Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do Something You Always Wanted to Do!

I always wanted to dye my hair red and was afraid to do it. I actually did this about 6 weeks ago and it's faded now, but I wanted to post it so maybe it would inspire you to do something you've always wanted to do too.

Isn't it funny how we are scared to do something as silly as dying our hair, or cutting it short? What silly things are you afraid to do, but always wanted to do?

I think one brave decision leads to more. What will my red hair lead to now? Have courage and make a brave turn of your own today! Sign up for a class, start a blog, wear your red lipstick, call an old friend or throw a dinner party. What will you do?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mad Men Inspired Style

I'm new to the Mad Men scene. I just started watching it a couple of months ago and I'm hooked. As I was perusing Talbot's new fall line, it occurred to me how much this show is influencing our fall fashion. Has anyone noticed that Talbot's is not the stodgy, conservative shop that it used to be?

I've been pondering Talbot's new look for awhile now. My first instinct when I got the summer catalog was that the layouts, the clothes and even the models look strikingly similar to J. Crew. I've always liked Talbot's and I could manage to find a few things in there, but I really thought that the clothes were much older than me. I was really excited to see the changes because Talbot's quality is impeccable so having the option to shop there for younger styles is a welcome opportunity.

These are some of their summer looks I liked, but you'll have to click the link below to see the fall lookbook.


Now that they have obviously gone a new direction to appeal to the younger woman too, I am curious to see if they have updated their fit as well. It just figures that I would get intrigued by a line as I am brewing a long term rest from purchasing anything. The Talbot's lookbook is definitely worth seeing even if just to admire the styling though. Also, if you can get your hands on a summer catalog, you won't be sorry as it's also very chic.

I also couldn't help but note that Mad Men seems to be everywhere these days. I'm drawn to these looks and am happy to see the resurgence of this fashion era. I'm not sure how that retro look will make it's way into my mostly jeans style, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to find out. Here I was thinking after the Nordstrom anniversary sale that there were only 80's styles to shop from, but take heart because there's more out there!

Did you also know that QVC is launching a line of Mad Men inspired clothing? If you want to read about it, here is a preview article. I don't think I'll be buying any of the QVC clothing but I'm looking forward to seeing Season Four of Mad Men and the swoon-worthy fashion. The premiere of the new season is on July 25! Anyone else love Joan?

One more thing since we're on the subject of Mad Men, if you are an aspiring actor, or just want to be on the show, here is your chance. Banana Republic is hosting a contest, read about it here. It starts tomorrow!

Will anyone be hosting Mad Men Premiere dress up parties? I don't know anyone else who watches the show so I won't be. What do you think of the retro inspired fashion? How will you incorporate this into your current wardrobe? I'm definitely seeing something leopard print in my future. I think it's obvious my favorite character is Joan. Who is yours?

Joan pic from here.
Group pic from here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nordstrom Anniversary Preview 2010: Behind the Curtain

Maybe you've heard? The Nordstrom Anniversary sale starts tomorrow and all the buzz has been about the preview for the last week and a half. The Anniversary sale is special because it puts a certain selection of fall items on sale for a month of so, then raises the prices again. Last year we did not go because we were not a certain level of Nordstrom cardholders. If you are excluded from the preview, you will know that The Wizard of Oz imagery is not very far off. Everyone wants to get to the preview! This year, we caught a break though because our local store decided to let all Nordstrom cardholders in instead of just a certain level that would typically qualify. I think that was smart of them.

Let me take you behind the curtains to what we saw. Essentially there are two separate curtained off spaces, one for women and one for men and accessories. You have to make an appointment so that you are accompanied by a salesperson, and you get two hours to shop. At first glance, the partitioned rooms seem to be small and unimpressive. Imagine a retail yard sale with racks of clothes along the wall and metal tables full of shoes and purses. There are an impressive amount of items jammed in there though. The small rooms are deceiving because there is only one size of each item. That is why you need the salesperson to assist you, so you can get the correct size to try on your items.

Last year I went on the first day of the Anniversary Sale, which is when I had my personal shopping experience that you can read about here. The preview could potentially take this experience up one notch by not only having an appointment but by not being a part of the frenzy that occurs during the sale days. The dressing rooms are right next to the preview so they really make it all very comfortable for you to shop. I would bet that you can make an appointment with the personal shopper department to pull it all together for you. (If you are in Houston, call Scotty!)

When I went last week to the preview, I had it in my mind that I wanted to not want anything, so I looked at everything with a very critical eye. It turns out that I didn't need to worry because I really didn't like much. There were a few things that I had in mind that I was looking for, like a purse and some tall boots. They had a huge selection of purses and shoes but nothing really wowed me. I tried on a dress like one this except in pink and I liked it, but the material was a very wrinkly cotton and I try to stay away from high maintenance fabrics.

Since last year G also felt the burn of being excluded from the preview, he wanted to find out what all the fuss was about too. We journeyed back down there to see if there was something he loved. He really didn't need anything, but he did find a white shirt because who doesn't need a new white shirt? It's egyptian cotton and a blessed non-iron fabric! Now when I neglect to iron his shirts for months, he'll have something to wear besides polos. We came away with him thinking he needs a leather jacket, which is the first I had heard of it, so the power of suggestion works on men too apparently.

What struck me as I looked through the racks of clothes is that I really just don't like the fall fashion options. There is so much 80's influence right now and it's just not me. There were so many chunky, long sweaters that I suppose balance out skinny jeans. There are some years that the fashion trends just don't appeal which is when it's great to fall back on your current wardrobe and save some money.

I don't want to neglect to mention that the preview is especially great if you are looking for a hot item or hot brand because those items sell out first. There are some Tory Burch flats which always sell out fast, and certain brands of handbags will go quickly. How quickly, I don't know, but since the anniversary sale is unique because it's putting items on sale before fall gets here, I bet there is a lot of frenzy over these items because of the discount.

I'm sure that I could have found something if I really was in the buying mood, but to be honest, I had already bought a couple things for fall and needed to wait to buy anything else. It was fun to be a part of the preview and I would do it again next year. Fall is my favorite time of year because I look forward to sweaters and the cooler months. Since I'm from North Carolina, fall always meant the turning of beautiful leaves, crisp mornings, sunny days and one never forgets the importance of the back to school wardrobe. In Houston, I'll just look forward to cooler days and the energy of back to school shopping, even though I'm not in school.

What about you all? Have you been to the Nordstrom preview? Did you buy anything? Do you feel that it's just more exclusivity marketing hype, or that there is real value there?

Image here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How I Save Money at Starbucks

OK, the obvious way you can save money is not to go. I'm on board with that most of the time, but sometimes I like to meet a friend there, or take my laptop and pretend I'm busy and important. I've had some people at Starbucks ask me what I've ordered, so I wanted to share my sneaky little strategies of how I save a little money with you.

First You Have to Register a Starbucks card If you remember my wallet post, maybe you remember all the Starbucks cards I had in there. I always wondered why they didn't have a card to punch and every 10 coffees, I get one free. I was accustomed to that feature at all my previous coffee shop hang outs and I really missed it!

All you have to do is buy a gift card, register the number online and use it. You can even have your credit card linked to it, so it automatically refills when it goes below a certain limit. I don't do that because we are phasing out credit cards in our life, but I used to do it when I was working. You can see all the rewards options at the Starbucks website.

Free Refills One of the main rewards that I enjoy are free refills while you are at Starbucks. I usually take my refill and heat it up the next day because I can't handle that much caffeine in one day. I just stick in the frig and look forward to it tomorrow!

Free Coffee Sometimes I also buy the decaf whole bean coffee for at home. I time my purchase so that I can hang out and get my free tall coffee, technically it says "any handcrafted tall beverage of your choice", but you may have to fight for that because I usually just get a plain old coffee.

Free Syrup & Milk Upgrades At first I was feeling guilty for having these extra calories in the form of syrup, but it tastes so much better that I decided to ignore that guilt. Besides, this is another great way that I save money because if you like one of the frou-frou expensive drinks, I can't tell the difference.

Order a Misto That leads me to the next way that I save money. The strangely named "Misto" is on the menu under Caffe Misto, but is often overlooked. Basically it's a Cafe au Lait, coffee with steamed milk, which is my favorite. I am extra naughty and get whole milk because it tastes so much better, and always order it extra hot, with vanilla syrup. It's costs $2.00 instead of $3.25 for a tall Caramel Macchiato.

Free Birthday Coffee Yep, you get a coffee on your birthday. Order the biggest, most expensive one they have just because you can!

Cumulative Rewards Just like any rewards program, this is the one where you have to keep yourself in check. I think it's human nature to want to complete things and get free stuff. I still try to only do Starbucks once in awhile because it is an expensive habit that can get out of control really fast. I wrote about the luxury of the poor issue a little bit here.

At first you will be at the Green Level, and then the Gold Level. They send you a cool Gold card just to make you feel super special and exclusive. Once you get to the Gold level, you get a free drink, every 15 stars. I don't know exactly what stars are the equivalent of in dollar amounts, but just know that eventually you get a free drink.

So I'm not going to go into the financial drain that IS Starbucks, but I do feel like it's a treat for me sometimes. Now they have free wi-fi for everyone who goes which is an extra incentive to stay for awhile. I divide the price that I pay for my tall Misto in half and I'm paying $1.00 per cup of coffee which is not bad for a morning out.

What's your favorite way to treat yourself on the cheap? I also like to go try on lipstick and perfume and not buy anything. It just makes me happy and no buyer's remorse either! Do you like Starbucks?

I'm a Caffe Misto Whole Milk Vanilla Syrup Extra Hot. What are you?

Just for fun I put some pictures of our wedding day. I had a major caffeine withdrawal headache and my new hubby knew just what I needed!

The first sip relieved my headache.

You also get a free Starbucks on your wedding day!

I'm not even letting go for the photo ops. These are all in downtown Greenville, SC.

I do. love coffee.
He wasn't drinking it, just holding it.

Coffee cup image from here.

Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

I'm linking up again with  Erika ,  Andrea  and  Narci  for the Friday Favorites!  I love reading everyone's favorites too! ...