Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick Quiet Quarterlies

MMMSC Day 18:  Color Block--Monday, 4/20/15

Hurray for winter's last gasp, bringing cool, rainy weather back to Coldville (after a week of sunny days with highs around 70) so I can replicate this outfit that I loved from the Fashionably Employed blog.


I feel like I nailed this one.

Navy cardigan (Kohls)+
Bright teal pencil skirt (JCP)+
Navy/teal striped T (Kohls)+
Navy scarf (Target)+
Navy leggings+
Tall cognac boots by Sam Edelman+

(Items marked with + are new for the Work the Wardrobe challenge.  It's like your first birding outing of the year, when even the ubiquitous house sparrow counts as new for the year--it's easy to make quick gains.)

I have to admit, even though tall cognac boots are a fashion blogger cliche, they really worked in this outfit.  Teal, navy, and cognac are a very appealing combination.

Verdict:  It was a good thing I was bundled up a bit today because it was quite cool.  There was a stiff breeze this afternoon when I left work, and when I got into the car, the radio guy said it was 43 degrees.  Yikes.

It was a relatively quiet day at work today because my officemate is on vacation today and tomorrow (staying home, working on her house--one of those home improvement projects that make me glad to be a renter).  But I had a nice amount of work to do, so the day went quickly.  My quarterly reports that were due at the end of the day today?  I had them out by 2 p.m.  Yay.  And just before I left for the day, I received the data file that I need for my next big set of reports, so I'm looking forward to getting started with that tomorrow morning.

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 17: Q is for Quick Quiet Quarterlies

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Progress Project

I made good progress on the Life Style Challenge this week.  I still need to exercise tonight, but otherwise, I've completed all the tasks.

Life Style Challenge Week 6 Review:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Pick a new paleo recipe for next week

Not only did I find a new paleo recipe, I made it and it was actually pretty good!  It's a recipe for cookies made from shredded coconut, sweetened with maple syrup, and flavored with cocoa and walnuts.  They turned out a little less sweet than I would have liked, but otherwise tasty.

This week looks identical to last week by design.  The length of one standard American "hour long" TV episode without commercials is about 43 minutes, so that's how long I typically go.  But 43 minutes x 3 days a week is 2 hours and 9 minutes...getting close to the general recommendation of 2.5 hours per week.

Life Style Challenge Week 7:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Pick a new paleo recipe for next week 

I have also been doing another big closet clean-out.  So far I've tried on and made decisions about all my dresses, shirts, and skirts.  Pants, sweaters, and jackets I haven't done yet.  I have filled a bunch of bags with items to take to Goodwill and my closet is looking a little bit more reasonable (a bit).  Going through my wardrobe, and looking at the new items I've ordered recently from the crazy Jones New York sale, I decided that it's time to revisit the wardrobe database project I had considered months ago--this time, to support my new personal wardrobe challenge.

I'm tired of forgetting about the things I have (and holding on to things I maybe don't really like enough) so my new challenge, starting on Monday, is the Work the Wardrobe Challenge. 

Let me explain first by way of analogy.  In the birding world, among people who are into keeping lists of bird sightings (life lists, state lists, etc.), one type of list is the year list--the goal is to record how many species you see during the year (usually the calendar year).  I've decided to flip this around a bit because even in Coldville, it doesn't really make sense to try to maximize the number of clothing items you wear in a year.  (And any such goal would reinforce my tendencies toward extraneous shopping, and I don't need the help.) 

Instead, my goal is that by April 19, 2016, I will have worn everything I own at least once.

To many, perhaps all of you, this will sound crazy--like having the goal to chew my food this week with my teeth, i.e., not much of a challenge.  But I own enough clothes/shoes/accessories that it's easy to overlook certain items, and it makes me a big disappointed at the end of a season to realize that I hadn't gotten around to wearing something that's now too hot/cold/whatever for the new weather. 

I am not going on a shopping ban or anything like that.  I am perfectly free to add to and subtract from my wardrobe as I desire.  But I hope that this goal will push me into the back of the closet rather than grabbing whatever has just come off the drying rack.

I'm going to keep track of my wardrobe items and what I wear when in a simple Excel spreadsheet.  I've decided that what I want to record is just not complicated enough to warrant the up-front time sink of developing an Access database and data entry forms for.  So far I've added most of my dresses and all of my skirts to the spreadsheet.  Keeping track of things will give me some new data to geek out over, which is always fun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Old Navy Favorite

MMMSC Day 17: Old Navy Favorites--Friday, 4/17/15

This is a tougher challenge than it should be because of how often I try to buy something from Old Navy but it doesn't work out because the garment turns out to be 2 sizes too small in one dimension and 1 size too big in another.  But there is one Old Navy item (which I bought at Goodwill) that deserved to be called a "favorite"--my white with black stripes button up shirt.

My inspiration for this look comes from one of the ensemble suggestions on You Look Fab, a website to which I was introduced by Debbie and which quickly became a go-to (a "favorite" if you will).  Of course, the items and outfits on You Look Fab are much more modern and stylish than what I typically wear, but I enjoyed the opportunity to put a more Sally-esque casual/classic/thrift-store spin on one of Angie's ensembles.  She called this one "Flared Jeans with a Crisp Touch." 


My first thought was to pair my striped button up with my magenta blazer, but the cotton woven fabric of the shirt bunched oddly under the knit blazer (which I'd also forgotten had 3/4 length sleeves) and it wasn't as bright a pink as in the inspiration photo--a color I really wanted to include in my outfit.  So I tried it with a very plain cardigan in a knit fabric that is thicker than a typical T-shirt but thinner than a typical sweatshirt.  It was a bit awkward at first working with the woven-under-T-shirt thing, but after a bit of arranging everything, it looked all right.  Then I tried rolling up the sleeves to show off the striped cuffs and I was happy.

I took the gold color on the sunglasses and put them on my necklace, and I chose the grey ankle boots directly from the visual, and there you have it: me in an outfit that I could not photograph very well. (I kept changing my mind about how much of the cardigan to button; in the end, I ended up buttoning all but the bottom button.)

Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
Bright pink t-shirt cardigan (Lands End)
Black striped button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles
Gold shelled pea necklace (Target)

And Robert came to my rescue by fixing my necklace that (woo, high Target quality!) apparently came apart (without my noticing it) the last time I removed it.  When I took the necklace back out from the storage case, I couldn't even figure out what was wrong with it--it's like, there's this extra chain here and I don't understand what it is and where it should go and how the hell did this even happen.  I did, however, identify the correct tool for Robert to use to fix it (needle nosed pliers)--must be all that adventure game playing I do with my mom that allows me to figure out what tool I need.

Verdict: Another warm day in Coldville, so I dumped the cardigan after lunch. 

Man, I am so glad it's the weekend!  I had a good week, but I'm tired.

A to Z Challenge Day 15: O is for Old Navy Favorite

Thursday, April 16, 2015


MMMSC Day 4: Floral Print--Thursday, 4/16/15

The floral print/stripes pattern mix is hugely popular.  I could have created an entire Pinterest board just from outfits with this combo (but instead have left them in my One Huge Pinterest Outfit Board to Rule Them All, which is of course utter chaos).  I decided to use this one as my inspiration today because I have pieces that match it pretty well. 

Black and white striped shorts are with minimal integrity loss turned into a black and white striped skirt.  The black/blue/pink floral jacket is a pretty good match for my black/blue/purple/yellow Monet watercolor floral tuxedo jacket--which is not properly floral but seems very floral to me.  I could have tried a chambray button up shirt but I didn't love the look of it here, and I think the feel of the stiff fabric would be even worse, so I switched it out for an aqua blue T that works well with the blue of the jacket.  I took the opportunity to try my new yellow necklace--did you know yellow is a hot trend for spring?  (That's what the Internet tells us.  So are flared jeans--yay!  So is denim on denim--boo!  So is some particular kind of purse--snooze.)

Well, the final product is quite a bit different but I liked it.

But wait, you can actually get a decent idea of what this outfit looks like, what gives?  I enlisted Robert as my photographer because this jacket just will not cooperate at all when I put my hands up for a photo (I mean, even less than my outfits normally do, which is not much).

"Monet" watercolor floral tuxedo jacket (thrifted, Target)
Black and white striped knit pencil skirt (thrifted, Target)
Aqua T (thrifted, Kohls)
Black tights
Black wedges (thrifted)
*Yellow necklace (Kohls)

I was irritated that I was not able to wear the first top I selected because the "infamously tight Target arms" problem struck again--only this time, it was the forearms that were too tight because the lining in the sleeves was kind of loose and messed up and taking up way too much of the space in there (which was a weird experience because my forearms are the skinniest part of my body relative to my overall size, so sleeves are never too tight there).  I had to switch to a short-sleeved T and it wasn't quite as dark as the long-sleeved one.  I mean, it's fine, but I sort of preferred the darker tone.  Luckily the yellow necklace is a highlighter/neon shade that stands out just fine against the paler aqua.

Once I figured out the secret to tights (size up!), I have found wearing tights with a skirt to be more comfortable than wearing the skirt with bare legs.  I'm going to eke out the tight-wearing season as long as I can.

Verdict: OK, as it turns out, these tights were kind of annoying in the segmented worm way today.  They felt fine at first but slowly started to roll down, dig in, and basically cause me irritation.  Bah.  It's like they never make tights long enough in the waist.  I can get leggings that work fine but tights are so tricky.

I'm feeling good but kind of tired tonight so I feel like I've got nothing on the whole alphabet blogging challenge thing.  Oh wait.  Perfect.

A to Z Challenge Day 14:  N is for Nothing

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Easter Dress

My Easter Dress--Wednesday, 4/15/15

Although my Easter dress did not arrive in time for me to wear it on Easter, that really didn't matter because it's not like I went anywhere special on Easter--I just stayed home and wore my stand-by Cuddle Bunny shirt with the excellent Groucho Bunny socks that the Easter Bunny left for me.

But now it's here and I'm ready to share this wonder with the world.

This is the fabric, which I could simply not resist.

It's a rabbit print!  When I showed it to Robert, he said, They're not all in the same position.  Nope, this is fabric with bunnies in four different positions.  Pretty sweet, right?  But with the neutral colors, not cloyingly so.

I bought the dress from eShakti, a company in India that sells super-cute stuff and, most importantly, customizes the clothes to fit the measurements you send them and allows you to pick from a few options (for this dress, it included the type of collar and the length) for a mere $7.50 extra.  Because I was a new customer, I got $40 off my first order plus free customization and the dress was already on sale.  So how did the custom job work out?

I thought it fit great!  I was really glad to be able to order a knee-length dress and have it be knee-length on me.  I haven't owned a shirt dress for a very long time--I find them difficult to fit with my waist-to-hip ratio but the customization to my measurements (and the old-school flared skirt on this dress) worked out very well.

So to wear this to work, I decided to go all Tough Bunny with the addition of ankle boots and moto jacket (my go-to solution for making something pretty a little bit tougher).

*Bunny shirt dress (eShakti)
Black moto jacket (JCP)
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman

Verdict:  I'm a bad-ass in a bunny dress.  Woot!

I'm also loving my new haircut I got on Sunday--a chin length bob.  Because I wash my hair at night and sleep on it wet, it gets wavy and a little bit crazy as it dries over night, which is an oddly good look, actually.  It's more "stylishly tousled" than "in need of a brush." 

A funny thing happened at the hairdresser.  Robert told me that while he was waiting after getting his hair cut, he saw a woman who looked a lot like my sister getting her hair cut.  It took him a moment to realize that it was me.  Apparently with my hair wet from just being washed, the darker color threw him off, and somehow darker hair + my family resemblance + no glasses = a person who looked like Jen.  I know that my hair color is a definitive aspect of my look, but it's amusing that it's true to this extent.  If I want Robert to continue recognizing me as we get older, I'm going to have to plan to color my hair blonde when I start going grey (though thankfully there's no sign of that yet).

A to Z Challenge Day 13:  M is for My Easter Dress

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lost Leopard

MMMSC Day 9: Heels--Tuesday, 4/14/15

As you've probably gathered, I don't really wear heels very often.  I have some wedges I like, but despite the fact that they add a bit of height, they don't feel like heels to me.  Aside from my interview heels, I have a pair of heeled Oxfords (that are bizarrely comfortable) and a pair of pump suede pumps.  I haven't worn the purple ones lately (though I have been wearing a lot of purple clothing, it seems) so let's give it a shot.

Of course, my inspiration photo doesn't contain purple heels.  It has a purple shirt and silver (?) heels.  Nevertheless, it gave me an idea.


Purple top, black pants, brown leopard cardigan, long gold necklace--these are all components that I can combine with my purple shoes.  I'm especially happy to see my leopard cardigan come out again because I do not wear it nearly often enough (sometimes because I'm wearing another leopard item already but usually because it's been in the bottom drawer of my dresser and I just forget about it--it was nice to see a photo that triggered my memory).

Plum top (Kohls)
Brown leopard cardigan (Lands End)
Black 5 pocket pants (Rafaella)
Purple pumps (thrifted)
Long gold tassel necklace (Kohls)

The double chain on this necklace has the potential to be fiddly, but I just love love love the tassel.  This necklace is actually a reasonable length for me too--often long necklaces are just too long and do not lay right on my chest, but this one is about perfect.  The chain itself ends a little higher than most, with a lot of the length coming from the tassel itself.

Verdict: It was warm enough today that I didn't even need to wear a coat/jacket to work, but I managed not to overhead in my office during the afternoon...during the afternoon in which the turkey vultures were going crazy outside our windows.  On seeing a particularly stunning buzz of our building, about three different people gasped simultaneously.  They certainly were putting on a good show today.

A to Z Challenge Day 12: L is for Lost Leopard

Monday, April 13, 2015

Khakis Keeping My Hand In

MMMSC Day 3: Belted--Monday, 4/13/15

Looking over my pins, I was very attracted to the idea of putting a skinny belt over a pencil skirt with a jacket or cardigan worn over it as shown in this mirror selfie from an unknown fashion blogger.  I love her red pencil skirt but, since I don't have one, I decided I could definitely more than make do with my (not as tight) bright pink one.

From Pinterest, original source unknown

I matched her white top, colorful pencil skirt, and beige topper, and took it all up a notch with the addition of an animal print belt and a bird scarf.  And tights and tall boots because even though it's spring, I just don't trust, and these weatherproofed boots mean I don't have to worry about my shoes if it does indeed rain as forecast (hah, sunny all day).

Bright pink pencil skirt (JCP)
White T (Lands End)
Beige knit jacket (Nordstrom)
Leopard skinny belt (Target)
Beige/pink bird scarf (Kohls)
Brown sweater tights (Target)
Tall brown boots by Fitzwell

I rearranged my scarf for this photo, to display the gorgeous birdies to better effect.  One of the many nice things about spring is that I can start wearing my lightweight jackets again.  This one is extremely useful, much more so than I even expected.  I don't like wearing beige pants, so it's nice in the spring and summer to lighten up dark colors or balance out bright ones with a pleasant beige.

Even with the dark brown tights and tall boots, this outfit felt really cheerful and spring-time appropriate to me.

Verdict:  I liked my rendition even better than the inspiration photo due to the little touch of leopard print and the "putting a bird on it" effect.  While I can't swear that 100% of situations are improved with the addition of a bird, I can definitively state that this outfit was.  I got a big compliment on my outfit from a co-worker, so: Success.

In other fashion news...Tam was rocking a pair of old, too-short khakis today, demonstrating that a pair of soft woven cotton pants make a nice spring transition piece for those who adhere to the Work Play Sleep ensemble.  It's not all leggings, yoga pants, and PJs--you can wear pants with a zipper, normcore college kiddos!

In other bird officemate told me this morning that she was seeing a lot of crows flying outside her office window.  I looked over and said, I see a vulture out there.  Oh, there's another one.  She said, I thought that was a crow.  So I explained about how turkey vultures hold their wings at a dihedral angle (demonstrated with hands), and how they soar without flapping for long periods, and how they have white feathers underneath and red heads.  I pulled up images on google for her reference.  We went back to the window and after a minute, she said, I see one with a red head now...and it has white feathers, too!  I think all those birds I was calling crows are really vultures.  I didn't even know we had turkey vultures in Coldville.  A few minutes later, she said, I can really see that they're vultures now.  I've learned something today.

She asked me if I knew about vultures from working at Parks and Wildlife, and I explained that Robert and I have spent a lot of time watching birds, and that vultures are extremely common in Texas.  It was fun to teach somebody something about wildlife--I have left the field of natural resources [is that a pun?] so I enjoyed this opportunity to keep my hand in.  Also, I've felt a bit wobbly on my birding skills since I moved up here.  Different birds, same birds in different seasons in different plumages with different behaviors...even that old friend the Northern Cardinal sings with a different accent up here.  So it was kind of a boost to be reminded that I do still have some bird identification knowledge that isn't already known to 100% of people.

A to Z Challenge Day 11: K is for Khakis and Keeping My Hand In