Sunday, November 24, 2013

Style Sunday: Ode to My Lost Sunglasses

While I was shopping with my mom on the Monday before last, I somehow lost the only pair of sunglasses I truly loved. I wore them on the ride to the mall, but they weren't in my handbag coming back. My mom refuses to carry a purse, so I was carrying her stuff plus various flyers mostly with a coupon attached that she had collected. Perhaps they slipped out when trying to remove something else. It was a lovely day spent with my mother, so I tried to not show that it was getting me down.

...but it really did... They were perfect. Not too big and not too little. They were just right. I do not happen to have high cheekbones plus I have full cheeks for a young-looking face. (You know me, I always want to look and be grown-up!) I believe these sunglasses did wonders for me. The thick curve of the frames in a style that's just a bit shorter and sleeker than a classic cat eye (without obvious wing corners) led the eye up, flattering my square-shaped face. They had brown lenses and tortoise frames which went with my dark brown hair. I felt confident in them. They were so perfect that I hardly ever looked at this product in stores since their purchase.

I suppose that I've had them for awhile. Looking at the photos saved on my computer, I'm wearing them as far back as the spring of 2010, meaning they were at least 3 1/2 years old. They may have been scratched up from nearly daily use, past their prime. Maybe the universe was telling me it was time for a new pair...

I purchased them at the Ann Taylor Factory Store, where my sister now works. I emailed her a picture of them last night and asked if she still sold them by any chance, but she reported back today that they don't have that exact pair, but currently sell something like them. I have also unsuccessfully searched for them online. I'll probably have to go with a similar pair.

I do own two other pairs: big black round ones (which I consider to be my Italian ones) and my oldest pair, a small, sleek brown rectangular pair with a tortoise shell frame. I much prefer my long lost pair.

...and so, the search for the perfect pair of sunglasses is on.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Style Sunday: Yet Another Shopping Spree: The Finale

My mom and I went shopping and out to lunch on Monday.

Our first stop was H&M. I picked up two pieces, both charcoal gray! One was this pencil skirt...

I scored it for just $24.95! This will go with my blazer of the same color, so I now have a skirt suit that isn't black! I've had this piece at the back in my mind for awhile now. With this purchase, I have even more options to embrace my femininity at work, not just when I go out or have the day off. 

I also bought a tee with sheer parts at the top, front and on the sleeves. I love a sheer element. The tee's mesh part is embellished with simplified floral appliques. I appreciate the pretty details in this casual tee. I've tried this shirt on in different colors and sleeve lengths, but this one was the one for me.

Even though Macy's has now earned a special place in her heart, my mom still loves JCPenney. Plus, since she clipped a coupon for her beloved store, we each picked up a pair of blue jeans there. I got a pair of Levi's 515 Bootcut jeans in a very dark wash. (This brand is an exclusion for the coupon.) The pair happens to have a flap pinned down by a button over each of the back pockets. The pewter-colored stitching blends in with the material; it's not that copper-colored thread. They're "short" so the perfect length to go with ballet flats. This replaces my short pair of 515s in a wash a few shades lighter than my new pair and featuring flat studs on the open back pockets that I've owned for about three years. They were worn down and past their prime since I wore them most often. While it's nice to try new things, it's so fantastic to have a "go-to" when you need a pair of jeans! 

Don't miss part one and two of my fabulous flurry of recent shopping! While clothes shopping on these three days, I focused on feminine details. Maybe it's because of my style icon the Duchess of Cambridge and her ladylike look or the fact that I may have grown a bit bored with a closet (half) full of classic yet plain pieces, but I think my style is evolving towards the feminine. I've wanted to embrace my femininity, with dressing more womanly at the top of the list. Sure, that does mean wearing dresses and skirts more, but I had a revelation that pretty details on a shirt and/or pant could achieve a girly look as well. I'm happy that I picked up items with special touches like ruffles, polka dots, lace, floral appliques and a keyhole cutout. When I reveal my capsule wardrobe, it might be nice to show off beautiful pieces instead of just another white tee, black tee, pair of bootcut blue jeans and pair of black pants. I still love these pieces and the idea of a understated uniform,'s just really fantastic to have new clothes!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Links I Love: Italy: Edition #2

Don't miss the first edition of "Links I Love: Italy."

Either J's or my photo of 
our beautifully-presented hot chocolate 
at Cafe Florian in Venice back in 2011.
(Read a bit more about this experience here.)

I love that these blog posts begin to capture the beauty that is Italy.

* a perfect day in Siena []
Italian words and expressions for art []
* Monreale cathedral in Sicily for mosaics []
* food and ghost tour in Venice with Monica Cesarato []
* Rome, part I and part II []
* trompe l'oeil throughout the Italian Riveria []
* best wine bars in Venice []

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Links I Love: Decorating and Entertaining

a holiday centerpiece with jingle bells from last year

Going into the holiday season, I am happy to share these wonderful resources falling under the themes of decorating and entertaining. Anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows I love home decor on a budget, so I start my little list with a couple related links. Next up, my love of decorating for the holiday season shows, especially when I can include wine corks and red berries. Finally, I love to entertain and aspire to be a fabulous hostess, so I found the remaining resources inspiring.

* interview with an interior designer []
* 10 money-saving decorating tips []
the search for the perfect wreath []
holiday decor with a pop of red []
* a proper guest room from the hostess with the mostest []
21 rules of entertaining []
* the time to entertain is now []

Monday, November 11, 2013

Please Write a Review

I spent about 45 minutes in my favorite coffee shop yesterday morning, indulging in a large cappuccino served in a mug (rather than the more American 'to go' cup) and a chocolate croissant while reading my library book Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing Like the French by Harriet Welty Rochefort and browsing Pinterest on my smartphone. I thoroughly enjoy my special "me time" and simply adore this particular place. (For safety reasons, at this time, I'd rather not advertise here where I am about every other Sunday morning or so.) I routinely return for the delicious food and drink, but also for the wonderful atmosphere. There are pictures of patrons some place else, all over the world, holding a company gift card posted on one wall. I love this international touch, but there are more daily and weekly postings of things around that I haven't paid much attention to yet. Even though I am in my own little world the majority of the time I'm there, I tend to overhear many conversations about what's new between the staff and the regulars as they have already managed to build close relationships with loyal customers. This is a new business, just over a year old. It's always busy despite an out-of-the-way location. I myself drive two towns over whenever I can. (And I hate to drive.)

As I was leaving today, one of the owners caught me and asked if I posted about them on Facebook. He caught me off guard for a second since I just posted about my time there that morning but didn't mention the name of the place (and perhaps since I am a sucker for an accent). But then I remembered that I did post a "review" on their Facebook wall six months ago. He must have recognized me from my picture and the fact that I regularly order exactly what I mentioned in the review. He sincerely thanked me for the review and informed me that it really helped his business. I tried to convey that since good reviews are crucial to my own livelihood, I believe it's important to give them. I explained that I am a leasing consultant at an apartment community and people make the decision to move in primarily based on good online reviews. Then, I get paid enough to be able to afford to eat. I also tried to say that it was my honor to recommend the place because I loved it. I thanked him.

At my job, I frequently ask residents to post a review and they always agree, but rarely actually do. I understand that life is busy and commitments are many. Fortunately, my community still boasts an excellent overall approval rating! The cafe I mentioned has 888 likes on Facebook, but only ten reviews posted on the same webpage. People tend to rant negative comments quickly and provide glowing reviews slowly.

So, I urge you to write a review. And by review, I mean a favorable recommendation. If you are reading this blog, you certainly have time. There are so many ways to do this! Post a simple "review" on the right sidebar or I will even let you get away with a wall post on a company's Facebook page. Draft one on a website like yelp. Give one on your apartment home on Dig to the bottom of your wallet, handbag, or shopping bag for a recent receipt and then follow the instructions at the bottom to submit feedback. Usually this last one results in some sort of reward such as a coupon or entry into a drawing.

I try to give a glowing review every once in awhile and only want to commit to it more (and not only for wonderful service but also perfect product). Just before this post, I completed an online survey which included a detailed description of my shopping experience yesterday at The Limited. The associate went above and beyond, making me feel confident and the experience even more fun. Employees like this deserve recognition.

Sometimes you don't really know how beneficial to a company or individual this simple act is. At least do it once simply because I asked. Please and thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Style Sunday: Another Shopping Spree

I know I treated myself well last Sunday ...and I've only continued to do so! Unaccustomed to spending much at all, the past week feels like a major event of the year for me. I proclaim it Early November Shopping Spree.

One weeknight, I ordered the following two items online...

First, I purchased this rug for my balcony that has been on my wishlist for 18 months...

I know this is only about $40 but I just didn't have that extra cash until now.

Here's a detail of the quatrefoils...

...and how it looks on my balcony...

I selected the 2'7" x 4'11" size which fits perfectly under a bistro set.
I love it!

Lots of room for terra cotta potted plants for spring, summer and fall.
(Snow is in the forecast, so winter's coming to Maryland soon. 
I guess I could leave them out, but I just brought in my dark pink azalea and red geranium. 
Intended for my kitchen window sill, I will probably replant my basil later today.)

Second, I also ordered these tall black boots that I tried on while in New York...

These look so good on me! I've been wanting a pair forever too! It's increasingly difficult to get me out of my ballet flats, but I love the skinny and tall heel! Macy's offered multiple discounts, making these a wonderful value.

I also went shopping in a mall today and bought...

Both the color and cut truly flatter me. The wrap style shows off the curves in an hourglass figure. The ruching camouflages my muffin top. Plus, the length fits my longer-than-average torso perfectly. Even though the neckline is not very neat, it's nice to own something different... I need a camisole underneath, but I often wear one anyway. 

With a long necklace, this dress is even more flattering for two reasons. For one, it will draw the eye up and down for a long and lean look. And two, it will break up all that patterned black. I'm thinking... strings of pearls.

Also very flattering, the ribbon emphasizes my small waist. I love lace for a feminine look. The scalloped hem at the bottom is ladylike too! I had tried this on awhile ago and so wish I had bought it for a banquet in October! However, it pays to wait; I scored 40% [each item] today when it may have been less when it premiered.

I also picked up tights from The Limited and LOFT. I've never worn tights before... I haven't tried these on yet...

Turns out I'm drawn to classic patterns such as chevron and herringbone.

Wish me luck! Everyone else raves about tights, so why not? I plan to play it safe at first, these will only peek out at my knees, between my new tall black boots and a skirt or dress. LOFT currently has tights at 2 for $20.

My mom and I plan to spend the day together tomorrow. She knew I wanted to buy myself some winter wardrobe pieces, so shopping was on the itinerary ...but it might be more browsing now, if at all. I only entered a couple of stores, so there are plenty left. We could do anything now! I did plan to wait to go shopping, but I was in the area ...and... it just kinda happened... 

I am so happy with my new stuff! I truly look forward to enjoying these long-awaited items. Finally. It's also fantastic to try new things and see my style evolve in just a couple of shopping trips and online orders.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Just Us Girls Enjoying Fall

Minnie on an overturned tree chair.

My mom, sister, family dog Minnie (who I introduced you to here) and I got out to enjoy the crisp fall weather last Monday. We walked the Red Trail at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Southern Maryland. 

This is an easy 1.8 mile walk through a wooded area, with some marshlands, that ends in a beach featuring, you guessed it, cliffs. The leaves had started to change color.

View to the left.

View to the right.

This stretch of sand is known for shark teeth and fossils which probably puts it on the map for my sister who studied archaeology in college. Instead of fossil-hunting, I took pictures, mostly of Minnie. She would pose whenever other people would walk by attempting to charm them with her cuteness. She assumes humans were put on this earth to give her attention and rub her belly. Our mutt has grown bigger than we anticipated. 

Following the walk, we picnicked before leaving. It was such a great way to enjoy the season.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Style Sunday: Shopping Spree ...and my Spontaneous Sunday

I had such a wonderful day today!

I started off my day walking to Target, which is located just a block away from my apartment community. Among the items I needed, I also treated myself to these two pieces for my home...

I love quatrefoils.
I haven't decided which recent photo to feature yet.

I love chevron as well. 
I've wanted something with this pattern on it for awhile now. 
Finally, the perfect piece came along!
This votive candle holder will be nice to use when I entertain.

I spontaneously decided to visit downtown Baltimore for some shopping today. Since I remain without a car that moves very far, I hopped on a local bus and then boarded the light rail to go into the city. Instead of walking a few city blocks, the free shuttle, the Charm City Circulator (specifically the Orange Line) delivered me to the tourist destination Harborplace and a small four-story mall, The Gallery. Arriving just before the stores opened in The Gallery, I wasted some time by sitting down and sipping a hot chocolate from Starbucks. I also "checked in" on Facebook. Soon after, my friend Kate (from Une Vie Chic) noticed I was in town and asked me to go out for coffee or other afternoon activity. While I shopped, we texted our plan to meet. 

First, I bought this long-sleeve ruffled v-neck black tee with ivory polka dots at LOFT...

The ruffles and v-neck accentuate my figure. 
It's a fun and feminine option to bum around my apartment on my day off.

Next, I visited Ann Taylor where I purchased this sweater that piqued my interest online...

This dark grey scoop-neck sweater has metallic thread running throughout. 
It also features a keyhole on the back...

It'll be nice to have a sparkly selection for the upcoming holiday season.

After that, I browsed Victoria's Secret and Francesca's Collections but left those stores empty-handed. Leaving The Gallery, I crossed the street and walked through the couple of buildings that make up Harborplace. There, I tried on that ruby bracelet I fell in love with last December at my favorite jewelry store Fire & Ice. The dark pink oval tennis bracelet was still stunningly beautiful. Again, with a $265 price tag, I left the bracelet behind. I can't find it online to share what it looks like. I should have taken a picture! 

Next, I visited H&M. They still don't have this "white/striped" shirt available in stores or online! So instead, I picked up this similar boat-neck one with sailor stripes...

It's a charcoal gray 3/4-sleeve tee with white stripes.
I already own one in navy.
So very French for fall.

While waiting for Kate, I sat in the sunshine and crisp fall weather and watched pirates on a ship armed with water guns sail around the "Inner Harbor." Someone aboard "Fearless" instructed the rest of the crew to yell "Arrrgh!" and they did with enthusiasm. I issued Kate fair warning as she arrived at Fire & Ice where I met her and modeled "my" bracelet. 

The two of us ended up at Vaccaro's in Little Italy. We each indulged in a cappuccino crafted with impressive froth and split a slice of the chocolate hazelnut cake I love. The cake was delicious! With similar blogs, Kate and I share a number of things in common, so it was fun talking.

After getting home, I called my college roommate B back. It was so great catching up with her as well!

I rarely buy clothes due to being so poor. For example, the last time this much money was spent on my clothing was for my April birthday! I thoroughly relished this shopping spree! Hopefully, I can buy another item at another store I love, The Limited, if I can manage to make it to a location. 

I also love that I picked up pieces with feminine details... ruffles, polka dots, sparkle, a keyhole cutout... I have been wanting to embrace my femininity more lately. Next up... peplum! Stay tuned!