Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Splurge vs. Steal: Chambray Edition

I love a good chambray top. Mind you, I don't own one since my fave one got a huge hole in the chest...I've yet to find a replacement.

However, I love the versatility of a chambray shirt. It can be dressed up or down...and I love it with a pair of black ponte pants/leggings, booties and a fedora. Below are two outfits and one cost more than $1700 while the other costs about $200 to recreate. Can you guess which is the splurge and which is the steal?

splurge v steal: chambray fedora

splurge v steal: chambray fedora by aprilanne147 featuring beatle boots

The outfit on the left is the splurge,  totaling more than $1700. The one on the right is the inexpensive one. Look for a lot of these inexpensive pieces at stores like Forever 21, Dorothy Perkins and Wet Seal and you'll be able to steal the expensive look for a lot less! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why "Girl Boss" is More Demeaning Than Empowering

Most of us are aware of the variety of multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that exist. These are things like Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Mary Kay, Stella + Dot, etc. Many of the employees of these companies are females and some of these companies are owned/run by women. Lots of women are employed with MLM companies because they give you the opportunity to set your own hours and work from home...which is especially helpful if you have children.

However, there's a trend I've been seeing amongst these companies as of late and it's the term "girl boss". I know you've probably seen it too. "I need 2 more ladies who want to be a girl boss" or "Be a girl boss with me! Here's how...".

I would like to briefly plea to women to stop using that term.

Dear female MLM ambassadors,

Please stop using the term "girl boss". You might think it's empowering, inspirational or just cute to use this term but it's not. What it does is actually undermine your cause. Instead of empowering women, we are creating a separate category of the original term "boss". So women can't just be a boss? Apparently we have to modify "boss" and make it separate by adding "girl" in front of it.

And don't even get me started on why we are using the term "girl" instead of woman or female. I guess because it seems cute and catchy? But it's even more demeaning because now you are saying that you aren't a normal boss, you're a little/young/naive version of a real boss.

Ladies, instead of using the term "girl boss", I propose we just use boss. Why? Because it's a sign of equality. We don't need our own separate term...yours will do just fine. So, to all those women out there who run their own business - be the absolute best boss you can be. Leave the girl bosses at the playground.

Note: I'm not knocking any MLM companies since I'm a patron of a few.

Springy To-Do List

Now that spring is officially here, there are a number of things on my "Springy To-Do List".

via Unsplash

1. Start incorporating more fresh flowers in my house and use this pin to do a better job at arranging them.
2. Along those lines, I'd like to start planning a flower garden in my backyard. I live in Zone 8a (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone) so if anyone else is a fellow Zone 8a-er and has any suggestions for what does well in red clay soil, I'm all ears!
3. Deep clean my house. I might actually hire someone. It's so much easier to do the heavy, heavy cleaning that is hard to keep up with. #judgmentfreezone
4. Spruce up our back patio and front porch. Maybe add planters or rearrange?
5. Hike, hike and hike! There are few new trails I found out about near our house we haven't tried yet.
6. Use my new camera and take some nature shots. I really struggle with making time for this. It's such a joy of mine and I rarely make time for it.
7. Spring-ize my mantel. It's currently in winter mode.

What about you? What's on your spring to-do list?

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Venture Into the World of Hair Extensions

My hairdresser sister has been wearing hair extensions for years and though I loved the idea of longer and fuller hair, I wasn't sure I was hair savvy enough to use hair the least not the kind she used.

But after I recently cut my hair very short (on a whim) and hated it (doesn't that always happen??) I decided bite the bullet and try them.

I asked my sis about brand and type since she was the expert. She recommended a full set from Milk + Blush. After some back and forth with their customer service for color selection (I had to send them pictures of my hair so they could help me choose a shade) I ordered them. For reference, I ordered this set in the shade Slayer. I ordered the 12-14" set because though I wanted to add length to my hair, I didn't want it to look very obvious that I had put extensions in.

Once they arrived I verified that they were the correct color with my stylist (sister) and took them to her to be professional cut. This part is very important with hair extensions. You must have a professional cut them with layers that will blend into your hair. I already had layers so she just had to trim these to blend in.

Once we got these in, we realized that while they matched the ends of my hair perfectly, they were a little off on my roots. This wasn't a big deal and wasn't super noticeable but I still wanted them to match so I scheduled an appointment for her to match my roots with the extensions exactly.

I couldn't be any happier with my extensions. I wear them almost every day (except when I'm just bumming around the house) and the best part is that I can take them out whenever I want. I take them out in the evenings when I get home and the put them back in the mornings. I love them! The first day I started to wear them no one really said anything...which made me nervous. Then a few people said "wow your hair has gotten so long! It looks great!" The fact that they couldn't tell it wasn't my real hair is a huge compliment!

Here are some before and afters...

Note: I wasn't compensated  by Milk + Blush nor was I given goods in exchange for a review. This is just my pure, honest opinion. I've never tried other brands so I can't compare but I'll say these are amazing so far!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Car Identity Crisis

My husband and I have started having new car talks. You see my car is 9 years old and my husband's is 11. What will probably end up happening is that he gets rid of his truck and takes my car for a while since it's new and has fewer miles. But this means I need to look for another car. And I'm totally stuck on what type of car I should get. I'm not one of those people that has the same type of car. In fact my history of car ownership is quite varied...

1995 Ford Escort Station Wagon
This was my first car. While I thought it unfair that I had to navigate high school in a wagon, it got me to where I needed to go and  fit a lot of my friends in it. :)

2000 Volkswagen Beetle
I loved this little car. It was cute and zippy and had lots of personality. The only problem is it was a lemon. It kept stranding me, would break down a lot, and had a ton of problems. I also hated just having 2 doors when I was trying to haul people around. And the hubcaps would pop off at the most inopportune times.

2007 Jeep Patriot Limited
This is my current car. Her name is Patty. I love her. She is large and roomy but not a tank. She gets great gas mileage (for a small SUV) and is kinda of sporty and cute. I love that she is boxy. (I love boxy cars!) She has enough room for my 6'5" husband to sit comfortably and even drive comfortably.

So you see my car history isn't very consistent. I've had wagons, sporty 2-doors and an SUV. This really came to a head yesterday when a coworker dropped me off at my car and was shocked at the car I own. She said, "I would never, in a million years, picture you in a Jeep. I thought you'd be in something cute and little."

That's not the first time someone has said that to me regarding Patty. Apparently, she's not the type of car someone with my personality would seem to drive. So now, as I look at new cars, I'm not sure what type of car best fits my personality? Is it another SUV? Something small and zippy? A sedan? (I've never owned a sedan) I'm truly at a loss. How do I find a car that "suits me"? Is that even a thing or does it all come down to price and meeting my needs?

I'd love some help here. If you could see me in any car (with what you know about me or don't know about me) what would it be? Or what type of car? I'm truly at a loss as to which direction to go?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Instagram, You Nasty B

ICYMI, Instagram announced it would  move to an algorithmic-based feed for users. What does that mean? Basically, instead of seeing Insta posts chronologically, you will now only see posts that have the highest engagement rates. So posts with the most likes, comments, etc. will show up in your feed.

Why I think this stinks:

1. I'm OCD and I like looking at my feed chronologically. I like being able to scroll back to where I left off last and view everything that has posted since then. I cannot handle the idea that things are in time order.

2. This will exacerbate my FOMO. I already have a Fear Of Missing Out with things that I might miss chronologically and now I'll miss even more.

3. Instagram was my fave network because it seemed like the least "touched". The least monetized and sponsored and all that crap. Now it's been taken over by the man.

Instagram, you nasty B. Why did you have to go and change? This sucks. The end.

Monday, March 14, 2016


My friend Daniel posted this as a list on The List App and I loved it so much and thought it so relevant, that I'm posting here. Without further adieu...


You'll never get everybody to like you and/or agree with you.
1. Their loss. 2. Keep trying if it's a worthy battle.

Everybody is scraping by the best that they know how. 
The world is simultaneously awe inspiring and terrifying in its scope and complexity. Nobody has it figured out. Look for people filled with wonder. Avoid people who think they know everything.

Your worldview is based on assumptions.
And so is everyone else's. You may not find comfort in this, but you should find compassion. We're all just guessing. Read Hume and laugh it off.

Seek out dissenting views. 
Try to understand them. Don't shun people who don't think like you. Hold only a few core beliefs tightly. Debate and don't be afraid to admit if you turn out to be wrong.

You are more than your sexuality.
Our culture is obsessed with sex (in all fairness it is amazing). We have made the mistake of making our sexuality our primary identifier. No doubt it plays an important role, but remember you are so much more besides.

Be confident - but not arrogant.
There are areas where natural talent will get you pretty far. Hard work will take you farther. Know that you are capable of great things. Be humbled by remembering that everyone else is also capable of great things.

You will get hurt. 
Life is a full contact sport. Get back up. It's always worth it. Also, finding love can be a serious pain. Choose carefully to minimize heartache.

You are loved. 
You were lucky to be born into a family that full on loves you and each other. Not everyone has (or had) that. Adjust accordingly. Show love when possible.

A choice once made isn't made forever.
They are made continually. Your current actions are your only actual choices. Confirm with resounding frequency your good choices (marriage, life goals, charity) and don't be afraid to turn your back on bad choices (abusive relationships, a great paying job that makes you miserable).

News networks are selling a product. 
And I don't mean the commercials. They know their demographic and they give them what they want. Try to get your news from another country - they are less biased (because they don't have anything at stake).

Arguments that only appeal to emotion and don't present facts are weak. 
You can be emotional when delivering facts - though be aware that if you're ALWAYS emotional empaths will find you exhausting. Back up important arguments with facts. On the receiving end, be aware of your emotional states when receiving information. It's easy to be emotionally manipulated. Especially in a group.

Hard work doesn't always lead to wealth.
Luck plays a part too. Not all poor people are lazy and not all rich people worked for it. Anybody who tells you different is probably a politician or rich and not thankful enough.

Separation of Church and State is a good thing.
(For clarity - I'm a Christian.) Trying to turn ever religious belief into a law isn't good. 1. You'll be trying to hold people to standards that they don't accept and 2. you'll make your beliefs that much less appealing. If there is an exception worth fighting for, you'll know it.

Always be concerned with justice.
Find what is right. Find what is true. Fight like hell for those things.

Eating well and exercising is good for your body and mind.
Your diet and energy level can affect your mood. It's crazy. Do you best to keep your body happy. (For me it's greens and moderate exercise, for a close friend it's pasta and extreme endurance -find out what works for your body.)

Drive safely.
My dad impressed upon me his belief that cars are lethal weapons. If you treat them as such and handle them with care lives will literally be saved. Also don't drive drunk. Volunteer to be the DD if and when you need to.

Avoid being passive aggressive.
Just don't do it. Nobody likes that.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Your Easter Candy Preference Says About You

Easter is one of my favorite times of the year for a number of reasons. 1) It's a commemoration of the day Jesus was resurrected. 2) It's a time for pastels and baby animals. 3) It's basically Spring's coming out party.

The other big reason I love Easter is the candy! I thought it would be fun to do a little personality assessment based on your favorite Easter candy. Now, these thoughts are 100% my own and not based on any logic, fact or truth...just my own experiences.

The general categories of Easter candy

Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs:
You're usually pretty grounded and predictable but like to have the occasional moment of whimsy or surprise. You probably love seeing pictures of baby animals or watching cute animal videos on the Internet.

Jordan Almonds:
You are probably employed at what most people consider a boring professional like accountant, bookkeeper, analyst, etc. but you actually enjoy it. You like the predictability of the Jordan almond and enjoy routine in life.

Chocolate Bunny:
You probably eat this bunny a little at a time and savor it, much like you do with the things you love. You rarely jump fully into things immediately but take time to weigh your options and deliberate. You enjoy the little pleasures in life and frequently take the time stop and pontificate.

Cadbury Creme Egg:
Something can probably never been too sweet for you. You value time-honored tradition and sometimes might be perceived as being "hard to crack" but once you open up, you are probably very friendly, warm and oozing with kindness. :) Also, you've most likely been eating these since childhood since it's rare to find a recent convert to these things. You either love or you hate them.

You're probably fairly aware/concerned with how you look and how you are perceived by others. You place a lot of value in appearance and probably decorate a lot for the Easter holiday around your house. You probably also buy an Easter dress each year and plan your outfit around the shoes. (Easter M&Ms after all, are just "prettier" regular M&Ms)

Reese's Egg:
Out of all the candy personalities you are probably the most down-to-earth, chill and drama-free. You would be a good friend to drink with and probably enjoy a few eggs with a good glass of wine or beer. You probably also buy the Reese's trees, Reese's pumpkins and Reese's hearts at other holidays as well. Chocolate + peanut butter is a classic combo and you can't ever go wrong with something that's a favorite of so many.

You are pretty health-conscious and enjoy entertaining. You may practice yoga and/or drink a lot of kombucha. You shop at places like LOFT and Nordstrom and tend to wear neutrals.

You are a freak of nature. Go away.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Our New Home: Another Kitchen Update

It's time for another kitchen update. (Aren't y'all just so excited?!) I feel like that's the only thing I ever talk about in our new house...but to be fair, it was the room that needed the most work. Two weekends ago, we took it upon ourselves to paint our kitchen cabinets. They were a builder grade honey oak which I personally abhorred. We wanted them white. So we decided to do that over the course of a weekend. After much research, we purchased General Finishes milk paint on Amazon (because of the stellar reviews) and got to work on a Friday.

I can go into detail on another post some day, I didn't love the paint and we will probably need to go back over the inside of the cabinets again in a few months. But, it got painted!

To refresh your memory, here's what we started with...

And here's the newly-painted version:

I'm very pleased with how light it makes the kitchen. The rest of my house is very light and airy and to have a darker kitchen just didn't flow. We think it makes the kitchen look a lot bigger. We also added some drawer pulls to the working drawers. We reused the original door pulls which were satin nickel. I'd originally wanted to replace them but those suckers are EXPENSIVE! And because we have 21 cabinet doors, it would have been too much money.

Still on the list is to replace the counter tops, stove and microwave but we've made a lot of progress already! Read up on the other kitchen updates here and here.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Work GIFs

It's 7:24 am and I've already been enraged twice by my coworkers. I hope you enjoy these snarky work-themed GIFs as much as I will...

RealityTVGIFs real housewives work rhoa real housewives of atlanta
Yes, I'm a time watcher. I see when you come in late and leave early and I silently hate you for it.

RealityTVGIFs work tv real housewives reality tv
When I see people online shopping, or worse, having conversations for an hour about non-work things. Also, see above.

work tv reblog oh ha
See #1. Obviously this is a big deal to me. I put in my 9+ hours and you should too. 

RealityTVGIFs food coma jet lag school real housewives
Oh...sorry. I fell asleep. You're doing what with your kids/family/dogs/etc. this weekend?

amy poehler thumbs up you got this angry work
When someone says they are going to chance eating something that has been in the fridge for 2 weeks.

night work moment laptop
When a C-suite walks down by my desk...

the office tell me more smile michael scott go on
When you tell me you are "absolutely slammed" with work yet I see you posting crap to Facebook during the day.

the office mindy kaling kelly kapoor
When I ask you "How are you doing?" and I get back an complete diatribe on how your life is awful, your antibiotics aren't working and your boss hates you. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Five Lessons I Learned From My First Job

via Unsplash

My very first job was an unusual one. I started working when I was 14 and worked at a coffee/cheese/gift shop. It was a little local affair owned by a retired couple and was just busy enough to make it fun but rarely extremely busy. I tended to work shifts alone during the week and with one other person on the weekends.

Most of my time centered around making coffee drinks (iced, hot, blended, etc.) and creating gift baskets of coffee, cheese, nuts and other snacks. I loved doing this so much! Though I've had many jobs since this one, I learned quite a few lessons at my first job that are a part of my life today...some 17 years later.

1. Covet your alone time
I've always preferred being alone than being around people. Being by yourself at a coffee shop and having nothing but hours to read was amazing. This was before the prevalence of the Internet, so there was no internet surfing...just glorious reading, gift basket making and people watching. The older you get, time alone is more of a rarity so enjoy it while you can.

2. Above all, be kind
On the rare occasion we'd be busy, sometimes customers would get mean or snap at me. I recognized that their frustration wasn't actually at me but at something or someone else and I just happened to bear the brunt of it. I learned that by simply being kind to these angry customers, I usually was able to switch their mood by the time they left. It's really hard to keep being mean to someone who is smiling and being pleasant to you. (Unless you are a monster!)

3. Stop and smell the... (coffee?)
I do not drink coffee at all, but I love the smell of it. The beans, the smell of espresso...all of it! We sold a bunch of flavored coffee beans  by the pound and I distinctly remember going over, lifting the lid and letting the smell of the coffee waft over me. It was great. Sometimes, you just need to take a moment and pause.

4. People are often predictable
I got really good at guessing what someone would order before they came in. Business man in a suit? He'll get a plain cup of coffee with a little cream. Mom and teenage girl out shopping? Skinny latte for mom and a mocha for the girl. It was almost a game to me to guess what people would order. In life it's easy for me (usually) to predict people's outcomes or reactions to things. Heck, I've even learned to NOT do things at work or home because I can pretty much guess what a reaction will be. This has helped me immensely to avoid conflict. :)

5. Cleaning is a necessary evil
I used to loathe closing the coffee shop in the evenings because of all the cleaning involved. Mopping, sanitizing, cleaning machines, filters, etc. It took all of 90 minutes to clean that place. I hated it but I realized that it was absolutely necessary to do it all every night because the health inspectors could come by and if it wasn't clean we could fail our inspection or worse. This was a part of my job...a necessary evil. As an adult, I look at cleaning the same way. I do not enjoy it (really who does?!) but it's necessary for me to calm and successful. Having a clean house and work environment helps me to be a better person. I'm less stressed/anxious and more focused and just all around a little easier to live with if my house is clean.

What was your first job?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Designing My Living Room

My living room was one of the first rooms I completed in our new house. It's also the one that has gone through the most transformations. I've just not got it quite right. Part of the reason is because I have residual furniture and decor items from old places that I'm trying to make work. Some of these will be replaced eventually with new ones.

Below is a mock up of what I'd like our living room area to look like. I'm using some of the same things we already have. In the image below, we already have the couch, coffee table, lamps, and throw pillows. Everything else are things I'd want to eventually replace. (I'm starting with our current's too small and I want something more neutral)

Living Room Decor Ideas

Living Room Decor Ideas by aprilanne147 featuring Nearly Natural

I also love the idea of replacing our loveseat (we currently have a couch and loveseat combo) with slipper chairs...but that may never happen. Seating is king in our house! So, we may end up doing a charcoal gray sectional once we decide to replace the couches. For now, the simple addition of a new rug, side table (the one on the left side would be a new purchase) and a few other decorative items. The wall color is Silver Sage by Restoration Hardware. That was the color the previous owners painted and we love. It's a little more gray than in the picture but it's this really pretty blue/gray in person. Putting this mock up together really helps me to visualize what we need to buy (plan and budget for) and what we should be on the lookout for. 

Do you dream of redecorating a room in your house? We JUST painted our kitchen cabinets this past weekend so once we put on the final touches, I'll share a kitchen update too. :)