2011 Goals Check-in #5

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I think this month has been good. Let's see if I'm right!

1. Read 30 books.
Finished another audio book--Darkly Dreaming Dexter--bringing my total to 13. Just behind where I should be. I need to READ this summer!

2. Get at least one new stamp on my passport.
This isn't likely to happen until the fall.

3. Blog 5 times a week.
20 blog posts puts me just under this goal. I have been trying for five days a week, but I've definitely fallen off a few times. I need to get on some sort of posting schedule.

4. Journal every day.
I've dropped this one.

5. Cook dinner at least once a week.
Well, I've cooked for myself since Mark has been gone. Sorta. I mean, frozen pizza is elevated to cooking when I put extra pepperoni on it, right?

6. Fully fund my 401k.
Not missing my 6% contributions anymore. That makes it a habit, right?

7. Save $15,000.
Finally, finally, finally some progress here! I'm on an automatic-withdrawal savings plan plus I'm putting extra money away as I can. Current savings balance: $2,915.72.

8. Excel at my new job.
I'm not as thrilled with myself this month, just due to not having had a lot of opportunities to excel, but things are still going fine.

9. Make one positive health change per month.
I've not been eating very well, and I've slacked off some at the gym, too (though I am still going at least 3 days/week). Gotta get serious about this again in June.

10. Re-institute monthly date night.
With Mark out of town for half the month, this didn't happen. We'll do it in June.

Hrm. Not as good as I was thinking, actually. But getting on track with saving is what I've been focusing on, so meeting that goal is really important. I'll take it. For June, I've got to read some books, commit to five days/week blogging, and make a positive health change!

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Loving the basics

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I've been trying to dress in a way that is more interesting, push myself out of my comfort zone, all that good stuff. But honestly? I love the basics. They're classics for a reason. So today, a casual Friday tribute to them!

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I'm wearing:
-Land's End denim pencil skirt (thrifted)
-Ann Taylor black t-shirt (thrifted)
-Liz Claiborne blue snakeskin belt (thrifted)
-Antia black wedges (Shoebuy)
-vintage owl pendant (Ebay)
-string-wrapped bangle bracelets (Ebay)

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In which I tell you of my television love

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So I flat-out love TV. I know it's popular to be all "TV, mindless drivel, blah blah blah," but that just is not how I roll. I respect TV as a medium, I think great stories are told there every day, and I am an obsessive watcher of television shows. I love TV.

It hasn't always been like this. I grew up in a close-to-TV-free household. It wasn't that my parents had some philosophical problem with it (though they're much more readers than watchers), it was that we lived out in the middle of nowhere and to get any real reception we'd have needed a satellite, which was not a spending priority. So, until I was in high school, we got one network (ABC) some of the time. You can tell when you quiz me on 80s TV trivia--if I know anything about it, it must have been on ABC.

Even though TV was limited, I do have some childhood television memories. No cartoons--I'm sure I must have watched them at some point, but I don't remember them at all. The first show I remember really connecting to was on ABC from 1988-1993 (so when I was 9-14). It featured some historical events, some fantastic period costuming, a hippy older sister and a butthead older brother, a lovely girlfriend who grew up to be a math fiend, and a strong voice-over element. The Wonder Years.

Another show that features heavily in my childhood memories, and this is a tangent I'll save for another time, since I think this show is in mortal danger, is General Hospital. My mom wasn't a fiend, but she was a general fan of ABC soap operas, and even though I think she preferred the now sadly lost All My Children and One Life to Live, General Hospital is the one that resonated with me. I remember recording it and watching it at night all the way through college, and I can still easily get sucked back into it if I'm home during the day. (For those in the know, my allegiances are as follows: Sonny belongs with Carly; Jason belongs with Robin; Lucky belongs with Liz; and Nikolas can sit and spin.)

My other teen years show should surprise exactly nobody. My So-Called Life was only on for 19 episodes, in 1994 and the beginning of 1995, but I watched every one of them when they aired (and possibly cried when it was taken off the air). I loved every minute of that show. Unlike many of its viewers, though, I never thought of myself as Angela. I always wanted to be Rayanne. The scene of her singing the Sesame Street theme song outside the movie theater still features occasionally in my dreams.

I didn't watch much TV during my college years (aside from the aforementioned daily taping of General Hospital). I knew people who were really into the The Simpsons, and this weird show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I had no particular interest in either one. One thing I do remember doing during those years, though, is occasionally flipping on my small TV (a high school graduation present that was usually used for watching movies) to check out syndicated reruns of Roseanne. Running from 1988-1997, the show's trajectory ran parallel to my adolescence, and I had always been aware of it, and seen a few episodes, but hadn't ever watched it regularly. Watching the show in college, it provided me with a really welcome look into a blue-collar world that was much closer to the one in which I'd grown up than anything else to which I was being exposed at that time. Roseanne felt like home.

I still haven't seen every episode of Roseanne. I always intend to go back and watch it from the beginning (the joy of Netflix streaming!), but I haven't done it yet.

Immediately post-college, I moved in with two of my friends and we had a TV! And channels! And, finally, time, at least more than we'd had at Reed. I don't have a ton of TV memories from those days, but two stick out: The first is my friend N., coming home from her AmeriCorp job and sitting in front of the TV eating (I shit you not) carrots and celery dipped in ketchup, watching Friends (in syndication on TBS--I think there were multiple episodes per night). The other? The first season of Survivor. I'd watched a little bit of MTV's The Real World in high school (taped by my cousin Jessie--we didn't get MTV even after we got a satellite), but other than that, had never seen or thought about reality TV. Survivor was a revelation. And a really good time. But it was just that one season--I haven't seen it since.

The next show I remember really loving was another no-brainer. Just like every other freshly minted liberal, I adored The West Wing. It was a few seasons in by the time I got into it, and I still haven't seen the first few seasons, but those middle Bartlett years were crucial to me. Mark and I watched it together when we first got together, and we had a regular Wednesday night date with our housemate, E., during the 4th season. I never watched the post-Martin Sheen show, either, so really my West Wing love is probably just seasons 3-6, but it is strong.

Mark got me into The Sopranos during those years, and I remember watching a lot of home improvement shows as well (that was when Trading Spaces and While You Were Out were getting really hot). Those were also the opening days of my getting into watching TV shows on DVD, which was an amazing change--having to wait for new episodes was one of my major complaints about TV from the beginning, as I'm much more the gluttonous, one-episode-after-another type.

After The Sopranos, Mark and I watched a number of HBO or HBO-styled dramas, and liked a lot of them. We loved Deadwood, The Shield, and the first season of Rescue Me. We got into watching House for a few seasons. The show that really sticks out, though, is The Wire. I maintain to this day that the five season run (2002-2008) is the best thing I've ever seen on television. The writing was fantastic, the acting suburb, the music stellar, and each season was held together by a tight overarching theme. The second season, in particular, which focused so smartly on the comparable institutions of power and powerlessness between white blue-collar union dock-workers and the black drug scene, blew my mind. I had previously liked television. The Wire made me love it.

Mark and I were still watching The Wire when I was introduced to the first show that constituted not just a TV love, but a TV obsession. You all know where this is going--finally, after denying any interest for years, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I kept watching, burning through all seven seasons in only a few weeks and then starting over again at the beginning. Buffy wasn't just about recognizing great writing and use of metaphor beyond anything I'd ever imagined (though it certainly is that). Buffy was like a new lover, or a new religion. Buffy was in my thoughts, in my dreams, and in nearly all my conversations for months. I didn't just want to watch Whedon's world, I wanted to swallow it whole. It was intense. And oddly immature, really, for someone in her mid-late 20s. I had my teenage response to the show ten years too late. But I'm not at all sorry I did, and Buffy remains a show I can and will re-watch endlessly.

In the last few years, Mark and I have discovered that it does us a lot of good to have a show we can watch together, preferably on Netflix, so it works into our schedules. We watched the first three seasons of Dexter, the first two of Breaking Bad, and made a go at Battlestar Galactica, which we both kinda hated. Then Mark had an idea that I thought wouldn't work, but has been awesome: go back to something that he saw years ago and liked, but barely remembered, which I hadn't ever seen. Something legendary. Something epic. Something so painfully early 90s at moments that I have to pause it to laugh. The X-Files. The show ran from 1993-2002, so there are LOTS of episodes to get through, and though some of them are ridiculously cheesy, others are actually quite good. Though it doesn't move me the way Buffy does, I can easily see how people were obsessed with it.

Aside from having a show to watch with Mark, I like to have something I'm watching on my own. I'll watch just about anything, but there are two shows I have watched recently, one that is still on and one that was sadly cut short after only three seasons, that I think are fantastic. The one with the untimely cancellation is Saving Grace, which is a beautiful show that does a fantastic job with hard topics (it's almost like a grown up Joan of Arcadia, another show I loved) and stars Holly Hunter in what I think is the best role she's ever played.The one that is still on is one I've discussed here before: Sons of Anarchy. The show's fourth season is set to start in September, which gives you plenty of time to catch up on seasons 1-3 and start watching in real-time. It's worth it. I didn't think I'd like it, and only started watching it because there was something else we were watching on FX (the last season of The Shield, maybe?) that was littered with previews for the beginning of season 2 and Katy Segal looked like she might be interesting. After my first episode (the season 2 opener), I was in love. I got season 1 on DVD and set the DVR. The show has gotten into my head, for reasons I can't explain, like nothing else short of Buffy.

So there you have it. It turned out to be more a history than a defense, but this is what I think of when someone asks me why I waste my time watching TV. For the stories. These are some amazing stories.

What are your favorite shows? What didn't I mention that I should have?

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Nothing touching my belly, please

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I try, more often than not, to wear things that are cute and flattering to my figure and all that. Some days, though, that all has to take a backseat. I've been having issues with my stomach for the past two days, and my only real criteria this morning was nothing tight around my belly.

And so here's what I came up with:

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Did you happen to notice the bracelets? Allie has a set of them and I've been lusting after them for weeks, so I finally bought my own!

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Here's what I've got going on:
-Yogi maxi dress (Nordstrom Rack)
-Ann Taylor Loft teal short-sleeved cardigan (thrifted)
-Old Navy black cotton camisole
-Sofft wedge sandals (Nordstrom Rack)
-turquoise and silver necklace (no idea)
-Philippine Blue Wrapped Thread Bangle Bracelets (Ebay)

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Thrift Share Monday, from the archives

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I did a ton of thrifting this weekend, but I haven't photographed anything yet, so I don't have any new booty to share. Rather than sit this Thrift Share Monday out, though, I decided to show you a few previously-thrifed items that haven't yet made it to my Etsy store. I am hoping you all can give me some advice as to whether or not they are worth listing. Sound good?

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This is one of those nostalgia purchases I probably should have left at the store. It's a circa-1960s Fisher Price Family Farm. The barn itself is in pretty good shape, but the animals/people the original set came with aren't all here. Still worth trying to sell?

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I love this little toy so much! It has a name and "Made in Russia" written on the bottom. The chickens are attached to strings, which are all attached to a wooden ball, so you can bounce it or swing it around and change the speed and cadence at which they peck. Anybody got any idea what it actually is? I'm guessing it's just so tourist souvenir type thing, but I love it anyway.

Maine cookbook, 1967

This is a Maine promotional cookbook, I think, complete in its original mailer box, from 1967. It's one of those things I have no actual use for, but I just couldn't leave in the store. Sellable, you think?

Leonard Silver fruit basket

The tag on this silver fruit basket says "Leonard," but that's all I know about it. Anybody seen one like it? I am not sure it's vintage--it may just have that sort look about it. I haven't yet decided if it's a keeper or a seller.

Jackson Custom China Paul McCobb Falls Creek pattern--13 saucers

These 13 Jackson Custom China Paul McCobb Falls Creek pattern saucers definitely fall under the "why the heck did I buy that?" heading. I don't remember buying them, or what I was thinking when I did. Does anybody see any reason they shouldn't go in my out box?

American Tempo Flatware cocktail forks--16

I believe these individually plastic wrapped cocktail forks, from American Tempo Flatware, are mid-century. However, I have no idea who would want 16 mid-century cocktail forks. Should I try to sell them as a lot? Break them into two sets of 8? Four sets of 4? The mind boggles.

There are tons more, of course. I have a whole room full of stuff that I am not precisely sure why I bought or what I intend to do with. But this is a start. Please, advise me!

For more thrifted finds, head over to Apron Thrift Girl to check out the links!

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Calypso for Target

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Most of the real fashion bloggers have already weighed in on Calypso St. Barth's Target line, so I'm behind the game. But I wanted to wait until I could get into the store to check the stuff out for myself, and that didn't happen until last night. So...better late than never?

Overall, I like the Calypso St. Barth collection a lot. The looks are fun, beachy, summery, and generally seem to be well-made. There isn't anything I liked enough to seek it out at full price, but there are definitely a few pieces I'll have my eye on once the sales start.

The Calypso line is marketed as three collections. The first, The Sea Collection, is a mostly-blue line of beach-inspired stuff. My favorites from the Sea Collection are:


CALYPSO St. Barth for Target® Wrap Bracelet With Chain - Turquoise, $14.99


CALYPSO St. Barth for Target® Tie-Dye Print Sleeveless Crochet-Bib Tunic in Blue, $24.99


CALYPSO St. Barth for Target® Linen Tote - Natural/Blue, $16.99

The pink and orange Reef Collection is my favorite of the three Calypso lines. The looks remain beachy and casual, but the prints are a bit less sedate. My favorites:


CALYPSO St. Barth for Target® Medallion Print Crochet-Bib Tunic in Pink/Orange, $36.99


Calypso St. Barth for Target® Women's Sleep Chemise - White/Pink, $24.99


CALYPSO St. Barth for Target® Mutlistrand Necklace With Rosary Beads - Cream, $39.99

The final collection, Shore, is based on a yellow/green/khaki palette, and it does the least for me of the three. I didn't find a single "can't live without it" item in it.

One thing Target seems to do with these special collections, which I enjoy, is to tailor some of the offerings from their typical lines to go along with whatever designer they are featuring. I saw a few pieces that weren't from Calypso, but had much that same feel (and usually a lower price). These included:


Mossimo® Women's Strappy Maxi Dress - Coral Explosion, $29.99


Mossimo® Women's Racerback Bib Top - Blue Ocean, $19.99


Merona® Straw Tote - Natural, $19.99


Long Coral Charm Pendant Necklace - Gold, $14.99

One final positive note: Most of the women's Calypso styles are available in plus sizes, often up to 28.

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A matchy-matchy thrifted outfit

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Since I don't blog my outfits every day, it occurs to me that you might all think I only blog the best ones. Trust me, that's not the case. Whether or not I blog what I'm wearing on a given day comes down to two things: how much time I have in the morning (i.e. how much I oversleep) and whether or not I have something else planned for the blog on a given day. That's really it.

I'm kinda glad it worked out to blog this ensemble, though, as it shows two things. First, there are days on which I have absolutely no color creativity; secondly, it's another all-thrifted (except the shoes) look!

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I'm wearing:
-Valerie Stevens box pleated floral skirt (thrifted)
-Gap white v-neck tee (thrifted)
-Liberty of London brown leather belt (thrifted)
-Coldwater Creek bead and chain necklace (thrifted)
-nameless turquoise bead and chain necklace (thrifted)
-Aerosoles South Role in "Mid-Green Leather" (Shoebuy)

Also, about my hair. It's not that I think this bun is a particular good look. It's that my hair is dirty and gross and with it down I looked unwashed. So there you have it--I'm all style.

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Tone-on-tone pattern mixing

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First, let me say that this outfit looks better in person than it photographs. Really. I promise. I do not like the way these pictures came out at all. In reality, neither the shirt nor the pants are shiny!

Now, I decided I wanted to try some tone-on-tone pattern mixing, and today's gray weather seemed perfect for this palette. What do you think?

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I'm wearing:
Ann Taylor Loft gray wide-legged trousers (thrifted)
Apt. 9 black with white mini dots cowl neck blouse (thrifted)
Ann Taylor black and gray paisley cami (outlet store)
Coach black leather belt (thrifted)
Softspots purple suede wedges (Shoebuy.com)
Black, purple, and gray beaded necklaces (thrifted, gifted, and swapped for)

Also, here's something I wore to a party this weekend. Well, sort of. I put it on, took pictures, then changed out the top and added a belt and a pashmina.

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Enwrapture wrap skirt
Tahari ruffle front black top (Marshall's)
Aerosoles sandals (Amazon)
Chunky jade necklace (gift)
Beaded cuff bracelet (can't remember)

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Thrift Share Monday: gettin' my Etsy going

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In an effort to curb the amount of cash I am spending at the thrift store, I put myself on a two-week thrifting hiatus and instead focused on getting some of my former finds listed in my long-neglected Etsy shop. In lieu of anything newly thrifted this week, I thought I'd give you a peek as to what is in the shop:


I love this little Catherineholm pan, but I'll never use it, so it's for sale!


These three Pyrex Cinderella bowls, in the Shenandoah pattern, are a new find and one I'm sad to part with, but I just don't have room.


I scored these two Cinderella bowls, in the very popular Spring Blossom pattern, at the same store as the set above! It was Pyrex day.


I've been hanging on to this Horizon Blue Pyrex casserole dish with rack for ages, but it never gets used at my house, so I figured I ought to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it more.


This promotional Golden Hearts pattern Pyrex casserole dish is not the most colorful I've thrifted, but I think it's the most rare. If what I read is correct, it was only produced in one year (1958)!


These West End bean pots from the 1950s are fairly common, but I love them just the same. The design on them just makes me happy. This one is in exceptionally good condition.


This Karoff wooden appetizers tray is probably my favorite of the things I have listed right now. It's just so cute and kitschy!


Finally, I couldn't resist listing these crazy 1970s decals. I have no idea what one would use them for, but how cute is that pineapple?

Part of my recent listing binge is a decluttering effort, but part is financial--I really want to buy an iPad, and have promised myself only to do it if I can use "found" money I wasn't otherwise expecting. I'm about halfway there, but need to make the rest of the cash so now seemed liked a good time to clear out some of my treasures! Anything calling your name?

Don't forget to head over to Apron Thrift Girl and see what everybody else is sharing for Thrift Share Monday!

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Some thoughts about honesty, and my face

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Extreme close-ups of my face are not my favorite photographs. It's not that I don't think I have a nice face--I'm pretty much good with it--it's just that it feels invasive, seeing a photograph of what you peer at most closely in the mirror. It feels like someone is looking at you far too hard. I also don't like photos of myself without my glasses--I feel naked and not-me.

So why publish the picture above, which I just snapped with my iPhone? Because I've been talking a lot lately with a number of folks about truth in blogging, about the creation of a persona, and about how much this blogger or that blogger really is who she seems to be. And I want to make a point here--there is no What If No One's Watching persona. This blog has grown from my online journal to something a bit (only a bit...) more structured, with more focus, but it's still just me here. If something I write doesn't ring true, if it seems like it's here because I was paid to do it, or because I am trying to drive up traffic, or because I think it would be good for my "brand," then we've got a problem.That allergy-eyed slightly hook-nosed mug above? That's me. That's all you here here at WINOW.

Have a good weekend.

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When I wrote my last two "Adventures in growing up" posts in January and February, I intended it to be a monthly series. Then I got distracted by shiny things. But hey, I'm back!

Over the past few years, I have worked in a few different types of professional environments: a medium-large non-profit, a small non-profit, two different universities, a state agency, and now, a large corporation. There have, of course, been similarities between these situations--in some ways, a job is a job. However, what is more interesting to me is the difference in office culture I have experienced at each job, and how I have adapted to that culture.

Perhaps the most telling differences have been in expected dress, compensation, and working hours. Most to least formal dressed work environments: medium-large non-profit; large corporation; small non-profit; state agency; universities. The universities at which I worked had very few pretenses about dress--jeans were just fine, every day. The state agency was a bit pickier, but I was there as a contractor, the rules for me were also a bit more strict than those who were on staff. The case at the large corporation is similar. The most interesting situations have been the non-profits: the larger one was the type of institution that has very wealthy donors, some of whom I interacted with regularly--clothes were important there. The smaller one was less dress-oriented, but still required a higher level of attention to clothes than have most of my other jobs.

I'm surprised to be finding this the case, but I actually prefer the slightly more formal work environments when it comes to dress. Partially that's just because it gives me an excuse to care about how I look, but partially it's that old saw about feeling and acting more professional when you are dressed more professionally. I find that to be oddly true. I am certainly not yearning to wear a suit every day (or, really, ever), but I do enjoy having a certain standard of work dress.

The compensation has been wildly different in the positions I have held, but a factor of several times over. Part of that, of course, is that I have gained experience and skills (and a master's degree) as time has gone on, so I'm worth more in the job market. I've also held different types of jobs. However, some of the compensation differences have been based on type of organization. Non-profits pay less, full stop. And universities and state organizations, while paying more than non-profits, pay less than corporations. Some of these payment differences are mediated by benefits, but even considering that aspect, best to least well paid has been: large corporation, university #1, state agency, university #2, small non-profit, large non-profit.

I've touched on this before, but I'll say it straight out now: there has been, in my professional experience, a direct correlation between how much I am paid and how much respect my work has been given. Of course, that isn't always true, but it has been in my case. Organizations that have been willing to pay me well have also been willing to accept my expertise and grant me the autonomy I need to do my job well. Organizations with lower pay scales have been much more likely to monitor and second-guess me and stand in my way. As much as the actual money itself, having a work environment in which I am respected and trusted is important to me, and I will continue, after my current position ends, to look for higher paying jobs with that in mind.

The jobs to which I have been referring and have been both hourly and salaried. In general, my preference is to work on salary. However, working hourly has, thus far, been more lucrative. Though I haven't experienced the expectation of unpaid overtime myself in any of my positions, I have seen it, especially in the non-profit and academic worlds, and I think it's absolutely wrong. There is a reason people fought so hard to secure the 40-hour work week, and we ought to be respecting it, not just for hourly employees, but for everyone. Expecting your employees, no matter how well-compensated, to regularly work more than full-time is bad policy, and it's one I'd like to see a crack-down on.

Overall, I have been very surprised at what I am beginning to see as my strong preference for working in corporate, rather than non-profit or public sector, positions. I would have guessed it would be the opposite. What I have found, though, is that while the corporate world may pay less lip service to being "family friendly" or "employee oriented," having clear standards of acceptable conduct, hours, and dress, as well as a more generous pay scale, makes for an environment that ends up friendlier.

As I get older and have more job experience under my belt, I continue to surprise myself. I do things now that the fresh-from-college me, or even the fresh-from-grad-school me, wouldn't have considered possible. The constant, Dilbert-esque coffee drinking. The acceptance of daily makeup and heel-wearing. The frequency with which I attend meetings. Immediately post college, I imagined myself a boho professional--a professor, a curator, possibly a journalist. After grad school, I set my sights on work-from-home freelance, making my own schedule and never having to take off my pajamas. I never thought of myself as an "office person," a "cube dweller," or, God help me, a "professional." But I am. I work 9-5, surrounded by gray fabric walls, and it isn't killing me. I probably don't want to do it forever--those original boho professions are starting to sound really good again--but I'm doing it, and well. I like the money, I like the respect, and I don't hate the environment.

My experience, obviously, isn't universal. Some people are extremely happy in non-profit or public sector environments. Personally, I don't rule out work in either type of organization again in the future. I am just happy I now know that the private sector is another option, and one I don't have to fear. In fact, it's likely where I will begin my next job search.

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Dress You Up #9: L.

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I missed doing a Dress You Up last week! My list of victims is still several folks deep, but be sure to send me an email if you'd like to be dressed

This week's focus is the lovely L.
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L. says:

I would love to be featured on your blog and have you fix me. I say fix me, because really, that's what it'd be. :) I'm a SAHM to three kids, 8, 4.5 and 1.5 and so my wardrobe totally screams, "SAHM, boring, lazy, frumpy". I'm also turning 30 in 5 weeks.
So, my style right now is mainly jeans/cords and tshirts/longsleeve ts. I have an entire drawer full of skirts, but I don't wear them in the winter because we're in Maine and it's just too damn cold. I also don't have any cute shoes/sandals to wear them with in the summer.
Ultimately, I'd really like to look put together, but not like I tried too hard and I don't want to be overdressed. I have to be able to chase after the toddler and preschooler and look ladylike while bellowing to the 8 year old across the playground.
Not sure if it matters, but there are a TON of thrift shops near me, at least 6 in a 10 mile radius and they have decent stuff. My problem though, as much as I love finding a bargain, I'm realizing that I'll buy stuff that doesn't fit great or isn't totally my style because it's only $4/5 at the thrift store. I need to get out of this habit. Help! Bargain clothes can be good, but they can also look cheap, ill-fitting and worn and I feel I'm falling into this trap.

L. has done a great job here in identifying her needs: easy, put-together clothes that she can wear while chasing her kids, sandals or other cute, comfortable summer shoes, and a list of things to look for at the thrift store. L. is a size 8-10, which should open up a lot of thrift options for her, but she's right--there is danger in buying clothes that are worn or don't fit just because they are cheap, and that doesn't help anybody feel better about how they look.

Finally, L.? Have no fear of 30. I'll be 32 this summer and it's a great place to be. Really.

Now, on to the clothes!

To my mind, the single most important thing L. needs are jeans that fit and flatter. As we all know, this is a difficult proposition, and the only way to find those perfect jeans is to try on a million pairs. My suggestion to L, even though it's a time suck, is to go to a large thrift store, without her kids, and pull every pair of jeans in her size from the rack (except for those stonewashed ones or worn out ones), then try every single one of them on. The idea here is research, not necessarily buying. If she finds a pair or two that fit her perfectly, she can absolutely buy them, but if she doesn't, trying on lots of different brands and styles should give her a place to start with what she likes.

Were I to guess, I'd say L. is going to favor a slightly wider leg (rather than skinny jeans). I'm going to style her in a dark-wash boot cut and a dark-wash trouser jeans, as those are my favorites and the ones I think are most universally flattering and put together looking.

Old navy cardigan
$25 - oldnavy.gap.com

Old Navy cowl neck top
$18 - oldnavy.gap.com

Old Navy two tone jeans
$35 - oldnavy.gap.com

Kenneth Cole Reaction flat shoes
$39 - piperlime.gap.com

Billabong strap bag
$35 - pacsun.com

Fish hook jewelry
$5.99 - tillys.com

This first look is very easy--it's basically the jeans and t-shirt L. is wearing now. However, intentional use of color, a pair of earrings, and a fun bag make it look put together. I think a cowl neckline is a great idea for L., too, as a way of balancing her figure. I really like the color palette here for her, and the flat, fun sandals would be super versatile.

What L should look for at the thrift store: fun print bags, colored cardigans

H M cotton tee
9.99 GBP - hm.com

Sailor pants
$37 - alloy.com

ASOS ballet flat shoes
$36 - asos.com

Blue tote
$17 - target.com

Fish hook earring
$24 - urbanoutfitters.com

Forever21 beaded jewelry
$4.80 - forever21.com

I am of the absolute belief that there is NOTHING wrong with jeans and a t-shirt. It's a classic for a reason. I like this take on it particular, as it's just as comfortable as throwing on whatever is on your floor, but as a pronounced femme/boho style. The trouser jeans keep things a bit more formal, and I love the way the pattern on the t-shirt and the one on the bag compliment one another.

What L should look for at the thrift store: fun jewelry that appeals to her, well-fitting, new condition t-shirts with patterns

Old Navy short sleeve tee
$13 - oldnavy.gap.com

Print skirt
$33 - shopruche.com

Espadrille shoes
$50 - sears.ca

J Crew striped tote
$50 - jcrew.com

Flat necklace
$20 - nordstrom.com

Belt
$30 - zara.com

I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that L. has at least one maxi skirt in than drawer of skirts she mentioned. I think she should dig it out for this summer! I'm still on the fence about maxi skirts as work appropriate wear, but I love them for casual, comfortable summer outfits. The trick, I think, with a wildly print maxi (the best kind!) is to keep everything else really simple. A black tee or tank, some neutral sandals, maybe a skinny belt and a few chains around the neck. Let the skirt speak for itself, and you'll look cool, comfortable, and totally put together.

What L. should look for at the thrift store: a fun maxi skirt (if she doesn't already have one), a narrow leather belt

Roxy pink sweatshirt
$45 - hansensurf.com

Old Navy scoop neck tank
$13 - oldnavy.gap.com

Old Navy knee length denim skirt
$30 - oldnavy.gap.com

Bensimon blue sneaker
$43 - moxsie.com

LORD TAYLOR green drop earring
$35 - lordandtaylor.com

Solid Shoulder Bag
$20 - aeropostale.com

Some people may believe the children are our future. I believe our future is the denim skirt. A denim skirt is my absolute #1 favorite casual wardrobe staple. I love them beyond reason. A denim-skirt based look like this would be perfect for L. Pairing the skirt with a print hoodie and sneakers, then keeping the rest of the look very plain, makes her look intentional in her pattern mixing and young, fun, and fashionable. Also? I love these Liberty fabric sneakers beyond reason and I really want someone with little enough feet to wear them to buy them, please. One note here, though: the hoodie has to actually fit. Oversize hoodies need not apply.

What L. should look for at the thrift store: a perfect denim skirt

When the fashion powers that be decided we should all be wearing jersey maxi dresses, it's as if they finally got a clue about what womens' actual lives are like. Much like I believe in the denim skirt, I believe in the maxi dress. For a busy mom like L., I think it's a perfect multi-tasker. Sure, she can wear it to chase her kids around all summer, like the first look below, but add some bling, like the second look, and it will also do date night quite nicely.

Old Navy smocked maxi dress
$30 - oldnavy.gap.com

J Crew scoop neck tank top
$9.99 - jcrew.com

Sandal
$35 - delias.com

Roxy handbag
$46 - roxy.com

Chain jewelry
16 GBP - talullahtu.co.uk

Old Navy smocked maxi dress
$30 - oldnavy.gap.com

Victoria s Secret scoop neck tank top
$20 - victoriassecret.com

Bandolino slip on shoes
$48 - macys.com

Floral print handbag
$20 - crateandbarrel.com

Gold jewelry
$15 - target.com

And remixes? Sure!


My overall advice for L. is as follows:

1. Keep thrift shopping, but get PICKY about quality and fit.
2. Don't be afraid of color--and don't think that all colors in an outfit have to match.
3. Embrace accessories. Typically, when people think they don't look put together, a couple of great accessories do the job.

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Everbody Everywhere: Floral!

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Today's challenge from Everybody Everywhere is FLORAL. How can I not participate in one so easy?

This shirt is a problem. I grabbed it from the clearance rack at Old Navy in February, in a fit of pre-spring optimism. The print reminded me of Liberty of London. Brought it home, tried it on, and realized that I am just not a huge ruffle person. Frankly, the ruffle seems a little bit...obscene. Then I promptly forgot to return it for three months, and now it's too late. So it's been in my give-away pile, but I decided to give it a try today, since it is very floral. I'm not sure I'm sold, but I don't hate it as much as I did in February. I think the structured skirt and colored shoes help.

What do you think?

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Wearing:
-Josephine Chaus black a-line skirt (Ross)
-ruffled floral sleeveless shirt (Old Navy)
-Aerosoles South Role in "Mid-Green Leather"
-narrow black Etienne Aigner belt (thrifted)
-blue and gray faux pearl earrings (Little Black Box)

Don't forget to head over to Everybody Everywhere and see how everybody else is wearing floral today!

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Thrift Share Monday: 100% thrifted outfit

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The majority of my recent thrifting has been for clothes, for myself and various friends. While this is necessary, and fun, it's not the most exciting thing to share for Thrift Share Monday. So, today I decided to take a page from Kris' challenge (in which I could not get it together to participate last month) and show you a 100% thrifted outfit.

The sticking point here is shoes--it is damn difficult to thrift size 12 women's shoes, at least if you aren't into orthopedics. But I remembered I had this odd vintage pair that I ran into at a tiny thrift store at least a year ago and have never worn, and lo, an outfit was born!

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I'm wearing:
-Ann Taylor Loft gray pants
-Ann Taylor black shell
-Ann Taylor Loft short-sleeved teal cardigan
-vintage Nordstrom red square-heel flats
-Echo red, white, teal, and blue floral silk scarf

All thrifted!

I don't know if this outfit falls under $20 total or not, since some of the elements are from a long time ago. My guess is it goes a bit over, because the tag was still on the shoes and I apparently paid $8 for them. Still, I feel a little bit triumphant! Plus, I think it's awfully cute.

For more Thrift Share Monday goodness, head over to Apron Thrift Girl!

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Doing the casual Friday

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My current job has casual Fridays. I, like many people, find casual Friday to be a bit confusing--the gap between my casual and professional clothes is large, and a lot of the "go-to" casual Friday ideas given by fashionistas (trouser jeans, button down shirts, etc.) don't really work for me.

Sometimes, I just dress like I do every other day of the week. But sometimes I play along. And I think I did OK today.

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Wearing:
-NY & Co skinny jeans
-Gap print pleat-front tank top (outlet store)
-BCBG long green cardigan (Marshall's or TJ Maxx)
-Naturalizer red flats (Shoebuy)
-chunky jade and agate necklace (gift)

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April workout summary

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Got my Fitlinxx report today, so I thought I'd share. In April, I increased cardio and decreased weight training. I went to the gym 14 times, so pretty much every other day.

Fitlinxx.jpg

I'd like to see that weight lifting number come up a little bit, but I'm very proud of the cardio. Overall, it was a good month.

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Some new makeup loves

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I am not buying makeup right now. I have enough makeup. I plan to un-makeup through the summer.

That said, before I started not buying makeup, I bought some makeup. With a gift card! And I love it so much, I wanted to let you in on it.

Philosophy The Supernatural Poreless, Flawless Tinted SPF 15

Turns out this isn't tinted moisturizer, but tinted foundation primer. I don't care--I use it in place of the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer I was using, and I love it. Same light coverage and SPF protection, much less greasy feel and matte finish. Assuming it doesn't start making me break out, I plan to use this all summer.

Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Flawless Definition Waterproof Mascara

I've had Bare Escentuals mascara recommended before, and I thought that meant Buxom Lash, which I tried and was meh about. Turns out, it meant this stuff, and this stuff is awesome. The fine-tooth comb type brush gets all my lashes, it looks natural and not clumpy, and it lasts all day and stays in place, even with allergies. Total win.

Sephora Collection Jumbo Liner 12HR Wear Waterproof

I am a huge lover of chunky eyeliner pencils. I use them the same way I would a skinny pencil on my top lid, and I get a thick line--something between liner and shadow. It's my favorite every day eye makeup. I've tried lots of them, and loved some more than others (still really dig Sue Devitt). This waterproof one from Sephora's house line? Freaking awesome. Glides on easy, stays on ALL day (through the gym and everything), comes in great colors (I have marine and purple), and only $10 each!

Smashbox High Lights Creamy Cheek Color in Golden Blossom

I'll admit it--I totally bought this just because it was cheap. I like it, though--it's very subtle and gives a nice, casual glow. It's not something I see myself using every day (I avoid cream blush for all-day wear because of my newfound skin oiliness issues), but I think I'll like it a lot this summer for going out in the evening or on the weekends.

Anything you've been digging lately? Don't make it sound TOO enticing--I can't buy anything else until September!

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My Wardrobe Review

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Like this outfit? Wanna see more? Click over to the review!

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Date day: a photo journal

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I'm usually more about words than pictures, but Mark and I had a lovely "date day" on Saturday, and I managed to both bring and use the camera, so I thought I'd make an exception and show you a photo journal.

First, my look for the day. I'm calling it suburban weekend boho:

Suburban boho weekend wear

And now, our day!

Diner breakfast

Nursery

Flowers and chairs

Gerbera daisies

pots

Bird houses--Heider's Country Store

Windows and photo sign--Lucketts

Boxer statue--Lucketts

Red chairs--Lucketts

The menu

Antipasta

Bag of beignets

Crazy misspelled Jesus van

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2011 Goals Check-in #4

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I can tell you before I even begin, it's not gonna be good news this month. But let's see how bad it is:

1. Read 30 books.
I finished one audio book in April, Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman by Leigh Eric Schmidt. If I am counting audiobooks, that brings my 2011 total to 12, so I'm still on track, though progressing more slowly all the time.

2. Get at least one new stamp on my passport.
Not yet.

3. Blog 5 times a week.
22 blog posts in 30 days, so I'm still (barely) good on this one.

4. Journal every day.
This is just not going to happen.

5. Cook dinner at least once a week.
Didn't cook at all.

6. Fully fund my 401k.
Continued my 6% contributions. And I'm missing that 6%, too. Ug.

7. Save $15,000.
Stymied by taxes! Current savings balance: $1,165.72.

8. Excel at my new job.
Things remain good on this front.

9. Make one positive health change per month.
I've lost about 8 lbs in the past month, so I'm doing something right. I also stopped putting cream in my coffee completely, which is a positive change, and one I thought would be a lot harder than it actually has been. I'm still sticking with my gym schedule, too, so I'll call this one a win.

10. Re-institute monthly date night.
Took us until the very last day of the month, but we managed this one this month!

That's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I still see forward momentum. Yay!

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