Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Bit of Cheer!


I am still in the process of studying for my huge exam on Saturday, but I wanted to share with you a song that's been on repeat on my iPod this week.  It has a great study beat, positive words, and the singer (Brooke Fraser) has a soothing voice- thus, this is a wonderful study song.


P.S. For those of you who listen to Hillsong, you may recognize her voice!  She sings and writes songs for Hillsong :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Hello Readers and Fellow Bloggers,

Next Saturday I am taking my comprehensive exams for my master's program.  In order to graduate, I need to pass these exams.  So, during this time I will be taking a break from blogging to focus on my studies.

But don't worry- I'll be back after April 2nd!

Until then, feel free to look at my previous posts.  I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and a wonderful week!



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Words and Watercolors

Hello Readers!

What a day Wednesday was! Wednesdays are notorious for being difficult, and while this one wasn't the most difficult it was certainly a challenge.  I slept in past my first two alarms on my phone, a student fell asleep in my second class at the end of the lecture (but it was funny and the student sincerely apologized), I was stressed out about my upcoming comprehensive exams, and the power went out on campus everywhere but the library where I was studying.

But. . . the sun was shining, the weather was warm, and I was able to wear a dress that I purchased at the end of last spring that's been waiting to be worn.  A dress with colors that signal the start of spring and a tailored look that makes me feel ready for the stress of this point in the semester.

On days like Wednesday, a boost of confidence or inspiration can really make my attitude better throughout the day.  Sometimes this happens through wearing an outfit that makes me feel better about the day, receiving a kind word from a friend, reading a Bible verse or a quote that touches my heart, watching a beautiful sunset. . . you get the picture- these boosts occur in many fashions and when they occur I am grateful for how they infuse my day with positivity and endurance.

On Wednesday, these boosts made their appearance in 2 ways: (1) a package I found in my mailbox from a source yet to be revealed with kind words and sweet treats and (2) the dress I wore. Here are my boosts:

Boost #1 (Sweet things from a sweet-but anonymous- friend)

Boost #2 (Watercolor Dress)

I wanted to post in the window. . . but the dress proved to be a bit too slippery.

Slip and Slide!

Here we go! Now I look relaxed and confident

Retail Details:
Light Brown Glasses: Chaps (these are my spares- I hardly ever wear them)
White, Purple, and Grey Sheath Dress: Ann Taylor
Brown Woven Belt: Anthropologie
Greyish-Brownish Tights: Aerie
Neutral Brown Buckled Flats: Bandolino (from Bergner's)
Grey V-Neck Cardigan: Abercrombie & Fitch (circa 2008)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rent The Runway. . . Sure!

Good Morning Readers!

Last Friday I attended my cousin Joe's wedding, which took place in the Starved Rock Lodge located in the very picturesque Starved Rock National Park in Utica, Illinois.  I had such a fun time at the wedding, meeting new people and catching up with family that I haven't seen in over a year (much too long!), and of course- being there to celebrate the wedding of Joe and Paula (his very beautiful bride!)

For this occasion, I felt the need to buy a new dress.  After all, every dress that qualified in the running to be worn at an occasion this important was already photographed and posted on facebook or on this blog.   After a search for dresses within my price range proved unsatisfactory, I became frustrated- but determined nonetheless, I broadened my search by exploring the option of dress rental.

Dress rental? You can rent dresses?  Apparently. . . Yes!  Why didn't I know about this until now?  I looked at a couple of sites that offered this service, and chose to enlist to solve my dilemma based on unbiased positive reviews, and a wide selection of dresses to choose from.  

How does it work?  Well, works a lot like a time share, but instead of paying for space, your purchase secures a span of 4 days to use the dress.  What I love most about this company is that they send you 2 sizes of your selected dress (the second is complimentary) to ensure that you get the right fit to look wonderful at whatever event you attend. And, the best part is that you get to wear a designer dress for a fraction of the cost of a designer dress.  Wonderful!

They also send you a pre-labeled envelope for you to use when it's time to send the dress back- a touch that makes the process even more simple and easy.  The dresses come in a garment bag (which you get to keep!), with a return date reminder/checklist, and information sheet about the company, and my package even came with free samples! Wow!

The dress was absolutely spectacular, so spectacular that I almost couldn't bear to send it back at the end of my rental period.  The dress I selected was a Rebecca Taylor piece, and it was even more beautiful in person than how it appeared on the website- the only big surprise was that both of my dresses had straps but the picture of the dress on the RentTheRunway website did not.

The dress ran much smaller than I thought it would be.  At Banana Republic, Anthropologie, J. Crew, and almost everywhere else I wear a size 4, so that is what I ordered, but it was so tiny that I could hardly zip it up! Thankfully, I had the size 6, and it was a perfect fit!

Here I am with my dad (my date), my cousin Emily (sister of the groom), my Uncle CJ (father of the groom), and my Aunt Sue.

I love this dress!

Oh the agony!  I wasn't ready to send it back!

I was sad to see the dress go!
Overall, this was a great experience!  I was a bit hesitant to give it a try, but it satisfied my hunger for a new dress, and I was able to wear a dress that I otherwise wouldn't purchase.  If you find yourself in a situation similar to my own, I highly recommend! A 5 star experience!!!!!

Too much sugar!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome to Spring St. Louis!

Good Afternoon Readers!

Spring is here! I haven't put away my coat yet, but I moved a few warm weather pieces in my closet from the back to the front with the hope of wearing them soon!  Yesterday afternoon was quite warm and sunny, but when I left for work it was still a bit chilly, so I chose a wool dress, cardigan, and tights.  By the time I was done teaching, however, it was so warm that I went home to change before my night class!

The dress that I wore was an unbelievable find that I scored at my local Nordstrom Rack in Brentwood- originally $288, but purchased for only $22! It was a bit loose, but fortunately the seamstress for the store was there at the same time as me and she was able to tailor it to my shape.  The last time I had a dress tailored for me was the last time I was a bridesmaid!  She did such a wonderful job, that I'm hoping for a few more chilly days so I can wear the dress again.

Retail Details:
French Grey Wool Ruffled Dress: Nordstrom Rack
Turquoise Green Cardigan: Martin + Osa
Red Suede Belt: Vintage (from my mom's closet)
Dark Grey Heathered Tights: Hue (from Nordstrom Rack)
Silver Pointed Flats (not pictured): Nine West
Hot Pink Camera: Canon SD 1400 IS (purchased from Peoria Camera)
Messy apartment: courtesy of studying for exams

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I Love St. Patrick's Day

Connemara- Photo by Me
Good evening Readers!

I love Ireland.  In college I took a mini-mester ("J-term") class on the Irish Renaissance Literature that took me on a 10 day adventure through Ireland visiting places where history happened, walking where famous authors once stepped, sleeping in a castle, climbing hills, eating potato and leek soup with brown soda break to my heart's content, and capturing snapshots of the country's beauty with my camera and journal.
Cliffs of Moher: The wind was so strong that you could lean against it!
Monk's Pub: One of my favorite restaurants in the world in Ballyvaughan
I revisited this romance 2 years later through another mini-mester class (2 weeks this time, as a "May term") in the form of an independent study of nonverbal communication in Ireland.  On this visit, my love for this island expanded even more with a visits to new places, like The Aran Islands.

Dun Aengus, Aran Islands
Kissing the Blarney Stone

 My third (but hopefully not last!) trip to Ireland was with two lovely friends (Kellie & Rachel) during our Spring Break in 2008.  We brought only our purses, backpacks, and 1 suitcase and traveled across the Republic, staying in mostly hostels- even though we managed to experience rain, snow, sleet, and extreme winds within a 30 minute span of time (Waterford)- this was one of my favorite vacations ever! No one in our trio was old enough to rent a car (without a major fee), so we trekked across the country with a Irish Rover pass in one of these buses:

 Ireland has a very special place in my heart, and it is because of this fondness that I LOVE to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  I don't drink Guinness, but I do my best to enjoy rich chocolate and wear green.  This year, I went a bit overboard with my green wardrobe. . . Here I am in verdant St. Patrick's Day splendor with a painting I made of a scene from Ballyvaughan:

 Retail Details:
Mint Green Cashmere Cardigan: Martin + Osa
Seafoam Green Ruffled Tank: Anthropologie
Green Tank: Target
Beaded Leather Belt: Anthropologie (this season)
Olive Green Cords: AG (Stevie) from Anthropologie
Olive Green Jeweled Flats: Via Spiga (Nordstrom Rack)

*All photos, except for the ones of me, were taken by me.

AG Gift Card Winner. . . (And More Love for StL)

And our winner is. . .

Michelle!!! Her favorite place in St. Louis is the Zoo on a cold day, sans crowds- how smart!  I believe there are still a few opportunities to visit the St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park on a cold day before Spring weather is in full bloom.

Other mentions in the entries included: Forest Park (which is bigger than Central Park), the main quad on the campus of Washington University, Big Bang (piano bar), Dewey's Pizza (delicious!), a middle school, and the Missouri Botanical Garden- all wonderful places!

 Where are my favorite St. Louis places?  Well there are many, but these are just a couple:

The Botanical Gardens (also Hannah's favorite!):
I love these glass bulbs at the Gardens!

Waterfalls are wonderful!
 Forest Park:
The Basin (at the foot of Art Hill)- there is something about this spot that is so tranquil and calming.

Congratulations Michelle!!!

*Upcoming posts: St. Patrick's Day outfit, Rent The Runway dress

Friday, March 18, 2011

There's Still Time. . . (AG Giftcard Giveaway)

Good Afternoon Readers!

There's still time to enter my Giveaway for the $25 Adriano Goldschied!  Just follow my blog, and go to the giveaway post (here) and leave a comment with your favorite place in St. Louis along with your email address.

The giveaway was going to close at the end of the day today, but I am going to extend the giveaway through the rest of the weekend (the new deadline will be at 5 PM on Sunday, March 20) to give even more of you a chance at this giveaway.

Best wishes,


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cloud Nine

I decided to give Polyvore a try. . . Here is one of my first outfit attempts!

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine by EclecticElegance featuring slingback shoes

Pullover dress
$158 -

Slingback shoes
$90 -

J Crew facets jewelry
$40 -

Rhinestone-encrusted sash
$265 -

Fitting Room Dress Reviews: 03/15/2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day Readers!

It is a beautiful day in Peoria- the weather is fairly warm, the sun is shining, and it's almost Friday!  To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I am wearing green today- are you?  

On Tuesday, I had a very intense job interview in St. Louis that went well, but ended a lot sooner than I thought it would.  I was going to drive back to Peoria on Wednesday morning, but this extra time gave me the luxury of extra time in the day to drive home. . . and even a bit of time to shop at Anthropologie!

I took a bit of a break from Anthropologie for a short span of time (2 weeks, maybe 3), but after seeing the fresh cuts in the sale section of anthro's website, and after successfully making it through my interview. . . I decided that a visit to my favorite store was in order!

There were so many cute things in the sale cubby and throughout the store and I tried on such a wide selection of items that currently reside in my wish list.  Here is a review of a few of my favorite things: 

Tied Down Dress by Maeve ($98)- Size 6
I was fascinated by the color of this dress (a coral-red) and the ring of detail at its hem, and the price point made this dress worth trying on. To bring the waist in, I added a belt that also brought a bit of texture and sparkle to the dress (it also looks lovely without the belt- but I love wearing belts with dresses!) I would say that the dress runs a bit big, but I don't think it is meant to be very tight fitting.  If you are going to try this on, grab your size and the next size up.

 Irresistible Maxi Dress: Plenty by Tracy Reese ($89.95)- Size Small
I've never been a very big fan of maxi dresses, mostly because none of the ones I've tried on have been long enough, but this dress was an exceptional exception to this dilemma- there was plenty of length!  The dress is stunning- the color is so rich and the draping is beautiful.  The fabric is a bit sheer (motivation to continue with my workout routine!), but since it is so lightweight it will wear well even into the summer months.  This dress IS Irresistible (thank you Tracy Reese!) and this was one of my purchases of the day.  I am singing in my cousin's wedding this summer, and I think I will wear this dress (we'll see. . . ).

In An Instant Dress: Maeve ($98)- Size 4
Charcoal is one of my favorite clothing colors- it is versatile, flattering, and a great alternative to black- and marigold yellow has been a recent fascination of mine, so I had to try this dress on. I was not impressed with the dress- the fabric seemed a bit cheap, like it wouldn't retain its shape after a few washings.  I might try this on again if it makes it to the sale section, but for now it's just not quite what I'm looking for.

Emerging Leaves Dress: Weston Wear ($69.95)- Size 4
The print on this dress reminds me of the Madeleine books from the bookshelf of my childhood, which I think is why I gave this dress a try.  Lately, I've been trying to be more bold in my clothing selections, so trying on this dress was an exercise in that pursuit.  The dress has a nice, but heavy, weight to its fabric and an unordinary, but vintage-inspired shape.  I really wanted to like this dress, and I did, but I'm not quite bold enough to invest in a piece like this (it would be quite a departure from my ocean-inspired wardrobe).  The dress made my waist look very small, but it was a bit tight in the chest.

Anonna Dress: Edme & Esylite ($79.95)- Size 4
I tried this dress on with a bit of hesitation because of some of the negative reviews I read on anthro's website regarding the straps, but the dress was so adorable in person that I disregarded the reviews.  The dress that I tried on did not have any problems with the straps- but I wish that the belt on the dress was made from the same ribbon as the straps (but that's an easy problem to fix with a strip of white grosgrain ribbon).  The fit was flattering, I loved the lacy textured fabric on the box/bow portions of the skirt, and the flare of the shirt- but I was so wowed by the Irresistible Maxi Dress that this one went back on the sale rack.

Sunny Soiree Dress: Girls from Savoy ($148)- Size 4
This dress reminds me a lot of something Emma Pillsbury would wear on Glee, and seemed very teacher-ly to me.  The color and print of the skirt were delightful, but the fit of the skirt wasn't as flattering as I hoped it would be. The blouse portion of the dress seemed well-intentioned, but a bit over the top in the ruffles department.  Very cute dress, but not quite what I was looking for.  The dress fits fairly true to size.

Wicklow Dress: by ??? ($79.95)- Size Small
I think this dress is by Deletta, but I can't remember (does anyone know?) This dress is beautiful, and I appreciate the draping, but the overall shape was a bit to va-va-va-voom for my liking.  Yes, it is fun to play up one's assets, but this dress did that a bit too well!  If you have a straight body-type, this dress will add curves- but if you already have curves- beware!

Enjoy the rest of your St. Patrick's Day Readers!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Showing Love for St. Louis (AG Giveaway)

Happy Friday Readers!

Today through next Friday I will be running another giveaway!  As you may have already gathered from my other giveaways (the brooch and the handcreme), I like to give away products that I really enjoy.

Since  I love my AG Stevie cords, and because I had such a lovely visit at the AG store in St. Louis (featured in my last post), this giveaway will be for a $25 dollar Adriano Goldschmied gift card.  This gift card can be used only in AG stores (not online, and not at other retailers like Anthropologie or Nordstrom), and the winner of the gift card will receive their prize in the mail.

So. . . how can you win this gift card?

picture courtesy AG Website
First (1) you will need to follow my blog, if you are not already a follower (you can do this either on blogger or through google reader).

Second (2) leave a comment about your favorite place in St. Louis- this could be a park, a restaurant, a neighborhood, an attraction, etc.  AND tell me why this is your favorite place

Third (3) make sure that you leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!

In case you were wondering. . . here are a few locations of the AG stores:

St. Louis, MO
Beverly Hills, CA
Costa Mesa, CA
San Francisco, CA
Aventura, FL
Miami, FL
Atlantic City
Soho (New York, NY)
Upper West Side (New York, NY)

Best of luck to all of you!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adriano Goldschmied Store Visit- Maryland Plaza

Good Morning Readers!

Last week I had the opportunity to do my very first store review!  Where, you may ask?  I went to the Adriano Goldschmied store in the very lovely Maryland Plaza (CWE, St. Louis), conveniently located in between my occasional walks from The Cup (formerly The Cupcakery) to Straub's.  When I visited this store for the first time two weeks ago (a week before my review visit) and was so impressed with the clothing, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and welcoming atmosphere of the store, I was so inspired that I asked if I could do a review for this blog the following week.

During this visit, as well as my first visit, Carol helped me find the right styles, fits, and washes and offered water and soda to me upon my arrival.  She offered honest advice and reactions for each of the styles I tried on- always encouraging and never pushy.  If trying on jeans is something that makes you as nervous as it makes me, Carol is the perfect stylist for you because she helps you identify your strengths, offers helpful styling tips for disguising any insecurities, and finds flattering styles for you to try on that you never would have considered before.  She is wonderful!  But so is everyone else I've met at this store, including Daniel and Nikki (who has a delightful blog: AddBubblestoTaste).

Here is the store's exterior:

And the interior (it reminds me a lot of Martin & Osa):

They have men's clothing too!

Here are a few of the jeans I tried on during my visit:

The Charlotte: 
These jeans were a dream and a half! The straight cut of these jeans make them super flattering and ultra-versatile.  I could wear these to work on a Friday, out with friends, running errands, with heels or flats, even cuffed! Of all the jeans I tried on, this is the most practical and slimming pair of the bunch with the inseam I was searching for.

Fit Guide: These are very slimming and I recommend staying with your regular size, TTS.

The Ballad: 
I almost bought these beauties- they are super comfortable (lots of stretch and really soft fabric), but since it's been a while since I've worn bootcut jeans, I decided to hold off.  I have, however been stalking these jeans on the agjeans website since I tried them on.
Fit guide: The Clyde wash comes in a fabric with a lot of stretch, almost like a jegging (but not as restricting as a jegging), so I recommend trying on one size lower than your usual size along with your regular size. 
**Attention tall ladies: With a 33 inch inseam, this jean had a wonderful length that I would recommend to all my height (5'9"/5'10") and above.

The Farrah
This jean, inspired by the original Farrah's famous flare for bellbottoms, is like a flashback to a past I never experienced (the 1970s).  Wearing these, I really felt like I could have stepped back in time, maybe to one of James Taylor's first concerts way back when.

Fit Guide: I recommend trying on the size that you usually wear, in addition to the next size up.  These are stretch-free, which I think is a testament to their durability, but this means that sizing up is a good (and shame-free) idea for these fun jeans.  The waist is higher than what I am used to wearing, but is true to style, and completes the look.  Aren't these fun?
**Attention fellow tall ladies- these jeans have a really long inseam!!! I usually wear a 33 or 34 inch inseam, and even with 2 inch heels I had plenty of length.

The Stevie: 
For all of you anthro fans out there, you may already be familiar with the Stevie either as a denim or cord, or maybe both! As a proud owner of two pairs of AG Stevie cords, I had to try these jeans on.  These jeans have a major wow factor- they fit closely where they should, but never too closely, and have just the right amount of stretch to make this a wonderful anyday-anytime jean. Very flattering!
Fit guide: I recommend staying with your normal size for this jean.  The fit is lovely, but it is close, and the jean itself provides a lot of structure, so you don't want it to be too tight since it already fits closely to the body.

So. . . moral of the story: visit the nearest Adriano Goldschmied store near you! For locations, here is the AG's store locator on their website:

Thank you Carol, Nikki, and Daniel for all of your help and for making this visit such an amazing experience!

*PS- stay tuned- I have a very special giveaway starting tomorrow!