May 31, 2012

My Style Adventure, part 3

victorian ladies

I previously blogged (part 1, part 2) about this little style adventure I’ve been on for the past few months and while I’ve been feeling oh-so stylish lately, I realized I forgot to give you an update.

Recap: In part 1, I shared some of my style woes and in part 2, with the help of my stylist friend, Brianna, I created a Pinterest board to try and pin down (puns!) exactly what my style is and how I was hoping to express it. The real fun began a couple weeks ago when Miss Bri came over to my house one night after work and we spent some time going through my closet. More than four hours to be exact. And that brings us to part 3.

messy closet

{not actually my closet}

We pretty much pulled everything out and Bri assessed the situation. Before even looking at the clothes, she said my mirror was way too small and suggested I get a full length version to better see myself while getting dressed. She seemed pleasantly surprised that I had (have) some good pieces…staples like black pants, jeans, blouses, basic T-shirts, belts and scarves. The main problem, she felt, was that I had entirely too many pieces (of clothing AND accessories) to ever successfully/stylishly wear them all.

We talked about how much easier it is to decide what to wear when you don’t feel overwhelmed by options. This is where I should probably mention that I’m a quasi-hoarder. Thankfully Bri calls herself “the least sentimental person you’ll ever meet” and was able to help me let lots of things go to the consignment/donate pile. Another pile we ended up with was things needing alterations (more on the piles and how we determined what to keep vs. what to let go in part 4).

We talked about what kinds of things I feel most comfortable in (mid-length dresses, cardigans, jeans) and she showed me how to put some outfits together using those “old faithful” items in new ways. Bri also helped me create some outfits with pieces I’ve had for ages but could never quite figure out how to wear them. I can’t tell you how many times I said the phrase “I just wouldn’t have ever thought to put these things together” after she had me try some combination of items that ended up looking pretty good.

In the end, this is what I kept:

Bottoms -

  • Pair of dark wash trouser style jeans (Old Navy)
  • Pair of dark wash skinny jeans (Old Navy)
  • Pair of black wide leg trousers/dressy slacks (Gap)
  • Pair of slim fitting black ankle-length pants (Gap)
  • Black pencil skirt (Banana Republic/thrifted)
  • Gray pencil skirt (Worthington/thrifted)
  • Red pencil skirt with kick pleat (Worthington/thrifted)
  • Long black pleated skirt (TJ Maxx)
  • A couple of printed mini-skirts (dept. stores/TJ Maxx)
  • Denim pencil skirt (Talbots/thrifted)
  • Pair of linen drawstring pants (J.Jill/thrifted)

Tops -

  • White long-sleeved blouse (Gap)
  • White button down shirt (thrifted)
  • Black button down blouse (TJ Maxx)
  • Assorted neutral/black/white tank tops (Old Navy)
  • 2 cardigans, hot pink/tan (Gap/Target)
  • Assorted sleeveless blouses/camisoles to wear under cardigans (thrifted/TJ Maxx)
  • T-shirts (1 black, 1 white/Target)
  • Pink pullover-style blouse (Gap)

Dresses -

  • Little black dress, dressy (Isaac Mizrahi for Target)
  • Little black dress, casual (TJ Maxx)
  • 3 assorted print dresses for work (Belk/thrifted)
  • Denim tunic dress (J.Jill/thrifted)
  • Gray lace dress (Belk)

My list is tailored to me (i.e. my work attire requirements, etc.) so don’t think yours should be exactly the same or feel like there’s something wrong with your closet if it’s way different. Also, I provided store names so you could see that most of my stuff was pretty inexpensive (i.e. on clearance or thrifted).

I think the point of listing everything out here was so I could see how much I really have to work with and how everything can pretty much work together. That was another thing Brianna pointed out to me…when you have the right key pieces in place, it’s all mixing and matching from there. I can actually see my wardrobe coming together as a cohesive unit…rather than just a whole big mess of items that I bought on sale just because they happened to be in my size.

Are you ready for a total closet overhaul? Mine has really worked wonders to help me feel more confident about my style and I’ve been putting more thought into my daily clothing choices. This is not to say that I don’t sometimes miss the mark with fashion…but I’m definitely going about it in a different way. How much thought do you put into getting dressed each day? Is fashion something you care about or is it just not your thing?

[parts 4, 5 & 6 still to come]

{image 1 via}

May 30, 2012

Good Advice


“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate.  That's my philosophy.” 

-- Thornton Wilder

May 29, 2012

Blast from the Past: Museum of Appalachia


Wanting to do something different to celebrate Memorial Day this year, the southern beau and I decided to visit Norris, Tennessee, only a fifteen minute drive from Knoxville on Interstate 75. Norris is a really quaint little place and home to the Museum of Appalachia.


The Museum of Appalachia is a living history museum that gives visitors a look at what life was like for folks living during pioneer times in our region. With more than 30 historic buildings on the 63 acre property, the museum offers visitors a chance to see all different facets of days gone by.


Preserving and displaying thousands of authentic relics, the Museum of Appalachia maintains one of our nation’s largest folk art collections and each year, there are events for the public that include traditional Appalachian music performances and demonstrations by regional craftspeople. You can also see lots of different artifacts from a different time, including well-worn tools and many interesting pieces of used farm equipment.


During our visit, we didn’t take the full tour, but the beau and I were able to see many of the sights and exhibits around the grounds. My favorite part was the peacocks that roam around freely and walk right up to visitors hoping for a scrap of bread or some other snack.


John Rice Irwin was an East Tennessee educator and businessman who established the Museum of Appalachia in the 1960s. The grounds are intended to mimic a working pioneer Appalachian farm…there are gardens growing typical crops and in addition to the peacocks, goats, chickens, turkeys and sheep are right at home. 


I definitely want to visit the museum again (possibly in the fall when the weather is a bit less humid). There’s something so special about history preserved. In a way I hope this blog serves as a sort of living history…telling the stories of people who have gone before and keeping their memories and legacies alive.

If you haven’t been to the Museum of Appalachia, I suggest you try to go sometime. What started as just a single log structure has grown over the past 40 years to include buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, a rare Appalachian cantilever barn, and a cabin once inhabited by the parents of Mark Twain. You can even get married or host other special events at the facilities.
I hope you had a lovely Memorial Day and that your summer is off to a grand start!

May 22, 2012

Only in the south: Memories & Fried Pies


This weekend my southern beau and I did some adventuring. We set out on the back roads headed to visit a friend, but left ourselves plenty of time to stop and take in a few sights. One sight (or maybe I should say taste) in particular has to do with that glorious sign you see above.

We ventured from Knoxville heading west on I-40, exited at Crab Orchard, Tennessee and wound through a few hollows before we arrived at state HWY 127 and Cumberland Mountain State Park.


The park and surrounding areas hold a dear place in my heart because it was there my great-grandparents were selected to be homesteaders through FDR’s Federal Homestead Act back in 1934. They never got to live in what would have been their homestead house because they moved to Michigan where my grandpa took a job at a steel mill, but they were part of history and their names are etched on the monument at the Cumberland Homestead Tower & Museum.

While exploring Sunday, we saw where a craft fair was taking place at the state park, the headlining act of which were the fried pies. As a side note, I love that fried pies are trendy right now. Of course, they are sometimes called ‘hand-pies’ but we all know what’s what. My great-grandma (the one whose name is inscribed above) used to make fried pies in batches of at least 100 or more. I can remember my grandpa bragging on how she’d work so hard making fried pies to take to folks they would visit.


After strolling through the crafts area, the southern beau got a fried blueberry pie, which we devoured right away. I chose chocolate & banana cream (pictured above), but I saved it until we got home so I could take a proper photo. So delish! I always like living in the south, but any day I can get a made from scratch fried pie while rolling down a backwoods Tennessee byway with my sweetie, I love living in the south! 

May 16, 2012

Only in the south: What a Hoot


I love thrift stores for all the possible treasures they hold, but I also love thrift stores for the grade-A crazy they have to offer. I actually really love some of the items shown here, just maybe not all together.


Owl enthusiasts of the world have finally found a source for every obscure incarnation of owl paraphernalia imaginable.


From friendly to silly, scholarly to cute, angry to just plain frightening, this booth (lovingly called ‘Hooterville’) at a local thrift/antique/vintage shop is an owl lover’s paradise.


All I can do is shake my head and all I can say is “only in the south.”

Are you a hootie aficionado? If so, you need to run, don’t walk, to Knoxville where these nocturnal predators patiently await being added to your collection.  

May 13, 2012

things which matter most


This past week was the longest blogging hiatus I’ve taken since my great-grandfather passed away in 2010. I feel like so many other things have taken my attention lately and when I saw the above quote, it completely captured how I have been feeling.

I need this blog. I need to write. Whether one person (or zero persons) actually reads it is irrelevant. Of course, I love the fact that you are reading it now. I love that you visit this little corner of the web and I hope that your visit leaves you feeling a little lighter, a little better.

A good (new) friend reminded me recently that we were each created with something so unique and wonderful inside of us and that our deepest passions are intended to meet the world’s greatest need.

I am passionate about writing, but not because of the simple act of putting words on a page (or in this case, a screen). I am passionate about writing, especially writing this blog because it allows me to connect with other people about things that matter to them…things that matter to you.

Things like family traditions, where you went on vacation, what your grandma cooked for Christmas dinner, what sorority you were in during college, the latest fashion trend you were brave enough to wear and the fact that you felt heard and understood.

I guess I just wanted to explain why there hadn’t been a new post in awhile and let you know how I’m feeling. Maybe some of you have been feeling the same way. Has your attention been completely devoted to things that don’t matter really all that much? I don’t have a solution, but I’m glad we’re in this together.

And most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful, compassionate, caring, loving, eccentric, silly, sweet, fabulous mothers, grandmothers, aunts, step-moms, and special women out there. I am blessed beyond measure by the strong women in my life, especially my mom (who I was able to spend this weekend with). To steal my friend TMB’s phrase “Hope you feel celebrated all day long!”

May 2, 2012

Loving Poorly, Practicing Forgiveness

old house

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

May 1, 2012

Junk Store Treasures


Rummaging around a junk store is one of my favorite pastimes and this weekend the southern beau and I did just that, at a local shop called Nostalgia. Packed to the brim with every sort of collectible or antique item you could dream up, this shop is always uniquely curated with goodies that represent a wide variety of styles and eras.

If I had a bigger house (and wallet), I’d have definitely brought this antique locker cabinet home with me. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful place to store and organize all sorts of household things? It looks straight out of Country Living.


The next thing that caught my eye was this mid-century oyster plate. Since I’m usually scouring the shelves for pieces of ironstone china, the white platter grabbed my attention. Also, I’ve had oysters on the brain because Knoxville has a new-ish oyster bar called Shuck that I’ve been wanting to try.

I always say no southern home is complete without a deviled egg plate…maybe I should add oyster plate to that must-have list as well. If you’d like one of your own, here’s a link to a few ebay options.


Finally, this adorable little cocktail tray would add some pizazz to any bar cart. It feels very Mad Men-esque with the clever drawings and recipes. Now, who wants a Pink Lady?

Believe it or not, none of these items actually made it out of the store with me, but it’s fun to look! I typically stumble across my most treasured finds at estate sales and thrift stores, but I love a good antique shop all the same. Have you added any thrifty treasures to your collection lately?

{Wishing you a Happy May Day}