Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Skepticism and a Black Dress

swing dress (old navy) - sandals (aldo, old) - belt (idk)
So my Old Navy order thankfully did not work out, save for this one dress. I've worn it way too many times since I've gotten it. It's stretchy, swingy, light, and very breezy. The material feels casual, but the color also makes it pretty appropriate for work as well! The shape itself is trapeze-y, and drapes right over my hips. Very cute without a belt, despite not defining my waist at all. I do like it with a belt as well. Overall, it feels right and I knew this dress was mine from the moment I laid eyes on it. 

Skeptical face in the photo - not on purpose, but fitting with my thoughts about my 5 year plan, which funnily came up during a conversation with my boss's boss.

I'm feeling like I'll be at a crossroads soon, where the decision is to continue on with my career, or to pause for a bit to go back to school. The expectation is on my from a variety of figures in my life to go back. But I'm not really sure what I would go back to school for. I feel like I've lost so much theoretical knowledge to go back for another Statistics degree. At the same time, I'm not sure if it's worth it to drop money on an MBA (what's the value?), nor do I think that I have enough experience to go back for one yet. Have you ever gone through this? Or do you have an MBA? I'd be curious to know if your advanced degree has helped you in a practical way at work. 

In other news, I received the Ted Baker jacket today and will probably write a post tomorrow or the next about it!
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Quest for The Perfect Leather Jacket

As Pret (from Pret a Porter P) commented on my last post about this topic, "feel good about what you spend your money on." 

I decided to start with the post I had written about my Fall Wardrobe Thoughts and I found myself naturally starting to shop for a Leather Jacket. Every year, I try on a leather jacket and I either don't buy it because it's not perfect or it's way too expensive. This year, I've decided to take the plunge and commit to purchasing one if I truly love it. 

Here are the criteria: 
1. Must be black 2. Leather should be of good quality 3. Biker/Moto inspired 4. Not too cropped


I'm going into this with the expectation that it'll tie up somewhere between $300-600 in just ordering/returning jackets that don't work out, but I'm okay with that. I've started to shop around and bookmark some that I think fit the looks criteria. I won't know until I receive/try on if the fit and quality of the jacket/leather will come through. 

I like the look of the 3 above. The first one is a Ted Baker jacket from Nordstrom, that just so happens to be in the Anniversary sale. The next two are All Saints, and I like the style of them, but I'm not sure about the quality of the leather from the pictures. It looks less supple than the Ted Baker one. I'm unfamiliar with both brands, so if anybody has experience with them, let me know in the comments!

I've put in an order for the Ted Baker one, which is due to arrive on Tuesday and report back if it works out! In the mean time, I think I'll check out All Saints sometime next week after work. 
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Good Day

 View from the Brown Line train - going to work. Always delayed, but at least the view is great.
 Transferring onto the Blue Line train underground. The tunnel looks very cool in the distance. Work was good. Productive. Starting to see beyond the next couple weeks and feeling hopeful about it.
 After work, walked to dinner and got Mexican food with my boyfriend. Then stopped in Bee & Tea afterward to get frozen yogurt.
Saw the games, and decided to play a round of Battleship. It was a nice little date night :) Hope you all had a lovely day as well. Writing for 30 days straight is hard. I'll try again another month.
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Staying Cool

my trusty folding wayfarers - yes i have the men's because my face is big.
It's hard to be stylish when it's hot out. I've been living in twill shorts and tank tops the past couple days, just trying to stay cool. Today, my family went to Lake Geneva, which was breezy respite from the suburb that my parents live in. Tomorrow, it's back to the grind. I keep telling myself that I'll take a vacation "next week," but things keep coming up and I put it off. 

On a side note, I've been thinking about Fall clothing. I know it's early and that summer seems to only JUST be picking up around here. I keep seeing posts about "Fall Essentials," especially those in the Nordstrom's sale. I think that my closet for Fall is fully stacked, and I won't need to do much, if any, shopping. I do have a cop list for the season though, which I wrote about in a prior post. At the top of that list are CDBs, which I think I'll plan for August.

Also, I've caved. I mentioned really wanting some high waisted jeans. And what better way to try on jeans, than to raid my mother's collection of high end denim. 7's, AG, Joe's, and Paige. The results? I just can't do it. Maybe I'm just used to the feel of my Old Navy jeans. I'm a denim loyalist. Before Old Navy, it was Eddie Bauer. I really just love a more durable feel to my jeans. Old Navy jeans are the stretchiest jeans that I own, and they're still stiffer than the ones I tried on. 

With that said, I put in an order at Old Navy for two pairs. And I threw in a swing dress that I had my eye on as well, which I attribute to summer wardrobe desperation. It came down to the thought of, price aside, would I buy the ON jeans, or the AG? It really came down to the fit and the feel of the denim. I'm not going to be a denim snob, or a high end denim hater. It's just personal preference. #idontfeelbadaboutthis
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Outdoors


Now that it properly feels like summer, I find myself longing for cooler temps and a vacation. I've been feeling really burnt out from work. I was listening to the StartUp podcast, and there's actually a term for it - called the trough of despair. Hopefully I come out of it soon, but until then, I really want a vacation, or a staycation or something. Although I feel fortunate that I live and work in such a beautiful city, sometimes I feel really tired of the concrete jungle that Chicago is sometimes.

Every time I feel this way, I think about moving to Seattle and starting a life there instead. My boyfriend and I took a trip there last summer, and I fell in love with the city and with the surrounding scenery. Mountains, ocean, forests. I miss that. On a brighter note, my family will visit Lake Geneva tomorrow - so maybe I'll feel much better tomorrow!
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Friday, July 17, 2015

How To Create Watercolor-Like Text For Your Blog


I'm at it again today in Pixelmator, just playing around and trying to figure out how make things. Today, I've been playing around with how to make the cute, water colored text that I have been noticing is popular with bloggers these days. I personally LOVE the look of them, no matter how common they are, and have tried one on in the header.

Here's what you'll need: Pixelmator (or similar program). A font of your choice - I'm using Helena, which is a lovely script font. And lastly, something to write. I'm hailing from my 6 years of French here. This is super easy if you're a graphics pro already, but if you're not, then this is for you.

CREATE A CANVAS, 500px SQUARE AND WRITE YOUR TEXT IN WHITE.


Pretty straightforward. You'll want your text in white for reasons you'll see soon. The reason why you're seeing blue here is because I've highlighted the text with my mouse.

ADD A BLANK LAYER ABOVE YOUR TEXT. THEN INSTALL YOUR WATERCOLOR BRUSHES.


I downloaded my watercolor brushes here and they come in several sizes and textures, from stroke to more blotchy ones. Download the zip file and extract the brushes. The file will end in .abr. Then you'll want to go back into Pixelmator. Double click on the BRUSH icon, which is green and highlighted in the toolbar above (the big one). 

Then click on the gear icon in the top module in the bottom right, and scroll down into "Import Brushes...". This is where you'll want to double click on the .abr file. The new brushes will then be in the list in the same menu - here they're called WG_Watercolor_1. 


THEN CHOOSE A COLOR AND START PLAYING WITH THE TEXTURES. 


I chose a pretty purple color, and the brush from the set that I had installed - in case you're curious, it's the one right next to the gear. I turned down the opacity at the top to just 74% to get something more washed out, but still vibrant. Note that I'm working in a completely separate layer from the text! And that layer is above the text!

NOW CREATE A CLIPPING MASK. 


Then right click on the layer you had created the texture on and click on "Create Clipping Mask." This will use the text as a cookie cutter almost, and cut out the text from the texture.

NOW JUST THROW ON A LOGO, AND YOU'RE DONE!


You can mess around with the watercolor layer until you get the positioning you want, but other than that, you're finished! I threw on the blog logo I had created last night for good measure :) 

Then - This is very IMPORTANT. You need to export this as a .jpeg file to get the best possible quality. PNG files will make it look a little noisy and dull around the edges. JPEG will ensure that the compression of this image file is lossless! 

Hope this helps! Note that this isn't the only way to do it, nor is it the best way... I'm an amateur!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creating a Brand for Myself aka. New Header!


Hey guys! So one of the things that I've been really trying to get into is developing some design skills. I'm excited to share my first attempt at somewhat of a header image & logo. 

I had Pixelmator on my computer - which is sort of like Photoshop, but much more affordable. I spent something like $30 on it? The primary reason why I needed it was for work - where I use it to manage promotional emails for my company. 

But then I started playing around with it, and doing some tutorials in my spare time. To make the logo above, I used this tutorial here, in combination with the Origram font as a guide for the shapes. It was pretty slow going, creating the shapes, and then adding the shadows in. 

Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your feedback. I'm concerned about the color, how it might be too light to see? And suggest any different colors as well! I'm not sure what would go with the rest of the theme. 

UPDATE: I've also put together a cute little icon as well for the sidebar. Would love feedback on that as well!


This is turning into a little brand study, I guess! I think I'll end up deviating away from gray in terms of the accent colors. But I guess this feels really core to what I like. Geometric, simplistic, clean. 
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Live Fast

sweater - old from Forever 21;  pants - old navy ; sandals - old navy
My outfit of the day today - a quick jaunt across down the street to grab coffee before returning home. It was a work from home day, and also pretty chilly as well, considering that it's July. I don't hate it! Because 9 out of 12 months in Chicago are considered "winter," my closet reflects that. I was thinking today that it's because of this that I feel like I'm in a style rut.

To be quite honest, I've taken photos for two other outfits this week that I did not post because I thought the outfit looked terrible on me. I think it revolves around really seeing what I look like in a full body shot. The whole exercise of taking outfit photos and posting them has really made me think about what I look like and what looks good on me.

I like this outfit because my legs look long, and my torso is proportionate. The more and more I think about this, the more I really want to buy some mid-rise or high waisted jeans. After posting my Quality over Quantity post, my initial inclination is to do some research and shopping around for nice jeans. I realize, I have no idea where to start. My mom only buys "designer" jeans, but having tried a pair on (AG brand) and feeling the material, I'm not the biggest fan. They felt more spandexy than cotton-y, and I think I really prefer a higher % of cotton in my jeans.

And then immediately I think to my favorite pair of jeans, which ironically are from Old Navy. I swear I'm not being sponsored. But they fit perfectly, they're comfortable, they don't stretch out, and they're durable. And they're a good price. Do you guys have any recos for some jeans? Not necessarily "designer," but good quality jeans. My dad swears by Levi's.

On a completely different note - I'm very proud of myself that I've made it this far in the 30 day writer challenge. Go me :) 
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Clueless

I've been feeling like I've been thrown for a loop lately. I've been stuck in a rut almost everywhere in my life - sartorially speaking, but also in other aspects of my life. Had a pretty shitty day at work, as a result of everyone being overworked and snappy toward each other, and it's one of those days where I just want to sit on my couch and watch Clueless - one of my favorite comfort movies.

Style wise, I've been lacking inspiration in my outfits. Not sure whether that's a result of not wanting to expend the mental energy to think, the bipolar weather, and a general apathy toward the state of my wardrobe (see yeserday's post). I'll just leave it at "I'm tired of everything."

Trivial things that are on my mind:

1. I need a coffee table in my living room.
2. I want to start wearing high waisted jeans because I think they'll balance out my long torso.
3. I want to make a purchase at Nordstrom, but am unsure if I should wait until the Anniversary sale.
4. I still don't have a sense of how I like to dress myself and this blog is supposed to be about that, and it isn't. *dry sob*... *real sob*

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Quality over Quantity

via Pinterest
Lately I've been thinking about my purchases and wants, and how hard it is for me come to grasps with dropping a lot of money on nicer clothing. I think it comes down to several things - 1. I'm still used to being on a college student/entry level worker's budget. 2. I really don't love anything enough to drop major cash on it. 3. I know that I cannot bring myself to dry clean nicer items, nor do I want to handwash things - so that means silk is out.

For example, I bought a gorgeous silk tank from everlane that just sits in my closet because I don't want to get it dirty or worn. To be fair, I knew this would happen - I hate handwashing and I hate dry cleaning. I want my clothes to be low maintenance - wash and wear, easy. There are things that I like to spend money on in my wardrobe - shoes, bags, coats.

But I think I want to extend that to the rest of my wardrobe as well. I'm not sure how to approach this without getting sticker shock every time I have my eye on something. Waiting a while doesn't work, because I usually spend that time either convincing myself that I don't actually want it, or I find a cheaper version of that item and compromise on looks or quality. The latter is a trap I fall into all the time.

So I think in the coming weeks - I'll think long and hard about what I'd like to add to my closet, what gaps there are that need filling, and what items I'd like to upgrade because I wear them to death. That also means that I need to reign in my temptations to deviate away from this plan. No more impulse buys from Old Navy (despite my love for their pieces).
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

How to Make Chipotle Guacamole

Recently I found out that Chipotle has posted their recipe for guacamole! It's one of my weaknesses and I've started to realize that it's not even worth it to get it in the store anymore - a tiny cup of it will set you back almost $4 for the guacamole alone. 

So here it is - the recipe according to their website. I'm always skeptical about my own ability to replicate a recipe. But this worked for me! It tasted exactly like Chipotle's!

2 ripe avocados
2 tsp lime juice (to start with, and then adding more at the end until it tasted right)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 jalapeño finely chopped 
1/4 tsp salt (I added more after I was done until it tasted right)

2 avocados - not organic because I'm cheap and these were 4 for $5 - a steal in Illinois!

All the ingredients mise en place. I scooped out the avocado into a bowl. I ended up only using half a lime.

Threw everything in a bowl and started mashing. So easy! 

And here's the final product! I added more salt and lime until it tasted close to what you'd get in the store. This was easier than expected and was so much cheaper. Definitely recommend this! Thanks to my boyfriend for being a great hand model while I snap a pic!

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Wardrobe Staple #5: The Chambray Shirt

via Pinterest
A couple years ago, I bought a chambray shirt from H&M. The sole reason why I bought it was because somewhere, I had read that it was a wardrobe staple - needed in every woman's closet. For at least a year, it hung dormant in my closet because I had no idea how to wear it. My entire wardrobe of pants were already jeans, and I wasn't about to rock the jean on jeans look. I never wore skirts or dresses back then, and this was before I owned a single pair of black pants.

A lot has changed in the past year. I graduated college, got a job, and suddenly had a disposable income that I could spend filling in the gaps in my closet! And it is now that I see why so many people have a chambray shirt in their closets.

The reason why I chose the shirt that I did was because it was simple and classic looking. The wash is very neutral - a true blue. The buttons are a touch luxe, but not too flashy. The cut is fitted - looser, but not boxy. When I wear it, it fits in the shoulder, the chest, and the length of the body and sleeves. 

Chambray itself feels very Americana and that's not without a reason. In fact, chambray was standard issue for the U.S. Navy through WWI. It was a work shirt - the namesake for the word 'blue collar'. The fabric is durable, and although similar to denim, the way it is woven gives it a much softer texture. Like a pair of jeans, it's super versatile and can be worn all year round - in the summer because cotton wicks moisture away, and in the winter for its thickness and heavier weight. 

I wear mine all year round, at least once a week. Here are the three ways I wear it. 
  1. As a top - buttoned up, sleeves rolled up to my forearm, with dainty jewelry. I usually opt for a simple gold bar necklace. 
  2. As a light jacket - either a plain white tee underneath, or something more delicate for contrast
  3. As a layering piece - I usually tuck the bottom up in the back and tie off at the waist of my dresses

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Friday, July 10, 2015

A Friday in My Life

8:15: A day in my life - or at least an attempt of one, ha. I wake up pretty late in the morning, compared to when I used to wake up at my last job, in which I'd need to get up around 7:30. I subscribe to TheSkimm, which is a short email of all the important headlines that day. I start reading in bed, and then finish off when I brush my teeth.

8:25: Then I get dressed - today is super simple. Everlane sweater tunic and my Eddie Bauer cropped jeans. I wore the T-Strap sandals I always wear. This was the final of three different outfits I tried on that morning, two of which were dresses. It's difficult to decide because I usually throw a dress on, then decide it might be chilly, and then go back and forth.

8:35: Makeup is simple and straightforward since I'm already running late. Concealer, eyebrows, mascara, foundation around my nose and cheeks where I get red, and I throw on MAC See Sheer lipstick - an easy coral that I find looks good on my complexion. I've recently run out of my favorite Clump Crusher mascara and am now experimenting with this Full Lash Bloom nonsense... It's alright, but old habits die hard, and I will probably go back to my normal brand.

8:50: My boyfriend and I walk through our neighborhood to the Red Line. It's a quiet walk, really residential and really pretty in the summer.

9:00: We get on at the Fullerton station. He goes the opposite way to go to school at Northwestern, and I go toward the Loop - transfer at Jackson, and finally get off at Clinton. My entire commute from door to door is around a half hour.

9:30: Coffee time. Starbucks is a treat and it's Friday and I have a free drink via the app. I get a grande vanilla iced coffee (3 pumps) with a bit of whole milk. And then I walk to work, which is just a block away in the west. 

9:35: I actually never take the elevator in the morning, but I wanted to just to show you this old elevator! It reminds me of Titanic, with the double doors/gates. They're super heavy and hard to open, and if you're in here and someone on the first floor requests the elevator before you've gotten out - you'll start to go down to meet them. Really inconvenient haha.


9:36 AM through 5:40 AM - I wish I could show you what I do! But unfortunately we're pitching right now, and it's in my confidentiality agreement that I can't share the details of exactly what I do. I spend my day writing SQL queries, analyzing data, answering questions, and planning this quarter's deep dive analyses. As you'd imagine, it's very sensitive data. But here's a photo of my office that I had taken when I interviewed.

6:42: After work - I get a mani/pedi while waiting for my boyfriend to meet me in Lincoln Park. Then we both meet up with an old college friend and decide to eat dinner at Los Tres Panchos - a little hole in the wall on Lincoln Ave. 

7:20: Dinner time - I have two tostadas - chicken and carne asade, with rice and beans. Super satisfying, and basically I wanted to eat like shit today because I had a tough past two weeks! This is probably the first weekend that I don't have the weight and guilt of "I should be working on work right now." That is an awesome feeling.

11:00: I start writing my blog post and take a picture of my nails, which I painted the company blue. Tomorrow, I'm going to help out with a booth that we have for a street festival in Lakeview - Taste of Lakeview! My old neighborhood. So good night! 

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fall Wardrobe Thoughts

Today felt like Fall. I wore a sweater and cropped dress pants (had a presentation and crushed it!). So the warmer, cozier clothes made me start to think about things that I'd want to consider purchasing around September. Also - I saw Xin do a post like this and was inspired! Check out her blog to see her post. 

1. Clarks Desert Boots - specifically in this color. I've always loved this style of shoe - it inspires a sense of adventure in me, à la Anthony Bourdain. I also really like the masculine look to them too. 

 2. A Jean Jacket in a Light Wash - I've been wanting one for a while now. I admit I haven't been actively searching for one, and just hoping that I'd encounter one that fit my criteria. I'd like it just slightly cropped, and in the right blue. A jean jacket is so versatile across seasons. Lately with the cold summer we've been having, I find myself standing in front of my closet wishing that I could just throw one on. 

3. A Structured Leather Crossbody - Something along the lines of this look, but a little less deep. Or maybe exactly like that, as in that specific one. I love leathers in the fall, especially in a rich cognac. 

4. A Black Leather Jacket - Again, this is something that I've been searching for, for a long long time. Something classic, probably biker inspired and on the tougher side. Especially because my entire wardrobe feels soft - cottons, rayons, really flowy, comfortable and loose fabrics. I look to jackets and handbags for the structure in my outfits. 

What are you thinking for fall?
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

4 Podcasts That I'm Listening To

I've been into listening to podcasts ever since Serial ended. I love them for my commute and they make me feel so productive - as in, I'm constantly learning something. Here are 5 that I've been listening to lately. Let me know if you've got any you'd recommend!


1. Millenial Podcast
Megan Tan hosts this podcast, and she is so so relatable. The podcast is essentially an audio diary and she shares what her life is like post-graduation and struggling to find your place in the world. Definitely worth a listen, especially if you're a millenial!


2. TED Radio Hour
This is a classic - basically an hour of curated TED talks all around a topic. What's cool is that they interview the actual speaker of the TED talk, and give extra information around the topic too. Really educational, and I find that it's better than scrolling through the TED website to find good and interesting lectures to listen to.


3. StartUp
I started listening to this upon the recommendation of my manager! And also motivated to follow it because I actually work for a StartUp and can relate to some of the struggles and questions that are in this podcast. The most recent season (which just ended, so binge it!) follows the two women who created Dating Ring, which is a dating website start up. It's really real and unscripted and I'm sad that I have to wait for season 3.


4. Note To Self (aka New Tech City)
This podcast centers mainly around technology and our relationship to technology. This episode about an email service that claims to help you email people better according to their personality was the one that drew me in. I actually TRIED that email service, and I got to say, it is extremely accurate!
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life on Instagram

Long day at work today, so it'll be a short post for day 6 of 30 Day Writer. I wanted to share some snaps from my Instagram. The photos aren't in chronological order, but they're all within the last two weeks or so! I've developed a new love for Instagram lately - if you've got one, link to yours in the comments! I'm always looking for new accounts to follow. 

Marina City - one of my favorite buildings in Chicago. It's actually an apartment building. The bottom rings are a parking garage that twists up. I have a friend who lives in this building who says it sounds eerie in the whole place when it's windy. 

A short run along the Des Plaines River trail. 

My favorite photo that I took during Chicago Pride. This was perfect. They're giant headshots of all the Supreme Court Justices that ruled for marriage equality.

Another photo from an evening run - Really foggy that week, especially by the lake. If you stood where I was in this photo and turned your head, you'd see Lake Michigan right there.

Another DPR photo from a run. I love the bridges along the trail. 
Ice cream in the suburbs! My favorite place is in Mt. Prospect - called Capanarri's. 

Some fresh coconut juice from Owen + Alchemy along the riverwalk. I This place was quite good! I want to try their other juices as well, which are cold-pressed. 

A look-up shot (one of many of Chicago) of Trump Tower. I remember when this was built and there was some controversy around it. I personally like the architecture and think it's a great addition to the skyline. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the giant "TRUMP" sign though right on the side of the building. 

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