Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Stretch Your Closet: Invest in Staples

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Thanks so much for all your fun feedback and comments on the first “How to Stretch Your Closet” series post last week.  It seems like a lot of us are trying to do that these days.  I’m posting the second installment of the series, and today, it is all about the staples!

When I first started  attempting to cook (attempting being the key word), one of the first things I read via Sandra Lee is the importance of having your pantry and fridge stocked with the essentials, the basic building blocks for recipes.  How can you cook up a last minute meal if you don’t have the staples already on hand?  The same is true for your wardrobe.  You will get more use out of your wardrobe and quicker successful outfits if you keep your closet stocked with staples.

Here is what I think every girl absolutely needs in her closet: 

  • a pair of skinny jeans
  • a black pencil skirt
  • a black blazer
  • a black dress
  • a pair of black round toe heels
  • a comfortable and chic metallic flat
  • a classic belt
  • a cream or white long flowy tank
  • a semi-structured black bag
  • a rockin pair of black boots. 

These are things that can jazz up, change, transform, and carry pieces throughout the seasons.  These ten staples will help you get more out of things you already own.  I promise.

For me, there are three main ways I determine whether something is considered a staple piece.  1) Can I wear it, in some capacity, year round?  2) Will it help me transition other closet pieces from day to night, office to weekend, and summer to fall?  And 3) Is it something that if I wore it once or twice a week, no one would notice the repeating pattern?

The last one might sound a little weird, but here’s the deal.  I can wear a black pencil skirt two or three times a week, and when I mix it with other pieces no one can tell its the same skirt.  I can throw on my black blazer with almost anything, without people asking, “Umm, didn’t you wear that earlier this week.”  The same can’t be said for a patterned pencil skirt or the mustard colored one I’ve been eyeing lately.  The staples are basics, which means quite simply, they’re translatable in almost every city, season, and situation.

If you’re in need of some of these things, here is my best shopping time.  Invest.  Not necessarily money, but invest your time and patience into finding the perfect staple pieces.  Don’t settle, because these are your staples so you need to LOVE them.  If the blazers isn’t fitted enough for you, don’t get it.  If you think the skinnies are too tight in the thigh, let them go.  If it has a weird detail on the sleeve, but you love everything else, put it back.  No matter how good the deal, if you don’t love it, you won’t wear it.  Keep a list of what staples you need and stay on the lookout.  I’ve been looking for a structured black bag for months now, but just haven’t found the right one.  Its on my list though, so I’m investing a lot of time and patience looking for just the right one.

Ok, so to prove my theory, I did a little experiment.  I thought about one of my favorite staples, the black blazer, and thought about all the places, outings, and occasions in the past few months where I’ve worn it.  I don’t have pictures for each one, but I scrounged up a few pics that I did have to show just how versatile this closet staple is…

DSCN2083Back in April, for one of my birthday dinners this past year, I wore my black blazer over a loose fitting floral top, boyfriend jeans, heels, and as usual for me, several layered necklaces.

DSCN3578Here is what I wore to a shift at the store last week.  I honestly felt like wearing sweatpants, but since that isn’t an option, I voted for a maxi dress.  And to make it look more fall (and store) appropriate, I added my trusty black blazer, and a few pieces of bling.  Voila, instant outfit!

DSCN2552 This is at my friend Natalia’s birthday dinner in May, when I paired my blazer with a pair of skinny jeans and a strapless striped top.  I usually wear dresses to birthday dinners, but I was in a hurry, so I leaned on my trusty blazer.

DSCN2762I always wear my black blazer when I travel.  The first reason is because I always pack a blazer, because it helps me transition the few things I can jam into my suitcase for various occasions, settings, climates changes I encounter on my trip.  (That was one of my criteria above remember?)  The second reason is that if I wear it on the plane, I don’t have to worry about it getting smashed in my suitcase, and the third is that is helps with the unpredictable temperature changes of an airplane.  Here, its thrown over a simple gray v-neck tshirt, boyfriend jeans, and heels.

31051_399166486364_605641364_4416052_1701032_nIts not uncommon for me to wear my black blazer with dress either.  It helps me dress it down a bit, and also helps me make dresses work in different seasons (or hide my pasty white arms when I didn’t have time to get some color on me.)  After having this blue dress for two years,  I wasn’t super crazy about it anymore, but for a dinner with some of our New York wedding friends, I paired with with my blazer, giant earrings, and giant heels, and suddenly, I liked it again!

So for me, staple pieces come with endless possibilities.  They make every piece in your closet ten times more wearable.  They are the perfect way to get the most out of what you have in your closet, while looking chic, fresh, put together.  You’ve read about my stance on staple pieces, but what about you?  Do you lean on staples to stretch your closet?  If so, which ones?  Leave a comment, I’m dying to hear your stance on staples!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Little Things

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“Enjoy the little things, for one day, you may look back and realize that they were the big things.”
Robert Brault

I love this quote, because its so true.  We often take the little things for granted, and all too late, realize they weren’t so little at all.

This weekend, I am headed to Ohio to visit my granpa who is still in the hospital.  My dad is also flying up from Texas, so I will be able to celebrate his birthday with him, and hopefully sneak a mini sized carrot cake in the hospital for my grandpa and dad to enjoy together :)

I hope your weekend is fabulous.  And whatever you have planned for the weekend, remember to enjoy the little things!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Girls Day in the City

Yesterday, I had the day off of work, and I decided to make the most of it by heading into the city for a much needed Girls Day with one of my best friends, Christie.  (For proof of just now long we’ve been friends check out this picture.  Classic.)  Here are a few of our Girls Day shenanigans.

DSCN3585Since Matt and I live out in the burbs, we typically just drive into the city.  Yesterday though, I decided to switch things up a bit and take the train in.  I must say, it was a nice change.  It wasn’t really that much faster, but the blue vinyl benches and double decker seating somehow made me feel more chic than when in my usual ride.  After arriving at Union Station, I walked to meet Christie for lunch.  The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and I spent the whole walk in awe of how much love this city.  I never get tired of snapping pictures here!

DSCN3586For lunch, Christie and I met at Mercadito.  I haven’t had a lot of Mexican food since I’ve been here, but what I have had, hasn’t been that great.  I’m spoiled by the good stuff in Texas.  But Mercadito was delightful, and I was really impressed with this slightly tucked away spot.  Christie is notoriously late, so while I waited on her, I enjoyed their traditional margarita.  Super tasty.

DSCN3591 The food was just as scrumptious as their drinks, and by the end of the meal, I was hurting I’d eaten so much.  But today, as I post these pictures, I’m regretting not stuffing down the rest of that guacamole.  I mean, I was wearing a maxi dress.  I could’ve just pretended my food belly was a baby belly and no one would have judged.  Except I was sipping on tequila, so I take that back.  I think people definitely would have judged then.

DSCN3590 Christie and I also enjoyed Mercadito’s take on a cucumber margarita.  At least I think that’s what it was.  My Spanish skills are limited.  The rim was lined with cumin salt, I could read that much, and boy was it yummy!

DSCN3594After lunch, we burned off our lunch with some shopping on Michigan Avenue.  We were well behaved and only picked up a couple of things :)

DSCN3598 Later that night, after Matt got off work, he drove into the city so we could visit the aquarium.  Every Wednesday night in the summer, the Shedd Aquarium does a big jazz event, and since we bought a membership when my brother was in town, we were able to go for free.  I didn’t spot this cute little guy last time we were here, and he might be one of my favorite creatures there.  I mean, a neon pink and orange fish, what a fashionista.  Or should I say fishionista?  Bahahahahahaha, I am so funny :)

DSCN3601 Because the weather has been insanely beautiful lately, the event was pretty packed.  So rather than cram on the deck of the aquarium, we exited and than sat on this little grassy area just next to the aquarium.  Between the view, the jazz, and the fabulous company, it was definitely the best seat in the house!

DSCN3602 So we sat, snapped pics, and enjoyed some Swedish fish while we waited for the fireworks over the lake.  The Swedish fish were an accidental theme addition, but since I love a good theme party, I was happy about the fishy coincidence :)

DSCN3603-1 Even though my hair looks like a weird 80s/Jersey Shore pouf in this picture, I can’t help but smile at this :)

DSCN3605 Why do we insist on keeping fireworks just to the 4th of July?  Luckily, in Chicago during the summer, they have them every night over the lake.  So fun!

After such a fun girls day yesterday, I’m starting to wish summer wasn’t slipping away so fast.  I have a feeling that in a few months, when we have 15 inches of snow outside our door, I’m going to be desperately dreaming of yesterday :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The “How to Stretch Your Closet” Series

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We’re almost all the way through August, which means it is officially time for the fall fashion itch.  Between the new falls lines, the September issues, and the cooling temperatures, every little bone in my fashion loving body is in serious love.  Chunky knits, leopard prints, textured tights, boots, belts, scarves, studded bags…every part of me is screaming, “I need it, I need it, I need it!”  Unfortunately, my bank account is screaming, “you can't afford it, you can’t afford  it, you can’t afford it!”  Damn bank accounts and their sensible ways. 

So what’s a girl to do?  Well a sensible girl would just not buy anything.  But since I’m not sensible, that doesn’t apply to me :) But I’m not entirely reckless either, so I’ve learned to find a balance, a few key things here and there, and a splurge when I really love something.  But for the most part, I try to stretch what I have and use what is already hanging in my closet.

Last week at work, one of my coworkers stopped me in the backroom and said, “Oh my goodness, I love that dress, so pretty!”  “Oh thanks,” I replied, “I’ve had this dress for years, and I love it so much I wear it all the time!”  Her response, “I swear I’ve never seen you in it; you never wear the same thing twice.”  Though I was flattered that she didn’t seem to notice I am a fashion repeater, the truth is, I am.  I have to be.  I’m a real girl, with a real budget, and well, that means repeatedly rewearing the stuff in my closet.

But her comment got me thinking.  How do I manage to disguise my rewearing habits?  How do I get the most out of what I have?  So, I decided to spend a few days thinking about it, and I came up with several solid and thoughtful ways that I stretch my closet.  I sat down to type them all out, and after 916 paragraphs, I realized I couldn’t fit all my stretching techniques into one post.  So today, I’m starting a series.  I’ve never done a blog series before, but I thought I’d give it a try.

So, today, I’m giving you the first installment of How to Stretch Your Closet.  And though my first tip isn’t the most earth shattering, it is the most accurate and the most true for me.  I think it really is the number one way I stretch what I have to work for multiple seasons, settings, and occasions. 


The number one trick I have for stretching my closet is really quite simple.  Start a cardigan collection.  I know, I know, not exactly groundbreaking.  And I sound like a broken record, I know.  But I seriously cannot believe how much cardigans can transform your wardrobe.  They make a silk halter top office appropriate, a summery floral dress fall ready, and a strapless night-out dress dinner prepared.  Cardigans are the number one way I get so many uses out of my dresses; I swear by them!  And for proof, just open my closet.  I’ve got a bazillion hanging there, with 1 in every color and shade, and 3 or 4 in the versatile colors (black, grey, cream, camel…)  The coworker comment from above actually came from a cardigan/dress combo.  I’ve worn that dress more times than I can count this summer.  Honestly, I’ve worn it almost every other week since we got to Chicago.  I even wore it to my interview at “the store.”  The trick has been pairing it with different cardigans.  Different colors, different cuts, with belts, without belts.  I even wore it in a pinch last winter with black tights, booties, a wide belt, and surprise, a black cardigan.  Same dress, different cardigans; no one notices, and I’m sold.

Now if you hear cardigan and think “grandma schoolteacher” you’re mistaken.  Cardigans aren’t what they used to be.  Tissue cardigans are my favorite, because they add another layer without too much weight.  My favorite places to find these versatile little guys are Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, and the Gap.  I rarely pay full price for them since they’re always around.  In fact, several retailers are putting their “summer” cardigans on sale.  But it doesn’t say “summer” across the chest, so if they’re the right color and cut for me, I’m there.  Stalk the sale racks, and watch for promos, they’re there, just be patient :)

In fact, scrolling through my outfit of the day posts, 70% of my outfits include a cardigan of some sort. 

DSCN3376The cardigan dress combo is probably my favorite, and is one of the main ways I get so much wear out of my dresses.  This dress is actually strapless, and I bought it to wear to a friend’s summer wedding.  But with a cardigan, its more casual and appropriate for work or running around the city.

DSCN2697This was the dress that sparked the comment from my coworker.  Paired here with a pink cardigan, though I’ve done with blue, orange, camel, gray, and black cardigans.  All just this summer.

So, that’s my first tip for getting the most out of what you already have hanging in your closet!  Anyone else a cardigan collector?  Anyone else trying to stretch your closet this fall?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Promotion, A Celebration, and an OOTD

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This weekend has been absolutely lovely here in Chicago, and even lovelier around our house.  Matt and I have spent a good deal of the weekend celebrating.  The reason?  I got a promotion this week!  Hooray!

The promotion has actually been in the works for most of the summer, but I stayed fairly mum about it in case it didn’t go through.  Though I am currently paying my bills with a position as a freelance writer for a textbook editing company, I’ve been feeding my shopping habit with a part time job at one of my favorite retailers.  (You will often hear me refer to it as “the store” because I haven’t named it on the blog, for fear this blog will seem like a shameless promotional tool.  I never want it to seem like that, so I’m continuing to remain mum and call it “the store.”  Though if you snooped hard enough through my OOTDs, I’m sure you could guess the retailer.)  Anyway, about three weeks after I started working there, my manager mentioned promoting me.  I was excited, said sure, and since then have been interviewing, informally training, and crossing my fingers.  Monday morning, my official offer came through, and after talking it over with Matt (because apparently married people have to “talk over” these kinds of things) I accepted the position of assistant manager!  Eeek, super exciting!

I definitely feel like my juggling act just got a little bit more complicated.  Freelancing, working at the store, and oh yeah…finishing my Ph.D.  Eeesh. But, I’m used to being fairly busy/stressed and find that I’m actually more productive that way.  Go figure.

So with news of a promotion, a celebration was in order.  In our house, that means three things.  Eating, drinking (responsibly Mom, don’t worry), and shopping.  And to make sure I wasn’t alone in that definition, I looked up “celebrate” in the dictionary.  It reads, “eating, drinking, and shopping.”  See, I  don’t make these things up :)  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap too many pictures during our celebrating (unusual for me, I know.)  But here’s what I did get…

DSCN3545Friday night, after Matt got off work, we headed for Italian food.  90% of Matt and I’s date nights are Italian.  I love me some pasta and red wine, what can I say?  Though I’m typically drawn to tiny, dimly lit, family owned spots, Friday we went chain and dined at Maggianos.  The food was yummy, the wine was wonderful, but the dessert sampler was the real winner of the night.  Yum-o.

DSCN3553 Saturday, I had a shift at the store.  I wasn’t in the mood for heels, so I went a little more casual.  As I was walking out of the house, Matt said, “Isn’t it a little warm for a leather jacket.”  I laughed and had to agree, but when you’re trying to sell fall clothes, you do a heck of a lot better if you’re actually dressed for fall.  Rules of retail, I guess.  I can only imagine how confused designers must get.  Coats in July, resort wear in the dead of winter…that must be the weirdest thing!

DSCN3554 These are three of my all time favorite accessories.  I got the owl necklace at a market in London with my mom.  I fell in love with it the minute and I saw it.  Every time I wear it, Matt makes owl noises at me.  One might think my loving husband is saying “woo” and wouldn’t that be sweet, wooing at how great he thinks I look.  But in reality, he’s saying “hoo.”  Like an owl.  Awesome.

DSCN3551 And since it was Saturday, my photog was home for the day.  Those of you who need to see knees and calves get your wish.  I guess I can handle knees in photos once a week :)

Jacket: Nordstrom

Lace tank: Rachel by Rachel Roy for Macy’s

Jeans: Ann Taylor

Shoes: Kenneth Cole

Necklace: London market

Sea shell earrings: my mom’s from the 80s (love them!)

Opal ring: vintage (it was my great Aunt Bunny’s)

DSCN3560-1And after a morning shift at the store and an afternoon of shopping with Matt, we headed home for the second celebration of the weekend.  Pad thai and champagne lol.  We’d planned to go out to a new, local Asian place, but after being on my feet all day, I just wanted to get into my sweats, order takeout, and relax with my man.  So that we did.  With a “cheers” of course!

DSCN3574 And like almost every other weekend this summer, we ended it with smores on the grill.  That grill puts out some bad ass steaks, chops, and corn on the cob, but all I care about are the smores.  And I wonder why my jeans are a  little tighter these days ;)

So that was our weekend.  Simple, celebratory, and wonderful!  Hope yours was fabulous as well!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Mashup

As I walked outside this morning, I pulled my sweater a little tighter around me, shuddered, and muttered a quiet, “Brr!”  Summer in Chicago seems be wrapping up, and though I’m excited for fall, I’m a little sad to see summer go by so quickly.  So when I saw this music mashup on my friend’s Facebook this morning, I had to share.  (Thanks Edgar!)

Jamming out to this, I can’t help but smile and think about all that has happened this summer…Matt and I packed up and moved across the country, we’ve explored a new city, I fought fear and won, I enjoyed the concert of my dreams, Matt and I celebrated one year of marriage, I’ve fallen deeper in love with writing, and we’ve had some totally awesome summer visitors.

Listen to this fun mashup and let me know, what has this summer been to you?  I can’t wait to hear!

PS: If you listen to this on repeat with your speakers blasting while dancing at your desk, I totally won’t judge you.  I did that for a solid twenty minutes :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lusting for Fall: Leopard

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I know I shouldn’t be wishing for fall to get here; I know I should be enjoying the Chicago sun while its here, but I can’t help it.  I’ve lived in Texas almost my whole life, and well, we don’t really get a “fall” there.  Sure we get a few orange leaves and a few days where you might want a sweater, but overall, fall just skips right past Texas.  You go from hot summers to holidays.  True story.  No fall, I don’t lie.

So this year, I am excited to experience a real fall.  Everyone says that fall in Chicago is beautiful, and I am over the moon excited!  (PS: when it starts freezing, and I’m complaining about the cold and how I haven’t been out of my fuzzy leopard robe for days, I give you full permission to link back to this post, and say, “Be careful what you wish for, Allison…”)

But until then, I’m giddy over preparing for fall, and that of course, means preparing my fall wardrobe.  Clearly, I have my priorities in line here.  One of the things I’m most excited for this fall is print, particularly, leopard print.  Now I know, leopard isn’t everyone’s thing, blah blah blah, but I’m from Dallas, the land of leopard and bling.  And judging by what retailers are putting out this season, it seems I’m not the only one in love.  Check out a few of the items I’ve recently spotted.  (Forgive the shameful and intentional pun.  I can’t help myself.  I’m a natural comedian.)

modcloth bootie

ModCloth’s Wildcat Wedge
I literally need this now.  I am so in love with these wedge/booties.  Perhaps we should nickname them wooties?  Or even better, wedgies.  Hahahha, see, told you, natural comedian here.  But seriously, these babies might the be first thing on next up to purchase list.  Wouldn’t these just add an ounce of bad ass to any outfit?

br769720-01vliv01Banana Republic’s Cotton Animal Print Cardi
Though I’m not crazy about how Banana has this look styled, I adore this cardigan.  And I love the idea of pairing a leopard cardigan with a softer, more feminine top (just not this one, sorry BR.)  I also like that it doesn’t have the typical cardigan buttons.  I would throw this over just about anything!

rmink2043130640_p2_v1_m56577569831981243_254x500 Rebecca Minkoff Leopard Fling Clutch
I have been trying to convert to smaller handbags (more on that later) and I think this one is oh so perfect.  Demure in size, yet in pattern, anything but.  And the vintage shape makes it even more lovely.

erez J. Crew Kelcey Calf Hair Ballet Flats
Almost everyone is doing their version of the leopard flat this year, but I must say, I think this is my favorite.  A adore that the darker camel color is the focus, as opposed to the lighter shade which is present in a lot of leopard flats.  And the calf hair makes it extra luxe.  Ann Taylor makes a similar flat that I love almost as much, for a third the price.  Me likie.  _6176228 Erica Anenberg Leopard Twosome Ring
If you’re not quite ready to commit to the leopard look, this is just the piece for you.  This double finger ring is small, but packs a punch.  Its subtle, but fabulous.  I need it.

br772618-01vliv01 Banana Republic Haircalf Mini Chain Bag
Though I’ve been on the fence about these small chain bags, this one has definitely tipped me in the “like” direction.  This wouldn’t be an everyday bag for me, but it would be perfect for nights out in our new city.  Between the chain, the leopard, and that gold clasp, what’s not to love?

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And when it doubt, throw on a giant leopard scarf.  My favorite is one I picked up at a market in London with my mom.  It is fabulous, and can be thrown in purse, shoved under a coat, and wrapped a million different ways.  You can snag these in lots of places, but I think its fun to pick up scarves from markets and vintage stores, so that’s where  would start your search.

So while I am a firm believer in leopard in small doses, I think I’m going to be adding a lot of small daily doses of leopard into my fall wardrobe this year.  It’s pretty fool proof dressing in my book. Keep it simple, stay with neutrals, add a piece of leopard, and you’re ready to go.  Stylish, chic, and a little bit bad ass.

So what about you?  Are you lusting after leopard this fall?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dorothy and Flash

I want to tell you a quick story.  A love story.
About Oscar and Dorothy,
My sweet grandparents.

They met in high school.
In Iowa.
She was young and beautiful.
His nickname was Flash because he outran all of the seniors on the track team.
Dorothy and Flash.

They were married in 1945,
When he returned home from WWII.
They honeymooned in Chicago,
and eventually moved to Ohio.

Dorothy and Flash raised three boys together.
Their middle child is my favorite.
They have 5 grandchildren.

Dorothy and Flash send the best camp care packages.
They make pumpkin stick cookies and mail them to every child and every grandchild.
Every year.
Even if they don’t get around to it until the next July.

Flash wears suspenders that look like a giant measuring tape.
Dorothy still uses a typewriter when she sends birthday cards.
Flash says “yes dear” better than any man I’ve ever known.

Dorothy and Flash have been married for 65 years.
They still live together on Adams street in the home they raised their 3 sons in.
They are a wonderful example of true love.

Today, Flash had heart surgery,
and he came out ok.
He is resting and doing well.

But last night, as he left for the hospital,
He said goodbye to Dorothy.
She would be meeting him at the hospital the next day.

As Dorothy said goodbye to him at the door, she said,
Come back to me.
And Flash said,"
I will,
One way or another

Dorothy and Flash.
The best example of love I could ever ask for.

My Happy Lately List

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It’s Wednesday, and what better way to get through the mid week stretch than with recognizing the little things that make life so stinkin sweet.  Here are a few of the things making me terribly happy today :)

The coffee shop near my house has been putting chocolate covered espresso beans on the lip of my coffee cup lately, such a lovely little treat!

The Glee season one soundtrack.  Matt snagged it for me this weekend, and I have not stopped jamming out since.  I even heard him singing along in the kitchen.  Ha.

I got the coolest shout out on one of my favorite new blogs, a toast.  Whitney is hella hilarious, and I am loving that I get to read her witty sarcasm on a daily basis now.  (Thanks for the shout out, Whit Whit.  And yes, that is a nod to my hero Brit Brit.  Recognize.)

Speaking of Brit Brit…did you catch this news?  There are no words to anticipate how freaking happy this makes me.  I also see it as no coincidence that Britney waited till I was Glee fan to sign on.  We’re tight like that.

Rainer cherries.  My summer staple.

We are getting a huge shipment at “the store” today.  Opening 84 boxes of jewels, dresses, and handbags is like Christmas on steroids, minus the fact I have to pay for the what's in the boxes ;)

I am sporting some new loungewear on days I am at home freelancing.  I felt yucky in regular t-shirts all day.  A  mini freelance wardrobe revamp was in order, and my new neon tees and tanks did the trick.

I got a coupon in the mail for a Dairy Queen blizzard.  And yes, I realize I am an old loser that coupons and DQ blizzards make me happy.

Sarah Bareilles on Pandora.  Enough said.

A text from my dad saying that my 87 year old granpa made it out of surgery ok today.  God is good!

What’s making you happy lately?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Planet Dissertation and a Giveaway Winner

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Well hello there.  I bet you thought I fell off the planet.  Well, I kind of did.  This past weekend I feel off planet Earth and onto Planet Why-the-hell-did-I-ever-decide-to-get-a-ph.d-my-dissertation-is-ruining-my-life.  Yes, that planet.  It is a terrible, horrible, dark place, and I spent my entire weekend there.  Crouched over my computer, papers scattered everywhere, and 3 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper within arms reach.  I took a few breaks to work shifts at the store and do the obligatory wife thing at a social event for Matt’s job.  Loads of fun I tell you.  And just when I thought the fun was over, I extended my weekend for a Monday stay on Planet-dissertation-hell.  Ugggh.  Horrible, horrible, horrible.  But, the upside?  Tonight I sent in a revised copy of my diss proposal that will hopefully make my chair swoon with admiration.  But most likely, she’ll send it back to me with more edits, and I’ll spend another upcoming weekend on Planet Hell.  Awesome.  Please tell me your weekend was better.  In fact, please tell me all the fun things you did this weekend, so I can live vicariously through you.  Pretty please.

But enough about my less than thrilling weekend, let’s talk a giveaway winner.  Yeah, I know that’s why you’re still reading this post.  You don’t fool me :)

The turnout was great, and I really appreciate all you sweets taking the time to comment separately for each entry.  It made my life so much easier!  So without further ado, the winner of the Misikko giveaway is…(drumroll please…) Lindsay from Sunny with a Chance of Freckles

Woo hoo, congrats pretty girl, random.org loved you!  Email me at smartandsassywithsprinkles@gmail.com and I will get you connected with the Misikko team!  Thanks again to Misikko for hosting such a fab giveaway :)

Thanks to all of you who entered, I really wish you could all win!  But if you didn’t, no worries, I’m hoping to do another giveaway in the near future!

So with that, I must say, I’m happy to be back on Planet Earth, away from Planet Dissertation, and back to a semi normal week!  Hope your week is filled with joy, encouragement, and days where you feel on top of the world.  Much love yall!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Who You Are

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“Be who you are, and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind.”
Dr. Seuss

I always have to reread this quote a few times before it really sinks in.  It’s so true though, isn’t it?  The people who let us be us, quirks and all, are the ones who really matter in this life.

PS: Tonight is the deadline for my Misikko giveaway.  Hurry and enter if you haven’t already!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Glee Obsessed Me and an OOTD

tumblr_l64jj39MJv1qcu92xo1_500_large{we heart it}

Holy shiz.  I just spent the past 3 hours watching disc two Season 1 of Glee.  I am obsessed.  How was I not watching this show before?  How was I missing all this over the top musical geniusness?  How was I missing the awesomeness that is Glee?!  I seriously sat on the couch for three hours tonight giggling away, singing along, and just plain giddy because I love this show so freaking much.  It is taking all of me to work towards my 9:00 am freelance deadline and not finish the entire season tonight.  I have a seriousness problem.  (In fact, this entire blog post is actually meant to be theatrically sung to the tune of your favorite Britney beat.  So reach deep, and find your inner Rachel Berry.  Or I’ll go all Sue Sylvester on you.)

In other news, today, Jen from I Heart Organizing featured my jewelry organization project on her blog!  You can check it out here.  And while you’re there, stay and look around, because she has some fabulous organizational ideas that will warm your little heart.  Thanks for the shout out Jen, you rock!

And because I’m all jazzed up from Glee and not really feeling like working at 10:30 at night, I’ll leave you with a little OOTD, though I’m thinking about calling it a hOOTD.  Half outfit of the day.  I know OOTD posts are technically supposed to be full body shots, but with my photographer (aka Matt) now occupied with an 8-5 job (snooze), I’m having to rely on my bathroom mirror.  But luckily I’m 900 feet tall, and all you’re really missing is my knees and ankles.  And who really needs knees and ankles?



Dress: BCBG

Cardigan: J.Crew

Bracelet: Ann Taylor {available here}

Necklace: Ann Taylor

Ring: David Yurman

Earrings: my wedding day gift from Matt

Shoes (unseen): silver Dolce Vita flats

Hope your Wednesday was fabulous!  Oh, I almost forgot…today is my 200th post!  Woo hoo!  I never thought this little blog would turn into so much fun!  Thanks to all of you who read my ramblings and keep me smiling every day!  You make my heart go pitter patter!

*And because I am obsessed, here is a little Sue Sylvester for all your fellow Glee obsessies :)

“I'm going to ask you to smell your armpits. That's the smell of failure, and it's stinking up my office.”

“I'm about to projectile express myself all over your Hush Puppies.”

Ok, seriously, I really do have a problem.  I’m just going to watch one more episode tonight.  Just one :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Look What I Got…


A new MacBook Pro!  Eeeeek, I am so excited!  I have been wanting a new computer for a while, and with half of my income now coming from freelance writing, Matt thought this was as good a time as any.  (The fact that I got a student discount didn’t hurt either.  Apparently being a Ph.D student isn’t all crappy.)

Though I am over the moon excited about my new toy, we have a major problem.  I have no earthly idea how the heck to use a Mac computer.  Like, seriously, no idea.  We got back from the Mac store, and I just stared at the thing wondering where the flip to start.  Sure, I bought the extra one-on-one training, but I don’t think those college kids at the Mac store have any idea just how clueless I am.  I literally feel like an 80 year old grandma who just saw a computer for the first time.  I’m not kidding, its that bad.

So, here is where you come in.  I need your help!  For those of you who have Macs, I need your knowledge.  Yeah, I’ll take the lessons from the peeps at the Apple store, but I need the insider knowledge.  You know…What programs do you use for blogging?  What are the cool programs I need to get?  What artsy things can I do now that I own a Mac?  What should I learn first?  What places have cute carrying cases?  You know, all those important things :)

So, if you have any tips for this 80 year old, technologically challenged grandma, please share, I desperately need them!

*PS: If you haven’t entered my Misikko giveaway, hurry and enter, it ends Thursday night!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chicago According to Ryan and a Few OOTDs

Hey there, happy Monday!  I am experiencing a happiness hangover today after spending the last few days showing my little brother the city of Chicago!  I had been begging my parents to send Ryan up from Texas, and after an early bout of homesickness and some tears to my dad, the ticket was bought and the plans were made.  We had an incredible time, and though I am so sad my little bro is back home, I am still giddy from the fun we had this weekend.  Here are “a few” pictures from his stay in our new city.  (I saw “a few” because yall know I can’t ever just post two or three pictures!)

DSCN3383Here we are at the airport Wednesday night, with Ryan fresh off the plane.  I hadn’t seen my brother since we said goodbye in Texas, so I was really excited to see him.  And I swear he has grown three feet since I saw him last!

DSCN3396 Thursday morning we headed into the city.  Our first stop…the John Hancock Observatory.  I did the Hancock a few years ago when Matt and I were in Chicago for a conference (translation: Matt was attending a conference; I tagged along for the vacation), but seeing it now that I have more of a reference point for the city was really great.  Plus, they just redid their audio tours, and not to sound like a huge audio-tour loving nerd, but they’re really good.  An added bonus…David Schwimmer narrates the tour :)

DSCN3400 The view from the 94th floor is, in my opinion, the best in the city.  This picture captures what I love so much about Chicago.  They’ve got buildings, sights, and city things galore, yet they also have outdoor space that just can’t be beat.  It really is the best of both worlds (cue Miley Cyrus!)

DSCN3391   Pulling a Ferris Bueller, Ryan leaned his forehead against the glass and said, “I think I see my dad.”  Funny, funny kid, I tell you.

DSCN3404 Self shots never get old, especially when you’re a thousand feet in the air!

DSCN3406For lunch, I met up with Melissa, a dear friend from high school.  (Ryan wanted to meet up with some friends from his old school in England who live in Chicago, so it worked out perfectly.)  Melissa is one of the most wonderful people I know.  She tells it like it is, and I love that about her.  We lunched on the Magnificent Mile at the Ralph Lauren Restaurant.  The weather was insanely gorgeous, and we got the perfect little patio table.  After lunch, we shopped till we dropped, though I was well behaved and only bought a dress :)

DSCN3419Friday night, we celebrated Ryan’s 18th birthday back at our place.  His birthday was earlier in the month, but since we weren’t in Texas to celebrate, we celebrated a little late.  After a yummy steak dinner (thanks Matt!), we sang “happy birthday” over a delicious coconut gelato cake from Whole Foods (that I may or may not have had for breakfast this morning.)  We got this crazy candle for free last year when we ordered all of the sparklers for our wedding exit.  On the box, the candle promised to “sparkle.”  That was a severe understatement, because as you can see, we had a fireworks show in our apartment in the middle of the cake!

DSCN3424-1Saturday morning, we hopped on the red line and headed towards the museum campus.  I am finally figuring out the Chicago train system, and was so thrilled to go all weekend without getting lost, going the wrong way, or having to ask for directions!

DSCN3427We walked through Grant Park and stopped at the “headless bigfoot army statues.”  I’m certain that is what the sculptors meant to call this piece…

DSCN3433 :)

DSCN3432Walking around Chicago never gets old to me.  (Ok, I lie, last year when we visited in January, walking around in the snow for longer than thirty minutes was kind of miserable.)  But when its as gorgeous as it was this past weekend, I could walk anywhere and everywhere!

DSCN3436En route to the museum, we stopped for Chicago dogs.  I’m still a tourist and ask for ketchup and mustard only.  I’m unphased by the dirty looks from the hot dog man.  No surprise though, Ryan was adventurous and went Chicago style with all the fixins.

DSCN3471We spent the day at the Shedd Aquarium, without a doubt one of the best aquariums in the world.  Its just as cool on the inside as it is on the outside.  Note to self: trying to go on a Saturday is a horrible idea.  A horrible idea that resulted in us becoming “members” so we could avoid the hour and a half wait time lol.  We figure we’ll visit the museum several times this year, particularly when guests are in town, so it seemed like a good “investment.”  (Or a really expensive way to avoid an hour and a half wait!)

DSCN3450Inside the aquarium.  Did I mention this place was really well done?

DSCN3463After we’d seen most of the aquarium, we had some time to kill before the dolphin show, so we headed outside and sat in the park that connects the aquarium to the planetarium.  It was so nice to just relax and people watch for a bit.  The view was amazing, and the company was even better!

DSCN3464 Sometimes I still can’t believe we live here!

DSCN3466And in case great weather and fun family aren’t enough, we added soft serve ice cream cones to complete our Saturday :)

DSCN3477After the dolphin show (which was slightly underwhelming), we headed to Buckingham fountain, one of my favorite places in the city!  During the John Hancock audio tour, I found out that the fountain does a water show every hour on the hour so we headed over, grabbed a few iced coffees, and parked ourselves on a bench for an hour.  If you visit Chicago, you have to come sit and enjoy this little gem.  I could literally sit here for hours!

DSCN3478After Buckingham fountain, we headed to Lincoln Park to meet our friends, Matt and Christie, for dinner at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba.  I love love love this restaurant and can’t get enough of their yummy tapas and sangria.  Though my brother just got back from spending three weeks in Salamanca, Spain, he agreed that Cafe Ba Ba Reeba’s tapas are out of this world amazing!

DSCN3481 Sunday was Ryan’s last day in Chicago, so we headed in early to squeeze in a few last things before he left.  Looking at all these pictures makes me miss him already :(

DSCN3487 After a quick lunch downtown, we did the Chicago River Architecture Boat Tour.  We first did the tour shortly after moving to Chicago, and we loved it so much, we wanted to do it again.  If you are in town, you have to do this tour.  Its a bit pricey, but its a really great way to see the city and hear some interesting facts about Chicago.

DSCN3488After the tour and a little Cubs shirt shopping for Ryan, we hit up Millennium Park.  I had been wanting to snap some pics there all weekend.

DSCN3494I will never ever get tired of taking pictures in The Bean.  (Its really called “Cloud Gate” but I prefer the local lingo.)  Can you spot us?!

DSCN3492There we are! :)

DSCN3501Hahahaha, I am a picture taking nerd that will never tire of these photo ops :)  Judging from Matt’s face though, apparently he will lol.

DSCN3506We made a last minute stop at Garrett’s popcorn, and we bought some of the “Chicago mix” (aka cheese and caramel popcorn mixed together) to send home to my parents.  Knowing my dad, he is probably snacking on this as we speak.

DSCN3503We snagged a shady spot in Millennium Park to enjoy our afternoon popcorn snack.

DSCN3510The cheesy remnants of Ryan and Matt’s Garrett’s goodness :)

DSCN3504Sadly, the day was coming to an end, and we had to head back to take Ryan to the airport.  It was so hard to say goodbye at the airport, and I may or may not have cried most of the way home.  My little brother is the light of my life and has been for the past 18 years.  Being far away from him is really hard, but weekends like this past one make it much more bearable.  We had so much fun, and Matt and I are already counting down till Ryan’s next visit to Chicago!

I’ve also included a few of my OOTDs from the weekend.  My typical outfit for a summer day seeing the city tends to be a jersey dress, tissue cardigan, sandals, and a colorful accessory.  This weekend was no exception!


Dress: Banana Republic

Cardigan: Ann Taylor

Necklace: Target

Earrings: my wedding day gift from Matt

Ring: David Yurman

Sunglasses: Juicy Couture

Sandals: Rampage via Macys


Dress: Max and Cleo {last seen here}

Cardigan: the Gap

Hat: Dillards {last seen here}

Bracelet: vintage

Sandals: Sam Edelman via Nordstrom

Sunglasses: Prada

And since this post was all about our special guest from Texas, I thought it was only fair he get his own little OOTD shout out :)


Tshirt: the Gap

Shorts: Abercrombie and Fitch

Shades: H&M

Sandals: picked up in Italy on our vacation two years ago

Watch: Adidas

Good looks: from his sister ;)

Hope your weekend was fabulous!