Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Finding balance



I’ve been thinking about writing about the topic of finding balance for a long time. And since I guess you could call this my resolution for the year, I thought this might be a good time to bring it up. I’ve had this increasingly nagging feeling over the last year or so that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A feeling like not everything on my list of things had been accomplished. It felt like there was something missing that I wasn’t getting to, causing me to feel frustrated and anxious at times. And that feeling only grew over the holidays as obligations for work and even my social life began to pile up. It wasn’t until the last present was put away and the last champagne flute was cleaned that I started to feel a sense of calm and equilibrium come over me. I have suspected this for a long time and it’s clear to me now, more so than ever, looking over the past year, which was wonderful in so many regards, that I didn’t really carve out enough time for myself. My schedule became so full, so fast that I never really took the time to examine it and ask myself if this was truly the way I wanted to be spending my time. I just went with it. And now, as a full-fledged adult living on my own for officially six and a half years, it seems that I’ve finally come to the realization that I am the person who sets my priorities and decides how I spend my time. If I want it to be different, I have to change it, which is where the idea of finding balance comes in.

As a former figure skater, the concept is not lost on me that even though everything can feel like it is moving really fast, if you have balance, you can achieve great things. Beautiful things. Given the fact that my life will probably stay really busy and hectic, the best thing I can do to make sure I am doing everything that I WANT to do, is to make priorities and allocate an amount of time that seems appropriate for that particular priority, whether it is spending more time with friends or reading a good book. For me, one of things I have really missed is blogging. And I made several failed attempts at blogging over the last few months. Everything else kept getting in the way. I finally realized if I wanted this to happen, I needed to schedule it. This idea didn’t click until I heard Elizabeth Gilbert, on an episode of her podcast Magic Lessons, tell a busy woman trying to write a novel that she needed to make time for her writing, even if that meant giving up something else.

Thinking about all of the other priorities in my life, such as family, work and friends, blogging doesn’t really compete, but I decided it does fall somewhere on my list of priorities because it is something I enjoy. And as you know, the whole not spending time on me thing was a problem last year. So I’ve set aside time on Saturday mornings to work on my blog. I decided that little bit of time on Saturday mornings is just the right amount of time to commit to this given how it ranks in comparison to all of the other priorities in my life. I am sure there will be times when other priorities take precedence or when I spend more time on my blog than I thought I would. There may not always be balance. Psychotherapist F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., said in her blog post 5 ways to find balance in your life for Psychology Today, “…balance is about navigating transition - rather than trying to 'nail' a spot and (desperately...er...um) gracefully hoping to stay in it.” So I humbly recognize this is not something I will always get right. To quote my yoga teacher and something I am sure I begrudgingly learned many times during my years at the ice rink: when you fall, you learn. Finding balance takes work and practice, but I definitely think it’s something worth working on and focusing on for the next year. What do you think? Do you struggle with finding balance, too? Is there something you’ve done that has helped you find balance in your life?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A few of my favorite things


I'd like to start the year by sharing a few of my favorite things from 2017. This is not only a way to share what I feel are great products and finds, but also a way to reflect on a year of smarter purchases. As I look through old blog posts, I seem to start every year with the goal to save more money. And that goal has morphed to not only include saving more money each paycheck, but saving more in the long run by purchasing clothing and products that I know will give me long-lasting value. As I look back at 2017, I am proud of myself for making fewer, smarter purchases. Here are the ones that I thought were worth sharing:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

On Gratitude




Details: $7 Thrifted Limited Dress (Similar), Nordstrom Hinge Ankle Boots, Loft Necklace (Similar), Target Tights (Similar)

On Thanksgiving, I'll be wearing this $7 striped dress from Goodwill. Cute, right? I found it while hunting for our Halloween costumes, and I knew it would be the perfect little special occasion dress and elevate-the-every-day work dress. We took these pictures at Squire's Castle, one of my favorite parks in Cleveland. It's this dress that inspired what I wanted to write about it when it came to my feelings on gratitude this year.

I realize this is just a dress, but it and other things I've thrifted or repurposed over the years holds a lot of meaning for me. It represents a resourcefulness that I've discovered in myself to take what life has given me and make the most of it. I can't afford my dream wardrobe. Well, truthfully I probably can, but if I spent my money on that I would have nothing left in my savings account. And, my dream wardrobe has far too many dresses, fussy heels, and sequins for my actual day-to-day life. That’s why it’s called a “dream wardrobe.” Something to aspire to that inspires my actual wardrobe and occasionally leads me to ask for gold sequin pants for Christmas that I'll only wear once a year. We all have one or two items like that in our wardrobe, right?

Just like any idealized version of reality, dreams of achieving perfection can sometimes cause us to be envious of others who we believe have achieved this sort of state of nirvana, and worst of all, it can cause us to stop being grateful for what we DO have. But the reality of the situation is that what we do have is so much better than a dream. A dream can be something that inspires you to take a leap of faith and elevate the every day, which is amazingly helpful when you need motivation. But sometimes I think we can forget that a dream is only a dream. As inspirational as it can be, it can also be fake, shallow, and two dimensional. And truthfully, reality is so much more satisfying. Because of it's twists and turns, reality challenges you to take what DO have and make it interesting, different, fun, quirky, and uniquely you.

That is why I love writing a style blog so much. It doesn’t have to be about buying certain brands so that I can fit into a particular mold and get more followers. It’s taking the clothes I do have and styling them in a different way. It’s walking into a thrift store not knowing what I’ll walk out with. It’s taking something old and making it new again. It’s realizing that what you have already is exactly what you needed in the first place.

I've been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons podcast lately, and I would highly recommend it if you are a creative soul or if you just need a nice, encouraging person to listen to. In an episode where she interviews comedian John Hodgman, he talks about how he feels when embarking on new creative endeavors. Instead of feeling fear or anxiety to try something he's never done before, he described feeling grateful for the opportunity to be creative. I loved hearing that sentiment because it is something I relate to, and I don't think that philosophy has to stop there. I would like to extend the idea of being grateful for the chance to be creative to my everyday life. Instead of getting frustrated that something isn't going the way I planned, I would like to tackle the unplanned with a little creativity and be grateful for the chance to do so.

After a year that was challenging in different ways — from the political to the personal — I am grateful that with a little creativity and vision, you can make the most out of what you have, and sometimes, it can be better than what you dreamed. I think this can easily be true of wardrobes. And with a little bit of effort, I think you can make it true in your life as well. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall Ankle Boots


Like any true romantic, fall makes me reach for dark, floral patterns and feminine details. To balance out that vibe, I occasionally drift toward something a little more rugged like these Hinge ankle boots from Nordstrom. The side slit had me at hello and is a great update to a classic boot. They look great with jeans or bare ankles. Since the weather has only just started to feel like fall, I took advantage of the opportunity to wear these boots with bare legs. And when I can top off a look with my floppy hat, I am pretty much in own personal fall heaven. I wore this outfit (sans hat) to my sorority's alumnae association founder's day celebration. It was equal parts comfy and cool-girl dressy for a relaxed yet special occasion fall brunch.

Details:
Hinge Angle Boots via Nordstrom (Currently 33%Off)
Last Year's Billabong Dress via Nordstrom (Similar)
Last Year's Hat via Pavement (Similar)
Charming Charlie Necklace (Similar)
Kate Spade Purse (Similar)
Old Rayban Wayfarers (Similar)





Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cold Shoulder Top

Details: A&F Top / Gap Jeans / Calvin Klein Shoes via TJ Maxx / Loft Necklace

We certainly haven't gotten to the point of the year weather-wise where removing layers or even sections of clothing seems like a sensible idea, even still I can't help but be into the cold shoulder look right now. It's provocative without being too sexy. They are just shoulders after all. And if you pair a top like this with a sensible winter coat, my theory is you should be fine, even without shoulder covers. I'm excited to wear this as a casual alternative to my usual dressy Valentine's Day attire. I found this sweater at Abercrombie and Fitch of all places. It's marked down from $44 to $26 right now. I especially love how this is a more casual take on the cold shoulder look. It's a bit slouchy and the material could not be more soft, so you can pair it with everything from a skirt to jeans.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Black and White Print Dress

Details: Banana Republic Factory Dress / Gap Shirt / Halogen Flats / Target Necklace

I hope 2017 is going well for you so far. I accomplished my first "first" of the year. I went indoor rock climbing over the weekend. It was an amazing experience. I was filled with adrenaline and pride in myself for overcoming my fears. I have to admit I was really scared. I have a bad fear of heights. I could barely get up the wall at first. Putting your safety in someone else's hands when you're really scared is hard to do. The nice thing is that you get to be the person holding the rope too. Once you figure out how it all works it's a lot less scary. Over time I gained confidence and was trying some of the more challenging walls.

Luckily, getting dressed in the morning in not as stressful as rock climbing — especially when you can wear a dress to work. Dresses are the best go tos for the office because they can often times be more comfortable than pants and are much more stylish. This dress in particular is a great staple because the black and white pattern goes with any color and any season. For the colder days ahead, I wanted to try wearing my ballet flats with tights. This dress was the perfect opportunity to test out this look because of its simplicity. I love how the contrast of black and pink turned out.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anthropologie Plaid Cape

Details: Anthropologie Plaid Cape / Gap Shirt and Pants / Nine West Boots / Loft Necklace / Studebaker Metals Cuff

Happy New Year! I hope you all had wonderful holidays! I took a much needed hiatus from work, blogging, laundry and almost all other adult responsibilities the last few weeks to spend some unadulterated time with my family and friends. It was glorious!

I feel renewed and refreshed and ready to tackle 2017 with one resolution in mind: to keep it simple. So many times last year I felt overwhelmed and overworked all because I couldn't properly set priorities or I couldn't admit what was truly important and essential. I don't really have a plan yet for how to make sure I do better this year, but at least I know what I want to fix.

One of the areas where I will continue to try to make things more simple is my closet. Last year, I set the goal of trying to make fewer, larger purchases that would be game changers for my wardrobe. I for the most part followed that philosophy successfully. I will continue to refine that model of buying this year.

This Anthropologie cape, one of my Christmas gifts, is a perfect example of the type of piece that can really make an impact on your wardrobe. The pattern is classic and goes with everything yet the shape and cut make it modern and interesting. I will definitely be looking for more pieces like this in the new year and sharing them with you here. What do you hope to accomplish in 2017?




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Year's Eve Rose Gold Sequin Dress

Details: Bee Darlin Dress via Nordstrom (Similar) / F21 Earrings (Old) / Nine West Shoes via Marshalls

We have a wedding to go to on New Year's Eve this year. I was so excited to get the chance to wear a sequin-encrusted dress for the festivities that I started shopping back in September. I snatched up this Bee Darlin Dress, which I think was originally geared toward the homecoming crowd, for $100 a few months ago. It has since sold out, but Nordstrom still has many similar styles up for grabs and at price points below $100. I think the best time to look for holiday party dresses is right before homecoming when all of the sequiny things start popping up.

I am still not sure how I want to accessorize this dress. I know I need nude tights to bear the cold, and I plan to borrow my sister's winter white pea coat. As far shoes and a purse I was thinking either dark maroon or silver. What do you think?




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fall Hat and Olive Tunic

 Details: Jane Dress (Similar) / Pavement Hat / Old Navy Boots / H&M Necklace 

Hello all! I hope you had a wonderful and very filling Thanksgiving. Mine was especially relaxing this year so I'm thankful for that. And the food was ah-mah-zing. I think my favorite dish this year was my sister's cheesy potatoes. I had to keep going back for more. I actually wore this dress for Thanksgiving, but styled it here for work with this asymmetrical cardigan to stay warm while in the office. I also didn't wear the hat to work, but wore it for Thanksgiving so posed with it here.

I got the dress on a website called Jane.com. They feature daily deals from various boutiques and the prices are really good. This particular dress isn't available anymore, but they have many more cute dresses. They carry a variety of on-trend clothes, accessories, home decor and products for babies and kids. I am definitely going to shop from them again, especially when I am looking for a specific trend, but don't want to spend too much. What sites do you shop on? Did you score any great Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals?




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Red Skinny Ankle Pants

 Details: Loft Sweater / Gap Pants / Nine West Shoes via TJ Maxx / Michael Kors Watch

Although I feel incredibly disenchanted and shocked by the election results, I want to stay positive. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make our government and the people in this country come together. One of my favorite bloggers, A Cup of Jo, puts it perfectly in her latest post. As many people have said before her, if you want to see change in the world, now is the time to donate to your favorite cause or to volunteer or just be good to each other.

With all of the excitement surrounding pant suits and Hilary Clinton this election (#pantsuitnation), I am actually not a fan of the pant suit. I would rather wear skinny pants and a blazer. Recently I found the perfect pair of skinny ankle pants for work. They seem to hug in all the right places, and they are actually comfortable. They hit at that perfect ankle length, which looks great with high heels, but they are also skinny enough to be tucked into boots and worn with tunics. And the cranberry/maroon color is the perfect complement to my fall wardrobe.




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cargo Jacket

Details: Gap Cargo Jacket and Jeans / Tommy Hilfiger Shirt via Marshals / Halogen Boots / Target Necklace

I never feel like fall is long enough. I have been trying to soak up the rituals, one of which has been going to the farmer's market on Fridays. Cooking up fall dishes is another way I try to hold on to the season a little longer. I made these pumpkin cookies over the weekend and this butternut squash, smoked mozzarella and kale pizza last night for dinner. Both recipes turned out great! What are your fall rituals?

It's not a ritual, but the cargo jacket has become a fall staple over the last few years. I was on a mission this fall to find the perfect cargo jacket. After trying a few options, I finally found the one. It's a nice weight, not too thin, and it's the right style and color. It's exactly what I was looking for and a good price. I waited until Gap was having one of their sales and it ended up being only $45, which was the same price as a similar jacket at Target that was a much thinner material. I just love it with this gingham shirt. It also pairs nicely with a super girly dress. Where did you get your cargo jacket?




Finding balance

I’ve been thinking about writing about the topic of finding balance for a long time. And since I guess you could call this my reso...