Monday, February 28, 2011

Fabulous in February

I almost titled this post "Why I am Awesome," and that moment of egotism shot all my self-confidence.  Sigh. There is a balance to be found, and I'm still searching.

I'm diplomatic, and it's something that used to come in handy on a daily basis!  I had a boss who just didn't have a filter for what was appropriate and what wasn't appropriate in the work place. Since I knew finding another job at that rate of pay was impossible, I knew tact and diplomacy were a must.  Years later, I still feel I have both. Sure, there are times around friends when my diplomacy acts as a thin veil for my true feelings, but when I need to, I can be genuinely diplomatic!

I've become comfortable in my own skin.  I'm not talking so much about body image as personality.  I used to feel a lot of pressure to comform to various stereotypes over the years, particularly in high school, or as new love interests appeared on the horizon.  However, as friendships and relationships ended, sometime in my early twenties, I resolved that it was better to be me, alone, than be someone else, and still feel that alone.  While that did mean a lot of searching for myself and making some hilarious and hard mistakes along the way, I really feel that I have a strong sense of myself right now.

I have an adequate amount of patience.  I don't fly off the handle at random, and rarely get frustrated in public situations (when I'm at home, I may have a slightly higher tendency to do both).  I say adequate simply because I realized, when I was going through school to be a teacher, that I definitely don't have the patience of a saint. While this was one of the reasons I decided against teaching, it's something that I do strive to improve. 

No outfit post today: I'm battling a bit of a cold, and trying to get over it in a hurry: I'm seeing my niece again this weekend! I did Vitamin C and girly movies on Saturday, chicken noodle soup and Advil cold & sinus yesterday, and today's plan is pajamas (while working on thesis) then an intense cardio work out to sweat it out of me. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I woke up this morning later than I'd intended.  I thought: "I'm not feeling 100%, maybe I'll skip church this morning," and as I sat down on the couch to watch tv, I grabbed my netbook and realized that the minister had emailed me early that morning. While it was just a follow up to an email I'd sent earlier in the week, and not asking me to do anything, I still felt an obligation to go to church.  Let me tell you, with 30 minutes to get ready and make sure that my car would start (it's been bitterly cold here), I have never been so glad that my closet is back to normal, everything was clean, and without a wrinkle in sight. 

It was overwhelming to throw together an outfit, so I drew inspiration from Mel's outfit the other day: wearing a skirt as a shirt.  As strange as it seems, I find church is an excellent time to try out fits ideas - sure, it would be bad if there is a modesty issue, but it's a short enough time period that if it doesn't work, you don't suffer all day. Plus, there is so much "Stand up, Sit down, Kneel, Stand up, Sit down, Kneel" you'll figure out it's pitfalls pretty quickly.

I discovered if I want to do the skirt-as-shirt I either need a couple safety pins or a bigger chest.  There were no "wardrobe malfunctions" but I was paranoid about slippage the whole time!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friend Friday: And the nominees are...

Katy's put together a system for creating blog awards, and what I like about this process is that we each nominate someone for each category that we'd like to see awarded. I encourage you to check out each of the blogs I nominate, and of course, the other collaborators on Katy's blog!!

1. Creative Juices (most creative) DaniellaBella of Keep Warm. I love to see how she takes great outfits, and wears them in our windy and cold city!

2. The Real Deal (authenticity) Erin of Work With What You've Got. Erin tells it as it is, whether it outfits she loves, ones she hates, and how she loves her Sundays in her pajamas in bed.  She took a short break when she stopped to think about how to be more authentic in her blog, and now that she's back, it's better than ever!

3. Spark Notes (Most Helpful):  To the best of my knowledge, Mel of A Working Mom's Closet hasn't done any "how-tos" or anything that would traditionally be found in this category.  Where Mel deserves credit is the help that she provides through comments, emails and tweets.  You know the minute you have a question, if you ask Mel, she'll give you insightful advice!!

4. Newbie (best blogger less than a year old):  Jodi of Day2DayWear has only been blogging since June, and she's jumped in with both feet!

5. Can You Hear Me Now (most connected): I wouldn't be surprised if Collete wins this category with a majority vote.  I've lost track of the different projects she's handling, but I'm sure she's gotta be constantly glued to Blackberry or iPhone in order to keep it all going.  Twitter Tuesday is a clear example of how she is so connected!

6. If I had a Hammer (Best DIY): Has Megan Mae ever done a DIY?  Not that comes to mind, but she definitely takes the cake for making her clothes work for her!  She has Sew Sundays where she attempts to expand her wardrobe by creating or modifying items that interest her. 

7. Tribe Leader (blogger who leads others and brings bloggers together) Katy of Modly Chic is a clear choice - uh, Hello, Friend Friday anyone??

8. Practically Perfect (most fashionable): I haven't been following her for long, but I kind of love every outfit that Hope (of Hope and the Dress Code) has put on. I can't wait to go back to working full-time to steal some of her ideas!

9. Paint by Numbers (Best Beauty Blogger): I love when Hillary (By Hillary) features her makeup. I am not quite into makeup in a big way, so I don't follow make-up blogs. However Hillary makes me want to run off to my MAC dealer and plunk down my life savings!

10. Renaissance Woman (best all around blogger, fashion, beauty, lifestyle):Linda from The Auspicious Life runs a fabulous blog which not only details what she wears to teach (a profession where fashion must be mixed with practicality and prudence), organizes projects such as EveryBody EveryWear, but also highlights why Portland (that city I wouldn't have thought twice about going to) is worth a second glance. She's diligent at responding to comments and visiting blogs.  And let's not forget: her man is kind of a techie genius!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Staples for the New Mom / College Bound Kid / Weekend Warrior

A few weeks ago, my sister proposed a topic for my blog that was mutually advantageous: it would help her round out her wardrobe and would enable me to post on something while my closet was MIA.  "Go through my closet and help me figure out what staples I need!"

As I've mentioned a few times before, my sister and I have drastically different tastes in clothing.  Five years ago, she was all, as Stacey best coined: "Hippy-dippy-trippy" and I was the poster girl for preppy.  Of course, our styles have slowly come closer together on the spectrum.  As such, when she said "Staples" I thought of Tim Gunn's staples, but tailored to my sister's body shape.  She needed not just any skirt, but a fitted, high-waisted pencil skirt would be excellent. And there was a big lack of a fitted blazer that WASN'T denim.  As I started listing these things off, a cry came from not only from the person beside me in the closet, but also from the next room. Apparently, even in my accounting for her body type, I forgot something. Sure, I was ignoring her usual style choice, but I was also ignoring perhaps the most important detail: my sister is a new mother on mat leave. High waisted pencil skirts and dry-clean-only blazers do not quite fit the life of a woman who goes out for lunch after Mommy & Me yoga.  Yes, E has done an excellent job of showing us how being a Mom on the Run doesn't mean wearing "Mom jeans," but what about those who wish to take casual down a notch or two?

And yes, I said us. Upon clarifying what she had meant by staples, I realized despite our usual difference in style, we were both finding ourselves in a similar conundrums: what do you wear when you're not going to an office? As such, I've created a list of casual basics that work for a new mom, a working-from-home student, or anyone on their weekends off.

Old Navy Sweatheart Jeans
1.  Dark wash Bootleg jeans
Mel and I were just discussing the other day how a well fitting pair of jeans can make or break an outfit. It's interesting how most of us skimp on the budget of jeans, because paying more the $50 just hurts. However, jeans are often our most worn items.  A cut like bootcut is classic, so if you do make the investment, you don't need to worry about them going out of style the next week.

Gap Button Front Denim Skirt
2. Jean Skirt
I'm not going to tell you the cut of jean skirt to get: it really needs to depend on your body type and your activity. Either way, a denim skirt can be comfortable enough for a day-in but can easily transition to an evening out, or an impromptu meeting.  A darker wash, and an age and shape appropriate cut make this another classic which won't go out of style.

Old Navy Perfect Khaki Bermuda
3. Walking Shorts
Shorty-shorts are for teenboppers with perfect legs.  Baggy cargo shorts demand a skate board. Comfortable enough to do anything, but tailored enough to go anywhere. Neutrals will give you the most use, but hey, who is going to stop you from wearing bright red ones?? There are no dress codes here!

Gap Henley Dress
4. Cotton dress
The most basic dress is almost the best here, (so long as it fits) as it is comfortable and looks good. However, it's also a great basic for layering and accessorizing.  Choose a colour that you love and that looks great on you... but be sure to use colour-safe detergent: you'll get a lot of wear out of it, and nothing says "outdated" like fading.

Ricki's Ribbon Floral Neckline Tee
5. Graphic or embellished tees.
Tees have gotten a bad rap for their casual factor. Everyone has that beer shirt, company shirt, or promo shirt sitting in their closet for those lazy Saturdays when you just want to be comfortable. However, why does "comfort" have to mean "poorly sized" or "walking billboard"?  Choosing age-appropriate tee shirts (ie: no "Juicy" or corny jokes, if you're over the age of, let's say, 16) that fit immediately ups the fashion factor.  Screenprinting, embroidery, beading, or appliques add interest an easy, comfortable outfit.

Old Navy Perfect Ribbed Knit Tank
6. Colourful tanks
A basic cotton tank can have infinite impact. When paired with other tops and jackets, they can add colour, provide modesty, and are even great on their own!  I will admit, I mocked my sister for her rainbow of cotton tanks.  While I don't have cotton tanks, I do have just as many (possibly more!!) camis that I use in place of cotton tanks!!

Ricki's Embroidered Trim Cardigan
7. Colourful fine knit cardigans
There is a reason twinsets were so popular in the 50s and 60s: they're easy and they're polished.  While wearing a "set" may be a little too retro for your taste, cardigans themselves are fabulous basics to have on hand, and are often small enough to throw in to a bag, stroller or even a purse.  Not only to they add warmth, you can add colour, texture, or shape to any outfit with a cardigan. They, themselves, can be styled in different ways just by different amounts of buttoning. As much as we all love Merino Wool or Cashmere, if you're prone to messy activities, buying a washable cardigan is a must.

Ricki's Navy Stripe Knit Blazer
8. Cotton blazer
I'm including here sweatershirt material blazers, jersey blazers, denim blazers, etc.  Basically, anything wash and wear!! The emphasis should be finding something that fits, and doesn't hinder your movement. I can already sort of hear my sister say: "But I don't like blazers! I don't even wear one to work!  Why would I want one now?" (to which my reply is: "I bought one for your daughter, don't let her be more fashionable than you!!"). Think of it as a stylish hoodie that helps create shape!

Le Chateau "Weekend Blues"
9. Sweat Suit Alternative
Yes, I totally lifted this from Mr. Gunn, but there is a reason why so many of us love him: he knows what he's doing!  While he does allow "Bonus: One trendy item," the sweatsuit alternative that immediately comes to mind is leggings and tunics: a great trendy item that definitely fits into this category. Well-fitted cargo pants, ponte pants, etc also work.  These clothes are key for the days when you know you should get dressed, but pajamas just feel so comfortable (though I will note that your cotton dress would be a great alternative too!!). In my opinion, a FITTED hoodie also works here!! Fitted hoodies can help to dress down business outfits.  (Hillary rocks the fitted hoodie!)

10. Ballet flats
These slip on and off. They can be paired with shorts, jeans, skirts, dresses, everything. Wear them with tights, socks, or barefoot. Even if you get a pair of Dr. Scholl's fast flats (My mother-in-law got me some for Chrsitmas, and I LOVE them. Their latest use? I wore them to the pool in the hotel the other day: didn't take up any room in my overnight bag, and felt as comfortable as slippers!), they are great to throw in your purse in case you end up walking more than intended.

Spring Shoes Hochadel
11. Flat boots
Granted, my sister has amazing balance in stilleto boots, on ice, balancing a 12 pound baby in a car seat, but I do have a heart attack every time she does. However, flat boots will log more kilometers than heeled boots. Again,there is not a thing on this list that can't be paired with flat boots!

Aldo Lovitz
12. Flat sandals
Really, by this point, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you why you want flat sandals. But don't misinterpret "flat sandals" for "flip flops" or "crocs" or "atheletic velcro sandals".  There are so many stylish, and foot friendly options like gladiators and t-straps (did anyone else breathe a sigh of relief that those were still around in and around the huge platform trend??). A little more polish, without any less comfort!

Don't get me wrong: the classic 10 key pieces DO have their place.  I love a little black dress, fitted blazer, tailored dress pant, and heels galore. However, casual clothes do have their place, too!

Ps - great place for awesome casual or dressy staple?  Collette is doing a Modcloth Giveaway!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


A few months ago, (and I can't find the post), I mentioned something about my braces and got a few comments about: "You have braces?"  Since outfit posts are limited as of late, I figured it would be a good time to do a post on the joys and pains of orthodontia.

I'm on my second round of braces, having had braces from grade 8 through grade 12 the first time.  Why the second chance?  The easy answer: shifting.  However, it was a combination of lack of use of retainers, wisdom teeth and a dislocated jaw that caused the recurrence.  I couldn't find a before picture, so here is my first pic with my top braces on - they quite accurately show the issue that I was worried about (sorry, it was a cell phone pic!)

The picture was taken at the end of April.  We aren't quite at a year yet, but I took some pics before and after my last ortho appointment so you can see my progress AND some of the weird stuff they put on my teeth:

The pictures are in the wrong order, but they don't want to switch for me.  My braces are Damons, which are faster than the older bracket & wire system. It took some persuading, but my orthodontist agreed to put on 6 ceramic brackets (which often take longer) so they wouldn't be as obvious in my wedding pictures, since he couldn't guarantee they'd be off in time for the wedding.  In the picture on the left (my current "set up"), I have a thread over the front 6, along with a spring on each side.  Right now, we're working at closing up some of the spaces that have formed.  In the picture on the right, I have 2 elastics which were perfecting my bite, and a wire figure 8 over the front 6 to prevent more spaces from forming (this new system reduces the need for teeth to be pulled, but unfortunately, I had teeth pulled in the first set, so I have been creating all kinds of gaps).

Now if I remember correctly, the first time the closing of gaps was towards the end, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Last Bed Bug Tip!

We're getting really close to being over and done with this bed bug fiasco, and I couldn't be happier.  My mother, who is awesome, will be coming out on Thursday to help get everything set up, and ironed, and organized, so definitely by March 1, at the absolute very latest, we'll be able to put everything behind us.  In the meantime, though, a round of applause for my mom!!

I can't wait until Monday, when I return to regular outfit posts because I won't have to dig through garbage bags to find clothes!  I do have TWO tips today:

1. No time to throw your clothes in a dryer with a wet towel to steam out wrinkles?  Throw them in the bathroom on the towel rod when you shower!  These pants weren't horribly wrinkled, so putting together my new ironing board pad didn't seem justified (note: don't wash foam ironing pads in really hot water), so the shower method did the trick!

2. Basic outfits get an added kick with coloured shoes! 

I am so drained so this was the only full picture of me (We've got some work to do with my photographer... or find my tripod) where my eyes were open.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fabulous in February

Is this serious our second last Fabulous in February?  What do you think, Mel and Hope, want to extend it into March? 

The first thing this week is not something I'm necessarily fabulous at right now, but rather something I'm slowly learning, which I think is a really smart move for me.  I'm slowly realizing that it's OK to say "No" or "Enough" or "Help".  I used to be stubbornly independent and believed myself to be this great martyr always sacrificing my time and energy when others did nothing (partially because I wouldn't let them help).  And then I realized that working together is probably a healthier and more collaborative way to get things done.

The second is the balance I've struck between my desire for a healthy diet and my love of all things fattening. I've balanced my love of exercise with my completely ADD habits.  I feel no guilt in hitting McDonalds occasionally. I've invested in technology that makes my exercise more fun (hello, Dance Central).  The most important thing I've learned, given my habits of extreme interest followed by extreme avoidance, is moderation is key for both eating and exercising! (With that said - still looking forward to P90X).

The third is my ability to research.  As I'm typing this, I've just finished learning everything there is to know about flatware.  I'm guiding Scott's research on knives.  I'm just about to dive into the world of wine glasses (in case you couldn't tell, I'm researching  items for our wedding registry). While I do research for "a living", I love how I'm able to research ANYthing that interests me with efficiency.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find out how to choose a glass to make my love of chianti move to the next level!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Capsule Wind-up

Wow, capsule wardrobe challenges have gotten easier for me!  I'm not sure whether it's because of the 30 for 30 I took part in November, or whether it is because I utilize capsules a lot since I generally am away for 4-5 days at least once a month.  Either way, it was a lifesaver this week, showing me that even though our current situation may limit my access to my clothing, it doesn't need to limit my creativity!

And the best part?  I have a few more ideas for outfits still kicking around in my mind!!

Any favourite outfits?  Any outfits you think I should try from these clothes??

Friday, February 18, 2011

Capsule Wardrobe #5 & #6, Friend Friday: Body Image

Let's just pretend that I hadn't made you all jealous of my day yesterday. I think I've learned my lesson about bragging, as the day could have gone worse, but it probably would have destroyed me. But at least now I know what it feels like to have my tire come off while driving (and did I mention that this was during a white-out, while driving on ice? The fact that my car, my fellow city-dwellers and myself managed to get through that incident unscathed is really quite a miracle).

We did have some nice moments: we enjoyed registering for gifts, and in an act of serendipity, we got a call just before we were about to check into the hotel that our wedding rings had arrived.

Since we were having blizzard-like conditions, I didn't wear this outfit all day. I was in boots and jeans and hoodies and everything that would keep me warm. However, I did pull this outfit together for going out for supper. It definitely worked better than I had thought!

And today, when we went out for brunch before we returned to a chemical covered house (though it does mark the end of our bed-bug period), I threw this outfit together. Yes, same shirt, but hey, that's bound to happen during a capsule wardrobe challenge!

And now I'm in sweats and a hoodie, trying to pull my apartment into a sense of live-ability. My mom is coming out in a week to help me tackle the piles of garbage bags housing our super-wrinkled clothes, so next week might be back to limited outfit posts, but the end is so close I'm giddy as a school girl. Imagine: A closet full of clothes!!

And now for Friend Friday

1. Since you started blogging has your image of yourself changed?
I definitely feel more confident in my choice clothes, and more confident in dressing for the situation. I recognize that I do draw a lot of confidence from wearing something that makes me feel good.

2. Are you self-conscious about any aspect of yourself? If so, do you go out of your way to avoid it or do you post it/talk about it anyway?

There have been times I've commented that I have some what of a negative body image issue. I try not to post rants about how my stomach is a little too dough-y, or how my nose looks like it's taking over my face. Rather, I tend to bring it up whenever I'm trying to motivate myself to either change my attitude, or taking steps to work on those areas.

3. Based on how you are feeling now, what do you think the future holds in the evolution of your body

I really think that body image is something that can't be changed over night. I know it's been 11 years since I was last happy with my stomach. I know it's been 20 years since I was happy with my nose. However, each year, I become a little more aware of how it affects me, and how I can change that. Hopefully in another 11 or 20 years, I'll be completely at peace, but I also know that as I age, I”ll find new ways to nit-pick.

4. Do you photograph yourself for your blog? If so, how do you feel about the experience when you're having your picture taken? If you choose not to post pictures of yourself, what prompted that decision?

I am very self-conscious when pictures are being taken. Scott couldn't be present for the longest time when I took outfit pictures. Now slowly, I'm getting used to him being around, and even get him to take the pictures from time to time.

5. What would you want every person who struggles with body image to take to heart?
Everyone has parts of their body that make them uncomfortable. Even those who claim to have no issues have at some time thought “Oh, I'm too fat” or “Oh, I'm too thin” or something like that. I'm not convinced this is one of those : “Fake it until you Make it” situations (nothing annoys me more than people being overly open about how much they love their bodies – it usually comes across as fake), but it is something that, on a daily basis, takes work to improve, and eventually, whether or not your body changes, your attitude towards it will!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hopefully won't have time to update the good ol' blog today: it's VALENTINE'S DAY!! Yes, I realize I'm a few days late, but the important thing is that we made the effort to spend some good quality time together. So while you're all sitting around on your computers reading blogs, we'll be
 - registering for wedding presents
 - having a leisurely lunch at a downtown cafe
 - checking into our hotel
 - swimming in a pool
 - relaxing in a hot tub
 - relaxing more in our in-suite jacuzzi
 - sleeping
 - having a lazy brunch

Be jealous.  Be very jealous.  And know that I'll look good doing it all (ok, I'm a little concerned about today's outfit, I'm afraid it's a little schizophrenic)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Capsule Wardrobe Day #3

What?  No one knew what a booter was?  Not even the other Canadians?  Maybe it's more country than Canadian.

A booter is when you step into a puddle and the water level is higher than the top of your shoe or boot, which fills with water. 

Today, I'm going to the library, going to a lecture series, vacuuming for our last PCO treatment and brainstorming for our wedding registry.  You'll note I'm alternating things I don't want to do, and things I do want to do!  I'm having difficulty making myself go to the library, since my morning consisted of bleaching some curtains (somehow the black curtains and the white curtains had a sexy time in the washing machine without my knowledge) and cleaning, neither of which was particularly fun (ok, I did have fun stirring the curtains in my bathtub with a giant plastic spoon). 

The outfit introduces my last of my 10 pieces: the pink cardigan and the black riding boots. So all together we have
1. brown winter boots
2. oxford heels
3. black riding boots
4. striped shirt
5. graphic tee
6. skinny jeans
7. silk top
8. white eyelet jacket
9. striped skirt
10. pink cardigan

I'm lacking in the accessories department - so far just
1. Studded belt
2. Chinese Laundry belt
3. black scarf

I think even with another scarf for Friday's outfit, I'll probably only have 4... I can't find most of my accessories!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Making it Work

Today, I'm focusing on having a more positive attitude. Afterall, there was no issue that a little hard work, bleach and phone call to a mechanic's shop can't help. We're also pulling together a wonderful Valentine's Day for later on this week (coincidentally when they're de-bugging us one last time) that involves a bit of culture and a bit of class.

Plus, any day that starts with getting to say: "I told you so" is a good day.  I picked up this skirt at Value Village when I made my usual trek when I was visiting my parents. My mom and I were discussing it, and she said it was a nice skirt, just not very work appropriate.  I took that as a challenge.  How did I do??

I did say I'd give Bed-Bug dressing tips on Tuesdays, so my tip today is: "Think outside your usual thoughts on 'business' and 'party' and wear what you can find!".  This skirt is definitely suited for party.  All I want to do is buy a sequined tank top and hit up a dance club. But grab a blazer, a more conservative underpinning and I'm set for the office! (Please note: I wanted to do a black blazer, but I couldn't find it. I think it's probably in the stash of clothes in Scott's trunk). I LLLOOOVVVEEE this skirt because it feels slightly Edwardian (or as Scott prefers: Tim Burtonian - though I guess that's usually more Gothic Victorian... hmm...)

Edited later to add: Ok, the skirt is too short, mostly because it acts like mini blinds being drawn up when I sit down.  Also, it's friggin' beautiful here, so the streets are soupy with melted snow, so I had to change to go grocery shopping, since I got at least 3 "booters" from the bus stop to the apartment.  (Special prize* for the first person who knows what a "booter" is!!)

Yes, I'm dancing in this picture

*Prize may not be anything tangible. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Capsule Wardrobe and Fabulous in February

Sorry for my absence over the last couple days, I've been thoroughly enjoying my role as "Auntie Cara" to the most precious little girl in the whole wide world.  And she takes after her aunt, for sure: she even has impeccable taste in clothing.  When I left, she was in a pink animal print (with each "spot" being a heart) tunic with skinny jeans.  In any event, I am back in my still-chaotic apartment. And in a really, really, really bad mood.  Valentine's day? It's not happening today.

Due to said chaotic apartment, you don't get a shot of all my clothes together, since I haven't quite found them yet. I know what they are for the most part, actually!  That's at least a step!

Today's outfit it pretty basic. Every capsule should have some "go to" pieces that are easy to put together and guaranteed to work. This is my "going to work my ass off at the library" outfit.

Anyway, onto my three Fabulous in February positive thoughts about myself.  It's so hard this week to come up with any.  My "mini-vacation" wasn't quite as relaxing as I'd hoped: (my car broke down before I left, then it was appointment after appointment, then Scott's car didn't like the gusts of winds on the highway home). As such, my brain is just as (if not worse than) last week. But here goes nothing:

1. People seem to value my opinion on clothing.  I realize that should be a given if I have followers on a blog, but there is always a special thrill when someone asks me (in real life): "What do you think of this?" or "How should I do this?"

2. I have a pretty good work ethic.  I was given a "get out of jail free" card for the next couple weeks regarding thesis work, but instead, I've decided to use it as my motivation: going to the library and working hard means not having to be in the apartment

3. I'm efficient.  I had to finalize cupcake details this weekend while visiting my sister. I like to think I had a perfect balance of what I wanted and an open enough mind to keep my options open. Who knew something as simple as wedding cupcakes could have so many options!  Having a plan definitely kept me from being mired down in the details!

All right, enough positive thoughts, I've got some self-pity to wallow in. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friend Friday : Colourific!

I've included Katy's intro on this so you would know what's going on:
This is REALLY exciting because this is the first sponsored post for FBFF. A dozen of our group got a pair of tights from We Love Colors to mix and match for these questions. Hopefully there will be more
product feature/samples in the future. 

1. What color dominates your closet?
It used to be black, but I think green and purple are making a good comeback.

2. If money weren't an issue how would you change the color emphasis in your closet?
I'd actually want to incorporate more colour in pattern form. I think I've got most of the colour basics down.

3. What is your mantra about mixing colors?
I have no mantra, I just go with what lands together and looks all right!

4. For you, how do you incorporate color into your outfits?
For the most part, colour comes from a major article of clothing. However, when it doesn't, I usually try to add a belt, or cami to punch it up?

5. Which blogger(s) do you think do a good job of incorporating color into their wardrobe?
DaniellaBella from Keep Warm without a doubt. Long before I read her blog, I used to see her at Trivia nights and think: “Wow, I wish I dared to wear tights that bright” and now that I do, I'm still in awe of her collection!! I also believe a lot of it comes from We Love Colors, too!

PS - Dear We Love Colors: I don't currently own your tights. I'm very jealous of those that do.  I think I'll have to remedy this!  Maybe some kelly green?  A new pair of purple? There are just too many to choose from!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wedding Wednesday

I'm not sure that Wedding Wednesday will be an ongoing series, nor am I sure that this will even post on Wednesday. None the less, I love alliteration.

I've been having difficulty selecting a necklace for my wedding, despite the fact that the necklace was the first things for which I began shopping. In fact, I've even bought one or two which ultimately didn't work.  The issue that our theme is "Quirky casual vintage", and really, I'm not convinced quirky casual vintage is a type of jewelry.

Below is a collage: the top half of the small pictures are the ones that we've already decided on: the canning jars for candy, my engagement ring, the clutch (well, it's slightly different and in purple), my shoes (Chinese Laundry, for the record, and insanely on sale), gerbera daisy and kermit bouquet, and our cute little logo (designed by Scott).  We're aiming for a colour scheme of purple and white, with hints of bright pink and green. 

The dress is not mine, I'm far too careful about who gets to see that. However, the neckline is similar.

The bottom six pictures are ideas for styles of jewelry. 
1. V-shaped bib necklace - chosen because that's what the girl in the picture of my dress has on
2. Book locket - because I'm doing my Masters in Lit
3. Tatted necklace - has a casual vintage feel (and I could totally diy it!)
4. Pocket watch necklace - the boys' will possibly have pocket watches
5. Multi-string pearls - seems traditional
6. Leaf necklace - we're getting married outside.

Cast your vote either in the poll or the comment section!  All images (except for ring, dress, flowers, and cartoon us) from Etsy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

EveryBody EveryWear: Blazer

I was so happy last night when I went garbage bag diving in my bathtub (in the "to be washed" pile) and found FOUR washable blazers.  Of course, it does beg the question: "if there were 4 washable... how many unwashable ones are there?  I can think of 5... wait 6). In any event, once finding a blazer, it was so much easier to come up with an outfit.  It's not exactly easy choosing clothes when you have no choice but to go by memory, but it's easier to remember once you have a colour to match.

Of course, new items come to mind faster than older stand-bys.  Since I paired this shirt with black last time, I figured I'd pull out the brown.  Well, not thrilled with it in brown.  It makes the shirt look more yellow (yes, I'm aware that the shirt IS yellow). It's bloody cold up here right now (which is actually kind of great: my pillows and non-washables are freezing on our balcony). I've got a black sweater under this shirt, two pairs of tights under the trouser jeans and I was still cold!!

Today's Dressing with Bed Bugs hint: If clothes are wrinkled and you don't have the space to iron them, stick them in the dryer with a damp towel. (Chances are, if the clothes couldn't stand the heat, you'd have already found out when you sanitized them all!)

PS - Check out Mel from A Working Mom's Closet: she's got a give-away going on!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Literally Cleaning Out The Closet (sorry, it's a long one)

Imagine, if you will, waking up one morning to the news that you have to wash EVERY article of clothing in your possession.  If your brain didn't just explode, feel free to stop reading and go shopping.  If you mentally pictured your closet and freaked out, welcome to my world.

As you know, we've been having issues with our upstairs neighbours being a little too generous in their desire to share everything with us, from their loud music and conversations echoing through both of our apartments, to their dishwater soaking their floor and our ceiling.  It seems our upstairs neighbours got us an early Valentine's day gift: that of bed bugs*.

While I couldn't have asked for better parents, a more prepared leasing agency, and an understanding thesis adviser (did I mention I had a big deadline last Friday? I didn't make it), it has probably been one of the most grueling ordeals I've ever encountered. And it's not over yet.

The most time consuming task was laundering EVERY article of linen, clothing and extraneous fabric. To add insult to injury, everything had to be washed and dried at the hottest setting. Everything. While sheets, towels, and socks seem to do well at this temperature, I'd hazard to guess the majority of clothes hanging in any given closet are going to probably advise against this. My closet was no exception.

There are alternatives: dry cleaning is permitted (though disclosure of bedbugs to the dry cleaner is advised), and while not the preferred method, freezing for extended periods of time is as well.  However, the minute you read anything about bedbugs and their eggs, your thought is not "let's check the labels," it's "Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew" as you run to the washing machine.  When it comes to bedbug washing, practicality really kicks in: the clothes must remain in plastic bags until 3 weeks after the first treatment.  In order to facilitate quick selection of clothes on a daily basis without risking contamination, sorting by article type is key. All the usual rules of reading the label and sorting by colour flew out the window. After all, what is a few ruined articles of clothing compared to the alternative?

That's not to say I threw my wool skirt suit, along with a bright red sock and a pure white shirt into a tub of boiling water and agitated for 30 minutes.  About 36 items of clothing are currently bagged and "chilling" in the trunk of Scott's car until we can decide whether we're dry cleaning or freezing (and since contamination of these articles - many of which were in suit bags anyway - is low, we're also considering purchasing a steamer).  Of course, there were mistakes.  I caught the white sweater which had gotten a little friendly with the red sweater right as I pulled it out of the washer, so that quickly met some bleach and is resting nicely in a sealed bag.  However, three sweaters did not fair so well.  Well, at least I know for future knitting projects, our washing machine does a great job of felting. They are bagged and in the trunk of my car, ready to head to Winnipeg either for my neice or my sister's nieces (all of whom are under the age of 5 - I definitely didn't realize how much wool was in each of these!)

But we're getting through.  Day to day life has returned to a somewhat normal reality. Blogging, however, won't return to normal for some time.  I do really feel like I'm letting you readers down, and I just ask that you be patient!  Your comments and tweets of support have been great so far, so keep those up if you can!  In the meantime, here is what I've got planned to keep Cara's Closet from absolute silence:

Mondays: Fabulous in February: A Month of Positivity should be easy enough to do in theory, without any outfits to go along with it. (And I'll do today's at the end of this post)

Tuesdays: I'm really interested to see how I'm going to dress for work, dealing with wrinkles (there was no time or space to fold before bagging everything right as it came out of the dryer), so check in to see my outfit posts and maybe learn some tips on a low-maintenance wardrobe!

Thursdays: I have a few posts I've been meaning to write that are fashion related, but haven't gotten around to doing that I think I can manage given the pics I have stored on my computer. I think these also might deal with wedding related fashion issues.

Friday: Friend Friday will continue as per usual.

I will be wearing clothes for the next 2 1/2 weeks (until we can unbag everything and return to normal), but I can guarantee it will be of the t-shirt and jeans variety. If I do something unique (most likely by accident: our clothing is on our kitchen table, and we had to take down our blinds, so I'll be trying to dress in the dark so our neighbours don't get a show), I'll post it.  As for upcoming challenges, some I may be able to do (Jane's Capsule wardrobe will be a nightmare to plan, but will make life easier to execute), and others I won't (Everybody Everywear's Blazer day doesn't look likely at this point). 

But I want to thank you all for sticking by me through this - your comments and tweets of support have been greatly appreciated.  So far, I haven't seen a substantial drop in visits, nor have I seen a big loss in subscribers, so hopefully I don't drive you all away (by the way, bed bugs can't be spread through the internet!).

Now onto Fabulous In February: A Month of Positivity

I have to say, the first one that comes to mind, after writing the above, is that I really rock a crisis.  From the moment I saw the first bed bugs (ew ew ew ew ew! I'll never sleep through the night again!!), I jumped into high gear and got done what needed to get done at a remarkable pace.  I'm not saying I didn't call my parents bawling my eyes out, or collapse in the middle of the kitchen floor at midnight, when I'd been cleaning for 18 hours straight, and still couldn't clear a path down the hallway, but I just kept going.

Secondly, I'm able to keep a certain sense of humour through difficult times. I'd be standing in a sea of black plastic bags and still be able to think: "I should take a picture, because while I may not laugh now, the day will come when I'll be able to".  Some of my favourite lines in this post were even crafted while switching loads of laundry.

Thirdly, I'm able to recognize when I need a break.  After trying to stay in the apartment the first night after the discovery, and getting only about 90 minutes of sleep, I made hotel reservations.  While bedbugs can't really do any harm physically, (bites and hives are one and the same to me, I can live through both), I knew if I wanted to get through this with any dignity, I needed to take some "Cara" time.  Two days later when we checked out (after realizing my car battery was dead, and Scott's car had a flat tire - please tell me that covers our "bad things come in three"), I was definitely more ready to face whatever awaited us back at the apartment.

*Bed bugs can happen to anyone!  Sure, they like cluttered places since there are more hiding spots.  However, we are rather clean people, so don't think we're slovenly pigs. 


Friday, February 4, 2011

Red For Women

Some causes cross borders, so while the American Heart Association may use red as the colour of their campaign to raise awareness of heart disease in women, I feel no sense of treason as a Canadian joining in this Red for Women blog challenge!

I was at Walmart yesterday grabbing garbage bags when I saw this sweater.  Needing SOMETHING to get me through the weekend (not just in terms of clothing, but also in terms of mental comfort), I grabbed it, for all of $9. Since I shrunk/felted 3 sweaters (one might be salvageable), I figured I could handle a $9 sweater.

And because my parents are awesome, and know life is kind of insane right now, they've put us up in a hotel for a couple nights.  Now I'm starting to chill out a bit, and definitely had some great R&R in the hot tub. It's our last night here so we're somewhere between bored (we feel that if we're in a hotel we're on vacation and should be seeing the sights), and exhausted, so I'm pretty sure we'll grab a drink in the lounge, then go to bed, because we are, after all, rockstars, and it is almost 7:30.

For more information about Go Red For Women and fashion blogging, check out What Andie Wears.  If you missed out on the official Go Red for Women Day, don't worry, she's extending the challenge to every Friday in February

Friend Friday - Uniquely Yours

Yeah!  Friend Friday doesn't require outfit posts! My Red for Heart Disease Awareness shirt is in Scott's car, otherwise I'd actually get dressed!  Check later on in the day for it!

First of all - thank you to all of you who sent tweets and comments regarding my pictorial disappearance as of late.  I'll be catching up on your blog today, and will be able to stay up to date with them from now on (except when I spend some quality time with my sister and niece in a few days!!!!). As soon as I am able to look back at this still-ongoing-ordeal with a sense of humour, I'll fill you in on my recent activities.  In the mean time, both my family and I are doing well, and nothing grave or dire has really happened. If I had to choose a word to describe it, I would go with : "inconvenient".

Anyway, back on to Friend Friday.  I'm guessing the love-hate relationship (and conversation) about 30x30 inspired Katy this week.  I'm 100% behind all of you who are doing it, even if I'm sitting out this round.  However, it definitely was a timely set of questions, as these were circulating through my mind this week too!

1. With all the blogging events out there how do you determine which ones to participate in and which ones to avoid?

I use three criteria to determine whether I participate in a “blogging event”
a) Merit – What can I/my readers learn from it? Is is new or different from others out there?
b) Schedule – Is it a day or a month? Do I have anything planned for that month that would interfere?
c) Blogger – Who is organizing it? Do they support my blog? Do I enjoy theirs?
I don't insist a challenge has to win on each criteria, it just helps to clarify my interests

2. Be honest, have you ever jumped on the bandwagon of some blogging movement/event for the wrong reasons? How did that turn out?

I can't say I have, at least not that I've realized. There are always times where I get a little bored of the blogging event, or overwhelmed at the mass number of them. However, I've never regretted doing one!

3. How do you give your own flair to a blog event while still maintaining the general mission and purpose?

I'll often add my own little mini-challenges to them, such as styling a particular dress a different way each week, or pushing the challenge to the next level for a little bit (I made a mini-capsule wardrobe out of my 30x30 items for a trip home). However, I think the “flair” my blog has is ultimately “me” and I'm still “me” regardless of whether I'm dressing for me or dressing for a challenge.

4. When determining the best content for your blog what criterion do you keep in mind?

I think this is a highly relevant question for me right now! I recently got my first sponsorship offer from a company with which I'm not familiar. While it was a pretty great offer (and they even accepted my counter-offer), I ultimately decided that it didn't fit my blog right now, as I don't want to be representing something I haven't really experienced. I think in the end, it's still a win-win for me and the company: I have a better idea of what I'm looking for right now (hello, independent retail operations including Etsy shops that I've had experience with!!!), and I've got another company that I will try out – without feeling like I owe them anything.

As for non-sponsorship related material, the criteria is much the same as in question one.

5. While everything will not suit your blog, how do you try and support your fellow bloggers who are participating in something worthwhile but not your style?

I do feel guilty when I'm not participating in every event that crosses my Reader. In fact, I feel unbelievably guilty that I'm not doing the 30x30 right now (but since outfit blogging has to take a hiatus right now, I'm somewhat relieved!!). However, I find I'm more freely offering encouragement when I'm an outsider to the challenge. I've even offered suggestions for unexpected outfits to a few bloggers – hopefully they find those helpful and not annoying!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lock Down

I'm going to be without a full wardrobe for an undetermined period of time, due to circumstances beyond my control. Since you don't need to see pics of me running around naked, I'll probably hold off blogging for a while.  I really wish I could tell you how long, but at this point I don't know.  I might pop in every once and while, and I'll still be reading your blogs. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brrr! It's cold out there!

After an unseasonably warm week, we had an unseasonably cold day.  And of course, it had to be a day that I had to go outside.  While I usually don't wear jeans to, after last week's late bus, I knew I wanted to be prepared for a much more hostile wait. 

I also wanted to wear the shirt and shoes from the other week when I was sick. 

The shirt confuses me because it goes from grey and white striped (with ruffles!! Yeah!! ruffles make me so happy!) to solid black.  Without a black skirt, a buttoned sweater or a belt, it always seems unfinished. Of course, with any of those three items, I have countless options (and yes, I'm a little OCD about my clothing!)

The shoes (also with ruffles - that's my theme for the day!!) I purchased with the Christmas money from Scott's grandparents.  I've been needing grey shoes, so the minute we were back home, I put through the order.  They're a perfect fit with socks, and a quick addition of an insole, and they're great for barefeet / pantyhose.  Thanks Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Charlie!