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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Southern Colonial is now open!

So I did it! I created a new blog and I'm very excited to shift focus from fashion to home, food, and adventures. I've got some great things in the works and hope you will come on over to the other blog for some southern hospitality.



Click the link below to be redirected to the new site.

www.southerncolonial.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Time to Go

Won't you take me to Slumpyville? What's Slumpyville? It's that period after the holidays when you are back to a full work week, your co-workers (and you) are in a pissed off mood, you look with desperation at your 401K account balance, your Social Security balance (and the amount of time left to work and what your monthly payout would be if you retire at 62 or 67), and the PTO calendar.


After having a full week off for Christmas and a partial week off for New Years, it's hard to be jerked out of my sleep coma at 5:45am, to trek the 50 mins to work across two counties, to hear the annoying sounds of people around me that I had almost forgotten about during my blissful time off, and then commute home another hour. It's routine, it's monotonous, it's Slumpyville.


During my time off from work I had some time to think about our future. This isn't a reflection post or a New Year's resolution thing. It may be prompted by the fact that I'm turning 43 next week. But most likely my Jack Handy deep thoughts are attributable to seeing my maternal grandparents and how they are living in their mid 80s. I don't think they are financially secure (they aren't in dire straights and eating cat food but could be much more secure than they currently are) and they sure as heck aren't digging each other's company in their golden years. They've gone rogue, I tell ya. And over Christmas break I experienced first hand Grandma's memory decline.


Up until the grand'rents (that's short for "grandparents" for all you non-hipsters) decided to take a break from each other, I was on the track of paying off my debt a little bit at a time. No house disaster (upstairs AC handler flooded our spare bedroom carpet on New Year's day - Bono lied - all was not quiet on New Year's day!) was cause for concern for me to make any extra effort. I was content to just keep going at a snail's pace. Nothing has really ever moved me to get out of a habit I had created so long ago. And from observation and conversation, it seems my grandfather and I might actually share the same unfortunate views on spending, money, and living beyond our means. Although my life didn't flash before my eyes, I saw through my grandparents what my life could become if I keep on the same path.


So I sat down with my monthly financial spreadsheet and did some real digging as to what I could reasonably tackle. I've determined paying off the smallest credit card balance would bring me greater victory at a much quicker rate than trying to tackle it all at once or the cards with the highest balance. And it has!
I went after the outstanding medical bills first (I was hospitalized in Sept. for a kidney stone and had a bout of eczema in June where I had two biopsies done on my left arm). I also managed to pay off two store credit cards. In mid-Jan, I'll be done with another two. I even managed to find a way to start saving for the house disaster things (the AC is working for now - but we know we need a new unit).


And after draining my 401K account in 2012 for the CT and FL houses, plus the move back to FL, I've been steadily putting money away for retirement and I'm getting a healthy balance once again. This will also be the first tax year where neither one of us has changed jobs, moved, taken a distribution, etc. Should be smooth sailing when filing taxes this year.


In 2014, I stepped away from my blog for about 5 months. It was liberating. I understand how Young House Love feels now. I'm actually considering doing this again. Actually I'm considering reinventing my blog into a DIY/home improvement blog. I've never monetized my blog. That's not why I do this. But for those of us that don't reap the benefit of sponsors, partners, collaborations, etc., it can be tough on our wallets to stay current and relevant. And you all know that my focus has definitely shifted from fashion to home improvements/DIY. Honestly, if I had the education and experience in Interior Design, that's what I would be doing full time. That's what really speaks to me. I love working on our house. I love combing through Pinterest for ideas and taking an idea in my head and executing it in a room in our house. However, my audience isn't really interested in those things. And why would you be? This was a fashion blog for over 2 years. It was me buying and wearing real clothes, not high end freebies that came with false-positive reviews that so many bloggers provide with the "this was sponsored but the opinion is all mine" bullshit tagline. The fact is when I post outfit pics, you all respond. When I proudly display a home project that took me a week or months to do - crickets. And that's fine. You all are my fashion audience, not my DIY audience. But people evolve and interests change. I'm getting a little too old to keep taking pics of myself in different outfits. It's not fun anymore. I look ridiculous coming to work all decked out and feel pressured at 5:45am to wear something exciting and new for you. So it's time for me to hang this blog up to dry. I hope you all really have enjoyed the ride with me. I'll keep the blog up for any inspiration and if I decide to switch over to a DIY blog, I'll let you all know. Thank you so much for following me since 2011.


Feel free to email me or even become a Facebook friend. For the first time ever, I'm giving you all my contact info. I know that exposes me but you all have been very kind through the years and not at all creepy or stalkerish. LOL!
Take care!
Niki


Email: foodandwinegal@gmail.com
Facebook: Niki Branson Delehant


*And yes, I stared at this post for quite awhile before I pushed "Publish."



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Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Dinner Party

Just admit it, you were waiting for "The Conductor" to make an appearance once it got cold enough. It's rhetorical. No need to answer. Your eyes tell me so. For some reason, The Conductor is fitting a little tighter this year. I'm sure it's not the cakes, cookies, artisan bread, larger portions, etc. that I've been eating. Nah. Must have shrunk at the dry cleaners. Yep.

So this little outfit is what I wore to our holiday dinner party. I've had this dress for a couple of months now (shocker!) but didn't really have an opportunity to wear it yet. It's the Elie Tahari dress for Kohl's and I have a few problems with it. The belt is attached and moves all over the place. Unless I tack it down with thread and needle, it will continue to drive me bonkers. The other issue is the butt pleats. So just like you see in front, it has those same folds in the back pretty much on my ass. Because those cookies and cakes didn't add enough bulk. Hence The Conductor. I had to wear something to cover up my butt pleats. This will always be one of those dresses that has to be worn with a jacket, unfortunately. My last issue is the little triangle seam in the front. It's sewn with white thread. Why? I do like the fabric - it's a heavy polyester/spandex so no wrinkles and it maintains its shape. The length could be a tad longer but it's working for my short and stubby frame.

Of course I'm the most dressed up in my office. Of course. The dinner is being held at a nice chop house and employees showed up in jeans and company logo shirts. Two girls made an effort and they look nice - the rest of them - hopeless. C'mon, people! It's a fancy-pants party! Find something in your closet besides the five company shirts you own. Swipe on a little mascara. Comb your hair. Make a little bit of an effort. I wear my company shirts and jeans probably a little too often and have become comfortable lately but I still make hair and makeup efforts. But maybe that's just me.



 
 
 
 
 
 
{Dress: Kohl's | Shoes and Blazer: Zara | Lips: Nars Dragon Girl (my favorite)}
 






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Friday, December 19, 2014

SeaWorld

Dolphins, dolphins, dolphins. Lots 'o dolphins at SeaWorld. In shows, in nurseries, in underground viewing centers, swimming next to turtles ("I like turtles"), and splashing Brazilians who always wear soccer tees. Yeah, that last part was a huge generalization.

So hubby and I hit the road around 10am last Saturday to make a noon company luncheon at SeaWorld. On the car ride over, I found out my husband has never been to SeaWorld. Disney and Epcot - yeah. But that's about it. I was a little nervous leaving the pets with a new sitter after the fiasco at the vet over the summer. Oh, I don't think I shared that with y'all cause I was taking a blogging break then. So real quick - hubby and I visited his family in South Dakota over 4th of July week and we boarded the two dogs and asked my sister to watch the two bastard cats. I paid over $400 to board my dogs in two private suites.

Cookie was fine. However Woozie came out with a torn ACL. I was a wreck but after talking with the head vet and nursing her back to health, she is much better. She's 12 so those knees are just deteriorating. Not sure how much longer we have with her but her spirits are still good, she's still eating, she doesn't look like she's in pain, and she acts like an older, happy Chihuahua. Well, except she asks me daily when all the animals will be leaving and tries to intimidate them with her ferocious teeth.

So we have a home sitter now for the pets and I couldn't be happier. She left me detailed notes, sent me text messages when she got to the house, and loves our animals. She's a keeper! And she's fairly inexpensive. Four visits, four pets - $90. Plus my pets were able to stay in their own environment.

When we got to SeaWorld, we paid the $20 to park (preferred parking $20, regular parking $17), which only got us slightly closer to the gate. We ended up going through Christmas Village, which didn't open until 6pm (I think) and headed into a private pavilion. It was actually really cool cause we got to take some pictures w/out crowds. My husband and I don't really like theme parks or crowds. Lunch was hamburgers or chicken sandwiches and lasted about an hour. Some guy got up, made a short 5 minute speech, handed out an award, and then we were off to enjoy our day.

We walked all around the park and got a recent art grad to paint caricatures of us - it turned out really cute - doesn't my husband look like Don Johnson? People have told him that before and I never saw it until the drawing was done. We tried to get into to see the penguins as I'll often walk around the house shuffling like a penguin and making little penguin noises (I also imitate baby piggies - oh the talent), but it was an hour wait. No thank you. I think my waiting in line days are over. We caught a pretty cute dolphin show and were hoping the macaws wouldn't poop on us as they flew over. Hungry and pooped ourselves, we headed out around 6:00pm and went to Bahama Breeze for dinner. Sitting outside under the large heaters sharing a bottle of wine and just being away - that was pretty nice. We both agreed that we needed to reconnect more often. Life just gets in the way sometimes and takes over.

Our hotel was the Hawthorn Suites. It was actually bigger than some NYC apartments with a sitting area, bedroom, kitchenette, etc. It was a mediocre, "this will do for one night" type of hotel. Certainly not as bad as the $100/night Carter Hotel in NYC that we stayed in a couple of times. It was a flea hole! But it was super cheap for Manhattan. Our Orlando hotel was clean but had a very strong perfume odor and I have a super sensitive smeller. I mainly booked it for the free hot breakfast. Should have just had some Egg White Delights at McDonald's down the road. Breakfast was no beuno. And somehow I convinced my husband to stop at Orlando Premium Outlets for a couple of hours after we checked out. I drooled over a pair of Prada oxfords and ended up buying a small Kate Spade cross body.

It was a really nice weekend getaway and I'm glad we went. Would I recommend SeaWord - eh. I'd tell ya to go to Discovery Cove (I've never been but who wouldn't want to swim with dolphins?!) or Epcot during the Food and Wine Fest before I would recommend SeaWorld. Of course if you don't want to shell out the money for theme parks, you could just enjoy Downtown Disney and the abundance of restaurants, etc. along International Drive (I-Drive) in Orlando. Downtown Orlando is also pretty cool!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





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Friday, December 12, 2014

It's a Wrap!

I always feel like such a nube wearing scarves. They're not really a necessity in Florida, although it was 40 degrees here this morning so I donned my fancy Tarjay Marc Jacobs scarf over my hoodie. Classy!

I've been looking at this Zara scarf for awhile now. Not sure if it was necessary; not sure I could tie it so it looked right. And then Black Friday hit and Zara had their one-day online sale - I scored this puppy for $20. And man is it comfy. I wore it to our Wednesday trivia date night - we play trivia with a group of people once a week. We won last night cause my husband is a freggin' brainiac! Anyone else think that smart = sexy? I do! This scarf kept me nice and toasty last night but it is quite fuzzy and I kept inhaling the fuzz and having to pick it off my husband's black shirt.

No Wednesday night trivia next week, though. My work is hosting a holiday dinner. Let's hope I don't get bronchitis this year as it sucks being treated like a leper and discouraged from coming to the holiday lunch while watching others with the same sickness go. Yeah, I'm still bitter over that.


However.... my husband's work has been very generous this year. Mr. FedEx dropped off two all-day passes to SeaWorld with lunch included. Hubby and I have arranged for a pet sitter for Cookie, Woozie, and the Bastard Cats so that we can have a little overnight getaway. I think I'm more excited about the getting away part than the theme park. Unless you are a die-hard Mickey fan with your annual mouse ears pass glued to your car or the mouse-eared stick family lined up perfectly on your back windshield, theme parks aren't that big of a deal to Floridians. They're expensive - $100 each just to get in the park. Parking gouges you for another $10-20. Sure we go when we can get in free or have visitors in town and can get in cheaper as Florida residents, etc. Do we go during the summer? Oh heck no! Are you out of your mind? Florida theme parks in July, August, and September are heat strokes waiting to happen. Let me stand in line for an hour with a bunch of hot, sweaty adults and their on-the-verge meltdown mini me(s) in 90+ degree sauna temps. Orrrrr, let me grab a float, a cold adult bevvie, and lounge around in our pool all day (or until the afternoon rains come, which they do every day in the summer) while cooking some yummies on the grill. Door 2, please.


If you do come to Florida and just have to go to a theme park, I suggest you come during our winter season. The crowds are not as large and the weather is fantastic! Most winter days in Florida are 60-80 degrees. Doesn't that sound nice? Good. Well for those that can't get to SeaWorld, I'm taking you with me virtually. I'm bringing the fancy pants camera so stay tuned for whales, palm trees, and a random sunburned European.






{Scarf: Zara | Tee: Target | Jeans: Old Navy Straight (Droit) | Shoes: Tom's | Lips: Covergirl 305 Hot}




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Monday, December 8, 2014

Pinstripe

This blazer is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S....Republic. Yeah, scratch that. Very lame attempt at a joke in my Nyquil coma. Are you sick, Niki? Nope. I take a little 1950s remedy some nights just to fall asleep so that I can get up before farm animals. And as I look at the Nyquil bottle, I just noticed the following: "PARENTS: Learn about teen medicine abuse." Is Nyquil big with the kids these days?

So I'm trying something new. It's called the "Let's see if my sister, Rachel, can guess which building I'm using for my backdrop." I decided that I'd bring my camera to work (not the same as bring your child to work) and head out on my lunch break some days to snap blog pics. I knew this was a high traffic area but the building is empty. Still had people driving by and cutting through the parking lot looking at me like I was B-A-N... oh just stop!

 


 
{Blazer: Banana Republic | Jeans: Mossimo Boyfriend - Target | Shoes: Nine West | Tee: J. Crew | Sunglasses: Mosley Tribes}




 
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Camo

Man, all I see in these pictures are sleep deprivation, wacky lady cycle (hello almost 43), and too many work snacks. Been awhile since I've been in front of the camera and it was a bit uncomfortable. And all I could think about was the Thanksgiving commercial with Progressive Flo and her "fashion blogger" sister sitting around the dinner table. "Where's your wife?" "Vacation." And although it's been warm this week, I just had to break out the D&G boots. And you know what? Hubby and I play trivia on Wednesday nights with a Meetup group and one of tonight's questions was, "what does "D&G" stand for in the fashion world?" So there you go.

These are one of the pairs of Gap jeans I talked about in my post on Monday. Very comfortable for us plus sized gals. Plus sized. Right. Who came up with those words? It's fat. It just means fat. I gotta tell ya, when I was in front of the camera on a daily basis, I stayed accountable to myself and my weight. Weight will always be a struggle for me. At what point do we say, "Fuck it. I'm tired of dieting. Just let me be." vs. "Gurl, you is big. Of course you is smart, important, and kind. But gurl, you is big." Time to do something about it. After Christmas cookie baking weekend of course.

 


 


 
 
(Outfit: Gap | Boots: Dolce and Gabbana | Bag: Kate Spade}


 
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