Monthly Archives: February 2014

…In With The New!

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a wee bit obsessed with outlet malls…especially J. Crew Factory. When my KISA’s brother was in town he wanted to spend a considerable amount of time shopping. Well, twist my arm and call my Fred – I gave the man what he wanted! Here are some of my new additions mashed up with my wardrobe.

navy button down blouse, black jeans, gold tipped heels


Top: J. Crew Factory (this season); Belt: Gap (this season); Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction


green sweater, white collared shirt, black jeans


Sweater: J. Crew Factory (this season); Top: J. Crew Factory; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Nine West


denim blazer, black and white striped tee, olive pants


Jacket: The Limited; Top: Zara; Jeans: J. Crew Factory (this season); Shoes: Austria store


black and white striped tee, herringbone vest, black jeans


Top: Loft (this season); Vest: J. Crew Factory; Belt: Express; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Kenneth Cole

navy cardigan, chambray shirt, camo jeans

Cardigan: Lands End Canvas; Top: J. Crew Factory; Pants: J. Crew Factory; Shoes: Lands End Canvas


blue cardigan, lime green gingham button down, jeans, statement necklace


Cardigan: Lands End Canvas; Top: J. Crew Factory; Necklace: Urban Peach Boutique; Belt: Express; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Lands End Canvas


I know this might come as a shock to many of you, but my KISA isn’t perfect. Out of respect for him I won’t share to what degree he’s imperfect. I love him a lot; so much so that I’m going on strike for his own good.

You know the expression that you teach other how to treat you? Unfortunately I’ve taught him that I’m really good at multitasking and love to clean. My KISA’s no stranger to fun (and by this I mean he runs to anything fun, often dropping responsibilities along the way). Since he’s a charmer and I’m a control freak, all it takes is a couple bats of his eyelashes and I find myself excited about his absence because it means I can finally thoroughly mop the floors. Yes, that was my Thursday night last week. Sick, right?

Some women have their own justification of why they feel the household duties should fall on them. I’m not here to say who’s right in the matter, but merely to state my opinion for my household. We’re a dual income household with no kids or pets. I’m currently the breadwinner, although he’s nipping at my heels. We both work full-time and we both have long work days. We both eat meals at home and we dirty laundry. And, contrary to what he believes, we both love to have fun. For me, this suggests that all the household duties should be split. (Can I get a hell yeah from you sisters?!)

Now, to not make my KISA look like a jerk, in his defense we did used to split duties. In fact, he would do a majority of the cooking while I’d do the eating and cleaning. And, I was ok with that arrangement. When we moved out to San Francisco my mother rudely informed him that I actually know how to cook quite well and I was placed on part-time kitchen duty. Somehow that part time kitchen duty has continued to grow, along with the other household responsibilities.Striking

Because of my miserably long commute to work my boss has agreed to let me work from home on Fridays. Some men seem to equate being at home, whether it be an office job or to raise the kids, means that you have ample time to take care of all the household chores. (Not true, in case any of them are reading this.) That combined with being gone to Tahoe snowboarding on the weekends or having his brother in town for the long weekend means that I find myself stressed on Fridays, trying to take conference calls while cleaning and between loads of laundry. Not fair.

My KISA has been listening to my complaints and offered to look into getting a house cleaner to come every week…that I’d pay for half of. (I should mention I’m a thrifty control freak.) Many of you ladies probably think again that he’s perfect, but all I want is a dual income with dual household chores. I don’t want to be stressed on Fridays because our place is a mess and we’ll be gone all weekend. I don’t want to spend my hard earned money to pay someone to do a job that I’m willing to do half of. And, most importantly, I want to teach him that it’s not ok for me to carry more of the household chores in fear that will carry over when we have kids.

This strike is really for his own good. I’m sure he’ll thank me for it one day.


Well, I finally did it – I bought camo pants. Technically I bought a pair of pants in navy blue at J. Crew Factory this weekend. I’d told my KISA and his brother that I really wanted to buy something in camo. They decided to shop without me while I tried on a pair of camo pants at J. Crew Factory. I lost my nerve, reminded myself I was 30, and bought the same pair of pants in navy because I liked the way they fit. After I left the store I showed them to my KISA and his brother and they gave me a hard time for not buying the camo ones. I went back to the store, showed them the camo ones, and they prompted me to exchange the “safe” pants for the camo ones. I knew if I didn’t wear them immediately I’d return them, so I wore them out on Sunday night. I’m not going to lie – I was shocked at how many guys (not even girls) commented on them and noticed. Maybe they’ll make a repeat appearance. Maybe.

Black sweater, camo jeans


Shirt: Gap; Belt: Gap; Jeans: J. Crew Factory; Shoes: Austria


Pink sweater, chambray shirt, white jeans


Sweater: J. Crew Factory; Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Baker


white blazer, gray tee, jeans

Blazer: Express; Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Nine West







white blazer, blue and white collared shirt, black jeans


Blazer: Express; Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Austria


My late grandma, Marilyn, (my dad’s mom) taught me how to sew when I was six years old. The first project she had me work on was a set of place mats for my mom. All I had to do was follow a straight line she’d drawn in pencil on each one and sew along it. When I turned eight I was old enough to join 4-H. Since my grandmother was the sewing leader for our club it was decided that I would take up sewing. It seems daunting in hindsight to think about an eight year old making outfits, but my grandmother knew no different, took me under her wing, and taught me how to read patterns, design outfits, sew, etc.

Every year they had a special competition at the Blake’s Prairie Fair for a first year sewer to win a really nice pair of scissors if they had the best overall outfit. I still remember the pride my grandmother had when I won those scissors, as each of her daughters had as well. It felt good to please my grandmother and I wanted to keep doing it.

Throughout the years we made many outfits together. We’d laugh and joke as I pinned, cut out patterns, and ironed. Grandma was especially careful with details, so she didn’t distract me while I was sewing to make sure I did a good job. If the job didn’t meet her standards you could bet she’d take a seam ripper and make me start over. There was a high level of expectation my grandmother lived by. However, even in the times I made mistakes, like when I accidentally cut a hole in a romper when I meant to cut a thread, she always had a solution on how to salvage it and make it look even better. The year that I cut a hole in my romper my grandmother had me add a belt; the hole was never seen and the judges picked that outfit to go to the State Fair.

When I was in high school the local doll and toy museum reached out to the 4-H clubs in the area and asked us to dress some dolls that could be donated to less fortunate families. My grandma and I decided to take on the challenge and I made a Badgers cheer-leading outfit (complete with yarn pom-poms), a wedding dress, and a sweatsuit for my doll. We had a great time designing patterns and being creative with it. Unbeknownst to us they had a competition associated with it and I won some money and was featured in our local newspaper. I again made my grandmother proud.

My Junior year of high school I decided I wanted to make my own prom dress. My grandmother and I found a pattern we could start with (we liked to create our own things) and material we liked. I had a blast spending time with Grandma as I made the dress and we were both very happy with the outcome. Since we had so much extra material I decided to also make my date’s matching vest and bow tie. I invited my grandma to come to prom for the grand march and to see us dressed up. Unfortunately some of my aunts and uncles (her kids) were coming home that weekend, so my mom prepared me to not be upset if she didn’t come since it wasn’t likely. When I got to prom there was my mom, her mom, and my grandma Marilyn sitting on the bleachers smiling at us. When I told Grandma I was surprised she made it she told me she wouldn’t miss it for the world.

My niece Brielle in my prom dress

My niece Brielle in my prom dress

When we received our prom pictures I ordered an extra one and got a frame for my grandma to display since she’d put in the work of overseeing my creation. When I gave it to her, one of her friends, Charlotte, was with her. Later Charlotte told me how sweet it was for me to give that to my grandma and she told me I was the apple of her eye. I loved making my grandma proud.

My senior year of high school I got engaged to my high school sweetheart (and prom date) and my grandma and I started talking about our plans for my wedding dress. My grandmother had made her own wedding dress and she really wanted to help me make my dress. About a year later I broke up with my high school sweetheart and called off the wedding. It was also the year my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.

I’d like to say that I was there for my grandma during her fight, but I was no where to be found. I was busy with my own life and had run as far away from my hometown as I could. Plus, something about it scared the crap out of me. My grandma had a brutal fight and went into remission. Unfortunately my grandmother’s health never got back to normal.

When I was living in Madison I got the call that Grandma had pneumonia and had been hospitalized. Her health had been deteriorating for a while and my grandfather had stepped up to the plate to learn all of Grandma’s recipes and how to look after the house. I think they somehow both knew the time would come that Grandpa would lose his housewife and soul mate. At the request of my mother I went to the hospital to see her and still remember how queasy that hospital made me. I thought it had something to do with the smell and everyone could tell how uncomfortable I was. It was really because I was living in denial as I’d never dealt with anyone close to me dying. My grandfather kept telling me that Grandma could hear me and that I should go over and talk to her. I kept looking at this lady that looked like a fish gasping for air that was staring at me and wondered where my grandma was. This wasn’t the same lady that gave me my only nickname of “Matilda Jane” or that spent hours laughing and joking with me while I told stories and made outfits. I wasn’t there long before I left. I’d made plans with my new boyfriend to go to Detroit for the weekend and my mom gave me her blessing to leave. My grandma battled the pneumonia for a while and we were driving back from Detroit, through Chicago, when I got the call that she’d died.

I’m still mad at myself for leaving her when I turned 18 and then again when she was on her death bed. It pains me to think about how I probably made her feel after we’d created such a strong relationship and I then abandoned her in her time of need. Her funeral was the day before I was supposed to be married and made my wedding dress with her, had I not declared myself better than my high school sweetheart and better than the hometown I’d fled.

My grandparents on their wedding day

My grandparents on their wedding day

Life sometimes gives you second chances and I’ve been blessed with a second chance. A few months after I got engaged I decided to call my grandfather to see if there were even a slim change he still had Grandma’s handmade wedding dress. I remembered seeing it as a child in their attic, but it had been years. My grandfather confirmed that a few years ago he found it when he was cleaning out the attic and put it downstairs in his cedar chest since it seemed the mice were getting to it. Ecstatic, I asked if I could have Grandma’s wedding dress to somehow either incorporate into my wedding dress or to use to make something else. My grandpa said Grandma would have been honored.

During Christmas break I got to see the dress again and brought it home with me. I’ve been airing it out as I look at it and try to determine how I want to refashion it. I’d give anything for my grandma to still be here to help me make my wedding dress and attend my wedding. Since she’s not I’m going to instead have a piece of her at my wedding. I’m still working on what I’m going to do with it, but I’ll keep you posted as I come up with ideas. Feel free to let me know any thoughts you may have as well.

My grandma's wedding dress

My grandma’s wedding dress

blue pants, white collared shirt, tan blazer


Pants: Gap; Belt: H&M; Shoes: Nine West; Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Jacket: Charlotte Russe


flannel shirt, white sweater, jeans

Jeans: Levi’s Outlet; Shoes: Nine West; Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Sweater: Mango


jeans, graphic tee, white blazer, nude heels


Blazer: Express; Shirt: J. Crew; Belt: Gap; Jeans: Levi’s Outlet; Shoes: Lands End Canvas