"now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
- guillaume appollinaire 


welcome to fall. now, let's play dress-up.

it's officially fall as of 5:04am today! happy happy happy day! the solstice, cooler temps and the leaves may be right on time, but i'm still a little behind on my fall home decorating and supplementing my wardrobe. my kitchen table is scattered with my box of fall decor and my closet is still full of summer. as i'm still unemployed (gah), my list of things-to-buy for autumn is pretty abbreviated. i honestly have a pretty huge selection of fall goodness stuffed in the back of my closet already, so i really only need a few fun updates to be right on target. here are my top ten must-haves in no particular order:

1. cable knee (preferably over-the-knee) socks in ivory, brown and gray: i love this look and rocked it yesterday, actually, with my one pair of not-very-cool tall socks. i definitely want to make it a more regular occurence. it's surprisingly flattering.

2. sage/olive green textured tights: i'm not personally in to the bright HI I'M WEARING COLORED TIGHTS! look. this, instead, is subtle and extremely cool.

3. mustard a-line skirt: i haven't been able to find a reasonable skirt that fits my specifications, which means that i will probably be sewing one very soon. unfortunately it will not have these pretty modcloth pleats, but it will still look excellent with virtually my entire fall wardrobe.

4. neutral booties: we all know how this search is going. not well.

5. black cigarette pants: forever 21 used to have the best fitting pair for like $12. where did they go!? i also want a few pairs of the minnie pant, or a similar (cheaper) replacement.

6. target striped shirt: every time i've been to target lately, i've picked up this shirt. i don't need another striped shirt. i have no job. but lordy if i don't want it. i love the color and the little gold sprinkle of sequins on the shoulders hints that you've just been to a fabulous party with lots of confetti. i see a lot of great outfit options here, many of which include a skinny belt. 

7. long black winter gloves: this summer, i bought two coats at the goodwill. one, a fantastic vintage black swing coat with tortoiseshell buttons and a mink collar. the second, an eggplant-colored car coat with a faux fur collar and black jeweled buttons. both need an excellent pair of black elbow-length winter gloves.

8. tribal-inspired bone necklace: love this one from la garconne, but, you know. it's $246. no, thank you. i will find a cheaper one sooner or later.

9. red trousers: i find it interesting that i like these pants so much. i don't really do a lot of bright colors and i don't really love red anywhere but my lips or my fingernails. but every time i walk by express lately, i stop to admire these trousers. i want to wear them with a wrinkled white button down, some major leopard pumps, a whole mess of gold bracelets and some bold black liquid eyeliner.

10. navy checked button down shirt: this kills me. in college, i had this shirt. but then i got rid of it. this is why i don't clean out my closet. because i always end up wanting things again. i will continue to scour the goodwill racks until i find a sufficient replacement. it will look super tucked in with my skinnys, some over-the-knee boots and aforementioned socks, a wide belt and a bunch of messy chunky jewelry.

in addition to what i want, i have already acquired and/or rediscovered quite a few things that have strongly influenced my fall outfit plans. you're dying to know, right? i know.

1. slouchy gray cardigans: i have two. they resemble the one above and literally go with everything, including my pajamas.

2. poncho: is it a sweater? is it a blanket? who's to say? i've decided that these are cool again. i have two, neither of which i have worn yet, and one of which i plan to dye a cool color. i love them and their slouchy-ness. i'm also seriously considering picking this ruana (which i lump in the poncho category) up at target.

3. feather earrings: honestly, i think the feather hair extensions are getting a bit out of control. every other eight year old has a pink or a blue one; and for those of us that are on the job hunt, somehow a feather just doesn't really say "hi, i'm a professional".  unless you are interviewing for a job as pocahontas, in which case i highly recommend the poncho as well. the solution? feather earrings. they aren't permanent and somehow i like them better. i picked up two very subtle, yet very cool pairs at the mighty dollar this past weekend. meaning each pair only cost $1. i have already gotten my money's worth out of them and i am just getting started.

4. oatmeal suede over-the-knee boots: these have already received their own blog post, and i think it's clear how much i love them. lucky's fall shoe guide also said stacked heel boots are in. holler.

5. stacked bracelets: my bracelets lately have been out. of. control. i used to be a jewelry minimalist aside from my giant men's watch, but lately, the more of everything the better. i'm pretty sure this is a man-repeller trend, as at least four that i can think of have ridiculed my bangled wrists within the last month, but i love them and i can't stop buying or layering.

6. cross-body bags: a few months ago, my friend ashley saw that i was scoping out the vintage coach bags while antique shopping, was kind enough to acquire her mom's old coach bags that were no longer wanted, and gave me an excellent navy willis bag (above) with a cross-body strap. i was instantly in love and then even more so when i discovered that the exact same bag had recently been re-released with coach's classics collection. i'm so fortunate to have such thoughtful, stylish friends with stylish mothers who like to keep their coach collection up to date. i've also recently discovered that two of my more slouchy shoulder bags can easily be converted to cross-body. i love it when that happens.

and, finally, the onset of cooler temperatures makes me excited to wear make-up and style my hair again. it hasn't been too pretty this summer, but i'm really excited about some of my current beauty obsessions and i think they're definitely shaping my overall fall look...

1. liquid eyeliner: ive been wanting to try this ever since i saw these models in the banana republic mad men collection, but i'll admit, i was scared. i'd never used liquid. that is, until blair demonstrated how awesome and easy it really is. i grabbed a $1 elf tube at target for practice and i am completely hooked. i thought a bold black line might look harsh on my fair features, but my eyes have never looked so bright or defined. i'm completely hooked and i can't wait to check out some other colors.

2. red and gray nails: in the past, i've been a neutral nail gal, but lately i'm really loving reds, deep purpley reds and most recently, gray nails. i always swore i'd never wear anything that wasn't in the pink or red family, but lacey bought me a bottle and gray is actually really cool, sophisticated and surprisingly flattering on my skin tone.

3. dark lipstick (deep red and plum): again, aside from dance recitals, i've always shied away from bold lips, scared that i would look overdone or, worse, like a character from twilight. and again, i was wrong. i can't stop wearing deep red and a dark, brownish-plum color. they brighten up my entire face and i can minimalize the rest of my make-up, therefore streamlining the process and saving precious minutes. i'm also surprised at how sophisticated and pretty i feel with such dark lips.

4. hot rollers: remember when i hot rolled my hair in the eighth grade for school pictures? oh, wait. you wouldn't remember that because i've hidden every possible photo in hopes that no one would see my out-of-control tresses or my sunflower jumper. back then, before i discovered a blow dryer and smoothing creme, it was not cute. but i have lately rediscovered my same set of rollers from the eighth grade and am loving it. my hair holds the curl well, preventing me from having to wash it for days on end, and it's just the perfect amount of undone tousle that no longer resembles the contestants on toddlers in tiaras.

i think the best part about the cooler months for me is feeling inspired again. it is so much fun to play with my clothes, make-up and hair and actually feel pretty when i leave the house; which is something that never happens in the summer when i'm sweaty, stinky, and generally angry. reading blogs, magazines and observing stylish women pushes me to try new things and take a step out of my comfort zone, which is something that i never used to do when i was less confident prior to my twenties. i love that my look is constantly evolving and that taking risks beauty and fashion-wise often gives me more confidence and opens the door to new things that i had no idea i'd like so much. it's fun being surprised like that and of course, it's fun finding a look that is my own and staying true to what makes me feel wonderful. now, go buy something new for yourself and celebrate fall!

images: 1.weheartit 2.threadsence 3.peruvianconnection 4.modcloth 5.target 6.lagarconne 7.express 8.jcrew 9.kendieveryday 10.smartset 11.carolinesmode 12.threadsence 13.atlantic-pacific 14.coach
15.sea-change 16.google 17.pinterest 18.brooklynblonde


this school house rocks

this morning, i locked myself out of the house. in the rain. in my pj's. with no shoes. or coffee. it was not a good way to start the day. when i finally made it back in the house and managed to get some of my morning agenda complete, i switched on the nate berkus show while i ate my lunch. i was never a huge oprah fan. i can't stand dr. phil. but goodness if i don't love some nate berkus. i recognize that nate likes boys and my feelings towards him are not mutal, but that doesn't change the way i feel. he is a stylish, talented, beautiful man. today he showed a cottage in the catskills that used to be a one room school house and had been made over into a tiny 800 square foot home. it's a little more colorful than i would choose for my own home, but that doesn't mean i don't think it is about the cutest little house in the history of the world (besides mine, of course), and i just had to share.

can't get enough? watch the video for a lot more school house loveliness!

all images via thenateshow


wake-up call

this poem is probably my favorite of all the poems i've managed to read in my life (probably very few compared to all those sitting on library shelves and in anthologies everywhere). i actually cried the first time i read it because i feel like it perfectly captures life and the inescapable passage of time. in every experience i feel like there's something we'll miss. a little part of ourselves that is left behind in a specific moment as we move forward and take only the memory of the experience with us. but at the same time, the opportunity to live those experiences is worth the pain of leaving them behind. enjoy...

wake-up call

The water is slapping wake up, wake up, against the boat
chugging away from Venice, infinite essence
of what must end because it is beautiful,

Venice that shrinks to a bobbing, pungent postcard
and then to nothing at all as the automatic
doors at the airport obligingly shut behind you.

Re-enter a world where everything is the same,
where you’ve gone slack again, and don’t even know it,
so unaware that you actually shrug to yourself,

I’ll be back, and yes, for some lucky stiffs it’s true,
sometimes it’s you, you’re sure to get more chances
at Venice, and Paris, and that blessed, unmarked place

where you sat on a bench and he kissed you that first time,
so many kisses, you hoped he would never stop,
you can hope, at least, not ever to forget it,

or forget how your babies, latching onto your breast,
would roll up their eyes in an ecstasy that was comic
in its seriousness, though your joy was no less grave,

but you’re not going back to so much, and more and more,
the more you live there’s more not to go back to,
and what you demand in your gratitude and greed

is more life in which to get so attached to something,
someone or someplace, you’re sure you’ll die right then
when you can’t have it back, something you don’t even know

the name of now, but will be yours before receding
as an indispensable ache; what you’re saying
is Lord, surprise me with even more to miss.

- mary jo salter

image via maryjanes and galoshes

bootie bootie bootie bootie rocking everywhere

apparently finding the perfect neutral fall bootie is harder than it sounds. ive done laps at the mall. been to every tjmaxx in the area. surfed every website i can think of. tried on every "it's sort of what i'm looking for, but not quite" bootie i've found. with no luck. the cole haan boot pictured above is the goal. unfortunately cole haan does not really price booties in the affordable range. here are the criteria:

1. must be somewhere in the mid-brown to greige/nude color family.
2. must not have an insanely high heel. but also not a short heel. because booties suddenly become very awkward looking when the heel is too short.
3. must be funky enough to wear with cool dresses and skinny jeans on the weekend, but equally sophisticated enough to wear with a pencil skirt and blouse to the office (when i someday actually have one to go to). i've had no trouble finding cool funky booties. it's the more sleek, professional element that is difficult.
4. the toe of said bootie must not be too round. anything rounder than an almond toe looks extremely strange. also stacked platform toes look strange. case in point? these target booties. they look so weird on my feet. i'm also not too excited about the idea of peep-toes.
5. the height of the boot must be flattering. my black booties surprisingly, though they hit right above my ankle bone, look awesome with bare legs and i would like my new bootie to do the same. 
6. i'm almost 100% sure that laces are not what i'm going for. i understand and respect the grandma bootie/oxford bootie, but it's not really what i'm looking for. a zipper, however, is acceptable.
7. must be approximately $50 or less.

okay so, um, perhaps i'm a little picky. i'll admit it. you have to be picky when you're cheap. there are plenty of $150-and-up options that are awesome. it's the lower price ranges that are the most difficult. i tend to wear shoes out pretty quickly, so i try not to spend a fortune on them. this style is a little too trendy and not classic enough to splurge on. im also blown away at how many red and blue booties there are in the world. seriously? you'd think some fairly basic neutral booties wouldn't be that hard to find in comparison. and so the hunt continues. here are a few maybes:

the forever 21 suedette ankle boots. i feel like while these meet the price and color requirements, something about them looks odd. they look too oblong, maybe? or the heel is too short? would my feet look ginormous in these? i actually tried on a wedge pair of booties at forever 21 last weekend and i loved them, but they didn't have my size and they are not online. frustrating.

the gap leather ankle boots. i think these are gorgeous. they are a little higher up on the ankle than i would prefer, so i'm not sure how they would look with bare legs, but i think they could work. if gap decides to pull a banana republic and send me a 40% off coupon, these would then be in the correct price range and i may order them to check it out.

the nine west francesca bootie. love everything about these. except that my former nine west boots fell apart in less than one season and these just slightly exceed my price range.

the steve madden p-zesst ankle boots. i think the name of these is half the reason i like them. these are a pretty strong contender at the moment. i love the chunky-ness and think that would incidentally slim my leg a bit. i'm just slightly unsure about the color - are they almost too neutral?

and, a few thoughts to close this post:
1. what in the world is a shootie? and how does it compare to a bootie? because they look exactly the same to me.

2. there are a lot of really ugly shoes in the world. like these. what the hell?

3. when i am employed again and when they go on sale, i also really want these for weekends. aren't they they cutest? i'm obsessed.

so what are you thinking? what of my criteria (besides the general price range) should be most important?  i would love advice and input (or other suggestions) as i work toward this (obviously) very important fashion decision!


if i had an extra $500...

i might actually consider buying this dress, by gryphon new york. is it not the most gorgeous thing ever? naturally, i think that price for a dress is remarkably ridiculous, but when i saw it in september's lucky magazine, i think my heart skipped a beat.

images via nordstrom


hello, hillsville!

two weeks ago, my friend lindsey lee invited me to join her, her sister, leann, and her mom, robin, on their annual trip to the hillsville, virginia labor day flea market. if you have never visited this event, allow me to attempt to describe it to you. it's like a trip to the county fair combined with every yard sale you've ever visited, combined with a trip to your favorite antique mall, combined with a trip to the junk yard, combined with a trip to the campground, combined with a trip to the local family dollar. all stuck in the middle of the most podunk town in the the appalachian foothills. and then there are the guns. not only is this the most insanely large flea market i've ever seen (there was field after field of tents and booths) but it's also a gun show. that's right, folks. you can buy depression glass, period furniture, estate jewelry, every fried food in the book and semi-automatic weapons at this flea market. and not just semi-automatic weapons, but shot guns, pistols, ammo, and everything else that's gun related that i don't know the name of. i've never seen so many nra-loving republican southerners, mountain people and bargain shoppers in one place. there was literally something for everyone. i'm not entirely sure that combining guns with overly assertive deal-hungry people like lindsey, her mom, sister and i is a good idea, but who am i to say?

starting our loooooong day of shopping

so let's talk about hillsville with lindsey lee. three days in advance, i received an email from her outlining every detail of the day and the ways in which i could be best prepared. i was instructed to wear sunscreen, tennis shoes, a hat, sunglasses and i was told i was not allowed to bring a purse, as it was imperative that my hands be free. i was told to make a detailed list of the items for which i was looking so that i could best focus my energy, and that i needed to begin brainstorming the "card" i would play in order to receive the best price while haggling. lindsey's card was "it's for my new baby's room". leann's card was "it's for my first home with my new husband". i never really came up with a card, although "it's for my sanity because i have no job, no husband and no baby" might have evoked some sympathy? card or no card, we shopped and we shopped and we shopped. we shopped until every time lindsey stopped walking i searched for the nearest place to sit down and rest my tired feet (i wore chacos and definitely should have taken lindsey's advice on the tennis shoes. my feet were not. happy.) i left my house at 6:15am and returned home at 9:30pm. minus an hour for lunch and the time it took to drive there (about four hours total) in our giant four door chevy pick-up, we shopped the entire time. and i'd say we only saw about one third of all the booths that were there. this is no joke, people. bargain shopping at its most intense. i assumed that because lindsey was pregnant that i would certainly outlast her shopping stamina, but i was so wrong. lindsey, her mom and leann have more endurance than anyone i've ever met. not thunderstorms, not pregnancy, not intense heat and not one million rednecks talking about their guns stopped us, and it was a seriously great day.

approximately 1/16 of the flea market. seriously.

we started the morning with as many empty bags as we could carry, and we filled them all up. the empty pull-behind cart (named bertha and monogrammed because we're so classy) seemed rather cumbersome when we were starting out, so robin managed to attach it to her backpack. it was a storage device and a way to deter other shoppers who don't understand the meaning of personal space.

our first stop was this amazing linen booth that sold the most beautiful quilts, duvets, pillow shams, bed skirts, etc. and all at amazing prices. we all went a little crazy here. more on this later.

there were so many gorgeous shiny brite ornaments, and i wanted them all.

what's that you say? you want to buy an entire cemetery's worth of plastic flowers? well, you came to the right place. remember when i said there's something for everyone? i wasn't kidding.

i got really excited about these three tables full of jumbled jewelry and baubles. unfortunately, however, i couldn't find the match for the awesome vintage leopard print shoe clip that i found. 

this booth was really cool and the people were really nice. except all of their cool vintage clothes still had the goodwill tags on them. it's hard to get excited about paying $22 for a vintage dress that i know cost $4.99. removing the tags may have been a wise marketing strategy. just saying. 

a very nice gun-happy group was handing out these stickers. i figured with so many guns and sarah palin lovers floating around, it was safest to just appear to be one of them, so i wore it proudly all day. i have an opinion on almost everything, but i'm not sure i feel strongly one way or another regarding gun control. if i had a quarter for every old man that told me he liked my sticker, however, i could have bought a lot more stuff. liam ate this sticker (and by ate it, i mean chewed it up and ate it) when i got home. i guess we know how he feels. 

this was my favorite booth - the "carry chic" tent -  stocking all of your stylish gun concealment needs. that banner, in case you can't read it, says "defend yourself...in style." and just when i thought my pink pistol wasn't going to fit in my evening clutch.

at about 4:00, we were hit with a pretty decent thunderstorm. did i mention that lindsey also bought vintage boat oars for baby boy's nautical nursery? and that she carried them through the pouring rain? the "now all you need is a boat" jokes from passerby were a little out of control.

robin bought us some excellent ponchos at cvs so that we could continue shopping despite the storm. this is the first time i have ever worn a poncho and it was one part awesome and one part what i would imagine the wrestling team in college experienced when they were trying to drop a weight class in the gym.

aaaaaannnnd my very favorite photo of the day. these kind hillsville residents were willing to let you park in their yard for $5. they even made their own sign. we discussed what "come in own your own" meant until i realized it was redneck speak for "on your own". could anything epitomize this experience more adequately? i don't think so.

and i'm sure you're wondering about my great deals? prices at a lot of the booths were higher than than i was willing to pay. i'm a fan of yard sale pricing, not fancy antique pricing, but the flea market was large enough that there was something for everyone. i didn't get too much, just because my house is overflowing with good deals, but the things i did score were excellent. lindsey and her family, on the other hand, bought so many great things that we filled up the bed of our pick-up truck, as well as the cab. i can't wait to go back in the future when i have a job and a larger place to fill with unique vintage treasures. and tennis shoes.

milk glass pedestal bowls. most of the booths priced them around $20-25. these cost $2 and $3 and i looooove them.

vintage flower earrings, $1, and vintage flower bracelet (my favorite thing that i bought - so anthro and so much prettier in person), $2. 

 remember the linen booth i mentioned? i bought these excellent pillow shams (four total) for $1 each. i also bought my mom several other varieties, all $1 and all top brands. i plan to make them in to couch pillow shams instead of bed pillow shams, which should look great on my couch for fall.

and finally, while i didn't take a photo of it, i bought this full/queen nautica clearwater duvet, sold in stores for $160, for $4 at the linen booth. i don't have any need for a duvet, but i loved it so much and i'm pretty sure i'll never find another brand new duvet that i love so much for $4. i'll probably rotate it into my bedding for fall. isn't it gorgeous?

oh, and i almost forgot. the hot, fresh, made-from-scratch mennonite doughnut that was the size of my head. this was dinner on the ride home and i don't think i've ever enjoyed a doughnut quite as much as i did this one. it was a perfect end to an exhausting but excellent day of bargain hunting with friends.

robin, lindsey and leann, i know i fell asleep sitting straight up with my head tipped forward on the way home and in joe's words "looked seriously worn out" when we got home, but i had a great time - thank you so much for inviting me! 

 bedding image via the home decorating company