Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm All Ears

I’m usually all about a bold necklace, but there’s been a shift in the axis of late. I ordered some earrings online and was a little shocked when these showstoppers arrived, having expected something about 1/8 the size. But I gave the gaudy little things a shot and – paired with a boyish Oxford or sleek turtleneck – kind of like the effect. They pack a glamorous punch that’s half Marilyn Monroe, half home-on-the-range. And the intersection is nothing if not fun. I wore them with a denim shirt and black ankle boots recently and felt all kinds of Western Barbie. Didn't hate it! 

Some brighter colorations I'm coveting here, hereherehere

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Puffer Op-Ed

I read a list online (from a contemporary women’s style source) that ticked off 10 apparel pieces to avoid for being universally unflattering. Along with velour sweatsuits (yes) and strapless dresses (OK), it cited long puffers. And . . . swing and a miss. I admit I was hesitant to purchase my first below-the-waist puffer in 2008 – it seemed out there (as did everything everyone wasn’t already wearing). But my mom insisted I needed something that “covered my butt” when walking to class through blowing snowdrifts. She grew up in Northern Michigan where it has flurried through July Fourth fireworks, so she’s well acquainted with below-freezing temps and how to rise above. She was right about the butt. Not dressing for the weather is the fashion faux pas to avoid here. It’s not cool to skip the scarf (so to speak). Trust, retailers know how to ensure you don’t look like the Michelin man. And slipping on what's essentially a down comforter with sleeves is like stepping into your own personal cocoon. Purr.

After enduring five winters, my faithful puffer might be on its last leg. Replacement options herehere and here

Monday, November 25, 2013

Schoolin' Life

Happy Monday! I cover 90 miles in my daily commute so a good soundtrack is essential – especially on Mondays. It’s a short week ahead so I’m already flying high, but any other day this song is a lifesaver. My friend recently texted me the title. Well, Becca knows best. "Schoolin' Life" explodes with a booty-shaking '80s dance beat that trivializes morning traffic, and Bey's growling lyrics inspire you to tackle the day like you’re in the “Single Ladies” leotard. Below, us schoolin’ life as freshmen at Iowa. Let's party til the fire marshal shuts this sucker down.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Candy Cane ChapStick

My sisters used to mock me for the expressions that inadvertently crossed my face when reading a book, and I think the same thing happens when I apply ChapStick®. I’ve been called out at least once for moving my lips back and forth (in exaggerated fashion?) across the balm, rather than the other way around. I’m not sure what to say in defense of these accusations except that in both cases, I was into the experience. And I am definitely into ChapStick’s limited edition Candy Cane flavor. It’s not just an antidote for dryness, but invigorating and refreshing, with a lasting cooling sensation and the faintest taste of peppermint patties. I keep a tube at my cube, in my car and on my coffee table. When you find ways to elevate the minutiae, I say lay it on thick. Now, let's all turn our attention to the Packers/Vikings game. And pray Aaron is back at the helm in a hurry. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dior Sparkling Nail Powder

HOT HOT HOT! Need I say more? It’s fun to dial up the glamour for the holiday season, but doing it in the obvious ways (Black Watch plaids, Rudolph red) isn’t my M.O. And who has enough tartan to last til Christmas Eve? Enter Dior’s black Sparkling Nail Powder. The midnight shade is edgy (so you won’t feel like one of Santa’s elves), and the glittering finish is luxe and merry (as everything should be this time of year). Can’t wait to sip mulled wine, wrap presents and decorate the tree with this sparkly powder painted on my fingertips.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Dressing

With America’s favorite holiday a week away, it’s time to consider outfit options. I always shoot for something comfortable but pulled together. Leggings (and their elastic waistband) might seem like a good idea, but they encourage you to abandon all control when the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie appear.

Solution: A tidy leather skirt and buttery soft sweater. I melt for a powder blue/merlot matchup  autumnal AND cheerful. Finish with a fun pair of shoes  going barefoot is like serving the bird without the gravy. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sweater // Necklace // Booties // Skirt 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Folgers French Vanilla

It’s not as trendy as Dunkin’ or as sexy as Starbucks, but Folgers French Vanilla is its own brand of magic. For someone who likes her coffee without milk or sugar, it has just enough flavor to keep me coming back without the awful aftertaste of syrupy-sweet creamers. It's mellow and creamy, and my parents would probably say it's not strong enough, but I'm not yet at the point where I need my coffee to electric shock me out the door. And the aroma. The aroma is half the experience, and friends who stay with me invariably ask what it is filling their mugs. I'm convinced it actually would rouse you from sleep like the commercials claim. I picked up the scent at my friend Stacy’s lake house, where her mom stocks the grounds – thanks, Nance! – and now really can't leave for work without it. Plus, it's pretty cool that the brand introduced commercially roasted coffee to the masses. Sing it with me now, "The best part of waking up..."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Men's Chelsea Boots

I recently skimmed the GQ style post, “Easy Upgrades – 10 Must-Haves for under $100." After catching my eye around the office, with this editorial affirmation the Chelsea Boot fully took hold of my attention.

British equestrians first wore the boots before popularized by the Beatles in the 1960s. They're undeniably masculine in their similarity to hikers, but their sleek shape lends a sophistication not found on rocky trails. 

Altogether, there's some prep, some rock ‘n roll, some outdoorsman, some business man. And the defining elastic siding is effortlessly cool (and authentic). Makes for a look that’s just all you need, Any Time At All – don’t you think?

If you're in the market, Nordstrom has a solid selection. Some picks: here, herehere

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chex Mix

Since April, I moved to a new city and started a new job and – blink – hi, November. The last eight months slipped by at lightning speed compared to those preceding, which I think is one sign that I made the right move. Time flies when you're having fun.

These days I'm called to be (and credited for being) creative every day. It's a far cry from folding clothes. But what I do nine to five still can't fully be what this blog is, and now that I'm settled I want to start writing here again. I think the concept will change a bit. Now that this page doesn't have to serve as a professional portfolio, I'm more interested in regularly posting content bites that reflect thoughts or impressions on fashion, culture, life, whatever. Nothing earth-shattering or profound, but hopefully something small to chew on that's occasionally fun to read. Of course, things we plan never turn out as intended, so we'll see what happens. But that's where I'm pointing my arrow. 

To catch you up: the past few months were full of Saturdays at the Madison farmers market, quick trips to Chicago, new music (The National at The Orpheum) and old favorites (Matchbox Twenty and Goo Goo Dolls at Ravinia), Lake Geneva and Summerfest, a whitewater ride down a Colorado river, graduations, football firsts (So. This is Camp Randall.) and football traditions (the annual Minnesota-Iowa fight for Floyd), a 90th birthday, a wedding, camping and tubing and karaoke, a rooftop pool party, a beer tasting, a "remember when" Iowa City weekend. 

I'm not about to claim I have everything figured out, but when you look back at days and disparate experiences collectively, it all seems pretty all right. More than all right. 

So let's talk Chex Mix. Because it's basically what I eat during November and December. Until this year I relied on the pre-made seasoning packages to provide the perfect taste. But I tired of putting one of my favorite holiday traditions in the hands of General Mills and stepped out (note the sarcasm) to make the seasoning myself. The process is just as elementary without the packets, and picking up a teaspoon or two makes you feel like you're actually putting some skill into the finished product. Pat on the back.

For as simple as the recipe is, I'm surprised at how many people have yet to tap it. So, here's the step by step. I caution you to mix up just a batch at a time as a portion control mechanism (which you'll surely lose all sense of at first taste). If you're not compelled to whip this up just to mow it down all by yourself, it makes a great low-maintenance Sunday football snack or alternative to cookies and candy when exchanging holiday treats with friends and neighbors. 

3 cups Corn Chex®
3 cups Rice Chex®
3 cups Wheat Chex®
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup pretzels (I skip the pretzels and add an extra cup of Chex)
1 cup garlic chips
6 tablepsoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 250°F. Melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Add Chex, nuts, pretzels, garlic chips and mix until evenly coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool on paper towels.