Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I've been up to...


be back later

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Staples: The one-piece swimsuit

This isn't really a work staple, per se, but it's hard to go a summer without putting on a swimsuit at least once. We've touched on swimwear and business before, but what about purely social events where coworkers are present? Pool parties, lake sports, beach bonfires—what's a lady to do?

One-piece swimsuits tend to harken Speedo, but they are making a huge comeback with new and retro styles. As a child, I remember my mom always looking glamorous by the pool in a fuchsia ruched halter suit (almost exactly like the Eliza from Rey Swimwear). I took the plunge and grabbed a one-piece last year, which I've used for situations that need a little more coverage and that are a little more sporty (like kayaking).

Things to look for in a one-piece:
  • Movement. Run in place in the dressing room, sit down, get up. Does your suit stay in place? Having to constantly adjust is more than just annoying—it can also draw unwanted attention to the uncomfortable areas.
  • Coverage. When it comes to swimwear, you have to think beyond just covering the mid-section or too much cleavage. Make sure the color isn't light enough to see through, and that there is enough coverage on top if you're prone to fripplage.
  • Rewearability. Have fun with your one-piece, and you may find yourself wearing it more often. Plus, confidence always looks good.
  • Tankini. If you prefer, a tankini can mimic a one-piece in coverage. If your top and bottom are different sizes, or if you have a long torso, this is a great alternative to common one-piece problems.
Some fun one-pieces (and a tankini) from around the web:
1. Tommy Hilfiger, $48 — 2. Merona, $35 — 3. Gap, $30 — 4. Land's End Canvas tankini, $90

Do you keep a one-piece handy? What do you look for in a swimsuit?

Friday, June 15, 2012

The make-up bag

A peek inside my makeup bag.

Bag: Lancome free gift with purchase, early 90s (from my mom)
Hair ties, clips and pins
Floss (x2)
Mary Kay satin hands lotion
Tide stain pen
Bobbi Brown pot rouge in Velvet Plum(for lips and cheeks)
Brilliance New York lipstick in Blaze
Revlon lipgloss in Firecracker
Flirt! Chickstick in Miss Temptress (nude-ish on me)
NYX Color lip balm in Sukriya (the best tinted chapstick I've found yet)
Tarte natural lip stain pencil in Moody
Tarte natural lip stain pencil in Joy
Covergirl Natureluxe gloss balm in Coral 230

As you can tell, I'm a lips and cheeks kind of gal.

What's in your make-up bag?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

8 things you can do mid-week to unplug

Weekends are for rest, and because of that, we slave away Monday through Friday. Though it feels like a work takes up a whole day, most people have anywhere from 4-7 hours between getting off work and hitting the sack. That's 4-7 hours that you can call your own and that you should grab with both hands. I'm as much of a fan of weeknight television as anyone, but crime dramas don't often help fight stress, and sometimes it's nice to change things up.

Here are 8 weeknight breaks to help you unplug—warning: you may never want to fall back into the TV rabbit hole again. Several of these overlap (it's hard to be glued to a computer if you've got a honey mask on your face), but I hope you will run with these ideas and find some go-to midweek breaks on your own. All of these can be done with minimal planning, too.

1. No-tech night. Turn off the TV, turn off the computer, put on some music and pick up a book, magazine or project. Do anything EXCEPT for stare at a screen.

2. Girls night. Get the girls and some supplies and get to relaxing. Some fun home-spa things you can try: manicures/pedicures, sugar/salt scrubs, facial masks and hair masks. Bonus points if someone has a hot tub.

3. Movie night. The average movie is anywhere from 90-120 minutes long, which fits into your evening with plenty of time to spare. Why wait until Friday to catch the latest blockbuster? Lines are probably shorter on weekdays, too. 

4. Craft night. If you're a weekend crafter like I am, you know how frustrating and slow progress can be when you only give it a project a few glances a week. Pick a small project or a simple step within a large project that takes less than two hours, and get it out of the way.

5. Game night. Board games, video games or bowling, a mid-week game night with family or friends is a great stress buster (and I have the bowling injuries to prove it). Check out your local bowling alley's weekly specials—you'll probably find some great deals for a few hours of old school fun.

6. Book club. Create your own or join one, even if you gab and gossip more than you actually discuss the book. My last book club also included themed food (fair fare for Devil in the White City and pierogies for The Master and Margarita). Bonus: you could *gasp* learn something!

7. Supper club. Whether it's cooking with your live-in or some friends, picking out a recipe and making it can be a fun experience (and you get some yummy grub out of it). If you're doing a group meal, let each person pick a course and bring ingredients (and any special tools to make it) and cook together. Note: this is much much easier if the person with the biggest kitchen hosts. Just sayin'.

8. Date night. The last year I lived in California, K taught a late afternoon class on Mondays just a few blocks from my office. He got into the habit of taking the train there (a reimbursable expense for him), and I would pick him up after work and check out a different restaurant each week. Mondays were so much fun (and the restaurants were way less crowded).

How do you unplug and relax mid-week?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Work Staples: The Peep-toe

Continuing the summer style series, today we explore the peep-toe. Whether you like it in pump, wedge or flat form, we all enjoy a little extra air down there in the summer. I'm a fan—I have basic peep-toe pumps in brown croc, black leather and nude patent to keep me covered.

Uber-conservative offices are generally closed-toe year-round, but if you have a more relaxed dress code and can toss in a little toe here or there, here are some things to consider when shopping for and styling peep-toe pumps for the office.
  • Peep a little, peep a lot. Even among peep-toes, there is a lot of variation, from a tiny cut-out vee to an entire exposed toe-area. Try a few styles on to see what you're most comfortable with. The more conservative your office is, the smaller your peeping area should be.
  • Coverage. Keep the rest of the shoe more conservative in coverage. I recommend saving the peep-toe d'orsays or slingbacks for events rather than office wear. Peep-toes in open lace (unlined), crochet, or other open fabrics are also not for the office.
  • Color. I'm a big fan of working color into your work wardrobe, and shoes are no exception. Keep the look balanced by pulling a single color from the rest of your outfit into your shoes, or by accenting an otherwise neutral outfit with a pop. Leave the ultra bright neons at home unless you're in a very creative environment.
  • Embellishments. Add a little pizzazz to an office shoe through texture or try something with a little embellishment (buckles, bows or cut-outs are pretty easy to find). A mary jane, t-strap or ankle strap are also fun spins on a classic peep-toe pump.
  • Perfect the pedi. A messy or unkept pedicure can make even the chicest peep-toe look bad. There's not need to go out and spend money on regular pedicures (unless you're into that kind of thing), just make sure your nails are clean and clipped. If you do go with a color, make sure it is office appropriate—you have a little more leeway on your toes than your fingers, especially in summer, but don't go totally crazy.
  • Wear with...anything. Peep-toes are pretty versatile in the office. They look chic with a knee-length dress (any shorter and it can look like too much skin) or with a pair of floor-skimming pants (or some skinnies on Casual Friday). 
Some fun office-appropriate peep-toe styles:

Are peep-toes part of your summer shoe collection? How do you keep them office appropriate?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Loves | Links


Splurged on this adorable Kensie romper for lounging and sleeping. It's covered in pineapples.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I purchased this book on Kindle with a birthday gift card (or was it Christmas? I forget), and finally got around to reading it last week. It is a hilarious (though not funny ha-ha) and fun take on historical events that isn't at all true (and you must accept that or you might not enjoy it). And there's a movie coming out!

My new-ish pour-over coffee maker. This little $6 contraption (comes with a ceramic mug, but fits most of my mugs at home, too) has changed my morning routine for the better. Love that coffee.


These ninja tacks are so cool. [via The Office Stylist]

I don't watch or follow Mad Men, but The Daily Muse does and these workplace lessons are spot on.

Happy employees = productive employees. How can you identify a happy employee? [via The Grindstone]

This weekend, I'm going on a leather hunt so I can try this DIY Leather Crossbody Bag tutorial [via Making it Lovely]

Only Grace from Shoplet would think to make an office supply alphabet.

Edgar Allen Poe's handwriting is beautiful. Cursive is a lost art. [via The Well-Appointed Desk]

I wish I had an office so I could bring this healthy and easy lunch every day. [via The Daily Muse]

We've all rolled our eyes at a coworker's ringtone mid-meeting, but that's not the only tech blunder prevalent in offices these days. Mashable! pulls together a comprehensive cheat sheet of bad tech etiquette to avoid at work.

Can your Facebook privacy settings (not the lack thereof) hurt you? Lifehacker thinks so.

Because I love Barbie, I had to share another Daily Muse article: 17 Barbies We're Glad Mattel Made.

What good reads did you find this week? What are you loving right now?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On writing better

Whether you're writing executive briefs or emails, you probably write more in a day than you realize. Even if you're comfortable writing the daily stuff, most people can get overwhelmed and intimidated by larger writing assignments or the thought of writing something for fun.

Learning to write well doesn't happen overnight, but the steps to get there aren't that difficult. Here are a few easy ways to get on the path to better writing.

Read good writing
The thing I enjoy most about reading is immersing myself in good writing, whether in books, magazines or online publications. When you're familiar with what good writing sounds and looks like, you'll be able to recognize it and practice it yourself. In the same vein, reading crap all day long can neutralize your ability to recognize bad writing and fix it. Junk in, junk out.

Write often
Practice makes perfect. The more you write, though, the more comfortable you will be with writing. Plus, getting words down on paper (or on the screen) gives you a great starting point for editing. It sounds so easy, but can be difficult to practice. Play around with different formats. I'm usually busy with technical proposals, marketing copy, reported stories or blog posts, but I've also dabbled in essays and fiction (very light dabbling) and want to try other types of writing as well.

Share it with others
Get a second or third opinion to see how effective your writing is. Do you have a weird habit or resort to a single type of sentence structure? Getting some outside feedback can be great for developing your voice. Even a simple business email can benefit from a quick review—how is your tone coming across? Find a friend or two you trust, and give them some context for why you're writing to help them get into the right frame of mind.

Play editor
Here's a fun experiment: take a piece from a magazine or website and look at it through an editor's lens. How would you restructure or reword the piece? Is there a better way to get the point across? Think about the things you like and things you don't like about the piece, and then experiment with applying that to your own writing. By editing other people's work for a living, I pick up on common pitfalls and personal preferences, which often come to mind when I'm writing my own stuff.

Stay humble
Writing is not one of those skills you "master" and then leave alone like building the perfect ship-in-a-bottle. That mindset will ruin your writing—in my experience those who are cocky about their writing ability are also in dire need of a good editor (not to be confused with a confident or self-assured writer). Every new piece is a blank slate, and it doesn't care how many awards or A+s your last piece accumulated, if you don't work at the one, it will still be crap.

What do you write? How do you stay sharp?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Five ways to dress up a T-shirt and jeans

My go-to outfit has always been a solid-color t-shirt or tank and jeans (currently this tee and this tank...I have each in 4-5 colors. I'm a creature of habit).

As I'm exploring dressing up more on a daily basis, I've learned a few easy tips on making a basic t-shirt and jeans look a little less basic from the bottom up and found some affordable pieces to help you on your way, too.

1. Forbid the flip flops and most sneakers. Just about any non-flip flop and sneaker option can make a t-shirt and jeans look instantly more polished.

2. Just wear jewels.  A statement necklace adds an embellished collar and a chunky watch anchors the look.

3. Throw on a layer. A fun blazer or cardigan turns your t-shirt and jeans into something else.

4. Scarf it up. We all know scarves are a great accessory when it's less than pleasant out, but a gauzy or silky one can make the seasonal transition (or switch it out for a sarong on the beach).

5. Use your head. Not just hair accessories and hats, but fun hairstyles, too. I always feel more put together when I have a good hair day. Check out some reader hairstyles and various hairdos I've worn over this blog's life. For other hair ideas, I really like the tutorials on the Beauty Department and YouTube.

Some of my t-shirt and jean-based outfits:

How do you dress up a t-shirt and jeans? Or do you have a different go-to casual combination?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sneak Peek | Minted Magazine's Summer Issue

I've been writing away this spring, and one of my more exciting projects has been contributing to Minted magazine.  

Minted is a quarterly online women's lifestyle and business magazine aimed at the modern career girl. The summer issue comes out on Monday, and it contains my article with tips on how to find your way—and your new social circle—in a new city after a big move.

Minted is revealing some sneak peeks of the new issue today—if you like what you see, you’ll love what’s in store for you on Monday.

Long summer days just sometimes aren’t enough for you to make wardrobe changes to take you from the sandy beach to a candlelit dinner with your better half. Minted has you covered in its Style File “Day to Night” section. With a swap of some accessories and pieces, you’ll be good to go for the day!
Did you know that women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in U.S.? Even with stats like that, it’s surprising that women only make up 3% of the advertising industry’s creative directors—the very people in charge of selling you products. So why are men in charge of attracting brands that women are supposed to buy into? Find out why in the Summer Issue of Minted!

Check out past issues of Minted over at www.mintedmag.com or find them on Twitter and Facebook. I fell in love with the publication immediately, and I hope you will, too!