Friday, May 31, 2013

May Spending Recap

My spending was out of control in April (see recap here) and I knew that I needed to sit tight this month.  Fortunately for my wallet, I had very little opportunities to shop and I was able to really make up for some of last month's spending.

I've been looking to replace my gold Cole Haan sandals (seen here) for a while, but I haven't been able to find any that are as comfortable as these Cole Haan ones. I even went back and bought them in black a few years ago, but of course, they are several seasons old and it is nearly impossible to find sandals that aren't a thong style. I set up an eBay search for Cole Haan sandals and a white pair exactly like mine popped up a couple of weeks ago, brand new for $35.  I just received them and haven't had a chance to wear them yet.
In addition, my sister in law works at Old Navy part-time and bought me a pair of sandals last week (pictured above.)  They were a size too big and I made the mistake of going to exchange them during the Memorial Day weekend sales! I nearly escaped with just the sandals, but finally succumbed to the blogging peer pressure to own polka dots and glitter. :)

This month, I purchased:

1) Old Navy White Top - $16 - 20% sale = $13
2) Old Navy Polka Dot Shorts - $11 Clearance - 20% sale = $9
3) Old Navy Glitter Flats - $5 Clearance - 20% sale = $4
4) Old Navy Striped Shirt (not pictured) - $5 Clearance - 20% sale = $4
5) Cole Haan sandals (not pictured) - eBay = $35

Total = $65

Also, the BCBGeneration wedges that I bought last month did not work out. The insole was made of espadrille material and it was painful to walk in them. I returned them to Marshall's and because I had used a combination of gift card/cash to purchase them, I now have a $40 gift card to Marshall's.

Finally, we were supposed to close on our house this morning, but the closing has been moved to next week.  In the meantime, I've been packing and sorting my closet.  I sold $142 of clothes to Buffalo Exchange (took a store credit) and donated anything that they didn't buy.

How was your spending this month? Link up with Fran's Budgeting Bloggers here!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Day, Another Maxi

I wore another maxi dress when my husband and I met up with friends for drinks and dinner last night.  One of the companies that reached out to us before LuckyFABB was LAMade Clothing. They sent all of us a small gift code and since I had never heard of them, I spent some time on their website looking through their clothing.  I worried that nothing would really fit me because I am both short and not skinny.  In the end, I stuck with my tried and true fave, a maxi dress. I chose this striped dress because I really loved the side slit and I thought that was very different from the usual covered floor length dresses in my collection.  I also realized that their 15% discount on everyone's first order would be a better deal than the gift code amount which couldn't be stacked, so I just didn't use the code. I wasn't expecting much, but when the dress arrived I was immediately won over by the soft jersey and the way the dress draped without being tight.  Of course, it was too long and I had to have it shortened almost 6 inches, but that is a small price to pay for a dress I feel terrific in. Mr. Fantastic loves it and I received so many compliments on it.  The only thing I need is a camisole because I didn't realize that a flash would make it nearly transparent!
Dress: LAMade Clothing (sold out)
Monogram Necklace: Jane Basch (I am obsessed!)
Bracelets: Kenneth Cole New York; Handbag: Sam Edelman
Wedges: Dolce Vita
These photos were taken at the beautiful NYLO Hotel here in town and now that we are soon to be homeless (hopefully, we close next week!) I am really hoping I can convince my husband to move here while we begin our new home search.  I know I am back to photos after dark, but I really liked these because it was right before a huge storm and I love the way the sky looks.
Look at the SKY, you guys!
My beautiful sister in law. I lurve her.
This month has been very hectic in an emotional way, we are finally very close to selling our house and the packing process has brought up all the baggage neither of us realized we were carrying.  While it is a great opportunity to make a fresh start, it can be painful for everyone (especially the kids) to let go of the past and selling the house makes it so final.  The next few weeks will be hectic in a physical way as we empty our home and begin the process of looking for a new home for all of us.  It will be a fun experiment for me to have access to a very limited portion of my closet (and my SHOES!) for an undefined period of time.  Keep an eye out for my budget post this week!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Trapped in My Heels: Don't Sell Out Too Fast

When I started blogging over a year and a half ago, I really had no expectations of endorsements or sponsorships. I used to read style blogs and I loved seeing how women that I felt I could relate to were pushed to define their personal taste more clearly and pushed their fashion boundaries. I thought it would be fun for me to jump in and join the evolution. One of the best things about blogging is the opportunity to "meet" people from all over the world who share a love of clothes...and shoes and bags and jewelry.

I've attended a few blogging conferences and even inadvertently formed a clique of "Baby Bloggers" at the most recent LuckyFABB while trying to figure out how to lug all our goodies home.  All the speakers at these conferences say "Be yourself.", "Work with brands you love.", "Your readers will know when you are being fake or inauthentic.", but no one actually tells you HOW TO WORK WITH BRANDS YOU LOVE or more importantly HOW TO NOT WORK WITH BRANDS YOU DON'T LOVE WITHOUT OFFENDING SPONSORS AND POTENTIAL SPONSORS. And that is how 20 months after I launched my blog, I ended up literally trapped in my heels!

Last year, I attended a conference where I received a gift card for a popular and affordable shoe club. After checking them out, I realized that most of their items were "vegan leather," which as I've mentioned before kills me because it's pleather, People!  It is vinyl or plastic or "man-made material," but it is NOT LEATHER no matter how much you qualify it. 

After mulling it over last year, I ended up buying a purse because I really didn't want any pleather shoes.  Along with the bag, I received a necklace that was tarnished when it arrived and I ended up never wearing.  During this year's conference multiple women were wearing shoes from this shoe club and they looked really cute. One blogger even told me that they are starting to add other designers besides their own line and I was impressed that she was still in her heels late in the afternoon. When I opened my gift bag and saw a gift card, I thought I would give them another chance and check out the website.  I picked a pair of spring shoes, and was actually happy when they arrived because they seemed very sturdy.  I quickly made up an outfit for them and went outside with my trusty tripod to take my outfit photos. I should have stopped when the zipper seemed really hard to zip up, but NO! I'm a determined little punk so...onward.

After my faux-shoot, I came back inside to look at the photos and finish a load of laundry.  I had decided I loved the outfit and would wear it to dinner with my husband and the kids. And then...I tried to take off the shoes.  I could not get them unzipped. Either shoe. One zipper came about halfway down and kept getting stuck. The other came only about a third and then got stuck to where I couldn't zip it up or down.  After yanking on the tab so hard that I hurt my finger I was horrified to find the zipper tab came off! It was less than a minute later that the other tab had come off and I was starting to really freak out!  I emailed some blog buds for advice (Thank you Kimmie, Caroline, and Franziska!) and Morgan called me in the middle of incident. Everyone laughed because of course, I would end up trapped in my shoes. Some suggested butter to try to slip my foot off, others invited me to take a knife to them and EVERYONE said I should take photos and return them to the offending party.

Once my husband came home and got over the horrified disbelief that I was stuck in these shoes, I had already cried and cursed and I was just tired and wanted them OFF! Being the awesome engineer that he is, he quickly found some pliers and freed me in a matter of minutes.  The only question he had was "WHY did you buy such crappy shoes? I thought you knew better?!?!" I've never been more ashamed to admit to him that something was free.  I was so embarrassed that I had been all too willing to sell out my soul (or in this case, my soles!) for a pair of not even great shoes.

I have no one to blame but myself.  I know that expensive shoes in general and designer shoes in particular are a hard, tough pill to swallow when it comes with a hefty price tag.  I have no problem shopping at discount retailers (I LOVE Marshalls, TJMaxx, Nordstrom Rack, Last Call, etc.) and I don't mind scrimping and waiting for a great sale on clothes so that I can afford the shoes I love so much.  I have a good reason for it (see my doctor's advice here) and I should have known better than to compromise who I am and what I believe because I didn't want to upset a sponsor of my favorite conference.  The company is not at fault. They put out an inexpensive product for a cheap price and I chose to redeem my gift card.  So I am not going to call them out by name, because it truly wouldn't be fair to them.  They gave us a generous gift and it didn't work out for me, but I personally know many other women who love their product.  I am very grateful to everyone that believes in me and to all the companies that I have been fortunate to work with. Not everything is a good fit for every single blogger and this was a big lesson to me about learning to say no.

How do you remain true to yourself while navigating the c/o culture of the blogosphere? What is the best way to say "No" and be nice about it?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graduation Day

Mr. Fantastic and I have been volunteering together for a local charity for 6 years now and as I wrote in this post, we were honored last year when he was asked to join the board of directors of our charity.  One of our favorite aspects of the organization is the amazing friendships we have been fortunate to forge with so many amazing men, women and couples.  Our youngest member is currently a student at my alma mater and we were thrilled to be invited to his girlfriend's graduation last weekend.  They are a lovely couple and it is a great reminder of the hopes and dreams that we all harbor inside and at some point stop vocalizing.  It was wonderful to meet her parents and to show them that while kids will be kids, they have raised a beautiful young woman with a good head on her shoulders who already gives back to her community at such a young age.
Dress: Ellen Tracy; Earrings: Blue Nile
Necklace: Vintage; Monogram Necklace: Jane Basch
Bracelets: Fossil & Lauren Ralph Lauren
Purse: Tory Burch; Shoes: Jimmy Choo Freya
I am currently obsessed with anything monogrammed and I was so excited when we received a discount code for Jane Basch Designs at LuckyFABB.  This necklace was my husband's Mother's Day gift to me and we got one for his sister, too.  This was my first opportunity to wear it and I LOVE IT! On the other hand, I mentioned that I've dropped a dress size even though I haven't lost any weight in the last three months and it was very apparent in this dress. Especially as the day went on, the top seemed to drape lower and lower! This is obviously going into the alterations pile.

Did you or will you attend any graduations this season? CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL 2013 GRADUATES!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Laundry Day? No. New Mini Dress

I have a very well-documented love of maxi dresses. In fact, every time we are heading out during the summer months, my husband says, "What are you going to wear tonight? A maxi dress?" so I thought I would surprise him from time to time and I bought this mini dress while I was in LA last month.  I loved it so much I wore it to the Aloxxi pre-party before LuckyFABB (photo from The Posh Urbanite here) and dinner with Bree and Mollie (seen here!) I wore it again last weekend when we took our teenager to dinner with the family to celebrate his birthday.  I would say it's a favorite, but I am really trying to keep only clothes that I absolutely love and this qualifies. I love the pattern and the length, so it will remain in my closet.
Dress: Laundry by Design
Necklace: Etsy
Bracelet: Kenneth Cole New York; Purse: DKNY
Wedges: BCBGeneration
In other news, I am really proud to announce that I did NO photoshopping on my legs! They are starting to look firmer now that I am three months into my little Pilates routine. :)  AND while I have lost ZERO weight, I have dropped a full dress size since last month and that is the best feeling ever!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and I can't wait to share some exciting news on the home front very soon!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Warm Weather Blues

This month, I have to restrain myself because I really overspent last month and on items that I truly regret. Now I have to watch my budget and make sure that the little items don't add up to too much by the end of the month.  So while, the weather is warming up here in Texas, I am definitely feeling the budget blues.  Also, I didn't correct the ISO setting on my camera when I took these photos.
Top: Old Navy; Skirt: Gap; Earrings: Blue Nile
Necklace: BaubleBar
Bracelet: Tiffany & Co.; Purse: Vintage
Rings: Bottica & Ariel Gordon Jewelry (c/o)
Sandals: Jimmy Choo Walta
I found this top at Old Navy recently and thought it would be a perfect addition to my summer wardrobe because it's a drapey top in my favorite summer color, white.  When my sister visited me a couple of weeks ago, she brought me some jewelry that I had left behind a couple of summers ago. I was very glad to get my silver Tiffany bracelet back. It is an oldie, but a goodie! :)

Happy Thursday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Apologies

I hope all you mothers out there had a wonderful weekend! We went to a concert by our friend, the Music Man and I wore...wait for it...a MAXI Dress! Today's prompt for BEDIM is to issue a public apology. It can be as serious or silly as you want. So here is mine:

Dear Readers - I'm sorry that I think about blogging and then decide to go have lunch instead...for three or four days in a row.  I know it sucks and I try to stick to a schedule and then I have no excuse and all I can do is apologize.  Also, I'm sorry for not remembering to take outfit photos until we are leaving the bar at midnight and you get dark, grainy photos.

Dear Kids - I'm so sorry that you got me and I have no idea what I am doing about 98% of the time and the other 2% are just a lucky guess.

Dear Mr. Fantastic - I'm sorry I told our teenager he could have a drumset, I swear I wasn't thinking and he looked so jubilant when I said yes. I will buy us both ear-plugs...Oops.
Dress: Max Studio (old); Earrings: c/o Lavishy at LuckyFABB
Hummingbird Necklace: c/o Dogeared Jewelry at LuckyFABB
Gold Bar Necklace: Fossil via eBay
Solitaire Necklace: Gift from Dad (old)
Bracelets: Fossil & Lauren Ralph Lauren; Tote: Chloe
Wedges: MIA (old)
So yeah. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Advice To The World: Be The Mirror

Today's BEDIM prompt is to write about your advice to the world.  The best relationship advice I ever read was by Lidia Netzer and it is titled: 15 Ways to Stay Married For 15 Years.  While I agree with all of them, the one I really took to heart and I firmly believe works no matter how long or short you have been married is number 4:

4. Be the mirror.

Your husband is the mirror in which you see yourself. And the things you say to him give him an image of himself too, which he will believe. You want him to believe it, so make it good. Be a mirror that reflects something positive: you’re smart, you’re successful, you’re fantastic in the sack, you’re a great provider, you’re the best. Can you MAKE him any of these things just by telling him he is? I don’t know, but consider this: the alternative really sucks. The things my husband says to me are 1000 times more convincing than anyone else’s opinion on earth. Don’t think he won’t believe you because you’re married and you’re contractually obligated to say nice things. He’ll believe the shitty, insulting things you say, and the gloriously positive things.

I agree with her that we might not put much stock in what other people think of us, but the things our partners think, we believe.  If this is true in any form, reflect only positive and beautiful things to your partner.  Of course, we fight and disagree, but I really try to tell my husband everyday that I am so proud to be his wife and that there is no one I would rather be with than him.
My other piece of advice is to never take away your partner's intentions to show you love and affection.  I understand that sometimes we don't want to feel like we are taking advantage of our loved ones, but everyone shows affection in different ways and we should never stop those around us from bestowing their love and care upon us.  If your friends, family and romantic partners can't spoil you rotten, who will?  We attended a wine tasting trail out in Grapevine last month and I never got around to posting the photos.
Dress: Max Studio (from March)
Earrings: c/o Lavishy at LuckyFABB
Hummingbird Necklace: c/o Dogeared Jewelry at LuckyFABB
Solitaire Necklace: Gift from Dad (old)
Bracelets: Fossil & Lauren Ralph Lauren; Ring: Kate Spade via eBay
Tote: Rebecca Minkoff; Scarf: BCBGMaxAzria
Sandals: Cole Haan
What is your advice to the world? Link up with Jenni here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What Do You Do: My Life as a Wife in Progress

Several of my blog buddies are participating in Story of My Life's Write Everyday in May Challenge.  I have a hard time coming up with topics, but I know I can't write every single day, so I will jump in from time to time this month.  Today's topic is "What do you do?"
Dress: David Meister (size 8, GO ME!)
Earrings: Teocalli (old)
Bracelet & Ring: Kate Spade via eBay; Clutch: Jimmy Choo
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik via eBay
Ten years ago, my response would have been so much different than it is today.  I would have told you all about my job and how great I was at it and all the neat places I got to visit.  When I lost my full-time job over a year ago and went from job interview to job interview, I admit that I fell into a mild depression for the first time in my life.  I had never NOT worked since I was seventeen and I had no clue what to do besides get up and go to work. Today, I know that what I do for a living isn't the same as what I do with my life.  I still take the occasional contract or consulting assignment, but my life these days revolves around a tall, dark and handsome guy, our two teenagers, and the occasional pilates class.
We are in the process of selling our house and we're currently under contract for the THIRD time and I struggle to keep the house "show-ready."  But the best thing I do is try to make my husband happy everyday.  I am very fortunate that he has a job and a savings plan that allows us to not panic when I have no income.  This weekend we attended a Charity Ball here in Dallas and I have to admit, we look good! He's the best looking guy I know and I am still amazed that he loves me and has helped me build this life we love with the kids and our friends and family.  I'm not the best wife, but I am a wife in progress and he's so good to me!

What do YOU do?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pantone Spring Color Challenge: Lemon Zest

Today is the third day of Marissa and Heidi's Pantone Spring Color Challenge and the color of the day is Lemon Zest. I thought of using the same outfit from Day 1 of LuckyFABB last month, but I already showed you that outfit, so I made some tweaks.  I love this sweater because it is very lightweight and perfect for Spring. I bought it last year and wore it in Jamaica during the trip I took with my sister to Negril.  Because of the bright yellow, I kept all other accessories neutral.
Sweater: Banana Republic Factory; Denim: Citizens of Humanity
Necklace: Michael Kors via eBay
Purse: Sam Edelman Armand (buy in Aqua)
Come link up with Heidi of Literate & Stylish and Marissa of The Modern Austen for their Pantone Spring Color Challenge here.

literate & stylish
How are you wearing this year's Spring colors?