Tag Archives: style

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.

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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!

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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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Filed under I love Des Moines, What I'm into

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.

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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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Filed under At home, Life lessons, What I'm into

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.)

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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:

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The “TERRA” Terrarium by Fort Standard

full_Kitty_Terrarium_12Succulent terrarium

il_570xN.360178552_5y1vQuill & Fox postcard set

Terrarium+Tutorial+9Pieced Pastimes tutorial

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

A hex hexagon upon me, I suppose.

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Book looks

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

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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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