Thrifty Thursday Challenge: J. Crew Fall Look

The weather here is finally back to normal (we had a record high on Monday that was stifling!), so posting something that includes a sweater no longer seems to make me break out in a sweat.

For today's Thrifty Thursday Challenge reveal, I created my own version of a J. Crew outfit. Let's check it out!

Total cost of thrift-a-like: $12.50 (add $8 if you find jeans)
When I first started these challenges, I was so intent on finding an exact replica of the outfit, but now I'm letting loose! Outfits like these are great for being able to mix and match the pieces to fit your own personal style. This one still follows the same pattern: ruffled shirt, long sweater/cardigan, scarf and a skinny belt, but I went with a gray scheme instead of the warmer tones in the original outfit, and I especially like bringing a pattern into the cardigan. What do you think?

For the next Thrifty Thursday Challenge, I'll be stretching my thrift-a-like skills by trying to recreate an outfit from the movie An Education. This has been on my list of films to rent, so hopefully this will give me that extra push! Until then...!


Finding Your Style, Part One

Since last Wednesday I've received a couple emails expressing the same problem: Women who want to liven up their wardrobe but don't quite know what their style is. When they go shopping, they leave with nothing because they're too overwhelmed and can't decide what to buy.

So, I thought we could do another little series, this time on figuring out what your personal style is. Everyone has one, and if you are willing to put a little effort into unlocking the code, the results will set you free next time you hit the second-hand stores!

The first part is really fun; you get to do some window shopping in magazines, catalogs and online.
  • Take out any lifestyle or fashion magazines you have or subscribe to and go through them cover to cover and cut out images of things that you're drawn to: clothes, jewelry, shoes, purses, belts, home decor, etc. 
  • If you've shopped at places like Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel, Urban Outfitters and the like, most likely they've tracked down your address and send you catalogs every other week. Before you throw them in the recycling bin (yes...recycling, not trash!), take a minute to flip through them and cut out things that catch your eye.
  • Lastly, check out the myriad online stores. Make a folder on your desktop and drag images of things you like into the folder using the same guidelines as with magazines and catalogs.
As you do all three of these, make your picks based on color, cut, pattern, etc. Don't even involve your own body in the equation; just pick out things you like aesthetically.

When you've amassed a well-rounded number of images, go back through your magazine clippings and your desktop folder and make notes on why you picked the items that you did. What did you like about them? What caught your eye?

Hopefully this will help you find some common threads and give you a bit more insight into your personal style. I'd love to see what images you've come up with, so send your inspiration boards my way! I'm going to do one myself so I can show you next week...plus a love a little window shopping!

Next week we'll go over some self-revealing questions when it comes to what you wear now and why. So don't forget to tune in!


Homemade Tortillas

My husband's birthday was in June, and my mom had a great plan for a present for him. Unfortunately, she became a victim of under-stocking on Amazon and kept getting emails saying his present would be delayed yet another two weeks for shipping. This went on until early September, when they finally just canceled it.

Lucky for us, her replacement gifts included a tortilla press, something the hubs has wanted for some time. Last week we gave it a try for these delicious black-eyed pea and goat cheese tacos, one of our staple dinner recipes, and the results were soooo tasty!

The press.

Thank you, yet again, stand mixer. You made kneading dough a breeze!

Tensions rise as dough sees its fate.

But first it has to rise to the occasion (ha!).

Ready for the big squeeze!

Look at his arms! They're sooo stwong! :)

Smooth as a baby's bottom.


Sustainable Style: Mata Traders

I am so excited to share today's post with you! I often peruse the World of Good eBay site for Christmas presents in an effort to do some good during the crazy season of consumerism, and today's shop has quickly made it to number one on my list.

Mata Traders's goal is to provide high fashion, fairly traded clothing and accessories to a growing network of socially conscious consumers and retailers by working with organizations that educate, employ and empower women in Mata, India.

Their products are made exclusively by women’s cooperatives who pay their employees a living wage, provide safe working conditions, and offer services like on-site daycare, overtime compensation and retirement benefits. Through their work at the co-ops, women from impoverished rural and urban backgrounds can afford not only basic needs like food and clothing, but also something that is far too often a luxury in India: an education for their children. 

Every year, thousands of children migrate to the megacities of India to find work and send money back to their families. Providing income to women is a way to combat the problem of child labor at its roots, and stop the cycle of poverty. The change can be seen not only in the life of the woman employed by the co-op, but especially in the children the women can afford to educate. 

Another component of the line is the fabrics they use. Most are hand-woven and get their vibrant colors from environmentally safe vegetable dyes and traditional block printing processes. By using these textiles they support weavers and block printers throughout India whose livelihood has been endangered by the shift of fabric production to the factory.

I had such a difficult time not posting every item from their store because there are so many inspired and creative items, and they're all at really, really reasonable prices. However, here are my favorites for fall fashion scene:

Clef Earrings, $12.50

Cleopatra Earrings, $12.50

Dangle Necklace, $16.00

Droplet Necklace, $20.00

Enamel Necklace, $18.00

Headband, Wide, $10.00

Ikat Jacket, $49.00

Lattice Earrings, $12.50

Mela Top, $49.00

One Pocket Top, $28.00 (shown with Enamel Necklace)

Princess Dress, Front, $59.00

Princess Dress, Back

Scarf (comes in various colors), $28.00

Spiral Earrings, $12.50

Teardrop Tote Bag (also comes in navy), $10.00

Tiered Lotus Necklace, $16.00

Tree Bag, $12.00

Be sure and check out their shop to see if anything else catches your eye, and definitely keep places like these in mind for the upcoming holiday season. It's a great thing to give gifts that make a positive impact in the life of someone else!


Smelling the Smells

Sadie LOVES to go on car rides...mostly because I don't clean my car very often and she finds all kinds of crumbs on the floor. This is how happy she looks once her tummy is full.

After that, despite rolling down the window on the passenger side, she insists on bracing herself against me and sticking her tiny head out the window to, as we say, "smell the smells." This is how happy she looks when her fur blows in the wind.

No car rides today, though. It's hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch out there!

Mary Tyler Moore

Does anyone else notice that their work wardrobe gets a little more attention when fall is in the air? Maybe it's the opportunities that exist with combining layers to combat a chillier climate, or maybe it's because fabrics like tweed and wool start to surface. And those — at least to me — have "office" written all over them.

Yes, I know: It's Labor Day weekend. I should be firing up the grill and getting what I can out of my summer dresses right now! Sorry...just as the leaves on the trees are getting ready to turn, I'm ready for my wardrobe to turn a new leaf.

I've definitely been drawn to warm and fuzzy textiles lately as I've been scouring the second-hand stores, and last night's scroll through the TV shows available on Hulu only added fuel to the fire. I had no idea that almost all of the classic Nick at Nite shows I watched growing up could be mine again in a matter of clicks: "Bewitched," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and... "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (TMTMS to us groupies).

Part of me is inspired by the clean and chic style of Mary, and another the eclectic, colorful and somewhat hippie style of Rhoda. For example, I am LOV-IN' Mary's outfit in the picture below, especially that fabulous belt. It's very understated in terms of color, but oh so classy. And Rhoda...I love the combination of red with gold jewelry, something that you can pull off in the summer and spring. Her outfit is a great example of something that's simple when it comes to cut and color, but brought to life with the ornate details of a chunky necklace and earrings.

Another thing I love about the style of this show is the use of scarves, in hair, on the neck, as a belt. Below, Mary has one tied into her hair with some fabulous earrings, and it's something that still runs strong today. I actually just wore this style combo today! Below that she spices up a very neutral outfit with a pop of color and print around the neckline. And then there's dear Rhoda, rocking it hippie-style with hoop earrings and a sweet vest.

And don't think you can make it through too many episodes without running across some fabulous prints. Rhoda's outfit in the picture below is a great splash of color paired with an understated skirt. And check out that fabulous (probably Bakelite) butter yellow bracelet and macrame purse (Dang! Why did I get rid of mine?!). Everything just comes together so seamlessly.

Here's to a celebration and send-off of a great summer as we fall into a new season!

Mid-Century Monday: Atomic Clocks

This weekend I was perusing the online Goodwill website and came across an amazing wall clock from the 1950s that had a peach face, gold spokes and gold leaves. I put it on my watch list, and then unfortunately lost track of it and missed the bidding.

In my continual search online for one to adorn our home, I came across this short but informative article from Collectors Weekly on the big-name designers behind these popular clocks. Check it out:

"After World War II, design evolved from art deco and streamline moderne to mid-century modern, which reigned from the mid-1940s until the mid-1960s. No corner of the home was untouched by this new, casual, atomic-era aesthetic, including furnishings and accessories such as clocks.

George Nelson was undoubtedly the most influential clock designer of the period. When he wasn’t designing furniture for Herman Miller Corporation he was working with the Howard Miller Clock Co. on a series of marvelous modern wall clocks. He made clocks whose hands pointed to colored balls on the ends of slender shafts; clocks that resembled sunbursts, sunflowers, and asterisks; and even a clock that suggested a human eye.

Most well-known of George Nelson's clocks

George Nelson asterisk clock

George Nelson sunflower clock

George Nelson human eye clock

George Nelson sunflower clock

Nelson had countless imitators, from Seth Thomas to Elgin to Lux to Westclox, although for many contemporary collectors, these vintage mid-century modern clocks are every bit as desirable. For example, Seth Thomas made a wall clock with Roman numerals on its face and radiating metal spokes alternating with wooden fans.

Westclox also made sunbursts and starbursts, as these mid-century clocks are variously known, one of which had 48 spokes—some were made of brass and capped with wooden balls, others were solid wood and fashioned in the shape of menacing spikes. Elgin used teak and brass for its spokes, while Lux put flowers at the ends of theirs, creating so-called 'atomic daisies.'"

So inspiring! And so much more artistic than the clocks we find on the market today. What do you think? Which one is your favorite?


Style Spots: Neighborhood Garage Sale

This morning I took our little pup Sadie for a walk, and was happy to come upon a garage sale a block and a half from our apartment. Of course I stopped, and saw almost instantly that it was more of an estate sale. I talked with the people running it, and they said they'd be gradually putting stuff out all day today and tomorrow, so I'll probably go back Sunday and see what new goodies there are. The prices were very reasonable, so there were four things I just couldn't pass up:

A set of 10 aluminum trays with hand-painted flowers on them:

A nautical-esque eagle mirror:

Four Pyrex mugs in the Woodland pattern, still in the original packaging:

And, last but certainly not least, a painting of a wiener dog, which currently hangs in our dining room and makes me smile each time I walk into the kitchen:

How bout you? Find any fun items today?
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