Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last (?) of the indoor shots

You read that right! This should be (oh man, I sure hope it is) the last batch of indoor shots for the season. Of course, this is Ohio, and it's also the weirdest/coolest spring we've had for a while, so I had to throw that parenthetical question mark in there. Le sigh.



sweater and necklace: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
khaki skinnies: Old Navy
boots: Target

These were taken during a cold snap that happened just after the first real taste of warm weather this year, and I was not exactly pleased to be donning boots and a sweater again. The above photos might be all smiley, but this is how I really felt:


I can't help it. I'm cold-blooded. I need the sun and the heat.

I've been dying for nice weather even more than usual over the past week and a half, because I finally got my scooter running! That is, I found a guy who was able to get it running for me. If you're in Columbus and you need a recommendation for an honest, fast, reliable scooter or motorcycle repair guy, hit me up. I'd love to give him some more business.

Anyway, I've been scooting around town for absolutely everything possible since last week, including commuting to work. Yesterday I took it on my longest ride yet: Nearly two hours of running errands on OSU's campus and in Grandview and Upper Arlington. So far I've only hit a top speed of 50 mph, which is plenty fast enough for me, thanks. (It's a 150 cc, and the speedometer indicates it can go up to 80, though I suspect there's some sort of regulator that would probably cut me off around 60 mph or so. Since it's not legal for highway driving, I really don't see a need for ever going over 50 mph.) I mastered my balance and driving into head- and crosswinds fairly quickly, and now am working on perfecting my turns. And of course, here's a photo from the day I got her back from my repair guy:


I named her Perdita, because her fancy matte black and white paint job makes her look a little like a dalmation. Also, she's purdy :) Suffice to say, I'm absolutely in love.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sponsored post: Springtime sun!

Today it's rather dreary and rainy and miserable around these parts, so I thought I'd brighten things up for me (and anyone else in the area) with a few highlights from Warby Parker's spring lines!

Piper frames from the Spectrum Sun line.

I first stumbled upon Warby Parker when I was shopping around for glasses last year. The company seemed a little too good to be true; I mean, they send you up to five pairs of glasses for free to try on, and you just send back what you don't want (and pay for what you keep, obvs). And with their super-affordable prices, I thought there had to be a catch. So I went to my regular eye doctor and paid an arm and a leg for a pair from him. Imagine my annoyance when I did some more research and realized just how sweet the company really is! Suffice to say, I know where I'm getting my next pair of glasses.

So when Warby Parker contacted me about a feature post on their eyeglasses and sunglasses, I was obviously pretty excited. (Sidenote/disclaimer: I was not paid or perked in any way for this post; I'm just excited to feature a brand that I like and am looking forward to trying personally.)

WP has three new lines to tout: the Spring 2014 collection has eight new shapes and six colors; the Spectrum Sun collection has nine pairs of new sunnies; and the Architecture for Humanity line features two new frames — when you buy either one, a portion of the proceeds goes to that organization AND a pair of glasses is donated to a person in need.

So, without further ado, here are my faves. I only wish I had a budget big enough to buy them all ;)

Reilly frames from the Spring 2014 collection.

Marcel, Spring 2014.

Finch, Spring 2014.

Fowler sunnies from the Architecture for Humanity line.

Aslin, Architecture for Humanity.

What do you think? Do you have any faves from these lines that I didn't mention here? Are you in the market for a new pair of shades now that sunshine is on its way, or are you sticking with tried-and-true faves from last year?

Thursday, April 24, 2014


So I mentioned recently that I've been thinking a lot about this blog and how I use it now versus how I've been using it and how I intended to use it when I started it. At first, Verbal Mélange was really supposed to be a true "lifestyle" blog; a little bit of everything, a whole lot of no one thing.

Then, it evolved. It became more of a "life and style" blog, one that focused on the evolution of my personal style. Which was necessary. I was new to the "business casual" world of office-wear, and I was in a huge style rut. I literally wore the same 10 or 12 outfits in rotation to work. And I was sick of it.

Blogging helped me define myself, sartorially. I think it's safe to say I've more or less found my style (even if I don't really have a name for it, I at least can clearly define what works and what doesn't for me). And that itself has kind of put me in a rut of a different sort.

I've gotten into this pattern of just posting an outfit out of habit, not because there was something I particularly liked about it. And I kind of fell off the bandwagon of posting about much else. On top of that, I feel this weird and stupid pressure to post on a regular schedule. I realized that it stresses me out, and it makes me feel like blogging is more of a chore than a fun hobby. And that realization really got me thinking.

So as a sort of late commemoration of my three-year bloggiversary, I'm announcing a few wee changes around here. Mostly, I want to make this blog about what it was supposed to be about: everything and anything. So I'm stopping with the alliterative themed post days (Fiscal Fridays, Wedding Wednesdays, etc.), which felt a little restrictive to me. Instead, I'll post what I feel like posting, when I feel like posting it. Recipe on a Tuesday? Wedding stuff on a Friday? Clothes budget recap on a Saturday? Anything goes! I'm also going to stop restricting myself to this "must post at least every other day" thing. If I happen to go two days without a post, it won't be the end of the world. The bottom line is, life is busy, and it does me no good to stress about adhering to an arbitrary schedule.

So! There you have it. I'm not shutting the old gal down yet, mostly because I still really enjoy interacting with you guys. But don't be surprised if things seem a I get into this new groove :)

And, as always, thank you so much for reading. I truly wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for you guys, and I'm so happy to call many of you "friend." You all rock.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I may or may not have stolen that word from Sydney, but I'm sure (I hope?) she won't mind. It's a pretty baller word. Anyway we had another (mini) climbing trip this weekend and it was pretty rad for only being a 36-hour trip. Matt and I met our friends at the Red River Gorge Friday night, climbed all of Saturday and then trucked out early Sunday morning so I could get back to Columbus for a dance rehearsal.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some of the snaps I took over the course of the day. I didn't get anyone to take any of me, which is unfortunate because I successfully climbed my hardest route yet. It was a 5.9 in Muir Valley--and if the idea of a "5.9 at the Red" seems familiar to you, that's because it was one of my 25 in 25 bucket-list items. To quote Minus the Bear: Booyah achieved! I actually didn't think I'd make it past the small roof about halfway up the route, as I am terrible at overhung climbing. (If you want some context, here's a shot of the route. The guy in the green shirt is working the roof, and the guy in orange is nearly to the top.) Anyway, I surprised even myself when I managed to pull up past it, and then had the conundrum of trying to figure out how to climb the rest of the route, which I hadn't really looked at because I didn't think I'd make it that far. That one route made my whole day.

Matt climbed an impressive 5.10c that totally blew my mind--the start was nothing but the teeniest little nubbins of rock and iron. Think half-inch nubs and smaller. I swear at one point he was hanging on with one finger on a Peanut M&M-sized hold and a couple fingertips of his other hand on an equally teensy little ledge. *PSHEWWW!* <--sound of my mind being blown again at the memory

And to those of you who aren't such climb-enthusiasts: fear not. I have an outfit post to entertain you as well :)



dress: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
cardigan: Express via DFWh
heels: Target
necklace: The Limited
bracelet: Etsy

I have been largely anti-peplum since...well, basically forever. But I saw this dress on a semi-recent trip to Discount Fashion Warehouse with Emily and kind of fell in love. The peplum is subtle enough that I don't feel goofy, and the whole thing just has these polished, professional lines that I could not pass up.

It's finally getting warm enough to allow me to do outside photos again, and I'm happy to report that this will (hopefully) be the last indoor shoot you see for a while. Oh, and speaking of warm weather, guess who's going to pick up her freshly painted, now-running-again scooter from the shop this afternoon? THIS GIRL! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writer's block

Sometimes, I sit down to write a blog post and feel like I have literally nothing to say. Maybe it seems like this happens frequently, because I often blather on about nothing in particular around these parts, but most of the time my blathering is semi-planned or constructed. Days like today, though, the blinking cursor just kind of mocks me.

It's times like this that I wonder whether Verbal Mélange has a shelf life, an expiration date. My three-year bloggiversary came and went with little fanfare, and while on one hand it seems like an accomplishment (three years of committing to a thing!), it also kind of seems like a pretty weird thing to celebrate (three years of talking about and posting pictures of myself!). The reason behind the lack of fanfare--because if there's anything I love, it's making a big deal out of things--is that April is triple anniversary month for me, and two of the three (my start date with my current job and more importantly, Matt's and my dating-anniversary) land at the end of the month. So I tend to mentally lump the blog anniversary at the end too, even though it's really in the beginning.

Anyway, where I was going before that tangent about anniversaries: I've been doing a lot of thinking about VM and what it is now vs. what I originally envisioned it to be vs. what it's evolving into. But that's a post for another day, I think.

So much for said "writer's block," I suppose. Funny how that works.

And just to give your eyeballs a little visual stimulation, here's a fairly nondescript representation of what I've been wearing a lot lately: plain tee, cardi, slacks, flats. Warm weather, where art thou?




t-shirt: Old Navy
cardi, flats: Target
slacks: thrifted

Man, girls have it so easy for business casual wear, it isn't even funny. "Business casual" for dudes means ties and Oxfords, but I can wear a t-shirt as long as I dress it up with layers and a statement necklace. I kind of love it. (And to guys who may be tempted to complain about the unfairness of this double standard, I have two phrases for you: "gender pay gap" and "glass ceiling.")

Monday, April 14, 2014

I get easily and randomly overwhelmed

So I spent most of my lunch break today pinning various silk flowers from to a hidden Pinterest board (because probably no one following me cares to see a billion variations of the same anemone/peony/dahlia/ranunculus clusters, amiright?) and now I feel completely overwhelmed by flowers. I mean, I know I'd be spending $1,000+ more if I go with a professional florist, especially because our wedding is the same weekend as Mother's Day. But seriously, I know nothing about how to make a floral arrangement look good. And now I'm a teensy bit freaked out at the prospect of figuring it out. Halp.

In other news, I found an older, colder-weather outfit in my queue of outfit photos. Originally this post was supposed to have a "thank god that's behind us" slant, but the forecast for tomorrow includes an inch of snow and I basically am just about ready to give up on the hope of ever seeing a live tulip in my yard again.




sweater, slacks: thrifted
blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
flats: Target
necklace: Etsy

But, as I promised Sydney on Instagram, I shan't complain. After all, our temp range tomorrow is gonna be a whopping 40/28 Fahrenheit, which is a bit warmer than her 1/-6 Celsius. But (and this is not complaining) seriously. Nature. Wat r u doing? Nature. Stahp.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to learn patience. Also, a little storytime.

Step 1. Find a Thing you really, really want.

Step 2. Realize that you have to wait X number of days to have Thing.

Step 3. Resign yourself to the established waiting period. Try to find distractions, or try to forget about Thing in the meantime.

Step 4. Jump for joy when Thing Day arrives!

Step 5. Realize you still can't have Thing.

Step 6. Go back to Step 2. Repeat as necessary.

In my case, Thing is my scooter. I bought it in January and put it in the garage and the back of my mind, where it's waited patiently for The Longest Winter Ever (capital letters necessary) to end. But the friend who sold it to me hasn't actually used the thing in more than a year, so it needs a lot of initial maintenance. So far we've charged the battery, filled her up with gas and fresh motor oil, and sprayed some cleaner into the carburetor. She tries to start, but just won't turn over. Our next step is to change the spark plug, but if that doesn't work, I have to wait until next weekend for my friend's "scooter guy" to get back in town and clean the carb out proper. I get that this is all part of standard maintenance, but I'm not very good with the whole patience thing. Especially when it's gorgeous outside and I'm still relying on public transportation and/or exorbitant parking fees to get to work.

So, distraction time! Short-attention-span-powers, ACTIVATE!




shirt: secondhand
cardi: thrifted
skinnies: H&M
boots: gifted (via Old Navy)

In other news, warmer temps also mean the return of cute clothes! Spring florals, skirts, cute sandals, here I come! I busted out the first of my springwear--a floral shirt-- by mixing it in with some fall/winter attire that's about to go back into storage. (I'm looking at you, boots.)

Storytime: I got this shirt from my friend Hayley. She and her husband moved from an apartment to a house, and like me every time I move, she found a bunch of stuff she didn't want to pack and unpack. Most of it was clothes, so I told her to drop it off at my house and I'd take whatever I didn't want to the thrift store.

She showed up with literally 20 bags of clothes, bedding, appliances, purses and even a dog bed. We do not have a dog.

Needless to say, I donated more than I kept. Fortunately, Volunteers of America was scheduled to do a neighborhood pickup the next week, so it all just sat in my living room until pickup day. Matt wasn't thrilled, but I considered it a price worth paying for otherwise free clothes. Hayley got rid of her stuff, I got new stuff and nobody had to schlepp to Goodwill. Everybody wins! Except Matt. He got nothing. The end.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wear Blue

In the U.S., April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Ohio, we've extended that to Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, and included a statewide "Wear Blue" day to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect prevention. (I believe other states do a "wear blue" day as well, but I'm not sure on all those details. Feel free to share info in the comments!)

Anyway, in Ohio, April 9 is Wear Blue day. I didn't have time for a proper photo shoot this morning, but I wanted to post today's outfit on Wear Blue day, so you guys get another cell phone selfie, complete with my messy lovely closet in the background.


The reason I'm participating in a "wear this color on this day" event, which I usually don't bother with, is because I work closely with Ohio's child protective services (among other agencies). It's a cause that I get paid to support, yes, but it's also a cause that I really do believe in. Child abuse and neglect are preventable. All it takes is one person going out of their way to notice the warning signs and to report them.

Here's the part where I go into a slightly dangerous mix of work and play. Sorry, guys. But this is important.

If you live in Ohio and suspect child abuse, you can report it (anonymously or not--your choice) by calling 855-OH-CHILD. You can also call the police directly; they will coordinate with your local children's services agency to investigate. No child should have to suffer abuse or neglect. You have the power to help make sure they don't.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why hello there

Glad to see you stuck around! I apologize once more for my absence, but it was certainly needed. I was working on three story assignments for two publications, and the third (which I submitted yesterday) was possibly one of the hardest stories I've ever had to write. Not because it was a particularly difficult subject matter, but because it was one that is very near and dear to my heart and not injecting all sorts of personal bias into the story was nearly impossible. (It was about the Columbus Pride festival and parade, if you're curious. I'll be sure to post a link when it's live in June.)

I also got my motorcycle permit this past weekend, and I am SO FREAKING STOKED to start riding my new (to me) scooter around town! I mentioned it briefly back in January when I bought it, but haven't really talked about it yet because having the thing sit in my garage for the past three months has been literal torture and not talking about it helped me not obsess about it in my head :)

Anywho, I'm very excited to start doing outfit photos again (I skipped a lot lately because time spent picking outfits seemed like a waste compared to all the writing I had to do--I've been wearing a lot of slacks-and-tee-shirts-I-hope-no-one-notices-I'm-underdressed-for-work-type outfits lately. And it's April, so I will have some fun blogiversary content coming up, probably.

In the meantime, here's a quick snap of a new addition to my jewelry collection! The outfit I wore this with is entirely unremarkable, so I didn't shoot it, but I got about half a dozen compliments on the necklace. Which is a lot, compared to the usual 0 sartorial compliments I get on the average day.


So shiny!

It's from Nordstrom, but I won it in a giveaway hosted by Bri of Work Clothes, I Suppose. If you like my blog, you'll probably like hers, so check it out! Lots of lovely work outfits and some wedding planning stuff thrown in sometimes.

Now, off to edit the one or two outfit posts left in my queue and start brainstorming new ideas!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fiscal Fridays: How I'm managing a surprise $1,550 car repair bill

So I mentioned a major car repair last week and kind of let it drop since. I debated about writing a blog post about the whole ordeal, as I tend to whine a lot when I talk about it. But this thing is such a major event, as is the fact that I'm not completely ruined by it, and I feel like huge repair bills are a totally relatable experience for anyone who's driving an older car. So here's what's going down.

If you've been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I followed Dave Ramsey's advice from the book Total Money Makeover to get my debt paid off. (More on that if you're interested.) And part of his TMM was that when you're preparing to pay off your debts, first save up $1,000 to cover emergency expenses. Then you can focus on paying down your debts and if something crazy pops up, you have something socked away to cover it. After you become debt-free, you're supposed to build that savings to the sum of three to six months' worth of living expenses.

I became debt-free last year, but hadn't managed to build up that savings account yet. And then the wedding vendor deposits started rolling in. And I had to dip into my savings to cover them. As of right now, I have about $500 in that savings account. As of the day my bill came in, I also had about the same amount taken out of my personal line of credit at my credit union. (That's like a credit card, only with a super-super-low interest rate and it's not a card--it's an account I have to request a check from.) I borrowed from the LOC to cover some wedding expenses instead of draining my savings because frankly, the idea of having nothing in my savings account was petrifying.

Obviously, the situation wasn't ideal.

My original plan had been to finish paying off that LOC, build that savings back up and then buy the furniture I mentioned last week. I was on track to do all of that by mid-June.

And then I got the call from the repair garage.

They informed me that the initial quote of $1,460 didn't include taxes (which I was too distraught to really comprehend or even hear at the time). My actual total bill was about $1,550. Now, as I mentioned, I didn't have that in my bank account. I'll admit I panicked at first. It was really, really scary to hear. I even looked my car up on Kelley's Blue Book to see if it'd be easier to just sell the dang thing, use the cash for a down payment on a new(er) vehicle, and start fresh. Looking back, I am really glad I wasn't that stupid. Nothing makes money problems worse than adding new debt.

But I'm still left with a huge repair bill and not enough money to pay it. So here's my plan: I'll pay the bill up front using money from my LOC (because garage's payment plans are APR nightmares compared to the 4% rate my LOC offers). Then in April and May, I'll use the money I had earmarked for furniture to pay the LOC back down and get that savings back up to $1,000. Barring any other major unexpected expenses, I should be able to do both of those before the end of May.

Now, what have we learned?

1. That the $1,000 savings account balance should be non-negotiable. If I had had that much saved up, I would have had to borrow less on my LOC and in turn would have paid less interest. Fortunately, my interest rate is so low that it's not a huge concern, but any interest paid is essentially just money that's been thrown away.

2. I should just assume that my car will break down in some way, shape or form on a fairly regular basis. Since I bought it in July 2010, it has needed a new master cylinder ($300), a new clutch ($1,200), new front tires ($200), new brakes and pads on all four wheels ($600), and now this power steering system/new back tires ($1,500). Not to mention the smaller incidentals: new front and back wiper blades, a fuse for my highbeams, headlights and license plate lights. And I haven't even touched two other things. One just drives me crazy, but doesn't affect performance: The lock actuator in one door makes a really loud grinding/buzzing sound every time I lock the car. The other is one of those "ticking time bombs" that I need to fix ASAP: The emergency brake is starting to wear out. This is especially vital because I drive stick, and need to put the e-brake on every time I park. Guess what I'm doing this summer, after my emergency fund is replenished?

3. If you're buying a used car that's already five years old when you buy it and the tag says "As-is; no warranty," you should RUN LIKE THE WIND BECAUSE THAT THING IS A WALLET LEECH WAITING TO ATTACK. Seriously. In four years, I've dumped nearly half the original purchase cost of the car back into it in repairs/replacements. And I still have more repairs to make.

Ok, so this turned into one big whine. Sorry about that. But hopefully someone out there found some useful nugget of financial information in this massive rant. Even if it's just to run away from wallet leeches on the dealer's lot.