Holiday Shopping Woes

Monday, November 30, 2015

 I am convinced that the only people who do well on Black Friday or Cyber Monday are people looking for major appliances or who don't shop frequently and have no idea they're getting a bad deal. Because you're getting a bad deal. Even sites that used to deliver big sales (, I'm looking at you and doing some serious reminiscing over your $99 Frye boot deals of yesteryear), increased the prices of items from early last week. And by a lot. Like $69 a lot in some cases. Huge brands were offering 15-20% off and calling those cyber Monday sales. For small business, those are perfectly acceptable sale percentages, but for ModCloth to offer 25%? And Gap. 40%? Gap regularly offers 50% off just because it's a Tuesday. Cyber Monday used to mean deep discounts that made you feel like you stuck it to the man. Now many of the sales are worse than if you belong to an email list. So what did I buy? A bronze jackalope from White Faux Taxidermy, because I need all the fancy things more than a refrigerator or a shirt. That is all. 

Dollar Tree Bathroom Makeover for $6

Monday, November 2, 2015

I rent, which means I am stuck with parts of my apartment that I simply do not like. At all. Like my bathroom, which, until yesterday, was an extraordinarily hideous reflection of somebody else's poor decisions. Those are harsh words, but ooooh...

Now your eyes hurt. And I'm sorry (kind of), but you need to see what I've been living with for two years. I have been able to improve my kitchen and use good (and cheap) decor to make my super affordable Philly apartment (think way under market value) look way nicer than it should look. Except my bathroom. I was never able to figure it out and cringed every single time I have to go in there. Until yesterday. I was home visiting my parents and went to Dollar Tree with my mom. Dollar Tree is fantastic. Everything is only $1. 

Proof that all the things are only $1.

Do you want to smell nice or lovely? #options
Taste the rainbow? Smell the rainbow.
I prefer chefs with swagger.
See? They sell really random stuff there, but also really amazing products, like the best carpet cleaner I have ever used (which I may know from personal use that it also works amazingly well on dry clean only products). Anyway, they had black and white floral contact paper for only $1. And a lot of it. I started thinking about my bathroom and the hideous tile and before I could stop hyperventilating, I had grabbed 10 rolls, abandoned taking pictures of products and headed straight for the checkout. For $10, what did I have to lose?

Before starting, I tried to find online tutorials for contact paper bathroom tile DIY projects, but to no avail. There are so many tutorials that show people using contact paper as a backsplash, but nobody using it as a solution to cover hideous bathroom tile. So like most of my projects, I decided to wing it. After wiping down the tile and making sure it was completely dry, I started measuring and cutting. The contact paper was so easy to put up, and the best part (next to the SVU marathon that kept me entertained while I was working) is that this will peel off without damaging the tile when I move. Also, I only needed six rolls of contact paper, so I am going to return the rest (because money).  

As a follow up, it's worth noting that I just ordered plain black contact paper to create a border to make it look more like somebody who truly cares about their bathroom lives in my apartment (and also somebody who wants the transition from cream to white and black to look less obvious). The before and after shows the huge improvement. 

I am so happy with my Dollar Tree DIY project and can't wait until the black contact paper arrives to finish the work! 

Revlon Frost n Glow Review

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Warning: I am comfortable coloring and cutting my own hair. This is what I did and it worked, but I acknowledge it may not work for everybody and highly recommend doing a test section of hair to make sure this technique will work for you. Proceed with caution DIYers! 

I have been paying for salon highlighting for so long that I can't really remember when I started. Over the years, my hair has been pulled through a cap, foiled and on several misguided occasions, been dyed darker. Now, I can add balyage to the list. And I did it myself, and it was so affordable and easy!

I watched and read several tutorials on balyage, a technique where the hair color is painted on strands of hair. Balyage seems so much less scary than pulling hair through a cap (does anybody even do that anymore?) or trying to use foils at home. The best tutorial, hands down, was a video from Jessie James Decker about the process she uses to balyage her (gorgeous) hair at home. I bought the  same brand and color kit that she uses and decided my free Friday night would be devoted to this endeavor. That way if things went horribly south, I had two full days before work for an emergency repair job on my hair. 

No, need for concern! This was so easy. Here is what I bought: 

The color of this kit is Honey, and it only cost $7.49. It would have cost less at Wal-Mart, but my store was out of this color and I had to buy from the grocery story, which is more expensive (but hey, way less expensive than a two-color process). 

The process couldn't have been easier. Mix the bleach powder with the cream activator and, if you're following instructions in the kit, use the tools and gloves provided to apply the dye. I used my bare hands and a toothbrush for application. This was so easy and I was admittedly slow and overly cautious so as to not drop dye on dry strands and cause spotting. Typically, I part my hair on the side, so for more natural results, I parted my hair down the middle. Taking small strands, I painted the color on my hair starting in the middle and using my hands to really work the color in and push it to the end of my hair and close to the root (don't get the color on your scalp - it can look spotty or streaky). 

My roots were pretty grown out, so I knew my color was going to need to process for longer than what was recommended in the video that I watched. Recommended process times in the instructions are from 10 - 60 minutes. My color was on for about 30 minutes and I could have absolutely kept it on for a few more minutes to get the perfect color, but given this was my first time doing this - so thrilled with the result! 

What will I do differently next time? I will do this during the day with natural light on my side. My apartment doesn't have amazing lighting at night, but perfect lighting during the day. This forced me to do some guesswork on the timing of the process. Fortunately, erring on the side of caution worked well, and I'm so pleased with my results!

Burberry Dress for Less

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Using the discover tool on Instagram, I came across this dress on a blogger's account. Somebody I follow had liked the image, and I was probably overly excited to find out the blogger has gotten the dress on Shein, a discount site that sells really good replicas. I immediately ordered the dress and am thrilled with it. The sizing is small, which is typical with sites like this, so I ordered a medium. For $36, this is going to be a great staple as the seasons change! 

p.s. you've heard of kevin & zhen, right?

Prescription Sunglasses and Saddle Shoes

Friday, September 18, 2015

Do you ever feel like you're never getting anywhere? Yes? Me too. All the time. This week those feelings were particularly relevant as my car unexpectedly needed an expensive repair and where I thought I was in good shape financially, all of a sudden I was trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the next two weeks. Oh, and my car is four years old and still under warranty. You know how people say they don't want to adult today? Yep. Me. This week.
One good thing did happen. Well, two. The prescription sunglasses that I ordered from Zenni Optical arrived (after my trip that I had ordered them for, but hey, you get how things work for me) and I love them! Glasses can sometimes look silly on my face (which is cool, because I like oversized glasses), but I wanted better fitting prescription glasses so that I can wear them running, driving and around the city. These were under $7 base pricing on Zenni, and I added the scratch/glare coating, 80% tint and personalization. After shipping and a 20% off discount, these were only $21. 

Next up, I rediscovered a pair of saddle shoes that have been under my bed for about two years. They are Bass and were an eBay find ($29). This morning felt more fall-like, and they made me crave layered outfits, falling leaves and cool nights. 

Tracy Reese and a Wedding Gift

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tracy Reese dresses have quickly become my go-to for special events. They're so fun and unique, and I can always find a great deal on eBay. When my friend Cori set her wedding date, I immediately began searching for a Tracy Reese dress. I was so excited to find this $450 linen and mesh dress (new with tags) for a song (let's just say it was reduced to $34 on Anthropologie's clearance racks). 

I absolutely love the embellished neckline. As always, the dress is well made and fit beautifully. Was it risky wearing mesh and chains to church? Yes, but completely worth it.  

Next up, I took an even bigger risk and made my friend's wedding gift. I wanted to do something special, something me, but also something that reflected them as well. That's a tall order. Always up for a challenge, I settled on customizing a globe. If you've trolled any of my posts, you know I'm obsessed with maps and gloves. I thought this was a neat idea as my friend's fiancé (now husband) is originally from Japan. I wanted to buy a black globe to customize since I figured it would easily show light paint. After losing several eBay auctions, I finally won a great 1972 vintage globe. Next up, I bought some art supplies and went to work. 

Practicing freehand made me realize how computers have ruined my handwriting. 

As I had never done this before, it didn't exactly go as planned (the painter's tape ended up ripping some of the map, which led to some improvisation), but I was so happy with the final product! 

Wishing Cori and Hidi all the happiness in the world (get it, get it) as they start their  adventure together! 

Milly for Kohl's

Friday, May 22, 2015

Apparently, I have a collab problem. As I type this, my last post Lilly for Target, I am dreaming of the Balmain blazers that will be gracing H&M's racks just in time to spruce up my work wardrobe! 

Admittedly, when Milly for Kohl's came out, I was not sold on it. This is largely because I'm not a huge fan of Kohl's (sorry, everybody). After seeing a few bloggers style the collection, I decided to go way out of my way and visit my nearest Kohl's. I was pleasantly surprised to find the collaboration full of high quality fabrics and adorable mix and match pieces. Also, everything was on sale! I am short, so a few items I purchased ended up needing tailoring. 

Excess strap, much? 

The crop top totally not cropped on the left and folded up once on the right. 

Today, I picked everything up at the tailors (found a great lady who does cheap alterations) and used Kohl's cash that I got when I purchased my original Milly's items to buy matching shorts for only $6!!  

The Milly for Kohl's collab completely surprised me. I definitely don't see myself becoming a Kohl's regular, but can see myself getting a lot of mileage out of these pieces. 

Surviving Lilly Pulitzer for Target

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I literally laughed when I heard that Lilly Pulitzer was collaborating with Target. Not because I'm a Lilly snob, but as a veteran design collaboration launch shopper, I knew that:
1. Target wasn't going to be ready for the amount of interest 
2. Online wasn't an option and the Target site was going to crash
3. Nothing was going to make typically polite ladies lose their minds like Lilly at Target prices 
4. Resale on eBay was going to be insane

Well, Lilly launched online last night and in stores this morning, and so far, those predictions are all on point. Fortunately, I exercised all of my shopping muscles and had a solid game plan.

1. Do not attend the Lilly event in Philly. Instead, I drove to my hometown and dealt with a line of only 30 or so people rather than 300.
2. Create a must have shopping list and only get those items. My must haves were the jumpsuits, the blue shift dress and one of the high waisted bikinis.
3. Research! Lilly had a pop up shop in Bryant Park prior to the launch that sold out and was covered thoroughly by bloggers. I had a pretty good read on fit going into this morning.

How it went: I arrived early and there were already about 15 cars in the parking lot. Nobody had formed a line outside yet. By the time I threw my car in park, a girl was walking towards the door. So I was second in line. Not too shabby! 

About ten minutes into the wait, Target store employees began taking photos of the 30 people in line (and if they thought that line was bad, I know people who were in lines of 300 people). Then an employee ran through Target collab's version of a flight attendant announcement. No running. No fighting. We will kick you out. It would be funny, but that's what happens at these things. At 8 a.m., doors opened and insanity ensued. There were only two racks of clothing. I grabbed xs and s options in three items (thank god they had the jumpsuits...almost no dresses and zero swimsuits) and beelined to the fitting room just as the racks emptied to nothing. More than one disappointed woman with empty hands audibly muttered, "what just happened?" 

My haul: 

There were definitely people at Target only there to buy for resale. Special shout out to the lady in the "Norry" tshirt and baseball hat talking on her phone about how dumb Lilly is while pushing this cart (if she didn't look like she could take me down with her pinky, I would have taken her photo):

And crazy resale is already in full effect: 
(in store for $44)

(in store for $40) 

I am thrilled with what I was able to get and was even able to chat with my friend's mom, who I hadn't seen since high school graduation. While there was probably better inventory at a bigger store, I feel good about my decision to small town PA the launch and hope nobody pays eBay prices to snag an item. Hope you all did well too!

Need to Know: Lotta from Stockholm

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I have an irrational obsession for shoes with wooden soles. I own six pairs of shoes with wooden soles (now seven). That seems like a lot, right? Regardless, I fell in love with Swedish Hasbeens years ago when they started popping up everywhere. I did not fall in love with their price tag. Even on sale, every style I like is over $100. On my budget, that is not happening. Then, an old friend from Richmond posted pictures of her new "they look just like Swedish Hasbeens, but are a fraction of the cost" shoes. Since I have no shame, I promptly asked where they came from and learned about Lotta from Stockholm. More importantly, I learned about the Sales-n-Seconds portion of their website. Within minutes of  this discovery, I had purchased red Mary Janes for a song and began dreaming of springtime outfits to pair them with. The fit is great and the leather is a gorgeous color of red (I'm very particular abouty reds). The shipping was fast to the United States, too. 

Can We Get Consistent Sizing? A Rant.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Earlier today, I got an email that jeans were buy one get one 50% off at Old Navy. Like many other thirtysomethings, I'm a former designer jean devotee, but as I've gotten older, the idea of spending $200 on a pair of jeans makes me cringe. So on my lunch break today, I drove to Old Navy, found some denim styles to try on and took a two and a four in a few styles to the fitting room. Nothing fit. I couldn't even zip the jeans! Now, I'm not the tiniest person I know, but I'm typically a two or a four. So when they didn't even come close to zipping, I wanted to know what size would. The ultimate answer? An eight. This is what they look like on: 

For reference, I am five feet tall and weight 105 pounds. I have chicken legs and thigh gap. And had to buy an eight. I shared the story with a friend and she said, "I wouldn't have bought them." But the jeans are cute. I honestly was fine buying whatever size fit (clearly, I took advantage of the BOGO sale), but as the ghostwriter of a bariatric surgery blog, it got me thinking. 

So many people have physically transformed their bodies through diet, exercise and/or surgery. Many people benchmark their progress by noting what size they started at in their journey and what size they now wear. If I had to go up to an eight, what about the woman who lost 100 pounds over the last year? She worked hard and is proud to be an eight (and rightfully so) and the sizing at Old Navy might put her in a 12 or 14. Crazy, right? Where is the consistency among sizing for women? There is a commercial out now where women of all shapes and sizes go into a store and try on jeans. Instead of there being a numbered size on a tag, the tag provides their wearer with a compliment. If only the real world worked that way, we would all feel a lot better about ourselves and comfortable buying whatever makes us look and feel good. Am I alone in this? Has anybody else had to buy a wildly different size when switching brands? 

Channeling Taylor Swift on a Boat

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A few months ago I cleaned out my closet. I got rid of several garbage bags full of clothing. If an item hadn't been worn in a year or more, it was out. With the exception of two swimsuits, my entire swimsuit collection went into the donation bin. I haven't been on a proper vacation in years, and when I tried my swimsuits on (maybe it's my super pale winter coloring), I felt silly. Tiny bikinis that worked for California vacations five years ago suddenly looked skimpy and made my late thirty something self rethink my approach to swimwear. Vintage swimwear is adorable and so flattering, but the line between trendy and matronly seemed like it could be fine. 

I started to look for vintage inspired swimsuits on ModCloth, Urban Outfitters and even Roxy's collaboration with my beloved Pendleton. They are way too expensive for my frugal budget - plus, how often would I be wearing a swimsuit? It was snowing outside when I was conducting my search, after all. Then, I remembered my brief obsession with a Catalina Swimwear one piece from Wal Mart last year. It was navy and had anchors all over it, but was also sold out and virtually impossible to track down - even on eBay. A quick search of Wal Mart's site led to a few retro style swimsuits that seriously channel tswizzle on a boat with Haim. I ordered two (a navy two piece with palm trees all over it and a black one piece with polka dots) thinking I would only keep one, but they both fit so well that I am keeping them both and might buy a third. The best part? They were only $32 each. LOVE. Can't wait to wear them this summer!

Vintage Pendleton Cape

Thursday, February 19, 2015

For years, I have been irrationally obsessed with all things Pendleton. The Portland Collection's Penobscot Poncho (mine at long last) is to blame. Within the last few years, their collaborations with brands like Dr. Martens, Crosley, Ariat and Nike have only increased Pendleton's accessibility and mega cool factor. I'm all in. 

As a resident of the northeast (about to experience a second subarctic blast in temps in one week), my recent unstated mission has become wearable warmth. Aren't all clothes wearable warmth? Excellent question! The answer is no. Most major retailers have significantly cheapened their materials (sorry, Gap! I used to love you, but your cheap acrylic sweaters are pilly and don't keep anybody warm). So, I ventured to trusty eBay to find some vintage Pendleton at an affordable price. I scored big with this vintage cape from the 1960's. Shockingly warm and so cute. It's just like wearing a blanket, which is pretty much exactly what I'll be going for on Friday morning when it is -18 outside. 

Stay warm out there, and if you're in a warm climate, please refrain from sharing those details. Jealousy doesn't look good on anybody. 

What's In My Bag

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Surprisingly, I actually don't have a lot of purses and usually carry the same bag to work everyday. That being said, there are days when I want to take more (or less) with me. Today, I didn't feel like bringing a lot with me, so I took my Cambridge Satchel out for a spin. I have the 11-inch satchel from their classics collection. It's a gorgeous dark brown that can easily work with black as well. It goes with anything! To prevent thievery, it was embossed with my initials. It's perfect for an everyday bag, and my work necessities were a just fit. Here what I had to take: 

Missing from photo: my cellphone (used to take the picture)! Here's how I wore it:

I paired my bag with a Limited wool sweater dress that features a drop waist and pleated chiffon skirt, black tights and my reliable old Talbots heels. Also, a keen eye may notice I now have short hair. I always had short hair and then grew it out six years ago. Time for a change and I jumped on the textured bob bandwagon and love it! 

So, About My Globe Problem

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Everybody who knows me knows that I have a weird fascination with maps and globes. You may remember my posts about my vintage black globe and my vintage pull-down world map (just like your favorite teacher used to struggle with at the front of the room). I think it's safe to say that my fascination has officially moved into collector territory, which, let's face it, is hoarding. I am a globe hoarder. 

I have been searching for a vintage globe on a stand in excellent condition for ages.  The reasonable price is obvious in my case. This pretty much is an impossibility for this item. Still, I would periodically search. And then search some more. Until one evening in December I found an Etsy seller who had one listed for $35. Shipping was $13. I sent him a million questions, which he patiently answered. I thought he had forgotten to add a one in front of the $35, but no, he actually sold it for $35. Because sometimes saints have Etsy stores. Because of global warming (I'm punny) and horrendous weather issues, I wasn't able to retrieve the globe from my parent's house until this weekend. Completely worth the wait! The metal base has no marks. The wooden stand is knick free, and the globe is absolutely beautiful. 

I can't wait to get home and add it to my collection! P.S. I believe this dates to around 1990, because the globe still says  USSR, but shows that Germany has been unified.

Happy Holidays to Me

Sunday, January 4, 2015

This holiday marked a pretty big moment for me. I have been struggling the last few years getting back on my feet and any money gifted to me at the holidays has needed to go directly into my bank account to pay bills. Not very exciting! This year, I was actually able to treat myself with  some presents. Unlike what you would imagine, I had no plan for my money. I could have saved it, but I actually wanted to treat myself. Because I'm light on the material these days, I'm breaking this post up into a few parts. First up, my Kris Jenner "Omish" dress from Ann Taylor, since today is back to work day for me.

Following New Year's plans, I had to drive several hours into Pennsylvania to pick up my dog at my parent's house, and made a pit stop at the Crossings Outlets in Tannersville to break up the trip. I never go in the Ann Taylor store, but they had the most perfect Kris Jenner "Omish" dress in the window. Black and fitted with a white collar and wrist detailing, I decided to see if they had my size. Miraculously, after a quick sweep only turned up only extra small petites, I finally found a small petite, which somehow fit (that's a rarity for me with petites).

It's cute, right? So Kris. Anyway, it's perfect for work, and I've been trying very hard to increase my work wardrobe. Now, here is where things get brilliant. The original price on the dress was $129.99 and the sale price was marked $99.99. The entire sale section was an additional 60% off, so I paid exactly $40 for the dress! Major score and a great work staple. Definitely a new favorite that will make the first work day of 2015 brighter! 

How I wore it:
Black tights: Target, $8
Heels: Talbots, super clearance, $32 (old)
Faux pearls: Target, $8