Don't get wet, you'll melt!

I thought it was weird that we didn't have any mail Monday. We are a household of four-including Internet shopping, a small business, etc. So, it is a rare day that we don't get something. We found out this afternoon why our mailbox was empty. See below:
Apparently our mail carrier didn't want to get his feet wet! I should note that our sprinklers run on timers so that different areas are watered at different times. In other words, you can easily walk from the street to our front door, from the driveway to the front door, etc without getting wet. In other words, that unofficial Post Office motto, "Through rain, sleet, or snow..."' Is a big fat lie. How lazy. This is the same mail carrier who left us (as well as our neighbors) a tipping guide last Christmas. Yeah.

Your Top Ten

I read Carmen's post about self-confidence in yourself and instilling confidence in your children. I thought it was such a great exercise that I decided to share my list of 10 things I am good at, as well as my girls.

My List
1) I'm persuasive
2) I'm really good at public speaking. No, REALLY good-great actually.
3) Remembering little details
4) Face Painting
5) Writing Thank-you Notes and picking out the perfect gifts
6) I very easily adapt to change
7) I'm a great baker
8) Make friends easily
9) Finding deals (skills learned from the great Mir)
10) Party Planning-imagination

Things my girls said I am good at (I like their list better):
1) Sewing- Ha, I wish!
2) Tickling
3) Projects
3) Kisses & Hugs-Awww
4) Cleaning
5) Playing- I'm so glad they said this. I always worry I don;t play with them enough.
6) Snuggling
7) Getting M Dressed

Things I said about Em:
1) Art-Both girls are uberly art talented!
2) Reading
3) Kindness
4) Laughing
5) Swimming
6) Wrapping people around her finger
7) Making up games
8) Puzzles
9) Fashion/Dress-Up
10) Remembering movie lines

Things She said (she was really thoughtful and 100% correct!):
1) Handwriting- So true, the girl has Ah-mazing handwriting
2) Art
3) Smart (laughing)
4) Math
5) Reading
6) Exploring
7) Make-up and hair (they put on make-up only on the weekends, when we stay at home!)
8) Dressing up and picking out outfits
9) Being flexible
10) Swimming

Things I said about M:
1) Art
2) Snuggling
3) Confidence
4) Helping me. Helping everybody.
5) Memory-especially songs
6) Singing
7) Playing by Herself
8) Puzzles
9) Getting people to smile
10) Being and individual-just happy with herself

Things M Said:
1) Drawing
2) Cutting and Punching (paper, at school)
3) Hugs & Kisses
4) Laughing
5) Smiles and being funny
6) Eating
7) Making Messes
8) Counting-she then recited her numbers
9) Singing
10) I do great art projects

The really interesting thing is that both girls wanted to talk more about what their sister was good at, rather than think about their strengths. I'm going to work on encouraging them more to realize their individual strengths. It is a fine line. I want to encourage my children to be confident and follow their talents. But, I don't want to raise egotistical little brats. Any ideas that have worked for you? What are your strengths and do you find it easy or difficult to list your strengths?

Blowing Off Summer

Summer is almost over. Well, the heat will be sticking around for several more weeks. Who am I kidding? It will be Halloween before the temperatures really drop. But, school has started and football is about to start (YES!), our schedules just get busier and busier during the fall. So, this weekend, I made sure I took some time to play as a family.
We got out the bubbles and just let the girls go crazy. They went through bottles of bubbles and made amazing bubbles.
The girls were soaking in suds by the end of the bubble session. They laughed, screamed, and were so proud of the bigger and bigger bubbles they created.

We all had a blast. We may make this a weekly tradition. Blowing bubbles is just plain fun for everyone. I don't think you can be in a bad mood when bubbles are around!

Love Thursday-First Day Mommy Love

Monday was the first day of school so I did school pictures by our chalkboard. That's chalk dust on the floor, not dirt! Since I've decided to keep my girls hidden from the blog, I'm not showing you their faces, but take it from me their faces had huge smiles. Just look at these toesies. (Shoe idea stolen from Mir-cute, huh?). All ready for Monday's first day of school- 1st grade and PreK. My first grader, Em in the pink sandals, wears a uniform every day and she looks so grown-up. In fact, she asked my husband to drop her off at the foot of the stairs today instead of walking her to the room. What's next? Drop her off a block from school so her friends can't see how uncool we are?! sniff sniff... I can't believe how fast she's grown and how much she loves learning. M (in pink glitter shoes) is ready to take on the world. Thank God she's got another year before Kindergarten. I don't think I can handle both of them in elementary school yet.
How can you describe the first day of school mommy feelings? I keep thinking about a song I used to sing growing up that applies to my girls: "I am a Promise, I am a possibility. I am a promise, with a capital P. I am a great big bundle of Potentiality. And, I am learnin' to hear God's voice. And I am tryin' to make the right choice. I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be."
Love is seeing the promise and the possibility, even if seeing it makes you sad for the time gone by. Hope your Love Thursday is full or Promise and Possibility.

Mighty Closet Advice

I saw this post today from the Mighty Maggie and just said, "Yes, this." All of it. Perfect. Maggie discusses classic clothing (LBD, jeans, white button down) including what to look for, how to wear classic pieces. Why recreate the wheel? If you are evaluating your closet for a 15 pieces in 30 days challenge, or want a new look, or just feel like a little retail therapy, read her post. That is all.

Ode to a Dress and Shopping Resolution

*I'm at the lamesauce today too. Please come read. I promise it is a story you have to read to believe!

I did something kind of stupid the other day. I made some returns at Anthropologie and figured that I had enough time to do a little pre-shopping. I was planning on just trying a few things on to see if I like them enough to watch them. I pulled a few dresses-just to play around. And then, I found it. The Sprightly Steps dress.

Lord, I am smitten. It is graceful with a vintage twist. I've told you before that Grace Kelly is one of my fashion inspirations and this dress just screams Jackie O and Grace Kelly. I love it. For those interested in a review: the dress fits like a glove. OK, a little more information. I am typically a size 4 in Anthropologie dresses and the 4 fit beautifully. The top was snug-ish, but not in a restrictive kind of way. There was no gaping or crude cleavage. No cramping in the arm holes and you can definitely wear regular undergarments. The skirt is one of the reasons I love this dress. Most people are tempted to wear a tighter dress for occasions (this is definitely an occasion dress, no way would I wear this to work), but then they wear shapewear underneath. Unfortunately some shapewear doesn't allow you to eat or sit or drink comfortably. This dress solves that problem since the skirt is flowy. You would be able to make an awesome impression and still eat the four course meal with dessert without worrying that everything you eat is showing up on the silhouette of the dress. I can think of a million reasons to get this dress- weddings, holiday parties...but, one big reason not to is the price tag of $228. I just can't get over that. I think if the dress was under $200, I might be able to justify the purchase. Yes, I realize that's only $30, but in my mind it is a huge obstacle. I have a ton of Anthropologie clothes in my closet but the fact of the matter is that I have only paid full price for one item- this dress because I love it so much and felt it was made for me. I don't regret that for an instant. But $228? I just don't know. Unless someone (ahem) can rationalize it for me?! Please-convince me!!!

I'm reviewing the dress here because I am officially obsessed. Also, I am embarking on a monthly challenge. A number of people I know are using the month of September to challenge their dressing-using only 15 pieces for the whole month. I think it is a great exercise but I am not joining in for a number of reasons:1 ) that requires WAY too much planning, 2) I love my clothes. I mean I really love all my clothes and I don't know if I could whittle my choices down, 3) I have made it a point to shop very purposefully over the past 2-3 years and feel like my closet reflects that. I don't feel like I need this exercise at this point in time. That's not to say that I might not do it in the future, but not now. What I will do is commit to a different 30 day challenge. Now that my closet is pretty complete (there are just a few items I want- gray peep toe pumps, Tiffany blue pencil skirt...), I feel like I should exercise more fiscal restraint over the next month. So, for the next 30 days, I will not purchase any clothing item for myself. *CAVEAT- If I get a promotion or win the lottery or something celebratory, I give myself permission to buy the aforementioned dress. Ahem. Yes, I know I'm a big hypocrite but that dress is so perfect...Also, it is not highly likely that I win the lottery OR get a promotion.* I'd like to try to make it 60 days, but I'm not sure how realistic that is given the events we have planned over the next 2 months. I plan to start September 1 and will go as long as I can. As the month (or 2) go on, I will periodically post anything I've resisted or am obsessed with to get it out of my system.

What about you? Any fashion related challenges over the next month? Are you joining the 15 in 3o challenge? I hope so, I can't wait to see which pieces everyone chooses and how they work them into their lifestyle.

Friday Favorites-Here and There

This Friday so many great things struck me that I decided to throw them all together in a big pot of happiness.
1) Jen from Tatertots and Jello. I found her through Today's Creative Blog almost a year ago and she is one of my daily MUSTs. And, today----I'm blogging at Tatertots and Jello! I'm so excited I just can't tell you. Jen is one of the grand pumbahs of craft/decor blogging. Her crafting prowess aside, she is one of the nicest, kindest bloggers out there. She's so supportive and takes time to spotlight lots of great projects. Her projects are inspiring. I could go on and on. I was so stressed out about what project to feature that I went with my strength- party crafts. I went ahead and finished up a few fairy birthday crafts, go read. Please, go, comment, show Jen that she wasn't wrong in trusting me over there today!

2) If I told you how excited I was by this pantry organization project, you might think I am incredibly lame. You'd be right. But, still, this is a brilliant solution to pantry shelves. I LOVE it. DecorChick is one of my new favorite blogs and Bonus, she lives in Houston. How did I find her? Through Jen's blog! I'm telling you, both women are genius.

Photo by DecorChick

3) This exchange with my 4 year old, M Thursday morning as the girls were running through a litany of pain complaints before heading off to camp. Not to be outdone by her sister Em, M complained: "Momma, my brain is in my head but I CAN'T FEEL IT!"

4) Project Runway- I haven't blogged about the show this season, but plan on doing weekly wrap-ups once the designers are whittled down some. I love this show. I love seeing how people create fantastic or foolish dresses/outfits in just a few hours. I love the soundbites. And, you know I love Tim Gunn!

5) LONGHORN FOOTBALL in 2 weeks! I can't wait. I'm so excited. Actually, triply excited because Pam was able to score tickets for the opening game against Rice on September 4th. Now I will have gone to the last game of last season (we shoulda won) and the first game of this season. Hopefully we will win against Rice and start the season off right. I can't wait to see Gilbert perform and see how the offense has been retooled. In fact, I'm planning a huge pre-season post for next week. I know, you can't wait!

Friday Favorites: here there, and everywhere

Deals and Steals-Gap Groupon

Do you remember how I said I loved Groupon? Well, today's Groupon (I think in every city?) is $50 worth of Gap credit for only $25. It can not be combined and may not be used online or in outlets or sister stores (Banana Republic, Old Navy). Otherwise, it appears that you can use it in person at any Gap storein the US! Great deal! Just wanted to share for those of you who may not know.

Hat tip- to designhermomma for the heads up! Happy Groupon shopping. Click here if you want to join Groupon.

*Edited to add this link to a story on the first nationwide Groupon offering. they sold at a rate of 10 per second!

Fashion on Target

The Internet has been abuzz lately over the partnering of Target and Gilt (starting August 20). Knowing how much I love fashion, getting a good deal, and Target, the news of the partnership made perfect sense to me. Some, like my friend Pam, wondered about the dilution of Gilt's luxury presence. Some wondered why Target? Why now? I look at it from a purely business and consumer perspective and it makes perfect sense to me: Gilt is a invitation only outlet for premium and luxury brands at a discount. Gilt deals in numbers. Gilt purchases luxury goods from the designers (or through a middle man) for a set price, it must then sell those items for a slightly higher price in order to make money. Unlike a store, Gilt can not afford to have large quantities of inventory remaining after the sale time period has passed. Unlike a store, Gilt does not have the benefit of having a constant flow of people in a brick and mortar location where they can showcase their inventory and mark it down in order to make room for new inventory. Gilt requires a certain number of people to log on and look at an item before a high enough percentage will purchase the item, creating profit for Gilt. It's the same theory as selling your house, you want as many people coming in the door as possible. While you only need one sale, the more people who look, the increased chance you have of selling the house. So, Gilt needs people. Lots and lots of people. People with discretionary income. Enter Target. Yes, Target.

Target sells necessities (toilet paper, diapers) and the extras (shoes, rugs, wall art). Target offers low prices, but in an upscale manner. Think about it, Target's stores are clean, nicely laid out, and offer a brand higher than its competitors. Target offers Noxema face wash, but also Kiehl's. It offers Clorox cleaners as well as Ms. Meyer's. Target brand sheets or sheets from Dwell Studio. Target is a lifestyle brand. For this, Target's customers pay more. Maybe not noticeably more. But, more. Targets customers enter for items A, B, and C and exit with an additional 20 items-but all were under $9. How many times have you gotten out if Target for under $60? Exactly. Target and Gilt are betting that you join Gilt to access the Target luxury collections, but stay to peruse the other Gilt offerings. They aren't betting that you'll buy lots of items, what they're betting on is that e-mail coming across your inbox every day will eventually tempt you. Frankly, I've been a member of Gilt for at least a year and have yet to purchase a single item. You can bet though that I will be logging on to look at the Target offerings. The John Derian home collection has been offered in stores before and is a good bet. Target's luxury partner lines have almost always been sell-out hits- think Orla Kiely and Liberty of London. The list of the partners reads like a New York fashion show including Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, Eugenia Kim (hats), Rodarte, Gaultier, Cynthia Rowley (diapers), and Cynthia Vincent.

Clearly Gilt will benefit from increased membership and traffic, leading to increased sales. What will Target get out of the partnership? Target cements its status as the premium store. It continues to set itself apart from its nearest competitor (Wa**art). Target extends its commitment to partnering with luxury and higher-end lines in a manner that works for its customers. Hopefully this will result in more premium labels and designers continuing to work with Target in the future. Additionally, Target may appeal to those Gilt members who don't normally shop for their home decor or casual wear at Target. In one fell swoop, it reaches an entirely new market. Perhaps Target gets an added benefit of appealing more to online shoppers who may not have viewed Target online.

I think the Target-Gilt partnership is a win-win-win. Win for Gilt, win for Target, win for us.
If you want to join Gilt, leave a comment and I will invite you! What are your thoughts on the partnership? Like it? Love it? Shop it?!

Being an Adult is Hard Reason #34- Also, I am Lame

This weekend I had an unexpected free pass. Meaning, my husband took the girls to the ranch for the weekend. I was left with a quiet house and a free weekend. When I heard about my bonus free time, one of the first things I thought was "Woo hoo, I can finally go to Ikea." Sad. Sadder was when I went to Ikea and found every other person in the City of Houston, no, make that the entire county shopping for items. One reason I rarely go to Ikea is the feeling of being trapped in a labyrinth of cheap home stuff, but you can't turn back and you just have to push through to the end. This trip was no different, except I didn't find one item to buy. Sure, they had a few things I'm considering. But, I felt like if I made it through the maze with the million other people there, I should be rewarded with something-anything. Nada. Sad, lame, boring me.
Tell me you do something equally boring when you have some alone time. Please, make me feel better!

Friday Favorite- Shark Christmas Ornament

I am fascinated by sharks. I love learning about them, love Shark Week, love swimming with sharks. My parents know my obsessions with sharks and brought back the best souvenir ever, a shark ornament. Oh my Lord, I love it! The best ornament ever. Even better that they gave it to me on the first day of Shark Week. I believe they found it on Mauai. I can't wait to hang it on my tree. I love it so much that I've displayed it on my mantel from the minute I received it and I haven't taken it down yet. No, I don't collect sharks, but this HAD to be displayed.
Friday Favorite- Shark Christmas ornament.

Wardrobe Renovation

A few months ago, my friend Heidi asked me to go shopping with her and help her find new clothes. You don’t have to ask me twice. Heidi just had her second baby and is in a self-admitted clothing rut. She doesn’t necessarily fit into what she used to, but doesn’t have a clear direction of where she wants to go. Her needs may also change depending on whether she gets a promotion. As an aside Heidi is an FBI agent. Is that not the coolest job ever? She’s a wicked great shot, so watch out!

I suggested getting a few ideas out first before we go shopping. My "advice" got so long, I figured I would make it into a post instead of just an email. Everyone knows the basic list of what you need- trench, LBD, etc. Since I’m playing fashion stylist, my first piece of advice is

Know what you need and want BEFORE going shopping.
If you know what you need to buy before you go shopping, you will be less likely to buy pieces you never wear. This requires that you really think about your wardrobe. Look at the pieces you like to wear and feel fabulous in-what is the common thread. Are they all skirts? All in the same color family, is it the fit you like? Then build off of that. For instance, I prefer to wear skirts and dresses. I know I gravitate toward skirts and dresses, so I concentrate on finding pieces that will work with skirts and dresses. I also know that pencil skirts are the best fit for me. You might like A-line skirts or a skirt with a fuller or higher cut, try everything on to see what works best.

Know Your Uniform
When I met Tim Gunn, he mentioned uniforms and how they are sometimes a good thing. His uniform is a suit. Always. Mine is definitely a skirt or dress with pumps. Just like I love skirts and dresses, I also love shoes. There is usually one part of getting dressed that people like. Some enjoy accessories, some shoes, etc. Find your thing and emphasize that. In addition to skirts and dresses I love accessories-all accessories, especially belts and necklaces. So, I make sure I incorporate those into my daily outfits.

Find your Inspiration
There are celebrities and movie characters that we naturally gravitate to-Who are your models? Is there an actress or a TV show that you like? I go classic- Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, The Notebook, Mad Men. I like Jessica Alba’s style…Cut put pictures, magazines, catalogs, even color combinations that you are drawn to and post it in your closet like Susan suggests. That way you’ll be inspired when you get dressed.

Now that you know what you love and what you think works on you-Branch Out.
It’s time to get uncomfortable. This doesn't mean purchasing a pair of 5 inch heels, just go a bit outside your comfort zone. For example, Heidi does not like wearing skirts or dresses. You better believe that I am going to force her to purchase at least one dress. I suggest a nice jersey wrap dress like this one from Banana Republic- they are wonderful.
The wrap dress is perfect for work, but works equally well for parties, dates, and events. I also love dresses like this one and this one from Nordstrom that can be easily transitioned from day to night. And, by the way, fit beautifully. Heidi is not comfortable in a lot of pattern, so I think the addition of a patterned or colored (purple, green?) shoe and belt would really expand her wardrobe options.

Find a few pieces you like and play around
Women do not need Granimals. Find a few basic pieces and mix and match-that’s the fun part of fashion. Someone else may wear the wrap dress above with yellow tights. No way am I showing up to work with yellow tights, but a yellow cardigan or blazer with a black belt yes. Or, even a yellow necklace or scarf. Beware of the matchy-matchy. Keep your combination pieces separated in the closet so you are encouraged to wear in multiple ways. I shy away from buying suits because of the natural tendency to only wear that jacket with those bottoms.

Don’t buy all at once
You may feel like you are ready to buy, buy, buy! While good in theory and on TV, you may end up with too many trendy pieces and not enough substance. I suggest purchasing a few items to start with and slowly adding every month or 2 or 3, or more depending on what your budget allows.

I believe that when you are happy with the way you look, you are more confident and effective. I hope this has been helpful. Are there any additional shopping tools/tips you would give to a friend looking for a wardrobe revamp? Other great sites to look for wardrobe revamp advice: Corporette; Cupcakes and Cashmere; She's Still Got It; and Kate's I Take Pictures in the Bathroom.

The Internet is Kind of Rad

I'm sure your reader is full of BlogHer updates. It sounds like a huge, fun, and educational conference. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go this year (but I'm excited about going to Bloggy Boot Camp in October and Mom 2.0 in April). Truthfully, I was a little bitter when everybody started tweeting about the fun they were having. But, then Backpacking Dad started tweeting about HomeHer10 and y'all, it was fun! It started as nothing more than a pretend/unconference for those of us stuck at home. Basically tweets about attending sessions on cleaning, dinner, and bath time instead of blog marketing and blog techniques, you know, real topics. Mochadad also started a fake conference for the male bloggers, BlogHim, which was an equally imaginary tongue in cheek "unconference." HomeHer was a Twitter joke, until sponsors came, and then there were tshirts and prizes, and all sorts of fun. It is amazing what the power of social media can accomplish. Just last week a powerful demonstration of social media came in the form of the Tweetathon Unmarketing held for Catherine's nephew Tanner. It was amazing to watch as thousands of people donated a little, a lot, a dollar until the total reached $25,000. I donated, and hope you did too. What really impressed me me was how quickly the Internet spread the word and raised over $25,000 for Tanner. I also watched on Twitter as Catherine tweeted about her journey (and Tanner and his mom) from Canada to New York. I'm sure there will be tons of places to get the actual events, but let's just say that the travel from Canada to NYC was all kinds of NOT Good that resulted in a broken wheelchair. I think Air Canada certainly learned the power of social media this weekend and fortunately made the trip back home to Canada amazing for Tanner and his family.

Some people don't understand the power of blogs, or why people are on Twitter. It's the connections. The stories, and Tanner's story is an excellent example of the power of the blogging and social media community. How awesome are these connections we make. How amazingly powerful this community can be. Just rad.

Love Bubbles Over

"Look, mommy, I made a heart."
I love how my kids remind me to step back and just Be. To appreciate the little things, like holding bubbles. That's what matters. I hope we all take time for more bubble baths, more hearts, and more Love. Happy Love Thursday everyone.

Texas Summer-The Heat is On

The summer is in full force. We are used to unbearably, oppressively hot summers in Houston. Fortunately earlier this summer was pretty rainy, so the heat wasn't too bad. Now? Now it is as hot as Hell. No hotter, like Hell times a grillion.* I've been thinking about one of our favorite spots to go in the Summer-a little piece of the Guadalupe River by our friends' ranch property. We 've spent time at this river spot wasting away many summer days before our girls were born. Now we take them to this spot to learn how to skip rocks and fish. Just looking at the shady trees and water make me feel a little cooler. Also, now I kind of want some BBQ. The heat is really messing with my mind!

*It's so hot that I am seriously considering cutting several inches of my hair just to get an extra degree or two cooler-and I look terrible with short hair.

I Like to Move It, Move It

Jen asked for music suggestions yesterday on twitter. Of course, I couldn't stay quiet because I think I have one of the best running/work-out playlists out there. Being the giving person I am, I decided to share some of my playlist with you. I should warn you that if you don't like being the person singing and dancing while you work out, this list may not be for you. I don't mind getting the crazy looks because they are just jealous that they don't have my awesome playlist. Hmph.

The best Running/Work-out playlist ever (at least I think so).

How Low- Ludacris (a/k/a the world's most perfect work-out song ever)
Outta Your Mind-Lil Jon feat LMFAO
Hot n Fun -NERD feat N. Furtado
Carry-Out- Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
Young Forever-Jay Z feat Mr. Hudson
Footloose- Kenny Loggins
Yeah- Usher
Shake Your Tailfeather- Nelly, Diddy, et al
What Them Girls Like- Ludacris
Run this Town- Jay-Z, Rihanna
Empire State of Mind- Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys
Knock You Down- Keri Hilson
Gold Digger- Kanye
Stronger- Kanye
Say Hey (I Love You)
Imma Be- Black Eye Peas
Lets' Get this Party Started- Black Eye Peas
Love Shack -B-52s
Britney Spears- All of It. Oh yes.
Jai Ho-Slumdog Soundtrack
Welcome to the Jungle
Lose Yourself- Eminem
My Name Is- Emimen
Funky Cold Medina-Tone Loc
It Takes Two- Rob Bass& DJ EZ Rock *(Thanks, Anonymous!)
Shot through The Heart- Bon Jovi
Living on a Prayer- Bon Jovi
Party in the USA- Miley Cyrus (Shut Up, it's good)
You Give Love a Bad Name-Bon Jovi
Walk this Way- Run DMC
Buttons- PCD feat Snoop Dogg
Whataya Want from Me- Adam Lambert
If I Had You- Adam Lambert
My Life Would Suck Without You- Kelly Clarkson
Telephone- Lady Gaga & Beyonce
Sexy Back- Justin Timberlake
Crazy in Love- Beyonce & Jay-Z
Irreplaceable- Beyonce

I didn't give you the whole list, but take a look at that list and tell me that those songs are not going to make you move it, move it. In fact, I'm grooving in my chair right now. You're just jealous!