Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar anyone?

Hi Friends.  2 posts in one day you say?  Yes, I am back and flying high at 35,000 feet. and just a tad bored.  I'm mixing a little work and blogging. 

I may or may not have had a crying spell in Terminal 4 at LAX before I boarded the plane, but I dried my tears and made it on the plane.  A stop at Starbucks in the American wing helped, as well as the forever trashy US Weekly.  I am so glad I don't subscribe to that magazine.  I pick one up about every 12 weeks and the headlines are always the same only feature different names.  Today, I learned that Miley is "pissed" at her dad for his comments in GQ that she is basically one step away from rehab.  The entire magazine was read before we even took off.  Blech.

I logged onto GoGo InFlight and opened up the sweetest email from my husband.  He is always the one I can count on to talk me off a ledge, and he takes the brunt of my complaining that I "hold in" with everyone else.  He says when I get home we have some serious talking to do about this job of mine.  I have to admit I sort of like it when he puts his foot down.  Let's see what this "talking to" is all about when I get home...

So did anyone watch the Oscars?  We watch every year since we both have a fascination with film.  This year we DVR'd the show and watched snippets in and out with the kids before they went to bed.  They watched all the musical performances and they rooted on Alice In Wonderland and How to Tame Your Dragon.  We finished watching the show after they went to bed. 

Was anyone else completely underwhelmed with Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts?  The Gregory Brothers (best known for their auto-tuning skills of Antoine Dobson "hide your kids, hide your wife" You Tube hit) unintentional musicals bit was pretty funny, and I thought the acceptance speech for the best original screenplay was sweet and sincere.  And that Sandra Bullock was as always, a class act.  But other than that the show was a bit of a snooze fest don't you think?  And having Celine Dion sing right after Gwyneth Paltrow was a cruel, cruel joke.  Maybe I was feeling hormonal or down that I was leaving the next day for NY, but even the fashion didn't excite me much.  Lots of frothy princessy numbers, but I did think Cate Blanchett and Melissa Leo looked stunning, even though both their dresses were a little unconventional.
And can we just have a moment of silence for Javier Bardem?  I literally let out a gasp when he came on screen in that white tux with that Brolin dude, which I cannot find an image of. 
So what was your take on the Oscars this year if you watched.  Did they appeal to a younger demo with their choice in co-hosts, or is it time to bring back Billy Crystal?  Personally, I'd take Billy any day.

I'm Leaving

I leave for NY in a couple of hours.  Yes, I was just there last month.  Yes, it feels like I was just there too.  When people hear that I travel for work, they usually ask "Is that hard?"  Women and men of all ages ask the question, it's not like anyone discriminates.  It used to bother me, but now I guess I'm just so used to it.  I say "of course it's hard."  It's not like I actually want to leave my family, spend nights away from them and yes, it can be a burden.  But I have the knack of feeling myself with guilt and dread more than anyone could do for me.  I have thoughts that I don't even like to verbalize lest they manifest themselves into reality.  Thoughts of plane crashes and kids breaking arms when I am away.  See, twisted, right?  Friends, you don't ever have to worry that I don't feel this burden on my own, because I do.  But it's something that I signed up for, and I strongly believe that when you make your own choices, you have to live with them and moan and complain as little as possible.

I notice that the anticipation of leaving is always worse than the actual leaving.  Once I am there I settle into a routine of work, dinner, walk, observe, sleep.  Before I know it it's time to come home.  I try to keep myself busy after work and I try to enjoy myself.  I guess I could sit in my hotel room and wallow in my guilt, but that's no good for anyone.  On my last trip, after dinner it started to snow, really hard.  So I sat outside my hotel and played around with my camera.  I took shots of what I saw and I sort of like how they came out, with no flash, just the warm glow of the city lights.  I for some reason was fascinated with people walking through the snow. 
This girl was not prepared at all for the snow storm.  You should have heard her howling about those pretty little oxford heels.  I sort of felt bad for her.  Just sort of.  I myself was wearing my trusty white Sorels ;)
And this guy with his Gucci loafers.  Yes, they were Guccis.  See how he's trying not to fully plant his heels in the ground.  I could not date that guy.  Or marry him.
Now this group of young kids were a lot more well prepared, all the girls wearing their Hunter Wellies. 
Here's me :)
Oh and this guy works at the hotel and he's so nice.  He recognizes me now after going there a few times.  See how he's smiling for the camera?
I started to truly freeze my tail off so I went upstairs and these were taken from my room on the 8th floor.
Again, I was fascinated with the foot prints. 
When I woke up the next morning Central Park had received 19 inches of snow and this is what it looked like outside of my window.
I literally gasped when I looked around. 
Snow looks so different all over a city as opposed to in the countryside.  It has its own kind of beauty.
Please say a prayer for me friends.  I never used to be afraid to fly until I had kids.  But those kids have a way of making you realize just how beautiful and precious life is.  Have a great day everyone and I'll see you when I touch down 3000 miles away.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kite Day

It's been a good day for kite flying.  Nice winds, big puffy clouds against clear blue skies.  A lot to feel happy about.  We are also going to a funeral later today and I'm trying to decide how to talk to the kids about death and explain the overwhelming flood of emotions we will see there.  Anyone have any advice on this subject?
Hoping your weekend has been a good one.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Playgrounnds & Lollipops - A Lesson Learned

 {Dress: Patterson Kincaid; Tights: Hue; Booties: Stuart Weitzman; Watch: Michael Kors}
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this dress.  And I'm going to teach them to you, whether you want me to or not.  But first, I need to go make myself a cup of coffee.  I've now come to the realization that I'm not working out this morning so I might as well ingest my coffee now.  Blogging vs. working out?  Blogging will win every time.  Sorry abs and butt.

Okay, I'm back and the coffee tastes great.  So where were we?  Oh, yes, the lessons learned from a dress.  In my ever so humble opinion, I don't think we women wear enough dresses and it's a shame.  Dresses make a statement.  You don't have to think about putting together an outfit since it's an all-in-one outfit.  It's a great value item because you don't have to buy two pieces.  And they're so feminine and versatile.  Again, in my humble opinion, I think the basis of a strong wearable closet starts with a couple of versatile dresses that you can wear to baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, a DATE with your husband perhaps?  I used to scramble the day before an event searching for a dress to wear and would end up spending too much money on something that I didn't love because I was in a time crunch.  So now I always sort of keep my eyes peeled for a dress so I have one when I need it.
And this dress in particular is going to get a lot of mileage in the next year.  I found it on a sale rack at Bloomingdale's last week when I was visiting stores and it was an additional 40% off, which means I paid about $5 for it.  Really, I paid $53 for it which ain't bad considering the original price was $165!  Always scan the sale racks first my friends, you are bound to unearth a treasure.  This is the only clothing purchase I made this month too by the way, leaving me well within my budget for February.

I love that the graphic floral print makes a statement.  I love that it has both black and cognac colors going on so I can wear it as seen with black tones, or else wear it with brown tones.  I love that it's short sleeve, not sleeveless or long sleeve, so it can be season-less.  And I love the funky pleated waist line.  I have great vision for this dress.  I see it being worn not only with heels as seen here, but with my oxford flats during spring time for sort of a hipster/artsy look, with wedges for a fun dinner date, or with flat sandals for a birthday party.  Just about the only thing this dress can't do is make dinner for me.

So what have we learned today friends?
  1. Always shop the sale racks first
  2. Dresses are versatile and cost-effective, and make a statement
  3. Add a dress to your wardrobe
  4. If you find a dress that you like, in your price range, pick it up even if you don't have a specific event in mind because something will inevitably come up.
  5. Don't shy away from a bold print; while basics are great, too many basics are boring
  6. Look for a print that holds both black and brown tones for even more versatility
  7. Look for a dress that can be worn all year round
  8. Lastly, we have learned that when Andrea does not blog for a few days, Andrea gets very verbose
And that has been our lesson plan for the day.  Study hard, there will be a test later.  Okay not really.  Oh, and don't ask why our firewood is wrapped in plastic wrap, or why half these pictures are crooked.  Have a great Friday.  Any good plans this weekend?  Oh, and do you like this type of lessons learned format?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blog Sugar - It's Here...

...and it's going to be amazing.  You won't want to miss it.  Conctact me or Rachel for details or if you're interested in attending.  And to those that don't have a place to stay, I have a guest room :)

Give More February Service Project

{You can read more about Project 2011 and why I started it here, and how it impacts my giving here}

My Year of Giving list is still coming together, but I've been able to add a couple of charities and organizations.  As you can see I still have a couple of months open, and that's okay.  As is with our life, this is a work in progress. 
I wanted to tell you a little bit more about the organization focused in my February service project, Dress for Success, an organization that outfits disadvantaged women with work appropriate attire so that they may reenter the workforce with confidence and self esteem and help gain economic dependence.  I first heard of Dress for Success through my old job, where I was organizing a small fashion show luncheon for charitable women in Orange County.  While luncheons like these always benefited a good cause, they felt a bit contradictory to me.  Spend a few thousand dollars feeding women and encouraging them to shop, as opposed to just donating straight to the charity.  Of course it was to drive business, but it never quite felt personal or sincere.

So when I was putting together my list of giving for the year, Dress for Success instantly came to mind.  What this great organization does for me is give new perspective to the old cliche "I've got nothing to wear."

This weekend is their annual Send One Suit drive, where you can gather up gently worn suits that have been hanging around in your closet and donate them.  Drop off is easy, at any Dress Barn location across the country.  I'm sure there's one near you, because they've got hundreds of locations.  I don't expect to have quite the same success as I did with the One Warm Coat drive, but I have a few suits of my own, and if I can just gather a few more it will impact at least several women in our local area.

So won't you join me?  Oh I know you have a couple of suits from your work days back in that closet of yours!  Nice suits that have barely been worn that you're thinking just might see the light of day one year :)  Go dig around in there.  Now's your chance to give them a new life.

**This just added!  I contacted Dress for Success and confirmed that you can donate any clothes that would be considered "interview appropriate" attire.  So blouses, skirts, slacks, even a nice cardigan set would be greatly appreciated and help.

One last thing...I gave it some thought and I realized that fear of failure and embarrassment (that no one would post a link) held me back from posting a linky last month as I originally wanted to do.  And that is just wrong!  This project is not about me and how I look.  It's about stepping outside of myself, pushing myself to change even when it's outside of my comfort zone, being a better example for my children, and helping my community.  So next Thursday March 3rd I'm posting a linky party dammit!  I want to hear your success stories of creative ways of saving money, or how you gave a little of yourself, or how you were able to stay within your monthly budget, or even if you blew your budget, ideas of how to get back on track.  Let's inspire each other and encourage each other!  Start thinking of a post, because next Thursday, it's gonna be a party, and it's gonna be good!  Even if it is just me ;)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers Part 3 - Fashion Edition

 {All clothes via Gap, All photos in this series via m.shanti photo}
Welcome to the final edition of You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers.  You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  I wanted to dedicate this final edition to answering some of your fashion questions.

Annie and Laura had both asked about work appropriate wear, and although they both have very different jobs, I found some common ground in their need to both be casual, with the added necessity of Laura needing to be comfortable.  When I put some thought into their needs, I immediately thought of pants.

Spring is all about finding a pant alternative to the jean.  Jeans will always be important and a basic staple of every wardrobe, but after a few years of focusing on the world of denim, there is finally a shift to new and updated fabrications in interesting silhouettes.

The Ponte (also spelled Ponti) Knit pant has been around for a few seasons, and still doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.  I have had mine for almost 3 years now and I wear them all year round.  I love that they are thicker than a legging, so automatically feel more substantial and dressier, not like you're running around in workout wear.  Many styles have belt loops, ankle zippers and zip at the waist as opposed to just pull on waists.  You can wear them with ballet flats, heels, and flat riding boots so are extremely versatile.  And they are comfortable!  So Laura, you will feel great crawling around on the floor with the kids wearing these.  #1-#3 offer a few nice options.         
Classic cotton chinos are reinvented this season with cute capris or slouchy boyfriend silhouettes.  These styles can be worn with kitten heels, wedges, flats or a cute pair of TOMS, so Annie, you'll feel comfortable transitioning these pants from work wear to weekend wear.  And Laura, cotton is so easy to clean after a day spent with the kids.  I love Navy as a nice alternative to black as well.

Now onto Tops.  With skinnier silhouettes on the bottom, I tend to gravitate towards loose and long silhouettes on top.  Nautical stripes are big this year, and I think the sweater below is a great value for the price and is available in a Navy/Cream combo as well.  I love this loose weave sweater as well because I think it's a great year round piece.  Lightweight for spring over a tank top, or layer over a long sleeved tissue weight shirt for winter.  

These two blousy cotton tops speak casual comfort to me.  I love the subtle details of both of them that add a bit of interest without being too fussy. 

Next, I fell in love with these 3 printed tops and thought of you Annie.  I love prints and how they can instantly add a unique touch to any outfit.  I thought these might be a little too delicate for your work Laura, but I highly recommend prints in a lightweight cotton that can clean easily and doesn't show stains as easily as solids. 
A tip I recommend when shopping is if you find something you love but it's not within your budget, take note of the elements you love about the item, be it the fun print, the colors, the silhouette, and just try to find something similar in your price range.  I am constantly notating things I love, but then trying to figure out how I can work them into my budget at the price range I can afford.

Ashley asked what brands inspire me the most, and I have to say this question really got me thinking.  I love real-life brands that are attainable.  Of course it's easy to see how brands like YSL, Dior or Chanel inspire fashion, but those brands in no way translate to real life for me.  I love brands like Vince for their simple sweaters, Joie for their lovely prints and Michael Kors for his true Americana design aesthetic.  Oh, and I love his ad campaigns.  I rarely buy these brands though because I am too cheap!  I either wait for them to go on sale, or I try to emulate their collections with more affordable brands.

This was fun.  Thanks for reading along with this series.  If you ever have anymore qusetions, please feel free to ask me anything!

Stay tuned for tomorrow, as I announce my big February project for Buy Less Give More.  I'll give a hint, it's related to fashion...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!!

The winner of the Knitty Bitties camera strap cover is:

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Over 75 of you entered, that's the best reaction I've ever had to a giveaway!  Andrea recently added some new colorways to her shop, so even if you didn't win, please go on over and check it out!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Oh, and don't forget, you can still head on over to Cherry Tree Lane to enter a giveaway that I'm hosting.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers Part 2

Hi everyone and welcome back!  Glad I didn't bore you to death with Part 1 of this little Q & A :)  I had hoped to wrap this up with 2 parts, but I think I'm going to finish it all up with one big fashion post where I'll answer your fashion questions.  I'll work on that this weekend.  For now though, let's continue with the answers to the rest of your questions.  And don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the Knitty Bitties giveaway!  I will announce the winner in a separate post later today. 

Laura also asked: What would your idea girls night out consist of?
Something similar to what I did last night, which was meet a few close girlfriends at a fun restaurant and just get some eats and a nice glass of wine.  If I could be guaranteed the luxury of sleeping in the next day though, my ultimate girls night out would be to go dancing.  I love to dance.

Janna asked: When can we do another dessert and coffee night with Rachel and the girls?
Soon!  Throw some dates out there and let's get the ball rolling!

Gerry asked: What's Art's real name, is it short for anything?
Arthur is his full name.  Oh, and he has two middle names: Sydney Dabney.  It's a mouth full

Alison asked: If you could live anywhere (anywhere!!!) where would it be and why?
Sadly I'm not much of a world traveler and so my knowledge is limited to just these here United States.  Either somewhere in New England, or a mountain community like Lake Tahoe.  Not too exciting I know :)  Oh, and the most best thing that's happened to me recently was just this morning when Taylor said to me "You're the best momma in the whole wide world."  Sappy, I know.

Mel asked:
1. Do you want any more kids?
Eek!  Yes.  No. Maybe so.  We always talked about 3, but after having Syd I very much felt like my hands were full enough.  Just recently I have started to change my mind and am considering a 3rd, but the thought of starting all over again with diapers and sleep deprivation and nap schedules quite honestly seems overwhelming.  My husband very much wants another one though.  We will see who wins the battle :)
2. What is your favorite vacation spot with kids?
Somewhere in the mountains like either Tahoe or Mammoth.  Since we pretty much live in a city, I love taking them away from that city environment and getting them out in nature.  Hiking around, swimming, playing in the snow, looking at stars, we just love being outside and it's basically free entertainment all day long!  We also love taking them to the Central Coast of California (Cambria area to be exact).
3. What is your favorite vacation spot without kids?
Hawaii.  I'm sorry, I know many people take their kids there, and we have twice, but Hawaii with kids is just not the same as Hawaii without kids.  

Kim asked: How did you decide what to name your kids?
Taylor came from a Jack Johnson song that I loved and Sydney is my husband's middle name.

She also asked about growing up stuff.  I tossed around the idea of doing a separate post on this; to share some more of me, with the hope of creating a voice that went through similar things growing up.  But based on my reaction to the thought of doing this, I don't think I'm ready.

I will share this.  I have one older sister who is 9 years older than me, and an older brother 6 years older than me.  We have had our riffs and struggles like all siblings, but I dearly love both of them with every ounce of my being.  My family is the most important thing in the world to me.  Our dad is a recovering alcoholic, sober for almost 25 years now, and I will say it was the hardest on my brother and sister.  I was 9 when my dad became sober, my sister was almost 20 and had already moved out, and my brother was 16 and had driven my dad to the hospital with his learner's permit to admit him to a recovery program.  Hearing stories as we went through the recovery process and I attended Alateen, I learned that our situation could have been much worse, my dad was never abusive and we always had a roof over our heads, but it definitely could have been better.  Our childhoods were definitely not "normal" by any means.    

Our oldest brother (11 years older than me) died when I was 19, a victim of violence.  He left 2 boys, my nephews who at the time were 5 and 7?  To be quite honest, much of that time was a blur.  We have never found his murderer, and up until last year, I had never talked to a professional about this.  Art and I had just started dating at the time and he remembers my reaction to his murder was in his words "strange."  I spent a few sessions with someone last year and it helped tremendously.  Do I still have more work to do?  I think so.

I wish I could eloquently say how with God's grace we (my family) have all come out better for this and put into words how a family deals with the loss of a child, brother, father this way.  But I can't.  We have been torn and shaken from this and I don't know if some things will ever be the same after what happened.  But I do know that we are all still together as a family.  My parents have remained married through it all and they are crazy and kooky just like any parents, but are amazingly supportive in every way.  When I hear that people divorced because they "fell out of love", it almost makes me nauseous. I've learned to work hard and value and appreciate what I have, I know how lucky I've been, I've learned to suck it up and move on, and I've learned that "hard times" are all a matter of perspective.  I've learned that no family is perfect and they all have their skeletons.  I am the person I am today because of my upbringing, and while I wish I could change the past, I also greatly appreciate the lessons and values I have gained from my experiences.  I have slowly learned to be proud of the woman I have become.

I've also learned to deal with difficult situations with humor.  You know that saying, "laughing at a funeral"?  Yep, that's me.  With that, I now realize how terribly awkward this post has become.  Ahem, care to talk fashion anyone?  But in all seriousness, through everything I am "fine".  When I tell people about my brother their first reaction is "I'm so sorry" and in turn I say "it's okay, it was a long time ago."  And while it is 'okay', it also of course isn't and it never will be okay.  But I have been able to marry the most amazing man and we started a family of our own.  God has given me a chance to start fresh with them, and create the childhood for them that I never got to have. Maybe that's why I work so hard at it?  I find myself struggling to not make things too perfect for them though.  I have to work hard at not overcompensating. 
This is the point where a truly skilled writer would seamlessly and smoothly transition topics, but since I only got my Minor in Writing, I will awkwardly transition to answering more questions about myself that are much more light-hearted.  Sorry, but like I said, I am still trying to figure this stuff out and share my story with grace.  Clearly I have a long way to go.    

Heather asked about Blog Sugar!
Rachel and I are meeting for coffee next week in fact to hammer out the details and set a date!  We're thinking sometime in August or September so stay tuned.  I can't wait to meet you friend!  It's been a long time coming huh?

Annie asked about my current read, which is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I wish I could say I'm done with it already, since I started reading it last month, but I'm taking my time with it.  

Jules asked 1. Favorite blog? 2. Favorite book?
Favorite blog is sort of ever-changing, but one constant that I will always love is Cupcakes and Cashmere.  She has done a very good job of blogging about several different topics, but tying them all together in a pretty little package of style.  I currently am loving Flower Patch Farmgirl.  I love Shannen's voice and think we would get along grandly in real life.  Your blog will always be a favorite of mine too, for reals.  Favorite book from high school is How Green Was My ValleyI have fond memories of my Senior English teacher Mr. Orr reading us passages of that book.  Wonder if I'd still love it as much now?  A couple of my favorites in teh last few years have been The Red Tent, which got me reading the Bible again and which you still need to read Jules!  And A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Erin asked: What's something your children will be surprised to find out ABOUT YOU one day?
I wanted to be a DJ, like in a club DJ.  Art bought me turn tables for Christmas one year and everything.  I sold them last year after finally coming to the realization that a Mommy DJ is not hot.
I'm always struggling with "balancing it all" - my need to dos VS my want to dos. Any tips on how you try and get it all done, I'd LOVE to hear!
I definitely don't get it all done, but I prioritize on a weekly basis of what actually needs to get done.  I put off paying the bills another week if I can (just because sorting the mail is my most hated chore), I have a bleh blog week if we have a lot going on as a family that week, or if family life is pretty mellow, my blogging is pretty good.  I don't exercise as much as I like and I need to put that back in the priority list, but not sure how.  I also meal plan on a weekly basis and that helps tremendously.  These are just stream of consciousness thoughts that come off the top of my head.

Katie asked: If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?   
DJ :)  or something like a Nutritionist because I find that stuff fascinating.  Or a librarian.

Andrea asked: Share your guilty pleasure ... whether food, splurging on a certain 'name brand' product, ways you spend free moments of time ... whichever you'd like to come clean about ;)
Good question!  While I don't splurge much anymore, I used to love buying myself a nice handbag.  I have 3 Louis Vuittons.  Those were pre-kids days when there were no college funds to save for!  Now, my most guilty pleasure is getting my nails done at a nice place.  I pay $55 for a manicure and pedicure every 4-6 weeks and to me that feels like a guilty pleasure, but I refuse to let myself feel guilty about it!

Leslie asked: my question is short and sweet: why do you blog?
I'll give a short and sweet answer: inspiration and encouragement.

And that friends, concludes this Q & A!  Aren't you glad I'm done yammering?  Thank you again for asking such fun questions.  I loved doing this and I hope a couple of you do the same thing soon (Jules and Jen).  I also hope you don't mind me sharing something so personal today.  It was hard for me to do, but feels good to open up a little.  You all probably didn't see that coming huh?

I'll be back later today to announce the winner of the Knitty Bitties giveaway.  But for now I am sponsoring a giveaway over at Rachel's blogGo over there and check it out!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers Part 1

 Thanks for all the questions everyone!  Fun, interesting and thoughtful questions that I thank each of you for taking the time to ask.  You guys are the best.  If you have a blog I'm linking back to you, and if you all get a chance, stop by and say hi to each other.  There's been a lot of blog love lately in the blogosphere, maybe because it's love week, and it gives me the warm and fuzzies!  Let's lift each other up and support each other, even if its just with a simple "hi!".

So that I don't bore your socks off, how about I break it up into 2 posts over the course of the next couple of days?
What would be the first thing you'd do if you had 24 hours to dedicate to yourself?
The very first thing, or just in general the first thing?  If I hadn't had a manicure/pedicure lately, I'd go get one of those because I love freshly painted nails.  Then I would go get coffee and read a book or magazine in my home all by myself.  I love being at home and I especially love having my home to myself sometimes.  Anyone else love to have the house to yourself and relish in the silence?

Jen asked:
What is your favorite go-to accessory?
How many white t-shirts do you own? Mine are out of control.
My favorite go-to accessory is a belt.  It can dress up a pair of jeans, and make a sloppy shirt look more refined.  It can accentuate your waists and hold your pants up!  I love belts, but I only have 3-4 that I wear on a consistent basis so don't feel like it's a pair of earrings and you have to own 20.  A casual black and brown one for pants and jeans, and a dressier thin or thick (whatever your preference) black or some sort of metallic colored belt will do just fine!

And you would think I would own 20 t-shirts since I work for a t-shirt company, but I don't.  I own 3 short sleeve and 2 long sleeved, and I think 4 white tank tops.  I am not counting the old ones though that I now wear around the house and as pj's because they are stained or dingy.  I have about 5 of those maybe?

Laura asked:
#1 I'd love to know more about your job. 
I'm always inspired by women that have creative and unique jobs.
Wow, this was the most asked question.  Let's see, where do I start?  Basically, I work in the Sales department of a fairly large, but still very small, clothing company that is best known as a T-shirt brand.  I'm an Account Executive for the brand, which means I am assigned a group of accounts and my job is to manage every aspect of their business.  My accounts are Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Barney's and Nordstrom.  Yes, we have some pretty good customers :).  

So it starts with the "Market" process, this is where the traveling comes in, and also the fun part (the market part is fun, not necessarily the traveling part).  I go to NY and Dallas on occasion to see Neiman Marcus at their headquarters, and sell the buyers our latest collection in our showroom in NY.  This happens each time we have a new collection, at least 6 times a year. Why NY?  Well, while there are many showrooms here in LA, NY is still very much the hub of it all and I can see all my buyers at the same time.  I get up and present the line and try to steer them towards certain styles that I think will sell well for them or that our Design team think are important.  

Once we've chosen their "buy", I come home and work on maintaining the account.   This is the unglamorous, not so fun part.  I work with production to make sure we ship product to our accounts on time so the shelves and racks stay stocked.  Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't.  When product is late, the buyers don't call up production and yell at them, they call up me and yell at me!  I also look at how well things are selling or not selling.  If something is selling well, I try to get them to reorder more of that style.  Last week I brought in 2 pretty large reorders so yay for me!  When things don't sell well, the buyers call me up and yell at me for selling them sucky product.  I also occasionally visit stores to see how our product is represented.  If it looks horrendous, I get to call up my buyer and yell at them!  :)  Bloomingdale's wants to move our space in a bunch of their local LA stores, so for the next 2 days I'll be visiting stores to check out the new homes and report back to corporate if they're acceptable or not.

And that's about it.  In between there's a lot of spreadsheets, phone conversations and emailing back and forth just like any other job.  The subject matter in mine just happens to be clothes, which is fun.  I love my job and I hate it sometimes too.  At the end of the day though I feel lucky to have found a niche that is interesting and relatively 'fun', but when tempers start to flare and people start getting pissy and all worked up, my favorite saying is "Simmer down everyone, it's just clothes.  We're not saving lives or anything."

#2 Are you a California native? If you could live anywhere else where would you choose?
Yes, I am a California native, born and bred here.  I loved it for most of my life, but in the last couple of years the love affair with California started to fade.  I started to feel congested by the small yards, and it bums me out that homes are so expensive and the general cost of living is so high.  The traffic sucks too.  I can really see myself back East somewhere on a smallish farm living rather simply where I can experience true seasons.  Maybe Connecticut or Vermont?  Sounds bizarre, but I really crave simplicity and a much more stress free life so badly.  But this is where God has placed me and my family for now so I will make the best of it.  We have friends and every single family member here in Southern California.  All of my siblings and both sets of parents, aunts and uncles are within 45 minutes of each other.  The kids love having their cousins all so close too (there's a total of 9 under 7). 

Oh my goodness I've been yammering a lot here.  I promise in Part 2 I won't be so verbose and will keep the answers short and sweet.  The job one took up a lot of space :)  Speaking of that job, I better get to it!

Thanks for reading, and Part deux tomorrow!  Oh, and the Knitty Bitties camera strap cover giveaway ends today at midnight.  Go enter now you crazy kids!  I will announce the winner tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meet the Press Q & A

{picture taken by the lovely Miranda of m.shanti photo}

Hi Friends!  How are you all doing?  How was your Valentine's Day?  Ours was good, uneventful aside from some Eggo waffles cut into hearts and royal icing cookies for desert.  I got some flowers from my sweet guy and I gave him a card.  All in all very low key, which is fine by me. 

I am nursing a crummy cold which is leaving me feeling a little tired and run down.  I have plenty to say, but lack the energy to actually put thoughts into cohesive sentences.  So I thought I'd open it up and see if anyone had any questions for me.  Go ahead, ask me anything.  I'm feeling nutty over here.  I've been wanting to do a little Q & A for a few weeks, but have been hesitant because it seems a little presumptuous on my part thinking that anyone would find me interesting enough to actually ask some questions.  But heck, as my momma used to say, you never know till you try.  Actually, she never said that, ever, in all my years growing up.  I don't know why I even said that.  And I don't even call my mom "momma".  See, now I'm lying.  I think it's time for me to go to bed and open up the forum for questions. 

And if there are no questions within 24 hours, I will delete this post and pretend like it never happened.  I have my dignity to protect ya know. 

Thanks to Andrea, Erin, and Alison for promising to ask a question if I did do this.  

Oh, and p.s if you haven't entered the Knitty Bitties giveaway, what the heck are you waiting for you crazy fool!?!  Go, NOW!  Giveaway closes on Thursday! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Valentine's Day, a Giveaway From Knitty Bitties!

I've been planning this takeover for quite some time, a year at least.  I have been carefully plotting and thoughtfully training so that eventually, I could be, would be, known as the family photographer.  You see for years, years I tell you, Art has been the camera guy, the guru of all things technical, the master of digital in this family.  He did, after all get his degree in Film and spent many years learning the technical art of lighting, f-stop, ISO, blah, blah, blah.  I watched him fiddle with the dials on our digital cameras to adjust lighting and film speed and I let it intimidate me.  So I let him continue to be the photographer of the family.  Everyone referred to our digital camera as "Art's camera" and I got stuck with the tiny point and shoot.

But as I started to blog, I realized that I too could become the photographer of the family.  Actually I realized that if I wanted to get a post written and published before the next ice age, I would have to become a photographer.  Not necessarily ideal to wait for the hubs to get home every day to take blog photos, you know.  So I slowly started picking up that bad boy of a camera and began playing around with it.  I asked questions, read tutorials, studied what I liked about others photographs, until I started to feel comfortable and slowly but surely, that camera is now as much mine as it is his.
We recently upgraded lenses, making the camera a couple of pounds heavier and the strap quite a bit more uncomfortable.  I'd been on the lookout for a sweet camera strap cover to add some padding and style to the boring black strap that is standard with all digital cameras.  And what do you know, Andrea from Knitty Bitties hooked me up!  I can't tell you how excited I was to dress up that boring strap with the pretty little cover.  And you know what?  Soon after the camera got a makeover, the kids started referring to it as "Mommy's camera."  Aha, camera domination had taken place by the woman of the house.  Finally!
Andrea started her own Etsy shop over 2 years ago to share her passion for sewing.  She is a wife,  a mother, a runner, a reader, a baker, a blogger, and a crazy skilled seamstress.  Her work is as flawless as her taste in fabrics and design.  I love her use of color and the way she mixes patterns in an unexpected way. 
 {coffee coat on left and kindle soft cover on right}
 Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, Andrea is giving away one camera strap cover of your choice to one lucky reader!

To enter, please go visit Andrea's shop and leave a comment here telling us what your favorite item is.   Extra entries for "liking" Knitty Bitties Facebook fan page, and for following Andrea's blog, and by following my blog (the other Andrea).  And heck, if you tweet about it I guess that deserves an entry too!  Make sure to leave a comment here for every entry so they all get counted.  I will leave the giveaway open until Thursday 2/17/2011 11:59 PST and I will announce the winner on Friday 2/18/2011.  

Happy Valentine's Day Friends!  I hope that no matter what your plans are, your day is filled with love.


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