Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday. I'm off to work out and finishing putting the chocolate ganache on my Darn Good Chocolate Cake (I'll post the recipe this weekend). And my garlic mashed potatoes are whipped up and ready to roll. I added chives this year (fresh, of course) to be a little different. I'll let you know what people say (good and bad).

See you tomorrow!

(Photo courtesy of National Geographic)

In search of...white/ivory/cream sweater dress

I'm starting a new feature called "In search of..." where I will mention things I am searching for to add to my wardrobe, yet I seem to be having no luck finding them. I'm hoping this might lead to some tips and suggestions from you all so that I may find what I'm looking for.

If you have anything in particular you are trying to find, drop me a line or leave a comment. I'm especially good at finding shoes (big shocker), but I've been known to spot other kinds of bargains and one-of-a-kind items.

And I'm not limiting this search to just stuff on sale. That's not my point. I just have certain things I'd really like and am having trouble locating them. If they are full price, so be it, but of course any sort of discount is preferred.

Okay, today's "In search of..." item is the elusive white/ivory/cream sweater dress. I just adore the look of a white sweater dress paired with black tights and a nice pair of black mary janes (or boots, if you prefer). So, so, so very cool! I first saw this outfit worn by my sister's friend, Caroline, many eons ago in college. Every time she'd wear it I was just blown away by how cool it looks. I've always wanted to wear it but never quite found the right dress. So that brings me to my desperate search.

But Chris, you say, I see those everywhere! How can you NOT find one? Well, let me explain. I'm searching for a particular cut, style, and material. I do love some of the sweater dresses out there, but my big problem is the cut. They are usually shaped like potato sacks, which is nice and comfy, but totally ignore the most flattering part of my figure, my waist. And I've tried belting such dresses, but they just look all bunchy and weird and it adds extra bulk to my middle. For example, the dress above is nice, although a wee bit short for my tastes.

So, what are my criteria? Well, my ideal sweater dress would hit just above or below the knee. It would be a medium-weight sweater material (nothing horribly bulky or too sheer) and be a nice winter white color. That can mean anywhere from an off-white to almost cream. I'm not super particular about the weave, although I don't like tons of detail on this type of dress. No pockets, no huge cowl neck (although turtlenecks are okay), and it can be short sleeve. The most crucial detail is the cut, which should be somewhat structured so that it fits my midsection and then glides away from my massive birthing hips in a nice, flattering pseudo-A-line, straight, or similar cut. I don't want anything skin-tight or figure hugging below the waist (NOT pretty on my body type). But above the waist, yes.

(I like that third dress from Victoria's Secret, although the neckline might get annoying.)

Anyhow, there you have it. That's one of the many things I'm in search of. I'm adding a widget to my blog with a list that will constantly be updated with things I'm searching for and things I've found. I'm possibly shopping with Georgia tomorrow at DSW, so if I happen to stumble into a few clothing stores afterward, I'll definitely be on the lookout for my sweater dress.

(Photos courtesy of She Strikes a Pose and The Fashion Bomb)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

(Late) outfit round up

Just thought I'd share my look this week. Sometimes I can't wait to talk fashion and show people what I'm into, and other times I'd rather just schlepp to work in a potato sack (they look comfy but itchy). Since I was sick last week and didn't do too much fun outfit stuff, I thought I'd be more fun and colorful this week. So here goes...

Monday's look:

Plaid wool mini from Goodwill (sorry about my booty shot), brown belt from Target, cream turtleneck from Kohl's, green tights from Target, new brown Chilis boots from Marshall's, gold earrings from Target

Tuesday's look:

Black sweater dress from Target, black shrug from Old Navy, blue tights from Kohl's, Steve Madden black patent leather mary janes from Piperlime, blue and white glass necklace from Shoozles (Etsy), white earrings from Target

Today's look:

Gray argyle sweater from JCPenney, Levi's 515s from JCPenney, argyle flats from American Eagle for Payless, white earrings from Target

I'mot sure that you can see the entire ensembles in these pix, but there you have it. As you can see, I have been busy and unable to offer quality posts this week. I'm going to be cooking up a storm tonight but I plan to blog, blog away while the stuff cooks.

What have you been wearing lately? I'd love to see pix, or hear all about it. I'm always inspired by what other people do, too. Especially people like Georgia, who is one of the most stylish people I know. She "owns" her outfits, as she advised me to do, and I really admire that in her. I am a wimp and will concede to people's comments and insults, and I tend to throw creativity and color out the window sometimes in favor of blending in. But not Georgia! She is truly a unique and interesting person.

Anyhow, hope you're having a great day, and are going to spend some quality time with friends and family tomorrow eating some good food!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For your amusement: The Circus Bear

Once again like clockwork, I'm feeling run down and am hitting the hay early tonight (Monday) after a few crunches. I had glorious plans to walk on the treadmill and blog for a few hours, but a) we got home at almost 8, and b) I feel the beginning of a crappy health phase starting up again, so I'm going to take it easy. I think I caught some germs this weekend while I was merrily shopping up a storm. That's my theory anyhow. I feel great all weekend and spend the time touching dirty handles, surfaces, and doors, as well as coming into contact with the sniffling and sneezing populace. Then by Sunday night I feel run down, and I spend Monday feeling like crud (like today). So I'm going to try to head that off at the pass if I can.

Anyhow, here's a few pix of Adora doing her "Circus Bear" pose. Pete and I aren't sure why she does this, but she inherited it from her mama Idgy. Of course it's a submissive position, but she tends to do it at random moments. Like we'll be talking and Adora will gently paw us, and if we turn to look at her, she raises her paws up and assumes the position, then falls backward onto the couch, frozen in place. Sometimes she mixes it up and will raise one paw repeatedly in a Nazi-like salute (which we call the "Heil Hitler!"), and other times she falls completely onto her back, where she twitches and shakes in a "Spastic Beetle"-like pose.

Oh, and here's one of Adora in a diaper (eating Spanky's food while he lays in his cage, which she does often). She's in heat and it's a major pain when she is. I had to chase her down in the driveway on Sunday and tackle her with a diaper that she was trying to get away from. When we got Adora from Pete's sister Cathy, she wasn't fixed, and with the wedding and all it kept getting away from us. This is the last time we're going through this. We'll be sending her to the vet after the holidays, that's for sure. But she sure looks cute in a doggy diaper, eh?

Anyhow, just thought I'd share. I'm off to crunches and bed. I'd like to wear a dress/skirt and heels tomorrow (Tuesday), so I need my rest. It takes more energy for me to pull off such looks compared to just jeans, flats, and a top. I'll post the pix from Monday's outfit later today. Boy, I hate missing catching up on blogs and such...

Ugh, I wish my immune system would get a clue and fight some germs!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stravy hair

Does anyone else out there suffer from stravy hair? By "stravy" I mean straight and wavy at the same time (straight + wavy = stravy). My hair likes to do this when it's really humid or raining out, as it did on the day I took these photos a few weeks ago. I don't get beautiful, consistent waves like most gals do. Instead, I get chunks of hair that wave and frizz, and other chunks that remain stick straight and...frizz.

My hair was always straight when growing up, so this stravy thing is a recent development, probably starting about 5-10 years ago. I'm clueless as what to do with it. I try to work some curly hair mousse into it (which I use daily anyway and helps control the frizz) but sometimes it's not enough. I'd love it if I got soft waves all over, but I don't. What you can't see here is the back is fairly straight, as are parts of the left side of my head.

Sigh...oh well. At least winter's almost here, so I only have to deal with fly-aways and hat hair.

Excellent shopping karma!

(MIA "Midnight" Stretch 3-way boots in black velvet and mushroom)

I don't know what was in the air this weekend, but I scored some major deals. I saved hundreds of dollars and found one-of-a-kind items in just the right sizes. Since I'm not rolling in cash like everyone else, every penny saved is a bonus to me (and Pete, of course). But I'm still pinching myself over the bargains I got!

It started out at Goodwill, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to shop for skirts. I found about 10 skirts, some in my much-sought-out color of brown, and all dirt cheap (about $3.50-$7 each). And the brands I found were incredible: Banana Republic, The Gap, Old Navy, Ann Taylor Loft, Michael Kors. The sizes were all over the board again, but if it fit, I took it. I also found two jumpers, one from Talbots (not my type of store, but the jumper is cute) and one from Isaac Mizrahi (not sure if it was a Target item). I was pleased as punch, and the lady ringing me up was super nice. I'm so glad I got a frequent-shopper card. I only wish the shoe selection was better, but that's what DSW is for, which is where I went next.

(Banana Republic chocolate brown suede skirt, similar to the one I got at Goodwill—but mine's prettier {I think} without that pocket detailing)

At DSW, I immediately strolled through the clearance aisles as I always do, and I was instantly lucky. I found two pairs (yes, TWO!) of MIA scrunch boots, one in black velvet and one in mushroom velvet. I had seen these online at, and had wondered how they'd fit and look on a girl like me. They are a bit pricey though, and I couldn't justify ordering them. Well, let me tell you I was ecstatic to find them at DSW at almost half off, and they fit wonderfully! They are adjustable and make my legs look long and lean, which is no small feat on my rather thick gams. I also found a pair of half-off Nine West boots (called "Exotic") that have liquid black material that hug my legs. And yes, they all go to my knee (or beyond in the MIA boots' case) and fit me just fine. I admit the MIA boots have elastic that grip my legs a bit too much, but since I'm still running and working out, I hope to ease that tension in the months to come. I was able to use a $5 off coupon AND a 15% off coupon, so I got all three for almost nothing!

(Nine West "Exotic" boot—but mine is a shiny material, not fabric and shiny like shown here)

My next stop was Marshall's. I often go there for good deals on blouses, sweaters, and the like, but rarely shoes. I find that the shoe department is all crazy messy every time I go there, and I can never find my size in anything I like, which isn't much. But the shopping gods were still smiling down upon me, and I found some fabulous Chilis knee-high flat boots in a gorgeous "rum" leather at a heavily discounted price. I could not believe my luck, and snatched the pair of size 8s as if they'd disappear as soon as I tried to buy them. I didn't see too much else, although all the clearance shoes were an additional 25% off, so I kept that department in the back of my mind.

(My Chilis boots in rum leather look similar to these boots, but are a warmer brown and have laces up the front—I can't find a pic of them anywhere online.)

Then I wandered over to the coat section, since I've been searching for a nice, warm winter coat since last winter. In particular, I wanted to find a black wool-blend coat that had a bit of a funky or retro vibe to it. I have also always wanted a houndstooth coat, but never found quite the right cut, or style, or weight of coat to please me (I'm picky about stuff like that). I hadn't had much luck at all the stores I had been to before, and wasn't expecting things to be any different this time. But lo and behold I wandered down an aisle and found a Calvin Klein houndstooth coat peeking out from among the grays, reds, and blacks of the other coats. I pulled it out and was instantly smitten by the slightly vintage look, complete with a large collar, slightly A-line shape, and big buttons. And as I pulled it on over my sweater, I knew it was instant love. It fit me perfectly (despite being a size 4, whatever that means) and was nice and toasty to boot. I browsed the other aisles but didn't find anything that came even close to this coat's vibe. And so off I went with my boots and coat, heading to Target to do some grocery shopping. While there I did find a pair of gold dangly earrings for $1.48, which was my steal there.

(A similar coat to my Calvin Klein houndstooth coat—mine has a bigger collar and a larger pattern)

Later on, after I was back home modeling my Chilis boots in the Shoe Library and contemplating running around the house in them, I decided to go back for a black pair because I loved the rum pair so much. When I was back at Marshall's and selecting my black pair, I noticed some gorgeous gray suede Steve Madden boots. I was skeptical because of my difficulty finding tall boots that fit. But as I pulled on a pair of size 8s, I was quite pleased to see that they easily fit over my rather healthy calves. And the most amazing thing was they were an additional 25% off the already super-low clearance price. My head was spinning with all the savings and deals I was getting, and I decided to call it a day after that. Even though I found so much at such dirt cheap prices, I figured I'd give my wallet a rest until the next pay period.

(Black boot similar to the Chilis boot from Marshall's; Steven by Steve Madden "Insayne" boot, which I have in gray suede, not black leather—much prettier in gray suede!)

Anyhow, the shopping gods rarely smile on me for more than a mere moment, so to have such a good run of luck was most awesome, and I'm very pleased with my purchases (and savings!). Hope you had such good luck if you were out and about doing some (dirt cheap) fashion shopping for yourself!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The LBD, glammed up

I love the selection of little black dresses from Express. I must admit, they really strike my fancy with the way they shimmer, slink, and float about. I'm a sucker for feathers and sequins, and these dresses offer the glam girly detailing I adore. It's nice to have an alternative to the tried and true, isn't it?

Photo of the Week: "Grasshopper, Grasshopper"

This is my nephew Henry dressed up for Halloween as a grasshopper (or locust, depending on the party he went to). I didn't get to see Henry in person when he was all dressed up, but I heard all about his costume and couldn't wait to see his picture. Don't you just love his expression?

(Photo taken by Mani)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter white delight

I just snagged these CL by Chinese Laundry boots from DSW's online shop yesterday. They were having a promotion for rewards members where you can get an extra 500 bonus points for any online purchase. Plus, Premier members (like me) get free overnight shipping. Bonus! So of course I couldn't resist. And although it may seem as if I am constantly buying shoes (well, I am), I almost always get them at a discount, or on clearance, or whatever. So it's all good.

I'm experiencing a bit of a setback health-wise today, so I'm really under the weather and grumpy. The lymph nodes are screaming quite loudly. But hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things in the next few days. Yeah, I keep saying that, don't I? Fingers crossed!

Be sure to check out my post about winter white at ShoeLove!

(P.S. I haven't forgotten to post about Goodwill, I just have to take the photos, for which I've had zero energy to do so far...)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Booties and boots and pumps, oh my!

First of all, a very warm and heartfelt thanks to all of you who have left your get well wishes for me. I'm very touched, and I must say I have missed visiting and conversing with you all. I am feeling slightly better, and I have some down time, so I thought I'd write a post. I'm trying to get back to my regular schedule of daily blogging (including reading other people's blogs), but I'm still not quite 100% (or even 70%), but I'm better. I do really miss working out and being active, but I must take it easy to get over this stupid cold. But anyway, thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Anyhow, I had really wanted to share my spoils with you from this weekend, but couldn't due to illness. So I'll start with the footwear. Yes, shoes! Are you surprised? Then you don't know me very well, ha ha.

Back to the shoes...First, my niece Isabelle and I headed to Target on Friday night to get some groceries and such. When we were almost done with the food shopping, she asked me if I was not going to walk through the shoe aisle. I laughed and said, "Seriously, Iz, do you think I would not look at all the beautiful shoes while I'm here? Ha!" Once in the shoe department, we had fun trying on various shoes and doing little shoe parades for each other in the aisles. Then I rounded the corner and saw these funky Sigerson Morrison for Target booties on the clearance rack, the last pair in my size, and just begging for me to try them on.

So I did, and it was instant love. And they were marked down quite a bit, so I figured I'd take them home with me, introduce them to the others, you know...make them part of my collection.

Then I had a salon appointment at Ulta in Naperville on Saturday (for a long overdue haircut), which was conveniently located next to DSW. So of course I had to stop by. Isabelle was again in tow, and she marveled at all the beautiful shoes on display as we roamed the aisles. I was on a mission, and I could focus on nothing else.

I was on the prowl for the perfect high shaft boot, which, alas, I did not find. Not that there wen't tons of kickin' boots to choose from. Oh, no no no. The problem was I couldn't fit my chunky calves into the shafts of 99% of the boots. This doesn't just seem to be my problem, however. I've heard from numerous women—even small, petite, skinny women—how they have difficulty fitting into most boots, and they tend to be on the snug side (if they're able to zip them up at all). This was my problem, and it was very discouraging. And while I'm trying to shake off those 20 pounds, which will help (I've already lost a few), I will never be one of those women whose boots are gaping and slouching all the time.

So I had run the gamut of boots and nothing was fitting right. I had just about called it a day when I remembered to check out the clearance shoes, which I normally do first. I scanned the shelves and wasn't finding too much. Then I reached the end of the last aisle and looked down, and lo and behold, there was a pair of CL by Laundry black boots!

I couldn't believe it. The papers were still stuffed inside them, so I wasn't quite sure why they were on clearance. I looked them over and they seemed okay, but I figured they wouldn't fit. But I couldn't resist trying. So I tugged them on, pulled up the zipper, and...they fit. They fit! Yes, they were rather snug, but again, I'm getting in shape and losing weight, so that should get better in the next several weeks and months (still in time to wear during winter/early spring). Isabelle happily approved of my selection, and I practically hugged them to me like a baby, in case someone tried to snatch my treasure away from me.

That was such a find, I was glowing for the rest of the afternoon. I also snagged this wallet.

Which was a welcome relief, since mine has been falling apart for the last year or so now. The only problem is it wants to pop open all the time (too many cards, not enough cash). But I figure I can stick some slim magnets inside the metal bars so that there is extra holding power when the wallet closes. That'll be my project this weekend.

Then Izzy and I were off to the mall to search for that ever-elusive black A-line skirt. We went from store to store but didn't have much luck finding anything. So after an hour or so of fruitless searching, I spied a Payless store right outside the JCPenney store entrance, and we bee lined right for the size 8 aisle. And of course the first thing my eyes landed on were these lovely orange wool Lela Rose for Payless D'Orsay pumps, complete with bows.

I have seen them every time I go to Payless, but never bought them, thinking they don't match with too much and that I can't justify buying them. But has that ever stopped me? Of course not. And they actually do go with quite a few colors: brown, tan, cream, white, even black (although that starts to look very Halloween-ish to me). And they were finally on sale, so I couldn't pass them up.

After that purchase, we decided to call it a day. Aunt Chris had spent enough money on herself, and we were tired. So we headed home to look at fashion blogs and eat ice cream (well, Izzy did, anyhow). After a soothing cup of chamomile tea, we called it a night.

Next up: My spoils from a jaunt at Goodwill!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogging hiatus

Sorry I haven't been around much. I'm feeling really crappy, especially today, which is why I called in sick. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow to blog and read other blogs.

Stay healthy and warm today, especially if you're in the Chicago area. Winter seems to be here already...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo(s) of the Week: "Turkeys Gone Wild! Er, I Mean, Domestic."

My family has had numerous run-ins with the local wild turkey population in Bloomingdale in recent weeks, and Thursday was no different. They seem especially fond of my mom, and I often get amused calls from her about the latest turkey shenanigans while I'm at work. They've been at her front door, back door, and even roof. Apparently Otto has an affection for them, and gets crazy over the scent of their fallen feathers.

Last night, Pete and I stopped by my parents' house to pick up Ginger to take her to the vet (annual check up). As we were leaving in my car, we saw this little fellow strolling down the sidewalk by himself. Before I could say anything, Pete flung open my car door and offered the turkey a few pretzels, to which it gladly partook. It was like our own little petting zoo, and although I didn't think we should be feeding a supposedly wild turkey (which has been acting anything but wild, just like the other 8 turkeys in the area), I was able to snap a few shots of the action. I must admit, it was a rather amiable fellow, and it bobbed its head in delight.

After a few bites the turkey got bored and headed on his way down the sidewalk, running a bit and then slowing down to stroll again. It walked past the homes in the neighborhood, looking around and gobbling to itself, content.

Black-booted and skirted in camouflage for Thursday

I FINALLY dragged out my good ol' black boots for Thursday's outfit, and I was glad. They've always been a staple in my wardrobe, and I've worn them a million times, just not recently. I wish they went all the way up to my knee (these hit at my upper calf), but otherwise I love them. They were a nice compliment to my camouflage-like skirt and amber-toned jewelry. I've been peppy enough for the last few days to dress up slightly (and egads! wear a skirt), so I take every advantage of days like that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Shoe Library

Last night, Isabelle stopped by to check out a pair of shoes from the Shoe Library.

"Shoe Library?" you ask. Yes! Of course. Why shouldn't I share my love of shoes with others who happen to have the same shoe size as me?

Luckily Isabelle DOES wear the same size, so she loves to come over and select just the right shoes for this outfit or that. Today she had a problem. What to wear with a light gray tee with white and dark gray script on it? Hmmm...

These Michelle K. sweater shoes were Choice #1. Definitely doable. The silvery threads picked up the silver in the script on the tee shirt. Lovely!

Adora didn't seem to care too much which pair Isabelle chose, but instead passed out on a pair of flip flops.

Dollie just wanted to play, and spent her time chasing catnip mice and pawing at strings and ribbons hanging in my closet. Dollie has become the self-appointed closet monitor lately.

Spanky did stop by to consult with Isabelle about her selection (and also to stare down Dollie, who could care less). I suggested to everyone that the cute slate gray pair of Lela Rose shoes with the bows should be Choice #2. Why not try those on? The dark gray color picked up the dark gray script on the tee shirt too, and they were delicate and girly like the shirt's writing.

Hmmm...choices, choices!

In the end, Isabelle chose the Lela Rose pair. Good choice, I say! All the animals approved, and a sigh of relief was breathed by all. Now Isabelle could confidently stroll into class looking put together and stylish to boot! Crisis solved once again.

(The Shoe Library hours are M-F, 5 p.m.–9 p.m. and Sat-Sun, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Be sure to stop by to check out the latest additions to the ever-growing collection. Please, only one pair per person per visit. Any damage incurred to borrowed shoes will be assessed for repair costs. A late fee will be applied if shoes are not returned after four days of use. Lots of love and attention must be showered upon ANY checked out shoes in order to keep them shiny and looking like new. Please, those wearing sizes 7.5-8.5 may only check out shoes, but those wearing other sizes are welcome to look and take photos.)