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12.30.2014

Winter Capsule 2015 | The Items

So I've decided to do another capsule wardrobe for the months of January, February, and March!  Here are the 40 items I've chosen to wear for the next three months:

Row 1 | Maroon studded tank: Old Navy | Black + white striped tee: Old Navy | Blue pintucked blouse: Old Navy | Chambray shirt: Old Navy
Row 2 | White tee: Target | White swiss dot popover: Gap | Gray + white striped tee: Old Navy | White + navy striped sweater: Old Navy
Row 3 | Black marled tunic: Old Navy | Leopard sweatshirt: Old Navy | Black + white polka top tee: Old Navy | Black turtleneck: Target

Row 1 | Vest: Old Navy | Denim jacket: Levi's | Maroon cardigan: Old Navy | Light pink cardigan: Old Navy
Row 2 | Tan boyfriend cardigan: Old Navy | Gray cardigan: Old Navy | Black cardigan: Old Navy
Row 1 | Maroon dress: Old Navy | Pink dress: Old Navy | Navy tunic: Gift
Row 2 | Black + white striped dress: Old Navy | Gray sweatshirt dress: Old Navy | Black marled dress: Target | Black fit & flare dress: Old Navy

Row 1 | Gray ponte pants: Simply Vera | Black bootcut pants: Daisy Fuentes | Denim skinny jeans: Lauren Conrad | Denim flares: Old Navy
Row 2 | Maroon jeans: Old Navy | Maroon leggings: Old Navy | Gray leggings: Old Navy | Black leggings: Old Navy

 Front Row | Black clogs: Sanita | Gray boots: Fergalicious | Multicolored boots: Mukluks, gift
Back Row | Brown short boots: Target | Brown suede boots: Bare Traps | Black boots: Target

You'll see that I decided to include shoes this time around (unlike my fall capsule), and I have also decided to wear these same items on the weekends as well as during the workweek (last time I only wore my items to work).  During my fall capsule, I regretted not including more prints/patterns, textures, or colors, so I made sure to include plenty of interesting pieces this time around.  I'm still relying heavily on neutrals (particularly in the black, gray, and white families), but I think between the colorful clothing items I've included plus the fun jewelry and scarves I have, I won't look too monochromatic over the next few months.  I've been playing around with different combinations, and I've already got 128 outfit ideas in my outfit planning spreadsheet that I would gladly wear (which is actually more than the number of days in January-March...).  I'm eager to get started with this capsule challenge starting January 1!

I'll be linking up with Jacquelyn and Anne throughout the next couple of months with other people doing capsule wardrobes.  Feel free to check out the others!

12.23.2014

Sassy Snakeprint

Dress: Old Navy | Tights: Target | Boots: Guess | Necklace: Gift

I've worn this dress a couple of times before, but this is the first time I'm photographing it for the blog!  Woo!  I really, REALLY like this dress - the print is sassy, the colors are versatile, and I love that it has sleeves.  I also just feel like it fits me so well, especially given that it doesn't have a defined waist like most of my other favorite dresses.  So far when I've worn this dress, I've kept it pretty neutral with brown and/or black accessories, which I did again this time.  I think it would be a fun dress to dress down with a denim jacket or my olive vest or jacket, or even add a colorful cardigan on top for some variety as well!

I'm going to be taking a little break over the next few days, as our holiday season is crazy busy (who's isn't though, really...).  We live an hour away from our families, but we're going to try to drive back and forth for our family gatherings this year.  It's so stressful to have to worry about bringing our dogs with us, sleep at one of our parents' houses, and hauling so much stuff for just a couple of days.  Plus, there's something so nice about sleeping in your own bed, you know??

For all of you who will be celebrating over the next couple of days, I hope you have safe travels, stay healthy, and enjoy time with your family and/or friends!  See you soon!

12.22.2014

Jeans for Work!

Blouse: J. Jill | Jeans: Lauren Conrad | Boots: Guess | Necklace: Forever 21

Thank you, everyone, for your sweet birthday greetings from last week!  I wound up having a great birthday!  On my actual birthday, my coworkers had a sweet lunch celebration for me, with a delicious confetti cake, and they gave me a custom zip up with our counseling department logo on it - I'm part of the team now!! ;)  Kevin and I spent the evening eating brownies and chips + queso dip (two of my favorite foods), watching old episodes of Modern Family (one of my favorite shows), and playing Skip Bo and Pandemic (two of my favorite games).

This weekend was pretty wonderful as well.  My best friend Andria came down to our house for dinner and a night full of games (we taught her Pandemic and she taught us Settlers of Catan), which was a blast!  On Saturday, I spent the day with my grad school best friend, Megan.  We had a delicious brunch at Panera, followed by a day full of baking.  We made some adorable frosted sugar cookies and the most amazing peppermint Oreo balls!  And yesterday, I spent the day in the kitchen again, watching Netflix as I made chocolate-dipped pretzels for all 16 people in our office at work.  I'm pretty excited about how they turned out and I am handing them out to everyone today!

As for today's outfit, I can't seem to stop wearing these silky J. Jill blouses!  They're so comfortable and I love how they look with ponte pants and skinny jeans!  I have really enjoyed pairing this particular cream top with pastels, so my light pink bubble necklace was a great match (even if the necklace is all wonky in the picture).  I recently found out that we can wear jeans to work any day of the week (not just Fridays), so this was my first time wearing them on a different day of the week.  These dark wash jeans look polished, and the dressier top makes it look more work-appropriate, I think.  Get ready to see some more jeans on the blog, now that I know I can wear them more often!

The weather in Minnesota has been gray, wet, and dreary over the past several weeks, so I haven't been able to take any outfit photos for quite awhile - I'm hoping that over my winter break (I work today and tomorrow and then am off until January 5!), I'll be able to get caught up with outfit photos so I'll have some new things to post for you!  I also will be starting my winter capsule in January, so I'm eager to get that put together for you all as well.

Have a great Monday!

12.18.2014

27 + Bucket List

Guess what, everybody??


Yep, today's the day I turn 27...officially in my late 20s.  26 was a pretty good age for me.  I completed my graduate program and graduated with a 4.0, I landed my first school counseling job in a great district with incredible colleagues, I moved into a beautiful townhouse with Kevin and our sweet puppies, and I've finally had time for myself and to improve my health and personal happiness.

Now that I'm just three years away from being 30, I decided I wanted to put together a bucket list of 30 things I want to do before I'm 30 years old.  I'm hoping to document the list and my progress towards these goals on my blog.
  1. Get at least one more tattoo.
  2. Donate my hair.
  3. Lose more weight...and maintain the loss.
  4. Pay off all credit cards.
  5. Buy a house.
  6. Foster at least 5 dogs.
  7. Complete a 5K race.
  8. Teach myself more Spanish.
  9. Play in a community band.
  10. Participate in a community theater production.
  11. Sew a quilt.
  12. Try one new recipe every month.
  13. Plan two out-of-town girls' weekends: one with my cousins, and one with my girlfriends.
  14. Write at least two letters a year to someone who has positively influenced me.
  15. Learn how to play my guitar.
  16. Spend a day at the Minnesota State Capitol to advocate for the school counseling profession.
  17. Dye my hair pink or purple.
  18. Read at least 12 books every year.
  19. Paint something for our house.
  20. Make yoga a part of my daily routine.
  21. Travel to either Hawaii or Europe with Kevin.
  22. Buy a new wedding ring.
  23. Take our parents out for dinner.
  24. Find an organization to volunteer with regularly.
  25. Redecorate our bedroom with a clear vision/design.
  26. Host a family gathering at our house.
  27. Talk with a friend on the phone every other week.
  28. Participate in one multicultural event every season.
  29. Send birthday cards to our friends and family members.
  30. Keep a gratitude journal.
So...there you have it!  These are the things I really want to accomplish during the last three years of my 20s.  I feel so excited about the things on my list, and I am eager to share my progress with y'all.

Have any of you done a bucket list of sorts?  Would you want to do any of these things?

12.17.2014

Fit and Flare

Dress: Old Navy | Tights: Kohls | Boots: Target | Necklace: Simonson's Jewelry

The lighting in this photo is really ethereal - makes me feel like some spiritual figure, haha.  My mom bought me this beautiful jacquard fit and flare dress (dang it, I forgot to take a detail shot so you can see a closeup of the texture in the dress), and I finally wore it!  Because I love black and purple together, I paired this dress with my purple fleece-lined tights and my purple pendant necklace.  Not a terrible look, eh?  I've said it a million times, but these fit and flare dresses seem to have been made for my body, I think.  I just feel beautiful in them!

12.16.2014

Rejuvenated

Blouse: J. Jill | Jeans: Lauren Conrad | Boots: Guess | Scarf: Gift

Thank you all so much for your kind words and thoughts after my post last week.  The last week was quite rough at school, as we lost one of our seniors.  I spent much of Wednesday with the student's five best friends, and it was simultaneously heartbreaking and wonderful.  Seeing these girls band together to support one another was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time.

I wound up taking the weekend to care for myself and rejuvenate after a tough week.  I spent most of my weekend in the Twin Cities with my family.  We ate dinner at The Freehouse (where my brother works - the food is deeeelicious!), saw the Christmas display on the 8th floor of Macy's in downtown Minneapolis, went to an ugly sweater party at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house, and enjoyed a fantastic holiday concert by The Blenders.  I also celebrated my birthday with my family on Sunday night, as my birthday is on Thursday!  It was a great weekend...just what I needed to feel better.

I wore this outfit on Saturday, and I loved it.  I feel like my style has gotten quite a bit more simple and streamlined lately - it feels great!  I could easily wear an outfit like this, a tunic + leggings, or a dress every single day and not feel tired of it :)

Also, the winner of my Patent Artwork giveaway is Maria!  Congratulations, lady!!  I'll be getting in touch with you ASAP so you can order your print!

12.11.2014

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I've had in a long, long time.  I experienced my first major crisis at work that has left me feeling sad, scared,  broken hearted, and both physically and emotionally exhausted.

Back in graduate school, our professors and textbooks reiterated the importance of self-care ad nauseam, and now that I've had to deal with my first major crisis, I completely understand why they focused so much on self-care.  I'm going to take a note from my professors and textbooks and step away from the blog for the rest of the week.  I need to take lots of time to recharge every night so that I'm strong at school for our students and teachers as we experience the loss of one of our kids.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight - life is so precious and such a gift.

12.10.2014

Bullet Points

Tank: Old Navy | Jacket: Levi's | Pants: Kohls | Clogs: Sanita | Necklace: Forever 21
  • I wore this outfit yesterday, and a few other women in the office were also wearing their denim jackets...we all looked like we coordinated our outfits, ha!
  • I love the combination of light pink (my tank) and charcoal gray (my pants).
  • Why don't more people wear clogs like these?  They're so comfortable!
  • Blog friends are wonderful.
  • Today is the last day of my Patent Artwork giveaway - don't forget to enter!  I'll be announcing/choosing the winner by the end of the week!

12.09.2014

Snooki + A Blooper

Dress: Target, thrifted | Tights: Target | Boots: Guess

I just adore this dress, you guys.  The leopard print is so much fun (even if I do feel slightly Snooki-ish in it), and I love this silhouette on me, and the combination of black and brown just makes me happy.  Because the dress itself is so loud and busy, I really kept the rest of the outfit very simple, with just a pair of black tights, cognac boots, and black earrings.  I felt like a million bucks in this outfit, and it's another outfit I certainly will be repeating!

Also, I wanted to include this ridiculous blooper.  I got a little tripod and remote for my iPhone (because yes, I'm still taking my blog photos with my iPhone), and I was getting it all set up to take photos (because, yes, I'm still taking a week's worth of outfit photos at a time).  This was the first time I had used the remote, and I was trying to figure out the 5-second timer situation so that my remote wouldn't show in the photos.  Well, clearly, I hadn't quite figured out the timer, since I accidentally took this photo.  Normally, I delete any bloopers/unflattering photos immediately, but this one cracked me up and I knew I wanted to share with y'all.  I can tell I was super focused and trying to get it all set up - my tongue was sticking out of my mouth, hahaha!

I have no shame.

I'll be linking up with Laura today!

Also, don't forget that the last day of my Patent Artwork giveaway is tomorrow!  Click here to enter!

12.08.2014

Weekend Recap + The Only Outfit I Ever Want to Wear

Tunic dress: From my parents | Leggings: Old Navy | Boots: Bare Traps | Scarf: Gift

I hope you all had a great weekend!  I spent most of my weekend hoping and praying that I don't catch the nasty influenza virus that's been spreading like wildfire through my school.  About 15% of our students were gone on Friday due to the illness, and it makes people utterly miserable for days on end.  YUCK.  We spent a lot of time on Friday sanitizing everything in our office...  I went to my coworker's house on Friday after school for a little happy hour with a handful of other school people, and wound up staying until like 9:00.  We had a blast laughing, enjoying beverages and snacks, and playing games.  It's so much fun to have coworkers who have become such dear friends.

Kevin and I also went to a holiday concert with his family yesterday.  The music was awesome; it was very Celtic-inspired, had three wonderful female vocalists, a great guitar artist, some drums, a bass guitar, and a woman who played all kinds of wonderful Irish and Scottish instruments.  If I could be in a music group, it would definitely be one like this, maybe with a little jazz or bluegrass/folk music sprinkled in.

As for today's outfit...get ready to see tons like it.  I have four of these tunic dresses and a few other tunics similar to it that are so cozy.  I've been wearing them to work with different colored leggings, boots, and scarves, and they couldn't be cozier.

12.05.2014

Same Same

Top: J. Jill | Pants: Kohls | Boots: Target | Scarf: Gift

So...this outfit is extremely reminiscent of this one that I wore during my capsule challenge...and to be honest, this outfit easily could have been worn during the capsule as well, as both the top and pants were two of my items.  In fact, it's the same shirt and pants (in different colors, because I have a problem with buying multiples), and the exact same boots and scarf as the other outfit.  However, I think this outfit fits the criteria of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Don't forget that I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog!  Click on over to enter a print from Patent Artwork!

12.04.2014

Receptionist Chic?

Shirt: Lucky, thrifted | Cardigan: Old Navy | Pants: Kohls | Shoes: Sanita

Say hello to my new dark red cardigan!  You'll be seeing this baby a lot, because I totally love it.  My mom was a peach and bought me three new cardigans from Old Navy a couple of weeks ago, and I am smitten.  They're so soft and cozy!

This outfit is super simple, but I had my first evaluation with my principal the day I wore it and I wanted to keep it pretty understated.  You know how some outfits are described as "librarian chic" or "sexy secretary?"  Well, this outfit for me reminds me of something I've seen a lot of health care receptionists wear...and I kind of really like it (I think it's all in the clogs).  Is "receptionist chic" a thing?  I'm going to make it a thing, because seriously, this outfit was so comfortable and I want to dress like this all the time.  These pants, as I mentioned in my budget post, feel like yoga pants but look like dress pants, and I'm all about the layers.  I even wore my special cladagh necklace (sorry for no detail shot...I'm the worst at remembering those) that I got from my family's Irish exchange student back in the late 90s.

12.03.2014

Currently...

Sweater / Jeans: Old Navy | Boots: Bare Traps | Scarf: Target

Making | Kevin and I have been trying new recipes lately: cheesy potatoes for Thanksgiving, a vegetable soup for cold days, and apple scones for a decadent weekend breakfast.  I am trying hard to gain more confidence in the kitchen, and it's much more fun to make food with a buddy than it is to go at it alone.  So far, everything we've tried has been delicious!

Listening | I admit that I'm one of those crazy folks who loves listening to Christmas music.  Lately, I can't get enough of the Pentatonix Christmas albums (my two favorite songs are this one and this one), Harry Connick Jr. (this one was a favorite of mine when I was a kid), or The Blenders (they're a wonderful Midwestern a cappella group who puts on the greatest Christmas concert every winter - we're going in a couple weeks and I can't wait!  One of my favorite songs that they perform is this one).

Wrapping | On my mom's side of the family, everyone brings a gift that fits a certain theme, and then we play the dice game to decide who gets what gift.  We've done themes such as "DVDs," "Red," and "Homemade," but this year's gift has to start with the gift-giver's first initial (so my gift would have to start with the letter "B").  I have my gift all picked out and ready to go, but I won't say what it is yet since some of my family reads my blog ;)

Watching | So, Kevin and I love watching Netflix together.  I am usually pretty "talked out" at the end of the day, and Kevin is wrapping up his Master's degree and enjoys the downtime to get his mind off schoolwork, so watching TV shows together on Netflix is one of our favorite ways to relax.  We've breezed through several TV series so far over the past 6 years (Parks and Rec, The Office, Portlandia, Derek, Orange Is the New Black, LOST, An Idiot Abroad, How I Met Your Mother, The New Girl), and we're now on That 70's Show.  It's Kevin's all-time favorite TV show (and he's watched the complete series multiple times on his own), but I hadn't ever really watched it.  It's SO FUNNY (this clip kills us both every time).  I also usually have my own TV show that I watch before I go to bed on my phone while Kevin is finishing homework.  I recently started watching Parenthood, and I'm almost done with season 2 now.  Another great show!

Anticipating | I am so excited for winter break.  I know I just had a 5 day weekend for Thanksgiving, but I'm already looking forward to the time off to spend with my cousin and her new baby, see some of my grad school friends who also will be on winter break, paint a lot, watch more Netflix (haha), and hang out with both my family and Kevin's.

[Did you see that I am hosting a giveaway for a print from Patent Artwork?  Click here to enter!!]

I'm going to be linking up with Anne for this month's installment of "Currently."

12.02.2014

Band Nerd (and a giveaway!)

I've shared before that I love music and I've been making music for my whole life, whether it's singing, playing the piano, or any of the wind instruments I've either studied or dabbled in.

Where I grew up, you had to be in 5th grade in order to join band.  I had been taking piano lessons since kindergarten, and I was a pretty good musician already.  I debated long and hard about what instrument I was going to play in 5th grade: flute or clarinet?  Ultimately, I decided to play the clarinet.  I got my clarinet the summer before 5th grade, and attended a summer workshop to help me learn how to put the instrument together, clean it, and make a sound.  On the day I got my clarinet, they also gave us the music book we'd be using in band all of 5th grade.  I was so excited when I got home from the workshop that I sat in my bedroom for the rest of the day and taught myself how to play...and I wound up playing through the entire book.  Because I picked it up so quickly, I became bored in band shortly.  My 5th grade BFF, Sammy, played the flute in band, and every so often, we would go home from school with each other on band days, and we'd trade instruments and teach each other how to play it.  Learning the flute after school was just the challenge I needed.

In 6th grade, I still loved playing the clarinet, but I really wanted to play the flute more as well, and getting to play Sammy's flute once a month or so just wasn't enough.  My parents bought me a used flute for my birthday that year, which was one of the best gifts ever.  I got a few lessons after school with my elementary band teacher, and I was lucky enough that I got to play both flute and clarinet in band during junior high.

I was one of those kids in high school who spent as much time as possible as I could in the band room.  My band teacher, Mrs. Berggren, was one of the most incredible people in my life, and I got to play in three musical ensembles on the flute (which by that time had become my "primary" instrument), clarinet, and piccolo (which I picked up in 8th grade).  As a junior in high school, I also was the teacher's assistant for the 9th grade band, so I got to lead warmups, sectionals, and even direct a couple of songs for the 9th grade band.  On top of it all, I played the flute at my church and whenever I possibly could at home.  It was not uncommon for me to play for 5-6 hours at a time on the weekends.  I know.  Total nerd alert.

The flute, for me, though, was such a passion.  I felt proud to have been self-taught and quite talented.  I loved teaching myself challenging pieces and playing in small group ensembles whenever I could.  One of the hardest things for me living in a small town right now is that there aren't any opportunities for me to play in a community band, and I miss making music with a group.  I still play my flute often in my free time, but there's something about playing in a large group of musicians that is entirely exhilarating.

Now that you know the depth and extent of my love of the flute and band in general, it should be no surprise that when I was given the opportunity to review a print from Patent Artwork that I chose the flute print!

Why yes, that is a little figurine of a girl playing the flute.  And two of mine and Kevin's engagement photos from 5 years ago!
Patent Artwork is a really cool company that creates art prints based on the original patents of products that we all use, know, and love.  A lot of research goes into the prints, from researching the patent and finding photographs of the original product.  Patent Artwork creates prints in all kinds of categories, ranging from inventions to sports to music to plants, and everything in between!  The prints are visually interesting, affordable (with prints starting at $25), and beautifully put together.  I loved reading the history of how the flute came to be...with as nerdy as I am about the instrument, I was shocked at how little I actually knew about the origins of the flute!  For instance, I learned that William Haynes, who patented this version of the flute, had a company in Boston that made his original flutes...and the company still manufactures them today!


Patent Artwork is a fantastic company that I highly recommend to you all as you do your holiday shopping!  We all have those people who are hard to shop for, right?  Perhaps you have a car fanatic in your family?  Try out this print!  What about your friend who is a teacher?  Perhaps this print would work out!  I also really like this bicycle print.

Are you liking what you're seeing?  Patent Artwork has graciously offered to giveaway one of their prints to one of my readers, so you have the opportunity to win one of these prints yourself!  You can earn one entry for each of the following things:

  • Visit Patent Artwork and leave a comment letting me know which print you'd select if you won.
  • Visit Patent Artwork's Facebook page, give it a "like," and let me know in a comment that you did so!
  • Let me know in a comment how you follow my blog.
  • Follow me on Twitter and let me know in a comment what your Twitter handle is.
  • Follow me on Instagram and let me know in a comment what your Instagram name is.
The giveaway will run through next Wednesday, December 10!  Good luck! :)

12.01.2014

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Dress: Old Navy | Jacket: Levi's | Leggings / Boots: Target

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate!  I literally found out at lunch on Tuesday that I didn't have to work on the next day (I thought it was an in-service day for staff, but I was wrong, ha!)...so I wound up having an unexpected 5-day weekend!  Woo!  We got tons of snow all day on Wednesday, so it was actually a great day off, hanging out with Kevin and our puppies. 

On Thanksgiving, we spent the day in the Twin Cities with my mom's family.  It was great to spend time with my aunt and all be able to laugh and have fun together before she begins her chemo treatments.  My cousin also had a baby two weeks ago, so I loved getting baby snuggles in...even though he peed through his diaper all over me, ha!  He's lucky he's such a cutie! ;)

The next day, Kevin and I met his family at a tree farm in Northfield, MN (one of the cutest little towns in Minnesota) and helped them pick out a Christmas tree.  We all ate lunch together and spent the afternoon watching Bridesmaids (that movie still cracks me up!!) and playing cards.  Afterwards, Kevin and I went to Northeast Minneapolis to celebrate my brother's girlfriend's birthday - another fun evening with family!

Saturday and yesterday were pretty lazy days...we watched The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and then on a whim decided to go see Mockingjay: Part One.  I really liked it, although it was super intense and kind of stressful to watch at times!  With all of the shit going on in Ferguson, MO, watching some of the scenes in these movies really hit close to home.  Some of the social commentary in The Hunger Games series so closely parallels what's been going on in Missouri (and around the country as a whole, for that matter), which led to lots of discussion between Kevin and I all weekend.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you hit any good deals on Black Friday?