Tag Archives: style

What I’m into: One-third life crisis edition

Maybe I’m having a 1/3 life crisis? Or maybe it’s just August and as with every fresh school year, I’m craving some new-ness and a chance to prove I’ve still got some youth left in me. Thankfully, one of my college roomies spent the weekend in Des Moines and rescued me from adulthood for a wee bit!

Musical Magic 

It’s not that I’m a music festival junkie but the fact that I didn’t even really even contemplate getting tickets to 80/35 or Hinterland this year bummed me out. I tried to bring the kids to the Beaverdale Bluegrass Fest and they melted down after like 15 minutes.

Then Joe and I both saw that Nathaniel Rateliff is playing GARP at Codfish Hollow next month and he managed to snag us a pair of tickets (and overnight babysitting!!!) for the show so we can camp there. Yes! I’ve heard the atmosphere is totally magical.

Bicycle love 

I’ve been hardcore mooning over a cargo e-bike, but those ladies are expensive. I was scheming how to pay for a new model (we did not win the #tourdmparks $1K). We wandered down to Ichi Bike on my day off on Friday and one of the older model Yuba Spicy Curry dream bikes I’ve been crushing on for well over two years was there, loaded with the accessories I needed.

It was a moment of serendipity and she will be home with us soon. I’m going to hold on to my Subaru for the time being, but it’s my goal to go down to one car after I survive the winter.

Sweet kicks 

Totally late to this party, but can we talk about Dansko sandals? Backcountry Outfitters was having their sale and  I swung by because they always stock quality shoes and I needed an alternative to the croc ballet flats I keep wearing to walk Wilbur and then forgetting to take off.

These Danskos are ridiculously comfortable (podiatrist approved!) and my kind of cute. Plus, now that I know they’re a B Corporation (meets social and environmental responsibility standards) I am a total convert. I snagged mine end-of-season clearance, too. Is my grandma showing here?

Oh, and two random things I wrote elsewhere lately:
Be Blue Ribbon-Worthy in the Workplace for LIFT Iowa
Raising a Feminist Son for Des Moines Moms Blog

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Ladies night: Clothing Swap

During college, my roommate and I would  shop each other’s closets to save money and try out a different look. (Let’s be honest – when Amanda borrowed from my closet, it was when she needed to dress as a librarian/7th grader and when I raided hers it was so I could go out on the weekend and maybe just maybe not be carded.)

So when I got invited to a clothing swap hosted by a few girlfriends this past weekend, I was super excited. At this point in the year, I’m tired of my winter clothes and re-evaluating what I want to keep for spring and summer. Clothing swaps are a great way to let go of nicer items you love but that aren’t working for you any more and that you’re too lazy to consign.


image via Oh Happy Day {free printable invites}

The recipe for a clothing swap is pretty simple:

A home to host it in. (It’s preferable to send the spouse/kids out for the duration, so the entire main floor can serve as a giant dressing room.)

Hangers/tables/rolling clothes rack if you’re really fancy & a few full-length mirrors. We hung dresses in one room, folded up pants in another and piled tops on the kitchen table. I schlepped my cheap Target mirror down the street to pitch in.

Wine & snacks & a playlist. Not necessary, but ‘duh.’ A party atmosphere is way more fun for shopping.  Get goofy and sometimes you might accidentally try on someone’s real jeans that they’ve abandoned momentarily because they’re trying on another outfit.

Suitcases/hampers for bringing clothes, shoes and accessories to the swap and bringing your fabulous finds home. We didn’t have any fights break out over any of the pieces — you just toss an item you want into your hamper/suitcase to reserve it.

A “no fat talk” rule. Bodies change. Some of your friends are taller/thinner than you. This is not the time to get hung up on your insecurities. Celebrate the things that look great on each other and laugh off the fact that multiple people got stuck when trying on the same garment and needed to be extracted from it.

A donation plan. The hostess should plan to bring leftover items to Goodwill. We also had some work-appropriate outfits that are on their way to Dress for Success.

I’m amazed by how well everything worked out. It’s not like all of us wear the same size or are the same shape, but everyone went home with at least one killer “new” outfit. I have the perfect cardigan to complete this swap outfit, which I plan to wear on a trip to Boston next month!


Personally, I scored huge when a friend walked through the door with this pair of brown leather size 7 Fossil boots she’d outgrown after having her son. My feet grew after pregnancy, too, and I’d just given some of my favorite boots to my nieces, so it was like boot karma.

It was also really fun to see another friend  rock a pair of corduroys I’d bought awhile back thinking I was going to grow three inches and lose 20 pounds. (What?!)

Also, for some reason, we all showed up in black tank tops and jeans, although there was no instruction to do this. All in all, a brilliant idea hosted lovingly by some cool lady friends. Try it!

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Back to School

Summer flowers are browning around the edges, and the sound of the high school band practicing out on the field provides some pep for our morning walks.


Back-to-school time is one of my favorite fleeting seasons. I have the urge to dress in corduroy. But instead, I’ll do what a grownup lady who has grad school in her rearview mirror will do, and go bag shopping. I ruined my old one with hard boiled eggs — don’t ask. CARRY_-_GREY_TRIANGLE_15_grande

My friend Katy recommended bookhou and it looks like my new autumn companion will be this lovely Grey Triangles tote. 

And, in the vein of lifelong learning, I’m taking a Skillshare class about nonfiction writing. It’s a series of pre-recorded videos and some discussions, resources and a mini assignment, “taught” by one of my favorite writers. More on that later.

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Midwest snow queen essentials

Oh, the snow queen. She always looks so ethereal in those gauzy layers of white and blue, maybe a fur cape casually draped across her shoulders. We women of the Midwest know that’s not really how it works when the temperatures turn arctic, like they have been during the “Polar Vortex” we’re experiencing.


It’s all about piling on the fleece, flannel and wool and leaving just the tiniest sliver of face exposed for the purpose of not running into trees when you’re out walking the dog. Most of my outfits for Wilbur’s morning and then before-bed walks involve my flannel cupcake print pajamas as a midlayer. It’s a good thing we live at a bustling intersection. Winters in Iowa are a time of year when I kind of understand cat people. Wilbur requires three walks a day, and won’t just mark the nearest fire hydrant and call it a day.

Here’s a little roundup of items that are fashionable and functional for even the frostiest weather. Yes, this is based around a skirt. The better for piling on underlayers, I think.

Start with some fleece-lined leggings or sweater tights with wool socks, of course.


1. Orvis fleece hoodie (My mom got this for me for Christmas and I have been living in it.)

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 10.26.04 AM

2. Sorel boots (Joe gifted me a different style a few years ago and they have served me quite well.)


3. GraceandLace leg warmers. I just got a pair of legwarmers and they definitely help keep the calf-area warm.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 10.32.54 AM

4. Eddie Bauer skirt (Poly/spandex/wool blend FTW. I’m going to put this on my wardrobe wishlist.)


5. Smartwool crew, or something else that’s not $100 but is cozier than your average cotton longsleeve.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 11.05.53 AM

6. Boden down parka. I love everything Boden does. This parka manages to give its wearer a waist so she doesn’t look like a marshmallow!

sn4 mittenpattern

7. Wiksten hat & mittens (These are links to patterns.)

A cozy cowl from Cara’s shop or one of Jen’s creations should also help. I whipped up a more decorative cowl a few weeks ago. It’s main role is distracting from my tummy chub and not really warmth, though.


You should also totally have something hot to look forward to after braving the cold. Our furnace was going kaput on Friday, but thankfully Joe was able to fix it after only a half day of teeth-chattering panic. Friday night we fired up Netflix and started watching Scandal. We binge-watched the entire first season in a night and are totally hooked. Olivia Pope’s wardrobe – swoon.

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Aww, honey(comb)

I’ve been jonesing to incorporate the honeycomb trend into our home decor, and went ga-ga over these shelves from “A Beautiful Mess” a few weeks ago. Joe channeled all of his last-week-before-baby nervous energy into making them for me for my birthday!


I watched from the zero gravity chair, popsicle in hand as he tackled the project. (It took a couple of hours over a few days.)


We installed the shelves in our landing, which transformed from a snore-ville junk-piled catchall into an actually adult looking sitting space after the remodel.


Slowly but surely, the nursery isn’t the only finished-feeling space.


I think it has an unintentionally woodsy, Portland-vibe now that everything is together and I’m loving it. My mom finished the Posie Daisychain Crewelwork sampler! It’s one of my favorite gifts, ever.


The quilt was handmade by my friend Amy, for Emmett. The fabrics are so perfect.


As far as styling the shelves goes, I think they need a terrarium.


I’ll have to stop by seed in the East Village sometime soon to get succulents and supplies, but in the meantime, here’s some inspiration:


The “TERRA” Terrarium by Fort Standard

full_Kitty_Terrarium_12Succulent terrarium

il_570xN.360178552_5y1vQuill & Fox postcard set

Terrarium+Tutorial+9Pieced Pastimes tutorial


Filed under At home, Getting crafty

Feeling French

I’ve been focusing on the nursery addition, but the rest of our attic master got some attention with the remodel, too. The most significant update is a new wall and French doors that separate the master bedroom from this landing space and our upstairs bathroom.


The landing area was mostly just a catch-all with papers piling on top of a desk shoved against one wall. In the end, that’s probably what it will become again, but I’m doing some daydreaming for now and “shopping” from other sections of the house to make it a sweet sitting area. Because honestly, sitting sounds really good right now.

The upstairs also got a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore Heather Gray paint on the walls, re-whitened trim and our once-brass fixtures got the ORB treatment. ORB is awesome. Our contractor couldn’t believe we didn’t buy new hardware.


We’ll see how much more progress gets made in the coming weeks. Maybe in three years the landing will still look like that, with a lampshade on the floor. I can’t even post a total picture of our bedroom wall with French doors because it’s still such a shambles in there.


The French Door setup (these are actually white but the lighting was off) will provide a little more privacy without really sacrificing the open feel of the space. Plus, it will be a nice way to keep Wilbur contained without having to put him in his kennel. Eventually, we might get a pretty patterned window film for the glass panes, although Joe questioned my dedication to cutting so many rectangles.

Instead of decorating, a few favorite French-ish things these doors have me daydreaming about:


This quartet of French-y cards from Rifle Paper Co. Ephemera has carried these before.


Mornings at La Mie. (I have a feeling maternity leave will involve several stroller walks to get breakfast sweets.)


A delightful collection of shorts. Yeah, forget hanging curtains, I’ll be re-watching these.

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A new view

The windows went in the nursery today! Four big windows overlook the backyard and the backyards of the street beyond, which we’ve never seen before. I can’t wait to gaze out when everything is lush and green, and I hope our apple tree fruits again this fall.


The boxed area below the windows is for the PTAC unit. I think we’re going to try to build a radiator cover for it, like this one. Home Depot has lots of pretty grates for them.

The framing went in for the wall that will divide our room from the landing, too. I love having high ceilings and I think the french doors will keep an open feel.


All the hammering and wiring and whatnot upstairs has me more excited than ever about decorating our second floor. We really kind of neglected our “master suite” for three years after we moved in, but now I’m feeling like we need to capitalize on its potential. I mean, the baby can’t hog all of the style, right?

It’s probably not a great idea to go too trendy, but the finishings upstairs allow for us to go a little more modern in our decor and I’m currently obsessing over honeycomb/hexagon-y things.

Kate Daisy print

Kate Daisy print

Apparently I’m not the only one, but Joe and I did get married on a beekeepers farm, so there’s that. Babble has this roundup of Honeycomb Awesomeness.


I’m especially loving the honeycomb shelving on “A Beautiful Mess.” Maybe for the hallway, in place of a big book case?

I have always loved the hexagons in the “Grandmothers Flower Garden” quilt. I got this one at a Valley Junction antique sale for a crazy deal:


This modern take has an almost scientific look to it, which I also like:

A hex hexagon upon me, I suppose.


Filed under At home

Book looks

How fun is this Fiction to Fashion blog that compiles outfits inspired by books?


Via Fiction to Fashion

I’ve heard good things about “The Fault in Our Stars,” and it’s going on my long to-read list for when I get in the mood to tackle things that are longer than a New Yorker article. I read this long but interesting article on reinventing a Scotch distillery last week while I was de-stressing in the bath.

I still have “Telegraph Avenue” on my bed stand, waiting to get started, and then Joe just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Lacuna,” and said he really enjoyed it and that I probably would, too.

I pinned this roundup of best book lists of 2012, if you’re looking for your next read.

P.S. I totally have yellow T-strap flats like the ones shown, although mine were by BC Footwear and way cheaper. They’re still my go-to footwear for an instant zing of sunshine. Here I am wearing them in one of our engagement photos:


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Beauty secrets of a former Miss Iowa contestant (and me!)

Beauty secret story from the Pollock Ball as you scroll, but first, check out the fun “drip” art people made at the event:

Fresk put together an awesome interactive painting game (it worked kind of like an X-Box Kinect) where you could dip a brush into a can filled with fake paint and “splatter” it at the screen. Every art museum should invest in this totally fun technology for an exhibit! Check out more at pollockwall.com.

Now, can you keep a beauty secret?

I don’t consider myself a girly-girl*, but I do like to get fancy-schmancy once in awhile, which puts me into a little bit of a tizzy. Typically, just I plug in my hot-rollers and then cross my un-manicured fingers that the curls do their thing. However, as I enter my late 20s, I’m trying to get a better handle on the womanly arts, with tips gleaned from ladylike friends and stylists who’ve been able to show me just what is possible. Like last year’s gig “modeling” for Salon Spa W:

Two words: FAKE EYELASHES. I felt like Laney from “She’s All That,” (shoutout to 1999!) but updated for this decade. Gina from Salon Spa W did my makeup, and Lindsey, who now works as an independent stylist, did my hair for that event.

My everyday makeup routine is pretty basic: None, aside from an occasional swipe of mascara and lip gloss if it’s during the week and I’m not giving any sort of presentation. Otherwise, I have a limited supply of tried and true products that I’m comfortable with. This is the extent of it:

Bonus manatee jewelery box photobomb!

I’m just getting the hang of using an eyebrow pencil, and attempting not to look like the episode of Girls where Lena Dunham’s character gets beauty-attacked by coworkers. Baby steps. Also, I got that Miss Dior eyeshadow compact at least three years ago, and it’s out of production so I have no idea how I will ever buy eyeshadow again. Most of that stuff is from the drugstore, but Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is an essential Sephora trip. Anyhow, on to the beauty secret!

When getting ready for the Art Noir Pollock Ball last week, I wanted to try a slightly more dramatic look. So I went to the  MAC counter and bought some false eyelashes so someone would apply them for me, and a clump of feathers from Michael’s that I could stick in my hair.

Plugged in the trusty rollers, then, feeling gross from having been at work all day, I decided to take a shower. Then I decided to touch up my roots with some hair dye. (Late 20s, people, and I already have tons of gray.) Word to the wise: You can’t shower and dye your hair without messing up your false lashes. I got out of the shower and looked like a sad cartoon Raggedy Ann doll. Minor tantrum ensued.

A little piece of me just knew if I packed the lashes in my sparkly gold clutch, I might have a lady friend who could come to the rescue.

And, alas! Chelsea (Banana Republic style icon that she is) just happened to be carrying lash glue with her, which she mentioned when I lamented the fate of my foxy look. And Liz, a former Miss Iowa contestant and ever-glamorous gal, helped me apply them. Serious work:

Rejoice! The funniest thing I heard was when Chelsea said a certain fabulous local makeup artist had once told Liz (who I believe did take home the award for evening wear) that she absolutely must wear false eyelashes to any party with more than a dozen people in attendance.

Photo via Metromix. Check more from the Pollock ball here.

For me, I like to really go all out on makeup for special occasions, but keep it simple otherwise. My college roommate, Amanda, is a makeup genius. She did my wedding makeup, even though I once told her she made me look like a harlot when she tried to help me get ready to go out dancing in college. The one problem with being so skilled was that whenever she didn’t have time to apply makeup, people were always asking her if she was sick!

So, I’d rather ramp things up once in awhile, myself. Now, to learn how to apply my own false lashes! Sometimes, they’re that give you that sliver of confidence boost you need to feel like your usual, sparkly self. True beauty is inside, though, right ladies?

*My mom and I were arguing the other week about Barbies. I say she never let me get them, she said I never wanted them. I know I DID have Amish dolls, but I always made her draw faces with big lips on them.


Filed under I love Des Moines, Life lessons

Feeling fallish

How refreshing to reach outside to pick the newspaper up off the stoop today (yes, Joe and I are coffee-and-newspaper kind of morning people) and feel cool fallish weather in the air.

This is completely silly, but one of the road signs to the end of summer for me has always been the Nordstrom sale. Back in Junior High, Doc Martens were all the thing. I had to have them. The kids in my class actually made a club of having them. But my mom (the wise woman she was) made me spend my babysitting money on the shoes. I would save up and then buy them at Oakbrook mall  during the big Nordstrom fall sale. The smell of leather and that yellow top stitching on Mary Janes — it brings me back! So when I was having a bad week the other week, and the Nordstrom sale was going on, I clicked my way to some retail therapy and scored a pair of brown boots I’d been searching for. They came in the mail and fall can now officially start!

Here’s something interesting: When I was at my conference in New York, one of the workshops was on bullying and our presenter told us that one of the psychological reasons kids want to wear what everyone else is wearing (in addition to Doc Martens back in my day, it was Starter Jackets) is along the same principles as the way many animals behave at the watering hole. By wearing the same thing as their peers, they blend in and have a lesser chance of becoming the target for someone picking on them for the way they’re dressed!

I’m lusting for these layers right now:

The back of this dress is darling. It’s a good thing it’s sold out in my size!

This classic-but-whimsical cardigan from Boden. I want to set their catalog on the floor and jump right into it every single season.

If this fallish weather has you feeling like going back to school and in the mood for a sweater, I say you should check out the class schedule at the newish East Village shop Hill Vintage and Knits and learn to crochet or knit this season! Then you can MAKE me that cardigan.


Filed under At home