Friday, December 31, 2010

Friend Friday - Resolutions

It's Friend Friday - and also one of my favorite holidays - New Year's Eve. I love the new year and the expectation of better things to come. It's like a chance to start fresh. So, for this week's topic, suggested by Vahni of grit and glamour, we're talking about:

New Year, new blog, new you... resolutions and goals for 2011

1. What's the one thing you vow to learn or do in 2011 to improve your blog?
Once I get to Costa Rica, I plan to take more outdoor photos in dramatic locations - outdoor shots are such a great look. Also, I'll be celebrating a year of blogging in April, so I plan to look back over the blog and see what's worked and what hasn't. I guess I'm looking at this like the first year of teaching: you do what you can, learn what you can, try what you can, and then the second year, you've got a better idea of what works for you and your students. Basically, y'all might get a pop quiz in 2011; it might help to study your notes.

2. What did you learn about blogging in 2010 that you plan to put into practice next year?
I plan to do a bit more connecting with other bloggers - the community has definitely been more than I expected it to be. I've also learned that I don't have to post everyday. Breaks are good. Another thing I might look into are doing some other type of posts - something besides my outfits - although right now my favorite thing is the outfit of the day thing, so it's still up in the air.

3. Do you have any high-level goals for your blog in the coming year? Monetization? More comments? More connections with other bloggers? A new template?
To be quite honest, the only high-level goal I have for any arena of my life at this point involves moving our life to Costa Rica. It's pretty much all I can think of right now. I do, however, have plans to update the layout and to use the snazzy new header that Iris of 260 Days, No Repeats created for me. Yes, you read that right. She's pretty much my hero right now.

4. If you could collaborate with one other blogger within your sphere of influence in 2011, who would you like to collaborate with, and what would you like to collaborate on?
Gah! This question is overwhelming me right now. I honestly don't know what I would like to collaborate on, but I would probably choose to collaborate with some of my early readers / the bloggers I feel like I've gotten to "know" - Iris, Lyddie, and Shey come to mind, but there are a gazillion others that I would be about working with. Oh, and Lorena of Lorena's Every Day Wear, because we'll be in the same general region.

5. What do you plan to do to support other bloggers next year?
I feel like all my answers have been some variation on "I don't know", which makes me feel lame. Super lame. I feel like one way I support bloggers is by visiting their sites and leaving comments - I like to think they're somewhat well thought out, though sometimes I'm reduced to "So pretty!". I also like to follow newer blogs when I find them and list them on my blog roll (which desperately needs to be updated, BTW). Maybe some blogger profiles might be a good thing to do to get some exposure for the blogs I love to read. Hmmm...

How about y'all? Any plans for your blog for the new year? Do you actually stick to your new year's resolutions? (It's hit or miss for me.) How much do you love New Year's Eve?

For more thoughts, check out Modly Chic.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Olive and leopard

All remixed except tights and belt
Skirt: Target
Tee: Target
Cardigan: Loft
Tights: Kohl's
Boots: Nine West
Belt: ?
Cami: Kohl's
Scarf: J Crew
Earrings: gift from sister-in-law

This is what I wore for our going away party at church, and for church, too, of course. I will definitely miss that place.... But back to the outfit. I saw this outfit in my mind one morning, and I knew I wanted to try it. Church seemed like as good an occasion as any.

It actually turned out better than I'd expected. I felt comfortable and stylish in it, and I like to think it walked the line between casual and dressy, which is a line I apparently like to walk. Cowboy boots and a grandpa cardigan do a good job of toning down a pencil skirt and tights, I think.

And I know this is a really weird angle (thanks, B!) but it does a good job of showing off the details of this look. I really liked the mix of colors, especially the olive with leopard and red. The cardigan is cozy and warm, too, which is always a plus because our church is pretty chilly. Added bonus: pattern mixing. Oh yeah!

And now for your enjoyment: aloof style blogger and crazy dog. This is totally my favorite kind of picture.

Monday, December 27, 2010

One Year

A year ago today, I married the man who is so stinkin' perfect for me it's ridiculous.
Also, a year ago today, I was enjoying the most perfect weather imaginable, on the beach. *sigh* It's been a year with a lot of changes, a lot of learning, and a lot of good times. All in all, I can say it's been a wonderful first year. I love you, B!

And now, if you'll indulge me in a little picture overload....

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Walking down the aisle




Happy anniversary, B.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friend Friday - Christmas edition

Merry Christmas, y'all! I'm freezing in Michigan right now, but that doesn't mean I can't play the Friend Friday game, am I right?
So this week:
The Christmas Edition

1. Your favorite holiday memory:
This is a hard one, but I'm going to speak in generalities and say that my favorite holiday memories are the ones that revolve around my family in Puerto Rico. The parrandas, the pasteles and lechón, and the thrill of being with the family that I see so rarely. Also, there's nothing quite like getting away with a bright, sunny Christmas on the beach while everyone else is freezing.

2. Were you ever a victim of those family Christmas party photo shoots? What do you think about them now? Care to share an old photo?
I don't know exactly what this means... I have plenty of embarrassing Christmas photos from over the years, but I don't have access to those right now (how convenient). What I do have is a picture of all the cousins and my grandmother on my cousin Y's last Christmas with us (he's the one to the right of my grandmother). He passed away something like six years ago, and I'm so thankful that we were able to spend that Christmas with him.

3. Best Christmas gift you ever gave:
This is hard because I always forget what I gave people when and when we go back to PR, we don't really do the gift exchanging thing on Christmas. We just give people stuff as soon as we get off the plane. I'm going to say that the best gift I've ever given is quality family time. Clearly, Christmas is all about family to me....

4. Craziest/funniest holiday family tradition:
I don't know if these are crazy/funny, but they are my favorites. When we can't go back home - and by home, I mean Puerto Rico - we watch Banco Popular videos around Christmas time. They're these videos put together by a bank in PR featuring traditional Puerto Rican music. They're based around a theme or the works of a particular artist and feature a decent collection of A list celebrities (Marc Anthony, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and Alejandro Fernández come to mind) doing songs that are appropriate for the theme.
Besides that, there's a lot of singing of Puerto Rican Christmas music (considerably more upbeat and secular than the US variety) and plenty of dancing, because it is just not a holiday if my cousins don't make my mother dance by dragging her to her feet and then dragging her around the dance floor. For the record, my mother doesn't dance. Oh, and my uncle P should play a practical joke on someone, usually my aunt M.

5. Favorite type of Christmas cookie:
We don't do Christmas cookies, but my favorite Christmas sweet is definitely coquito. Y'all need to try it. We served virgin coquito at our wedding last year, and it was quite a hit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Breaking the rules

All remixed except turtleneck
Turtleneck: Target
Skirt: J Crew
Belt: Banana Republic
Boots: Nine West
Warmest tights ever: ?
Earrings: India (gift)
Bracelet: Banana Republic

I wore this outfit for my last day of work - that was 17 December, if you want to know how behind I am on posting. I loved this look because it broke so many style rules and still worked for me. Plus I'm wearing stealth colors.

B thought this skirt was black, and it does look black in the top photo, but as you can see in the close up shot, it's actually a plummy color that J Crew calls Aubergine. I'll let them call it that, because Aubergine sounds prettier than Eggplant. And then I wore it with a red bracelet. Red and purple? That's one of those style rules, right?

I wasn't sure if I liked the skirt with black, but this was my warmest available sweater, so I made it work. If I say it goes, it goes. The end. And then I tucked my sweater into my skirt, which I'm pretty sure is also one of those things you shouldn't do. People don't tuck in their sweaters, right?

And then I finished the whole thing off with a leopard print belt, black tights, and brown boots. Black and brown is my favorite style rule to break, as I'm sure you've noticed. All those broken rules made me feel sassy and rebellious. Because this is about as rebellious as I get: speeding on the highway and breaking style rules. Watch out, it might get crazy up in here.

P.S. Posting will be light because (a) I'm celebrating Christmas and (b) I'll be visiting my in-laws in Michigan and won't have internet access. There will be a few scheduled posts, but things will be spotty until I'm back in VA on the 30th.

Friday, December 17, 2010


All remixed except turtleneck
Turtleneck: J Crew
Skirt: Gap
Cardigan: Banana Republic
Belt: Ann Taylor
Tights: ?
Boots: Nine West
Earrings: Guatemala - gift

I. Love. This outfit. I don't know why I love it so much, but I do. Maybe it's because this outfit features three of the five items that I own in multiple colors.

One: these boots. I own them in black and brown, of course. Two: The turtleneck. I own it in the navy and grey stripes and in royal blue. I had a green one, but I gave it away because it was too sheer. Three: the cardigan. Black and grey. And best of all, each of these items was on clearance when I bought them.

I also like my mixed neutrals. It turned out to be a pretty subtle mix, which I think worked just fine. I am all about the mixed neutrals these days.

P.S. These tights are the warmest tights in the history of tights. They're almost like a well worn sweatshirt as far as texture, but, you know, totally work appropriate. And warm. Did I mention that they're warm? So, so warm.

Friend Friday - Holiday Party Wear

Friend Friday!
This week we're talking about

Holiday Party Wear

This'll be short and sweet because I'm not a huge holiday party kind of girl.

1. Which holiday party are you looking forward to attending this year?
Okay, so being from a very traditional Puerto Rican family, holiday party should instead be family get together. And seriously, how do you NOT look forward to a family get together that revolves around the best food in the world? So, I'm looking forward to celebrating the New Year and Three Kings' Day with my family.

2. What is your go-to holiday party outfit?
A dress. Although, really to be fair, this depends on where I'm spending Christmas. If I'm in VA with my parents, it'll be a dress that'll keep my relatively warm, tights, and heels. If I'm in MI with B's family - this'll be the first year that I spend it there - I'm thinking pants (ugh), a fancy top, a cardigan, and boots. But the key in all things is to leave room for obscene amounts of food.
Last year, we were in Puerto Rico for Christmas and celebrated Christmas Eve at my uncles' house with a very traditional meal. I wore the black dress below and my grey patent pumps for it because the weather was perfect and the dress is flowy enough to hide the fact that I've had too much lechon for my own good. (PS I'll update this with one from that night once I get home and have access to those pictures...)

On the 25th, which I spent with B's family and then giving all our friends a tour of Old San Juan, I wore a little yellow sundress from Target and a cardigan because it was Puerto Rico chilly (read: 70 degrees F).
Walking from El Morro
I know what y'all are thinking: "That's not Christmas-y at all!" My response: it is when you're in the tropics. Mmm, the tropics...

3. Do you go dressed in something that would be impractical to wear at any other time of the year?
Last year, since we were getting married, I wanted to get some fancy schmancy impractical dress and be all like, "This is my wedding! I'm going to dress like a rock star!" And then I couldn't make myself buy anything that I couldn't wear again. I got this dress for the rehearsal dinner and have worn it a million times (give or take) since then. Excuse the forced smile - I was way stressed because it was the day before our wedding.

So, no, totally not wearing anything impractical.

4. If you are going to a house-party, what gift will you bring to the host/hostess?
I guess we kind of did this last weekend, but we do a white elephant exchange, so I brought an old discman and a ton of cheesy CDs. I bet you're sad you weren't there to get it. Also, I brought BBQ black bean soup because it was also a potluck. You know how we do.

5. If you could buy only one trendy piece to update your holiday party wardrobe, what would you get this year?
A sequined tank. Which I did get, but I can't find the exact one anywhere on the internet. When I say I can't find it anywhere, I mean I searched two places and got bored.

For more thoughts and ideas on holiday party wear, check out ModlyChic!

P.S. Yes, you will soon see pictures of our wedding in Puerto Rico, I promise.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Scarf and boots remixed
Sweater: Banana Republic
Skirt: Las Pepas in Argentina (be warned, music plays as soon you go to that page)
Scarf: Target
Tights: No idea
Boots: Nine West
Earrings: Guatemala - gift

I took a cue from Joanne of Sidewalk Chic in creating this look. I've had this leather skirt for eight years and I can count the number of times I've worn it on one hand. Anyway, reading her post on how to make your leather skirt work for everyday life reminded me that I really wanted to wear my own leather skirt more often.

I started simple by keeping everything in the same color palette: black and grey with a touch of blue in the scarf. Is it the most exciting outfit ever? Not really, but maybe someday soon I'll work my way up to something crazy amazing. Now that I've worn it once, I'll have to wear it again, right? Right. It'll happen and it'll be great.

I have to say I felt pretty sassy in this outfit, though. I think the funky earrings and the pop of color in the scarf helped. Also, the boots. At first I thought it'd be too much leather, but the weather report pushed that fear right out of my mind. In the end, I think it was just enough leather.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rock Star

First off, let me answer a few questions:
We're leaving Philly on the 22nd, leaving the country the 11th of January, and I'm looking forward to avoiding wintery weather. Oh yeah!
And I do plan to keep blogging after the move, though I don't know exactly when I'll pick up again once we're settled in Costa Rica. Let's just say the internet/housing situation is still a little up in the air. If you're the praying type, prayers are welcome.

And now, on to the fun stuff:

Accessories remixed
Top: Kohl's - gift from my mom
Jeans: J Crew
Pumps: Nine West
Earrings: Turkey
Bracelets: gifts from my aunt and uncle

I wore this outfit last Sunday for church and also for a Christmas get together with friends and I felt like a rock star in it. Part of it is that I got these J Crew matchstick jeans on sale for $19.99 (five years ago), part of it is the studded shoulders.

See the studded shoulders? Fancy, huh? Ignore the fact that my hair is all fly away-y and everywhere in this picture. Focus on the studs. They totally kick, don't they?

Also rock star worthy? These bracelets. I've had them since I was twelve. My uncle gave me the middle one, the one with the stones, and I've always loved it. He gave my aunt, his sister, the other two, and that same Christmas that I was in Puerto Rico, I was looking through her jewelry box with her and she gave them to me. I love them together, all silver and chunky and tough.

And since there's a story about each of the things I'm wearing, can I just tell y'all that these are the shoes I wore for my wedding? B got them for me for my birthday and I wore them for our wedding six months later. I love that I can wear them all the time and that they're bright yellow. Yellow shoes always make me happy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Neutrals and pops

I've finally gotten a moment to breathe, y'all, which is good because breathing is important. We're in the midst of packing the house and I'm working extra hours at work. (Great idea, Frances! That'll be fun and low stress!) In the meantime, expect posting to be sparse and/or delayed.

So as I'm trying to catch up, let's start with last Friday's outfit.

All remixed except tee
Tee: Target
Cardigan: New York & Co.
Belt: Target
Jeans: some random store in Puerto Rico
Socks: Target
Boots: Target
Scarf: Turkey
Earrings: Turkey

I was wearing three shirts and two pairs of pants in this outfit, that's one layer of clothing that you can't see - a cami and a pair of leggings to up the warmth factor because it's crazy cold up this way. Have I mentioned I hate the cold?

I really like the combination of olive green and turquoise and the mixed neutrals. I love the navy blue of my socks with the cognac boots, the dark brown belt, and the black and white scarf. Lots of neutrals and then a couple of bright pops - that's about right for me, I think.

I took a cue from of Sydney of The Daybook and Elaine of Clothed Much and tucked my jeans into my socks before tucking them into my boots. I've done the sock tucking thing before, but this was the first time I'd tried it with knee socks. The verdict? I'm addicted. It's so much easier to tuck your jeans into your boots when they've been tucked into socks first.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friend Friday - Reach Out and Touch Someone

It's Friend Friday, y'all! This week's topic is:

Reader Connectedness

And because I've got a massive headache and some asthma-related wheeziness, let's just jump into the questions, shall we?

1. How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog?
Let's keep this one short and simple: there isn't a whole lot of "blog success" without readers. I mean, my other blog has few readers, but it's just for me, and that's fine with me.

2. What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond?
I like to think that the tone of my blog is pretty conversational, which is one way to create a bond. Friend Friday is kind of a way to reach out to readers by showing them a different side of me, I guess. Also, I try to respond to comments - that's the kind of thing that makes you feel like the writer actually cares when people react to their posts. At least, that's how I feel.
Also, this question makes me think of Hansel and Gretel for some reason - like I should be laying out a trail of candy (or shoes) to draw the readers in. Just kidding, I wouldn't do that - or would I...?

3. What is one way you could improve this connection?
Honestly, I feel a little disconnected now because I've been so busy in my personal life and so busy at work now that we've started the Spanish language phase of the study (because I'm one of two Spanish speakers here) so I haven't been really keeping up with the commenters as well. I hate that. After the move from Philly and the whirlwind family visits and the big move to Costa Rica, I will be better about that.
Also, I've heard that closing posts with a question is a good way to connect. Sometimes I forget to do that, but I find that when I do, people have something to say and I like that. Of course, sometimes questions at the end just feel a little awkward....

4. Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why?
I think lots of bloggers do this just by responding to reader questions in their posts. Shey of Modesty is Pretty comes to mind. Also, Liz of Lizzypunch has asked her readers to help style her during the 30x30, which I think is pretty genius. Other bloggers that immediately come to mind are ML of Twenty York Street, Elaine of Clothed Much, and Collette of Statements in Fashion. They all leave great comments on other blogs/twitter that I think are a great way of connecting. I could go on and on, of course, because I don't think I visit many blogs that don't reach out to their readers in some way or another - otherwise I wouldn't be reading, right?

5. What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place?
I honestly have no idea how this happens. I've gotten some new readers from various challenges, the most recent, of course, being Kendi's latest 30x30 challenge. I get some readers from ModlyChic's Friend Friday group, too, I think. How those first readers ever found me in the first place, though, I just don't know - though I am eternally grateful.
I don't know much about how to cultivate them. I think at this early stage, I'm letting my blog grow kind of organically - I haven't done much as far as marketing or coming up with a business plan for it. I have no real strategy for cultivating readers. Now I feel inadequate....
Not really, of course. I'm just trying to keep this as really me as I can, though I sometimes wish the sarcasm and deadpan humor translated better in text. I like to think that my readers would kind of like me in real life, sarcastic awkwardness and all. Just be warned that I don't do small talk well.

So what do you think?
How do we create a reader-writer bond as bloggers? How important is that connection? How inadequate do you feel when you realize you don't have a plan for blog growth - or am I totally alone on that front? (Please tell me I'm not alone.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fall 30x30 Round Up

Let's start with the easy part. Here are my top eleven looks. It was going to be a top ten, but I couldn't choose just ten looks. In fact, I'm still thinking about some of the runner ups. Did I say easy? I meant easier. Easier. Not easy.

And in case you want to revisit those posts, that would be outfits 31, 28, 27, 23, 21, 17, 15, 12, 10, 9, and 8.

After the last 30x30 challenge back in the summer, I felt like I'd come away with some lessons learned. This time around, I'm feeling less Eureka-y and more...cold. But, that doesn't mean I haven't learned a thing or two this time around.

1. A smaller closet makes your life easier. This has been a supremely stressful time for us what with the holidays, an impending move, family stuff, work, volunteering, etc., etc., etc. It was nice to have one part of my life that was relatively uncomplicated even if it did mean that I often wished for warmer sweaters.

2. Fall is a crazy season. The temperatures ranged from the 70s to the 20s and I was so not thinking about the 20s when I was picking out my 30x30 pieces. If I do this during another indecisive month, I will try my hardest to choose my items with the coldest part of the season in mind. Part of me thinks this will be easier to do in spring when things start out cold and get warmer. Of course, I hate the cold and I'm always in denial when it comes to wintery weather, so who knows.

3. Skirts are my favorite. My basic skirts got a ton of play this time around. I wish I'd worn my patterned full skirt one more time, but it's unlined and it got way too cold for that quickly (see point #2). I'm going to wear it lots and lots this spring, though.

4. I need more color in my (cold weather) life. I chose way too many black items, which meant I was pretty bored with my options pretty quickly. Part of that is because I just really love black, part of it is because I really, really love black when it's cold out, and part of it is because I am practical. Anyway, I am not allowed to buy any more black for a good, long time.

5. I get creative when I have fewer options. My absolute favorite outfit never would've happened if it weren't for the 30x30. A super femme embellished cardi with leopard print? Black and bright yellow? But then it just worked so stinkin' well and I loved it. Yes, there were some boring outfits, but that's mostly because I am not really a risk taker when it comes to choosing items to wear for 30 days. Most days, I found myself gravitating towards the more distinctive pieces: pattern, bright colors, and embellishments, please.

6. There are so many amazing bloggers out there. This I knew before the challenge, but then, you know, I was faced with a list of over 300 fellow bloggers who were also embarking on the challenge, and I discovered so. Many. More. I've got to update my blog roll, for real. You know, sometime in January.

7. The jury is still out on whether or not it's a good idea to do a 30x30 challenge before moving out of the country. On the one hand, it's helped me to focus on the moving aspect of my life; on the other, I really have to make some decisions about my closet, and it would've been nice to see just how useful some of these cool weather pieces (which I will need in the Costa Rican rainforest) will be. Instead, I was playing with a few pieces I already knew I liked. Oh, and one never worn dress that is now in the give away pile.

So what do y'all think? Do you have any favorite 30x30 looks? Any lessons you've learned either as a participant or an observer?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We'll call this #31

All remixed
Cardigan: Sonoma via Kohl's
Ruffly shirt: New York & Co.
Cami: Ann Taylor
Skirt: Old Navy
Tights (both pairs): Target
Shoes: Nine West
Earrings: Target

This is my celebratory 31st outfit. Consider it extra credit. I thought of it last week when I was at my real job (for which I don't dress up) and knew that I had to wait for a day of volunteering (which DOES require office appropriate attire - go figure) to wear this look.

I felt a bit like Sal of Already Pretty in this outfit because of the matchy-matchy factor. Seriously, could there have been more cobalt blue and black in this outfit?

I love the way the layered tights worked out and I was surprised that they worked as well as they did with these super old electric blue pumps. The double layer of tights kept me super warm, too, which is always a plus. I'm going to add layers to the list of things I can do to tone down the sexy when it comes to fishnet style tights.

Anyway, another 30x30 under my figurative belt... Tomorrow I'll have some profound thoughts for you and some lessons learned. For now, I'm on my way back upstairs to separate my closet into things I need for the next month, things I'll need in Costa Rica, and things I can give away. This is getting really real, y'all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Forgot aka Outfit #30

All remixed
Blazer: Apt. 9 via Kohl's
Tee: New York & Co.
Jeans: Elle via Kohl's
Shoes: Target
Earrings: India (gift)
Scarf: Vintage - gift from my mom

This outfit feels a bit like cheating because it looks so much like #24. Also, when I was taking pictures, I forgot that it was number 30. So, tomorrow, I'll be doing #31, and then I'll celebrate. Whoo hoo! It'll be great. You should stop by.

Kiku thinks so, too.

Things I do like about this look: pattern mixing. Subtle pinstripes, leopard, and a floral work pretty well together when they're all in the same color palette, no?

Oh, and my funky little shoes. I like those, too.