Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Stitch Fix: cozy weather is here

It's Stitch Fix time again! I don't know about you, but I loooove online shopping! Like, seriously. This was one day's worth. It's just so easy and I don't even have to change out of my jammies.

My monthly Stitch Fix is definitely one of my favorites though. I waited an entire day to open it, just savoring the anticipation of what was inside. I had asked for cozy winter wear for date nights and holiday gatherings with friends and family. 

And the wait was so worth it.... ooh!

First up, the Wallace Zig Zag Border Infinity Scarf by Look by M. I loved this as soon as I touched it. The color was great, a neutral for mixing and matching. 

Then there was this gray Justin Patch Pocket Cardigan by Renee C. I loved the stitching and pocket details on this one.

I also received these dark wash Nolita Skinny Jeans by Mavi. They're super low rise and I'm just now jumping into skinny jeans, but we'll see. 

Here's an interesting piece, Stacy Metallic Coated Sweater by Pink Martini. To be fair, I did check that I wanted to be occasionally spontaneous with my choices and I'm digging gold/rose gold right now.

Finally, the fifth piece was this deep purple Breyson Pleated Tab-Sleeve Blouse by 41Hawthorn. I adored the color and the fabric instantly. 

Time to play dress up!  As I put on the scarf, I realized it was a little too chunky for my taste. I felt like I was being choked, no matter how I twisted it. Leaving it in a single loop was too long. This one's going back.

Next up, the gray sweater and new skinny jeans with a black cami I already had. I was prepared to hate the jeans, but I actually liked them! They looked good with my Tieks and will work well with boots too. Keeping the jeans.

The sweater, however, was too big and is going back.

On to the metallic sweater. It's literally a black sweater somehow coated with metallic gold outside. I almost didn't put it on because there was no way I was keeping it, but sometimes you take one for the team. Again, too big and just no. It's going back too.

Finally, I saved this one for last because I wanted it so bad. The weight of the fabric is great, just slightly sheer, and it has buttons so you can roll up the sleeves easily. Loved it and put it in the keep pile, but as I was editing pictures I changed my mind. It's just a little too big through the stomach and makes me look like I have no shape. Sent it back.

The final verdict? Kept the skinny jeans {$88} and applied my $20 styling fee toward them. Then I went in and adjusted my Stitch Fix settings to go down a size on top. My closet is a mix of mediums and larges and I was worried the clothes would run small/boutique size so I went with a large on my first two fixes. Since most of the items were too big last time too, I sized down to a medium. We'll see how next month's box goes. Hopefully everything isn't too small. ;) 

It wasn't a total scratch though. I super love these jeans. My hair was a hot mess after trying on all my fixes, but I dressed them down with my new Jamberry hoodie for running quick errands with my hubby.

Ready to try out your own Stitch Fix?  Schedule your first box now-- it's fun and your $20 fee goes toward anything you decide to keep. Can't wait to see what YOU get!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

StyleBox and Oak73 Giveaway

It's time for another one of my favorite things giveaways! I am a founding Elite Executive with Jamberry Nails so they are right up there on my list of favorite things. This month, they partnered with Oak73 for our monthly subscription, StyleBox by Jamberry. Because I love both of those so much, this is the perfect time to give some away!

First up, StyleBox! Similar to other subscriptions, this one shows up at your door each month. It comes with $30+ worth of products and at least one of them is an exclusive that can't be purchased on its own. This month's was a wrap/lacquer combination inspired by Oak73. The wraps are bold patterns on clear backing so they look awesome when layered over the Copper Penny lacquer

If you love this box and want to start your own subscription, sign up on my website and yours will ship on the 20th. The longer your initial subscription, the better deal. Be sure to leave a comment or send me an email when you sign up and let me know you found me through my blog so I can send you a thank you gift too. I love spoiling my customers!

Have you heard of this month's inspiration, Oak73? It's a fun boutique with clothing and accessories. Seriously... look how this black and white clutch and sparkly sweatshirt pairs with our wraps. Fancy!

After shopping their website, I found this canvas tote. It matches the animal print in this month's StyleBox. What?! Match made in heaven! ;) 

And THAT my friends is why I decided I just had to do a giveaway. So here's your chance to win this month's StyleBox and Oak73's leopard tote. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a bonus, I'm also giving away an Indulgence gift set on my Facebook page Friday. Just comment on the Facebook picture with someone who you think deserves to be pampered this holiday season. If I draw her as the winner, you BOTH win a gift set! 
Happy holidays-- be good to yourself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making the leap

{source unknown}
What a difference a year makes. A year ago I was an experienced third grade teacher, waking up each morning and loving my job and yet counting the days, the hours, the minutes until I was free from it. Monday morning showers meant negotiating with myself, four more days 'til the weekend. Days of lunch duty in a busy cafeteria meant looking at the clock, three more hours to go. When did that happen?? It hadn't always been like that.

Don't get me wrong; I loved those kids. I loved my coworkers. I had always wanted to be a teacher and loved my job for a long time. When my college friends were shaping up to take a victory lap as 5th year super seniors, I graduated a semester early. Just let me have that classroom. Just give me my own kids. Just let me do the work. I had my dream job-- smallish school, nice community, mostly supportive parents. 

I remember feeling so much wonder and hope the first time I walked into my very own classroom and stared at all of the empty space. I invested ten years of my life into cultivating the perfect classroom, staying up to date on the current trends in education, going back to school to get a master's degree in reading, becoming an educational blogger. I served on countless committees, volunteered for numerous projects... teaching was my life. My mission. My identity.

So what changed? I can't say exactly. Maybe it was the school politics. Maybe it was state law. Maybe it was federal mandates and shrinking budgets. Maybe it was the economy that changed family dynamics and the baggage dumped on our kids. Maybe it was all of that combined. Or maybe it was me.

I think the thought crept in a year earlier, when my husband took a nice business trip to Hawaii. Without me. I've never been to Hawaii, but I didn't go. I didn't take a free trip to Hawaii. In the winter. In Indiana. What was I thinking?? I didn't go because of the little third grade faces who I was responsible for each day. I didn't go because of the mounds of sub plans it would take before and messes to clean up after. Who passes up a free trip to Hawaii? The old me. The one who was a slave to a job that was becoming increasingly less fulfilling. The one who put herself last.

And I was prepared to do it again. In spite of the whispers that told me it was time to take a chance, to try something new, to put myself back on the list. All year last year, the thought kept rolling around in my head that maybe it was time to take a break from teaching. I took more vacation days. I brought less work home. I said no more often to the extra commitments. I was a damn good teacher, but I started to draw the line. And it felt good. So in a flash decision this summer, a few weeks before school started, I resigned. Within two hours, my classroom was no longer my classroom. My kids were no longer my kids. The job that I had wanted so badly for so long was behind me.

I laughed. I cried. I felt exhilarated. And scared. We took a weeklong vacation to the beach the next day. I shattered my routine. It probably sounds like an early midlife crisis, but what is finally starting to sink in is that in spite of giving up something that was truly my identity for so long, it is just now that I feel like I'm in my own skin. The door to education isn't closed forever, but I'll never know what else there is unless I try.

{source unknown}
I've followed my heart. My passion. My talent. I am a better wife, a better friend, and a better person. I stay up until 4am and sleep until noon if that's when creativity strikes. I do lunch dates and dog walks in the middle of the day. I even go to the bathroom whenever I want {that's for you, teacher friends}. I take on only the projects that feel right. I make a difference. I am finally completely on my own terms and it's an incredible feeling.

What would you do if fear wasn't in the way? I hope some day you get to find out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

November Ipsy Review and Giveaway: Girl Meets Glitter

First of all, I am not a girlie girl. I love bags and jewelry and shoes. I enjoy shopping for clothes and my Stitch Fix is fun, but when it comes to makeup? Not so much. My monthly Xtreme Lash appointments are about as fancy as I get.

But when I heard about Ipsy for $10 a month, I figured I had nothing to lose. I may have also been drawn in by the cute little zipper bag they come in each month. Just sayin' ;) November's theme was "Girl Meets Glitter" and this is a sample of some of the different products that you might get. Each bag is customized based on your survey results, so everyone doesn't receive exactly the same thing.

So having no expectations, here's the lowdown on my first haul. First, everything I actually received for the $10 fee.

First up, Marc Anthony hairspray. I don't typically use hair spray because my curls do well with just gel, but I gave it a shot. The smell is a 10 out of 10. It seriously could be perfume. I thought it might have been strong enough to hold some extra volume in my roots, but it wasn't. It weighed my curls down. 

I also received Bye, Bye Under Eye by IT Cosmetics. I don't typically wear under eye products {knock on wood for me}, but I did give this a try. It went on super smooth, blended well to match my skin tone, and held up to it's promise not to crack or crease throughout the day. I actually liked it enough that I've ordered their foundation, so I'll review that when it comes in too. It was pricey, but looked so great on their website I had to give it a try. Plus, you get coupon codes through Ipsy so I grabbed it at a discount.

Next I put on, Be a Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base. I received the color Submissive {ha!}. I loved the color at first sight. I tend to wear bronzes and lighter tones. I've tried Julep's eye base before and it felt sticky on my eyelids as the day went on. I was afraid this would have similar results, but I was actually really pleased. You can layer it up or use it as a base under other eyeshadow. The texture was great. Overall, I'd say I just liked it though and am not running out to buy it.

Moving on to the lip paint by J. Cat Beauty in Red Potion. I tend to wear a pink/mauve/neutral lip stain or gloss, so I was interested to try the paint. My first thought was it was kind of dark, but I've seen burgundy lipstick with purple tones trending on Pinterest so I gave it a try. As soon as I put it on my lips, it was SO BRIGHT. Seriously, y'all. I don't even know how it looks like this in the tube, haha. I had to blot it down because it was magenta (click to see it). It also didn't wear as long as my regular lip stain.

Finally, my last piece was Pink Pearl highlighter by TEMPTU. I subscribed to Ipsy because I haven't played with a variety of makeup and wanted to give different things a try. I thought this was a perfect example. I'd seen tutorials using highlighter, but never tried it myself. This one was the perfect mix of shimmer without being glittery. I swiped some below my brows to highlight my eye area and was super pleased with the look and wear throughout the day. I'd definitely buy it. 

So how did it all look? Here's a picture as soon as I finished getting ready. The hair spray definitely wasn't great on my roots. It was heavy and trying to "fluff" it just cased frizz. This is the lip paint after I blotted it down and used my CoverGirl moisturizing top coat.

Here is the makeup again several hours later before lunch. The lip stain was still hanging in, but definitely starting to fade. My roots had fallen even more from the hairspray too.

Finally, here is the look later on in the evening on the way home. The highlighter hung in there all day around my eyebrows, the eye base never got sticky or creased, and the under eye cream never showed wear at all.

Final verdict:

  • Marc Anthony Hairspray: great, just not for my hair
  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye: love, excited to try the foundation when it comes in
  • Be a Bombshell Cosmetic Eye Base: nice, but could take it or leave it
  • J. Cat Beauty Lip Paint: No thanks, I prefer my current CoverGirl lip stain
  • TEMPTU Highlighter: Love, will definitely continue to use it

I would highly recommend giving Ipsy a try. It's such a cheap subscription box and you can try out a variety of products each month. Your survey results before and after your bags will make each month better and better!

To continue my favorite things giveaway theme, I'm giving you a chance to try my favorite brand from this month's bag with a $25 gift card to Amazon's It Cosmetics section. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 30, 2014

So... we bought a house

These cute Jamberry nails earned a closeup
for making the downpayment!
My husband and I did something a little crazy... we bought a house! I know, I know. Most thirty-somethings have houses already. It's a normal part of the whole "becoming an adult" process that most of us go through. Except, my husband and I continue to prove that we're anything but normal.

When we met in February 2008 {had our first date on Valentine's Day, actually}, we were living about an hour apart. I was teaching in Indiana and Ryan worked in clinical research at a hospital in Dayton while also working on his masters degree. By the time we got engaged after Christmas in 2009, the commute to see each other was getting old. Taking turns packing and unpacking for weekends away was a mess and seeing each other only on the weekends wasn't much fun either. We decided to go on and move into our current townhouse together, splitting the difference between our two separate apartments. This meant we'd each commute to work every day instead of to each other on the weekends. Nice trade off, huh? =)

Around this time, Ryan also decided he wanted to go back to school full-time to become a doctor. Any visions of buying a house after the wedding quickly went out the window. We weren't sure where we'd end up and there was definitely not enough money for a house on my teacher salary with Ryan going back to school full time. Fortunately our townhouse was brand new construction, in a nice part of time, and had a yard big enough for our dogs to play. 

Ultimately we got married and stayed put here in our townhouse. After many years, Ryan is finally set to graduate medical school and start residency this summer. Combined with my income from Ms. Fultz's Corner and Jamberry, I've been able to save up a significant downpayment while he was still in school. Knowing we'd want to buy a house soon after he receives his permanent placement in March, we started to visit open houses. It became quickly apparent that we didn't really agree on anything, ha! He wanted a project, I wanted move-in ready. He wanted some space, I preferred a neighborhood. I wanted a beautiful office with French doors, he wanted a man cave.

It was his birthday!
We started thinking we might want to build a house instead and began looking at production builders. And then one afternoon on a total whim, we walked into a model home and fell in love. Seriously. In love. Like the way you're never supposed to when looking for expensive things like cars and houses or puppies {that's a different story}. We couldn't get the model out of our heads. 

The great thing about building a production home is that it isn't really going anywhere. That builder has a handful of neighborhoods, each with a dozen lots to pick from. The house would be there... later... when we're ready. Except we only had our eye on one lot. ONE LOT, friends! It's tucked away, in the corner, by a little pond and green space, backed up by woods. Privacy and a neighborhood at the same time. The highest lot premium too, of course. That's how my taste always seems to go. But we wanted it. Roll the dice, right?

So... we bought it. haha What?! We aren't 100% sure we'll still be here in this area by the time summer rolls around, but we put down earnest money and signed a contingent contract that will let us walk away if we do get relocated in March. I don't even want to think about losing that deposit, but sometimes you just have a feeling, you know? I can see our little babies in there already. ;) We're set to close in May, so it's going to be a long six months.
Can't you see little kids playing in this yard??
But for now it's full steam ahead with options-- wood flooring, tile, facades, lighting, paint, bathtubs, oh my! I'm a woman on a mission. I can't wait to share more with you here, but until then here's a link to my Making Our House a Home Pinterest board. I'm always looking for more inspiration boards to follow, so I'd love it if you left the link to yours!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pinterest Project: Washi Tape Clipboard

I spend a lot of timing browsing Pinterest for inspiration. Middle of the night insomnia? Check Pinterest. Can't decide on paint colors? Consult Pinterest. Looking for a unique gift idea? Yup, Pinterest. How on earth do I style my new boots? Again, Pinterest for the win. It's seriously like having a network of expert girlfriends who are always on call. 

However, I'm sure we've all seen the popular {and often funny} Pinterest fails too. So one of the things I want to do here with my new blog is share the ones that have actually been successful. One of my favorite Pinterest projects to date is this cute washi tape clipboard. I tend to get caught up in the details and want everything to be absolutely perfect, so I wasn't sure how this one would go. I went in without a roadmap, but actually love the way it turned out.

The Scotch Expressions Tape was easy to reposition, so I was able to play with it quite a bit. Didn't like the way it went? Just pull it off and try again. 

They've come out with new color options since I made mine, so I'm seeing a repeat project in my near future. These clipboards would make great gifts for your child's teacher this holiday season too. I love to give teacher gifts that are personal without breaking the budget. Handmade items and a thoughtful card go a long way!

You can head over to this Pinterest search to see many more washi tape clipboard options for more ideas. Here are a few of my favorites though. I'd love to see your results!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If you give Christi a pair of boots...

Things in my life have a tendency to spiral. I blame it on my perfectionist side and it happens so quickly, sometimes I don't even realize it until I'm already down the rabbit hole. I compare it to the picture book series, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. For example, last Christmas, we bought a new chair for my office. Then I needed all new furniture. And a new color scheme. And art. "Good enough" is rarely actually good enough when it comes to me.

The same thing happened this weekend. I finally gave in to the tall boot craze that's sweeping Pinterest. I did my research and settled on a bourbon color that would pair well with both black and brown. Bonus points because they were on clearance at Nordstrom. If I'm going to take a risk, I tend to take a discounted one. Case in point: the ridiculously expensive Frye cowboy boots I bought this summer that are still in the box with tags. Don't worry, I wore them for 30 seconds when I tried them on. ;)

Anyway, my new boots arrived and I savored the unboxing. I have a bit of an online shopping problem, obviously. I like to savor them before jumping right in. Would they fit? Would they be too tall? Could I actually pull it off? Finally I gave in, ran upstairs, and hid in my closet to try them on. Perfection! Skirts, dresses, black tights, oh my! It was love. 

But then the spiraling happened. I needed tights in a multitude of colors. In comes Jane.com and I now own more tights than there are days of the week. Hooray! 

After that, Pinterest pointed me to boots with jeans-- so cute! Problem: I don't own a single pair of skinny jeans. My legs are not that skinny and I am definitely not that trendy. I tried all of the tricks in the book to tuck and fold and imprison my flare jeans into those boots. I was left with nothing but a pair of bunchy knees. Not cute.

So Saturday brought a trip to the mall, determined to find a pair of skinny jeans that were actually not that skinny. Jeggings are not happening over here, people. After trying on several styles, it was Old Navy Flirty to the rescue. And the miracle of all miracles, I will actually wear these with my Tieks too. I'm going to rock a skinny jean, friends. What?!

Of course, I also had to buy a dozen other pieces because if I'm going to Old Navy, I'm coming out with an armful to mix and match. I've been all about the lace lately {see my Stitch Fix post and enter to win!} so I grabbed this top

I also grabbed a sheer polka dot top. I'm eager to wear this one over skirts, dresses, and leggings since it's a high-low.

But my favorite is probably this simple black and white skirt. I have tons of these for summer, but this one is thicker and more woven. 

I got to test out some of my new pieces at the Jamberry regionals leadership reception on Friday night. I went with a funky "shine bright" metallic shirt under a cardigan I already had. I was worried about breaking in the boots, but they were actually really comfortable, no complaints at all!

Who would have known one new pair of boots would have led to all that? ;)