

While I decide what bake, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. I have such a love/hate relationship with Anthropologie.  Some of their merchandise really speaks to me, and some is so overpriced that it boggles my mind (like this $2500 rocking chair that would be perfect for Baby Cardigan's room).  Luckily, these shoes are well within a normal budget and would add some subtle sparkle to holiday ensembles.



2. Does anyone else watch Parenthood? (Mild spoiler ahead)  I have been a fan since the beginning, but this season is really making me nervous.  Doesn't it feel like they're setting everyone up to cheat?  If Julia and Joel break up, I will talk about not watching anymore.  


P.S. Are we just all going to pretend that Haddie doesn't exist anymore?  Even boring Drew gets the occasional storyline.


3. Having just visited my local LOFT store, I am obligated to let you know that this sweater is super chic in person and I am really sad that it doesn't come in a maternity version for all my Christmas gatherings.  The torso has a bit of sheen, but not in a "look at me!" way.  And since it's at LOFT, you can bet it's going to be 40% off at some point in the near future.



4. I know I'm a little late to the party, but I'm loving this idea (via Poppytalk) of framing abstract wrapping paper in an Ikea Ribba frame.  It would be perfect for a space where you don't want to invest a lot, but need to fill some wall space and add some style.

This scalamandre-esque zebra paper from Paper Source is also a good option, for just $2.50!



5. I just ripped Ina Garten's pumpkin spice cupcake recipe out of my latest issue of InStyle, and can't to try it out.  It involves maple flavored cream cheese frosting and chopped up Heath bars.  NOM!  

You can also check it out here.


Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reader Request: Tights for Beginners

Today I'm excited to help Elizabeth, an Atlanta lady looking to incorporate tights into her fall and winter wardrobe.  I am hoping to do the same (maternity style) so this was a fun challenge, since the mild winters in Dallas and Atlanta give us lots of opportunities for outfits that wouldn't quite stand up to a snow day.

I think the key to styling tights is being open to layers, and keeping the tights a neutral color.  I know there are lots of people who can rock bright colors on their legs, but it's tough to keep the look from going juvenile and I lack that talent.  However, earlier this year I showed how some other ladies manage to do it and look great.

Now, here are my favorite options for beginners:






So, are you a tights devotee? Or do you wear pants as much as possible from October to March?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who knew? Affordable jewelry at Madewell

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a great weekend, and enjoyed your extra hour of sleep (or not) now that we're back on standard time.  I personally don't like arriving home in the dark each evening, but it does make the holiday season feel even closer and I will choose to be happy about that.

Since I come from a family of early bird shoppers, I'm already adding some items to my list and making purchases when I find great deals.  In case you too are being asked to provide a list, I thought I'd share some of the pieces that made it onto my own over the weekend.  Who knew that Madewell, home of the $198 dress, is actually a great place to get jewelry under $50?

Here are my favorites (hint, hint family):

















Friday, November 1, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, internet!  I hope y'all have had a great week.  I'm looking forward to the end of our bathroom renovation (at long last!) and some quality time to set my house in order.  Could it be nesting already?

Before I bust out the mop and vacuum, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. I cannot wait to see About Time, which is supposedly made in the vein of Love Actually (my personal holiday tradition).  I was thrilled to see that it's playing in Dallas this weekend, and that I can watch Rachel McAdams fall in love with a British guy a week before people in smaller cities.  And I'll probably indulge Baby D's demands for some popcorn and a root beer.



2. I have always loved the Coronata Star wallpaper pattern by Osborne & Little, since it's classic but still a bit modern.  Unfortunately, a roll runs about $150, making it out of my price range.  Luckily (for me, not them), there are copycats aplenty and I was delighted to discover that we can buy vinyl decals designed to mimic the pattern for $15 (per batch of 28) on Etsy.  I'm currently trying to convince N that they are awesome and not weird.



3. I find this to be wonderful advice, and it applies to both careers and the crazy world of blogging.  



4. I love pumpkin desserts (but not the lattes, surprisingly) and really want to try my hand at these baked pumpkin donut holes (technically muffins) via Seeded at the Table.  They don't call for any crazy ingredients, and will be quick to make in a mini muffin pan.



5. I am in love with these boots, but thanks to my Corso Como purchase in 2008 I do not need any.  Damn them and their quality products!  If you're in the market, you can get them from Anthropologie or Piperlime.

(Pro Tip: Wholesalers often sell to various retailers, and if you use a Google reverse image search you can sometimes find the same item for sale at multiple places, but under different names.  I found the rug I bought for $150 on Amazon on sale for over $300 at Lulu & Georgia, so shop around before you invest!)



Have a nice weekend, ladies!

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