What's black, white, and red in exactly one spot?

Think about it for a moment.

Do you know?

If you guessed a furry snow leopard print jacket at H&M for 70% off, you are right!

I didn't go crazy with the after Christmas shopping this year, as I was feeling guilty about buying more things for myself. But this jacket was only $18, and I was smitten the moment I tried it on. I also have this weird complex where when the last one of something happens to be my size I feel like there is some sort of cosmic plan at work.

I even sought out further conformation that it was a good purchase by polling people waiting in line - which was very long because H&M only had one person at the register. I got four 'yes'es from people in the queue and a big 'no' + 'eye roll' from my little sister. So I got it.

I also got this super long black bead and chain necklace from Aldo because I didn't get it for Christmas and it was only $10.50 (nearly half off!)

Did you find any great after Christmas sales?

Out of my sugar coma

Christmas always goes by in a flash - a whole month of crazy preparations and anticipation, then within 35 hours, it's over. So here's a little taste of my Christmas:

What I wore - A black dress with a lace top (which turned out to be a problem with every bra I own, so I had to put a shrug over it!), a red cinch belt, my beloved red mary jane pumps, and lacey tights to mimic the lace of the dress.

Black Lace dress, Black shrug, Red Mary Janes, lace tights

What I ate - One of many scrumptious cookies, the chocolate muzzette is my favorite! Click through to Flickr for the recipe!

Chocolate Muzzettes

What I received - I always feel so spoiled at Christmas, this year some of my favorite gifts are: an apple green coat with a furry collar, a multi colored flower ring, and a carrot necklace. I'm also excited to play my new Seinfeld Monopoly, and read Heat Wave, a book written by the fictional character of the show Castle. I have no idea how a fictional character writes a book... but I'm sure it will be a fun read!

I hope everyone had wonderful holidays!!!

Black Velvet Boyfriend Blazer

I probably have an undiagnosed case of OCD.

As previously mentioned, I've been on the hunt for a black velvet blazer, and after scrutinizing every one I found online, trying to find one in a store, and spending hours searching ebay, I finally decided I liked the Urban Outfitters Silence and Noise boyfriend blazer best.

So two things happened the other week, first the UO blazer went on sale from $78 to $49, making it buyable. The second thing was that it went out of stock the next day.

Called my local Urban Outfitters, but they didn't have it in stock at all. So rather than just letting it go, I'm suddenly checking the website every hour to see if my blazer comes back in stock. This seems very possible to me since they are offering free returns and exchanges.

So I check. First there is a large, next extra small, then nothing. But I keep checking, and checking. Thankfully, three days later a medium was back and I was able to nab it. I probably would have deteriorated into a crazy person if I'd had to obsess over it any longer.

The blazer has arrived and while I do really like it, I'm a little disappointed that it isn't lined (I supposed I should have assumed that they would have mentioned it if it was!) and the sleeves are way too long for me. Should be an easy fix though. The general fit of the blazer is more relaxed and roomie, as it is meant to be a 'boy' cut.

So my question is:
Good things come to those who wait, or She who hesitates is lost?

Mixed metals chain necklace

Last season the knotted chain necklace at Urban Outfitters was new and unique. This season you can't twirl around a jewelry stand in any store with out inadvertently knocking ten of them to the ground. I regretted not getting the chain necklace last year; I was in the store, it was in my hand, and I thought "let me just wait for it to go on sale." And I missed out.

That said, it should have been an easy task to find its equal now that every retailer has a version (or three). Only none that I found could hold a candle to the Urban necklace, be they too chunky (simply vera), too skimpy (forever 21), or just kind of strange.

The necklace that has the best resemblance is this mixed materials version from the Gap. Ignore the plaid fabric and focus on the chains. A thick group of thin chains, both silver and gold, with a strand of crystals.

Since the necklace was on sale for $10 (in the B&M store), I decided it would be worth altering. So I ditched the plaid fabric, replaced it with some chains, and vola!

To be even more accurate to the Urban necklace, you could unhook the chains, braid them, and knot the crystals.

Plus, now Chloe can enjoy the necklace as well.

New Years Eve for Under $100

While browsing Express.com's extra 20% off clearance, I spotted this slinky silver dress and felt inspired to put together a new years eve look.

Total: $98.40

(on a completely random note, why can't I ever seem to make my polyvore sets fill the whole space? Is there some secret trick I don't know about?)

Forever a copycat

If you've spent the last eight months waiting for Anthropologie to put the Stormy Sea Necklace on sale because you aren't crazy enough to spend $48 on jewelry made from acrylic and jersey; and you're even more unhappy because the color you wanted is no longer on their web site and is being sold for $90 on ebay, then you might be happy to know that Forever 21 now has their own version of this necklace.

The Pear Shaped Collar is available in three colors, jade, black and cream. It is selling for $8.80, nearly $40 less than the Stormy Sea - and a far more logical price for plastic and ribbon.

So Anthropologie, what do you have to say about that?

Gift Guide - $30 and Under

I really enjoyed the challenge of finding things I would want to give for under $10, but during the process I came across so many other things that were a bit more expensive! Here are my favorite under $30 picks.

1. Crushed Glitter Magic Wallet at J.Crew, $16.50 - In both silver and gold, the magic wallet is the perfect choice for the itty-bitty clutch. Just enough room for your ID, a few credit cards and a little cash.
2. Paint-By-Number Dessert Plate at Anthropologie, $12 each - The bright colors and playful motif make these plates really stand out. They come in six different designs and I suspect you'll want them all.
3. LaCie imakey (4 gig) at Amazon, $21 - A discrete low profile USB flash drive for a key ring, that looks like key. Very cute. (I felt the need to include a more masculine gift, so I borrowed this from my brother's gift guide.)
4. Gap Icon Gift Set at Gap, $18.50 - Perfume and body lotion with a matching cosmetic bag in one of the classic Gap fragrances.
5. Wine Color Earrings at Klara Design Jewelry, $22 - Handmade earrings with crystal beads are subtle in their eggplant color, but so full of shimmer.
6. Mixed Stitch Scarf at Urban Outfitters, $28 - Who doesn't have a black wool coat that could use a shock of electric blue? And check out the dimensions - 72" x 26" - this scarf is massive, so you know it will keep you super warm.
7. PostSecret Hard Cover Book at Amazon, $15.65 - Comprised of submissions to the popular website, PostSecret is a collection of people's most private thoughts, written on postcards, and then published with anonymity. A mix of dark and beautiful, it's so intriguing to be in on someone else's secret.
8. Faux the Love of Sparkle Necklace at Mod Cloth, $30 - This necklace certainly makes a statement. A big sparkly one, and nothing says 'holidays' like sparkle.
9. Coaster Skirts at Pier 1, $13 - These clever coasters can actually be slipped on to the bottom of stemware, so you won't have to worry about your guests forgetting to use them. The set includes six different colors, so they are also a convenient way to remember which glass is yours.
10. Little Birch Jewelry Stand at Urban Outfitters, $28 - I love this little tree. Even without using it to display jewelry it makes a lovely addition to a room. I only hang bird and leaf jewelry on mine, because I'm silly like that.
11. Penguin Cocktail Shaker at Pier 1, $25 - What is better than a functional device disguised as a cute animal?

Black Lace and White Ruffles

Black lace skirt, White ruffel top, Red Pumps
Today was my work Christmas party, and I was excited to wear my white tiered ruffle top. I decided to keep it very simple and paired it with a black lace skirt, a black cardigan, and my red pumps. For accessories I wore two necklaces, the pre-strung pearls I made into a necklace and a small gold bow with a single rhinestone in the center.
pearls and bow
My efforts of course went unnoticed by my coworkers (most of whom were wearing jeans and sneakers) - but just because I work in the the worlds most causal office, doesn't mean I shouldn't always dress my best.

I also am proud to say that this outfit cost under $100, and I put together a polyvore set to that effect. The only item on it which is exactly what I'm wearing is the lace skirt, but all the others are very similar.

Stocking Stuffers

Some gift ideas for $10 and under - perfect to be that extra something you might need to add to a gift, or for that someone who you aren't really sure if you're exchanging gifts with, or for yourself... why not?

1. Measuring Cup Set at Pier 1, $10 - Butterfly printed mugs that are actually measuring cups? Adorable!
2. Airmail pouch at Fred Flare, $9 - for anyone with Jolly Post Clutch lust, here is a mini version.
3. Starbucks Cup Ornaments at Starbucks, $10 - I like to pretend mine is a grande triple peppermint mocha.
4. Get Your Mac On Pin at Mod Cloth, $10 - It's the classic Happy Macintosh!! I can't imagine any Apple lover not wanting this pin.
5. Fiery Glimpse Dishtowel at Anthropologie, $8 - Ball fringe. On a dishtowel.
6. Simple Gifts Ring at Mod Cloth, $10 - Put a bow on it and it's a present. This cute little ring is subtle enough to wear everyday, and hopefully the recipient will, because then they will always be thinking of you.
7. Spike Jewelry Holder at Urban Outfitters, $10 - This hedgehog isn't quite sonic, but he's still kinda cute.
8. Love Actually DVD at Amazon, $7.50 - My favorite 'new' Christmas movie, this is one of the sweetest romantic comedies there is.
9. Purse Hook at Amazon, $9 - Keep bags off the floor and close at hand with this clever contraption.
10. Belle of the Ball lip balm at Avon.com, $5 - A shiny Christmas ornament shaped orb of lip balm in three shades.
11. Bloomsberry Chocolate Bars, at supermarkets and TJMaxx, $3 or over priced online retailers - I love these chocolate bars so much, and not just because their packaging is amazing - the chocolate is good too! I've already bought a bunch to give out this year.

Wish List

Items in this set:

'Tis the season to be greedy? 
For several years I've kept a wish list at Amazon.com for benefit of my family and for a little self indulgence. Sometimes it's fun to fill it up with beautiful expensive shoes I know I'll never buy, dreaming that someone will actually get them for me. Of course I put sensible things that don't cost too much on it as well, like books and sweaters from the Gap.

Each year at my church there is a christmas tree full of gift tags with things written on them like "3 year old girl - Sweater". The tags are for a family who can't afford to give their children Christmas presents this year, so members of the church take a tag and buy a gift.

This is something I've done for the past few years, and I've really enjoyed it. Last year shopping for the three year old girl, I went to H&M and was able to get a ton of clothes for her because of their $5 and $10 sale items. I loved choosing all the clothes, and knowing my gifts were going to make a little girl's Christmas morning wonderful.

This morning when I looked at the tags on the tree I felt like they seemed a bit greedy. A pair of Ugg boots, a silver heart necklace from Tiffany's, a Wii.
I know there are a lot of people in this world with these things on their wish lists, and I know many of them will get them. I also know there is a good deal of wealth in my town, and it would be nice to know that an unfortunate family would be benefiting from that.

Yet, I'm bothered.
Perhaps because in my own family we never do extravagant gifts - I wanted an iPod, I had to get a job and buy it myself. Christmas isn't supposed to be about that.
A family who can't afford christmas asking a church to give them a Wii, sounds a little greedy.
Am I wrong?

But I like being able to put myself into the gifts I give. So I chose "13 year old girl, lip gloss and nail polish" and I'm going to have a ton of fun picking those out.

Perhaps I should redo my wish list, and take off those overpriced items that make me seem like a spoiled greedy child - even though when I put them, I do so knowing I wont ever get them.

Do you have a sensible wish list, or are you a little greedy too? What do you want that you know you'll never get?

Saturday Shopping

Better check the naughty box for me!

Today I went out shopping with the intentions of buying for others, and all I managed to do was buy more things for myself. Horrible, I know.

At a church fair I found this black and white beaded clutch for $10. It might be super cool vintage, or it might have been made in China last year, but I'll never really know. No labels of any kind can be found on it. Wouldn't it be so cute with a little red dress?

Yes, the iPhone dressing room mirror shot!
At TJMaxx I had two great finds to indulge my ruffle obsession: the three tiered white chiffon top was $17 and the black jersey with chiffon ruffles was $14. Both would be great for any holiday parties, and I wonder if I could dress them down enough for work as well?

I was also hoping to find a black velvet blazer out in the wilds of TJMaxx, or at least try on the Urban Outfitters boyfriend blazer, but my local store didn't have it. All I found at TJ's was this bright pink one for $40 - cute, but not at all the look I want.

Makeup Routine

For years I didn't wear makeup; seeing it through the eyes of an outsider as a waste of time and money. The disconnect between makeup and I prompted me to study it, and I spent six months photographing anyone who would let me, put their makeup on.

My first photographs could be described as 'graphic and unsettling', but as the project progressed and I began actually scripting the makeup routines I found myself loving the high fashion, theatrical aspects of it.

Gradually I came to appreciate makeup and the large roll it plays in the fashion world. I now actually enjoy wearing and experimenting with it on my own. Most days I keep it pretty simple - some silver eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and lip gloss. And while I enjoyed my photographic documentation of my subject's MAC shopping sprees, I buy my makeup from Avon - their Mark line is trendy and cheap.