The -ing

Photo by Keely Yount

Something noticeably different this week on the blog? Anything missing?

I've decided to ease up on some fashion-related posts in an effort to get back to the theme of this blog originally: randomness and from-the-heart writing.

Fashion and trend-related content will always have a place here, but I hope that 2013 will allow me to get back to my roots; get back to the reason that blogging was always so much fun for me. 

I was reminded of this when I re-opened Add More –ing to Your Life by Gabrielle Bernstein. I was packing up some of our winter d├ęcor this week and noticed the book sitting on a box in the closet. I picked it up and read a random chapter.

The genius of this book is that it compels you to let go of the things you aren’t passionate about, whether it be a job, a toxic person in your life or a bad habit you’ve never been able to break. Coincidentally, this is the very book that I read right before I decided to leave a career in bank marketing (it was as exciting as it sounds) and take a risk on being a real-live professional writer for a company of which I’d always wanted to work.

So, I opened the book and started reading the words. All of a sudden, I wanted to write. Writing makes me happy, it energizes my soul and it ignites the portions of my brain that cardigans and belts and stilettos never will. Writing is what lights me on fire. Because writing is my –ing.

The –ing. It’s the thing that gives flavor to food, turns sound into music and enriches the pigment in the paint colors. It’s not a person or a religion, (those are –ings in a completely different way), but an action. A hobby. A daily ritual. Something that you love deeply and fully.

Maybe for you, it’s running or dancing. Maybe it’s making music or singing. Maybe it’s teaching or healing. Maybe it’s your ability to speak to a group of people. Maybe it’s your talent for creating beautiful things from fabric or paint. Maybe it’s your ability to make people laugh.

Everyone has an –ing.

And it’s worth finding.

There will still be outfit posts and all the froo-froo fluff, (I’m incapable of breaking up with fashion), but I hope to connect with you guys on a deeper level this year. Through words. Through my -ing. Through real conversations and laughter and embracing the human experience. Together.

Let’s make 2013 an amazing adventure.

I leave you with one simple question: What is the –ing in your life? 


A Pep Talk

Because we could all use a little "lift" now and then...

You've just been pep talked.


Tuesday Tidbits

In an effort to not feel like a lazy swine, my friend Christi and I enrolled in classes at Arkansas Yoga Center. I was a student there about three years ago and, for a reason I seem to have forgotten, stopped going.

Well, I started again. Four days a week or so, we’ll be hitting the studio for “hot” Bikram yoga. If you’ve never done a “hot” yoga sesh, I beg you to try it. It’s like being placed in a sauna and told to do backbends. Over and over and over again. And when you feel like you may pass out? Do some more.

I’m a glutton for punishment, so obviously, I love it.


We branched out last night at the S household. We utilized bok choy in our chicken noodle soup. I realize for some of you far cooler people, this is an everyday occurance. For a girl who relies on staples like Velveeta in her cooking, this was a stretch.

I felt like friggin Ina Garten.


I was cranky yesterday and seeing 5,287 posts on Instagram about the whole Vine app made me even crankier. I don’t get it – why not just upload a video to Facebook, YouTube or a blog? Why must we have a new social channel to hawk our animated .GIFs? It makes me le tired.


I love that the best advice doctors have for this flu epidemic is “stay home”. And for those of us that have full-time jobs outside of the home? Buy a plastic haz-mat suit, I suppose.


A VERY sweet blog reader named Jennifer picked up the H&M jacket for me - yep, the one I was coveting so badly! It fits to a "T" and I love how it looks on everything from T-shirts to dresses. In case you live near an H&M, it'd be worth a buy.

What's going on in your world today?


Kids of the 90s

I was born in 1984, but most of my fondest childhood memories are from the early 90s. A friend posted this on FB on Friday, (Ty, if you're reading, thank you!), so I thought I would share with the rest of you.

Cheers to one fabulous decade.

Happy Monday.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

This week I confess...

...that I think we'll do a repeat of last Friday night again tonight. Any NWA residents a fan of Fred's Hickory Inn? As you can see, we were in hog heaven, (literally...the pork is amazing.)

...that, even though the removal process hurt like nobody’s business, I have fallen hard for Boscia’s Luminizing Black Mask. It left my face feeling silky smooth, and we won’t even get into the nitty gritty (literally) of what it pulled out of my pores. A word of caution though, do NOT get it near your eyebrows. Because if you do, you won’t have any left. Thankfully, I read the instructions on the box before I applied it, so I still have eyebrows. However, I have spoken to others who did not heed Boscia’s warning and they are currently drawing their brows in, like this old lady named Mae that used to own a restaurant down the road from my parents. (Her eyebrows changed both shade and shape daily.)

…I confess that I am hooked on Amish Mafia, a television show on TLC about a specific group of Amish men, sworn to protect the traditions of sect. At first, I thought it was another ridiculous reality show, but it's actually really interesting. It's a rare look inside one of the most fascinating groups of people in America. I highly encourage you to give it a chance.

...I confess that dinner last night consisted of a homemade Frito chili pie, followed by an ice cream drumstick for dessert.

...I confess that I have fallen back in love Abercrombie and Fitch jeans. Yes, girls - the brand we all loved in high school has been cranking out some pretty cute denim lately. I may just need to pop over to our local A&F this weekend ; )

What's on your confessional list today?


To a 'T'

Raise your hand if weekends are the only time you really get to bust out a t-shirt. (If we were sitting in the same room, you'd see me waving both my hands in the air, like I just didn't care.)

In high school and college, I lived in 'em for two reasons: 1) I had no budget for clothing. Zilch. 2) I took most of my classes earlier in the morning and any effort just seemed futile. {Sidenote: Remember when 9:00 a.m. seemed early? Like, when you'd say, "Aw, the only Intro to British Lit class available was brutally early. 8:45. As in a.m. time. Woah is me...all is lost." Funny how a few years in the corporate world will redefine your criteria for deeming something "brutally early".}

Though I can't personally sport any of these to work myself, I'd totally nab a couple of these graphic tees for the weekend. I might even go crazy and dress 'em up for a date night with a blazer and heels. Because I'm a loose cannon like that.

 Brat & Suzie Deer T-Shirt // Striped T-Shirt in Time for Tea print

Brandy Melville Scoop Neck Tee // Topshop Couple Graphic Tee

Are you as much of a would-be t-shirt hoarder as I am? Where do you find/buy/borrow most of yours?


Things That Make Me Go "Hmmm"

Sometimes in life, there are moments where you just have to stop and think, "Did I miss something?" Here are a few things leaving me to scratch my head this week:

The hoopla over Michelle Obama’s bangs leading off the national nightly news last week. No need to worry about the financial crisis or flu epidemic, kids. SHE GOT BANGS. Come on, folks. I know you all need ratings, but really? If I need a professional analysis of Mrs. Obama’s coif, I’ll ask my hairdresser.

The sound of Brian Williams punching himself in the face could be heard all over Manhattan, I’m sure.


Buckwild. Heard of it? It’s MTV’s new show centered around a group of young adults living in West Virginia. It also makes Here Comes Honey Boo Boo look like Masterpiece Theatre. Even worse, these people are getting PAID to walk around without proper footwear, funnel beer and conduct shotgun target practice on 2 liter bottles of Mountain Dew. In which parallel universe does that make sense?

(BTW – West Virginians, I feel your pain. Remember when Paris and Nicole came to Arkansas? Not a pretty picture they painted of our great state, which coincidentally, does feature indoor plumbing…in most establishments. Be assured that the rest of the United States passes no judgment on the rest of your residents. We’ve all been there.)


Wrist harnesses. Yes, you read that correctly. You can finally wrangle in those pesky wrists, which always seem to be detaching themselves from your arms and fingers.

Someone is making a lot of money off this. And laughing all the way to the bank.


The trend of folks naming their babies after characters in 50 Shades of Grey. Try explaining that one in twenty years.


White pants in winter. I know, I know…it’s okay to do this now. We are the generation bursting the fashion “rules”. But, even though I adore a great white pant, I still just feel a bit strange wearing those puppies when it’s 30 degrees outside. It just feels a little off.

Like, when you forget to wear mascara.


"Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. But here's three minutes, kiss me maybe?"

The awkward three minute, world-record-setting onscreen kiss that took place on Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor. (No, really. They set a world record. Guinness was there and everything.) Let the record show, I have not watched this show in three years or more, but as I was flipping through channels, I had to stop and find out what was going on. I am physically incapable of looking away from a good awkward moment. And ladies, this was the mother of them.


The stink over Beyonce possibly lip syncing. My only question: WHO CARES? It's Beyonce. Beautiful, amazingly talented Beyonce. We all know the lady is more than capable of belting it out, so why be a bunch of negative Nellies? I'd lip sync, too. It's the Presidential Inauguration. People need to ease up on sweet B, in my opinion.

What’s making you go “hmmmm” this week? 


Southern Comfort: {Outfit Pics}

I have officially reached that point in winter where I start tossing on random pieces and calling it an outfit. Anyone else out there? Luckily, I've racked up some pretty nifty items this winter - all very inexpensively. In my book, that makes them even niftier.

With gale force winds (okay, they're not that bad) and temperatures in the teens (i.e. 40-45), we Arkansans are just doing whatever we can to stay warm. We're not the most hearty of folks in cold weather. (But, we can totally hang when it's 105 outside.)

One of the best $10 investments I've made in recent history where these faux leather leggings from Forever 21. I've worn the mess out of them and they're still going strong, 15 wash cycles later.

Top: Hazel's Haven // Pants: F21 (similar here) // Beanie: Target Men's // Scarf: Savoir-Faire // 
Booties: Gifted by Maude Boutiqueavailable for purchase here // Lipstick: Maybelline Sensational Lipcolor in Blissful Berry, for purchase here

Oh, and this lip color? Can't live without it. Well, I could, but would I really want to do that? Doubt it.


Which types of items are in your winter clothing rotation? Are you going for comfort, style or both?


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Let's just get right to it, shall we?

  • I confess that I am a tad sad today. My dear, sweet little Ruby is getting spayed this morning and she’ll have to spend the night at the veterinary hospital. I may or may not have shed a couple tears on my way to work. If I am this ridiculous about a canine, I cannot imagine how I’ll behave if/when we have children. It should effectively take my worrisome ways to a whole new level. 
  • I confess that this week’s hair highlights may have been my favorite yet. Love the warmth that Jennifer was able to inject into my crazy hair. The woman works wonders. If you live in NWA, you should give her a ring. (Not a literal ring…she’s married.) 

  • I confess that this jacket is calling my name. Only problem is, the thing is at H & M and I live in Arkansas. If anyone would like to seek out/ship this little beauty for me, I'd be forever grateful ; ) Come on...you know you want to help a sister out. 
  • I confess that I’d rather be waterboarded than go on one of those trendy juice cleanses. Seems like everyone is “juicing” now. That can’t be healthy long term, right? Anyway, you can forget this girl giving up the art of chewing.  No juice-only diet for me, thanks. I like my pizza.
  • I confess that I'm ready for summer. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I'm over this winter weather. If it doesn't snow, there's no point in having cold weather, in my opinion. I'm ready to spend Saturday nights on the boat again.
  • I confess that I've had the same pair of eyeglasses since 2002. This week, I superglued the frames back together for the third time. It might be time to upgrade. (To all the hipsters out there, I would like to point out that I was sporting these bad boy plastic frames back in the day, long before they were de rigeour. It was just me. And Lisa Loeb.) 
This is my serious writer self, hard at work on a project. Can't you tell by my pensive expression and serious nerd glasses?
Your turn. Let's hear it, bunnies.


The Great Souptacular: {Let's Get Soupy}

Grab a stock pot and a ladle, girls – things are about to get hot around here. To me, soup is sort of like a dependable old car. You try out some newer, fancier rides (recipes), but when it comes to dependable transportation (or a satisfied crowd), you pull out the old standby, the ’75 Chevy of meal options – soup.

To kick off this post, I thought we’d start by listing a few of the great qualities of this seemingly un-chic culinary offering:

-It’s cheap. Unless your soup calls for white truffles or champagne infused beets (true story), you can feed one or fifteen people for lots of days. Without lots of dollars.

-It’s really hard to screw up. Soup has a versatility about it that comes in handy for those of us who like to experiment in the kitchen. Too bland? Add some cumin and sea salt. Too thick? Add stock. Too thin? Cornstarch, kids.

-It’s great if you take lunch to work. It’s portable in a Tupperware container. It’s typically calorie-friendly. Soup is also easy to heat up without offending your office mates with a horrid aroma. (Unlike salmon, which some chick at my old job would heat up every Monday, without fail. She had no friends.)

My favorite soup is White Chicken Chili. It’s my personal recipe, which resulted from combining about four various spins on this classic soup.

White Chicken Chili
by Leslie at A Blonde Ambition

1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 packet McCormick White Chicken Chili seasoning
1/2 cup flour
1 cup butter
4 cups half and half or whole milk
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cans Great Northern (white) beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/8 cup chopped jalapeno peppers
1 ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken (I get mine at our Walmart deli)
2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1-2 tsp. of chili powder (depending how spicy you want it)
1 cup sour cream (optional)

Cook onion powder and garlic in a couple tablespoons of butter until soft, not brown. Set aside. Make a roux by melting the butter and whisking the 1/2 cup of flour in. Boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add the onion and garlic to the roux.
Add the half and half and chicken broth. Simmer 3 minutes or until thick.
Pour mixture into a crockpot then add the white beans, black beans, pepper, chicken, cheese and all spices, including seasoning packet.

Simmer 20 minutes. Right before serving add salt and pepper to taste and sour cream (optional). Garnish with cilantro and more shredded cheese.

That’s it. Easy, quick and guaranteed to leave you satisfied.

Behold, I give you soup.


On the Cheap

Although I do blog (primarily) about fashion, I feel it’s worth mentioning that I do not own one piece of Chanel, Prada, Chloe or YSL. My budget really doesn’t allow for a $510 skirt. I just can’t fathom…

I recently received an email from a sweet reader (Anisa from OH) asking how in the world I managed to find chic items at stores like Forever 21. And then I got to thinking..maybe this would make a decent blog topic? Eh?

It's every fashionista's mission, including mine: Shopping for cheap while still managing to look, well, un-cheap. I'm far from an expert and my personal taste isn't identical to yours, but here's how I find "jewels in a junkyard":

Visit Their Online Stores
I NEVER shop in-store at Forever 21. Here’s why: Between the obnoxious hipster tunes blaring from the speakers, to the lavender-haired tweens with their leopard print skinny jeans and messenger bags, the whole place makes me want to yack. (And leaves me popping Excedrin Migraine tablets in my car, afterward.)

Longline Jacket - purchase here // Striped Stud Button Shirt - purchase here

But, F21 does have amazing clothes. Clothes that really do last longer than one wash cycle. Most importantly, clothes that are trendy and seemingly expensive. All of this, my dears, you can find on their site.

I do the same with Old Navy. Rarely ever do I go in Old Navy, simply because the lighting in their dressing rooms is atrocious. Online though, you can find little gems, like these suede gray oxford heels that I wore for some recent outfit photos.

Women's Faux-Suede Oxford Heels - purchase here

Go a Size Up
Cheap clothes run small. Let’s repeat that again, cheap clothes run small. Always go a size up at stores with less expensive items. Here’s why: Cheaper clothes are typically made of synthetic fabrics like Lycra or Polyester; fabrics that aren’t frequently known for their figure flattering qualities. (These are usually the types of fabrics that create the dreaded “stuffed sausage casing” look. Never okay, girls. No ma’am.

My favorite go-to cheap stores:

Forever 21 – I love F21 for their skinny jeans and their sweaters. Their sweaters are typically really great quality and also really soft, like the more expensive labels. Their $10 skinny jeans really do wear like an expensive pair of J.Brand.

Essential Braided Knit Sweater - purchase here

Classic Skinnies - purchase here

Target – For accessories and shoes, this is my go-to. I highly suggest their men’s section for beanies, too.

Mossimo Women's Long Sleeved High-Low Sweater - purchase here // Rhinestone Cluster Earrings - purchase here

Ebay – Yes, ebay. Although you do need to be diligent about reading feedback from previous purchasers, it’s a great way to find current pieces that are a fraction of what they cost in stores. Lots of times, if I have a specific piece in mind, I just type in “inspired by (insert name of designer”. Generally, this works.

Geometric Pattern Sweater - purchase here

Sosie – I adore this online store for blouses and skinny trousers, most of which work for the office, too. Don’t flip out when you first visit – lots of photos of daisy dukes and leather bodysuits. Keep clicking and soon enough, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Spotted Jag Cardigan - purchase here

Groopdealz – For jewelry. I buy a whole mess of my baubles from Groupdealz. They do a pretty good job of featuring pieces that look similar to J.Crew or Anthro, but for a mere $6 price tag. Join and shop. Then come back and thank me.

Bow Tie Necklaces - purchase here

If anything, cheaper stores are a great place to buy super trendy pieces for prices you won’t regret later.


The Great Souptacular

I wanted to come up with a riveting blog topic for today; something that would really ignite some critical thinking and self-examination.

Today, we'll be talking about soup.

Most importantly, The Great Souptacular.

This Thursday, January 17, all of you culinary vixens will be able to link up right here and share your most earth-shaking soup recipe with your fellow blog readers. Here's what to do:

Come here on Thursday and leave the link to your blog, where you'll share your favorite soup or chili recipe. The link-up will close midnight on Friday, just in time for Confessional Friday, so be sure to post your link before then.

Soup is a classic winter tradition and goshdarnit, it's a cheap way to feed a household. So sift through that recipe box and come back here Thursday to link up!

Oh, and in case you wondered, of course I made a button. You can showcase it at the top of your recipe blog post, if you feel so inclined.

The Great Souptacular. Be there.


Savoir-Faire Moment - {Princess Skirt}

Shirt and skirt in post were generously gifted by Savoir-Faire.

Immediately when I saw this gorgeous tulle skirt displayed at Savoir-Faire, I knew what I wanted to see it in pics for January's inaugural SF post. The inspiration? My four-year-old niece Ava, a fellow poofy skirt lover and princess at heart. At Christmas, we were having a conversation while she helped me choose my outfit for the day. {She loves going through my closet or suitcase when they come to our house or we visit them in Fort Smith.} Ava said, "I fink you should dress wike a pincess today." All I had in my bag that day were a couple of sweaters and pair of jeans, but I told her that I would find a 'pincess' skirt and wear it on the blog for her. I sat out in late December to find an outfit for January that she would deem fitting for royalty. 

And I did.

The volume, the tulle, the feeling of being surrounded by bookoos of fabric in a creamy shade of ivory. This was a "pincess" skirt if I'd ever seen one.

I know this particular look isn't something many of us would or even could wear very often, but once in a while, a girl needs a good dress-up moment. Something that inspires us and reminds us that twirling around in five layers of fancy tulle is fun. This skirt does that for me. 

The shirt? Flannel. I wanted something to balance out the frilly nature of the skirt, and honestly, I couldn't think of anything more polar opposite of girly tulle than plaid flannel. (But chic plaid flannel! And with golden studs!)

I paired it all with chunky gold jewelry and simple, black peep-toes to keep the focus on the beauty of the garments - not the accessories.

If you're feeling crazy and want to show a little tummy, that's great too. I did, but you can also tuck the skirt in completely and add a sash, for a bit more conservative look.

This lovely heart-shaped necklace was a Christmas gift from sweet Tess and, coincidentally, it paired perfectly with this outfit. It also embodies every one of my feelings about Savoir-Faire.

Shirt: Savoir-Faire // Skirt: Savoir-Faire // Shoes: (old) Jessica Simpson via Dillard's // Bracelets: GroopDealz // Necklace: Savoir-Faire // Earrings: Target 
Photos by Keely Yount

Take style risks, girls. If there's one thing I know, it's that life is too short NOT to buy that amazing skirt in the store window. You'll be glad you dared to try it - pinky swear. 

Go see Tess and all the stunning girls of Savoir-Faire and tell 'em Leslie sent ya! Oh, and don't forget to hashtag all of your outfit Instagram pics with #SFStylist if you need some style advice from SF. They'll always comment back with suggestions on how to  make any look work for you!

Alright you royal maidens, enjoy your Monday.


Confessional Friday: {Link-Up}

  • I confess that I really wish I knew how to turn off Facebook publicizing my every move. If I look at a website, inquire about a size from a boutique, listen to a dadgum song on Spotify or blow my nose – Facebook tells the world. 
  • I confess that I am cheap. Stephen and I have had this goal of learning Italian for approximately the entire three years we’ve been together. We are thisclose to buying Rosetta Stone, but it costs more than my car payment. Significantly more. So we recently did a bootleg version of it online. And there’s a reason it was a bootleg version. 

So far, we’ve learned “La bambina beve”: The baby drinks; and “La bambina mangia”: The baby eats. I have a feeling these phrases won’t get us very far in Italy. But we’ll be in luck if we need to identify an infant eating pasta.

Buy the real Rosetta Stone. Lesson learned.

  • I confess that I’ve been sucked into a vortex known as Rosecliff. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but it’s time – I have an addiction. Rosecliff is this really nerdy game that involves searching for random objects within various “rooms” that look like some of the houses on Hoarders. It’s probably a super ancient game that my belated-adapter self is just now discovering. I don’t care. 
  • Am I the only one who can’t resist clicking the recommended YouTube videos or iTunes songs? Like, when you go on iTunes to purchase one specific song and then it gives you the ‘ole “You might also like (insert name here)”. Why yes, iTunes. I believe I might. Gets me every time. 
  • The little mom ‘n pop pharmacy that I use sends me the sweetest handwritten thank-you note every time I have a prescription filled. This makes my heart so full of happiness for the small businesses that still do the little things for their customers. They are my heroes.

  Confess to me, bunnies!



Lots going on around here lately, so I thought we'd just talk randomness today. Sound good?

1. First off, MANY thank yous to Aubrey Kinch for working her magic on this blog with the new design. She took all of my crazy ideas and turned them into a beautiful, clean finished product. Her turnaround time was the quickest I've ever seen out of a designer and she was beyond professional. And her pricing? Affordable. {Read: You won't have to take out a small loan to get yourself a shiny new blog look.}

If you're in the market for an updated design for your website or blog, do yourself a favor and contact sweet Aubrey.

2. My girls at Maude are having a killer contest right now - $500 to spend in their store! Go here to read the instructions for the New Year - New You giveaway and be sure to enter before midnight tonight. All it involves is adding a new board to your Pinterest account and pinning a couple adorable outfits from their site. Easy enough, right? Get on it, bunnies.

3. From my surgery on Friday until I went back to work yesterday, I went without make-up. My face felt amazing being so bare and clean for five days. Although I love make-up as much as the next girl, it felt nice to let my skin breathe.

4. Any of you NWA girls going to Paint the Town Red on January 26th? Stephen and I are going, which I'm really excited about! I was thrilled to donate a 2 hour Personal Styling Session, which will be auctioned off at the event! Best of all, it benefits the American Heart Association, a cause which is very near and dear to me, as y'all know. Stay tuned for more details in a post next week...I'd love to see y'all there, too!

5. I was SO elated to find all of you on Instagram yesterday! I love being able to connect to all of you outside of just the blog, so be sure to shout out your Insta handle and I'll be sure to follow ya.

6. Confessional Friday RETURNS tomorrow. Be here to link up for all the venting and confessing. It's a grand 'ole time.

7. Anyone have a good soup recipe? I love making a big pot of soup for a budget-friendly meal during the cooler months. I'm thinking of having a soup recipe link-up, where we'll all share our fave recipes. Would y'all like that or want to participate?

8. I have had SO many of you girls ask about the pants featured in the side banner for The Rage. I could tell you how perfect these will be for spring, or how they could be dressed up or down, but I'll just let you figure that out for yourself. When you buy them. Here

Be blessed, lovelies-