Hey! Hey, guys! I missed ya.

I hope you all had lovely, safe, relaxing breaks over the holiday. Joey and I did as little as possible, so we certainly did. The only bit of excitement? Babysitting my coworker’s cat.

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Her name is Mira. Pretty cute, right?

As my regular readers are well-aware, Joey and I have wanted a pet for a while. It hasn’t been possible yet, so we were pretty excited to spend our week off of work with something small and furry.

Before I tell you how it went, I think it’s important that you know that we are not cat people. I mean, I’ve had a cat, and she was great, but I will always pick a dog first. But like I said, we’re desperate and she still met the “small” and “furry” requirements.

Mira arrived without incident, took a few seconds to get acclimated, and then promptly started playing with us. She chases string (like, you know, every cat ever) and fetches elastic hair ties. She’s tiny, so she didn’t make any kind of mess.

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Joey promptly got very attached.

The most annoying/cutest thing about her? She would try to wake us up at 4:30 in the morning, but she would do it by curling up between my shoulder blades (I sleep on my stomach), putting her face right next to my face, and purring as loudly as she could.

I mean, that’s just kind of hard to get mad at.

We also got on a pretty good schedule of pet care — waking up a little earlier to play with her before heading out for the day, scooping litter twice a day to prevent any gross smells, requisite petting time.

The only thing Mira was missing? A desire to cuddle. She loved being pet, but she only sat in my lap one time (and then, it was only for about two minutes)(the happiest two minutes of my day). But that cat has zero desire to be held, at least by us.

Of course, eventually we had to give her back. And for two not-cat people, we were both pretty bummed to go back to our pet-free lives. It might be time to invest in a fish or something.

Either way, it was a good introduction to what it will be like when we finally get our own pet. Someday…

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Today, I did something a little crazy.

I signed up for a marathon. In Paris.

All together now: Eeeeeeeeee!

 

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

 

Really, I could not be more excited to go to Paris again. And heck, to run a full marathon for the first time. I just can’t think too hard about it. Or about the training.

Oof, the training.

I’m running it with my pal, Diana, who ran the Philly Half with me, and of course Joey will be there to support. It’s actually the same week as our anniversary, so it will be nice to celebrate by revisiting one of our honeymoon spots. (You know, without getting food poisoning this time.)

So I’m psyched. And terrified. And totally open to any marathon training suggestions/schedules my marathoner readers have to share.

Allons-y!

When I posted the final reveal of my Blogger Style Swap on Monday, the strongest reactions went something like this:

“Yeah, sure, the clothes are cute blahblahblah HOW DID YOU DO THAT TOP KNOT?”

Seriously, a bunch of people reached out to me across various media and asked for a tutorial. You guys are way too nice.

BUT ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.

I’ve actually made a bit of a study of the top knot/ballerina bun (not surprising, I know), so I know not one, but three ways to create it. And today, I’m sharing all my secrets.

First, collect the necessary materials.

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1. Goody Spin Pins
2. Pony tail holder
3. Sephora Collection Bunette (comes in blonde or brown…mine isn’t quite that yellow, I blame my camera)
4. Bobby pins

You want to start out with slightly dirty, texturized hair. If your hair is super straight, like mine, I recommend waiting until the day after you’ve curled it or used a bit of product. Dirty hair has more grip, so the bun with stay better. I’ll usually just wash my bangs so they don’t look gross, like so:

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Heeyyyy, it’s my face. Anyway.

The first way to create a top knot is the Roll-And-Twist Method.

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1. Start with hair in a very high ponytail. Think Barbie in Malibu. I usually create it by hanging upside down so gravity can help out.

2. Wrap the hair around the ponytail like a cinnamon roll.

3. Twist one Goody Spin Pin into either side of the bun, ideally interlocking them. You may need a few extra bobby pins for stray pieces.

4. Ta-da!

The next method is a true Top Knot Style.

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1. Again, start with your high ponytail.

2. Separate the ponytail into two pieces.

3. Tie the pieces into a knot.

4. Wrap the ends around the ponytail to form a bun.

5. Use bobby pins to secure.

6. All knotted up and good to go.

And finally, the Ballerina Bun. (This is the style I was wearing in the swap photos.)

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1. Again, you start with the high pony. Thread your hair through the Bunette and slide it to the middle/end of your ponytail. (The more layers you have, the less you will be able to slide the Bunette without hair falling out.)

2. Roll the Bunette forward toward your face. That is very important.

3. Bend the Bunette back into a bun shape. Use bobby pins to secure any loose pieces in the back.

4. Go on with your bad ballerina self.

So there you have it!

Are there any techniques I don’t know about? I’d love to hear how you create this kind of up do.

Thanks to my handsome husband for his help taking these photos at 7 a.m. You’re the best.

Time to get off those tenterhooks, folks, because the time has finally arrived to reveal how I styled the six items I received from Kayla and Madison for our Blogger Style Swap!

For those of you just tuning in, Kayla, Madison, and I were all cleaning out our closets around the same time and thought it would be fun to send each other three items that we never wore anymore to see if a new person could breathe some life into them. While some of the things I received were right up my alley, others took me right out of my comfort zone. (Get my full first impressions here.)

Here’s how I styled each piece (please don’t judge my awkward poses…a model I am NOT):

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What it was: Black and camel striped skirt
This skirt was definitely one of my favorite things I received. The colors, pattern, and shape were totally the kind of thing I would have bought, so styling it happened pretty naturally. I added a pair of tights, black booties, and an over-sized black sweater to balance out the fitted bottom. At the last second, a gold necklace and one of my sister’s hats was thrown into the mix.

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What it was: Ivory satin tank with black lace detail
I loved how this shirt was neutral but still had some visual interest. It paired easily with a pair of black jodhpurs, brown boots, and a navy tweed blazer I had just bought on Black Friday.

2necklace

What it was: Orange jeweled statement necklace
Statement necklaces are a big part of my every day look, so this one was easy too. I simply threw it on over a crewneck, long-sleeve black dress, and I was good to go.

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What it was: Gray turtleneck
As I mentioned last week, I haven’t worn a turtleneck in ages. But I loved this one so much, I actually recently ordered two more in a similar style! I styled the one Kayla sent me with a burgundy pencil skirt, a furry infinity scarf my sister had given me, and the highest top knot I could manage.

6blazer

What it was: Gray contrast-cuff blazer
I’ve always been a fan of blazers, and this one had cute polka-dot cuffs that gave an otherwise basic piece a little somethin’ extra. I wore it over a black dress with tights and added a jeweled statement necklace. Because I like bling, ok?

4trapezedress

What it was: Champagne-colored trapeze dress with jeweled collar
Aaaand finally, the dress I was most nervous about from the moment I took it out of the box. Ironically, it also ended up with the least amount of styling! All I did was add tights and black booties and another top knot. The dress was a little long on me, so the added height of the hair helped. If I’d had more time, I might have tried to get it altered in length and around the waist a bit, but in the end, it worked out just fine.

So there you have it! Overall, I had a great time exchanging clothes with both these stylish ladies — and got a few new favorite pieces out of the deal!

Don’t miss how Kayla styled her pieces here. (I’ll add a link to Madison’s post when it goes up :)

All photos by Figment Art Photography.

Anyone who has known me for more than a few minutes (or read even a few posts on this blog) can probably tell you two things about me:

1. I’m very committed to the idea of self-improvement.

Whether it’s my attitude my running or my outfits, I’m always trying to be the best version of myself.

2. I am a bit fickle.

Not with things that really matter, thank goodness. (I’ve been pretty into the same dude for almost half a decade.) But I like change. I’m not afraid of changing anything from my hair to my job if I’m not happy with it, and if you’ve read more than a few posts on here, you’ve probably lived through a few I those changes with me.

I recently caught up with a dear friend from high school named Whitney whom I rarely see and who relies on social media and this ‘ere blog to keep up on what I’m up to. I thought it was pretty funny that one of the first things she commented on was that she loved following my adventures in decorating my apartment, but she had noticed I hadn’t made any changes in a while.

It’s not that I don’t want to, I swear. Joey will be the first one to tell you that every month or so, I have a new idea for something we should add or switch up.

The biggest thing that holds me back? Cash monies, yo.

And the fact that I know we won’t be in this apartment forever, so I’m less committed to the idea of perfecting the space.

Instead, lately I’ve been into the idea of making little tweaks to give everything I slightly more polished feel. One thing I finally did (despite having the materials for about six month sitting in my closet)? Install a bulletin board above our desk.

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The benefit is two-fold: the wall looks less blank and we finally have a place to corral all the tiny papers and receipts that make their way to the desk.

Next, we added more storage to the kitchen with a pair of wire racks.

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I’m kind of in love with them — so much storage! The more observant among you may have noticed that we removed the white console table that used to hold our microwave and china. Then you win a prize! (Not really…limited funds, remember?) I sold the table on Craigslist (for more than I paid for it, I might add) and used the cash to buy one of the shelves.

My next mission is making each shelf look a little more styled. (Because I’m a freak.) these two are my favorites so far.

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The last two updates are purely cosmetic. First, I gave in to the coffee table styling trend (seriously, guys, I don’t make this stuff up) and added a white lacquer tray from West Elm with a few pretty candle holders from Target and HomeGoods.

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I also added a little crown-shaped bowl I picked up at Michael’s ages ago (that I had been using to hold bracelets) because Joey and I tend to take our rings off when we get home (I don’t sleep in mine…is that weird?) and one of us who shall remain unnamed has a tendency to misplace his. I mean, his or hers. So now there’s a convenient place for it to live when it’s not on hisher finger.

And last but not least, I finally got an outdoor door mat. And look how swanky he is:

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It’s almost embarrassing how much joy that mat gives me every time I leave or come home. Seriously, I am so weird. I mean, he almost distracts you from that eyesore of a door.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. A couple other changes you (Whitney) can look forward to: a potentially new coffee table and a FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY updated bedroom. (Finally.)

Stay tuned!

Time for an update on my Blogger Style Swap!

As I’ve said, I was so excited to see what Kayla and Madison had sent me — they both have such great personal style, and I covet their clothes on a regular basis.

For this reveal post, we decided to rate each item we saved on the following scales:

What it was:
First impressions:
Comfort Zone Score: (with 1 being “exactly my style” and 10 being “whoooa Nelly!”)

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Here’s what I thought of Madison’s shipment:

What it was: Black and camel striped skirt
First impressions: LOVE. Seriously, can I wear it right now?
Comfort Zone Score: 1 (I mean, it’s from Banana Republic, and as Joey established, BR is my jam.)

What it was: Ivory satin tank with black lace detail
First impressions: The colors are great, and I’ve been looking for more interesting tops (aka, shirts that aren’t just solid navy, black, or white).
Comfort Zone Score: 4, mostly because I don’t wear a lot of blouse-y shirts in general.

What it was: Orange jeweled statement necklace
First impressions: I love a good statement necklace, but I hardly ever wear orange. Time to get creative!
Comfort Zone Score: 5 for color, 1 for sentiment :)

And here’s what I thought of Kayla’s items:

What it was: Gray turtleneck
First impressions: Solid color, and I’ve actually been meaning to try out turtlenecks again. I don’t think I’ve worn one for over a decade — it’s time.
Comfort Zone Score: 2. I can rock a solid long-sleeve shirt like nobody’s business.

What it was: Gray blazer made with sweatshirt material (I don’t know if there’s a fancier term for that.)
First impressions: I love mixing casual and dressier styles, so this blazer is a great example of that in a single piece (and who hasn’t been tempted by the whole fancy sweatshirt/sweatpants trend that’s happening right now?). Plus, I love the contrasting polka dot material at the ends of the sleeves.
Comfort Zone Score: 4. I love blazers, but this material is still new to me in not-actually-sweatshirt form.

What it was: Champagne-colored trapeze dress with jeweled collar
First impressions: I’m going to be totally honest, I was a bit intimidated by this dress. It’s a silhouette I never wear (I’m convinced you have to be tall and teeny-tiny to make it work — two things I am not), and I had serious concerns about looking tent-like. Serious. Concerns.
Comfort Zone Score: 9 for the silhouette alone. I am clearly very particular about my fits ha.

SO HOW DID I STYLE THEM? Guess you’ll have to come back next Monday to see. But just because I’m super generous, here’s another sneak peek:

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Get Madison’s first impressions here, and Kayla’s here.

See you next week!

Photos by my ever-so-talented sister, Joelle of Figment Art Photography. (She’s awesome, so if you live anywhere near Des Moines, you should hire her right this second to photograph your senior pics/baby pics/family pics/wedding pics/awkward blogger style photos. Like, now.)