Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blue Nile Branch Necklace Giveaway Winner

And the winner is...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats, Susan! I'll be emailing you shortly to collect your information.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Husband Hates This Sweater

And my mom's not crazy about it either.

But hey, it perfectly matched the Inspiration Monday picture for today, so I had to wear it.

Sweater: Yoki via Zulily; Scarf: H&M; Jeans: Kut from the Kloth; Boots: Madden Girl

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blue Nile Branch Necklace Giveaway

My first experience with Blue Nile was back in college when I used their Build Your Own Ring® feature to create my dream engagement ring and freak out my boyfriend at the time. So I had a nostalgic chuckle when they contacted me about participating in their holiday-inspired "Get One, Give One" jewelry campaign. I chose this adorable and somewhat whimsical branch necklace to keep and give away.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Rules:
1. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only.
2. After the giveaway ends on 12/10, I will announce the winner on the blog and email the winner on 12/11. If the he or she does not respond to my email with his or her address in 48 hours, I will select a new winner.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Literary Stylings - Flowerantha

This is the last time I'll mention my NaNoWriMo novel for awhile, I promise. I admit, it's a little (a lot) presumptuous and self-serving to use my own unpublished book for Literary Stylings, but the alternative was Nick Carter's self-help book, and I didn't want to make light of his situation. Plus, I'm still jazzed I finished a first draft of the thing, so I wanted to share a bit of it.

In one scene, the male main character's mother lent dresses to the two girls traveling with him. One of the dresses was pink with puffy short sleeves, and the girls wore tall leather boots.

Dress; H&M; Blazer: Narciso Rodriguez for Kohl's; Boots: Madden Girl; Necklace: c/o Blue Nile (giveaway coming tomorrow!)

When Bridget saw me in my pink dress, she insisted on matching.

Novel Excerpt:

Bushraal’s mother looked slightly agitated. “You may borrow some of my things. I am not sure if we will be able to find anything to fit,” she said, eyeing Beverly in particular, “but at least you will be clothed. Follow me.”

Beverly and May Lynn followed Bushraal’s mother up the stairs and into her bedroom. A giant canopy bed stood against the back wall with a dressing table on another wall and three wardrobes lined up side by side on the third wall to the left of the door and across the room from the bed. Bushraal’s mother dug around in a trunk at the foot of the bed first. While she dug, Bushraal wandered back in and sat backwards in the dressing table chair. She looked over at him. “Have you no decency, son? There will be women changing in here.”

His cheeks turned a little pink, but he said, “I am simply making sure you do not pick anything too fussy. They need to blend in and look like Floweranthans.”

“Bushraal, I am a Floweranthan,” his mother reminded him. “They will look just like me.” She returned to her digging and pulled out a long, green dress with white lacy ruffles at the sleeves and neck and an empire waistline. She looked at the dress and then at Beverly. “You may be able to squeeze into this. I wore it when I was pregnant with Bushraal. I was absolutely huge back then.”

“Mother!” Bushraal hissed under his breath.

Beverly’s face was beet red. She took the dress and mumbled, “Yeah, I’m really tall. Thanks,” and she disappeared behind the dressing curtain beside the wardrobes in the corner of the room.

Bushraal’s mother left the trunk open but rose from her knees to open the middle wardrobe. “Here are some more things I kept from when I was younger in case I ever had a daughter. I want to keep the nicer things for Rosie, but I am sure we can find something in here.”

“Anything is fine,” May Lynn said. Bushraal shot her a sympathetic glance, and she returned it with a sweet smile. 

Bushraal’s mother pulled out a dress similar to the one she had pulled for Beverly except that this one was much smaller and had short sleeves and a lower waistline. “Here, try this one,” she said, handing it to May Lynn. Taking the dress, May Lynn joined Beverly behind the curtain. Bushraal averted his eyes, looking anywhere in the room besides that direction.

When the girls walked out from behind the curtain, Bushraal stood. The pink dress suited May Lynn perfectly. Beverly’s green dress was a little more of a problem with the hem falling to the top of her boot and sleeves hitting just below her elbow instead of her wrists as intended.

“Well, these look better than expected,” Bushraal’s mother said. She stood up from the bed and fluffed out May Lynn’s sleeves more and smoothed the waist of Beverly’s dress, tugging it down a little. “Really, other than the length, you look lovely in this,” she said, looking up at Beverly and trying to atone for her harsh earlier comment.


By the way, I recently saw a tip on Twitter that said that "look" is one of the words overused by novice writers. I used it nine times just in that tiny excerpt. If you didn't notice, bless you. If you did notice, and if it made your eyes bleed like it did mine, I apologize, and I'll fix it in the rewrite. Heh...

I'm also linking up with the Fashionista Style Hop.

Monday, December 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

Another year of NaNoWriMo has come to a close, and I can officially call myself a winner again!

Thank goodness for write-ins because I'm not sure I would've caught up otherwise. I was too shy and too busy last year to attend any write-ins (which are basically a bunch of NaNoWriMo participants in a room together with laptops), but I'm so glad I made it to three this year, including the one I hosted! I met three creative, like-minded ladies (who are all writing very different novels, which is a good thing) that live nearby, and I hope I get to read all their finished products in print some day very soon. At the write-in on Friday, they even gave me a great plot idea when I got stuck. Thanks, ladies!

Sunday, I attended the Happily Ever After party, and it was a lot of fun! Going into it, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm really glad I went. My s'mores bars I brought were a hit. (They always are, even when I forget to add the vanilla, d'oh!) I'm already look forward to next year.

I also got to FINALLY finish a work in progress that I began when I was 11 years old. Except this time, I wrote it from a different character's point of view, and I think it took the story in a completely new direction that I was pretty happy with. My brother (who remembers me writing the story the first time around) said I should put it out on its 20-year anniversary next year. So maybe I'll give the self-publishing thing a try.

But for now, my next plan is to go back to last year's novel and continue revising because I think that one has better potential to actually become something. Then I have to decide if I'm going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in the spring and thing at a time.

Here's what I wore to the party and for Inspiration Monday. I did consider wearing leather leggings like the inspiration picture shows, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not in broad daylight. I went with studded instead.

Sweater Dress: H&M; Leggings: Target; Boots: Payless

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bayside Bash

On Wednesday night, my friend Erin and I attended the Bayside Bash, which is an 80s and 90s-themed party held at Turner Hall Ballroom hosted by Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell). Dustin lives in Wisconsin, and I know he had one of these parties last year, but we didn't make it to that one.

Erin and I went as two beloved characters from the 90s:

Cher from Clueless

Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All

A lot of the crowd went with 80s attire, but I did see some grunge and some that were inspired by Saved by the Bell, including a really accurate Kelly and Zack. There was also one guy in a Top Gun flight suit, which was a fun idea.

About an hour into the party, the DJ announced that Dustin Diamond was in the house. He and his gorgeous wife retreated to a table, and it took us awhile to get the guts to approach him. After we saw a couple other people ask for pictures, we went for it. He was very nice during our 10-second interaction.

Me: You know, I should've carpooled with you guys today. I'm from Port Washington, too.
Dustin: Haha, I love that.
Me: OK, thanks.

Maybe 10 minutes later, Dustin got up to announce that people could come over and say hi, take pictures, and that he would be selling T-shirts later that said "Dustin Diamond Made Me Screech." And he encouraged us all to keep drinking. When he was on his way back, I approached his wife, still at their table.

Me: Would you and Dustin want to do a shot?
Wife: No, thank you, we're not big drinkers.
Me: I thought we were supposed to get drunk!
Wife: You guys should get drunk!
Me: OK, I just wanted to check.
Wife: Thank you though!

She was very nice about it. Erin and I didn't stay much later than that. We left at about 10:30 because we're old, and we didn't see much action happening. But who knows, maybe all the excitement kicked off after we left.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Borrowed from Mom

Being without a tripod is quite inconvenient. Try to ignore the kitchen table on the left and the box on the right...

It's pretty nice having a mom with good style who I can share some clothes with. When I saw a picture of her and my grandma on Facebook from their sorority's 100th anniversary party, I commented on how I loved her dress with the leather accents.

And then, next thing I knew, my mom brought it to my house this weekend for me to borrow! I didn't know it when I first saw a picture of the dress, but it has a pepluuuummm. I love a good peplum.

Dress: Calvin Klein (borrowed); Shirt: Phillip Lim for Target; Booties: Steve Madden

Thanks, Mom!

I'm linking up with the Fashionista Style Hop.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Finally Found the Perfect Sweater Dress

In fact, I found two of them. Thank you, Zulily! (<---That's my invite link, by the way.)

Zulily is trouble. It's one of those subscription shopping sites that have new deals every day on heavily discounted items. This one is targeted for parents and sells mostly stuff for children and mothers.

In general, I should not buy clothing online because once I get the clothes in the mail and try them on, the fit is usually not ideal. Like one sweater I bought from Zulily that was delivered a couple days before these dresses, for instance. Or the fleece-lined tights I'm wearing below, which I bought off of Groupon. They were too short, so I ended up cutting the toe seam off, and now they're footless tights. They're super warm and comfy otherwise. If anyone wants to take the new-in-box black pair off my hands, they're yours for $10 including shipping. The size range is 5'5"–6', 165–250 lb.

I wasn't terribly optimistic about these sweater dresses, but the price was good, and I've been on the sweater dress hunt for years now. They are both pretty much perfect. Not too tight, not too boxy, and not too short. And machine washable. I went with XLs in both because sweater dresses always run small on me, but I may have been able to get away with larges in these. But I'll take the extra room.

Left - Dress: Jessica Howard via Zulily; Tights: HB by Harve Benard via Groupon; Shoes: Chelsea Crew
Right - Dress: Lennie for Nina Leonard via Zulily; Boots: Kohl's; Bracelet: c/o Wantable

The navy blue Jessica Howard dress is available at Boston Store (or any of the other Bon-Ton department stores), and the colorblocked Nina Leonard dress is available on for just a little more than what I paid for it. If you love sweater dresses as much as I do but can never find one that fits right, I highly recommend both of these.

I'm linking up with the Fashionista Style Hop.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Milwaukee Public Museum Outing

Yesterday, I visited the Milwaukee Public Museum with my husband and daughter (both of their first times!) and my mom. I can't remember the last time I was there - maybe for a field trip in grade school - but I forgot how cool that place is. My favorite part is still the Streets of Old Milwaukee.

Source: Wikipedia

Bridget's favorite part was either the butterfly exhibit or seeing the lions in the Africa area. We actually had a very helpful security guard show us where the lions were because Bridget was on a mission. We went through the whole museum rather quickly since obviously my almost 3-year-old had no interest in reading all the plaques. My mom compared it to how quickly I got through the Louvre...when I was 22. But what can I say? Art museums aren't really my thing even though I appreciated the experience.

Anyway, I wish I had taken more pictures while I was there because some of the environments they have set up would be great inspiration for my novel. In fact, I wish I could just sit in there all day on my laptop and write in different areas of the museum. I wonder if people ever do that. It was pretty dead on Sunday because we went during the Packer game, so it was really nice. The only part I didn't enjoy was the live butterfly exhibit. I was hiding behind my husband the whole time while my daughter was living it up.

Big creepy bug right outside of the live butterfly exhibit

OMG I just saw while poking around their website that they have sleepovers in the museum. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, anyone? I could live out my blog's namesake, which might be awesome. Maybe when Bridget gets older.

After the museum, we grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at AJ Bombers, and I had my usual - the bacon burger with chunky peanut butter on it. Soooo gooood, but I actually prefer it without the bacon.

Speaking of my NaNoWriMo novel, it took me basically all day except for the 3 hours we were in Milwaukee, but I wrote a little over 3,000 words yesterday and got back on track after hardly writing anything on Saturday. And honestly, I could wrap up the story today, so I either need to come up with more twists or figure out how to write a really, really epic battle scene.

For those of you who are here for the clothes, I promise my next post will be an outfit one. No mention of my novel there!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Literary Stylings and Another NaNoWriMo

I haven't been doing many outfit posts lately, but I do have a stack of books I'm trying to get through (very slowly). I'm reading Fangirl now; then on deck I have Facing the Music And Living To Talk About It, which is written by Nick Carter about overcoming his addiction, and Longbourn, which is basically Pride and Prejudice mixed with Downton Abbey. I accidentally purchased a Barnes & Noble membership, so I'm trying to make the most of it. Looks like Bridget's getting a lot of books for Christmas!

Also, I thought this particular book was appropriate for Gracey's Literary Stylings linkup this month since I've decided to embark on another year of NaNoWriMo. The author, Rainbow Rowell, wrote the book I'm featuring during the 2011 NaNoWriMo session. You can read her pep talk here. Pretty awesome and inspiring!

Fangirl is the story of Cath, a Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fanfiction writer making her way awkwardly through her first year of college. I couldn't spoil it for you even if I wanted to since I haven't finished it yet, but it's pretty good so far. It's exactly the age group I wrote my last NaNoWriMo novel for and about, so it was good research for me to compare the tone of her story to mine to make sure I'm on the right track. Present tense, meaning my novel I wrote last year is not any more done than it was a year ago. No surprise there though. After I finish my current NaNo project, my goal is to pick last year's back up and wrap it up by summer of next year.


I have two Slytherin Harry Potter shirts (I know), so it was pretty easy to come up with an outfit for this one. Plus, the book said that the only things in Cath's closet were T-shirts, cardigans, and jeans. I thought about posing with my Malfoy wand, but I couldn't bring myself to nerd it up that much.

T-shirt: Wizarding World gift shop at MCO airport; Cardigan: Forever 21; Jeans: New York & Company; Sneakers: Converse

Friday, November 1, 2013

A DIY Halloween

I hope you had a fun Halloween, and TGIF!

You've already seen what costume I wore last weekend; now here's what Bridget wore trick-or-treating and what we both wore yesterday for our respective Halloween parties.

For trick-or-treating on Saturday, we went with a simple Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior show) costume comprised of pieces I found mostly at Old Navy and her doctor's kit her Nana bought her. Obviously, most of the clothes are from the toddler girls' department, but I found the white shirt from the little boys' area of the store.


Our pumpkins we brought home from the pumpkin carving party we attended earlier that day. My husband did both of these - Dracula Mickey and Frankenstein Goofy.

For Bridget's Halloween party at daycare, which of course was inside so I didn't have to worry about her being warm enough (which she still wasn't during trick-or-treating, even with her heavy winter coat on), I got a little more creative. Bridget's favorite movie of the moment is The Little Mermaid (Thanks, oh-so-illusive Disney vault! We've been waiting for this one!), so I decided to attempt to make her a mermaid costume.

I was going to do a tutorial on the mermaid tail I whipped up, but I was winging it as I went along, and I would've done the waistband differently had I thought about it more. If someone is really clamoring for step-by-step instructions, I can make a separate post about it.

Even though the tail came out a little wonky, Bridget LOVES it, and that's all that matters.

Normally, my company doesn't get that into Halloween. We do have a costume contest, but not many people enter. This year, someone on my team suggested we do a group costume, which I was all about since I can't resist dressing up every year anyway. We ended up with a group of 17 minions, Gru, and Dr. Nefario. If you haven't seen Despicable Me yet, you should. It's good.

After purchasing the yellow shirts and hats for the minions, we DIYed the hair with pipe cleaners, the goggles with mini pie tins and elastic (they served free pie in the cafeteria one day, so a group of us sat around hitting people up for their pie tins after they were done), and the overalls with duct tape for those of us who didn't own overalls or suspenders.

Being a troublemaker

The whole group

We ended up getting second place out of three in the group competition. Wah wah. The winners deserved it though.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sixties Style Halloween

T, birthday girl E, K, and me dressed as Beatles fans Saturday at Lucille's Piano Bar

The idea to be Beatles fanatics for Halloween originated from a suggestion in the comments on my post about an outfit inspired by The Help. After letting that idea marinate, I expanded upon it and asked my friends if they wanted to participate and dress up as something we're very familiar with - fangirls. We took to Pinterest and Google to get some inspiration.




This one's just funny.

I found that I had a couple dresses that are vaguely 60s-ish, so I lent them out to E and T after I decided to go with a plaid skirt and turtleneck. K picked up this gorgeous Catherine Malandrino for Kohl's dress, which was perfect for the inspiration. We ordered a dozen Beatles buttons on Amazon and divided them up among us, and then I printed out the large ones on photo paper. T brought along some vintage teenybopper magazines, and she and I located cat-eye glasses. Mine used to be sunglasses that I dug out of Bridget's toy basket. Finally, we wrote on our arms to get the full effect.

The best part was that one of the pianists at Lucille's Piano Bar that night was dressed as John Lennon! We couldn't pass up the opportunity to grab a picture with him.

Although we didn't win or qualify for the costume contest that night, I think we looked the part, and having one of the Beatles present didn't hurt.

Here's a closeup of my hair and makeup from that night. The hairstyle idea came from Breakfast at Tiffany's. But, you know, messier and not as big because my hair was being completely uncooperative.