Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Day at Hyde Park, Emerson Fry and New Hair

What a beautiful Memorial Day weekend we are having! It is my perfect weather, sunny and crisp and not too hot. Yesterday we decided to drive up to Hyde Park, NY to visit the home of president Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Its a really great place to visit and I highly recommend it, even if you are not a history buff ( I am not). I thought I was going to see the house and garden which are beautiful, but it was the exhibit in the Presidential Library that blew me away.
 
 I never really realized how visionary and progressive the whole New Deal and Roosevelt's presidency was and seeing it from current political and economical perspective was fascinating. We are still benefiting from so many initiatives set in place at that time: Social Security, minimum wage, 40 hrs workweek, SEC and Banking regulations, countless infrastructure and more. It is also interesting to think that in some ways we went backwards and have almost arrived where it started.

pondering over New Deal ;)
 
Roosevelt loved his childhood house and spend a lot of time here during his 16 years of presidency.
 

 
I never realized (just shows how little I know) that not only he was in wheelchair but that he was hiding it with great deal of effort. His presidency was a real triumph of the will if there ever was one.

 
You can see the wheelchair in the back, it was made from regular wooden kitchen chair.
 
 
This is the room that he was born in, I spy the wardrobe similar to the one DaniBP was considering.
 
 
But this is the room that delighted me the most, walk-in-closet, who would have thought?
 
 
Sweeping view of the valley from the back of the house, priceless.
 
 
Of course there are stables.
 
 
Eleanor Roosevelt's Rose Garden must be beautiful when the roses and peonies start blooming, I want to come back just to see it.
 
 
First Rose...
 
 
In the afternoon it got warmer and I could remove my jean jacket. It looks warmer in the pictures, but it was only low sixties, just shows you that I was determine to show off this Portia Top in abstract. I got it from Emerson Fry recently. It is sold out on the website but it may show up in outlet. Similar to other Portia Tops but this one is in silk (including the full lining). It's crazy expensive but I got it on major sale ($69). I love the quality of Emerson Fry! Now, I swear that the shorts were looking longer in the mirror, lol. I should wear them with a shorter top for better proportions.
 
 

 
The 'Freedom From Fear' sculpture in the back of Presidential Library has an interesting story behind it. It was created by Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill. Male and female human figures were carved from large section of Berlin Wall. I love how they are breaking out of barbed wire. In a way it is also a little ironic since both Churchill and Roosevelt have their indirect part in creating the Berlin Wall in the first place.
 
 

I can never resist a path flanked by trees and this one is no exception...

 
This shot in front of the house looks like it could've been somewhere in southern Europe, don't you think?
 
 
 
I did my hair a little darker last time I colored it. I think I like it, what do you think?
 
***
 
What are you up to this weekend?
 

 

 

 



 


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dresses For Hippos

I have been living in jeans for the last two years. I used to wear more skirts and dresses but I have been working from home a lot and my current office has a very casual dress code, so denim only seems a natural choice. Plus, its so easy, you slide into a pair of skinny jeans, throw on a floaty top and voila, you are ready to go!

But sometimes a girl wants a dress... A new dress. I have mentioned that I have gained some weight and nowhere it was showing more than in the dress department. They all seemed to shrunk somehow...

Well,  good or bad, it was an excuse to shop for something new. So far so good, right?  Unfortunately, shopping when you gain weight can be a torture. Everything was just wrong. After trying on 15 dresses I was feeling like a bloated hippo and pretty much ready to give up. Resign myself to the fact that nothing will ever look good simply because I don't.  But you know what? I am stubborn. I was convinced there is a dress out there for a woman of any size and proportions, I must have been trying on the wrong styles. So did a quick inventory of what works and what doesn't. My biggest problem area is my waist, or the lack of one. On the other hand, my legs are probably my favorite feature, that's why I have been loving all those skinny jeans. I needed a dress that is fitted on top and flows from my chest skimming over the belly and stops few inches over my knees. It has to be more structured and made from fabric that is not too clingy. I love the color and pattern but nothing beats dark solids when you want to look size smaller than you are. Say yes to the black leather dress!

J.Crew clutch and Vince's shoes

This dress from Halogen ($59.99 at Nordstrom Rack) did not wow me on the hanger but once I put it on it, I felt less of a dancing hippo and more of a rock 'n' roll, what more can you ask?

See the dress here on lovely Pink Peonies (she styled it with leopard and pink as well!)




At first I was worrying that this dress is not exactly spring appropriate but nothing than some accessories and hot pink nail polish can't fix. I was hoping for a cooler, cloudy day and of course we got a blast of 80 degrees but you know what? Air conditioning saves the day!




What do you think? Do you ever feel like a hippo when shopping for a special occasion dress? Do you believe it is all a matter of choosing the right style and proportions?





Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lured and (possibly) betrayed - Joie Emolient Flower Top

Every year, emerging from the depths of long dreary season, tired of wearing mostly blacks, I have been obsessing about bold flower prints. Best rendered in floaty silks and soft jerseys, they immediately signal a warmer, sunnier outlook and make me dream of vacations and travelling to happy places. However, I know from the experience that bold flower prints can be tricky when you are not a one of those willowy young things, perfectly positioned by pristine pools in exotic locales.

Like this one...

I do adore those floaty, dreamy dresses that make you think of strolling, basket in hand, in the colorful countryside. They magically make me simultaneously look for the straw hat and an electronic wallet. But burned by numerous hard crashes with the merciless reality of a full size mirror, I come to think that a little flower top may be a safer option for me.

Jeans True Religion,  sweater J.Crew


This little flower number by Joie is sheer perfection, albeit not actually sheer, which is great (and rare!).  I am no seamstress, mind you, but it looks beautifully made and the print itself is gorgeous and makes even the YouTube kittens jealous of attention. The V-neck is not too deep but it does create a leaner, sexier silhouette and the elastic at the bottom makes it stay put while camouflaging my, ahem,  not so flat, stomach.

bag Marc by Marc Jacobs, Shoes Sam Edelman

I feel like I am often lured and then quickly betrayed by those bold colorful designs, as they can look great on models and in the magazines but often end up looking frumpy and visually add pounds and inches when worn by mere mortals, aka yours truly. There is a fine line here between a fresh feminine charm and something better left in grandma's closet or worse yet, best suited for some prepubescent hippie Lolitas.  I want to think it works here but I have been wrong before and got pictures to prove it.

***

How about you? Are you attracted to all this flower power or does it leave you cold and shaking your head? Do you think those prints can be wrapped over chests and hips or better left hanging around windows or draping the tables?




Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Days of Spring

Hello there! So again, I did not post for over a month, sorry. I planned to be back sooner and I even had a few draft posts in the works, but somehow, life just gets in a way.

Winter has ended ( according to the calendar) and we greeted the first day of spring with another snow storm. But yesterday it was warmer and today the sun decided to come out, which cheered me immensely. It was still cold but I decided to at least ditch the boots and the winter coat, as it seemed I have been wearing them for years. I love my coats and boots and since I don't have that many pairs they actually make it easier to dress everyday but this has been a long winter...




Jacket: Warehouse, bought from Asos, top Michael by Michael Kors, Jeans by True Religion, shoes by Vince




I went to see Insurgent (from Divergent Series) with my daughter. We liked it a lot. When she was a couple of years younger I have been conflicted about Hunger Games and worrying that the view of the world is too cynical for a pre-teen but I think she is now mature enough and all those topics are actually good conversation starters and opportunity for some interesting intellectual discussions. so we have seen Divergent and all three Hunger Games movies,  The Giver and Lucy. Even if artistically they are nothing special they all revolve around the question of what makes us human and for that alone, in my opinion, they are worth seeing at this age.

***

How about you?  Are you enjoying spring and shedding layers of clothing? Have you seen Insurgent and when do you think those kind of movies are age appropriate?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Emerson Fry Pink Coat to fight the Winter Blues

We are having so much snow here this winter, its driving me crazy! With the weather like this, schools are closed or have delayed openings, roads are icy and I end up working from home most of the time.  I am very grateful that I can do it, but sometimes it gives me a cabin fever.



So last weekend I had to fight the dreariness of the winter with a pop of pink! The coat is from Emerson Fry (2013) and I love it.  Perfect for layering, well made, timeless design. I am also carrying my other fav: Marc by Marc Jacobs Sheltered Island Top Handle satchel. I desperately needed a black bag since the strap on my trusty Banana Republic messenger bag broke down after few years of a heavy use. I got this one during F&F sales. It is available at Bloomingdales here, alas no discount now.  Perfect size, great shape, soft leather and not heavy, what more can you ask?  I know what: outside pocket for my phone! Still,  I am very happy with it.



The rest of my outfit is all from The Outlets at Bergen Town Center. I live only few miles away from it and love shopping there; Nordstrom Rack for shoes, Bloomingdales outlet for denim and Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus for tops.  They also have Saks Off 5th but I am always completely shopped out after hitting the first three. They have J.Crew factory as well. If you are in vicinity and have some time, I think it is worth it! I am wearing Paige skinnies (from Bloomies), Sam Edelman Booties (Nordstrom Rack) and Michael Kors sweater (Last Call). All three (combined) around $150. This can cheer me up in no time, lol!



Photo credits: my lovely A. Thank you sweetie! She really wanted to do some fancy editing and filters, she is an Instagram queen and thinks my pics are boring. But I thought you may want to actually see the clothes...  You know I am cool, right?  Just kidding ;)

***

Can an outfit cheer you up in the winter? Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom Rack or similar outlets? Or do you prefer some other distractions to fight the winter blues? Please share!

Monday, February 16, 2015

My blue and silver bedroom and update on Madewell order

My old bedroom was bright, warm and cozy and while I lived in my old house I loved everything about it. 
But once I unpacked the boxes in my townhouse I knew I wanted something completely different. 


Below you can see what was my new bedroom before I bought the house. Its a nice and big room with enough space for a bed tucked in on one side and a spacious seating area with big windows overlooking a backyard on the other side. I thought I would replace the flooring and work with my old furniture.  But suddenly I wanted a change. I couldn't do warm colors anymore. I felt like the earth tones were out there to suffocate me.  Everything I liked was blue, gray or silver..  And I really wanted blue upholstered bed and Lucite bench. 


In fact, I first painted this room the same color i had in my old bedroom but here, and maybe just at this point in my life, it looked dated and unexciting. I had a great decorator to help me pick the paint colors and we decided to go with color scheme that we already used in the other areas of the house. Once I started there was no going back. I sold my old bedroom set to a young girl decorating her first apartment. It made me happy to see somebody excited about using it! Now I felt less guilty about picking up my dream furniture. Everything i picked up was some kind if deal but of course it still added up so I had to replace some of my choices with more affordable versions. Scouting Wayfair, Joss and Main and Lamps Plus became my everyday ritual for couple of months.  Not so different from checking J.Crew site for popbacks!


I did get the bed and chaise I wanted and eventually i found all the other pieces at great prices, including some real steals from Lamps Plus Open Box sales. I contemplated adding mirrored nightstands for some Hollywood glam factor but in the end, I decided to go with the white ones from Wayfair to match the cabinet on the other side of the room. I love having those big windows across from my bed!



I finally had a bedroom big enough for a chaise lounge, something I always wanted. Now, this is a perfect spot for reading and just having some time to myself. 

I have to tell you, it is so hard to take good interior pictures without the wide angle lens and proper lighting.  I feel like the 'before' pictures sometimes look better, rooms are brighter and seem bigger  because they were taken by professional photographer, colors enhanced and exposure adjusted, so you have to take my word for it, it does look better irl.



The fun part of being single is that you can buy whatever you want and you don;t have to compromise. Even if your partner has a similar taste there is always going to be something you adore that does not appeal to them. Now that I only had myself to ask, I suddenly I wanted to go all girly and a little glam. I was like a kid in the candy store. 

Some of my choices surprised even me. Who would have thought I wanted a skull hanging over my bed? But guess what? I love it. I named him Fernando.

I am very happy with how it turned out. Every morning when I wake up I stare at my little personal oasis. To me it was worth every penny.

What do you you think?

***

Since some of you asked, I wanted to update you on my last Madewell order. I turned out that I love both tees, they are drapey but not too sloppy in size M, exactly what I wanted.


And I am finally comfortable in my legging jeans, Oh what a liberation!



***  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love is a wave

U2 is one of my all-time-favorite bands. Last year I fell in love with their latest album, Songs of Innocence. There are so many wonderful songs and great lyrics there!

If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so...
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing every breaking wave?

(Every Breaking Wave by U2
from Songs of Innocence)


Martha's Vineyard, the place i love


It is easy to fall in love but at some point in relationship we choose to stay in love and this where I think love truly begins. Love is a choice. We humans are always looking for love in some form, loving our parents, our partners, our children, our friends, our country, our jobs, our dreams for the future, our memories of the past. 

I think this may be one of the reasons we celebrate Valentine's Day, to remind ourselves that we are choosing to stay. Wherever we are, there is always some love to hold on to. Even if you are not in a happy place, I believe that when you stay with something you love,  love will find its way back to you. Because love is a wave.


love you so much A!!!


Hugs and kisses to all of you...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Madewell and how I (don't) worry about my size...

Did you see the post from J.Crew Aficionada about Madewell coming to Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter? I have a Madewell store in the nearby mall, so it doesn't make a huge difference to me, but I think this is great news to those who don't. I love Nordstrom!

Madewell has some great boots and bags. I was dying for Rag and Bone ankle booties last year but could not justify the price and Madewell had some good alternatives (Billie!). I ended up not buying them, but only because I was so wrapped up in the house decorating madness. But last summer I needed a few new t-shirts and Madewell had just the styles. I think they are a little edgier and trendier than J.Crew but still without logos and unnecessary embellishments.



In fact, their striped linen tee has been one of my favorite items recently.  Yes. To the point that when I look at my iPhone pictures, it sometimes seems like that's the only t-shirt I own! I also seem to be drinking a lot of champagne, but that's a good thing, right?




Here I am, rowing in the Central Park, dressed in almost all-Madewell outfit. The white vest was another one of my favs, It can instantly turn even your shorts-and-tee outfit into something chic. And I wore that necklace to death. Quite literally, as one day the chain came apart and it was all little pieces all over the floor. So OK, maybe it is not such a great quality, but I still loved it while it lasted (kind of like my ex, but nevermind). I saw this necklace on some TV personalities, including Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. I love her style, don;t you?


They now have something quite similar, called Arrowstack necklace.




Here is that t-shirt again, this time with my Rag and Bone Fedora.  I also bought it in red and solid gray (the t-shirt, not the hat), but somehow I did not wear those that often. Contrary to the care label washing instructions, I just wash them on a regular cycle. Who has time to hand wash the t-shirts? They do shrink if you put them in the dryer but they will stretch again in the next wash.  I also like their viscose slouchy v-neck tees, they drape well and they are supersoft. That said, they do sometimes develop those annoying little holes in front. I gave up on it and just assume they will not last more than one season. Oh well.

For now, I realized that I need a couple of long sleeve t-shirts, as I seem to have  'outgrown' most of what I have in my closet. Sigh. I even suggested to my boyfriend that maybe if he dumped me, I started losing some weight, being brokenhearted and such, but buying couple of things in a bigger size may be a more pleasant solution. Don't worry, eventually I may skip some of  the DD breakfasts and may even get back to an exercise routine, lol.

Here is what I ordered:



She is wearing my necklace!

And this too:

I should have gone to the store to try it on, but I am too lazy. That's what happens when you start getting fat like Meghan Trainor too much.

Btw, why is everything cropped these days? I can't do cropped!

***
What do you think? Do you buy from Madewell? Do you own any of the t-shirts I ordered?
Please chime in, it would be no fun without you!





Sunday, February 8, 2015

Moving out

Since I have been on the house decorating kick I thought I would share the story of selling my old house and finding a new place. I loved everything about my old house. It was a 1920 Tudor Colonial, on a lovely tree-lined street and I have spent a lot of time getting it to the point where I wanted it to be. We have done some major renovations there so at fisrt I wanted to stay there. I could afford the mortgage (barely) but after living there without my husband for a year I realized that it was just too much maintenance for me. After I made the decision to sell I had no regrets. It is a major hassle to get the house ready for sale, so it became my pet project and I often thrive on challenges.

I had a wonderful realtor who is also a friend and she was super helpful with every step of the way. She brought a stager named Barbara, to look at the house, rearrange some furniture and figure out what to do with couple of rooms which were empty after my ex moved out. I have to admit that I thought I don't need the stager.  Didn't I know it all after I spent so many hours watching HGTV?

I was wrong. Barbara was able to come up with some tweaks I wish I had known when I actually lived in the house. And it was fun! If you are selling the house I would encourage you to get the stager.  My realtor paid for her services out of her commission but it would have been worth it if I paid for it myself.

This is the 'before' of my living room:


Barbara had me put the red sofa at an angle in the corner and swap the brown chair and the ottoman. Then she mixed up the pillows and put the floor lamp behind the red sofa (not visible in the pic). Suddenly, the space opened up and my furniture started 'talking to each other'.





She said coconuts sell houses...



Added some decorating touches...



This room was empty and I thought I didn't have any extra furniture but somehow we found it.



Then she helped me to clean up the playroom. That was quite a task as you can imagine.



I even painted the stairs to the attic.


Of course I can never be sure if all those changes made a difference.  But when the house eventually went on the market I got four offers in the first two weeks. I ended up selling it above the asking price.

I decided I don't want a single family house anymore. With the help of my realtor I found a two bedroom townhouse in the same town. It was perfect for me and my daughter! Now, this was going to be so much easier.


My new place
The move is always a pain in you know what but at least I already had all the furniture.  Or so I thought.... But that's a story for another post...

***

Have you moved a lot? I am now in my sixth house and I want to stay here forever. But I know I have said that before...Oddly, I don;t like moving but I did enjoy getting the house ready. Do you think staging can make a difference?










Thursday, February 5, 2015

Back to K

As I mentioned in my 'back from the grave' post, I have not been shopping for new clothes recently. I had a lot of other things going on and I was more focused on decorating my new place but mostly it was because I have considered myself a finished project.

I was always interested in fashion. I grew up with a mother who owned enough shoes and clothes to stock a department store and in High School I've even sewn my own clothes. However, over the years, dressing up in the morning became an afterthought. Then one day, few years ago, I looked in the mirror and screamed in horror. How did I became that frumpy, slightly overweight mother, hair up in black scrunchie, clad in clearance sneakers and ill fitting jeans? For the next couple of years I went through my own 'what not to wear' project. Somewhere on my journey I have become a JCrew junkie and even started a blog documenting my shopping habits. But you already know that.

I did not stop blogging because I was depressed after getting divorced, as painful as it was. In fact, after my ex left in December 2012 and I got laid off, I traveled and got a new job and I was still posting quite a lot until the following summer.  But as I was becoming the new single-again, totally-grown-ass-woman, I realized that I am not a project anymore. I was done. I still wasn't perfect, mind you (just ask my ex, haha). But somehow, I was good enough.

I realized that I went the whole circle. In many ways I was back to the way I used to dress, But I was weeding through what I learned during my fashion obsessed period, discarding what I could not keep up with and sticking to my tried and true, hopefully more refined, definitely more confident.

Nowadays, I do think about what I wear every morning. But I went back to wearing more jeans and t-shirts. I like my skinny jeans because I think my legs are my best feature. I stick to certain brands and I never regret paying a premium. I also love good quality swingy t-shirts. I dress it up with heels and maybe a necklace or a scarf and usually this is my uniform. When the weather is warmer I love to wear dresses, when its cold I have a few favorite coats and boots. I bought a Rag and Bone fedora and it works wonders with many outfits. Nothing earth shuttering but it works for me. I have worn jeans and t-shirts before and looked frumpy. I thought that I needed much more variety and I wanted to be unexpected. But I discovered that variety and novelty were overrated, at least for me.

Wearing True Religion Embellished Ankle Skinny Chrissy Jeans and FCUK t-shirt 

Fit is king and quality is my prince charming. Wait, how about the queen? Well, queen is all about the hair. I had a couple of big fancy parties to attend recently. Every time I contemplated buying a new dress but I decided to get my hair done instead (it was still cheaper, too). Hair is the best fashion accessory. That's when I realized the advantage of LBD and black clothes in general. Nobody remembers them, so you can wear them multiple times! And they hide the stains better. Genius!

Did I really need to spend all that time and money to arrive at the obvious? I guess I did and I have enjoyed the journey. I feel like I am Dorothy discovering that I could have came back to Kansas all along. But it was definitely more fun to travel on the yellow brick road. JC must have been the wicked witch I have slayed!

***

What do you think? Does it make any sense to you or am I just rambling incoherently? Love to hear your thoughts!!!!