Friday, October 9, 2009

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kit...oh, who am I kidding?

It's been a really crappy couple of weeks. Really crappy. Bad weather, bad interviews, bad allergies, the list goes on. All of this bad reached it's culmination last weekend when my sister suffered a miscarriage at nearly five months. It made every other bad thing seem insignificant. I travelled home for an undetermined amount of time to do exactly what she needed me to do: sit, wait, cry, hold her hand, watch movies, clean her fridge (another blog, another time), and look for the silver lining.

Looking for the silver lining turned my attention from sadness to sunshine and made me seek out what it is that truly make me smile. So, here you go...these are a few of my favorite things:

My nephew. Joss. The J-Bear. He is amazing. Smart, funny, silly and cute to boot. I let him eat marshmallows for breakfast.

Being driven around. I hate driving. I'm not very good at it, either. This must be why I often opt for a cab.

Sunglasses. All of them. The bigger and darker the better. I like that no one can see my eyes.

Dairy. Sure, I'm lactose intolerant, but I like a little guilty pleasure and a Mocha Frappuccino every once in a while is totally worth it.

Motown. Those who know me well are aware of my Diana Ross obsession.

Clean bedding. I love the feeling of crawling into a bed just made with freshly laundered sheets. I also spray my comforter and pillows with lavender vanilla Febreeze before I put the duvet and pillow cases on. One more thing: before I get in to said clean bed, I have to take a shower and wash my hair.

Swear words. A high school/Facebook friend got me thinking about this today. He used the term "effin" in his status. I quickly posted a short rant about my appreciation for a well-timed, appropriate dropping of the F-bomb. I like 'em. I just do. I received validation when he then posted what he really wanted to say. Made me smile.

Genuine people. I don't care if you're outspoken, brash or even a little bit rude, just don't be fake. Be real with me. I like seeing who people really are. My friends run the gamut: bitches, douchebags, dumbasses, smartasses, princesses, possessors or superiority complexes, eternal optimists, realists, cynics, pushovers, you name it. I like all of them for who they are.

Television. I really like television. I especially like watching it late at night when it's too late to vacuum or walk around my neighborhood, which, incidentally, happen to be two more of my favorite things.

"If there are two things America needs right now, it's sunshine and optimism. Also angels." - Rachel Berry, Glee!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Everything old becomes new again.

dress: C & C California (3 years old!); sweater: Sleeping on Snow (bought last year for $22 at Anthropologie!); shoes: BCBG Girls (goin' on 4 years...super comfy and re-heeled twice!); necklace: Express (purchased with my sweet employee discount 5+ years ago)
floral top: French Connection (bought on major clearance at Bloomie's 2 years ago!); sweater: H & M (cute, cheap and 3 years old); pencil skirt: Express (another great employee purchase from 5 years back!) shoes: Madden Girl (God love DSW, still cute after 2 years)
blouse: Express (Ruffles. Been lovin' 'em for years!); sweater: Banana Republic ( a timeless classic bought last year); Express pencil skirt; shoes: Arturo Chang (my big shoe splurge last fall...can't wait to rock these with tights this year!)
dress: Jovovich/Hawk for Target (Twenty bucks two years ago!); sweater: (bought at The Garment District in Fort Collins, CO in 2001, pricey, but obviously worth it!); belt: Express (5+ years old and still awesome); boots: Fornarina (I have these in black, too. I'm normally against duplicates, but these are comfortable, versatile and my Shoe Girl at Nordstrom gave me an AWESOME deal!)
floral top: still French Connection and still one of my favorite pieces!; skirt: Gap (circa 2003, can you believe? A birthday gift from Aunt Patti); belt: came with a twenty dollar dress from Forever 21!; shoes: Aldo (purchased 2+ years ago, a black patent peep toe stiletto will ALWAYS be fabulous!)

I've been really in to trying to make the most of my wardrobe lately. A true fashionista, I've never cared much for the trends. I like to be current, but more important, I like to be me. I know what works for me. I know what works for you, too. It's great to love fashion and hit the streets in the hottest trends, but if those hot trends don't make you look your best, go back to the drawing board! I'm very sentimental about my clothes, so I've been reworking my oldies-but-goodies in Fashionista-turns-Recessionista style and I'm loving it! Check it out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Musings on J. Crew...

I get a new J. Crew catalog every week in the mail. I won't lie. I love it. Every page is exciting, different, fresh and amazing. There's a coolness to J. Crew, once a company whose purpose was to provide moms everywhere with classic essentials, it has morphed into the definition of "street chic" and "effortless cool." We haven't seen a transformation of this magnitude since Christopher Bailey took the reigns at Burberry in 2002 taking it from uptight British countryside wardrobe staples to an international symbol of luxury and style. They tell us that it's ok to wear Chuck Taylor's and Jack Purcell's with business suits. They encourage us to wear argyle socks with peep toe heels (one of my favorites!) and destroyed denim.

The men are attainable and ubercool. The perfect mix of handsome: a little scruffy yet impeccably put together. Every woman wants to wake up, throw on her Boyfriend jeans and a tissue tee and walk into her breezy white kitchen to find him making scrambled eggs in a cast iron skillet. The women have that perfect look: effortless and comfortable, yet fabulous and chic. She takes fashion risks, but never goes too far. She's a real girl, too, often having crow's feet or a gap between her two front teeth. She always looks pulled together, but never looks as though she tries too hard.

So why does this feeling go away when I open those glass double doors and walk into the giant cedar closet that is a J. Crew store? I started thinking about this recently because I need to buy a dress for a wedding and, as usual, I hate everything that I was considering wearing. I don't actually hate it, I just hate it for this particular event. I yearn to look like one of those women in the catalog: Audrey Hepburn-esque, but with an edge.

Every time, I tear through the store like a hurricane, desperately seeking the fabulousness that gets delivered to my home weekly, but my heart drops. I don't see it. It's not there. It's never there. Sure, almost everything I see in the catalog is there...but it's not there. The catalog is fantasy and the store is reality. The catalog is the amazing appetizer that leads up to a mediocre dinner, the hilarious trailer at the movies before the C- film I just paid thirteen dollars (plus Sour Patch Kids) to see, the first date, the best book in a series, a discontinued lipstick whose replacement color is never as good.

It's so disappointing to me that a company whose product, styling, sense of humor and uniqueness fails to capture my heart, my attention and my dollars in the same way that their catalog does. Have merchants become so lazy in their roles that they have lost the ability to create or is it the corporate side of retail that puts so much value on a perfectly folded stack of sweaters that there is no time left for creativity. I wonder...

Anyway, I'm off to order the same dress in three sizes, five different jewelry options and two pairs of shoes from my fabulous J. Crew catalog. This would be so much easier if I was as inspired inside the store...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My life would be perfect if...

I had a job that I found fulfilling and rewarding; I had gotten accepted to Northwestern for grad school; I knew what I really wanted to do for a living; I was motivated enough to run every day; I weren't prone to sinus infections; the city of Chicago actually functioned; I was able to see friends who live elsewhere more often; I didn't procrastinate; I didn't care what others thought of me; I could cook; I could get my wardrobe consulting business up and running; I could keep my mouth shut; I was six inches taller; I didn't feel like Miranda on Sex and the City; I had a bigger bed; I could shop for home decor and actually buy what I love; I could get a blowout every week; I made time for yoga every morning; I went to bed before midnight; I made time to read every day; I committed to volunteering; my hair was wavy; my dog didn't snore; my teeth were whiter; I truly had an interest in art (I love museums, but I never feel like I understand the art); I could implant my blackberry in the palm of my hand; I could have closure with my first love; I had my own boat; I didn't have an addiction to over-priced but fabulous shoes; I could play the piano (well); I could write (and finish!) my memoir, get it published and become famous.

Just a little to-do list.  I love lists.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If chivalry is dead, customer service must be six feet under, getting eaten by worms.

Ever since I walked away from the retail world, I find that I have a heightened feeling of frustration with stores, sales associates and a general decline in something that I am very passionate about: customer service.  I find myself thinking, if I had behaved this way, I would have been fired!

So what's the cause for this rapid decline?  Has it really been a rapid decline or a slow decent into a consumer acceptance of poor service that I was too wrapped up in to notice?  After much thought, I realized that, although there are companies that do not prioritize great customer service, it has only just recently become "the norm."

It seems that every store that I walk in to, from my neighborhood Jewel to Barney's, is constantly reaching a new low.  I was at Jewel just the other day (grocery shopping for those of you non-Chicagoans) picking up a few pantry essentials.  I hopped into the express lane (15 items or less) hoping to avoid what is normally a hideously long wait at any time of the day. Annoyance set in after about ten minutes, as the cashier lazily scanned items while carrying on a conversation with the cashier manning the lane next to hers.  Realizing that it was too late to switch lanes, I continued to wait.  When I finally reached the checkout and pulled my debit card out of my wallet to pay, she rudely informed me that she was only accepting cash because she was having a problem with her "credit card thingy."  Excuse me?  Wouldn't this information have been helpful before I had gotten in this line?

Now, this situation really made me examine who and what is responsible for this kind of behavior.  Granted, the girl was rude, but really, this situation had little to do with her.  She wasn't the most poised or elegant messenger, but she was, simply, the messenger. There were at least ten customers in line and until I freaked out and passed the disturbing information I had just received on to the woman behind me and so on, nothing had been done to inform customers of the situation, remedy the problem or appease frustrated patrons.

This leads us to my theory:  You get back what you put out there.  There wasn't a manager, a supervisor, or even an employee who gave a damn about anything anywhere to be found.  The cashier clearly had no one to reach out to for help and most likely had received little if any instruction or training in customer service.  What a shame.  It's sad to see this decline and even worse to be slapped in the face by it every time you need to make a purchase.

Back to my theory.  The retail world, like most other professional arenas, is a cold, harsh place. Many retailers fail to explore what really hurts their business by playing what I call "the blame game."  The point is to find someone, anyone, to blame.  The sad thing is that the people who most often take the blame are the ones at the bottom of the totem pole, the ones who get paid the least, have the highest expectations and most often, receive the lowest quality training.  You get back what you put out there.  If you fail to properly train your staff, whose fault is it when they fail to live up to company standards?  When you pay your employees pennies above minimum wage, do they really feel valued and inspired to go above and beyond?  When the head honcho plays the blame game, does it set an acceptable standard for those running the daily operations?  

The disturbing decline in high customer service standards, or  any customer service standards as of late is due to a trickle down effect set in motion by a culture of people constantly seeking out opportunities to find someone else to blame, from the CEO, to the regional director, to the district manager, to the management team all the way down to the part time associates.  

I don't necessarily believe the mantra "the customer is always right," because in seven years of retail management, I have witnessed and experienced first hand more than a couple of situations where the customer was most definitely not right, but was still able to manage the situation and in most cases, resolve any issues while maintaining a positive relationship with those customers going forward.  My mantra is "treat challenging customers as you would wish to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot."

People wonder why retailers (even Target!) that sell necessities like groceries are struggling in these rough times.  It all comes down to CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Why should I pay to be disrespected?  My expendable income is not what it once was and I, like many, refuse to hand over my hard-earned dollars to some snotty sales associate, undoubtedly a product of low pay, poor training and a complete lack of leadership in the work environment.

Good customer service is the key.  This is so simple.  During a recession, the companies that are not only surviving, but growing and thriving are those who recognize the value of treating people with respect, both external and internal (employees) customers.  I know I'm not the only person out there who feels this way and hopefully, my next job with value customer service as much as I do. That is a place where I want to work!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Can we talk about Bravo TV for a minute?

OK, so I'm pretty much a late-night, just because I'm bored TV watcher.  I invest the fifteen bucks a month for DVR service because, although I do enjoy some television, I pity people whose lives revolve around watching it.  Sure, I partake in a weekly Bachelorette night with girlfriends, but that's much more about cocktails and bitching than the actual show.  I like to get out there and indulge in a little human interaction and then come home and see if I missed anything good. Ninety percent of the time, I wind up watching five minutes of a show and then deleting it.  This has been a pattern ever since I convinced my parents about four years ago that life was not livable without TiVo, and I must demand that they purchase one for me as a Christmas gift.  It was only recently that I found that the only things worth watching are on Bravo, and everything on the channel is amazing, and by amazing, I mean completely over the top, ridiculous and addictive.

I love it.  All of it.  From The Real Housewives franchise, to Top Chef, to my new favorite, NYC Prep.  I even watched The Fashion Show, and Isaac Mizrahi makes my stomach churn.  I do, however, like Kelly Rowland.  She seems nice.  Anyway, my point is, I've realized that aside from 30 Rock and The Office, both on hiatus for the summer and my favorite HBO  and Showtime series (which I Netflix), there's nothing on TV.  Nothing but theses fabulously juicy, completely unrealistic "reality shows" that much to my dismay, are the only thing keeping my attention as of late.  I even put down this month's Vogue last week in favor of catching up with my favorite spoiled, Upper East Side Manhattan teenagers.  What's wrong with me?

This recent obsession has forced me to question my own life, and I've decided that I am desperately in need of an escape from my reality.  I'm not saying that I want to be an over-indulged yet mildly vacant reality TV character, but there's something really fun about snuggling up on my couch and watching George and Lina fight on Miami Social or PC try to convince everyone watching that he's heterosexual on NYC Prep.  I used to scoff at these silly shows, but now I realize, they serve a purpose.  They're not supposed to be "real," or even funny, although they are funny in an uncomfortable, painful sort of way.  They're supposed to offer us a sneak peek into lives very different than the ones that most of us lead and show us that the grass isn't always greener.  

For me, my late-night Bravo TV rendezvous had made me cherish my life, my friends, my family, everthing, because,'s real. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Warning: If you're an ignorant asshole, this might offend you...

I've been catching a lot of flack lately for the fact that I am 31, unmarried and without children. Funny, right?  People are starting to look at me with pity and say things like, "Don't worry, it'll happen for you," "I'm sure you'll find're fabulous," and my personal favorite, "My girlfriend lost thirty pounds on the grapefruit juice diet and now she's engaged!!!"  You'd think that my ovaries are drying up, I'm starting to look like someone eligible for an AARP Card and I spend my evenings sitting alone on my couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's every night watching Dance Your Ass Off on Oxygen.  Truth be told, I have plenty of time before I have to start harvesting and freezing my eggs, there isn't a wrinkle on my face, I'm lactose intolerant and I refuse to partake in the exploitation of fat people for the sake of tv aimed at making skinny people with low self esteem feel better about themselves. Sidenote: I cringed a little every time they ran the promo for that show where the adorable  but clearly unhappy blonde girl says, "I might just get a boyfriend!"

Anyway, let's get back to the situation at hand.  When did being unmarried and without children become incompetent, incapable and immature?  I SWEAR TO GOD, if one more person makes some stupid comment starting with "You wouldn't understand because you aren't married," or "You don't get it because you don't have kids," or "Just wait until you get married/have kids..." I'm going to lose my mind!!!

I don't appreciate people who are so ignorant that they equate intelligence, ability and maturity with marriage and motherhood.  Signing a piece of paper saying that you are legally bound to a man or woman or creating a life does not make you smarter, more understanding, more efficient and so on.  In fact, I know some incredibly stupid, immature people who have walked down the aisle, said "I do" and started a family.

I started feeling this way a few years back, six, to be exact, when my sister got married.  She had always been a bit of what some may call a black sheep.  I call her awesome.  A true individual, Sarah Kate has always been nothing less than 100% herself, never changing who she is and what she believes in to please others.  She ruffled many-a-feather back in the day, but the opinions of family and friends changed when she got married.  She was suddenly "a responsible adult." Hmm...interesting.  I had graduated from college, made the move to Chicago and was quickly establishing myself and beginning to build my career, but Sarah Kate, only three years my senior, was grown and I was still considered a child.

A couple of years passed and I found myself attending a family reunion.  For those who know me well,  you know that I avoid these things like the plague for this very reason.  I had an incredibly disturbing conversation with a family member only further proving my point.  He asked me what I was doing in Chicago and I pleasantly replied that I was working for a clothing retailer as a Visual Merchandising Manager and living in Lincoln Park.  I had been living in Chicago for nearly three years at this point and was doing quite well.  This was his response: "That's nice, but it's going to be really difficult to make it when your father isn't supporting you and paying your bills anymore."  Dumbfounded, I walked away thinking, this coming from a man whose 30-something son lives with and is supported by his grandmother?  Who the hell does he think he is?  Why would he possibly think that my father was supporting me and paying my bills?  Of course, I couldn't possibly be successful enough on my own to live alone in Chicago with no husband to support me.  I couldn't possibly be capable of that.

Fast-forward a couple of years.  One of my dearest friends gets engaged.  I have nothing but feelings of happiness for her as I absolutely adore her now husband and couldn't have been more ecstatic when she asked me to be a bridesmaid.  She was a dream bride: easygoing, fun and determined to make her wedding a great experience for everyone involved.  Unfortunately, most of her bridesmaids didn't share her vision.  I'm not saying everyone sucked, because that is truly not the case, but there were a couple who were hell-bent on disparaging everything that I said and suggested based on the fact that I wasn't married.  Never mind the fact that she was about my umpteenth friend to get married and I was no stranger to planning and attending showers, luncheons, bachelorette parties and weddings.  I thanked God when she chucked the whole thing and opted for a low-key destination wedding.

Now we find ourselves in the here and now.  I was at a bridal shower a couple of weeks back honoring a friend of mine who I have known for about five years.  She was a childhood friend of a great friend of mine whom I met while working at my first post-college job.  We've become closer in the past couple of years and, although I won't be standing up in her wedding, I did help pick the dress and I can assure you, it is fabulous!  Knowing her as well as we do, we spent an afternoon shopping for the perfect shower gift.  Choosing to forgo the Crate & Barrel registry, we bought an incredible hand-painted platter at one of her (and my) favorite stores, Anthropologie.  Wrapped elegantly, we proudly presented the gift at her shower and, despite her obvious excitement regarding this most gorgeous gift, one of the ladies sitting next to me leaned over to her friend and whispered (loudly), "They just don't know any better.  Clearly, neither of them has been married or they would know it was inappropriate of give a gift that wasn't on the registry.  And going in on it together is cheap!"  That's right.  The bitch called me cheap.  For the record, a $118 platter is hardly cheap, but her polyester pantsuit?  That's another story.

Now I'm all fired up and ready to go three rounds with anyone rude or ignorant enough to imply that because I have yet to get married or reproduce, I don't know how to give a gift, build a sucessful career (in progress), afford my own home (done), car (done) or toiletries (here's to hopin') or cook an edible meal.  Although I have yet to give birth, ( thank you, Depo Provera!) I do know how to hold (and soothe) a baby, fix a bottle and change a diaper.  I know that being a mother is both a blessing for those who choose that path and the most frustrating and difficult job any woman can take on.  Even though I'm not married or even engaged, I understand the complicated dynamic of a relationship, seeing as I have been involved in one or two of them.  I'm not a child.  I understand that life is messy, relationships are difficult and that there is a time and place to laugh and a time an place to be serious.  I know how to (although I rarely do) hold my tongue and am proud to have built an incredible relationship with my family.  Although many have shared their opinions regarding the fact that they view my closeness to my mom, dad and sister as immaturity and dependence, I consider them to be my rock, my support, my biggest cheerleaders and lately, the only people in my life who don't view me as incompetent, incapable and immature.  To all the haters I say, "You just wouldn't understand my life because when you got married and had kids, you forgot how to have fun and live life and you're just jealous that you can't be me!"

I'd like to dedicate this blog to everyone in my life who doesn't act like an ignorant asshole and chooses to support my life choices instead of bash them, especially Julia, who reminds me daily that I'm really not missing out on anything.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My "Magic Jeans" got me thinking...

I love hi-lo fashion.  The best dressed people I know are those who have mastered the art of mixing luxury with affordability.  I've longed to become one of those people. You know at least a couple who roll out of bed, throw something on and walk out of the house looking effortlessly chic yet completely pulled together.

Those who are capable of this are few and far between and I've always wondered, "What's your secret?"  Then, after stumbling upon an amazing pair of jeans, at Old Navy, no less, it all fell into place.  Your clothes, as simple as it may sound, just have to work.  They have to fit perfectly.  You have to feel amazing in them.  They don't have to be expensive or of the moment, they just have to be YOU.

I spotted these jeans on an over-stuffed rack of hodge-podge denim.  Having had a semi-successful career in the Visual Merchandising arena, this rack made chills run down my spine.  I felt nauseous and uncomfortable.  I wanted to re-merchandise the entire section before I so much as thought of shopping in it, but the jeans...they called to me.  They were low-rise, stretch denim, wide flare (think trouser) leg in the most perfect light wash.  They had my size.  They were on sale. They became mine.

I got these jeans home and immediately put them on with one of my favorite tops, a Nanette Lepore blouse, floral, puff sleeves, little bows on either side, ridiculously expensive and worth every penny.  I finished it off with my favorite spectator peep-toes and a sparkly cocktail ring.
It worked.  I felt like a million twenty dollar jeans.  Then, I switched gears.  I threw on a white Hanes mens v-neck undershirt, my trusty mens-style cardigan, tan, picked up at a local thrift shop for somewhere around five bucks and my super-comfy, well worn camo Haviana flip flops.  I put on a pair of gold hoops for good measure and took the dog for a walk. I felt confident.

I deemed my new jeans "Magic" and broadcast the news to anyone who would listen.  You saw my facebook status, right?  And my tweet, for all the "Twitterati."  I went back the next day, armed with my 10% off coupon, lured in with the TV commercial advertising two dollar tank tops, planning to procure as many pairs of these magical jeans as I could get my mitts on.  I bought them in white (so sophisticated!) and dark rinse.  I went home happy.

I'm still happy.  I'm wearing them right now.  For the record, I'm also wearing a two dollar tank top, but my sandals are from Coach and my earrings, silver pearls from Tiffany, were a surprise from Mom and Dad a couple of years back.  I feel like one of those cool people who doesn't have to try that hard.  Thank you, magic jeans.

In discovering these "magic jeans,"  I don't want to discredit all of my other closet essentials.  I still believe in quality over quantity, although those of you who have seen my closet may beg to differ.  I just can't justify not stocking up on something that blends my two worlds together.  These jeans are like the Brooklyn Bridge, uniting Brooklyn, funky and cool, with Manhattan, chic and upscale.  Hi-lo fashion.  I'm livin' it.


Friday, June 5, 2009

a brief rant about The 2009 MTV Movie Awards...

I don't give a hoot about MTV.  I don't watch The Hills or any of their other "programming," for I feel it will suck the intelligence right out of me.  However, once a year, I tune in to watch The MTV Movie Awards for one reason: to bash what everyone is wearing.

Because I'm a nice person, (stop snickering, Stacey!) I'm not going to bash any individuals.  I'm just going to make a point: for those of us who lived through the 80's, what these "celebrities" were wearing wasn't new, fresh, or even remotely interesting.  Most of it looked like the crap that we pretend we didn't wear in Junior High.

Bubble dresses? Prom 1988.  One-shoulder dresses covered in sequins? Dynasty. Ruffles, mesh and neon all worn together?  Madonna: The Early Years.  

I guess what I find most disturbing is that no one is telling these hot young things that they aren't "pushing the envelop" or wearing something "daring."  They're just working with stylists that are too busy pitching reality tv shows to dress their clients in something truly indicative of the times.  I saw nothing "inspired" by the 80's.  I just saw tacky shit: too literal, too cheap looking, too much.  Except for Miley Cyrus, who looked 45. (sorry, I tried)

I look to celebrities all of the time to influence my style, after all, they have access to the freshest, newest, most fabulous swag available.  I can only say that I was, overall, uninspired by what Young Hollywood put up. C'mon, people! Dazzle me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

the whirlwind that was April and May

April and May were busy months in the Buckles Family.  Birthdays, an engagement, a pet surgery, family visits, a major home renovation and a graduation were just the highlights.  There was so much going on that two months seemed like two very busy weeks of nonstop excitement.  Let's get started!

Mr. Joss, my adorable nephew, turned two on April 4th.  He celebrated his birthday in style with a choo-choo train themed party attended by, well, everyone in St. Louis, except for me.  It was a grand affair complete with a cake made of individual train cars decorated with icing and candy.  It was almost disturbing how much time and effort my sister and family as a whole put into this party, but in the end, looking at pictures, I was impressed.  Joss clapped and proclaimed, "Hap Burf!  Hap Burf!"  He gets funnier and cuter by the minute.

I loaded up my car with my dog and entire wardrobe and hit the road on April 10th- St. Louis bound- just in time to make it to town for Aunt Patti's Birthday Breakfast.  For those of you less familiar with our family, breakfast is Aunt Patti's favorite meal of the day, so it was only fitting that she requested this type of celebration.  My arrival was a pleasant surprise and breakfast was delicious...City Diner at the Birthday Girl's request!  We were joined by Mom, Sarah Kate, Joss, Julie, Shawna and Verona and a wonderful time was had by all.

I spent the next week bumming around Webster, hanging with Mom, organizing all of the closets in the house, (except for Dad's, which he claims "needs no organization.") and being a lady of leisure.  We shopped and lunched and got our nails done.  Needless to say, my mom is the best and she ALWAYS knows how to have a good time!

On Sunday, April 19th, Julie and Craig got engaged on a day trip to the Winery.  This is very exciting news for the family as we all love Craig and his family and can't wait to grow our clan even more!  Julie and Craig are getting married next June at The 9th St. Abbey in St. Louis.  I still haven't mailed off their engagement card.

Monday the 20th was Sarah Kate's 34th birthday.  Luckily for Julie, Sarah Kate was only mildly offended (kidding) that Julie stole her birthday thunder by getting engaged the day before, thus agreeing to allow the happy couple to attend her Birthday Breakfast at Rooster.  Once again, we gathered for breakfast and family time.  The food was delicious, the company was exquisite and Julie took the rare opportunity of having Sarah Kate and I in the same place at the same time to ask us to be her bridesmaids!  We couldn't have been more honored to do so.  I'm curious to see the bridesmaid dresses that she picks out seeing as Sarah Kate and I land on opposite ends of the fashion spectrum.  The birthday girl cleaned up in the present department which is always nice.  Birthdays are a big deal in our family and we always celebrate accordingly!

I headed back to Chicago that week knowing that it would only be three weeks until Sarah Kate came to visit me for...MY birthday!  In those weeks, Mom and Dad started what has now become a 6+ week exterior renovation of our house including tuckpointing the flagstone chimney, removing all of the cedar shingles and replacing them, building a new deck and repainiting the whole joint.  Dad thought at one point that it might be cheaper to buy a new house, but claimed that it held "sentimental value" being that they bought it on Sarah Kate's 1st birthday and we've lived there ever since.  We've begun to lovingly refer to it as "The Money Pit."  Sarah Kate's dog, Hazel went in for surgery for the removal of a benign tumor under her front leg and came through it just fine.  She's a great dog and we're all so happy that she's OK.

On my birthday, May 13th, for those of you who forgot, Sarah Kate took the train up for a 5-day visit.  Let me start by saying that I lost my best friend, Shannon, on my birthday in 2001.  It's been eight years, but this loss continues to weigh heavily on my heart.  Shannon was an amazing person, a brilliant scholar, an eco-warrior and wonderful friend.  Her death was both shocking and tragic and those who knew her best were lucky to share in her life, as short as it was.  Needless to say, this is tough for me to deal with and my family goes out of their way to celebrate her life along with mine every year.

Sarah Kate and I spent the week dining and walking and shopping and bonding.  We caught a Cubs game and she stocked up on a new summer wardrobe.  We just spent the time hanging out, something that we get to do so little of given her duties as a Mama and the fact that we live in different cities.

We were joined on Saturday by Sarah Kate's In laws- The ENTIRE Thenhaus clan (including my awesome brother-in-law, Matt, who is, incidentally, celebrating his birthday TODAY and the Josseroo) descended upon Chicago to celebrate Matt's sister Beth's graduation from film school at Columbia College.  Carl and Maureen threw a great bar-b-que in her Wicker Park backyard and then we all (Me, Sarah Kate, Matt, Joss, Carl, Maureen, Beth, Nick, Jessica, Zach, Jess, Mark, Katie, Adam and Emily) all headed to the UIC Pavilion to attend what most of us referred to as "the most awesome college graduation we've ever been to."  As you may have guessed, art school graduation is anything but traditional and we all had a blast.  Most important, though, CONGRATULATIONS BETH!!!  And she snagged an internship working on the re-make of Nightmare on Elm Street filming right here in Chicago.  How cool is that?

Before I wrap this up, I have to give a shout-out to my dear friend, Julia, who turned the big 3-0 on May 25th.  She partied it up in Austin with her mom and sister and returned home to Oklahoma City to a backyard bash planned by her awesome husband, David.  Julia and David married in Houston on March 7th of this year and it was an event to remember!  Other exciting news- Kara's rooftop pool is finally open and ready for business...just in time for them to buy a house and move to the (gasp!) suburbs! We'll have the summer to lounge and get tan, though, if it ever gets warmer than 65 degrees and stops raining!

Things have slowed down a bit since then, so I'm officially rededicating myself to my blogging...starting right now.  How else is is someone important supposed to stumble across my writing, find me brilliant and offer me an opportunity to write my memoir?

Wow.  I'm exhausted.

Friday, April 24, 2009


My apartment is spotless, my dog is walked, my clothes are clean, the storage unit in the basement is organized, the plants are watered, my bike tires have air in them and my gas tank is full.  My bills are all paid, my fridge is stocked, I even matched my socks when I pulled them out of the dryer.  I don't think I've done that in...well, I don't think I've ever done that.


Hmmm, the world is my oyster.  I could use a job, though, so if you know anyone who'd like to hire a very intelligent, hardworking, well-spoken, stylish and urbane lady with a great sense of humor to do, well, whatever, send 'em my way.

Coming soon: a thrilling recount of my latest visit home to StL.  Easter, my sisters' birthday, reorganizing closets, Julie's engagement!  What...a WHIRLWIND!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don't judge...I love cleaning out closets.  I love cleaning out my closet and I'm pretty sure I love cleaning out everyone else's closets as well.  And I'm pretty good at it, too.  Just ask my friend Katie.  One afternoon with me and she's five bags of old clothes lighter and loving everything in her closet.

I swear, I got a rush when I looked at my newly organized and edited wardrobe.  I stared at my closet for a good thirty minutes on Saturday, which happened to be the the day that I finished a five-phase, three month closet renovation encompassing everything from throwing out old, stained, damaged clothes, making donations to the Salvation Army, trips to the resale and consignment shops, cleaning and the install of new shelving to house a plethora of accessories.

Now, allow me to explain myself.  Some people like art, furniture, kitchen appliances, cars, what have you.  I happen to love clothes, shoes, purses, scarves, gloves, hats, jewelry and so on.  My 2008 New Years' resolution was an experiment, if you will.  A challenge to myself: I was going to wear everything in my closet and at the start of 2009, I had to cleanse myself ( and rid my closet) of anything that I didn't wear.  This challenge took on a life of its own, forcing me to wear things that I had bought on impulse, items that I had held on to for sentimental reasons and old favorites that needed to be let go.  Not only did I succeed in building a wardrobe that I truly loved, but I discovered my own personal style along the way.

I felt so great upon completion of this project that I want to do this for everyone I know!  I love the feeling of opening up my closet and getting excited about what I'm going to wear each day...and I can find EVERYTHING.  I donated eight bags of clothes, I sold end of season trendy pieces and put a nice chunk of change back in my pocket, I even gave away shoes, and those who know me well, I am sure, are shocked.

All in all, this closet renovation was a great experience.  With my closet under control I feel like I've reclaimed a part of my life that I had neglected in the past.  Cleaning out your closet and editing your wardrobe is a fresh start, a new outlook and a big accomplishment.  We form attachments to our clothes.  They contribute to how we feel, be it comfortable, powerful, sexy, cozy, the list goes on.

Here's to my fresh start, my new outlook, my new wardrobe...and maybe YOURS!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I quit my job today.

I know this sounds crazy, but last week, I realized that I haven't been happy in over a year.  I have an incredible family, I love my friends and I live in one of the most amazing cities in the world, but I absolutely HATE my job.

I know we're in a recession.  I also know that good jobs are few and far between, but does that mean that I should submit and accept a life of misery just to earn a paycheck?  Let me tell you this...I don't make enough money to be miserable.  I don't think anyone does, so I'm leaving this life behind.

I don't have a great plan, but as always, I do have one.  My plan looks something like this:  work crappy 9-5 Monday thru Friday job, decide if I want to go to Grad School, organize closets for extra cash. It might not be the smartest plan, but it sure as hell beats waking up in tears.  It also beats crying myself to sleep and throwing up everything I eat.

I'm trying to be rational, Dad.  I know irrationality makes you irrational, ironic as that may be.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't secretly hoping that someone important would read this blog, find my humor, wit and honesty surprisingly refreshing and set out to publish my memoir, so I'll try not to disappoint.  I'll start this thing off right...


So, in the words of The Shins, "Give me your hand and let's jump out the window!"


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