Monthly Archives: September 2013

They’re my new, “I don’t need a job, I don’t need my parents, I’ve got great boots” boots

The nearest Starbucks is 50 miles from my house, so every year I have to figure out when fall is here based on the weather instead of the advent of the pumpkin spice latte. Not that I’m any less dorky than the PSL fans who start celebrating fall in late August: I have been refreshing my weather app every 10 minutes looking for an excuse move my boots and sweaters out of the guest bedroom closet.

Friends, yesterday was that day:


I’m choosing to ignore the fact that we’re already having freeze watches in September and focus on how much I’ve missed wearing boots:


Obviously, I’m embarrassed by the amount of dust on my mirror. But not embarrassed enough to take another picture now that it’s clean.

These boots are the Audrey Brooke Higrade and they are the best, most versatile boots I’ve ever owned. It looks like they’re no longer available (I bought them last year), but these are the same brand at the same price point, and honestly they look pretty much like the same boot.  If you’re looking for an option under $100 (life tip: you should never NOT be looking for great footwear  under $100), these are really cute.

I was all set to wear my boots again today, but then came across this and now I’m having a crisis:


I mean … 45 degrees seems like perfectly acceptable boot weather to me, but I also get cold whenever the temperature dips below 80. So help me out, please – how low does the temperature have to be for you to bust out your boots?

Shopping for Conference Wear

I travel to several work-related conferences and trade shows every year, and turns out it’s really challenging to put together trip outfits that meet my desired aesthetic.


Seriously though, it’s tough to find outfits that are professional without being boring. And can go from booth time to meetings to cocktails to dinner. And are comfortable enough to wear for 12+ hours straight. And don’t get too wrinkly in my suitcase. AND AND AND.

Usually I leave my outfit planning to the last minute, but this time I have given myself three  weeks to put together my wardrobe for an upcoming trip to Phoenix. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I do have a few dresses that I tend to fall back on when I leave my packing for the last minute (so basically every single trip). This black peplum dress (with black patterned tights underneath) has become a staple for the inevitable opening cocktail reception, and looks great on its own or with a bright cardigan or blazer thrown over the top. I also usually bring along this little number from Modcloth for days I’ll be manning the booth for 8+ hours (it’s super comfortable and flattering, but Spanx are definitely recommended). I’ll need two more outfits for this trip, and I really want to purchase some ankle-length pants to bring along. Specifically, these:

The Limited Pencil Pants

Finding pants that fit me is tough (short waist + bigger hips = I often cry in fitting rooms), but these pants have gotten really good reviews from bloggers of all shapes and sizes. For some reason I never wear pants at conferences, and I think it’ll be nice not having to worry about flashing anyone the goods when I bend over in the booth.

A pencil skirt in a fun pattern is a good way to show personality without going overboard, and I’m currently eyeing this leaf patterned “curvy fit” pencil skirt on the LOFT website:

Loft Pencil Skirt

This one is also really pretty. GIVE ME ALL THE SKIRTS.

And because I’m always looking for an excuse to buy new shoes, I probably need to buy these, right?

Just tell me I’m right.

My Face Hurts

I woke up at 4:45 this morning to the sound of the cat emptying his stomach contents on the floor next to the bed, and again in the hallway. A few minutes later when I was bent over cleaning up the cat hurk, I noticed that the entire left side of my upper jaw was achey, and that if I open my mouth it sends jabbing pains up the side of my face. My first thought, of course, was that it’s probably terminal jaw cancer, but Dave assured me it’s probably just a sinus infection since I’ve been whining about my nose being stuffed up for weeks.

I’m juggling too many projects at work to be able to take a sick day, but I did just email this warning to my coworkers:


And because the pressure in my face is overpowering my brain at the moment, here are some pictures from the highlights of my weekend. (Spoiler: It’s mostly food. Because of course it is.)


It was overcast and rainy all weekend, which is basically my most favorite weather in the world. I went for a six-mile run in the drizzle Saturday morning and then spent the rest of the weekend wrapped in blankets on the couch and enjoying the diet of a 15-year-old boy.


Case in point: On Saturday night I discovered the California Burrito (carne asada, nacho cheese, french fries, and guacamole). I think I’m officially down to one functioning artery.


And because potatoes fried in oil and covered in fake cheese wasn’t enough, we came home and made sundaes. I forgot how much I love Reddi-Whip. I keep sending Dave on “errands” in the back of the house so I can spray it directly into my mouth from the can without him seeing.


I bought a pretty new scarf.


Avocado eggs benedict. We poached just the whites in an effort to keep our hearts from shutting down completely after our weekend of gluttony.


Dave’s mom and sister let me dig through their clothes donation piles on Sunday, and I scored this super cozy black sequined circle scarf that I’m currently putting on and taking off every 30 seconds due to my fever. It’s going to be a long day.

High Five for Friday


My nephew turned two yesterday, which is insane because I’m pretty sure it was like three weeks ago that I was meeting him for the first time. I wasn’t able to fly out for his party this weekend, so my mom and sister are under strict orders to text me pictures every 10 minutes. I seriously couldn’t love that little face any more.

Whiskers Rug

Whiskers loves our new living room rug.


My September Birchbox arrived and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about those Wine Wipes. My teeth stain really easily, and after spending several evenings at the wine bar running to the bathroom every 10 minutes to make sure my smile wasn’t bright purple, I just started ordering whites so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I much prefer reds, so I’m hoping these guys actually work. There is definitely some wine drinking on the agenda this weekend, so I’ll be back with a full review next week!


We had a couple stormy nights this week, and I spent them curled up watching Harry Potter on my laptop. I can’t believe how little the actors were in the first movie, and also how they all seemed to avoid the child-star syndrome. And thank God for that because I could not handle seeing Hermoine Granger hump a foam finger.


It was cold enough yesterday morning that I could bust out some outerwear. This striped blazer is so amazing – it’s made of sweatshirt material so it’s super comfortable, but it’s structured enough that I feel fine about wearing it to work. I bought it at Target last year — this year’s version is just as cute AND comes in a dark maroon color in addition to the black.

 photo H54Fbutton-1_zpsa7aaa665.png

Fall Boots, Blanket Weather, Etc.

My sporadic posting this week is partially because a work project is currently sucking all the creativity out of my brain, but it’s also because I feel like I don’t have much to write about now that my kitchen floor isn’t rotting out from beneath my feet and the toilet flushes without gushing water all over the floor.

Not that I miss the drama. In fact, I’m relieved that the biggest hurdle I’ve overcome this week was snatching the last ivory 5’x7′ area rug from the shelf at Walmart while the other lady admiring it turned around to yell at her kids. I know Walmart is evil and exploits other countries and stuff, but this EXACT SAME RUG was selling for $300 at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Walmart was shilling it for a fraction of the price.

Apparently my dignity has a price tag of $69.99.

(If you’re a better person than I am and can’t bring yourself to shop at Walmart, Kohl’s has some really pretty options at decent prices, and I LOVE this one from Target.)

Here is what the rug looks like from my current location on the couch because I’m too lazy to get up:

White Rug

Not pictured, but definitely happening in the background: The cat jumping off the windowsill, slipping on the floor and crashing into a book case. He’s still getting used to life without carpet.

And in other couch-related news:


It is officially blanket weather in the evenings up in my neck of the woods. DSW has started sending me daily emails about their fall boot sales, which make me just about as excited as Ron Swanson at a strip club breakfast buffet.


Right now I’ve got my eye on these and these, although I kind of can’t justify buying new flat boots since the Steve Maddens I bought last season are still going strong. Admittedly, booties with 5-inch heels won’t seem like a good idea once it starts snowing in a few months, but a) I’ve never been practical when it comes to footwear and I don’t need a b) because THEY’RE SO PRETTY.

We Have Curtains!

I’m excited to say that, over a month after closing on our home, we are now the proud owners of living room curtains. I’m not so proud of the fact that it took me six weeks to decide on a pair of plain white panels, but you guys there are SO MANY options out there. Grommet top or back tab? Semi-sheer or blackout? Two panels or four? And what color curtain rod?


I finally decided on Ikea Merete curtains in “Bleached,” and I was pleasantly surprised by their quality for the price (they were only $27.99 for two panels). They let some light through, but are not semi-sheer like so many of the white panels we found during our search. Which was important to us, since we don’t want the neighbors to know how often we watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in our underwear.

I was also surprised at how much of a difference they made in the overall look of the living room. Here’s the living room before:

Before Curtains

And after:



And back when we first bought the house:

9 Living Room

I decided to go with neutral curtains for now since I’m still not really sure what colors I’m going to bring into the room. It was REALLY hard not to buy something in a fun color or pattern, since there are a ton of really great options out there. Here are a few I considered during my search:

Curtain Roundup

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six

Even though I finally settled on white, I love that the Ikea curtains were so affordable that it’s totally not a big deal if I want to replace them with panels in a bright color or pattern once the room starts coming together more.

And though some of these seem like no-brainers, here are a few tips to keep in mind when hanging curtains:

– Wash your curtains before deciding where to place the rod and/or hemming them – ours were several inches shorter after washing/drying.

– Hang curtains high and wide to make the window appear bigger (click here for more about that). We couldn’t go very wide since the hearth butts into the left side of the sliding doors, but you can see that we hung the rod quite a bit higher than the top of the doors.

– I know it sucks, but iron your curtains before hanging them. I skipped this step initially and spent several hours on Sunday trying to convince myself that they looked fine, you know, if you kinda squint and all the lights are off. (I’ll be ironing them tonight.)

– When in doubt, order a longer length than you think you’ll need. If you don’t know how to sew, iron-on hemming tape is really cheap and is apparently foolproof since we managed to use it successfully.

Do you prefer neutral curtains, or do you tend to go for bright colors and fun patterns?

Ombre Crocheted Blanket Tutorial

DIY Ombre Blanket

When I was a sophomore in college I was too poor to buy Christmas gifts, so I had my grandma teach me to crochet. That year all my loved ones received poorly crafted rectangles of yarn that could barely be recognized as scarves.

I’ve kept at it over the years and slowly developed a little more skill, although I still mostly stick to simple scarves and blankets. Now that our nights are getting chilly, I’ve been spending my evenings camped out in front of SVU reruns while working on crocheting projects.

My life is so glamorous.

Earlier this week I completed this pink ombre blanket using a simple shell pattern. The shell is one of my favorite patterns because it looks a lot more complicated than it is – the only stitches you need to know are the single and double crochet.

Shell Stitch

Here’s how to do it (For this generous-sized throw, I used two skeins of regular-sized Red Heart yarn per color, and a size J crochet hook):

Starting Chain: Chain in multiples of 6 until you reach your desired length. Add two chains and turn your work.

Row 1: Single crochet in second chain from hook. Skip 2 chains, and do 5 double crochets in the next chain. Skip 2 chains, and do one single crochet in the next chain. Continue across the rest of the row. Chain 2 and turn.

Row 2: Do 2 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip 2, then single crochet in the next double crochet. Skip two, and do 5 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip 2, and single crochet in the next double crochet. Continue this pattern across. Do 3 double crochets in the last single crochet. Chain 1 and turn.

Row 3: Single crochet in the next double crochet. Skip 2, and do 5 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip two, and do a single crochet in the next double crochet. Continue this pattern across, chain 2 and turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until your blanket reaches your desired length.

Blanket and Chair

Right now this guy is hanging out on the pink armchair in the guest bedroom until the weather gets cool enough to require a lap blanket in the evenings.

And in case crocheting is not your thing, I found some really pretty ombre blankets for sale here, here, and here.

What I Wore to Work

Every month my city’s Chamber of Commerce sponsors a local business mixer, and every month I promise myself that I won’t undo all my hard work at the gym with the free wine and hors d’oeuvre. I have yet to keep that promise.

JCP Sheath Dress

I don’t always dress up for work (I wear a lot of dark-wash skinny jeans and blouses), but I always try to make an extra effort on days I know I’ll be interacting with people outside my core office staff. Tonight I’ll be attending this month’s mixer, and I chose to wear this dress because it’s both conservative enough to be business-appropriate and stretchy enough to accommodate the wine-and-cheese baby I’ll accumulate over the evening. Also because I was running late, and a simple sheath dress is pretty much the easiest thing to throw on before sprinting out the door.

JCP Sheath Dress 2

JCP Dress (on sale for $21.99!) | Black Pumps | Necklace (similar) | Watch (similar)

Is this look groundbreaking? Nope. But it took about 10 seconds to throw together, which left me plenty of time to gulp down two cups of coffee before heading to the office. I call that a success.


Pretty Little Things

My sister gave me an Anthropologie gift card for my birthday, and I mentioned a few weeks ago that I used it to purchase a faux rhino head for the wall. Several days after my order was confirmed, I got an email from customer service saying they were out of stock. I won’t go into details about my emotional response to that email, except to say that evening is now referred to as the Rhino Incident and is brought up by Dave every time I mock him for getting irrationally angry about his PlayStation freezing.

With my gift card balance refunded, I spent the next few days hemming and hawing over what I should get. I knew I wanted something decor-ish, since I’m getting tired of seeing blank walls and uncovered surfaces everywhere I look. I’m still undecided on what I want for big statement pieces, so I decided to order a few pretty accents that I scattered around to temper the “barren wasteland” vibe you currently get upon entering our home:

Anthropologie Order

Bowls | Vase | Mug

These little bowls are pretty much my favorite thing at Anthro. They come in all sorts of colors and patterns, and they’re only $8. I knew I wanted one of the bowls to sit on my nightstand where I inevitably dump my watch and rings when I get home from work. The second one is currently corralling our keys on the entry table.

Anthropologie Inside Out Bowl

I put the vase on a mirrored coffee table tray I picked up at Pier 1 over the weekend.

Anthropologie Vase

By the way, if you ever find yourself wondering what a mental breakdown feels like, try explaining the concept of a decorative coffee table tray to a man.  I have spent the last several days trying to make Dave understand that the tray is for pretty things only and not his grungy water bottle and collection of 14 TV remotes and game controllers. And he is like:


It’s not much, but having a few pretty things around the house is making me feel a lot more at home.

When Only A Letter Will Serve …

Stationery 2

I was OBSESSED with stationery and letter-writing as a kid. Up through about sixth grade I subscribed to a horse magazine called Young Equestrian, which included a pen pal section on the back page where you could send in a paragraph about yourself with your address so fellow subscribers could write to you. (Apparently publishing a giant list of kids’ names and addresses did not seem like a bad idea in the early 90s?) Anyway, I wrote a LOT of letters about my favorite breeds of horses and my love for Lance Bass and my adventures at church camp, letters that I sincerely hope are buried in landfills and not secretly stashed away in case I ever decide to run for public office.

Although my tendency to hoard pretty paper (and write to pen pals) has faded away, when I saw this vintage stationery for just $3 in a thrift store yesterday I had to buy it.

Stationery 1

The best part of this purchase, though, is this little advertisement for a booklet called “The Written Conversation” I found tucked inside one of the envelopes:


While I still enjoy writing and receiving letters, THANK GOD I live in a time where my biggest anxiety involving communications is figuring out whether to text my friend a picture of shirtless RDJ or shirtless Christian Bale to cheer her up after a bad day, and not whether my letter paper is appropriate for her personality and the occasion. And while it’s going to be a little more time consuming to print out and tape shirtless celebrity pictures inside these cards, I can now rest assured that it will mean so much more than a phone call.