Monday, January 27, 2014

Fun Weekend

Our Wi-Fi is on the fritz and Bright House is coming to take a look at it tomorrow. Just hoping it stays up long enough for me to finish this post.

After spending a frigid 15 hours in Connecticut (yep, flew in for a meeting and then out the very next morning), I worked from home the rest of Friday, took a disco nap, and then headed down to Ft. Myers to visit my friend Christy (she goes by Christina but I've known her since we were 11 and she will always be "Christy" to me).

On my way down, I stopped in Sarasota for a bite to eat. Not wanting to break from my vegetarian/pescetarian diet, I stopped at Longhorn (yeah, I know...meat) and had shrimp and a salad. A young Chinese couple sitting beside me at the crowded bar wanted to know if I was eating chicken or shrimp. My appetizer was huge so I invited them to share. After handing over my debit card to pay my bill, the bartender informed me that my tab was paid. What?! Are you kidding me? Not only had the couple paid my tab, but they also invited me and my family several times (and provided their address) over for an "authentic" Chinese dinner. How sweet!

Christy and I woke up the next morning and headed to Sur La Table for our cooking class: Four Desserts Every Cook Should Know. This is the second class I've taken at a Sur La Table. About 3-4 years ago, hubby treated me to a class on croissants for my birthday. I love their format and how they break down recipes. The instructors are knowledgeable and there's always plenty of food to sample. Too bad the apple tart was the only thing we could take home.

So what was on the menu?
  • Apple Tart (notice how beautiful Christy's came out and how sad my turned out)
  • Crème Brulee (unfortunately, we ate them before I could snap a picture)
  • Chocolate Molten Cake (a bit too bitter and rich but still good)
  • Grand Marnier soufflé (did you know you could make a roux to keep a soufflé from falling?)

After class we shopped, split pasta at Brio, and shopped some more before I headed back to Tampa. Of course I had to stop in Sarasota on the way back (no, not to visit the Chinese couple) to pick up some stuff at Trader Joe's. I'm hoping Tampa/St. Pete TJ's opens later this year.


Oh sooo sad...
All gone. Whoops.


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Friday, January 17, 2014

eBay is a Cheap Friend

So one of the ways I'm saving money is turning to eBay for clothes. You've seen this Forever 21 sweatshirt a few times and it's getting a little worn but I just can't part with it yet. I love anything with a Union Jack on it.

The pants were under $7 - brand new! And they are Lucky Brand. They came with all the tags attached and fit great! I love them. I also bought some summer shorts recently, keeping the total cost (cost and shipping to around $10-15). My feeling on clothes from eBay is that I prefer new; but if something is used and in really great condition with lots of pictures and the seller has good feedback, then I feel pretty comfortable that I won't get stung. And there's so many retailers on eBay now that it isn't quite what it used to be with people auctioning off their items and bidding wars. I mostly look for Buy-it-Now options so I don't have to get into a bidding war with others.

{Jeans: Lucky Brand via eBay | Tee: Gap | Sweatshirt: Forever 21 | Boots: Vince Camuto}

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Birthday Weekend Wrapup

I've been so swamped at work so I'll keep this short as I'm exhausted doing side-by-sides documenting procedures on a new mortgage system.

I had a lovely birthday weekend. It started with dinner with my mom on Friday night at Bahama Breeze in Tampa, followed by a lovely and intimate dinner with hubby at Ceviche's in Tampa, and then a fun group afternoon with my family at the Apollo Beach Manatee Viewing Center and dinner at Circles, a waterfront restaurant. Have y'all ever seen a manatee close up? I haven't and I've lived in FL almost all my life. They gather in the warm waters of the Tampa Electric power plant from November to April. I was surprised to see sharks and other fish swimming so close to our lovely sea cows. Of course it's against FL law to get near a manatee so we viewed them from the boardwalk on a lovely sunny day. My nephew was in awe of the power plant.

There was a surprise ending to our dinner Sunday afternoon - a pot bellied pig. The woman kept encouraging my nephew to kiss the pig and his expression pretty much sums up the lack of execution on his part.

My sister bought me a lovely tray that goes with the coastal theme of our house and I promptly added it to our foyer.


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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Birthday Suit

It's my birthday, it's my birthday. Not bad for 42, eh?

Keeping it low key this year with dinner with hubby and manatee viewing with the family, followed by dinner near the water. It's a warm weekend and as my friend Rebecca said, "Florida is a schizophrenic woman." So true. 35 degrees to 80 degrees in a matter of a few days.

Here's what I wore for a nice Tapas dinner Saturday night. Before the downpour came, foiling hubby's plans for a trip to Ikea to look at wardrobes.

{Dress: INC | Shoes: Pour la Victoire | Necklace: J. Crew}

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Oh Snap

This t-shirt (c/o my sister) sums it up. Two days of 35 degree weather and people bundled up like the world was about to end. But all is well and back to normal. Whew. Dodged that bullet.

And here's what I wore. My absolute favorite boots and coat. And the coat is a size 10 so that's a bonus! Nothing like putting on your skinny jeans and skinny coat and not having to hold your breath all day. I say this as I down a Ghirardelli brownie. Hey, I chased it with 2% milk!

But I'll have to put the coat and boots away for another four years until we get the next "record" cold snap.


{Jeans: Kenneth Cole | White shirt: The Limited | Sweatshirt: J. Crew | Boots: Dolce & Gabbana  | Coat: J. Crew}

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Comfy Shoes

Since I work in a casual office and one-two days/week from home, I've been kicking the heels aside in favor of more comfy shoes.  This past Christmas, I asked hubby for my first pair of TOMS. They give to children in need, blah blah blah - I need them for my aching heels! That's all fine and dandy that they are philanthropic. Cool beans. But that's not why I wear them or what makes me buy shoes. I'm not of the mindset where my shoes must be animal free, my clothes must be made of hemp, and crystals heal all. More power to people that are like that but I like the smell of leather and I like the taste of steak. I like sulfates in my shampoo and commercially made laundry detergent. I grew up on trans fats that make french fries and donuts taste divine. And Western medicine is the only thing that makes this gal well. So the only thing that appealed to me with TOMS shoes was comfort.

Over Christmas I got two new pairs of shoes. Both of which support my heels. I've mentioned before that the nerves on my right foot were permanently deadened by cryosurgery. The shot before the surgery is so painful that I live with the pain in my left foot. Rarely do I ever walk around my house without my FitFlops on. They are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own. But I can't wear them to work and I'm often cold at work and need something with full coverage.

So hubby got me a pair of TOMS and I bought a pair of Skechers GO Walks. The Skechers are more comfortable on my heels but the TOMS provide more structure to my foot so that I don't over pronate when I walk. Now if only the two can marry and make TOMSchers babies.

Since I'm a writer, I was pretty excited to see TOMS makes a "dictionary" version of their classic shoe. "Words are my life." - Drew Barrymore (Never Been Kissed)

And I had to hunt down the "Americana" version of the GO Walks as they weren't available in my size. Typically I wear a US size 8 in sneakers and closed toed shoes and a 7.5 in open toed shoes. Both of these shoes run large and I sized down to a 7.5.

Oh, and I read that the TOMS Outlet is a bogus site. So be careful.

Skechers Go Walk Americana

TOMS Dictionary Quotes

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rare Coldsnap

These iPhone pics were taken just a few minutes ago. My Facebook post read: "In Jimmy Fallon fashion: Thank you, jet stream, for dipping low enough so that I can wear my favorite coat and snow boots, have a frizz-free hair day, and for making my car purr like a content kitty this morning."

So there you go. Some real-time pics on this beautiful, crisp, FL morning. I'll take more outfit pics when I get home tonight.

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Financially Healthy - Want vs. Need

One of you commented on my post yesterday about "want" vs. "need." I replied by saying that lines are often blurred (no, not a Robin Thicke reference) when it comes to want and need. You can make all the justifications you want to convince yourself that you need something. Some of my justifications in the past were, "But if I don't have anything new to show you guys, you won't follow. You won't come back." Is this a popularity contest? No! It's a side hobby that allows me to write and express myself creatively through words and photos.

Some blogs I follow do show the fashion mixed in with the writing. And like TV, there are some days where I just want mindless dribble. I don't want to have to
think deeply about a subject. I just want to look at the pretty pictures. Or the pretty clothes on the pleasantly plump person who could stand to look "cuter" if she lost more weight. Yes, this I'm poking fun at myself.

I struggle with my weight. Have struggled most of my adult life. I'm glad I've learned portion sizes and food substitutions. It's the one thing WW taught me.
And I believe it's helped me over the past two and a half years to maintain my weight. When I was sick over Christmas, I was weighed at the Dr.'s office. I was pleased to find that in the last two years, I've gained only 9lbs of my pre-Memorial 2011 weight back. That means I'm still down 21lbs.

While I'm still considered "obese" by any gym's BMI standards, I no longer have the same issues I once did when I was heavier. My blood pressure (the root of evil that started the weight loss journey) is consistently normal now. I can still cross my legs. I can breathe normal when lying down. It's these little things that I watch for and know when to scale back on the food intake.

There have been times lately when I've wanted to shut down this blog. Especially since I'm trying to get financially heathly over the next couple of years. Getting up at 5:30am doesn't exactly inspire me to pick a cute outfit.
Monday's seem to be the worst in the fashion department for me. I grab the jeans, company tee, and comfy shoes on Mondays. The hair goes up in a ponytail and the makeup gets slapped on quickly so that I can be out the door by 6:30 and on the road before rush hour. This is a necessity. It's what I need to do to keep my sanity and not quit my job because of the drive. And it's not so much the drive. It's that since moving back to the Tampa Bay area, all major (and a lot of minor) roads are under construction. I take a toll road most of the way to work to avoid the extra time and frustration on the free 1-275 highway. That's my necessity, since I-275 will be under construction until 2016. The Crosstown was under construction until last Friday, where I would spend upwards of 10 minutes waiting for traffic to move through one lane near downtown Tampa. I'm happy to report that all lanes are now open! Deep
gouges in Ulmerton Road are not helping my alignment or tires, let alone commute time. And since I was in college, US 19 has been under perpetual construction.  Almost every major road I travel on during my commute to/from work will be under construction for the next couple of years. I read an article this morning that said our roads in Tampa are now worse than those in Orlando. And Orlando has some bad traffic my friends!

So getting back to want vs. need. I "want" the big walk-in room closet. I don't need it. Hubby said, "but sometimes the wants make you happy. Wouldn't you be happy every time you walked into that room and saw all your clothes and shoes in those wardrobes." Well, duh. Of course I would. But we have four upstairs rooms with closets that I can hang out in for awhile until I can save enough to make the want a reality. I totally agree that sometimes "wants" make you happy. Hubby stated he "wanted" a pool in our FL house. It wasn't a necessity. It was a want. To which I argued in my best 13 year old voice, "Ask my next door neighbor Christy and I when we were teenagers if a pool was a want or a need and you'd get a different answer from us!" Being 12 or 13 and not having transportation or a pool during hot, humid Florida summers makes a pool a necessity! But a pool is a different kind of want. You don't throw away pools after one season.

But having more clothes than Ikea wardrobes will support - well that's just crazy. So it's time to do another purging round on eBay and sell off some of the things I haven't worn in over a year. It's also time to look to eBay as a place to start buying the things I "need." Like shorts for the summer. I've got so many paint stained shorts, it's embarrassing. And what better time to buy summer shorts than during -25 degree below temps up north? The pickings will be ripe and the prices will be low.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Financially Healthy - Step 1

If you are an online shopper, like moi, you can't get financially healthy if you are constantly plagued each morning by emails from J. Crew, Gap, Pottery Barn, etc. So to deal with the evil online temptress, I unsubscribed from these types of emails.

I'm very much a "I want the candy placed directly in my face" kind of gal. If I see "take an extra 40% sale items," you better believe I'm clicking that link and getting excited over a possible deal. I may not even need it, but it's on sale, and it's a deal, and I want it, and there's room on my credit card so why can't I have it? As a friend of mine once said fairly recently, "I'll find a way to pay for it later." Well later is here. And the bucks need to stop here.

So if you're trying to make a healthier start, whether it be food, money, or fitness - remove the temptations. For me, it's about unsubscribing to shopping emails and going through my wallet and handing my credit cards over to hubby to keep in a safe, unbeknownst to me, place.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014


Did you all have a nice New Year's? We stayed put. Had a nice dinner of grilled shrimp and baked potato and then realized we were wayyy hungry a couple hours later. "Wings!" I exclaimed. But at 9:00, Beef 'O Brady's was closing. Not wanting to go too deep into town and risk getting hit by crazies, I headed to Chili's near our neighborhood. Not the best, but it quenched our need for appetizers. I also stopped off at Hess for a forty. Not a fashion at forty, but a Smirnoff the size an old wino would carry around in a brown bag while hanging out at the Quicky Mart. It's all they had. So I stood there with my crazy hair and paint stained elastic pants cradling my enormous flavored beer while people paid for gas and beer.

And I didn't even make it til midnight. Headed upstairs and fell asleep at 11:30. Good God, I'm old. Five years ago we were counting down the seconds while watching the ball drop in Times Square. And this year? Watching Miley get all freaky with her little wrecking ball backup dancer. Fun.

So what's all this about changes? New Year's resolutions? Nahhh. Although I do plan to get financially healthier this year. This has to do with what's working and what's not in our house. We've been in it for five months and now that almost all the rooms are painted and somewhat decorated, functionality is prevailing. So the kitchen nook - wasted space. We never use the pub table and it takes up space and feels crowded. So hubby will be using it in his man cave, which we are currently using as the living room.  When we redo the kitchen in a few years, I plan to use the nook as pantry space.

Next up. My vanity/workout room. Working! Love it! The vanity desk is great, the space for the treadmill is great. What isn't working? My closet in the master bedroom. I've adjusted my hours at work to make for a better commute to work. I now get up at 5:30am. My hubby works from home and doesn't need to log on until 8:30. Turning on a bright light to pick out my clothes in the morning or trying to plan an outfit the night before just isn't working. So I gave up my closet tonight. Hubby now has the two master bedroom closets. Wait! What? I know. I know. But here's where things are about to get so much better. Enter Ikea Pax Wardrobes!

ikea pax wardrobe | SweetHome |

Not a walk-in closet, my friends, but a walk-in room! Awww yeah! Who's crying over losing a master closet now? Not me. So what will be the configuration?

These Target Cubeicals will be going bye bye. Well, they'll probably come on over to my office.

No! The beautiful wall of purses and shoes. Where will they go? In their own unit on the opposite wall. And my shirts and pants will go into two large units where the purses and shoes now reside. Similar to this setup, yet without all the Hello-I'm-A-Five-Year-Old-Woman-Kitty.


And guess who suggested this transformation? My lovely hubby. When we first moved into the house, he suggested I make one of the rooms into a walk-in room closet. How lucky am I? So stay tuned for the walk-in room transformation that will be going down over the next couple of months.

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