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Last week I was invited by my dear friend Becky to a fun girls night of bead decorating and bonding at The Burlap Bag in Austin. Becky, who co-hosted the event with Rachel of The Crafted Life, is the craftiest person I know, and she's an expert in all things adorable, so I had a feeling the night was going to be both fun and fruitful. My photo darling Briley Noel was brought on to capture the event, and I knew my new friend Chelsea would be there, so I headed to the cutest shop in town after work.

When I arrived, there were already a bunch of crafty babes getting down to business snacking on sweets from 2Tarts Bakery. Bowls of wooden beads covered the tables, along with every color of paint you can imagine.

Because I know you're dying to know, I'll share the secret I learned for painting beads: masking tape! Roll a generous strip of masking tape around a wooden skewer, about 1/3 of the way down, and then just slip a bead on the skewer and get to painting! No need to worry about how to hold the bead and paint at the same time! Brilliant, I tell you!

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After we finished our necklaces and key fobs, it was time to explore the many treasures of The Burlap Bag! The shop is known for its handmade soy candles, which come in the most fabulous scents like Unicorn Puke, Puppy Love, and OCD, but they also carry tons of goods from local artisans. I took home a Crazy Cat Lady scented candle, and I'm definitely going to have to go back soon to get one of those felt banners to hang above my desk.

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Thanks to Becky of The Pink Samurai and Rachel of The Crafted Life for putting together the event, and thanks to The Burlap Bag for hosting! I promise to share a better pic of the necklace I made eventually, but until then, here's a better 'gram of it.

gettin' crafty in austin + the burlap bag

on-my-list-lightweight-jackets
one // two // three // four // five

As the temperatures start to warm up (not this week obviously, but, you know, in general), I've found myself reaching for a lightweight jacket to throw over my tees. Even though it's gorgeously warm in the sunshine, it's still chilly in the shadows -- especially when sitting on a patio for brunch!

As you've seen a hundred times, I do already own a green utility jacket, but for some reason I've been hesitating to wear it recently. The jacket I own has a boxy shape and fits pretty short, making it not super flattering or feminine. Rather than replacing my green jacket, since I obviously do wear it a ton, I think I want to add an alternative that has a longer length and a cinched waist.

One, two, and five are probably my favorites on this list, though I'm having trouble deciding on a color. I feel like one is too close in color to the jacket I already have, but I'm not sure about committing to blue because I'm worried it would clash with jeans. I like that two is a pretty different color from my pairs of blue denim, so it won't blend in. Plus, how cute would it look with my new red Breton striped tee?

on my list | lightweight jackets

I recently noticed that I've been pulling from the same collection of clothing when putting together outfits since about October. After doing the 30x30 last spring and a workwear 7x7 in the summer, I got a pretty good grasp on the whole idea behind creating a capsule. The point is to get a lot of use out of your clothes by mixing wardrobe staples with interesting stand out pieces...again and again. Who doesn't want to love their clothes? When I'm standing in LOFT or scrolling through ASOS (my two favorite four-letter words), and I spot something I can't live without, I want to know that I really couldn't live without it. This sounds dramatic, but my point is that I want my clothing to have a real purpose in my closet and in my life, and using the capsule as a guide has helped me do that.

I thought it would be fun to share my fall/winter 2015 "capsule" with y'all to show you what can come from the basics of capsule dressing. My preface for this is that I don't blog everything I wear, so there have been a few more variations on outfits than you see here, and also a lot of repeats of these outfits over the last few months.

fall-winter-capsule-2015

The items:
Tops // teal blouse, black floral blouse, grey tee, gingham shirt, emerald sweater, white sweater
Dresses // LBD, burgundy floral dress, teal printed dress
Outerwear // grey cardigan, black blazer, navy blazer
Bottoms // gold skirt, black midi skirt, tweed mini, polka dot skirt, black skinnies, blue skinnies
Shoes // berry flats, brown flats, silver flats, black flats, tan booties, black boots, cognac boots

The thing I think is most interesting here, as a blogger, is that I didn't share brand new clothes every outfit post. For a whole season, I pulled from the same pile of clothes to make new outfits that wore in my real life. Some of these items are new, but many of them are from seasons' past. Because of my experience with capsules, I was able to think in terms of color palette (check out a really cool perspective on color palettes here!) and remixing options when I shopped for a few new items this season. 

I think this is as good a time as any to say this: for me, capsule dressing is not about minimalism. I am not a minimalist. It's just not in my blood, and even though it's something I could try to do if I really wanted to (I do love a good goal), I don't want to. I don't want to be a minimalist. What I want is to make better outfits and have a better closet. These are my goals when I'm shopping. Not to own less things. I love owning things! Judge me all you want, but I do me and I support you doing you. This is a judge-free, minimalist-free zone, my friends.

For me, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is about being able to put on clothes without having a major breakdown every time. In a lot of ways, my attraction to the idea of capsule collections is an attempt to cope with my anxiety, depression, and deeply-rooted body issues. If my closet is full of things that make me 1. happy 2. feel good, I'm going to get through my day in a better mood, get more done, and avoid crying in the kitchen at work because I hate the way my sweater looks with my dress.

To be honest, the whole capsule idea sort of goes back to the reason I started blogging. I don't think I'm the best dressed person and I know my outfits aren't that interesting. So why do I blog outfits? Because I think maybe someone will get a little inspiration for how they can style that one item in their closet they feel clueless about; maybe something I post will be their new favorite item to wear; maybe they'll feel more confident trying something new or getting in touch with the clothes in their closet or how to shop for new ones.

If you're interested in hearing more perspectives on capsule collections, I super encourage you to check out what Fran and Adina have to say.

my accidental capsule

printed dress, cozy sweater cozy yet dressed up look for work Forever 21 printed teal dress dress: Forever 21 (still in stores, similar) // sweater: Forever 21 (similar) // flats: similar

photos by Briley Noel

This outfit is a long time coming to the blog. I've worn it a few times, and even photographed it once before this, but I was having trouble getting it right. Neither this dress nor this sweater seem to be very photogenic, and I had some trouble finding the right pair of tights (in case you were wondering, navy tights looked exceptionally bad with this outfit!).

The reason, I think, that this outfit was so hard to get on the blog is the same reason I love it so much: it's just glorified pajamas. The dress is a excessively roomy and the sweater is warm and cozy. If we're being completely honest here, I even took an accidental couch nap in this outfit recently. If that doesn't scream blog worthy, I don't know what does.

like pjs, but better

on-my-list-red-breton-stripesone // two // three // four // five

I have been looking for a replacement for my red and white striped shirt for quite a while now. I bought it on a whim at Zumiez (I know, I know) my sophomore year of college, and it immediately became my most worn item of clothing to date. Poor shirt has been washed and hung and washed and hung, the white is a little dingy after so much wear, and the fit is...not what it once was.

Because of my immense love for this shirt and its MVP status in my closet, the replacement has to be seriously perfect. This is why I haven't just bought up any old striped shirt. I tweeted the other night that I would pay a stupid amount of money for the perfect red Breton striped tee hoping someone would lend a hand, but no one else seemed to know either.

I was at Forever 21 last week frantically trying to find something to wear for my head shots at the last minute, and on my way into the dressing room I spotted #2 on the rack and had to grab it. I didn't find anything for head shots, but I did walk out with this delightful tee. It's soft as all heck and I love the way it fits, but I'm not sure if it's the replacement. One of the things I love so much about mine is that it translates between casual and something a little nicer. The Forever 21 top is purely, perfectly casual. It has a place in my closet, but it might not be the place.

My main contender at this point is the Boden top. From online, it looks perfect, but there are some reviews that say it wrinkles badly, I would want to get the sleeves altered to 3/4 length, and Boden makes you pay to return stuff. Does anyone have experience with Boden or this tee? I'm worried about sizing and about the wrinkling.

So that's where I stand. Help me choose!

on my list | red breton stripes

color blocking outfit teal and mustard outfit teal mustard and berry color palette LuLu*s berry flats
blouse: Forever 21 (similar) // skirt: Forever 21 (similar) // flats: LuLu*s

photos by Briley Noel

I've been trying to make this outfit work for winter for weeks, but it always seemed to have one too many pieces with tights, a sweater, etc. We had the loveliest 70 degree day a few weekends ago when Briley and I were taking photos, so I ditched the layers and decided a little color blocking was the perfect first outfit of (fake) spring.

One of the things I like most about this outfit, from a blog perspective, is that it shows a little insight into my color palette for the last few months. I have a longer post on this planned for later in the week, but I was especially intentional with the items I purchased and wore for the fall/winter season, specifically from a color standpoint. I relied on a lot of neutrals, but teal, mustard-y gold, and burgundy were my primary pops of color.

Oh wow, as I was writing that sentence I realized that this outfit is made up of fall/winter shades of primary colors. How predictable of me!

early spring color-blocking

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dress: ASOS // shoes: LuLu*s (love these) // clutch: vintage

photos by Briley Noel

Before I get into all the Valentine's goodness, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support and positive vibes re: my last post. I love you all so much and I'm so appreciative of my community here.

Okay, back to the celebrating! For those who have been patiently waiting, here's the Valentine's dress I decided on! (Congrats to my mom and Brynn for being the only people to correctly guess it!) I am so, so happy with it, and so excited that I chose something I'll be able to wear a bunch of times this year! When it came in the mail I learned that it has a layer of tulle in the skirt, which is just the most exciting thing ever. I'm obsessed with the color, the beautiful embroidered flowers, and the demure off-the-shoulder neckline.

Speaking of the neckline, the dress was not so cute on me when it first arrived. If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have seen that I took the dress in for alterations. I had them bring the whole dress up a few inches because I recently realized that I have short shoulders (yes, this is a thing!) so the neckline previously sat about two inches above my shoulders. I'm really happy with the alterations, but I think I'll get the arm holes altered before my next wear for a wedding in April because bringing the dress up brought the sleeves up too, and now my little 'pits are a bit squished.

Anyway! Enough about the dress (though, really, that's why you're here!). As I've mentioned, I'll be celebrating Galentine's tonight at Friends and Neighbors with my girl gang, the Vagina :: The Zine crew, and a bunch of fab ladies in Austin to support an awesome local org called GENaustin. If you're in Austin, you should join us!

Dago and I are still in talks about our plans for actual-Valentine's Day. I wanted to wear my pretty dress to my favorite little Italian joint for a personal pizza and lots of cheesy bread. Then Dago informed me that our favorite wing place is doing a ridiculous Valentine's deal for their 20th anniversary where everything on the menu will cost what it did in 1995. So, do I eat pizza or wings in my pretty dress, y'all? I'm seriously so torn! I feel like the wings will rival last year for best Valentine's date story, but I also like the idea of a chill evening with a white pizza and a glass of wine.

What are you doing for Valentine's? I really want to know!

PS. How cute is this restaurant sign? I've driven past it for like ever and then had the brilliant idea to take Valentine's photos under it. Because, you know, corazon~

little red dress

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blazer: Forever 21 (similar) // blouse: Forever 21 (similar) // jeans: Forever 21 // shoes: LuLu*s

photos by Briley Noel

I am especially short on words and feeling a little all over the place today, so let me just say that:

01. I really love this outfit. I felt simultaneously like a genius and a dope when I thought of it because, duh, how had I not thought of it before.

02. Buying a blazer without a collar was an excellent choice. I tend to get sad looking at photos of myself where I have a stiff and masculine collar because it doesn't quite feel like me. This feminine take on the classic is much more my style and I feel great both wearing it and seeing it in photos.

03. I'm taking new head shots for work this week and I'm putting a stupid amount of thought into it. Because you definitely care, I've decided that I want to appear creative, rather than simply professional, but I want to look legit and not flighty. My solution? A headscarf, of course! Briley is taking our head shots (because she's the best), so I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

04. If you have any extra posi vibes (or if you're the praying type) and can send them our way, it would mean the world. I've vaguely mentioned that there is some family stuff going on, and someone has a big surgery today who could use your good thoughts.

It's Wednesday! We can do this!

some clothes and some words

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one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight

I am notorious for buying a purse I love and using it until it is in pieces. I'm not the type to switch bags with different outfits, partly because I'm too afraid of not having my wallet/favorite lipstick/random useful item with me at all times, but mostly because I like to buy bags that go with everything so I don't need to change it up.

I bought my beloved Forever 21 bag (recently seen here) in summer of 2013 and it is still going very strong. It had two big pockets, a center pocket, two more places for stuff between those, and then a mini zipper pocket for tampons, etc inside. I carry everything from on-the-spot zit cream to a small koozie collection in my purse. My co-workers call me Mary Poppins because if you can think of it, I probably have it in my purse.

All of that said, my bag gets a little heavy. As spring starts to peek through the trees, I know I'm going to want to lose my layers and dress a little lighter. When I switch my winter coat for a cardigan, maybe I should grab a lighter bag too!

I had quite the collection of bucket bags as a child of the 90s. I love the casual grab-and-go look that's perfect for weekend brunch or a walk through the park. All I need is my chapstick, a pair of sunglasses, and my phone, and I love that I can tie them up in a cute bucket bag and throw it over my shoulder!

I initially thought I wanted a black one with gold hardware (because, have you met me?), but now that I've seen the pretty neon Steve Madden bags and the classic neutral nude/cognac versions, I think a light color might be a fun choice for a light bag.

What do you think? Are you into bucket bags this spring, or are you sticking with another trend to carry your things?

on my list | bucket bags

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blazer: stolen from my little brother circa 2000 (similar) // tee: Old Navy // skirt: LOFT Outlet (similar 1, similar 2) // shoes: LuLu*s // necklace: J.Crew (similar)

photos by Briley Noel

I know we're all supposed to be talking about shopping smarter; spending time planning and considering our purchases is supposed to help us get more use out of our closet. But, if I'm being honest, this tweed skirt impulse buy was such a good choice. I guess what it comes down to is knowing the rest of my closet well enough to know that this was a fun piece that would fit right in among the teal, berry, navy, and grey I'm wearing this season. In case you missed it, here's how I wore it last time and the time before.

As a side note, I hope I never have to retire this navy blazer. I'll never find one that fits me as well. If you've been around here for a while then you already know this, but I borrowed it from my brother sometime in the early 2000s after he wore it for his second grade consecration at our synagogue, and then I just never gave it back. Someday I'll have to do a Who Wore It Better post.

something borrowed, something blue

texas style council 2015

HEY! Remember that time I wrote about TxSC and how awesome it's going to be, and you went and checked out ticket prices and were like, holy heck I can't afford that right now. THINK AGAIN!

For this weekend only, tickets are HALF OFF. Use the code TXSCBFF for a 50% discount on tickets for a conference that will go down as one of your best decisions of 2015. You're going to learn so much, make so many connections, and return home so inspired to take on your blog/your brand/the world.

Steps:
01. Check out the lodging options
02. Decide: am I a talker or a sleeper?
04. Enter the code TXSCBFF
05. Know that you are awesome, and that you're coming to CAMP to hang out with me in March!

As always, feel free to email me with any questions!

CAMP | FLASH SALE

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jacket: Gap Factory (similar) // tee: Raygun // skirt: ASOS // shoes: Charlotte Russe (similar)

Photos by Briley Noel

I'm not big on graphic tees, but this one needed to be in my life. I gifted it to myself after getting my promotion because, quite literally, I blog a lot. I spend about 38 of my 40+ hours a week at my job blogging (the other 2+ hours are sending emails, duh), and then I come home and write for this blog. Truly, I wouldn't have it any other way, and this shirt is a fantastic (and super soft) way to celebrate!

Also, the ASOS midi skirt strikes again! I seriously can't wait to wear it all the time without tights in the summer (thanks random 70 degree Sunday!). I definitely need to buy it in another color soon because I already find myself wanting to wear it every single day. Why is it that I have no problem wearing the same pair of black skinnies all week, but won't wear the same skirt in a seven day span because I'm worried someone will say something? Whatever, like I need an excuse to buy any item I love in every color available.

blog a lot

I'm usually pretty great about resisting trends, but following blogs like Zipped have convinced me that I need this one in my life: the slip-on sneaker. I'm not a frequent sneaker wearer, but I tend to have a pair that I grab for extra-casual days where I know I'll be doing a lot of walking. In high school, it was a pair of purple Converse. In early college it was my Keds, and in late college, my thrifted red TOMs. I do have a pair of red Converse hi-tops, but they have proven to be less versatile than I'd like. To fill this gap, I'm lusting after slip-on sneaks in pretty, neutral shades like grey, pewter, and rose gold. These six are at the top of my list.
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one // two // three // four // five // six // seven

Being that I was loyal to Keds as a kid, and then again in college, I'm leaning towards this pair. I love the idea of a metallic like the Vans, Steve Madden, and Gap pairs, but I'm also digging subtle texture like in the Splendid, BP, and J.Crew Factory finds.

Halp! Which shoe is going to take me through the end of winter and into spring?

on my list | slip on sneaks

camp-texlake Photo taken at Camp Texlake circa 1997(??), the same camp where TxSC '15 will be held! Can you spot me?

I still remember my first time going to Girl Scout camp. I was simultaneously so excited and extremely nervous. No one in my troop was going to the same session, I was worried about sleeping in a strange outdoor bed, and I wasn't so sure about the whole showering in the woods thing. Turns out, these are natural things that everyone feels before going to camp the first time!

As you may have heard, Texas Style Council is happening in March, and this year we're going to CAMP (Creating A Meaningful Purpose). A lot of bloggers might be a little wary of a conference where heels are not only discouraged -- they aren't allowed -- and I've heard rumblings from some bloggers that "camping just isn't [their] thing." I'm here to tell you that camp (and CAMP) isn't scary, and can totally be your thing. Here are 10 things you'll be missing out on if you don't join us for CAMP '15.

1. Sleeping bags are like zip-up onesies. You don't have to worry about your blanket falling off in the middle of the night. You're a human burrito and you're deliciously comfortable.

2. Being away from cell service is actually pretty awesome. You're always reading that you should "unplug" more, and what better way to tech detox than when your Instagram upload keeps failing anyway?

3. Eating in the mess hall is like being at Thanksgiving, but only with people you like. Plus extra servings of chicken nuggets if you're nice to the kitchen staff!

4. Not into community showers? You've been looking for an excuse to get your favorite dry shampoo company to sponsor you. This is it! 

5. Ever heard the song "Make new friends, but keep the old,"? It's so true! You might be nervous that you don't know anyone, or that everyone will already have friends and you'll be left out, but camp is about everyone making new friends.

6. If you, like me, are afraid of fire, don't fret! Campfire time is a lot less about setting random foliage to flame and a LOT more about skits and songs and sharing in the magic of Sisterhood. Also, before you go home, be sure to collect a little bit of ash in a film canister to share in your next campfire! It's a tradition that helps us all stay connected, no matter where we're camping.

7. The idea of sleeping outdoors can be a little eerie, but checking out the stars without all those city lights and smog is a great reminder that you aren't the only thing inhabiting the planet. If a little star can make that much light, imagine what you can do!

8. What happens at CAMP, stays at CAMP. Some of my most emotionally intimate experiences have been late at night at camp, talking about deepest hopes and dreams, sharing secrets, and learning that I'm a little less alone in the world. (Oh, you make up dances to Britney Spears songs alone in your room? ME TOO.)

9. Because you are in a place with new people, away from those who know (or think they know) you, you're able to be totally, truly yourself. I feel so free at camp because I never have to hide who I am. Everyone here is a little dirty and sweaty, sharing in new and maybe uncomfortable experiences, and we're all on the same, equal playing field. No one is better than anyone else when we're all in the dark playing flashlight tag or trying to catch a grasshopper or doing Destiny's Child karaoke. When you come to camp, commit to being real and not worrying about the rest.

10. Memories! If you're the scrapbooking type, your pages are about to be filled with inside jokes and learning experiences and nicknames and so much fun. You're going to have at least a week's worth of blog content with everything you're going to learn from the rad group of speakers, but you're also going to have some really cool experiences you won't get at any other kind of conference. This is what makes TxSC special. It's about you, your community, and your creativity, and you'll be able to carry that with you wherever you go. #cherishthemems

So, are you registered for CAMP yet? I'm not sure if you've heard, but this is the last TxSC ever. This is your opportunity to make new friends, reconnect with your creative spirit, and remember why you started blogging in the first place.

For people who love the buddy system as much as I do, TxSC and Squarespace are running a giveaway for you and your bestie/bunkmate to win tickets to TxSC (and your choice of prints from BFF team Maiedae!). Enter two ways: 1. Via Instagram: upload a photo of you and your best friend and mention @squarespace and #txscbff. 2. Simply leave your name and email address at bit.ly/txscbff. Winner will be randomly chosen this Friday 2/6/15.

Also, if you're interested in coming to TxSC but have some questions before packing your bag, feel free to email me! I'm on staff this year, which means I have access to all the answers.

Can't wait to see y'all in March at CAMP!

10 reasons not to be afraid of CAMP

small-goals-february

Let's take a moment here to share in a deep breath, okay? One...two...three...wasn't that nice? Especially at the beginning of the year, I always feel like a new month is an opportunity to take a deep breath, look around, and get ready to keep moving forward. This is one of the reasons I love doing my monthly small goals. I get to take some time to reflect on my accomplishments and be grateful for what I've got, while also considering what needs to get taken care of in the next 30-ish days. Before I get into my goals for February, let's take a look back at January, shall we?

1. finish Yes Please | done! Read my review here!
2. do 5 minutes of Duolingo 5 days a week | Hahahaha. I knew this was a long shot. I think I did Duolingo like 4 times in all of January!
3. Scope out some new outfit photo locations | done! I'll have some outfits in the coming weeks with cool new backdrops, and I've got a note in my phone for jotting down future ideas.
4. finish a puzzle with Dago | Total. Fail. Every time I sat down to work on the puzzle, I would get incredibly dizzy and have to lie down in the dark with my eyes closed for a while. We finally decided to just pack it up. My dizziness has been especially bad lately, which I'll talk more about below.
5. take down the Christmas tree | done! I did it on Saturday evening when I remembered it was one of my monthly goals so I could check it off this goddamn list!

February is a short month, so I tend to give myself a little extra slack on the goal front. Here's what I plan to do in the cold-but-romantic month of February!

1. make and gift cute Valentine's crafts | I really wanted to give out Hello Kitty Valentine's this year, but I didn't see any at Target, so I decided to make some cute crafts to hand out instead. Going all out for Valentine's month this year!
2. step up my 'gram game | Instagram is one of those major sources of envy for me, as I scroll through other people's perfectly curated feeds. I'm deciding to 'gram more deliberately, rather than just posting for the sake of posting. I want to post prettier images, and I'm going back to the traditional square shape for consistency. Follow along here!
3. dye my hair | This is one of the goals from my 25 before 25 list that I haven't completed yet. Briley and I finally came up with the perfect color, and now I'm so excited about shaking things up!
4. finish Not That Kind of Girl | If you follow me on GoodReads, then you saw that I actually started Bad Feminist, but I think I need a buffer book between Yes Please and Bad Feminist, and Not That Kind of Girl seems like a good fit. I'll be sure to explain more in my eventual review of Bad Feminist!
5. make an appointment regarding my dizzy spells | I'm not sure if you can really call them "spells," but seeing as I thought my dizziness was totally normal for the last few years, I don't know what to call them. With the help of WebMD and Arrested Development, I've deduced that I have vertigo. Is this an official diagnosis? Not even close. So, I need to go see a professional so I can find a solution (or at least something to pacify the discomfort). This goal probably isn't so blog-exciting, but putting my goals here keeps me accountable, so I decided to include it.

In addition to these goals, I also plan on having the loveliest time at the annual Galentine's Day party hosted by Vagina :: The Zine with Briley as my date, and then do something fun and cute with Dago for official-Valentine's. Not sure we can beat last year's date, but we're gonna try!

What are you planning to do this month?

february | small goals

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