Conversation #126: Read this

I love the Dension Forum on Truth and Culture and read it daily.  I happen to think everyone should.  However, after reading a book entitled God's War on Terror by Walid Shoebat a couple of years ago, topics regarding radical Islam really interest me.  I recommend reading that book as well as this article.  Then I urge you to pray as well.


Conversation #125: Some news stories on my mind

Long time readers know that I like politics and I used to post about them often back in the day (especially preceeding the last presidential election).  I haven't posted much lately because I have pretty much just been so saddened by the current state of politics that I was trying to go by the motto, "Ignorance is Bliss."  Well, I think that will probably change over the next months as we get closer to the next Presidential Election. 

Anyway, this article is indirectly political.  Full disclosure, a close relative works for this company so I'm sure that I'm a little biased, but I think I am more biased in knowing about it versus my feelings about it.  For example, if my relative didn't work here than I probably wouldn't pay attention to the story, but I would still feel the same way about it even if it were about a different company in the same position.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a couple of days at our local state transportation office learning how to properly use federal and state funds for projects.  Basically, I learned that money isn't worth all of the ridiculous amounts of red tape they make you go through.  However, one rule I learned is that you must "Buy America" if you are using steel or iron materials.  I love how the government puts these restrictions on us, but yet though don't seem to follow the same rule.  Read the article below and you'll see what I mean:

Contract would preserve U.S. jobs
Hawker Beechcraft files suit over Air Force contract

By Molly McMillin

The Wichita Eagle

Published Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, at 11:11 a.m.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, at 9:18 a.m

Wichita — Hawker Beechcraft Corp. filed suit Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims questioning the Air Force’s decision to exclude its AT-6 aircraft from a contract potentially worth nearly $1 billion...For the past year, Hawker Beechcraft has competed against Brazil-based Embraer for a contract to supply 35 aircraft to the Air Force. That number could grow to 55 and be worth up to $950 million. Deliveries were scheduled to begin in 2013...If Hawker Beechcraft wins the contract, it would preserve 1,400 U.S. jobs at 181 companies in 39 states, the company said. That includes 800 at Hawker Beechcraft, Boisture said...

Read the entire story here.


Conversation #124: Merry Christmas, uh, a little late

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I do hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I have been out of blogging for a couple of weeks because I had just been so busy with work, nightly activities, and spending much needed rest time with family.  In fact, the hubby and I are heading out tomorrow for more family fun, and I can't wait.  I am so thankful that God blessed me with my amazing family (immediate and in-law), and I'm glad I was able to celebrate Christ's birth with them.

I'm actually typing this while trying to ward off a migraine.  I have learned now that they only come generally at one time of the month (I'm sure you ladies know what I mean).  Trust me, this is better than almost daily before I started treatment, but now I REALLY dread this week.  It doesn't matter how much water I drink, caffeine I take, or sleep I get.  It just seems to happen.  I got over 8 hours of sleep last night and woke up with this darn headache.  Anyway, how do you explain to people why you have a headache and why you know it won't go away when the answer is awkward, like "I'm on my per..."  I'm trying to help my boss with something and I keep yawning and having to sit down because I don't feel well (I have no idea why yawning helps) and he keeps asking if I'm okay.  I guess my coworkers will just have to think I'm a little crazy today, or hungover, but I hope not that because I have never been hungover in my life (different thought for a different day).  Oh well!

So I just wanted to drop in and say hi.  I will try to get back to more regular posting and commenting.  Again, Merry Christmas (late) and Happy New Year!


Conversation #123: Open to Interpretation

First, I apologize for two posts today.  The other one was supposed to post yesterday.  I wrote it during lunch, but it didn't post properly.  Oh well.


So I started reading Kayla's blog during her last wardrobe challenge, and I loved it.  I also loved when she and Amy and Erica started doing this series called Open to Interpretation.  I have no idea why, but I never thought of taking an outfit I saw in a catalog or a magazine and then recreating it or something like it with what I already own.  This has really helped me not only stretch my closet but also push me to try some new fashiony things (without going out to spend a ton of money).

Here is the photo inspiration (I just copied it from Kayla's blog):
And here is my interpretation:

Outfit breakdown:
Sweater - Old Navy, $8
Striped Shirt - LOFT (from the event last week), $20
Pink pants - JCPenney, Juniors section (don't tell Stacey and Clinton), $10
Leather Oxfords - J.Jill, $30

Mine is pretty close to just being a copy, but I wore pink pants instead of red because my red cords had a little problem in the washing machine last weekend so they are in need of repair.  I also didn't crop my pants because I had to work and it is chilly outside.  Also, I didn't wear heeled oxfords because mine are dark brown and my striped shirt is black and I cannot yet mix dark brown and black.  I can do cognac and black but that is about all.  Anyway, use the link above to click over to Kayla's blog to see all of the interpretations.  This was so fun, I hope we get to do it again!

Conversation #122: I want to be content

I think I have fallen back down into the depths of "want."  All of the sale emails and such have just consumed my mind with "wants" that I don't need.  I haven't bought a ton lately, but I have spent too much time pouring over sale websites and such.  I'm kind of glad I'm feeling this way and sick of myself becasue that is usually when I decide to change!  I also let myself be a little bad this week with holiday goodies and exercising, and that is going to change too!

So in the meantime while I'm trying to better my mind, here are a few simple OOTD for you:
I love this vest!  Outfit breakdown:
Vest: H&M, $20 (more than I would normally spend, but I love it and I'm cheap)
Tee: Lands' End Canvas, $10
Cords: Lands' End Canvas, $17
Leather Shooties/Booties (not sure the difference): JCPenney, $25

I have no idea why, but I got this idea for a sweater paired with a short, floaty skirt and my leather shootie/booties, and then I found this at Old Navy so I decided it was meant to be!
Outfit breakdown:
Sweater: Gap Outlet, $15
Skirt: Old Navy, $11
Leather Shooties/Booties: JCPenney, $25

I have to say I'm a real leather snob.  I would rather hold out for leather shoes or a purse and know that it will last me close to forever.  Therefore, I have been spending more like $20-$50 on shoes to get  leather ones, but I still think that is a pretty good steal for leather.

Okay, that is all for now.  Here's to no more wanting!


Conversation #121: A new method

So this will be short and sweet because I'm posting on my new android phone (Christmas and bday gift from the hubby). I'm very excited to try out the app, and even though I'm used to a keyboard, the touch one is working pretty well.

So I'm attending a local LOFT event tonight so i may post that outfit later, but here is my work appropriate look for the day:

I'm not sure how this will work with the picture when I actually post, but here is the outfit breakdown:
Cardigan: Coldwater Creek, $15
Blouse: Lands' End Canvas, $12
Pants: Lands' End, $10
Boots: Target, gift

Hopefully this post sort of makes sense.  I can't wait to share about the fun evening event so check back tomorrow! Oh, and the other nice thing about my phone, a better camera so at least my uninspiring outfit photos are slightly better quality. Have a happy day!


Conversation #120: It't the most BUSY time of the year...

If you have read my blog for a really LONG time (like way back on my other blog) then you know I love Fall and Winter - the holiday season just can't do anything but make me happy!  I get to see family and friends and watch cheesy Christmas movies while drinking cider and hot chocolate.  What could be better? 

(It also mean no yard work for a few months, minus the leaves that I should probably rake, but we'll just pray for a good strong breeze to blow those on their way).

Anyway, I have been busily preparing my application to take the P.E. (Professional Engineer) exam, and it is all due on December 16th so we are getting close!  I don't have much left to finish, but it has definitely been a time suck for a while.  I also took some time off to enjoy family and friends over the holidays, and it was one of the best trips back home we have had.  It was just fun and good times all around.  I miss everyone already.

So due to the fact that I'm not sleeping as much as I should, my outfits have been a little underwhelming lately, but I'll share a few anyway. 

Outfit Breakdown:
Shirt - Lands' End Canvas, $12
Cardigan - Gap, $19
Pants - NY&Co., $13
Heeled oxfords - Alfani via ebay, $17
Belt - Coldwater Creek, $10

 Outfit breakdown:
Blouse - Lands' End, $10
Purple (hard to see) Pants - H&M, $13
Grey Leather Boots - Target, $50
Turquoise Necklace - gift

Outfit breakdown
Sweater dress - Old Navy, $8
Black Leather Boots - Target, gift
Necklace - NY & Co, $4
I feel I should also make a note that I don't love these boots with the sweater dress, but I was too lazy to put on tights (and it was that lovely time of month) so this is what I ended up with because I work for the government and no one I work with cares about my clothes.  I think this dress would be cute with tights and my black booties.  Anyway, I get dressed mostly for me because the hubby rarely sees me dressed for work either.  It is kind of sad, but let's be honest, I'm not going to clean and do housework in my nice clothes at home after work.  Oh well.

Oh, and I am going to sadly admit that I way fell off the retail detox train.  It is sad and I'm ashamed.  I really just gave up when my sis came to town, but I have at least only been purchasing things I wrote on my list as wants (versus just buying random stuff) and staying in a stricter budget.  I know if I see something I love for a good price and don't purchase it, I'll never find something quite as good again and then it will be gone.  It is so silly and stupid, so I am going to continue to work on it.  I decided that this would be a really great new year's resolution.  I think I should try to do it when I have a chance of being successful, meaning it is the national shopping season full of amazing deals.  Obviously I can't quit cold turkey!

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?


Conversation #119: A series of rants - you have been warned!

I'm sorry, but I have to get it all out.  This last week was one for the record books for me, folks.  (oh speaking of a pet peeve/rant, one of my coworkers loves to use the word "folks" but he pronounces the "L" in it too.  Think of the word "bulk" but add "fo" instead of "bu").  Anyway, let the venting commence.

First off, this is a prayer request and just was a source of sadness for me: one of my good friends was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I thought it was so ironic that they got the diagnosis during Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it freaks me out.  First of all, she is almost exactly a year older than me, and I'm only 26.  She also just celebrated her only daughter's first birthday in August and they were hoping to start trying for more babies soon.  Due to the type of cancer and treatment, she may not be able to have any more biological children or even try to get pregnant (they think she may have gotten the cancer from the natural hormones while pregnant).  Anyway, she is the most positive, joy-filled, faithful people I know, and I know her and the hubby are already placing her in God's care and they just pray that God is glorified and known through all of this.  All I can say is WOW.  They are such a joy in my life and I am just praying that God's plan be full healing and that His power his seen by all.  This is still a bit of rant though, because I still just can't believe it is true.  I'm not mad at God at all, just confused and sad.  He allows me to be those things.

Okay, now onto the petty and annoying because really the above puts everything into perspective.  It is that time of the month, and that just induces emotions that make me frustrated.  Then on top of that, I can't get certain people in my work life to do their jobs, and it is reflecting poorly on me and holding up my work.  The most frustrating part about it - they are my bosses!  They live in a world of procrastination (well, mostly one) and we have had a contract since January that needs to be signed and sent back - it is so maddening.

All of my sports teams lost last weekend, boo :(  I hope today proves better for my alma mater and all of my other favorite teams. 

My husband and I had a poopy week of disconnecting.  I heard something he said wrong (although I still think he feels this way) and it just made for a tension filled week.  I hate when we aren't on the same page - it is just so unsettling.  Long story short, my husband isn't a huge fan of my glasses, but that is all that is comfortable to me so now I feel stuck.  It isn't a big deal, but it felt like it to me.  Oh well, we'll deal with it.

Lastly, Google all decided to go and change everything up with its programs, and so far I'm not a fan.  I feel like the contrast and readability of gmail and Google reader commands is hard to see (for example, if you want to "star" something, it is hard to see and find), and it just keeps sort of messing up and freezing!

Okay, that is all. My rant is over.  I think I typed so hard and fast that my wrist hurts now too.  Really, nothing matters in this post other than that I ask for prayers for my amazing friend.  I know I will get so many more blessings from God through her during this period of life than I will be able to give her, but I just hope I can be a good support for her, at least a little. 

I pray that you and all your loved ones are well and healthy today, and that you share with them how much you love them.


Conversation #118: Suede Nails

I'm not sure why, but the other day I decided I really wanted some dark green nail polish.  So I bought the only dark green shade at the grocery store I could find (the makeup selection is usually pretty good, and I'm too lazy to make an extra trip somewhere else for nail polish).  Anyway it is Revlon Matte Suede finish in Emerald City, and I sort of love it.  I had no idea what "matte suede" meant, but without a clear polish on it, it does definitely have a matte finish that I guess is sort of suedesque (I like making up words).  It dries much faster than any other polish I have used, but I can't decide if I want to put a clear coat on top to see what it looks like or not.  It might be too glittery then, but maybe I'll try it in a few days and let you know how I like it.  Until then, I'll try out the matte look.  It is a nice darker green and sort of a fun alternative to a really dark, almost black nail (which I still like too!)


Conversation #117: Shopping Tips

The lovely Stori from It's a Wannderful Life (over in Russia right now!) asked me to share some tips I have for getting good deals while clothes shopping.  Sadly, I probably spend way too much time looking for good deals, but since I don't have kids yet I figure I have the time.  Hopefully my wardrobe will be fairly well stocked and fool proof when I start having children and become busier with family and work.  That way I'll be able to love my clothes and feel comfortable getting dressed, but I won't have to think about it!

1.  Online shopping - This is my number one tip.  I do probably 90% of my shopping online.  I have usually found better prices online and I usually only shop at online places when they offer free shipping (which is fairly often at some retailers).  This is the biggest way I find good deals.  I will scour online sales and I also tend to make sure a retailer either allows in store returns or free shipping on return items.  The Gap is one store that I usually find has better in store prices during sales, but sometimes the sizes in the store are very limited.  J.Crew doesn't offer free shipping on any order much anymore, but when they do I stock up. 

2. Google coupon codes - This is tied closely with online shopping.  I get a lot of sale emails daily from my favorite stores, but I also always google "STORE NAME promo code" to see what is out there.  This is very helpful!

3. ebay and Thrifting - I don't do near as much thrifting as a lot of bloggers out there, but I will ocassionally find a hidden treasure at a thrift store.  My favorite source for gently used items is ebay.  I have bought and sold quite a bit on ebay, and I love it.

4. Sale sites  - I am a member of Rue La La, Gilt, and I get Shop it to Me emails as well.  I wouldn't say this is my main source of good deals, but I have scored some really deals this way as well.

5. Shop an unexpected source - one of my favorite online places to find a good deal is Coldwater Creek.  I know most women under the age of 50 wouldn't even consider this store, but they actually have some really cute pieces.  Some items are more matronly or older, but I have gotten a number of pieces there that I love.  They have a great online outlet and when you can find a 30% off code with free shipping, you can really score at this store.  I'll have to share some of the items I have found there that I love (besides jewelry I frequently wear in outfit posts). 

6. Patience - This is the last tip I can think of, but it really is true.  I usually make a list of new arrivals I like and then I wait out stores for sales, and I have started learning when the best ones come.  Unless it is something I REALLY REALLY REALLY want and it looks like it will sellout before it hits sale, I NEVER buy anything full price.  I have learned that there is just no reason to.  If I can wait just a few short weeks, I can buy the item I want and maybe something else too!  I just can't make myself spend more on something if I know I can get it cheaper elsewhere.

For example, Lands' End Canvas (one of my favorite retailers) will generally have their seasonal sale for two or three weeks, and then after that they will add an extra 20% or 30% off the sale price. That is when I buyg (like the purchases that derailed the detox).  They also frequently have free shipping (and you can always return for free to a Sears store!)

I also check back frequently to online sites to see if a favorite item pops back into stock.

Okay, this is all I can think of for now, but if I remember any other tips I will be sure to share them with you all!  Happy wallet friendly shopping :)


Conversation #116: Retail Detox, an inventory

Okay, I have lost count of what week I'm supposed to be on, and since I failed a bit I should really probably start fresh.  Baby steps - that is what I'm working with here.  I got my fail packages in the mail this weekend, and unfortunately I love it all.  Right now they are sitting in a pile.  I'm trying to really decide if any of it really fulfills a need and then go from there.  Of course, I want to say it all does, but I know if I let it sit for a bit I'll realize if any of it was worth breaking the detox.  In the meantime, to help me get back on track I'm going to start sharing my closet inventory with y'all using the Real Simple list I posted a link to a couple of posts ago.

Here is a cut of the first part of the list: pants.

Okay, so this list is again the "essentials" - a wardrobe foundation and so I know there will be some additions of fun, trendy items.  However, I also started realizing when I went through this that I might have a few of each foundation so that might be a bit excessive. 

Dark Bootcut jeans - I have 3 pairs of really dark bootcut jeans, I have two pair of dark skinny jeans, two pair of medium wash skinny ankle jeans, three pair of medium was bootcut jeans (one a high waisted pair) and two pair of dark trouser jeans.  I'm no longer a student and I very rarely get to wear jeans to work (maybe 15-20 Fridays a year, max) so I have quite a few for only being able to wear them on weekends and maybe the evenings if I have somewhere to go.  I LOVE jeans.  I have gotten rid of a few pair that were too big lately, but I'm always wanting to add to my collection.  I think it is because I was the youngest of three girls growing up, and I got hand-me downs a lot.  I was also tall for my age, and so my jeans were never cool and always too short.  Therefore, I pretty much buy any pair of jeans I love that are $20 or less.  I think I have two pairs of jeans that were over $20: one for $24 (Lands' End Canvas) and another pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans I bought on ebay for $45 - I was trying to fit in at my very fashionable college but I do love the jeans).  Other than that, all jeans were $20 or less.

Menswear inspired trousers - now this section is a bit more under control.  I would only consider maybe three pairs of my dress pants "trousers."  I have one black pair, one dark brown pair, and one grey pair.  I think I am pretty good at hitting the basics on this one.  However,  I have too many of some of the other categories.

Black flared pants - I'm not sure that "flared" is what I have because I'm not as much a flared pant person.  I do have a couple of pairs of wide leg black pants and maybe one pair that is bootcut.  I think they fill this essential just fine though.

Casual Chinos - so I have a lot of pants that probably fit closest to this category (some are slightly dressier).  I have two navy pairs of chinos, multiple pairs of khakis, and one pair of casual black chinos.  I work in an environment that is business casual so a lot of  my pants fall into that category.

Slim ankle length pants - this is probably my most favorite pant silhouette.  I have two pairs of black, one khaki colored pair, one navy pair, one dark purple pair, and I'm working on making a couple of flared pair into skinny pants.  I also have a couple of pair of jeans that fit into this category.

I think it is evident that I have more than enough pairs of pants.  This list also didn't include the four pairs of corduroy pants I also have for the cooler months (three skinny pair one bootcut).  Due to my plethora of pants, I have not been buying any of these lately.  I haven't even bought new jeans in a while either - at least I'm holding back in some areas!

Don't forget to check out Misty's weekly post here and all the other great ladies participating!


Conversation #115: Outfit overload

I'm not sure these will be inspiring to anyone, but I have some outfit pictures from the last few weeks on my phone so I decided to dump them here.  Aren't the phone photos in my work bathroom super inspiring?!

Casual Friday a few weeks ago, breakdown:
Striped Boy Tee, Lands' End Canvas, $2
Bootcut Jeans, Gap, $20
Leather Belt, American Eagle Outfitters, $10 (?)
Leather & Canvas Heels, Lands' End Canvas, $30
Necklace, Target, $3

Outfit breakdown:
Red/White Striped shirt, Lands' End Canvas, $12
Ponte Pants, Lands' End, $14
Leopard Calfhair flats, BP via ebay, $30
Faux gold chain necklace, JCPenney, $12

One of my favorite recent outfits, I had a downtown meeting so I wanted to get gussied for downtown Dallas
Outfit breakdown:
Cardigan, New York and Co, $18
Silk and lace tank, J. Crew via ebay, $13
Black crepe pants, Talbots, $30
Black leather booties, JCPenney, $24
Necklace, Coldwater Creek, $7 (?, can't remember for sure)

Another Rangers work outfit
Outfit Breakdown:
Striped cowl neck top, Gap, $12
Trouser Jeans, LL Bean, $19
Leather Ankle Boots, Talbots, $18
An outfit inspired from Fab Finds Under $50, Grey and Camel
Outfit breakdown:
Cardigan, Gap Outlet, $10.50
Camel flannel dress, J. Crew via J.Crew Aficionada blog, $40 (I had searched for this a while)
Grey leather belt, J. Jill, $5
Grey suede heels, Shoe Carnival, $29 (?)
Necklace, local store, $4 (I get more compliments on this necklace than any other piece of jewelry I own) 
Looking back at these photos, I realize that I think I'm getting better at putting together outfits.  However, I still feel like my hair just looks a mess everyday.  I try so many different ways of styling it, but it always looks frizzy and full of fly-aways in photos.  Any tips out there?  Early in the year, maybe January and February, it was so dry here that I had a good run of awesome hairdays (although my skin was dying a slow parched death).  I hope that dry air hits again this season.  Until then, what do you do to fight frizz?


Conversation #114: Wardrobe Checklist (and retail detox update)

I read something a while back that sort of spurred me into thinking I needed to do this whole retail detox thing.  I'm just going to get it out there - it has been way hard for me and I'm super embarrassed and disappointed by that.  I did well for the first two weeks, and then I got into this buying and returning things habit because I felt bad after buying it.  I told myself that I could still buy things, but only with extra money I earned from ebay.  That worked for a while too, but then I caved to the Lands' End Canvas sale last weekend.  I bought three tees, a skirt, and a cardigan.  I think that all but maybe one tee will be going back and hopefully I can stop this extra shopping. 

Okay, back to the "thing" I read...

It was an article in Real Simple magazine targeted at helping you never buy the wrong thing again.  It has great tips in it, and the wardrobe checklist it includes really brought it all back home to me.  I started going through the checklist and realized I had multiples of many of the items on there.  If you want to read the whole piece (which I encourage you to do): click here.  However, here is a picture of the checklist that I copied from the previous Real Simple link - it is pretty small so you'll probably just want to click through the link.

I'm going to start really taking inventory of what I have compared to the list and try to fill any holes (I think there is only one) and then quit shopping.  Hopefully this will get me back on track with the extra shopping for things not on the list.  Obviously, this is an essential list so I think it is good to throw in a few pops of colors or accessories, but hopefully in a much more thoughtful and restricted way.  I think my husband, closet, and wallet will thank me :)

Now for a hopefully inspiring outfit photo for the Texas Rangers -I'm dead tired after the game last night but I sure hope they bring home the title this evening.  GO RANGERS!!!

Outfit breakdown (Rangers edition - red and blue are the team colors):
Cardigan, Gap, $13 (not sure because it was on sale and I used a Groupon)
Red Tank, New York and Co, $?  (no idea, I have had it for three or four years now)
Jeans, Lands' End Canvas, $20
Boots, Sonoma, gift
Necklace, Coldwater Creek, free with gift card from market research
Watch, Armitron, Kohls, $30


Conversation #113: Sassy Engineer, where art thou?

I'll be honest - I have been avoiding the blog.  I have a shopping problem, and I didn't want to share that I have fallen down a bit in this retail detox thing.  I'll save the real post for tomorrow, but this is the start of week 6 and it has been a little up and down for me.  I'm so proud of the other ladies that have held strong though!  I was doing well to at least only buy things on ebay that I had money for because I had sold things on ebay.  It was at least a step in the right direction for me because I apparently can't quit cold turkey.  However, yesterday night while watching the Rangers win (woohoo!) I caved to the Lands' End Canvas sale.  Maybe none of it will fit so it will be easy to return!  Then I really need to buckle down - I blame it on my husband.  He had a birthday yesterday and I shopped for him and got back into the online shopping world too soon!

Anyway, I'll do my official update tomorrow, but I decided to start following this outfit inspiration blog (Fab Finds under $50) to keep me on track again with using clothes I already own.  I think being an engineer sometimes filters into all aspects of my life because I love structure (that would be even funnier if I were a structural engineer, I'm a nerd, sorry).  I found this blog (check it out!) through a chain of other blogs, and I love that she has all of these calendars for inspiration so I can be creative but have some guidance.

Today was Mustard & Navy - I was happy to do to this because I love these two colors together.  I opted for the oufit below (please excuse my hair, we had 93% humidity this morning):

Outfit breakdown:
Navy Jacket, LOFT, thrifted, $10
Mustard Lace Trim Tank (just peaking out at the top and bottom), Coldwater Creek, $12 (I think)
Khaki pants, Gap, $12
Suede Navy Flats, Lands' End, $10
Mustard & cognac leather tote, Halogen, $48

I realize that $48 isn't cheap, but for a leather tote that is pretty good.  I have been a lover of purses since I was born (I have pictures of me with them draped around my neck as a baby/toddler), and I used to go with quantity not quality.  Well, over the years I have shifted to spending a bit more on leather bags that will last me for years versus cheap ones for months.  It is amazing how many less bags I own, but I love them all.

Also, I realize I will never be a full on fashion blogger.  I don't have the time or energy to take awesome pictures, but now that the weather is cooler and my backyard isn't quite as out of control, I will try to take more outside pictures again with better lighting.  I just like to use this little space to stretch my creativity with my fashion, and hopefully without spending too much money!  I really do have other things I want to blog about these days also, but I forget to take pictures and then that makes for a boring blog post.  I'll try to be better about throwing in some other fun things too!  Hope everyone is having a good evening, and GO RANGERS!!!  (that is the world series for my non sports readers)


Conversation #112: 100 Day Challenge week 3 update

So I took a little break this week from blogging much just because it has been CRAZY!  We actually went out of town last Thursday night and got back in late Monday night.  I have been playing catch up ever since, and so the blog is usually the first to go.  Anyway, we took a long weekend trip to Richmond and then up to D.C.  It was awesome (although chilly), and I will post pictures this weekend I hope.

In the meantime, this is my update on the Detox challenge.  Last week (before Monday) was a pretty good week for me.  I actually returned something I bought with my "already used money" so I still have that on the table.  I also even returned the sweater dress I bought the week before.  I had pined over it for a while, but after trying it on, it wasn't love and wasn't worth the break in the Detox.  I'll already confess that I used my "already used before detox" money this week, but it was after Monday so I'll wait to update on that for next week.  I'm pretty week, but I am seeing small changes so hopefully by the end of this thing I will really be viewing shopping differently!

Here is a somewhat boring outfit from the week.  I think I am just sort of getting sick of my summer clothes.  Fall, I long for you!

Outfit breakdown:
Cardi, Talbots, $17
Dress, Lands' End Canvas, $20 (I think)
Necklace, Coldwater Creek, $Free - had gift card from market research activity
Shoes, J. Crew, $16
Leather Bag, The Sak, $70 (my splurge)

Anyone of my followers out there decided to try this yet?  Let me know and check out the other detoxers here.


Conversation #111: 100 Day Stretch - week 2

Well, it is time for an update.  So far, I have done pretty well.  I will confess my purchases and then share my outfit for the day, but first a few of my random thoughts.  I know this is going to be hard for me, especially as Christmas sales start hitting my inbox, but I'm determined to have a healthy relationship with shopping once again, and this is my first baby step (not really the whole stretch, just starting it!)

I like what Misty said on the weekly link-up post today (go here to read and see other "stretchers").   She talked about the freedom in not feeling like she needs to keep up with a trend or run out and try to find something she saw online - I wanted to yell, "Amen, sista!"  That has been the biggest thing I have noticed this last week for me.  I think my head was even trying to will myself to want things, but I just couldn't find that much that I wanted.  Mostly, I think I am over the current offerings in stores so I hope I stay strong once new arrivals starting hitting the sale racks. 

I would have probably justified buying something small almost everyday before the stretch, and I got into this horrible habit of ordering anything I thought I might like and then having to return a lot if I didn't like it (I'm more of an online shopper even though I live in a huge shopping city).  However, now I am kind of having fun shopping my closet and switching up purses and belts to make things feel new again.  It would also help if the weather could actually get cooler here so I could start piling on the fall clothes!

Okay, so here is what did get purchased when I kind of strayed this last week and why: a watch - it is one I had been thinking about for a year and I found a great deal.  I also don't consider it jewelry, but I also am selling an older watch on ebay to pay for it (so at least it isn't money out of my pocket).  I also purchased a new red t-shirt for $7.  I realized that I gave away my only red t-shirt (it was too low cut, but I made do); red is one of my alma mater's colors, and we are in the middle of football season so I had to replace it.  Our next game is a "red out."  I wasn't thrilled to have to buy it, but it wasn't a frivolous buy at least.  Lastly, I did purchase a dress from Lands' End Canvas (LEC) on sale that I had eyed since last year.  However, I only did this because I had to return (see that cycle) some things I purchased before I started the stretch so I figured that money could go to the dress.   

Oops - I also forgot that I unintentionally bought a dress and t-shirt for $4 total (as in $2 a piece).  I had this dress and shirt in my shopping bag at LEC since a couple of weeks ago and they were still there marked down to $4 each.  I figured this was a fluke but I decided to proceed to checkout to see what would happen.  It let me check out (and I used a $4 credit I had) and now they are on their way to my house.  I really thought the store would email and say the order was cancelled, but I guess for $4 it can slide.  Who knows, they may not even fit.

Okay, that is my confessional for the week.  I'm feeling stronger though and realizing even further that I don't need anymore.  I am also still sticking to my rule of "one in, one out" with these few items coming in the mail.  If possible, I will try to resell so no extra money is being spent.  However, this next week and then the next however many are left until this is over will be void of even this shopping because I have used the money from the returns and no more fudging.  Like I said, baby steps.

After all of that talk, here is my outfit:
Outfit breakdown:
Tee: Lands' End, via Sear's, $3
Dress: Martin + Osa, via ebay, $17
Necklace: random store back home, $4
Shoes: Lands' End Canvas, $13
Belt: American Eagle Outfitters, $10

Sometimes I forget that you can layer under and not just over.  I decided under would help make this dress a little more work appropriate, but looking at this picture makes me think I was a little too casual for a Tuesday.  Oh well!  My work doesn't really care.  This is also the first time I have knotted a belt like this.  I like my belts to be long so I can wear them on my low-waist with jeans or higher-up to define a waist (my belt-hole puncher was seriously the best buy), but then a large portion of the belt hangs down when worn up high.  I tried the loopy knot thing, and I don't hate it.  Sometimes I think that things look weird on me, but then I realize it is just because it is different.  If I'm confident, then no one else will think it is weird!

One final question: do any of my fellow naturally curly haired girls out there have any favorite products?  I go through periods of loving something, and then I feel like it stops working and I get the lovely mess on my head that is my hair today (pardon it in the above picture).  I just feel like it looks so frizzy and gross, but I don't always know what to do with it (without spending a ridiculous amount of time on it).  I'm kind of looking forward to the dry winter months because I tend to get a long string of good hair days!


Conversation #110: Family Shape-Up

So you may remember that I started WeightWatchers a few months ago, and I have continued following my plan.  This summer has been a struggle for me, but I sit at 136 lbs right now.  My goal from the beginning was 132 so I’m going to see if I can get down to that now.  Even if I never do, I feel great and I’m enjoying seeing my body change and become more tone.  I have been working out almost every morning, and I plan to continue on that for the rest of my life if possible.  I feel like I’m finally making a lifestyle change.

Well, my mom started WeightWatchers a bit after me, and than my oldest sister followed.  My other sis hasn’t actually officially signed up yet, but over Labor Day weekend we decided that we were doing this together.  They need motivators and I needed extra motivation so helping them helps me.  Since I have been doing it longest, I’m motivating my sisters to workout and eat better (and more just helping my mom be accountable and give support because she has a pretty good thing going).

I text them each morning at 6:30 to make sure they are up and exercising, and then we all keep in touch about what we did today and how it went.  We set weekly goals, and we are finalizing our long term goal and reward for reaching it (we are thinking about a girls’ trip).  Anyway, I will use my blog to track our journey.  Not sure which day each week, but I’m thinking maybe Sundays…we’ll see.

Anyone else working on making any lifestyle changes?


Conversation #109: What happened to college sports?

Photo from here.

This may not be of interest to many of my readers, but I am just getting sort of frustrated and tired of all the conference changes.  I thought sports were supposed to be about fun and competition, and who doesn't love a good rivalry.  Instead, it has become about the money.  Isn't that what always happens?

I'm also sad, because it seems that yet again, my lovely home state of Kansas is going to be kicked to the curb as always.  I know Kansas isn't as exciting as NYC, and no, we don't have any beaches, but I LOVE Kansas.  Unfortunately I don't get to live there anymore, but I will always be a Kansan, and I have tons of pride for my state.  It is full of hard working people, and maybe we just prefer a simpler, quieter pace of life.  I miss that living in a big city.  Plus, with the Internet and UPS, I have determined that I could shop anywhere, even in fashion lacking Kansas (we used to get stores later than other places).

I hate when I tell people I'm from Kansas and they either say, "I drove there once" or "I flew over it once."  The coasts have definitely made it flyover country for sure.  Seems that may happen again in college sports.  I live in Texas, and although I will always be a Kansan, I like Texas, too.  Texas is too big and too strong willed to let it be flyover country, and it also has far more people in it than Kansas.  I'm sorry to any University of Texas fans out there, but I sort of feel like they ruined the Big XII.  They are all about money, and they are huge so they have a very large alumni and fan base.  Kansas can't compete with that, and therefore we'll get kicked to the curb and put in the "leftovers" conference because we don't have the money or sheer number of people the southern schools have to support it monetarily like TX schools can. 

This is probably a little whiny, but it makes me so sad for my home state, and I wish I could do something to help.  I just hope the NCAA and colleges realize that we already have a pro-football league, and college sports used to be more fun when money wasn't the goal.  Anyway, I'm off my soapbox now.  So long Big XII - you will be missed.  I even remember when you were the Big VIII way back in the day!


Conversation #108: The 100 Day Stretch – Retail Detox

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I put myself on a shopping ban.  Well, I was also super behind on blog reading and just happened to read Misty’s post from last week talking about the 100 Day Stretch (see button on the side).  Yes you read that right – 100 Days.  Basically, it means that we are going 100 Days without shopping.  I kind of can’t believe I just said that, but as I said yesterday, it is much needed.  Sometimes I really think God works in the small things.  I need to do this detox, but I wasn’t sure I could do it alone.  Now I don’t have to thanks to Misty!

So how did this all start?  Well, I have always loved shopping, but online shopping was just becoming too much of a hobby.  Also, looking, or should I say hunting, for a good deal became almost a high for me I think.  Anywho, this really kicked into gear a few months ago when I lost weight and needed to replace some clothing.  Well, I got a little crazy and went a little overboard (as described yesterday while I started looking at all the new clothes I haven’t even worn in my closet).

So the last day I officially bought something was Saturday, September 17.  Therefore, day 100 is December 26th.  I’m not sure if I will let myself shop on the day after Christmas or wait one more day, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.  For now, this is the start of this journey and we’ll see what happens.

My rules for myself:

I will not buy any clothes, shoes or jewelry.  I hope this stretch will encourage me to work on some of my sewing projects I have half started.  I will not be allowed to buy new patterns or fabric, but I will let myself buy a zipper or some other notion if I NEED one (as in really don’t have one at all) to finish a project.  I even have a wedding to attend in two weeks, but I will wear a dress I already have so as of now I’m not allowing myself any purchase but one: a midi skirt.  That is also only if I find one I love, and I really only plan to look at local thrift stores.  That is all.  The only other thing I have even contemplated buying that does not fall into an above category is a new, slimmer case for my nook, but I think I’ll try to get that on ebay (and only that) if I sell more items.

Okay, those are the rules.  Are you in?  If you want to join, go here and let Misty know!  Check back here each Monday to see how I’m doing.  Next Monday: the basic wardrobe list every woman needs (as seen in Real Simple, May 2011)


Conversation #107: Hello again

Hello lovely readers,

I didn't intend to take a blog break.  I was out of town for Labor Day weekend, and then work got crazy busy.  Anyway, things should be back to normal now and hopefully the fall won't prove to be as busy as spring.  However, I did join a book club, we have football games, and the husband and I are doing this marriage class group thing.  They are all good things though, and I feel like I'm getting more and more involved at church and with friends, and that is what matters in life, right?

So yesterday (after I had a mini life meltdown), I started cleaning and organizing again.  You see, I deep cleaned my house about two weeks ago, but then I was either dealing with that time of the month or too busy to clean the last couple of weeks so it kind of overwhelmed me yesterday.  Mostly what overwhelmed me were these piles of unread magazines from the last two years and a stack of recipes I tore out from them.  I finally decided that I would only keep the recipes I truly thought I would make and like, and then threw all of the rest of it into the recycle bin.  I kept thinking that I would want to look at fashion ideas or home decor ideas, but they are over a year old and there will always be other ways to get that info.  So I decided it all had to go and it made me feel so much better!

When I went back to cleaning I started putting away folded clothes from the laundry.  It just hit me again how many clothes I have and that I still have a problem buying more, especially if they are a good deal.  I have refrained a couple of times lately, but I think I have bought more than I refrained.  I started selling some of my nicer older clothes on ebay, and all that did was get me back into my ebay buying.  I have gotten a couple of things, but I am definitely on a full on shopping ban again.  It is definitely needed.  I have so many clothes that I love right now that I do not need anymore.  There isn't anything else I want to get rid of right now, so shopping is over.  I think I just keep shopping for fall hoping that it will make it come sooner, but now I have plenty of new fall to winter items so I'm done.

Now I do have to admit that last week before realizing I needed to stop shopping again, I went to Target to look at the new Missoni items.  Most of all of the clothes were gone, but I did look at some shoes.  However, I ultimately put them back because they had awesome markdowns on a ton of clothes.  I got four dresses for $10-$12 each.  They are all nice and lined, and the best part is that two of them are a size 6.  I never thought I would wear that size again.  I need to get back to updating my blog on my healthy quest too because  a lot has happened there as well.

Okay, that is the update for now.  Look for more posts about a lot of random topics coming to you soon!

Here is my outfit today featuring a new Target dress:
Outfit Breakdown:
Dress: Target, $10
Cardigan: J.Crew, $20
Sandals: Lands' End Canvas, $13
Necklace: local store, $4


Conversation #106: Challenge - Sunday Shoes

So I skipped out on another day this week.  I didn't participate in wear something on your head.  I had a meeting yesterday and didn't think a scarf, hat, or flower pin was meeting appropriate.  I thought about a headband, but they kind of hurt with glasses.  Oh well.  I did participate in Sunday shoes yesterday instead!  I love how heels look, but I don't always like how they feel so I don't wear them too often.  I love the shoes I chose for this challenge, but if I had to be on my feet all day they would be a no go.

Outfit Breakdown
Tank: Coldwater Creek, $10
Sweater/Cardigan: Lands' End Canvas, gift
Jeans: Gap, $20
Shoes: Talbots, $30
Necklace: Forever 21, $5

So the first picture is how I normally look at work - wearing a sweater when it is 105 outside because it is FREEZING inside.  I also tried to take a couple of pics of my shoes since they were the reason for the outfit.  This outfit is pretty simple, but I like.  I also love my mustard sandals.  Hope y'all are having a great Labor Day weekend.  Don't forget to check out the other Sunday Shoes here.


Conversation #105: Challenge - Statement Jewelry

I have a confession - I skipped a challenge day this week.  Yesterday was supposed to be "take something from your mending pile, fix it and wear it."  I have said pile, but with getting ready for upcoming festivities this weekend, I just didn't get to mending anything.  Plus, I feel like whenever I sit down to sew, I owe my husband some hemmed pants first.  Anyway, all of that to get to today: statement jewelry.  Over the last couple of years, I have started collecting a lot of fun necklaces, but I had one in particular that recently made its way to my home but hadn't see the light of day yet.

Outfit breakdown
Top: Lands' End, $5
Skirt: J.Crew Outlet, $20
Sandals: J.Crew via ebay, $6
Necklace: Anthropologie, $10

I had loved this necklace in all colors for a while, but I just couldn't bring myself to even spend $30 on it (the first cut price at Anthro).  However, when I saw it hit $10 a couple of weeks ago, I jumped on it.  I love how it kind of becomes the shirt in a way.  I think it is truly the focal point and a statement so I was glad to have a great excuse to wear it.  I tried to keep the rest of the outfit simple, but I still had to have me some color in there.  I also had to be outside again to observe some more school traffic so I was trying to wear few clothes but still be work appropriate. 

My office is pretty much business casual, and I don't really know what that means for me, so I just wear what I want that is dressy.  I'm not wearing cocktail dresses or anything, but I work with either men (mostly over 40) or women (mostly over 55) so they don't really know fashion or care too much.  I work for local government, and I don't think it is generally known for being a creative workplace with fashion forward employees.  However, I decided I would rather push the envelope a little than wear my khaki trousers and blah shirt everyday (like I did for a while because I didn't care).

What is your work wardrobe like?


Conversation #104: Menswear

Good thing I recently bought a great menswear vest at H&M last week because otherwise I don't know what I would have worn!  I have blazers, trousers and such, but it is just too hot to wear that stuff right now.  I also had a meeting with a police officer out at a school to observe traffic, and I just couldn't stand outside in the heat in multiple layers.  Actually, the vest was still pretty hot, but luckily it covered up the beautiful sweat soaking through my tee underneath.  Seriously, can fall please get here sooner?! (Well not until after Sunday because we have a date with the water park).

I must apologize for the picture too.  I didn't have time to run to the bathroom at work yesterday so I took these in my bathroom mirror at home (and it isn't full length and the lighting is even worse than work!)

Outfit breakdown
Vest: H&M, $24.50
Tee: Lands' End, $3
Skirt: Lands' End Canvas, $25
Necklace: American Eagle Outfitters
Watch: Anne Klein via ebay, $30

I was just wearing my tried and true Lands' End Canvas brown leather flat sandals.  I actually had the tee tucked out from the vest originally, which is still how I prefer it, but I decided that was too casual for a workday.  Oh well!  Checkout the other menswear outfits here.


Conversation #103: Copycat (and something new with your hair)

Okay, I think I am back on track now for this last week of challenges.  I actually like the challenges because it really helps me get dressed each day versus limiting me.  It is sort of like having a uniform, but a fun one.  Anyway, I did combine yesterday and today into one.  I know, but I figured this has to work for me not stress me out, so this is how it worked.  I didn't really do anything exciting yesterday either.  We didn't make church in the morning, and I cleaned all day.  I did get dressed for our small group last night, but it was pretty casual and not exciting.

Without further ado, here is my inspiration photo for the copycat outfit:
I'm so cool that I had to scan my inspiration photo!  I keep meaning to join Pinterest (I have invites) but I keep forgetting to when I'm at home.  I guess you have to sign up through facebook and my work computer won't let me.  Probably for the best!  Anyway, this image came out of the September issue of Real Simple (I love that magazine).  I really just wanted to buy the shoes and top, but I figured I should try to recreate first.

Mine isn't perfect, but a similar idea.  My suede wedges have a similar shape to them, but they don't have any fun geometric designs on the toe of the shoe.  The do have a little leather lace and bow though.  Also, my blouse is gray and has a silver button so I changed out the gold bracelets for silver in my look.  Here ya go:

Outfit breakdown
Top: JCPenney, $8
Pants: Lands' End Canvas, $13 (I think)
Shoes: Etienne Aigner via TJ Maxx, $30
Bracelet: Wore it in my wedding, maybe $10

Also, my something new with my hair is straightening it.  I never do, I decided to this morning and then it rained for a hot second!  It hasn't rained in so long and it picks today to do it!!!  Oh well.  Check out the other fun inspired outfits here.

Conversation #102: Outfit challenge, Neutral with a Pop

This is a super lame one, but I didn't really get out on Saturday so this is what I wore for my neutral with a pop:

I was also wearing khaki colored leather sandals if that helps.  It was lame.  I was cleaning my house all weekend (like deep spring cleaning at the end of summer) so this is what you get.  Oh well!

Check out the good ones here.

Conversation #101: Jazz up your Jeans

So this is super late, but I got sick at work on Friday so I didn't feel like blogging on Friday and then the weekend got away from me.  Lucky for you I still made it to work, thought about my outfit, and got dressed!  I think it is too late to add to the official link back on Kayla's blog, but oh well.  For your viewing pleasure:
Outfit breakdown
Shirt: Lands' End Canvas, $13
Jeans: Gap Outlet (years ago), $20
Belt: American Eagle Outfitters, $8
Shoes: Eddie Bauer, $40 (a splurge for me, but I had been stalking since they were $99)
Watch: Michele, gift

How do you like to wear your jeans?


Conversation #100: Should this be big? (& 21 Day Challenge - skirt or dress)

Well, I hate to disappoint, but I have nothing special planned for the 100th conversation.  It really doesn't correspond with anything because I did start the numbers when I re-started blogging, and it doesn't correspond with a number of days either.  Sorry I'm lame, but I'll try to work on that.  I always think of things I want to blog about, but then I forget.  I'm trying to put them in my phone so I can remember them at a later time.  I did go to our new H&M last night for the first time, and that was kind of cool.  I restrained myself and only bought a couple of small things, but I know I'll be back.  Does H&M have sales? 

Without further ado, I got behind on my challenge posting so you get two today!  Today's challenge was to wear a dress or skirt.  This really isn't hard for me.  I love dresses and skirts, and I have pretty much only worn that to work this summer because of the blasted heat.  However, today I had to go a little more formal and conservative because I had a meeting with an assistant city manager.  I figured today wasn't the day to push the fashion envelope.
Outfit Breakdown
Shirt: Banana Republic Outlet, $? bought it a couple of years ago
Skirt: Talbots, $30 (on sale and good for Talbots)
Shoes: Target, $12 on clearance (they are actually a wedge and super comfy)
Necklace: American Eagle Outfitters, $4
Glasses: Joseph Marc, $12 (tax and s&h); these are matte black and the others are tortoise

I really like the color of this top, and I could have probably been a bit more creative with the accessories.  However, I was running late and even forgot to put my watch on (which I never do unless pressed for time).  Any of you readers out there also participating in this challenge?  Let me know if you are!

Conversation #99: 21 Day Challenge - Closet Orphan

Yesterday the challenge on Kayla's blog was to wear something lurking in the deep recesses of your closet/dresser.  I was a little worried if I would find something season appropriate because I had just recently cleaned out my closet of most of the orphans (at least summer ones).  Since we are still rocking the 100's down here in Texas, I needed something work appropriate and heat appropriate.  I searched my closet and settled upon the perfect white eyelet sheath dress.  The only reason this dress has made it through many rounds of clean out is because my mom made it for me for my high school graduation 8 years ago.  I couldn't wear this dress 15 pounds ago, and since I recently lost those pounds I decided to give it a try.  And guess what?  It fit!  I did a happy dance and then decided to make my outfit:
Outfit breakdown:
Dress: made by my mom, free (well for me, haha)
Cardigan: Gap, $15 (I think, on sale)
Necklace: American eagle, $5
Belt: Charlotte Russe, $8
Shoes: Lands' End Canvas, $13
Watch: Anne Klein, ebay, $30
Glasses: Joseph Marc via Coastal Contacts, $12 (only paid tax and s&h)

So I can't wear this cardigan outside, but it keeps me warm in the ever chilly office (all of the women in the office besides me are going through menopause).  Also, I have to keep taking silly phone pics in the work bathroom because it is way too hot to do outside photos and my house has horrible lighting for indoor pics.  It is really quite weird.

You'll also have to excuse the crazy hair.  I just got it cut this weekend, and I love the cut but the humidity has rolled into town (even though our little suburb keeps getting passed on both sides by the rain storms).  I need to be less lazy with the hair, but at this point, no amount of anti-frizz product seems to be working!  I'm also sporting a new pair of glasses.  I'll try to share a close-up photo of those once I get the crazy frizzy hair under control :)