Thursday, December 27, 2012

{Art} And they call it.. Puppy Love

kori and ball - charcoal and colored pencil on paper

Been a while since I posted anything art related and this is may or may not be an oldie /guilty look.

This was a present for BF for our six months anniversary. Its Kori from his puppy days and just the beginning of his ball obsession.

As you can see.. not much has changed over the years.

Minus the fact that now we have two ball obsessed pups!

Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday! What are your plans for New Year's Eve? I'll be out hitting the slopes (just kidding, more like falling on the slopes). It'll be my second time snowboarding... like, ever. The first time was two years ago. I'm a pro. Promise.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Even if the room don't stop from spinning

At some point I had to start admitting to myself that it was really winter and not fall any more. The ice on my windshield or the tire pressure warning going off (which happens every year when the temperatures drop) wasn't enough apparently. No, true admittance came when I finally busted out the knit tights.

Even then, the tights are full of holes (I argue that Uniqlo's Heat Tech technology combats that) and paired with a short sleeve knit dress. What can I say? I'm a So Cal girl at heart through and through. Ten years in the Bay and I still can't adjust to the winter temperatures.

At least I can tell you about this new form of shopping I've acquired that almost doesn't require spending any money. Almost. You still have to spend a little money, but its less than ten dollars with each transaction. And you'll end up with lots of new dresses, tops and bottoms... and sometimes even shoes! What is this magical shopping form I am talking about?


Yes, swapping. I've actually been swapping clothes for quite some time now, but have just gotten around to using one of my items for an outfit post. It definitely takes a little getting use to, but is such a great way to be green about the clothing you don't want any more! I use to take everything to Goodwill, but after reading excerpts from Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, I started looking for alternatives. If you don't have time to read the actual book here are a couple of good articles to summarize.

While consignment stores like Plato's and Crossroads are handy and efficient for a quick buck, they also tend to be very picky about what they purchase. They have to buy depending on season, demographic, and what they already have in their own inventory, so sometimes you can waste a trip and walk out with no cash in hand. I also realize you can take the eBay or Craigslist route, but that requires a lot more effort than I'm willing to put out. Plus I've found that I tend to get the biggest return value when I swap.

There are quite a few ways you can swap, depending on your level of comfortability.

❤ You can join sites like SwapStyle or Rehashed Clothes. The great part of joining a website like SwapStyle is that you do have some level of protection with your transactions and its easy to see which swappers are trustworthy.

Facebook clothing swap groups/communities. This is my current method of swapping, which has also resulted in meeting some great people. The downside is that while you get to know people on a personally level, you don't have the same level of protection as you would on SwapStyle. You don't always know if the person you dealing with is trust worthy (though you can take some precautions by asking others to vouch for them or to see eBay feedback, etc) and there have been instances where you don't receive your item, even though you've already sent yours out. Unfortunately, there isn't much to do if that happens to you, so it would have to be a risk you are willing to take.

❤ Swap meet ups or events. These events can vary anywhere between a small group of 5 or 6 individuals to a tent-size event. The idea is that everyone brings items they are willing to swap and puts them into designated piles. Then everyone can go through the items and pick out things they like. I haven't tried these myself, but I do know the rules can vary event to event. I also know that some sites like Clothing Swap hold events with registration fees. This gives an added level of security that everyone who comes is serious about swapping. I've also seen massive swap tents at events like Maker Faire. If you're someone who is picky about your clothing, this may be the best alternative for you. You can see the items in person before you take them home and inspect them thoroughly. Also, since everything is done in person you don't have to worry about being taken advantage of!

If you plan on swapping on line, here are some key tips that will make your transactions go smoothly:

❤ Take great photos. Not just good, but great. The prettier something seems in a photo the more likely someone will be interested in it. Up close shots are always a plus. If you feel confident enough, taking a photo of yourself in the actual item will always perk more interest.
❤ Use Paypal's online shipping tool if you can. A delivery confirmation number is automatically included (fee) with every shipment, and USPS will give a slightly discounted rate through Paypal. If you plan on swapping a lot, I would also invest in a mailing scale. This will also save you lots of time because you won't need to go to the post office to figure out how much something weighs.
❤ If you join a Facebook community, use a site that is photo friendly to display your swaps. Tumblrs or Blogger's Dynamic template are quite popular because they are easy to view. If your swaps are difficult to navigate through (especially if you have a lot), people can get discouraged and give up all together.
❤ Take measurements a head of time! This is probably the most common question you will get about your swaps. Save yourself some time and do it ahead of time (I don't follow this tip enough).
❤ Most importantly, be patient. Sometimes it will seem like no one is interested in your items, or you just can't make a swap work--just wait! I promise you it will happen. I can't tell you how many times I'd just about given up on an article of clothing when someone would ping me expressing their interest.

Welp! That's all I have for you guys today! I hope you enjoyed. If you have any tips to share that I didn't include in this post please feel free to comment below! I'm still learning all the in's and out's of this trade. :)

Sweet Rain Dress (swap)
Uniqlo Heat Tech Lace Tights
Steven Pembrook Boots (different color)
NY&Co Necklace
H&M Ring
Cotton On Bracelet


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tips and Tricks: Holiday Shopping

Does holiday shopping drive you as nuts as it drives me? And I'm not talking about the limited funds and desire to buy everything you see in sight--I'm talking about the sales. This is the only time of year where I never know what I'm going to get! My normal rules of waiting and being patient for sale prices don't apply.

Now, I realize that this blog post runs a bit late for the season. I'm sure (well, I hope) that almost all of you have most of your holiday shopping done. Truth be told, I was not struck with inspiration to write this post until after I'd completed my 10 millionth price adjustment for the season! I figured, if I'm struggling, you guys might be struggling as well!

Well, better late than never, right? I've got some important guidelines to share that will help the rest of your holiday shopping period to go by a bit smoother.

I went back and rebought my r&b cardigan! Now have another $10 to use on something else... perhaps the MJ scarf?

❤ First, and foremost, do your research. And I don't just mean quality and pricing research, I mean, do your store research. Whether your taking the brick and mortar route or shopping online, the sheer amount of coupons out there will blow your mind.

Example: Target had a coupon out that gets you a $10 giftcard for every $50 you spend in-store. Now you couldn't apply that $10 towards your $50 purchase, but you could use that $10 towards a future purchase - or hey! use it as a giftcard for a co-worker. There is never more an important time to maximize your spending budget than right now.

And if you happened to be purchasing clothing during your Target trip, well then you would also be armed with a $5 off $25 women's apparel coupon too, right?

❤ Break up your purchases into multiple transactions! Don't be afraid to ask the cashier if they're willing to do it for you. 99% of the time he or she will smile at you and say "sure!" Now you do have to keep in mind coupon restrictions. In the case of the Target $10 giftcard, it does say only one coupon per customer, so more than likely a Target cashier may not let you do it.

Example: However, a couple of weeks ago Old Navy had a coupon out that was $15 off $50. I was definitely spending enough to use two of those coupons, but was also feeling lazy and didn't want to make multiple trips back to the store. I asked the cashier if I could split up my transaction and use my coupon twice and she said yes! In the end, its really to their benefit. Companies would rather have you spend $70 in one day than only $35. Win win situation. They walk off with all of your money (lol) and you get to walk off with presents for everyone (including yourself)!

❤ Which brings me to my next point - and this will be the only time of year I say this. Don't wait (Anna is totally glaring at me right now because I mistakenly told her to do this a couple of weeks ago). If you want it and you can afford it, just buy it. Everyone is shopping right now--bargin shoppers and non-bargin shoppers. And its the non-bargin shoppers that you really need to be afraid of! The non-bargin shoppers don't know to any better. They don't know to wait. They will actually *gasp* pay full price for something without a single thought. And because the entire herd of them are out and about, you don't stand a chance. So if you see it, and its what you need for someone or for yourself, just grab it.

❤ And the reason why you're just going to grab it, even if it is full price, is because you can always do a price adjustment (Modcloth is an exception to this rule. They only have a 7 day window). Most stores have a 14 day one-time price adjustment policy. Keep your receipts and keep and eye out on your stores. Prices are changing every day, and if worse comes to worse and you miss your price adjustment period, you can always rebuy and return.

Say what? Isn't that kind of shady? No, not at all. If the items are still in stock, you are within your rights to purchase and return your old items (extended return period during this season make this a valuable point). Besides, I don't know what retailers expect. Its not like the economy is doing well yet; people have to save where they got to save! And all of these "not valid on a previous purchase" restrictions are so silly.

My Old Navy sweaters ended up being around $10 (vs the $30 original price) a piece!

Example: Going back to my Old Navy purchase with the $15 off $50 coupons. Quite literally the following week everything I purchased went on sale by a significant amount. I went back and luckily everything that I had previously purchased was still in-stock. I repurchased everything at the lower cost and used another $15 off $50 coupon. I was able to take everything that I purchased in those two previous transactions and repurchase them under one. I was able to get back over $40! Totally worth the efforts.

Whether its $50 or three dollars, fight for it. Get it back. Those three dollars could go towards a small gift for your co-worker, or the mailman, or whoever it is you need to buy. Money is super important this time of year. Don't let it go to waste.

❤ One more tip before I end this post. Not totally related to shopping, but definitely related to the holidays. When you are at the stores, ask for extra tissue paper, or if your online purchase includes free gift wrapping--get it. You won't believe how useful those items come in handy. It'll save you a few bucks and often times, the tissue paper they give out in store is prettier and of higher quality than what you would buy at Walmart or Target (I think Victoria's Secret probably as the best all around).

Welp, thats it! Good luck to all of you. And if you are a super, duper last minute shopper, please be nice to the sale associates! No one likes t work on Christmas Eve. And they like it even less when you are yelling at them because something is out of stock. Its not their fault--promise. Just smile and ask if they have any suggestions for an alternative!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sock Bun Tutorial

Just Kidding.

More like sock bun fail than a sock bun tutorial. This is pretty much what happens every single time I try this. Hair isn't long enough and I have too many layers. I just can't make it work. It only seems to really work with people who have really long hair... which is ironic since its the shorter hair people who need help to add volume to their hair!

If you guys have any tips for me, I'd appreciate it :)

Pretty, pretty please?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Motel Rocks - 50% off

Happy Tuesday all!! Quick unscheduled post here because I just got an email from Motel Rocks that I could not wait to share!

Uh huh. THAT'S RIGHT. Motel Rocks is doing 50% off all items through this link. Just enter in XMASPREVIEW50 at checkout. First thing to catch my eye?

The Gladdy Knicker Dress! This has been popping up on a lot of other sites lately and you can get it now for 50% off plus free shipping. Ya'll know how I love my free shipping. ;)

Happy shopping!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Neiman Marcus x Target

Leave it to me to do two large review posts back to back. Its not my fault! These collaborations are getting a little out of hand (though, not going to lie, severely excited for the upcoming one with Prabal Gurung and Derek Lam). At least this one went a little easier on my wallet?

So before I begin, I do want to apologize in advance for an entire review post using my mobile cam. This particular collaboration ran rather.. high? so I could only reasonably purchase one or two items (that and I blew half my life savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday--kidding BF, kidding..kind of). Its for this reason that I rarely bother to check out the H&M collabs. Most of the time I think they're way over priced for what you are actually getting -- even if Versace's name is tattooed all over it. But considering the wide variety of designers, and with the backing of Neiman Marcus, there was very little I could do to resist this one. The plus about Target collaborations over H&M collaborations is that the items are easier for every-day purposes, where as I have no idea where its going to be appropriate for me to wear a giant duvet outside of the house.

That being said, my overall impressions of the Neiman Marcus x Target collection are not good. They're not necessarily bad, but I stand by my original opinion of feeling rather underwhelmed by the entire collection. In general, the quality of this line is pretty decent. Some would argue that it isn't that much higher than the average Target collaborations, but I disagree. There was lacking in some areas in terms of stitching and overall fit of things, but the fabric contents were good. You could feel the difference in your hands. However, do I feel like the items were worth their price points? No, not really. And apparently neither did most of Target's customers.

The photos below are from around 1:00 PM on December 01, 2012. I didn't have the energy or time to do the 6 AM line up this time around, and I'm quite glad I didn't. As you can see in the photos below, Target still had plenty of stock available. At least four size runs in the Robert Rodriguez lace dress.. all of which looked untouched. I went back again Monday night, and while a couple of sizes were out, for the most part there was plenty of stock in almost everything. BF first told me that he though the prices were ridiculous and that the average Target customer wasn't going to purchase a hundred dollar dress. I argued that these collaborations don't target the average Target consumer, and that this line wasn't a fail. In the end, we were both right. The NM x Target line is doing very well at Neiman Marcus. Its sold out in several styles online and in-stores. From the stand point of a Neiman Marcus customer these prices are a steal! But for the Target customers, even the ones who normally chase after designer collaborations, this ended up being just too far out of our price ranges.

Seriously fell in love with these Caroline Herrera prints! And the Oscar de la Renta dog collar and leash set are well worth the price

The good news is that despite the high prices, Target does seem to be learning from the disasters of Jason Wu and Missioni. There was a strict five per item limit and a hard return date of January 05th, 2013. Oh, and the Target website, didn't crash for once. Now, if that is because the items were also available on the Neiman Marcus website, I don't know. But I do know that at 6:30 AM on launch day, almost everything was still in stock.

Now the bad news. There are rumors floating about that this line will absolutely not go to clearance, which is a bit hard to swallow given the vast amount of stock that is available. Supposedly after January 05th the line will simply disappear. As to what will happen to it, no one seems to know. I sincerely hope, especially with the amount of attention retailers have been getting lately about not being green, that it all won't end up in salvage. So if there's something you really want but can't quite afford, time to start asking for Target or Neiman Marcus giftcards for Christmas.

Oh, and one more thing. Before we get into this, Target currently has a coupon out that gives you a $10 giftcard with a $50 purchase. Given that so much of this line is over $50... might as well get an extra $10 out of it! This offer is going on until December 08th.

On to the reviews! I didn't look at the accessories and home goods too closely. Just in glance and took photos for show. There were a few notable things, like the Marc Jacob scarf that I loved (and of course forgot to take a photo of). Mostly these are to look at, but you can find all the clothing reviews below.

Ugh. So severely disappointed in the Oscar de la Renta bag. The promo photos made it seem like it was a lace or appliqué on top of a white canvas bag. Its actually a contrast print on top of a cream colored bag. The material is similar to the Jason Wu for Target cream satchel. Not worth $60 at all.

The Marc Jacob pouches are pure leather, but there was some noticeable fraying at the seams at the ones I looked at. Not really the quality I would expect from something with Marc Jacob's name on it! The pouches are probably one of the more popular items, but personally didn't think they were worth spending $70 on.

Wanted to touch/play/probably end up accidentally breaking one of these so badly! Simply gorgeous!

rag & bone Heathered Shawl-Collar
$49.99 Boys (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), Size Medium and Large

At the moment, this is the only item from the collection that I own. I ended up with the boy's large, but wanted to show the medium, and the men's small for comparison. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance (basically I forgot) to try on the boy's XL, but I found the boy's large to be a perfect fit for me. Its funny the amount of women that are coveting this sweater. When I went back all of the large and XL sizes had been sold out, but there were still at least two full size runs of the men's sweater.

I absolutely love this sweater. Its definitely a must-have if it fits into your style. Its super warm and cozy and amazingly does not itch (47% wool). I was actually a little worried about the itch aspect of it because it does feel rather prickly when you first put it on. I love how thick the sweater is and I've gotten tons of compliments on it already. It passed BF's critical eye (he's in product design, so I tend to run a lot of things by him) in the boy's price range. The shawl is simple and not overly exaggerated, but manages to stay in place as you move through out the day. Its definitely more of a $50 sweater than a $70 one, so its a good thing I preferred the boy's sizing over the men's!

$69.99 Mens (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), Size Small

Lela Rose Guipure Lace Top
$69.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

Sigh. The heartbreak of the collection. I wanted to love this so badly! The fit is actually not that bad (though BF absolutely hated it) if you have a slim build. I've heard a lot of girls complaining that they had to size up for their hips, but for me it seemed to fit well. The material felt nice and I could see it being paired with several things, but at the same time I couldn't justify a $70 price tag when the guipure lace is only on the front of the shirt! I really hate half shirt designs. It just looks lazy and cheap, like the brand was trying to cut costs by only have lace on part of the shirt instead of creating a uniformed look. This top falls into the if it went down to 70% off clearance category (too bad that's not going to happen).

Skaist-Taylor Faux-Fur Vest
$79.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

This is my "am I seriously wearing a faux-fur vest" face? Obviously, not something that falls into my style. That being said, it is a very good quality vest. The faux-fur was super soft and was very comfortable on. I hate the shoulders, however. They made me feel like I was wearing football pads. I liked how the vest wore closed and opened, and I think not a bad value if you like this. I found this to fit true to size.

Prabal Gurung Sequined Cape
$79.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), One Size

I'm not really a cape person, and this particular one didn't cause any break throughs. Its pretty. I like the subtly in the sequins and the lace bow, but the material felt strange. Its a wool blend and unfortunately not as comfortable as the rag & bone sweater. It was pretty itchy during the time I was trying it on. Its also a shame they decided to do this as one size fits all verus a S/M and M/L sizing. I like where the cape hits me and feels like someone with a longer torso could've benefited from the option of having a longer length. I do hope that this isn't a preview of what's to come in February. I have fairly high hopes for the Prabal Gurung for Target line, but I felt like this cape was a pretty bad miss.

Thom Browne Rib Trim Blazer
$129.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

This blazer is adorable. Its another wool blend (man, they really planned this line out for winter didn't they?) and feels thick enough to keep you warm (at least in California weather) without needing an additional coat. I found that it does run a bit small. The size I have on is an XS and it pulls my shoulders back more than I would like. You can also see that the front of the blazer doesn't lie totally flat. I think a small size would've fit me more comfortably (there weren't any available to try on), but probably wouldn't have looked as darling opened up. Even still, I really enjoyed it and considering the material blend and the overall structure and details, found it was worth the cost.

Robert Rodriguez Ruffled Sleeveless Top
$79.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

This top runs large. Like way large. Or the cut just isn't right.. I'm really not sure which it is. Its not flattering in the least. I feel like William Shakespeare, pot belly and all, in this thing. Its a 100% polyester, which I found to be a shame given the price, and the fact that the other blends in the line have been so nice. While the ruffles are nicely done and contain Robert Rodriguez's signature lace, I feel like this was a total miss. It also cuts extremely low for some reason, and I can't imagine someone with a large chest than mine being able to wear this without looking totally scandalous!

Proenza Schouler Abstract-Print Sweatshirt
$29.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

Out of all of the clothing, this sweatshirt is the most affordable, and evidently the most popular. I think the affordability of the sweatshirt has a lot to do with its popularity. That being said, it is a great sweatshirt.. as good as a sweatshirt can get? The hem is cut as a high-low; it makes the top a little trendier and not just your every day run of the mill. The fit is fantastic. They really nailed it with this one. Its probably one of the most flattering sweatshirts I've ever worn! The graphic is also pretty awesome, though, honestly I really wish they hadn't put this on a sweatshirt. Its just so... overly plain at the same time.

I'm not going to lie, part of me, really does want to get this sweatshirt. I think that it will be adorable with a collared shirt underneath, but I don't know if I can really justify paying $30 for a graphic. Even though the sweatshirt is cut nicely, its so plain that I really feel like all I'm paying for is the graphic.

Marchesa Petal-Skirt Dress
$79.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size Girl's Large

I love this dress! Love love love love. It reminds of me of Sex and the City. Why oh why couldn't they have made this in a women's size? or even a girl's XL? All of the girls' clothing stopped at large. None of it came in XL, even though the boy's cardigan went up to XL and all of Target's kids clothing goes up to XL. I almost feel like they were purposely trying to make it so smaller framed females would not be able to wear this. Which is unfortunately the case here. Its just a smudge too tight. The arm holes need to be widened and while I got it zipped up, I was not breathing very comfortably. The torso was also cut a bit too short.. but man! if the dress come in an XL? It would've been perfect.

Sigh. If you are fortunate enough to wear this comfortably, and it falls within your style, I suggest purchasing it. Its very well made (way over priced for a child's dress btw) and the petals are just gorgeous. They add volume without adding volume to your form.

Robert Rodriguez Fit-and-Flare Lace Dress
$99.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size 2

Readers, I admit. I'm totally torn. I really.. and I mean really.. cannot stop thinking about this dress. Its just a little bit too big in the bust (seriously Target, why can't you make a size 0 in any of these collaborations!?), but else fits beautifully. Ugh. Robert Rodriguez completely excelled in this dress. I actually feel like its worth every penny of that $99.99 price tag (though I have heard that others have difficulties with the zipper). Not only is there boning in the top, but an inside bra strap to keep the dress up. Its got about three layers of lining to make the bottom poof out more and I love how the lace overlay peeks out on top.

I have no where to wear this too! I want to purchase this dress so badly, but its the kind of dress you maybe wear once a year. Is it enough to spend $100 just to have it? I don't know. But if you can afford it, get it. End of story.

Marchesa Hand-Beaded Dress
$99.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size Girl's Large

Such a pretty dress! Very well made (though, again, way over priced for a child's dress) and darnit, why couldn't there be an XL available? If you are taller than 5'2" this will not fit on you length wise. Its fairly short and is just barely decent on my height. While this dress is sweeter than what I would normally wear, I just adore the design of it. The bead work is nicely done (though the seam attaching it is a tad off). The pleats are perfectly done. They're stiff enough to fall straight down but still gives so much movement. The hem is my favorite part. The way that it curls and ruffles and gives just a slight flare is, to me, what really makes this dress.

The top part, the beadwork, is a bit too short for a women's body unfortunately. If it was made just a bit longer the dress would flow down better and make it more flattering from the side. I also found the shoulders to be fairly tight, and again the arm holes were too small--something that I'm not sure can be altered on a dress like this.

Lela Rose Watercolor High-Low Dress
$99.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size 2

Why Lela? Why? What on earth were you thinking when you designed the bottom half of this dress? I have yet to see the bottom of the dress look good on any one (not even the model on the Target website). The only exception is Charlotte from Revenge, and that was only because someone tore out the inside netting and hacked off about 10 inches from the hem. Which is what I really want to do to the dress, but I don't think there's any world that exists that justifies me hacking up a $100 dress. Unless of course that dress were 70% off, but oh wait.. that's not happening.

I actually thought I was going to hate the torso. It really seemed like bad news bear with the knot and the empire waist cut and then a belt on top of all of that? Surprisingly, its quite flattering. Too bad its about the only thing that is flattering. The 2 fit with a little bit of room in the waist.

Tracy Reese Sequined Blouse
$79.99 (Neiman Marcus link, Target link), size X-Small

Last piece! Absolutely hated it. More than the Lela Rose dress.. at least that has potential! This just felt all wrong to me. Its probably because the cut felt dated to me. Like I needed to be in late 40's or 50's to wear it properly. I also disliked the half blue, half sequined aspect of it. But then, you guys already know I hate half shirts! I did see someone wearing this with a blazer, and it admittedly looked cute, but if that if that is the only way I'm going to wear it, I'm sure as heck not going to pay $80 for it! In additional to the failed bat-sleeves, the top is cut very narrow at the hem. Not a problem for me because I have fairly narrow hips, but I can see it causing problems for others.

Phew! And that is it. More misses than hits with this line, I'm afraid. Aside from the rag & bone cardigan, the other items on my list and fall within my worth the cost qualifications are the Oscar de la Renta dog & leash combo, obviously the Robert Rodriguez lace dress, and the Marc Jacob cashmere scarf. All together is still a fairly hefty shopping cart. Not sure which ones I'll get before the January 05th expiration date, but I'm sure you readers will find out one way or another.

What do you think? Have you had a chance to check out the collection yourself? Do you feel like it was a success or did Target finally bite off more than they could chew?

Have a happy weekend everyone!