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Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankful

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top: Sam's Club, blazer & pants: Target, boots: Kohl's, scarf: Discount Fashion Warehouse

Happy Monday! Monday’s are typically a bit of a drag, but I’m coming off the weekend thankful that we had the opportunity to spend quality time with both sides of our family, and after some rough nights of Jacob sleeping poorly while we were gone and constant whining this morning, I’m also feeling thankful for daycare and my full time job. ;) But don’t worry, I have a hunch that feeling will disappear the moment I walk in the door after work and he rushes my way because he’s excited to see me after us being separated for 10 hours today.

Keeping it simple today, and sharing this look from about a month ago when the fall leaves were in full effect and we were having the perfect fall weather. This outfit was great for a Saturday morning short presentation I did to a class of students new to the university I work for. It being a weekend, I was confident I could’ve gone casual and still felt that I was dressed appropriately, but this look was just as comfortable as jeans and a top would’ve been. Skinny pants, booties, and an oversized scarf to feel a little bit stylish and trendy, and a blazer to up the professional factor.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

iPhone Photography - What I've Learned

I’ve always found photography to be a fascinating thing, but without the access to a DSLR camera or the patience to learn how to use it, iPhone photography is about as fancy as I get. Plus my phone is always near me, making it much handier than the camera. Thankfully technology has come a long way, and relying on your phone to take pictures doesn’t mean you’re doomed to low quality photos, especially when you consider all the photo editing apps available to help. When I look at the near 3,800 photos in the camera roll on my phone (yes, I think this is a ridiculous number and no I don’t care. Ha!) I also realize that my favorites are almost always the candid shots.

For me this developed out of necessity because I have a very stubborn husband who most often will not pose for a picture, so if I've been forced just to snap whatever I can get. But over time I've come to appreciate these more. I'd rather look back on pictures and remember how goofy my husband and son were being with each other on Easter Sunday, capture my husband and son having their own little moment and be reminded of exactly what I was feeling at that point in time. To me, that captures the moment and the feelings that went with it more than our posed smiles. (Although don't get me wrong, I'd like my fair share of those pictures too please!)

So for fun, today I’m sharing some of my favorite iPhone pictures and the apps that helped me edit them! (I checked, and it looks like all these apps are available for Android phones too)


bump picture

App Needed: Camera+ ($2.99) or Afterlight ($0.99)

We didn’t take the time or spend the money on maternity photos, but I don’t feel cheated of that experience when I take a look at this picture. I found the link to this tutorial by White House Black Shutters on one of those What To Expect When You’re Expecting discussion boards that I would read from time to time for entertainment. If you read her post, I used her original instructions with the Camera+ app because I already had the app downloaded, but she’s since updated it to include instructions using Afterlight, another app I use regularly.

kyle race water

App Needed: VSCO Cam (free)
Instructions: G3 filter

My husband did a full triathlon (2.4 mile swim, then 112 mile bike, then 26.2 mile run) when I was almost 8 months pregnant and I couldn't help but capture this look of him testing the water temperature the day before the race, focused and deep in thought. Taking an off center photo makes it even more candid.

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App Needed: Afterlight ($0.99)
Instructions: In filters, go to original category, select Ash, then adjust the brightness until you get the look you like.

Sometimes I take a picture and then I look at it and my attention is immediately drawn to background. In the original of this picture, you could tell that the blanket on the couch is orange, the wall in the kitchen is teal, and you could see all the clutter on the kitchen counter – these are the things I felt my attention being drawn to rather than to my husband and my son. For me, turning a picture into black and white makes the background noise fade away, drawing my attention back to what it should be focused on.

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App Needed: Fotograf ($1.99)
Instructions: Filter is Matt Dev 9, as simple as that.

To be fair, we started out trying to capture a posed picture but with college basketball on the tv behind the family member who took this picture and 5 month old babies not really understanding the concept of posing for a picture, it was pretty much a lost cause. This ended up being my favorite of the shots captured because it showed a moment where we’re truly being “us”.

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App Needed: Afterlight ($0.99)
Instructions: In filters, go to original category, select Coal, then once again just adjust the brightness until you get the look you like.

Going for the candid shot means you’re not always going to have the opportunity to be in the perfect lighting for a photo. Turning a picture into a black and white shot also works great for saving a shot when the lighting is really bad. Like here – I was rocking Jacob and was all of a sudden struck by how long and beautiful those eye lashes look! We were in a dark room with the blinds closed and the picture quality was awful. But do you think I was going to try to move to better lighting and risk waking my kid up? Yeah right! :)

Any tips or other apps you've found that work for you? I'm always looking for more! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In My Bag

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How do we feel about these "what's in my bag" posts? Do we still like them? Because I've never done one and it sounded kind of fun. Plus my purse was looking uncharacteristically clean so I had to take advantage! So let's start with talking about the criteria for being a favorite bag of mine: big enough to fit everything I need but not so big it feels like a tote, outside pocket to place easy to grab items, inside pocket for the same reason, and zipper closure across the top. Something like a million bonus points added if it's thrifted for less than $10 like this beauty. 

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Now for the goods, what you'll typically find in my bag. Side note, this is pretty much the weekday version. For the weekend you can add an extra set of clothes for Jacob, Sophie the giraffe, and wipes.

- Blogging supplies - iPad to play on during my lunch hour and mother's room breaks, planner (with a few pieces of mail tucked inside), journal because I like to hand write blog post ideas, and my camera for catching pictures on my way to work. Also my favorite flair pens.

- Kid supplies - I knew we'd be running some errands with Jacob right after work sans diaper bag so a few diapers, hand sanitizer, and oyster crackers in case he needed a snack.

- Prescription sunglasses - quite possibly my favorite purchase ever. Wayfarer style (non-prescription, similar style, same brand) because I felt like it was a look that doesn't go out of style. Something like more than 4 years later I'm still wearing them, so hopefully I'm right.

- Work badge + keys (forgot to include my car keys)

- Spare set of headphones, freebies from a race we ran in Nashville.

- Target receipt - guess I forgot to include the gift receipt in that baby shower gift I bought. Whoops...

- Wallet - this Merona one (same wallet, different color) fits my preference for a fun color and zippered outside pocket for change.

- 31 gifts zipper pouch - because haven't most of us had a friend or co-worker who hosted a party? Or is that just me? Either way, I love these pouches.


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In case you're nosy like I am, what's in my zipper pouch too:

- Altoids - because I'm guessing nobody wants to meet with an Academic Advisor who has coffee breath. Just being real. :)

- Band-aid friction block - perfect if you find yourself wearing some uncomfortable shoes.

- Bobby pins and spin pins - and why do I not have hair ties in here too for hair emergencies? I guess one is usually on my wrist.

- Ava Anderson perfume in "Hope"

- Oil absorbing sheets - because my forehead gets a bit of shine to it.

- Band-aids - just in case!

- Wet n' Wild brand concealer - because I'm cheap.

- Lip balm and color - Baby Lips by Maybelline is my current favorite for fixing a case of dry lips and this Cover Girl lip color is just the right amount of color me, which means it's light enough coverage that you can feel confident putting it on without a mirror (mine is in the color Luv U). 

- Phone charger - my mom gave me this, but I'm pretty sure I don't even have all the parts with me to make it work.

*Not pictured = the empty Twix wrapper because I didn't think you wanted to see my trash, and my phone because I used it to take these pictures. :)

Linking up with The Fashion Canvas and Walking in Memphis in High Heels...



Monday, November 23, 2015

At it Again

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tee: Target, cardigan: Old Navy, necklacke: The Jones Market, skirt: gift, shoes: thrifted, 

Remember last week when I talked about adding a pattern being one of the ways I perk up an all black outfit? Well surprise, surprise - I'm at it again, just on the bottom half this  time. We experienced some really unseasonably warm weather recently with highs hitting 60 degrees for a few days so I used it as an opportunity to take the comfier than sweatpants maxi skirt out for one more spin this year. A note to all my fellow tall girls out there - this skirt gets bonus points for being the perfect length (and I'm 5'9"ish)! It was a gift from my mother-in-law for my birthday and I have no idea where she got it. I can't for the life of me find it online, but the brand name is Max Studio in case that's helpful. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Coziest Scarf

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sweater & scarf: Old Navy, pant & shoes: Target

I'm so attached to this scarf that actual tears may be shed when it's time to get rid of it. It's my favorite color, but the material is so soft that wearing it makes me feel like I'm wrapped up in a cozy blanket.

Although I have no doubt I could make this piece more versatile, between the bold color and its large size, I typically the rest of my outfit pretty simply to avoid the look feeling a little overwhelming to me. Back jeggings, a classic vneck sweater, and a pair of coordinating pointy toed heels are perfect in my book.

Linking up for Third Thursday Threads...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Uniform

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button up: Discount Fashion Warehouse (Express portofino shirt), sweater: Discount Fashion Warehouse, jeggings: Target, boots: Kohl's

Wearing all black has turned into something I rely on more and more, especially on days I don't have the energy or motivation to put much thought into an outfit. At this point we could definitely call it my uniform. As wonderful as it is, it can get a little boring, so it's nice to have some tactics for giving an all black outfit some visual interest. Here's a few I've found have worked for me:

An unexpected shoe  
My leopard print flats are my favorite for this, but really any shoe in a fun pop of color or with a pattern would do the trick. This time I decided to go for a cognac bootie to mix it up a bit.

Add a layer 
I think we all love layers, right? Here my layer added underneath gives the look a little more dimension to catch your eye. And don't forget the option of a top layer. I'm constantly reaching for my olive jacket or my denim jacket to finish off an all black look! 

A statement piece of jewelry 
A bold necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings would be a great addition. I personally shy away from larger earrings (I don't like the way they make my ears look and think they compete with my glasses too!), but picking up statement bracelets and necklaces as souvenirs has been my favorite way to commemorate a trip for years. They're not always bang friendly, so I'm looking forward to being able to start wearing them again!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jacob: 12 Months (!!!)

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I'm still wrapping my head around it, but we have somehow already made it through the first year. I'm shocked and proud that I even made it through his birthday without shedding a single tear. :)

Nickname: Nuggie (from Nugget) and Buddy I think mostly.

Height/Weight: 30 inches tall and 24 pounds.

Things we can't live without: This month I'm having a hard time thinking of things we'd be miserable without. I suppose the most notable thing would be this car I found him. Completely random buy, but he loves pushing that thing all over the place and it's nice that it's small enough to throw in my purse if we head to a friends house or out of town for the weekend.

Things he likes: Climbing the stairs (with one of us directly behind him of course), his walker, and oyster crackers.

Things he dislikes: Being a good or even consistent eater, letting me out of his sight when I get home from work, not getting his way about something. 

Favorite characteristic: As I've said month after month, he's so laid back. But also that he's so easy to take out on errands. If we're moving, he's good and it's been a long time since we've experienced a melt down while we're out. But gone are the days of enjoying a meal or a beer out and about though because he does not have much interest in sitting still. 

Milestones: The milestone we've hit that I do not enjoy is the one where about once a week he melts down when I leave him at daycare. Let's just say he wasn't the only one crying when that happened for the first time. But fun milestones include pulling himself up and walking along anything and everything. In fact, I'm almost 2 weeks behind on writing this and today he took his first steps! And guess who missed it? Me! Naturally he chose to do it while I was in the shower.






Monday, November 16, 2015

The De-Cluttering Project: What I've Learned

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a low quality photo, but look! everything except out of season shoes and a few out of season skirts and dresses fit in one closet! bonus points for even having enough space for a dump truck parking space too. ;)

This post is part of a series detailing what I learned from reading Marie Kondo's book TheLife-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and how I'm applying that to creating a simpler, more focused closet of clothing. Check out the "Marie Kondo Monday" tag to see all posts in this series...

Things felt so out of sync last week that I never did take the time to continue the series of Mondays talking about my experience after reading Marie Kondo's book. We'll just call this series done after this post since a wrap up/lessons learned type of post was the last one planned anyway. So let's start that conversation with why I took on this de-cluttering project with my closet anyway - what did I hope to gain and did I gain it? This project started because I was feeling overwhelmed with life, with work, with being a parent, and mostly with stuff, and stuff felt like something I had the most control over. Pair that with some personal disgust toward how I've spent my hard earned money (since I already mentioned in a previous post that I work in a field that doesn't involve a large paycheck). That being said, I guess I was looking for some peace of mind and I thought simplifying would do that for me.

And did it work? Kind of. To really achieve the peace of mind I was looking for, I think I need to apply the same intensity level of clearing things out to items and spaces outside of just my closets. That's the whole point of Marie Kondo's book, I just felt like starting with my closet made the project feel manageable.

So even though my answer to the did it work question is kind of, I'm calling it a success. It was a great start that changed the way I think about personal belongings and the memories attached to them. For example, I finally was able to let go of that cute red dress that isn't even in style anymore that I wore for the first New Year's Eve I spent with my husband. Looking at it brought back really good memories from the beginning of our relationship, but I don't need that dress to bring those back - they're right there in my mind anytime I feel the need to get sentimental. That's a much healthier approach! Another win is that I have started to feel calmer, and I've become a lot more thoughtful and picky about the things I purchase.

But the work is not done! It's actually a little bit addicting and this de-cluttering project has left me motivated to extend it to other parts of the house. Marie Kondo's approach of gathering things by categories felt a lot more difficult to apply to everything else in my house, so I was really excited when I stumbled across a different fun way to approach the effort on Twitter. It's called the Minsgame and by the end of November I will have gotten rid of 465 more items. Sara, Anthony, Laura, and Heather are coordinating the effort and Sara's post does a great job of explaining the game, so if you're interested you should check it out! As I write this, I've already gotten rid of 231 more items (I'm working a little bit ahead). It makes it fun, and you should see how good my bathroom looks since that was the first location targeted for this game!

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Little Getaway

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Jacob7edited Jacob family

We've been a little bit off our game around here. You'd think the whole week I took off of work last week would leave me feeling refreshed and ready to go, but nope! Not when there's first birthdays to be had, a nice little getaway to the Hocking Hills area, and a kiddo with a cold who forgets how wonderful sleep is. Not to mention that he now has an infection in both of his ears. Oy. 

But back to the fun part, the first birthday and our little trip. We knew we wanted to do something as our little family of 3 to celebrate the milestone, but wanted to keep it close. We decided that a little cabin in the Hocking Hills area for two nights would be perfect, and it really was great. The only problem was that I'm guessing between his cold, being in a strange place, and the fact that the only place to put the pack n play was in the bedroom right outside the bathroom door, Jacob did not sleep well at all. Which unfortunately means that we didn't sleep well either, especially me. 

So as we packed up the car first thing on our last morning I insisted on a family picture, despite not having washed my hair in 3 days, no make up on, and having an enormous cold sore on my lip. And I'm glad I did, because someday I may look back on that picture and forget about the exhaustion and frustration I was feeling at the time, and I know I'll remember just how lucky we were to have that time together.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Currently

EST. 2015

Joining in on one of my favorite link ups again this month, Currently with Anne and Jenna!

Cooking...
I made a family favorite this month, apple/pear-sauce. My grandparents had apple trees and pear trees in their backyard and my grandpa would make applesauce with pears thrown in too. Sometimes when we end of up with an excessive amount of uneaten apples in our fridge I make it, and I was feeling a little nostalgic because while he's been gone for more of my life than he was alive for, October was his birthday month and it makes me miss him just a little bit more. No real recipe has ever existed for the apple/pear-sauce, so I just peeled and cut apples and pears until I was tired of doing it, then threw them in a crockpot with cinnamon sticks and some sugar until it was cooked down to the consistency I was looking for. 

Planning...
A trip this week to Hocking Hills in Southeastern Ohio, although truthfully all the planning we did was to take the week off of work and book a cabin for a few of those days. I've been looking forward to no real agenda, just hanging out as a family of 3 and enjoying some time away from home to relax. 

Smelling...
As I write this, cupcakes because I waited until my usual bedtime to start making cupcakes for Jacob's birthday. :) (Update: I stayed up late to make them and then completely forgot them on the kitchen counter when we left the next morning!)

Appreciating...
My body! I think it deserves it. Last October I was in the last month of pregnancy and weighed almost 60 pounds more than I do now. As we creeped closer to Jacob's first birthday it put me in a really reflective mood, feeling thankful that my body supported a healthy pregnancy, managed child birth (although medicated), and has allowed me to nurse for the past year. It's amazing what we're physically capable of, isn't it? 

Anticipating...
My kid turning one, which happened yesterday! I feel like a lot of the first year has been spent in "survival mode" and I just can't believe we're at the end of it. I'm definitely feeling like we've found our groove and I can already tell this next stage is going to be so much fun!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Replacement Pieces

Long tan cardiganPointy-toed leopard print flatsTan t-shirtWhite jeansBlack jeggings (full length, not ankle)Tan jeggingsNude pointy-toed flats

This post is part of a series detailing what I learned from reading Marie Kondo's book TheLife-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and how I'm applying that to creating a simpler, more focused closet of clothing. Check out the "Marie Kondo Monday" tag to see all posts in this series...

Even though looking in the mirror each day should've been a clue, cleaning out a lot of the closet clutter showed me what types of items I've been preferring lately. Jeggings, t-shirts, and long cardigans have been pieces that are part of a look I'm quick to go to pretty often. Most of my jeggings come from Discount Fashion Warehouse, which is a local (at least I think it's only local!) discount store that always carries Express, Limited, and Victoria's Secret brands. My routine for the past couple of years now has been to buy a pair of black Express jeggings for $15 from that store and wear them until they were so stretched out that I needed a new pair, but it's a store that often requires patience and I hadn't been able to find a full length pair. 

So instead I headed to Target and apparently found all but one thing on my list of replacement pieces needed. To round out the other jeggings purchases in addition to the black pair, the white pair replaced the maternity pair I lived in last summer and loved the look of, and the khaki pair was to replace khaki pants that were too big and I didn't love the style of anymore (they were a boyfriend fit, but never fit quite the way I wanted them to). The long cardigan replaces an over-sized one I thrifted and is worn enough that I wouldn't wear it to work anymore. Admittedly I couldn't bring myself to get rid of that favorite though so it's one of the few pieces I kept but demoted to lounge wear. 

The v-neck t-shirt is in a color called oatmeal heather. I had the same t-shirt and I had worn it so much that it became an old grungy looking tee, so that one hit the trash and I bought the exact same one to replace it. There's so much stretch in this tee that I was still wearing my old one when I was probably 8 months pregnant, so if stretch is your thing then I highly recommend it!

The leopard print pointy-toed flats were such a lucky find that I'm convinced I must've been throwing out some really good karma into the world at that time. My previous pair were a little tight but still comfortable when I bought them, but my post-pregnancy feet were not having it. This pair was the only pair in the store and just happened to be in my size. I had even been wanting my replacement pair to have darker tones in them and this pair was perfect. These are currently the pair of shoes I wear most often during the work week - I had forgotten how much I love that print!

A pair of nude pointy-toed flats are the only item left on my list and I'm going to be picky. I still have my old pair (from Target, shocking!) but they're stretched out from being worn so often at the end of my pregnancy and they're looking a little worn. After splurging a bit I need to watch my spending, so I'm toying with the idea of asking for them for Christmas if I find a pair I like enough. If anybody has any feedback on a reasonably priced pair they've like, I'll take it!