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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Anjolee Gemstone Bracelet Giveaway

Two years ago I reviewed a very pretty ring from the high-end diamond jewelry manufacturer and retailer Anjolee. When they contacted me recently and asked if I would like to review one of their bracelets, I wanted to share with you this time! Anjolee offers a large selection of diamond bracelets for women, which are all fully customizable, and I chose the alternating gemstone drop bracelet in garnet to give away.

I love wearing bracelets and feel naked when I don't have something on my wrist. This lovely, dainty bracelet would be perfect to wear for the holidays or any day. Red goes with everything!

I have to admit, I had a little trouble figuring out how to get it unclasped, but that was probably mostly due to my being unfamiliar with fine jewelry. After a few attempts, I was able to undo the clasp, but I couldn't tell you how I did it. On the bright side, I think it would be easy to take on and off with one hand with a little practice.

To enter to win this bracelet, use the Rafflecopter form embedded in this post. The only mandatory entry is to leave a comment. All the other options are for extra entries. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Rules:
1. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only.
2. After the giveaway ends on 10/29, I will announce the winner on the blog and email the winner on 10/30. 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, October 15, 2013

Lost Without You - Hanson in Chicago

Day Two of the Anthem Tour was more about hanging out around the city than sitting in line, which was kind of a relief. Unless you do the Pass the Line deal at the House of Blues, there's not much point to standing around. At least in our opinion. We usually just get there right before the show starts and stand in the back unless one of their 1-mile barefoot charity walks is scheduled, which was the case on Sunday.

We left home with plenty of time to spare and surprisingly did not hit any traffic. Since the Chicago marathon was going on the same day, we wanted to be prepared for extra travel time. With about an hour to kill before the walk, we found a sunny place to sit and warm up. It was pretty chilly in the shade.

As usual, the Chicago walk was fairly crowded, so we didn't try too hard to get by the guys this time. And again, Taylor was absent.

Zac, the hat...why?

On the walk back to HOB, I was next to Isaac for a minute, but it was too much work to hold that position. Plus, I couldn't think of anything to talk to him about that day.

After the walk, we decided to venture back out and made our way over to Millennium Park and the Bean.

I took the opportunity to get an outfit picture this time. I had gotten the idea that for this show, I would recreate an outfit I wore to the Bay Beach amusement park Hanson show in Green Bay on June 19, 2000. My outfit of pleather pants and a sort-of v-neck shirt has been an inside joke with us since, so I thought it would be fun to pay homage to that. Plus, I wanted an excuse to buy faux leather pants again.

2013 Outfit - T-shirt: Land's End; Pants: Rock & Republic (Kohl's); Blazer and Sunglasses: Target; Necklaces: Forever 21 probably; Shoes: TOMS; Bag: Christian Siriano for Payless

Clearly, I needed a lesson on venue-appropriate clothing choices back then. Pleather pants at an amusement park??

I have to say, I definitely enjoyed sightseeing over standing in line all day. We grabbed an oddly delicious and satisfying hot dog in Millennium Park and each got a mocha from Caribou Coffee for the walk back. We also ducked into the Disney store for a few minutes, and I bought Bridget a Little Mermaid doll. I couldn't go in there and not buy her something.

Before going into the venue, we toasted to T's 60th Hanson show (K and I are now at 49, and E is right behind us at 48) and our collective 16-year fandom.

As annoying as HOB can sometimes be, Hanson loves it there, and the shows reflect that. In my opinion, the set list was even better than Milwaukee's; we were dancing around and having fun the whole time; and I got to hear one of my new favorites, "Lost Without You," and an older favorite, "Lost Without Each Other." Yeah, Hanson tends to write songs with basically the same titles a lot. It's a thing.

I didn't take any pictures since we were near the back, but I did get one video of Isaac's solo, "For Your Love" again.

Really, the only disappointment of the night was not being able to try the MMMHops beer. Apparently, they had sold out of it well before we leisurely sauntered in. It's a pale ale, so I probably wouldn't have liked it anyway, but someday I'll still have to try it. My friends went to the second HOB show the next night, so they did have a taste.

You can see all my pictures from the weekend in my Facebook album or read about my Milwaukee concert experience.

Let's Get Fired Up - Hanson in Milwaukee

Where to begin? I guess 6:30 AM on Saturday morning is a good place to start. That's when I pulled into downtown Milwaukee and swung around the Pabst Theater to scope out the situation. I'm not sure why I was surprised, but there were already quite a few people lined up for the Hanson show that night. I drove around for a bit and found a place to park. When I got in line at almost 6:45, I was number 24. That's how crazy we Hanson fans are, folks. Many of the people ahead of me had camped out, but I think the group right in front of me had only been there for maybe an hour when I arrived.

From the Pabst's Facebook page. This was taken around 8 in the morning. You can see my empty red chair in the middle and my friend E to the left of it. I must've been off getting coffee at that point.

As you can imagine, the rest of the day was a lot of sitting around, waiting for something exciting to happen. Here are the highlights with an approximate timeline.

10:30 - Our friend K arrived and joined us in line. I had given the three groups behind me a heads up that a couple of friends would be meeting me later, and they were fine with it.

11:30 - Some drama broke out about line jumpers behind us. The cops got involved. No seriously.

12:00 - A truck pulled up, and the crew started to unload equipment. I recognized a guy from high school and tried to chat him up in hopes of getting some VIP access. I didn't really know how to make that happen, so I basically engaged in a few minutes of small talk and then walked away.

12:30 - Hanson's tour bus arrived, and we welcomed the excitement. I saw Isaac come off the bus and was dumbstruck by how good he looked in his leather jacket, scarf, sunglasses, and hat. I'm used to seeing him in a suit, but I prefer his laid-back look. Although I had jumped on the Zac fan train for a few years there, that moment brought me back to my Isaac fan roots.

1:30 - K's friend R arrived, and we educated him on all the craziness he witnessed while we waited for the 1-mile barefoot charity walk to begin at 3.

3:00 - The walk commenced, but Taylor was nowhere to be seen. We hung out by Zac for the first half mile and Isaac on the way back.

Zac making sure we all get across the street safely

Mid-walk speech

I paparazzied my friends by Zac, got a few pics with them by Isaac, and then got to have a couple conversations with him myself, which went something like this:

Me: Isaac, your foot, what happened? (He had a bandage wrapped around his foot.)
I: Oh, it's nothing.
Me: Oh OK, nevermind then. (I almost said something about it being a sore subject, but it sounded too punny in my head. At least, I hope that stayed in my head. I can't remember for sure.)
I: It's on the top. It's not walk related.
Me: That's good to hear.
I: It's more...ignoring something for too long.
Me: Ah, gotcha.

We then stopped and waited for the light to turn green, and a girl took a picture with him. When we started walking again, there was no one else walking by Isaac up in front, so I felt like I had to say something else to him. I'm kicking myself because I had my camera out, on video mode, and pointing at myself and Isaac during this next conversation. The only problem was, apparently I did not push the button to start recording. Arg!! Luckily, my friend K got a couple pictures and a video!

(Also, my outfit was inadvertently but conveniently very similar to the Inspiration Monday photo for this week, so I also wanted to link up with them. I wish I had gotten a full shot of the outfit I was wearing that day, but I never think of it at the time. Too much other stuff going on.)

This conversation isn't accurate at all. I think Isaac was rambling more than what I actually remembered to write down afterwards. But here's the gist, which I updated on 10/16 when I saw the video clip K got of the conversation:

Me: I'm really excited for MMMHops tomorrow. (They were debuting their beer, MMMHops, at the two House of Blues Chicago shows.)
I: Yeah, we were hoping people would be. I hope we have enough.
Me: I was wondering about that. Should I only have one? Is there enough to go around?
I: Haha, you should have as many as you want.
Me: OK done!
I: You should have as many as you want. Um, heh.
Me: so it's just going to be at the bar?
I: It's gonna be at the bar, yeah so, there should be plenty left to go around, but it's our first time, so we'll see how quickly it goes. (Foreshadowing...)

After the walk, I stood right by the guys on the steps for their post-walk speech.

4:30 - We listened to the sound check going on inside from our spot in line, and I headed inside the adjoining hotel to charge my phone for awhile.

5:30 - Our friend T showed up with her friend D. They went across the street to kill time at the Newsroom Pub.

6:15 - R and I got bored and joined them for shots.

6:45 - Doors opened!

Although the Pabst is a seated venue, they used the area in front of the seats for a pit, which is where we ended up. The four of us got spots about three people back from the stage on Taylor's side. Everyone in front of us had either gotten there way earlier than we did or had a meet & greet, so I was pretty satisfied with our spot. Plus, I'm a head taller than everyone else anyway (sorry, people behind me).

It felt like forever before the opener, David Ryan Harris, went on at 8. He was pretty decent, but most of his songs were pretty chill, and I wasn't feeling very amped up at that point. His set finished at 8:45, and we waited impatiently until nearly 9:30 before Hanson came on. That's when I decided I would never stand on Taylor's side again. He kept having to tell the fans in the front to move back and be nice to each other because one little person fan in the front row kept getting slammed into.

Besides that, the show was great. I loved hearing the new songs live and thoroughly enjoyed the covers they did of "Happy Together" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." I was also glad that they decided to bring back the portion of the show where each guy performed one of their solo songs. Many of us Isaac fans felt shafted on the last album with no Isaac leads, so hearing him sing the new song "For Your Love" was a treat.

11:30 - After the show, we filed out to the bus to wait for the guys to come out. Zac came out almost right away and signed autographs from the bus window since there were so many people.

1:00 - Isaac came out and signed a bunch of autographs for people. K got a picture with him, and then E pulled me into her picture with him, which I am very grateful for. I was a couple fans back, and I don't think I would've gotten a picture otherwise.

Yup, all three of us basically have crazy eyes in this picture, hehe.

2:00 - Taylor came out for the handful of fans that were left, and E got a picture with him. Very soon after that, the bus left, as did we.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the weekend in my Facebook album (hopefully that link works).

Needless to say, I was pretty tired Sunday morning when Bridget woke me up at 7, but I was ready for another day of Hanson excitement down in Chicago.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Review of My eShakti Experience

I was pretty excited when eShakti contacted me and offered to send me a sample from their fall collection to review. From seeing so many other bloggers rock their dresses, I was curious to learn more about eShakti, especially their many customization options. You're able to order a standard size or enter your measurements for a more precise fit, and they offer sizes 0 - 36W. Depending on the style, you can also specify skirt length, sleeve length, and neckline style.

After browsing the site, my favorite dress was this drop wait ponte dress...

...but I had already determined I was going to go with a sheath silhouette to take full advantage of the customization. Normally, when I try on a fitted dress, the top is too big and the bottom is too tight. I was hoping eShakti's customization options would solve that for me.

It came down to the graphic print colorblock sheath dress and the colorblock graphic print knit sheath.

I liked the neckline options of the black and white one better, but I wanted long sleeves, which that one didn't offer, but the red one did. As a tall woman with long arms, actual long sleeves are hard to come by. I had visions of looking like Jennifer Lawrence in her Prabal Gurung dress from last year.

After asking a friend's opinion, I decided on the black and white one with 3/4 length sleeves and a boat neck.

My dress took 7 business days to arrive, right on schedule, and I received a text from DHL the day before with the tracking number and instructions for if I was not going to be home when the package was delivered. Of course I wanted to try the dress on the second I got home and ripped open the box.

I was surprised to find that eShakti had sent me two dresses. At first, they looked identical, but my husband guessed that one was probably a different size. I didn't believe him until I tried them on - one was noticeably more fitted than the other one. While the slightly looser one skimmed my stomach and better camouflaged anything I was self conscious about, I felt a little frumpy in it. I didn't want to have to wear shapewear, but after trying the smaller dress on with some not-too-uncomfortable Spanx, I was in love. It was exactly what I wanted, and it fit better than anything I could find in a store. I could definitely see myself ordering something else from eShakti in the future.

Dress: c/o eShakti; Shoes and Sunglasses: Payless; Bracelet: c/o Wantable; Bag: Badgley Mischka via T.J.Maxx

You can check out eShakti on Facebook and Pinterest. I especially enjoyed looking through their Real Fashion Real People board on Pinterest to see how other customers wore their purchases.

In case you're curious, because I sometimes am, here's how I measured up, using the graphics on their website to figure out where to put the tape measure. I took most of the measurements myself, but my husband helped with the shoulder and the upper arm. I rounded up on some of these because they didn't have half inches.

Height : 5'11"
Length of arm: Long
Upper arm: 13"
Hip: 46"
Waist: 33"
Under bust: 34"
Bust: 40"
Chest: 37"
Shoulder: 17"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

DIY Embellished Sweatshirt Tutorial

When I first trimmed the sleeves of this sweatshirt with lace a couple years ago (using this tutorial), I didn't have enough lace to do the shoulders. Cut to now, when I got the idea to make kind of lace epaulets to finish it off. I can't remember where the idea originated, but I may have gotten it from Miranda on Project Runway with her military background.

This may be self explanatory, but here's a little step-by-step tutorial for you anyway.

Materials you'll need:
  • sweatshirt
  • lace trim
  • six buttons
  • tape measure
  • scissors
  • thread
  • needle
  • pins
Optional materials:
  • needle threader
  • thimble
  • sewing machine

1. Line up the lace how you'd like it. I doubled it over and placed the folded end toward the shoulder. 

2. Cut the lace for one shoulder and then lay it on top of the remaining lace to cut a second piece of the same size.

3. Pin the lace to the shoulders.

4. Hand or machine stitch around the edges. I used a needle and thread and stitched all the way around through both layers, but you could play with sewing only the bottom layer for a more three-dimensional look to the epaulets.

5. Use a tape measure to determine where you want to place the buttons.

6. Mark the spots with either a writing utensil or pins. I chose to put the buttons at 1-1/2, 2-1/2, and 3-1/2 inches from the neck.

7. Sew each of the buttons into place while trying to ignore my un-manicured nails.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fashion Week MKE - Music Icon Night

Milwaukee's first Fashion Week took place last week; and while I would've loved to attend all the events, the only one I made it out for was Music Icon Night, held at Spin Milwaukee. Fans of Project Runway may remember Spin, the ping pong nightclub, from the episode last season where owner Susan Surandon came on and asked the designers to create uniforms for the staff. Uniforms which, by the way, the employees were not wearing.

My friend Sabreen joined me, and we also met up with our friend Katie who was on the Art Bus, which made a stop at the party. After buying some drinks at the bar, we dodged the ping pong tables (I only got hit with a ball once - not too bad, hehe) and shuffled over to the runway area to find a spot since we were not VIP enough to be on the bleachers, haha. We ended up in a pretty prime location behind the press area at the end of the runway.

Guests were encouraged to dress as their favorite iconic musician, but I only saw a handful of people dressed up, including the fashion show emcees dressed as LL Cool J and Beyonce. The main event of the night was a T-shirt fashion show with designs from MILWAUKEEHOME, American Greed, Wiskullsin, Reginald Baylor Studio, I Am Milwaukee, Get the Led Out, Wisco Kid, Newd Clothing, and Love Nail Tree. For some reason, all my pictures of the male models turned out better than the ones of the female models.

Sabreen and I had America's Next Top Model on the brain since we were missing it to go to this event, so we couldn't help taking the role of the judges a little bit. Our favorite walker was definitely her:

Larry Sanders from the Milwaukee Bucks closed the show.

After the show, a little bit of lip sync karoake kicked off, starting with LL Cool J, Prince (seen below, highlight of the night), and then Beyonce. I also saw a Madonna and Katy Perry wandering around.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the show in my Facebook album. Hopefully, we can look forward to Fashion Week Milwaukee for many years to come. It's definitely an exciting time to be a fan of fashion here. Now I have to get some of those awesome T-shirts to flaunt my MKE and Wisco pride.

Here's what I wore:

Blazer: LC Lauren Conrad (Kohl's); Tank Dress: Forever 21; Pants: Rock & Republic (Kohl's);
Shoes: Vince Camuto via Boston Store; Clutch: Melie Bianco via DSW; Cocktail Ring that you can't see: c/o Wantable

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I was originally planning on going as Celine Dion because I thought it would be easy. Then, I ran out of time and couldn't curl my hair, so I had to make do with tons of back combing, bobby pins, and hairspray. Plus, I wanted to wear my new leggings right away. Funnily enough, Corleen and I were both wearing the same leggings except hers were from H&M. Great minds think alike!