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. ­čś│

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. ÔŁĄ´ŞĆ 

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 

Pledge and Promise

Blogging: Some do it for business. Some do it for fun. Some do it as a creative outlet, or for therapy… or maybe they haven’t nailed down why they’re blogging at all. One thing is sure – you can immediately tell what category a blogger is in.

Let’s talk about the business bloggers for a moment, because I know many people have feelings about bloggers who do it for income, and this seems to be the only type of blogging people take issue with. I personally don’t mind the affiliate links if the blogger has actually used the product or service. I figure it’s a win-win-win for all involved: you have easy access to the product through the link (not having to Google something and weed through a bunch of unrelated links: win!), the company makes a sale if you loved the item enough to buy (all hail e-commerce: win!), and blogger makes a little pocket change from your sale (jingle in the pocket: win!). And if you love the blogger’s overall message, super cool that you can support him/her in this way, right?

So let me tell you up front – I’m here to change lives. Mine and yours. All through my writing about style and sanity and your reading about it, interacting with it and me, and, hopefully, implementing something you read. I’ve written My Pledge and My Promises to you, my dear reader. I’ve posted them by my desk so I can be reminded of them as I blog. And I want to share them here with you.

My Pledge

I pledge allegiance to my reader – that I won’t waste your time with meaningless posts. And if I leave an affiliate link, it will be for something I’ve personally paid for, used and loved, and felt compelled to tell you about.

(Now, if you’re an American, go back and read it like the Pledge of Allegiance. Did you laugh? Just me?)

In all seriousness, I can’t be bought. I don’t want products or services from companies that want to spread the word about their stuff through people that haven’t used their product or service yet. I know some people enjoy that kind of thing and make money doing it (kudos for the latter part), but that’s not for me. I prefer to spread the word about products and services I’ve already tried and love, awesome places I’ve been, and amazing people I think you should know, too. That’s a little more like real life, don’t you think? 

I get emails almost daily from companies wanting me to be a brand ambassador or influencer for their product or service. While most are cool and I’m sure could fill a need or want for at least one of my readers, if I wouldn’t pay for it or use it I feel I can’t, in good conscience, promote it. If I wouldn’t pay for it or use it, why would I recommend it to anyone? Could I make money off of it? Sure. Is that my purpose here? No. Does that mean I won’t work/collaborate with companies at all? No, also. It means I’ll only work with and promote companies that I’d spend money with. I hope to collaborate with others whose products, services and messages I believe in. Bottom line: If I don’t love it/wouldn’t use it/wouldn’t spend a penny on it, I don’t share it. Deal? Good. Now, keep reading for my promises…

My Promise

I promise to be genuine, like a trusted friend who would tell you if there was something in your teeth. I tell it like it is in real life, usually tactfully. I can’t always promise tact, but I do my best. I won’t make everything look like life is soft pastel in a naturally filtered glow with a blurred background. I just can’t. That’s not my real life. I can’t possibly be put together and at ease and picture perfect every moment of every day, and I don’t want you thinking that’s possible. 

I promise to give you useful information – whether it’s about a sale or an encouraging word – I want to add value to your life.

I promise to keep it mostly lighthearted. If you met me in person, you’d know I can’t go more than about 3 minutes without making a joke. I see no reason why my blog wouldn’t be the same way (did you see my pledge?).

I promise to keep it positive. No tearing down people, products or services here. If I don’t love something, it won’t appear here. There’s enough negativity in the world, #amiright? If you were to straight out ask me about a product and I don’t have a glowing review of it, I promise to tell you, but you won’t see a post titled “Worst ______ I’ve Ever Used” or something like that. My blog posts may never show up on HuffPost or ScarryMommy because of this policy, but that’s fine. 

I promise any affiliate links will be for products and services I’ve purchased with my own money, or would have purchased if it wasn’t already free. If you click on my link, I’ll make the smallest percentage if you purchase something (usually 4% – 6% of the retail amount paid), or even better, we both get a store credit or you get a percent off your purchase. If you’re cool with that, click away! If not, feel free to open up a new tab, Google whatever I just posted, like “black fit n flare dress”, and weed through the links that come up to see if you can find my exact one for the price I list on my blog. Easier to click on the link, right? *wink* 

If I receive the product or service free to give a review and you see it here, you can bet that I loved it and the word free didn’t sway me. Because if I get it free and keep it, I loved it. If I get it free and don’t like it, it goes back to the company or the service expires and you’ll never have to hear about it. I PROMISE.

The Real Deal

If you’ve followed me for a while on Instagram, you know my deal. I want to encourage you in your journey. I want you to value yourself enough to take care of yourself. I want us to all get along. I also REALLY like jewelry and arm parties, a good deal, a great outfit, strong coffee and community, and I know how all these things can revolutionize our lives. 

I’m excited for our lives to change through this blog. My hope is that you’ll resonate with what I have to put out there and put some of it into practice, and that you know that I do what I do hoping we are never the same, only better, because of it.

Writing Wednesday: What would you do if your sandwich fell upside down on the floor?

I thought I’d try out a fun segment here called Writing Wednesday. I’m always up for little creative writing, and I have to help my 2nd grade son with his homework. Two birds with one stone, right multitaskers?  Every month he brings home a “bingo board” with 20 writing prompts in squares (Ok, ok… they’re really rectangles, if you need to be specific), much like a bingo board. He has to complete usually 15 of the prompts, 4-5 (or more) sentences per prompt, with correct capitalization and punctuation. Every Wednesday I’ll share his 4 sentences (he FOR SURE stops at the minimum) as well as my response to the writing prompt.

I mean, it is the age old question, isn’t it? What would you do…? Pretty sure there’s a weekly show with that name. And I think they could totally set up a secnario around this:

What would you do if your sandwich fell upside down on the floor?

My son’s response was pretty straight forward for a 2nd grade boy.

“I would pik it up and put in the trash.”

In case you need a translation: 

1. I would pick it up and put it in the trash. (Right on, Bubby!) 

2. If mom was there, I would tell my mom. (Wait a second. How did I get involved?) 

3. My mom would make a new sandwich. (If this happens, I’m totally telling him to make his own sandwich – I can already see the blank stare of confusion.) 

4. It would be gross. (The upside down sandwich, I assume. ‘Cause I know you aren’t talking about the BRAND NEW sandwich I just made you after you CARELESSLY dropped the first one on the floor! What? Oh right – this is all hypothetical. ­čśü) 
Mine? Well, let’s just say, “It’s situational.”

What would I do if my sandwich fell upside down on the floor? 

That’s a good question, and the answer totally depends on what floor we’re talking about. My kitchen floor? Right in the trash. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not attempt to see if the sandwich has appeared to collect unwanted ingredients – because it totally has. There are stale crumbs and play doh and glitter and probably dried spaghetti now stuck to the sandwich. RIGHT. IN. THE. TRASH. 

My mother-in-law’s kitchen floor? Immaculate. The phrase “the floor was so clean you could eat off of it” may have very well originated in her kitchen. I’d consider picking up the rogue sandwich, giving it half a glance, brushing it off and eating it. I’m telling you, cleanest kitchen floors on earth. 

However, if we’re talking about peanut butter and jelly, I think that’s a no-go no matter what. You can’t brush dirt from that sticky mess, most of the pb&j has probably stuck to the floor anyway. Just make a new one. And if there isn’t anything left to make a new one, eat something else. Right after you clean up the goop you got all over the floor. 

In summary, it’s situational… and eat over your plate so your food doesn’t end up on the floor. 

So, what would you do if your sandwich fell upside down onto the floor? Let me know in the comments – because now I’m totally curious!

 

 

 

 

Holiday Sanity Savers

Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year. I hope you’re able to reclaim it for this year and plan ahead to make next year better, and more relaxed, than ever.