Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let's mock MTV VMA red carpet fashion!

So, a confession: I did not watch the MTV VMAs. First, I haven't had a working TV in months. Second, I'm from Orlando. We see NSYNC people wandering around so often that it's just not noteworthy anymore. Just can't get that excited.

I can, however, still totally judge people on what they wore. I am always up for that!

Could someone please just send out a mass memo to former Disney child stars that WE GET THAT YOU GROW UP AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS TO PROVE A POINT. That is all.

Side note: That would make a really spectacular dress for a nursing mother.

Yes, this dress is obviously fugly. But what's with the weird shape of the arms? Why is it all poofy just above the elbows? Did her biceps fall down? Confusion. Still, it looks like a flock of selfless golden butterflies was passing by and tried to save her from being seen looking like this, but there just weren't enough of them. A noble attempt, golden butterflies.

I really appreciate that Miley added those nude panties at the bottom to keep this outfit from being vulgar.

(Imagine a series of about 20 photos of badly dressed people here, all with the caption "I have no idea who this person is." Seriously, you guys, I have no idea who 90% of these people are.)

Did Taylor Swift beat up a random fan and steal their homecoming dance dress? This is so boring. VMAs are an event for quirky, fun fashion. This is the most boring thing I've ever seen. It sucks fun from the room.

My imaginary boyfriend is always the cutest.

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the backup dancer on the left? Thanks.

Coco Rocha can do no wrong in my book. Whoever is wearing that flip flop in the lower right needs to be punched, though.

It's fun to imagine that there's a carnivorous monster lurking on the floor, eating the people at the bottom left.

I have no idea who this person is, but she needs to fire her stylist immediately. And then have them tarred and feathered. This is the worst.

Could someone please point this mom towards her kid's classroom? She's here to pick him up.

This look wins.

Images stolen with love from Getty.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yellow Dress Makeover!

This is probably one of my easiest dress makeovers so far! Nothing super technical here, but I thought I'd share anyway!

Do I look appropriately miserable? Could this dress be any less flattering? The shape is awful - it's basically a baggy sack that hits me at an awful length. Yikes!

The colorful tropical print of this dress was totally fun and summery, but when you have THAT much of the print as a head to toe look, it's a little too much. I wanted to tone it down just a bit to make it more wearable! I'm actually going to be getting two garments out of this dress - yay! While I was trying it on, I measured about how long I would need a top to be, and then sliced the rest off to use as a skirt. Voila! I set the top half aside for a future project - today is all about the lower half!

In order to figure out how much to take the skirt in I slipped it on, found the center back seam, pinched it in a place that felt about right, and inserted a couple of pins to mark the distance. I didn't get them quite centered, but I was able to split the difference and come up with a pretty good measurement. 

Pointing to the hard to see pin.

Once the skirt was smaller, I just had to attach it to a new top! I grabbed a spare white tank top (I tend to grab basics like that during bag sales - they always come in handy!) and pinned the skirt to it. Sorry that I forgot to take a pic of the tank top itself, but it wasn't anything exciting!

To mark where I wanted to attach the skirt, I tried on the top and inserted a couple of pins where I wanted the skirt to begin. (See the white pin below). Then I just pinned the skirt right below where I marked.

All I had to do then was stitch the two pices together, and voila! Much more flattering!

Sorry the lighting is a little off, still getting the hang of the new camera!

The white top is still a little baggy below the arms, but it's not a big enough deal for me to go back in and make more adjustments. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out! I'm curious how it would look with a belt or some kind of ribbon added where the two fabrics meet. Might have to experiment when I get time!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Effortless Style Secrets

One of my favorite things about summer (or almost all year, if you're a fellow Floridian) is that style becomes totally laid back. Sunny days call for light, airy fashion choices, bright accessories and minimal makeup. Plus, there's that awesome bonus fact that just throwing on a comfy sundress takes approximately five seconds but makes you instantly look like you put more effort into your look than if you're wearing a cute top with shorts. It's like magic. 

Here are my top 3 secrets for effortless summer beauty:

1) It's summer - enjoy it! If you're stressed and exhausted, it's going to show on your face, how you carry yourself, and your whole energy. It's going to suck the whole "inner beauty" thing right out of you. While you probably can't do the awesome childhood thing of spending your whole summer acquiring Slip-n-slide related bruises and holding Barbie horse shows (What? You guys all did that too, right?), chances are you'll be pretty bummed when pumpkin spice latte season rolls around and you realize that you never took the time to really enjoy summer, to drink it in. Even taking half an hour to sit outside with a great book and enjoy the weather will give you that refreshed glow that comes from taking time for yourself. 

Fun fact: Since I don't have a pool at my house in Missouri, I totally bought a $10 kiddie pool and pull it out on awesome weather days. When I hit that afternoon slump, I take a break from whatever I'm working on, throw on a swimsuit and some sunscreen, grab a book and a drink, and go kick back in my 8" of water for a while. I probably look nuts, but it makes all the difference in my day. 

2) Colorful sunglasses and big earrings are always the answer. Not in the mood to spend a ton of time on your makeup, knowing it's just going to melt off anyway? Fun sunglasses and quirky earrings will camouflage almost anything. Trust me. 

3) Spend extra time on your skin. There's just something about sultry summer weather that makes the idea of covering my face in foundation totally unappealing. While taking care of your skin should totally be a priority year-round, it seems like summer is definitely the time to show it a little extra love. 

I'm all about keeping skin care as natural as possible, so I was psyched to try out the Seventh Generation Skin Serum that I got in the mail to go with this post! I actually never even knew that they made skin are products before; I've used their dish soap and laundry detergent (fragrance free cleaning stuff = happy Crystal!), but thought they only made cleaning products. Lesson learned! The Seventh Generation Boosts come in six different varieties - I was sent the Soothing boost, which contains oat extract.  (Other varieties include Firming, Clearing and Revitalizing.) 

The serum absorbs into your skin quickly, so you're not left with that heavy moisturizer feel, just smooth skin. You can either use it on its own, or mix a bit in with your regular moisturizer. (Handy if you usually rely on your moisturizer for SPF!)

If you've been a reader of my blog for long, you know that I often have allergy issues with skin care products due to the harsh fragrances. Thankfully, this serum doesn't contain any synthetic fragrance, so while it does smell a little flowery, it doesn't make me sneeze. Yay! It's also free of parabens, vegan, not tested on animals, and hypoallergenic. Score!

One other bonus? You can also use the boosts on any other area of your body that needs a little extra love, like rough patches on knees or elbows. Excellent for this time of year when we're all showing a little more skin! 

Note- I received a free sample of this product from Lucky and Seventh Generation for use in connection with this blog.

4) Seriously, people - Summery dresses. Just do it.

You can vote for my post for this #AllNaturalStyleSecrets Lucky Community Challenge here!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Chilled Out Cats In A Bottle?

You guys know that I'm always down to check out interesting new cat stuff, so I jumped on the chance to review a really unique product from a pet supply site called Entirely Pets!

Feliway Electric Diffuser (48 mL)

If you're anything like me, you're looking at that picture and wondering, "What IS that thing?" Probably not something that comes to mind when you think of cat stuff, right?

The Feliway is a snazzy little diffuser that emits a vapor that mimics cat pheromones. You know when your cat rubs his face against your leg or his favorite chair to "claim" it? It's kind of like that. The least confusing explanation I can give is that it helps kitty feel safe and at home, which leads to less frustrating behavior like spraying, scratching of furniture, and aggression towards other cats.

The kit that I received came with the diffuser and one bottle of Feliway, but Entirely Pets carries a whole range of these products, including a spray that has similar effects.

Tons of options! I like that you can buy the refills instead of having to get a whole new diffuser each time!

All you do to use it is unscrew the cap from the bottle (Um, obviously!), insert the bottle into the diffuser and plug it in! One bottle should last around a month. It's designed to cover a 500-650 sq ft area, so if you're in a small apartment one diffuser should cover the whole place, but if you live in a multi-story house, you may need more than one.

Although you're supposed to just leave it plugged in all the time, I think that after this initial test I'm going to save the rest for my move! Since it's supposed to help calm cats, it may come in handy for the night they have to spend in a hotel, and then the first week or so in the new place!

The down side to not having too long to test it before I needed to get this post up is that I can't really report back all that solidly on how well it works. The company recommends leaving it plugged in for a full month to get the best results, but with all of the crazyness going down at my house lately, I've only had time to test it for about a week so far. I did catch Jasper scratching on something he shouldn't be on the 2nd day of use, but that's really the only bad behavior I've caught while I've been using it. I still feel like it's a bit too early to judge how well it works, but anything that might make the cats' transition to our new home easier is totally worth a try!

If you're interested in finding other snazzy cat (or dog) products, it's fun to browse through the Entirely Pets Pinterest boards. I got sucked into the ones with pet travel supplies (for obvious reasons), as well as the board of infographics!

Thanks again to Entirely Pets for sending us this neat gadget to check out! I'll report back after we move and let you guys know if it helped!

This post was written on behalf of BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network and, I received a product for review as well as compensation for my time. Like all reviews on this Blog all thoughts and comments about the product are my own.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Orleans Wishlist

You guys... I leave for Florida REALLY soon! Eeeep!

According to Google Maps, it's going to be around a 19 hour drive. So much fun, right? Especially with cats in the car? Thankfully, I have an awesome destination planned for my first night - New Orleans, yay! I've written a few times in the past couple of years about how much I want to go there, so I decided that it was totally worth adding about 90 minutes to my drive to spend the night there instead of some random town in Alabama. I won't have much time to explore, but it's better than nothing!

So, here are my top 7 things that I hope to smoosh into those few free hours!

Lafiette's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Grab a drink at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Built in the 1720s, this is the oldest bar in the US. The blacksmith shop was originally a cover for Jean Lafitte's smuggling business. I became fond of Jean and his brother Pierre (and possible brother Dominique You) while reading a history of the Battle of New Orleans a while back, so I feel the need to swing by his old place. There's no electricity, so the whole place is candlelit.
image source

Bourbon Street
While I'm more into the music and culture and architecture types of things than the party atmosphere of Bourbon Street, I still think it's a must do.

Photos of New Orleans - Featured Images
Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde - No explanation needed.

Muffalletta, preferably from Central Grocery! Nom.

Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band
Catch some awesome live music. Hopefully a mix of random street performers and some time in bars listening to great jazz or blues.

Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone - New Orleans Hotel Bar

Drink(s) at the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone - Is the room spinning? Nope, but the bar is! Thankfully, it moves verrrrry slowly (one rotation takes 15 minutes).

Pirate’s Alley
Just wander around.
This whole city has such a strange, unique beauty. I'm dying to just wander, take some photos, and soak it all in.

There are SO many other things I'd love to do, but I had to narrow it down to what I can realistically fit into the couple of hours I'll have on the night I arrive, and maybe an hour before I leave the next morning. Any suggestions to add? Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, August 16, 2013

What I've Been Reading - May/June/July/August

It's been ages since I've done a post about books I've been reading! Figured it was time to catch up. As usual, this isn't everything I've read in the last few months, since that would take forever to cover. This was actually just going to be a May/June/July post, but it took me so long into August to finish up one of the books that I decided I should just add on this month, too!

Here's what's been keeping me company so far this summer:

Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye: A Family Field Trip to the Arctic's Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth, and Mini-Marshmallows

I know I'm way behind in writing about this book because I remember getting it before it was published, and it was released way back in January. Oops. This is a memoir written by a man who temporarily moved to a remote town in Manitoba with his family to study polar bears (and the effects climate change are having on them) by spending time with various experts. Although it takes a while to really get rolling and drags a bit in places, the writing is solid and at times quite funny. One interesting thing I learned: While black and grizzly bears hibernate, polar bears don't. They may eat a bird here or some seaweed there, but they mostly starve all summer. No wonder they're so grumpy.

Yoga Sparks

This is another book I received an advance copy of via NetGalley. As someone who tries to do yoga daily (but doesn't always find the time), the cover caught my attention. As the cover says, the book contains 108 ideas for small things you can do in a short period of time. These include postures, breathing, meditation and principles. They are then divided by where you can do each "spark" - anywhere, around the house, on the go, at work, and with others. The ideas included are things that anyone can do, regardless of experience with yoga. If you do have a bit of a yoga background, a lot of these practices will be old hat to you, but reading through the book can be a nice reminder of basics you may have forgotten.

Rather than reading straight through (other than maybe once to familiarize yourself with the concepts), this book is probably best kept somewhere like your work desk to flip open when you need a moment to relax or re-center. For most of the sparks that involve stretches or poses, there are illustrations to clarify the written instructions. Overall, it's a nice introduction to the non-physical aspects of yoga for those interested in moving beyond just poses.

Divergent and Insurgent - Veronica Roth
I've heard so much about these books that I finally decided to pick them up. I'm not generally much of a YA reader, but every now and then I get in the mood for a quick read, and these are perfect summertime beach reads (You can easily get through both in a weekend). This is another dystopian novel series (think Hunger Games, Delirium, etc.) but I was impressed by the writing and the fact that the story felt fresh, not like a carbon copy of all of the other books of this type that have been flooding the market. I never quite knew where it was going next, which was nice.

The third book in the series is set to come out in October, and I'm definitely looking forward to it. They're also doing a movie of Divergent (and the others, I would assume), but I'm on the fence about that. I saw pictures from it, and most of the cast looks nothing like what I imagined, which throws me off a little. But anyway, thumbs-up to both books. Oh, and another bit of praise- Insurgent is pretty much as good as the first book, which doesn't always happen in a series. I was happy that it picked up exactly where Divergent left off and didn't waste a bunch of time filling the reader in on what happened previously. It's really one story just divided between books. Hopefully the third will be on par.

Karma Gone Bad: How I Learned to Love Mangos, Bollywood and Water Buffalo
(This book isn't due out until November.)
I'm a sucker for a good "moving to a new country" memoir. This book follows the author's move from NYC to India, which is (needless to say) a bit of an adjustment. As much as I'd love to live abroad eventually, I don't know if I could manage India. She mentions her blog in the first chapter, so of course I had to look it up, but it is now set to private, which is kind of annoying. I did find her new blog, but I wanted to see her pre-book life, ya know?

What I appreciated was that the author wasn't shy about sharing the harder parts of her journey. When you're preparing to travel or move somewhere, all that usually comes to mind are the great, exciting things. You're going to eat new foods and try new things and totally excel at this new place you're in! But then the reality is harder. You miss certain things about home, things aren't quite what you expected, and it's hard to go out and have all of those adventures you dreamed of when you're dealing with everyday frustrations. The author does a great job of sharing her difficulties without coming across as whiny. It's a good mix of funny, heartfelt and relateable.

 Dead Ever After
This is the 13th and last book in the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series. I'm a little sad to see it go- they're fun, quick, enjoyable reads- but it was probably time to say goodbye. The story has gotten fairly complex by now and since there's been some time between most of the books I've read from this series, I found myself getting a lot of minor characters confused as I read this one. There are a LOT to keep up with by now, not to mention countless subplots. Still, it's a fun series to read, perfect for poolside in the summer. It will be interesting to see if the TV series follows the same ending as the books.

I actually just discovered while writing this that in October, the author is publishing After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, which is a sort of epilogue that will tell what happens to each character in the series after the end of the last book. It must be fairly in-depth, since it's 208 pages.

 Yoga for Emotional Trauma: Meditations and Practices for Healing Pain and Suffering

As both a yoga nerd and a psychology nerd, I had to check this out. I love improving my understanding of how the brain works. For instance, one of the first things I picked up in this book is that the frontal lobe and limbic system are basically at odds with each other. When your limbic system revs up (such as when you're frightened), it steals the blood from your frontal lobe, which is why it's so hard to think clearly. Oh, brain, you're so silly! (Alternately, engaging the frontal lobes can calm down the responses of the limbic system.)

If you have anxiety or panic attacks, the opening chapters of this book do an excellent job of explaining why your body has a lot of the reactions that it does. As someone who experiences both of those problems, I'm tempted to keep copies of the section that explains what a pain in the ass the amygdala can be (in slightly more scientific terms) for people that just can't grasp the concept when I try to explain it to them.

One other thing that I found interesting is that we're not always naturally drawn to the type of yoga practice what may help us most. For example, if you're feeling depressed and sluggish, you may tend to want to do a gentle, relaxing series of poses when what would be more beneficial is something more energetic that will get your energy moving. Definitely something I need to put thought into.

Have you guys read anything awesome lately? Share!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made via these links will result in a small commission for me. Thanks for funding my coffee addiction.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blue Floral Dress Makeover

It's time for another dress makeover! I warned you guys that these would be coming at you all fast and furious for a while! This is another dress that I got at the thrift store bag sale, which means I paid around 15 cents for it.

Great hair, self. Well done.


Despite the fact that the little faux pocket amused me so, it was the first feature to go. A minute or two of seam ripper attack and it was all over.

Oh, faux pocket, we hardly knew ye.

The next area that needed attention was the sleeves. Their poofy shoulder design would be way too much work to change into something wearable, so the best option was to just take 'em off!

Sorry, sleeves.

There were no shoulder pads inside this time, but there was this stiff little insert to give them extra poof!

Just taking the sleeves off was an instant improvement! (Bear Cat played the role of sewing assistant today.)

I ended up having to entirely reconstruct how the dress came together at the shoulders in order to make the new shape work out. I tried out a few easier options that I hoped would work, but after those failed I just took the seam ripper to the shoulder seams, realigned how the front and back of the dress met up, and pinned that crazyness to prepare it for sewing!

New shoulder  - it makes more sense than it appears to.

I was THRILLED that I didn't have to touch the bottom hem of this dress at all! I've had total nightmare hems on other dresses lately, so I was relieved that this one was already perfect. Whew!

To be honest, I'm still not 100% happy with how this fits on the lower half, but I've learned that I can get sucked into fixing the details for MONTHS if I aim for perfection. It fits well enough, so I'm calling it done! Eventually, I may go back and take out some of the elastic in the front so that it lies more flat instead of being so pleated - I experimented with it like that in the mirror, and it's much more flattering. But to do so, I'll pretty much have to take the entire lower half of the dress apart (or at least a pretty good chunk of it), so for now, I'm just leaving it as-is.

I have a feeling I'll be getting some use out of this one! I LOVE this style of simple dress in the summer - you can just throw it on with zero effort, but look pulled together!