Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Promise-slash-Resolution

I've been slacking. With the blog, with my freelance work, with my social life...a lot of things, really. For a while, I was blaming it on working three jobs. That's a great excuse to pull back on other areas of life, in my opinion. But now that I'm back down to two, I either have to start blaming it on something else (granted, I do have seasonal depression, which is another fantastic excuse), or step it up and start getting with the program.

See, my dear bloggy friend Sydney wrote an amazing post about living with purpose. And I realized that I needed to take a page out of her book. From little things, like waking up when my alarm goes off instead of hitting snooze for 30 minutes, to big things, like cleaning the house (hey, dusting/mopping/scrubbing the toilet are big things to me)...I need to start living my life again, instead of drifting through it. Especially at this time of year.

shirt, flats: Target
button-up layering shirt: New York & Company
khakis: Old Navy
necklace: The Limited

So I'm going to start planning my outfits better. (Better being a relative term...I usually decide what to wear that morning, standing bleary-eyed in front of my closet. Not the best method at all.) I also want to start thrifting more, which means I need to spend less of my Financial Diet allowance on eating out. I want to start working out again, and planning meals better, since I usually just eat whatever I can find during the week when Matt's traveling. Last night's dinner? Eggs over-medium with some leftover French bread that was in the fridge. Not a real dinner. I want to start posting every weekday again.

So thanks, Syd, for giving me some inspiration! I'll let you all know how it goes :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend recap and channeling the 50s

Wow, what a weekend. Matt and I both took a much-needed mini-vacation from just about everything. It was kind of wonderful. Friday and Saturday we did nothing but sleep in, lay around the house in comfy clothes, watch Netflix and eat leftovers. (And on a whim, had a casual date night at Red Lobster to satisfy a sudden and inexplicable craving for crab legs. Mmm.) Sunday we did a bit of work/errands, but it was also mostly chill. I love weekends like that :)

The only down side to the weekend? Well, I suppose there were two. The Buckeyes lost to Michigan, which was kind of heartbreaking since it hadn't happened in years. And I blew through my "spending allowance" (part of my Financial Diet) by Sunday. That really sucks. Other than that, an amazing and wonderful weekend.

But this, like all good things, must come to an end. So it's back to the grind for Matt and I (and the rest of the country, I suppose, so there's no use complaining). So. On to today's outfit! And I have just one question...Why have I never worn my midi skirts with heels before? It's truly a mystery. Because I love this look.

lace shirt: Forever 21
cami: Old Navy
skirt: H&M
shoes: thrifted
necklace: really old...possibly a gift?

I really love the 50s vibe that this skirt/heels combo provides...but I also like how the lace top is just edgy enough to keep this outfit modern. Especially from the back...quite a bit of my back is visible, since the cami comes down so low and the lace is...well, lace. And see-through.

I'm afraid though that this top may be on its last legs. The last time I pulled it out of the washer, I noticed some elastic threads poking out. Ah, well. I guess that's to be expected with an $8 top, right?

On an unrelated note, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented with suggestions and encouragement on my last outfit post. I definitely got some inspiration from your comments, so I think I'll give those boots another try before I sell/donate them! You guys are truly awesome. Thanks, everyone, for reading :)

Friday, November 25, 2011


I just realized that I failed to schedule a blog post for yesterday or today. What can I say? Family kind of trumps everything. They rock :)

I spent Wednesday evening stuck in traffic as I headed from Columbus to northern Ohio, where my parents and younger siblings live. My other two sisters were already back from their respective colleges so all 10 of us went out for ice cream. It was kind of awesome. Thursday was more food than I thought I could ever eat, with my mom's side of the family, then with Matt's family in the evening. (They also rock.) Today Matt and I lazed around, watched a lot of Party Down on Netflix and I surfed Pinterest for a bit. Since I don't have a post ready to go for today, I thought I'd share some of my pins!

Cute winter mani!

Basic fashion formula.

Simple, comfortable, casual. What more could you want?

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Not quite sure if I could pull off something this bold.

With tights and boots? Love.

I've always wanted to try a chalkboard paint project...

And of course, the obligatory "lol of the day" image.

You know, this holiday has always been one of my favorites. A time for loved ones, and for remembering how much you have to be thankful for. I'm so grateful for my incredible family and my amazing friends, both in the real world and those I've met through blogging. I'm thankful for a job that I enjoy, and a boyfriend who makes me happy, and a cat that makes me laugh. (Okay, that last one's a little silly, but hey it's true.)

And of course, I'm thankful for you, my readers. When I started blogging, I never really expected for this to be read by anyone. And yet, here you are. Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Outfit oops

Do you ever wear an outfit all day, thinking you look awesome, only to realize as you edit and blog your outfit pics that you actually don't? That maybe, just maybe, you look a little bit like a hooker, or some other inappropriate wardrobe malfunction has befallen you? No? Just me then.

(This one's the hooker-esque shot)

dress: H&M
cardi: Old Navy
tights and socks: Target
boots: Burlington Coat Factory
ring: Modcloth, giveaway win

So yeah. This would have been much, much better with flat boots. But I wore this weeks ago (just found it in my "to-post" list, haha) so I didn't have my beloved flat black boots yet. I'm pretty sure I'll never wear these boots again, in fact. I'm not sure what it is...something about the heel and the way it folds over at the top makes me think "slutty pirate." But I bought these last year, when I was desperate for cute boots and stupid with my money.

Hey. You live and learn, right?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogger clothes swap!

Clearly, I am a terrible candidate for a clothes swap. Not only do I send out my items late, causing my partner to post her swap styling late (sorry, Emily), but I also am incredibly unimaginative with new items. I feel like when I come across new pieces, whether they're purchases or just on loan, it takes some time for me to figure out how to really style them well. So my styling of Kelly's Le Sac dress from American Apparel was, well, rather lackluster.

shirt: Target
dress-as-skirt: American Apparel, blog swapped from Kelly
shoes: Payless

I could blame it on the fact that Sunday ended up being much more hectic than I had originally planned; I could blame it on a morning-after food coma induced by the traditional Friend Thanksgiving that we celebrated Saturday night. Or I could just own up and say that I was a little stumped as to how to style this to begin with. I liked wearing it as a jumper, rather than a halter or strapless dress, but even that wasn't entirely original, haha. I saw a photo of it on the American Apparel website.

But in the spirit of making an effort, I styled it a slightly different way, too. One that I just kind of made up on the spot, in fact.

In retrospect, I think this would look pretty cool as a halter dress too...take away the purple shirt and pull the sides of the dress (where the strap connects there) up to cover any indecency. In fact, given a few weeks, I could probably find a million ways to style this dress. But I have to send it back, so make sure to check out Kelly's blog and see how she styles it in the future (or how she has done it in the past).

And don't forget to check out the other swap ladies: Joanna (she came up with the idea), Kelly, Emily, Alisha, Sorren and Sydney. They're all good blog friends of mine, and I highly recommend adding them to your daily reads!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Long-Term Savings

Today I'm talking about saving for retirement. I know what you're thinking; I thought the same thing myself for quite some time. "I'm only in my early/mid-20s. There will be plenty of time to save for retirement later. Now, I want to focus my money on other things." Cue the "you're wrong" buzzer. I didn't realize it until I had a few in-depth discussions with my dad and my aunt, who are both quite well-informed on retirement savings.

It's easy to feel like retirement is a long way away; it is. Personally, I'm looking at 40 years of waiting, at least. So why do we young people need to worry about it now?

If you want this to be your future, you better start planning now.
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Say Person A starts saving $2,000 a year in a 401(k) or IRA account (more on what those are in a minute) when she is 25 years old. And say Person B starts saving $4,000 a year when she's 35 years old. If they both save the same amount each year until they are 65, who will have more money?

If you guessed B, well, think again. Not only will the person who started saving younger have more money, she will have more than twice as much; assuming 7% interest rate per year (the average rate on these types of accounts), Person A winds up with more than $419,000. Person B? Not quite $200,000. In fact, Person B will never catch up to Person A. Ever.

How does that work, you ask? The answer is about compound interest. I'll be the first to admit that math really isn't my thing, but compound interest is relatively simple. It just means that your interest is calculated both on the capital investment (what you are physically putting into the account) and on any interest you've already earned. What this means for us 20-somethings: It is imperative that we start saving for retirement now, if we want to retire at a decent age and have enough money to live off of.

I promised more info on 401(k) vs. IRA accounts. Unfortunately, I can't go into a lot of detail because I'm not terribly informed myself, but this is what I do know: a 401(k) is company-sponsored; some companies even match your contribution (it's like free money! that you can't touch for 40 years!) but in this economy, many companies are not matching contributions. That's okay. An IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account, which means you don't need your workplace to sponsor it. Anyone can open one. There are different types of IRAs, and more differences between them and 401(k)s (like how much money you can withdraw, when you can withdraw it and the penalties associated with early withdrawal), but honestly I don't know too much about all that. Sorry :(

So. Lesson for the day, I suppose. I had a 401(k) started when I began working for my current publication. When my pub got sold to a local media giant, my 401(k) got closed and converted to an IRA. I wanted to liquidate that fund and start my retirement savings fresh with my new 401(k) with my new company. After all, the IRA only has about $1,100 in it. I could certainly use that money to pay down some of my debt, or bulk up my savings account. Even after penalties and taxes, I would have gotten about $700. Seems like a good deal, right?

Before making a decision, I consulted my financial guru father. And you know something? He told me that money is only worth $1,100 now. But in 40 years, assuming an average 7% interest rate, that money will be worth more than $15,000. He added that it's common, with job changes and company buyouts and the like, for people to have more than one retirement savings account. Apparently, one of my aunts has five. That was enough to convince me to leave the money in my savings account, even if it means I have to work a little harder and longer to pay down my debt. How's that for a responsible fiscal decision?

So, in summary, you should be saving for retirement. Now. Since I'm no financial expert, go talk to the folks at your bank or a dedicated retirement savings company (I was using Principal before; can't remember the name of my new company) about opening an IRA, or talk to your workplace's HR person about the company's 401(k) options. Get informed, then get saving!

Have a financial topic you'd like me to discuss? Email me at verbal.melange at gmail dot com.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Discount codes and odd neighbors

Big celebratory dance time, guys. This is my 200th post! I had wanted to do a giveaway or something like that, but I didn't want to hold the Limited giveaway I just did, and I don't really have anything new lined up. I do have some discount codes from a few of my affiliates, though!

The first is for eShakti, which I did a review of here. Use promo code EMMA0811 now through December 31 to get $20 off your order (excluding the overstock items).

The second is for INDi custom jeans. I'm new to their affiliate program, so I haven't done any reviews or anything, but you can use the code NEWINDI to get $20 off any pair of jeans (even the custom-sized ones, where you input your measurements for the perfect pair!) and get free shipping on your order. That code is good through Nov. 20, so use it soon!

sweater, button-down & slacks: New York & Company
shoes: Target
necklace: Tiffany, gifted
watch: Walmart
ring: gifted

How many people wear a Tiffany necklace with Walmart watch? Just me? Yeah, I'm super classy.

So the whole time I was taking these photos in my backyard, one of my crazy neighbors was watching. Like most fashion bloggers, I'm petrified of being caught shooting. That's why I usually stick to the backyard instead of going to the park or somewhere more scenic. But no. This neighbor came out right as I was getting started to ask what I was doing. "Oh, just taking photos of myself, by myself, in the yard. NDB." Yeah. To say it was awkward is an understatement.

Too bad we don't have a privacy fence. Oh wait. We do. Apparently, since the 7-foot fence is too tall to see over, he thought it would be fine to stand on his porch so he could see me/talk to me. Yeah. Kinda defeats the purpose there, buddy.

What do you do when you get caught shooting for your blog? I think next time, I'll just run away. Much cooler.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanks a lot, alarm clock.

So I woke up this morning after a rather tossing-and-turning kind of night to Spazcat chewing on my big toe. Not really a pleasant sensation, but (sadly) I'm used to it, so I just moved my foot away and rolled over to go back to sleep. For some reason, I checked the time. It was half an hour after I was supposed to get up.

Thank god for dry shampoo, amiright? Cuts my shower time down by several minutes, and saves me about 20-30 minutes of drying and styling my hair. Just spray, brush, ponytail and go! I was also fortunate enough to have an outfit in mind for today...unlike yesterday, when I spent 20 minutes trying on various items of clothing in what may have been the most time-consuming remix ever. (Hence my lack of a post yesterday. I was running way late.)

cardi: The Limited
t-shirt: Old Navy
belt, necklace: thrifted
jeans: Guess via Macy's
shoes: Target

I absolutely love this sweater. I bought it from The Limited with my $50 gift card, and it. Is. Awesome. First, I've been wanting a mustard sweater ever since last fall, but have never found one in my size/that I like/in my price range. Also, this sweater is so freaking soft. It's not cashmere or anything—just an acrylic/wool blend—but it feels amazing.

I also finally got my pictures in front of this dang fence, the one on the south side of my yard that consequently has all the sun behind it all the time. And now, I can't really figure out why I wanted to shoot here so badly. The fence isn't all that great. The plants and weeds are downright terrible. Oh, well. Live and learn, I suppose.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Last hurrah

That last hurrah is for my bare legs...I'm pretty sure today will be the last time I wear a skirt without tights or hose until spring. Enjoy today's high of 66, bare legs, because you won't make a public debut again for quite some time.

shirt and necklace: The Limited
sleeveless button-down: New York & Company
skirt: H&M, thrifted
boots: Target
bracelet: Forever 21

I took a ton of photos of this outfit, but wound up hating every face I made except that top one. So enjoy my headless and torsoless photos, I suppose. Ah, well. They can't all be winners, can they?

Actually, this isn't even what I'm wearing today. We had another mild spell a week or two ago, and this other bare-legged skirt combo is proof. And here I thought this outfit would be the last time my skin saw the light of day. Crazy weather we have here in Ohio.

In other news, my best friend from college came to Columbus for a visit this weekend! We did a little wine tasting with her former roommate, who also lives in Columbus, on Friday night and grabbed a quick lunch on Sunday. It's funny how, no matter how much time you might spend with a person who's visiting, it never feels like enough. Of course, I didn't see her at all on Saturday, thanks to a stomach bug and having to work my (very last) shift at the restaurant. (Side note: I'm done at the restaurant! I get weekends again! Yay!!!)

Man. I am tangent queen today. I'm also running late for work, so toodles everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gasp! A weekend post!

Shocking, I know. Actually, I'm not really posting today...just popping in to let you all know that one of my guest posts is being featured today on After Nine to Five. It's a recipe. For apple crisp. YUMMMMM!

While you're there, check out the rest of Ashley's blog and her shop. She's so sweet and she has tons of services and whatnot to offer us newbie bloggers. Love that gal!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Giveaway winner announced!

I was going to do a Fiscal Fridays post today as well, but life just has a way of...well, of being life. Like last night. I went to the one-year blogiversary party for Columbus Socialite. The blog owner is a coworker of mine, and it was a real blast! Like a dummy, I forgot to take photos, but I'm sure she'll have some up on her blog in the next day or two. I also drank perhaps a bit too much wine at the party, and this headache makes me not want to think about anything, let alone fiscal planning. Yuck.

So I'm just going to announce the winner of this giveaway! Woohoo! And it is...

Dee! Congrats, girl! Check your inbox for an email from me :)

If anyone happens to go back and count...there were actually 28 comments on the blog, but three of them were ineligible (out of the country, multiple entries via the same method, etc.) so there were really only 25 entries. Don't worry, I counted accordingly! :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go shopping!

Running a bit behind this morning, so I have just a couple quick photos to post, and some shopping tips and info for y ;)

First, the shopping. I have a promo code for you to use on eShakti! Buy some cute clothes for you or get a jump start on your Christmas shopping with the promo code EMMA0811. That will get you $20 off your purchase now through December 31!

Want $50 to spend on whatever you like at The Limited? Of course you do. Click here to enter! Giveaway ends TONIGHT at 11 pm EST, so hurry up!

sweater, scarf-turned-belt, cords: thrifted
lace shirt: Forever 21
cami: Old Navy
shoes: Target

I had to adjust the second photo a bit more than the first to show the detail of the shirt. I swear, I've never once been able to photograph this lace shirt well! The photo gods must dislike it. Too bad, photo gods, because I love this shirt!

I'm slowly but surely bulking up my thrifting skills and thrifted clothes. My goal? To create an entirely thrifted outfit before the end of the year. Looks like I have some serious $1 holla shopping to do!

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of eShakti, so I get perks when you use that promo code. And even though I said it on the original post, I'll say it again...The Limited compensated me for this giveaway as well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The blahs

I wore this to work last Friday, or maybe it was the Friday before. Either way, I was feeling much better when I took these photos than I am today. I just want to change into some comfy sweats and go back to bed for a few hours. I don't know if it's seasonal allergies or a regular cold, but I feel awful!

But enough pity partying for me. I have my awesome leopard print flats and a nice, yellow, cheery shirt to counteract the bad vibes I imagine I'm giving off. Fake it till you make it!

shirt and vest: thrifted
jeans: Silver via Macy's
shoes: Payless
necklace: The Limited
lipstick: Red by Mary Kay

I don't know what's up with my hand in that last photo, but I can at least explain the face. It's supposed to be a kissy face. Which I'm apparently bad at. But I love my red lipstick so much, I just can't help but make horrible kissy faces every time I wear it. Oops.

What's that? You love that necklace from The Limited? Why thank you. You could get your very own (or anything else from the store, for that matter) if you enter and win my giveaway for a $50 gift card to the store! Original post here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I don't copy other bloggers, I channel them.

First off, welcome to my new followers! Noticed there are a couple more of you...thanks for reading about my randomness and the clothes I wear :)

Oh, what a weekend. Between the restaurant, freelancing and the hasn't-been-properly-cleaned-in-weeks state of my house, I practically didn't stop working on one thing or another. And in true procrastinator fashion, I reorganized my closet. I'll probably do a post on that at some point...but you all know how long it took me to doing that curtain tutorial, so we'll see, haha.

The restaurant wound up keeping me until nearly midnight—a full hour later than I am technically available to be there on Sunday nights—so I'm exhausted. But financially, Saturday and Sunday were great nights, so I guess I can't complain. Looks like Matt will get his Christmas present this year after all...and I won't even have to charge it! Hooray!

dress: Artifacts Gallery in Athens
turtleneck: no idea...Target, probably
tights and boots: Target
necklace: New York and Company
ring: Modcloth, giveaway win from Sydney
knot earrings: The Limited

For some reason, I feel very much like Tania in this outfit. I think it's the combination of top knot, colored tights, dress and boots. Either way, I loved channeling my inner nerd in this outfit, haha. By the bun I've ever done. I don't think I could ever recreate this perfect knot. Oh least I got it on camera!

Also, these boots? They're the exact same as the brown boots I recently bought, only in black. Am I going to eventually buy the cognac versions too? You bet! I got a little discount on these because they were the last pair in my size, and they were scuffed just a tiny bit. You really can't see it unless you look for it. Awesome!

This is the outfit I wore to the opening of The Limited's new store at Easton last week. You know, the one where they gave me two $50 gift cards? One of which I get to give away to one of you guys? Giveaway is still open, click here to enter!

Update: Linked this up to the Everybody, Everywear challenge!

Everybody, Everywear: Colored Tights

Friday, November 4, 2011

Giveaway: The Limited gift card

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to my first blogger event. It was the grand opening of the new The Limited store over at Easton. A bunch of Columbus style bloggers were invited, and I thought was a great effort on The Limited's part to reach out to us. I got a $50 gift card for attending, and I got another $50 gift card to give away to you guys! How cool is that? But first, I'm going to make you look at all my pictures of the store. Muah ha ha.

10TV's Angela Pace.

The Limited CEO Linda Heasley. Got a chance to speak with her later, it was pretty cool!

Nichole Dunn, president of the Women's Fund. The Limited is partnering with the Women's Fund and even donating a portion of all sales this weekend!

Cutting the ribbon!

Free food! Yes, please :)

Clearly, gold is in again.

How cute are these watches?

Belts galore.

Loving this top!

An open dressing room concept for parties and events. They have regular hard-door dressing rooms too.

This store wins the award for coolest dressing rooms. They have these buttons you can use to call an associate for a different size or just an opinion. Below that is a button that lets you adjust the light in your fitting room so you can see how it would look during the day, at night or in the office. In the next few weeks, they're setting up an area with a camera that will let you take a photo and email it to friends for their opinions. How cool is that?!

Got a chance to meet Heather of H&K Style Journey. Great blog, and she's such a sweetie :)

Thanks for scrolling through all that :) The event was fun, I only wish I could have stayed longer (darn work breaks). I wound up getting one of their Merino sweaters (in mustard yellow, hecks yeah!!!) and a pretty gold necklace. And you can get something too!

To enter to win this $50 gift card:

1. You must be a follower of Verbal Mélange via Bloglovin, Google Friend Connect or RSS feed. Make sure you mention which one you use in your comment!
2. Pop over to The Limited's website and tell me what you'd use your gift card on. Come back here and comment with the name of the item.
3. Make sure you leave your email address so I can contact you!!!!

For bonus entries (leave a separate comment for each):
- Like VM on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter
- Tweet about this giveaway with a link. Something like "Verbal Mélange's @elfrankart is giving away a $50 gift card to The Limited! Enter here:". You can do this entry every day that the giveaway is open! Just make sure you comment each time.

Giveaway open until Thursday, Nov. 10 at 11 pm EST. Winner will be announced via a new post on Nov. 11. Open to all US and international readers!

Update: Just found out they don't ship to Canada. I'm going to guess that means they don't ship overseas, either. Sorry, non-US readers :( I wanted to include you!