Monthly Archives: February 2016

SIA: Leap Year Frog

Style Imitating Art

Remember two weeks ago when I said I was asked to be one of the co-hosts for the Style Imitating Art series? Well, it’s my turn to choose the artwork we’ll be using to inspire our outfits!

And you can participate, too! Details in a bit. But first, here’s what I chose:

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Leap Year Frog by Delilah Smith

(click the image to see the full painting)

Since it’s Leap Day I knew I wanted to choose a painting that fit the theme. Turns out, this one was painted in response to an interesting old wives’ tale I’d never heard about: The Privilege of Ladies.

Apparently, “Leap years, according to folk tradition, were the only times when women could propose marriage to men, with this belief often termed ‘The Ladies’ Privilege.'”

And, according to the artist, her little frog in this painting is getting up the courage to take that leap. Or celebrating her birthday on the actual day!

I’ve already got my outfit all planned out for this painting and it features a new-to-me spot in Chicago. So, stay tuned for that next week.

However, if you want to participate you just need to send  a photo of what you would wear to “imitate” this photo to looplooks@gmail.com. Send me your selfies, flat-lays or regular photos by 5PM Central Time on Monday, March 7th and I’ll feature them in a round-up post on Tuesday.

I can’t wait to see what you think. Help me make my first time hosting the SIA series a success!

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and Sincerely Jenna Marie

Must Have Tech Gadgets for the Gym [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

I promise I’ll write about my new half marathon PR soon, but in the meantime I have this post brought to you by tech21. 

When you go to the gym as many days a week as I do you amass a list of must-have items that make working out a bit easier. For me, these items include headphones, a robust phone case, something to hold my phone, a lock for my gym locker, and a fitness tracker for those days when I don’t make it to the gym.

 must have gym items

SPIBelt | tech21 case | Bluetooth enabled lock | Mira Fitness tracker | Beats wireless headphones

I personally prefer to wear my phone in a waist belt because I use an app to track my reps and weights and it’s easier to access there than it is on my arm. Also, wearing an arm band just gets in the way during most upper body exercises.

Currently, I don’t have wireless headphones but I would LOVE a pair. I asked my fitness friends on Facebook and the Beats brand got the most recommendations. I just wish there was somewhere I could go to try them all on first. I have really tiny ears so lots of earbud style headphones don’t fit me. Even the ones made “for women.”

A lock is a must-have, especially for me. I actually had my ID and all my credit cards stolen from my bag at the gym once because I didn’t lock my locker. So now I use a lock every single time. Mine isn’t Bluetooth enabled but wouldn’t that be cool? I always have my phone on me and this would mean no combination to have to remember!

I have two fitness trackers, a Fitbit and a Mira and, while I don’t always wear them, the Mira is the prettiest of the two so it’s the one I gravitate towards when I do wear one. It looks like jewelry!

Finally, I need a super-strength phone case. I’m probably getting a new iPhone 6s soon and I want to take care of it. Since I’m carting my phone around the gym all the time I need something heavy duty and these tech21 ones seem like they’d fit the bill.

Do you have any items that are must-have gym gadgets? How about a pair of wireless headphones that you love?

Yes, I received compensation for writing this part of the post. But considering these are all things I own or wish I owned I think you can rest assured that all opinions are my own, too. 

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For the curious, here are this week’s workouts:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Deadlifts, bench presses, front squats and pull-ups with my trainer
  • Wednesday – Chest, triceps & shoulders
  • Thursday – Legs
  • Friday – Back & Biceps (and maybe 20 minutes of HIIT cardio?)
  • Saturday – Short (3-5 mile) run
  • Sunday – Rest

I’m currently doing 5 sets of 3 reps at 95% of my one current rep max on deadlifts. That means I’m lifting 230 pounds 3 times in a row for five sets. That is crazy to me!

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Recipe of the Week: Breaded Parmesan Pork Chops

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Image from Muscle for Life

You guys. This recipe is so good that I made it for Christmas dinner and it’s a staple in my house. You can make it with basically any kind of pork chop or, as I found out at Christmas, a pork tenderloin sliced into medallions.

I swap the cow’s milk for unsweetened vanilla almond milk and just use plain breadcrumbs with whatever seasonings I have on hand. It’s super easy, quick, and SO TASTY. I like to make extras so I can heat them up for lunch the next day, too. If you think pork chops are tough or taste like hockey pucks (like I did) then this recipe will be a game changer.

What to pack for Florida in February

Casual Clothes

As I’ve probably mentioned about a hundred times, I just spent a few days in Tampa visiting my dad and running a half marathon. I only travel a few times a year and every time I stress out about what to pack. So, in order to make it simple this time, I stuck to a super simple color palate: black, white and gray.

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similar scarf | same jeggings | same leggings | same jeans | similar sneakers | same jacket | similar tees | similar tank | similar dress | same jacket | similar cardigan | same graphic tee | same shoes 

I didn’t end up wearing everything that I brought, but I was happy to have all the options! So, what did I wear?

On the plane on Friday I wore my new olive green jacket! I finally found one that I love and it was perfect.

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I added these leggings which get me compliments every time I wear them. Seriously, if you have not bought these from Old Navy yet then you are majorly missing out. Paired with a white tee, gray scarf, and sneakers and it was the perfect outfit to go from the plane to picking up my race packet to eating lunch at the cutest little Irish pub. I had my first Guinness in the form of a Nitro IPA and then followed that up with a beer flight at Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing.

On Saturday we went to check out an art fair and eat lunch in downtown St. Petersburg. The weather all weekend was amazing and I took advantage of as much sunshine as possible.

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Sunday was the race, of course. Which I ROCKED. A six minute personal best on a great course with beautiful weather and views. After the race my dad and I spent the afternoon at the horse race track winning enough money to buy a few beers.

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Monday we relaxed at home watching the first four episodes of the newest season of the X-Files before I flew home. Monday was all about comfort. Hence my favorite shirt.

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So, as you can see, I had some leftover items but all of them would have made even more outfits. In fact, I’ll probably pack the same items the next time I have to travel to Florida in February!

 

Outfit Fail

Casual Clothes · Casual Friday

Ever put on an outfit and then realize, after the fact, that it is just NOT working for you? Yeah, that was this one.

I tried to emulate this casual outfit that seems to be made of simple pieces: button up, sweater, scarf, jeans and flats.

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Sweater – Old Navy (similar) | Shirt – The Limited (similar) | Scarf – Kohl’s (similar) | Jeans – Old Navy (same) | Shoes – J. Crew Factory (similar)

I think, though, that is one of those cases where it really comes down to the fit of the individual pieces. Especially, in this outfit, the length of the white shirt. Mine is just too short. Maybe if I had this one it would have balanced out the squareness of the sweater.

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Or maybe if I hadn’t worn my jeggings and instead stuck to regular jeans I wouldn’t feel like a toothpick with a marshmallow on top.

Either way, I think this is an outfit that I will be trying again but with other pieces. What do you think?

 

Red and Fabulous

Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter

I’m writing this post while sitting in the airport on my way back to Chicago from Tampa. Let me tell you, as hard as it was to leave the 80 degrees, sunshine and amazingly low humidity, I’m looking forward to seeing this face. And my husband, of course.

In the meantime, I’m happy I have a backlog of outfit photos to share. I wore the outfit below to work on one of the randomly warm days we’ve had this winter. Although, to be honest, I did wear my Uggs during my commute.

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Top – Le Tote (same) | Pants – The Limited (similar) | Shoes – Nine West (same) | Necklace – Macy’s (similar)

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I really, really liked this outfit and debated keeping this top. I used to have a similar one that I wore in a similar outfit years ago that I got rid of because it was just too billowy. This one from Le Tote was almost perfect in many ways, but it ended up being a tad too short. It looks great in the photos but if I lifted my arms it rode halfway up my torso.

Still, when I wore this outfit to work our internal systems project manager told me that I always look amazing. Although, let’s be honest. It’s not that difficult to do in our office. And as much as I like being able to wear jeans, sometimes you’ve just got to wear your bright red pants and look fabulous.

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SIA Outfit: Bible Quilt

Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter · Style Imitating Art

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m still in Tampa right now but I can’t be remiss in participating in this week’s Style Imitating Art series. Especially now that I’m one of the hosts!

Remember last week when I posted the beautiful “Bible Quilt”? Here’s a reminder:

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Scarf – Le Tote (same) | Necklace – Le Tote (same) | Sweater – LOFT via Goodwill (similar) | Skirt – The Limited (similar) | Shoes – J. Crew Factory (similar

I knew when Jen posted this quilt that I wanted to wear neutrals, specifically gray and tan. But I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to pair them. I tried a few different outfits and in the end settled on this gray skirt with a oatmeal colored sweater and my latest Le Tote accessories.

I actually loved this scarf so much the last time I had it in a Tote that I ended up buying it when I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Plus, you know, there are animals depicted in the quilt and this scarf is made of faux animal fur. It kind of makes sense, right?

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The necklace added a much needed bit of color. Since I don’t own anything orange I thought the corals and pinks in this necklace were as close as I was going to get.

And, yes, I’m more dressed up than I needed to be for my job but, hey, I have a closet full of skirts. Why not wear them? With fleeced lined tights, of course. Because it’s Chicago. In winter.

Oh, and guess what! Next week I get to pick the art for the Style Imitating Art challenge! I hope you’ll think about participating. Remember, you don’t have to have a blog to share your photos with me! sc

The craziest thing I’ve done in the name of fitness [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Just a head’s up that in this post I’m going to talk about weight. So, if that bothers you, feel free to move on. Gonna stick around? Well then, let’s get to it.

Okay, so, here’s the deal. Back in October 2014 I decided I was going to see if I could get visible abs and more muscle definition and, well, just generally stronger. I was tired of just running, my schedule changed so I didn’t have as much time to run and I needed something different. Cue the Thinner, Leaner, Stronger book that I’ve talked about so much.

I got a meal plan from Muscle For Life (run by the same guy who wrote Thinner, Leaner, Stronger) and I learned two new words: cut and bulk.

My meal plan was for cutting aka losing weight and fat. And it worked. After four months I’d lost 10 pounds and had some muscle definition. I upped my calories to “maintenance” mode. Then, a few months later, I started working with Lynette and lost a few more pounds and a lot more body fat without cutting calories and just tweaking my macros (carbs, fat, protein).  On the left is me in June 2015 and the right is December 2015.

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Not to toot my own horn, but I look pretty amazing, right? But there was a problem. Yep, I became one of those women who got their body fat too low.

There’s only so low you can go before it’s not healthy. So, Lynette moved me into “bulk” mode which means even more calories! And this is what I look like right now.

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Pants – Koral Activewear | Bra – Onzie

I am in the process of trying to put on weight. On purpose. This is SO WEIRD to me!

The goal is to put on more muscle mass so that the next time I “cut” I can get the same look as before but without having to go so low body-fat wise.

I know this all sounds crazy. And some days I feel kind of crazy. This all started as kind of an experiment but even though I have days when I wonder “what the heck am I doing??” I find it fun most of the time.

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And before you think this is all about vanity, let me tell you that putting on some weight and muscle mass will also allow me to lift even heavier. And, trust me, it’s a pretty awesome feeling when the head trainer at the gym claps for you after you finish a set of 5 deadlifts at over 200 pounds.

Plus, I might not always be able to do this. So, why not see where it goes while I can? It is really weird to try and get the number on the scale to go UP instead of down, though. Especially since our culture is so focused on losing weight. It’s definitely a mind game of sorts and some days it’s  rough to compare myself to…myself. But, like I said last week, this is a longer term goal so I just have to keep my eyes on the prize.

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 Professional photos by Kayleigh of That’s a Doozy

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This week’s workouts:

  • Monday – Chest/Triceps/Shoulders
  • Tuesday – workout with my personal trainer + 20 minutes HIIT on the treadmill
  • Wednesday – Legs
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Rest? Not sure. I’m traveling to Florida.
  • Saturday – Not sure. I’ll be in Florida
  • Sunday – Gasparilla Half Marathon 

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Recipe of the Week: Pork Tenderloin Studded with Rosemary and Garlic

This is a go-to one dish meal in our house. When I make this I also toss some quartered red potatoes and some baby carrots in a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and and them to the dish with the pork. Cook the whole thing for 45 minutes and you have a full meal with minimal effort.

 

Nine Ways to Wear Blush

Uncategorized

Blush isn’t a color that I have a lot of in my closet. In fact, I would say I have two blush colored tops and one blush skirt….and one of the tops is on injured reserve.

But, Bri from Work Clothes, I Suppose is trying to add more blush to her closet and looking for ideas on how to wear it. So, I thought I’d share nine ways I’ve worn my blush pieces in the past.

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To see all the full outfit posts, click here.

I typically pair blush with neutrals such as navy, gray, white and black but occasionally I throw in pink for a monochromatic look.

Also, I just noticed that I never wear it with patterns! I think because the patterned items I have don’t really lend themselves to wearing with blush.

Anyway, the blush top that needs repair has been sitting on my dresser for probably a year at this point. I just need to find someone who can repair the unraveling thread hem on the mesh front yoke. Any takers out there?

In the mean time, I think I’ll look for a replacement. Here are a few I found that I wouldn’t mind adding to my closet.

What the Chicago Auto Show Product Specialists Wear

Shopping

Last year when Jason and I went to the Chicago Auto Show I remember being really impressed with a few of the outfits that the Product Specialists were wearing. Jason commented that I should do a blog post all about what the Chicago Auto Show Product Specialist wear. So, when we went to the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, I did!

Several of the product specialists were a little confused by my request to take a photo so that I could recreate their outfits on my blog. I gave them a business card and, once I explained that it was going to be positive press, most were happy to pose and share where their outfits were from.

First up, we have the Fiat product specialist who was showcasing the Fiat 124 Spider. I didn’t get a chance to ask her who made her dress, but with my super Google-fu I was able to find it online. I couldn’t find her exact shoes, though, but I found some that are close!

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Exact Dress | Similar Shoes

I tried to focus on product specialists who were wearing “uniforms” that included items I would love to have in my own closet. The KIA specialists had a nice black, white and red pallet that included this neat zip-front top from BCBG.

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Exact Top | Similar Pants | Similar Shoes

The first product specialists we ran into were the ones from Honda and they were super happy to pose for a photo! Their dress is from Rebecca Taylor and I loved it.

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Exact Dress

One thing I noticed was that the uniforms tended to consist of either a leather jacket, blouse and pants or a dress. A few brands had their staff in more casual clothes but most stuck to one of these two formulas. GMC was no exception. I complimented her on her Halogen jacket and she said that sadly she had to give it back after the show.

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Exact Jacket | Similar Top | Similar Necklace

The product specialists for Chevy were super excited to share with me that their pants were from The Limited! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the exact pair online, but I got close. The jacket was also a tough one to find. They said the brand was Chelsea28, which is a Nordstrom brand. However, I wasn’t able to find it on the Nordstrom website.

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Similar Pants | Similar Jacket | Similar Shoes

Finally we have the outfit that I remember admiring at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The product specialists from Buick had these amazing leather navy jackets. Turns out their from Vince, the same brand as my new purse.  Serious drool action going on here.

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Exact Jacket | Similar Top | Exact Pants | Similar Shoes | Exact Clutch

We did have a “one that got away” moment and we didn’t get a chance to photograph the Ford product specialists. They were wearing blue and black dresses like this with black shrugs.

And, it occurred to me afterward that I should have taken a photo of the men manning the Volkswagen area. They had on snappy sport coats, button-down shirts and ties with dark jeans.

Jason commented that finding and photographing the product specialists was kind of like hunting big game. We had a blast doing it! Plus, I got to find out how to recreate their awesome outfits.  So, even if you’re not a huge car buff, I can still recommend going to the Chicago Auto Show to check out the fashion!

Black and Navy [Pinterest Parallels Vol. 18]

Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter

A few weeks ago one of my blogging buddies shared an event on Facebook. For $60 you could get hair, makeup and two hours with professional photographers in a location not that far from my apartment. I’d never paid for professional photos for my blog before, but I thought this might be fun.

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And it was! I was originally a bit stressed about what to wear because the location, Boutique Photo Loft, isn’t my normal aesthetic. However, the photographers had a plain white photo backdrop set up, too.  I decided this was a great chance to try out a black and navy outfit I’d saved on Pinterest.

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Sweater – Forever 21 (similar) | Skirt – Langford Market (similar) | Tights – Target (similar) | Scarf – Dry Goods (similar) | Booties – Liz Claiborne via DSW (similar)

I showed up to the venue after work with a suitcase full of clothes, shoes and accessories. The venue was in this old warehouse, on the third floor, behind a hidden door. I felt pretty ridiculous walking up and down the hallway over and over again trying to find it! Finally, I figured it out and went on in. After a short wait, it was time for make-up and hair. The artist asked if I wanted anything in particular and I said that I wanted my hair to have volume and my eyes to have drama. I’d say she delivered on both!

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The photographer got some great shots and was pretty good at telling me where to put my hands, where to look, and how to angle my feet. I need that kind of direction because I never really know what to do. But, I did learn I’m much better at acting playful than I am at acting serious.

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I had a fun time and would definitely do it again now that I’ve had the experience!

I have a few more photos to share of other outfits so those will be coming up in the next few weeks. Don’t want to overload you all at once 🙂

Also, in case you’re curious, I did actually wear this outfit to work. And later that week a coworker told me I should be nominated for the best dressed employee in our office. I’ll take that kind of compliment!