Saturday, July 11, 2020

Lakeside

 We just got back from our annual cabin/lake vacation, and I still couldn't stay away from the water! After spending a week in a soggy swimsuit, one thing I had to look forward to (since I didn't want to come home) was blogging again. So I dragged my friend Sarah out on a 90 degree evening to take these pictures! I knew this spot would be perfect for this dress, which looks like lake landscape oil paintings! This is the lake in which our town is named after - Grass Lake - and this evening light with the lily pads was so gorgeous. We got out there right before a storm blew through.
 I grew up with an annual cabin/lake vacation, so swimming in the lake is like therapy to me and something I appreciate every year. I love how the top is warm from the sun, and you can feel the temperature change as you go deeper. The smell and feel of the water is heavenly. Because of these memories, and the artsy aspect of this dress, I knew I had to have it.
 Maeve Seaside Mini Dress : Anthropologie


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June Reads

Even though I read 5 books this month, my reading seemed to drag on. Three of the books felt like they took a long time to read and were just so-so, but then I loved two:

The Safe Place, by: Anna Downes
This is an ARC (release date July 14) that I got in a trade. Emily is down and out, but the head of the company where she just got fired sees something in her. He offers her a job that is almost too good to be true - to be a caretaker at his vacation estate where his wife and daughter live. Emily is enjoying life in a paradise like setting, forging a friendship with her employers. But soon she starts to question a few odd rules and interactions - and eventually finds out the shocking truth about their young daughter. I really enjoyed this book!

Swamplandia, by: Karen Russell
I got this book in a trade.This book peaked my interest because I like learning about unique places that I do not already know about. And since I adored Where The Crawdads Sing, I thought I would like this. Swamplandia tells the tale of a family who owns and operates a gator wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. When the Mom - who is also the headliner - gets sick and passes on, the family is left to try to keep the business afloat. Dad leaves the kids on the island to fend for themselves, even though they are too young to do so, and we later find out he's been working a secret job on the mainland to keep up. Each of the 3 kids go off on their own adventures and thankfully the family reconnects again at the end. I couldn't get past the child neglect to really appreciate this book. I will say the setting was intriguing.

Tsarina, by: Ellen Alpsten
I received this advance reader copy from St. Martins Press (thank you) - release date October 13. Having recently binge watched "The Great" on Hulu, I was in the mood for more Russian history. I LOVED "The Great" and I hope they make more seasons. It had a comedic element to it, however this book was very serious. Before Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna who was one of Peter the Greats wives. Born into poverty, and through chance encounters, she becomes Peter's most endeared partner. It was interesting to read about how the people lived in Russia and the countries they were at war with. Everything was so extreme - the weather, the partying, the punishments. It is heartbreaking to know that women would have 12 children only to have 2 of them live to adulthood! All in the quest to have an heir. I'm glad I read this, but it's one of those books that seems to drag on and you really have to be invested in the subject matter to finish it.

Happy And You Know It, by: Laura Hankin
I got this book in a trade. This was a quick read, and I LOVED it! I needed something fluffy after 2 intricate books. Here we have another down and out main character - Claire - whose band shot to stardom after she got kicked out of it. She reluctantly takes a job entertaining wealthy children in a weekly playgroup. Despite their social differences, the Moms welcome Claire into their little circle. She becomes especially close to one Mom and they start hanging out regularly. Soon, Claire starts learning the ugly truths about their perfect lives, marriages, etc..... that sets off a chain of events that blows them all out of the water. What I liked most about this book was the honest statements about motherhood - even if you have all the money in the world and the best resources at your fingertips, there are unpleasant parts of parenting that you just cannot escape.

Olive The Lionheart, by: Brad Ricca
I received this advance reader copy from St. Martins Press (thank you) - release date August 11th. Since I love learning about early exploration, I jumped into this book. This is the true story of Olive MacLeod who traveled to Africa to find out the truth about the death of the man she was to marry. He was a seasoned explorer, but did he get mixed up in something political during his latest journey? Of course the setting was very interesting and I am always astonished at how people traveled this way during the late 1800's, early 1900's. But there were parts that I skimmed over and I kept questioning why Olive felt so inclined to chase after answers when she really did not know her betrothed that well, and was she even in love with him? I was glad to be done with this book and move on.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Thrive

 Are you "surviving", or are you "thriving"? When quarantine started, I have to admit I was surviving. Two adults working from home and two kids doing school work at home - it was probably the most challenging time of my life yet (even if social media doesn't reflect that). But now, I feel like I am starting to thrive again. I am getting back to healthier eating habits...... hubby is back to the office so there is one less person home during the day...... kids start daycare again in July (and so need it! They are craving social interaction just like we are)...... and our annual cabin vacation coming up. The third and final Bright Walls festival that was set to happen this Summer has been postponed until 2021, but there still seem to be new murals popping up here and there. This artist is the same artist who painted the "Vibrant" fish mural I posted about a few weeks ago. This "Thrive" one is on the side of a restaurant and actually had already been painted for years with a crow. I am not sure what the deciding factor is in painting over an existing mural, but this one extends beyond the word to include a tribute to a local jazz artist I believe. This is yet another new to me LuLaRoe dress - the style is Nicki, which is the sleeveless version of the Nicole. Fit and flare with pockets. The black and white peacock feather print is unique since peacock prints are usually so colorful - and I knew it this location would be perfect to photograph it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Patchwork Scoop

 I am a sucker for patchwork prints, so when I saw the Spring/Summer Scoop collection start to come out I fell in love with this print. I was waiting for a kimono/duster type piece that I had seen in the marketing, but it never hit the website. Maybe they decided not to make it? So then I tried this dress with the sleeves but I was not a fan of the tube top bodice. There is a blouse, and then another dress that was a true strapless tube top which again I knew would not work for me. Not to be defeated, I then realized that I could wear the strapless dress with something over it or the elastic part folded down to create a skirt! So I did just that. I grabbed my short sleeve chambray shirt from last Summer for today, but I'm also planning on a white tee next time.
Chambray Blouse : Macy's
Birkenstock Madrid Big Buckle : eBay
Sunglasses : Target

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Summer Scoop

 Popping in again with another fun Scoop NYC piece from Walmart! This lightweight dress reminds me of a bunch of bandanas sewn together, and pairs well with my granny square tote. If you are not into the bright colors, it also comes in a more muted blue/pink/orange combo. Colorful beaded jewelry has been trending again, especially with letter beads, and instead of spending what I think is a ridiculous price for them I just restrung the many colored beaded pieces my kids have brought home to me from school. They make them on pipe cleaners which isn't the most practical, so I used elastic thread and added in the letter beads!
Granny Square Tote : Meijer
Seychelles Sandals : Anthropolgie
Necklace and Bracelets : made by me

Friday, June 19, 2020

Under a Spell

This Summer, I am under a spell........ the spell that is BIKE SHORTS! Every trend comes around again - tie dye, chunky/platform shoes, slip dresses over tees, chokers, scrunchies, flare leg jeans - and now it seems bike shorts are back and not just for working out. When I first saw this I thought no way would I partake. No matter how hard I try, I haven't been a "shorts" person for years. Every Summer I still have hope though and drag shorts to the dressing room only to confirm that yep, I am not a shorts person. Oh how I would love a cute distressed denim pair and have even cut off jeans that are worn in and fit me well. Nope, I still don't like. So I don't know if it's the quarantine or what that made me do this. I figured it's pretty much just the short version of leggings, right? I have seriously LIVED in these since I bought them. Working or relaxing around the house? Perfect. Going outside with the kids or going on a walk? Perfect. Actually doing yoga? Perfect. Running to the store? Perfect. They are probably going to be hailed as my best purchase for the season! I wear an underwear version of these under all of my dresses anyway so I'm very used to the feel.
When I decided to look for these, I headed to the workout section. Even if I wasn't going to use them 100% of the time for that purpose, I wanted material that was not see through and that would stay put. I found this Gaiam pair and they are perfection (linking them from Kohl's and Steinmart below). My tips for wearing them is a flowy top that covers what you would want covered as if you were in leggings. Luckily, that is what I usually wear anyway so I am set with lots of options. For footwear, I am loving platform sandals (like this $5 off season pair from Meijer) or Birkenstocks. The other reason for the "spell" title is that this kimono is my first real Spell & the Gypsy piece that I got secondhand (after loving dupes for years). I am loving the crystals, feathers, and thunderheads on the print! A recent change I've made (due to numerous problems) is to get off of any medication 100%! I am off birth control and other prescriptions that I have been on that I felt were doing more harm than good. Because of that I've been researching many self care ideas that are natural as well as meditation. I even had a very informative spiritual reading recently. Don't knock it until you try it! Whew, I am a believer!
Gaiam Yoga Shorts : Steinmart

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Get the Look for Less : Chicwish

Before I get into today's post, I want to mention that I buy a lot of stuff "off season" (a good deal hunter should) and then I have to wait until the appropriate weather to wear it. So it may seem like I've just gone on a shopping spree when I have a surge of posts, when really I have been stockpiling until the time is right! Yesterday I posted about taking a chance on a dress from Shein, and today I am talking about trying Chicwish. This creamsicle dress was another "IT" piece last Summer, but it retails for $427! When I saw it on Chicwish I decided to also search for it on eBay and Poshmark. That is another tip if you are scared to order from these sites - it seems like if an item from these retailers does not work out for someone, rather than hassle with returning it by mail they will just sell it themselves. This is a good way to get real life measurements and fit (if the seller doesn't list these details, you can ask). So, I ended up buying this Chicwish branded dress on Poshmark for even less (I got it for $30). Like yesterdays Shein dress, it is an XL, and again none too generous in the bust.
Showing it as a layering piece with jeans too. I would normally wear something sleeveless with the sheer arms, but I am in serious need of replacing my white sleeveless tops as they have seen better days. On a similar note, it bothers me that the lining in this dress has a stopping point mid-thigh too. But alas, so does the $427 version which I think sucks if you are paying that kind of money. DIY solution - you could cut the entire lining out and find your own sleeveless white slip dress to wear under it. The bad part is it would have to match the hi-lo hemline perfectly. A pricier option would be to bring it to a tailor to have a professional lining put in that covered the entire dress. For a $30 dress, I have to decide just HOW much it bothers me and most likely I will just wait until a DIY slip crosses my path. Links to Chicwish below, as well as a similar option at Steinmart (my latest fav to find dupes at!). Also linking the original dress for reference.


Vacay Paradise Gradient V-Neck Maxi Dress : Chicwish, currently $79.90
Rainbow Ombre Button Front Maxi Dress : Steinmart, currently $41.98

Rococo Sand Ciel Dress : Revolve, currently $427