Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm Not Doing Christmas Cards This Year?

I mean, what is the point? You've pretty much seen my family and the highlights of our year on Facebook. Our friends know where we've vacationed, what the kids look like, and that we still look the same as we did in college (just humor me, please).

And if you remember my post from last year, taking a good family picture takes a lot of coordination. There are a lot of fails along the way to that one good shot. Ain't noboby got time for that.

However, even though I keep up with friends near and far on Facebook, I love when the colorful envelopes start arriving soon after Thanksgiving weekend. I like seeing how families pose and where they get their shots. I display them throughout the house to enjoy during the holidays.

But, what if everyone slowly starts dropping the tradition and there's nothing in the mailbox except bills, advertisements, and real estate newsletters?

And what if the friends that don't hear from me think I struck them from my list this year? And then they wipe me from their list?

I could put together a cute online greeting and send it out, like some friends do. But gathering everyone's email addresses might be as stressful and time-consuming as trying to get everyone to smile at the same time. And aren't all of our inboxes so full right now anyway? It'd be so easy to miss. Last Christmas, I didn't get around to viewing one family's video until February.

I'm actually struggling with this decision. I don't have a good reason, like a hard year (thankfully). I'm just being lazy, really.

But...since I've become an adult, I've sent one out every year. Every. Year. 

So this, year, I'm going to do not doing it. I'm giving myself a pass. Just to take the easy way out for one year.

So when you don't get a card from us this year, don't think we're not thinking of you and wishing you happy holidays, because we are. We're just busy being slackers.

Unless I change my mind. 

Have you ever taken a year off? Have you given them up for good? What are your thoughts? Comment below.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

You've Been Boo(ze)d!

You got BOOzed!
Think about it for a minute. You're hands are full as you approach your front door, your kids are in tow, and with keys in your hand, you notice a bag. What is this? you think. It looks like a bag with wine in it. Could it be?? Oh, hallelujah!

And your day has been made.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the fun fall tradition of boo'ing your friends and neighbors. Basically, you leave a cleverly packaged basket or bag with Halloween goodies, directions, and a ghost to stick on the front door. The recipient then "boo's" three friends by gathering up goodies and delivering the treats to those who haven't already been tagged.

But I say we kick it up a notch...

Before the holidays take over our lives, let's toast fall by changing up the tradition.

Instead of Boo-ing your friends, BOOze them!

(I know, it's brilliant, right?!)

Now, we just have to make it easy. You do not have to attach washi tape, spiders, baggies of candy corn or put very much effort into it. Just leave a bottle by the front door of a friend with a note and head out. Easy peasy. Something to the effect of...

BOO(m)!

You just got BOOzed! Happy October. Pay it forward to someone who needs a smile.

I don't care, write in on the front of the bag with a Sharpie pen.
The easy way to BOOze someone

But for those of you who like going the extra step to make it cute, I've come up with a poem you can print out and put inside:


Okay, certainly I'm no poet, but if you want to use it, I've created a PDF you can print out and use to BOOze someone.

And there will be no obligation to paste something to your front door. Because there will be no limit to amount of booze you can receive. If you get BOOzed more than once, then lucky you, and you have some awesome friends!

So whaddya say? I say we get this thing rolling. I'll be dropping off a bottle of wine on someone's doorstep this week.
Download the BOOze front & poem
I think October's going to be a wonderful month.

If you BOOze someone be sure to share it on Instagram @messycasualblog or share it on Facebook and tag Messy Casual or tell me about it in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Anti-Procrastination Initiative

I'm a procrastinator. Sometimes I do my most creative work at the last minute. But most times, I just cause myself stress.

But a new school year is a great chance to start fresh.

This year, I've decided to be more proactive. More on top of things. Don't put off what can be done now. Just do it.

A couple years ago a friend told me she used a football metaphor with her family. Instead of doing something part way, or, instead of just going for first down, go all the way; go for the end zone! This is a great analogy for this time of year, especially in a house of boys.

I feel so ahead of the game. Instead of waiting until the last day to turn in all the first week of school paperwork, I did them all the first day. The first day!

Instead of putting the dishes in the sink to deal with them later (which turns into the afternoon), I put them in the dishwasher right away (well, usually). Instead of leaving the hand washing on the counter next to the sink hoping someone else will wash his Yeti Rambler, I go ahead and do it and voila! no more cutter on the counter. Instead of just taking something near the room it belongs in, I actually put it away.

And so far, I like this new me. Like, I feel really productive, and on top of things. This could be the secret to success, people! And less stress.

So, realistically, it's been less than a week since school's started, but they say it takes three weeks to make a habit. And I think I can keep this up. So if you're looking for a way to help yourself get things done, you must. go. all. the. way. Touchdown!!! (Read in your best sports broadcaster voice.)

And now, I really must go wash that Yeti cup.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Outfit of the Day Posts are Silly

I know. And selfies are silly, too.

Buuut...

In the world of blogging and Instagram, it's like, a thing. I'm still getting comfortable with it. You can probably tell from my own outfit of the day (or #ootd) posts.

But here's the truth. Or my truth.

I love this upcycled clutch by Torrain
I love clothes. I love the options. I love how everyone puts their own style in an outfit. Clothes can  spark conversation and appreciation. I love a piece with a story. Like the clutch I had to get when I saw a friend carrying it and she told me it was from recycled feed bags. Like my paper bead necklace and bracelets from Uganda that help women come out of poverty. Like the great pair of designer shoes I scored from a second-hand shop. And the pair of pants had been looking for all summer on the final clearance rack for $14.99 that fit perfectly. That right there is happiness.

But even more than that, there's the triviality of it. It's not that important, like so many heavy things going on in this world or even in our own worlds. It's fun. When things get burdensome, a quick look at my favorite Instagram feed lets me escape into a world where everything's going to be okay.

Scroll, scroll, scroll.

Just looking.

And if I get an idea for a new way to wear something, that brings me a little joy when I step out in it. If I see a shirt I love in Instagram and track it down and order it, then get it altered (I'm talking about you, watermelon shirt), I greedily accept compliments on it when I wear it.

So yes, fashion is silly, but sometimes something silly and insignificant brings you your kind of happy.

If you're on Instagram, follow me @messycasualblog for outfit inspiration and to get ideas from people and boutiques I follow. It's a huge world out there with endless insights. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

My Favorite Summer Trends

I'm just a regular forty-something mom who strives to dress for comfort (mostly) and style. I like to incorporate bits of what's trending in my wardrobe by taking baby steps. Once I dip my toe in the fashion waters, I may dive in if the water feels comfortable.
Crazy for tassels on OOTD posts

Here are the trends I'm embracing this summer:

Tassels
I love the colorful tassels I'm seeing on shoes, bags, shirts, and accessories. If you follow Messy Casual on Instagram (@messycasualblog), it's pretty apparent that I have a tassel necklace problem. I love how it can incorporate color & fun into an otherwise plain outfit.

Fringe
I'm finally starting to warm up to fringe. I know it's been around for a while, more so in a boho vibe. As I certainly wouldn't categorize my style as boho, now it's popping up in more, shall we say, conservative, clothing pieces. I'm loving the fringe on this top...so cute! 

Cold Shoulder Tops
Imagine my surprise when these became the rage this spring after I bought a couple open shoulder shirts last summer. What whaat? I feel so ahead of the fashion curve! I like how they make and otherwise plain shirt more interesting. Aaand they make wearing sleeves in the Florida heat ever-so-slightly more bearable.


Denim Shorts
I've already purchased my jean shorts for the summer in denim and white and I have to stop myself from buying more. They're perfect for a mom on the go: rugged, comfortable, and easy to pair with anything.

Strappy Bras
Victoria's Secret bralette
I love the peek-a-boo look of the straps under tanks and wide-neck tops. I'm still searching for the perfect strappy bra after a couple of failed attempts that turned out to be more athletic bra than strappy bra. (Actually, this one I found is pretty cute!) You can't beat the comfort of no underwires, especially in the summer.

What are your favorite summer trends...have you jumped on the bandwagon of any of the above?  Comment below and let me know what your favorites are.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How to Look Good in a Bathing Suit

Have you noticed that after forty, keeping in bathing suit shape is really hard work? Most of us don't have the body we once had, but, don't let that get in the way of fun in the sun. Life is about enjoying the good times.

If you want to feel better about being in a bathing suit, the best thing to do is pep talk yourself into realizing that your body is awesome just the way it is. And, if you're not 100% convinced, you can also use these tips to look your best:
  1. Get a great, good-fitting suit. Throw your faded, stretched out suits away. A fresh, brightly colored suit always looks sharper.
     
  2. Tan skin looks better than white skin. If you're not blessed with a dark complexion and are fair-skinned (okay, pale) like me, self-tanner can be a great summer friend. 
  3. Accessorize. I love a great hat that draws attention away from just me in a bathing suit (and protects from the sun).
    Look for cute wraps and coverups.
    And throw on a necklace and earrings (that can get wet).
  4. Remember your age. Even if you are in shape, if you are over forty, do not have your business hanging out around the kids.
    Coverage is way better and can still be sexy. Leave the skimpy suits on the rack for the younger girls.
  5. Don't throw in the towel. Anytime I see a 30 or 40 year old in an "old lady" suit, I think they are doing themselves a disservice. If you feel more comfortable in a swim skirt, go with a modest bikini top, instead of a full tank.
    If you wear a one-piece or tankini, go with a v-neck, higher legs, or interesting back cutout.
    Save the old lady suits for your 70s...you've still got it!
  6. Own it. Walk proudly. Shoulders back and stand tall. Confidence looks great on everyone, no matter what they're wearing. 
The above photos are affiliate links and were used to bypass copyright infringement. If you happened to click on a link and purchase an item, I would receive a minuscule commission/a few cents for the sale. The price of an item is not increased as an affiliate link.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Your Pre-Summer Checklist

Playoff games, class parties, and projects mean that May is upon us, and before we know it, summer will be here. It's crunch time: we need to get ready for the kids to be home
all.
summer.
long.

At my house, that means anything productive gets put on hold and I can plan on being interrupted from any task about a million times. Anything I can do without two boys in tow has to get done in the next two weeks. I officially share...

The Pre-summer Checklist


Finish scheduling summer plans
  • Summer Camps
    I started thinking about camps after spring break, but only booked one. I'm sure you're probably on the ball, and you've already got your kids' summer camps lined up (especially if you work and it's mandatory). If you're more like me and wait 'til the last minute, now's the time to get clicking. On websites, that is.
  • Travel
    We have our family vacation planned, but I like to sprinkle in a couple of weekend trips as well. I'm hoping to go scalloping again this year and hopefully it's not too late to book a place. Seriously, places book up so fast! If you need to plan a trip, do it now. Uninterrupted time is so valuable.
  • Playdates
    I always like to figure out when friends are going to be in town to schedule sleepovers, playdates, and day trips. I also make a list of activities to do over the summer when it's time to get out of the house. So far on the list: indoor rock climbing, bowling, and a service project. Guess I need to work on that list a little more.

Go shopping
I personally find shopping with two boys very unproductive. They hide in clothing racks, wander like chickens, and want me to purchase anything that catches their eye. ...And then I must go into the Needs vs. Wants speech, while becoming The Meanest Mom Ever. So get your shopping done now, including:
  • Clothing - see "hiding in clothing racks," above. Get yourself your summer duds (shorts, sundresses, t-shirts) and pick up some new bathing suits and play clothes for the kids.
  • Groceries
    I'm talking bulk shopping at Target or Sam's Club...stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, snacks, cereal, cleaning supplies, etc. Get everything (as if you were stocking up for a hurricane).
  • Liquor
    I always feel like a "bad parent" when I have to bring my kids to the liquor store. Stock up on wine and your favorite spirits (rum, anyone?) now.
  • Gifts
    End of the  year gifts...teachers and grads. Order off Amazon, get gift cards, donate cash, whatever. Don't wait until the last week of school!


Schedule "Me Time"
Get your hair cut and colored, get waxed, polished, tweezed, see the dentist and whatever other maintenance you normally get done. Arranging childcare to get these services done hardly seems worth the effort. I may not last until Meet the Teacher, but I'll start out the summer looking polished (somewhat).

Finish up your projects 
We all have something we're in the middle of. I'm hoping to paint my kitchen ceiling and finish cleaning out my old bedroom in my parent's house. If you don't finish it now, it could be months before it gets completed. You can do it.

Get together with girlfriends
Schedules are all over the place and you may not get friend one-on-one time for weeks! Take yourselves out for lunch or a pool day without kids. I know, it's easy to push off to take care of all the other important errands, but you must do this for yourself. Because mental health and all.

Good luck, friends!

Related Post: Oh, $#@! School's Out

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Shorts You Need This Summer

Here in Florida, we practically live in shorts in the summer. What is the perfect amount of shorts to own in a warm climate? I've taken inventory of my closet and come up with a list to get you through summer.

Solid-colored shorts (3-5 pairs)
Have at least one of each of the following:
  • Black or navy shorts (or both) - these are a staple to wear with solid or patterned tops.
  • White shorts - they scream "summer" (or should I say, "SUMMER!") and match with almost anything.
  • Colored shorts - pick your favorite color and get at least one pair. I love my turquoise, watermelon pink, and new, bright orange shorts.


Patterned shorts (1-2 pairs)
These are nice to have in your closet to add interest to your wardrobe. The more colors in the pattern, the more options you have to wear with it. I've been noticing some cute, multicolor floral patterns in the stores.


Denim shorts (1-2 pairs)
Have you noticed these are back in style? Thank goodness, because you can't beat the versatility of jean shorts. (Will we still call them "jorts" now that they're cool again?)

I just got a pair of the rolled-cuff denim shorts above and have worn them everywhere. They'll be perfect for hiking this summer and when we go camping. I could do a whole post on denim shorts!

Dressy shorts (1-2 pairs)
Every Florida girl needs a pair of nicer shorts to wear for either brunch, shopping, dinner out, or other "dressy casual" occasion.


Typically, dressy shorts are made with a rayon-like material or a more structured material, like starched cotton or linen. Match it with a cute flowy top or light knit and sandal heels and you're good to go!

Know what styles work for your body. I'm petite, so I tend to wear shorter lengths to balance my proportions and make my short little legs look longer. Tall women with long legs can get away with longer styles and the skinny minnies out there can rock the flowy shorts style.

What about rompers?


I think the all-in-one shorts outfits are so cute, but it takes a certain body type to wear them. Girls with hourglass figures and flat tummies look great in them. If you have this body type and a youthful appearance, you can probably pull off the romper. You lucky girl, you.

To recap...

So that's just a start, but if you have these, you'll be set for a warm summer and global warming. And I haven't even gotten started on exercise and beach shorts....

What shorts will you be adding to your wardrobe this summer? What are your favorite summer shorts? Comment below!

The above photos are affiliate links. This means if you clicked on a link and purchased an item, I would receive a small commission (as in a few cents!) for the sale. The price of an item is not increased as an affiliate link.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The junk in my trunk


I'm driving around a loaner car from the dealership while my car is getting serviced. So when I rolled up to my son's soccer game last week, I didn't have my camp chair with me. Which got me to thinking about the trusty things that have occupied space in my trunk throughout my life. The things I felt I needed to have on hand at all times.
The loaner car...no junk in this trunk

In my early twenties, it was a simply a beach chair and towel. I was living at my parent's house and I certainly had access to the garage, but evidently, I couldn't be bothered to unload and reload anything. At a moment's notice, all I had to do was throw on a bathing suit and I was ready to hit the beach! Ahh, the life.

In my late twenties, I was married and a new homeowner. It seems I didn't jaunt over to the beach on a whim anymore, so I removed the rarely-used chair. Weekends were spent either doing house projects or hanging with friends. The trunk was empty and ready to haul back paint and supplies from Home Depot.

In my thirties, we started a family. I figured out that the back deck of my SUV made a great diaper changing table when we were on the go. I always had extra diapers and a change of baby clothes on the ready, not to mention a stroller.

And now, I've come full circle.

I'm back to carting around a chair...but not in the same carefree manner. It's for weekly soccer/football/baseball games. Also in my trunk are reusable grocery bags and extra old towels. Party on!

Clearly, my life has gone from carefree endeavors to more responsibility, as evidenced by my cargo.

What might the future hold for me, when the kids are in high school and beyond? An empty trunk? Some supplies for a new-found career or hobby? Perhaps, down the road, extra diapers and clothes once again for grandchildren?

What's in your trunk and what does it say about your life?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When it's time to cut long hair

At what age is "too old" for long hair? (By "long" I mean, past your shoulder blades.)

I've had my hair long for the past couple years, all the while wondering if there is a point at which it's no longer age-appropriate. I could look to several famous people who can get away with it. The Real Housewives Kyle Richards, model Brooke Shields, and actor Sofia Vergara are all women in their 40s sporting long locks and pulling it off.
Kyle, Brooke, and Sofia look gorge with long hair (or no hair even)

However, when I look around at "real" people, I don't see a ton of women sporting extra long hair after 40. Of those that do, I think it comes down to three groups:

1. Women who take the time to style their hair and keep their hairstyle current.
2. Women who hold on to an older style or have over-processed, dry hair.
3. Women who go natural. Unfortunately, natural isn't as silky and smooth as when we were younger.

Did you know that hair texture changes (like everything else on your body) as you get older? They actually make shampoo for "old" hair now. Ugh.

My hair was falling into groups two and three. I rarely take time to style my hair and, due to years of highlights, the ends looked rather fried. And with the Florida humidity, wearing it natural usually ended up frizzy.

Based on my informal observations, I came to the conclusion that in order to really pull off long hair as you get older, you need to put work into it. Meaning, use product, blow dry, and style it when it's down. (Unless you are still blessed with naturally silky, smooth hair.)

So last month I put on my big girl (or 40-something woman) pants, and got 4 inches cut off. Eeek!
(Not actually my hair)

The funny thing is, while it was such a huge change for me, hardly anyone else (including my husband) noticed! I must say, however, that it basically looked the same from the front--it was the length in the back that got chopped.

I think I was holding on to the length because it made me feel younger and kinda sexy. It probably wasn't as flattering as I thought in my head, because I never styled it. ...And it was dry as straw at the ends. Now on the other side, I feel like it was the right decision. It's still longish and I love it.

Good-bye, hair. Good bye to another piece of youth. Hello again, forties.

What is your take? Is there a hard and fast rule for when to chop long hair? Have you done it and regretted it? Are you thinking about it? Comment below.


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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Story Behind the Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say. And we all know that on social media, things are not always as they seem. I had to chuckle to myself last weekend when my husband shared a picture of our Family Funday Sunday morning activity.

Here's the truth in the picture:
  • It was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect.
  • We rode our bikes on peaceful trails in a state forest, in full-on nature, with no electronic devices.
  • We were happy....we had just started out, our bellies full, and our muscles fresh.

Here's what you don't know:
  • About 45-minutes later, the sugar rush from the chocolate donuts had worn off and the kids' blood-sugar levels dropped.
  • We took a wrong turn and ended up on a 4-mile trail, when we meant to take the 1-mile trail. We were on a schedule to leave at a certain time and we were at least 3 miles away from the trailhead. 
  • One of us got extremely tired and decided to quit 2 miles in. A bike was thrown down and a tantrum ensued.
  • The one having a tantrum plopped down to rest next to his bike and sat on a thorny vine. 
  • Someone else decided to relentlessly tease the one that quit.
  • And the rest of us got extremely frustrated. 

So basically, we started out all smiles and returned tired and with very little patience. Yay!

Yet, the picture still got posted. And one of the comments even was, "Looks like you all had a great time on a gorgeous day." Yep, looks like it! But we don't usually share our trying moments on social media. We gloss over them and choose to show our happier times.

That's how we roll.

Just remember that there's usually more than meets the eye...especially on social media!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pinned and Worn - Denim Dress

I've never understood why stores in Florida carry cold weather clothes in September when it's still 90+ degrees outside and will be for many weeks. I picked up a great denim shirt dress at the beginning of the season that I've waited ever-so-patiently to wear.

Now that colder weather is here, I'm ready to have fun with it. I was looking through Pintrest for ways to style the dress, and I found this cute picture:
Pinned from momfabulous.com
Look how comfortable she looks! She's playing with her child in the dress, so it must be comfy. I have a similar Aztec shawl in my closet and brown boots, so I pinned it. Looks like the perfect outfit for a Messy Casual mom. Here's my "real life" stab at it.
I loved it and probably wouldn't have thought to layer it with the shawl, since we Floridians don't have too much practice layering. I tried it with socks under the boots like the pin, but because my boots are shorter and so are my legs, it chopped me up too much. But the best part: it really was comfy! Well, once I took that shawl off inside. I couldn't take all that dangling tassel business when I was loading the dishwasher and switching the laundry.

But, I highly recommend the shirt dress/leggings/boots combo for daytime around town or even around the house! Give it a try (if you haven't already) while we still have a bit of cooler weather here in Florida.

Here are some denim dresses I found online, all under $50:


And a few more, under $100:


Happy layering!


The above photos are affiliate links. This means if you clicked on a link and purchased an item, I would receive a small commission (as in a few cents!) for the sale. The price of an item is not increased as an affiliate link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I Learned When I Gave Up Clothes Shopping

Breaking News...Florida woman survives six weeks without buying any new clothing!

Okay, so I know its not that big of a deal, but it was a bit of a challenge...for me. I love shopping. I love adding pieces to my wardrobe and hunting down a good deal. Most of all, I love the thrill of breaking out something new.

Ever have one of these days?
I like to think of shopping as my hobby/therapy (embarrassing as that is). It's similar to how my husband likes to fish, actually. The thrill is in the hunt and the exhilaration of hooking a great deal or great-fitting piece. 

I am by no means a shopaholic. I go browsing maybe once or twice a month...and usually end up purchasing at least something.

I decided to give up clothes shopping (for myself only) last spring for six weeks and here's what happened:
  • I made up for it in other ways. I redirected my shopping urges by shopping for my home instead. I finally purchased great new lighting in my kitchen to replace the black fan (shudder) that had been there since we bought our house. My husband scored a few new things as well.
  • We saved money. I think. Well, I feel like we did, but maybe not with the new home accessories.
  • Window-shopping online helped me get my fix. I could shop to my heart's content and add things to my cart without ever purchasing anything. Interestingly, I never ended up buying them afterwards.
  • I wore things in my closet that I kinda forgot about. Which is also when I realized not to "save" the nicer things for nice occasions. By "nicer," I mean anything that's not a cotton shirt and jeans/shorts. Even if I wasn't going anywhere special, I would throw on a shirt from a hanger or a casual dress. (This inspired my post How do you really look?)
  • I really didn't need anything new. Whoa. What?
    Do you ever wander into a store or a clothing section because you're just there? Then you end up buying something. It's the basic principle of want versus need. I want something new. Most of us do. We are constantly barraged by ads, catalogs, etc. showing us how we should look and what we should have. But when you give yourself a rule that you're not allowed to shop, there's no getting swayed into it. It was kind of nice to put it on hold for a while and reset that mindset.
  • I figured out what I really needed, I mean, wanted. I had a short list of items I wanted to get once my moratorium on shopping was up. The main one being new running shoes because the pair that I wear on non-running days was really making my feet ache. I didn't even run out to the mall after my time was up. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later, when I was in the vicinity.
  • It also changed my perspective on what to buy when I was shopping again. Instead of going for deals to get a quick fix, I decided I really need to invest in more quality pieces that have longevity.
So would I do it again? Absolutely. I'm actually thinking it's the smart, new way to shop. Go dry for six weeks, figure out what you can wear that you already have, what few things you may want, then have "open season" for a month or so.

What do you think? Are you a fellow shopper and could you do it?