Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wedding Dress Shopping at BHLDN

Hey peeps! Do people still call other people "peeps"? IDK but let's dive in to this super fun wedding post! 

I knew basically immediately that I wanted to get my wedding dress from BHLDN (said as "beholden". Only telling you because I said it wrong for months!). BHLDN is Anthropologie's wedding offshoot so it's got all the style of Anthro at a great price point. It's exactly my style and I would spend tons of time looking at all the gorgeous dresses on the website after getting engaged. I was very wary about ordering something online when I wasn't sure how it would fit me, and the closest store to me is in Chicago. I had resigned myself to ordering something online and having to return it a few times before finding the right dress or fit. Imagine my surprise when Jarrett was on board for a wedding dress shopping weekend! We managed to schedule it for the weekend of my 31st birthday and two of my best friends even flew in to go with me. I was totally prepared to go alone so I was insanely excited to have my bests there with me. I knew they would be supportive and honest and that is exactly what I needed. My appointment was scheduled for my birthday and I could not wait! 

And then the body anxiety set in. See, BHLDN does offer some plus sizes but not all dresses go up to size 16/18 (the highest size in most styles). I'm usually a size 10/12 but I knew special occasion dresses can run small so I was nervous that I would get there and nothing would fit me. I tried doing some research for blog reviews, but the only ones I could find were from women who fit into the size 0-4 range. It did help to read their experience but as someone who fits into larger sizes, I still had no idea what to expect. The BHLDN website said most dresses had a sample size in both a 4 and a 12, but the "most" thing worried me. I didn't want to only be able to try on 2 or 3 dresses and feel like I wasted this trip. I wanted a dress from BHLDN and would have been crushed if I couldn't fit into anything in store. I decided to document my experience as best I could and write the post I wish I had found before going. 

First up, the rooms are straight up gorgeous that they put you in! Huge rugs, a little changing room, cute couches, and they give you tiny cans of wine. When booking my appointment online, I was asked to list any dresses I was interested in trying on. I booked my appointment in September for December. Weekend appointments fill up quickly, so if you are making a trip out of it like I did, be sure to book way in advance. The only downside to this was that when I got there, most of the dresses on my list were either no longer available or not yet in stock in the store since they were just released (you could still find them online though). So while you do have the chance to add to your list when you confirm your appointment the week before, they still might not have some styles available in store yet. 

In the Chicago store, you walk in and are greeted by someone who asks if you have an appointment. There's a small amount of dresses downstairs, but they are bridesmaid dresses so we didn't spend too much time looking around down there. They take your name and alert your stylist you've arrived. You then go upstairs to the bridal showroom and have some time to look around at dresses they have in stock. I think we had about 10-15 minutes to browse before my stylist found me. She had a printed out list of the answer to the questionnaire you fill out when booking the appointment (wedding vibe/style, wedding date, wedding colors, the dresses you'd like to try on). She asked if there was anything I saw in the showroom that I wanted to add to my list of things to try on and I did end up adding two more things I think. Again, about half the things I found online weren't available, so in total I think I had 6-8 dresses total (from my list & that we added after looking in the showroom). She takes you into that beautiful room mentioned above and gives you tiny cans of wine to sip on while she gathers the dresses on your list.  

Guys, I was so pleasantly surprised by this shopping experience. The stylist made me feel super comfortable and my friends were ready to take all the photos and give me honest opinions. I did not have one issue trying on any of the dresses I picked out. Some of them were even looser than I expected, so all that anxiety about nothing fitting was for naut. The stylist also pulled some extra dresses that weren't on my list and she had such a good eye for things I would like. The only direction I gave her was that I didn't want to try on anything over $800 (since that was my budget) so everything I tried on was beautiful, flattering, and within my budget. No one wants to fall in love with a dress that falls outside of their agreed upon budget. 

Ok here we go! Let's look at some of these dresses that made me feel like Beyoncé. 

The Brisa Gown 
I would have guessed this would have been a front runner from my online research, but it wasn't even in my top 3 after trying it on! I didn't realize how big of a difference trying things on would be. Usually I loved things that I wouldn't have expected once I put them on. 

I loved this one online SO MUCH, but it didn't feel like exactly what I was going for when it was on. 

Originally my top choice. It made me feel like Christina Ricci in Casper (which is always #goals) and would have fit in so well with the boho vibes I was hoping for, but it just didn't hold up to how I felt when I tried on the one I ultimately got. I did try it on once more before making the final decision and I still love these photos. Can I have like 3 weddings to wear all the dresses I love? 

All these dresses were honestly so beautiful and made me feel so beautiful. Again, it just didn't hold up to the one I ultimately got but still. All the heart eye emojis. 

Ok this was my second choice and it was a HARD choice. The stylist picked this one out and it was not one I would have EVER picked on my own just from looking at it on the hanger. But once it was on, I could not believe how "me" it felt. So fun and cool and just a little different. I tried it on 3 different times I think before making my final decision. I still think of it sometimes because I really did love it! 

My headpiece that the stylist put on me and then everyone cried. 

I'm not going to show the dress I went with yet. It's basically the one thing I've been pretty traditional about since Jarrett won't be seeing the dress until our wedding day. I can't wait to show it off and literally every time I try it on at the tailors I get all swoony. Plus my friends cried when I put it on (and the stylist added a headpiece) so I knew it was the one. But really, I feel like any of these could have been "the one". BHLDN is just that good. 

Then we went out for celebratory drinks (I got kind of fancy with this larger than expected frosé)! 

My dress and headpiece arrived within a week of placing my order in the store, so the shipping was crazy fast. I did end up having to get it altered locally, but it was only another $150 so not too crazy. 

I had such an amazing experience at BHLDN. I spent so much time being anxious about not being able to fit in anything when my experience was the exact opposite. Not only did they have my size (or a sample size) in everything I wanted to try on, I felt beautiful in every single thing. My stylist was the sweetest person, who not only gave good advice (and up sold me on a headpiece), but had such a good eye for what I was looking for when she grabbed stuff on her own.

Not only was everything beautiful and flattering, but affordable as heck. Everything I tried on was $800 or less. That was the budget I agreed on with Jarrett, but the most expensive dress on their site is $2,950. I feel like that's a pretty good price range so no matter your budget, you are going to find something fantastic. When I was looking at dress shops locally, most of them said dresses started at $1,200 so it was great to find a place the fit my style and budget flawlessly. I highly recommend checking them out when wedding dress shopping. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ten Things

Hey friends! We decided it was time to drop a new outfit posts and some facts on you about each of us individually. Grab a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa, if that's your jam, and learn some silly tid-bits about our lives. 

10 Things About Me 

1.  I decided to pursue a career in the law field pretty much solely on my love for Legally Blonde.  If nothing else, I hope I brighten up the perceived stuffiness that surrounds law.

2.  I was born with a mild case of clubfoot affecting only one of my feet.  I wore corrective shoes for the first couple years of my life, even when I slept, to correct this birth defect.  Treatment was 100% effective and I've not suffered any long term effects.  

3.  I have 3 siblings, 1 older brother, 1 younger sister and 1 younger brother but the younger brother wasn't born until I was 15 so I very much consider myself a middle child.  I can also attest to the fact that middle child syndrome is legit.

4.  I'm in the last year of my third term serving as a notary public.  I've been a notary for 1/3rd of my life.

5.  It's no secret that I'm a crazy cat lady. I have 5 (Frank, Stewie, Milo, Hooch & Lily) and I ridiculously enjoy the company of all of them so much.

6.  At the age of 22, I purchased my first home with my husband. Every day I doubt the naiveté of that decision but having your own space that you can completely control probably can't compare.

7.  Much to parental displeasure, my husband and I eloped. A wedding is such a public event and made me feel nothing but anxiety and discomfort.  When we decided on a plan on Tuesday and were married that Friday in a court house ceremony.

8.  I've always been oddly fascinated by cults and extreme religious teachings.  My biggest obsession is the quiverful movement; leaving the number of children you have up to god and then raising those arrows in Jesus' image to inevitably shoot  into the world to fight their culture wars.  There are several real life families I follow from afar with rapt attention.

9.  I have the worst taste in music and I do not care. If its a pop song, preferably a one hit wonder, I'm probably into it.  B. Spears will forever be my idol.

10.  I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie growing up. I read the Laura years, the Rose years, the Caroline years, the Charlotte years and the Martha years.  During a family vacation out west, I was able to talk my parents into stopping at the museum/road side attraction in Mansfield, MO.  It was the highlight of that vacation even though my siblings complained the entire time.

Outfit Details
Sweater {Rue 21-ancient} / Skirt {Modcloth-sold out} / Booties {Modcloth-last season}

10 Things About Me 

1. I'm the oldest of 4 siblings, but I also have 3 step siblings. I'm not close with my step siblings, but my youngest sister is my best friend. We are 9 years a part. 

2. I got my cat Luna on my 27th birthday from a coworker who found her on the street. I named her after Luna Lovegood (obviously) and she helped me get through my divorce. 

3. I got married when I was 22 and had the girls when I was 23. I never expected to have twins, but they are literally my favorite people. I got divorced at 26 and feel like it's when I finally figured out who I was. My 20's were so crazy, I'm loving my 30's so far. 

4. I love to write and keep notes in my phone of book ideas. 

5. I love astrology and read my horoscope every morning. I totally believe your sign/birthday inform aspects of your personality. 

6. My mom went into labor with me while watching Ghostbusters and I feel like that has inspired my life long love of horror movies. That and my grandpa letting me watch Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 5. 

7. I have loved to read my whole life and used to get grounded from reading instead of seeing friends or going places.

8. I am obsessed with The Bachelor family of products and could talk about it all day. We will literally be fast friends if you also dig The Bachelor. 

9. My favorite movie is Jurassic Park and my first crush was on Jeff Goldbulm because of that movie. 

10. I can be a really bad listener and over the past few years have a made a conscious effort to listen better and ask more questions instead of immediately giving my opinion or telling my own story. I'm not always great at it, but I do think I'm getting better and it makes me a better friend. 

Jacket {Forever 21-similar} / Dress {Amazon} / Bootes {Vintage from Longlines Vintage

Saturday, March 10, 2018

January/February Rewind

For one month only, we are combining January & February rewinds into one post. Partly because I am terrible at planning and partly because both months were not sure exciting. Enjoy! 

I read a bunch of comics the last couple of months. I hands down recommend MisFit City & BackStagers.  They both have major Lumberjanes vibes, which also released a new volume in February. I also read Dear Martin by Nic Stone and it was pretty great. I really enjoy learning about things from another's perspective. It helps keep me humble and helps me to constantly remember to check my privilege.  I read a bunch more, but these stood out the most.

I feel like I watched a bunch of tv the last couple of months. I finished watching Big Love on HBO which I really enjoyed. I've recently dived into Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Charmed. I think Charmed is going to become my new favorite, and just in time for the reboot.  I've also been watching a little Grace & Frankie which I've also really enjoyed.

Man, I've been listening to everything. I listed to quite a few episode of My Favorite Murder and more recently I'm been on an audiobook kick. I really love listening to non-fiction. I've listened to Rose McGowan's, Gabrielle Union's and Tiffany Haddish's autobiographies. I highly recommend them all, but I though Brave (Rose McGowan's) was phenomenal and so eye opening as to the power hierarchy structure of Hollywood. I also really enjoyed The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule which was about Ted Bundy. All great listens!

Also in January/February  

Cross Stitch Galore
Not only did I spend a lot of time watching tv and trying to catch up on various cross stitch projects, I was also able to do some true finishing.  Taking it from finished stitching to actual art.  I love to stitch but I'm not as great about finishing the projects afterwards.  I had let a bunch of finished projects collect and it just felt so nice to clear them out and to be able to admire them every day.

New Face Routine
I've been working on my nightly routine for a while.  I got some solid advice from my Bestie and have really enjoyed playing with the new products and having a legit cool down nightly routine.  I also got brave and experimented with some new makeup products too. It's been fun and very rewarding.  Sometimes you just need to try out some new things to feel like yourself again.

Mini Staycation
In February we took a couple of long weekends and it was so refreshing. I was able to get some things done around the house that normally gets neglected due to hectic schedules and life.  My husband hung a new shelf for me in my bathroom (which legit made my month), I organized all my hygiene products and my tees and just spent some quality time with my beau. I could use more relaxing times like that.

I really enjoyed the new Archie comic Jen loaned me, though it was not faithful to the Riverdale reboot. Still super enjoyable and a quick read. I also read Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld which is a Pride and Prejudice retelling with some Bachelor type content thrown in, which is right up my alley. I'm trying to read before bed lately and I feel like it's really helping me get through more ebooks that I seem to collect on my Kindle. 

These past few months have been dominated by The Bachelor/Bachelor Winter Games & Oscar nominated movies. The Bachelor has been boring, though of course we are so close to "the most dramatic finale in Bachelor history" so it's almost over. Bachelor Winter Games was a delight and I'm so happy we got that thrown in to the mix, though it did make for two weeks with 6ish hours of Bachelor related content, which is a lot. 

Jarrett and I also try to watch as many Oscar nominees as we can each year and we make a bet to see who can predict the most winners. I won this year for the second year in a row which brings our tally to 3-1 with me in a hefty lead. I'm thinking of making a post with my most loved movies from this years list so stay tuned! 

Along with my Bachelor tv viewing, I listen to a lot of Bachelor podcasts. A new favorite is Two Black Girls, One Rose which brings some much needs diversity to the mostly white world of The Bachelor. Plus they are hilarious and I've laughed out loud multiple times. They have so much fun with it, even while tearing it to shreds. 

Also in January/February 

E&M turned 8 
My babes turned 8 years old, which seems crazy. How did they get so big, so quick? I'm honestly enjoying this time in our lives. They are so funny and smart, with lots of interesting commentary on the things they read/watch. Jen has started loaning them comics, which is a whole different book club we have going now. We had a party at the skating rink for their birthday and it was a blast. The girls invited friends from school and we had this whole rink to ourselves. Jen and I even took some outfit photos, which I think Jarrett suggested as a joke, but obviously we were in to it. I'm so excited to see what this year is like. 

Wedding plans
Look, I never wanted to be someone who talks non stop about their wedding like everyone cares about it as much as I do, because only like maybe 4 people do. But at this stage in the game, I'm doing a lot of wedding stuff. I'm trying to balance getting things done with not getting overwhelmed by what I still need to do. It definitely ramped up in February but I'm feeling good about the progress I'm making and the end result. 

Home Organization 
I've really gotten on a big organization kick at home. I'm tired of having so much stuff and while I feel like I say that a lot, I'm finally starting to make some progress on it. I organized my bedside table which has made me so much happier when I go into my bedroom. Next up I'm tackling the girls bookshelf and my shoe collection. I try to pick one small project to tackle each weekend so I'm doing a little at a time but I feel like it's huge progress. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March Small Goals

Another month, another set of small goals! I have a good feeling March is going to be full of accomplishment, mostly wedding related stuff for me. I am excited but feel like I need 100 more months to get everything done. Also kind of in the "wishing I eloped" frame of mind at the moment. February was such a short, quick month but both of us really crushed our small goals. I'm looking forward to Spring making more of an appearance & daylight savings time to make the days a little longer. As always we are linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl (or I guess recently rebranded to Feel Good Dress Better). 

Jen's February Small Goals 
1. Finish some cross stitchYes! I was able to frame up around 5 projects. I have a few more to go but this felt like such an accomplishment!
2. Start 2018 stitch alongYes! Not only did I start it but I'm completely caught up!
3. Dress meaningfully. I've been working hard on this goal. It's like a mantra that goes through my head every morning. Dress meaningful and don't wear the same outfit over and over. I did really well with this goal.
4. Arm challenge. I did pretty ok with exercising in the beginning of the month but sort of fell off around the 3rd week. But as soon as March hit, I picked it back up.
5. Tee organization. I did quite a bit of organization this month and I'm happy to report that the tees were part of that process. It is so nice knowing where all my tees are!

4/5 - I can hardly believe my eyes.

Jen's March Goals
1. List clothing on Poshmark.  Since I've been spending more time thinking about my outfits and trying to dress meaningfully, I've eliminated some items from my closet. Time to try to resell some things to fun my shopping habit instead of doing a straight up donate. Wish me luck!
2. Spending Freeze.  The combination of me trying to figure out what works and doesn't work in my closet and my husband having to probably switch jobs, a spending freeze seems to fit in well this month. I think it will help me figure out my closet situation if new things aren't constantly arriving and distracting me.
3. Try Cantu Curling Products. Around 16 my hair went from board straight to wavy and now it's almost curly. I've been floundering for a quite a while about how to care for it.  I've already started washing it less and less but now I'm ready to play with some new products. I heard some great things about Cantu brand so I'm going to try it out this month.
4.  Catch up on Backstagers.  I read the first volume of this comic last month and absolutely loved it. It's almost like a boy version of Lumberjanes, but instead of being at a summer camp they are the guys that work behind the scenes at school plays. The 2nd volume came out last month and I need to catch up! I can tell this comic is going to be a new favorite.
5. TV Goals.  I've started a couple of new shows recently, but somehow I've been sucked back into the garbage reality show that everyone knows and loves, "Keeping up with the Kardashians".  I used to watch this show when it first came out for a few years but then gave it up.  I've been binging the latest series and the goal is to get caught up this month so I can start watching them live.  My husband is so disappointed in my tv making decisions.

Heather's February Small Goals 
1. Go to the gym 3 times a week I went to the gym exactly one time and it was on February 27th so major fail. 
2. Send some snail mail Done! I sent a letter to my friend Amanda, some to my grandma, and mailed out wedding invitations, which I'm totally counting. 
3. Declutter my bedroom Done! And it's stayed organized since I tackled this a few weeks ago so major win. 
4. Start on wedding DIY list IDK if I can count this as done. I did order bridesmaid wreath supplies, but that's about it. 
5. Be gentle with myself I'm trying. Some days I succeed and some days I fail, but more often than not I'm being good to myself. 

3/5 completed. Not too shabby. 

March Small Goals 
1. All the wedding things I'm getting married NEXT MONTH and I still have so much to do. I'm going to be knocking shit off my to do list left and right while trying to keep my anxiety in check. Beer me strength. 
2. Book a massage Ok this is totally a frivolous want, especially with all the wedding costs coming up in the next few weeks, but I am stressed and would love a massage to just chill out for a bit. 
3. Exercise 3-4 times a week I've been trying to up the amount of days I exercise (I average about 2 days/week right now) solely for mental health reasons. It totally helps me keep my anxiety under control and with so much wedding stuff on the horizon, I need that time to decompress. Lunch workouts seem to be my jam so more of those please! 
4. Organize my shoes My shoes are out of control and need to be tamed ASAP. I'm going to try to tackle this one weekend, especially since having things organized helps me not feel overwhelmed. HAVE I MENTIONED HOW OVERWHELMED I AM?! 
5. Have a seester day I don't get to hang out with my sister enough so I want to make some time this month to connect with her. Our schedules are basically opposite so it's hard to organize, but not impossible. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

March Book Club

I'm late on this post because I was stressed over the lack of clarity in the photo, but I'm calling it done and posting any way. I only hope the Blog Content Gods can forgive me for not having the most perfect photo this time.

I was so clueless on what book we should choose for this month that I was insanely grateful when Jen suggested Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. I watched the movie last year for my annual Oscar extravaganza and remembered just falling in love with it. While I loved the movie, you know some things get left out so I am stoked to check out the book. I've been trying to get more book club books on audiobook since I have a 2+ hour daily commute to fill so this was the perfect month to use my library app to make that happen. I can't wait to get some glimpses behind the scenes and dive even deeper into Hidden Figures.

What's it about? 
Before John Glenn orbited Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and entering the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives and their country’s future.