Friday, November 30, 2012

Dallas Museum of Art: Free Admission

Earlier this week, the Dallas Museum of Art announced that starting in January of 2013, they are moving to a Free Admission and Free Membership system. Mr. Fantastic and I are currently sustainer members and we really enjoy our visits to the museum. Last year, I took advantage of our membership during the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit that came to Dallas and went SIX times with my sister, Morgan, friends, and Mr. Fantastic.  We've previously taken our kids and spent the entire day at the Museum with my brother and his kids.
Many people don't know that the Dallas Museum of Art is funded by the tax payers of the City of Dallas and Dallas County. Unlike private museums, it really depends on the generosity of it's members, supporters and visitors.  This is a huge step to increasing the number of visitors each year and making a lasting impact on the young people of Dallas.  Young people that will hopefully come back again and again and one day become the philanthropists of the future. That is what I hope for my sister, who doesn't even live in Dallas, but loves visiting it with me when she is in town.
I admit that we don't get to visit as often as I'd like.  We don't live in Dallas or even Dallas County and any trip to the museum is a full event that we must plan well ahead of time.  We were even considering not renewing our membership once our current membership expired today. The photo below is one of our engagement photos and it was taken on the wall opposite the main entrance to the museum. It was one my parents used in the newspaper announcements.
We were both THRILLED to read the news of Free Admission and Free Membership. It made us extremely proud of the Museum and the hard break from the elitist and often exclusive culture that permeates the art world.  To show our support of this bold move, today we not only renewed our membership, we upgraded our membership to Friends of the Museum.  I was delighted to discover that when the transition occurs in January, we will actually be bumped up to Advocates of the Museum as they are upgrading all memberships during their inaugural year!

What do you think of this move by the Dallas Museum of Art?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grey Wine

We came back from the holiday to some welcome cooler weather.  I caught up with friends to pick up and drop off various items from the various parties we've been involved with and met up for lunch with my sister-in-law. I went with a grey and wine palette.
Sweater: Oats Cashmere
Jeans: c/o Paige Premium Denim
Necklace: Swarovski (recent)
Bag: Balenciaga First (old ca. 2006)
Shoes: Christian Louboutin Bianca (old – 2011)
I picked up this sweater at the Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio during one of the 40% off sales last month. It is so warm and cozy and I was happy to finally be able to pull it out now that we dipped below 60 degrees! I am living in these jeans lately and I am definitely going to purchase a couple more colored jeans during the after-Christmas sales.

What colors do you recommend I buy next?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you are in the United States.  My husband and I drove down to South Padre Island with our kids to meet up with my family for the long weekend.  It was so much fun to relax and spend time with my sister, whom I missed dearly all semester long and my brother and his kids that I hadn't seen in months!
My dad and his sons, check out that bowl of corn!
My mom made the turkey and my sister and her friend made all the fixings.  It was a wonderful day filled with Dallas Cowboys football (they lost) and Houston Texans football (they won) to fuel the rivalry in our home.  Everyone in my family is a Dallas Cowboys fan, except for one of my brothers that somehow decided to be a Texans fan along with all his kids.
On Friday, we all headed to the only movie theater on the island and watched Skyfall before heading out to the beach to have a big bonfire and cook up some s'mores.  Our kids also put on an impressive demonstration of their "Gangham Style" moves! So much fun!
As the song says, "Woke up to the sound of pouring rain..." on Saturday.  We decided to try to stay indoors and watched some movies my sister brought over, including Brave (how awesome is that movie!?!) and X-Men: First Class.  In the afternoon, we headed to Sea Turtle Inc. which is a sanctuary for injured and stranded sea turtles.

We finally headed home yesterday and I had plenty of time to think about how fortunate I am.  I am so thankful for the parents I have, because they taught me to work hard to get the things I want in life. I am thankful for my siblings, because they provide me with an endless supply of laughter and comfort. I am thankful for my husband and our kids, because they make me a happy and fulfilled person.  I am thankful for the life I am blessed to lead and for living in this wonderful and free country.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let's Have a Ball!

The last two posts have made me realize that I really do forget I have a blog, about what I wear everyday. Maybe it was just ball weekend and the fact that I truly did get caught up in the wonderful moments of the event. Being surrounded by friends and family and wanting to make sure I didn't miss photos of *them* made me forget to get photos of *me*. I've tried to crop out other people to try to show you what I wore. Also, we didn't realize that Mr. Fantastic wore his tux pants with a suit jacket until we got home and were getting our clothes ready for the dry cleaner... I know.
Dress: Tadashi Shoji Collection; Shoes: Jean Michel Cazabat
Earrings: c/oBaubleBar; Necklace: eBay
Yes, that last photo is of John Henderson of TNT's show Dallas, who was at the same party as me.  He's probably completely gutted that he couldn't find me to take a photo with me, but what can I say? I'm a busy girl. ;)  It really was a happy surprise to see this photo floating on Facebook and everyone involved with the organization was truly grateful that he took the time to come to our little party.

Have you had any celebrity sightings? Please note, I didn't have this sighting, someone on my feed, had to tell me about this sighting.  I very much fail as a blogger, fashion or otherwise.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Red, Red Lunch

The morning of the ball, we had a luncheon at the hotel.  This was a very special one for us because my husband was recognized for his efforts with the organization.  I am very proud of the work that he does for our charity group and both of us are so humbled to be a part of it.  Because it was all about him, I didn't really get any outfit photos of me that day.  We only took the photo above with my iPhone that morning.  The photos below were taken in 2011 when we posed for our 2011 Family Photos.
Dress: The Limited (old ca. 2010)
Shoes: Brian Atwood
These pics were taken by the fabulous Lynn Michelle and it was during this session that she also took the photo that is my avatar. I wish I could afford to keep her on retainer because she makes me look so good, but alas, I have to take my own pics.
Earrings: Old Navy (old)
Necklace: Swarovski (recent)
Fur: L&D Events (Borrowed)
Bracelet: Blue Nile (old)
The knitted mink cape I am wearing in the this photo was loaned to me by the amazing staff of L&D events.  This was one of the many items they had available during the silent auction at our ball and while I didn't win this cape, it was sold to another lucky attendant.  We will stick to our faux fur budget for the time being.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boot Scootin' at Gilleys

We had our annual charity event last weekend. Instead of a cocktail party at the hotel, we were invited to a BBQ and dancing at Gilley's in downtown Dallas the night before the ball.  While I admit that I like to get dressed up for cocktail parties, it was still fun to wear my boots.  I didn't even remember I could line dance! I can't believe that these pictures turned out as well as they did considering that it was soooo windy by the time we got to the hotel and ready to board our bus to the party!
Dress: Banana Republic Stripe Ponte Knit Shift
Necklace: Swarovski Angelic Pendant (recent)
This Swarovski necklace is a new addition to my jewelry armoire. After the engagement party a couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law reimbursed me for some of the party expenses.  We weren't really expecting him to do that so once we paid the pending photographer bill, Mr. Fantastic said I could take the rest and buy myself something nice for my efforts. I loved the look (and price!) of this pendant and I think it's perfect for the upcoming holidays. 
Earrings & Bracelet: Blue Nile
Bag: Chloe (borrowed)
I don't know if it's the flash, but this bag really seems to be a much closer match to the boots in real life than the way it photographs.  I borrowed it for the weekend because it's bigger than any of my totes and we practically move into the hotel the weekend of the ball. The bag looks to be much more chocolate than cognac when I don't have a flash, but now that the time changed, I can't get flash-less photos! :)
This was us at the end of the night: sweaty, but happy from dancing!
This upcoming week will be a short one due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Make it a fabulous one!

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Shopping Strategies

I like to shop. Not in the way that some women like to go and buy a new first date outfit or a new suit for an interview. I like to shop because of the way it makes me feel. When I am having a not so great day, I go to the mall and look for something to cheer me up. When I have a fantastic day, I go to the mall to see what I can buy to celebrate. A few years ago, my sister was visiting and I was upset about something so off to the mall we went.  I spent a couple of hours looking through all the clothes and picking out what I wanted and putting it back. I ended up buying nothing, but my sister made the observation that I use new clothes the way babies use a security blanket. Touching the fabrics and imagining the possibilities soothes me and calms me even if I know I can't buy anything. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but she was right.  "Shopping" is much more about touching and feeling the possibilities that are out there for me. However, my process for actually buying clothes for my closet is much different.  Here is a peak:
1) Budget.  I don't have a hard set budget.  One of my favorite bloggers, Kimmie of Blue Paper Lanterns has a hard budget of $600 a year.  While my husband would love that, I honestly don't think I could stick to that.  What I do have is a hard limit for the money in my "fun" account.  I am definitely a spender and you would be amazed (or not) at the justifications that I can come up with when I want to buy something.  I would be mortified, not to mention devastated, if my spending affected our home lives in a way that was detrimental to our ultimate goals of financial security. So, I have a "fun" account that is separate from our house accounts (where we pay the mortgage, insurance, bills, etc. from) and our savings accounts.  If there is no money in this account, I can't shop. If there is money in this account, I can spend it how I want without having a fight about how much my shoes or that new handbag cost.
2) Have a Plan. I try to never be in a position where I have to shop for specific outings on short notice (interviews, dates, balls, etc.) for two reasons: a) cost and b) individuality.  I try to keep our events (including lunches, vacations, birthdays, etc.) on a calendar so that I know when something is coming up and try to plan for it as much as I can. The best example of this is our annual charity ball.  This year marked the 10th year that I've been attending the event.  I already know that we will be attending every year so I keep an eye out for ball gowns year round.  I've found gowns on clearance for $50, $35, and earlier this year a whopping $18!  If they fit me and I like the gown and the price, I buy it.  I already had a gown for this year, but I bought an Adrianna Papell gown for $18 anyhow because we will have other formal events, I can use it as a back up in case of broken zippers or spilled food and drinks (all of which have happened before!) or wear it next year. The main reason that I didn't wear it this year is because the odds were very high that someone else would wear it due to it being this year's gown.  Most women go out and buy their gowns within the month before the ball.  Each year, there are five or more women wearing the same gown.  It is true that no one will remember the details of what you wear, but everyone remembers when multiple women are all wearing the same dress. For interview and work clothes, most tend to be classic pieces - a sheath dress, suit, slacks, button down shirts.  You can buy them on sale at the end of the season and no one will know that suit is from the 2008 JCrew collection, you know?
3) Keep a List.  Most of us shop for groceries from a list to avoid impulse shopping for chocolate and wine. Take the same premise for your closet. I keep a list of items that I think I need or want to buy to fill "gaps" in my closet.  I even add the "must-have" item of the season that all the other bloggers bought in case I come across something I can't turn down. It has really helped me to not only fill real voids in my wardrobe, but it has also helped me to see when I don't really need something, but I want it because everyone else has it.  The YSL arty ring? I wanted it. When I finally bought it, I realized that it is better suited for women with long and slender fingers.  It made my short and stubby fingers look even squattier than I want to admit. I passed it on and marked it off my list. A striped casual dress? I didn't even realize how much I would want to wear it everywhere I go.  I bought it during the October Wednesday sales at Banana Republic at a 40% discount.
4) Try to Never Pay Retail.  The bulk of my closet comes from the sales racks at Nordstrom Rack, Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Neiman Marcus Last Call.  I love designer items and I love well-fitting clothes, but I hate to pay retail.  Some women have no problem spending money as long as they don't have to hunt down items. Not me, I don't mind hunting down items as long as I don't have to spend more than is necessary.  I love going to estate sales and eBay for vintage jewelry and pre-owned designer handbags and shoes.  There's a slew of consignment shops that I visit on a regular basis to see what gorgeous items are ready for me to take home.  I've bought J Brand and Paige Premium jeans at Nordstrom Rack for under $40 and I've bid on and won brand new Christian Louboutins (including receipt) for under $200! One year for Christmas, Mr. Fantastic bought me a gorgeous pair of gold Jimmy Choo heels and fortunately for me, they were a size too big. I immediately returned them and bought the right size that was now almost 50% off as well as a Tory Burch bag for the same amount of money.

These strategies won't work for everyone.  Some people might not even like them, but they work for me and my home.  I am able to shop and buy things that I love and want to keep for years to come without negatively affecting our home finances.

What are your strategies? I'd love to hear them now that the holidays are coming up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not My Birthday Brunch

On Sunday, right after the engagement party, we took advantage of the fact that all our family was in town to celebrate my niece and brother-in-law's birthdays.  They live a few hours out of town and it was a treat to be able to celebrate with them on their actual birthday for once!  We went to brunch at Penne Pomodoro and it was delicious!  I wore roomy clothes to make sure I could eat whatever I wanted!
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT (on sale in stores)
Denim: c/o Paige Premium Denim
Earrings: Banana Republic (old)
Necklace: Gorjana c/o Y&I Boutique & Dallas Tidbits
Bag: Sam Edelman Armand
Shoes: Christian Louboutin Sigourney (2009?)
We took these photos after the brunch and I think it was a bad idea.  I must slept with my make-up on from the night before because I look way puffier and very broken out in these photos than in the previous post.
Any suggestions for how to clear up my skin? I'm going to try to remember not to sleep with my makeup on anymore!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Put a Cork In It

These are my outfit photos from the engagement party we threw for my brother-in-law last week.  I didn't make my husband take outfit photos, but was fortunate that the photographer I hired had many detail photos and the files were so large, that I was able to crop them to show my outfit off.  The party was hosted at a winery across town, so my theme was "Put a cork in it" and I went a little crazy.
I was messing around with the only knife we found to cut the cake.
Dress & Belt: Suzi Chin; Earrings: Social Glo
Necklace: Lovebirds via Etsy
Cork Bangles: Kate Spade;  Enamel Bangle: JCrew
Purse: Magid c/o (similar & splurge)
Shoes: Jimmy Choo Pela via eBay (buy in espresso)
The party was a resounding success.  My sister-in-law and I made these cork centerpieces that I found from this pin on Pinterest. We sourced the outside cylinders from various HomeGoods stores and a Dollar Tree for the inside cylinders. We used pillar candles instead of tealights and they stayed lit the entire evening. The corks came from a friend of Mr. Fantastic's who let us borrow his 10-year collection! I thought they were a beautiful way give the winery a glow in the evening.

Mr. Fantastic is wearing: Shirt: The Perfect Fit from Neiman Marcus; Belt: Ralph Lauren; Slacks: Hugo Boss; Shoes: Johnston & Murphy.  Isn't he good-looking? I married him! :)
What do you guys think? Too much cork? Not enough? The wedding will be held next year at a California Vineyard, so I am all ears for other recommendations for what to wear!