Sunday, September 28, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Breakfast in Bed

Two Sundays ago, I baked chocolate croissants and enjoyed breakfast in bed. In addition to those fresh, warm chocolate chip-stuffed crescent rolls, my meal included espresso, orange juice, water and an apple. Check out how I set the tray...



It was nice to have a different setting. Also lovely to set up, I used a couple of red cloth napkins rather than white paper ones. I believe one should often use his or her best, even on random Sunday mornings. This event was completely spontaneous. I adore the Italian breakfast of a coffee and pastry.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

I love it when the weather is cool enough to accessorize with a scarf! Finally, fall has arrived!



Basically, I follow the guidelines for the Capsule or Ten-Item Wardrobe set by Jennifer L. Scott of the blog The Daily Connoisseur and her book Lessons from Madame Chic. You can check out her fashion show video and then her commentary post.

I am pleased to present my...

16-Item Wardrobe for Fall:

1. new white 3/4 sleeve shirt from New York & Company Outlet

2. new long sleeve Pintucked Perfect Shirt from Ann Taylor

3. white long sleeve Essential Shirt from The Limited

4new dark pink striped 3/4 sleeve shirt from New York & Company Outlet

5. new 3/4 sleeve Wrap Jersey Top in Black from Boden

6. black long sleeve Essential Shirt from The Limited

7. brown cross-over 3/4 sleeve sweater from Ann Taylor LOFT

8. dark gray pants from Ann Taylor Factory Store

9. black pants by Alfani from Macy's

10. black trousers in curvy fit from Ann Taylor Factory Store

11. bootcut jeans with back pocket flaps by Levi's from JCPenney

12. bootcut jeans in curvy fit from Ann Taylor Factory Store

13. brown wool blend A-Line skirt with line design from Ann Taylor LOFT

14. dark gray pencil skirt from H&M

15. black pencil skirt by Banana Republic thrifted from Second Time Around

16. black paneled skirt from The Limited


LOFT Skirt with Stitched Line Design


The breakdown is 7 tops as well as 9 bottoms (5 pairs of pants and 4 skirts). 16 items total (plus extras yet to be discussed) works for me since I only do laundry once a week, work full-time in an office with a dress code of business casual, and maintain a busy life outside of work.

The two pairs of jeans and two pairs of black pants have different lengths, one to go with ballet flats and the other some type of heeled shoe: sandal, pump or boot.

Heavy on black and white as usual, I've also included warm hues such as pink and brown. I wanted a top in deep red this season, but sometimes more clothing is out of the budget. I will just have to carry a glass of ruby-colored Cabernet as often as possible! Capsule wardrobe usually limit colors so that everything goes with each other. 

Much warmer than my capsule wardrobe last fall, I plan to roll up the sleeves on the long sleeve shirts more often than not.

I've been browsing soft or silky blouses, maybe with a bow at the v-neck, online, but haven't seriously considered them, not having tried any on yet. Perhaps I'll give it a real shot for my winter wardrobe... Any recommendations are appreciated!



Extras:

-Tees:

 1. white scoopneck short sleeve tee from Ann Taylor LOFT

 2. white v-neck 3/4 sleeve tee from H&M

 3. purple cross-over 3/4 sleeve tee by Merona from Target

 4. new Intense Burgundy 3/4 sleeve slubbed cotton tee with button detail from LOFT

 5. new dark pink boatneck 3/4 sleeve slubbed cotton tee from LOFT Outlet

 6. new gray boatneck 3/4 sleeve slubbed cotton tee from LOFT Outlet

 7. gray boatneck 3/4 sleeve tee with white stripes from H&M

 8. black v-neck short sleeve tee from Target

 9. black scoopneck short sleeve tee from Ann Taylor Factory Store

 10. new black and white striped boatneck tee from Sweden Collection by Chance  

Paris seems to be influencing my style choices. I purchased four new boatnecks, including one striped and another in a medium gray. These join one that made the cut for my closet this season. With the addition of purple and burgundy, the theme of warm colors has continued. It's probably known that I do favor them, but I consciously eliminated all cool-colored tees from this season's choices because warm colors make sense to me to celebrate the season with its fall foliage. 


-Camisoles:

 1-5. 5 white (4 Everyday Camisole by Sonoma life + style from Kohl's and 1 without built-in bra from Ann Taylor LOFT)

 6. lacy silky cream from White House Black Market

 7-8. 2 pink (1 Everyday Camisole by Sonoma life + style from Kohl's and 1 from Ann Taylor LOFT)

 9. red from Ann Taylor LOFT

 10. black with white polka dots and lace trim from White House Black Market

 11. black with lace trim from Ann Taylor Factory Store

 12. black Everyday Camisole by Sonoma life + style from Kohl's

 13. black without built-in bra from Ann Taylor LOFT

 14. lacy silky black from White House Black Market

I often wear a cami under a shirt, cardigan and even a sheer or low cut tee.


-4 Crewneck 3/4 Sleeve Cardigans:

 1. black by Cherokee from Target

 2. ivory from New York & Company

 3. dark pink azalea from LOFT Outlet

 4. new black featherweight cashmere from J.Crew

First thing Friday morning, I ordered #4 which is my first 100% cashmere piece. I do possess a scarf that is a cashmere/silk blend. I feel sophisticated even owning such a luxurious fabric, let alone wearing it! I can't wait 'til it arrives!

My Closet: Core Items and Some Extras like Tees, Camisoles and Cardigans

Closet Closeup

-14 Scarves


-7 Outerwear Pieces:

 1. tan 3/4 sleeve belted safari jacket from The Limited

 2. khaki single breasted belted trench from Banana Republic Factory Store

 3. black single breasted trench from H&M

 4. khaki blazer from H&M

 5. chocolate brown corduroy blazer from Esprit

 6. black suit blazer from The Limited

 7. dark gray suit blazer from Ann Taylor Factory Store


-Special Occasion Wear:

 1. burgundy sweater with black lace top and short sleeves from Ann Taylor



 2. black lace dress with long sleeves from The Limited

 3. black faux-wrap dress with jeweled pin and long sleeves by American Living from JCPenney

 4. black wrap dress with short sleeves from Ann Taylor

 5. black v-neck sleeveless dress with folds from White House Black Market

 6. black pants from The Limited

The black pants have a matching blazer. A suit in excellent condition is crucial for a job fair and hopefully interviews (in Philadelphia) over the next several weeks.


-Belts


-Handbags including new black leather tote from Nine West Outlet


-Jewelry

I at least wear a pair of earrings and a watch everyday.


-2 Pairs of Sunglasses (brown and black)


-33 Panties 

Includes 10 new ones due to a couple of promotions at Victoria's Secret. This is decluttered for me! I mention this for the readers trying to downsize for the first time; some categories are easier than others and nobody's perfect. This is my justification: French women understand the importance of both beautiful and appropriate undergarments. 


-14 Bras


-Tights and socks


-Shoes including Boots

I do need to replace my black flats for work very soon, during this season. I've done a lot of browsing online, but am picky. In addition, I would love to add a nude pair of pumps to my collection. Maybe for my 31st birthday next spring...


-Pajamas including new Cotton Mayfair Pajama in Pink Stripe Lurex from Victoria's Secret

Inspired by Jennifer from The Daily Connoisseur, I finally purchased a grown-up set of matching pajamas that are "presentable."



I will create a new wardrobe for the winter as Maryland (and hopefully Pennsylvania!) enjoys four distinct seasons. I will incorporate sweaters during the colder months. For extras, I will replace my three short sleeve tees with four long sleeve options at least. Of course, I have a winter coat plus two warm scarves to add. Perhaps I'll become even more Parisian and introduce navy back into my closet. Let's see if I can come a bit closer to 10 core items next season...

In preparing for this post and the season of course, I bought many new pieces. All are noted in bold. Even though purchases are only sprinkled in, this is actually a lot for me. It felt like a major shopping spree. Since I am unable to afford much, I treat my clothes with care and luckily, they last many seasons. Some are years and years old and they wouldn't land on this list if they appeared shabby.

On that note, I hope my curated wardrobe and its extras overall reflect a more sophisticated image now that I'm in my 30s. Full of basics and classics with a Parisian touch, I think they do.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: The Love Punch

I rented a movie on my Kindle Thursday night. Since I do not own a TV, viewing it was something different to do for me and just what I felt like doing in the middle of a very stressful week. One of my favorite movies is Love Actually and I even love the plethora of deleted scenes among the bonus features of the DVD. The ones with actress Emma Thompson are among my favorite. I think she's hilarious.
So, when I saw a movie recently released on DVD with her in it on Amazon, I had to investigate The Love Punch. I found the SD version of the 2-day rental cheap and downloaded it right away. It was pretty cute. Emma Thompson's character is divorced from Pierce Brosnan's character and when their pension is suddenly gone, they team up to steal an expensive diamond from the man responsible and his fiancee. It being a romantic comedy, of course, the two get back together again. Set in Paris and the French Riviera, it also had scenery that captivated me! It was nice to take my mind off the week's emergencies and lay in bed and watch the 90-minute-long silly story. It was spontaneous, but, just what I needed at the time.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Cappuccino and Cake at Vaccaro's

On Monday, I took the bus and light rail to Baltimore and then took a free shuttle called the Charm City Circulator (Orange Route) there in order to purchase/order an item for my Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe, but unfortunately my size was sold out in stores everywhere as well as online, and so I will simply have to wait. I tried on a different style in a couple of different sizes, thus am now a bit more confident in ordering the correct size online in the future.

Strolling back towards the light rail, I passed through Little Italy and decided to stop for a cappuccino and their delicious chocolate hazelnut cake at Vaccaro's. The cappuccino has impressive foam, but the coffee is simply not the best. Their chocolate cake with hazelnut-flavored frosting and chopped hazelnuts coating the side definitely makes up for it. This actually took the place of lunch for me. In addition to daydreaming, I checked in on facebook and read some blog posts on my phone. Sometimes it's nice to treat yourself.


I also browsed H&M in the shopping center called Harborplace before catching the light rail back home. I love a city and it's fantastic to have a change of scenery.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Dinner Out Saturday Night


I went out to dinner with friend and fellow blogger Kate (of Seeking Small) last night. Wining and dining out is a rare occurrence for me, for budget reasons. Luckily, this fact makes me enjoy the experience so much more!

I thoroughly relished the activity from start to finish. I freshened up after work, dressed in a beautiful lace top and jean skirt, and grabbed a clutch. It was nice to catch up with Kate, indulge in some girl talk, that I didn't even know how much I needed. I am glad that she liked my choice in restaurant and particularly enjoyed her appetizer. It was "Hawaiian Night" so we waited for out table with a lei on. Their specials revolved around the theme, including individual pineapple upside-down cakes. We toasted her big news, clicking our glasses of water. (Read her blog to find out!) My entree came with a salad and there's a decent bread basket served at this establishment.

I knew what I would order prior to arrival. The Balsamic Chicken is genius in its flavor pairings. There's the contrasting honey balsamic drizzle, both sweet and acidic. The chicken tops a bed of sauteed spinach, which goes with the garlic-flavored mashed potatoes it rests upon well. There are also pieces of sweet orange bell pepper scattered around. Every bite was delicious. I also ordered a glass of Cabernet, which was wonderful, so full-bodied, and beautiful in its deep ruby red color.


Desserts are a big deal here. I chose a slice of the Chocolate Marquis, which is basically chocolate ganache covering large layers of mousse and short layers of cake. I've eaten this as a mini dessert at a local bakery (and posted about it here). This decadent chocolate confection was delicious as well.


Even the thunderstorms that were forecasted that evening held off or possibly hit briefly during our meal. It was a delightful evening. I am happy that I suggested this to Kate, ordered everything I did, and savored every bite and bit of the night out. It was out of the ordinary, a special yet simple pleasure.