It’s time to bitch about jeans

I am of the impression that there is no such thing has a closet with too many jeans. That’s why I find it to be an atrocity that I have exactly three pairs of jeans right now that fit me.

The reasoning is not a bad one. It’s, in fact, a very good one: Over the summer, I have lost just shy of 20 pounds, and now, I can gently tug on all of my favorite jeans and pull them off without unbuttoning them. This is not good.

So I took my slimmer ass to Marshall’s yesterday to find some new jeans. I tried on 21 pairs of jeans. (Seriously, I counted.) And I wanted to throw each and every pair of them in the mud and throw a toddler-sized tantrum.

As if you didn’t know: This is why jeans shopping in 2016 sucks the big one:

  1. Stretchy jeans. I don’t want them anymore. I have two pairs (in fact, they’re two of the three that still fit), and they wear like leggings. Fine. But I want real jeans. Made of denim. That are thick, and soft, and boot cut. Because, for the love of god, enough with …
  2. Skinny jeans. I’m over them. I miss that don’t hug my ankle like a koala. Straight leg is fine, but give me a flare already, would you.
  3. Gapping. Ah, the bane of my existence. I forgot this used to be a problem–when I gained my weight, this issue went away, and it was magical. But now, I’m back to the proportions I’ve lived with most of my life: Bigger thighs, smaller waist, bubble butt. Which is to say: My thighs and heinie are about a size 10. My waist is about a size 6. I compromise with an 8, but sometimes, the legs are too damn tight and the waist gaps open in the back enough that I can shove two fists down the back. This is never flattering. Ever.
  4. “Curvy” jeans that are not curvy. The solution to point No. 3 is to buy curvy jeans. They are (supposedly) made for women with, yes, curves. They are supposed to enhance a bubble butt and hug a smaller waist. A few weeks back, Target had a 40 percent off all jeans sale, so I got a measuring tape, figured out my waist is about 30 inches, matched that to Target’s online size guide, and bought three pairs of size 10 curvy jeans. Those bastards are lying liars who tell lies. Each of those three “curvy” jeans listed a waist measurement that should have fit me like a glove. Instead, it was problem No. 3 over and over again. Which is all to say that …
  5. Jean companies that lie. I tried on one pair of 28-inch waist jeans yesterday that gave me some gapping … despite the fact that my waist is two inches larger than this measurement. WHO IS MAKING THESE PANTS? I also tried on at least one pair of size 10s that could barely fit over my thighs.

These complaints are not new, I know. I don’t know a single woman who enjoys shopping for jeans, who doesn’t take some umbrage with the ridiculous sizing.

But damn, man. #CanIJustWearNightgownsEverywhere?

30 things to do before my next birthday. Which is in two months.

I’m taking another prompt from Journaling Sage over on Instagram:

List 30 things you want to do before your next birthday.

My next birthday is less than two months away. It definitely puts some parameters on my list of 30 things to do, making them perhaps a little more fun, a little less serious, than they might be if I had a year to cover everything.

Without further ado:

    1. Finish the book I’m reading. I started “A Storm of Swords” Saturday, and it’s 1,177 pages.
    2. Get another 10,000 words finished in my manuscript.
    3. Go to yoga at least three times a week, each week.
    4. My awesome friends like to send me photos of Donald when they see him (thanks, Christy!) Look at him, arms wide open, calling to me!

      My awesome friends like to send me photos of Donald when they see him (thanks, Christy!) Look at him, arms wide open, calling to me!

    5. GO TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. (I’ll be in Orlando for my bday. All together now: AHHH!)
    6. Meet Donald Duck.
    7. Pick a weekend day and spend 24 hours in my pajamas.
    8. Watch both Kill Bill movies, back to back.
    9. Make something for dinner that I’ve never made before.
    10. Make something ELSE for dinner that I’ve never made before. (That’s two new dinners.)
    11. Dye my hair black.
    12. Take my laptop to Florida and spend a day writing on the balcony of our hotel. (OK, this might happen a few days after my birthday, but whatever–close enough.)
    13. Jump in the Atlantic. (See parenthetical above.)
    14. Subscribe to “The New Yorker.”
    15. Mail the few Christmas gifts I still haven’t yet sent to my friends. (Whoops.)
    16. Purchase nothing for myself online. Nothing. (Unless they’re tickets to things in Orlando.)
    17. Post at least six new listings in Jac & Elsie.
    18. Rearrange my living room to fit the new TV.
    19. Print out eight favorite photos for wall collage behind the new TV.
    20. Throw out half of my makeup. Offer the makeup I no longer want to friends, and then throw out the rest. (I have A LOT of crap I never use.)
    21. Clean up the spare room so it’s a spare room again and not my giant closet.
    22. Spend a week without my phone. (This may be tough, but I really want to leave my phone at home when I go to Orlando.)
    23. Find a new favorite blog or two to add to my roster. (Taking suggestions! I like slice-of-life blogs best.)
    24. Get my tax stuff together. (This isn’t so much a “want” to do as a “must” do.)
    25. Go to a solo matinee.
    26. See some form of live entertainment.
    27. Send a donation to Easter Seals Arc. (You should, too.)
    28. Have a writers’ retreat.
    29. Finish two personal essays currently in the first draft stage.
    30. Properly sift through Netflix, which we just started subscribing to.
    31. Start a travel journal. (I really like Journaling Sage’s idea of using it more of a spot for ticket collection, though I would like to go backward and at least list the dates and locations of previous travels.)

The best-dressed from the 2015 Academy Awards

The best part of any awards show: The morning-after photos. Vulture has one of the most in-depth slide shows (thanks, Vulture!). Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Except Emma Stone. Who is the best, at everything, always. You don’t see a lot of chartreuse in life, but this color is stunning on her. Gorgeous texture and fit, almost demure. She’s Hollywood perfection. (Click on the pics for more.) 

Eddie Redmayne: I love a beautiful colored tux, and those black silk lapels are gorgeous.

Steve Carell: The facial hair and glasses and traditional tux: So handsome

Keira Knightly: How romantic! I suspect this is one of the night’s polarizing looks, but I love the handwriting and floral design. The soft waves in her hair complete an ethereal look.

Nicole Kidman: Kind of funky for an event as glamorous as the Oscars, but she completely rocks it. Chartreuse again? Is this a thing?

Laura Dern: Ohhhhh, that metallic texture and color is amazing. Very punk rock princess. The necklace might be a bit overkill, but I appreciate the risk.

Georgina Chapman: Gaudy and over-the-top–but so, so beautiful and daring. I love everything about this, down to the slicked back and simple ‘do to offset the busy dress.

If Keira is my favorite, Katie Cassidy takes my silver metal. This fine lace looks tattooed on her skin, in the best way possible. The lace is gorgeous, a mixture of old tyme and modern. It’s different enough in tone from her skin that she doesn’t look naked, but it’s close enough for a lovely monotone kind of look.

 

Honorable mentions:

(Clockwise from top left) Lupita Nyong’o can do no wrong when it comes to awards show fashions. She always looks so effortless and comfortable and glamorous * The beautiful bold jewel-tone of this dress makes Scarlett Johansson stand out. I don’t adore the fit around her chest, but I do adore the gown’s necklace. It’s ballsy to match jewelry so closely to a dress, but the fact that it puzzles with her neckline makes it appear to be part of the dress * Zoe Saldana is va-va voom and beautiful. I love the simple adornments and soft hair. Lovely and sexy. * So pretty. Gwyneth Paltrow‘s gown is proof that fit is more important than anything. It’s a glove on her body, and it even makes the weird single sleeve and floppity shoulder flower sweet and interesting. The earrings kill it a bit for me, though. I don’t mind the red and pink mix, but her dress is so simple and modern, and the earrings are gaudy and costumey by comparison. * Rosamund Pike: That color! That slit! That texture!J.K. Simmons looks positively dapper, and did you note his pocket square matching Michelle Schumacher‘s gown? The pattern on her dress is so interesting, the color is gorgeous, and the fit is fantastic.

I’m not one for worst-dressed lists because they’re mean. But … just this once … Lorelei Linklater. The pattern screams “homecoming dance,” but the slit to her chachi screams “pole dance.” Maybe if it fit better, it’d be less yuck? The dress is pulling around her midsection, so it is simultaneously too tight around her hips and too loose in her belly.

And through it all, I’m still waiting for a dress to come close to my favorite awards show fashion of all time: Lucy Liu at the 2013 Golden Globes.

Who wore your favorite gowns and tuxes?

Shopping for amethysts, February’s birthstone

February’s birthstone is amethyst, a stone I have a few of because my husband and friends know I’m a major purple fan. The stone is purple quartz, a mixture of violet and red. They are most often lavender but can come in deeper purples. There are also green amethysts, which are a beautiful shade of sage.

amethysts

Amethysts from my collection, clockwise from top left: Costume earrings (no idea where they came from, I’ve had them forever); sterling amethyst ring with white topaz (gift from a friend who works for Kay Jeweler); amethyst bracelet (Valentine’s Day gift from the hubby a few years back); huge costume ring (Charming Charlie); amethyst and diamond chip ring (my almost pre-engagement ring, he ended up using it for Valentine’s Day the following year)

Mythology

Ancient Greeks and Romans believed this stone would ward off the powers of Baccus, the Greek god of wine. Wearing an amethyst would keep you clearheaded–essentially, the opposite of drunk. It is a stone of wisdom. I feel like this should be a go-to gift for high school graduates but is instead the gemstone for six year wedding anniversaries.

Sources: American Gem Society, Alex and Ani, Jewels for Me

How to wear it

Amethyst looks beautiful and modern against sterling silver or white gold. For a more throwback look, pair it with yellow or rose gold.

On its own, an amethyst piece would work well with a casual outfit–jeans and a blouse, a sweater dress. The stone also pairs well with diamonds or white topaz stones, making it appropriate for a more formal occasion.

collage

 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Happy birthday, February darlings. If you want to find an amethyst surprise for a friend, hop over to Jac & Elsie for affordable and meaningful pieces. There are many customizable options–I’d suggest adding an amethyst-colored bead to the Full of Awesome necklace.

Learn more about: garnets

 

Every woman should buy herself diamonds*

*Or her diamond equivalent

I bought myself a diamond necklace earlier this month. And on the whole drive home, I smiled like a loon.

After considering that the 2014 holiday was my best holiday yet with Jac & Elsie, and after considering that my Jac & Elsie funds–the ones that don’t go back into the shop–go straight into savings, I decided I wanted to treat myself. The last time a friend visited, she wore a necklace I immediately decided I needed in my life: It was a white gold diamond solitaire in a bezel setting.

Now, when I think “diamonds,” my brain doesn’t go to “engagement ring.” It goes to “independent woman.” Diamonds are my birthstone, and they represent independence to me.

And this is why: When I was in grade school–young, we’re talking first or second grade–all my friends started getting birthstone rings. Tiny ruby, aquamarine, or emerald chips set into a tiny gold band on their tiny fingers. I got the jewelry bug early and immediately asked for a birthstone ring for my birthday.

What am I doing? Going straight for the pearls.

The original Jac & Elsie (my nani). What am I doing? Going straight for the pearls.

“Honey,” Mom told me, “mommies and daddies don’t by diamonds for you. You get a diamond when you get married. Your husband will buy one for you.”

My 8-year-old brain did an 8-year-old version of, “Oh, fuck that shit.” I decided on-the-spot that I would not be waiting for some guy to buy me a birthstone ring.

Fast forward 14 years: I am now a 22-year-old college graduate. I have received my bachelor’s degree after four years, and I will start my career two weeks after graduation. Those Raise Your Right Hand ring campaigns are in full swing, and I love them.

It was time, I decided, buy myself that diamond.

De Beers really nailed it with this campaign. Brilliant.

De Beers really nailed it with this campaign. Brilliant.

I looked for nearly a year and a half, determined to find what I wanted within my budget. I eventually found a twisty white gold ring with a series of diamond baguettes and chips set amidst the swirls. Two weeks later, I took it back on Black Friday and rebought it to save $50. I ended up spending about $250 on that ring, and it meant everything to me.

I don’t wear it often now, but it is still important to me. It represents a lot–the idea that I can achieve what I want, and I don’t need anyone else to get there. That if I want something now, I don’t have to wait for another person to help–I just have to wait for myself to get there. That I can love pretty things and still be strong.

A photo from my short-lived What I Wore jewelry edition off my previous blog. That's the ring off to the right.

A photo from my short-lived What I Wore jewelry edition off my previous blog. That’s the ring off to the right.

That last one is strangely important to me. I like jewelry (obvs). I like makeup. I like pretty dresses and things that sparkle. That does not make me less-than, though I suspect there are plenty of people out there who would look down their noses at someone who would get joy out of such frivolity, that it somehow makes me less smart or less worthy of being taken seriously.

Now, nearly 10 years after the ring, the circumstances were right: It was time to treat myself again.

I had a Monday off earlier in the month, and I made big plans to take myself to breakfast, wander the mall for a bit, and spend the afternoon writing.

At the mall, I stopped in Helzberg Diamonds to get my engagement ring cleaned and look at their necklaces. I told the woman that I was not looking to buy just yet, but I wanted to see what was available.

She showed me some beautiful necklaces, but I didn’t see anything with a bezel setting (where the diamond is wrapped with metal–I find the design looks more modern that way). I also didn’t see anything that would fit in my budget. While I didn’t want an Elizabeth Taylor-sized rock, I was hoping for more than a 1/4 carat. Something large enough to see without being gaudy.

Things didn’t look good, and I figured I could always resort to a department store, as I did with my right-hand ring.

I peeked at the clearance jewelry jewelry before I left, and she told me it was the last day for an additional 15 percent off clearance.

As I browsed the sparkling rings, earrings, and necklaces, a necklace caught my eye: white gold. Diamond solitaire. Stone about perfectly sized. Bezel set. Gorgeous chain. In clearance. Plus 15 percent off.

“Can I see that?” I asked.

“I didn’t even know that was in there,” she told me, getting the necklace out. “Well isn’t that perfect?”

She was right–it was. Upon closer inspection, I realized the stone wasn’t a true solitaire–it was one of those mosaic type pieces, made of a center piece surrounded by nine smaller diamonds. Unless I was right up on it, I didn’t notice that at all. In fact, all the extra facets seemed to make the pendant sparkle even more.

I tried on the necklace, but no. I couldn’t. I’d just started looking.

So I went home.

After three hours, I was kicking myself, so I went back.

And now this is mine.

When I got home, Mom asked me to send a picture (left). The next day, I sent her one of it on (right).

As I was talking myself into and out of buying it, I called Jeff at work. He knew I was looking, but I’m not one to make a big purchase so quickly. I sit on it (remember–it took a year and a half to buy the ring) and look for better deals and change my mind and can’t make a decision. I didn’t want to do this here, and Jeff said the magic words, “Treat yourself.”

If you’re not a fan of diamonds, find some other way to treat yourself. I don’t mean to advocate irresponsibility with your money, but if you have the funds, do it: Buy yourself something that most people don’t ever receive unless it’s a gift. It’ll mean more to you than if someone else buys it, I swear.

All about garnets, January’s birthstone

This year, I’m planning to kick off each month with a little about its birthstone. Jac & Elsie offers a variety of customizable birthstone pieces, and I adore the mythology and lore behind each stone.

About

January’s birthstone is a garnet, a gemstone most commonly found in deep, dark red. It’s not nearly as bright as July’s ruby and can even appear to be a shade of black, though some garnets can be a shade of green, yellow, orange or earth-toned.

A collection of garnets

Garnets are one of the tougher stones, which means they don’t scratch as easily as something softer, like October’s opal.

Mythology

“Garnet” comes from the Latin “granatus,” or grain. It references the crystal’s roundish shape and its color, similar to the seed of a pomegranate.

One mythology story is related to the pomegranate: In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone, the Greek goddess of sunshine. He kidnapped her and forced her to live in the underworld as his new queen.

Hades agreed to release his bride to her mother, Demeter, but only for a portion of the year. He gave Persephone pomegranate seeds–in ancient mythology, this meant she would have to return to her captor.

Sources: Gemstone.org, Burke Museum
How to wear it

I have two garnets in my jewelry collection: Both are yellow gold rings and include small garnet chips. As yellow gold becomes more popular in trendy fashion, I bet we’ll see more garnets. They absolutely pair with silver or white gold, but the richness of yellow gold better complements the stone. I find the garnet-silver combo cold, somehow. I totally want No. 11 below.

gcollage

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Happy birthday to you January babies, and here’s hoping there’s some gorgeous garnets in your future. If you’re shopping for a January birthday and don’t want to spend triple digits on the beauties above, hop over to Jac & Elsie. I use a beautiful deep red Czech glass bead to simulate garnets, and I have a number of necklaces that are easy to customize by birthstone.

Some summertime fashion favorites

This weekend, I had a very successful JC Penney shopping trip. I’ve always been a fan of the store’s bright and trendy (and affordable) work clothing, and this trip marked one of my first sprees there in a while. I found a few staples I’d had my eye on and discovered a few more favorites.

Switching from the cozy sweaters of winter over to my favorite sun dresses has always been exciting for me. I think it goes back to the simple fact that I like change, and swapping warm clothing for warm weather is just an indication that the year is passing, time is moving on … and, at least this year, the dang sun is coming out to play.

Here are some of my favorite trends, some new this season, some not so new.

Harem pants.

OK, hear me out. When I first saw them, I thought … are you kidding me? How can these be flattering on anyone? And yet … they are. I have a bit of a booty, and somehow, these PJ-like pants do not give me Kardashian-like proportions.

The trick was less the pattern and more the material. Some of my favorite pairs I’ve tried on had absolutely no give. When I sat down, I felt like I’d straight up hulk out of them. And yet when I’d go a size up, the elastic waist bagged, which created something of a soggy diaper effect. Not cute.

I found a cotton-poly blend pair at Penney’s and, oh swoon, they fit great. The pattern is a little more muted that the crazy tribal prints I found myself drawn to, but they’ll pair well a variety of tops, including the ivory or bright orange I found. Which brings me to my next item of fabulous …

Orange.

I feel like every season, when I get new clothes, they tend to all match each other. As though I choose a color or colors and am drawn to it all season. This past winter, it was straight up black and white. Yesterday, everything in my bag was navy and ivory (see above) with a LOT of orange.

I’m olive complected. Even when I’m reeeealy white, as I am now, my skin is still light caramel-colored, and bright the frack tangerine is lovely on darker skin tones. Case in point, the perfect Lupita Nyong’o.

Collage

 

I’m even finding myself drawn more toward orangey corals in the makeup department. In a recent Birchbox, I received a gorgeous TheBalm lip/cheek stain in coral. I have a variety of coral/orangey lipsticks I adore. Paired with subtle eye makeup, it’s such a fresh, springy approach.

The color in question is Pie, second row, first color.

Espadrilles.

I had the most glorious pair years and years ago. I threw them out … and I don’t remember why. I covet a pair. I want them to have a small wedge heel, and if they tie up around my ankle, all the better.

Summer sweaters.

What is wrong with buildings? When the weather finally is appropriate for shirtsleeves, they up the AC so it’s colder inside than it was in the dead of February.

My favorite summer sweater is a gray 3/4-sleeve top with a big daisy on it. It’s impossible to be grumpy when there’s a giant flower on your chest. I found another a month or two back at Kohl’s, but the only one left in my size was snagged. Kohls.com did not disappoint.

Because of the open-weave, I won’t wear this with a necklace, so it’s a great way to throw up my hair and rock some giant earrings. (Ahem, it’s on clearance for $20. Click on the pic to purchase one of the six colors.)

Dainty necklaces.

Giant statement necklaces have been all-the-rage for a while, and I have a few in rotation that I love to pair with a high-necked sweater. For lower-collars, or maybe just in reaction to all the chunk, I’ve been veering more toward smaller, sweeter necklaces.

To be honest, they’ve always been my choice over something crazy and huge, but I think part of this current preference is my discovery of a new Favorite necklace: my Mrs. necklace, courtesy of Bijoux By Meg.

I spied this first shortly before I got married last year, and promptly forgot about it until earlier this year. Meg offers birthstone add-ons, so I opted for the green stone — an emerald — for my wedding anniversary month (May).

I adore this necklace. I love that the chain sparkles, and I love how brilliant and shiny the pendant is. This girl has gotten handstamping down to an art, and her pieces almost look manufactured by machine, they’re so pristine and lovely.

Just a few days ago, two more necklaces arrived — a graduation gift and a birthday gift. And I might have to figure out a gold Bijoux by Meg version to find. Because my final favorite trend this summer?

Gold and rose gold.

When I was younger, I remember my mom talking about how silver and gold would become “in” and “out,” taking turns being the popular favorite. I never understood how a preference could change — but I do now. I’ve always loved the pretty pink hue of rose gold, but lately, I’ve found myself decorating myself with more gold-toned jewelry than silver.

Maybe it’s because it goes better with the current colors I’m finding myself drawn to. Gold undoubtedly pairs better with orange than silver does. I adore gold with any shade of blue, especially navy. I still adore my white gold engagement ring, but my slim wedding band is rose gold.

What summertime trends are you finding yourself drawn toward?