Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Madness, I mean, Magic

This is the point in December that I feel completely in the weeds. We are so behind. We finally got our tree the other night. It's up, but stands bare. The storage containers with holiday decor are down from the rafters, but sit in the garage. Holiday shopping has started, but there's still a lot more to do. I'm trying to get as much taken care of as I can while the kids are in school. Of course, the parental workload there has doubled too, with holiday concerts, class parties, secret Santa gifts, volunteering, and more. It feels like there's no way it will all get done.


As a mom, a lot of the "holiday magic" falls on us. We orchestrate the family holiday activities, purchase and wrap the gifts, shop, bake, cook, plan, move elves, decorate, send Christmas cards, buy the holiday clothes, and so on. All to create great memories for our kids. We get so caught up in the busyness in making it happen that it's hard to enjoy it--to be in the moment--because every moment is something you could/should be doing. At least for me.

But it all gets done, somehow. I keep reminding myself that. My strategy is to do little bits everyday, to chip away at that Christmas mountain. And I hate that I see Christmas as a "mountain." Preparing for it should be fun. And I hate that it's gotten so commercial, that we have to figure out what to get each other when we all already have enough, too much, even. That the kids have toys in their closets they hardly ever play with, and will be inundated with even more.

Other night I asked my family to name what makes Christmastime special to them, what they look forward to.

The kids said presents. Okay, understandable. What kid doesn't want to see toys under the tree?

My husband said having family over on Christmas day. It's the one holiday of the year that we host and although it's a lot of work, it is nice to have everyone over.

Mine was doing family holiday activities. I love watching Christmas movies, looking at lights, going to the holiday brunch, and experiencing things.

It really helped me focus where to put my energy this season. No one said baking or having a beautifully decorated house.

No one said reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas or giving either, but we'll do those things, too.

And it will all get done. Somehow.

It always does.

photo from becoming minimalist

Friday, December 5, 2014

When was the last time you were really moved to do something?

Taking the challenge with Angela Sun. See my cool straw?
A few weeks ago the Blue Ocean Film Festival came to town and I thought, hey, I like the ocean, I like movies, I think I'll check one out. The movie I chose was Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

My mind was blown.


Okay, so not exactly, but the problem is that plastic never ever breaks down and fully decomposes. Every piece of plastic ever created from the 1940s until today is still around. And plastics that go to the landfill emit toxic fumes.

And this garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean? The one that's larger than the size of Texas? Birds and fish are ingesting small pieces of plastic that work their way up the food chain (that we end up eating) and poisons and kills.

Oh, and then there's the BPA chemical that gets absorbed when we drink from plastic bottles and messes with our reproductive systems.

Plastic is a wonderful invention, but when we use it for the sake of convenience for a few minutes and then discard it, we're being super wasteful.

So I sat in the movie theater feeling guilty and helpless and motivated to do something.

The filmmaker, Angela Sun, was there and offered the challenge to take a two-week pledge to not use any single-use plastics. No plastic bags, straws, plastic/Styrofoam cups or lids, or to-go food containers. Sign me up. She even gave me a cool, reusable, stainless-steel straw to carry around. I thought it wouldn't be to hard, I think I'm already conscious of what I use and purchase.

But it definitely gave me some challenges. Here are some of the highlights from my two weeks:

Day 1: I went out with my girls that night and was still reeling from the hugeness of the movie I'd seen earlier in the day. I promptly ordered my drinks with no straws and used my snazzy new stainless-steel straw. Luckily, the establishments we visited offered drinks in glasses. Unfortunately, after a few drinks, I left behind my straw, never to be seen again.

Day 3: I was challenged when I went to the store to get a treat for the baseball team in honor of my son's birthday. I had planned to get some Publix bakery cookies, but they were all in those damn disposable plastic containers. I ended up getting Pepperidge Farm cookies in paper bags. Unfortunately, I discovered they sat in plastic trays inside the bag when we opened them. Fail. I also didn't have my reusable shopping bags with me, so I was trying to figure out how to get my purchases out of the store, when I realized grocery stores still have paper bags available. Win. I also picked up some chips in a paper bag. However, the snacks ended up costing me three times as much.

Day 4: I had to make some adjustments when packing school lunches. I used our reusable plastic containers, bought whole oranges instead of individual serving sizes, and wrapped food in wax or foil (which we recycled). I felt so green and so old-school.

Day 6: Bunco night. The food was served on plastic plates with plastic utensils. Darn. I started serving myself on a napkin, planning to eat with my fingers (tacos, so not too gauche) until someone suggested I use a real plate and silverware from the kitchen. How civilized! I was a good guest and washed my own dishes.

Day 9: I threw a birthday party without using disposable plastics. I was truly amazed with myself. It was like my graduation, per se. It was nothing to post on Pintrest, but luckily the 10- and 11-year old boys don't care about that too much. I prepared the food myself to avoid any plastic trays and bought reusable tablecloths.

Instead of water bottles and Gatorade bottles, we used these and brought reusable plastic cups and had the kids write their names on them.

We had about 15 kids and only one small bag of garbage at the end.

The rest of the challenge was pretty easy, once I figured out the small changes I needed to make, which basically just required a little bit of planning ahead. I had a little bag of reusable plastic containers in the car to take food home from restaurants if need be, carried around my own reusable (BPA-free) water bottle, and prepared food at home to take on the go. It really made me think before I used something and more often then not, there was an easy substitution I could make.

It really wasn't that hard.


So, who's up for a challenge?

If you want to take the challenge, go to

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why I'm Stalking Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon is my style icon. I love how she embodies a casual, stylish, put-together look for the everyday woman. We see her in clothes you would actually wear running errands and chasing after kids. She looks effortlessly put-together and casual at the same time. It's a dream of mine to pull this off as well as she does.

So let's study Reese, shall we?

Florida is hot and our casual fashion involves shorts many months of the year.
Photo sources:,
Where I usually wear a t-shirt, my girl classes it up with a button-down.

And in this picture...
Photo source:

she adds the hat and necklace to take it to a more polished level. Notice that she doesn't shlep around in flip flops either. Cute sandals are just as easy and comfortable, so why not choose them instead?

As we're heading into fall, let's see some of her easy jeans outfits.
Photo sources:,,
Here's what I notice in the first two pictures: again, with the choice of cute colored flats instead of flip-flops or tennis shoes she elevates the outfit. Additionally the accessories--the necklace and scarf--really add to the outfit. I love these looks because they are so easy to reproduce.

I love this outfit:
Photo source:
Reese knows how to accentuate her strengths, i.e., her long legs and skinny waist. This dress is a great way to play up those assets with the shorter hemline and cinched waist. Because of her jacket and loose dress she can get away with a short length while still looking classy. So while my best features aren't the same, my take away is to accentuate mine.

I love to pin outfits and inspiration on Pintrest to help me get dressed when I have a styling brain freeze in my closet or when I'm shopping. You can follow some of my pins on the Messy Casual board and use them to start your own board.

Who is your style icon?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why I'm Not Going to Your Party

I read in a magazine once that in order to give up something in your life that causes you stress you should make it your "rule" that you don't do it anymore. I knew at that moment, my new rule going forward is: no more home parties.

I think deep down, a lot of us feel the the same about them. You feel obligated to go, because you were invited, and it's your friend. Plus, who doesn't want an excuse for an easy night out with friends.

You show up, see your friends, drink wine, and shop. And because you are giddy to be out of the house with friends and wine, you don't always notice how incredibly marked up some of those items are. I definitely felt duped when an over-priced necklace that was probably of Target quality turned color.

I'm not knocking the constitution of all party items, just the way they are marketed. Of course, they always say, "You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to!" But you kinda do. If you don't, you feel the cool stare on your back as you head out the door from that party leader lady.

I even thought about hosting a party, thinking I could use the profits to go toward my favorite local charity. But by the time I calculated the expense of the food, drinks, and products, I'd rather just make a straight donation, have friends over for a pot-luck wine taste and forget all the friend-guilt.

Whatever happened to just having friends over for wine and appetizers for no reason? Is it only worth it if you can make money off your friends or cash in on a bounty of jewelery, bags, or cookware? That's not really cool.

So it's not that I don't want to support my friends, it's that I disagree with the way these products are marketed, using friendships to sell products. So my rule is, I choose not to participate. If you want to entertain, just have friends over, there is no need to hawk items. I'd love to come over for a night in with no strings attached...I'll even bring a hostess gift!

But since I've instituted my no purse/jewelry/cookware/etc. party rule, what a relief it is to not think twice about if I should or shouldn't make an appearance or make up some excuse not to go. It's just "no, I don't go to home sales parties." Not that I usually go in to my whole explanation, I just say no, and carry on with my life.  

Do you agree or disagree? If you host parties, what do you think about my stance? Comment using the link below to put in your 2 cents.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My 1-Minute Power Breakfast

I'm not a morning person. The less I have to think about, the better. But skipping breakfast is a no-no. With nothing in my stomach, I'm no bueno. Besides, I need fuel for my morning workout.

A friend turned me on to my new favorite breakfast, so I had to share it with you all! It sounds a little weird at first, but trust me, it's so good. It's the perfect combination of sweet, hearty, healthy, and delicious! And it's quick, which is very important for a non-morning person as myself.


Peanut butter oatmeal! Intrigued?

Here's how to make it:
  • Measure 1/2 cup of oatmeal and add just enough water or milk to moisten it. Pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds.
  • Remove it and stir in a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, a squirt of agave nectar for sweetness, and a dash of cinnamon. You can then throw in whatever else suits your fancy: dried cranberries, walnuts, strawberries...even chocolate chips!
Of course, you can tweak the recipe to your liking with the type of oatmeal you use and how much of each item you add.

It's no ultra-healthy kale/carrot/banana smoothie, but for those of us not on the Gweneth Paltrow meal plan, I feel like it's pretty healthy. So if you're headed off to work, the gym, or chasing around kids all morning, this breakfast will keep you going. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Can You Help Me Pick out New Glasses?

I was looking through my oldest son's baby book when I came across a picture of myself painting the nursery. In the photo I was wearing the same glasses I have now.

My son turns 11 next month.

Looks like I'm long overdue for some new glasses.

Some of you may be thinking, Wait, I didn't know you wear glasses! Yep. But mostly just on the weekend mornings when I haven't made it out of my pjs or if I'm sick (...or hungover). But nonetheless, I really need to be a little more in style.

Problem is, anytime I try on a few pairs at my eye check-up appointment at the local big box eye chain, I never see anything I like. They all remind me of middle-aged, office worker glasses. I'm not going down that road.

So I tried Warby Parker. I picked five styles online that I liked and they sent them to me to try on with free shipping both ways and no obligation to buy. That's right, I said free! And best of all, if I find a pair I want, it only costs $95 for both the frames and my prescription.

So of course I had to give it a try. The styles are what I would call "geek chic" and I've been admiring similar styles on people I see around town. Way out of my normal look, but since I usually just wear my glasses at home, I think I can have a little fun with this style.

I ordered five pairs, and a couple of days later, they arrived. They came with clear lenses so I could try them on and wear them around. Here's the four that I liked:

style: Baxter Ti color: Whiskey Tortoise

style: Sims color: Striped Sassafras

style: Theo color: Blue Marblewood

style: Welty color: Whiskey Tortoise

 Here they all are again, next to each other.

So, what do you think? Which one should I get? Which one should I not get? Can I pull this style off? Post a comment in the box below to have your say!

Other posts you may be interested in: My First Stitch Fix, Stitch Fix - June

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The 10-Minute Mantel Makeover

Have you ever wondered how some mantels can look so amazing? How some achieve that perfect tableau of interest, balance, and beauty? My mantels have always looked rather sparse and amateurish. What's a DIY gal to do?

Pinterest! A quick search on "mantel decor" gave me a plethora of options. This pin from the Home Stories A to Z blog shows an impressive collection of mantelscapes.

That is some serious talent there. The best part is, she also gives some pointers on how to design your own, using words like "symmetry" and "visual triangle" (so you know she knows a thing or two about design, right?).

And I found this pin from teal & lime:
And then I thought, I can do that! But I had to pick up the kids in 10 minutes. So I quickly and eagerly scurried around the house collecting an "anchor piece," candles, photos, and knick-knacks to put the Visual Triangle theory to test.

So here is the pitiful before photo:
 And the after:

I started with my anchor piece, a mirror that hasn't found a home since moving from our other house. I then dutifully put one large object on the right of the anchor, a wire starfish that I stole from a nearby shelf. Next, I put a small grouping of items on the left, two candlesticks (with, oops, mismatched candles). Last, I filled in and "layered" with smaller items: photos, shells, and my wooden pineapple.
Okay, I know it's not "a-mazing" but I was working with what I had and I think it's not half-bad for a first stab. I'm obviously going to have to make a trip to Home Goods to replace and fill in the small items and get better candles, but at least it's an improvement for now.

I can't wait to use the same principles for the upcoming holidays!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We're Back Up and Running

The last watery days of summer vacay
I feel like as of 6:45am last Monday morning we've gone from 0 to 60 mph. Gone are the lazy days of summer and in like a fast-moving summer storm is the new school year. It amazes me how one day you can be swimming in a Florida spring at 6:30pm and exactly one week later you're in the middle of the back-to-school grind of getting dinner on the table at reasonable time, signing agendas, and folding tomorrow's laundry.
I basically put anything productive on hold during the summer. Only the essentials got done: grocery shopping (minimal food staples), laundry (not too much when we live in our bathing suits), and bill-paying (mostly on time). Anything else went on the List of Things to Do When School Starts.
And now that school has started...I don't know when I'll ever get to these lofty projects. (Especially the granddaddy of them all: cleaning out the garage). 
How does being in school suck up so much time and energy? The first week back I accomplished the following:
  • completed two packets of back to school paperwork that asks for the same information over and over
  • went to Walmart to refill our supply of toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, etc. that was on the brink of running out within hours
  • completed the search for the obscure school supply items and stocked up for next year
  • went to the gym four times (this makes me happy...but having to get back to where I was at the beginning of the summer does not) 
  • researched and signed up the kids for after-school activities
  • organized my workspace and calendar area in the kitchen, hopeful that this year I'll stay on top of all the paperwork
  • spent half a day searching for a birthday gift for my brother and picked up a couple of shirts for the hubby, who hasn't gotten any new clothes, in like, a year
  • and I, ahem, snuck in a nap, because the shock to my system of getting up early couldn't take it.
I did not come even close to what I thought I was going to do:
  • have celebratory coffee/lunch with friends
  • write a blog post
  • finish my family photo book from 2013
  • return and/or hem the school shorts that are too big
  • start to organize our garage (this has actually become a little joke in our house, because it will never. actually. get. done.)
Somehow, I've got to remember that I'm kidding myself that I have more time when school's back in. When I figure out where the time disappears to, and how to get it back, I will certainly share it here, on this blog.
Maybe this week will be better.
Heck, I've already finished a new blog post!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Summer Doldrums

I think today is the turning point. We are more than halfway through summer. The kids have been playing well together, we've been having fun, and staying busy. But today the kids are starting to antagonize each other and are "so bored" because there is "nothing to do."


We've got three more weeks and some change until school starts. I can't say I'm ready to turn my kids back over to the school system, but I'm starting to lose my summer momentum and excitement. Summer requires a lot of planning (outings, adventures, learning), entertaining, and cleaning up. I basically put anything productive on hold for the three months of summer. And I really need to make that doctor appointment. Even sitting down at the computer to bang out a blog post is next to impossible. As a matter of fact, as I write this, my kids are in the kitchen doing "experiments." Like I said, cleaning is a big part of summer fun.

Don't get me wrong, I embrace unstructured playtime. It forces the kids to use their creative minds. They rediscover toys in their closets they got for Christmas but never had time to play with. But when they get so tired of each other or start to get frustrated, it's time to switch gears. And I'd better have something to pull out of my bag of tricks before everything starts to fall apart.

But this is when it gets tough. We've already done many of the things on our summer bucket list. They novelty of summer is gone and the days only get hotter. Friends are in camp or out of town and are hard to get a hold of.

Three. more. weeks.

A long time to kids, but a blink of an eye to adults. 

I think I'll go play another game of dining room table ping pong on the with my son.

Our 2014 Summer Bucket List

It occurred to me to share our bucket list in case anyone else is looking for things to do this summer. We probably won't complete them all, and have actually already done quite a few, but it's a great thing to refer to when I'm planning out our week. So without further ado....


  • Go to our favorite diner for milkshakes & lunch
  • Make Mak-It plates (you draw on paper, send it away, and get it made into real melamine plates...I have some from when I was little that we still use)
  • Use our Game Stop gift cards and turn in our old video games for new ones
  • Go to the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility for a tour and take a puppy for a walk
  • Clean up trash out of the mangroves
  • Go on a bike expedition
  • Have a Flick 'n Float (movie in the pool)
  • Build a giant rollercoaster out of K'nex
  • Ride the downtown trolley around town
  • Go to the children's museum
  • Have our cousins over to play
  • Go geocaching
  • Go sailing
  • Go to Adventure Island
  • Play shuffleboard at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club
  • See a sunset at the beach
What's on your summer bucket list? Comment below!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ten Out-of-the-Box Get-Outside Summer Boredom Busters

10 Summer Boredom Busters
After our hectic schedule of baseball games, school projects, carpooling and more the first half of this year, I'm embracing a very unstructured summer. No swim team practice this year, no camps (so far), and nowhere to be at any particular time. To fill up our days, here are a few of the fun summer activities we're planning:

1. Frisbee Golf

Our city happens to have a few parks with Frisbee golf courses. It's played like real golf, but with discs. Each player uses a Frisbee and counts how many throws it takes to get to the basket. We bent the rules a little and let our youngest player start where he wanted. If you don't have a municipal Frisbee golf course in your town, do it urban-style and pick landmarks around your neighborhood, like trees, mailboxes, and fence posts. Better yet, do it when people are at work so they don't get mad at you for trampling through their front yards and hedging their bushes.

2. Geocaching

My kids love to do this. Its basically an internet-based scavenger hunt. Go to to create a free account and get GPS coordinates to hidden caches that are planted all over the place (you'd be amazed). When you find the cache, usually a small film canister or medicine bottle, you get to write down your team's name and date, and sometimes you can take a small trinket with you, as long as you leave one behind. We've found them on bridges, in trees, in the dirt, and under benches. Most give clues for the kids to unscramble to help you find them.

3. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

We used to do this a lot when the kids were little, but you can make it as challenging as you like to accommodate older kids. Create a list of items you think you will encounter on your chosen path. We used to go around the block and look for things like a cat, ants, pinecone, bird on a wire, garden hose, etc. Draw or print out pictures for little ones. With bigger kids you can increase your search area and go out on bikes together.

4.  Trash Clean-up

One year my oldest chose to pick up trash out of the mangroves for his service project and ended up really digging it. I love having the kids continue to give back during the summer, when it's not assigned by a teacher. They get a great feeling knowing they've possibly helped save a bird or sea animal from choking on a plastic bag.

5. Make a Movie

We once tried to re-create a video we saw on You Tube where we put our yellow Labrador Retriever at the table, put a shirt on him, and stood behind him with the kids' hands through the arm holes so it looked like he was a dog-man eating breakfast and reading the paper. It was hilarious. Let your kids come up with an action movie or recreate a scene from a favorite show or movie. It'll be a great keepsake (just be sure not to accidentally delete it like I did).

6. Play Tourist in Your Own City

My kids loved the time we went downtown and rode the trolley and hopped on and off at different spots for lunch and sightseeing. We did the tourist things like looking through the pay telescopes on the observation deck, getting ice cream, looking in souvenir shops, and walking through the parks. It's eye-opening sometimes how fun your own town can be. If your kids are game, you can also dress up and pretend to be from another country or town with made up names and accents.

7. Try a New Sport or Game

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with the same activities. Summer is a great time to try something new. When's the last time your kids did: ice skating, roller rink skating, racquetball, wall ball, horseback riding, synchronized swimming, bocce, shuffleboard, or four square? Even being a spectator of a different sport can be fun. Sometimes I take the kids to the local skate park (in the morning before the teenagers are awake) to watch the older kids do their tricks and let them try the small ramps on their Razor scooters.

8. Kid Olympics/Challenges

My kids love to watch the challenges on Survivor and someday I want to set up a course with mazes, puzzles, and rope knots for them to solve. Throw in a few long jumps, a diving competition, and obstacle course races with friends and you are the one of the most fun moms of the summer. Just finding the time to actually throw this together is the hard part...

9. Outdoor Movie

One of the joys of being out of school is the flexible bedtime. We're planning a flick 'n float this summer after the sun goes down. We'll use a borrowed video projector to play a movie on the side of the house while we enjoy the movie from our rafts. Of course you don't have to have a pool to enjoy an outside movie. Pull out blankets, pillows, and camp chairs to the lawn, project onto any wall or your garage door and enjoy your outdoor theater.

10. Water Day

Who doesn't like splashing in the water on a hot, humid summer day. Go all out and pull out the Slip 'n Slide, put the garden hose at the top of the slide, and fill up your water balloons and squirt guns. Have a frozen t-shirt contest: soak a t-shirt, ball it up and stick it in the freezer, and when it's frozen, take it out and have a contest to see who can break it open and put it on the fastest. Search Pintrest for oodles of water play ideas and tell yourself that running the water for an afternoon will still be cheaper than going to a water park.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Plan Like a Man

I don't know about you, but my girls' night out crew has the hardest time getting out anymore. With traveling husbands, endless kids' activities, and ailing parents, coming up with a date the six of us can actually make is like picking the winning lottery ticket numbers.

Last summer we decided we wanted to have a weekend getaway. It had been two years since our last one, and we were long overdue. A great deal at a beach hotel came through my email and I contacted the girls to try to nail down a date. As always, there was a lot of non-commitment and our much-needed weekend away hung in limbo.

I went to my husband to vent. Do we reschedule? Just make it a day trip? Cancel? And then he gave me some great advice. He said, "If you plan it, they will come."

He said if it were a group of guys, one guy would plan it, send the email out to the other guys, and they would show up. That's it. If one couldn't come, he might get ribbed a little, but it would not get endlessly rescheduled.

So I went ahead and booked it. And wouldn't you know, all the girls showed up. Some didn't stay overnight, but they came for the day (we were local) and even came back out the next day. We had a great time.

Sometimes us moms overplan, put others' needs in front of our own, and guilt ourselves for taking personal time. But if you plan like a man, and just do it, sometimes that's all it takes.

How do you pin down a date with busy girlfriends? Comment below because I'd sure like to hear about it!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stitch Fix Review - June

As you may have read in my first Stitch Fix review, I was super-excited about the online personal shopping service and went ahead and scheduled another box of clothes to arrive in June.
If you're not familiar with the service, the brief summary is that you fill out an online preference form and a stylist picks out clothes for you for a $20 styling fee. You get five items to try on at home, keep and pay for what you like, and send back the rest.

So I was looking forward to my next "fix" because I really liked all the items in my first go around.
Unfortunately, the sophomore fix was rather anticlimactic. Let me show you what I got. (I had to do cheesy mirror selfies because both my kids refused to take pictures for me...I don't blame them, actually.)
41Hawthorn Harriet chevron dress $64
I asked for a casual, lightweight dress I could wear over the summer. The dress they sent was cute, but I felt like by the end of summer, the chevron craze would be over and I wasn't sure what I would wear it to because I don't have any baby showers on the calendar. Husband felt like the waist was too short so I ultimately sent this one back. Not to mention I think I've seen similar dresses on my friends' daughters at their 5th grade graduations...maybe a little too...youthful for me.

Kut From The Kloth Elliot shorts $68
The next item was a pair of olive shorts. Really? I specified in my profile that I have a bad habit of buying basics and need to add more interest to my wardrobe. And they sent me olive shorts. Yawn. They were comfy, stretchy, and fit to a tee, but at almost $70, no thanks.

Papermoon Remmie maxi skirt $58
They also sent a maxi skirt. This was fun because it took me out of my comfort zone. This is a style that I never wear, usually because they are way too long and I like to show (off) my legs. I paired it with the one shirt in my closet that would match it in the style they suggested. It was fun to try, but it wasn't for me. I felt like a bohemian chick. Not my look.

41Hawthorn Filbert blouse $58
The item I ended up keeping was the 3/4 length 41Hawthorne shirt. I feel like I could find a similar shirt in stores around town, but at least this one had nice shoulder details and split-gathered sleeves. I wished it wasn't the same color as the shirt I kept from my last fix and would have liked it if the stylist could have paid attention to that. It'll be a good shirt to have for volunteering at the school or committee meetings.  

Pixley long necklace $38
The last item looked like it was from the girls' section of the Stella and Dot catalog. OMG!! so cute!!!!! (That's sarcasm.) I 'm not a 10-year-old girl, so back it went.

I'm amazed at how they nailed my size a second time, but I didn't feel like I was getting anything I couldn't find at the local mall (which I mentioned in my feedback when I returned it). The prices are little high, but when you factor in the convenience of it coming to your house and shipping both ways is included, the higher prices are somewhat justified. Plus, you don't want to lose your $20 styling fee credit, so it is better to get something

Supposedly they are still figuring out my style and with each fix they learn more about my likes and dislikes. Reading other reviews, I'm not the only one with a mediocre second box. So yes, I would try them again, but will probably wait until the next season change when I need some new pieces in my cold weather wardrobe.

If you think you want to try Stitch Fix for yourself, I would say to give it a's still fun. And if you do, please use my referral link below to sign up. I will get a credit when your first box ships, which means I can review another fix. And who doesn't like getting fun boxes in the mail?
Stitch Fix Logo

What do you think about my choices? Have you had a fix yet? What did you think? Comment below!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oh S#@!...School’s Out

In less than 24 hours, I will have the constant companionship of my two school-aged boys for the next 2 ½ months! While on the one hand, I look forward to the lazy days of summer – sleeping in, no homework, no projects, no after-school activities - I also dread it. 

The first week or so after school ends feels like a vacation. The mornings are leisurely, we meet dad for lunch, they don’t complain about going to the gym with me (yet), we swim in the pool, have play dates, and plan fun outings.

Then, about 2-3 weeks in, things start to change. The boys get tired of being together and start to needle each other. Our friends have left for vacations and started going to camps, and we can’t find anyone to play with. They are bored with swimming and we’ve already gotten too much sun. They hate going to the gym, and momma needs her gym time to have some sanity. The house is a disorganized disaster with toys and stuff everywhere. There is way too much complaining, whining, and fighting.

It never fails, I start off with good intentions. We’re going to have Math Mondays and Reading Time for 30 minutes a day. The kids will take turns preparing dinner once a week. We’ll do an outreach project or two, go to the water park, do some projects around the house, and we'll even invent something! Seriously, these are all things on my summer bucket list. But I know, come July, things start to turn ugly. By August, I’ve quit going to the gym, drink wine every night, and walk around generally pretty grumpy, counting the days until school starts.

Maybe this year will be different, I think. Maybe the kids will get along better and the activities I plan will keep them busy. Maybe they’ll let me get things done around the house.

Ah, who am I kidding?

So today, I look forward to the start of summer, the possibilities, and the fun activities….but know full well that by the time mid-August comes, the carpooling, sports, lunch-making, homework, and projects will sound like a good trade-off.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mascara Made Easy

If I could only have one type of makeup in my kit, it would be mascara. My natural lashes are light brown, short, and underwhelming.

Before - no makeup

I'm going to let you in on a little beauty secret of mine. A couple of years ago, I discovered eyelash tinting. Not many people know about it, but it is the best thing ever. You may need to call around a bit to find a place that offers it (try day spa salons). The procedure lasts about 15-20 minutes. The esthetician applies the dye while you relax. Full disclosure: sometimes it stings. The more experienced someone is the better. In my city, you will pay between $18-$30 and the tint lasts approximately 3 weeks. It's like having naturally dark lashes. No runny, clumpy mascara and waking up with already-done lashes is such a treat.

Today I took it up a notch and tried a new product at my salon called Cry Baby mascara. It's applied by an esthetician, and makes lashes darker, fuller, and longer. It looks like I have mascara on, plus a couple of extensions.

After Cry Baby application (with no other makeup)
Cry Baby only lasts two weeks, and I'm not geared up about going back to the salon a couple times a month for it. It would be great for a week or weekend of activities, such as a wedding or reunion. The cost at my salon was $30.

The other product I'm excited to try is called Rapid Lash, which is a liquid liner you put on your lash line each night for four weeks that results in fuller, longer lashes. I believe it is $50 for the tube. I'll be posting about it once I give it a try.

Until then, I'll be enjoying my lush lashes for the next 14 days. Lisa Vanderpump, eat your heart out.

Two weeks later, most of the Cry Baby mascara started wearing off as expected. I couldn't get used to that fully-coated feeling. I just wanted to rub, rub, rub my eyes at the end of the day. I looked forward to getting my uncoated lashes back. Still, a decent product for two weeks of not worrying about mascara...maybe a camping trip or vacation filled with water sports. No raccoon eyes was also nice.

The Fab Five - Makeup in a Hurry

I'm all about an easy makeup routine. Concealer, powder, blush, liner, and mascara about do it for me on an everyday basis. Five items, five minutes (or less), and I'm out the door.
These are my fab five
Concealer - I'm not a makeup snob, any drugstore brand will do. I prefer the stick because it does a better job of covering up. I put it under my eyes, starting at the corners of my eyes and working outwards. I also dab some just above the inside corners of my eyes and sometimes even on the lid. I'll also put some on either side of my nose between my nostril and cheek to cover the redness there.

Powder - Clinique Superpowder Double Face ($23). I like this powder because it conceals, evens out my skin tone, and doesn't cause breakouts. I pat it on with the spongy pad then gently brush it with a big brush. I also put some on my eyelids. I rely on the ladies at the Clinique counter help me match my skin color because I never get it right on my own. I love to time my purchase with bonus gift time to feel like I'm getting more bang for my buck (yeah, those tiny containers of moisturizer are so worth it).

Blush - NARS in Orgasm ($30). This is the color that is supposed to complement every skin tone. It's a little pricey but I like the feeling of splurging on myself here. The color really does look great and I find that with any pressed powder powder, eyeshadow, or blush, it is worth it to go with a department store brand. Less-expensive ones have that shimmer that you should only wear if you are under 25 and don't wear as long or go on as smoothly.

Liner - Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint ($17). I discovered this during the last Clinique bonus time. I went out of my safety zone and went with the green, which really helps my hazel eyes stand out. I like that it's a nice thick line and takes the place of eyeshadow. To help it wear longer in the heat and humidity in Florida, I sometimes pat a little green or grey shadow on it to help it set.

Mascara - Maybelline Full 'n Soft ($8). I've found that drugstore mascara can't be beat. This mascara is my favorite for long-wearing and is waterproof. It usually stays on from morning through night and washes off with soap and water. I only use this in between eyelash tinting appointments or to add extra fullness for a night out.

Obviously, for a night out I take more time and add more shadow or liner, but this routine gets me out the door in a hurry giving me a natural, light look. What tips do you have?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to Get Great Wall Art for Cheap

Oh how I wish I had an unlimited budget for home decorating.

But, I don't. So I come up with creative ways to Do-It-Yourself Decorate. Actually, I can't claim this idea as my own, my talented interior decorator cousin gave me this one.

First, let me explain that my goal is to have a comfortable home that reflects our family. I'm not striving for a show house by any means. We live in the Sunshine State and I love the "Old Florida" motif - roadside orange stands, scrub pine and cabbage palm forests, herons, egrets, and alligators. My grandmother, who is 99 (Yes, really!), collected postcards. I acquired a nice little collection of her vintage Florida postcards that I think are so cool.

I wanted to use them in my house, but didn't know how to display them. Enter interior decorator cousin who had the amazing idea to get the postcard images blown up and framed! So I took my two favorites to Office Depot and had them color copied to 24"x36" paper for $19.99 each. I originally wanted to have them done on canvas, but they couldn't do them in that size.

The image quality came out surprisingly well. I bought a ready-made poster frame at Micheals ($41.99 each on "sale") and plopped in my photocopies.

For approximately $125, I had two large, finished pieces of art to hang on my bare living room wall that I love. You could do this with any image really, a picture, calendar photo, book cover, whatever. So easy!