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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Today I wore a couple pieces I've had for years - we're talking like 6 years! I've had this dolman sleeve blue-green v-neck sweater forever, and it has held up nicely, despite being a cheapy 'teeny bopper store' purchase when I was fresh-out-of-school broke. Usually this style doesn't look good on me; the fitted hip area always seems to make my hips pop out, and the baggier midsection does nothing for me. But for whatever reason, this spandex/rayon combo works in this style. And I always gravitate toward this color. It's one of those that looks good on anyone (like most jewel tones!)

(By the way, 'teeny bopper store' is my term of endearment for all those mall shops full of crazy on-trend but mega cheap finds, $3 camis, $10 plastic pumps, and - what else? - teeny boppers. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I still shop those stores every now and then; Forever 29 sounds more my speed, and I always feel like I'm 60 years old just walking in the door of these places. My inner monologue sounds something like this: "Does the music HAVE to be THAT loud??" "Seriously, sweetie, no one cares about your boyfriend drama, please hang up your phone so we can all shop in peace!" and "Ewwww, there is no WAY I'm taking off my shoes in the dressing room, even though I'm trying on neon skinny jeans. Seriously, when's the last time someone swept in here??" Am I right, people?! But seriously, those stores are good when you need a few super-trendy items but don't want to drop a lot of cash on them. So, bright blue skinnies, get in my bag!)

Anyway, the pants are a bit newer, probably just 4 or 5 years old. They have a faint plaid pattern, but not the kind you'd find on a pair of 70s disco bell bottoms, I promise! You can barely make it out in the picture. The two pieces don't match, per say... but the go... so I guess it works.

I threw on some silver jewelry and my go-to short nude heels, (as opposed to my go-to 4 inch nude cork wedges, because I'm trying to tone it down on the higher heels...due to my creeky old-lady knees...maybe I AM 60...?), and I was good to go.

Top: Sevengate(?), probably Forever 21 for $10 or something. Pants: Star City, maybe JCPenney for $20. Shoes: Michelle D, Macy's clearance for $12
This is the bracelet that I added after I took the pic (Charming Charlie, maybe $6?) And the hair tie - I always have one on!

Fake diamond earrings: believe it or not, from a Carnival cruise I took with my family years ago. No idea on what they cost, maybe $10?
Ring: James Avery Mimosa Leaf ring, a gift from Rob on my 28th birthday

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Very Own Pinterest Fail, Halloween-Style!

I've heard the stories of Pinterest fails… crumbled cookie dough cups, frizzed out attempted 'beach waves,' my-3-year-old-painted-stars-on-my-nails nails, and everything in between. And let's be honest - some of the crap you see on Pinterest can't seriously be THAT easy, now can it? (Especially when it comes to nails.. because who could possibly think dotting teeny globs of different colored nail polish onto a micro pinkie nail is a job for a sane person? But I guess that confirms my insanity; I still attempt those damned cutesy dotty nails!)

Seriously? Yep.. that’s tooootally doable. In my hours and hours of spare time. That I totally have.

WHAT is this, and WHY is it labeled “super easy!” ???

I have made these several times. Looked. Nothing. Like. These. Ever.
But I digress… Now I have my very own Pin-fail to be proud of. And it’s Halloween-themed. All RIGHT!!

Last year I decided to forego the actual carving of pumpkins, and used an idea I found on a blog somewhere – it looked something like this:
It was so quick and simple - I glued black and silver sequin up and down the indents of the pumpkins. I even wrapped the stems in the sequin. They looked fabulous! If Pinterest were around back then, I would’ve posted the pics and bragged like hell. Too bad I don’t have a single friggin picture of THAT, because this year I have a well-documented case file of my failure. Don't worry, it really looked like the pic above!

I found these great pins featuring chevron-painted pumpkins:
Simply tape, paint, peel, and place on your porch for the Pinniest-happy porch on the block! I already had a few different paints in gray and white, as well as the cheapo-brushes. I picked up 12 dollars worth of pumpkins (yes, $12.. there may have been a slight human error in calculations at Wal Mart), and I was ready. Here we go…

I started with two pumpkins:

I measured the first one to see how long my chevron-ified tape chain needed to be.

Then I made chevron-ified tape chain using side of my craft table as a base. (I also tried another way to do this, by just making the chain right on the smaller pumpkin, but it went all cattywompus and the end didn't match up to the start. The side of the table kept everything in a straight line.)

Tape chain: complete! This took a bazillion minutes, people. A bazillion.
Then I applied the tape to the pumpkin. It takes some maneuvering to get it on there without a lot of overlap, since pumpkins are natural things, and aren't perfectly flat or rounded in the right spots.
Smooth down the edges so you get a nice seal, so your paint won't leak through. This wouldn't matter in the least bit later... ::sigh::
Two stripes done! At this point, I'm realizing carving the things would've been about done by now. And my belly was rumbling. Uh oh...
After HOURS of working on the taping, I was finally ready to paint. Well, actually I still had to wrap the stems at this point.
Finally! Paint on the damn pumpkin. This is just one coat. After two, it was looking pretty freaking sweet, and I was very proud of myself! But I was also starving, as I hadn't counted on 3 hours of time going by before I would get my butt off the garage floor... My hungry ass forgot to take a pic after I put on the second coat.
- - -
After eating dinner... I went back out to paint a second coat on the bigger of the pumpkins and peel the tape off of the smaller one. Wa hoo!! My hours of work were going to pay off!!
Annnnnnnd, there went 4 hours of work, down the tubes. Wow. I've had Pinterest hair, Pinterest wreaths, Pinterest recipes not really come out as planned... but never have I had literally hours of work, undone in 2 seconds flat.
And if you're wondering if I tried other methods to peel the tape off, the answer is yes. I peeled fast, I peeled slow. I peeled off of the dry pumpkin, and then tried peeling off of the still-wet one. Nada. The paint came off like, well, like latex paint, because that's what it was. Ugh.. Next time... I'll just spray paint and be done with it.
This is after scraping away the majority of the paint the next day after work. I got most of it, but they're still looking pretty sad, with flecks of white paint all over them like bird poop. I still have the splotchy failures sitting on the porch, where they will stay until I can figure out what I can do to salvage them.
Ever experience anything so sad? Please share your Pinterest fails and make me feel better!
By the way, while I was crying over my pumpkins wondering what other Pinterest failures were out there, I stumbled upon and I think I'm gonna submit my sob story. Go check them both out - there are some nawesome fails out there, and you can really learn a thing or two about which too-good-to-be-true Pins are lurking on the boards!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thank You, 80s

The 80s gets a lot of flack for being an era of drugs, sex, and God-awful style..and to some extent, we can all agree that fashion and hair was...ehh... Adventurous.


One style we probably never thought we'd revisit is the side ponytail. Because why would any sane person do THIS again?

However, the side pony DID make its return, and I for one, am grateful. Today's side pony is smooth, natural, and a helluvalot easier than full-out fixing your hair. This is my go-to style when I have 1 more day until it's time to wash my hair (yes, -GASP!- I only wash my hair about 2-3 times a week. I have super thick mega-hair, and since it's long, the ends tend to dry out.) The side ponytail is a way to have a little something pretty going on up front and keep your hair off your neck, with as minimal effort as possible. I tend to wear my hair wavy (by using a 1 1/2 inch curling iron to make spiral waves), and can usually milk the style for another couple days...when it's getting a little oily up top, I just use a few puffs of dry shampoo on the roots, brush it out, and put it into a side ponytail. Then I run the curling iron through the longer pieces if needed, hairspray it, and I'm done. Thank you, 80s, for the one hairstyle that stands the test of time, albeit a little modified.

I won't even charge ya for the crap cell phone pic.

Little sidebar... I just need to give some quick daps to the inventor of dry shampoo. A year ago, I was a major shampoo ho, washing my hair about 5 times per week. What a waste of time! I would use baby powder as a way to soak up excess oil, but it never really settles into your hair, so you're left with what looks like a powdered wig version of your hair. Not to mention, you smell like a diaper bag. No offense, babies. I'm just not into that for my own head-smells. I really like Not Your Mother's Clean Freak, and the classic Psssssst Dry Shampoo (which, from the looks of the bottle design, has been around since the 90s, and probably had a commercial featuring some sort of Dallas/Dynasty-looking lady, saying "'s my little secret!!"). Now I only have to worry about the added step of blow-drying my hair about twice a week. That saves me TONS of time, and if you ask my hubs, any slashing of time from my getting-ready routine is a rare and welcome nugget. Plus, my hair is better moisturized without all that shampooing and blow-drying.
If you're worried about your side pony being a flashback from the 80s, check out these pics for inspiration.

Sources for inspiration photos:

What I Wore Wednesday

Today's post is a bit of a sham - I'm not really wearing anything of note for today's WIWW post. I've got on a work polo, jeans, and tennis shoes, because some coworkers and I were supposed to go out to our storage facility and lug boxes around. Lucky for me, I can still post a great outfit because I take pics of my various work outfits pretty often. I put those pics into an album on my phone so on those days when I have nooothing to wear, Ior when I'm not up for piecing together an outfit, I already know what works together. It's my version of Cher's spinning closet with her outfit-matchy computer program thing. Except without the spinny closet part.
Anyway, here's one that I recently wore to work; coincidentally, it's pretty similar to last week's WIWW post. I got this great pencil skirt at TJ Maxx recently that just screamed "Please pair me with leopard-printed-something and gold jewelry!" Or, maybe it screamed "I am YOUR favorite color, I'd look great with your red hair, I'm Max Studio, and I'm only $19.99!" Whatever. It worked, I bought it, now I rock it. It really is gorgeous; this craptastic cell pic doesn't do it justice. It's a beautiful deep blue-green color, and the waistband is three bands of a satin-y, stretchy material. It reminds me of a cummerbund.

Top: Old, probably TJ Maxx for around $8. Skirt: Max Studio, TJ Maxx, $20. Shoes: Tahari, TJ Maxx, $30. Necklace: Sorry, no idea :(
Because I'm feeling uneasy about breaking rules, here's a grainy cell phone pic of what I am really wearing today:
Top: Black work polo. Jeans: Express X2 Slim W10 from about 5 years ago. Shoes: New Balance 730, TJ Maxx, $50.
Happy Wednesday! Onward to Thursday!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nail the Mail

When we were kids, we loved getting mail. It was usually something cool, like a letter from a friend or a check from Grandma! But as you get older, mail is FAR less exciting. It's either bills, useless coupons, useless credit card offers, useless statements telling you how much dough you've lost in the stock market, useless mortgage refi offers, or usually useless store ads. It's rare that you actually get something of value in the mail. And when you do, it's usually something you don't really feel like dealing with, because we typically check our mail at the end of a full day of "dealing with" other things! You take the stack of today's mail and add it to the stack of the past three weeks' worth of mail. And if you're really lucky, something that actually IS important will get buried under piles of wasted paper.... Something like say... a ticket from a small town that only gives you 2 1/2 weeks to pay. And when that happens, other processes are set into motion. Processes like, oh I don't know...said small-small town putting in the paperwork to file a warrant for your arrest... Just thinking hypothetically now... I'm sure something like this has happened to SOME other poor soul with a mail accumulation problem. Right? ...Anyone?
Ok, just me.

After that little "incident," I decided something needed to be done with the way we handle mail in our house. Somehow, Rob and I have managed to get it all corralled into what I feel like is a simple process. I took tips from great blogs along the way, and this is what I've come up with.

Today's pile. "Postal Customer?" Recycle bin for you, fool!
When we were first getting started trying to get our mail system in place, I made a rule… We would not get the mail unless we could deal with it right then and there. So if we were leaving for the evening and one of us thought to go grab the mail out of the mailbox, we would have to resist that urge and just get it when we got home. Since we were just establishing somewhat of a system, I wanted to make sure that we weren't grabbing a pile of mail out of the box and then just dropping it on the kitchen table. Sometimes it even meant leaving it in the mailbox for a couple days, which (I know!) is not ideal. Now we have our system pretty much established, so we don't really use that rule anymore. But it's something that I would suggest to you if you're just getting started on your mail routine. (By the way, it seems silly to have a "system" for just checking mail, but it really does help to get yourself in the habit of doing the same thing every time. It now only takes us a few minutes to sort through everything and get it done!)

I typically get the mail when I get home from work. When I first walk in, I set down my purse, keys, phone, and everything else work-related. I then head straight to the office with the mail where I have everything that I need to get through the pile. I found this cute little tin mail holder at TJ Maxx a long time ago, probably for about $8. And I have a really pretty letter opener. I read somewhere that if you have tools that you enjoy, and that are aesthetically pleasing, you are more likely to use them. This gorgeous green letter opener came from Hobby Lobby, and was probably about $5.

My pretty letter opener

Next, I go through each piece and sort the mail into piles:
  • Recycle
  • Shred
  • File
  • Do
Mail tin and letter opener, ready for a job to do!

The Recycle pile is usually the largest. I include all of those little "business reply mail" envelopes that come in bills and offers, the envelopes for everything, flyers and ads, and catalogs that I don't want. (I try to keep the catalog count down by unsubscribing from mailing lists for stores I'm no longer interested in, but we still get some catalogs every now and then.)

Seriously... almost the whole pile of mail is useless paper!

The Shred pile gets anything that has our full names, address, phone numbers, or any account numbers on it, with the exception of things that need to be kept and filed, or bills that need to be paid.

I try to keep the File pile to a minimum. I used to think I had to keep EVERYTHING, and my files were outta control! I finally got so tired of all of the paper and the space that it was using, that we took on the project of weeding out what we didn't need and creating a whole new filing system. It probably took about 15-20 hours over the course of a few of weeks, but we literally picked through E-V-E-R-Y piece of paper we owned. It was seriously exhausting. And a little therapeutic. But now that that is done, I know we won't go back to that again! ANNNYhoo...File pile...We don't keep many of our statements for bank accounts, utilities, insurance payments, and mortgage, since I can look them up 24/7 online. I do keep health insurance statements, retirement statements, test results from physicals, EOBs, HOA information, product warranty info, and policy changes for credit cards or accounts. I'm sure there are many other things in my filing system, but that's another post for another day!
Finally, the Do pile is anything that needs immediate or somewhat-soon attention. Bills to be paid, coupons that I need to put into my purse, memberships to be renewed, reminders for eye appointments to be scheduled... that sorta thing. (BT Dub, I don't use coupons all that often, but Target sends them to me pretty regularly. I immediately cut or tear them out and separate them into two piles: coupons that I'll use, and coupons that I'll drop in my neighbor's mailbox. We don't eat a lot of processed food or "kid" food, and that seems to be the majority of what coupons are for. And I'm really picky about what coupons I actually decide to keep, because I carry a small purse. So I usually donate whatever's left to her. It's a nice way to make sure they get used, help her out, but get them off my plate without having to throw them away!)
After I have my four piles, I toss all the Recycle stuff into my recycle bin, and git-to-shreddin anything that needs to be shredded. I think this is my favorite part ... It's like cleaning, and to me, cleaning is my therapy!! Then I file what needs to be filed, and usually try to eliminate at least 1 or 2 items from the Do pile, like paying a bill, or renewing a professional membership online. I can usually get the whole pile of mail down to 0 things left to do after I'm done! If there are 1 or 2 Do items left, I stick them in the mail tin with the highest priority one in front. And that whole process takes me just 5 to 10 minutes!!

Awesome shredder! We should name him. Our shop-vac is Hank the Tank. Those two could be friends.
We do end up with the occasional mini-pile in the mail tin...a handful of bills to pay, or a few Do items, but dealing with a short stack is MUCH easier than 2-3 weeks' worth of mail in its entirety. And we pay nearly all our regular bills on the 1st, since that's when Rob gets paid, so it's practically impossible to compete everything in the Do pile, every day. At least those few items look cute on the desk in my mail tin!
So that's my whole "system," and it seems to be working for us. Even though it's something that I started for myself to help calm my ADD brain (and prevent those pesky, unwanted warrants!!), I noticed that Rob is pretty good about taking care of the mail pile using the same process. If you're unhappy with your own personal piles of mail, or have ever missed something super important, my advice would be to clear out everything unwanted from your files, and start with small steps to get control over the mail clutter. Set up a mail station of sorts, and pick up a few cute items that will make going through the mail more fun, and easier! It might even help to write down the steps to your process and post them near your mail station.

Tell me: have you ever had something important get lost in stacks of mail? And what tips or advice do you have to "nail the mail?"

Am I the only one who still can't properly work a letter opener? I hack into an envelope like a I'm using a manual saw... #Iamsoonotagrownup

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Summer Color

Even though it's October, the air is getting cool and crisp, and Halloween costumes are on everyone's minds, I thought I'd do a quick garden flashback to early summer, and post about the annuals I stuck in the ground back then. Even though it's a pain to plant every year, I like having different color in the flower beds, and I usually don't find perennials in a style or price range that I like. Until I do, whatever annuals I find at Lowe's for around $1are it!
flowers along the path
Petunias up front, and my lone Snapdragon left over from 2 years ago! I thought those things were annuals, but this guy has stuck it out through two winters. Don't mind the dead thing in the back... he was a goner from day 1!
Some sort of puffball-looking thing. I loved the bright purpley-fushia color against the stone on the house!
Purslane and some other drought-tolerant thing that I can't remember. The purslane took over and choked out the other stuff within weeks, that jerk!
Purple and pink petunias

What I Wore Wednesday

Since I'm sorta re-launching this blog venture, I decided to jump onto some regularly scheduled blog prompts - you know, like What I Wore Wednesday, Meatless Monday, Miscellany Monday (which makes me think of Manic Monday - hmmm...posts about crazy Mondays??), What I Love Wednesday, Insta-Friday, Oh, How Pinteresting... and I'm sure that there are a thousand more.
So.. today we're trying this What I Wore Wednesday (WIWW) experiment. (Meatless Monday is never gonna happen in our house. I made the mistake of mentioning that Meatless Monday was a 'thing' and ever since then, Rob will call me out anytime I make something meatless... He may not notice it if it's a non-Monday. But Mondays are most definitely out! Haha) This could totally be both the first and last WIWW post that I ever compose, but I have the best intentions.. so you'll forgive me :)
Today I only had 1 clean pair of work pants that I feel comfortable in, so I started with those. They're these lightweight patina green cotton pants that I've had forever. They've faded out over the past few years, but it kinda looks like that's how they're supposed to be, so that works! I got them taken in at the waist at some point, so the tag with the brand is gone. Then I just paired it with a new gray 3/4 sleeve thin sweater, since it's getting cooler out...and then my go-to leopard print satin wedges. These shoes are great because they give the impression of cute little satin flats, but they actually have a small 2 1/2 inch wedge heel. They're comfy, but can make any outfit a little more glam with the leopard print (which we all know IS a neutral!) This ensemble would've been kinda boring with black or nude shoes - but that little pop of print at the bottom just makes it.
Top: OneA, TJ Maxx, $15. Pants: Either Limited or Express, via TJ Maxx. Shoes: Tahari, TJ Maxx, $30
Weird angle for a picture, but it works. I'll get better :) And yes, this was in my office. I had to sneak over to the corner because I was worried someone would walk in on me taking a picture of myself. How much of a dork am I?? Haha!
There is also something known as a link party, (or linky party if you're feeling cutesy and say things like "twinsies" and "totes" haha). But this whole blogging thing is somewhat new to me, I'm not up on the hipster lingo yet! I think it's basically adding yourself to someone else's WIWW post, so that others will see yours and visit your blog. Not sure if I'm ready for public consumption yet :) Maybe I'll try that next time...

Meanwhile...I was complimented on my hair today by my former supervisor. She told me it's getting really long and pretty (Aww, gee thanks! Really, it's long because I'm lazy and cheap - I haven't had a haircut in probably close to 9 months!) But I'll take the compliment!
Loving this style - I side-part it, section it out, curl the pieces with a 1 1/2 in curling iron, and let it fall out a little. Total time: approx. 15 min.

It's Not Who You Are...

I saw a post from Women at Forty where the author (who I'm assuming is someone in her 40s, but I'll be honest - I located her post in a search for the above graphic) took an honest look at herself - what she is guilty of telling herself that she is NOT, and then what she IS (and those things are harder to tell yourself - why is that?)

What I am guilty of telling myself that I'm NOT:
great at balance
a daily exerciser
smart enough
generous enough
strong enough
a perfect workout picture on Pinterest (and will never be!)
super confident

What I AM (and need to do a better job of remembering):
loved by many
a woman with faith in herself, her loved ones, and the world
positive thinking
a FABulous self-stylist
one who tries to be better every day
one who appreciates beauty in everything most everything
sassy when needed
a good listener
a great talker!

I think I'll make myself a deal - when I'm feeling bummed about the things that I'm NOT, I will pull out the list of things that I AM... and read them over and over again until I'm dne with my pity party! Sound like a plan?