Tuesday, January 3

Happy New Year:: New Year, New You

Happy New Year! 

Okay... I'm a couple days, oh well. Better late than never, right?! First, please forgive me for my lack of posting this past month. I had so many ideas I wanted to share, but working retail during the holidays gets a little hectic (no reason, I know) but that's my excuse. 

Let me say that I am SO excited to start this new year off and one of my first resolutions is to become more consistent in posting! Every year resolutions are made, yet many times they are broken. I'm going to share with you my list, not because I think that you will enjoy it, but that it keeps me accountable. 

2012 Resolutions:
  • Post at least once a week for my lovely readers!
    • I'd like to experiment with some vlogs. 
    • Please let me know what you'd like to see more of. 
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week (doesn't have to be hard core, but a little bit of something!)
    • Run the Country Music Half Marathon or Nashville Half Marathon...who's with me?!
  • Eat healthier
    • Less fried foods (this is hard...I live in the South), focus on portion control and eat more vegetables. 
  • Save money
    • I'd like to go to Korea with Holt International Adoption Agency this May. More details to come about this later. 
  • Find a "big girl gig"
  • Enjoy life- including all the ups and downs it comes with!

*What are your New Year resolutions? Share with me!*

As always, thanks for reading! I'll be posting something fun soon, so keep checking back. 

- Allie

Thursday, November 24

Thanksgiving Message: Humility

Happy Thanksgiving! 
Look at that platter of yumminess! (via myrecipes.com)

As the holiday season kicks off, I think we often forget how fortunate we are until Thanksgiving. Personally I am thankful for my very small family, my family's health and the ability to all be together and have a huge meal together. These are all simple things we take for granted but something we should keep in mind not just today or this holiday season, but all year long. With that I want to share a story with you that my mom has told me- a life lesson that taught her humility. 

About ten years ago, my parents decided to have a cookout with lots of people on Memorial Day. My mom being the worrier she is, kept thinking we may not have have enough food. So, as my father kept adding guests, my mom kept going back to the grocery store. As her trips increased, so did her frustration with my father and this "stupid" cookout. 

About her third trip in, which was on the day of the cookout, she was rushing through the grocery store to get more hotdogs, buns, etc. When she arrived at the register, while waiting, she immediately became frustrated that my father continued to invite people and she had to come back to the grocery once again. And that my father has no idea what it takes to have all these people over, blah, blah, blah. You know the deal. 

Then she looked up while standing in line and the man in front of her is buying the cheapest pack of hotdogs (no buns) and an off-brand coke. He then begins to pay for this very cheap meal with pennies. As the cashier patiently counts this man's pennies, it hits my mother. 

It's at that moment she realized this man was deaf and was probably paying with pennies because it was near the end of the month, and his meager social security check is gone.  While she stands there with all of her food, that pack of cheap hotdogs and cheap coke will be his holiday meal. He stuck his two pennies that were left into his breath mint tin, he carried as a wallet, and walked home. After he left, my mom praised the cashier for her patience with him. The cashier went on to explain that he came in there often and since she had been nice, he always went to her, no matter how long her line. 

My mom is humbled to say the least! There she stood frustrated at having to come back to the grocery for the third time to get more food because my dad kept asking more people over, while this man barely had enough money to pay for his hotdogs and coke. 

Moral of the story: Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives- the doing, thinking, planning- we forget to focus on the things that really matter. So as this holiday season kicks off, I hope that you can remember this story when you feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Oh and a pearl of wisdom. If you decide to go shopping tomorrow, be kind to your sales associate and the people they are having to help. While you are shopping with your family/friends having fun, they are working 10-12 hours shifts with 30 minute lunches dealing with all kinds. Remember to be patient and be kind- it'll go far.

As always, hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! 

- Allie

Thursday, November 17

Pearl of Wisdom: Time Management

Every morning I wake up and check my email. I immediately feel inundated with marketing emails. It makes me feel like I can't get to all the important stuff that I need to read. Really it's a catch 22 because you want to keep up with all your information outlets. For me this would be industry news, news feeds over style and other various topics, google alerts and my favorite stores- so I know about the best deals. But at the same time I don't want 30+ emails a day, every day.

For a good laugh, this is how I feel:

Simple Solution- an alternative email address.

Easy enough, right?! Earlier this week I set up an email- allie.shops16@gmail.com to be specific. I went through my professional email address and unsubscribed to all my "fun mail" that I wanted to be filtered out of my inbox. Then I went to all the websites to which I had unsubscribed and resubscribed using my new email address- only a few will just let you update your info. Now this sounds like a hassle, but if you sit down for 30 minutes and focus, you can get it knocked out. 

Finally, I connected my new email account to my iPhone. What this allows you to do is, look at one inbox at a time, meaning when I get up in the morning I can look at my professional email and not waste time rummaging through all my "fun mail." 

Here's the best part! When you resubscribe to most stores, they send you a discount coupon. This just might help with all the Christmas shopping needing to get done or give yourself a nice treat for making your life easier!

Hopefully you've found this helpful! I'd love to hear if you have any helpful time management tips.

As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

- Allie 

Monday, November 14

Functional Fashion: Grey Slouch Sweater

Earlier this fall I purchased a grey slouchy, knit sweater from T.J. Maxx for $19.99 plus tax- what a bargain! Unfortunately, I don't know what brand mine is because it only has a floral print on the tag. I just got it a couple of months ago in the juniors department, so I'm sure there is something similar to it still there. But just in case, here are some alternatives:
Calvin Klein Boxy Boatneck Sweater
New York & Co. Lurex Knit Dolman Sleeve Sweater 
When I first purchased this piece I didn't think I would wear it that much because of it's lack of shape, but to my surprise it has quickly become one of my "go to" pieces. The slouchy knit is light weight, which makes it great for layering. The layering and versatility of the texture allows you to take it from early fall days to the beginning of winter (if you live in the South).

Here's how I wore it-
{Business Casual} 
Although you can't see it, my boots have heels on them! The belt adds shape to the boxy sweater and highlights my waist (the smallest part of me).  Add some simple jewelry, in my case a doubled long necklace, and your good to go. Remember, accessories can easily dress up your clothing which translates more "wear time."
{Warm Fall Casual}
This sweater is nice and light which allows you to wear it earlier in the season without feeling stuffy. Flats keep it casual and the tank adds a nice pop of color. Add an interesting statement necklace and you have a nice but comfy casual outfit. 
{Cold Fall Casual}
Like I said before, this sweater is a great layering piece. Since all the colors are neutral I feel more confident about mixing patterns and textures. The addition of a plaid button down and boots give the outfit a more styled look, while giving you more warmth too. Add a long necklace and bangles to finish this look.

How would you wear this? I'd love to hear how you would style it in the comments!
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. 
- Allie

Wednesday, November 9

Wishful Wednesday: Investment Pieces Pt. I

Holiday shopping is about to kick into high gear, which always gets me thinking about stuff I'd like to have- guess it's the kid in me combined with the holiday marketing. Needless to say I've decided to start doing "Wishful Wednesdays." These will feature items that I'm lusting at- now for Christmas and well into the future.

Today's focus is on investment pieces, specifically shoes and accessories, for this fall/winter season. Usually, I like to buy more budget-conscious pieces but I believe it's necessary to invest in a few pricier point items that will serve you well for many years to come. So let's break this down.

Wishful Wednesday 11/9/11

Cute & Comfy Flats: This neutral color flat will easily take you from spring until late fall, and in those cold winter months in between you can wear them with tights. 

Michael Kors Watches: These a classic watches. If I have one in gold and silver that's all I need to match my jewelry. And of course, year round wearing! Versatility is the name of the game. 

Versatile & Ladylike Shopper: The neutral color, my favorite cognac, will match anything- black, brown, gray, etc. I wanted a bag that was big enough to carry stuff to work, but still practical for everyday toting around.

Knee-High Flat Boots: Personally, I have to invest in boots because I have wide-calves for a small person. So, for me to find knee-high boots that fit is a challenge. They must be extended calf or fit big on most people [normal 14"shaft vs. wide calf 16"shaft]. 

The Frye Melissa Button boot comes in wide calf- hooray! It is a classic cut and the perfect color to go with anything. The Sofft Claremont boot is a simple black boot that I could dress up or down. It is not wide-calf, but is suppose to fit. I think they'd both be great investment pieces that you could wear for many years to come! 

Beauty Alert- Clarisonic Mia Skincare Brush System: With the winter comes dry skin, it's inevitable. This means that exfoliating is a must if you want to keep your skin looking bright and clear. I've heard really great reviews and numerous raves about this gadget and would love to have a Clarisonic of my own.

Of course I want it all, but remember investment pieces take time. It takes time to build your wardrobe and have staple pieces that you can wear season after season- so be patient my friends.

As always, thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed.

- Allie

What are your favorite investment pieces? What's on your Christmas list this year?

Friday, November 4

Panera Inspired Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Understandably my first food blog post should be a recipe that could be served wonderfully on a platter but with it cooling down- and me not feeling so hot- I was craving some soup! It has gotten awfully chilly here in Middle Tennessee and I didn't feel like driving 20 minutes away to Panera to get soup. So what's a girl to do?! Find a recipe on Foodgwaker. [If you haven't checked out this site, you really should. Go...now. I promise you'll thank me later.]

The basic/base of the recipe is from The Little Girl's Guide to Sugar and Spice, but I did some tweaking of my own. Admittedly, I took some pictures during the cooking process, but they are not too glorious or pretty so I'll just give you the finished product. [Note to self: work on food staging for photographs] 

Just a forewarning, the soup is really cheesy and rich- but just the way I like it. Hope you all enjoy!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup:

4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced (approximately ½ cup)
5 snack size celery sticks or two stalks, finely diced (approximately ½ cup)
1 carrot, grated (approximately ½ cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped broccoli (about two heads)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1/3 cup half and half, twice…that’s right I kept adding.
1/2 cup flour
2 ½ to 3 cups grated cheddar cheese (I did 3, but it's your call!)
Dash of nutmeg (no more than ¼ teaspoon)
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, add onions and celery plus a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft. Add garlic and carrots and cook for another minute. Add broccoli, cook for one minute, then add the chicken stock and cover. Allow the broth to come to a boil, and cook until the broccoli is soft.

Whisk together flour and milk until combined. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring gently. The soup will thicken (yay starch!) and once it's thick and creamy looking, add the grated cheddar. Then add the 1/3 cup half and half two times. Throw in the nutmeg and stir. Finally salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nicely toasted French baguettes!


As always, thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

- Allie

What kind of recipe would you like to see next? Let me know.