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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Years

I've spent the last two years combing eBay in search of this J. Crew Eliza blouse in a size 12 (I had no problems finding size 2 or 4).  I love tartan or plaid anything and the simple pattern with jeweled neckline was very appealing to me. And while this shirt is cute, I was a little disappointed in the fit. It's fine in the arms, waist, and hips, but the neckline is rather large. And maybe that's because the jeweled neckline is dragging down the taffeta. I was constantly fiddling with the neckline at work and trying to keep the lining from poking out. 

Because it's dreary and humid today, I decided to keep the rest of the outfit simple and black. This is my all time favorite black stretchy pencil skirt from Gap. I love it! It fits like a dream and I just wish they made this skirt in other colors.

We've started something new at work in hopes to increase productivity and get our releases out the door on time (that has never happened). I'm not too crazy about our daily 15 minute Scrum meetings. Actually, I can't stand meetings at all. People get carried away with the minutia rather than taking the conversation offline. We're supposed to answer three questions in each meeting: What did you work on yesterday? What are you working on today? Any roadblocks? It's an attempt to also get us to break out of our silo'd ways and form better communication with each other, as well as find out any issues within 24 hours, not weeks. While the intention is good, after the layoffs, the motivation and morale is shot. It's hard to get excited about working on anything when half your workforce is gone and it's back to working with difficult people. Good thing I have my blogs! My escape and outlet from the doldrums.



{Blouse: J. Crew (eBay) | Skirt: Gap. Buy it here. | Shoes: Bandolino. Buy them here. | Belt: (unknown). Simple one here. | Watch: Cartier Tank | Lipstick: Nars Dragon Girl. Buy it here.}

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Post Production Editing

I had a comment tonight on my Butterflies post that said I look too young to be 40 and that my skin looks good. This comment got me thinking and I wanted to do a post on my blogging process and photo editing technique.

If you have a nice camera with lenses, most likely you do post production work in Photoshop or some other photo editing software. I can't imagine any top fashion blogger not doing some kind of photo retouching.

My husband has a plethora of professional skills, one of which is graphic arts.  He has spent a lot of time sitting with me and helping me understand some of the basics and more complex features of Photoshop. I'm still a novice and mostly use Photoshop for editing pictures in my personal life and manipulating screen shots in my professional life.

So here's the deal. I'm an honest person. What you see with me is what you get. If you want my opinion on something, I'll tell you the truth. I don't hold back or sugar coat. With that being said, I like my pics to look the best they can for you. My husband typically takes my pictures each morning before I leave for work. I usually write the content on my lunch hour and edit the pics when I get home. I then schedule the post to publish at midnight. What you see today is what I wore yesterday. I don't like to do too many posts in advance. Posting daily is my motivation to maintain my current weight (or try to lose the last 10 lbs) and dress up for work without falling back into my rut of jeans, tees, and flip flops.

So back to the pictures. I have a few forehead wrinkles, a chicken pox scar on my forehead, and a line across the top of my nose between my eyebrows. I smooth these things out using clone stamp in Photoshop. I try not to smooth out everything so that it looks overly done. I keep my clone stamp capacity set around 40% or lower so that there's no harsh blending. It's my little Photoshop Botox treatment.  I have nothing against Botox, it's just not for me at this point in my life.

I rarely touch up any other areas of my face (I could go all crazy touching up the bags under my eyes and dark circles - but I rarely do). If I have a pimple, I will try to smooth that out. No one wants to see pimples in pictures.  Also, if there are little fuzzies on my clothes or I have pantylines, I'll smooth those out. I really could do a lot more retouching, but I'm trying to show you the real me in real clothes that I've purchased.

I also retouch my feet. I have a lot of scars and I'm constantly getting new scabs either from scratching the tops of my feet, bug bites, or blisters from shoes. I have to look at that daily, no reason why you should have to.

The last thing I do is adjust the Auto Contrast. It just helps bring out true colors.

So that's it. A little bit of forehead retouching, covering up of feet scars, and adjusting the contrast of my pics.
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Butterflies

Since the layoffs, there are now only three women in the small accounting software firm I work for, including me. I've never been big on wearing sleeveless shirts or dresses to the office. I always have a cardigan or blazer on, even when I worked in Tampa. I just think that bare arms show a bit too much for the office environment. But when I got to the office today, both of the women were wearing sleeveless tops. I did get a little warm, especially when I walked down to the parking garage to get my Thirty-One party order from my coworker and transferred it to my car. So off came the jacket, but only for a bit. I felt too self conscious to leave it off for any period of time, although it is a very cute dress. It was also 40% off and is from NY&Co. I'd seen it online but wasn't going to pay full retail for it. I bought it before we went to Texas, along with some floral pants. I got the dress and pants for around $70. The dress is a size L. I also ordered a very similar dress from Vince Camuto as well that I'll show you in another post. The back tapering is a bit funky though so I'm gonna have to wear a blazer with it. I love it too much to return it.

I have a feeling once my mom reads this blog post, she'll be all over this dress. She loves butterflies.

I also found out today that our new salesman quit while I was gone. I could see it coming, however. This isn't a bragging thing, but I'm pretty good at reading people during interviews. Even though you don't get the real personality (usually) during an interview from either party, I can usually tell within the first 10-20 seconds if someone is the right fit for our company. I've been able to interview a few people here but didn't have the opportunity to interview our latest hire. However, upon meeting and talking with him, he was reserved and shy and didn't have much experience selling our type of products. Our COO spent many hours training him and in the end, he just got up and walked out (or so I've been told). Luckily we have the perfect fit in house. He's extroverted, works in Support, knows our product, and customers seem to like him (although I'm not a fan of someone who has bullsh** coursing through his/her veins). But he's right for the job. Turns out the COO has already spoken to him.

And since we only have 12 folks left in the office, we are moving. Down the street. At the end of July. We'll still be in Shelton, CT but will have better walking access to more restaurants (Ruby Tuesdays, Chili's, Longhorn). They are not sure about the existence of covered parking (essential in a rainy/snowy/windy climate) just yet. I sure hope we have a parking garage. And that's my ramblings for today.



{Dress: NY&Co. Buy it here. Similar here. | Shoes: Marc Fisher. Similar here and here. | Blazer: Thrifted | Lipstick: MAC Girl About Town. Buy it here.}


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hot Nurse

"You look like a hot nurse" is what my hubby said to me on a muggy Saturday taking these pics. "Well thank you, but that's not exactly what I was going for. I was thinking 'summer whites'" was my reply.

It was indeed humid outside with the threat of the usual daily (or weekly) impending rain. I told hubby that this is what we were in for when we move back to FL. Told him we'd have to keep this in mind when taking pics there. "You don't want to go now?" he asked. "Of course I do. I want to be back to things I know, family, and friends." "But you'll be miserable with the weather." "Well, I'll stay inside in the a/c," I laughed.

Before buying this dress, I took a pic of it with my iPhone and sent it to my sister as I wasn't quite so sure about it. She sent me a text with a resounding "Yes!" when I asked if I should get it. At the time I was writing an article about eyelet for The Impossible Girl. And I totally forgot about my matching eyelet shoes. A bit much with the dress? Maybe. But I only wanted one pop of color in my outfit with this Urban Outfitters belt. The dress came with a cheap, braided light tan belt.


{Dress: JC Penney. Buy it here. Similar here. Darling one here. Plus size here. | Belt: Urban Outfitters. Buy it here. | Shoes: (old). Similar here and here. | Bracelet: Asos. Buy it here. | Lipstick: MAC Rebel. Buy it here.}
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Rusty

I feel like Chloe from The Chloe Conspiracy in this outfit. I love her style. She knows how to mix colors and prints, as well as high and low priced items, like no one else. And she always seems to throw in a little girliness with a bit of lace or ruffle.

I've been wanting rust colored pants for some time now and just couldn't find any I like or that fit comfortably. Until I went to the local Talbots outlet store near my house before we left for Texas. And please don't get on to me for adding an item (cords) to my no-no list. Do I need to put a cap in my arse to gain back street cred with y'all? The color is perfect, the price was right ($20), and the fit is divine! And surprisingly, the fabric is thinner than I recall most corduroys to be. I may have to rethink this item for fall.

The top is sleeveless (I'm not big on showing my arms) and a bit big. It was also $9.99! Too bad they only had size 10 and 14 (I needed a 12). I grabbed the 14 figuring I could have it altered if need be. The jacket is one I bought last year at Forever 21. It's a size L and I've been waiting for it to fit without cutting off my circulation when I bend my elbows. It finally does.


{Pants: Talbots. Similar here. | Top: Talbots. Similar here. | Blazer: Forever 21. Similar here and here. | Shoes: JC Penney. Similar here and here. | Watch: Cartier Tank. | Bracelet: Asos. Buy it here.}

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Final Texas Post

So I got back to Connecticut around 2am Thursday morning after a long delay in Baltimore. A longgggg delay. Switch gates, delayed times, switch gates. Ugh.  Miss Woozie (my dog) was happy to see mommy. And I'm getting stinkin' drunk as I write this so who knows what I'll wake up to regarding this post. Ahhhhh. Vino and vacation  - makes for a lovely vacation. And a roly poly tummy!

After I finished walking along the beautiful River Walk in San Antonio, I headed for the Alamo. Now I'm pretty good at directions, however, I never though the Alamo was in downtown San Antonio. In pics, I've always thought it was blowing in the wild west wind with tumbleweeds and miles away from civilization. Uh, no. It's a couple of blocks from the River Walk and in downtown. How strange. I was really shocked a Starbucks wasn't right next door.

I couldn't take any pics inside as it was heavily patrolled by important kids wearing uniforms making sure I don't snap a single photo with my snazzy camera or iPhone. There wasn't a lot to look at - a couple of rooms and a model of the Alamo and the grounds.

They did have little devices you could carry around and listen to the history of the Alamo, but I was on a  time crunch and needed to get back to Austin. So I went inside, checked it out, looked around the grounds and headed back to my car. Or so I thought. I started walking the wrong direction down St. Mary's Street in 100 degree heat. I guess my sense of direction has gone downhill since turning 40.  It was brutal! Once I turned myself around and found my car and blasted the A/C, I was on my way back to Austin.  So glad I visited the outlet mall before I went to San Antonio. I have seriously underestimated the power of the sun. The intensity is that of Florida and something I haven't endured for more than two or three days at a time visiting family in FL. When I lived in FL, I would have pretty bad pimples - you know the kind that appear under the surface of the skin and never rise to the top but are so painful and red. I got one of those while in Texas. My skin is perfectly clear in CT. But you know what? I think I'll trade clear skin for sunshine, heat, and family. I really feel like it's getting time for us to move and I don't see us here but for more than another year, if that. This means I'll have to curtail my clothes shopping and try to save for what we'll need to come to the table for the difference between what we sell and what we owe on the house + realtor fees. But we'll see how that goes. Hopefully I'll be able to see my nephew more than once every four to six months very soon.

I mostly spent Wednesday resting in the hotel and then traveling. I'm really glad to be home, I picked up hubby tonight as well. We had Carrabba's takeout (only one in the state of CT - an hour from my house) and are now chilling. Please excuse me if I take a long weekend and finish my vacation. I'm beat and just need some chill time. I'll be back next week with my regular pics with new clothing. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Keeping it Weird in Austin? Nooo, San Antonio!

Hello San Antonio! Oh how I’ve wanted to go to the River Walk for years now. It’s less than a two hour drive from Austin and my main reason for renting the car on Tuesday. I figured if I’m this close, I might as well go for it. And I love to explore different cities. I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to travel. Always have been.  I think it started when I was 16 and got a small dose of NYC with my family. After college, I searched for a job that would afford me travel opportunities. For three years I worked with a company out of St. Pete, FL where I would travel all around the US and train finance and insurance personnel on our accounting software. I’ve been to almost every state, with the exception of North Dakota, Hawaii, and Alaska. I’ve picked cotton on the side of the road in Georgia, gone for boat rides on Lake Michigan, eaten a lovely brunch on the deck of the Hotel Coronado in San Diego, gone down river rapids in Oregon, and driven through my first blizzard in in Wyoming on my way to Denver. So how can I not travel the hour and a half to San Antonio?

And the River Walk did not disappoint. I walked along the banks under the city of downtown San Antonio, hitched a ride on one of the riverboat tours, and ate tacos under one of the infamous, colorful umbrellas. Why do people insist on feeding the birds and ducks? I had to swat them away and practically had a duck sitting on my foot the entire meal looking up at me with sad duck ‘give me a chip’ eyes.

I’m sorry, Austin, but San Antonio blows your arse away! It’s hard to imagine this crooked river (only 4 feet deep) with its system of locks and newer passages is located directly under the city. How fortunate for the people of San Antonio. I’m in love and hope to return one day.


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