I'm a little behind on posting this week.  I got back from Bloggy Boot Camp with a laundry list of updates and tweaks I want to make to the site and have been trying to get some of those done.  But for the next several days, life will slow down around here.  There will be delicious food, quiet time at home, snow!, and lots of gratitude.

It sounds a little Pollyanna but everyone has something to be grateful for. 
As for me, I couldn't possibly be more grateful for my wonderful husband and three adorable daughters.  For our happy home full of everything we need and so much of what we want. For the extended arms of our loving families.
For the good times we have daily and even for some of the struggles. 
They refine us and make us stronger. 
And more appreciative.
For my proud-as-a-peacock-to-be-American country, and for my Germany that will always hold a huge part of my heart. For the awe-inspiring wonder that is this Earth.
For my Heavenly Father, his Son, and all that they have blessed me with.

For you, I wish a gratitude-filled day tomorrow.

May your turkeys roast perfectly and your stuffing not be dry.

May everything look as good as it tastes.

May you be a stylish and not frazzled hostess, as I addressed last year.

Or may you be the kind of guest who everyone wants to invite again next year.

And may you AVOID the insanity of Black Friday. (Mob shopping is not Stylish shopping!)

Drum roll, please.  For the first time in my adult life... I can zip boots.  Behold!
excuse the blur - toddlers & cameras don't mix
They're normal boots.  Not even "extra wide calves".  They're the Miz Mooz Solis boots, scored at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale and I have enjoyed a few stolen moments here and there admiring them from the above vantage point.
Admiring them and the fact that THEY ZIP!

I've marveled at them in my mirror.


Definitely did some happy dancing as well, though I restrained myself during the shopping. Not that Nordstrom doesn't love a good happy dance.

The boots are my reward for losing 50 pounds.  That "major milestone" I hinted at last week.  I was a little trepidacious upon entering the shoe department.  You see, the last time I was at this weight was 1995 and I was living in Arizona, where the weather just didn't inspire to buy knee-high leather boots.  The last time I was "sort of in the vicinity of" this weight was when I met my future husband - and the boots didn't zip. 
So imagine my utter and complete joy when I pulled a pair off the sale rack, slid them up under my jeans and zipped them right up.  No tugging, no pinching.
Then imagine how giddy I was when - knowing I was pushing my luck - I folded my jeans around my leg and zipped the boots up WITH THE JEANS INSIDE!
It was a glorious afternoon.

It is an incontrovertible fact that style and weight are inextricably linked.  Yes, one can find clothing that flatters at almost any weight.  Almost.  But it has been a long time since I was able to personally enjoy certain styles of clothing.  Boots included!

A fantastic journey will soon begin for me. 2011 is the Year of the Wardrobe!
I've shrunk out of nearly everything in my closet and need to learn how to dress this new body.  I hope you'll come along for the fun.  I'll be tapping the style experts (Imogen! Reachel! Tim! Nina! Stacy & Clinton! Trinny & Susannah! and more!) through various books and blogs. Hopefully personally consulting with a few as well.

But this week I'm mainly reveling in this fact....   
... the boots zip.
After posting last Friday about defrumping with fancy earrings, Leah requested some links to the earrings I featured.  While creating the collage for that post I had simply grabbed pictures of earrings already clipped to Polyvore but I did a quick search and was able to find that almost all of them are still available!

A few of them are available at different shops than originally listed. 
I added the adorable owl and bow earrings, because who doesn't love owls in the fall! 
And bows pretty much any time.
The one pair that is no longer available is the pearl chandeliers.  The bottom row above features other similar options.
You can simply click the picture for an easy way to link to all the featured earrings.
I'm very excited for Bloggy Boot Camp this Saturday in St. George, Utah!  I never would have guessed they'd have held a session of the camp there and tomorrow we'll be packing up the car and heading down. With three kidlets under 3, my life is not really conducive to traveling at all, let alone long distances.  St. George is only a couple of hours south of us so it'll be a nice mini adventure. I get to visit a little family in addition to checking out what this SITS Girls Boot Camp thing is all about. 
Hope to see some of you there!
This week's "Frumpless Friday" tip is unbelievably simple -
kick your earrings up a notch to defrump your whole outfit. 

Let's say this is your outfit...
It's going to be a jeans & t-shirt kind of day, which for many women I know is every day. That's fine.  And if you have a T and jeans that flatter you, it's a perfect basic outfit that, depending on how you accessorize it, can go from cleaning the house to date night in a blink. 
But let's say we're spending the day mostly at home, maybe running a couple of errands.  To defrump your jeans and t-shirt simply add a great pair of earrings!
Either colorful, ornate or both.
With the earrings you're instantly defrumped! You've stepped straight into stylish.  And who knows, the earrings my inspire you to add some bracelets and a cool pair of shoes.  But if not, you're still in the land of "I look simple but great." instead of the land of, "yes, I've been cleaning and mothering all day. What of it?"

I know so many women who say, "I just don't wear jewelry around the house." Or "I save my jewelry for special occasions."  To which I ask, "Why??"  You're missing out on so much fun!  The earrings don't have to be heavy (I hate heavy earrings and don't own any that pull at my earlobes.)  Accessorizing is truly the exclusive playground of women and we should enjoy it.  It's your opportunity to personalize your ensembles.  I understand saving the super delicate diamond necklace but I'm betting everybody has a great pair of earrings they aren't using nearly enough.  And if you don't - you have my permission to shop!

Click here if you'd like to view the tip about defrumping with an apron.  And stay tuned - there's a delicious post coming up about defrumping your drink, as well as mixing leather and lace.  And I've hit another milestone! I'm excited to tell you all about it.
Today is the final entry post in the SITS Girls contest to win a Canon Rebel camera.  I've been sitting here for days with my fingers and toes crossed hoping I win. 
This final theme is to showcase this year's Halloween Parade, as in what we or our kids dressed up as this year. 
Lucky for my time commitment and budget, the little lamb costumes that were too big on my twins last year fit perfectly this year. Last year I also bought a 3-pack of princess dresses large enough for my oldest to grow into.  I had to use fashion tape to "hem" her Cinderella dress and this year the Sleeping Beauty dress fit great with taller shoes.  Next year it'll be Belle and after that I guess she can start choosing.
Here's my gorgeous gang - all but daddy in mid-candy chew.  There was no keeping them out of their pumpkins. 
Looks like my oldest found something sour! (Don't you just love feeding Sour Patch Kids to toddlers? Great fun.)
I hope you had a cuteness-filled fun Halloween!  May your policing of the candy consumption be relatively fight free.  And when you go digging in their bags at night, may you always find your favorite!

A mountain of thanks to The SITS Girls for sponsoring such a fun contest. Win or lose, (win! win!) they're a great community of bloggers. Don't forget - the secret is in the sauce!
As I mentioned previously, I'm participating in a contest to win a camera that I must have in my life. Today's entry is to write about something I created for this Halloween.  And I must say, for my first ever Halloween decoration beyond a jack-o-lantern, I didn't do too bad.  Not that the idea was mine, I DIY'd something I saw in Pottery Barn.  But I also improved upon it.
It's a Halloween pennant banner that says "Trick or Treat" on one side and "Halloween", bookended by bats, on the other side.  The Pottery Barn version was cute but really small and with frankly boring fabric.  This one has lots of different Halloween fabrics and we love it! I've never been a fan of the morbid or gross decorations. But cute works for me.
The ghosts you see flying in front are Kleenex "ghosties", as my husband grew up calling them, and we made about 75 of them and hung them all over the house.  From the lights, the ceiling fans (so they could fly) and dangling down the stair railing.  I had never even seen these before, let alone made them, and there was always much excitement from our little girls and their friends when the ghosts on the fans were flying around the room. 
In case you've never seen them either, you simply wad one tissue into a ball and cover it with another tissue.  Tie off the ball with kite string to make the head (kite string works better than thread) and use a marker to draw on the eyes and mouth. They're so light the slightest air disturbance of the fan or someone walking by makes them float and fly nicely.

If you're wondering what the heck SITS is, it's a fantastic community of lady bloggers. One of the main goals is to help each other by visiting and commenting on our fellow SITSters sites.  But SITS also gives us bloggers access to experts who give fantastic blogging tips and education points.  It's simply lots of fun and you should check them out!
I'm participating in a contest hosted by The SITS Girls to win a drool-worthy Canon Rebel camera. Literally, I'm drooling over this camera! 
The theme for Day 1 is to write about a favorite past Halloween memory.  Are you ready for adorable?  Check this out.
What you're seeing is my handsome husband as The Chef, and my almost-3 months old first born as The Lobster he was serving up!
I made a cardboard and tinfoil "silver serving tray" covered in felt lettuce leaves.  The leave hid the hole in the bottom so that he could hold the baby.  This photo was taken in 2007 at my husband's company Halloween party, particularly at the Costume Contest.  Now, my husband is 6'3", so when he was holding the baby at a normal-for-him-don't-drop-the-baby height, it made it nearly impossible for shorter folks to see that she was a live lobster, not a stuffed animal.  AND, she fell asleep despite all the noise around her, so as the judges were walking around looking at all the costumes lined up, they thought she was a stuffed prop and kept on browsing. 
I was standing next to Mark's boss and he was getting so irked that nobody was having the proper reaction to this fantastic costume.  And I agreed! Finally, I realized she was asleep and they couldn't see her face, so I ran over and told him to pinch her a little and wake her up.  It worked and she started wiggling and suddenly you heard, "She's real! It's a baby!" coming from his side of the room. The judges rushed back over and yes, we won the overall Judges Choice prize.
The year after this several people incorporated their babies into their costumes but none were as memorable as this first one.
Here she is again, my little Peanut, just so you can ooh and aah again.
And if you're wondering what the heck The SITS Girls is, it stands for The Secret Is In The Sauce, and it's a great resource for discovering new blogs. And being discovered if you're a blogger yourself!
With fall fashion always reemerge real shoes. Farewell flip-flops, hello fabulous footwear! 
As we've been discussing, there is a strong resurgence in fashion right now to the classic and ladylike.  You may not know it, but shoes with menswear detailing have always been classic for women.  These shoes ground more feminine styles and offer a nice dash of masculinity, which just serves to make the ladylike look even more lovely.

Details to look for are:
  • Classic loafer details like fringe, tassles, flaps and bands across the vamp    (think penny loafers or either of the brown loafers below)
  • Buckles and laces
  • Oxford and wingtip edging
Above are the shoes in my own wardrobe that fit the bill.  Clockwise from top:
  • Tod's lavender heeled loafers with fringe & buckle details
  • Franco Sarto dark brown heeled loafer
  • Nazareno Gabrielli red mid-heel loafer with wing-tip detailing and buckle
  • Michael Kors camel espadrille flat with fringe & lacing
  • Enzo Angiolini light brown heeled loafer
  • Tod's black flat skimmer with flap and buckle
If you're wanting to add this classic look to your own shoe collection, here are some options currently available and a few styling tips.
Charles David - heels.com

The look can be as over-the-top...

Ralph Lauren - Nordstrom

... or as subtle as you like.

Sam Edelman - heels.com

Style Tip:  Adding even a little heel makes the look decidedly feminine. When wearing flats, make sure there is an aspect of feminine (round toe, girly color, espadrille edging, etc.) to keep from looking like you're wearing your husband's shoes.

Not Rated - heels.com

Remember, we're looking for menswear details.  Things like wingtip edging or laces as seen here.

Vince Camuto - heels.com

Lacing and oxford styling here.
(Love the colors, not a huge fan of the peep toe "shootie" style.)

Restricted - heels.com

Loafer banding and studs detail this suede wedge peep toe.

Style Tip: You can leave your legs bare or pair with tights to brave the cold weather, even thin socks (scrunched to ankle or knee-high) can be cute but beware looking too "school girl."

Nine West

Sturdy buckles instead of bows nod toward menswear.

Miz Mooz - Nordstrom

Style Tip:  You can pair these shoes with anything from skirts and dresses to trousers and jeans.
When wearing with pants, choose a shoe in a feminine color or with a higher heel or fancy details to avoid looking too androgynous.

Jeffrey Campbell - Nordstrom

Whether you go subtle or all-out, a little menswear detailing is truly timeless.

Bass - Nordstrom

And finally, a fabulous take on the classic saddle shoe that I've never seen before!
How adorable are these, you ask? I'll let you know as soon as they arrive.  Oh yes, at only $68 they had to be mine. They also come in cocoa.

Click through any of the pictures to our shopping section if you want a pair of your own, or would like to hunt down versions of the other sassy shoes you've seen.