In Search of Style: Rediscovering Sources Inspiration

Just when I thought I was over FB for good, I joined the Classy Career Girl network and got involved in their private community page. The questions that my fellow female hustlers have been asking are getting my brain going on topics I love to think about like tips for being a successful woman in business, the challenges of starting a side hustle and work wardrobe inspiration.

Earlier this week, a fellow CCG (Classy Career Girl) asked where other group members go for fashion ideas and it got me thinking, where do go these days? I used to be a huge fan of Blair Eadie’s (if you don’t know Atlantic Pacific, you should) and for awhile I was really into Alexandra Pereira of Lovely Pepa, but in more recent months I’ve been in a real Death by Elocution phase (the looks they post are generally more neutral and minimalist in nature, but it reminds a magpie like myself to keep things simple). If I had to pick a person, I would definitely say Victoria Beckham—even her most casual looks are so well edited (and not impossible to replicate on the average budget).

For as long as I’ve had this blog, fashion has been a major component. I love style as a form of self-expression and I find searching for outfit inspiration to be downright therapeutic. The thing is, when I’m stressed and overworked, I find that that’s the first thing I let slip. I revert to all-black outfits that require little thought (and preferably even less dry cleaning) and provide little-to-no joy in wearing.

Blair Eadie of Atlantic Pacific

I used to spend hours poring over the looks of style bloggers, making notes on what I liked or didn’t like about the way they put things together, but it’s been ages since I truly followed any one person. Many times I just wait to see what Pinterest sends me as a suggestion and go down the rabbit hole from there.

Somewhere along the line I convinced myself that these bloggers I once loved had just gotten so extra, that all of their looks were like this one to the right (I love Blair’s style, but this ensemble makes her look like she’s going to play croquet in the early 1900s). I told myself that it was a waste of time to follow them because the looks they were posting were full of designer items that I couldn’t afford and didn’t have time to shop for knock-offs.

Now I see that the issue wasn’t the bloggers, it was me. I was in a place where spending my free time on fashion seemed frivolous and selfish. The thing is, it’s not, it’s actually something that really brings me joy.

Now I’m getting back to a place where I am once again indulging in my love of fashion. I am once again finding inspiration in the outfits that bloggers (old favorites and new ones) post.

I’m also taking the time to read the outfit credits. It turns out that Blair is indeed wearing items from previous seasons and that many of the new items were absolutely from brands I could afford like Zara, J. Crew, and Topshop (don’t I feel sheepish).

That being said, I’ll leave you with the very first look I ever pinned from Atlantic Pacific. Now I’m off in search of inspiration once again…

Vintage 2012 Blair Eadie

The first Atlantic-Pacific look I ever Pinned

 

 

Dough Me a Flavor Review

Wantagh baked goods shop local

Dough Me a Flavor

Allow me to start by saying that I was not in the mood for a donut this morning—in fact, there are very few times I ever crave a donut—but on this particular morning I was working from home and I decided to swing by Dough Me a Flavor. I’ve been slacking on my New Year’s resolution to check out more local businesses and this has been on my list for awhile.

The Experience

It was mid-morning, so when I walked in to find the the display case completely empty, I was a bit confused. Thankfully, just a moment later, an employee appeared from the back to explain that all doughnuts are made to order and helped walk me through each option. I almost played it safe with the Raspberry Jelly, but then I spied the Berries & Cream and decided, hey, you’re here, treat yo’ self.

A hand-written sign on the display case let me know that I should be prepared to wait 5-10 minutes depending on the size of my order, but within three minutes I was holding the freshly-made treat in my hot little hand. I debated ordering a coffee and eating it right then and there, but I only live a few minutes away and I had a half a pot of coffee waiting for me at home, so off I went.

So How Was It?

Fresh baked doughnut with fresh cream, strawberries, and blueberries

Did I dough myself a flavor? Yeah, I’d say so.

Really freakin’ good. I would like to reiterate that I am not a big doughnut person and I am not a big sweets person either – just one or two Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and my sweet tooth is usually satisfied – but this doughnut is the rare exception.

The dough was super light – and still warm – when I bit in, not dense like I had expected. The fruit (strawberries and blueberries) tasted fresh and the cream had to have been whipped just prior to putting it on the doughnut. It had been assembled like a sandwich (sliced in half with the fruit/cream filling in the middle), making it fairly easy to enjoy (some filling did fall out the sides, which I promptly scooped up with a fork, lest I waste any of the yummy goodness).

Towards  the end, I had definitely reached my sweetness quota and as the dough cooled down I tasted more of the powdered sugar, which called to mind carnival funnel cakes more than beignets, so I would advise that you ‘get it while it’s hot,’ as they say.

Cost: $2.50-3.75 for individual doughnuts. Plus tax and tip (did I mention that they are made fresh on the spot) I paid $5.08.

Would I go back? You bet! Although, next, I may bring a doughnut-loving friend who would be willing to split the tasty treat with me. 

Location: 3252 Railroad Avenue (just north of Sunrise Highway and just east of Mulcahy’s), Wantagh, NY 11793

Busy times: After school and on the weekends

Helpful hints: Given the shop’s proximity to the train station, parking may be an issue. Shoot for the one hour spots on the North side of the tracks (facing Andy’s Luggage or the back of the Bank of America)  so you can avoid having to parallel park somewhere along Railroad Avenue.

Shopping for Closet Staples

After a long period of editing and purging, I’m able to finally get some clear perspective on my wardrobe. The items that aren’t a good fit and/or are made of fabric that makes me uncomfortable before I even get to the office are almost all gone (almost, I’m still a sentimentalist, people). The items that I love and feel great in are finally getting the attention they deserve, and I’ve even rediscovered some old favorites.

As I pay closer attention to the clothes and accessories that I continuously go back to, I’m noticing something else – some of these items are in serious need of replacing.

First up is the convertible black vegan Deux Lux bag. This is my go-to running-around bag. It may very well be the most versatile bag I have ever purchased; not only did it come with two detachable straps (a short chain one for a dressier look and a long faux-leather strap for cross-body use), it’s also expandable. I bought from Gilt or RueLaLa ages ago and it’s held up remarkably well. I would keep using it if it weren’t for the fact that the synthetic fabric that it’s made of has started to peel at the edges.

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Don’t think I haven’t thought about coloring those spots in with a Sharpie to get a few more months out of it.

Then there’s camel driving coat I bought from Forever 21. Initially I wondered if it was my style, but now I don’t know how I would live without it. I wear this coat everywhere. It’s a great weight, a perfect layering piece, and a really love shade of camel. I do wish it had pockets (the ones you see are just for show), so there is room to improve on this one. I thought for sure I would be able to replace it with a lovely J. Crew version, but I think this is the first season in an eternity that they haven’t offered a coat like this. I’m keeping an eye out for one on Poshmark or even eBay, but no luck just yet.

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The bottom line is, now it’s time to invest. I love these things, I wear them constantly, I want to find upgraded versions that I know will last so I don’t have to keep replacing them every few years.

Thankfully, I enjoy the hunt for these things almost as much as I enjoy the actual item. Shopping for essentials is miserable for a lot of people, but not me. Give me lots of options and let me agonize over each and every detail until the people in my life are like, ‘just buy it already!’

Yup, this is going to be fun.

Kicking the Habit

We were in a hotel bathroom in Puerto Rico the first time I tried it. Under the yellow glow of neon lights my older sisters showed me how best to approach it. I got as close to the mirror as I could and started with my nose, applying pressure with my finger nails until I felt the release. The first little batch of blackheads squirted forth from my skin and, immediately, I was hooked — I was a picker.

My skin has always been sensitive — fragrant products and stress bring on break-outs and my pale complexion makes sunblock a year-round necessity — but the picking is really where my issues come from. Since high school I have been prone to cystic acne and all of my poking and prodding makes mountains out of mole hills on my freckled epidermis. Even so, I’ve been fairly fortunate. Others struggle with much more visible skin issues, ones that steal their confidence and make them feel less than beautiful. To damage my skin when others are unable to repair theirs just seems selfish.

So why not stop picking? Because after twenty year it’s not just a habit, it’s part of my everyday life. Each week I spend countless minutes in front of mirrors expelling the build-up of oils and dead cells from my pores. There are nights when I could be in bed a full hour earlier if it weren’t for this compulsion. I start off telling myself, I’ll just get this one… and before I know it the skin on my face is a tortured, blotchy — sometimes bleeding — mess. It’s bad for me and I know it, but something about it feels good and — unlike those pesky blackheads and whiteheads — I just can’t put my finger on it.

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One day in and a fresh whitehead decided to make an appearance.

Last week I decided to use the New Year as an excuse to quit the habit. It’s been hard, I had been really going at it in the weeks prior and that, combined with unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, meant that my skin was in especially bad shape but what better time to go cold turkey than after a binge?

Until I start to see some of the rewards, I’m working on a system for positive reenforcement. For my first week without picking, I plan on allowing myself to splurge on a fancy exfoliant (my sister generously gave me some of her Rodin+Fields Enhancements Micro-dermabrasion Paste to try out, I’ll let you know how that goes). If I make it to a month, I’m going to treat myself to a facial.

At the time of posting I have gone seven days without picking. There have been moments of temptation, but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. In addition to breaking a bad habit and working towards clearer skin, I’m also hoping to learn more about my motivation for doing this — what about it brings me that feeling of calm? And why do I find it so hard to stop once I’ve started? If anyone reading this is a fellow picker (active or reformed), I would love it if you would share your stories in the comments.

Until next time,

Kimbo

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One week in and I’m feeling better already

They Call Them Fixtures for a Reason

Of all of the design decisions I’ve had to make in the new house, I agonized over the light fixtures the most. We only needed them for the bedrooms, which you would think would make it easier, but of course I had to overthink it. 

You see, growing up I never had a ceiling light, which made me really want one. The idea of walking into my room and flipping a switch on the wall to turn on the light seemed positively luxurious. Instead I had a standard floor lamp with one of those mini thumb wheel cord switches (yes, that is the technical name, I looked it up). 

In addition to having strange aversions towards certain things (i.e. the aforementioned mini thumb wheel cord switches), I also get weirdly cheap about things. V has to remind me regularly that, sometimes, it’s money well spent and I just need to get over it. Light fixtures were one of those things. All that being said, I am obsessed with the ones we went with. 

V picked this midcentury number for our home office. All of the furniture in there is cherry wood and we got a great indoor/outdoor rug from Ikea that has an architectural vibe. 

I picked the fixture with the black shade, which I affectionately refer to as my Sia light fixture. We put it in the front bedroom which is where I get ready and I just love the drama that it adds to the space. 

But the overall room decor is not the point of the post (I’ll save that for another day). The point is this, life is short, buy the light fixtures. 

Both light fixtures were purchased from Rejuvenation.

Living in Construction

Back when V and I first embarked on our house hunt, we talked about the idea of buying a true fixer-upper. As is the case with most couples, we were watching a lot of HGTV and our heads were filled with images of farmhouse-chic mudrooms, exposed beams, and on-suites. During our nightly (and daily) joint searches of the new listings in our area we would rationalize all sorts of pitfalls in listings and grossly over exaggerate how far the money we saved would take us. I remember V saying to me, “you have to be okay with living in construction” and I confidently assured him that I would be.

The very first house we put in an offer on needed a tremendous amount of work; it was a small, traditional cape and the previous owner had been using the main floor as a yoga studio and the upstairs as her apartment. The kitchen needed to be relocated to the main floor – and that was just the tip of the iceberg – but it was reasonably priced and located in a very desirable neighborhood walking distance from the train, so we were sold.

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Tiny Cape, big problems

My parents came over to see the house and after a quick (and mostly silent) walk-through my Dad famously told V, ‘this house is a tear-down. You need to start at the street and work your way back. You two don’t have time to blow your nose and wipe it – when are you going to do all of these renovations?’

He was right, between work, family, and friends, we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to a complete gut renovation.

Those blunt words from one of our biggest supporters helped to keep us grounded (and make us laugh, sorry, Dad) throughout our search, which went on for over a year. We saw everything from total gut-jobs and tear-downs to newly flipped remodels and we slowly realized that we wanted something in between, which is exactly what we wound up with.

That being said, we have been living in construction now for over a month and, true to my word, I am indeed fine with it. In fact, I’m more than fine with it because this is our house! I’m learning so much. Between painting and refinishing the floors I’ve kept myself quite busy. So far I’ve left the power tools to V and my father-in-law, but I’m confident that a tool belt is in my future.

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Our bed, temporarily housed in our living room, while we refinished the wood floors in all three bedrooms

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Down to the studs

Also, decorating is hard, you guys. It all seems like fun and games until you have to make a financial commitment to a light fixture you’ve never event met. So, clearly there is lots more to come on this front and I can’t wait to share it with you. Remember, sharing goes both ways, so feel free to leave tips and tales of your own house hunt and renovation struggles (or triumphs, hooray for triumphs!) in the comments.

It’s a beautiful life, let’s make it well-lived.

The House Hunting Chronicles: New Year, New Listings

House hunting is hard, so let’s pretend we live here, yeah?

The start of 2017 marks 6 months that V and I have been searching for our forever home. The first week of the new year brought a promising number of new listings – we saw eight houses the first weekend of the new year – but that quickly died down. This weekend it was back to a trickle and the one house we did see, while charming, wasn’t a real contender. 


And so we wait… and while we do I look at old images of dreamy showrooms (like the image of the Ochre showroom at the start of this post), I pin paint colors and decorating ideas, and I think about a time a few weeks from now when history tells us the listings will pick up again. 

The House Hunting Chronicles: Retro Wallpaper

As I have mentioned, V and I are on the house hunt. Listings have really picked up in the new year and this weekend we saw eight houses. That might not seem like a lot, but – since we started our search when the market was cooling down for the year – it’s actually more than we have ever seen in a week, let alone a weekend.

V and I love a house with character and one of the things that I have noticed is that people who are bold in their interior decorating choices often go with wallpaper. Being in the industry, I completely understand the appeal (this is what I do all week!) and I couldn’t help but snap some pics along the way. Below you’ll find everything from faux brick to foil flowers. I think my favorite is the blue velvet damask (it’s hard to read the texture from the photo, but it was so fab in person – just try to ignore the mismatched seams). Which wallcovering could you see making a comeback?


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House Hunting

The current housing market on Long Island is brutal. Imagine the opening of the Hunger Games when they all have to run to the cornucopia and grab whatever supplies they can to survive day one, only instead of an assortment of supplies and weapons, it’s a bunch of Cape Cod style homes, splits, and the rare ranch here and there.

Allow me to provide some background… After living in a garden apartment in Rockville Centre for the past few years, V and I began the house hunt. In June we celebrated our one year anniversary. We were done with casually stopping by open houses on Saturdays and decided it was time to work with an agent. Enter Jeff. Jeff and I went to the same high school and he and I have know each other for years. He has helped numerous friends and acquaintances find their homes and has a stellar reputation.

At first the house hunt was fun; our options were open so we had the luxury of thinking we could be picky (okay, maybe that was more me than V). I made my wishlist: I wanted to be walking distance to the train, I wanted a garage and a beautiful kitchen for V and a dressing room for me, I wanted central air and a finished basement, and builtins made of real wood that added tons of character. V was even calling me Goldilocks because this one was too big and that one was too small – you get the gist.

Now we’re both sick to our stomachs because we’ve found three houses in the past six weeks that were juuuuuust (about) right and it’s been one bidding war after the next. The last two houses we have put in offers on have had multiple offers, so each time we’ve heard those dreaded words that no buyer wants to hear, “highest and best.” Welcome to Nassau County, we’ll take your paycheck and your kidney, please. Promise of a 1st born and a letter to the homeowner might help too, but we can’t make any guarantees.

You think, oh, it only has one bathroom (without a tub) and three small bedrooms, that will be a deterrent. Nope!

Or you think, well, the foundation for the garage is cracked and there are aging trees all over the property that need to be taken down, surely people will be freaked out by that. Nope! Lost that one too.

Most recently we found a craftsman style ranch. We should have known that the curb appeal alone would set our fellow hunters drooling, but we allowed the fact that it was a two bedroom house with only one bath on the main floor lull us into a false sense of security. And then, bam! Gone.

To say that it’s a sellers market seems like a gross understatement.

So let’s say that – due to the fact that our search is restricted by certain things we are unwilling to waver on (certain school districts, being in a flood zone, commuting more than an hour each way for work) – we get to the point where we are willing to pay way over asking for a house, now there’s the issue of the appraisal. If the bank does not think that the house is worth what the buyer is willing to pay, that apparently brings up a whole new set of issues related to equity which effects your down payment. I quite honestly still do not understand it no matter how many times our agent and V explain it to me.

So that’s where we’re at; we’re putting in offers that are more than fair with solid down payments and time after time we’re being outbid. It’s fucking brutal. We are so tired. Like a dog up for adoption, we just want to find our “forever home.” A concept which is lovely in theory, but far more difficult in the reality in which we are living. We do find some solace in the idea that, if we wait for the one, that at least we wont have to put ourselves through this again in another couple of years, but some days even that’s not enough. Where it used to feel like we had options, now it feels like we may never find anything.

Not #girlboss, #justboss Outfit

Sarah Michelle Gellar recently took to Twitter to ask, “Why does it have to be ? Why not Gender is not relevant to work ethic or success.” While I had taken a liking to the whole #girlboss thing, I’ve been an SMG fan since the Swans Crossing days and I decided to take the time to ruminate on it.

All of my life I have looked young for my age. For almost a decade I worked in a male-dominated industry and I was often underestimated because my gender and my general appearance. I have taken great joy in showing the doubters, and the nay-sayers, and the – dare I say it – haters, just who’s boss. In retrospect, the sweetest victories were always the ones where my adversary acknowledged that I was damn good at my job, no qualifiers necessary.

Recently, I’ve experience some real growth at work. I’m feeling truly confident and empowered. After a year and a half, I’m realizing just how strong the bonds I have developed in that short time truly are. To put it succinctly, I’m feeling like a boss. #Justboss

On a lighter, but still related note; I wore this outfit the other day and felt like a total boss. In the wise words of Stacy London, “Seeing, feeling, thinking, believing – these are the stages of how we change our style on the outside and our self-image on the inside.”

 

Side note – You’re seeing the commuter version here (I didn’t rock my black Underarmour trainers all day), but I still feel like it totally works. During the 9-5 I sported these shiny loafers from Zara instead: