Tuesday, April 30, 2013

American Made Sparkly Little Things

1. Feather Necklace 2. Rosebud Necklace 3. Tory Burch Mini Clover Necklace 4. Alexis Bittar Dewdrop Earrings 5. Kris Nations State Pendant Necklace 6. Lilac ID Bracelet by Garnett Jewelry  7. Helen Ficalora Love Charm 8. Catbird Rose Gold Heart Ring 9. Sophia and Chloe Children's Hospital Charm Necklace  10. Dogeared Accomplish Magnificent Things Necklace 

Before the week is out May will be here. That's mind boggling if you ask me, but I trust my iCalendar not to lie to me. With May comes Mother's Day, college graduations, summer wedding season and before you know it it's fall already.

If you happen to be in the market for a little shiny thing whether it is a gift for someone else or just a happy Tuesday for yourself, well I've got you covered. All ten of those little beauties above are made in the USA and cost less than $100 each.

I'll be honest, I've been completely smitten with some of these items for longer than I care to admit, but others are new favorites.  I want all of them is what I'm saying.

Any other sparkly baubles I should add to my proverbial wish list? I try to tell myself that if I keep them to under $100 I have a better chance of actually getting them off the list and into my life.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fresh Air

Do you ever have a day where you just need fresh air?

I'm talking about the Spaceballs kind of fresh air. You just need a deep breath to calm down in order to have a chance to get back to center. You inhale so deeply that it feels physically impossible to let all that air back out of your lungs. 

I had one of those moments over the weekend.  Thankfully, I was surrounded by fresh, spring, mountain air for a few hours. 

I hope the scenery conveys why I'm a self-proclaimed "tree hugger."  It was impossible to grow up in Eden conditions and not develop a strong fondness for protecting nature.  Except for spiders - those suckers are on their own. 

The other perks of going "home" for the weekend besides visiting with both grandmas, German crepes, NY pizza, quality time with the nephew, rummaging through family treasures, and lots of red headed snarkiness is playing with my sister's pets.  And by "playing" I mean annoying to the point of provoking attack.  Apparently they're like me and they hate having their photos taken. 

I'm not kidding, but I was balancing a stick on top of my lens hood in order to get the Dane to look straight at me.  The stick did not survive. 

Well with eyes like those they better get over themselves and get used to it.  Maybe I need to get a bigger zoom lens so I don't have to be right up in their faces to snap a photo.  Especially with the cat! I'm highly allergic to cats! 

I hope you and yours had a good weekend and found a few moments of fresh air.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


The story line goes that our grandparents remember exactly where they were when they heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Our parents remember the moment they heard that JFK had been assassinated. 

Thankfully they also remember the amazement of watching Neil Armstrong bounce on the moon. 

I pray for our children because they've had too many horrific events in their short history to comprehend. I'm 30 and I remember watching the events of Columbine unfold with my friends. We had a scheduled half-day of school and thankfully we were able to huddle together when the world didn't make sense anymore. 

I was in grad school, studying in the library, when Virginia Tech happened. Complete strangers came together and offered a shoulder to cry on, yet everyone was looking around imagining, "could this happen here?"

9/11, Oklahoma City, Newton, and far too many other events have happened that each pulls at the string of your heart in a different way. It's impossible to think of one and not immediately think of another. Those shocking images are forever seared into our brains.

And now Boston is added to that list. 

The world doesn't seem to make sense anymore.  I'm thankful in the midst of this chaos that there are people in the world who run towards the smoke, towards the gunfire, and towards the destruction to help and save others.  That's what I'm going to hold onto. 

I urge you to hold onto your loved ones and never forget to tell them you love them. 

Today is my brother's birthday. He turned 21 on April 16, 2007.  Like so many college students that should have been an amazing day for him.  It's a date he'll never be able to forget and neither will no one else.

Never forget. Never forget Newton. Never forget Boston. Never forget Columbine. Never forget Virginia Tech. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cherry Blossoms

After work on Tuesday I headed down to the DC Tidal Basin with 8 million (okay, slight exaggeration) to see the Cherry Blossoms.  I made the mistake of going on the day the blossoms were labeled, "peak conditions," but Tuesday was the only day I could go during the week.  With rain in the five day forecast I didn't want to take a chance that the delicate petals would get washed away before I missed them (again!). 

The classic cherry blossom picture on the Tidal Basin. Just not sure if I like it better as a landscape or portrait shot.  Thoughts?

 photo IMG_1971a_zpsfd48d03e.jpg

I love, love, love the variations in the colors of the petals. Most of the petals were whiteish when I was there, but there was definitely quite a few pink ones as well. 

I don't know why, but the photo above just speaks to me.

If I could get light this gorgeous during every photo shoot I'd be the happiest person in the world. Also, please note that there isn't a barricade on the edge of the path, so my fear of drowning was running rampant and this was the closet I got to the water.  Certain sections had a banister, but the majority of the tidal basin didn't. Craziness. I'm actually shocked I didn't see someone fall in.

If I had a favorite tree, it'd be the one above. That's saying something because I generally can't stand the color pink.

All in all, definitely a good time.  It was insanely crowded and just dealing with all of the people really started to grind on me.  I brought my tripod and had every intention of staying through sunset but after 2.5 hours of dealing with that many people I was over it.  Plus, I wanted to get back to the metro in some version of daylight. 

I'm really happy I took the few hours to walk around the tidal basin.  It would have been a lot faster if I didn't stop every 20 feet, but that was kind of the point.  I also lost track after 20 different people stopped me and asked me to take a picture of them with their camera.  One couple in particular said, "you look like you won't drop our camera in the water or even want to run off with it."  They were nice and took a photo of me with my iPhone.  I look like a sweaty mess in it :) 

Next year I definitely want to be there for a sunrise. I can only imagine how gorgeous that would be. 

So what do you think? How did I do my first time out there? Any tips or suggestions? Seriously, I'm all ears!  If anyone has a magic tip for making flowers freeze during the windy I'm highly interested in that tip! 

Monday, April 8, 2013


Dress: Shoshanna (Made in the USA!) // Clutch : Gigee Marie (Made in the USA!) // Heels: Goodwill // Bracelet: Derng // Nail Color: Essie "Eternal Optimist" (Made in USA!) 

Normally, I shy away from anything with the color red it in. It's safe to say that the colors pink and red have the smallest presence in my closet, yet I continually want to bring in a dash more red. It's just hard being a red head because my red hair clashes with 99.9% of the reds out there.  Then I get to thinking - are brunettes banned from browns? Can blondes not wear cream?  Why are there so many rules?!?!?! 

So when I saw this gorgeous Shoshanna dress on sale at Neiman Marcus I went out of my comfort zone and bought it.  I'll be completely honest, I wanted it for two reasons: it's made in the USA and has a hint of red. The classic shape, impeccable seams, and colorblock trendiness were just icing on the proverbial cake.   

I love that I could have paired this dress with my favorite navy blazer, but instead the higher temperatures let me keep it simple with a clutch I won from Gigee Marie.  Let's be honest, I'm boarding the bare arms train because I can now do ten pushups (thanks Insanity!).  

Yes, I just talked about fashion and muscle definition all in one post. That's how I roll. 

Oh, did I mention this dress has pockets? Okay, that's a three point shot for the win! 

Back to the fashion rules? Be honest - is this too bright of a red for me?  Are certain hair colors categorically excluded from certain fabric colors?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fab Under $50 Made in USA Items

I'll be honest - talking about scoring a pair of heels, "on sale for $230" in my last post still makes my stomach turn.  I'm usually not an extravagant purchase type of person and when I do buy such a purchase I make sure to sniff out the best price possible.  Those types of purchases are few and far in-between in my life.

Another thing about those amazing Jimmy Choos is that they are one of the last things I bought for myself that weren't made in the USA.  That's something I've really been committed to lately and I can honestly say there have been only two fashion related items I've purchased this year that weren't made in the states. Full disclosure: I'm never giving up my love of Aveeno or Cetaphil products so they do not count as fashion items in my mind!

In order to get myself back to center I had to focus on a few more affordable made in the USA items.

Clockwise from Top Left:
Pink & Blue Cord Bracelet // Tree of Life Necklace // Protect Your Pumps // Teal Studs // Diamond Cutouts Earrings // Laugh Charm Bracelet // Black Bow Tie Tee Shirt // Chevron Blouse // Polka Dot Shoulder Bag

If you're in the mood for gold jewelry then you are certainly in luck.  I can't decide between those cool laser cutout earrings from Gorjana, the breathtaking Loren Hope Sophia teal studs from Lilac Bijoux, or the unique Tree of Life necklace from Sophia & Chloe.

Gold not your thing?  That's cool.  Alex and Ani make most of their jewelry available in multiple finishes so you never have to feel left out based on your metal preference.  Clearly I'm smitten with a bracelet that reminds you to laugh every second you're wearing it. If you're not into recycled materials jewelry, but want to add a punch of preppy-pretty to your outfit look no further than the Captain Jat cord bracelet from Kiel James Patrick. It's no coincidence that both Alex and Ani and Kiel James Patrick produce their amazing pieces in the jewelry capital of the world - Rhode Island.

Another massive trend this spring is the simple black and white color scheme.  Thankfully you can go this route and still buy American.  That polka dot shoulder bag from Claire Sanchez Studios is beyond adorable and even better it is available in a variety of sizes (hurry - they're on sale!). You can go for the ultimate spring fashion trend and get your black and white stripes on in that gorgeous chevron striped blouse from MiUS Collection. Of if you're a little quirky like me, you're head over heels crazy about the No. 1 Black Bow Tie Tee shirt from Les Femmes Velours.  That pretty lady is handmade in New York City and is currently on sale.

Finally, if none of these items strike your fancy and you're a shoe addict like myself, well then please for the love of gorgeous footwear do yourself a favor and buy some Protect Your Pumps. These soul saving adhesives will ensure your shoes survive the concrete jungle for years to come.  I have them on all of my leather soled shoes.  And you can feel good knowing that every single Protect Your Pumps is made in Chicago.

There you have it. A few quick and affordable ways you can buy American this spring.  Please note there are zero affiliate links in this post.  I just wanted to share some of the cool things I've found that are made in the USA.

If you've got an affordable made in the USA item you think I'd love, well please share it in the comments! Thank you!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jimmy Choos

Yay for trying to take an outfit photo in windy conditions while wearing a billowy skirt! 

Shirt: Youth Monument (made in USA!) // Skirt: Banana Republic old // Purse: Coach (22nd birthday present from my lovely sister - so super old) // Shades: Ray Ban // Necklace: Nordstrom Rack // Bracelets: BaubleBar, InPink, Isanctuary // Shoes: Jimmy Choo via Net-a-Porter 

Random story about these shoes:

I pinned these Jimmy Choo Private sandals in silver glitter over a year ago. Yes, over a YEAR ago.  I've been obsessed with the shape of these shoes ever since I saw them in a magazine in 2010.  So they've been around for quite some time. They're part of the Jimmy Choo 24:7 collection and will be around, in various colors, for years to come. 

Every year my mother-in-law gives me $200 for Christmas for the sole purpose of buying myself something pretty.  Net-a-Porter was having an insane sale after Christmas and I showed the hubs a few pairs of shoes and he picked out the ones above even though they were the most expensive.  I think they were on sale for $380 (seriously, I hate myself for saying that "on sale for $380" #firstworldproblems). That was above and beyond the most I've ever paid for shoes and I felt guilty about it. I promised the hubs I would take money out of my personal savings account to pay the difference because I hated splurging on a pair of shoes. I loved them, but hated the price at the same time. 

Hell. I told my best friend I felt guilty about it and I lamented that I took advantage of the hubs in his post-surgery, drug-induced, state of mind.

Then, fate happened. 

The next day Net-a-Porter called me to apologize for an error, but the shoes had sold out in my size and they had to cancel my order.  They put me on a waiting list, but I thought nothing of it.  As a gesture of their oversight they also gave me a $50 credit to use towards a future purpose.  

Honestly, I thought they went above and beyond the normal scope of customer service.  I think I recommended them to every single person I knew and I didn't even get an order from them. I truly figured it was the shoe gods telling me that those babies, while gorgeous, were out of my budget. 

Two days later, Net-a-Porter calls me again to let me know that the shoes are back in stock, in my size, and reserved in my online cart for 24 hours.


Oh, and they've been marked down an additional $100.  The post-holiday sale had been increased to an even crazier level. 

I really thought there was:
A. No way this was real life. 
B. No way that Net-a-Porter reserved a pair of shoes for me.  I thought wait list meant they emailed you when the shoes were back in stock, but said shoes were fair game to everyone in the world with internet access.
C. No way said shoes had been reduced even further and were "only" $280. 
D. No freaking way I could use my $50 credit on these shoes.

Yup, A-D were true.  The shoes I had coveted since 2010 were now mine.  I got them for $230 which makes them the second most expensive shoes I've ever purchased for myself. Disclaimer - the other pair were boots, so I think that's an unfair comparison.

My mother-in-law is a shoe fanatic as well and it made her so happy to hear that I was able to buy my first pair of Choos with the money she gave me for Christmas.  From one shoe addict to another - she totally got it. 

So yes, I know these babies were an extravagant indulgence.  I could have bought a ton of stuff for the same price, but honestly I didn't want a ton of stuff. I wanted amazing shoes that I can wear with everything and prance around in my house. True story, I broke these babies in while vacuuming. 

How about you? Any crazy shoe buying tales? What was your first extravagance? 

For my friends and family - please be advised that you'll be seeing me in these shoes just about every day this spring and summer :) 

I'm linking up with Shanna, Because Shannon Said So, today for her Random Wednesday series.  Random story about shoes? Definitely!