It was the right choice

I’m working on another post to share all of the details about my fantastic trip to Portland last month, but I wanted write something about my wedding reception dress choice first. That’s the most important part, right? As the line in A Cinderella Story goes, “In true L.A. fashion, it’s not about who you are, it’s about what you wear!” I wouldn’t be a true Angeleno if I didn’t describe the apparel!

As you can tell by the above photo, I ended up wearing my red lace Mormon church dress to the wedding reception in Portland. And it was perfect. Dressy and flattering, yet also pretty and comfortable. Plus, I wore it with my Converse for the ultimate quirky, yet sensible ensemble. I loved it. (I had to change into the dress at the airport because I was so time-crunched before the reception, but I’ll save that crazy story for my other post! Even though I wasn’t flying that far, it wasn’t the most relaxing travel day by a long shot.) So what made me change my mind about the dress? Well, the weather in Portland turned out to be absolutely lovely the weekend I was there so I didn’t need to worry quite so much about getting hot and sweaty. It felt like fall. The high temperature earlier that week was in the 90s (gross), but by Saturday afternoon it was barely 70 degrees when my flight landed in Oregon. The original dress I had selected (I’ll write another post about that one later) was sleeveless due to the possible heat, but with the more temperate weather I was perfectly comfortable in something with two layers and a tad more coverage. I was actually happy to have the elbow-length lace sleeves on my arms when it got cooler that evening. No cardigan or hoodie required! I’m so glad I listened to my BFF and kept the Mormon church dress even though it was a bit fancier, and a bit more expensive, than what I was looking for. I like it a lot more than I expected to, and now I’ll have something dressy hanging in my closet in case I need it again. In fact, I’ve been filling out my wardrobe with a lot more dresses lately because I realized how useful they are while summer is still lingering here in SoCal. More on that in yet another post!

September 1st (Retail therapy #2 revisited)

I went to Target today because I was down to my last roll of toilet paper at home. So as a responsible adult I headed out to replenish my stock of bathroom essentials, but I was also hoping to browse the Halloween section of the store. This was a less “responsible adult” inclination, I admit. Unfortunately I was disappointed on that account. The back corner of the store that’s usually dedicated to selling products related to the next holiday on the calendar was sadly still decked out in back-to-school fashion. What a shame. I know some kids don’t start school again until after Labor Day, but it’s finally September, for crying out loud! Time for the holiday festivities to begin! But maybe that’s just my own impatience talking. I’ve been waiting eight whole months for this day! (One of my friends actually started decorating her front yard for Halloween today so I’m clearly not the only one who is excited for this time of year. And if my Halloween door hanging wasn’t tucked away so far in my closet I’d have started decorating today too.) However, I did find one holiday surprise in the bath products section of Target. Remember how last December I was obsessed with getting my hands on a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Apple Cider Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap? Here’s an excerpt from my retail therapy #2 blog post to refresh your memory.

“When I saw that Mrs. Meyer’s had a limited edition apple cider hand soap I just had to have some. Unfortunately I was late to the game because it was more of a fall scent, and therefore not readily accessible in stores. So I turned to Amazon, my usual tried-and-true source for everything under the Sun. Of course it was available from one seller, but it wasn’t cheap, as far as standard amounts of hand soap go. As you can imagine, in my holiday-fueled hysteria I wasn’t thinking clearly and purchased a bottle. It was silly, but it made me happy.”
2/24/18 webpage post

Well, as of today this previously coveted hand soap is available at my local Target at a reasonable price. Makes me feel silly for going to such great lengths last year! Not that I’ll be lining up to buy any this time around because I realized that I can experience the same scent profile from the Suave Kids 3-in-1 apple shampoo that I use at the gym! However, I did find Mrs. Meyer’s pumpkin hand soap, a variety I was previously unaware of, sitting on the same display shelf. I was intrigued. I bought so many bottles of holiday hand soap last December that I won’t even get close to finishing them by the end of 2018. So, thinking practically, there was absolutely no reason I needed to purchase pumpkin-scented soap today. In fact, my pledge to be more frugal for the rest of the year (I have two Disney World vacations coming up, and those aren’t cheap) is a prime reason that I shouldn’t have put any of the pumpkin hand soap in my shopping basket. But I did anyway. What can I say? My resolve weakens when I’m faced with special edition holiday stuff! Luckily hand soap is on the low end of the spectrum, price-wise. Let’s hope I have more willpower when it comes to other, more expensive and more compelling items. Like the gorgeous glass pumpkins at Pottery Barn. I must be strong!

Did I just buy a Mormon church dress?

I’m leaving for Portland in one week and I need to start packing. I’m only going to be there about 28 hours so I won’t need to bring much with me, but the most important item will be the dress I’m going to wear to the wedding reception. Since I’m flying to Oregon the morning of the reception (thank you, unpredictable work obligations) I thought about wearing my dress on the plane, but instead I think I’ll dress comfortably and then change after I arrive. I’ll travel with a duffel bag rather than a suitcase for such a short trip. (My suitcase has a more important job anyway – it needs to be ready for me to leave on a business trip to DC next Monday morning. Yikes!) I’m optimistically going to bring some workout clothes in case I find a free couple of hours to fit in some exercise. Doubtful, but at least I’ll be prepared. Other than that, I just need a single change of clothes for the flight back home on Sunday. The abbreviated nature of this trip will most definitely make it stressful, but I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to go and see a bunch of my friends who live all over the country. I am certain that we will laugh a lot, eat a lot (my brother has already told me which donut shop is a mist-visit), and take a lot of pictures. It’ll be a blast.

In preparation for the trip, I had dinner at my BFF’s house last weekend and I brought four dresses with me so she and her family could help me figure out what I should wear to the wedding reception. My goddaughter appropriately donned her astronaut jumpsuit and helmet add some much-needed variety to the mini fashion show. Without knowing what was going to fit or look good on me, I ordered a bunch of options from different stores online, like Amazon and Modcloth. Some of the dresses actually have a funny origin story, including the lace one I’m wearing in the above photo. I have a strange habit of keeping tabs on several semi-famous (or maybe infamous?) Christian fundamentalist families, like the irritating and infuriating Duggars, mostly because I’m fascinated by their views which are so diametrically opposed to my own One of those families has a recently married daughter who maintains her own blog, and in the header photo she is wearing a gorgeous red dress than I’ve been envious of for a long time. Based on the fact that she sewed her own wedding gown last year I assumed the red dress was another one of her personal creations. But recently this woman wrote a post all about the dress and where to buy it – surprisingly, Amazon! I immediately ordered the dress in two colors, red and teal, hoping that one of them would fit me and be perfect for the Portland wedding reception. At the same time I explored other dresses from the same company and also purchased the lace one shown in the picture above. (Sorry it’s in black and white, but the lighting was bad and a color version just didn’t look right.) Turns out the company that makes all three of these beautiful is an LDS modest clothing company. I actually bought three Mormon church dresses! How’s that for a laugh? Much to my chagrin, the red dress that I was so excited about was slightly too small (it was way too tight in the shoulders), and its teal equivalent looked more juvenile than I had hoped (more like my 8th grade dance dress than a 39 year-old woman should wear), so both of them will be going back. The red lace, knee-length dress with elbow-length sleeves, however, is lovely. It is comfortable and flattering. It didn’t come out on top of last Saturday’s fashion show, but my BFF advised me to keep it in case I need a special occasion dress in the future. So that’s how I became the unlikely owner of a Mormon church dress. Next weekend I’ll be wearing a navy blue Modcloth dress to the wedding reception, but you’ll have to wait until then for photos. One more week!

Sunscreen experiment #20

Here’s another inane sunscreen experiment to break up the heavier content in my last four posts! Kinda like one of the Hulu commercial breaks while I’m watching episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I wanted to have this post ready for National Sunscreen Day on 5/27, but I wasn’t able to pull it together in time. Better late than never!

I was torn on whether to publish this post under the header of “sunscreen experiment” or “retail therapy” since I purchased this sunscreen along with a number of other beauty products from the e.l.f. website on 3/25. I really just wanted to buy one item (Hydrating Under Eye Primer), but in order to qualify for free shipping I threw some other things into my cart that seemed promising. I’m sorry to say that most of the products I purchased aren’t working out as well as I’d hoped, but luckily the order wasn’t a complete loss. The e.l.f. Active Stay Out & Play SPF 50 is one of the items I bought on a whim and now I’m so glad I did. It’s similar to a much more expensive product I used a while back (Bare Minerals Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion SPF 50, which I think has been discontinued), but with surprisingly superior qualities. This SPF 50 has a liquid texture and feels powdery after it is applied. I was surprised to discover that it also has a light tint and it somehow works perfectly with my fair skin tone. That is not usually the case with tinted products considering how pale I am. I covered my face and neck with this lovely sunscreen last Friday and it got me through a full day at Disneyland with my friend and her daughter. And isn’t Disneyland the real test of any sunscreen? It’s really fantastic. So glad I gave it a chance!

Sunscreen experiment #19

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of my purchases this year have been beauty products. This is what happens when you listen to an over-the-top self-care podcast, don’t budget your disposable income well enough, and are still searching for the “perfect” products (which might not actually exist). It’s a dangerous and expensive combination, especially when you’re not feeling great about yourself and retail therapy is a major source of comfort. And on a lighter note, if you’ve ever visited my blog before you are familiar with my ongoing search for the perfect sunscreen. At this point I have accepted that this could be a lifelong mission. So here’s my 19th sunscreen review that no one cares about but me!

It’s about time that I took the plunge into Korean skincare. As a general rule we don’t embrace paleness here in the United States, but other parts of the globe actually do! Thus the need for adequate daily sun protection – something that isn’t the easiest to find in our “you look better with a tan” culture. I should have made the switch to Korean brands years ago! I think the first time I learned about MISSHA Sun Milk was from a Buzzfeed article. (This is becoming a trend. I should stay away from Buzzfeed if I want to save money, but then I’d also miss out on some great products. It’s a mixed bag.) Then I heard a favorable review of it on the Forever35 podcast where I’ve gotten so many good recommendations. After doing a little research on my own I ordered a bottle of MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk (SPF 50) on Amazon. This is the moisturizing variety (there are also matte and waterproof versions) which I definitely need because my skin is generally very dry due to the arid Los Angeles climate. So what’s the verdict? I love this stuff! It’s just fantastic. It’s my new daily moisturizer and sunscreen that I wear under my makeup. And the SPF 50 is a big step up from the Olay SPF 15 lotion I’ve been using for so many years. I can’t say it’s the best primer, but I’m making it work with some new moisturizing concealer as well (Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer). The combination of the concealer and the Sun Milk keeps my makeup from settling into the lines around my eyes – a plus for a woman who is almost forty years old. Bottom line: I finally found a winner. I am very happy I purchased this sunscreen and I have a feeling I’ll be using it for years to come.

2017 Resolution #1 revisited

“As far as race bibs go, I have a huge stack of them in the same box as the old medals. The most recent ones get displayed on the front of my refrigerator, but after their tenure there is over they are filed away. My goal for 2017 is to put all of them (OK, maybe not the ones that I can’t even remember what race they’re from) in a scrapbook or album for future reference.”
1/4/17 webpage post

4/26/18:
It’s getting dangerously close to May, but I still haven’t documented any solid resolutions for the year. It seems silly to even consider the traditional New Year’s enterprise now, being nearly four months behind schedule, but at some point I’ll probably make a list anyway. However, in order to avoid getting too far ahead of myself, I figured I should probably follow up on my 2017 Resolution #1 before making any for 2018! Regarding 2017 resolution #1, I never posted this revisit (that I started writing a whole year ago!) because I had only accomplished half of my goal, but at this point I’ll take credit for that portion and the rest can wait.

4/25/17:
As April is drawing to a close I can happily announce that I’m finally making some real progress on my first New Year’s resolution. On March 12th I ordered a scrapbook for my race bibs from an Etsy shop that makes them specifically for this purpose. Then last week I finished putting my first 75 bibs in it. They range from April 2014 to December 2016. I admit that some of the bibs from that backlog got tossed because they were so generic that I either couldn’t remember which race they were from, or they weren’t memorable enough to keep. I’m really happy with how the scrapbook turned out. It’s a fun memento that reminds me of all my achievements and doesn’t take up space. But funny enough, it’s already almost completely full! I’ll need to order a second one for future race bibs.

Retail therapy #7

Item: Old Navy swing dresses
Purchased: February 24, 2018

A few weeks ago, before I started my clean-ish eating plan (I am trying to make it more of a lifestyle rather than a finite period of food restrictions), I was really unhappy with my body. It was outward proof that I hadn’t been taking care of myself and I desperately wanted to do better, feel better, and look better. But I knew that dramatic change wouldn’t happen overnight so I had to find a way to improve my self-image and my confidence in my appearance while I was still putting in the hard work with diet and exercise. This is one of the reasons I ordered a ton of new clothes as part of my retail therapy spending spree this spring (besides being sick at home and feeling depressed). I was tired of wearing the same pants and blouses at work, donning a similar boring outfit every day, so I decided to diversify my wardrobe with things I can wear now, when I’m still chubbier than I’d like to be. This is where Old Navy swing dresses came into my life. I already have a closet full of beautiful Ann Taylor dresses, but they are all at least one size too small for me at the moment. It’s frustrating! Luckily, until I get myself back into those size 2s I have Old Navy swing dresses in my life. Not only are they attractive (I bought several in different colors and patterns), but they are flattering, loose-fitting (i.e., figure-friendly), and super comfortable. And since I am a cardigan addict I can easily pair one of the dresses with any number of colorful sweaters and my favorite flats to make a perfectly appropriate work outfit. Plus, the economical nature of Old Navy clothing meant that I was able to purchase a number of items for a reasonable price. That provided me with lots of options while keeping my credit card bill from being astronomically high during this active period of retail therapy. I appreciated that! (More money for me to give to the Walt Disney Corporation. It’s inevitable, really.) I’m actually planning to wear one of the Old Navy swing dresses to work tomorrow so they are being put to good use on a weekly basis. They make me feel confident even though I know I’m not currently at my best. What could be better than that?

Business travel again (Part 2)

A continuation of my musings from the Denver airport on 4/14 while waiting for my flight to DC. Because my train is tired tonight and writing something original isn’t going to happen after such a long work week!

As I was preparing for this trip I checked the DC weather and saw that it was going to be fairly cool, but not exactly frigid while I was there. It’s been three weeks since my last visit and much to my delight I wasn’t going to need the super warmth factor of my North Face down jacket this time around. So while I was packing I flipped through my closet and pulled out another option. It was the North Face jacket that I purchased back in 2016 for a January trip to DC. You know, the one that went completely unworn because the week I was there was unseasonably warm? Well, it still had the tags attached! I can’t believe it’s been hanging in my closet for over two years, lonely and neglected. But no more! It’s a lovely purple color and it fits great so I’m glad I kept it. Hopefully this jacket will be just what I need to brave the weather in DC this week. Of course I already spilled some of my protein shake on it this morning on the way to the airport so that’s annoying. It will have to go straight into in the wash when I get home!

This time around I also didn’t need the boots and their accompanying knee socks I hastily purchased in March. It’s not going to be nearly cold enough to require such hefty footwear. And it’s a good thing too because those boots gave me blisters. They fulfilled their purpose of protecting my feet from the cold on my last trip, but I don’t foresee myself wearing them again anytime soon. My favorite little leather flats were perfectly suited to handle the last gasp of winter in DC this week. And they take up so much less space in my suitcase. That allowed me to pack both my running shoes and my gym shoes for maximum workout potential. Whether I’ll wear both pairs on this trip seems unlikely, but at least I have them if I get ambitious with my exercise!

Retail therapy #6

Item: Brooks Boston Marathon Launch 5
Purchased: March 25, 2018

Who wouldn’t want running shoes with lobsters on them? I’m not from Boston, I don’t ever expect to run the Boston Marathon, and I don’t even eat seafood, but I still love them! But even with their whimsical nature, these shoes might be a bit too practical to fall into the retail therapy category. However, I’m still calling them a frivolous purchase since I didn’t really need them. I saw these shoes for the first time on Facebook and thought they were absolutely adorable, but they didn’t seem like a reasonable investment. The Brooks Launch style don’t have enough support for me to use them for running (I prefer Brooks Adrenaline), and I wasn’t in need of athletic shoes for anything else. But after several days of seeing them all over social media I bought a pair anyway because I decided I couldn’t live without them. They are just so fantastic! I figured I could wear them to the gym so they wouldn’t be a completely silly acquisition. Fortunately they have worked out great in that capacity. I’ve been going to boot camp classes with my running buddy consistently for about six weeks now and I feel great. In addition, lacing up these fun shoes three times a week makes getting ready to go to the gym even more fun. It’s amazing what a little exercise can do!

Necessary purchases

“When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. … And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn.”
2/15/16 webpage post

On March 12th I found out I was going on a business trip to New York and DC the following week. On its own this was great news since I haven’t traveled for work in more than two years (January 2016 per the above quote) and I miss seeing my DC co-workers on a regular basis…but then I checked the weather. The place I was headed to in New York was going to be freezing. I don’t own a single jacket or pair of shoes that can handle lows in the teens and highs in the 20s. Brr! My time in Florida and California has done nothing to equip me for such temperatures. My closet full of light fleece jackets and flimsy leather flats just weren’t going to cut it in such a cold climate. So on March 16th I went to the North Face store, browsed the sale rack in desperation, and then begged a salesman for help. He was invaluable helping me pick out a jacket that was appropriate for the minimal amount of time I was planning to spent outside in the cold (basically just walking to and from my car at the airport, my hotel, and work). And on sale too! You don’t know how relieved I was to walk out of the store with a jacket. I wasn’t going to freeze to death in New York!

Then on March 18th, the very last day before I left town, I went to the mall in flip-flops and a hoodie (a true Southern California outfit) to find a pair of boots for my trip. I thought for sure I would find lots of options to try on and choose from at DSW Shoe Warehouse, but I was wrong. Turns out mid-March is way too late in the year to shop for boots. I had no idea! I got rid of my last few pairs years ago and now I wish I hadn’t. (In the last couple of years I have fallen in love with Tieks flats and I haven’t worn anything else to work since then.) After striking out at DSW I suddenly got very anxious about finding suitable footwear for cold weather before leaving California. Luckily, a lovely Macy’s employee scoured their limited stock of winter shoes where she found a pair of simple black ankle boots in my size. And by some miracle they actually fit my crazy narrow feet and felt pretty good. Hallelujah! I am so grateful to that Macy’s saleswoman. My feet weren’t blocks of ice in New York thanks to her. (The downside was learning the hard way that the boots were NOT made for walking. Hoofing it through three airports on March 21st was painful.) So I figure the necessary purchases of the jacket and boots make up for the unnecessarily purchased jacket for my trip to DC two years ago. Things have a way of working out eventually!