Thursday, May 31, 2012


It's that time again! Here are my picks for the epic Animated Cardigan/DIYFATSHION/14 Shades of Grey /Dressing Up for Life maybe/whoever else wants to do do this 30x30! As a reminder, we cut shoes from the 30, so we're just doing fabric items this time around. Accessories don't count either. Some of these picks are old favourites, some have never appeared on the blog before. So here we go. Meet my millionaires clothing!


JCPenney | Anthropologie | Target

J. Crew

Anthro | Target

Target | Kohl's | Loft Outlet | Anthropologie | Target

Anthropologie | J. Crew | JCPenney

Gap Outlet | Belk | Gap Outlet | Kohl's | Loft Outlet

Target | Banana Republic Outlet | Kohl's | Ann Taylor Factory Store | Gap Outlet | JCPenney

Gap Outlet | Gap Outlet | American Eagle | Old Navy

How I picked what I picked
One thing you may have noticed scrolling through the list here is that I've gone with a colour scheme of mostly red, green and blue. There are a lot of basic, geometric two colour patterns, more lines than circles. Very little yellow and orange and no purple, as far as I can tell. I really wanted to go into this 30x30 with a plan for my picks, as opposed to the first time (which was dictated by it being winter and my needing warm picks) and the second time (in which I went overboard with patterns). I'm a very colour focused person (I could stand at a wall of of paint chips and stare all day) and I wanted these 30 things to just look good together in a pile on my bed. And they do! Which makes me really excited for this 30x30.

The other thing I really wanted to focus on was making this 30x30 work appropriate and REALLY remixable. I love my job and the library's dress code leaves us a LOT of creative freedom, which I absolutely love, but I do still have to do things like wear skirts of appropriate length and tops that cover essential parts of my body (majority of the shoulders/chest). So you'll see that, unlike my second 30x30, there are no short skirts, no tank tops, no short shorts. Everything here can be either worn on its own or under a cardigan to be entirely work appropriate. I also wanted items that can do double duty--my jeggings can also be tights, my dresses can be both skirts and tops, a button down that works both as a shirt and a cardigan. This multiplies their possible uses--and the outfits that can be created--vastly. 30x30 is all about creativity and thinking outside the box. I was very exacting with my picks this time around, maybe because the last two times I wasn't and I wanted change? Either way though I'm looking forward to starting this challenge and I already have a bunch of outfit ideas!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Collar: antiques shop | Dress as top: Gap Outlet | Skirt: JCPenney | Wedges: Target | Lips: Nars Heat Wave over chapstick

I always know I've done something right if people think it's one dress when it's actually three pieces. Day two of final cuts for 30x30, and I haven't worn this dress on the blog before, but I'm a big fan. I mean, if it's another $13 find (it was) and lets me wear this collar (it does), how can I not be?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cut the air with a knife

Necklace: J.Crew Outlet | Shirt: Gap Outlet | Skirt: J.Crew Outlet | Flats: Target (way old)

In case you were wondering, it was so humid today that my camera lens couldn't focus. It was pretty gross. Anyway--for the next couple of days I'll be wearing the final cuts from my 30x30 picks. The challenge starts June 1st! It's gonna be epic. Kind of. Whatever, my brain is so weighed down by humidity that I can't even think.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pressed into action

Top: J.Crew | Shorts: Gap Outlet | Sandals: Ross

Last night, after writing this post, I realised that I was reaching a breaking point. Obviously. (And thank you for all your comments. I'll be responding to each one soon.) I texted my friend A., hoping that we would be able to work something out for August, since I'm going up to Virginia for a wedding that month, but she is going to a conference in Chicago (lucky!) so things wouldn't work. On the verge of tears I sent a long, rambling email to my friend E. and texted her asking her to read it. Pretty sure I scared her and made her think something really bad had happened. In the email I basically begged her to go to New Jersey with me (she's going to the wedding too, so we'd be in the same vicinity) because if worse came to worse, I would go alone but I would love to have a friend. And as soon as she read the email, she accepted, and I about cried my face off. I guess that's what it feels like when a man asks a woman to marry him and she says yes. We have a lot to figure out, but I'm going back. And I feel far more content than I did 36 hours ago.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sick for home

I've been off the blog for the last couple of days for a few reasons. One is that work has been insane--summer reading is starting, and a major upgrade just went through for our internet activity manager and it has been a test of wills, as with most technology upgrades. I'm also gearing up for two summer classes, one in June and one in July.

But I have to admit, the main reason I haven't been blogging--and the main reason I've been not reading posts and staying away from Blogger in general, because everywhere I turn, there it is--is because I'm homesick. I've been homesick for seven years, almost, ever since we moved to South Carolina. But this feels different, worse somehow. There's a pain in my stomach, a nervous pull that either says "I need some Wawa" or "I can never go back and I regret that".

It's not that I can't go back (I'm not in witness protection or something) but I seem to have been incapable of finding a way to make it back. My parents have each managed multiple returns for various reasons, but between work and a severe lack of money (between you and me, I love my job, but I skirt the edge of the poverty line in terms of my paycheck), I've only been able to stick my toes in the sweet Cape May sand once, in 2007. I celebrated taking my last Prozac during that trip, I was with my stepfamily for the first time in what felt like decades, I was tanner than I've ever been in my life. I dove under a wave for the first--and so far, the only--time. We stayed two blocks from my grandparents' house, on the same street with the same name as the street in Atlantic City where I grew up. I saw friends, family, acquaintances. I walked through a casino for the first time since quitting my job at one in 2005 to move, and found myself overwhelmed and fully resensitized to the aural and visual attack of the casino floor. Cape May diamonds rolled between my fingertips and I stared at the concrete ship, which had sunk on my birthday 81 years earlier. I ate a White House sub. I drank Barq's root beer. I tasted sea salt & humidity and found sand on my body for weeks afterward.

There has always been an undercurrent of homesickness in my heart, a low buzz that reminds me that I'll never be southern the way southerners want me to. All it takes is utterance of the words water or hot dog to know that. It's been worse lately, though, and the reasons are so many. One of my coworkers is moving to New Jersey to attend Rutgers in the fall. A college friend texted me today to say she was on the Turnpike on her way to New York City. Everyone and their mom seems to be planning a trip to the Jersey shore for this summer. My stepfamily is making a return this summer. My dad literally just returned from Seaville a week ago. And every time I run across one of these coincidental and incidental references to the place I hold so dear, I feel sick to my stomach.

I don't know if what I miss more is the place itself or the experiences I have had there, but I know it's some mix of both. I feel crushed under the weight of knowing that so many others have access to the place that holds my heart, and I hate not knowing when--or if--I'll ever be able to play another round of skee ball at the arcade while my hair, heavy with Atlantic Ocean water, drips down my back. And it may never be the same--I'll never see my dad, uncle and grandfather square off in the arcade, or build another sandcastle. At least not the way I did before. Some people may say it isn't worth it; it is New Jersey, after all, and if there are two things America remembers about New Jersey, it's that it is the armpit of America and it produced Snooki. But I just want to be able to touch, and taste, and wrap myself in Cape May. I want to kill this pain, and I don't know how to make it happen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

You're invited

I'm not going to act like I invented 30x30. I definitely didn't! Kendi spearheaded the concept, which involves taking 30 pieces of clothing from your wardrobe and remixing them into 30 different outfits. Remixing is an integral part of most blogs in our little style community, but there are a lot of us who are nervous about remixing or don't know where to start. And some of us just need a fresh perspective on things. 30x30 is a great jump start for remixing skills (pattern mixing!) and forces us to think outside the box.

30x30 is a challenge, no doubt, but it's a LOT of fun. I've had the opportunity to do 30x30 twice, and I'm starting to feel the itch to give it another go. Together, Dani and I have decided to take a crack at a 30x30 challenge, starting June 1st. We both have big birthdays in June, and we think a 30x30 will be a fun way to "celebrate" through our blogs! We're excited, and we'd love for you join us.

For those of you who have done 30x30 before, we're doing things a little differently--clothes are the only items that count toward our 30 items. So shoes and accessories (jewelry, scarves, tights, etc.) don't count toward the total. For those of you who haven't, I highly recommend reading Kendi's post on 30 for 30 and recap posts from my first and second 30x30 challenges before committing. I'm not shamelessly plugging myself, but I definitely learned a LOT each time! If you are considering joining us, but are worried about doing 30 outfits in a row, don't stress! Take your time. Take days off if you want to. I'll probably take weekends off, so my 30x30 will end in early July.

I'll post a button later this week for anyone who would like to use one. We're excited to do this, and we hope you'll join in on the fun!

But I'm not feeling the unibrow

Time Flies by Frida Kahlo

Necklace: JCPenney | Dress: Gap Outlet | Belt: Target | Wedges: Payless | Blush: the old Stila Paris palette

I've never particularly admired Frida Kahlo's work. It's not that I don't appreciate her work, but I've never been OMG about it. However, I've readjusted my view. The woman is awesome. Especially in this line of blogging, where I take photographs of myself every. single. day, it can be hard to remain creative and fresh. (Part of the reason why SIA was born!) And Frida Kahlo did something similar--self portraits, I think, are far harder when you paint them, and Kahlo made some extremely unique and creative ones. So thanks, Vivienne, for picking this artwork for this week's Style Imitating Art! Check out her blog later today for the full complement of SIA entries.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On cemeteries

Necklace: Target | Sweater: JCPenney | Skirt: Ann Taylor Outlet | Heels: Urban Outfitters | Nails: butter London Tea with the Queen

I could say a lot today, but I'd rather discuss this.
I haven't thought much about cemeteries, nor spent much time in them. I think this is where the trouble starts for most of us. There's a real clinical privatization of cemeteries and death in general by Americans (I don't know if it's the same in other countries). In the book I'm currently reading, the author describes a game designed specifically for use in cemeteries. At first I thought it sounded kind of ridiculous--who would do that in a place of the dead?--but the more I thought about it and the more I read, the more I realized that cemeteries are for the dead, but they're about the living. Consider this: when you're dead, do you want your body (or your ashes, if you have those buried) to be left alone for all eternity, in a space where people thing your existence should be "respected"? The average grave is visited exactly twice after it is created. Twice ever. Or would you rather have running dogs, playing children, bike riders and joggers and picnickers hanging out six feet above you? I greatly prefer the prospect of the latter. I'll probably never see my grandfather's grave again, and that breaks my heart. But I would be happier to take solace knowing that other people are indirectly keeping his spot in the universe company, playing and running and using his cemetery as it was originally intended, as a public park. I may honestly be the first person to set foot in the cemetery in today's pictures in a year or so, I don't know. It's not in the best shape, unfortunately, as with most historical cemeteries. But I went, and visited, and socialized with the graves. And on my way out, I promised I'd come back. We, as humans, need to come back to our open spaces, especially at a time when everything is being built bigger and taller and more imposing. And the dead need us to come back and keep them company. I'll always be respectful--and last I checked, respect involved some sort of interaction. So I'll be there, sometimes with my camera, sometimes with a sandwich. Maybe sometimes with some friends to play a game. This stump is the right size for a Monopoly board, after all. But I refuse to fall under the privatization of mourning any longer; I prefer the public embrace of remembrance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pale queen

Necklace: JCPenney | Top: Target | Skirt: Banana Republic Outlet | Flats: Target

I went back to work today. I didn't particularly feel ready to go back, but I felt more than ready to stop staring at my ceiling fan. So I went back, and the first comment of the day was: "oh Jess, you look so pale!" And I put on blush today, people. Yikes. Well, I'm pasty anyway, so I guess I shouldn't expect much different.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mangia: grilled veggies

Have you all been wondering where I am? Ugh, you and me both. Physically, I know right where I am, but since Friday afternoon I've been wholly bowled over by a really, really bad flu/tonsillitis/ear infection. I was literally standing in line at Publix on Friday and suddenly my purse weighed 200 pounds and I wanted to lie down on the floor and sleep. And it's been a miserable edition of that ever since. But I'm back (sort of), better than ever (no, not really), and I wanted to share with you one of my straight up favourite recipes, especially now that it's grilling season.

If there's one thing I've learned from The Biggest Loser, it's that grilling is a seriously good thing. You can grill just about anything (grilled pasta is amazing!), and charcoal (or even gas) gives food an amazing flavour without adding sugar or fat or sodium or any of that mess. You can completely control the additives, and even just a chicken breast on the grill has awesome taste so you don't even need it! This recipe in particular is also vegetarian/vegan friendly and delicious as a side.

Balsamic onions and mushrooms
Serves 4ish

One large onion
6-8 white mushrooms (or however many you want)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I like ground peppercorns but straight up black pepper works too!)
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c balsamic vinegar

Chop your onion into thin slices. I recommend vidalia onions if you can get them because they don't cause your eyes to tear as much. Or you can chop them underwater. Combine the balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold all your chopped vegetables. Beat the mix with a whisk for a few seconds so the salt dissolves, then put the mushrooms and onions in there. Let it sit for a few minutes so the veggies have time to absorb the marinade.

I highly recommend using a grilling tray like this one for anything small enough that you may worry about losing food to the flames. My mom just bought this basket and it's already revolutionized the way I grill! Once your grill is on and the basket is as hot as the grates, put your veggies in the tray. Save the marinade.

While the onions and mushrooms grill, ladle the marinade every couple of minutes over the veggies. With the mushrooms in particular, I like to grill them cap side down, so I can pour some marinade into the stem area. I also recommend not separating the onion rings and letting them come apart while they cook--if they're separate, they'll cook much faster than the mushrooms do.

Looks good, right? You'll know the onions are done when they wiggle and bend and don't maintain a firm circular shape, and you'll know the mushrooms are done when they're squishy and dark. Should be about 10 minutes on medium heat, so if you're grilling chicken, put the chicken on first. If you're grilling steak, put the veggies on first. Discard any leftover marinade and dump your veggies into a bowl...

...and eat it up! OM NOM NOM. I usually do double time with the balsamic marinade by marinading chicken in it, and then I'll top the chicken with blue cheese or brie. Perfect with a side of cucumber salad!

With any luck, I'll be back on Wednesday with outfit posts. Hopefully sooner--I was at the outlet mall on Thursday and found a couple really adorable skirts I want to share. (I think I either got sick from the mall or from a patron at work--fortunately I'm patient zero and I've stayed home so hopefully this won't spread at the library.) I'm also considering a 30 for 30 for the month of June. I feel up for a challenge. Anyone else interested?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


On me: Jacket: Target | Necklace: J.Crew | Top: Urban Outfitters | Skirt: JCPenney | Flats: Payless
On K: Cardigan: Dots | Tank: Walmart | Pants: Dots | Shoes: Shoe Show | Necklace: This and That

K. and I braved (very mild) rain to take these pictures. It also took us a million tries to take a coordinated jumping picture. WORTH IT.