I don't buy myself expensive, designer things people, I just don't. Heavily discounted designer things, sure. Full price, no way Jose'.
So when I do get something expensive and designer that is in season, the style that is the envy of all designer buyers, it's a big ol' deal. Like when Steve bought me this Coach purse for my 24th birthday. The man has good taste. I remember bringing it into work that day and being all bashful (yet bursting with excitement) that I had it...like I was doing something wrong. I had never had anything so expensive before. I got over it pretty quickly and used my Coach constantly for a very, very long time. There are currently a few purses in my collection that I rotate through frequently. But still, I love carrying this purse.
It makes me think about cost-per-wear, which is discussed a lot on fashion blogs. It's hard to know when you first get a thing what sort of role it will ultimately play the wardrobe. I've purchased pricier items thinking they would get so much use, yet for whatever reason, they don't. And sometimes the cheap thing that I pick up for a few bucks at the thrift store, figuring I might only wear it a limited amount of times, becomes a closet favorite.
Speaking of birthdays, I'm having a hard time acknowledging that I turn 28 on Monday. Yikes.
I paid full price for this dress (gasp!). All $22 of it at Forever 21. BFF Elaina spotted the navy one first and I considered buying it too. I'm so glad I went with the ivory because 1) I don't have a dress like this or in this color, and 2) it would have slightly defeated the purpose of getting this dress for free!
This little frock doesn't come with a belt. It's meant to flow freely, but I've been really trying to avoid the MuuMuu look lately. This I tied with a simple black sash. The tie is in the back - I think it looks more purposeful that way...like it's part of the dress. And heaven forbid I would take away from that darling neckline with a distracting belt.
You know me and Color - we're pals. I started out wearing this with flat, blue shoes. The hus-bad didn't like it. He doesn't speak up much about what I wear (negatively), so when he does, I tend to think twice. Sometimes I disagree, but in this case, I came up with something better, and husband approved. Instead of my pop of color I have a pop of animal. I liked it better, but have a tough time admitting when Steve has a better eye for style than I do. Ah-well...
Dress: Forever 21
Leggings: Anne Klein via DSW
We took Miles to PetSmart for the first time on Saturday. He was the star of the store. Everyone oogled at him. We want him to be really comfortable around all people and other animals, so it was a good exercise. We bought him a name tag, toys, and a bed, among other things. We spent a lot of time talking to their very friendly, helpful staff as well as other dog owners who inquired about Miles. We even bumped into another (larger) Pug and a (very large) Puggle (Pug+Beagle). Oh why can't they stay little!?
I've starting calling Miles Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch). He makes these strange alien-baby sounds when he's in his aggressive-play mode. To hear it, you'd think he was being tortured, but really he's just a little crazy-like. I lay him on his back, his ears flip up, his eyes go wide, his little legs start reaching, mouth opens up and the sounds start coming. I'm going to try to get video of it sometime...it's pretty hilarious, though not a behavior I intend to tolerate for the long run.
More of me being extra casual on an absolutely perfect Saturday afternoon. I know shorts get a bad rap sometimes, but I've come to really appreciate shorts and their versatility in my wardrobe. I don't love them quite as much bare-legged in the summer as I do paired with tights and boots in the winter, but they're so easy, can be dressed up or down, and either keep me cool when it's hot or add an extra layer when it's cold.
I refuse to give up my jewelry just because I have a puppy to consider. Puppy is just going to have to learn that certain things (basically everything but his toys) do not go in his mouth. I do anticipate a few wardrobe (& household) casualties in the learning process. BUT since Saturday was sort of all about the puppy, I gave it up...for the day. Not even wearing my diamond stud earrings and feeling a little weird about it.
Shirt: shop in Tortola, Virgin Islands
Shorts: Calvin Klein via TJMaxx
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Purse: thrifted via ARC's Value Village
Maybe it's because of the summer and all it's warm casualness, or maybe it's because I have this little creature whose sharp little teeth and grabby claws can't help but reach for my clothes, shoes, and jewelry (nothing ruined yet)...but I have had zero desire to dress up lately. I want fast, easy style. But still style, nonetheless.
Before the pup, my alarm would go off at 5:50am. I would then press SNOOZE at least twice. Drag myself out of bed, then spend 20+ minutes staring into my closet in hopes something fabulous would appear before me. Then came make-up, hair, wake Steve up, make lunches, eat breakfast, brush teeth and make it out the door by 7:15. I'm not very fast in the morning.
NOW, my alarm still goes off at 5:50am, but I don't dare press SNOOZE. I go straight to the bathroom, do make up and hair while considering what to wear for the day. I get dressed, and if all goes well, sneak breakfast in before taking Miles out at 6:30. We go "outside", go back inside for the AM meal, go back outside for a walk, go back inside to wake Steve up...and complete the morning tasks from there. Still out the door by 7:15.
Dog or no dog, I really should lay my clothes out the night before, this I know. But what looks brilliant at 10:30pm, doesn't always look as smart at 6:15am the next morning. But 6:15am Jill simply needs to trust 10:30pm Jill. It's a process. I'll get there and be better (and better dressed) for it. Until I can get my act together, unwrinkled skirt/pant + t-shirt + cardigan is the go-to work combination.
Miles isn't interested in outfit pictures. He wants that stick/leaf/rock/trash on the ground. And he won't settle until it's in his mouth.
Shoes: Nine West, thrifted via My Sister's Closet
Purse: thrifted via Arc's Value Village
Keychain: Third Willow
Before I left on my trip, I made a momentous purchase...and didn't tell you.
I wanted it to be a surprise.
The package was waiting for me when I arrived home.
I am so excited.
Until I can remember to buy suede protector, I don't dare wear them.
They are precious to me.
Every time I open my closet, their presence is like a ray of sunshine.
I know, I know they're perfect...settle down now. If you think they're amazing in-box, just imagine what they will look like with navy, brown, gray, or dark red tights come fall. Oh yeah.
A huge thanks to my thoughtful readers who sent me links and made recommendations regarding my yellow shoe obsession. I considered them all, but in the end it was Shelley from Artsy Fartsy Whatnot who directed me to Urban Outfitters where I bought these for less than $50 (not including shipping). That's a far cry from the $100 I was struggling with in this post. They come in other fabulous colors too (Kendi has them in red) - check 'em out!
When Arc's Value Village set up their latest store in St. Paul, just a few blocks from my church, I was thrilled to pieces. It's my new favorite detour. I love when they have specials and a certain color tag is only $0.99 or 50% off...that's the best.
Never quite new what their organization was all about, until speaking of the new store with my mom. She said it was the Association for Retarded Citizens. Retarded isn't correct terminology anymore, so now they just say Arc's. My mom would be familiar with this group, being that my older brother Tim is mentally challenged.
Seeing as I am one of their most loyal customers (teehee), I began receiving their newsletter for the frequent coupons and updates. There was mention of a need for volunteers at their stores. Hmmm...volunteer opportunity just a few blocks from church? Sounded like a recipe for a Youth Group activity to me. I sent an e-mail and easily booked a time for my group to go.
Last night was the night. We watched a short video about Arc's and the difference they're making in the lives of families with special needs. Arc's Mission: To secure for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play. Find more great information about Arc Greater Twin Cities, Arc of Minnesota and Arc of the United States.
I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but assumed we'd be sorting or packing or hanging or folding...
That about sums it up. We sorted the contents of 2 huge crates and were working on or 3rd when our time was up. I can't say enough good things about this group of people that I spend my Wednesday nights with. They're so willing, so giving, and keep great attitudes no matter what the circumstances. Thanks guys.
One of the great perks of sorting clothes is that if you want it, you can set it aside to be tagged...first dibs. We each received coupons for 20% off our purchase. Here I am with my loot:
And this is Leonard. He's there almost every time I shop. He teases that I'm there, like, every day. Not true. That is such an over-exaggeration, man. What do you think I am? A bargain shopaholic or something? Sheesh.
My Sister's Closet is one of my very favorite shops for vintage and consignment. Right now, their entire stock is 50% off for the Annual Summer Clearance Event! Check the website for shop hours - I meant to go Monday but - whoops! - they closed at 6pm!
The sale is only this week and next - ready, set, shop!
1136 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105-2628
If you're wondering if this is going to turn into a travel blog or a puppy blog...no. It's about life and style, it's just been teetering more heavily on the life side lately...which, in all honesty, I prefer some days. But fashion is fun too and something that will (hopefully) always be of interest to me (and you, since you apparently read my blog).
There will be one or two more Tales from the West posts, but I like to post things as chronologically as possible and there are a few pictures we're waiting for from Target. Who knew that not all Targets do 1-hour photo processing? Not me. Steve took our disposable water camera there to get white water rafting pictures developed and they told him they'd be ready in a week and a half! Say whahhh!? That's so old school!
It's only Tuesday and this has already been a week of changes. Mostly changes in routine since this new little guy entered our home. I felt like such a disaster yesterday morning having been unprepared for the first workday with the new pup. Adjustments were made, and today went SO much better. Whew.
I haven't decided whether or not this outfit pic should be posted...but I'm doing it anyway. This is what I put together one Saturday morning in hopes of good weather, only to realize that it was rainy and cold. So I basically wore this for 10 minutes then changed into something warmer. Is that cheating?
Necklace: The Bahamas
Bulldogs kept popping up everywhere. I was seeing Bulldogs, hearing about Bulldogs, and last week my BFF Elaina called saying there were Bulldog puppies at our local pet store. I had been told they were super expensive, so I figured I could never own one, but HAD to get the Bulldog puppy thing out of my system. So Friday night Steve and I took our 2 oldest nieces to look at puppies.
Never did get to play with a Bulldog. When I saw how huge they were and how really truly expensive (starting at $2,000), I lost interest pretty quickly. They are amazing animals, but clearly would not be good for Steve and me (not that we were really looking). The first dog we held was a Pug puppy. There was just something about him...
Then we asked to see one of their French Bulldogs...seemed a bit more practical than a regular bulldog. The pet store staff clearly loved the Frenchy, and were really pushing us to consider him. He was SO cute. But he didn't feel right to me, and Steve said he felt the same way. We both wanted to see that Pug again.
Long story short....
Miles Danger Erickson, the newest addition to the Erickson family. He's one cool pup. And possibly the cutest living thing on planet earth...but I might be a tad bias.
Experiencing Arches National Park was like being on an entirely different planet. We were warned that it was the wrong season to be vacationing in the desert, but went ahead anyway. 80 degrees in Moab, UT is not the same 80 degrees in St. Paul, MN. We hurried to set up camp before the heat became unbearable then drove into town to spend the hottest part of the day in air conditioning. Seems sort of wimpy, but I'm a Thoroughbred Minnesotan...I melt like ice.
We had ice cream and shopped around Moab for a little bit. I bought a straw cowgirl hat and a t-shirt. For being rather touristy, the shops there are pretty decent. Just as we were running out of things to do, the temperature reached it's peak at 109 degrees. Found a parking lot where we could steal some WiFi so I could do a little blogging.
Nearing 6pm and no relief in sight, we picked up a driving self-tour CD at Arches Visitor Center. This way, we were able to enjoy and learn about Arches from the comfort of our vehicle. We did get out occasionally to get closer and take pictures. Finally, the sun started to let up and we were able to explore a little more.
They say it gets cool in the desert at night. I didn't think so. Perhaps it was because our tent had been out all day, absorbing the heat, but it didn't seem to cool down much. It was the first time I'd slept in a tent since I was probably 11. All things considered, I think I handled it pretty well...though a shower would've made all the difference.
The next morning, after a delicious fill of campfire pop-tarts, we started back to Moab to pick up our next rental jeep. This day of jeeping was a little better for me, though I did nearly smash my face into the dashboard once and kept knocking my funny bone...ouch. The trails weren't nearly as treacherous as they were in Ouray, and our Jeep was better equipped.
I was relieved to have a hotel to stay at that evening to get clean and sleep. I took a long, soapy shower and still found traces of the sticky dirt and sunscreen mixture on my body. I have concluded that I do not like the spray sunscreen...makes me feel nasty. Any amazing sunscreen brands/types that I should be aware of? Let me know.
In my last post I spoke of the necklace that I purchased at an odd little boutique in Ouray, Colorado. The shop had quite an array of funky jewelry and I was having a very difficult time deciding which piece would come home with me as my Ouray souvenir. But when I spotted this one, the only one of it's kind that I saw, the price hardly mattered. It was the one. I justified the price knowing I could bring it back to Minnesota for my crafty friends to see it, love it, perhaps gain some jewelry-making inspiration from it (coughGirlyMusecoughcough).
The sweet, quirky lady at the cash register told me the maker of this necklace had seen a designer piece just like it in a high-end fashion magazine (Vogue perhaps) that retailed for over $1,000 or something crazy like that. So she made her own. My favorite part is the zipper tab that hangs down from the large zipper flower.
The lace blouse I'm wearing here was purchased to possibly go over my wedding dress. I was very particular about the modesty and style of my dress - 2 criteria: tea length and not strapless. Of course, the only even remotely worthy tea length dress I found was indeed strapless. So I determined to find a lace blouse to wear over the dress, tucked into the sash in hopes that it would all look like one-piece. This blouse was my first attempt...it failed. Instead of returning the blouse, I kept it, only to put it in a storage bin that would not be thought of again for about 4 years. When I spotted her (the blouse), I thought she deserved a second chance.
Glimpses of the wedding dress end result here and here.
Necklace: Boutique in Ouray, CO
Cardigan: Ann Taylor, thrifted
Blouse: The Limited
Skirt: BCBG, thrifted
Shoes: InStyle via Macy's
Here's how I spent Independence Day and the day after:
Bright and early (once again), Steve and I packed up the truck and made our way to Ouray, Colorado. We made good time so stopped for a picnic at Black Canyon National Park on the recommendation of Steve's cousin Tom. We started at the top and worked our way down to the river. It was very cool, very worthwhile.
Thanks to our not-so-great service from Expedia.com, we ended up having to stay in Montrose though our destination was Ouray. We dropped off our stuff at the hotel in Montrose and continued on to Ouray for evening fireworks. We got there really early. And what do we do when there is time to kill? We shop. There are some great little shops in Ouray. I'm very excited to show you the necklace I picked up at this crazy little art and furniture boutique. I'm wearing it today and will post an outfit pic soon.
While we were walking down the sidewalk having one of our random conversations, I stopped mid-sentence. There, before my very eyes was the most adorable puppy dog I'd ever seen EVER. You'd think all puppies were cute until you saw this one. He was the puppy love of my life. I nearly wept that he belonged to someone else. I made a bee-line for the pup, and nearly forgot to ask the dog walker if I could pet him. He was so cute, so soft, so perfect. I didn't get a picture of him, but he looked something like this:
He's a bulldog puppy. I think a part of me died as I walked away from that dog. Not sure if I believed in love at first sight until I met him....(sniff).
So ok. Enough about the puppy. The stupid thing about it is...I don't even really want a dog. (google image)
We stayed late for the Jeep parade and fireworks. Basically, a bunch of Jeepers (is that a word?) congregate at the top of the mountain, attach sparklers to their grills, and parade through Main Street before the fireworks start. The fireworks were beautiful coming down from the mountains, lighting up the little town. It was a bit rainy and cold, but fun and snuggly-like.
The next morning (bright & early), we were back in Ouray to retrieve our rental Jeep. I'd never been Jeeping before and to be honest, it's not really my thing. There are mountainous regions you can't get to without a Jeep (barely with a Jeep), and it's quite worth the discomfort and anxiety of Jeeping in order to see those remote places. The mountains are gorgeous. We explored old mines and abandoned homesteads. Pretty sure we nearly died several times. But here I am to tell about it all. Thank you, Jesus.
What better way to end an intense day of Jeeping then relaxing in a hot spring, right? I've always wanted to sit in a hot spring. I was expecting a mineral-rich hole in the ground, but I guess that's not how hot springs come these days. The ones we saw are privately owned and are more like warm swimming pools. We asked a local where the best hot spring was and he directed us to this posh little hotel with attached Aveda Spa. There was a pool-like hot spring in the yard that was a perfect temp. Then in the lower level of the facility there was "secret" cave.
Through this creepy, wooden door was a sauna/hot spring so hot I couldn't even put my feet in, let alone sit in it...I guess it's something you have work up to. Picture taking in this area was impossible because it was dark and because the camera lens would instantly fog.
We spent the night at this strange little B&B type place in town.
Hi folks! I'm back, safe and sound in Minnesota after an exciting journey West. I interrupt my regularly scheduled style blogging to share with you all the happenings from last week. Ready? Here we go.
Steve and I got up bright and early Friday morning (July 2) to make our not-too-early 10:30am flight to Denver. As Delta would have it, 10:30 became 11:30 and 11:30 became noon and I don't know when we actually left the ground but by the time we did it was determined that we would not have time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a bummer, but the good news was that we got bumped to First Class. Go Delta.
We landed in Denver, picked up our rental car (Ford Explorer), checked into our hotel and found a Super Wal-Mart for the week's supply of groceries. Went to bed early with no fuss from me. Airplanes wipe me out.
Up early again on Saturday, we high-tailed it to Colorado Springs to drive up Pike's Peak before the mid-day rush. It was gorgeous and cold. Steve threw a snowball off the mountain and I bought a jacket and a hot chocolate at the top. The view is incredible, nearly 3 miles up.
Several people commented on my Boy Scout t-shirt. I picked it up a few weekends ago at Gander Mountain Outlet Store. I thought it was cute until some lady said to Steve something about me being a Boy Scout, as in, scouting for boys...it never occurred to me that that's what this shirt was implying. Whatever though, it was $5.
Oh, and my awesome Oboz shoes were SO great. I hope to dedicate a raving review post to them in the near future.
Back at the bottom, we hiked around Garden of the Gods. It was a beautiful rock playground. The temperature change was a little shocking having been in the 40's on the mountain, and in the high 80's (though it felt much warmer than that) at the Garden.
Later in the day, we met up with Steve's cousin Tom and his darling family at Focus on the Family Visitor Center. I listened to Adventures in Odyssey audio drama series well into my 20's (they're addicting!), so it was a real treat for me to experience Whit's End in-person. The characters are shorter and more cartoon-like than I imagined them. Haha.
Whew! This was only Day 1 (officially). I promise not to torture you with days-on-end of vacation posts. But be prepared for just a few more this week. :)