Thursday, March 27, 2014


I promised in yesterday's post that today's maxi combo would be brighter. Even though it's still a lot of black, I think I followed through on that. Flowers galore!
Nieves Lavi Frida Maxi Dress - Anthropologie (originally worn here)
Archival Peacock Cardigan - Anthropologie (originally worn here)
Haskell Flower Necklace - Macy's (only newer piece here)
 XOXO Chance Boots - eBay (seen here)
I just love remixing all of my clothes!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More March Maxis

It's more maxi's with layers for me this week, as the temps just DO NOT want to get over 30 and we are still seeing snow flurries. Both yesterday (pic at bottom) and today, the color scheme was black, grey, brown..... and aztec/tribal prints. But the maxi outfit I have planned for tomorrow is very colorful and flowery!
Today it was a plain black maxi (great staple to have) with the Fireflicker Cardigan by Konrad & Joseph from Anthropologie. I don't think this cardigan is getting as much love as it should from the Anthro community. The few reviews it has are great though, and I agree. The fabric/weight is absolutely wonderful. I was drawn to the black, white, grey pattern with just a touch of peach.
On a side note, Jon calls these glasses my Liberace glasses...... they are cheap knockoffs of the baroque Prada glasses from a few years ago.

 Last Friday, I wore the cardi with a striped top for some pattern mixing..... skinny black jeans and flats.
 And here's the other maxi look I was talking about - just couldn't get good pics that day. Originally worn here a few years ago. To "winterize" the look, I swapped out the short sleeve sweater for a long sleeve one (Matilda Jane), sandals for boots, and a thin belt to a thick one. Same necklace.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Books I've read...... Happier At Home

I don't quite know how to explain it, but I haven't felt like "myself" since the end of last summer. There were a lot of challenges in 2013 (some more personal ones that I may share later) but what I do want to share that relates to this post is that we put our house on the market - we've lived here for 11 years. It's our first home. I know that moving is something people do all of the time, but for me it's a pretty big deal. Jon started a job where he commutes 90 miles one way, so that is the reason for our move. Then, news broke where I didn't know if I would have a job and if I did, I didn't know what city it would be in. Six months later, our house hasn't sold, I still don't know where I will be working,  and we don't know where we will end up. Living with those uncertainties for six months can really take it's toll.
When I saw an ad for the book Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, it caught my attention. I mean, of course I am happy in my life! I have a great marriage, wonderfully joyful little boy, 2 faithful dogs, a nice home, a good job, food in my cupboard.... well, you get the drift. When you know how good you have it, you almost feel guilty when you are sad. So I dove into reading this, looking for some simple solutions to make the "everyday" a little more cheery.
I learned that Gretchen wrote a book before this one, called The Happiness Project. I am intrigued to read this one as well. She carried the following rules into the home book, and are good daily reminders:

To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
The days are long, but the years are short. (Oh, this one is soooo true!)
I'm not happy unless I think I'm happy.
Just because something makes me happy doesn't mean it makes other people happy, and vice versa.
I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.
The only person I can change is myself.
I can't "make" someone happy, and no one else can "make" me happy.
Now is now.
One of the things I have struggled with the most with this move is "possessions". It has been really hard for me to live in my home and pretend it is not really mine. Meaning, whenever you try to sell a house you have to neutralize everything - tone down decor, take down personal pictures, put away personal objects. Okay, beyond that, it's been really hard on the flip side to find a house we like so far. As much of a pain in the ass it is sometimes to live in an old house you just CAN NOT find the same kind of quality in newer homes. I found myself with a laundry list of what our new house has to have (besides things like real wood floors and trim): fireplace, walk in closet, studio space, dual sink master bath. And you know what? I feel like a spoiled brat. I mean, shouldn't I just be happy to have a roof over my head?
Luckily, Gretchen wrote an entire chapter on possessions and it made me feel better and that is what I want to share here. Every page of the book had valuable information, but this section is what I wanted to focus this post on. Here are some of the excerpts I took in my journal:
Within the larger subject of happiness, the proper relationship of possessions to happiness is hotly debated. Some research suggests that spending money on an experience brings more happiness than buying a possession, but the line between possessions and experiences isn't always simple to draw. The latest pair of skis is tied to the fun of skiing. A camera is a possession that keeps happy memories vivid. A dog is a possession, an experience, and a relationship.
We often deny the importance of possessions, or feel embarrassed by our enthusiasm for them, but the desire to possess has roots very deep in human nature.
True, money can't buy happiness, but spent wisely, it can buy things that contribute mightily to a happy life.
It (money) can help us pursue activities that bring us happiness whether raising children, planting a garden, or planning a vacation.
Declaring that we'd all be happy with more, or with less, is like saying that every book should be a hundred pages long. Every book has a right length, and people differ in the number of possessions, and the type of possessions, with which they can meaningfully engage. There's no right way; I must decide what's right for me.
For better or worse, buying things (or photographing them, cataloging them, or writing reviews about them) is a way to engage with the world. When we're interested in something, we often express that by researching, shopping, buying and collecting. People who love art go to museums, but when they can afford it, they usually want to buy art too. People who love to cook enjoy buying kitchen tools and exotic ingredients. The latest sports equipment probably isn't much different from what's already in the closet. We crave to buy and possess the things we love, even when it's not necessary.
That last paragraph related to me not only in this new home journey, but also with this blog. This blog in which I talk about shopping and clothes. Clothes that I don't "need". But it's a passion for me. I love connecting with other bloggers who are just as excited about style as I am. So, I came to realize that for me, personally, my home is very important to me. The aesthetics, materials, colors, etc.... all contribute to how I "feel" in my home. And honestly, it's not about anyone else but me - meaning that we hardly ever entertain people so I certainly don't feel the need to "show off" my house in that way.
In looking at possessions in another way, Gretchen gave an example of a friend who had 20 boxes of old "stuff" at his parents house. He didn't really want to deal with it and said he hoped there was a fire or flood so that he wouldn't have to. When she suggested that he just throw them out then, he said he couldn't - that he couldn't just throw it away even if he didn't want it. So what is the difference then between a natural disaster occurring to ease the mind versus just getting rid of it? We can probably all understand the demands of these cardboard boxes. I too have recently gone through this in trying to pare down our "stuff" for the move. Sometimes, I am in the mood to clean and am really motivated to get rid of stuff. Other times, I hang on and want to save with the mentality that I might need that someday. Here are some quotes I took on this:

The press of superfluous possessions made me feel unsettled and harried, and the demands required by acquisition, use, maintenance, storage, and even relinquishment ate up my energy and time.
Simplicity is not always the answer. Many things that boost happiness also add complexity to life. Having children, owning pets, etc.....
Not a simple matter of organization, elimination, or accumulation; but a matter of engagement. When I feel engaged with my possessions, I feel enlivened by them, and when I feel disengaged, I feel burden.
Okay, so this is all some pretty deep stuff that takes some time to work through. So here are some quick things that I learned to work into my daily routine that will help along the way:
clean as you go
take 15 minutes each day (to tackle an unsavory task until it is done)
appearance of order is satisfying
everything has a place
use things up (don't wait for special occasions)
create a shrine for things that are important to you (for me, my studio)
A great quote from the book as well is, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
This was when she was talking about the overwhelming task of organizing her pictures and making photo books. Ohhh, I can so relate to this as a scrapbooker. I have so many pictures to catch up on and so many supplies (possessions) that I often feel paralyzed. I don't know where to start and when I do work on it, I want it to be perfect. I waste time sorting through 100 sheets of paper just "in case" there might be a better choice. So yeah, sometimes perfect isn't as important as just getting. it. done.
So this is probably the longest post I have ever done. And what's a post without pictures? So I wanted to show some recent frames I put together despite having to "hide" them when we show the house. It made me happy to do this, therefore, it was important to do.

 And also, a few finds from a Sunday last September when I was having a particularly low day. I just HAD to get out of the house and be by myself. There was an art fair and historic downtown shopping in a nearby city. The weather was perfect for wandering around. The print below (which is now framed and hung) was by an artist who is a radiology tech and uses the machines during off hours to make gorgeous prints. Peonies are one of my favorite flowers. And I had wanted a globe for quite some time and found the perfect one at one of the antique stores. I remember texting my husband and thanking him for giving me this time. And now, these are not just possessions, but memories. Memories of a bad day turned good - of soul searching and finding peace.

In no way was I compensated for the review of this book. I just wanted to share my thoughts and learnings from it. I know my anxiety about our move will still be here, but hopefully I will look back on it someday with some good memories.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rainy Day

What could possible make your day brighter when it is raining on top of dirty, melting snow?

A peacock feather umbrella.......
 A bright, cheery outfit.......
 Cupcakes for lunch.......
 Wearing shoes without socks........
Yep, all of those things certainly helped today! I wore my Toadstool Blouse from Anthropologie (purchased during the Black Friday sale) for the first time. Pairing it with my red jeans (Dana Buchman - consignment shop) and red mary janes was a no brainer!

The cupcakes? Well, I have a cupcake buddy and our favorite bakery in town is called Bumbleberries. They started out small at the Farmer's Market, and now have their own storefront! They make the most wonderful creations! My buddy and I have both been dieting, but decided to treat ourselves today. Pictured are: peanut butter with chocolate frosting, salted caramel, and vanilla raspberry.

I am telling you, the salted caramel cupcake is one of the best things I have ever eaten! It is my fav there for sure! And I can compare it to Sprinkles and Magnolia Bakery (both tried in Chicago). I wish they shipped (maybe someday they will) because I would send you all one to relish in!

Monday, March 17, 2014

March Monday Maxi Madness

I am so sick of wearing pants. And tall boots. So today I rebelled. I wore a maxi dress and booties. I cannot wait to LIVE in maxi dresses all summer long! They are just so comfy and can be dressed up or down so easily.

This is the Tolani "Boheme" dress from Anthropologie. I scored it after the holidays when they had their extra percent off sale prices. I'm afraid I didn't get much more creative than the website shot (adding a jean jacket to it). I honestly think that no matter what you paired it with, it would look great. There are so many colors and patterns in it = so many options for jackets, sweaters, belts, shoes, etc..... I just love the patchwork print. It has florals, animal prints, aztec prints, bandana prints........ AND it has pockets!

Sorry, I forgot my green today. And I also realized how rude of me it was to post those brownies last week, and not share the recipe. So here goes:
Palmer House Legendary Brownie Recipe
8 oz. semi sweet chocolate
8 oz. butter
8 oz. granulated sugar
4 oz. flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 whole eggs
1.5 cups crushed walnuts
1 cup apricot glaze

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Melt the chocolate with the butter in a double boiler. Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Mix the chocolate with the flour mixture, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs to the mix.

Pour the mixture into an 8" square pan. Sprinkle the walnuts on top, push the walnuts down slightly into the mixture with your hand.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. You will know when it's done, which is when the edges start to become a little crispy and the brownie has risen about 1/4 inch. Note that even when the brownie is properly baked it will taste "gooey" with a toothpick in the middle due to the richness of the mixture.

Cool down and glaze with warm apricot glaze. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wrap Working

This latest addition to my cozy casual collection is a flowy cardigan I got at Steinmart. When I saw it, it reminded me of a Free People piece. It's by a brand called Scrapbook, and I passed on it during several visits. But then it went on sale and I had a coupon for extra off. The best way that I can describe it is a deconstructed sweatshirt. None of the edges are finished, it has a ribbon trim on the bottom and a cute plaid patch under the neck.
As I purge my closet, I see how my style is evolving. I am being really honest with myself and getting rid of stuff that I don't see myself wearing anymore. One realization I made, was that I do not really like hoodies. Even though I had a few with really cute prints, I just wasn't wearing them. With my long hair, I just hate how it bunches up in the extra fabric. Plus, I never use the hoods (I am weird in that I don't really like anything on my head). So, these flowy sweaters are replacing them.

I've mentioned in the past that I sometimes belt tops like this to change up the look. I played around with this one a bit differently. When you inspect how some of these tops are made, you will see the sides are cut quite squarely which is surprisingly considering the flowy nature. So I took the one side and crossed it over my body (shown below). Sorry for looking so suspicious in this pic.

Then, I took the other side and did the same, all the while letting the extra fabric bunch up around the neckline. 
Then I took a brooch and pinned it. The effect reminds me of the side zip moto jackets that have been so popular the past few years.
You can play around with the neck, just like you would a scarf. It looks like a cowl neck.
As I was unpinning it, I realized how cute it looks with just one side wrapped over and the other one left hanging. See how versitile these pieces are? Make you wrap "work" for you.... play around with your clothes and see what you come up with!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aztec Peplum

Monday was another "warm-ish" day, and I jumped at the chance to take some pictures outside. However, it was difficult because the snow is still everywhere or else melting into a huge mess. So I was limited as to where I could go and what lighting I could get. Oh well, better than nothing I guess.

I got this aztec peplum top at a local boutique - Fancy Nancy's. I thought it was so cute and I loved the colors. It was on the sale rack for about $18. Sometimes, I think people stay away from boutiques because they don't feel they are getting their money's worth because all of the big box retailers offer coupons, sales, etc.... But don't count them out! Number 1, you are going to get some unique pieces that you won't see everyone else walking around in. Number 2, they have sales as well and you can find some great deals! Number 3, you are supporting a local business rather than a corporation.

I am wearing a peacock feather pendant that I made a long time ago when I first started beading. It is a peyote stitch with tons of beaded "fringe". The pixilated design the beads make almost mirror those on the top!

I have worn this top with skinny jeans, following my rule of big + little (a peplum ruffle can be hard on a gal like me who already has ample hips). But, wearing it with my flare jeans here seems to be better. Flared top and flared jeans..... who knew?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not just any brownie....

Last weekend, I was at The Palmer House in Chicago. Every time I go, it seems I learn another piece of history about this great hotel. Did you know the brownie was invented there?

"This dessert was created in the kitchen of the Palmer House Hotel during
the 1893 Columbian Exposition when Mrs. Bertha Palmer requested the chef
make a "ladies dessert" that would be easier to eat than a piece of pie,
and a smaller serving than a slice of layer cake, which could be used in
box lunches at the Women's Building at the Fair. The first reference to
this dessert as a "Brownie" is in a Sears Roebuck catalog published in
Chicago in 1898. This recipe is still served today at the Palmer House
Hilton on State Street and is one of their most popular confections."

We had the chance to take a class in the kitchen on how to make the brownie. That day, they were getting ready for a 350 person event. Here are some desserts they were plating:
A brownie square was included of course!
The class was with their Executive Pastry Chef, Fabrice Bouet. He demonstrated how to make them, then we got to eat some and received a kit to take home of all of the ingredients to make them ourselves.

My little one, asleep in The Palmer House kitchen....... It was usual nap time, and it all worked out because he probably wouldn't have been too patient with all of the conversation we were having with Fabrice.

The brownies are topped with walnuts and an apricot glaze. 
So delicious! There is an actual history tour you can take of the hotel, but it has not been available when we've been there. Fabrice was nice enough to take the class around to some of the ballrooms, which would fill up an entire post by themselves! So gorgeous.

We were really glad to experience this!