Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Work It Wednesday - the Denim Shirt

I'm excited to join the Work it Wednesday link-up party created by Jill of Good Life for Less where you feature one style or wardrobe item and style it three different ways.  For my initial Work it Wednesday post, I thought I'd go with a denim shirt. 

I  love denim shirts - such a versatile wardrobe piece that can be dressed up or down!  I already own a light-blue colored chambray shirt I picked up from Macy's a few years ago.  It has some western detailing with mini ruffles in the neckline and built-in belt loops, though the material works best in the spring and summer weather.  I've been coveting a real denim or heavier chambray shirt for the fall/winter season with longer sleeves and less specific detailing and I finally purchased one at my local Gap Outlet a few days ago.  Though I haven't worn it yet, I'm excited about all the outfit possibilities the piece will bring to my wardrobe. 

Here are a few ways I hope to wear it:

A casual look for the weekend:

Denim shirt - weekend

A dressy look for an evening dinner or drinks date:

Denim Shirt - Night Out

A put together look for work:

Denim Shirt - Work

I hope you enjoyed my first Work It Wednesday post - head on over to Jill's blog to see the other entries or link up your own!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What I Wore - Thanksgiving

Dressing for the holidays is always a chore! My family tends to err on the side of fancy, so jeans are typically a no-go at my mom's house. At the same time, when you know you are going to be eating and lounging about, you just want to be comfortable! Trying to find a balance is tough, and this is the first year I think I achieved it well.
Cardigan - NY&Co, Geometric shirt - Gap Outlet, Navy Skinny Pants - Gap, Nude Patent Wedges - MaxxStudio via Annie Sez 

Overall, my Thanksgiving weekend was a good time - I spent most of Thanksgiving with my sisters as my parents were busy entertaining the (random) people they invited over.  I had to work on Black Friday, but I managed to stop at Lord & Taylor on my way into the office and picked up one of my Christmas wishlist items - a Kate Spade Iphone case - for 50% off (LOVE buying gifts for myself)!  I spent Saturday shopping with my mom and sister, and Sunday studying for a test I have to take for work this Saturday.  I'll be busy studying the rest of the week, so may not have time to do much blogging, but look forward to getting back into the swing of things after the test is over and done with - more house tour posts, some holiday gift guides, and a peak at my holiday decorating of both my and my mom's house coming soon!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 25, 2011

What's Your Design Personality?

Nate Berkus has a design quiz over on his website which I was alerted to by Young House Love (one of the first blogs I started reading - Esposito laughs at me because I like to refer to John and Sherry as "my friends").  I love taking these kinds of quizzes because I am always at a loss when I try to define my style.  I veer towards the more straight-line, clean silhouttes one would describe as modern, though I definitely enjoy my knick-knacks and tcotchkes and a fairly traditional aesthetic more than a pure minimalist style.  In previous questionnaires I've taken, I typically am characterized as transitional (whatever that means), so when I read John and Sherry's results I was excited to take the quiz for myself and see what Nate would describe me as!

The problem I see with these types of quizzes is that I often answer them with an expected result in mind, which would tend to skew the results.  Instead, for this one, I tried to just go with my initial reaction - classic red lipstick, sky-high stilettos, a gorgeous orchid, eiffel tower, and a beautiful, woven basket - choices which characterized me as:

I didn't think modern would be the result given my choices (the woven basket, especially but the others as well I would think are more classic), and I'm not sure I fully agree with the description - I am probably one of the WORST impulse shoppers out there!  Lately, I have been trying to limit my impulse purchases by writing a list of things I'd like to buy and trying to stick to that list but I have only been mildly successful!  Other than that, I do prefer clean and simple lines and a less-cluttered look.

And since we all love some pretty pictures, here are some rooms I've been drawn to recently which I think depict this modern design personality:

Foyer by Sarah Richardson, via

Sharon Mimrans via Decor Pad
Pinned Image


Did you take the quiz?  What was your result?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - Things I'm Thankful For


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays - the meaning and history behind the holiday, the people I get to spend it with, the food, the kick-off to the holiday season, and of course the after-thanksgiving shopping!

In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd share some of the things I'm thankful for:

  1. Esposito - the one who knows and understands me best, puts up with all my crazy antics, makes me laugh, and keeps me grounded - 8 years and counting! (Picture by my friend & photographer Tina)
  2. My Parents - Loving, caring, fun, have given my sisters and I more than any children could ever ask for, and continue to set an amazing example for us to look up to in our careers, relationships and for life in general.
  3. My Sisters - Words can't express what these girls mean to me.  Our relationship has changed so much over the years, and now that we are more or less on the same life wavelength, our bond will only continue to grow stronger.
  4. My Dogs - Offer so much love and affection for so very little in return!
  5. My Home - For all my wanting of a new house, I have to admit that it does feel nice to have a place to come home to that is our own.
  6. New & Old Friends - Great girls who make life all the more enjoyable.
  7. My Job - I have a love/hate relationship with work (especially as of late) but I still try to be grateful for the opportunities this company has given me, especially the chance to do what I always envisioned myself doing in life (travel!).
  8. This blog - It took me a while to get it started, but now that I have, I'm super excited about it.  I didn't expect to have any readers in the beginning, so I am very grateful to those of you that have visited and commented and look forward continuing on this blogging journey.
Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

House Tour - The Kitchen

When we purchased the house, it had been empty for (we estimate) a year and was NOT in move-in condition.  The biggest reason was the kitchen.  Looking back, I'm amazed that the it didn't completely turn us off of this house - I guess we love a challenge.  Think dirty appliances, peeling linoleum flooring, dilapidated (when not missing!) cabinets, the list can go on and on.  Take a look for yourself:
Notice the wire shelving bridging the cabinet and stove on the right

Those cabinet doors were not left open - they just didn't close

The far wall - grey door and burgundy trim.  Also note the (gross but at least matching) lighting and electrical disaster waiting to happen - an air conditioner plugged into a run-of-the-mill extension cord to the adjoininig garage!

Nobody puts baby in the corner!

Yes, that is a wood-paneled soffit extending much past the cabinets

There was no salvaging to be had - the pictures I have don't begin to do justice to the task that awaited us.  We closed on the house in January and spent 4 months fixing the house up before moving in - mostly working on the kitchen.  We did no structural work, other than opening up the doorway into the dining room and moving the fridge beneath the stairs (there was already electrical and water there) to bring it within the "working triangle" space.

Aesthetically, I love the look of white cabinets and dark countertops, however Esposito thought it would be impossible to keep clean so we compromised on maple cabinetry in a warm cinnamon stain.  We purchased the new cabinetry from a local shop - Bergen Kitchen Wholesalers.  I don't think they are around anymore (this was 3 years ago), but they were great - we were able to purchase semi-custom, real wood cabinets for about the same cost as going the Ikea route (and much cheaper than the options we priced at Home Depot and Lowes).  Esposito's mom gifted us granite countertops as a housewarming gift, and we went with Uba Tuba granite since it included warm-toned flecks that matched our cabinetry.  All the appliances were purchased from P.C. Richards and are GE.

Looking in from the dining room

Looking towards the dining room

Another view from the dining room - we've sinced removed the eating area
at the end to make room for the dogs

After painting the kitchen green

Opposite view of the green kitchen
If I could do it all over again, I would've pushed Esposito harder for my dream white kitchen - now I find myself thinking of painting our cabinets (which is insane considering they are pretty new). However, I think considering where we started, our kitchen looks pretty good and since we know this isn't our forever house, I don't mind living with cinnamon-toned maple until we move and I can have my crisp white kitchen!

In terms of what I'd still like to do to this space, I'd really love to close the door to the sideyard (seen in the photo above) and put the fridge there (flanked by additional cabinetry under that window, for storage) which would open the space beneath the stairs for a walk-in pantry (where you see the fridge handles poking out currently in the above picture). We also still need to complete the backsplash - we finally picked a tile so now it's just a matter of ordering it and doing the work (blog post to come!).  What I love most about the space is the new paint color (I painted it Asparagus by Behr in May) and the diagonal floor tiles - one of the best design decisions I made since it cost hardly anything and does so much in terms of adding interest to the space.  I am also still on lookout for the perfect gray and green geometric fabric that I will use to make roman shades for the window to tie in the dining room and kitchen spaces!

So that's our kitchen, and really our biggest renovation project to date.  The rest of the house, I'll summarize fairly quickly as they are the least "done" - in quotation marks because clearly nothing is really done - starting with the bathrooms next!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Outfit Post - Military Chic Style

As I mentioned last week, I decided to link up to Bloggers Do It Better for the Military Chic assignment since I've loved seeing bloggers' take on previous assignments and since now I have a blog too.  Now, I am by no means a fashion blogger (nor do I have the equipment, wardrobe, or poise to pretend to try to be one!) but fashion and styling is something I enjoy, so I hope to be able to, on occasion, showcase some "what I'm wearing" posts.

Here is my take on Military Chic:

Jacket from NY&Co, Striped Cardigan from JC Penney, Grey tank from NY&Co,
Cargo skinny pants from Gap, Grey booties via DSW

As you might have seen in last week's post, I was contemplating three different outfits for the look - I managed to try on and photograph the other two looks (thanks to Esposito, who grudgingly woke up early to take these pictures of/for me - if the pictures are horrible, you can thank him ;)).  I ultimately chose the grey version because it was the most involved (I read somewhere that every outfit should have at least 5 pieces for depth and interest - and totally agree!) and because I figured wearing army green was a little too obvious and the leggings outfit, minus the sweater, wouldn't have been Military Chic at all!  (Thanks Skippy Says for your vote)!

Jacket from Loft, Striped sweater from Gap, Khaki's from Banana Republic, Boots via TJ Maxx

Sweater - vintage via Goodwill, Gold chain from Jewelmint, Black tank from H&M,
Black leggings from NY&Co, Black OTK boots via TJ Maxx

Which outfit do you like better?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mock Thanksgiving & What to Wear for Thanksgiving Dinner

Yesterday, I got together with some of my friends from college for a Mock Thanksgiving dinner.  Back in the day, our pre-thanksgiving plans revolved around which club hosted the best Thanksgiving Eve party - my, how times have changed!  It was a great time in any event - catching up, eating delicious food, and seeing my friends' children.  We organized the event as a potluck, and my task was to bring a sweet potato casserole.  I'd never made one before, but it was quite easy and got rave reviews!  (I used this recipe but didn't take any pictures, unfortunately). 

Here are some outtakes from the night:

All of the turkey eating and comraderie has me with Thanksgiving on the brain - I can't wait to go to my mom's for some fun family time with my sisters and parents this Thursday.  I haven't decided yet what I'm going to wear, or whether I want to go formal, casual but put together, or in jeans!  Something about Thanksgiving makes me want to break out the fall colors - seems like the appropriate time, and I love to cozy up in creams, navy, and oranges for the occasion.  Here's a few outfit options I'm thinking of:

What to Wear - Thanksgiving

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Friday, November 18, 2011

House Tour - The Dining Room

Our dining room space is just off the living room.  In fact the whole space is open to each other, in an L format apparently typical of the 1950s, when the house was built (see the layout in my floorplan here).  It's a normal size room (12' by 10') and was really a blank canvas - no architectural details or built-ins to speak of.  There is a window - same format as the window in the living room - which takes up the whole back wall, a door to the side yard - that serves no purpose whatsoever - on the adjacent wall, and the opening to the kitchen opposite that wall.

The only changes we made to this space is refinishing the floors, and enlargening the opening to the kitchen (it used to be 36" but we opened it 70" and incorporated a peninsula in the kitchen to tie in the two spaces).  I'd love to change out the big window for french doors (which would lead to the backyard), close up the door to nowhere and replace with two 36" double hung windows with space in between for a hutch/buffet, and add some architectural interest in the way of wainscoting.  The wainscoting may be a project I attempt (and document here on the blog) in the near future - I just have to decide where to end it since one of the walls is shared with the living room, with no divide.  I'd also like to change out the chandelier at some point, which was a cheap one we purchased at home depot in the interest of having at least some light until I found one I liked.

Here's where we started (post initial renovations).  A veritable blank canvas. 

On the left, you'll see my makeshift bar using an IKEA Lack shelf and a Besta cabinet that we bought for the TV which became obsolete for that use once we mounted the TV over the fireplace.  The cabinet now resides in the foyer as a makeshift console table (quite a versatile piece of furniture). On the right is an asymmetrical bookcase I found randomly at Target - it was on clearance in the store for $67 while still listed on the website at the time well above $200 so I couldn't pass it up (I have a clearance shopping problem, you will learn!).

A few months later, I found a (clearance) dining room table and chairs at Sears on a fluke shopping trip.  Here (view from the kitchen) you have a better view of the Target bookcase.

Another view, from the living room:

Here's what it looked like when I swapped the living and dining rooms for Christmas 2009:

The "art" is Waverly fabric I purchased from Joann's and stretched over a canvas.  The rug is from IKEA.  The ottomans, serving as additional seating, are from Target (purchased on clearance, of course, for $17.48 a piece!)

And here is what the room looks like today (minus the curtains which I recently gave to my mother since they matched her new bedroom - new window coverings are on my shopping list!).

The "bar" was getting in the way, so I dismantled it and now the ottomans reside in front of that wall (they are great for extra seating in either the living or dining room in a pinch).  On the right, you see a corner of a settee/loveseat I purchased from Target that needs to be moved to the bedroom.

Some closeup/detail shots:
Bookcase styling - the bottom half needs some work!
The new bar setup in the corner

A vignette I'm especially proud of atop the bookcase

Next stop - the kitchen!

Military Style

Kristina at Pretty Shiny Sparkly announced a Bloggers Do It Better assignment commencing next Tuesday (November 22), and centered on Military Chic style.  I've been inspired by some of the looks in past Bloggers Do It Better assignments, though never participated since I didn't have a blog.  Now that I do, I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring and will be linking up with my version of military chic style next week.  Here's a mock-up of three potential outfits I have in mind -- the pieces aren't the same as I own, but it gives a general idea of my direction.  Come back next Tuesday to see which one I picked!  (Which is your favorite?)
Military Style

Mara Hoffman long sleeve top
$240 -

Cash Ca gray sweater
£90 -

Zoe karssen modal shirt
£45 -

Double breasted jacket
$520 -

Wool herringbone jacket
$224 -

Hervé Léger bandage legging
$1,150 -

See by chloe
$138 -

Dylan george jeans
$85 -

Old Navy khaki twill pants
$30 -

Burberry over knee boots
$1,495 -

Michael Kors pointy shoes
€160 -

Bootie boots
$50 -

LORD TAYLOR dog tag jewelry
$450 -