Hot & Cold

When you’re stuck in the arctic tundra during winter all you want to do is take a Caribbean vacation. When you live in the deep south you dream of Northern Europe’s cool winds every summer. But what happens when you finally get to make those trips to the other side of the world? You become completely confused about what to wear for your flight.

Dressing for travel, when you’re traveling between two different climates is incredibly tricky. That’s why we’re here to help. Here’s our suggestion of what to wear when you inevitably find yourself in this sticky situation.

LAYERS!!!! They’re you’re very best friend in this situation. Tank tops, leggings, skirts, dresses, shirts, blouses, cardigans, coats, scarves, and rain gear can all play a part in your travel attire. My personal go-to outfit consists of leggings that will be removed/put on in the bathroom, a short sundress (in a season-appropriate color) that is the staple of your outfit, boots or closed toed flats that will be switched with sandals, a cardigan, a scarf, a winter coat for overtop of everything, and a blanket for the flight. Given all this your cold climate outfit will consist of: boots (with boot socks if you’re fabulous) or flats, leggings, dress, sweater, coat, and scarf (gloves too if needed). And your warm weather outfit will be sandals and a dress.

It’s a pretty simple process if you plan accordingly. The dress can be changes out for a skirt and top. Or you can change from pants to shorts while you remove or add the leggings. The most important thing to remember is to bring a large purse or carry-on bag to fit everything. You don’t want to be schlepping everything at once. I personally will pack EVERYTHING in my bag and then remove what I plan on wearing, just so that I am 100% sure it will all fit.

Do you have any other travel tips? Let us know in the comments!

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OOOHHH Shiny!

Earlier this week we discussed certain jewelry items you absolutely MUST have. Today we’ll be discussing how to care for these and other jewelry items so that your baubles will last as a long as possible.

Here’s a basic guide from our friends over at Zales on how to keep your jewelry sparkling:

Wearing Jewelry

Jewelry is worn by millions of people every day, but few recognize how they can preserve their treasures by using some simple advanced planning and thought. Here are some basic guidelines to consider when wearing jewelry:

    • Remove Jewelry During Tasks: When performing manual tasks, remove your jewelry to prevent physical damage or exposure to chemicals or cleaning fluids. Some tasks that should be avoided when wearing jewelry include kitchen work, gardening, cleaning the house and other common tasks.
    • Put Jewelry On After Applying Makeup: Cosmetics, hairspray, perfumes and lotion can contain chemicals that can often damage jewelry. Putting jewelry on after applying these materials will limit exposure to jewelry and any potential damage.
    • Don’t Wear Jewelry In Swimming Pools and Spas: Chlorinated water can react with the metals found in jewelry causing color changes and even structural damage. As a result it’s a good idea to remove jewelry before entering the pool or spa.
    • Contact Sports and Jewelry Don’t Mix: Hard blows during sports can damage jewelry not to mention the people involved. All jewelry should be removed before play begins.
Cleaning Jewelry

For those that wear jewelry regularly, keeping their jewelry clean and looking good requires regular effort. Here are some general guidelines that may help:

    • Remove Your Jewelry Before Bathing: Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap can cause a film to form, making it appear dull and dingy. By preventing the formation of this film you immediately reduce the occasions of servicing.
    • Use Jewelry Polishing Cloths for Best Results: Polish silver or gold with a jewelry polishing cloth for best results. You can use a svelte or an old diaper, but the professional cloths are the best. Use of tissue or paper towels can cause scratches because of fibers in these products.
    • Clean Your Jewelry With Care: Cleaning your own jewelry regularly can keep it looking good, but be careful. You can either purchase commercial cleaners from a jeweler or make a cleaning a solution yourself. Rubbing alcohol can work wonders, but bleach can literally destroy jewelry so avoid it at all costs.
    • Use Warm Water to Clean Jewelry: Using warm water is the best bet when cleaning your own jewelry. How water can cause reaction with the cleaning fluids resulting in discoloration and Sterling Silver is especially susceptible to this problem. Should this occur, this problem can be remedied by buffing and the application of a tarnish remover.
    • Avoid Cleaning Damaged Jewelry: Never clean any jewelry that is damaged, cracked or broken, since the additional handling is likely to exacerbate or worsen the problem. If you find that a piece of jewelry is damaged, it should be set aside for repair as soon as possible.
    • Inspect Your Jewelry Regularly: Just like anything else, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When having your jewelry professionally cleaned, it’s a good idea to have each item checked and inspected for any possible problems. Addressing signs of damage, or loose gemstones will prevent any further damage or loss and keep all of your pieces in excellent shape for years.
Storing Jewelry

Anyone that has a collection of jewelry can appreciate how difficult it can often be to keep it organized. To improve the enjoyment of your jewelry, we’ve assembled these suggestions that should keep your jewelry organized and orderly:

    • Keep Your Jewelry Secure: Store your jewelry in a container and prevent pieces from moving around. While fabric-lined jewelry boxes are ideal, this can be as simple as using a shoebox and pieces of fabric.
    • Prevent Your Jewelry from Tarnishing: Sometimes jewelry tarnishes went it’s not worn, especially silver and gold. To maintain the luster of your jewelry, place silver anti-tarnish strips in your storage container to absorb the oxidants that discolor and tarnish jewelry.
    • Inventory Your Jewelry: Unfortunately, jewelry can get lost or stolen. Taking a regular inventory can be incredibly useful when making an insurance claim or filing a police report. A photograph, a written physical description of each piece and it’s cost is ideal. Furthermore, store that information apart from your jewelry in the event it is taken too.
    • When Traveling with Jewelry, Use a Case: Traveling can be tough on jewelry, so it’s wise to use a travel case to protect your favorite pieces. Traditionally made of fabric or leather, a jewelry travel case can carry jewelry of all types and easily rolls up to a size that’s easily stored in most suitcases, makeup cases or business attaches. Clearly, a case like this is a good investment to protect your jewelry on the road.

Do you have any other questions about jewelry care or storage? Comment below and we’ll find you the answers!

TED

So if you haven’t gathered from the content of this blog, I have a lot of interests. In fact, one of my biggest fears is becoming too one-dimensional. We all know those people who can only talk about one thing because it’s all they know or do. Those people drive me nuts. I hope I never fall into the trap of becoming too comfortable in my area of expertise.

So how do I keep myself “in the know” outside of my field. Honestly, I watch TED talks. I watch them every day. As I’m putting on my makeup for the day I play a talk on my phone. I love it. I have learned stuff about biology, theology, art, urban planning, economics – I could go on and on. They have a talk about everything. I highly recommend that you all incorporate some sort of learning that is unrelated to your work into your daily life. You’ll be so much more interesting.

So, go ahead, check out TED.

How To Do Laundry

Some women love laundry. I am not one of them. I will let my clothes pile up for weeks and only do a load when I have to. However, I love my clothes. I want to treat them right so that they’ll last. So, while I hate laundry I take the time to do it right – which, apparently is rare. Because I know all of you will want to care for your fashion investments with the same gusto as me, I present my all inclusive guide to laundry.

  • First, realize that every time you wash an item you reduce its lifespan. You should wear something about 3 times before you wash it, unless you get sweaty. Hang items in an airy place overnight after you wear them, if they smell in the morning put them in the hamper, if not put them in your closet to wear again.
  • Sorting clothes can be a pain, but it is necessary. Sorting prevents clothes from fading or turning weird greyish or pink colors. You should sort clothes into the following categories: bleach-able whites, lights, brights, darks, reds, delicates, and hand wash only items. You can do this before you start laundry, or set up different hampers in your laundry room and sort as you take your clothes off (this is easier but takes up more space).
  • Use only the smallest amount of detergent necessary. Using too much can cause residue to be left on clothes and skin irritation.
  • Use the proper water temperature –
    • Bleach-able Whites – hot
    • Lights – cold
    • Brights – cold
    • Darks – cold
    • Reds – cold
    • Delicates – cold
    • Hand Wash – lukewarm
  • Hand wash items should be done in the sink or bathtub using a small amount of Dreft or other baby detergent. They need to be thoroughly rinsed and either hung or lain flat to dry.
  • Invest in a lingerie bag for delicates. ALWAYS use the bag. You don’t want your washing machine to tear up your bras and camis do you?
  • Dryers can shrink clothes and high temperatures can damage fabrics and screen-printing. The following items should be hung dry or laid flat:
    • Delicates
    • Hand Washed items
    • Jeans
    • Graphic Tees
    • Items that say hang dry/lay flat to dry
    • sweaters
    • camisoles
    • bras
    • anything lace
  • Always remove clothes from the washer ASAP – bacteria loves wet environments so avoid germs by drying your clothes within 30 minutes of the end of the wash cycle.
  • Remove clothing from the dryer promptly and never leave the drying going while you leave the house. If you let your clothes sit in the dryer too long they will wrinkle – not fun. If you leave the house, turn off the dryer – they’re one of the top causes of house fires.
  • Bleach underwear – it’s more sanitary. If your undies are not white/lights then do them in a separate cycle.
  • Once a month run an empty washing cycle with a cup of bleach to clean and sanitize your machine.
  • Wash bedding and towels in hot water to sanitize.
  • Always empty the lint trap before starting the dryer – remember those house fires I mentioned?
  • Leave your washer open when not in use – it will prevent mold.
  • Invest in a clothing steamer. You can find good ones for about $30 at Target. They make ironing so much less painful, and can be used to remove things like deodorant stains and wrinkles between washings. (Just don’t use it while wearing an item – trust me, doing so will involve a trip to the emergency room.)

I’ll be talking more about laundry – specifically stain removal – next Saturday! If you have any additional questions, tips, or tricks, let me know!

 

Back to Class

August is a time of new beginnings. Summer is winding down, people are going back to school, we’re all getting back into the routine that is daily life. One of the most challenging things can be fitting a workout into your regular schedule. Now, I’m still in college and I’ll be giving this week’s advice based on my own experiences, but I think that the basic principles I’ll be discussing can and do apply to the lives of women of any age.

Over the summer it’s really easy, and okay, to slip out of your normal workout routine. August is the chance to get back to the grind and improve your strength, endurance, and appearance. If your college is like mine you have a Rec Center that offers a bazillion machines, sport courts, running tracks, and classes. If you’re like me so many options can become overwhelming. So, without further ado, I present my guide to navigating the world of fitness from a collegiate perspective.

So, you’re jumping back into the college life, juggling classes, organizations, social activities and homework like a pro. The most difficult thing to fit into your schedule can be a workout. After a day of class, work, and homework the very last thing I want to do is pull on my gym clothes and get on a treadmill. For me, machines are BORING, running just sucks (seriously, it’s awful, there’s no way around it), and I’ve never really played sports and don’t want to look like an idiot in front of the ridiculously attractive guys that haunt my school’s rec center. So what does that leave me? Well I can do a DVD at home like a hermit and annoy the girl who has the apartment below me, or I can sign up for a class.

Group fitness classes are by far my favorite way to work out. My school offers everything from yoga to kickboxing to kettlebells and even meditation. There is something for everyone. The problem is getting the motivation to actually show up.

If you can, find a friend who likes the same type of workouts as you. Make a plan before classes get into full swing as to what days you want to work out. That way you have a buddy who will be expecting you to show up.

Secondly, find your school’s class schedule and add the classes you want to take each week to your calendar/planner. Treat attendance as homework – mandatory. I try to go to the same classes every week so that I can meet people and form friendships, but if switching it up is your thing then go for it. Having a schedule is essential!

If your school allows it, sign up for classes in advance. You wouldn’t back out on a teacher would you? This is the same thing.

Finally, get some new workout clothes. My favorite places to find inexpensive, cute gym clothes are Old Navy (check out their summer sales), Gap (they have a sale in April that is KILLER), and Kohl’s. I like wearing neon colors to the gym because they get me excited and pumped up. Plus I love showing off how good I look in my yoga pants when I walk past those aforementioned attractive guys. Find clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and that you think look good on you. Nothing, and I repeat NOTHING will make you want to work out than knowing you look good doing it. But don’t put on makeup, it’s awful for your skin and makes you look too prissy for the gym – let your clothes do the talking, not your eyeliner.

So what are you waiting for? Go get some new norts, find a friend, make a schedule, show up, and enjoy yourself! Exercise should be fun you know?

Inspire Your Immagination

If you were like me you spent a good chunk of every weekend curled up with a book. Reading was one of your favorite pastimes. I remember that my parents literally couldn’t get me to talk to them during dinner because I would prop my book up between my plate and my drink. I’d even have friends over and we’d end up reading our own copies of Harry Potter side by side – not talking, but sharing an experience. That is what books give us that is so immensely valuable. They afford us the opportunities to go on adventures and gain experiences without ever leaving your bedroom. I still am an avid reader (although since starting college I have not had the time to read nearly the amount of books I want) and my favorite afternoons are the ones spent losing myself in a story.

I will read anything – history, biography, classics, fantasy, mystery and even young adult.  For me, there is no better way to learn about myself than to see my quirks reflected in a character. There is no better way to escape a hard day at work or a dramatic relationship than by delving into a fantasy world full of magic and fantastical creatures. There is no better way to use my brain than by trying to solve a mystery novel. There is no better way to understand history than by reading a historical fiction novel. In my opinion, reading can connect us to ourselves and others in ways that nothing else can. It can teach us more than a classroom ever could. I learned about faith by reading a novel about Joan of Arc, I learned about history, the reformation, slavery and the revolution by reading novels on Tudor England, Marie Antoinette, and the American Girl Dolls. I learned about inner strength, determination, teamwork, evil, love and women from Harry Potter. I could go on and on, I have probably learned more things from reading fiction than from living my own life.

Unfortunately, the books I learn the most about life from are the ones that are most often disregarded as childish, or even demonized. The books that have had the most profound impact on my life include Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The White Queen, The Crystal Cave, Wicked Lovely and Game of Thrones. Obviously, there are many more I could list, but most of them fall into the genre of sci-fi/fantasy and young adult. That’s not really what you want to tell someone when they ask, “Have you read any good books lately?”

Recently an article was circulated around social media telling adults that they should be embarrassed by reading YA literature. You can find the text of that article here. There have also been plenty of articles written in response that support YA lit, some of which you can read here and here. But the point I want to make is, why the hell do you think you have the right to tell me my opinion and tastes are wrong?

If I like a book, I’ll read it. I don’t care if it’s well written, if I’m the intended audience, or if it’s going to impress someone I talk to. I read it because it hold my interest. What interests me may not interest you. Telling me that I should be embarrassed of my interests is like telling me that I have to be a housewife because I’m a woman and forgetting about my interest in cellular molecular biology. So, don’t presume to tell me what to read or what I should like. I’ll afford you the same courtesy.

Isn’t the important thing that we’re reading? In this age of social media, television, and tabloid culture we should be thankful for anyone who is inclined to read anything. So, who cares if you’re reading a story about a magical princess who falls in love with a knight and has a pet unicorn? You can learn a whole lot about friendship, right and wrong, faith, and decision making from these stories. I mean really, would you ever advocate that people not read fables (which all have wonderful morals that apply to adult life) because they’re children’s stories? No. So don’t be dumb and demean someone’s literary choices. That person may very well need to learn something that the book about a young wizard has to say. That is, unless you’re perfectly fine with them calling you an arrogant, out of touch intellectual with no social graces whatsoever.

So read what you like and enjoy it. There is nothing that can be more healing, educational, entertaining, and relaxing than losing yourself in a book. (Plus studies show your brain is considerable more active while reading than while watching Scandal, and you’re actually strengthening your mind regardless of the content of your book – just some food for thought.)

The Care And Keeping Of Shoes

What’s the point of having a whole extra closet full of shoes if you don’t take care of them? You’ll save money and constantly look chic if you take the time to maintain your footwear. I stumbled across this great article from Sadie Stein at Jezebel that shows all the ins and outs of proper shoe care, and I thought I’d share it for you.

“This is a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do situation. For years I took terrible care of my shoes. And every time I faced a cobbler’s scorn, I was shamed and resolved to do better. I’m still a work in progress, but have learned that the following really can extend a shoe’s life immeasurably. Do an inventory of your shoes at the end of a season; get them in good working order. You’ll be glad when you unpack them.

Make Friends With Your Cobbler
You don’t have to, you know, help him move, but find a shoe repair place you like, that does good work. And get in the habit or dropping new shoes off before you wear them — and then again, before it’s too late. I know how hard it is when the temptation of that new pair is calling, but those extra few days will pay dividends and you’ll have the pleasant satisfaction of knowing you’re being all responsible..

Soles!
Almost all your shoes will benefit from a thin rubber sole. It’s not cheap, but more than any other thing you do, this extends a shoe’s life. If a shoe has a leather or untextured sole, it also makes it safer for slippery streets. Some shoes will benefit from a half-sole; others may need a full one. Ask your cobbler! I even do this with my heels, sometimes.

Taps!
These are an absolute necessity for heels: they’ll preserve the toe and extend the shoe’s life, all for around $20.

Tips!
As soon as a heel loses a tip, replace it. Like, take the shoe off asap: otherwise the heel will quickly get shredded — and the sound of a metal screw on concrete is like nails on a chalkboard.

Weatherproofing
Necessary for boots, but a good idea for just about any shoe. A cobbler can do this for you, or buy a can of the stuff, grab some newspaper and plenty of ventilation, and go to town.

Polishing
Not merely an aesthetic frill — although scuffed shoes look crummy — but important to preserving a shoe from harsh wear, salt and even sweat. You don’t need to keep your shoes spit-shined, but don’t let the finish wear away. Polish them yourself whenever they get a little dull (or regularly if we’re talking your primary shoes) or, if it’s a tricky color, get it done by a pro. Buffing is cosmetic, but highly satisfying.

Heels
There’s a reason “down-at-the-heels” is an expression: nothing looks cruddier. Take them to a cobbler before they get to this point. People can do amazing things with rebuilding and repairing, but often the balance is never the same, and hard though it is to make yourself bring a shoe in for maintenance before it gets bad, this is key.

Cleaning:
Cleaning is another thing that’s not purely aesthetic: salt, especially, eats away at leather, so it’s important to try to wipe off the elements.

Leather

    • Use saddle soap. This is what it’s for, and you can get it at any drugstore or shoe repair.
    • Rub your shoe with soapy water and a soft cloth.
    • Apply saddle soap all over; wipe off.
    • If they’re aging, add some leather conditioner.
    • If you need to fix their shape, apply leather conditioner, stuff with newspaper or shoe trees, and let sit for a few days.

Suede
Suede requires special products to really keep it in good condition. These are available from any shoe repair store. You can use a metal-bristled suede brush to keep the nap looking good. For cleaning, you want a crumbly suede cleaning block (or “eraser”) that really digs out dirt.

Sneakers: Canvas or Leather
While technically canvas senaks are machine-washable, the machine is bad for the rubber in a sneaker; hand-washing will preserve their life.

    • If the shoe’s caked with dirt, knock off as much as you can, and wipe with a damp cloth to get off the rest.
    • Rinse in warm water inside and out.
    • Then give them a good scrub with a mix of water and detergent or shampoo. I like an old toothbrush; a scrub pad works too.
    • Rinse with cool water.
    • Let air-dry (away from a heater); stuff them with paper to preserve their shape if you want.

General Wear & Tear

    • Give ’em a rest. It’s not always possible, but alternating pairs gives is good for leather shoes.
    • Keep in mind that sweat can eat away at a shoe’s interior. Wear socks or liners if you can. If not, though, try to remember to swab them out with alcohol occasionally to clean the interior.
    • On the odor question: a little antifungal powder — or tea-tree-oil — should take care of it.
    • Obviously, shoe trees are a good idea, but newspaper works in a pinch. I am a big fan of old magazines stuffed in my boots. This sort of thing, of course, is most important if a boot or shoe is damp.

Long-Term Storage
In a perfect world, all your shoes are in their original boxes, maybe with a polaroid of each on the front. In the real world, just keeping them from a tangle on the closet floor is better than nothing. Shoe racks are a great storage solution, and a flat under-the-bed box saves space. While shoe bags may seem like a frill, they will help protect polished shoes in storage or a suitcase. Non-acid tissue or bubble-wrap works too. And remember: make sure shoes are dry and aired before long-term storage.”

This article was originally published here.