to resolve or not to resolve – my answer to that question

For the past decade I’ve made a new year’s resolution. There were health resolutions, financial ones, a word chosen for the year, the decision to find joy every day. One year I resolved to try a new recipe every week (that was actually a really good resolution that resulted in some staple meals around my house). By looking at how long it’s been since my last blog post, my resolution should probably be to blog more regularly. 😳

But this year I’m skipping the resolution making.

I’d like to skip it just to go against the grain. A little rebellion of my own, if you will. But to chalk my choice solely up to standing up to current trends would be a lie. Truth is, I’m just not up for it this year.

2017 is going to bring massive changes to my family’s daily life. I started working again at the end of last year, and my husband experienced a (positive) change in his job. All awesome and exciting, but we’re all feeling the effects in some major ways. So to have another self-inflicted task/goal/ideal to live up to sounds overwhelming and like a recipe for certain failure. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t have goals or things I want to accomplish this year. I most certainly do. (I’m coming for you, cluttered utility room!) But I’m keeping my expectations of myself real. There’s nothing more upsetting than letting yourself down. There’s also nothing wrong with knowing your current limitations and living wisely within them. 

If you’ve also decided to skip the resolution making, you have a friend in me. Let me know in the comments! Let’s proudly stand together, focused on what’s in front of us, knowing we’re doing what’s in our best interests. 

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Mom Guilt: End of Summer Edition

Summer is winding down – some of you have already sent your kids back to school. My big kids go back after Labor Day, so we have a week left of summer fun. But guess what… end of summer panic is creeping in and has me wondering if we did enough this summer. We made two lists at the beginning of the summer of rainy day and sunny day activities. Did we do the things on our lists? Did we go to the park enough? Did they read enough and practice enough math to avoid the “summer slide”?

summer activity list, summer bucket list, mommy blog, mom guilt, stay at home mom, chicago blogger
we do this every summer to help us when we’re out of ideas

At the same time I’m trying to savor summer with my kids and pack every last fun thing into our remaining days, I’M SO DONE WITH SUMMER. The fighting over who gets to use the red blanket to build their fort in the basement, or whose turn it is with the only working train for our train track, or who is supposed to brush their teeth first, or whose turn it is to open the car door, or the constant pushing and shoving and crying when they don’t get their way – it’s all SUPER OLD. They clearly need to go back to school and be among civilization so they can have the mirror held up to their crazy behavior and have someone else tell them IT’S NOT OK. (BTW, all you teachers out there, THANK YOU for being that “someone else” – you have a way of making our children listen and believe what you say that we parents simply do not!)

And then with those thoughts I’m thrown into the abyss of mom guilt. How on earth could I be so negative about these people I love to the moon and back and smother with kisses at bed time? Don’t I stay home, forsaking a paycheck and, let’s face it, life among adults, to be with them? The mini-humans I would LITERALLY die for – these people who CAME FROM MY BODY?! 

Oh, Mom Guilt, you need to GO AWAY. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs some quiet. Everyone needs some peace. And right now I’m part of that everyone. But how can I kick you to the curb, Mom Guilt? How can I convince you that I’ve done enough, I am enough, and you have no place here?

I know… I will make a list! 

Wait… Didn’t a list set off my end of summer panic? Whatever. I’m going with it. 

Below is a list of what we did this summer. I’ve typed this all out for the same reason I make an “all done” list instead of a “to do” list. Because somehow our memories are short and we tend to focus on the things that remain undone rather than the things we accomplished. Here goes…

  1.  On the last day of preschool (which was about 2 weeks before the end of school for my big kids), we attended the Preschool Celebration followed by the Preschool Picnic. Tiny (the youngest) and I went out for a celebratory lunch of pancakes. 
    preschool, memory book, mom guilt, precious moments, growing up, chicago blogger, mommy blog
    going through the preschool memory book
  2. Tiny and I rode the train and had lunch with Daddy while he was at work (and the big kids were STILL at school). There was also a trip to the Disney store, which resulted in Star Wars pjs for the boy and Elsa and Anna shoes for the girls. (Thank you Twice-Upon-A-Year-Sale!)
  3.  Tiny and I rode the train (we like the train) to have lunch (we also like lunch) with my cousin who works outside the Loop. 10 extra minutes on the train and walking 4 blocks proved to be more than Tiny was willing to handle, so that part was suuuuuuuper fun. There was playing at the park for her and coffee for me and time with our cousin and lunch (obviously), so, worth it.
  4. We all road tripped to a family wedding, got ourselves all dressed up for the occasion, too! We played with “The Cousins”, took turns on Mimi and Papa’s super swing in the back yard and swam in the pool.
    dressed up, mommy blog, mom guilt, target, targetstyle, banana republic, stella dot
    all dressed up
  5. We went to Peanut’s (the middle child) Kindergarten Celebration, then took her out to lunch (also for pancakes – we LOVE pancakes). 
    mommy blog, mom guilt, family, kids, chicago blogger, kindergarten
    peanut hasn’t willingly smiled in a picture since she was 3 – why would her kindergarten celebration be any different?
  6. On Bubby’s (the oldest) last day of school, we played at the park, signed up for the library’s summer reading challenge, and celebrated the beginning of summer with a sleepover where everyone slept in the girls room and switched beds.
    sleepover in the girls room – it really is the little things
  7. Went to the zoo AND nature museum in one day (a word of advice – pace yourselves)! We spent most of our time in the Farm part of the zoo, met up with our cousin Ryan, then made sure we saw everyone’s favorite animals (zebra and giraffe),  checked out the nature museum, then made the long rush hour drive home. 
    lincoln park zoo, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, tractor, john deere
    yes, the zoo has a tractor, and it took me forever to get them out of it
  8. Attended not one, not two, not three, but FOUR birthday parties. What can I say? We like to celebrate!
  9. Girls attended Drama Camp (FYI: they need no lessons in dramatics – just how to channel the drama for good) and everyone did a couple days at Day Camp before we…
  10. Road tripped to visit Mimi and Papa over the weekend and week of the 4th of July. While there we:
  • Had lots of fun at the family fish fry, complete with swimming and playing with cousins, being teased by Great Grandpa (we call him Grandpa Nix-Nux which I think is translated “Grandpa Troublemaker”), and fireworks.
    it isn’t summer without sparklers
  • Took a trip in Papa’s boat to Kelley’s Island, rode around the Island in a golf cart, saw the Glacial Grooves, and ate dinner on the Island, then boat ride back in time to see more fireworks with the cousins.
    little mariners
    glacial grooves, glacier grooves, northwest ohio, kelleys island, mommy blog, mom guilt,
    glacial grooves
  • Visited African Safari (you drive on a path and feed animals that come up to your car window) – people, I have only 3 words for this experience – WATER BUFFALO SLIME.
    african safari, northwest ohio, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blogger
    on Bubby’s face you’ll find the look of excitement mixed with a dash of fear
  • Swam in Mimi and Papa’s pool almost every day. And some days our beloved cousins were able to join us.
  • Saw Finding Dory at the drive-in (first drive-in experience for the kids).
    drive in movie, finding dory, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blog, northwest ohio
    chillin before movie time
  • Mimi took the big kids to the Science Museum. This was the ONLY thing Bubby wanted to do during our visit – he loves him some mad science.
  • And if weren’t swimming or running around town, there was fishing in the neighbor’s pond, riding bikes, catching fireflies, swinging, sliding, going on “nature walks” through the pine trees, coloring with sidewalk chalk, digging in the sand box and playing in the tree house. 
    i almost fell over from all the cuteness

Now, that right there seems like a full summer, doesn’t it?! But, my friends, that’s only the first half! After we got home we:

  1. Returned to two full days a week at Day Camp (so mom could grocery shop in silence and clean the house uninterrupted – so glamorous, I know).
  2. Attended Camp Creativity at our local Michael’s. (BTW, this is a great option for your little crafters, and inexpensive!)
  3. Attended a week of VBS. The kids LOVED it and I got 3 hours every morning to get some things done. We call that a win-win.
  4. More days of Day Camp – they ran around, played with their friends, made crafts, and ran some more. Bubby said he was getting good at basketball, which isn’t something he can practice at our house, so that’s awesome.
  5. Took a trip downtown to play in the Millennium Park Crown Fountain, see The Bean, then have dinner with Daddy.
    crown fountain, millennium park, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, summer
    waiting for the face fountain to “spit” at them
    cloudgate, the bean, chicago, chicagoblogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    at the bean
    selfie, funny boy, the bean, cloudgate, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    bubby laying under the bean for a selfie – he clearly thinks he’s hilarious
  6. Dad and Bubby went to Starved Rock State Park with the Cub Scouts (tent camping, hiking, swimming, games, etc.) while the girls and I spent the weekend at my cousin’s and visited the Chicago Riverwalk, the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum (you can see the gears that raise and lower the bridges!), ate gelato, went to the Disney Store, ate pizza (because, Chicago) – the next day had brunch, Doodle’s Donuts (they have donuts that come with a frosting packet so kids can decorate their own donut – so cute! I had a maple bacon one – because DUH.) then rode the train home. FYI – this was all done on the HOTTEST weekend of the summer.
    mccormick bridgehouse museum, chicago river, chicago, chicagoblogger, chitown, chicago riverwalk, riverwalk, mommy blog, mom guilt
    the gears that do all the work on the chicago bridges!
  7. doodles donuts, doodle, donut, doughnut, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    doodling on her donut
    mommy blog, chicago blogger, mom guilt
    so hot waiting for the train, so bummed the fun is over
  8. Went to the beach no less than 5 times. My kids can dig in the sand for hours on end. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.
    hours upon hours spent digging in the sand
  9. Dad took the kids to the pool one day without mom – much fun was had by all.
  10. Got in all our annual physicals, saw the optometrist (turns out Peanut needs glasses to read), dentist and hair cut appointments.
    peanut sporting her new glasses
  11. Went to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Spent most of the time at the Tinker Lab. As you can see, SAFETY FIRST!
    chicago childrens museum, safety first, chicago blog, mommy blogger, mom guilt
    real tools, real objective to make something that rolls, real imaginations at work
  12. Attended an authentic Chicago Block Party. And no block party is complete without a visit from the fire truck, a bounce house, bike riding and dancing in the street. 
    chicago blogger, chicago block party, mommy blog, mom guilt, fire truck
    back of fire truck photo op
  13. Celebrated a friend’s birthday at Six Flags Great America. If you talk to my kids, you’d think this is the only thing they did this summer because it’s the only thing they talk about. I mean, what’s better than going upside down on a roller coaster for the first time?! 
    can’t you see the excitement on that face?! and that’s just about riding the carousel!
  14. Saw The Secret Life of Pets – cute, silly, and a nice break from the heat and humidity.
  15. Took a little trip to Maggie Daley Park. 
    she found herself a perch and watched the activity
  16. And in between all of that there were play dates, park visits, bike riding, fort building, movies almost every night, reading (my big kids read over 3000 minutes each this summer – thank you Chicago Public Library for making my kids want to win a Kindle Fire enough to have something to report EVERY WEEK), jumping on our trampoline, “swimming” in our inflatable pool, coloring, crafts, trips to Target complete with a Monster Cookie, visits from friends, popsicles, building with Legos, folding paper airplanes, scavenger hunts around the neighborhood, countless games of checkers, Candy Land, and the Matching Game (why is it that my 4 year old SLAYS me at that game?!), light saber fights, and MANY viewings of Zootopia (among other movies). 
    blueberry pie ice cream in a waffle bowl dipped in chocolate then covered in sprinkles – YUM

waiting for the bus to take us on an adventure
she learned to swing by herself this summer
chicago riverwalk, balloon animal, face paint, mom guilt, mommy blog, chicago blogger
stumbled upon this opportunity down at the riverwalk
lake michigan, you are our favorite
chicago public library, rahms readers, summer reading program, library, reading program, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
we were told we were the first sibling group to complete the reading challenge at our branch – so a pic was necessary
this is probably the thing we did most this summer- back yard fun
So, Mom Guilt, you clearly have no place here. I have given (more like orchestrated) a fun and eventful summer full of new experiences and memories, and now that it is in black and white and SO MUCH LONGER than I thought it would be, there is no disputing what took place from the end of school until now.

Dearest readers, please know, I didn’t create this list for comparative reasons or as any kind of standard to measure yourself against (or for you to judge – positively or negatively) my efforts. I wrote it out for myself in an effort to combat my own Mom Guilt, and to see truly how much we’ve done. But I also put it out on the Internet for you to see that you can do something similar to encourage yourself and recount the fun things you and your kids have done this summer. It’s truly not the number of activities done that matter – it’s the memories made, skills gained and fun had that matters. 

Your list may be longer than mine. Or maybe it’s more exciting with international vacations or simulated skydiving. Good for you and your kids – I hope you had a blast! 

Maybe your list simply reads “Day Camp” – the one you meticulously chose for your children so they would be well cared for while you worked to provide for your family. Good for you, mama! You’re making the best choices for your kiddos.

Or maybe you created fun at home day in and day out because that’s what you were able to do this summer. I’m proud of you, mama. You made memories for you and your little tribe.

I hope you realize that my point is that it doesn’t matter what is on your list – how long the list or how exciting the activities or how similar every day seemed. Your intent is what matters – to give your children what you can with what you have. Maybe that was one weekend vacation. Maybe it was digging holes in the back yard to create mud puddles because that’s your child’s favorite thing ever. Maybe it was summer school or tutoring or many different therapies because you know your child needs that. Maybe it was lots of cuddles because right now, that’s all you have to give.

And, mama, I know you gave what you had, but YOU need to know you did. 

So, go on and make that list. Write down the events from this summer along with the memories and feelings that go with them. Use my list as a guide if you need to. Read them over with your kids, look through the pictures you took, and talk about the fun you had this summer. Watch your kids smile and listen to them laugh as they recount the memories of their childhood while you pat yourself on the back for ending the end of summer bickering for a good 20 minutes. 

Then be sure tell your Mom Guilt to move along, because she doesn’t belong among your best efforts and the love you have for your kids.

*This blog post includes links to information and attractions we visited – none are affiliate links. They are for informational purposes only. Photos were not perfectly edited because ain’t nobody got time for that during a summer like this.

**We are so thankful for the friends and family that included us in their summer plans and for their hospitality! 

Six Week Summer Remix

Every year around this time I think to myself, “Man, I have a lot of summer clothes and now that summer is half over, I need to make sure I’m wearing them ALL.” Because clothes that don’t get worn have to go to the donate pile at the end of the season. I know Marie Kondo wouldn’t approve of doing it that way, but I think she’d be mostly pleased that I’m passing on things that clearly didn’t spark enough joy to be worn. 

Enter the #sixweeksummerremix. This is to ensure I’m wearing all of my summer wardrobe that I L-O-V-E without spending a single cent. 

  1. NO MORE SHOPPING UNTIL THE LABOR DAY SALES HIT. That’s right. No shopping. No new tank tops or swing dresses or sandals or t-shirts or swimsuits or cover-ups or thin sweaters or maxi skirts or… oh my, I love clothes. But in all seriousness, I know I don’t NEED anything. I can certainly go the next six weeks without a new item of clothing. Who am I kidding? I could probably do 4 summers of no shopping on what I own and never repeat an outfit. Therefore, no more shopping. 
  2. I will remix my wardrobe to create outfit combos I haven’t worn before. This is for sure a personal goal (and wouldn’t necessarily need to be your goal) because I can certainly repeat outfits from last year, but for an extra 3 minutes a day, I can come up with something new. I find it’s always worth the time and creative brain power to remix my wardrobe because my creativity + my clothes = cute outfit + personal satisfaction. That’s a math equation I can get behind! 
  3. I post my outfits on Instagram and in my Facebook group specifically for remix challenges. It’s great for me to do these two steps because A. Instagram gives me a visual diary of what I wore. It’s fabulous. If I need a little inspiration from my own closet, I can scroll through my feed to see what I have and what I’ve already done. And I can, of course, find other people doing the same thing and get inspiration from them. B. The Facebook group is awesome because you can post your outfit or a specific piece of clothing and ask for style suggestions from the group, and there’s no pressure to have a perfect, pretty picture to post. 
  4. This may be the most important part of the success of a closet remix: PLAN YOUR OUTFIT THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU WILL WEAR IT. Sorry for yelling, but I find that women that skip this step experience 78% more frustration and 82% more anxiety than women who do plan what they will wear the night before. Ok, those numbers are totally made up, but I promise you will feel less stress over getting dressed in the morning if you PLAN AHEAD.

Now, before you go thinking this is all work and no play, there are many benefits to remixing your closet. If you choose to join in the remix fun (please come play with us!!), you can expect these benefits when you join the challenge:

  1. Maybe the most obvious is the monetary benefit – You won’t be spending money on clothes. Therefore, the money you would have spent can be spent on other things (hello, summer fun and back to school purchases!) or saved for those Labor Day sales and the purchase of your fall wardrobe completers (there are definitely some cognac colored booties in my future). I think Dave Ramsey would approve. There have been times in the past when I just needed some room in the budget. This is a great way to not feel bad about not spending. You can always say, “I’m using what I have right now,” and feel good about it because it’s a challenge that you CHOSE instead of feeling like it’s a restriction imposed upon you.
  2. Your brain will be creatively challenged. Exercising your creativity is good for your mind, and if you’re like me, you need a creative outlet anyway. Creating a different outfit every day serves to meet that creative need, and let’s face it, you have to get dressed anyway. 
  3. Joining the F-R-E-E Facebook group will give you access to a community of women just like you, doing the same thing, who will encourage you in your remixing journey. They’ll tell you they love what you’re wearing and, if you ask them for help styling an item, they will give their ideas, which is fabulous because it takes the guesswork out of styling the piece and you’ll probably get 3-5 different ideas for the one item! 
  4. Probably the best benefit of doing this six week remix is you’ll know what’s in your closet, you’ll have a better sense of your style and what you really love, and you’ll be more inclined to purchase and wear items you LOVE rather than things you think will work. You’ll also identify what no longer works for you and can send it on to the thrift store guilt free!

You may have noticed that there are now only 5 weeks until Labor Day. That’s because I started this blog post early this week and I’m finishing it now. But that just means you if you join you have only 5 weeks to remix! 

Here are my looks from this past week…

gap ikat dress, dsw lace up sandals, stella and dot bracelets, armparty, stella, dot, ootd, blogger, fashion, style, fashion blogger
gap ikat dress, dsw lace up sandals, stella and dot bracelets

gap asymmetrical dress and cropped tee, old navy sandals, stella and dot armparty, maxi dress, edgy, fashion, blogger, style, fashion blogger, bracelets, howlite, gladiator sandal
gap asymmetrical dress and cropped tee, old navy sandals, stella and dot armparty

old navy tank swing dress, stella and dot totem tassel necklace, armparty and sunnies, target wedge sandals, targetstyle,  fashion blogger, style blogger, fashionista, closet remix, restyle
old navy tank swing dress, stella and dot totem tassel necklace, armparty and sunnies, target wedge sandals

joe fresh swing dress, steve madden studded sandals, stella and dot jewelry, necklace, bracelet, coffee, starbucks, thrift, thrifted, thrift find
joe fresh swing dress, steve madden studded sandals, stella and dot jewelry
target swing tank and wide leg pants, st. john's bay wedge sandals, stella and dot jewelry and tote, fashion blogger, style blogger, targetstyle, jcpenney, preppy, boho, quill, armparty
target swing tank and wide leg pants, st. john’s bay wedge sandals, stella and dot jewelry and tote

Ok, who’s in?! Tell me in the comments if you’ll be doing the challenge. Please join the Facebook group (invite friends to join, too!) and use the tag #sixweeksummerremix on Instagram to make the most of it! 

I’m posting my outfit each day in both the Facebook group and on Instagram with an explanation of what I’m wearing, and two other styling options for my outfit using my style mantra “dress it up, dress it down, wear it straightforward.” Follow me to watch me maximize my wardrobe and get some style inspiration for your own!

Breaking the Silence

“Hey! Long time no post!” you say. It’s true. Lots of reasons for that… one being LIFE. The other, and quite honestly, the largest contributor to my hiatus was that I had much I wanted to say, but didn’t know where to start. And because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I want everything to be thought out and neat and tidy and, well, perfect. So in that situation, I tend to say nothing.

Not the best course of action, I know.

All those drafts of blog posts may be reworked and published someday. But today I’m breaking the silence and starting with right now. So let’s pretend I just bumped into you on the street and we’re talking summer fashion, shall we?

old navy swing dress dressed up stella dot necklace crossbody aviator sunglasses target sandals accessories
dressed up Old Navy swing dress
Two words for you this summer: SWING DRESSES. They are flowy and flattering and SO COMFY! Also very easy to style – throw on a statement necklace and some sandals and you’re good to go.

fashion blogger wearing stella dot aviator sunglasses, nomad statement necklace, black old navy swing dress
Stella & Dot Aviator Sunglasses in White and Nomad Statement Necklace, Old Navy Swing Dress
stella dot aviators, goofy, old navy swing dress, silly,
no, I cannot take this seriously
 

When you want a dress to be versatile (remember my style mantra: Dress it Up, Dress it Down, Wear it Straightforward), consider color and pattern. Neutrals tend to look dressier, with black being the easiest to pull off as dressy. Patterns tend to dress down an article of clothing, so if you’re hoping to wear your dress to something a little fancy, stick with a solid color.
Don’t get me wrong, a pattern can be fancy, too. Like my Stella & Dot scarf.

dress up, tassel scarf, fashion blogger, style blogger, summer style
Stella & Dot Destination Scarf, Mirage Necklace and Bungalow Hoop Earrings with Old Navy Swing Dress
If she wasn’t so darn cute!

stella dot nomad necklace destination scarf bunglaow hoops on fashion blogger old navy swing tank dress
would you look at that beautiful print

There’s only one item you need to own to dress down any piece of clothing: Denim Jacket You can use other methods, too, but if you don’t have this wardrobe staple, you need to buy one.

fashion blogger drinking coffee old navy denim jacket swing dress stella dot necklace
must caffeinate
trust me, you couldn’t tell her no
 

Food for thought: Have you ever had to start up a conversation with someone after a period of silence? It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in months or years. It’s weird. And sometimes hard. And we tend to allow the voices in our heads to tell us to stay quiet. That the relationship is broken and can’t be fixed.

That we have no good reason to get in contact. That the other person will ask what took you so long, get angry, or not answer/text back, or hang up if they do answer, scream obscenities, spit in our faces, or any of a zillion other goofy things we come up with. The truth is, the other person will probably just be happy to hear from you. Take a deep breath and tell the voices in your head to hush up, because you have something you want to say, and you’re going to say it even if you’re a little nervous or scared. ❤️ 

Direct Links for Clothing and Accessories:

Old Navy: Swing Dress, Ghillie-Tie Gladiator Sandals

Stella & Dot: Destination Scarf, Mirage Pendant Necklace, Nomad Statement Necklace, Bungalow Hoops, Quinn Cuff, Nomad Stretch Bracelets, Nolita Crossbody in cork, Aviator Sunglasses

Target: Merona Eve Quarter Strap Sandals

Do you use ebates.com to get cash back on all your online shopping? You should – it’s free! Follow this link, sign up and start earning! I average $15-20 back every quarter, and about $100 after Christmas! 

A huge thank you to Amanda for being my photog for this post! You can find her fashionable self on Instagram @amalynstyle.

ShopPinkBlush Boutique Review and Giveaway 

I know, I know. There are ZILLIONS of trendy boutiques online. But when I find a good one, I can’t help but share it with you!  ShopPinkBlush.com entered my life and oh, happy day! It’s a Women’s Online Boutique with on-trend styles. Maybe more importantly, the clothing is modeled by women with REAL BODIES. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to imagine wearing something modeled by a woman with legit thighs. They also have plus sizes, maternity and nursing, a baby goodies section, and accessories. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Their service is great and their selection is WIDE – lace up flats, cute dresses for women, adorable tunics – and it’s all ridiculously affordable! And P.S. If you’re loving lace or fringe accents on your clothing these days, you need to check them out – like right now. 

I’m a sucker for anything cozy, drapey, and striped, so I got a striped open front cardigan. It’s a lightweight knit, has a little bit of stretch to it, and it’s perfect for spring. I love how it can be dressed up or down fairly effortlessly. And the colors are perfect for this season. (hello pink and grey!) 

I dressed up my jeans and tee with the cardigan and added some style personality with my accessories. The perfect any day look. pink blush boutique striped cardigan casual trendy stella dot fashion blogger  

 pink blush trendy casual  pattern mix spring fashion blogger 
Dressed down with a graphic tee and my absolute favorite jogger pants. (Casual weekend? Yes, please!) In order to keep this from looking like I left the house in my pjs, I paired it with heeled booties, and a big tote bag that says, “I know what I’m doing.” pink blush botique casual weekend trendy striped cardigan plus size fashion blogger 

  pink blush boutique weekend casual trendy plus size 

Want to win something for yourself from ShopPinkBlush? Like this blog post and tell me how you’d style this cardigan or what you’d love to have from Pink Blush Boutique in the comments below for your chance to win a $50 shop credit from PinkBlush! A winner will be drawn on Friday, March 18th. 

UPDATE: Congratulations to Tina H. On winning the $50 shop credit! Can’t wait to hear what you get!

Jewelry Storage and Display (and a giveaway!)

I have a ton of jewelry. It comes with the territory of being a Stella & Dot Stylist. And, let me tell you, it’s a cryin’ shame that all those stunning statement necklaces and sparkly bracelets should sit in a jewelry box or drawer or be hanging out of sight. So you know what I do? I display those beauties right on my dresser. It’s like instant home decor, and I can easily change them out seasonally. 


I personally like neck forms instead of something to hang necklaces from. Creates a lovely display and it’s really easy to get your necklace off the display. And really easy to put it back on when you’re done. Anyone else have a habit of setting things on their dresser for “a better time” to put them away? Just me? I know… Marie Kondo would not be proud. 
  
Bracelet bars are also awesome. As you can see, I have a few bracelets. Having them out where I can see them to create the perfect armparty is ideal for me.

 stella and dot jewelry bracelet golden greys jewelry tray i dream in jewelry 
My favorite inexpensive place to get the jewelry display items is JewelrySupply.com. But there’s nothing like something that makes your display personal – like my “I dream in jewelry” tray from Golden Greys. Adorable AND the perfect sentiment, don’t you think?! 

Wanna win one? Megan from Golden Greys has agreed to give one away! Head to my Instagram (that link takes you to the place to enter) and follow the instructions in the caption to enter! Giveaway winner will be announced Friday, March 4! Good luck!  

golden greys jewelry tray giveaway stella and dot 

thredUP haul and shopping tips

Thanks to a few of you lovely ladies, I had referral credits for thredUP!! Thank you (you know who you are!) for using my referral link to try thredUP. I hope you loved what you got. And I’m loving my latest thredUP haul!

 

5 tops, 1 pair of flats, and sunglasses

 

I love a good top, and lately I’ve been buying up everything I can wear with leggings and skinnies and still feel like all the important parts are covered, know what I mean? I’m also into long necklaces as opposed to shorter statement necklaces, so the tunic length is appealing to me. 

 

all tunic, all the time

 

And in case you think neon shoes (new with tag, might I add) is a bad idea, I totally plan to wear them with 4 out of the 5 tops I bought. 

neon can totally be versatile

Seriously… these sunnies. Outside my tortoise shell comfort zone, and I love them! Love that Vince Camuto! 

   

In case you didn’t read my first post about thredUP, you can here, but read these shopping tips, first.

  • MINDSET: You need to think of this as a boutique consignment shop. Everything has gone through an inspection process, but these are previously owned items. Look in the description of the item to see if the item is in excellent condition or shows minor signs of wear. I have been pleased with the condition of all my purchases.
  • URGENCY: If you see something you love, get it NOW because it probably won’t be there tomorrow. You can put items in your cart and they will be reserved while you shop, but your cart will empty after a few hours (I’m not sure how many, but I know sometimes I go back to my cart and it’s all there and sometimes it’s not). For this reason, if I like something, I put it in my cart right away, then edit my cart at checkout, and I don’t wait to checkout for too long. If I have to stop shopping before I check out, I set an alarm on my phone to go back and finish shopping, or at least release the things I’m not going to buy so someone else can have them.
  • FILTER: Definitely use this feature to find clothing/shoes in your size. There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of items on the site and you’ll be browsing for DAYS if you don’t filter. I like to choose my dress size, waist size and shoe size so at least I’m only seeing items that will fit me. Make sure you check include equivalents because there are many European brands and their sizing is different.   
  • SEARCH: I’m so glad this is possible on their site. Have you ever been on a site where you can’t search keywords? Nightmare. And when there are thousands upon thousands of items on their site, searching keywords is a good idea. So if you want to see if thredUP has “gladiator sandals” or a “Kate Spade purse” or a “fringe dress”, you will not be disappointed!

If all of this has gotten you excited about thredUP, here’s a little something to start you out on your retail journey – $10 credit to use on your first order (and I’ll get $10, too). You have to use THIS link and you have to be a new customer. Happy Shopping! 

    Wardrobe Spring Cleaning: How to Edit without the Mental Anguish

    Spring Cleaning is around the corner (end that sentence with the emoji of your choice – mine would be the face of grief mixed with disgust and turmoil). If you’re like the majority of people, you see this as an opportunity to get rid of the things in your home you no longer use or need. Easy peasy if we’re talking about old issues of magazines and expired pantry items, right?! But when it comes to the clothes in your closet that still have tags on them or the pieces you loved but haven’t worn in a while, the task becomes more difficult – ok, if we’re being honest, it becomes emotional and kind of impossible.  So let me help you break it down into easy, actionable and turmoil-free, steps that work for you either as you go or all in one shot. 

    cluttered closet need wardrobe edit
    When your clothes are this close together, it may be time to purge!
     All-at-Once: If you like to tackle a task and have it done in a day, this method is probably for you. Be prepared to make some decisions, get in touch with your feelings and free yourself of clothing that is dragging you down!

    1. Have a bag or box ready for trash and another for items to donate. 
    2. Take everything out of your closet and dresser drawers. You heard me. Everything. (I wasn’t kidding when I said this would take a day.) To make this process go quickly, don’t start sorting until everything is out of your closet and dressers.
    3. You will now take one item at a time and ask yourself this question: How does this item make me feel? If the answer is anything other than positive (for example: guilty, fat, pale, gross, irritated…) it needs to go in the trash or donate box. If the answer is positive (happy, pretty, powerful, optimistic…) ask yourself the next question – When was the last time I wore this? If it’s been over a year, figure out why. Does it need repair? Is it a special occasion item that you will use this year? Is it no longer in style, but it was one of your favorite things? You’ll need to be honest about wearing it again and decide if it’s time to let go.
    4. After all the questions have been asked, place the item in either the trash (stained, ripped, or otherwise inappropriate to donate), donate box, or back in your closet or dresser. 
    5. Repeat these steps for every item you own, and make sure the trashed clothing goes in the trash and the donate box makes it to the donation center. If you want to take the next step in using everything you kept, follow the directions in the As-You-Go section below!

    As-You-Go: This is my personal favorite method. It takes no extra time, but it isn’t done in a day and takes a little more creativity. Your plan of action is to: 

    1. Commit to a minimum of 30 days of unique outfits created from the clothes you already own (no shopping retail – you’re shopping your closet!).
    2. Find your favorite way of keeping track of what you have already worn (my favorite is the fastest way by Hilary Rushford called the Ribbon and Record. Tie a ribbon (yarn, string, or actual ribbon) on the bar at the end of your closet and get a “record” (piece of paper or notebook) for each stack in your dresser. Everything you wear either goes behind the “ribbon” or under the “record”. Then try not to wear that item again during the 30 days. (Please note: I said TRY. I definitely wear my favorite jeans more than once a month – ok, week – but I could swap them out skirts on some of those days, for example.)  
    3. Choose your outfit the night before you wear it, including accessories (jewelry, shoes, bag, outerwear – ALL of it!). This ensures you have time to use your creativity, choose something unique and try it on together. Don’t skip trying it on – just because it looks good in your head doesn’t mean it will look good on your body – I speak from experience.  
      planning what to wear the night before makes for a less stressful morning
       
    4. At the end of 30 days (or longer for a more abundant wardrobe), assess what you didn’t wear. Ask yourself why – if the answer is remotely negative (I don’t like the color, it doesn’t fit right, etc.), take it out of your closet and donate it. You will seriously feel better when you do! Your brain won’t use up mental energy cataloging it as you pass over it every day, and you won’t spend any emotional energy on it (feeling guilty that you don’t wear it  because of the amount of money you paid, or having received it as a gift but it’s not your style). Taking those things out of your closet will free your mind, and after they’re gone, you won’t think about them any more! It’s truly amazing. 

    If you’re looking for a little motivation, accountability and community during this venture, join my #springcleaningclosetremix under that hashtag on Instagram and on Facebook here. (It’s a closed group, so only the people in the group will see what you post, not all of your Facebook friends and family – unless you invite them to participate, which is totally welcome – the more the merrier!) You’ll be welcomed by a host of encouraging women, sharing their closet remix creations and what worked for them when cleaning out their closets. I’ll also be chiming in with stylist secrets, tips and tricks to remixing your wardrobe, finding/refining your style and shopping! The challenge begins March 1, so go join the group on Facebook and start outfit planning now! 

       Guest Post by Makeup Artist Tricia Clarke: Easy Contouring and Highlighting

      Well hi there, lovelies! I’m Tricia Clarke, and what a treat to be asked to join you here, in Style and in Sanity. By now, you probably love Alice, and her ability to translate trends into what’s wearable for your real life. I LOVE makeup and exploring makeup trends. I could easily spend an hour creating a picture-perfect face that requires 25 different brushes and 40 products and makes a great Instagram post. But here’s the thing. That’s not my real life. Like many of you, I am juggling a child, our first home, my business, and so many other things. I get excited if I get to take a shower in peace! So where does that leave a makeup lover? Well, since becoming a mom, I’ve learned how to streamline my approach to beauty. I still wear makeup almost every day–but I have created a 5-minute face, instead of a 45-minute face. And when it comes to makeup trends I like to play around with what’s current, but keep it in perspective.​That brings me to the whole point of this post. I am sure that by now you have heard about contouring. I get asked about it all the time! Most of the dramatic contouring that you see takes about an hour to apply, blend and set. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kinda time!  

      ​The whole point of contouring and highlighting is to enhance your natural features. Take a minute and close your eyes, then smooth your hands over your face like the models do in commercials for face wash. (You know what I’m talking about!) You will feel that some parts of your face stick out, and other areas recede. In contouring, a cream or powder a few shades darker than your natural skin tone is applied to areas that you want to recede further, most commonly under the cheekbones, the jaw line and the sides of the nose. In highlighting, you want to bring other areas forward–so a lighter shade of cream or powder, oftentimes with a slight shimmer is applied to the tops of the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, and on the brow bone.

      Now that you have a quick overview , let’s talk about what works for every day! You can do a quick contour, a fast highlight, or a super easy combo–depending on how much time you have an what look you are going for. I ‘ll give you some scenarios, inspired by real life!

      • Scenario 1 – Quick Contour: You over-indulged while watching football and, you’re a little bit paler than you would prefer, because, you know, it’s February. You should go for a quick contour! After you’ve applied your foundation or BB Cream and dusted your face lightly with setting powder, you are ready to sculpt! Grab your bronzer (preferably one without a ton of shimmer, I like Benefit Cosmetic’s Hoola powder or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay bronzer) and a medium sized, natural bristle brush. You don’t want a massive brush for this! Envision a “3” on the side of your face. You are going to apply a light application of bronzer along your hairline (sweeping out from the center of your forehead) then swing the brush down to make a soft line from the front of your ear to right under where you apply your blush–so right along the bottom edge of your cheekbone(that was the top curve of the “3”) . Then, retrace your stroke back out towards your ear, then swing your brush around your jaw and blend just under the edge of your face, sweeping down to your chin.  
      • Scenario 2 – Fast Highlight: Thanks to your teething baby, you forget what it’s like to get a full night’s sleep, and the exhaustion is showing on your face. Highlighting to the rescue! After prepping your skin with moisturizer and eye cream, blend a cream blush onto the apples of your cheeks and blend back towards your ears. Then, apply a cream or stick highlighter (NYX Born to Glow comes in a range of shades to suit all skin tones and has some glow to it, if you want more subtle, Bobbi Brown’s Tinted Undereye Brightener is a fave) in the following areas: along the top of your cheekbone, your brow bone and on the inner corners of your eyes, blending VERY thoroughly. You will look radiant and well-rested.  
      • Scenario #3 – Super Easy Combo: You have a Girls’ Night Out or Date Night Planned, and you want to amp up your regular makeup look. Easy! Combine your new bronzing “3” technique with your strategic highlighter placement and boom! I would also suggest adding a pop of bright gloss to your lips and a few extra coats of mascara, or an eyeliner in a fun shade like teal or purple, or even gold! Colorful makeup is trendy this season, and new formulas keep you from looking like an 80s prom photo!  

      Now, that’s a lot of words to explain something that’s actually really simple! Wouldn’t a video make things easier? Well, lucky for you, I cover easy contouring and highlighting in my Naptime Waffle #2 video on YouTube! A “waffle” is just a meandering chit-chat, so if you want to skip right to the contour how-to part, start at (2:42)

      I hope that helped make the idea of contouring and highlighting seem more doable. Let us know if you try it! Thanks for having me here, Alice!

      Find me at www.triciaclarkemakeup.com and www.instagram.com/triciaclarkemakeup 

      Armparty Demystified: Formula for the Perfect Bracelet Stack

      I don’t want to brag, but I throw a mean armparty. 

      Friends often tell me they don’t know how to layer bracelets. Naturally, my desire to help others and demystify what seems mysterious led me to create a formula. I used to say I didn’t have a specific way to stack my bracelets – it was all trial and error. Then I paid attention to what I was doing and lo and behold – I did have a pattern I followed when layering my bracelets! Amazing what happens when you think about what you’re doing. 😁

      In the spirit of helping a sister out, I gift you this formula that you may always have the perfect stack: anchor + interest + sparkle = awesome armparty

      The Anchor – Not a literal anchor, this piece is the one that you’ll build your armparty around. It’s usually solid in structure or color. Sometimes it’s the largest piece in your armparty. I’ll begin with the Ally wrap bracelet in white. 

       stella dot ally wrap bracelet armparty anchor  

      Interest – this piece can be something with color, movement, cutouts, layers… anything interesting. A bracelet with spikes, studs, charms, colorful stones would fit the bill. I chose the Renegade bracelet for its edgy spikes. 

        

      You can always stop here with your little stack, but we’re talking ARMPARTY, and two bracelets does not an armparty make. 

      Sometimes I like to add a little more interest and balance out my armparty at this point. Enter the Sawyer Stone stretch bracelet in white to create a little symmetry and interest…

         

      …and the Gilded Arrow bangle for more interest with its space between the two ends and the trendy motif itself. 
       

      The sparkle – probably doesn’t need much explanation, right? I just place it in a spot that needs more sparkle, away from any other pieces that might be sparkly. In this case, the Renegade bracelet has crystal rounds in it. So my sparkle won’t go next to it. 

        

      The finished product, left to right:

      Pavé chevron cuff, Ally double wrap bracelet in white, Renegade bracelet, Sawyer Stone stretch bracelet in white, Gilded Arrow bangle in gold. 

      If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a Stella & Dot Stylist. You can order all of these pieces and many more fabulous bracelets through my Stella & Dot website: www.stelladot.com/alicetegtmeier 

      Here are a few more of my recent arm parties from my Instagram account (also all Stella & Dot bracelets)

        
      P.S. If you were to host an online Trunk Show, you’d likely have enough hostess credits to get a whole armparty FREE. Email me if you’re interested at instyleandinsanity@gmail.com and we’ll get you some free jewels!

      So, who’s gonna have an armparty tomorrow? Let me know if this was helpful/eye opening/life changing, totally how you already go about layering your bracelets, or so much work your brain hurts in the comments below – I’d love to know where you are on the armparty spectrum! And be sure to share your new knowledge with a friend by sending her the link to this post! It is Valentine’s Day and all 😉