Friday, August 31, 2012

Moving Time

My mom suggested that I take the long weekend to move into the apartment we rented for the next few months. I was originally supposed to move in on September 5 but was able to get in today. So at lunch, I go sign the lease and grab the keys. I'll then take the weekend to transfer my stuff from my sister's house to the new apartment.

My mom was kind enough to offer some basic necessities until husband comes down with the rest of our stuff the third week of Sept. I'm trying to see if I can fly up to help him drive down the truck but I have some obstacles. Getting to Hartford at midnight, driving one hour to West Haven, and then turning around and driving for 10-12 hours in a large moving van at 6am will be rough. Then there's Woozie. Anyone wanna watch her for two days? My mom is watching her the following weekend as we celebrate a big birthday for my husband. She was very gracious in getting us a condo on the beach for the weekend so that we can have a nice party and relax after all the moving. My husband's family is also flying down for the weekend and it will be the first time in three years that we've seen our three-year old nephew. He was a month old the last time we saw him. We've seen him from time-to-time via video chat and of course on Facebook pics. Our other niece and nephew are getting so big. Last time we saw them was at our wedding.

I gotta be honest. I'm just really over all the moving, planning, and paperwork that has resulted from this move to FL. Starting a new job, rooming with my sister, running home at lunch to let out the dog, trying to secure an apartment, providing my liver to the tax collector to get my Florida plates, getting up an hour and a half earlier than I'm used to and being in bed by 10pm, planning a birthday party, as well as trying to help my husband plan his move has really taken its toll. I'm so ready to just come home, put my feet up, drink a glass of wine and compete watch Jeopardy with my hubby.

It's funny how having all my clothes within eyesight instead of crammed in three closets and having to rely on my iPhone app to pick my clothes has triggered new a-ha moments of 'hey, this will match this!' And the good news, the new apartment has not one, but two walk in closets. And believe it or not, hubby has more clothes than I do!

{Shirt: J. Crew | Pants: Talbots | Shoes: Vera Wang for Kohl's. Buy them here.  Remember to use the 10% off code: "UBLOGTEN" | Necklace: J. Crew | Lipstick: Covergirl Hot Passion}
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dorothy Perkins Dress

This was the last dress I purchased from Dorothy Perkins a few months ago. Just not crazy about the lack of customer service offered to those in the US. Although I do like their prices and their choices in dresses. I believe I paid less than $50 for this dress. And I didn't realize it until I was packing up my clothes in Connecticut, but it's a 'tall.' I'm only 5'4" and would have preferred to have it hemmed a couple of inches, but I think it works.

It gets cold in my office so I did pair it with my black Forever 21 blazer for a very structured and professional look. Pair this dress with black heels and a black blazer and it could totally work for an interview.

I have quite a few plans lined up for the weekend. Red Robin has made its presence in Tampa and my sister is thrilled. I have a Groupon and a coupon for free onion rings. We're also going to see Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I'm actually looking forward to it. My sister, brother-in-law, and I were just talking that we always remember the Clearwater Marine Aquarium as this run-down, rickety building. And we sure hope our $20 admittance fee shows a spiffier facility.

I'm also trying to get my move in date up'd a few days so that I can move into the apartment over the Labor Day weekend when I have a few helping hands, rather than on the original September 5 move date.

I would like to fit in a bit of chillaxing time as well.

{Dress: Dorothy Perkins | Shoes: Nine West Andriana | Lipstick: MAC Listering}
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Special Kohl's Discount

Should I talk about the great deal I got on the pants or this tank I spotted in Forever 21? Okay, I'll talk about both. I had two $10 rewards in my Gap statement this month. Don't you hate how they stick them in the statements now rather than mailing them out? I always forget about them. Maybe that's Gap's master plan. Anyhoo, I spotted these pinstripe ankle pants and another pair of rosy beige ankle pants on final sale. Grand total for both? $14! Go Niki, go Niki!

I spotted the tank top on my way out of Forever 21 as sister was buying a dress. Forever 21 is giving me the heebie jeebies these days. I walk in and start feeling the cheap quality of the clothes and just want to run out. Well, until I spotted this tank. Hey, it happens. I cave sometimes. Especially with unique flower or mirror image prints. I thought instead of pairing it under a blazer that I would put it on top of my Ann Taylor blouse. And I think it works, except for the massive criss cross wrinkles on my breasts.

I also received a comment on my blog on Monday from a Kohl's representative. She wanted to make sure I passed along a discount to my readers. Here's what she had to say:

"I noticed that you offer your readers great fashion advice. Therefore, I also wanted to share an exclusive 10% off code for You can use the code UBLOGTEN now through October 24th and stack your savings with one other department specific code as well. Feel free to use this code and share it with your readers!"

So there you go! Head on over to and get shopping!

{Top: Ann Taylor | Pants: Gap | Tank: Forever 21. Buy it here. | Shoes: Vera Wang for Kohl's. Buy them here. | Lipstick: Nars Heat Wave}
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Gym

I joined a new gym over the weekend. I no longer have the challenging hills of Connecticut or access to my treadmill (until hubby comes down). I also now live close enough to a gym that offers my favorite group classes. I'm not a Zumba girl. I'm also not the type that likes hip hop workout music or "dance" moves.

I pretty much feel the same about cycling classes. I don't like spin classes that take me on an imaginary "journey" or that last an hour and 15 minutes. This is why I like Les Mills classes. They are structured group classes with no more than nine songs, seven of which are core workout songs. The instructors cannot deviate from the format of the classes. However, they can change up the music two weeks after a new release. If I recall, new releases happen about every 8-12 weeks.

When I lived in Florida prior to moving to Connecticut, I was a member of Lifestyle Family Fitness. I loved my gym. The instructors were great and all they offered were Les Mills courses. Unfortunately, a few weeks prior to moving down to Florida, I found out that super gym - LA Fitness  - bought up Lifestyle Family Fitness. They also offer their own courses. When hubby and I were members in Connecticut before our wedding, the spin classes were always empty. I tried a couple of their group courses and was completely turned off by the format and lack of structure. So I worked out on the eliptical and lifted weights with my hubby.

The gym I joined last week, Kinetix, is small but clean and provides brand new machines. The staff is friendly and helpful without the typical sales pressures of most gyms. They offer my two favorite Les Mills courses, Body Combat and RPM. RPM is a spin class that provides interval training. A lot of spin classes I've taken are just constant go-go-go with no break. You have your regulars in the front of the class spinning their legs like little hamsters on a wheel for over an hour. My little legs need some doping to keep up. With RPM (Rapid Power in Motion), you start slow and build momentum with ups and downs in between songs.

Body Combat is my favorite. And although my feet hurt afterward, it's addicting. It's basically kickboxing to techno music. In a way, it's empowering (and burns over 500 calories in an hour). Halfway through you slow things down and work on moves to strengthen your core. The Muay Thai track is the hardest, involving lots of upper and lower body work. It's fast paced and really makes you sweat. After seven songs, you do upper and lower body work on floor mats before cooling down. It's a great workout!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Asos Bloom

I saw this shirt on and loved the rich jewel tones of navy and green.  I probably could have gone with a size 10 instead of a 12 but it's hard to judge clothing when you buy it online. My sister doesn't buy clothing too often online for that very reason. So let me segue into what we did this weekend. Sister loves my jeans. So Saturday night we went to a local mall that has kind of gone downhill since I left. She found the same jeans in quite a few sizes smaller that I wear (I'm curvy, she's got a straight figure). They looked terrific on her.

She also picked out an orange, belted dress but was concerned about the length. I told her to try it on with the jeans as she gave me a funky look. "Trust me," I said. It looked fantastic on her as a tunic. And we accomplished what we set out to do. "I need outfits to match two pairs of shoes." I'll take some pictures of her and feature her outfit in an upcoming blog. Can't wait. She looks so cute in her outfit.

But on to today's outfit. The weather was nice on Friday morning when I took these pictures. As I sit here writing this on a Sunday evening, it's windy and rainy as we are awaiting Isaac's arrival. School is closed tomorrow so sister and husband get the day off. Guess where I'll be?

{Top: Asos. Buy it here. | Jeans: Inked & Faded. Buy curvy version here. | Shoes: Vera Wang for Kohls. | Lipstick: Hourglass Fever. Buy it here.}
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Mixin' & Matchin'

My sister, nephew, and I were playing last night in the room I'm staying in. Sister and I were looking at my clothes and she wants me to make it a point to wear everything that still has a tag. We started with this skirt that I've had for awhile (tag still attached). Sister of course was picking out conservative shirts but I wanted some pattern mixing. One of the women I work with really liked yesterday's outfit and commented that she normally just wears black with a pop of color. I think when you put yourself out on the Internet as a fashion blogger, risks and different spins on everyday outfits are expected. And I've grown quite fond of taking fashion risks for you.

I know not everything I wear is going to be a home run, but hopefully I give you some ideas of how to think a little outside the box. Take this outfit for example. This skirt would have looked great with just a simple black blouse. The colors in the skirt could have stood on their own against a solid top. And I'd be happy to show you another way to wear this skirt that involves a solid top. I also like to show you how to wear items a little differently. By selecting just a couple of colors in the skirt, you can easily do pattern mixing. The most common type of pattern mixing is a print with a stripe. Pick the print first and then select a striped shirt with no more than two of the colors that can be found in the printed pants or skirt. That's it! Give it a try and break out of the drab matchy-matchy rut.

{Top: Loft | Skirt: J. Crew | Shoes: J. Crew | Lipstick: Hourglass Fever}
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Feeling Fine

I feel great in this outfit. Feel like my old self again. Got my pattern mixing going on, got compliments on my necklace, and was told at work that I put great outfits together. And it was a good hair day in muggy weather (more on that in another post - still doing research).

Tonight we went to a restaurant at a small airport in St. Pete. It was $5 burger night and my nephew was in awe of the small prop planes taking off right outside the restaurant windows. Very cute place with a neat twist. The burgers were good as well. So good that I ate my entire burger, felt guilty, and then had to walk it off in the neighborhood. Glad it didn't rain tonight. Hubby said it's beautiful in Connecticut right now. Go figure.

{Top: Zara | Pants: Talbots | Shoes: Rock & Republic | Necklace: H&M | Lipstick: Nars Red Dragon}
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spice Time

It's time to spice things up at work cause this outfit and the one before it are just too conservative for my taste. I don't feel like myself. I feel drab. Monday's outfit was fine because I needed to play it safe and today's outfit was just 'eh.' So tomorrow, I'm gonna start dressing like myself again. Time to add some cool patterns to the mix.

I will tell you that it's hard to do outdoor morning shots in muggy weather. It typically rains on and off during the day so in the morning, everything is wet and the camera fogs up. I may have to keep taking indoor shots until my location changes in September. I apologize for that as I prefer natural settings.

The good news is that we are moving into our new (remodeled) apartment on September 5. It's five minutes from work. Very grateful to my sister, Rachel, for letting me camp out in her spare bedroom for three weeks. I know it's hard having company for that long. Good thing we are close and can speak our minds to one another without offending each other too much. And Woozie is adapting remarkably well to her new surroundings. Well, except for the loud booms of thunder that she hasn't heard in years. It does thunder in Connecticut but nothing like Florida. Again, we just need to get past August and September and then we'll be good to go for the rest of the year.

And I figured out the tradeoff with daylight between Connecticut and Florida. In Connecticut, it starts getting light out at 5:45 AM. This morning, it started to get light around 7:10 AM in FL. So I'd rather have the extra hour and a half of light in the evenings when we turn back the clocks than the extra light in the mornings. Especially since I'm so not a morning person. But I am trying something new at work. I'm typically a 9-6 gal. I like my sleep. But I've realized over the last two days that I also like getting out of work early and having some evening time. When hubby moves down, I'll be able to come home, cook dinner, and go work out with plenty of time to spare for relaxing and unwinding in the evenings.

So speaking of working out. About a week before I moved down here, I found out that my gym 'Lifestyle Family Fitness' went under. Was bought up by LA Fitness, which I detest. The main reason is that they don't offer Les Mills classes.  I was sooo looking forward to coming back and picking up where I left off with Body Combat and RPM. I like a structured spin class that starts and ends on time with no more than nine songs. It's interval training that lasts 45 minutes, which is about all I can do. I can't stand spin classes that go on for an hour and 15 minutes. I get bored. And my beloved Body Combat class. Techno music with martial arts. Only it's not a kickboxing class. I don't have to hit a punching bag or run around in circles or battle other folks. It's more of a coordinated dance move class that doesn't require me to shake what my momma gave me. I get to throw jabs and hooks and kicks without looking like a floozy. So there's one gym about 10 minutes from my sister's house that still offers the Les Mills classes and I'm going to attend Thursday evening. I can't wait to get back to working out.

{Blazer: Zara | Tank: Ann Taylor | Pants: Loft | Shoes: Franco Sarto | Lipstick: MAC Girl About Town}

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Day at New Job

This is what I wore for my first day at my new job. My sister wanted to pick out my outfit and I thought she did a good job. I wanted something conservative until I found out about the dress code. Turns out it's business casual.

Please excuse the indoor shots. I didn't want to start sweating outside. But I think I had pretty decent light source to do some indoor shots until I get acclimated to the humidity. I know know why J's Everyday Fashion and some of the other Florida bloggers take indoor pics.

{Blouse: Ann Taylor | Necklace: Ann Taylor | Skirt: J. Crew. Buy it here. | Shoes: Nine West Andriana. Buy other colors here.}

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Apartment Hunting Outfit

I'm starting my first day at work today (outfit in tomorrow's post) but thought I'd show you the outfit from Saturday's apartment search. It's also the first day I tested out my new location. Nothing special about the outfit. I just wanted to be comfortable. I've noticed that these types of hats are a lot more common up north than down in FL. Most people wear baseball caps down here.

It's been super rainy almost every day I've been in FL. That's typical in August. I think I've stressed before that August and September are not my favorite months in Florida. But I'll take two bad months over eight months of cold, dreary Connecticut weather. And standing outside just for a few minutes to take these photos around 11am resulted in a sweaty mess.

All in all I looked at approximately 11 properties in Pinellas County over the last four days. I narrowed it down to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in  a complex about five minutes from work and just a few more minutes from my sister. I wanted to stay close to both and avoid any bridge traffic from Tampa to Clearwater. Although I grew up in Clearwater, I'm used to living in Tampa.

The apartment is nice, modern, and hopefully quiet. It should provide enough space for all of our things from our CT house. It has the second bedroom so that hubby can set up his office space and work comfortably from home. I think it will be a nice temporary solution. I'll show it later in Sept. when we are moved in.

{Hat: Urban Outfitters | Shorts: J. Crew | Shirt: Lucky Brand | Purse: Prada | Shoes: Donald Pliner | Lipstick: Nars Dragon Girl}

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Can you really go home?

I got into Tampa Wednesday night around 5:30. My sister hung a welcome home sign on the garage door, which was very sweet. Since then I've been to the DMV to get my driver's license and have visited six apartment complexes to try and find something close to my new job. Haven't been able to register my car as I need husband's original signature on a Power of Attorney and need the bill of sale for my car since I bought it less than six months ago.

Florida has really become stringent on the paperwork needed to get my driver's license. I kid you not when I say you have to bring a birth certificate, current driver's license, social security card, marriage certificate, and two pieces of mail addressed to me with my sister's address on it. I'm so glad I called beforehand to find this out. And when I got there, the type of mail I had wasn't acceptable. Really? A change of address form from USPS isn't acceptable? Luckily the clerk next to mine said what I brought was acceptable. Good thing I didn't have to fork over a pint of blood.

And this leads me to wonder - can you really go back home after a being away for years without it feeling strange? Roads that I travelled and knew by heart I now have to Google because I can't remember how to get around town. New roads have sprung up while I was away. I now have the things I've been craving readily accessible and I still have to remind myself that it's not a visit with family this time. Feels weird to be driving my car and not be driven around by my sister. My wardrobe looks massive in my sister's spare bedroom closet so I'll be making a trip to get another portable garment rack. I'm grateful to her and her husband for letting me stay in their house while our life feels so chaotic right now.

Woozie did great on the trip. After the first hour of wimpering and panting through New York, she realized she wasn't going to the Vet. And she's been adapting really well at my sister's house. Well except when it thundered, in which she promptly ran under my nephew's bed.

Tomorrow my search continues for temporary living arrangements. On Monday I start my new job and will have a new outfit to share with you.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Goodbye New England

Though we haven't always seen eye-to-eye and it's been a struggle for me to adapt, I have enjoyed a few things New England has offered. First off, there's the money difference between what I was (and will be again) making in Florida vs. Connecticut salaries. There is a significant difference (30%+) in pay in both New England and the tri-state area within my industry. However, with that pay comes trade offs, such as high property taxes, state income tax, and personal property taxes (auto).

I was never into gardening until I moved to Connecticut. When we moved into our house in August 2008, it was too late to plant my all-time favorite flower - the hydrangea. So I waited until October when the air turned bitterly crisp for my Floridian blood and set out to clear move some of the daisies and plant what I had only seen in stores - tulips and daffodils. At first my garden looked pretty empty, but over the last four years, I've added an Endless Summer hydrangea, geraniums, and various seasonal flowers that I can enjoy from April to September.

I think I did the most traveling within New England during my first year up here. I took a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen in York, Maine during a rather pleasant and snowless February day. Hubby and I stayed at a delightful floating hotel called The Green Turtle in Boston during our first Memorial Day in New England. I took my pregnant sister and her husband on a whirlwind tour of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Boston in 2010. In Vermont, we stayed in Stowe, were introduced to butternut squash hash, and tried new flavors at Ben & Jerry's corporate headquarters.

Connecticut is a beautiful state. Traveling up the Merritt Parkway in the fall is breathtaking. I worked up on a hill in a five-story building where I looked out glass windows to a sea of golds and reds in November, the first snowfall of December, and the incredible speed at which Spring seemed to explode in April. Never before had I been to a Christmas Tree farm and chopped down our very own tree at Jone's Family Farm. I will miss the farms and the wineries. Picking apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and other fruit I detest (I'm not a fruit eater) became a family tradition. When the Floridians came up, we went and picked apples at Lyman Orchards. I also took the family to Jonathan Edwards winery. I'm sad I won't get to experience another harvest fest in October where huge, white tents house hundreds of people from CT, RI, and MA. People set up their own picnic areas with fresh linens, cheeses, etc. while sipping on Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and other locally grown wines. There's music, a pig roast, vendors, and tours of the winery, conducted by Mr. Edwards himself.

I also learned to appreciate seafood while living in New England. It was in Rhode Island at Maria's on Missquamicut Beach that I fell in love with scallops. I'm so glad we took a day in July for a final visit. However, I'm looking forward to enjoying Sarasota's turquoise waters and sugar white sands. And water that isn't freezing.

And finally, the entire reason for moving up north - New York City. Being able to take a train into the city on the spur of the moment was such an inviting thought. In reality, we only really visited 3-4 times/year. Going into the city was an all day ordeal. The train ride was 94 minutes at a cost of $50 round trip for hubby and I. It was quite expensive to go. We would easily drop $200 - 300 just in train fare, cabs, and food/wine while in the city for a day. Of course the shopping is unbelievable and will no doubt lure me up to NYC at least once a year in the future. And while it is crowded no matter what time of year you go, Christmastime in NYC is simply jaw-dropping. I'm so glad I got to see the Macy's Day Parade, stroll down Little Italy, take in a Broadway show, view the Statue of Liberty and NYC skyline on a water cruise, see my mom nervously quivering on top of The Rock, enjoy pizza and cheeses during a culinary tour of Greenwich Village with my sister and her husband on a rain-soaked day, take a carriage ride in Central Park with my hubby, and last and most memorable - have the love of my life propose to me on May 15, 2010 after a wonderful meal at Morton's and a beautiful day at The Met.

Goodbye New England. Thanks for the memories. Here's to new ones.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inside my Connecticut Home

As I'm making my journey down to Florida today, I thought I would show you the inside of my house in Connecticut. The place I've called home for the last four years. The place where my hubby will remain for another month as he completes projects to boost traffic and hopefully land a sale.

This past weekend was spent working on each room of the house - cleaning and staging with minimum furniture, clutter, and personal details. We were up by 8am each morning and worked for 12-14 hours each day. We've moved boxes from room to room, put them in closets, and lined them in the unfinished part of our basement.

Can you believe the blue room that I staged as an office is actually where I did my makeup and housed all my clothing and shoes? It was totally girly (albeit the blue wall paint from the previous owner) and was often filled with empty J. Crew, Zara, and Asos packages and boxes. We originally planned this room to be a relaxing library where we would hang out and read books. That never happened. Instead, I took over and stored almost all my wardrobe in this room.

Our other upstairs bedroom was our guest room where my sister and her husband and my mom and stepfather stayed while they visited from FL. I was in a shabby chic phase when I decorated this room. Hubby gave me free reign with this room and it proved to be quite cozy for our guests.

So that's the upstairs. Would have been awesome had we had a bathroom in between the two rooms. However, we do have two bathrooms. One on the main level and the other in the basement. We tried to keep them looking similar and painted them the same color. Other than paint, the main level bath remained unchanged from the previous owner. And although it has a bathtub, I really miss my garden tub in previous houses. It's a requirement in the next house.

The basement bathroom is a 3-piece. We replaced the vanity, toilet, and added an Ikea storage unit. This is hubby's bathroom. It's about half the size of the main level bath. Hubby also painted the wall tile because it had tacky flowers all over it when we bought the house. Same with the tile in the shower. A border of flowers. Ewwwww.

Even though our kitchen has the original wood cabinets and the appliances could use some updating, we made the best of what we had with some paint, new ceiling fan, stainless steel light and outlet plates, t-bar handles on the cabinets, and artwork. I got the idea of painting the cabinets a steel gray from HGTV's Colorsplash. We had an existing blue-gray tiled floor in the kitchen that we didn't want to rip out so I had to find some paint colors that would work. Light gray, dark gray, and a back splash of burgundy really made the kitchen seem more modern than when we bought it (previous owner painted every room baby blue and pastel pink - and she had no kids!).

We carried the light gray wall color into the hallway and into our tiny master bedroom. I wanted to keep the master bedroom very gender neutral so hubby wouldn't feel like he's engulfed in a bed of roses.

The first weekend we moved into our house, we immediately tackled the paint color in the living room. I wanted something calming and that reflected the beachy neighborhood we live in. I chose two similar green hues.  We've also been through a couple of TV stands once we sold the monster projector TV hubby had before we met. Since we don't have a fireplace, we have an electric fireplace within our TV stand.  We also have the gel fireplace in the bedroom that used to hang in the living room before we got this latest TV stand.

The biggest home improvement we made was in the basement. Our basement was partially finished when we moved in. But it had old carpet, large horizontal wood planks on the lower half of the walls, and one dark, dim overhead light box. We brought in an electrician and redid the electrical throughout both the finished and unfinished sides of the basement. We also had a couple of guys come in and completely strip the walls down to the studs and put up new drywall. Last July while I was visiting family in Pittsburgh, hubby surprised me by painting the entire basement and installed the $100 tile we found at the Habitat for Humanity store in Stratford, CT. I'm really pleased with how the basement turned out. But so glad to move back to a state where there are no basements. Basements are wet, smelly, and flood easily with sump pump or plumbing issues. It will be nice not to have to worry about basement flooding due to power outages or days upon days of rain. Our basement is dry but when we toured homes up here before buying, I was appalled at some of the basements I walked in to. One basement still had dirt walls that looked like they were ready to collapse at any moment.

And of course you've seen our backyard as that has been the area we take almost all the pics of me in my daily outfits. I'll have to work out a new location once I'm in FL and I will be taking the pics for the next month (unless I can get my sister to do it but she's a teacher and has to be a work while I'm still sleeping).

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