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Monday, March 31, 2014

Hiatus

I'm going to take a little break from the blog.  I've got a lot of... life going on right now and I need some time and some space away from this place to deal with it.  Lately, this space has felt more like a chore than the fun and creative outlet that it started out as and like I want it to be.  I'm hoping that by taking April off, working on myself, and just stepping back a bit, will leave me reinvigorated and excited to blog again.

April should be a big month for me.  I'm traveling several weekends and hope to use that time to recharge my batteries, both in terms of blogging and just life in general.  When things get heavy, I tend to withdraw and that's sort of what this is.  

And now that I've officially become one of those bloggers who gives you a vague post about how difficult their life is, without any real details, I feel like I can sign off for now.

Thank you to everyone who reads this.  You guys are amazing and I hope to be back in May with fresh content and really, really attractive outfit posts.  In the meantime, you can still find me saying random things on Twitter and posting the occasional Instagram photo with an inappropriately long caption.




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Smartificial Review: Kumari Luxury Hair Oil Therapy


What's the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend?  Pampering yourself, duh.  Luckily, I had the opportunity to try out Kumari's Luxury Hair Oil this past weekend.  Well, let's start at the beginning.

My hair care routine is lacking.  I've always been a wash and go girl, and only started brushing my hair in the past few years.  Before you start thinking that's crazy, I opted for my natural curls and waves and brushing only made them frizzy.  My naturals waves have softened recently, so brushing became an option again.  But I digress.

In short, I'm easy and I don't use very many products.  I had heard about oil treatments before, and every once in a blue moon, I would do one myself, usually using olive oil.  The olive oil worked really well, but the only downside was that I was always sure my head smelled like lasagna, even after two or three shampoos to remove it all.  Not a good look.

When Kumari sent me a sample to try, I was psyched to see if it would give me the same results with the added bonus of not smelling like an Olive Garden.  

I followed the directions, placing about 15 drops of oil on my crown of my head, and then about another 15 drops on the body of my hair.  I took my time massaging it in, definitely enjoying this whole spa experience I was giving myself.  After a good, solid scalp massage, I braided my hair and went about my business for the next half hour (I wore a crappy t-shirt during this process as I didn't want to worry about getting oil on my clothes).  

After 30 minutes, I hopped in the shower and shampooed twice to get everything out.  I let my hair air-dry, as usual, and was really pleased with how soft my hair felt to the touch and with the shine that I had.  My hair definitely looks and feels better, with the added bonus of not smelling like an Italian restaurant!  I'm really happy with the results and will likely make this a habit. 

Let me know if you've tried any hair oils and if you try Kumari, what do you think?


*Disclosure: Kumari sent me a sample free of charge to try out.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.




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Friday, March 28, 2014

For Your (Weekend) Consideration


This Blog - Livs Lyst
While looking for a photo to use for this post, I found this absolutely stunning blog.  The pictures are incredibly beautiful and the use of light is amazing.  It's in Norwegian, so rock that Google Translate. 

In Mississippi, a 16-year old girl gave birth to a stillborn child and was charged with homicide.  The story is, of course, more complicated than that, but this case, and many other "fetal harm" cases, can set a dangerous precedent for future cases.

This TV Show - Bates Motel
I'm only two episodes in, but it's fantastic.  Vera Farmiga is terrifying, Freddie Highmore is creepy/strange/adorable, and the mood is perfect disturbing.  

This Movie - The Hunt
I watched this over the weekend and thought it completely deserving of its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.  Mads Mikkelsen gives a beautiful, nuanced performance and the film itself shows the darker side of small town life and the people who live it.

This Band - Chad Valley
Chad Valley opened up for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (also great) last Friday night at the 930 Club and he was amazing.  His voice is absurd.  Such a beautiful voice and show and great dance tunes.  I'm hoping he comes back soon and plays somewhere like Rock and Roll Hotel or U Street Music Hall.

This Dress - Eliza J
I'm in love.  It's so gorgeous and apparently I'm not the only one that thinks so as they only have it in stock in a size 6 right now.  But those colors and the way it moves.  Damn, girl.

This Website - Television Without Pity
NBC Universal is canning Daily Candy, but on top of that, Television Without Pity is getting the ax too.  I first discovered it at my very first office job.  It got me through the tedium then, and does the same job now.  I'm really bummed about this.  But hopefully, all of its thoughtful, smart, witty, brilliant writers will land new gigs elsewhere.




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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Four on Thursday



1 // I'm sick of layering, but am inexplicably drawn to this vest.  I see it going over a dress for brunch.  Topping off a tank and denim cutoffs.  I see summer.

2 //  Dressing for work in the summer is terrible.  It's melty outside and the office is freezing thanks to the wonder of air-conditioning.  This pencil skirt might be great for combating both of those things.  The eyelet is really cute, but I like that it's in black rather than the typical white.

3 // Apparently, I'm on a black and white kick today.  No apologies because I LOVE this dress.  The wrap cut, the pattern, the v-neck, the nipped in waist, the sleeves, I love it all and would wear it everywhere.  And when I say everywhere, I mean ev-ry-wh-ah.

4 // Navy is my other go-to.  BR is making this blouse in several colors and it looks like a great cut that's perfect for the office in warmer weather.  Wear it under a blazer or cardigan for work and on its own afterwards.  




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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Currently Reading: Brewster


Jon Mosher, our narrator, is something of a loner.  He grows up the son of immigrant parents, who left their home fleeing the Nazis only to be broken by the tragic death of their other young son.  After that horrible accident, Jon's house is a quiet place.  His mother barely speaks to him, so haunted is she by the loss of his brother.

Jon strikes up an unlikely friendship with the school bad boy, Ray.  Ray is a fighter, always coming to school with bruises and black eyes that he collects in underground fighting rings.  Or so the rumors say.  The two make a curious pair, but theirs is a friendship that grows into something bigger than reputation and more important that popularity.  

I would argue that the plot is secondary to the mood, the tone that the book sets.  It is winter, cold, permanently grey.  Ice, slush, and snow are everywhere.  Slouka captures what it is to be a teenager, isolated in your small town.  That sense of being alone, being trapped runs throughout all the characters.  Watching your best friend fall in love with the girl you've already fallen in love with.  Running track not for the camaraderie or the trophies, but for the feeling of pain that pounding out those miles gives you.  Spending those dark, dreary days planning out a summer that will never come to fruition.

Brewster is beautiful, but it is dark and it is depressing.  This isn't a story of triumphing over obstacles and coming out better on the other side.  It is a story that is relentless in its sadness, in its bad luck.  When you think that Ray has to catch a break, he just has to, he doesn't.  When you feel that Jon can't take any more hurt, he does.  It's an unforgiving story, but a truly, hauntingly beautiful one that needs to be told.




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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hollywood & Vine



Jacket: Barbour; Pants: Wit & Wisdom via Nordstrom (similar color); Blouse (similar) & Tote: Old Navy; Flats: Tahari via Marshalls (love these); Shades: Ray Ban

This article came to my attention this morning.  10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s.

I'm only 28, but I'm feeling the adulthood, the responsibility, and the desire to better myself sneaking in.  The advice in the article is really helpful and even though we probably know most of it, we can be afraid of what taking that advice might mean.  

Let's be brave instead.




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Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday's Fancies: Green Part Deux

It's the first weekend of spring and I'm busy, which is fairly indicative of how this spring and summer will be in general.  DT and I are headed to a concert tonight before a way too early start to our spring soccer season tomorrow morning.  Saturday is supposed to be warm out, so we may do some afternoon imbibing.  Then on Sunday, I'm hoping to head over to the Portrait Gallery to check out the "American Cool" exhibit.  Has anyone been?  Is it as great as I think it will be?

Friday's Fancies: Green Part Deux

Friday's Fancies: Green Part Deux by smartificial featuring traditional home decor

Now that I've got a beach vacation to look forward to, it's hard to think about anything else.  DT and I usually go for the relaxing vacation.  We'll hang at the pool, on the beach, do some reading, do lots of eating and drinking, and watch the sunsets from our balcony.

Mismatched bikinis are great because all my bathing suits are thrown into a bag and finding the matching top or bottom is a nightmare.  Plus I like the contrast.  Toss on a gauzy cover-up and some flat sandals to hit the beach or go for a bike ride.  This palm print tote is a great beach bag and big enough to fit a fat stack of books.  Adding some green to vacation gear isn't too bad.





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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Four on Thursday

I thought it would never come.  With the deluge of snow days, frigid temperatures, and biting winds, hoping for spring felt like a cruel joke.  But it's here, we survived, and I'm ignoring the fact that we may get more snow next week.

My legs are bare (and pale, oh so pale) and the sun is out.  Yes, I'm drinking hot tea and sitting at my desk with my heating pad, but we've got to take what we can get.


1 // If you give me an easy throw and go sundress AND you put stripes on it, I'm yours.  There's a cute layering thing going on here too, which looks like it has great movement.

2 // I'm so psyched that thicker heels are in again.  A sandal that I can actually walk around in is all I ever want.  The thick ankle strap and buckle combination keep these interesting, but simple at the same time.  Also in white here.

3 // Is peplum still a thing?  I hope so because I wore it yesterday and because this top is gorgeous.  It was originally $268, so you're getting a damn good price, too.  The v-neck and seams will make this super flattering.  And it's navy.  Game over.

4 // I can't speak to the quality of this shirt, but $35 for a silk blouse is insane.  It also comes in a bright turquoise and a coral.  Just to compare, the silk blouse at J. Crew is $140.  So, there's that.



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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Currently Reading: The Circle


Dave Eggers is pretty hit or miss for me, so I was really pleasantly surprised to love this book.

Through her friend Annie, Mae gets a job with the best company in the world: The Circle.  They have a gorgeous, sprawling campus in the Bay Area, their employees are the best and brightest in their fields, and they are changing the world for the better.  What more could you want?

The Circle started based on an idea called TruYou, a program that allows users to have one username and password for all their online needs.  Internet anonymity was gone, as were the trolls.  People were more courteous and polite online, only saying on the internet things that they would say out loud.  This led to more and more ideas to better the world - having SeeChange cameras everywhere in order to prevent crimes and violence; inserting chips into children to stop abductions; even having politicians wear cameras constantly to provide total government transparency.

Slowly, but surely, Mae becomes completely enveloped within the company, eventually becoming one of the most popular employees, both within the company and out in the world.  She has thousands of followers and every message or smile she gets from them makes her even hungrier for more.  She can be better!

The one anomaly Mae finds at The Circle is a mysterious man named Kalden.  After a chance meeting, Mae seeks him out on social media, but she can find no trace of him.  Annie has never heard of him.  Kalden sporadically pops up now and then, but is never reachable, which drives Mae crazy.

How can someone stay hidden in this brave new world?  Where did Kalden come from and where does he go?  These questions stay with Mae, but she becomes too busy with her Circle life to dwell on them for too long.  She has followers to update and smiles to send.  While her real life collapses around her, her online persona becomes a celebrity.  Unfortunately, Mae can't see the difference.

As a somewhat-Luddite, I was obsessed with the ideas in this book.  How much technology is too much?  I'm a big believer in privacy and The Circle takes it all away, under the guise of protection and honesty.  When you spend all your time posting pictures online, commenting on others', "liking" things, is that really living?  Or is it a fake sense of living?  

These questions are ones that we should all ask ourselves.  And yes, I realize the irony of saying all this as a blogger who devotes some of her time to an online life.  





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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finally!

DC had yet another snow day yesterday, and while it's great to have a day off work and stay home and drink Bailey's in your hot chocolate (it was St. Paddy's Day after all), DT and I are feeling the dregs of winter and that's why we booked a vacation!

It's nothing too grand or exciting, but we are headed to Florida over Easter weekend and I cannot wait to be a) warm, b) on a beach, and c) in one layer of clothing.




Beach Vacation

Beach Vacation by smartificial featuring a swimsuit bikini

What will I be packing?  Lots of stripes, simple dresses, and my favorite bikinis.  And gallons of sunscreen because this skin hasn't seen light in what feels like a decade.

I usually tend to overpack on vacations like this, but am going to try and keep things very streamlined.  Other than relaxing at the beach or by the pool, we'll probably wander to the boardwalk for dinner and drinks, so the vibe will be casual.  No need for heels or makeup, which is exactly the type of vacation that I like.