Thursday, February 27, 2014


Every once in a while, I'll stumble across a blog post or a pin or some other resource that makes me think, "Doy, why haven't I tried this yet??" Many times, those "doy" moments involve photography and photo editing. I'm still very much a pupil when it comes to shooting in my camera's manual mode, and self-photography is far from an easy way to learn.

I have a bad habit of fidgeting slightly out of place, which throws my focus area off and effectively dooms my photos to blurry, sub-par quality. But I don't always realize this right away, because my camera's preview screen is tiny and sometimes the photos look great until I upload them. This is especially frustrating if I was having a really great hair and/or makeup day on the original shoot.

When I uploaded these photos and realized that some of my favorites were a bit on the blurry side, I decided to take matters into my own hands with some RAW editor sharpening. I'm not entirely sure I'm happy with the result, but I'm still playing with the settings and figuring out what everything does.

I also used another "photo tip" I recently picked up. The tip talked about how wearing lip color can really make a huge difference on a portrait photo. I wasn't wearing any when I shot this, and sure enough, my lips were blending into my face just a tad. So I went in and bumped up the red/magenta hues in the RAW editor just a *wee* bit. The effect was only visible on my lips, and it was pretty subtle. But it made a huuuuge difference. I'm thinking I'll make that the topic of a Makeup Monday post soon (next week?).




blazer: thrifted
blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
skinnies, heels: Target
necklace: Etsy

I wore this a few weeks ago almost a month ago to a little date night with Matt at The Refectory. His sister and brother-in-law got us a gift card for Christmas, so we used it during a three-course prix fixe special the restaurant was having. It was heavenly, as always, and I was seriously regretting my choice of skinnies and heels by the time I hobbled out after dessert. I was pretty convinced they would have to roll me out, but I managed--somehow!

Actually, if I really wanted to stretch things and tie this outfit in to the "experimenting" theme, I agonized for a while over whether to wear a long or short necklace with this. It's silly, I know, but it was really bothering me. I even texted Emily for advice, because I thought the outfit was very "her." She actually suggested the long necklace, but I was stubborn and went short anyway.

I've discovered that when I ask people for advice, it tends to just be a way for me to gauge my gut reaction to your suggestion and figure out how I really feel. I did this recently by asking all my Facebook friends whether I should grow my hair for the wedding. They all said "grow it out!" and I immediately shouted NO! (in my head) over and over. So there's that.

Ok, so, abrupt subject change. It's honest critique time. Do these photos look a little off, thanks to my artificial sharpening/noise reduction attempt? Or is it all in my head? (And I promise, this isn't a "how do I really feel?" question. I really can't tell if I'm being too picky or not, haha!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Neutrality and photo editing

When I first started blogging, I tended to wear a lot of neutral colors. Black, gray, white, beige...that was my comfort zone. Every once in a while, I'd throw in a pop of red or yellow. Now, I'm mixing colors and patterns with the best of them. I might stick more to the "safe" zone of color-/pattern-mixing, but I still do it.





sweater: New York & Company
blouse: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
khaki skinnies: Old Navy
boots: Target

Sometimes, it's kind of nice to go back to my roots, so to speak. Though even this outfit is a far cry from the black shirt/khaki pants combo I would have been wearing three years ago, when I first started brainstorming the idea of a style blog. The pearls! The stars-as-polka-dots sheer blouse! The layering! The khakis-as-skinnies-tucked-into-boots! I would have worn none of it, I tell you.

Except the sweater. That baby was purchased nearly three and a half years ago, when I first entered the professional world and needed a business casual wardrobe, stat. New York & Company, you've done well for me.

Oh, and if that last photo looks different, it's because it is. Slightly. I played around with sharpening the image in Photoshop's RAW editing mode before using the sharpening actions I've mentioned before. (My original post on sharpening photos is pretty poor; it's little more than a link to these three pages. I'm going to do some more research on sharpening in the RAW editor, then I'll come back and do a comprehensive post on the whole shebang. So...stay tuned!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Galentine's outing outfit

You all are familiar with Galentine's Day, the completely necessary holiday invented by Leslie Knope of Parks & Rec fame, yes? Good. For those who don't know, here's a quick rundown: It's celebrated the day before Valentine's Day by showering affection on the special ladies in your life. This year, I swapped the two; Matt and I celebrated V-Day on the 13th with our traditional epicmealtime, and I celebrated G-Day on the 14th with my friend Emily, who was up from West Virginia.

We went to a wine tasting at the grocery store (so. much. fun.), grabbed a couple of burgers and caught a movie. When we came home, I begged her to shoot some photos of my Galentine's/Valentine's outfit. Emily went to school for photojournalism, and she is crazy-stupid-talented. I have her work everywhere--in my house, in my cubical at work, on my phone. Hell, a shot she took at OU of the "Athens Block" bricks is even my Facebook banner...and a shot she took of me is my current profile pic. Anyway, she acquiesced, and now I just have to convince her to move to Columbus and shoot my outfits full-time.

shirt: H&M
chambray: thrifted
skinnies: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
boots: gifted (Old Navy)
necklace: giveaway win (Stella & Dot)
bracelet: Etsy





Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Product review: eShakti's Spring 2014 line!

Guys, spring is almost here. It's so close I can practically taste it. Today, I left the house in just my faux-leather jacket...and it was UNZIPPED! DUN DUN DUN!!! And the season being just a few weeks away (we hope) means one thing: Spring fashion is starting to hit the shelves! Today I'm sharing with you a piece from my favorite online retailer, eShakti. If you've been around the blog for any length of time, you might remember some of the other items I've reviewed or purchased. (Can we take a moment to appreciate how glorious my hair looks in that first link? Not gonna lie, it kind of makes me want to grow it out again...)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Spring is (almost) here, eShakti's spring 2014 line is actually here, and it is totally fabulous. And when they offered to have me review another sample, I was all about it. Once again, I chose a dress, but they have a ton of cute tops and skirts as well. I just really, really, really love their dresses. Seriously, it took me like two hours to find all my favorites and narrow them down to just one item. And here it is:




dress: c/o eShakti (like it? buy it here)
heels: Target

I love dresses that have a little neckline embellishment, thus eliminating the need for a necklace. It's such an easy, hassle-free outfit! Other awesome things about this dress (and most of their dresses, actually) are the pockets (woohoo!) and the built-in-bra-strap-wranglers. They might have an official name, but I like mine better. They're these little straps that snap into place inside the shoulder of the dress, and they do just what my name implies: Prevent those pesky straps from peeking out.

As usual, I used my own measurements to order a custom-sized dress, though I didn't use the "change sleeves/skirt length" options that are available. Naturally, it fits like a dream. I can't wait until spring to wear it to...well, everything :)

Oh, and if you were wondering, here are a few of the other options I considered. So much love!

Are you an eShakti fan? What's your favorite item from this season's collection? Link up in the comments!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014





blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
lace cami: Marshall's
skinnies: H&M
boots: gifted (but they're from Old Navy)
necklace: Express via DFWh

Not woof woof like a dog's bark, but wooooooof like the slightly frustrated/exhausted sound one makes when simply no other sound will suffice. I had yesterday off for Presidents Day, and the three-day weekend felt like a five-day business extravaganza. Which was kind of rough, considering the fact that I have yet to have a real "off" weekend this year.

Usually I like to spend long weekends in one of two ways: Manically cleaning my house/tackling my to-do list, then relaxing and doing nothing for two and a half days; or going on a mini-trip of some sort. This weekend, I did all the things. (I wore the above outfit to none of them; it was just in my backlog of outfits to post, haha. Still, it's a cute outfit that would have done nicely for many of the following activities.)

Friday night, I took my friend Emily out on the town for a little Galentine's action. She was visiting from West Virginia, so we hit up a wine tasting and caught a later showing of Her. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the Valentine's feast Matt and I enjoyed a day early to accommodate Em's being in town. Oh. Boy.) A really irresponsible driver nearly plowed into us on the way home, but luckily we missed a collision. After that excitement, we came back to my house for an impromptu outfit photo shoot — Emily's a really talented photographer, and I can't wait to show you the results! Anyway, she met up with another friend for breakfast Saturday morning, and I headed up to my parents' house to wish my dad and little sister happy birthdays. The adults of the family went to a fun little fundraiser for my old high school's band that night.

On the way back to Columbus Sunday morning, I nearly wrecked again — this time because I took a sharp curve too fast on a slick road. Again, I managed to avoid disaster and made it home safely, just in time to rush off to rehearsal for a dance performance I'm in...and on the way, yet ANOTHER driver nearly plowed into me when she merged into my lane without signaling or (presumably) checking her mirrors. I was forced into the oncoming traffic lane, but I was lucky that no one was occupying it at that moment. Emily took me out to dinner after rehearsal, and Monday morning we did a little shopping at our favorite store, Discount Fashion Warehouse. Oh yeah, I have another haul to show you guys at the end of the month ;)

I got to relax with Matt a little Monday afternoon while we caught up on Walking Dead, but then it was off to the gym for a swim lesson and some climbing. Needless to say, I passed out nearly the second my head hit the pillow last night...and of course, I overslept this morning.

TL;DR: I think I need a weekend from my weekend.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Curtains and cold and sing-alongs, oh my!



sweater: thrifted (American Eagle, I think?)
blouse: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
slacks: thrifted
flats: Target
necklace: gifted

Perhaps you've noticed a relative decline in outfit post frequency. Well my friend, it's only because Ohio is still JUST LIKE THE FREAKING NORTH POLE and I can't handle all the cold. Seriously. When it's -4 outside and I have to get dressed, I just throw on a pair (or two) of tights, some slacks, socks, a sweater (and usually a few other layers), then pack my dress shoes in my bag and clomp out the door in my snow boots, down jacket, giant scarf, hat and gloves. AND I'M OVER IT. This outfit is literally the most creative business-casual combo I've come up with in weeks. I'm dying of boredom. And hypothermia.

And since I'm not shooting outfit photos as often, I am constantly forgetting to straighten these dang curtains before shooting. Until I go to edit the photos in my backlog, and then I get all annoyed at how crooked they're hanging...until the next day, when I again forget to straighten them.

It's times like this — when the crooked curtains and frigid temps have me at my most annoyed/frustrated — that I turn to a little tune I recently heard for the first time. That's right, I'm wayyyy late on the Frozen bandwagon, but fortunately when my sisters and I all got together at OU last weekend, they didn't need much convincing to see it again. (For Ellen, it was actually her fifth viewing. I'm not kidding.) So without further ado, this is what I'm belting in the shower...and the car...and in my head pretty much every second of every day.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Grump city



blouse: really old, don't remember
cardi: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
skinnies: Forever 21
boots: Target
necklace: gifted

I read this Tumblr thing recently that claimed that when corals get stressed, they die. I can't attest to the veracity of that claim, but I can say that I relate a little. Only instead of dying, I just kind of shut down a bit. Like yesterday, when I was trying to catch up on some freelance work and I kept stressing out about what I was/wasn't getting done. So I just stopped. And watched Girls for approximately three hours. And then in Girls, Hannah was stressed about a deadline and she just stopped working on it too, so that kind of validated my decision. Only difference is she had a bit of a nervous breakdown whereas I am just getting really grumpy and annoyed and...well, stressed.

That's, like, a normal thing. Right?

In other news, I'm really digging this outfit. This cardi in general is pretty awesome, but I surprised myself a bit when I paired it with these boots. It looked so much better than I expected it to! The sad news, though, is that I have to retire these boots. They're cheap-o Target deals, and while they lasted me two years, they're about to kick it. (Heh.) But really. The faux-leather stuff is peeling off the front and the toes. Bout time to hit up the end-of-season clearance racks for some new cognac boots! I think I'll go non-slouchy this time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Initial tasks

So it's just occurred to me that I semi-promised a Wedding Wednesday post this week. I'm a bit light on the photos so far, seeing as how there's so few photo-worthy things that have been done, but I do have a few phone snaps to share. So. Here's what we've done since the December 13th proposal, in near-chronological order:

1. Freaked the heck out!
In a good way, of course. For those of you who don't know our backstory, Matt and I have been together for nearly six years. We met in college, and I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say that we never really would have guessed that we'd be here today! (Do you all want the whole "how we met" thing? Is that too boring or self-serving?) We'd been talking about getting engaged for maybe a year, or a little less. We'd been talking about going ring shopping for about a month or two. So there was a lot of buildup. I've known in my head that I was going to marry Matt for the last few years, so transitioning from "someday we'll get married" to "we're getting married!" was a weird and surreal step, in the absolute best way possible. (Case in point: I already had a pretty comprehensive wedding board on Pinterest. I've since streamlined it, broken it into categories and deleted pins I won't actually use. But I've been pinning to it for years, haha.) So yes, lots of happy freakout moments happened first.

2. Told everyone we know.
Because, obviously.

3. Emailed a photographer.
I will be the first to tell you that I did things a little out of order. The day after Matt proposed, I emailed a photographer. Now, wedding magazines usually have a timeline for you, and the first ones typically include make a guest list, set a budget, pick a time of year, and find a venue. In that order. (I know because I used to work for Columbus Bride, and I still write for it every issue.) But I've known since I started at said magazine that I wanted a certain photographer to shoot our wedding, and when I realized his prices would compatible with what I knew would be a low budget, I contacted him right away. We set up a meeting for about a month from that day, to give us time to figure out a date, etc. (It's Julian Allen Photography, if you're curious, and I can't stop gushing about how much I love his work. He's phenomenal and so, so nice.)

4. Figured out a guest list and budget.
Matt and I have big families. No, really big families. Together, our families account for nearly 200 people, with dates and kids and everything factored in. And that's just going to first cousins and their kids, and not including any friends-of-our-parents. So yeah, whittling the guest list down to 250 with our friends included was pretty challenging. And all those people means the food and alcohol costs will be big, so our budget had to be a little bigger than we originally planned. But we're cutting corners in other places (Hello, DIY fabric flowers instead of live ones!) and overall, our budget is still lower than the national average. Bam!

5. Set a date and tour venues.
This part was harder than I thought it would be. Our dating anniversary isn't a solid date; we typically attribute it to the last weekend of April. So we thought April 25, 2015, would be the perfect wedding date. Originally the photographer had it open, but another bride sneaked in at the last second and got her deposit for that date in just days before us. I'm not going to lie. I was a little bit devastated. I may or may not have locked myself in a conference room at work and cried a lot. But Matt pointed out the obvious: When we get married doesn't matter. What matters is that we're getting married! Whatever date we chose would become special to us. So we landed on a new date: May 9, 2015. (Yes, it's Mother's Day weekend. Unfortunately between the photographer and our top-choice venue, it was one of the few dates left that worked for us. Fortunately, we both have awesome moms who are not even phased by the date choice.)

The venue tours actually were pretty easy. Budget and size constraints knocked out a vast majority of Columbus's 200+ venues. And geography narrowed the rest down to fewer than half a dozen options. (We wanted a downtown venue with easy access to hotels, to avoid the drinking and driving conundrum.) Matt and I both fell in love with the very first venue we toured, which is called The Vault. It's a gorgeous 100-year-old former bank, and the actual bank vault is still intact (hence the name). But we didn't want to sign with the very first venue we looked at, so we toured a couple other places. Nothing even compared, in our heads. So now we come to the photo portion of this post!

The main space. We'll get married right in front of the vault at the back there. The uplighting (which can be any color/colors we choose), rope lights and topiaries are all included, which means our décor costs will be next to nothing! (Just the centerpieces, really. Maybe some candles above the vault, on that shelf by the clock.)


Gorgeous chandelier, of course.

(Click the image to see it bigger.)

It's official!

6. Research caterers and other vendors.
The Vault doesn't have in-house catering, so right now we're researching various caterers. Once again, budget knocked down the list of options considerably, but we have about four companies on our list. They all get pretty awesome reviews on various wedding websites, and they all are something we can afford. I'm requesting proposals and quotes now, to try to narrow down to two or three options, and then it's on to tastings! I'm also booking a DJ and photobooth. Now, this is actually wayyyy early for those bookings, but I went to a bridal show at the beginning of January, where I got a coupon for $100 a combo DJ/photobooth package. Again, the company has great online reviews, and the combo package saves us literally HUNDREDS of dollars over hiring a DJ and photobooth separately. (We've been to a few weddings with photobooths, and they're always a blast. Plus, they serve double-duty as both favors for guests AND a guest book/scrapbook for us!)

7. Ask friends to be in the bridal party.
I had my bridesmaids picked and confirmed within two days of being engaged. Matt's taking a little longer :) We also asked his brother-in-law to officiate our ceremony, and are in the process of asking friends and family members to do readings.

8. Gather a billion ideas.
The rest of what we're doing is little more than daydreaming. Thinking about bridesmaid and groomsmen dresses/suits, figuring out how to make and arrange faux flowers, sending cake photos to a bridesmaid who helped her mom make wedding cakes in the family bakery growing up, thinking about readings and song choices, and of COURSE scouring photos of wedding gowns...This is the part where I say Pinterest is my savior and I'll never, ever understand how anyone planned a wedding before that godsend of a social media site :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Drugs are sometimes good.




sweater, skinnies: H&M
booties: Walmart
necklace: InPink

Apparently I spoke too soon last Wednesday when I said I was getting "over the hump" of this cold. Because as I found out at the doctor's this weekend, it's not a cold. It's bronchitis. Whee!

I'm no stranger to bronchitis; I got it a lot in college when I lived in the dorms. And given the timing of this onset, I'm suspecting I may have picked it up on the plane coming back from my visit to Emily's. Oh, well. The important thing is that the doctor gave me lots of awesome drugs and now I can take a breath and even laugh without going into a coughing fit. Yay, drugs!

Kids, don't do drugs.

Unless your doctor tells you to.

Anyway, I took yesterday off to let the meds do their magic, and I'm heading back to work again this morning. I did nothing but sleep, drag my butt to said doctor's visit (and to a haircut appointment that I'd already rescheduled twice) and watch a ton of Girls this weekend. (Which, by the way, WHY am I just now starting this show??) So I'm kind of glad to be getting out of the house. Even if it's for work ;)