Nantucket Red Skirt: a year's worth of use!

Don't you just love it when you prove yourself right?  I sure do.  Case in point, my Nantucket Red skirt I picked up last Summer.  I had been coveting the look of a Nantucket Red skirt -- that faded, beachy red -- and finally bit the bullet and purchased the real deal from Murray's Toggery shop in Nantucket by ordering online.  The skirt was about $65, so I resolved to try to wear it beyond the Summer.  And I've made good!  I wore it in the Summer, and Fall, and Winter and now Spring!

Here's what I did for my Spring look:

I wore a striped, fitted top from H&M tucked into the skirt.  I loved how nautical it felt.  I was thrilled to realize my new coral wedges (from TJ Maxx) looked like a perfect match to the Nantucket Red!  So I wore them with it.  

And now for a round up of how my little skirt fared in each of the four seasons:

chambray shirt, brown leather belt and brown leather cork wedges

cream cowl neck shell, ruffly tan cardigan, bare legs, tall brown riding boots

Cream cotton Irish sweater, yellow polka dotted scarf, brown tights, brown riding boots

black and white striped top, coral wedges

And there you go! Four full seasons and one little skirt.  I'd say I've gotten my money's worth and then some.  I'll keep posting outfit ideas for this little guy.  I still have some ideas ...

See you swoon,

What I Wore {part 10}

Hello Hello ... can you believe we just had Memorial Day Weekend?  I mean ... really.  I can't get past the fact that it's no longer March.  March 2012 that is.  You all know I'm usually into cooler temps, but this year, I am really ready for Summer.  I have lots of fun plans on the agenda and lots and lots and lots of training (read: biking) lined up. 

But in the meantime, here are some Spring outfits.  

* White Wrap Top & Turquoise Pants *

I think these are actually jeans, but they look like pants, so I went with it.  I found these at TJ Maxx on a recent trip there.  I am kind of embarrassed to admit it, but they are those Not Your Daughter's Jeans brand.  But there they were on the clearance rack with their bright shiny red sticker and the price that was too good to be true (I think it was $17).  So I tried them on and of course loved them.  I wore them with my white faux wrap cotton top from Banana from a few years ago, and a cute and preppy nautical belt I got from LL Bean.  

* Navy Shell, Black & White Cropped Blazer, Bootcut Jeans *

I found this blazer at Forever 21 months ago and have been waiting to wear it!  I took my chance on a recent Friday.  The blazer had shoulder pads (seriously) so I snipped them out immediately.  I wore my favorite bootcut jeans (Gap Long and Lean) and a shell I bought at the Banana Republic outlet last Winter.  Flats completed the look. 

* Coral Blouse & Polka-Dot Pencil Skirt *

On the same trip to TJ Maxx when I picked up the turquoise pants above, I found this coral blouse.  I saw a similar, very feminine, very flowy, coral blouse in the Boden catalogue (which I cannot seem to find online) but I didn't like the price.  Note: I *love* Boden.  Wow.  I use their catalogue for outfit inspiration quite often, actually!  Anyway ... I found this coral top, also in the clearance section, for $11.  I wore it with my polka dot pencil skirt from Forever 21 and my quilted pink slingbacks.  I thought the over the top femininity of the outfit called for simple hair, so I pulled it back.  

That's all folks!  Get used to seeing skirts and dresses: it's basically all I wear in the dog days of Summer :)

See you swoon,

What I Wore: Radnor Hunt

Hello!  Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I'm so excited to share this post today before the holiday begins, because I took my love of DIY and transferred it to fashion!  I was searching high and low for a cute dress to wear to the Radnor Hunt Steeplechase horse race - our local version of the Kentucky Derby with hats and fascinators, sweet dresses, pastels on men, fancy picnics and yummy cocktails ... oh and of course the horse race.  I went last year and wore a Lily Pulitzer dress that I'd had forever.  I knew I wanted something different this year.  Lo and behold, I found *exactly* what I had in mind.  The Vineyard Vines Horseshoe Gingham Carolyn dress:

The only issue?  Oh there were about 198 of them.  The price:  $198.  Ouch.  I loved it but it seemed completely silly and wasteful to spend that much money on a dress I would never really wear.  Still, I knew I could use it as inspiration.  I love the pop of coral and realized my new coral and cork wedges that I got for $29 at TJ Maxx would be great with the dress (like the Kentucky Derby, Radnor Hunt is on grass, so heels are a no-no and wedges or flats rule).  I searched and searched and found this: the Target Seersucker Strapless Dress by Merona. 

I loved it.  It retailed for $29, but I managed to snag it on sale for ... wait ... $25.  Twenty-five dollars.  I was dubious about the quality or the fit, but it arrived and holy moly cow.  It looked great.  It fit like a glove and even has a little built in bra-type contraption for extra support.  It was the perfect dress.  True to size and just sweet as can be.   But it needed something for sure.  I knew my coral wedges would be perfect.  I decided to add a coral sash like in the Vineyard Vines dress.  I just ordered a half yard of fabric, folded it over a bunch and fashioned a little cummerbund around the waist.  I tied it in the back with a simple square knot.  I wore a delicate gold necklace and fun white quatrefoil earrings, my hair in a bun and ... voila! Here's the final look:

Here's a quick comparison again ...

inspiration dress

my dress

I was thrilled with the end result.  The funny thing: there was a woman at the adjacent tent wearing the Vineyard Vines dress!  Frankly, I liked mine better: the Vineyard Vines sash is more pink than coral and the sash is pretty long in the back. I liked that my sash was coral and sturdy.  All told, the outfit cost me just $30 - $25 for the dress and $5 for the fabric.  Everything else I had in my closet already.  Yay and giddy yup.

Have a great long weekend! I'm planning to do a lot around the house: priming and painting a bunch of furniture, decorating and (gulp) a little gardening.  Welcome Summer!

See you swoon,

The gloves are off

Sometimes the tiniest, simplest projects make me happiest.  Like this one today.

I store my bathroom cleaning supplies upstairs in the kids' bathroom cabinet. They have a ton of storage space.  Right here.  

Nothing earth shattering here: I just keep the cleaning supplies in a handled plastic basket from Target, so it is easy to move from bathroom to bathroom.  

What I did not like about this, though, was the gloves in the basket.  I like them to hang dry.  So it was my mission to make that happen.  I've seen articles on adding grommets to the gloves, but that seemed like a lot of work.  Instead, I used a binder clip and a cup hook.  

I used my drill to make a pilot hole in the cabinet door and then screwed in the cup hook.  I clipped the gloves together with a binder clip and used the top of the clip to hang the gloves from the hook.  

Voila!  Done!  Easy!  Took one minute!  Lots and lots of exclamation points there.  Now if I could only get that excited about actually cleaning the bathrooms ...

See you swoon,

Race Recap: 2013 Upper Dublin Sprint Triathlon

Good morning! Boy am I excited to post today's post!  Yesterday I raced the second annual Upper Dublin Sprint Triathlon, which is a super fun race super close to home.  It has a special place in my heart, because it was the very first triathlon I ever did.  Last year, the weather was absolutely perfect: sunny, clear and great.  This year, the weather had other plans.  All week it was looking iffy - chance of showers, off and on rain.  Oh man.  The issue, of course, is the bike in the rain.  It can be dangerous.  And you all know the bike is my least favorite of the three.  The weather was, indeed, off and on showers.  It was not a full on deluge, but the rain was persistent.  I decided to make the best of it.  After all, the one thing you cannot control on race day is the weather.

Last year, I loved every moment of the race - truly, it was just fun the entire time.  This year, I could not wait to go back and hopefully beat last year's time.   Last year, I ran the race in 1:22:13.  This year, I really wanted to beat that time and come in around 1:15.   Well ... yeah!!  My final time for the race this year was 1:15:21.  Woo to the hoo!!  Here's a breakdown and recap.   But first, a picture of me with my babies at the finish.  Best motivators ever (you can't tell in this picture but I am literally soaked from head to toe)!

Swim:  350 meters -- 8:14
last year's time:  8:39
Difference: -25 seconds

This tri has a pool swim, which is a huge switch from the usual open water swims in most triathlons. It is in the Upper Dublin High School pool, and you swim 10 laps serpentine style.  So, an athlete enters the water every 10 seconds after the race gun goes off.  Each athlete time starts when she crosses the mat at the top of the pool.  You hop in (no diving) and swim up the first lane on the right.  The left side of each lane is for passing.  Then when you hit the wall, you move under the lane divider and head up that lane and so on until you swim up and down every single lane in the pool.

I think they moved the timing mat this year.  I think last year it was right as you got out of the pool. This year, you had to run out the door and down a ramp over the mat.  My Garmin had my swim time just under 8:00.  But the mat rules and that's the time it had.  I'll take it.  I only got passed twice in the pool.  It was frustrating because the woman in front of me was going a little slower than me but I found it difficult to pass her.  I finally dug deep and swam past her.   meep meep. 

T1:  1:41
last year's time:  2:09
Difference: - 68 seconds

Last year, my T1 time (transition from swim to bike) took awhile because as a newbie, I did not realize that I needed a race belt for my race number.  So I had to pin my race number directly to my tri suit after the swim.  Last year, I also put on my sneakers:  I had the pedal cages and did not have the clipless pedals and special bike shoes.  This year, I had to uncover my bike: I had it covered with a nifty bike cover I bought at an endurance expo. The cover kept it nice and dry from the rain.  Once the bike was uncovered, I dried off a bit, threw on my helmet, socks and bike shoes and hopped on the bike.  

Bike:  11.2 miles -- 37:50 (17.8 mph)
last year's time: 41:54 (pace: 16 mph)
Difference: -4:04 (1.8 mph increase in speed!)

The bike is two loops around Upper Dublin township.  The roads aren't closed to traffic. You head through a few neighborhoods, up a pretty big climb on Susquehanna Road and then down that same steep grade to the business park, which isn't terribly scenic but pretty empty on a Sunday morning.  Then up a deceivingly difficult hill to the start and then loop around again.  I like the two loops because you know exactly what the condition of the course is on the second loop.  

This year, I am much more comfortable in the saddle, so I was hoping I could make up some time.  Boy did I ever.  Despite the rain, I kicked it into gear on the bike.  I cannot believe I biked 17.8 mph.  I CANNOT BELIEVE IT.  Bold! All caps!  Exclamation point!  It felt great.  I could have kept on going.  I only got passed by two women.  I got to say "on your left!" more times than I could count.  And best of all, I had fun on that bike.  I think I'm having a Casablanca moment with my bike: this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  

T2: 1:42
last year's time:  1:11
Difference: +31 seconds

T2 was tough.  I had to change from my bike shoes into my sneakers and my socks were absolutely drenched from the bike.  As in, I could feel water in my bike shoes.  I did my best to dry them off, but it took a few extra seconds.  I threw on my race belt and visor and ran off.  The rain made everything take a little longer.  Lesson learned: always bring an extra pair of socks.  

Run: 3.1 miles/5k -- 25:46 (8:22/mile pace)
last year's time: 28:23 (pace:  9:10/mile)
Difference: @3 minutes (I am horrible with math)

This is a great run course!  It starts at the high school and winds around a neighborhood to the Temple University-Ambler campus. Last year, it was very sunny, but this year that was not an issue at all. I wanted to get in the low 8s for my pace - that is where I comfortably run these days, and I wanted to push hard to take advantage of my strength.

I knew I could motor through 3 miles in wet socks.  My goal was to not get passed by any women on the run.  One passed me.  And she was 21 years old (you have your age as of year end written on your leg in body marking).  I passed a bunch of people!  I could feel that I was having a killer run, and I absolutely was.  8:22/mile pace is great. I am most pleased.

The race, just like last year, was flawlessly run with tons of race support.  The volunteers are fabulous.  The organizers addressed a few issues from last year to make this race better: they made the bike out/bike in be in separate places to avoid the logjam that happened last year.  My one suggestion would be for the organizers to put a deadline on the time that you can change your swim time.  Estimated swim time is how you get in the pool: fastest person is 1 and slowest person is whatever the last number is.  Racers have to give their estimated finish time for the 350 meters.  It's a pretty good system. But about 40 people were changing their times this week. The organizers went above and beyond and gave them race day numbers, but this was needless stress and work for them.  I would encourage the race organizers to set a drop dead date for athletes to change their times.  It's really not the end of the world if they're seeded with slower swimmers.  Off soapbox.

So to recap:  

Last year's time:  1:22:13.  Overall: 134th out of 262 people.  9th in my age group.
This year's time:  1:15:21.  Overall:  82nd out of 280 people.  4th in my age group.  

Needless to say, I celebrated with pizza and beer.  Woo hoo!  Next tri is another sprint on June 15 at the state park near my hometown.  Hopefully it will be a true triathlon this year and not a duathlon as it was last year.  The swim was canceled due to "high fecal content" in the lake. Ew gross.  

See you swoon,

(better late than never) Race Recap: 2012 Six Flags Great Adventure Sprint Triathlon


This post is only 8 months overdue, but I still remember the race in vivid detail, so I thought I would post it.  It's especially appropriate today since I have a sprint triathlon close to home this weekend: the Upper Dublin Sprint Triathlon.  The Upper Dublin Sprint tri is the very first triathlon I ever did, and I loved every moment of it, so I am excited to go back and try to crush last year's time.  I'll be sure to post a recap afterwards. 

Anyway, on to today's post.  I did the Six Flags Great Adventure Sprint Triathlon last year (late September 2012).  This race was not on my calendar and not in my plans.  I assumed my Olympic Plus tri at Quakertown PA (Quakerman) would end my triathlon season, but that race was so hard and challenging.  I wanted to end my season on a fun note -- one that made me excited to return to triathlon in the Spring.  So I found the Six Flags tri and thought it sounded like fun, the distance would be a snap and I'd end my season on a very high note.  Plus, I grew up going to Great Adventure ... the idea of doing a race there was kind of hilarious.

The race was a blast.  It was a .45 mile swim, 13.5 mile bike ride and 3.1 (i.e., 5k) run.  After a grueling race consisting of a hilly 39 mile bike and hilly 10K run at Quakerman, this seemed perfect.  Transition for this tri was in the parking lot, right near a big roller coaster.  There was plenty of room and, as always, I met some really cool people.  I love transition because you can swap stories and tips with other racers.  It was at this race that someone told me to always reinforce your ankle chip strap with a safety pin, as she was in a race recently where her ankle strap fell off during the swim.  Devastation.  That's the only way you are timed.  

My final time was 1:40:04 and I was the 14th woman (among 58 women) and 4th in my age group. I'll take those results, thank you and yes! 

The Swim:  .45 mile

The swim was in the stunt lake inside the park.  It was an actual lake, which was surprising.  The one snag was it was a good half mile (at least) from the lake to transition.  I am glad I read the pre-race email closely because it encouraged racers to bring appropriate shoes to cover that much ground (many racers did not have anything and ran barefoot or tried it in flip-flops ... the parking lot was really hard on the feet).  So I brought my water shoes (that I normally wear kayaking or canoeing) to run in after the swim.  Here I am running through the park from the lake to transition.

image (and all images) from Great Six Flags Tri
The lake water was cool - but I didn't have a wetsuit at the time.  I was one of the very few who did not wear a wetsuit.  The lake was probably the worst lake in which I've competed.  It was very dirty - probably because it is small and motor boats use it.  So when I got out of the water, my arms and legs were coated in black (oil).  Ew.  My swim was stronger than Quakerman but I still had an initial freak-out/panic.  I eventually settled into a good rhythm and finished the swim in 15:39.

 The Bike:  13.5 Miles

I confess I didn't have high expectations for this bike ride.  I thought I knew the area and thought it was just not that nice.  Boy, was I wrong.  This bike ride was lovely! Rolling hills, country fields, simply lovely scenery.  I was stunned.  I felt really strong on the bike ride and pushed hard on the hills.  Again, the far more rigorous ride at Quakerman put this one into perspective: short, easier and faster.  Yay.  The hills were not bad - a bunch of rollers with maybe two kind of steep climbs.  Time on the bike: 50:32 (about 16 mph).

The Run:  3.1 Miles 

The run was a blast, though it was pretty hot and sunny.  The course was through the park and around the haunted hayride trails, around some service roads near the safari and back through the parking lot.  The trails were a little rocky in parts.  There were a few little hills, but nothing major.  I was happy I wore my visor, because there was not much shade here at all.  I loved running past the safari and especially the monkeys.  The monkeys were watching us all run by, probably wondering what those crazy people were doing.  I had a great run:  27:05 (8:44 pace).  

I would absolutely do this race again.  The race has an Olympic distance as well.  Sadly, I cannot swing the race this year because it is the one weekend in September when I do not have a major event:  I am doing the Quakerman half iron on Sept. 7, then the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon the following weekend and then the MS City to Shore 100-mile ride the last weekend in the month.  I think resting my body is a far better call.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {part ix}

All skirts and dresses here!

* Floral Blouse & Coral Pencil Skirt *

I wore this floral blouse (from Target) a month or so ago with a navy and white striped skirt (see it here).  I wasn't crazy about it - something was really off and as Maya pointed out in the comments, the skirt seemed a little big.  So I tried again, because I adore this blouse, and I wore it with a fitted coral pencil skirt (from j.crew outlet) and embraced the bright colors.  I think this is a winner.  

 * Grey Dress & Raspberry Belt *

If not already obvious, I really love to wear belts.  I had a charitable luncheon a few weeks ago and decided to wear this grey dress (from the Limited last year).  It looks great as is, but I thought adding the pop of raspberry at the waist jazzed it up a bit.  

 * Mini-Polka Dotted Shift Dress & Coral Wedges *

This outfit was an unintentional tribute to Tommy Hilfiger:  both the dress and the shoes are that brand. I wore this to my friend's bridal shower in late April, and am happy with the look.  The dress is from the Tommy Hilfiger outlet and the shoes are a score from TJ Maxx.   It's hard to see in the pictures, but the dress is navy with teeny tiny white polka dots.  I love the fit and am going to switch out the belt for a different look.  

There you have it!  Summer is coming and I'm feeling that "OMG I have *nothing* to wear" like I do at the beginning of every season.  I am loving the maxi dress trend, but I just don't think I can pull it off.  I always look so overwhelmed in long dresses.

What are you into for Summer 2013? I'm looking to add a few more dresses (of course), and some printed tops.  Maybe a pair of pants or two.  What about you? I'd love to hear.

See you swoon,

Getting Dishy With It

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had wonderful Mother's Days.  I spent mine with my favorite people in the entire world - my little animals.  We lounged around, played, rode bikes (ok, they rode bikes and I laced up my running shoes and did intervals/sprints and "raced" them while they rode bikes) and had a delicious lunch where the most amazingly touching thing happened.  The kids wanted to "take me" to my favorite local pub, Casey's.  I usually get the same thing: hot roast beef sandwich with extra horseradish (the real stuff, not the horseradish mayo).  Anyway, it wasn't very crowded because, I suppose, most mothers and their children were at a lovely brunch.  So we settled into a booth and ate our food and had a good time.  When it was time to leave, the waitress came over and said that our bill had been paid for.  I was confused.  She said "someone saw you all come in and wanted to pay your bill.  He said he didn't know you and just wanted to wish you a Happy Mother's Day."  I was floored.  And of course, I immediately started crying.  Such true kindness.  I was touched and also happy that my kids were able to experience it, and from a stranger no less!  So, thank you random, anonymous stranger.  I promise to pay it forward somehow.  

Up today is a little project I tackled in the kitchen: hanging plates over the table.  I don't have a lot of wall space in the kitchen, and this expanse seemed to be begging for something.  I just love the looks of hanging plates in kitchens and dining rooms, and I had these on hand from my first home.  Here is the before (apologies for the light in these pictures: that window is a bear to photograph).  

Hanging was so easy.  I had the plate hangers on hand (I think I got them at Lowes).  I just measured the center of the wall for the middle plate and hung that first.  Then eyeballed the right spot for the plate to its left.  When I was happy with that, I measured for the plate on the right so they were even.  Here is the wall now.  

Improvement, but not done.  I had my little 5 year old photographer take a picture of me with another plate on the end. I wasn't sure if I should leave well enough alone or if the wall needed two more plates (one on each end).  I think I will go for more plates.  Little asked me to "take a good picture Mommy" so I hammed it up. 

So stay tuned for, well, more plates!  I may hang an oblong plate over the microwave too.  I'm also dying to paint the kitchen chairs (white) and upholster their seats (yellow chain link print - fabric ready to go) and paint the little stepstool in the corner (also yellow).   My logjam of painting projects is getting bigger and bigger.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {part viii}

Hi! Happy May!  I'm sorry I've been a little MIA lately.  Two weeks ago, I was in Disney World with my kids.  It was, pardon the cliche, a magical trip.  So I have been digging out of post-vacation stuff and also dealing with a lot of things to do at work! And, I have been training quite a bit for the triathlons I have this Summer.  All good things, of course, but it has made blogging tough.  I'll get back on track soon, and I swear, I will do some home projects.  

In any event, back to what I wore!  I was looking back through my old "what I wore" posts and realized I mostly post skirts and dresses.  So I'll try to add more pants outfits.  I really do wear them.

* Jade Buttondown & Grey Pants *

Here's a pants outfit.  The pants are from the Ann Taylor outlet - I love them.  I also love these taupe patent heels (also from the Ann Taylor outlet) because they are like chameleons: they look grey with grey and tan with tan.  I found the fitted short sleeve buttondown blouse at New York & Co.  I have several from New York & Co. because they fit me like a dream!  I loved the color of this one.  I thought the outfit needed a little something, so I wore a patent greenish blue skinny belt that I found at the Banana Republic outlet.  It doesn't match the jade shirt perfectly, but looks good nonetheless.  I wore a delicate gold necklace and fun clover drop earrings. 

* Chambray Shirt & Printed Skirt *

This is a bit of a departure from what I normally wear, but it was fun.  I got the skirt last Summer on clearance at Anthropologie.  It's so comfortable and fun - perfect for Summer!  I think it was $19.  The chambray shirt is from Old Navy.  I bought it last Summer to go with my Nantucket Red skirt. This is a decidedly casual outfit, so I wore it with my sweet yellow flats.  

* Coral Cardigan, Printed Top & Tan Pants *

Here's another pants outfit.  The pants, as are most of my pants, are from the Ann Taylor outlet.  The cardigan and printed top are both from Old Navy from a number of years ago.  I love the floral print and the fun detail on the neckline of the cardigan.  

Have a terrific Thursday! The weekend is in sight.  Yes.  

See you swoon,