Thursday, June 27, 2013

More Eyelet

I've been waiting to show you this outfit for awhile now. Why the hold up? Uh, no time to iron. Okay, that and too lazy to iron. I hate ironing. I'd rather do it all while watching True Blood and get it out of the way than to do like hubby does and iron the outfit I'm going to wear that day. Plus I think ironing is kind of a waste. Cause what happens when you get in the car? Wrinkles.  However I do like the look of freshly ironed clothes, which is why I see out the $2 dry cleaners. One blogger I follow takes indoor pictures and she always looks unkempt. Her clothes are nice but look like she picked them out of heaping pile in her closet. I think if you're gonna be a fashion blogger, you should at least take the time to make your clothes presentable.

I did have to add a tank top to this very thin shirt. Doesn't it remind you of Louis Vuitton's spring 2011 line? The big eyelet collar. Even if I could afford to drop some chedda on some LV clothing, I wouldn't be able to fit into it. So for $20, this Forever 21 blouse does the trick. When I bought my lobster pants from Old Navy, I also picked these up. How cute are the anchors? I tried this combo with a few different shoes and finally said, "I'm wearing my Chucks." This is a summer outfit that deserves cute sneaks. I did decide at the last minute to unfold the bottom of the pants. And I swallow my words - wrinkles!

{Blouse: Forever 21 | Pants: Old Navy | Shoes: Converse Shoreline | Lippies: Nars Yu}

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Ready to see the upstairs of the new house? Okay, just like the downstairs, you need to keep an open mind. There's good space upstairs. Plenty of bedrooms (3 + master) and two bathrooms. Cleaning and paint will go a long way until we can replace the hallway with wood floors. We'll probably keep the carpets in the bedroom, provided I can't detect the smell of dog or cat piss.

Let's climb some stairs. One of the criteria for me in the new house was two or more levels. I love two stories. Just feels cozier to me than a one story.  The stairs start straight at the bottom but then make a sharp 90 degree turn. Getting furniture up the stairs will be interesting.

This is at the top, looking down the stairs and looking down the hall into the master. So we'll start there. I have a huge linen closet (shown in the second photo on the right), something I currently lack in the apartment (we keep our towels on top of the washer and dryer right now).


I'm now standing in the master bedroom. It's a pretty good size (not sure of exact dimensions). It's big enough to fit our California King, which we don't have yet, but it's on our list of must-have purchases. It's also big enough if we want to add additional Ikea storage units, we can. We do have his/hers walk-in closets and plenty of closet space in the three additional bedrooms. My closet is off to the left, hubby's is on the right, as is the master bath. Not gonna show you the master bath because it was nasty. It's also a weird configuration where one sink is on the outside of the bathroom door. It has no bathtub so the plan down the road is to change the shower into a garden tub/shower. This is going to be a project so it will probably have to wait until next year or so. For now, it will be hubby's bathroom (unless I have to pee in the middle of the night, which happens).

There are only two ways to get to that beautiful upper deck and the door you see on the left is one way. The other way is to go out any of the three sliding glass doors on the main level and then climb up the stairs on the left side of the house.

So we'll leave the master bedroom now and go down the hall to the other three rooms and bathroom. I'm glad it's a split level plan upstairs. Keep all the hooligan family members away from our bedroom door. The main full bath is on the left as is my office, and then the other two rooms are on the right. My office has the pool and golf view (yeah, I'll get a lot of work done). The guest rooms overlook the front of the house.

When my stepfather found out that we were planning to buy this house with four bedrooms and a den, he wondered if we were also planning to have kids. Uh, no. I realize it's just the two of us but for the last five years, hubby and I have been living in an average of 1000-1200sq feet. We're ready for more space. We have stuff and hobbies and want to spread out. We'll use one room as a guest room with a full size bed. Another room will be my craft room. Yeah, I like to craft. I want to start sewing, actually. One room will be my office as I can work from home one day/week. And then we have our master bedroom. The den downstairs will be occupied by my hubby as his full-time office. So see? We will make use of all the rooms in the house.

Let's look at the bath first. Here's the plan. First thing's first and that's cleaning and painting, just like all the rooms. The vanity is in good shape so I'm going to replace the countertop, hardware, and sinks (it has dual sinks). Down the road, we may put in a deeper tub and redo the entire tub/shower/wall tile. Again, that's a bigger, more expensive project so it will have to wait.

There's nothing special about the other two bedrooms. They are just bedrooms with closets so I'll just show you my special, turquoise office that is similar to the other two rooms. Oh that color is staying. Cause nothing says productive like turquoise paint. I'd like to get a Parson's writing desk and will probably utilize our white shelving units in either my office or the craft room. I'm putting the desk directly in front of the window so I can see that beautiful view.

So that's it. No more house pictures until we can close on it at the end of July or the first week in August. But I may share with you my vision for the house room by room.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

eBay Camo

Well I finally got a pair of these oh-so-popular Gap camo skinnies. Finally. I think they were in the store for a hot minute and then *poof* all gone.  I was combing eBay for larger sizes (I always have to size up in jeans/skinnies). I finally came across a woman that was selling multiple sizes. I told her what I was looking for and within a couple of weeks, she scored my size. Yay! These pants are comfortable and versatile. I can't wait to pair them with uh, everything.

And is it me or are J. Crew Factory tee shirts becoming stiffer and cheaper than they used to be? It's like I'm paying premium price for H&M quality. I think it's time to lay off the Factory tees for awhile.

{Pants & Shorts: Gap | Tee: J. Crew Factory | Shoes: Nine West, Converse | Necklace: Ann Taylor | Hat: Urban Outfitters}

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Switchin' It Up

A lot has changed in my life since starting my blog almost two years ago. What once seemed so important - fashion - is steadily becoming more unimportant to me. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion, but I'm not jazzed about having a closet full of cheap fashion that creates temporary, cheap highs. I look at my closet and think, "I don't even need half of what's in there."

Maybe it's because I'm in a no-spend mode on pretty much everything for the next 6 weeks or it's the allure of having great countertops, wood flooring, etc. in the new house that is trumping fashion. It could be that I'm just tired and not feeling as adventurous with fashion as I used to. Could be the heat. Could be the small office I work for where the kind of fashion I've been showcasing seems a bit ridiculous now. Could be that I'm tired and older and I'm now thinking of our future and rebuilding savings. Could just be a temporary lapse that I'll snap out of.

Whatever the reason, I want my blog to grow and evolve with me. I don't want to limit it to fashion anymore. I want it to encompass beautiful things and capture timeless moments in my life as a way of looking back and remembering. I want it to be about the next chapter in our life. We've let Connecticut go. We have no ties there anymore. It was nice but not for us. We've returned to what's comfortable for us. Towns we are familiar with, family I grew up with, and a climate more suited to our lifestyle. We gave New England and New York
four years and it just wasn't for us. We're older and becoming more settled in our ways. The desire to go-go-go and do-do-do that was there in my youth isn't as prevalent. I have to turn down family weekend plans quite often because I want to enjoy the time I have on the weekends without feeling rushed. I think it's great my family likes to run around all weekend and go to places and do stuff.
Rarely do they sit still. But it's just not me. There are some weekend days where I will hang in my PJs until 3 or 4pm. I might go to Publix and then cook dinner before grabbing a stack of magazines or streaming a movie. And while I love going out to eat, it's not always practical, nor is it good for maintaining weight loss. Plus, I love to cook. I love trying new recipes. I'm also looking forward to having family and friends over now that we have so much space in the new house to entertain. The only issue is the distance.

Our house is situated east of Tampa. It's about a 45 minute commute to work and family, who are both in the Clearwater area of Tampa Bay. As I explained before, we had to move east (or go equal distance north of Tampa) to get the type of house we wanted at a comfortable price. So getting people to come over will be challenging. But I'm hoping that back yard will make them forget all about that drive. And for the first time in about six years, I want my mom and sister to gather at my house house for a tradition I want to revive - Christmas cookie baking. Of course my husband is a willing "tester" and I'm sure the little guy (my 3-year old nephew) will be too.

So I'm making the decision to evolve my blog into not just fashion, but home stuff too. It will be a mixture of home decor, food, and fashion. It's pretty much always been that way but I focused on daily outfits sprinkled with the other stuff. Now I want it to be an equal division. Some of you may like this, others may drop off. And that's okay.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We Want More, We Want More

So you wanna see the inside of the house, huh? Particularly that uber cool ceiling fan? It's not staying with the house so don't get too excited.  At least I hope the renter doesn't think he's leaving us a "gift" by not taking the damn thing down. Oh boy. If that's the case maybe we'll ask the seller for a "dismantling credit" at closing.

So let's see. The inspection is done. The appraisal has been ordered. And although the inspector did not see any evidence of termites, we ordered an inspection just in case. Those things should happen early next week. So glad we spent the extra $50 on the wind mitigation report. It saved us $1K on our homeowners insurance premiums. Not many insurance companies will insure in FL anymore - hurricanes and sinkholes being the issue. In the 30+ years I've been in FL... nope not gonna go there. Not gonna jinx us. So once the appraisal is done, we can rest a little easier and then kind of coast through July. Oh the other big hurdle to get through is actually getting the loan approved. Yeah, that's a biggie.

So here we go. Consider these the "before" pictures. We's gonna spiff up the place room by room. I'll explain the layout as we go along on the picture tour. I'll wait for you to get your popcorn, cookies, or whatever snackie cakes you need.

Get me a glass of wine while you're up, too. Thanks!

Let's begin.

The Father of the Bride house has two living areas. This one with the fireplace (wood burning) faces the pool and is in between the kitchen and catacorner to the dining room. Go around the corner to the left and you're in the other living area. Go to the right and you're in my husband's office. The plan is to paint the entire interior with a gray/blue paint, such as Benjamin Moore's "Healing Aloe" or "Quiet Moments." We both agree that we want to paint the fireplace trim white. I'd like to also paint the brick either white or black but hubby isn't so sure yet. He'll come around.

Alright so let's go through the hall and turn left into the other living area. Welcome to the game room. This will be our entertainment room with a pool table, dart board, and whatever else we can fit in it for entertaining. Cause you know holiday dinners can get boring. Why not give the families something to do while they're at your house? This will also be hubby's guitar area while I retreat to the master bedroom upstairs.

Now stand in the same spot and jump around 180 degrees. Here's hubby's office. It has built-in shelving on the back wall. I think he'll be very cozy in his man side of the house. Oh don't worry. I have woman space upstairs.

So now we'll look at the right side of the lower level. The yucky red dining room. Hey 1979 called, they want their chandelier back. Maybe Matt Damon will use it to buy drugs behind Liberace's back. After seeing "Behind the Candelabra," I bet Sara Silverman will not be bragging about "f'ing Matt Damon." The plans for the dining room include wainscoting below the chair rail, painting of course, a rustic farm table, and modern, yet classic light. Very Restoration Hardware. The table will need to accommodate at least six, preferably eight by Christmastime. Cause ya know, this is the Christmas house. It's a really good space. I haven't had a formal dining room in years. The Connecticut house only had an eat-in kitchen. Most nights hubby and I would just eat in front of the TV on our little glass tables. That probably won't change. But at least we have a place to seat people now and can have dinner parties. Although I have a feeling they will flock to the backyard dining area to eat.

Moving on to the kitchen and laundry area. So although the cabinets are thermafoil, the boxes are (for the most part except for the gunky one) in good condition. For now the doors will remain. However, I do plan to change them out down the road to Shaker style. I also plan to add a couple of glass doors to break up all the white. The first cheap fix will be the hardware. Rubbed oil bronze is what I'm after and Ikea has some knobs and pulls I'll pick up. The countertops are next. Can't decide between a marble color counter or black granite. Then come appliances and a backsplash of seaglass tile. So lots going on for this room but I'm going to try and do it for under $4K. That's the goal. I'd like to get a four-seater round table that's rustic like the farm table I want for the dining room to add to the eat-in kitchen nook. The laundry area is off to the right. Not jazzed about it being off the kitchen but at least there's a door I can close and it's not near any bedrooms to keep anyone up for late-night drying. There is also a set of cabinets and counter space off to the right of the picture frame, along with the fridge.

And the last room on the lower level in between the kitchen and the fireplace room is the pool half bath. Paint, wainscoting, new vanity, mirror, and toilet will spruce this space up nicely.

Okay kiddos, that's the first floor. Eventually the carpet will be replaced with wood flooring but I'm afraid that's gonna be awhile. We have other things to do first. I'm tired so let's do the upstairs tomorrow, shall we?

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Birthdays and Homes

I think today was the first day in a few weeks where I didn't have to furnish a lender, insurance company, or anyone else with any kind of paperwork. And thank goodness for that as all of this home buying business has left me feeling under the weather.

But before we get into the home, I have to give a shout out to my baby sister who turns 30 today. Happy Birthday, Rachel!

We had our inspection yesterday and it went surprisingly well. Nothing too major that is a deal breaker. So we are forging on with the appraisal, hopefully this week or next. I'll show you the front and back of the house but the inside - ain't nobody got time for that mess! The renters were there yesterday while we had our inspection. They were packing up the little odds and ends and most
of their Harley and Mike's Hard Lemonade crap was gone (except the oh-so-lovely Harley ceiling fan that he had to rev the make-believe engine for my husband on our last visit). While the renter and his family seem like nice, hard-working people, I cannot fathom a world where you live in filth. Don't get me wrong, I'm not Miss Tidy by any means. I do leave dishes in the sink to soak overnight. I might not dust glass shelving for a few weeks but there is no excuse for the smell of rotting cat turds in the master bath, dead roach carcases, and the goo I don't even know how to attempt to clean off the inside of one of the kitchen cabinets. The renter is going to shampoo the carpets this weekend in an attempt to recover his deposit. However, hubby and I have agreed that we need to hire an industrial cleaning company to come in and wipe that place from top to bottom before we move a single thing in.

So without further ado, scroll on down to see the back and front of our new home (ink isn't dry yet). How crazy is that view? Uber-kay-kay is what it is!

Hubby and I never thought we'd be able to have a home like this in our price range. To us, this is a the type of home we would find for $800K in Connecticut and that's without the golf-course view or pool. We dubbed the house "Father of the Bride" since it reminds us of something you'd find wealthy movie families living in. And while those that live in the north may think - 'eh, no biggie,' Colonials are not very common in Florida. Most typical FL homes are cookie cutter one-story open concept, split floor plans. And that's great. But we both didn't really want a house that looks like every other stucco neighbor on the block. So while we looked at a few cookie cutter homes, we also opened things up to older homes with more personality.

My sister was great in our home buying process. Hubby had to go on a week-long business trip and sister stepped in to fill his shoes on an evening tour with our realtor. She had my husband's back as I would be ooing and ahhing over the updated kitchens while she made a beeline to the backyard. We only looked at houses with inground pools as that was the number one priority for hubby. "My next house must have a pool." Rachel would stand on the back patio, walk around and then state, "Nope. This isn't the one for him." But when we got to this house, she undoubtedly said, "Yes, I see him in this house. This is the one." Luckily on our ratings scale, it was a 5 out of 5 stars from the listing pictures for hubby before he even saw it in person. In fact, he told me to go ahead and write up an offer while he was still out of town after he saw my pictures.

Although the house is 25 years old and has had some updates, it's not to our taste just yet. But that will be a fun process of going room by room over the next couple of years and making it our own. While the tile floors are fine in the common areas, the carpet is not and will eventually give way to beautiful hardwoods that this house deserves. The kitchen needs stainless steel appliances and new countertops (I'm actually thinking of checking out Formica that looks like white marble with upgraded Ogee edges). The vanities in the bathroom need to be replaced as do the toilets. Our first order of business is paint on the inside and shoring up some issues on the outside. Why people pick ketchup and mustard colored paint for the inside of the house is beyond me. The kitchen is country yellow and the dining room is red, red, red. If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll see pins that reflect our style. Think modern beachy-cottage.

Hubby can't wait to tackle the back yard with stonework, pavers, and a fire feature. I can't wait to sit on my sundeck with a glass of sweet, sun-brewed tea.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013


Oh my f'ing hell! Hubby and I just got done completing a 55-page mortgage application with our lender to get everything going and on to underwriting. I cannot stress enough how much I hate this part of the process. And my husband hates it even more. If we didn't like this house so much (our forever FL home) in a seller's market where good homes in the $200-400K range are being snapped up the day they hit the market, we might think otherwise about going through this process so quickly again.

I now carry two legal folders jammed packed with financial info, contracts, etc. with me to work every day since I never know which piece of info will be needed. And every day it's something new. It doesn't help that our W2s are tucked away in some box inside a 9x20 storage unit. Thank goodness I have a good standing relationship with former employers to obtain what I need.

And I'm sorry I'm bitching about this but it has consumed us for the last few weeks and will continue to until the end of July. So you may not want to read my posts until, say, August?

Now on to the outfit. We had some executives in the office today so I thought I would dress up a little. I call this the Barbie outfit and when I wear this dress again, it will be over jeans as it's a little too short for my taste when I'm sitting.

It's also getting harder to keep my camera from fogging up in the mornings. There's such an extreme difference between the temp inside our apartment and the humidity (hence the bobby-pinned hair) of the outside temp. So bare with the pics for another couple of months. I've got great lighting inside the new house for days when it's too humid to go outside and snap pics. And wait til you see the view. Can't wait to show you guys. But we need to get through the inspection this Sunday and the appraisal.

Oh and let's talk about some hair stuff. I've taken my mommy's advice and am flipping out the ends a bit with my flat iron. But one of the things I've incorporated since the damage from the last bleaching is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil that I bought in the vitamin section of Walmart (GNC has it as well). I use a handful each time I condition my hair. I combine it with my conditioner. Not sure if the claims are true about helping your hair grow or stopping breakage, but it does make my hair incredibly soft. I can tell the difference when I don't use it. On the weekends I like to use my purple shampoo to neutralize the yellow brassy tones and then deep condition with some leave in condition and my coconut oil. I leave the conditioner (Phyto + Kerastase) in overnight.

{Dress: H&M | Necklace: Kate Spade | Shoes: Alice and Olivia | Lippies: Nars Schiap}

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Under $5 Blouse

Anyone else see this blouse hanging on that lone clearance Loft rack with the castoffs priced at $9.99 or less? I tried it on before when it was still a cool kid on the 'take an extra 40% off rack' and I just didn't care for it. Well, not at that price. I sized down to a medium and snatched it up for $4.88. It's not my favorite blouses but it works for casual Friday.

{Blouse: Loft | Necklace: Ann Taylor | Jeans: Old Navy Rockstar | Shoes: Alice & Olivia | Lippies: Nars Heat Wave}

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. I've been so tired for the last two weeks. Did anyone else make a major purchase this weekend? Did you buy a new computer? A new car? Perhaps a jet for your jet-setting lifestyle? We dropped some potential chedda this weekend. We are officially under contract for a 4-bed, 2.5 bath Colonial situated on a private golf course with a massive pool. Oh how bourgeois, Muffy. You've got your bimmer and your Father of the Bride house. Well, not exactly. The house needs some updates. For the last year or so, it's been occupodo with renters. Yes, the type of renters that put the car on blocks in the front yard of a very nice deed-restricted neighborhood. I bet the neighbors will be glad they are gone. Of course the owners of the house (now in North Carolina) bought it at the height of the housing market and had to rent it just to break even. Renters let the house go so it does need some TLC. We're hoping with the inspection this Sunday that it's not too terrible that we have to back out. So I'm trying not to get too excited over it. But I am planning paint colors already and decorations (think Bill and Jen's house on The Little Couple - that's my style).

Unfortunately we couldn't find anything that met our needs in St. Pete or in the Hyde Park/Soho section of Tampa. We don't have half a mil to drop on a house. Nor would we want that type of payment. What we were finding close to work was typically old, outdated, and small. So we headed east. It was either east in the Brandon/Valrico/Riverview area, north in the Westchase/Northdale area, or all the way up US 19 to New Port Richie. US 19 has been under construction since I was in college. Either way, we're looking at a good 45 minute commute (well for me since hubby works from home).

We hadn't planned on looking this soon but we're finding it's a seller's market right now. All the good homes are "active with contract" and the prices are going up. Unless you are an investor, you really can't get the kind of deals you once could a couple of years ago. We saw this house and knew (and confirmed with our realtor) that the type of view we are getting would cost us $800k in Tampa. We're getting it at a fraction of that amount. Negotiations were tough. It was Sunday night before we had an agreement by all parties. I wasn't able to fully enjoy my overnight trip to Orlando for my little guy's 3rd birthday.

I've pretty much abandoned my WW diet for the last two weeks. Doubletree warm cookies at check-in are fantastic! It's really hard to be completely stressed out (especially since losing that beautiful town home in Apollo Beach two weeks ago) and try to maintain normal eating habits. I feel like I've been on a psychological roller coaster. But if we can get through the next couple of weeks, we'll be doing okay. This is the part of the process I absolutely dread. Getting the inspection, scrimping and trying to justify if I can spend $7 on lunch at Panera's or deciding how long I have to wait to dye my dark roots, providing bank statements, W2s, tax returns, 401K, and all that other stuff to the lender, and trying to take the Good Faith Estimate with a grain of salt as I know the figures will constantly change between now and August 7th.

I think house buying and divorce (and I'm sure death) are all factors that make you want to pour a stiff one and wish it would all just handle itself.

So if my posts are not as frequent over the next two months, you now know why. But I am looking forward to painting, decorating, and eventually doing some remodeling in our new place. And let's not forget the awesome parties we are going to have on our back patio. I will share pictures after we get through the inspection. It's not ours yet so no need to get too amped up about it.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Fighting Humidity

{Skirt: Old Navy | Peplum: Inc | Shoes: Donald Pliner | Necklace: J. Crew}

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Navy Stripes

Oh you can see just how tired I am in these pics (well the ones that show my face). I slept most of the day on Sunday as I'm just exhausted. Why so tired, Niki? Hubby and I have had a very frustrating experience house hunting. We didn't expect to house hunt this soon after selling our house but we found an incredible townhouse overlooking water with rooftop terrace, almost 3,000 sq feet and a private elevator. It was perfect but the builder is being retarded and we'll probably have to let it go as it's at the top of our budget and we may not be able to scrape enough together for closing costs this soon after selling the CT house.

And the housing market in FL? Just like it was when we were trying to buy in CT. If you don't make an offer right away, the house is gone by the next weekend. I kid you not. It's a seller's market down here. My husband sent a realtor 25 houses he wanted to look at on his week off last week and only 6 were available and not under contract. "Active with contract" seems to be our bad luck. I know we'll find the one but I'm pretty devastated over losing this one. We're making one last attempt with our lender today to see if it's doable but realistically I think it's just too much of a stretch.

So pardon my exhaustion and low feelings for the next week or so. It will pass.

(Blouse, Shoes, and Necklace: J. Crew | Pants: Gap}

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