Friday, January 30, 2009

Vegas, baby

I’ve just returned from my 4-night stay in Las Vegas, baby. By the time we left, I felt that I had been in Vegas for ever. It’s the kind of place that sucks you in like it or not. And I was not expecting to like it as much as I did.

It’s cleaner than I thought it would be. Before this trip, mostly negative thoughts would come to mind at the mention of Vegas: trashy, addicts, prostitution, nudity, loud, cheap. Not so. It was actually very clean. Most of the negatives were easy to avoid, and those that weren’t I got over quickly.

It’s bigger than I ever imagined. Steve had been to Vegas twice before this trip. He properly warned me: prepare to walk a lot. So I brought my Nikes and a pair of flat boots. We walked…and walked…and walked some more. Bought monorail passes to help with the endless walking. Just getting to the monorail required so much walking, it was hardly worth the mucho-bucks we spent on the 3-day passes. And hey, I like to walk, but this was insane.

It’s pricey. Gone are the days of the $1 buffet. We stayed at the MGM Grand at a crazy-low price. Yeah, they hand out deals on the rooms then charge $25 per person at the dinner buffet. Yummy, but yikes. Admission to the shows is also pricey. We stood in line early Tuesday morning to get in on the best ½ price ticket deals. Even so, for the best seats you’re still paying over $100 for the big shows. Our choice: Phantom of the Opera. Good news: it was worth every penny. Fortunately, you can see a few great things for free. The water show at Bellagio is wonderful. It runs every 15 minutes to a different tune. I could hang out there all day and be perfectly content. The Siren show at Treasure Island is a sight to see and about as show-girly as I’d want to get, but super fun.

It’s all about the shopping…for me, anyway. I must admit though, Vegas shopping was a little intimidating to me. And I don’t intimidate easily. Heck, I practically have the Mall of America in my backyard at home so bring-it-on. Vegas was different somehow. Partly because Steve was with me. I don’t like to shop with Steve much…he’s just ok in that regard. I felt strangely out of my element shopping in Vegas. Many of the stores weren’t familiar. Most were out of my price-range. It seemed if I wasn’t seeing a tacky Las Vegas tourist T-shirt, then I was being blinded by sequence and brightly colored halter dresses. On our last day, Steve and I parted ways…he to the poker table, me to the mall. Urban Outfitters beckoned me from The Strip. I nearly cried for joy when I spotted H & M. The Gap proved to have delightful clearance. And I returned to my husband happy and ready to go home. On our way out, we stopped at a hotel boutique and I was thrilled to find my signature Vegas purchase: a new funky purse. Yeh.

Overall, this was a great trip and I desperately want to take my girlfriends some day. Guess I’ll start savin’ now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Full-Length Mirror

EVERYONE needs a full-length mirror. Everyone. What I see on the streets of St. Paul can only lead me to believe that this is not a fixture in many American homes. The people I encounter in the lobby or the skyway likely sit behind a desk all day, as do I. At some point one must get up to use the facilities, get coffee, go to a meeting, greet a client or vendor, use the copy machine; not to mention lunchtime, when I see these people in their horrid state. Point being: it matters.

The problem often contains itself to the lower portion of the body - hence my belief that people are looking in mirrors designed to view only the upper parts. I don't know what the deal is with high-water pants. I-Don't-Know. Just because your pants fit at the waist does not mean they fit at the ankle. As in, I don't want to SEE your ankle when you're standing. Pants should not drag on the floor either, but be no more than an inch or so from the bottom of your shoe.

My next grievance is that of skirts that are too tight or too short for the office and probably anywhere else. I've seen too many women try to work that pencil skirt they bought in the 80's only to reveal lumps and bumps they might not have had back in the day. And guess what: if you're squeezing into it, the length has been compromised as well.

And last but not least: shoes. My favorite topic. Over our lunch breaks, Steve & I (yup, we work together) walk in the skyway in the winter and stroll the downtown parks in the summer. Many people do the same. I admit, it's way smarter to throw fashion to the wind when exercising. I see many women who will throw on comfy sneakers with their suit for this purpose. Ok, that's fine, I get it. But this must be done tastefully. Your new Nikes will do. As will those babydoll Sketchers. But what's with the ugly, clunky, somewhere in between shoes? The ones with the box-toe and square, 1 1/2" heel in some hideous color. The dog got a hold of them 2 years ago; you bought them for your sister's wedding...in 1992; you spilled coffee on them and thought the effect was cool somehow.....

I don't get it. Especially at work. Don't you want your superiors and associates to see you as clean, intelegent, hard-working, promotable, interesting, fun? I PROMISE, if you look good, you will feel good. With appoachability and confindence, you will make friends faster, earn respect sooner, and be granted more priviledges.

Ladies, it's time to buy a full-length mirror.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Effective

I've been a busy girl lately. For the past 6 years I've hosted a girl's clothes-swap for my church youth group. Every year has been a success. The girls come with clothing and accessories they no longer want and our youth room becomes a giant, girly, free-for-all garage sale. This year I took a little more time and put a little more into it. Yet the day-of I was not excited. Regardless of my hard work, I felt very empty, ineffective and alone even with my closest friends there. I decided that my clothes-swap had run it's course. It was time to pass the torch on to someone else who could bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the initial idea. This was Saturday.

I never miss church unless I am out of town or puking, but I could not will myself out of bed Sunday morning. I was up most of the night contemplating too-deep questions such as: What is my place in the world? Why do I feel so ineffective? Where is this road that I'm on taking me? Who can I count on? How can I meet all of the expectations I set for myself? So lack of sleep and a nasty lingering cold did me in. No church for me today. Certainly not effective laying in bed.

Tuesday was choir practice. I've been a soprano in the ABC Youth Choir for 13 years. Conveniently, I married the choir director. We sat with Nate (our music pastor) for a few minutes after practice and discussed aspirations for the new year. They both spoke of a desire to be more active in their ministries. To work harder. To share more. To be effective. To see increase. I've been longing to hear these words from these men for years. Our last album came out in 2001, and I've been holding out for the next thing since then. How frustrating that right now, all I want to do is rest, not work harder. But I'll try anyway.

Wednesday. I'm also on the Leadership Council for H.Y.P.E. (Helping Youth Prepare Eternally), our church youth group. There are 4 of us on the committee under the authority of the Youth Pastor, Stuart. Each of us alternate months when we lead 1 Wednesday night service. Of course, this is my night. Thankfully, I have an amazing resource: my husband. Somehow, we pulled off a great night of 'Holywood Squares' (no, that's not a typo). Suddenly, I can breath again. Feel good about myself again. Reminisce about the funny things people said and did that made the evening a success. Take pride in my work, even though I just played with construction paper and glue-stick all day. No matter, I felt effective.

Based on the last week, I'd say I need to do new things more often. I can get stuck in a rut pretty easily. I honestly thought I would do the clothes-swap forever. But all of a sudden, I'm just done. And that's ok. Because it seems the moment I climb out of my rut, an opportunity presents itself for me to do something new and effective. This is good because much is expected of someone as blessed as I am.

Monday, January 12, 2009

For Everything, There is a Season

Winter in Minnesota has been rough this year. And it's only January. Currently, it's 9 degrees outside and snowing. Supposedly, we’re in for sub-zero temperatures and a blizzard. But no matter how cold it is, there always seems to be a select group of women who choose to ignore the temperature for the sake of “fashion”. I wish to tell all those to whom this applies that you no longer have to suffer. Verily I say unto you: bare skin in temperatures below freezing is not fashionable, it’s crazy. When you don’t dress for the current season, you look ridiculous. Here are a few obvious no-no’s that I’ve observed, just in case there is any doubt about what is currently out of season in cold climates:

Bare legs. Tights and leggings are all the rage. Take advantage of this delightful trend. If you think you don’t like tights, you’re wrong. They’re not what they used to be. I personally like Old Navy tights. They’re inexpensive, yet durable and come in great neutral colors.

Open-toed shoes. With the exception of some peep-toes that are acceptable with tights. Steve directs our church youth choir; I do my part as a soprano. The girls know that if I see them wearing flip-flops in the winter, they will be severely reprimanded by yours-truly, and probably Steve too. (In my opinion, flip-flops should not be worn to church, period.)

Summer fabrics and prints. Linen, for example, is meant to be worn in warm climates only. Tissue Cotton, more often than not, should also be reserved for 32 degrees and above, at the very least. As far as prints go, if you think your item could be worn with white or pastel tights, you’re wrong (because white/pastel tights are wrong). The print is likely out of season.

Please, be pleasant for others to look at in seasonably appropriate attire. Do not allow your appearance to give others the shivers. Instead, send warm fuzzies their way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Shopping Resolutions

About this time every year, I take serious inventory of my wardrobe. It’s kind of fun, kind of painful, and really necessary. As I take note of the items that I absolutely love, I find that I’ve wasted too much money on other items that I bought because they were convenient or cheap. Therefore, I’d like to make a few shopping resolutions here and now in hopes that this time next year I’ll be more proud of what I see in my closet.

1. Invest in the basics. Don’t settle for less than perfect.
At one point, I had 3 black pencil skirts. None fit well. For the money I spent on them, I could’ve bought 1 fabulous skirt that I would actually want to wear.

2. Support local boutiques.
My community is full of brave little shop owners struggling to survive. Of course I’d rather shop at these places, but the convenience and prices of the big box stores win out. I can get 5 mediocre shirts at Target for the price of one fabulous shirt at a boutique. I’m changing my perspective: I don’t need 5 mediocre shirts. I do want to be fabulous. So the choice is clear.

3. Return Policies are my Friends.
I recently searched high and low for the perfect pair of red pumps. Found them on sale. Ordered them. Too tight. Returned them for the next size up. Too loose. Bought a heel insert. Wore them to work hoping to break them in. I finally had to face the reality: they were so painful, so not worth it. I had already thrown away the box, and the receipt too. $40 down the drain. I vow to not make that mistake again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Questions


Steve and I dated for 3 ½ years before he proposed. It was fine with me. I was 23 and probably would’ve waited another 3 ½ years for him if that’s what it took. It hardly took a year after we started dating for people to begin teasing us about marriage. Steve and I were serious, but more so about our friendship. So serious, in fact, that we didn’t say the words “I love you” for over 2 years into our relationship. If this wasn’t going to be “till death do us part”, neither one of us were interested in emotionally destroying the other. So early on it was pretty awkward when someone asked us about marriage. Eventually, we got used to it and tried to come up with equally rude answers to their initially rude question: "When are you getting married?"

So he proposed in February of 2006. We set the date for May 19 of the same year. (Note to wannabe brides: short engagements are the way to go). Immediately, the baby question: “When are you going to have kids?” What the heck, people!? We JUST got married! We barely know how to make a baby yet, so give us a sec, k!?

Steve and I are very happy married people. We feel very little need to rush into parenthood. And as we approach year #3 of our happy life together, the questions don’t cease. I’ll be 27 this August and Steve will be 35 in September. It’s a good time. When people ask me about babies now, the question seems to linger in the air a little longer before I respond.

I might think that inquisitors would be out of questions after we have a kid. But if my friends with kids have taught me anything, it’s that the question that follows “When are you getting married?” and “When are you having a baby?” is the worst of all:

“When are you having another one?”

Monday, January 5, 2009

Buying Shoes Online

I don't purchase a whole lot online. I love the physical act of shopping way too much. I don't like the thought of shipping costs and even worse, return shipping costs. So I must share with you my obsession with one exceptional site:

Endless.com. Oh-my-word. This site is a shoe-lovers dream. Not only is their selection literally 'endless', they also offer FREE shipping (often NEXT DAY), free return shipping within 365 days of your purchase, AND their %100 price guaranty. Crazy, I know. And equally important is the usability of the website. Their sort options are the best, the pages load super fast, and your wanted items can go into a convenient 'saved' box instead of going right into your cart. Currently, I have 21 shoes saved - because I'm sick like that. Oh, and if you do ebates (ebates.com, check it out), you can receive an additional percent off your purchase there as well.

Last week I bought a cute pair of Primo brand shoes. Darling, polka-dot flats with soleassage technology that was delightful for the bottom of my tootsies. Too bad they were too tight across the top and too high in the back, causing rubbing in all the wrong places. No problem. Free return shipping!

Typically, I would ask for commission from a company I promote so readily, but this is just that good. Happy shopping to you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Don't Mind Me

I love reading other people's blogs. It all started with Wardrobe Oxygen. A few friends of mine maintain blogs and I greatly enjoy those as well. Most recently, my dear friend Lori came out with her blog and in order to post a comment I had to open up this google account. Upon my login, a big orange button beckoned me to create a blog myself.

Oh boy, this could be fun. Or totally lame. What in the world will I write about? Un-like my friend-bloggers, I'm not too interesting. I don't have kids. I work a regular, corporate job. I don't have any outstanding talents or hobbies... So bare with me.

I love people. I'll write about marriage, family & friends. I love to shop. I'll write about my purchases and my favorite shops, online and abroad. I also love books, music, golf, and travel...now I'm getting excited.

Cyber world, here I am.