Monday, November 11, 2019

TJ Maxx Luck Continues!

I recently posted several clothing items I felt lucky to find at TJ Maxx / Marshalls over the Summer. Whether it be clothing, some of my best jewelry finds over the years, or more random items, I am so happy with what I am continuing to find every time I go into these stores! Even though you can shop online at both TJ Maxx and Marshalls, because of the nature of their business you can't always find things on their site (and vice versa what is on their site isn't guaranteed to be in stores) so I have linked to these items if I was able to find them elsewhere (and so you can see the price comparison).
First up is this really cool boho patch tote from Antik Kraft. It was love at first sight. I am usually someone who ALWAYS wants a shoulder strap - I've passed up great bags I loved if they didn't have one - but I am loving the option of the shorter handles here too! Please tell me I am not alone in the fact that many times I don't change my bags unless I get a new one? I used to be so good about changing every few months but until I got this one last week I'd been carrying the same bag since early Spring even though it was on my mind to switch. I got this for $39.99 but if you can't find it at your local TJ Maxx, you can get it direct from Antik Kraft for $54.99.
The Advent Calendar market has really exploded the last few years. What used to be cheap chocolate has now expanded to lots of toy options for kids and interesting choices for adults. From wine (remember the Aldi drama last year), cheese, beauty products, socks..... it's really fun to see what is available! Of course I've wanted one, but what did I want? Well, the decision was made for me when I found this beautiful peacock one at TJ Maxx for $29.99. It is filled with body wash, lotions, bath salts and bath bombs. I cannot wait to start it and it will continue to be a pretty display piece in my decor in upcoming years. I could probably even have someone refill it for me each year. If you can't find this at your local store, you can get it on Amazon for $52.43. Ladies, you know you're going to be the main person shopping, wrapping, keeping track of school activities, making cookies and making sure everyone has a great holiday - so TREAT YOURSELF NOW!
If you are familiar with the brand Spell & the Gypsy, then you will recognize this Lovebird print. A real Spell piece like this kimono would probably be $200. I got this one at Marshalls for $16.99 however I just saw them at TJ Maxx the other day too on clearance for $12.00. The hardest part about buying off season is waiting until the right time to get to wear something.
Look at this gorgeous yoga mat bag! Yoga (and any workout/sport gear) can get really expensive. I couldn't believe this bag was only $16.99! The entire thing is embroidered, and you can probably tell I am someone who loves detailed standout pieces!
Honorable mention..... I am going to include these Khombu boots since I am seeing them in stores (and online) again this year. I needed to update my Winter boots before the season about this time last year. I previously had Ugg like boots, so going in the direction of duck like boots was overwhelming. I really liked the look of these and was impressed they are real suede for the price ($39.99). The laces are really user friendly to loosen and tighten. If you are between sizes, size up! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My CBD Regimen

So it seems you can't go anywhere lately without seeing CBD products..... at least where I live. When marijuana became legal in Michigan, the township that I live next to (and work in) had a huge controversy over officials approving many, many licenses to set up shop (and get a kickback). We are now left with streets lined with dispensary after dispensary as well as one vape shop after another popping up. Not only that, but I was seeing signs for CBD at gas stations, video stores (yes, they are still around), as well as being advertised in coffees, teas, etc...... I'm going to be really honest here and say that I was sneering like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" - feeling so "old" and worried about the decline of our society. I have strong feelings about smoking and recreational drugs BUT I will say now I am educated on what CBD is and what it does.
Before I get into that though, let me tell you the how or why I educated myself. I've touched on it from time to time here...... the mid-life woes I am going through. All of my friends are going through it too and I don't know what I'd do without them. We compare notes constantly and talk about what works or doesn't work for us. The best way I can describe it is that for the past few years I just haven't felt like myself. Trying to juggle a marriage, 2 kids, work, a household, friends, etc.... all the while having bouts of anxiety and/or depression that I never had before. Hormones and body changes, aches and pains, insomnia, no sex drive, anger (just feeling annoyed or upset all the time), forgetfulness, hmmmm what else can I add to that lovely list. Common sense stuff like eating well, partaking in physical activity and getting enough rest would help, but never completely made all my ailments go away. When I complained to my OB at my yearly appointment, he was quick to brush me off with an anti-depression script (men, go figure!). Again, personal preference here as I stated before with being against smoking and drugs..... I am not keen on taking prescription medications. When I went into the hospital to have my boys and they asked what I was taking, it was almost a state of shock when I said "nothing" or when I declined sleeping pills or any pain management to give birth. I held onto that Paxil script for about a year before I finally got desperate and took them. Just as I suspected, I DID NOT like how I felt. Should I have tried a different dosage or brand and given it more of a chance? Maybe. Now, I will say I am not a die hard "all natural" person.... I'll stuff a bunch of preserved food in my mouth even though I know it's not good for me. Wine? Yes. Meds? No. Isn't it weird what we are okay with and not okay with?
Feeling frustrated and not knowing what to do next...... as we all know making and going to doctor appointments is time consuming, can be expensive depending on what insurance covers, and I was overwhelmed in wondering where I should start with my wide array of ailments. Should I find a new OBGYN? Should I go to a therapist? Could a general practitioner help? The thought of going to a bunch of different doctors and/or trying a variety of medications until something worked was daunting. Like, I'd almost rather feel shitty than go through all that. Hell, I've dealt with a lot of things in my life, I'll just push through this too (as women do, right)! Then I started seeing some women talking about CBD - a particular company to be exact - and I was intrigued. Once I took a look at Equilibria, I decided to take a chance! When you see a product that "checks all your boxes" it is exciting.
I started out with the Daily Drops and Softgels. After being on the recommended dosage (one dropper of oil at bedtime, one softgel in the morning) for at least a week, you have a 1 on 1 consultation with a dosage specialist to adjust where needed. I was about 3 weeks in (got a good feel for it) before having my call with them. Taking the dropper of oil at night.... best sleep!!! If I woke up it was easy for me to fall asleep again. Taking the softgel in the morning made my days pretty tolerable but once I talked to Aimee we decided on me taking another softgel in the afternoon to have better evenings. While consistency is key (taking it daily) it's nice to know that you can always adjust here and there. For instance, if I am in a situation that is making me anxious, I can take a dropper of oil (since it is faster acting than the softgel) and it will help.  
What made me choose Equilibria is that it is a women owned company focusing on women's needs. They are based in Chicago (yeah!) and I can trust I will be getting a quality product. You can reach out to them for support at any time. You can read testimony after testimony of all ages/ailments that they have helped. Take a look at their FAQ's page to learn all about the organic farm they use for their full spectrum products. In other words, if you are going to try CBD for yourself, do your research and don't buy it from a gas station!
They are teasing some new products for the holidays so I am excited to see what they are. Besides the oil and softgels they also have a topical cream which I've heard is very good and which I will probably try. This..... this right now is improving my life. One thing I've learned about this phase of life is that it is always changing and most likely I will have to adjust as things come up. For now though, this is a good answer!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

October Reads

Well, I certainly got out of my September reading slump in October and it felt great! Read on if you want to hear about the 6 books I read in October, and I sure hope this good streak continues since we basically have Winter weather now.
The Dearly Beloved by: Cara Wall
Thank you Simon & Schuster for this copy. This story follows the decades long friendship between two couples who met in the 60's when the husbands were hired to co-lead a failing church in Greenwich Village. What really made this book great was the different backgrounds everyone came from, and how they questioned their faith time and time again. The wives could not have been more different - they got along in their own way eventually - but it was refreshing to see that just because husbands are friends and/or work together does not automatically mean the wives HAVE to be friends. Furthermore, one of the wives did not believe in God - which she told her husband straight away when they first met - again, a great example of loving someone and having a good marriage despite not having the same beliefs and/or interests. I really enjoyed this read because of these unique themes the author created.
Big Lies in a Small Town by: Diane Chamberlain
Thank you St. Martins Press for this advance readers copy - this book comes out January 14, 2020. This was the second time I have read Diane Chamberlain, and I just loved this book! It flips between present day and the past, and it was just a good story with a surprise at the end. Here is the summary:
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
What Happens in Paradise by: Elin Hilderbrand
This new release by Elin is the second in this trilogy, so when I saw it at the library I grabbed it up. I tend to love everything I read by Elin, and this series is set in St. John which is different than her usual Nantucket setting. Now to wait another year until the conclusion comes out!
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn't Irene's only shattering news: he'd also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too. Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death - of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they're about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures. 
29 Seconds by: T.M. Logan
Thank you St. Martins Press for this copy! This is the second book I've read by T.M. Logan, and I enjoyed it better than Lies. If you're looking for a fast paced thriller, this is it! Also, the theme is very relevant to our current culture and I was CHEERING at the ending!
Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works―so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.
When Hawthorne's advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections―and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.
No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.
Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?
A Good Neighborhood by: Therese Anne Fowler
Thank you St. Martins Press for this advance reader copy - this book comes out February 4, 2020. Wow, what a page turner! Very relevant to our social issues, and it does have a sad ending. Whew! I have another of Therese's books on my shelf so I am definitely intrigued to read more from her.
In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door—an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.
Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll?
But with little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers. Told in multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today — what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don't see eye to eye? — as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by: Ruth Ware
With Halloween in October, I was looking for a creepy read. Unfortunately, I was not scared at all by this book. It was a good crime story, but I would not say it's scary. I'm sure some would say it would even be predictable.
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware's suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller. Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her nest of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn't seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not "what happened?" but "what have I done?", Nora (Lee) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

inVESTed in velvet

My Mom and Dad gave me this pretty peacock vest for my birthday last month, and I've already come up with two fun ways to wear it! It is definitely a unique wearable art piece in velvet with bead accents.
First up I wore it over this cute black swing dress from Old Navy. I wanted to find a dress that was long sleeved and the same length as the vest, and for $20 it was a no brainer. I can easily add tights to this look when the snow flies, and change out the booties to flat or heels depending on where I am going. The vest has a single button so it can be worn open or closed.
Aris A. Peacock Beaded Velvet Vest : Steinmart (my Mom's fav store)
Maris Booties : Sole Society (old)

A more common look for these flowy toppers, kimonos, or long cardigans is skinny jeans and a top. I went all black but you could easily experiment with blue jeans and colored tops. I have flats on here but they can be changed out too!
Aris A. Peacock Beaded Velvet Vest : Steinmart (my Mom's fav store)
Apt 9 Top, Rock & Republic High Roller Jeans : Kohl's (old)
Black Flats : Walmart

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

How the Midwest does Paris

This luxurious velvet skirt is by a Parisian designer - Mes Demoiselles - that I had not been acquainted with yet. When I saw it at Anthropologie, I predicted it would sell out fast (I was right). It was a splurge that I used my birthday discount and birthday money on. 
Is it a bit dressy and out of place for someone who lives in a small town in Michigan? Yes. Are the colors a bit garish? Yes. Then it's right up my alley! LOL!
With colors of mustard, hot pink, electric blue and deep green I was already putting ideas together in my head. Anytime I want to dress down a fancy piece, I think of a denim jacket, t-shirt, chambray shirt, etc.... I kept it pretty low key here with an olive shell that would match my olive booties. 
Mes Demoiselles Skirt : Anthropologie
Sonoma Shell and Booties : Kohl's (old)
Jean Jacket : TJ Maxx (old)
I love coming up with several ways to wear something, but realize it's too hard to photograph every instance I wear it and only change out one or two pieces. So I think I'll try to keep up with these flat lay options. I am a firm believer in having a good base of layering pieces - for instance these Sonoma shells I bought in every color a few years ago....... chenille cardigans and long dusters bought in multiple colors. It may seem like a lot, but I'm telling you your mix and match options are going to be endless. I know many people are into neutrals so they can always match, so I hope this proves you can love COLOR and have lots of options too! First up I'm going with a hot pink shell and then olive topper. The cropped jacket will give it very much the same silhouette as I am wearing above.
Same hot pink shell but a teal sweater.
Electric blue shell with mustard sweater (the blue is a much closer match to the skirt in person - hard to photograph).

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Print

I'm not really one to gravitate toward a season or holiday specific piece of clothing, because I like to have the majority of my clothing be considered "year round". I have very few items that fall into hardcore categories, and if you've followed me for any amount of time you know I love the challenge of putting outfits together for all kinds of weather. But when I saw this cute pumpkin top (actually, they are more like small gourds) from Modcloth, I couldn't resist! The watercolor like print is so pretty, and as the stereotype goes for my gender/age, I LOVE Fall. So, I set out to come up with several ways to get the most out of this blouse over the next few weeks.
I've been trying to be more creative with my skirts, by way of graphic tees or pattern mixing. This ombre velvet skirt is from Modcloth too, and last year I played it safe with basic black. The colors are a perfect pairing for this top though and I am liking the addition of a belt to hide the elastic waist and make things look more put together.
Velvet Skirt : Modcloth
Sonoma Belt : Kohl's
Booties : Target
The top is a flowy style, which I love, and here I paired it with some dark wash straight leg jeans. In an effort to get away from my usual brown or black footwear, I pulled out these purple heels I've had for a while. With so many colors in the top, I had several sweater options for layering, but I choose a purple duster (which unfortunately looks more pink in the photos). We've been having those days where you need a layer in the morning but by afternoon it is gorgeous!
Sofft Heels : old
Bongo Duster : Sears (budget option to the LuLaRoe Sarah or Free People one)

As much as I love a flowy top, I often try belting as an option to create a peplum silhouette. I went with a lighter wash skinny jean here, and brown flats to match the belt.
Belt : Took off an old dress
Universal Thread "Wenda" Flats : Target (Free People dupe)
Here's a few more ideas...... it would go with either my burgundy (AE) or olive (Talbots) jeans. If I were to pair it with colored pants, I would then top it with a denim jacket.

 Besides the duster shown above, I think any of the chenille cardigans I posted about last year would top it off nicely! Chenille is so perfect for Fall!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Moods & Mojo

 Last week I was really frustrated with blogging/instagramming, because I had tried to photograph 3 different outfits on 3 different days and I did not like any of the pictures. There are so many factors, to me at least, that go into this whole process and as we enter the Fall/Winter season it gets even harder with weather and lighting conditions. It's down times like this when I think, "Why am I even doing this?" and "Who cares?". But then I think about the things that have fallen to the wayside as I am in this mid-life Mom-mode and I tell myself, "NO! I am not giving up one more thing that is just for me and my creative outlet!"
 I also remind myself that these moods, or blogging mojo, are always up and down. And sure enough, this week has started out great and I am back to loving the results. I hope it keeps up for the rest of the week!
 This is that $368 Anthropologie dress that I found at Marshalls for $19.99. It is seriously ranking up there as one of the best finds of my lifetime and it finally felt like the right time to wear it. It felt natural to accessorize it with a brown belt and booties. It has pockets and was so light and comfy today!
 Essentiel Antwerp Dress : Anthropologie via Marshalls
Belt : Kohl's
dv "Jameson" Booties : Target