Random Q&A

I appreciate all of the comments and suggestions on my Coffee Talk post yesterday. I took notes and made a list of post topic ideas that will keep me busy for weeks, so thank you! I don’t normally have any trouble coming up with post ideas, but every once in a while I need a little boost, and you guys definitely gave me that! Plus it’s always nice to know what you’d like to see here.

While a lot of the suggestions will make good post topics, there were a variety of random questions that I thought I’d answer in a Q&A post and I’m doing that today! I did answer a lot of these in the comments yesterday, but I know not everyone is going back to read through all of the comments and responses so I thought it made sense to post them here. Of course, I am wordy and I’ve expanded a bit on some of my comments. I am sure you’re not surprised.

I think you’re pretty busy and yet your “voice” doesn’t indicate someone who’s overwhelmed or stressed out. How do you manage your time? Are you someone who works after 10 pm, when family responsibilities are less pressing?

That is my writer’s voice, I think. Ha! I do get stressed out, but I have a pretty good system in place that works well for me and our family. For one thing, I’m an early bird. I get up around 5am this time of year, and definitely by 6am in the winter months. I also have older kids that are fairly self sufficient so I can work when they’re around, and of course they’re in school all day 9 months out of the year. I work most of the day unless I have appointments or errands, but I quit working when I get up to make dinner. I may check email and social media on my iPhone, but I rarely work on the blog after dinner. To unwind, I like to watch HGTV with my daughter or sit on the front porch and relax or hang out with a neighbor and catch up over a glass of wine. I’m always in bed by 10pm and usually well before that.

Blogging is the type of job where there is always something I can be doing, however, I can also cut back when I need to. When I know I’m going to be traveling or life will be busy, I hunker down and prep a bunch of posts. I type over 100 words a minute, and I’m pretty efficient when I focus. When there’s nothing pressing to tend to, I spend more time on social media posts, answering comments, organizing the backend of the website, creating graphics, and things that I can let go when life is busy.

working hard or hardly working?

Also, I just love what I do and I love this space. It is not work to me so it’s not stressful unless I have deadlines looming and feel crunched for time. I would rather work on the blog than any leisure activity or hobby I can think of. My mom and I were discussing this when we were in Maine. She runs her own business and often gets asked when she’s going to retire. She’s like, but what on earth would I do if I were retired? Please don’t make me retire!!!

Haha, that is how I feel when y’all tell me to take a week off. That would feel like punishment, lol! For that matter, my 100-year-old grandfather (my mother’s father) never retired. He still asks his son to pick him up and take him to the office several times a week. I guess I come by it honestly.

You mentioned an editorial calendar. I am wondering if you have a special system or actual planner you prefer to use that helps you stay on track with all the components of what you do.

I have a WordPress plugin that I use (WordPress Editorial Calendar for the bloggers out there) but for anyone who is freelancing and not using WordPress, I highly recommend Google Calendar. My husband and I each have one for personal use that we share so we can plan around each other’s schedules, and then before I got this calendar plugin for my blog, I used to have a Google Calendar just for my work stuff. I would plug in posts that I was planning to write or big sales I want to cover, deadlines for sponsored posts, things like that. It’s easy to drag and drop and move them around when new things crop up, and you can set email notifications so you don’t forget important deadlines.

How do you keep your closet under control and not overwhelming with too many choices?

Well, for one thing, I keep my blog wardrobe and personal wardrobe separate. I keep a hanging rack for blog clothes that is outside of my closet, and I hang things there when I bring them home. I keep the tags on until I decide if I want to keep them or not, and then I move them into the closet (or return them.) Once they’re in my closet, I feel like they’re mine. Before that, I don’t get attached, and they don’t get worn or messed up.

In other words, everything you see on the blog does not go into my closet, but a lot of it does, and I am pretty brutal about cleaning things out regularly. As a fashion blogger, I feel like I need to pass things along when they sell out because I can’t link to them anymore. I don’t love that aspect of this job, to be perfectly honest, but in this era of fast fashion, things sell out so quickly that it’s hard to do what I do any other way. As a result, I clean my closet out constantly. I’m always reassessing and moving things out as they sell out or I decide they don’t really work for me, and then I do a massive clean out with each change of season.

That said, I want to try to shop less this fall and feature more repeats, wearing things different ways, and linking to similar styles if what I’m wearing has sold out. If I was better at layering and mixing and matching, I could do that more easily, but my style is pretty simple — cute sweater, jeans, boots, bag, done! So it really does get redundant if I’m not adding new pieces regularly. I’ll see how it goes, but I’d really like to be more practical about how I manage this aspect of my work/life balance.

Do you keep the outfits you post?

I keep some but I do get rid of a lot. I have some friends and family members who love to take them of my hands, and I return some things if the tags are on and I don’t wear them past the front yard or for more than 5 minutes. It’s not that I don’t like them or genuinely recommend them; it’s that I simply can’t keep it all.

I stress over wearing skirts and dresses in the fall/spring bare-legged but panty hose seems so outdated I don’t want to wear that either. Any advice on that? 

I think tights are the best solution. Pantyhose are fine for more formal occasions, but bare legs or tights are more casual and on trend. I don’t mind doing the bare legged thing in the fall because I usually have some residual tan, and it’s not super cold where I live, but if in doubt, try opaque tights. I love Spanx tights. Ooooh! Bonus! They are part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!!! They are like half off in the black color. Seriously, grab a pair now. I’m going to order a backup pair since I only have one. (For size reference, I wear the B. There is a sizing chart if you need it.)

Spanx Tights ON SALE!

Jeans – do you foresee straight leg or flared leg jeans making a big comeback?

Honestly, no. Not this fall, anyway. I do see the flared leg occasionally, and it is certainly not considered out of style, but the skinny jean is definitely the trend du jour, and I don’t see that tide turning yet. That said, you should wear what you feel is most flattering on you. You can make almost any style of jean look stylish if the whole outfit works together and flatters your shape.

What is a bralette and when would you wear one?

A bralette is intended to be worn under a top that will show your bra. It’s generally pretty and meant to be seen. So if you like the trend where the one shoulder is falling off, your bralette strap will show, and it looks pretty and not like a fashion faux pas. Or those tops that have deep armholes are another good example.

You typically wear a bralette instead of a bra, but it obviously isn’t going to offer much support for those of us who are more well endowed so I haven’t bothered trying them. That said, I think you can wear it over your bra if you find one that works.

I just picked up the Tory Burch sandals in Makeup on the #NSale. Should I keep the makeup color or would black be better? Which color do you wear the most? It you only have one pair, which color do you recommend? 

In matters of shoes and handbags, a nude/neutral/flesh tone is always going to be more versatile than black. Definitely stick with the makeup color. It is sooo pretty too! I’ve actually been wanting the Miller sandals in makeup but can’t justify it because it’s too close to the sand patent that I currently have. I’ve worn them constantly for almost 2 years and they still look like new. I almost wish they would wear out so I could get another color, but no such luck. Haha!!

Tory Burch Bryce Sandals #NSale

So many tops these days are LONG and I’m short waisted and can’t tuck in. How would you handle this?

I am right there with ya, sister! It’s such a pain. Best practice is to hem your tops to the ideal length, and if you need to, you can have them taken in a bit in the waist area to provide a more flattering shape. The other option is the front tuck, which I often do because I don’t have time to hem my tops before featuring them on the blog because things sell out so fast these days.

I am happy to report that I am noticing a lot of shorter tops and sweaters this fall, and I think the pendulum is slowly swinging back to that trend. YAY!

What do you carry in your handbag and how do you switch bags — especially when you go from a larger to a smaller bag (what makes the cut?)

I am all about compartmentalizing! If you look inside my bag, you will see a bunch of makeup bags and pouches along with my wallet and sunglasses case. That makes it super easy to find what I need and also to switch from bag to bag.

When I switch to a smaller bag, I always grab my wallet and tissues (I love those Kleenex purse packs) and my sunglasses case, if those fit. Then I throw in a lipstick and that’s about it. If I am carrying a bag that’s too small for my wallet to fit inside, then I pull out some cash, drivers license, and a credit card and place it in the card slots in the small purse. Then I just add the tissues, lipstick, and my phone of course. I really hate not having my full bag with me, though, because invariably I forget something I need, so more and more I find myself carrying one of my bigger bags.

There were several comments/questions about skincare and what I use.

I’ve been using Rodan + Fields (full disclosure, I’m a consultant) for over a year except when I’m testing out a product for a campaign, and I keep going back to it because my skin feels and looks good when I’m on it and it’s a reputable company. I used to have a lot of issues with flaking and dry skin in the winter months, and that is pretty much gone.

I just use a basic skincare system — the Redefine line. They have a lot of cool products and tools, and while I’ve purchased some, I haven’t been consistent about using any of them. When it comes down to it, I’m kind of lazy. I always, always take off my makeup and moisturize, but a lot of nights I have no patience for anything else beyond that.

I recently tried out the Olay Regenerist cream, and I liked it a lot. To be honest, I can’t say I see much difference between that and R+F, which makes me wonder if I want to keep spending the big bucks. Then just this week a friend sent me some Ever skincare products to try, and I’m going to see what that’s all about. It’s are supposed to be more natural, which is definitely a compelling reason to try it.

I wanted a followup on those Olay cleansing cloths you blogged about. Are you still using them? 

I still use them 4 or 5 nights a week. They’re just so easy, and I do feel that they get my skin really clean. When I have the patience for it, I use the masque/cleanser from the R+F Redefine skincare line, but since being introduced to the Olay cleansing cloths, I find myself going for them almost every night.

Olay Daily Facials

Suggestions for a foundation that looks natural but covers?

I use MAC Studio Sculpt foundation when I want full coverage, but for a more natural everyday look, I like Jane Iredale PurePressed Base. I apply it with my Sigma Kabuki brush and set it with her Hydration Spray. Yes, it’s an expensive combination, but the brush lasts forever and the spray lasts a long time. The base will last me at least one full season. I sometimes use it over the MAC Studio Sculpt as a setting powder and for a little more coverage.

jane iredale purepressed base

If you could choose only one eyeshadow color to wear what would that be?

Definitely gray! My skin has cool undertones, so grey works well for me, but brown might be best for women with warmer undertones. My favorite eye shadow is the Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette and when I’m being lazy, I use the matte grey all over my lid and call it a day.

This post on What’s In My Makeup Bag is still pretty current even though it’s over a year old. I don’t change up my makeup routine very often, lol!

What's In My Makeup Bag

I would love to hear how you manage your mani/pedi routine; how you found your nail technician, the products you prefer, the frequency of your appointments.

I get a mani/pedi every other week. I used to go more randomly, but now I consider it part of my job because I want my nails to always be photo ready. I alternate between an express pedicure and a full pedicure to try to save a few pennies, but it’s definitely an indulgence that I look forward to.

I found my nail tech at the spa I go to for facials. A friend who works for them recommended it. (I am not on any sort of schedule for facials; in fact, I’m way overdue at the moment!) I made an appointment for a mani/pedi once after having a facial there that I enjoyed, and I really liked the nail tech and her approach. She helped me get my nails back after going to cheap nail salons ruined them with harsh treatment and gel polishes, and now I consider her a trusted friend. This spa only uses CND Shellac, and they are very careful when removing it. (They use Zoya for regular polish.)

She also recommended that CND Solar Oil, and I can totally tell a difference when I’m not using it regularly. My nails get really dry and brittle and peel and crack and break if I’m not using that, but if I am consistent, I can get Shellac manicures every other week with no issues. They also recommend Nailtiques for repairing damaged/weak/brittle nails. They use that as a base and top coat when my toenails are getting brittle, and every so often I take a break from the Shellac for a week and get a regular mani, and I apply Nailtiques every night for that week. It really helps restore their strength.

What is a blowout and what is all this dry bar stuff about? 

LOL!!! Yeah, that trend isn’t a big deal where I live in the distant suburbs of Philadelphia, but my friends who live in and around NYC are all about the dry bar! Basically a blowout is the haircut without the cut, and a dry bar is the place they go to get the blowout. Usually the women who love it have long hair, and washing/drying/styling is a huge undertaking. The go and get their hair washed and dried and styled (often curled) and I guess it lasts them up to a week. I have such thin hair, it takes all of 15 minute to wash, dry, and curl it, so the dry bar is definitely not something I need. But yeah, it’s definitely a thing!

What kinds of exercises you do or a typical workout routine you do.

I do a variety of traditional weight lifting exercises with free weights and the weight bench as well as some body weight exercises and TRX. We mix it up. I also run several times a week, but I don’t go very far these days — just 2 or 3 miles, which is pathetic considering a ran a half marathon a few years ago and trained really consistently for it. I miss feeling that strong and healthy, but I don’t see myself getting back to that condition again.

Whew! I think that hits the highlights.

When I write posts like this, I always hit publish with a bit of fear and trepidation. It feels like a lot of over sharing, and I hope it doesn’t sound too incredibly self-absorbed. I suppose it’s pretty hard to be a fashion blogger without an element of that, lol, but I do try to keep myself grounded.

I’m happy to answer other questions you might have in the comments!

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