Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 4

I mentioned last week that I was starting to give up on this challenge.  There were so many things going on and I hadn't kept up with photos or blog posts.  As all of that was happening, I began to notice some things about my life and why I decided to do the challenge in the first place.  Despite all the craziness, I am still here, on link up day with my take on week 4 of the summer remix challenge hosted by Greater Than Rubies.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do this challenge was so that I could learn to be content with the items I already have in my closet.  Taking 20 pieces of clothing and putting together 30 outfits may sound like a challenge, but it really isn't.  I've learned that if you own a variety of pieces, the possibilities are endless.  Today I wanted to illustrate how you can change the look of a basic outfit just by changing completer pieces.  Completer pieces are items like a cardigan, jacket, or vest.  Here are some collages I put together with my summer remix pieces.  All of them start with the same basic outfit.

Basic outfit 1:  black maxi dress
So far I've only worn this maxi dress once with my denim jacket. However, I can easily wear any one of my completer pieces for a completely different look.  Four different looks!  Easy peasy!

Basic outfit 2: white capris + polka dot tank
Because this outfit is black and white, you can pretty much wear any of these completer pieces with it.  First, a denim jacket goes with practically everything.  Olive is considered another neutral, so the vest would look good, too. The coral cardigan would give this outfit a color pop.  Last, the paisley kimono cardigan would be a fun way to pattern mix and because it's also black and white, it wouldn't be such an extreme contrast.

Basic outfit 3: denim jeggings + cream tank top
Once again, because this outfit is so neutral, any one of the completer pieces works.  My first go-to would be the coral cardigan to give it some color.  I also like the olive military vest to mix a masculine piece with the feminine silky top.  Denim on denim is acceptable nowadays, especially when you put a dark and light shade together.  The kimono can also work with this outfit since both tops are drapey and flowy.

Basic outfit 4: black shorts + "radiant orchid" crocheted tank top
I've only worn this top once so far.  Because of the vibrant color, I personally wouldn't wear it with all these completer pieces, but you definitely could. Again, the denim jacket is a no-brainer and the masculine olive vest would contrast the feminine crocheted top.  The coral cardigan would be a fun way to play with color blocking, and the kimono would be a subtle pattern mix.

And there you have it!  Sixteen different looks!  Well, really you have twenty different looks when you count the basic outfit.  You can multiple the number of outfits just by adding a few completer pieces!  This the kind of math an English teacher can handle!

Linking up with Greater Than Rubies for Remix Rewear Restyle and Fizz and Frosting for Mix It Monday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

My First Sewing Project: Kimono Cardigan

I lied.  This is not my first sewing project.  However, this is my first sewing project in over two decades.  That should count for something right?  I haven't touched a sewing machine since 8th grade Home Economics when I almost failed the "threading the machine" test.  I learned how to sew an apron and a drawstring bag that semester, but it was such a tedious, time-consuming, altogether frustrating experience that I subconsciously told myself I would never sew anything again.

My mother-in-law (my kids call her Grammie) has always enjoyed sewing - especially quilting.  My sister-in-law and her friends started meeting for a sewing class with her once a week.  I was, of course, invited, but I had no intention of ever joining.  Until now.  Actually let me clarify.  Until Pinterest. 

To make a long story short, I kept seeing all these super cute DIY/sewing tutorials getting pinned on the boards of the crafty people I follow.  One of my favorite style bloggers is Merrick of Merrick's Art and she posts a bunch of amazing sewing tutorials.  One that really caught my eye and looked simple enough was her kimono cardigan tutorial.  All you had to do was cut some material, sew some stitches in a few places and voila!  For a beginner like myself it wasn't that easy, but once Grammie taught me the basics - she really is an outstanding teacher - I got the hang of it and had a lot of fun!  I can't wait to start on another sewing project!

Since I already have a black and white paisley kimono cardigan, I chose a colorful floral material for summer, but could also be worn in the fall.  What I also love about this trend is that it's a lightweight cardigan, perfect for summer weather when they crank up the AC indoors and it's sweltering hot outside. 

Yes, I really did wear this outfit today.  Our local Friends of the Library is having one of their huge book sales downtown this weekend.  It's something that our little family attends almost religiously.  I wore my kimono with comfy momma style basics: a white tee, denim shorts, and neutral sandals.  Adding the kimono gave my outfit an artsy feel; perfect for browsing books at the eclectic used bookstore pre-sale party for Friends of the Library members only.

Do you sew?  What is your favorite DIY project?  

Linking up with  The Modern Austen, Get Your Pretty On, Mix and Match Fashion and Phiphi's Blog!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 3

Week 3 of the summer remix challenge proved to be a challenge indeed.  I fell behind on my blogging schedule because of some unexpected circumstances, but they were good surprises that helped me to remember why I started this blog in the first place. 

Last Monday, Mr. How whisked us away to Oklahoma City for a spontaneous road trip to celebrate our ten year anniversary. (Here in "Blogland" I will refer to my husband as Mr. How because I called him that for four years before we were married. You see, we met while teaching at the same school; he taught second grade and I taught third grade.  My reference to him as Mr. How is an affectionate one.)

Why OKC you ask?  Our good friend, J.T., who performed our wedding ceremony now lives there, so we were able to spend some time with him and his wife.  On the morning of our anniversary we went to a little park near our hotel and J.T. performed an intimate (read: just us) ceremony and we renewed our wedding vows.  It was a gorgeous day - 80 degrees in the middle of July is unheard of!

You can probably tell from the photo above that I was in tears, as J.T. gave us the chance to remember our wedding day and reflect on the things that God has taught us over the past ten years.  Since then we have moved from the West Coast to the South, changed careers, and purchased our dream home.  Our biggest and most significant change has of course been the addition of two children to our little How family.  As we renewed our wedding vows, we also had the opportunity to tell each other what we have learned to appreciate about the other.  One thing I appreciate about Mr. How is that he provides for our children and me.  Even though I work and my paycheck contributes to our family finances, I still submit to him as the head of our household.  We make many of our decisions together, however, he ultimately carries our burdens, and I'm thankful for the wisdom he uses to decide what is best for our family.  Because of this, I want to be a woman/wife/mother who uses wisdom, too.  I need to use my time wisely and also spend wisely.  

When I started this blog I wasn't exactly sure what I would write about.  I knew I wanted to document my "style journey" and I never thought I'd learn so much along the way.  For example, this summer remix challenge is teaching me, in more ways than one, to trust Him and to be content. It's also helped me to live a simpler life and to be a better steward of what I own.  I've also met some really neat women/wives/mothers who have similar situations (read: struggles) as I do and we've been able to encourage each other and provide accountability. 

I did not take outfit photos during the 3 days we were out of town.  Two of those days were spent traveling so I wore other pieces, although I did pack several of my summer remix challenge pieces.  (I'll try to do another post about travel outfits and packing another time.)

I wore this first outfit on our actual anniversary which was on Tuesday.  I've had this dress since our first anniversary.  It's one of my favorites because it's a simple design and I love all the colors in it.  I've been able to wear it with several different colored completer pieces for several different occasions.  I paired it with my denim jacket because it was cooler that day and it was what I had packed.  It dawned on me that a white denim jacket would have been appropriate for a wedding vow renewal and would also make a good addition to my closet.
Outfit 1: denim jacket + printed dress + neutral sandals
Occasion:  wedding anniversary vow renewal and sightseeing with family

I don't know about y'all but it was kinda overcast and rainy in our neck of the woods this week.  On Thursday I was happy to have this 3/4 sleeve tshirt in my remix. I paired it with white capris and yellow flats to keep myself cheerful on such a gloomy day.
Outfit 2: white capris + striped tee + yellow flats
Occasion: chores then Bunko ladies night

Again, it was kinda chilly most of the week so my trusty denim jacket made its appearance in several of my outfits. 
Outfit 3: denim jacket + coral cords + polka dot tank top + leopard slides
Occasion:  day with the family then evening with visiting relatives

Easy peasy comfy momma style right here.
Outfit 4:  denim jacket + tshirt dress + neutral sandals
Occasion:  sightseeing downtown with relatives including the splash pad for the kids

This was the first time I wore this maxi dress.  I picked it up at the Loft Outlet on our road trip to San Antonio.  It was an extra small petite and fit me perfectly so I snatched it up.  I'm looking forward to remixing it for other occasions. 
Outfit 5:  denim jacket + maxi dress + sandals
Occasion:  church

Because I did choose a lot of neutral pieces for my remix I knew I was going to have to incorporate accessories for color.  I've been adding more colored shoes to my wardrobe and thought red would go well with this black and white outfit. 
Outfit 6:  black shorts + polka dot tank top + red flats
Occasion:  hanging out with family

Again, it took me a few days to get this post out because more unexpected things happened this week.  And again, it was all good, so I'll share more next time!  Have a great rest of the week!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Tucker Up for What I Wore Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of my summer remix challenge!  Please allow me give you a little recap of what I'm doing here.  For the month of July I'm challenging myself to take just 20 pieces of clothing and create 30 different outfits.  I love challenges like these because they help me realize that I don't need a lot of clothes and that I can shop my own closet and be content with what I already own.

This week I volunteered in the kitchen at my church's VBS, so my mornings were busy prepping snacks and serving the kids.  I needed comfy clothes every morning and for 4 of the 5 days, I put on clothes from my 20 pieces.  I wasn't feeling 100% though, so I didn't get around to outfit photos every day.  But because this challenge is about coming up with 30 outfit from my 20 pieces, I was still able to do that so I do have a week'a worth of outfits today.  Here ya go!

I did wear this olive tee and black shorts to VBS.  (We wore a costume over our clothes all week.)  Even though this is a super casual comfy outfit, I dressed it up with yellow flats, a yellow statement necklace, and my fedora for running errands later that day.

I did a blog post here on the next few pictures.  I decided to do a "one outfit three ways" dealio by changing out my shoes and completer pieces with a basic white tee and striped skirt. 

I also did a blog post on the next two outfits here.  Another thing I've learned is how to find "remixable" shirts that can be worn with jeans AND colored bottoms.  Here's my take using this gray and white striped tee:

This last outfit is not put together in this photo but I wanted to share how I've learned to dress for occasions like this.  On Saturday a friend and I were able to spend the majority of the day at the nearby amusement/water park - sans kids - something I have not done in 6 years!  (By the way my son is 6 years old.  So yeah.)  We spent the day in our comfy momma swim suits then changed for the Steven Curtis Chapman concert that night.  It was super hot that day so I wore my white tee and black shorts.  Then that evening when it got cooler, I wore my kimono.  I was able to tie it on my purse like a scarf until I needed it.  I felt comfy and cool as we sang  praises to God under the stars that night!

I apologize for not getting this post up earlier this week.  Mr. How took us on a spontaneous road trip to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!  It was really easy packing for it because all I did was throw some of my summer challenge remix pieces into a suitcase and we were on our way!  You'll see those outfit photos next week!

Linking up with Greater Than Rubies and Fizz and Frosting for Mix It Monday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shopping Haul: Plato's Closet

During my year-of-no-shopping, I was still shopping.  Let me explain.  My rule for the year was that I didn't spend money on shoes, clothes, or accessories.  However, gift cards and gift money were okay to spend. Hand-me-down items and gifted items were happily accepted, too.  You better bet I asked for gift cards and gift money for Christmas, my birthday, Mother's Day, and my anniversary.

It was also during that year that I discovered Plato's Closet.  Sometime in January, my sister-in-law wanted to use her Christmas money to buy some designer jeans at a reasonable price.  One of her friends had told her about Plato's. I went with her one Saturday just as another set of eyes to help her pick out a pair, and we happened to be there on the last day of their $1 clearance sale!  Because it was the last day of a week-long sale, the pickings were kinda slim.  I had already spent the majority of my Christmas money at after-Christmas sales, but was able to pick up 7 pieces for $7!  One of the pieces I bought on that day was the white denim capris I chose for my summer remix challenge.  

I was so happy!  I mean, other than getting clothes for free, $1 a piece was not too shabby.  I marveled at the faithfulness of God.  I really felt like God was provided a way for me to use gift money to still buy clothes that I wanted at a very reasonable price.  He spoils me, I tell ya!

Honestly, since then I almost (I say almost!) cannot bring myself to spend money at retail stores knowing I can shop  at Plato's Closet $1 clearance sale every season!  The same owners just opened a Clothes Mentor in the same shopping center and I'm praying they have similar sales, too!  I follow their store on Instagram and you better believe when they say their $1 clearance is about to start, I am there when the store opens!  In fact, they just started their sale last week on July 3rd.  Here are some of the things I picked up!

As you can see, I went for a lot of patterns!  After my year-of-no-shopping and through wardrobe remix challenges like the one I'm doing right now, I've been able to purge my closet and rebuild it.  I pretty much have all my basic pieces and now I can add a few (or a dozen) trendier pieces.  I don't mind spending $1 on a trendy piece because even if I only wear it once or twice, it was only a dollar!  

Making a list of things you want to add to your wardrobe really helps when shopping. I've gone to huge malls and walked away with nothing because they didn't have any of the items on my list.  At this particular sale, they had mostly shorts, skirts, dresses, and a ton of tops.  I didn't need shorts - I picked up several (brand new) pairs at Old Navy for $1 on Black Friday.  Although I already did some skirt shopping at a couple of thrift stores earlier this year, I couldn't pass up the polka dot pencil skirt.  Dresses are hard for me to find because of my petite frame, but I did find three that fit well.  Even at $1 a piece I still tried everything on and only bought what I knew I would wear.  The "pre-clothing-fast-me" wouldn't have done that.  Since they had so many tops and I knew I didn't need any more knit t-shirt type tops, I decided to focus on nice patterned tops for work and church, but could also be worn on the weekend or for a night out.  I ended up picking up several designs: floral, Aztec, color block, striped, animal print.  All of these tops could go with any of my basic bottoms and a completer piece.

I am pretty much set for going back to school this August, which is technically back to work for me being a teacher!  I can't wait to wear all my "new" clothes!

Do you shop at consignment stores or thrift stores?  What about garage sales?  I will be writing more posts on more of my past and future frugal shopping experiences soon!

Frugal Style

Today I have two more outfits with pieces I chose for my summer remix challenge.  I've been busy this week with VBS and yesterday I wasn't feeling 100% therefore I didn't take any pictures.  So today I kept the same top and remixed it with different bottoms and voila!  Two outfits done!

I haven't told you how much I paid for some of the pieces in my summer remix challenge.  I will do that in this post and also explain why I get so excited about it. 

One of my revelations during my year-of-no-shopping was that when I do go shopping, I don't have buy full-priced retail name-brand items.  I know, I know, such a simple concept, but it's difficult to realize sometimes.

I grew up in Hawaii where you can wear a t-shirt, shorts, and slippahs (a.k.a. flip flops) every day, all day, year round and from year to year.  It never goes "out of style."  Sure, the "mainland" trends would  reach us too, but everyone is pretty content to wear super casual clothes. Like if you decided to wear jeans, people would ask you why you were dressed up.  Locals usually own one pair of tennis shoes (usually white) and one jacket (usually black) to match everything.  Okay, I may be exaggerating...then again maybe not.  

Growing up, my parents never had a lot of money to spend on clothes for us.  My sisters and I usually wore hand-me-downs from relatives, and we only went shopping for school clothes.  In high school and college I had part-time jobs to help me buy things that I wanted.  I even worked at Gap and especially enjoyed the employee discount.  After college I moved to Southern California where some people dress casually and others don't.  I got my first job as a teacher and finally had a steady income.  It was easy for me to want to buy clothes at the hundreds upon thousands of malls and retail stores literally everywhere.  I was in debt with college loans and yet I would go shopping for "work" (and "play") clothes almost every weekend. 
I tried to be frugal by shopping at outlets and cheaper retail stores.  I always looked for what was on sale or on clearance.  I remember shopping one day with my cousin at the mall and after browsing a few stores, I said to her, "What are we doing here?  Let's go across the street to Ross and Marshall's!"  Sadly, I never learned how to shop wisely.  In my attempt to save money, I would buy poor quality clothes.  Sometimes I would buy pieces that didn't fit me well just because they were on sale.  The result was a closet of unwearable clothes because they were either faded or pilling or ill-fitting. 

I have a whole different mindset when I shop now.  I try my best to only buy items that fall under these categories. 
A.  I look for quality classic pieces that are comfortable and will hold up well when washed and worn. 
B.  I look for pieces that can be remixed for my lifestyle: work, weekend, church, etc.
C.  If I buy trendy pieces, I try not to spend a lot of money on them knowing that they'll only last a season. 

Outfit 1: striped t-shirt $3 at Old Navy + Levi's jeggings $1 at Plato's Closet

Outfit 2:  same striped t-shirt $3 at Old Navy + coral corduroy jeans $2 at Old Navy

Okay so here are two outfits under $5!  Isn't that crazy!?  Our Plato's Closet here in North Little Rock has these awesome $1 clearance sales pretty much every season.  (Stay tuned for a shopping haul post from the last sale!)  I've gotten some steals there because it's a consignment store that carries some really good quality name-brand stuff.  The Levi's jeggings are a prime example.  The shirt and coral jeans are from Old Navy. I love Old Navy for the fact that I can get brand new (as opposed to consignment which is usually worn) trendy pieces on clearance. 

I've already worn all three of these items a bunch of times because of their remixability.  (Is that even a word?)  I get so excited knowing that I only spent a few dollars on cute comfy clothes.  It also makes me feel good that I'm being a better steward by wearing these pieces over and over again by remixing them with items I already own.  That's why I love remix challenges like these.  They show me how many outfit options I really have and remind me that I don't need to go shopping every weekend!  I can be content with the things God has given me. 

How do you feel about your closet?  Are you a frugal shopper?  What are some things you do to be a better steward of what you already own?

Linking up with Tucker Up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Outfit Three Ways

Versatility.  It's what draws me to certain products, retail stores, and style blogs.  I want more bang for my buck.  A  kitchen utensil that can be used to mix AND chop ground beef AND cold rice.  A pair of shoes that can I can wear to work AND on the weekends.  A style blog that shows me how to wear the same outfit for day AND night. Yes please!

I wore this outfit today.  I have been very busy this week volunteering at my church's VBS every morning and by the time I get home I am wiped out.  I don't know if I'll get around to outfit photos for each day of this week for my summer remix challenge so I've decided to give you three looks with some of my pieces since the purpose of the challenge is to come up with 30 different outfits.  Without further ado, here are three ways to wear a white t-shirt and a striped skirt!

All I did to change up these outfits was change shoes and add a completer piece.  When I put together an outfit I almost always start with shoes that match the occasion.  I want my feet to be comfy.  Then I pick bottoms, a top, a completer piece if needed, and jewelry/accessories if I feel like it needs more. 

(Please excuse the amateur photography. I had to interrupt Mr. How and K.D.'s precious Super Mario Brothers game three times to achieve these bad boys.)

This first outfit is my comfy momma style.  I wore my Converse for a super casual vibe.  I can easily run around with my kids in this outfit, plus this knit skirt from Savers feels like sweats. 

For this next outfit I chose my utility vest and my camouflage flats.  I've only worn this vest a few times and I added it to my remix to force myself to use it more.  These camo flats were a birthday gift and I've been wanting to wear them more too.  When you want to try out a current trend, an easy way is with something small like shoes, a belt, or a purse.  I ended up wearing this outfit out to dinner this evening with my family. 

This last outfit is a comfy one, too.  My denim jacket is like my security blanket.  I feel like it dresses up my outfit a bit but because it's denim, it's still casual.  I would probably wear this on a date night.  I don't normally wear wedges but I couldn't pass up these brand new Toms when I saw them at Savers!  Another casual but dressy piece for 50% off, too! Score!

So there you have it...three outfits from one.  That's three days of my remix challenge done!  Yay me!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 1

One week down, three more to go!  I've discovered through my other 20x30 challenges that it's easy putting together the first week's outfits.  Honestly, creating 30 different outfits isn't a difficult task.  The challenge for me is creating 30 different outfits to fit my lifestyle that I can be satisfied with.  However, I felt pretty good about this week because I feel like each outfit was functional and comfy.  You can see my list of 20 pieces here.

Please don't hold my nerdiness against me with the way I organized my photos.  I swear I am related to Monica and Ross Gellar.

Day 1: olive tee + striped skirt + black sandals + statement necklace
Occasion: chores then church cookout 

This skirt is the equivalent of yoga pants in this wardrobe.  It's a knit and I got it at Savers so I have no problem doing chores or playing in the sand with my kids in an outfit like this.  It's also cute enough to leave the house in.  I knotted my tee and added a statement necklace for good measure.   

Day 2: white tee + denim shorts + neutral sandals + olive cap
Occasion: library then baseball game with youth group 

I did a blog post about this outfit here.  I was so comfortable wearing this outfit all day and yet I felt more put together than any old tee and shorts.  Gotta love hats for bad hair days!

Day 3: striped shirt + black shorts + sandals + coral purse
Occasion: clearance sale shopping then niece's birthday party

I woke up on this day knowing that I'd be hitting the $1 clearance sale at Plato's Closet.  Comfy clothes that make it quick and easy to try on clothes in dressing room are a necessity.  You'll notice that many of the pieces I chose for this wardrobe are neutral.  I've learned to add color with accessories like I did here. 

Day 4: navy tee + white capris + flats + nails in "twin sweater set"
Occasion: 4th of July parade and cookout with family

Here's my subtle or not so subtle 4th of July outfit.  I didn't have anything red in my 20 pieces so I painted my nails red and I also have red shoes.  Again, you can always add a pop of color with shoes or even nail polish.  I've recently been painting my nails again now that I've discovered Essie!  I need to just write an entire post about my love for (free) Essie nail polish. 

Day 5: black t-shirt dress + olive vest + leopard slip-ons + turquoise jewelry
Occasion: Walmart and Sam's Club shopping for VBS

This outfit was me stepping out of my comfort zone.  The outfit itself was very comfy but I don't normally gravitate towards vests, dresses, or animal print.  It has taken challenges like these for me to try something different.  Again, this was a pretty neutral outfit for summer, so I added turquoise jewelry for some color pop.  "They" say leopard is considered a neutral.  It really does work!  These leopard slides are so comfy and were perfect for running around in. 

Day 6: white tee + jeans + kimono
Occasion: Sunday church

This is outfit was so simple I felt like I was cheating.  The jeans and tee are basic comfy pieces and the kimono does it all the work!  I wasn't sure about the kimono trend when I first saw it.  Then Merrick from Merrick's Art did a post on a simple kimono tutorial.  Although I bought this kimono at the mall while on vacation a few weeks ago, Merrick's easy tutorial has inspired me to make one myself!  I don't sew, (I almost failed 8th grade home economics) but my mother-in-law is a pro and has agreed to help me.  We'll see how that goes!

There you have it.  One week of outfits done!  I'll be linking up with Greater Than Rubies where you'll also see the other summer remix challenge participants, so go and be inspired by their remixes, too!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Clothing Fast Revelation

When I decided to start this blog (a week ago), I wanted to be able to share not only the things I've learned towards my "quest for comfort," but also the things I've learned about being a good steward.  I mentioned in this post that when I finally discovered style blogs, I also decided to take a break from clothes shopping for an.entire.year.  Since there's just so much I can say about that year of no shopping, I will probably go more in depth in future posts.  Today I'm literally going to cut and paste a summary of what I wrote to Caitlin about my clothing fast experience.

Caitlin is Caitlin Skidmore who writes over at Greater Than Rubies. To make a long story short, I basically found her blog via Pinterest.  When I discovered her jewel of a blog on Black Friday of 2012, Caitlin was near the end of her own break-up with shopping.  She had started her clothing fast in January of that year and had documented many of her outfits on her blog.  As I read post after post about her experiences over the year, it suddenly dawned on me, "This is what I need to do."  I was inspired.  A whole year of not shopping for clothes?!  Impossible!  Or was it?

I emailed Caitlin and shared with her my decision to go on a clothing fast.  We kept in touch and she was (and still is!) an encouragement to me in so many ways.  One day she asked me if I would write a guest post for her blog and share some of the things I had been sharing with her.  I was humbled to have been asked and I didn't feel confident about writing a piece about my experience, but with God's help, I went ahead and wrote some things that I had learned over the past year.  I felt like God would want me to share my story of His grace and faithfulness to encourage others who may have been experiencing similar things as I had been experiencing. 

You can read the original post from Cailtin's blog here.  Here's my clothing fast revelation:

There’s so much more to my story but basically one year ago I had been feeling discontent with several areas of my life. As a wife and working mother of two little ones I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out with the busyness of trying to balance my marriage relationship with my husband, caring for my then 4 year old son and 18 month old daughter, and teaching English to 5th-8th grade middle schoolers. Add housekeeping, ministry at church, and other family/social obligations and you can imagine how busy and tired I was (am!) I know many of you reading this can relate!
I had been searching for ways to simplify my life for several years and I realized that one of the areas of my life that needed to be simplified was my wardrobe. I was so discouraged waking up every morning with “nothing to wear.” Or needing to have outfits that could be functional yet stylish for the different hats I wear throughout the day.

So while perusing Christian style blogs I stumbled upon Caitlin’s blog. It was Black Friday (God has a sense of humor) and realized that I needed to fast from buying clothes. The reason why I was so discontent with my closet was because I had a closet full of clothes that were ill-fitting and poor quality. Many of the pieces in my closet were impulse buys. I told myself I would learn to be content and be a good steward of what God had already blessed me with.

At first I thought I needed to hoard clothes. “How would I be able to survive without buying anything new!?” was one of my thoughts. I began scouring Pinterest for outfit ideas to remix my closet like Caitlin and so many other style bloggers do. After more “research” I realized that the reason I was so discontent was because I had too much!

Over the past year I have learned to purge my closet, redefine my style, shop wisely for quality timeless pieces with a few inexpensive refreshers to keep up with the current trends, and then remix, remix, remix!

Today I am so content with my wardrobe. Sure, over the course of the year I was still shopping, but with gift money and gift cards from special occasions. And even then I would look for remixable or classic or functional pieces. I was also given hand-me-downs from family and friends, several who didn’t even know I was fasting from shopping.

I know that there’s more to life than clothes, but it is amazing how a comfortable, well-fitting, and yet stylish outfit can change the way you go about your day. I’ve included a before and after picture that kind of sums up what I’m talking about. Both are outfits with jeans, sweatshirts, and comfortable shoes, however the second one (which actually cost less than the first one) makes me just want to get on my feet, be-bop around the house, and get chores done. It’s also functional enough for running around with my kids, and still stylish enough to go out in public and look cute for my husband.

There’s so much more I can say about what I’ve learned over the year but then this post would go on and on. I guess one of the main things I’ve learned (or realized again) is that God is faithful. By trusting Him with this area of my life I’ve been able to witness His faithfulness and His goodness in so many other ways, too. By learning to be content I have discovered more of His purpose and will for my life, which is ultimately to glorify Him with every area of my life.

I share this post because my purpose here is not to compete with or try to be like the gazillion style blogs that are out there.  During that year of not spending money on clothes, God revealed so many things about life to me, and I realize I need to share these things to hopefully inspire others in the same way I have been inspired.  We all need encouragement and I hope and pray my little blog will do just that...encourage you!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

An experienced blogger would have had her 4th of July post written and ready to post during peak posting hours earlier today.  Unfortunately, I am not an experienced blogger.  My allergies started bothering me last night so I didn't feel very well last night or this morning.  I was able to sleep in (thanks to Mr. How being the ever-so-helpful husband by feeding and tending to the children) then managed to get dressed for the day and pop some allergy meds.

Today was Day 4 of my summer remix challenge.  Since I am limited to 20 pieces for the month of July, I wanted to put together a subtle, yet festive, outfit for the 4th of July.  Here's what I came up with:

The navy tee and the white jeans are two of my 20 pieces.  Did I cheat by adding the red layering tank underneath?  I actually decided not to wear it after taking these photos.  I did paint my nails red though, so technically I was wearing red, white, and blue.  

You'll notice I didn't include my feet in the photograph.  I wasn't quite sure what shoes I wanted to wear.  Does anyone else have that same dilemma?  I posted a picture of this outfit on Instagram with red flats, but even as comfy as flats can be, I needed "comfier" footwear.  I really wanted to wear my white Converse, but we were spending the day at my in-laws' where I'm often running in and out of the house chasing the kids.  I would be taking my shoes off and putting them back on - Hawaiian style - so I knew tennis shoes wouldn't be practical. In the end I decided to wear my neutral sandals.  These sandals truly are the perfect footwear for any summer occasion. Sandals are as comfortable and casual as flip flops (or slippahs as we say in Hawaii) but also a little dressier, so if you're not quite sure how dressy others will be at your event, they function both ways: casual and dressy. 
My in-laws moved here to our neck of the woods a couple of years ago to be closer to the grandbabies.  Poppy How owns an antique truck and he drives it in his city's 4th of July parade.  My son, K.D.* and his cousin, Rosie, were able to ride with Poppy this year! 

After the parade, we continued with our holiday festivities.  First, we went to my in-laws' house for a cookout.  There were hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages and all the fixings.  Next, the kids had a blast playing outside in the kiddie pool and with water guns.  After that, we always feed the ducks in the pond behind the house.  For dessert, my brother-in-law made THE (pronounced thee) best homemade ice cream ever.  I dubbed him the Dairy King.  Finally, when the sun set we all sat and snuggled and watched the nearby city fireworks show from the driveway.  

Spending time with people you love and celebrating the freedom we have as Americans is what this holiday is about.  May we never take for granted the blessings we have in this great country God created for us. 

How was your 4th of July?  Did you put together a festive outfit?  Linking up with Mix and Match FashionRespect the Shoes, and The Modern Austen!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Blank Canvas

The English teacher in me decided to use figurative language to describe my outfit today.  A white tee with jeans is like a blank canvas.  The possibilities are endless!

As I got dressed this morning, I knew that I'd be taking my kids to the library before lunch, and that I'd be going to a baseball game with my church's youth group this evening.  Since it was Day 2 of  the summer remix challenge hosted by Greater Than Rubies, I had to create an outfit from my 20 pieces I set aside for the challenge.  Denim shorts and a white tee seemed like a good outfit choice because 1) it's comfy and 2) it can be styled in so many ways.  

Although visions of accessories danced in my head, I opted for a super casual look with simple jewelry, neutral sandals, and an olive cap.  It's been pretty warm this summer and you just never know how hot it will be at a baseball game.  (And I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with third day unwashed hair.  Let's be real here.)

I've recently learned how important "fit" and "proportion" are when shopping and putting together an outfit.  During my "quest" I discovered that if I really want to look and feel good about what I wear, I need to choose pieces that fit me well and are proportional.  Audrey from Putting Me Together really helped me with this post from her Building a Wardrobe from Scratch series.  Before discovering style blogs, I would purchase clothing pieces based on name brand, color, price, and trend.  Too often I would buy things and not try them on.  Eventually I had a closet full of ill-fitting clothing that were barely worn!

I've also learned things about proportion from Audrey's series.  Merrick from Merrick's Art also has written several Babble articles about this topic.  These before and after photos are a good illustration. 

In the before photo, I wore the tee untucked, the shorts (which were a hand-me-down) are rolled down to their normal length, and I'm wearing black Converse.  While the outfit in the first photo is by all means comfy and coordinated, it's not very flattering for my 5-feet tall, momma of two, petite frame.  The second photo includes the same shirt and shorts, however the shirt is tucked, thus elongating the leg line by exposing more of the shorts.  The shorts are cuffed, thus elongating the leg line more by exposing more of the leg.  I then chose neutral sandals, thus creating the illusion of a longer leg as opposed to the black Converse that cut off my ankles. 

It's amazing how just a few tweaks like tucking in a shirt and a changing shoes can help to pull together an outfit.  And whether we like to admit it or not, looking good helps us feel good, and today was a good day! 

Linking up with Tucker Up and The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday!