Archive of ‘Tips & Tricks’ category

J Crew Shopping Hack

top row: coat / vest / hat / gloves

bottom row: scarf / skier pajamas / nordic boots

J. Crew’s holiday line is full of great finds this year with lots of plaids, gold, shearling, & preppy motifs. Some of these “stand out” items are hot sellers come Black Friday and it’s not uncommon for them to sell out quickly. To ensure you get exactly what you want from J Crew without missing out on their Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals, you’ll want to buy less than seven days ahead of time.

Works for online orders only: When you buy from J Crew’s website, you have one week from ship date to get a price adjustment. So if I buy something tonight with 25% off, it most likely won’t ship out until Friday at the earliest (if not later than that). This means come Black Friday when they normally run 40% off, I’ll be able to call and get the price adjusted. Buying in-store is a little different so keep this in mind!

I’m interested in getting the nordic boots shown above (comes with neutral and red laces), and last year they sold out very quickly. I figured if I use the strategy above I’ll be able to get them before they sell out and still get a great sale price – hopefully 40% off.

My husband doesn’t care for them, but I think they look so warm and will be a shorter and more lightweight option to slip on since my other winter boots are taller. Not all my pants are “tall boot friendly” and instead of stuffing them into winter boots when the snow hits, I would like to put these on instead. I really like the vintage nordic look that these boots have! I’m not asking for many clothes this year since I’m pregnant and my normal size no longer fits, so I figured boots might be a safe bet for a Christmas gift.

Have you ever used a price adjustment strategically?

What do you think of the nordic boots?

As always, I don’t use affiliate links so no money goes towards me and all my opinions are 100% my own.

 

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Getting Boots Ready for Winter

Every year I assess my leather boots and decide what needs to be taken care of so they look great and serve me well for an additional year. Before the start of every season and at the very end, it’s a good idea to wipe them down and condition them. Truthfully, I wear them a few times in October and then wait til November to do this task, but it is something that needs to be done at least once a season. If you aren’t taking the time to take care of your leather shoes then you may not get the full life out of them. The beauty of genuine leather is they can be taken care of and look great for years to come.

boot guard / kiwi saddle soap / kiwi cleaning clothes / kiwi express shine

Above are the products I used when taking care of my boots. I have not tried the kiwi express shine before but would recommend it more for touch ups and not what I’m explaining today, which encompasses a more heavy duty cleaning.

I love my leather riding boots! Both are the brand Bandolino that were purchased from Lord and Taylor 6+ years ago and can still be found at many retailers including DSW. Since I wear them a lot, you can see some minor signs of wear that need to be addressed. Cleaning and conditioning them really works well in this case to make them look great again. I’m hoping to get another 6+ years out of them. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Use a paper towel and warm water to get off any excess dirt/dust so you have a clean slate to work with. Let dry.
  2. Use the polishing cloths and get them slightly damp in one area, dip that area into the saddle soap and produce a lather.  Always test the saddle soap in a hidden area and let dry before doing your whole boot just to make sure it works well.
  3. Work the saddle soap into the leather in a circular motion to cover the whole boot.
  4. Let dry and wipe off any excess soap.

I do this every year and am always impressed with the results! The black boots are gorgeous, but I was worried that they were looking rough. This process cleaned and conditioned them and made me a believer all over again. I couldn’t be happier.

I ended with an optional step of using this Clark’s waterproofer on the lower part of my boots that hit closer to the ground. Again, this is something to test before spraying on. I found this waterproofer in a Clark’s store.

Here is a before and after shot of the boots. The photos are untouched, but it is still hard to tell how drastic of a difference it was. You can see there are less cracks in the leather and they have more of a rich depth in color on the right. I can’t imagine not doing this to my boots every year!

BEAN BOOTS

Next up I took a look at my Bean boots to see which ones needed some TLC. If you own Bean boots, it’s worth it to get this Bean boot guard to make them last and look great. I find it’s always good to condition the leather, but more importantly you’ll see some of the stitching on the boots start to stick out. This stuff works almost like a wax that you work into those stitches that keeps them nicely intact.

From the website: Protect your L.L.Bean Boots and other leather footwear products with our boot dressing, a mixture of beeswax, lanolin and oils that waterproof, preserve and restore leather.

This before picture mainly shows a lot of dirt on the rubber portion, but you can see the stitching ends that I referred to above. The pair of the left also has some common scratches inside the tongue of the boot under where the laces go. The boot guard does wonders for all of this.

  1. Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the bean boot, especially the leather portion. Let try.
  2. Use the kiwi cleaning cloth to dip into the boot guard and work into the leather in a circular motion. Again, always test the polish out on a hidden area and let dry before proceeding. Sometimes it may darken it more than you’d like, but I only found this to be the case with my Bison Bean boots which are already a dark brown. 
  3. I spend extra time going over the stitches with the boot guard to keep them nice and intact.
  4. Let dry.

Again, it may be hard to tell in this before and after but in real life the leather looks much better after using the boot guard and has prepared them for another season of brutal winters. I’m especially impressed with how it lessened the appearance of the scratches of the pair on the left.

Do you take the time to take care of your boots? I don’t think many people do, but it’s really important. This whole process (including taking pics during) took maybe half an hour even with dry time. Sometimes it seems tedious, but I often enjoy owning the same thing for many years and it continuing to look great with just a little extra care on my part.

 

Q&A Friday: How do I un-shrink a sweater?

After getting home from vacation, I washed everything I wore and accidentally shrunk the sweater shown above. I got this sweater when we were on our honeymoon 3 years ago, and along with the cute whale print it’s one of my favorites! I’ve shrunk sweaters before and successful stretched them back to normal, so I was confident I could do it again.

Step 1: Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add a little bit of hair conditioner to it. Place sweater in a let it soak for ten minutes. Be careful about what you last used in your sink, some cleaning products and acne products can take the color out of an item. 

Step 2: Drain the sink, but don’t rinse the sweater or ring it out. Instead, place a towel on the ground and place the sweater on it. Roll it up carefully to get a little less damp and transfer to a new flat towel.

Step 3: Carefully start to pull and tug it apart to form it’s a original shape. Make sure you do this right after step 2 while it’s damp so it takes to the pulling. I spent a lot of time gently pulling the sleeves and sides away from each other. Let it dry and then you are all set!

Why does this work? Soaking it in the conditioner is going to soften the fibers in the sweater and allow you to rework the shape. I was so happy that mine went back to normal so I can continue to wear it!

Back to School With Poppy

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Today I’m partnering with my friend, Poppy, to talk about back to school shopping. Poppy is entering Kindergarten this year so we went clothes shopping to get some items before the year started. We had a ton of fun and want to show you what we got:

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Here are our tips for finding great clothes to take you back to school:

  1. Find your “basics” to start your new wardrobe. Basic doesn’t have to mean boring. We loved the striped shirts because they’re fun and will go with a lot. The striped shirt, for example, can be dressed with with a pretty necklace or worn more casually. We also picked up a pair of gray leggings that she can wear now and later.
  2. Stick to a color scheme to maximize your outfit possibilities. Since Poppy will be going to school 5 days a week now, she has more outfits to put together than ever before. She loves the colors pink and blue, so we stuck more to those tones so that all of her choices could go with each other.
  3. Find items that layer well. School technically starts in the summer, so we wanted to find clothes that she could wear now and layer with later. For example, she can wear her white shirt with leggings now, and then layer the vest over it when it gets cooler out. She also styled the striped shirt under the denim dress for a completely different look.

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We went to Old Navy, TJ Maxx, and Target to get Poppy’s clothes.

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Thanks for reading!

 

Best of Summer Sales

Even though there’s only a little more time to wear them, shopping summer sales now is a smart way to get steals for next summer. I usually pick up a few items at the end of each season that are a great price, and when I get them out the following year it’s like getting unexpected new clothes.

Here’s my favorite from summer sales:

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LL Bean Dress / LL Bean Striped Chambray Shirt / LL Bean Poplin Shirt / J Crew Gingham Shorts

Brooks Brothers Gingham Belt / Dooney Crossbody /J Crew Striped Shirt / J Crew White Denim Skirt / Tommy Hilfiger Skirt

Sperry Boat Shoe / Sperry Boat ShoeRalph Lauren Loafers

 

Beauty Favorites

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lipstick / mascara / foundation / primer / whitening strips

 I wear make up daily, but am not even close to being a make up expert by any means. I appreciate and even envy the way many girls know how to do their make up, but I keep it pretty simple and natural. Through years of trial and error, I’ve found what works best for me and would love to share the items that I’m fiercely loyal to.

  1. Lipstick – I discovered Revlon Colorstay Lipstick from just trying it on a whim and have fallen in love. I have more expensive lipsticks, but these are the best by far! I always find they have great color choices and the color does not wear off. I’m not even afraid to put it on before I have my coffee because I know it will last. The best part is that it’s pretty matte so it doesn’t look too crazy.
  2. L’Oreal Double Extend mascara is one of those products I will stock up on if they ever threaten to discontinue. I have told countless friends about it, who have also switched to this mascara and never looked back. It applies great, doesn’t flake, but the best part is taking it off. I don’t own eye make up remover because this comes off with face wash in one big clump and it’s completely removed. The removal is a little creepy (looks like spider legs all over the towel), but trust me, this stuff is incredible.
  3. I struggled way too long into adulthood without having a foundation I loved or looked natural. I still get acne so I want something that covers zits and redness without being caked on. My mom suggested Estee Lauder Double Stay Light and it’s perfect! I couldn’t be happier with it as it goes on nicely and blends perfectly into my skin tone.
  4. If you have oily skin in the least bit, you need to try this primer. (You will thank me later!) My face used to get oily in the middle of the day and I had to use blotting wipes, but not anymore. I put this on my nose, forehead, and cheekbones and it keeps them from getting shiny throughout the day. I can’t believe more people don’t use this because it really works to keep my face matte during the day. I linked the Ulta link, but you can find it at Target.
  5. Mr. Blanc Whitening Strips are new to me, but have really worked to brighten up my teeth for summer. I’m a coffee drinker, and even though I’m diligent in brushing and flossing, I still like to whiten once in awhile. My teeth can be sensitive to whitening strips, which is why I love that these dissolve in 15 minutes. I can just put them on before I leave the house and they’re gone when I arrive at my destination with whiter teeth!Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.15.57 AMself tanner / hand lotion / face sunscreen / purple shampoo
  6.  Another product all my friends use because I won’t stop raving out it is Fake Bake self tanner. I don’t need it very much in the summer, but sometimes when I’m feeling super pale in the winter I’ll bust it out. If you’ve ever worried about uneven, unnatural self tanners, you will love this worry-free solution. It makes you look instantly (and natural looking) tan overnight so it’s perfect before attending a wedding or big event. I’m against tanning beds and not big on tanning, so this is the perfect solution for when you want to look tan quickly.
  7. I may be alone in this, but I am really bad at using hand lotion. I have a million hand lotions, but I never remember to put them on. I hit a point one winter where my husband mentioned something about how cracked my hands are and I realized it was a problem. After much research, I found O’Keefes and fell in love. It’s really meant for men who work with their hands (think car mechanics, farmers, etc.) and somehow I use it too – I blame washing my hands all the time. The best part is you only have to use it once a day to get your hands super smooth all day since it’s almost a waterproof feel. I use it right before bed and that’s it!
  8. Like I said above, I’m big into sunscreen and must use it on my face and neck even on a cloudy day. I swear it will pay off someday! I was worried about using this stuff because I can get oily skin and the matte primer listed above has been so successful in combating that, but this stuff hasn’t messed with it at all. I can wear it under my make up and it doesn’t get oily.
  9. I get highlights and always worry about my blonde getting too “yellow/gold”. This stuff from Sally’s is the best purple shampoo! I only use it once every couple of weeks and it keeps my hair having cool tones vs. yellow. I’ve used other purple shampoos in the past and this by far is the best!

 

The above products are all beauty products I love, but I’m still in search for products I love for these areas:

I’ve found chapsticks I’ve liked, but nothing that really keeps them hydrated as much as I’d need it. I really want to find one that I love and can buy for life that I can apply minimally.

I’ve also haven’t had much luck in the eyeliner department. I don’t love liquid eye liner as I think it looks harsh on me when I apply it, but pencil ends up smudging on my upper eyelid.

I’m really bad at putting body lotion on after showers, and the ones I use still leave my skin feeling dry.

If you have any suggestions for these, please comment below!

Thanks for reading!

What’s In My Bag

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I cannot stand a disorganized purse! Every time my purse gets close to being messy, I take everything out and reorganize it. I do not know how some people fish through a black hole of receipts, gum wrappers, and loose change to find their keys. 😉

I am drawn towards structured bags, especially if there are pockets on the inside. A long time ago I started carrying a small pouch inside of my bag to hold all the small stuff I may need. This helps my purse avoid becoming a catch all. I would reccommend that everyone do this for easy access to the things you grab the most – keys, wallet, phone – and not the smaller items you grab less.

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If you look inside my purse, these items (alongside my phone and keys) are the only items you’ll see. I tuck the ear buds, chapstick, and wallet in the pockets inside the purse.

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These Dooney Zip Top bags are my all-time favorite purse. It’s a timeless staple that’s structured and organized, goes with everything, and the all-weather leather is nice because rain & snow won’t hurt it. I love this bag so much I have it in two colors and would get another one if there was a third color I wanted. The best part is the pouches inside keep items neat, and they even have a hook (shown at bottom of the bag) for your keys if you find yourself having to dig them out.

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Inside the pouch I keep a variety of items: small comb, sunscreen (vineyard vines tube that looks like a glue stick…), kleenex, Tide to-go pen, lotion, nail file, gum, mints, blotting paper, pillbox, pen (not pictured), and my newest/most important addition – iPhone battery charger + 4″ cord! How have I gone this long without one? I keep this thing charged and if I snap chat too much one day it saves my battery and fits slim in my purse.

My tips for a more organized purse:

  • Find a pouch to keep small items together that also makes switching purses a breeze.
  • Keep total amount of larger/more frequently used items as low as possible.
  • Make your purse a ‘no trash’ zone. Never leave trash in your purse for too long, always throw it out as soon as possible.
  • Do something with tickets and receipts before they become forgotten pieces of paper floating around your purse.
  • Make a place for spare change. Whether you keep it in a coin purse, put it in a jar at home, etc., make sure it has a designated spot so it doesn’t pile up in your purse.

Disclaimer – there are times where my purse gets way out of control, so these tips come out of my own personal trial and error. I’ve been using Sunday nights to take 5 minutes and make sure things in my purse are in order for the week.

Is your purse organized? What do you keep in it?

Transitioning from Winter to Spring (Collab with Audrey à La Mode)

One of my favorite topics to write about on my blog is how to transition seasons. I believe transitioning seasons is truly an art to be mastered that does not always come natural (even for myself), but with a few quick tips can be done effortlessly! Spring technically starts March 20th, so while the weather is warming up we do not want to jump both feet into warm weather wear. Side note – it was 60 degrees in Michigan today and I saw people wearing flip flops… hold off on those for now.

Here are my tips for seamlessly transitioning from winter to spring:

  • A great rule of thumb for transitioning seasons is to wear fabrics appropriate for the current season but in colors that hint towards the next. Example – I love white corduroy pants because they are a thicker, winter fabric, but very appropriate to tie into spring.
  • Make subtle hints towards the next season by incorporating more pastels, but still keep neutrals in to tone the outfit down. Example – a navy blazer will tone down a pastel pink button down shirt.
  • Use spring-like accessories to accent your outfit without going over the top. Example – a floral scarf will look fresh with your navy sweater.

IMG_4661A few of my favorite transition outfits.

I recently started putting away winter clothes and bringing out some spring items. I put away heavy sweaters while keeping a few lighter ones out that are in versatile colors (such as navy, cream, etc). I also made sure to put away my winter plaid shirts and bring out brighter shirts that can be layered nicely under sweaters, vests, and blazers. I’m now in the process of putting away riding boots and winter boots, while keeping rain boots and duck boots.

Here are three outfits you’ll see me wear while transitioning:

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 How do you transition seasons? Do you find it to be tricky or does it come easy to you?

 

I’m collaborating on this topic with the lovely Audrey à La Mode who has quickly become my go-to blog and instagram account for outfit inspiration.  Please check out her post today on transitioning and take a peek at her instagram – I promise you will not be disappointed!

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Last Ditch Efforts to Keep Warm

I honestly thought we’d be getting away with a warm winter this year, but now the cold has come in strong. Growing up in Michigan has hardened me to pull out all the stops in an effort to keep warm. How early is too early to start “snow birding” every winter to Florida? 😉

Here’s what I wear and do on the coldest days to combat the below-freezing temps:

cold weatherPuffer/Down Coat: While some people may think down coats are ugly, I think they’re quite cute especially with a fur trim hood. This is an absolute essential for nasty winters because it’s way warmer than any other type of coat, and the outside is waterproof and wind resistant compared to a wool coat. Make sure you always buy one with a hood! I love Land’s End ‘s selection and it’s currently on sale.

Earmuffs vs. Hats: If I’m outside for a long period of time I will choose a hat since it is way warmer. On a daily basis, I’m not looking to put a hat on and fiddle with my hair when I take it off. For me, earmuffs are way more functional since it will keep your ears warm and hair in place. I rarely leave home without one when it’s cold.

Mittens vs. Gloves: Mittens are warmer for me than gloves, so I usually choose mittens if I’m going to be outside for an extended time. I choose gloves over mittens for driving or with a nicer outfit since it’s overall more polished.

Thick Socks: Who doesn’t love thick socks in the winter? They make a huge difference, especially in Bean Boots. Camp socks really are amazing!

Great Winter Boots: I adore Bean Boots, but if I’m looking for something that’s both warm and waterproof, these Clark’s boots fit the bill. I bought these 3 years ago and cannot believe how great they are. They are shearling lined on the inside (I wear them flaps up to make them taller) and have withstood several feet of snow. I’m so glad Clark’s brought them back this year, and if you are lucky enough to have your size in stock I’d grab them while they are on sale!

 

at homeElectric Blanket: This makes the biggest difference when I can’t seem to get warm. We keep our house pretty warm, but when it’s 10 degrees outside that makes a difference. I will heat this up while I’m getting ready for bed so that my bed is toasty when I get in. I have the Sunbeam brand and am happy with it.

Towel Warmer: I use my towel warmer not only for towels, but I’ll put my workout clothes in it on cold mornings. It’s like putting on clothes directly from the dryer! I found mine at Macy’s on sale awhile ago, but this one is the closest I can find. If you live in a cold climate, it’s not a bad idea to get one. I’ve read that people even put socks and pajamas in it as well.

Flannel Sheets: I talked about how much my flannel sheets from LL Bean make a difference in my last blog post, and they truly make your bed much warmer than your standard sheet set.

Cuddl Duds: I own these Cuddl Dud leggings ($20) and they are much different than wearing your regular cotton leggings because they’re made of rayon and spandex. This means they’ll be more comfortable layering underneath clothing as well as very warm. I’ll wear them under my pants if I’m going to be outside for awhile. On especially cold nights they’re perfect under pajamas.

Thermos: I’ve started carrying a thermos everyday filled with hot water, lemon juice, and honey. I crave warm everything in the winter so I’d rather have something hydrating than drinking more and more coffee. I own this Woolrich version (pictured above) and it’s very nice, even comes with a carrier.

Wicked Good Slippers: I never thought I’d ever pay $69 for slippers, but after seeing how there’s 500+ reviews and still 5 star rating I knew I had to try them. I wish I would have bought them sooner! I wear slippers in my house year-round, and wanted something warmer for winter. I’ve owned similar (but cheaper) pairs previously and they make my feet too warm and sweaty, and I hated the hard sole. These won me over –  I was surprised I loved them so much. Kept my feet warm and dry, and the sole isn’t too hard for indoor use.

Waterproofing Bean Boots

While Bean Boots are primarily waterproof, LL Bean makes a boot guard that goes the extra mile to make sure the leather portion of the boot repels the elements. With any natural product, like genuine leather, it needs the occasional upkeep to maintain its beautiful appearance. Boot guard contains beeswax, lanolin, and natural oils to help prevent drying, cracking, and salt stains by conditioning the leather.

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You’ll need :

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Step 1: Wipe down the boots with a slightly damp cloth to get any dirt and debris off.

Step 2: Test a portion of the boot guard polish in a spot no one will see and let it dry ten minutes. It may darken it a little bit so you’ll want to make sure that you’re OK with how it affects the leather. Here’s where I tested mine:

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Step 3: You’ll want to use a cloth specifically designed for shoe polishing. (Kiwi Shine Cloths are readily available locally, such as a Target or grocer, and great to have on hand.) I was generous with applying the boot guard and used the cloth to rub it into the leather and the stitches. You’ll want to make sure to get the stitches since it helps prevent *stitching damage.

*My husband’s first pair of Bean Boots had stitching damage after three years of use and they replaced his pair with no questions asked. This time I made sure to put boot guard on it to prolong the wear and tear and keep the stitches in tact.

Step 4: You’ll want to let the boots dry for another 10-15 minutes and then use the unused portion of the cloth to wipe away any excess.

Step 5: Lastly, I took a shoe brush and went over the entire boot to finish it off.

My tan pair of bean boots are newer so I didn’t notice a huge difference in polishing, but my bison leather pair (below) had some cracks in it and the polish made a big difference. I wouldn’t use boot guard too often, maybe once a year depending on the amount of use and if your boots look like they could use a little love. Lastly, make sure to never store your boots next to a heating vent in order to prevent drying out the leather.

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