Friday, April 27, 2012


Thank goodness it's Friday. 
I don't know about you, but this week seemed like Tuesday was Wednesday and Wednesday was Thursday and then it was beyond disappointing to realize yesterday morning that it was only Thursday and there was still one more day left until the weekend.
Here are some things I have been loving all week long:

These silky, pajama~esque pants I just got at The Limited and these Tommy Hilfiger sandals I scored at TJMaxx. The Limited has so much amazing new merchandise...I had my arms full in under 5 minutes and bought more than I should have! I love my daughter's Ikat print top I bought her at Target. I want one!

Wearing 5" heels with 2" platforms hasn't been ideal for work. Especially when I work in urban neighborhoods where I have to walk a few blocks of cobblestone streets to get to my store. I ordered a few  much needed "sensible" pairs of shoes and couldn't resist this Michael Kors pair. I owned this style a few years ago in grey snakeskin, but thought this off white pair would be just the thing to go with all my bright colored crop pants. Some of you may shudder at the thought of white heels, but at least I know Tabitha over at Bourbon & Pearls is right there with me.

I am over the moon for these new shades of  bright orange. In jewelry, in nail polish...I just can't get enough!

Besides those shades of orange, I am loving this white knot work necklace I bought about a year ago. Such a nautical vibe when paired with stripes and white chinos. I wore it just this way to work the other day.

Of course, the best part of any day is getting home to kiddos and hubby. My baby is getting so big ~ I can hardly believe it.

It was a rainy, dreary week here in NJ but it was much needed. Besides, there is something warm and comforting about the rain, isn't there?

I am working from home today because my two best girls are coming this afternoon so this Adoring Auntie can babysit them while their parents kick up their heels at a wedding. If I could have it my way, I would keep them all weekend and spoil them so rotten that they will never want to leave my house....

What were you loving this week?

Happy Weekending Everyone!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Freedom Of Expression

Clothing is my passion.
It always has been. Since my early teens, I have expressed myself through my personal style. Back then, I stood in awe of designers like Gaultier, Westwood, Betsy Johnson and Anna Sui. They stood apart from the crowd just as I did. I identified with how they broke "the rules" and made up new ones all their own. I dreamed of moving to Manhattan and going to FIT as I redesigned my thrift finds and sewed myself outfits that were 90% costumery 10% practicality. I was unlike any of the other kids in my school. Freshman year my best friend and I would redesign and style my mother's vintage nightgowns and wear them as dresses (much to Mom's horror). My senior year history class had many a day where my teacher would spend almost the whole period questioning me about what I was wearing and what inspired me to create such my ensembles. Pretty in Pink was one of my favorite movies because in so many ways, I was Andy. 

I turned down a chance to go to school in Manhattan because I was in love with a boy that would end up breaking my heart mid senior year. Instead of college, I managed and bought the merchandise for the coolest boutique any kid like me could work at. At age18 and 19 I was going to trade shows in Manhattan instead of classes. I lived with friends and used to stay up all night making amazing items to wear. I was stopped on the streets of NYC on multiple occasions to have my photograph taken by random people because I looked so different. I traveled to other countries where I would scour their thrift stores and antique shops and have to buy additional luggage just to get all my treasures home.

Nothing has changed much since those teenage years. I still play with clothing at work. Instead of wearing Doc Martens, I wear stilettos.  I still scour the thrift stores as regularly as I can. Instead of making major changes, I do time saving mini alterations when inspired, since my spare time is precious. I still don't fit in with everyone else. Friday night, I stood at my daughter's dance in a bright pink shift dress topped with a tan, linen blazer and nude platform heels. I was fully accessorized and carried a little leather clutch while all the other mom's wear either in track pants or mom jeans and sneakers and carried their logo blaring Coach bags. My closets are still bursting at the seams much like those suitcases I used to have to sit on to get home from my travels.

I wondered over the years if I have a shopping problem. I have always assumed I do. Was I repressing something? Stuffing my closets full because I was lacking something emotionally in my life? I even started this blog because I recognized that my closets runneth over. Recently, I have realized that the inner torment I struggle with regarding my excessive wardrobe is mostly unwarranted. Do I shop way too much? Yes, absolutely. Would I shop as much if I wasn't around clothing all day long? No. Those five months I just spent at home with the kids was living proof. I didn't go shopping anywhere but thrift stores the entire time. When I am around clothing, I see endless styling possibilities in items. I have bought many an item that I styled the way I envisioned, to never wear it again. I am getting better with that. I try to ask myself if it is something I will wear only once, or will it integrate into my wardrobe enough to be worn multiple times? I need to keep myself in check. I have been trying to live my life on the less is more principle but clothing remains my Achille's Heel. I don't just like to dress up; how I dress is part of what defines me.

This has been a very round about way of ultimately sharing with you how restricting the dress code is for me at work. At first I was excited about it because I thought it would simplify my life. How could I want to shop when I wouldn't be able to wear it to work where I spend 75% of my life?
But it hasn't worked out that way.
I hate it. It's demoralizing.
What I haven't shared with you is that we are able to wear other clothing to work provided it is from our Wear To Work collection and is not clearance. That means, once it is discounted at 50% or more, we shouldn't be wearing it any longer. The majority of employees just opt for the black and white because what good is buying something you can only wear for 4 weeks? I thought the same way initially. Initially being the operative word.
My job involves overseeing the stores where new visual and merchandising direction for the company takes place. To put into layman's terms, the first week of April, my stores received all the merchandise for May Week 1. Corporate visual team comes in and sets it, our CEO and the entourage of merchants and buyers come to walk it, approve it, it's photographed, documented and the rest of the company sees it all almost a month later. 
You know what I am driving at right?
I get to purchase these goods (at a fabulous discount) so far in advance that it makes them wearable to work for months, not weeks. As a result, I have been shopping. I need options people. The black and white is way too boring for me. While I have always known that I express myself through style, I never realized how stifling I would find life if that outlet was snuffed. What I have realized is how truly important it is for me to be able to express myself in the same fashion (no pun intended!) I have for over 20 years now. Simply put, it is who I am.

How do you express who you are?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fresh Produce

A while back I was contacted by the people at Fresh Produce, an online apparel company for women. They offered me an item of my choice in exchange for a review here on the blog. I had never heard of Fresh Produce, so I quickly navigated the website trying to find out all about them. I loved hearing that they have a female CEO, manufacture the majority of their clothing here in the USA,  and have been in business for almost 30 years. All truly impressive accomplishments! They ship to over 200 countries as well as selling through select retailers across the country in brick and mortar stores. I was excited when I saw that they have their own freestanding boutique in nearby Beach Haven, NJ. My sister in law's family has a beach house there and we have a beach "vacation" planned with them this summer! I will definitely be checking out the store while we are there.

It's no surprise that their clothing line screams "summer"...the colors are vibrant and fun, the styles so relaxed and easy. It strikes me as a one stop clothing destination for vacation clothes as well as the kind of boutique you stumble upon while away and can't help but buy yourself a few things.
So what did I pick?

I picked the gingham button up in pink!

We all know how much I love to layer, and I thought it would provide a great base for many warm weather outfits. Plus, gingham can be mixed with so many other prints that I knew it would provide limitless options for styling.
Unfortunately, picture taking for the blog has been pretty non existent lately, because after 2 hours commuting home I feel like a sloppy mess and the last thing I want to do is pose in my wrinkly, tired clothing.  (Besides the fact that I can only wear black and white)My weekends are so busy catching up on housework and errands that fitting in time to photograph my outfits is still a challenge. But I did wear it a few Saturdays ago and snapped this Instagram while running to the post office:

It was really warm out, so I threw a chevron printed scarf over it and just wore it with skinny jeans and flip flops. The fabric is like a seersucker so it is ideal for warmer temperatures. The fit was ideal too. Fitted enough to be flattering and not boxy, but roomy enough to provide a comfy, casual feel. The fabric is so soft and pliable which is critical to me in a casual button up. I foresee this top being a summer staple. Paired with shorts, a casual cotton skirt, crisp white chinos....I'm happy I picked such a versatile item!

Thanks to Fresh Produce for thinking of me! Your website and your store here in Beach Haven will now be regularly stalked!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Wrinkle In Time

I nicked these images from a YSL book I borrowed from my local library. (Meaning I took pictures of the pictures ~ I would never rip them out!) What I love most about them is how you cannot tell if they were taken days ago or decades ago. Every article of clothing is still wearable and relevant today.
The true definition of timeless.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It Only Takes A Spark To Start A Fire

Sometimes when I have no clue what to wear I turn on the old laptop and check out what you've all been wearing.
It doesn't mean I am looking to necessarily replicate an outfit. Sometimes just seeing how fab all you ladies look is enough to spark inspiration and send me clamoring to the closet. On the other hand, I occasionally fall head over heels in love with a look and indeed want to replicate it. Like this outfit I wore a few weeks ago. When I read Pamela's post that morning I decided I was wearing the same outfit that very day. 
And so I did.

vest: jcrew
stripe tee: limited
ballerinas: jcrew
jeans & earrings: express
scarf: ny&co

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Thriftanista

The only negative about my new job other than the occasional 3 hour commute (One way! And can you believe it happened again Monday morning?) is how it has seriously cramped my thrift shopping. Having my days off be the same days the rest of the family is home makes it hard for me to go. I feel bad if I don't take advantage of spending my time off with them. Not that I need to be stuffing my closets with more nonsense anyway. I just love the thrill of the hunt and I have been pretty good at editing down the finds to only buy the real "treasures".

Saturday morning I had to go to the post office to mail some things I had sold. Husband was home happily doing yard work and the kids had plans, so I decided to take advantage of the time to myself and hit 2 of my favorite thrift stores while I was out. My first stop turned out two great dresses for work, (one which was brand new with tags) as well as two fabulous necklaces; one of which I am wearing in these photos. The second stop turned out two A~mazing vintage maxi dresses that are truly one of a kind finds. 

 After the thrifts I had to go to Target  for some household/family odds and ends and I spent an hour pushing my cart around in silence. Browsing slowly up and down every aisle I felt so inclined to check out. No one was whining about going down the toy aisle or looking at video games. No one was telling me to hurry up or pouting because they wanted to go home. The simple chance to spend a little bit of time indulging one of my favorite hobbies felt incredible. Taking my time running a necessary errand was pleasurable. It reminded me how we all need to allow ourselves to escape and have some private time now and again. Doing so makes us a little bit "better" version of ourselves so in the end everyone wins.

What do you do when you need some time to yourself?

blazer: ny&co
sweater tank: tommy hilfiger
skirt: limited
necklace: vintage, thrifted
sunglasses: ny&co 
heels: bandolino
bracelet & ring: tiffany's
watch: citizen

Monday, April 16, 2012

Prints Charming

Lately I have been all about prints, whether in dresses, tops or bottoms I cannot seem to get enough!

top photo:
dress & enamel bangles: ny&co
gold bangle: jcrew

middle photo: 
pants: ny&co

bottom photo:
dress: ann taylor

Sunday, April 15, 2012

She's Got The Look

 Thank you all for your sweet comments yesterday!
I'm sure that; as suggested by Pamela, my running and eating habits have certainly had something to do with my complexion. I did find it interesting though to hear your thoughts; because I actually started using some new beauty products!

A few weeks ago I decided that my make up was doing nothing for me. My skin looked dry and tired. I have been using Bare Minerals products consistently for many years. I am not a big beauty/skin care buff. I want my makeup to look light and fresh and feel the same way too. To be honest, I never wash my make up off before bed because when I do I sometimes break out. (Except after an evening run, then I shower!) I use inexpensive products that I buy in Target or the grocery store. In fact, while I was unemployed I started using Johnson's Baby Lotion on my face as a moisturizer because I love how it smells and it is so affordable. 

I do, however, swap products seasonally. I use Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer in the summer because I love the glow it gives my skin and in the heat and humidity, the fewer products I pile on the better. I think her moisturizer is reasonably priced considering a tube lasts me a whole summer and well into the next.  Looking and feeling so dry and tired, I decided I would head to Sephora and pick up a lighter shade of it for now because the one I have at home is for my tan, glowing skin ~ not this pasty, white nonsense I am currently sporting. 

 I headed into the store one evening after work, feeling as dry and tired as I am sure I looked. I found the Laura Mercier moisturizer without a hitch and just as I grabbed the tube, I spotted this little Flawless Face kit. 

Complete with other products as well as my moisturizer, I decided it was a good value and worth trying out. As I stood there contemplating if there was anything else I needed, a sales associate asked me if I needed help. I explained why I was there and that I think I found what I was looking for when she asked me what moisturizer I had been using on my face. I laughed and told her about the Johnson's. She started shaking her head at me so I laughed and told her that "if it's good enough for a baby's bottom, then it should be fine for my face". Without a hint of rudeness she asked me if I was ready to see some "grown up" products that she thought would help me and I readily agreed. I mean, she knows what she's talking about, right?

She led me over to one of those illuminated mirrors that make your skin look decades older than it really is and exemplifies every single imperfection on your face. I shuddered when I glanced up at it. Sorry Bare Minerals, but boy did I look haggard! She came at me with a tiny jar and told me to look up at the ceiling while she started patting this amazing little cream all around my eyes. As she patted she explained it was a serum that could be worn over or under my makeup and would moisturize the tired, dry lines and reduce my puffy bags.

As I looked in that God~awful mirror to inspect her handiwork the heavens parted and the angels began to sing! My eyes looked ALIVE! They looked young and vibrant and felt light as air! I felt like one of those people who listens to a TV preacher and feels so amazed that they run off and join the cult. In other words, I decided I was drinking the Kool~Aid. I didn't even ask how much that little magical jar would be...I knew I had to have it.

She also showed me the moisturizer from the same brand and I applied some to the top of my hand. It smelled good and felt even better. I didn't even have to tell her I was buying it, the look on my face told her I was sold.

I'm not going to lie, these two magical potions were not cheap and I could supply a small nation with Johnson's for the same price I paid for these two. The sales associate told me that I should get a year out of the moisturizer because you need such a small amount and about 8 months out of the serum. If the way this product works doesn't sell you, then the cost per use could easily justify. 

So there you have it. 
I have nothing but accolades for the Mercier kit as well. It truly does create a flawless look and my skin remains dewey and fresh all day long. Don't believe me?

This was last night after running a couple of miles (with make up on, don't judge - you never know who you will run into!) after I collapsed on my deck while cooling down. Now I realize there was added "dewiness" from my sweaty self, but not too shabby under the circumstances, eh?

*In all fairness to Bare Minerals, I never realized that they sell a foundation primer that would probably have made my makeup look better
** I decided to write this post simply because of your comments. I was not compensated, or asked by Laura Mercier or Amore Pacific to discuss their products. However, if they want to send me more of these magical things because I love them so much I would never complain! ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Not To Wear

Measuring in at 5'1 (and a 1/2!) finding pants that fit me lengthwise is no easy feat. Most times I find a pant that I like I must have it hemmed. That brings on an inner struggle over whether or not the quality of the garment justifies the additional cost of alterations. If I was buying high end, designer items I would not hesitate to splash out on tailoring. At that rate, I assume I would also be buying items I planned on keeping in my wardrobe forever. In reality my closet is full of some better brands and well made items that I consider timeless, but also some lower end "fast fashion" too. When I was desiring a pair of printed slim ankle pants for summer I found a fab tan and white pair at New York & Company. For the ticket price it doesn't matter if I pull them out next spring or summer and say "never again" or "been there, done that". It's a wallet friendly chance to live in the moment.

For this spring/summer I have been on the lookout for affordable pants in vibrant hues to color block or pair with a classic white button up. I ended up finding some at New York & Company in a royal blue, a salmon pink, and that gorgeous green hue above. The only issue that had me hesitating was that these pants only come in "crop" length. Years ago I remember watching Clinton and Stacey tell a poor, disheveled soul that the crop pant was the most universally unflattering pant. No matter the body type, they said "NO!" to the crop pant. That split second of television watching has stuck in my head for years, scarring me and steering me far away from anything above the ankle and below the knee.

Yet I still tried on these colored crops. I was pleased to see that when standing, they hit just above my ankle. When paired with a heel, I didn't find them unflattering at all. In fact, in the above Instagrams, I wore a royal blue silk button up under that white linen blazer with those gorgeous green pants. I felt like it was a flattering look. Had I worn those pants without a heel, my legs would have been drastically "shortened" and frankly, I think they would have looked "stubby" and totally unflattering

Yesterday as I waited to be seated at a restaurant for lunch, I saw a mom walk by wearing a crop that hit her mid calf with backless sneakers. I don't mean to sound judgmental because I could care less about whether other people are "fashionable" but I could hear Clinton and Stacey's voices in my head saying how this length does nothing for anyone's shape and I couldn't help but turn it on myself wonder if my crop pants make me look like that too. Heel or not. 

So what do you think Ladies? Are crop pants a do, a don't, or a "if worn in the right context" sort of item?

jacket & pants: ny&co
heels: coach
earrings: express

Friday, April 13, 2012

An Instagram Easter

This year, Easter week was busy and bustling with excitement as we anticipated a visit from my mother. She arrived on Good Friday shortly after my husband and I had arrived home from work. Mom had yet to meet my niece Lily, and we haven't seen her since October due to my Grandfather's falls.
Once we knew she was in the car Friday morning making the trip to NJ from NC, we were thrilled! We feared that any last minute issues with my Pop's would have her change her mind and stay home. I also knew that she was dying to meet Lily for the first time, so we arranged to have my brother and his family over Friday night for dinner so she wouldn't have to wait more than an hour after she arrived.

Baby cuddles are the very best. Don't you agree? I didn't hog her all night although it was a tempting thought!

Lily Jacqueline ~ 2 weeks old!

Of course, I soaked up every second spent with the apple of my eye ~ Lily's big sister Vera. She is my very first niece and has an incredibly special place in my heart. There are no words to describe the love and adoration I have for my baby brother's girls...they truly hold my heart!

Nanny meets Lily for the very first time!

I love celebrating a holiday when my home is full of family members and this Easter was no exception. My best girl was so excited to see her basket even though she asked those pertinent holiday questions right after Christmas. She may no longer believe in the mythical holiday characters, but she was dying to get to that basket!

My other brother and soon ~ to ~ be sister in law came from New York to see Mama and spend Easter with us as well. I planned an early meal so they could be on the road at a decent hour to get back since they both had to work on Monday. I decided to do an Easter brunch for the first time ever, and I cannot imagine going back to cooking a traditional "dinner" type meal again. Brunch was so much better! Of course I still made a ham, but the other dishes were definitely the show stoppers!

my table

fresh flowers in beautiful spring colors

snap pea, cucumber and salmon salad from giada's new cookbook. doesn't my instagram look like a picture from a real cookbook? i love that app!

roasted pineapple slices with a "sweet rub"

spinach, pancetta and gruyere quiche

This morning is the first time I have sat down at my computer in exactly a week. Work is super busy and my days are sometimes super long. Trying to fit in time to run and prep my food has even been a struggle. No offense, but feeling good about my eating and exercise regimen takes precedence over blogging. I'm hoping this weekend I can spend some time catching up on all of your posts, cleaning my house and maybe even (finally) getting to thrift shop.
TGIF, now I'm off to get dressed and drive to New York for the day!