Moving and Minimalism – Part 2: Toys

Although (as we discovered in Part 1) I am not a decor minimalist, as we have moved into our new home I have embraced a completely different aspect of minimalism: keeping my kid’s stuff boxed up because she does not miss it.

This kid is the only grandchild on both sides, and we have very generous neighbors and friends who often give her toys as well (many from Goodwill, yay!), and despite my regular trips back to the Goodwill she has more playthings than she knows what to do with. After we boxed them all up to move, she asked about some items that were put away, but overall she seemed content with the few things we’d kept out.

Once we got to Boston I decided to ride that train and piled unopened boxes of toys (and books – oh, the books!) in her closet. Grandma brought down a box of dinosaur toys, the church left a dozen little animals all around the house for her to find, and we had play-doh and markers for the coloring book pages my sister drew for her. (Yes, both the church and my sister are amazing. I think The Sister should sell custom coloring book pages, yes?)

The kiddo was perfectly content with that initial load for the first week or so, and we have slowly, slowly added things, either by opening an occasional box or by letting her use her birthday money at the thrift store. (8 dollars goes a long way shopping secondhand!) We also found kid-sized hockey sticks at the thrift store and my husband, who played when he was a kid, has had a blast teaching her backhands in the backyard using a ball the church gave us.

With fewer things around, she seems to play longer and more creatively with what she does have, and there’s a lot less to clean up/keep track of. I simultaneously can and can’t believe that it hasn’t occurred to her to wonder where former obsessions like her pop-it beads and code-a-pillar are. I’m hoping to drag out the toy reveal as long as possible, maybe with a rotation where we pack one toy away as we bring out others.

The books, too, are still boxed up apart from the one we initially opened. In the meantime, by George, we have discovered the library! We never took her in Atlanta because she was in daycare (so no need for the daytime programs libraries offer) and the full-size adult bookcase in her room was so full it had books we had never read. But while the kiddo’s at home for the foreseeable future, we tried out the kid-friendly mini-branch in our town, and it’s amazing – you can check out toys while you’re there (great fun without adding to our toy collection at home) AND there’s a kids’ resale shop that benefits the library. You know that’s the first place I went! In the next few weeks I’ll share what I found there to keep her warm during cold Boston winters.

Like lots of parents, I wrestle with how to keep her toys/books at a manageable level – and how to effectively involve her in the process so she learns to do it herself. She’s an enthusiastic kid and once she’s spied something that’s been tucked away, she’ll want to play with it (even if she ends up abandoning it twenty minutes later). Luckily, she’s great at playing with things in the store without needing to take them home; but asking her whether she wants to donate something rarely gets a “yes.” She’ll also randomly ask about X toy she hasn’t played with in weeks, which makes it hard to donate things on the sly – a technique that is starting to feel disingenuous now that she’s a preschooler and old enough to realize what’s happening.

Given all that, moving and keeping everything in boxes is an unexpected boon. I’m planning on having a conversation with her about how much better it can feel to live with less stuff, and as it starts to sink in, maybe she’ll pull the trigger on a few of those donations herself.

 

What have you done re: keeping things in boxes after a move? Dealing with your kids’ stuff in a respectful but practical way?

Thrift Finds: August 2017

Most of August was spent getting ready to move and then moving. But – I know you’re shocked – I managed to fit some thrifting in there anyway!

Check out the decor and lamp shades I thrifted in August to help stage our house here.

And now for the clothes.

Floral cotton popover blouse by Old Navy
Y’all know me and my love for popover blouses:

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I’ve been looking for something with palm fronds, which has proven surprisingly tricky to find with a navy background instead of black. This one is like…a chic version of a Hawai’ian shirt. It’s also beautifully lightweight for those truly hot days. I’m in.

PS For those keeping score at home, yes I did have another tropical popover in blue, which I loved, but which was a tad too tight on the chest/shoulders. Aaaaand I also had another navy floral blouse – one which was less vacation-y printwise, but with a flowy cut that just looked sloppy on me. So when the Old Navy number came along with its perfect fit, I heard the universe telling me to let go of the other two less-than-greats.

You are the weakest link(s). Goodbye:

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I am pretty sad about losing that awesome tropical print/color scheme. Sigh.

 

Plaid cotton popover blouse by Kenar:
Another cotton popover blouse – are we detecting a pattern here (pun intended)?

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I had been pulled toward a similar white-on-blue windowpane plaid popover before, one that didn’t fit so well:

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Another reason for rejecting that earlier edition was that it was too casual for work and I already had a plaid weekend shirt. But since moving to the Northeast, I’ve found that work attire (at least in my office) is quite a bit more laid back. The good fit on the new find makes it sleek enough for work while the plaid keeps it kickin’ for the weekend:

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Plaid shirt: Kenar – thrifted
Jeans: Paige – thrifted
Shoes: City Sneaks – thrifted

Next up, the Paige jeans that were miraculously left waiting for me in the fitting room at the Goodwill. I’m wearing them in the picture above as well as here:

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Vest: Savile Row Co. – thrifted
Shirt from my alma mater, retail
Jeans: Paige – thrifted
Shoes: City Sneaks – thrifted
Bag: Marco Avané – thrifted

Paige jeans, for those unfamiliar, are made in the USA and retail for around $200. BIG SCORE. These Skyline Skinnies were like new and fit me perfectly – no belt needed, which is a big plus in my book.  I’ll just have to adjust to having a second pair of jeans in my wardrobe… but with a cold climate and a casual office I imagine they’ll come in handy!

PS Yes I know skinny jeans are not really the hot new thing these days… since I tend to lag behind in trends (see: how long it took me to adopt skinnies in the first place), I’ll probably be wearing cropped mom jeans in about 2-3 years. You’ve been warned.

Mercer & Mason white blazer, new with tags
I’m digging the long, lean lapels on this blazer and the warmth it provides on brisk early mornings/late evenings here in New England:

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At no loss for blazers, I had pretty much decided I didn’t need a white one until I wore my white denim jacket to a wedding and felt under-dressed. This TJ Maxx brand features decent quality fabric and the lining keeps it toasty – linings were often problematic in Atlanta for this reason but are ideal here! The slightly off-white color will go with everything without washing me out (I hope – pasty white winter skin may yet prevail).


Olive faux suede ankle boots by Leila Stone
I know these don’t look terribly olive in these pictures, but they’re definitely on the green side of taupe.

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I’m calling these an impulse buy despite the fact that two or three days passed between when I first spotted them and when I bought them. I loved the subtle touch of color (it’s hard to find ankle boots that aren’t black/grey/brown), the asymmetrical “cuff” for lack of a better term, and the sassy little tassels on the zipper pull (although I wish the hardware was gold, but that’s my inner magpie speaking). They have my favorite toe shape – halfway between pointed and round – and the wood-like heel also appealed. It plays well with my wardrobe, unlike the other common option for heels, which is black. And they’re my size, hurrah!

But….

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…there’s a reason they had been donated to Goodwill. These shoes are faux suede, and judging by the tear in the fabric near the zipper, not high quality faux suede. Other evidence they are not well made, or else that they are very well worn, include wear spots near the toe and the heel on that same side (which luckily is the inside of the shoe, but it will still show).  And the heel is really too high for my personal comfort.

So why did I buy them? Mostly as a stop gap. As soon as I saw these, I started dreaming up all the delicious fall outfits they would complete, and I went looking online for something higher quality (and, most likely, retail). After spending an hour or two perusing different options, I realized that this was madness; I already had ankle boots I love, I was about to move and didn’t need to spend $100+ on new boots, and life would go on without my having a pair of olive shoes to make all my wardrobe dreams come true.  So to stop myself from pulling the trigger on something expensive and unnecessary, I spent $6 on these and told myself I could sew up the rip, my micro commute could survive the higher heel, and they’ll be fun while they last.

So now let’s see if I get any use out of them or just enjoy how they look on my shelf!

 

Last but not least, I thrifted a file organizer for my new office and a slew of hideous yet functional Laura Ashley thank-you notes which I have liberally sprinkled amongst my wonderfully generous and thoughtful congregation. And a couple of decorative pillows I have yet to convince the spouse are aesthetically pleasing. (To be fair, he was the one who started the throw pillow conversation…)

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Right??? I like them too. $17 on Etsy; jacked up to $40 retail; $4 at the thrift store. BAM.

I also thrifted a goodly fall wardrobe for the child, which I will post separately.

 

So, your turn. What did you thrift this past month? Have you ever bought something ridiculous and/or crappy to stop yourself from spending a lot more money on a higher quality version? Or do you have way more self-discipline than I?

 

Moving and Minimalism (Or Not) – Part I

Moving is a great time to come face to face with your relationship with stuff – whether you want to or not.

With our recent move, I was mostly in the former category. While our move was stressful in some ways and there was a lot of work involved, I relished the chance to go through all our possessions and get rid of what we didn’t need or want. (My spouse willingly halved his t-shirt collection, joy!)

I returned things to those from whom we had borrowed them, passed other things on to friends, and made many, many trips to the Goodwill – not the least of which was to say goodbye to Daniel, the man who worked the donation door at our closest GW and who had become a friend over years of frequent closet-cleanout donation runs.

We decided to stage our condo for selling potential, and as we prepared to do so, I wondered whether I would experience the epiphany some minimalists (for example) describe when staging their homes. You know – It feels so open and light! We should have done this years ago! It’s a popular minimalist concept to stage your house as if to sell, but then just live in it. (See what I did there? Popular concept, pop minimalism!)

But as I sat in our echo-y condo, the majority of our belongings already on their way up Boston, I realized I’m not the stereotypical minimalist who thrills to clean white walls and sparely furnished rooms. Contrary to my relative non-attachment to stuff (see: closet cleanouts above and my willingness to ditch wedding gifts we’ve never used), I missed our things.

I didn’t miss individual pieces, per se, but the feeling that the things we have more or less purposefully accumulated and come to love made our house into our home. Without them (and with the addition of the weird chemical smell of new carpet), our place just seemed… sad.

Obviously, the memories you make, people you love, pets you adore, etc. are more important in making a home than stuff is. But as I follow the aftermath of Harvey and the ongoing reality of Irma and think back on the houses I helped gut and the waterlogged possessions I shoveled into dumpsters after Katrina – man. I ache for the families who, while safe and sound, will come back to houses full of the ruins of familiar pictures they’ve walked past, kitchen utensils they’ve used, couches they’ve curled up on every day for years. The things that made the house theirs, even if the people and pets they love – please, God – made it through.

Even if we don’t let it rule our lives, stuff is important. And I’m grateful that ours is intact and that the stuff we staged with will arrive today so we can keep making our new house feel like home.

 

 

Staging with Thrifted Decor

I mentioned in my post about our move that I’d be looking for some thrifted items to stage parts of our home as we prepared it to go on the market. Our realtor advised against staging our walk-in closet, which crushed my dreams of thrifting a chic, spare, monochromatic wardrobe just for looks. But I didn’t feel like I could walk away from the empty built-in shelves in the living room – a feeling that was part rational evaluation of how bare-cupboard it looked, and part creative stress relief during a rather intense moving process.

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The living room with staged built-ins in the upper right

While my kitchen, office, and wardrobe are pretty heavily thrifted (that’s in ascending order of thriftedness), I haven’t thrifted a lot of decor before. Most of the things in our home are hand-me-downs (furniture), gifts, or items we’ve purchased/photos we’ve made on travels. My sister’s an artist so we have some things she’s made as well. All to say that even when I spot cute stuff in the thrift store, I rarely buy it because our home is happily full of meaningful objects we love.

Since this was a one-off fun project, though, I figured I’d give thrifting decor a try. Here’s how I approached it.

Find some inspiration. I follow Queen Thrift a Lot on Instagram; she does both style and and thrifted room makeovers, the latter professionally.  You can look specifically for thrifted decor ideas like hers, or just go nuts with interiors you like on IG or Pinterest.

Pick a palette. Sticking to a color palette makes a mish-mash of thrift finds look like they’re meant to be together, so that’s where I started. We had already decorated the living room with colors pulled from the rug my parents had passed down to us when we moved in (thanks Mom and Dad!): light grey/taupe; a warm, muted, earthy red; white; warm wood; and some pops of black.

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Shop your home. What do you already have that fits the bill? This may be obvious, e.g. the key pieces from which you pulled your color palette; but you may also be able to repurpose something that would otherwise be packed up.

I had set aside two coffee table books for staging since their big squareness fit the individual cubbies well. Be prepared for horrible lighting from here on out, courtesy of my cell phone (we’d already packed our camera):

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Sharbat Gula‘s eyes go all Emperor Palpatine thanks to poor lighting and uneven discoloration. Sorry Ms. Gula!

A fruit bowl from our kitchen that picked up the lighter wood colors:

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A very cool rock my sister-in-law gave my spouse… I think it’s petrified wood? The colors are spot on but the photograph is horribly blurry; look for it down below next to the white vase.

Thrift with an open mind. If you’re staging a room or a house, it doesn’t have to be your style; it just has to look pulled together and not particularly dated. Go in looking for the color and size you need; be willing to pay a few bucks for something you won’t keep forever and can redonate (ideally before you move so you don’t have to pack that extra stuff!). Even with furniture, spending $50 – $300+ to get pieces that work in the space and help them feel lived in costs a lot less than paying someone to stage your home.  And if you find something you love and will keep, all the better!

Keeping that open mindset at the fore, here’s what I found:

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I love the minimalist palette and design on this plate; it reminds me of some desert-made art in my childhood home. Decorative plates make zero sense to me (why not eat off of it, or use the space to display something more interesting/your books?), otherwise this might have made the “keep” list.

Likewise, I could see keeping the white/buff streaked vase in another style life, but it was filled with styrofoam (why??) so back it will go. It looked great next to the petrified wood, though.

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The picture does not do justice to this amazing crystalline glaze teapot. I flipped a small ceramic plate in the same color family that we already had upside down to boost it up a little higher so it was more visible from the floor. The plate will likely get donated when we clear everything out; the teapot was an unexpected coup de coeur and I’ve talked myself into finding a space for a teapot we’ll never use (since we never use teapots and I have no idea if it’s food safe).

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I have no idea what the thing on the left is but it was the right color (next to it is our other coffee table book). The pineapple candle holder on the right – much more red in real life – is too baroque for my taste, but it had a matching, larger candle pedestal (below) and I figured putting them in two different spots would help tie in all the disparate pieces.

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The matching mugs for the pot! Oh happy day. I used a velvet keepsake box we already had to boost one up both for a little visual interest and to take up some more vertical space since the mugs were on the short side.

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The larger pineapple, another candle pedestal, and what we dubbed the Leaning Tower of Bird Cage. I have no idea what that thing is but it was the right height for the taller space in the middle.

Play with it. Don’t be afraid to rearrange, sleep on it, and rearrange it again. It took me three or four tries to get to a distribution of heights and colors I liked. Pinterest/IG can be very helpful here as well in training your eye on how different colors/sizes/styles can go together.

Here’s how it all looked together, with sunset photos my father-in-law took in the center:

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The lower left cubby was left open for real estate brochures.

Once again, from far away but with better lighting:

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Total cost was under $40. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but for a project I enjoyed and a beautiful teapot/mugs I’ll keep, it was worth it.

Look for extras. We thrifted neutral-colored lamp shades to replace the dark amber ones the lamps came with when friends, moving four years ago, gave us theirs (thanks Les & Lauren!). Our space needed light and for $4 a piece, new with plastic wrap still on, they did the trick very nicely:

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You can see them in action again below, where you’ll also notice our mantelpiece art:

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I diligently scoured my area Goodwills for art big enough to fill that space and with the right hues, but came up empty handed. So the week before our house went on the market, I picked out a photo of wildflowers I’d taken at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area with all the colors from our living room in it, had it blown up at Costco for $10, bought a frame at IKEA for $20, and voilà, we had art we loved that played well with our staging:

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Who knows if we’ll keep that same print in our new space; our color scheme may very well be different. But for $10 a print I’m going to have a lot of fun choosing a replacement from among our travel photos! (PS if you are near Atlanta you should definitely visit Arabia Mountain, particularly in early spring – the wildflowers growing on bare rock are otherworldly.)

 

 

Have you ever staged your home? Did you do it yourself or pay someone to do it? Do you thrift decor/homewares? If so, what’s been your favorite find? Comment to share!

Boston Looks Good on You

Hello, Thrifters. I’ve got some news to share: we’re moving to Boston!

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I am appropriately garbed for both preaching and baseball. Dress, Merona; sandals, Saltwaters (retail); bracelet, Monet; Red Sox hat, ’47 (gift); stole, Stitchin’ Time (gift).

I have taken a call as the pastor of a church in the Boston area and I am really excited for this new adventure. I am also really sad to leave Atlanta, which has been our home for the entirety of our lives as a married couple and then as a 3-person-family, and where we have many dear friends and favorite places to eat/hike/hang out.

This news explains the hiatus I’ve been on: interviews, finishing up my former job, getting ready to move, and other life things (like totaling my car…sigh) have been getting in the way of regular blogging. I have been glad to be able to take a break and grateful for your patience while I’ve done so. I’m looking forward to resuming blogging but can’t say when that will be as we still need to move and I need to settle into my new calling.  However, there are many good thrift stores in the Boston area (the interview team took me to one without even knowing I thrift – yes I’ve found my people) and I know it won’t be long before I start exploring them.

I do have at least one outfit post in the pipeline from last week, but my current mix of ratty painting t-shirts and running shorts are probably not going to create good content. If you all are interested in what I’m thrifting to stage our current home, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, I hope you are thoroughly enjoying these last few weeks of summer (northern hemisphere folks at least!) and I’d love to hear your suggestions for incorporating Red Sox gear into my wardrobe on a regular basis.

Cheers,
Leah

 

Travel Wardrobe: Weekend in Chicago

I’m lucky beyond measure to have a great group of high school girlfriends who get together whenever we’re all in our hometown. Instead of waiting for the holidays or the next wedding, this year we decided to do a proper weekend in the city we call home (even if most of us live elsewhere): Chicago.

With just over 48 hours to wine, dine, and catch up on each others’ lives, we hit the ground running.  Here was the outfit I wore to travel and then for dinner at a local Italian restaurant:

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Shirt dress: Merona (I previously mis-IDed it as Gap) – thrifted
Sandals: Saltwaters by Hoy – retail
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban – retail

Side view:

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Roll those roll-tab sleeves for better ventilation.

It held up surprisingly well given that I wore it to work, sweat in it for an hour waiting for a state trooper in the Atlanta heat following a minor car accident, sat in it for a two-hour flight, and then wore it straight to dinner since my accident meant I took a later flight and had no time to change.

You know what the cure for all that nonsense is? Good friends and a good negroni.  :)

The next morning I was up for a run around my hometown wearing workout clothes I had thrifted on the way to the airport. I had forgotten my usual running stuff at home since it hadn’t dried yet. Thrifting to the rescue!  For under $10 I had perfectly serviceable shorts, a running bra, and a tank top, all of which I left at my parents’ house so I don’t have to pack workout gear next time I go home. Genius.

After meeting up for coffee with two of the ladies, we hopped on the train and headed downtown to meet another friend (two others had joined us for dinner the night previously but couldn’t make the city festivities). We hopped into a ride service to get to her apartment and had the most Chicago-esque conversation possible with the driver. Topic #1: the Cubs’ prospects for beating the Cardinals that day (done!); topic #2: where you can eat the best Chicago-style hot dogs (I don’t eat meat but if I can help it a Portillo’s jumbo cheese dog will be my last meal before I leave this earth); and topic #3: obviously Lou Malnati’s does the best Chicago-style pizza.

Once we met up with our city-dwelling friend, we went for a stroll along the recently completed riverwalk and stopped for pictures with the giant deer…

deerThis is the definition of #random. Source

…before sitting down to rosé and a cheese plate at City Winery. The people-watching was excellent as party boats and kayakers trawled the Chicago River and people meandered alongside it.

Here’s my “day” outfit:

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You can tell I’m super happy to be in my favorite city with some of my favorite people. The guy behind me, however, might be picking his nose. Can you spot the Chicago theater sign?

Shirt: Zara – thrifted
Shorts: American Eagle – thrifted
Crossbody bag: Marco Avané – thrifted
Necklace: DIY from thrifted vintage bracelet (closeup below)
Sandals: Saltwaters by Hoy – retail
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban – retail

I tucked the front of this split-hem shirt into my shorts to give the outfit a jaunty little flair and let the back hang out to give some interest and showcase the two-toned gold thing going on. Sorry I didn’t get any side shots! I still feel a little weird asking people to take outfit pics, even though people generally oblige and they always turn out better than what I take myself.

Next up: dinner at Momotaro, a very hip Japanese restaurant. I swapped my shorts for my white Banana Republic trousers to dress up my dinner look a bit; the gold lamé shirt I already had on took care of the rest.

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What our table looked like.  Source

We feasted on small plates like tomato tartare with milk bread, mentaiko spaghetti with cod roe and an egg, age dashi tofu (a round tofu cake with watermelon turnip purée, scallions, and flaked tuna), shishito peppers, una kyu (barbecued eel roll), and sashimi and beef fried rice for the half of us who eat meat/raw fish. Black currant mochi and green tea chocolate crunches were dessert.

I unfortunately took no pictures, since the lighting was so dim and we were all too focused on salivating over our meal (that part’s not unfortunate!), but here’s what the internet shows for the tomato tartare:

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My favorites were the tartare (not actually involving any meat) and the shishito peppers, but everything was delicious, including the cocktails. Thanks abundantly for dinner, Steph (and David)!

Next we headed up to the rooftop bar at London House, the hotel where another friend had snagged us a comp room thanks to how often her husband travels for work.  Many, many thanks Maddie (& Dan)! The view was incredible – and kind of scary? especially after a cocktail or two:

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By this point I was feeling extra fancy since my normal vacation digs are friends’ guest rooms and my normal vacation fare = Subway on the road. After much laughter and only one broken glass, we headed back to our room and drifted off to dreamland.

The next morning I was up for a run along the lakefront. Running in a different spot from my normal route is one of my favorite parts of vacation; there’s something truly invigorating about taking your exercise while taking in a new (or newly revisited) view.

With Chicago in particular, I have a lot of memories: visiting downtown often for field trips and theater as a kid, interning one summer on Michigan Avenue, and taking a college course on Chicago architecture in literature. So I still love to get facetime with treasured landmarks like the Art Institute lions, the Field Museum, the bronze Bowman and Spearman, the Congress Hotel, and a distant Sears Tower (I will always call it the Sears tower). I even tipped my hat to the alien monstrosity that has landed on Soldier Field, then turned around to run on the lakeside, ending back at the Wrigley and Chicago Tribune towers by the hotel.

Views from the hotel:

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So many architecturally magnificent buildings masquerading at ground level as 7-11s (or in this case, Hard Rock):

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When you randomly meet a dinosaur on your run (Field Museum):dinosaur

Railyard with a great view:

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Part of Millenium Park being put to good use:

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It’s a fountain; the mouths of the people portrayed spit water. I always wonder who those people are and if they ever get weirded out seeing their gigantic selves as part of a public art installation…

I got several more GREAT shots but my phone is still misbehaving and corrupted most of them. Grumble grumble grumble.

Breakfast and a shower later, I was ready for the train ride back to my parents’ house for lunch and goodbyes to all:

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Shirt: Madewell – thrifted
Shorts: Bebe – thrifted
Braided leather belt – unnamed, thrifted
Accessories: same as above

^^That is the best my mane ever looks – right after I went for a run (and didn’t wash my hair). Go figure.

Closeup on the bracelet-turned-necklace:

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All this packed in the Samsonite Silhouette I borrowed from my mom, the tan twin to my grandma’s aqua blue bag – you can see it below.

Fistbump to Cori, who wants you to know she thrifted everything in this rad outfit except the shirt (and who is my environmental soulmate; she snagged that empty Starbucks cup beside us for recycling):

IMG_7577Oh hey Wrigley building and Tribune Tower.

Cheers, ladies – here’s to friendship and to next time!

What I Wore: Blue “Crop Top” for Work

Here’s a what-I-wore shot from last week, featuring the “faux crop” shirt that’s also in this post. I love how the bright, robin’s egg blue pairs with the navy in the pants – one of my favorite color combos:

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Shirt: Dahlia – thrifted
Pants: Alfani – thrifted
Shoes: Bandolino – thrifted
Cuff bracelet: Monet – thrifted
Necklace: DIY from thrifted parts

From the side – a much better view of how this whole thing looks untucked:

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Do you like my post-beach hair? Ha! The salt gives it outrageous body and waves for a few days, but eventually it just turns coarse and I have to wash out the salt. I went to bed with it fine, but woke up with things out of control and no time to wash, so up it went into a bun!

A little better shot of this necklace than last time:

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And just for comparison, how different this top looks when half-tucked into a skirt:

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Do you have a favorite color combo for outfits? Which look do you like better? Click through and scroll down to comment!

Summer 10×10 Remix: Wrap Up + What I Learned

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As you may remember from my intro post, this was basically a travel wardrobe of tried-and-true favorites masquerading as a 10×10 challenge, which means my goal for it wasn’t necessarily to discover anything new about the items therein.  But I made room for the possibility that I’d learn something, and lo and behold, I did!

#1. I love this shirt.
You know those items you wear so easily that you don’t even know how much you love them because it’s so second-nature to just throw them on?  They don’t feel special, exactly, but then you do something like this and realize that they work with everything and you wear them all. the. time.

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Can you tell which one was taken after spending 10 days outside??  Ha.

Three things make this one a winner:

  • Stripes. These have equal amounts blue/white so the navy doesn’t overwhelm my skin tone. They’re a great width, too; stripes that are all too thin/narrow just look busy to me instead of bold.
  • 3/4 length sleeves.  Combined with the open neck and light material, the sleeves keep this right in the middle between hot & cool. Perfect for in-between seasons and temperature changes while traveling.
  • Silhouette/drape. This shirt has give and flow for a not-too-tight silhouette. The drape adds a certain chicness and insouciance (as well as making room for fried scallops and sweet corn).

Plus the drop shoulders give it some visual interest – those stripes going perpendicular to each other just jazz the whole thing up a little. (I guess that’s 4 things. Whoops.)

#2. Put it on repeat.
Especially on vacation, I am happy to rewear the same item or even outfit. No shame on these back-to-back outfits, where, just like above, I simply swapped shorts:

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If it works, it works, and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel for no reason. This is related to my next discovery…

#3. Life is a 10×10 remix (or a capsule wardrobe?).
Because the color palette was broader, when I did my first 10×10 remix this spring I wore each piece multiple times, yet felt like there were still SO many options left at the end of the 10 days.  It was exciting and invigorating.

At the end of this summer remix, however, I felt not energized but more… content. I hadn’t worn everything, and probably could have gotten by with even less, yet surprisingly I wasn’t bored with my clothes by the end of the trip. (You know that feeling where you just want to chuck the entire contents of your suitcase, dirty or not, into the laundry hamper because you’re sick of seeing the same clothes? Not this time.) It was like I relaxed into my wardrobe as the days went by.

And when I looked at my closet to get dressed for work the next day, I felt happy and “relaxed into” my clothing there, too. I knew what worked together and what I wanted to wear, and felt no need to go thrifting.

I think after 2 years of blogging (and 10 years of thrifting), I might finally be getting into the groove of this capsule wardrobe concept – not a rigid set of restrictions, but a mix of feeling invigorated by and “relaxed into” the clothes I have and happy with the way they fit together.

I still go thrifting for fun and for inspiration, and to change things up occasionally (example: the grey, blue striped, and olive casual summer dresses in this post were all new styles for me and all really hit the spot in different ways), but I’m not feeling the grabby impulse of yore to THRIFT ALL THE THINGS.

It’s a good place to be.

Last but not least…

#4. Never trust Vermont weather.
Whatever the forecast, even in JULY, just assume it will be colder/rainier than they say and pack accordingly. As I mentioned before, I did just fine with a windbreaker over a 3/4 sleeve shirt, but if I had it to do over I’d have swapped this:

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I kept thinking a sweatshirt would be bulky and take up way too much precious packing space in my tote; I had somehow forgotten about the fleecy, thin wonder that is my Mossimo sweatshirt. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Did you do the 10×10 remix?  What did you learn?  How are you feeling about the current state of your wardrobe? Scroll down to comment!

 

Summer 10×10 Remix: Day 10

As part of the Summer 10×10 remix (hosted by UnFancy and Style Bee), I’m attempting to post what I’ve been wearing each day as I live out of my suitcase on back-to-back family reunions. What’s a 10×10 remix? 10 pieces of clothing, 10 outfits, 10 days. What you count as an item is up to you (I’m not counting shoes, workout gear, outerwear) since the point isn’t following strict rules – it’s using limitations to spark creativity.

Day 10: Beach & Home

My in-laws live in coastal New Hampshire so you better believe that when it turned out to be sunny (unlike our weather last week at the lake!), we hit up that beach like nobody’s business. What a way to go out!

Beach uniform:

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Hat: unlabeled – thrifted
Halter top: Ralph Lauren – thrifted

Bottoms: Target, retail

I wore this dress as a coverup – how versatile!

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Jumping bracingly cold waves with Mini Me in her Wonder Woman suit (gifted from uncles who spoil her deliciously):

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Happy as a clam:

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We hit up a seafood joint with the sweetest, most succulent fried scallops, then nipped back to the in-laws’ to shower and pack and drive to Boston to catch our plane.

The travel uniform in a slightly different permutation from yesterday:

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Love that salty beach hair that won’t quite stay put…

Top: Gap – thrifted
Shorts: Bebe – thrifted

Crossbody bag: Marco Avané – thrifted
Sandals: Saltwaters by Hoy – retail

Here ends the 10×10 remix for this go-around. Come back tomorrow for a round-up and my thoughts on the whole shebang!

Summer 10×10 Remix: Day 9

As part of the Summer 10×10 remix (hosted by UnFancy and Style Bee), I’m attempting to post what I’ve been wearing each day as I live out of my suitcase on back-to-back family reunions. What’s a 10×10 remix? 10 pieces of clothing, 10 outfits, 10 days. What you count as an item is up to you (I’m not counting shoes, workout gear, outerwear) since the point isn’t following strict rules – it’s using limitations to spark creativity.

Day 9: Goodbye Lake Champlain, Hello New Hampshire

Here was my outfit for driving 4 hours from Vermont to The Granite State, where we stopped over for a night before flying home:

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My 5-year-old cousin made that twist braid – didn’t she do a great job?  I can never get those to stay.

Shirt: Gap – thrifted
Shorts: Bill Blass – thrifted
Hat: unlabeled – thrifted
Crossbody bag: Marco Avané – thrifted
Cuff bracelet: Monet – thrifted
Sandals: Saltwater by Hoy – retail

I think this can now be called my official travel shirt. I always wear it on airplanes (and apparently in cars) because it’s lightweight yet longish-sleeved, so it does well with shifts in temperature as AC goes on/off, working up a sweat as you run through terminals, etc.  Both top and shorts have some give to them which makes sitting for long periods more comfortable.

Details:

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Once we got to New Hampshire my spouse and I busted out the workout gear and went for a run in the rolling hills dotted with farms. It was absolutely gorgeous – flowers everywhere, blue sky, cows, lusciously painted old farm houses, fresh air… Since we often visit in the winter, I forget how beautiful New England is in the summer.

What’s your go-to travel wardrobe? Scroll down to share!