Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 28: Cash for Clunkers (Sweaters, that is!)

Week 28, Day 2: Work from home day (can you say hangover from Dub Club??) - nothing to report.

Week 28, Day 3: Black Petite Sophisticate dress (purchased at Consignment Store, Clothes Mentor), Christian Louboutin black pumps - yup, took those puppies out for a spin!

Week 28, Day 4: BR short sleeved dress with eyelets at the top that you can't see from the picture, Naughty Monkey shoes

Week 28, Day 5: work from home day, you know the drill

Week 28, Day 6: BR black long sleeve top, BR pin-striped jeans (the only ones that I can wear with flip flops that aren't capris!)

Week 28, Day 6: White House Black Market off the shoulder black top, Gap Jeans, Ridiculously high Aldo wedge espadrilles (not pictured) - they are 5 inches high!

Week 29, Day 1: Gap scoopneck top, Gap Jeans
So, a continuation of low-travel, low stress weeks...I'm loving it! I can tell when I'm not traveling a lot, because I actually make use of my monthly Essence package and make it in regularly for yoga and spinning! Aside from my weekly trip up to Detroit from work, my days have been filled with productivity, cooking in my own kitchen, and breaking in our psycho kitten.
Needless to say, after Dub Club last week, I was very out of it on Monday and spent the day (luckily a light one) trying to get through work. Not really much to report about Monday except that I was in a daze.
Tuesday, I headed up to the office and decided to show off my new shoes - so although I felt ridiculous walking like a runway model around our cubicle city, there was something oddly empowering about wearing those shoes - which is the whole point, right? Even expensive shoes like these, however, do begin to kill your feet after making trips back and forth to the bathroom and printer throughout the day. Given that the bottoms of the shoes are painted red (at least until I scuff all the paint away - where does that paint go, anyway? I didn't see any marks on the concrete as I trollipsed around) I decided to wear what has become my favorite (okay, only) red belt to accent the shoes. The dress was a button down from neck to mid-thigh, so whenever I sat down, the dress would open up pretty much close to an indecent height - which made the heels all that much more empowering :) Luckily, I have a cube and usually have good warning before someone can peer over the walls and observe how short my dress is - and oddly enough, no truckers made any obnoxious honking noises on my drive up to Detroit. Tuesday evening I engaged in my bi-weekly happy hour with my boss and Mike C - so we did the usual eat, gossip, drink thing and then I crashed at Mike and Lyn's - something that I have refrained from doing in awhile as I am trying to get back to my pre-vacationing size so I can start wearing fall clothes again - you know...JEANS - which never feel good after you've been wearing shorts and dresses for 3 months - and even worse if you've grown a couple sizes since the beginning of summer.
Wednesday was another work day in the office, but not all the eventful. I was even able to get back early enough to make dinner and enjoy our patio since the weather was nice. Aside from that, another ho-hum day!
Thursday was a work from home day, and then ended with a night out with Maggie and Jen. We began with yoga and then headed to a local charceuterie joint where we threw back a few cold beers and complimented our manly drinks with some manly food...and, yes, I have gone back to eating meat a little more freely, though I still will choose a seafood or veggie option over a meat one if I have the choice - but how can you resist a homemade chicken sausage?? I really enjoyed our night out last week as we spent some time at a few local spots and really appreciated what our small town has to offer. Earlier that day, as I was dropping yet another load of clothes off at Clothes Mentor, I stopped by a local donut shop to order a few treats, and was again delighted at being able to support a local business...I felt so quaint - like the Barefoot Contessa seems as she drives around in her BMW in the Hamptons hitting up cute little wine shops, stopping by her bakery to pick up some brownies to go with the beachfront picnic that she's putting together for her favorite gay friends - who happent to be grotesquely rich and successful movie producers. Yep, that's me - the Perrysburg Contessa - not! I would like to say, however, that I have made 2 chocolate cakes within a week's time from her cookbook, topped them with flowers, and was feeling somewhat accomplished after creating a relatively eye-catching dessert - and, it of course tasted good because it is an Ina Garten recipe - one that in true Ina Garten fashion, has nothing short of a pound of butter in it.
Friday was again a work from home day and a bit hectic work-wise. But, I proudly tore myself away around 5:30 as we had company coming over for a little pre-party before heading off to the German American festival. It was my friend, Julie's birthday, so we ate the 2nd chocolate cake I made (the first being for Diana during our Dub Club get together), snacked on some crostini & shrimp cocktail, and then hopped in Scott and Maggie's minivan for a party-bus ride to the festival. I was quite impressed with the spectacle of a staged German village being swarmed by drunk midwesterners with their plastic boot glasses hanging around their necks - think amusement park and how you purchase a cup for some ridiculous price ($10) with cheaper re-fills after you buy the "souvenir" glass - an item that will get stored in the depths of your cabinets and only come out when you need to water plants. At one point in the night, someone pointed out the Euro-bubble attraction at the festival - which is a pressurized air-bubble that you crawl into and begin crawling around in order to simulate a hamster wheel. Problem is, the bubble is on water, so no matter how much you try to propel yourself forward, you remain in the same spot, toppling over yourself as you aggressively try to get somewhere. Yes, as stupid as it sounds, Mike and I had a blast doing it! Yoga's got nothing on the Euro-bubble!
Saturday, Mike and I headed down to the Dayton area to partake of a local food & wine festival. We ran into a few other people that we usually see at weekly wine tastings at a liquor store down the street - so we hung out with everyone, had dinner at the Inn that we were staying at, and then headed down the main street to a bar where we saw the best mullet that I've seen in years! The band playing at the bar was a heavy metal tribute band and was actually really good. The lead singer would be classified as your prototypical small town midwestern rocker that never caught a break, and is instead going to small towns to perform back to back gigs and living in his own stardom when drunk townies come up to him and beg him to sing one more Metallica song. Again, like the Euro-bubble, of course we had a blast! How could you not? We ended the night heading into the town square and taking racy pictures with the brass statues - what one of our fellow accomplices called "molesting the statue."
Sunday, I was again out of it - okay, I am beginning to realize that pretty much 1/2 of each of my weeks involves excessive drinking - but I'm not really as bad as it sounds...or maybe I am...perhaps I am something different from a SHOPaholic and the shopping was my way of preventing other addictive behavior...hmmmm...
Speaking of the shopping, however, I did have an almost break in my fast from clothes buying (aside from THE SHOES, of course). I was at Clothes Mentor and saw an adorable green jacket hanging in the New Arrivals section - and even tried it on...luckily my hair looked awful and I was wearing yoga clothes - so the "look" didn't quite come together. The jacket was also a bit wide for my frame and not all that flattering on - so I exercised restraint and said NO! Had I bought it, though, I would have rationalized the purchase by saying that because I got $44 for the clothes I took in, this was still a zero-sum transaction (actually I still would have had money in my pocket). Nonetheless, I resisted and do think that my will power has been quite strengthened by this challenge...and I'm not waning!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week 27: Dwindling Closet!

Week 27, Day 1: Lounging around, no outfit to report

Week 27, Days 2 & 3: Work from home day, no outfit

Week 27, Day 4: Office day - BR black silk tuxedo shirt that ties in back, BR trouser jeans

Week 27, Day 5: Work from home day - nothing to report

Week 27, Day 6: Unknown brand, brown cotton dress with hood & ruched waist, purchased at a local boutique in Perrysburg.

Week 27, Day 7: Unknown brand, black sleeveless shirt with racerback straps that criss-cross in the back, White Ann Taylor Loft trousers (that get another go the next day!)

Week 28, Day 1: BR red halter top, White Ann Taylor Loft trousers (yes, I re-wore them!)
On my second week of low-key lifestyle, I spent most of the week easing back into a more monotonous lifestyle. I worked from home quite a bit last week and headed into the office just for a day for our team's fundraiser bake-off. I brought my white chocolate raspberry bars and won second place for the contribution - probably could have won first if I had made the recipe correctly (accidentally used half the butter required, didn't have almond extract, so I used Frangelico). Nonetheless, it was a success as measured by the empty baking pan that I took home with me.
Friday we went out with Julie (someone I met at Essence), her Swiss hubby, and Lisa (who used to be my partner in shopping crime before this challenge). We went to Vino100, munched on appetizers and food, and enjoyed 3 good bottles of wine. Julie and Marcus then came to our place to meet our newest addition (Pee Wee) and then we called it a relatively tame night.
Saturday we went the Sarah and Dave's to celebrate Dave's speedy attainment of a doctorate (put us all to shame in needing 2 years and 363 days - I took 5 years!). We ate, drank, and mingled, and got home at a relatively decent hour. I donned what is likely my last sleeveless black top - one that I couldn't really wear when I was bloated from all my hedonistic trips, but finally after spending the past couple weeks de-bloating myself, felt comfortable wearing again.
Sunday, my 3rd straight day of socializing, I went to Mechelle's to celebrate Diana's birthday (co-owner of Vino100). Yesterday marked the 1 year anniversary of the DUBs, so in usual DUB fashion, we ladies drank our martinis and wine, snacked on scrumptious food provided by Mechelle and her hubby Pete, and engaged in girl talk. Much of the night is still a little fuzzy for me, as I apparently drank more than I thought (as is evident by my hangover). I crashed at Mechelle's place, and then awoke around 6:30A and headed back home. I announced to the fellow DUBbers that I am now past 6 months of not shopping...we talked of maybe having a big outing when this whole challenge is over...oh boy! Kim asked me if there's anything I have learned from this challenge and I shared about my epiphany of needing to decide on what my "style" is and sticking to it. This will help me avoid impulse purchases and stick with buying articles of clothing that will complement my wardrobe. Whereas I used to go out and drop $50 on a shirt that I "had to have" for some outing that I had planned that day or weekend, I can now say with confidence that I'll be thinking twice before plopping down the credit card and will make take a mental spin through my closet before I make the purchase. Who knows how long that will last!
On Friday, I dropped some clothes off at Clothes Mentor (a consignment shop) and made $50. It's sad, but many of the things that I took in were only purchased a year or two ago - but now no longer "look right" on me are have been classified in my mind as out of style. It feels really good to clean out your closet and to even get something back for things that would otherwise just hang there and accumulate dust. Overall, I have made about $100 back in clothing that I no longer plan to wear - not too shabby - it pays for 1/6th of my Louboutin shoes!
Speaking of my Louboutin's, I have made a mini-shrine for these prized possessions and have displayed them on the shoebox they came in atop the shelf of my closet. Thus, walking into my closet each morning, I am reminded of my beauties and how it's important to start investing in quality, not quantity! It's also not hard to spot these shoes, as my "not yet worn" wardrobe could now be classified as sparse - where there are more empty hangers than used hangers, and the number of unworn tops total less than 10. I've also decided to not wear something for the sake of wearing it, and if I really don't like it anymore, to place it in the Clothes Mentor-bound box. I'm hoping to score at least another $50 during my next there is a Coach bag in the mix that the lady at the store told me to clean and bring back, and could guarantee that I'd get $15 for it. Now, the question is, what do I do with the money I get for my unwanted clothing? Hmmm...maybe save it up and buy myself a Louis Vuitton bag when this challenge is over? Tempting!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Week 26: Back to home life!

Week 26, Day 2: Limited black camisole, Yellow Ann Taylor Loft pants

Week 26, Day 3: BR Pink Tee, Old Navy khaki capris, Unknown brand pink patterned belt

Week 26, Day 4: Ann Taylor Loft khaki shirt dress, faux fur red belt

Week 26, Day 5: Work from home day

Week 26, Day 6: Forever 21 denim one-piece short-sleeved, button-down, jumper

Week 26, Day 7: Patagonia orange halter tie-back dress

My first full week of being home since June! This week (Monday) began with a visit from Mike's brother and girlfriend (Dave and Tara) driving in from Peoria with a stop in Chicago. I knew that our kitty, Peewee, would be a hit with Tara...and she was :) Mike's aunt and uncle also joined us for what was meant to be grilling out, but a cloudburst ruined that idea so we spent the evening enjoying dinner inside. It was nice to cook a meal at home and begin my slight detox from the previous week in Vegas (yes, clothes are once again tight!).

Tuesday was a work from home day and involved running a few errands as well - which is why I got dressed. Nothing more to report there!

Wednesday, I headed into the office and then went out with my HEL-NO girls (Kate, Kelly, and Lyn). We met up for Happy Hour at a wine bar near work, enjoyed a couple half price glasses of wine and small plates, and then headed out to wander down the street before calling it a relatively tame and early night. I headed home (rather than crashing at the Cummins') as I wanted to be home with my little kitty and continue to dwell in being home after what seemed like an over-indulgent July.

Thursday was another work from home day, so not much to report there in terms of clothing. I caught a late afternoon yoga class, and then engaged in what is becoming a bit of a traditional Thursday night - heading over to Jen's place to enjoy her awesome vegetable farm share that we use portions of to make dinner that we enjoy with a couple bottles of wine. We made some great vegetable side dishes that all came together to serve a nice, light, and satisfying meal. I brought over an angel food cake, macerated strawberries with a bit of orange liquer, and home made whipped cream (can you tell that I'm watching Top Chef as I type this blog??).

My workload on Friday was relatively light, so I decided to take advantage of the 1/2 days that my company offers during the summer and booked an appointment with my favorite massage therapist - was, as usual, relaxing and a great start to the weekend. That night, the BG gang - a group that has not been together alone in quite some time - got together to go wine tasting and then grab dinner. What I thought for sure would be a bender turned out to be a relatively low-key night. My outfit for that night was something I pulled out from the closet upstairs earlier in the week...something I bought last year inspired by an outfit that Gillian wore on the Bachelorette...and was thrilled to find at Forever 21. I've only worn it once - probably because it's a jumper and is a pain to get on and off when I need to use the restroom. Needless to say, I paid particular attention to my water and wine intake that night so as to avoid the awkward shimmy I have to do to wiggle out of the one-piece.

Saturday morning, I returned to my regular workout routine and then stayed at home awaiting the Best Buy delivery guy to come install our new washer (the old one broke down last week). Unfortunately, the window they communicated to us came and went, so we were without a washer, and now my hubby was experiencing the same thing I've been going through for the past 6 months, dwindling clothing options! Saturday evening we accompanied Sarah and Dave to a fundraiser called "Barefoot on the Beach" which was an impressive event. The coordinators managed to take the Maumee Bay state park (a beach by the bay) and transform it into a tropical/beachy environ that at times (and with a couple glasses of wine) made you forget that you were in the Toledo vicinity. The food, catered by local restaurants, was delicious and delivered in the form of small plates...I, of course, relaxed my no-meat eating rule, as there were too many yummy meat options to pass up - my favorite was a homemade jalapeno sausage with some kind of creamy chive sauce and fried onion strings from a local beer and brat joint called Swig (Jen will be happy to see this). After making the drive back to our place, Sarah and Dave shared another glass of wine with us and we then called it a relatively early night (midnight-ish).

So, an update on the clothing front...I spent Sunday finally sorting through my "worn" pile and hanging it upstairs in our guest bedroom closet. I have now officially stuffed on of the closets to the point that there is no room for anymore hangers. Also, my "reserve" closet from upstairs, where I keep my off-season clothing is pretty much depleted. I also took some time to iron and fold the clothes that I want to take to the consignment shop - so I'll be ready for a trip to the store and then the Good Will next weekend. There's something oddly satisfying about getting rid of clothes and simplifying it. If there's one thing that I've learned from this challenge, it's the fact that many of the things I end up getting rid of were bought on a whim without much reflection on how that item would work with the rest of my wardrobe. So, instead of buying something trendy and that I'll wear for "that event," I definitely think my shopping mentality will focus more on classic pieces that will complement my wardrobe, not further complicate it! We shall see - the first day back at a store will be very telling!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Week 26: Just a "regular" weekend - HOORAY!

Week 25: Day 6: Red BR empire seam top, Old Navy capri jeans

Week 25, Day 7: Ann Taylor Loft denim-looking halter sundress

Week 26, Day 1: Anthropologie cap-sleeved empire waist patterned top (can you say, totally unflattering?), Forever 21 denim capris
Well, after Vegas and a work from home week, my life is finally approaching normalcy again...who would have thought that vacationing could take so much out of you?
After returning from our red-eye flight back from Vegas on Wednesday morning, I got through the workday as best I could, and then got an email from Mike titled "they close at 7pm" with a link to in the body. So, I blew off my cycle/pilates class (was too tired anyway) and headed down to the Wood County Humane Society to pick out our newest family member. Anyone who loves pets and has a bleeding heart for anything furry, take cover, because what I am about to describe may send you rushing to your local shelter in an attempt to adopt as many furry creatures as you can fit in your car (or legally house). I entered the shelter and took a right to go into the "cat room" and was immediately overwhelmed with the number of felines inhabiting about a 20 x 10 foot space. There were cages filled with kittens, older cats perched on the window ledges, cats walking around, cats doing business, cats taking naps in kitty condos, and cats putting on their best show for a potential new owner. There were tabby cats, black cats, himilayan cats, earless cats, 3-legged cats, cats that had inner-ear imbalance and walked like they were drunk (that one was appropriately named Tipsy). Mike and I were committed to taking home a kitten (as I've never had the pleasure) and decided on a tiny black cat named "Ursa" who mistakenly was placed back in a cage where "certified" cats were ready to be taken home. Luckily, this little girl was only a day away from having her tests done, so we made a plan for Mike to return the next day to pick her up. We are "fostering" this kitten until she is large enough to fix (she's currently 1.6 lbs) and then we can decide if we want to keep her. IF???? There is no way in hell that I am returning this darling little cat. It's almost as if the cat gods knew that Mike and I were deprived of love and put all the lap-sitting behavior that we've so been longing for into this 1.6 lb. mini. We've decided to name her Pee Wee - as she is so unbelieveably small that no other name seems to suit her (and Squirt is already taken by our other cat). So, needless to say, since Thursday, my thoughts have been consumed with our new addition - not just because I love cats, but because she loves humans so much that she cries when she's not sitting in a lap or at least being held by someone.
Friday we began resuming normal "weekend" activities in Toledo by going to a wine tasting with our neighbors, Cathy and Dave, and then breaking in their new back deck by drinking really strong forms of alcohol - Slivovitz (a Slovenian liqeuer) and Calvados (some form of Apple Brandy).
Saturday we headed up to Detroit to have what has become a bi-monthly wine club meeting with my boss, Kim and her husband Harvey and Mike and Lyn Cummins. We hit up a casual small plates restaurant (which was phenomenal!) and then headed back to Mike's to chill. Mike convinced us to head down to his basement to watch an HBO concert that he recorded that had the most amazing line-up of performers - one that put Live Aid and Band Aid to shame! Sting, the Boss, Bono, Mick Jagger, the Black Eyed Peas, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Jackson Brown, Metallica, and on and on! It was pretty awesome watching in Mike's surround sound ampitheatre throwing our arms up with the bobbing ass-rock maneuver. Wine also helped get us into the head-banging spirit!
Sunday, Mike and I went to an International Festival and a mosque that is down the street from us. It was our first time visiting the site and was a real treat...the food was amazing (and cheap!) and having a chance to learn more about the Muslim tradition was really enlightening. Our tour guide was a sweetheart of a man and clearly enjoyed educating otherwise ignorant Americans about the fact that the Islamic religion is not scary, nor hateful, nor anymore radical than any other religion. I'm sure if Buddhist zealots flew planes into the World Trade Center, we'd have similar perspectives on visiting monasteries...
On the clothing front, I am proud to announce that the drawer that holds my casual summer shirts is down to 3 items. I still have a few work clothes to churn through, but I do think that this challenge of seeing how long I can go without re-wearing something again will end in the next month. So, as much as I thought I could go a full year, turns out that that will likely not be the case!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weeks 25: Vegas and After

Week 24, Day 6: White BR tee, BR trouser jeans

Week 24, Day 7: Burgundy BR cami, White Old Navy skirt

Week 25, Day 1: Old Navy peach flower camisole with tie in back, Ann Taylor Loft demim skirt

Week 25, Day 1 Evening Outfit: Purple Halter (designed by Chloe, Season 2 Project Runway winner), BR grey A-line skirt, Christin Louboutin black 100's pumps

Week 25, Day 2 Outfit (re-enacted at home): Green Forever 21 halter, Gap yellow skirt

Week 25, Day 2 Outfit (Evening - again re-enacted at home): Express strapless lacy black top, BR Trouser Jeans

Week 25, Day 3 Outfit (also re-enacted at home): Black Gap Camisole, Old Navy Khaki Linen Shorts, Red Faux Fur belt from Uniqlo
I have somehow managed to get off my weeks, the week of 7/25, (according to my calender) should be week I'm correcting this in my blog...not that it matters too much as week 24 was pretty much a work from home week, with very little wearing of something different in my wardrobe...except on the last 2 days whic (work was pretty insane with a ton of web-based meetings, some of which required 6AM delivery, therefore the working from home!).
Sooooo...Vegas, baby, Vegas! Yes, as you can imagine, it was a action-packed trip - so action packed that the days started bleeding together - I guess there's nothing more to expect when your days are comprised of eating, drinking, laying by the pool, a little bit of gambling, drinking, and then eating! We hit up a lot of great restaurants (many of whom were selected based on the Chef Owners' appearances on Food Network or Top Chef). We also hit up a variety of bars in various casinos - Tao at the Venetian, Rhumbar at the Mirage - and also managed to catch a comedy show at Planet Hollywood and a magic show the last day of our stay at Harrah's. Filling our time between casino visits was a good amount of pool time - which was heavenly after a couple hectic weeks of work. Needless to say, getting into the french bikini Mike bought for me in South Beach required more and more disregard for self-consciousness - especially after all the meals and cocktails starting taking their toll on my waistline - as I'm sure is evident in my pictures.
We did not have any celebrity sightings, except at one seedy establishment where Mike and Scott, after chatting with a really large looking dude, discovered that he used to play for the Cleveland Browns. I would imagine that the fact that we were all getting to bed by 11pm each night greatly hurt our chances of running into the rich and famous - especially since they are usually found after midnight at some swanky club that by that hour, is impossible to get into.
As you can see from the pictures above, I found Vegas to be the perfect occassion to break in my Christian Louboutins. I (thankfully) had the smarts to pack a pair of flat shoes for my outfit that night as strutting around in 4 inch heels as we walked up and down the strip and through the enormous casinos to get to our restaurant or venue was going to severely slow everything down, and would have likely left me with amputated feet. I must say, however, that given that these shoes are 4 inches tall, they are reasonable comfortable - they better be after dropping that many Ben Franklins on them!
Abstaining from shopping was not at all hard while in Vegas, mainly because the people I was with had absolutely no interest in going to shopping malls. I did need to buy a special undergarment for the purple shirt I wore one of the nights out, but aside from that, did not purchase a single article of clothing. However, considering the other challenge that I am undergoing - which is to not re-wear anything until I have exhausted my closet, really did cramp my style and left me feeling "frumpy" for pretty much the entire trip. I have already filled the billowy skirts that I wore during the days (which were good for the heat) into the "donate" pile of my "worn clothing" closet section. I am definitely scraping the barrel now with my clothing, and either good or bad, many of the things I am "forced" to wear are going to be worn for their last time - at least by me. Being in a city where you see so many well-dressed people, and then catching a glimpse of your bloated self (after the food and alcohol) wearing something that makes you look even more bloated, is a real doozy on your self-esteem and makes you long for the days when you looked fabulous. I cannot wait for my closet to reach the point of exhaustion - and I have come to realize that this challenge is really helping me identify what my "style" is, and to eradicate from my precious closet real estate, clothes that make me feel less than fabulous!