Feeling Fashionable & Fit

Having spent most of my time the last thirteen years hiding behind oversized clothes, living in gym clothes and now basic black at Macy’s a couple of days a week, having the opportunity to dress-up and go out the last several weeks has been so much fun!  Granted almost all of the occasions have been related to graduation, but it was kind of nice to put on a little confidence, step out of my comfort zone into some high heels and while wearing fashionable yet still age & occasion appropriate attire.

All of this dressing up to go out is not a new concept to me, but it is one I left behind years ago when I put on all my weight.  It’s a real struggle to not see the old me in the mirror and look at all the positive changes that have occurred in this life!

 I've come a long way..... a very long way.
The old me not so long ago. I’ve come a long way….. a very long way.

Finding the right outfit to wear is often a challenge for any of us, but accepting that challenge and stepping out of our comfort zone can be fun too! Slowly I am learning to see the new me in the mirror and trust my choices when it comes to dressing up.

You see, weight loss is more than a physical journey, it is also an emotional one. Sometimes it’s easy to reach those physical goals, but the emotional ones are a wee bit harder. I am chiseling away at those each and everyday!

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For the first time in a long time I felt completely confident in my choices and didn’t feel like I had to hide behind black or oversized clothes.

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The first event on our agenda of activities was Graduation Sunday at our church.  After a lovely service that focused on guiding our young people down the right path and creating a spiritual legacy while honoring all of the seniors, we enjoyed a fabulous BBQ luncheon.  For this special day I wore a dress by Michael Kors for Macy’s and a fun pair of strapy heels by Steve Madden.

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My girls were giving me a hard time over the purchase of such a trendy pair of shoes, but they completed this simple outfit and added just a bit of contrasting color to my very blue dress.  A simple strand of pearls and my outfit was complete.

Madden Girl

Graduation was our second big event out.  I wore an orange “shirt” dress by Sandra Darren for this evening out.  I loved the dress for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s thin so the harsh southern humidity & stickiness wasn’t amplified  by my attire.  Secondly, it’s loose, so at the end of the day when the swelling from my surgery is really bad, it’s not so obvious.

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The Southern humidity was very much an issue for my hair!

You can’t see them in the picture, but I wore a pair of black wedges with the dress as graduation was originally scheduled to be on the football field and we were going to be doing a lot of walking.

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Our final event out was actually just a simple spring evening in the park.  While our teenagers were enjoying time with their cousins, Audley and I were enjoying a few moments for ourselves.  Falls Park in Greenville is an absolutely beautiful location for families as well as couples.  My sister snapped this picture for us because every picture we have lately is from the gym!

Date night in the gym....

Date night in the gym….

Up until very recently, this would have totally been an occasion in which I would have worn yoga pants and an over-sized shirt, so imagine my husbands delight when I climbed into his truck dress-up for our stroll in the park!

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This brown and black empire waisted sundress is from Soma Intimates.  They are the sister company of White House/Black Market and have a lovely and simple line of casual wear.  I wore a pair of brown sparkly flip-flops for walking through the park and accessorized with a pair of Jessica Simpson Sunglasses.

I tell you, it’s an awesome feeling stepping out of my comfort zone!

One of the best things about stepping out of that comfort zone was that I didn’t have to spend a fortune in order to look put-together for any of these events.  The Michael Kors dress was purchased at Macy’s using my employee discount, Macy money, & a really good coupon and cost about $30 (originally $140).  The Steve Madden shoes were found at DSW on the clearance rack for $15.00.  The orange shirt dress was about $25 on sale at Belk.   My Franco Sarto black wedges were a full-priced ($54.00) but worthwhile purchase as I can wear them with a multitude of outfits. My dress sundress from Soma was just $22.00 & the Jessica Simpson sunglasses were $12 from TJ Maxx.

I love the challenge of finding a good deal on my clothes, especially since I am still losing weight and hopefully won’t be wearing them long!

Dress-up or Dress-down?  Which do you prefer?

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Coconut Body Scrub

With so many cute sandals, open-toed heels, and flip-flops out on the market in the summer months, I think most all of us ladies take a little extra time making our feet and toes look good.  I’m not a big “go out and get a pedicure” gal because I’m not too fond of the harsh chemicals used in most salons or spending that much money on a regular basis.
With cosmetic stores open to the public that carry high quality polish brands like Essie, OPI and Piggy Paint, and smoothing lotions by Oil of Olay or Jergan’s extra-moisturizing, it’s so easy to have a salon pedi right from home.

But what if you like the smooth feeling you have after being scrubbed up?
I have a solution of you.
How about dreaming of the tropics while smoothing your skin with a wonderful Coconut Body Scrub?
It’s super easy to make, lasts a long time and if coconut is not your thing, it makes a great gift for someone special!

1 cup sugar
1 cup coarse sea salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (room temperature)
Combine ingredients together in a medium bowl and then spoon into a jar.

Seal with an airtight lid and store in a cool, dry place.  Rub on in the bath or shower twice a week.

See, I told you it was simple!

Keep your scrub dry and it will last up to two years (perfect if you want to make it in bulk).  Adding water will cause it to spoil.

By the way, Audley used it & absolutely loved it!

{Yes, I’m spilling his secrets}

Enjoy your salon quality smooth skin (and none of the harsh chemicals)!

A Night at the Theater

Last weekend, Audley and I attended the traveling production of Broadway’s “Billy Elliot” in Greenville for a fun day after Valentine’s date.  
I love nothing better than taking in a live show with Audley whether it be a musical or ballet or the symphony! It’s such a relaxing, entertaining and fabulous way to spend an evening.  Nothing is more exciting and surprising than live theater performances!

Billy Elliot is set during the great coal miners strike in Great Britain during the 1980’s and tells the story of a young boy who trades his boxing gloves for dance shoes.  Such a great story with history woven throughout and a theme of never give up on your dreams.  I loved the dance numbers and most of the music, although I do wish musicals didn’t incorporate so much vulgar language.  Even from the mouths of the children in the play…. 
That bothers me.
But, unfortunately, in our society, foul language is too often accepted and is found even in novels and television shows geared towards my teenagers.
But enough of this soapbox….  I have another one to get on!
Attending a live performance is much different than loading up and catching a movie, but it is quite obvious that the class and etiquette that used to be affiliated with live productions is no longer respected in the eyes of many.  I was quite disappointed and distracted by people talking during the show, entering the performance late, and especially in the attire of most of the theater patrons.
I guess I am an old soul.  I love good old-fashioned manners and doing things the proper way.

So here are a few Do’s & Don’ts for attending a live theater production:

DO dress for the occasion.  You don’t have to go formal, although it is accepted for a night performance, but think church clothes.  A pretty dress for the ladies, a button down and tie for the gentleman.  Jeans are not acceptable for either sex.  For a matinee a little more casual is accepted, and of course a school play is definitely a casual event, but still dress nice.

And ladies, leave the jingly jewelry behind.

Even when I was at my heaviest, I didn’t leave the house without make-up on, hair fixed and wearing clothing that was appropriate for wherever I was going.
Even now, I see that my teenagers are dressed for their own occasions from school & church clothing to not ever leaving the house in their pajamas!  We dress to travel, we dress to go out to eat, and while we are often overdressed if we go to Walmart (I seriously avoid that place), we are dressed in clothing without holes, hair fixed and clean.
 I find nothing more offensive than to be dining out with the family in a nice restaurant and find ourselves seated by people who are dressed like they rolled out of bed and went into public.
It’s just plain respect for yourself to dress for the occasion and definitely respect for those around you!
Dress up when you go to the theater!

DO take a bath before going to the theater.  Yes, people have to be told this.  Theater seating is close and you will be there for 2-3 hours.  Make sure you smell good and don’t wear too much fragrance.  You don’t want to make people sick or risk allergies to products you might wear.

DO be on time.  It is so rude to have to climb over people once the who has begun.  Not only is it rude to climb over others, it is so distracting for the actors and actresses on stage.  They see the movements and it can be very bothersome!
Live theater does not include 20 minutes of previews that you can slip in during.  When the lights dim, the show goes on.
If something has happened that has made you late, please have the courtesy to wait in the back of the theater until the first act has ended.  It may not be the most comfortable for you, but I can assure you that it will be appreciated by others attending the show!

DO be prepared.  If your tickets are at will-call, be there early to pick them up.  Have your tickets handy at all times so that when as usher asks to see them, you have them.  If you know you seats are in the center of the aisle, try to seat yourself early so that you aren’t having to step over others to reach them.

DO applaud the musicians as they are introduced before the curtain arises.  The audience’s enthusiasm truly sets the tone for the performance.  Also applaud the performers after a well-sung number or dance scene.  At the end of the show, also show your approval for the performance, but after the stars have taken their final bow, it’s time to go.  Multiple encores are exhausting for everyone, especially the performers who are already tired after a long show!

FYI:  It is tradition to cheer for musical performers using an Italian cheer “bravo” which means “well done!”  Shout “bravo” for a male performer and “brava” for a female.  If it is a group of performers, use the term “bravi” and “brave” if the group is all females.
I learned this in a theater class that I took in college, although I can only think of once I have used the term “bravo“.

DON’T talk during the performance.  Once again not only is it distracting for the audience, it is distracting for the performers.

DON’T bring food or drink into live theater.  Most evening performances don’t begin until 8:00 which does leave plenty of time for you to eat prior to arrival.  Besides, the noises of candy wrappers rattling or drinks being turned up are distracting to everyone.  It is so easy to miss a line during a live performance, don’t be the cause of several people missing what was said.

DON’T play on your phones, iPads, etc….  You can go an hour and a half without social media, checking email or texting someone.  Most all live performances have an intermission, so surly you can wait until then to see who has messaged you.

DON’T use flash photography during a live performance.  This really should be self explanatory, but you never know.  Besides, with most Broadway based musicals, photography is forbidden period as it is illegal.

DON’T go to sleep.  Seriously, how rude is that?  If you find a performance boring or not your “cup of tea” leave at intermission.  If you are tired, plan ahead to get a nap before attending the show.

If you have never attended a live performance, you are not too old to see one and become hooked!  From high school plays (which are a little less formal) to the symphony there are so many options.  

Do you like live productions?

Football in the South

“Southern Girls celebrate four seasons: winter, spring, summer and FOOTBALL!”


Like every other properly raised Southern girl it is my favorite time of the year; football season!  Team shirts and jackets are out, Saturday menus are planned, team platters are cleaned for use, and games are programmed into the cable box so we don’t miss a bit of action.
That’s college football in the south.  It’s a party.  It’s a tradition.  It’s a way of life.
For as far back as I can remember, Southeastern Conference football has been a part of my life.  Every Saturday our family ate hamburgers baked beans, and all the other trimmings as we tuned into Auburn football, and any other conference game that was not at the same time.  Over the years I have attended Southeastern Conference games at Samford stadium in Athens, Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field in Nashville, Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, attended the Sugar Bowl when Georgia played in 2006, and drove to Columbia last fall to watch Navy play South Carolina.


Now that I am grown, married and have children of my own, very little has changed on any given Saturday afternoon in the fall.  Auburn is no longer the team of the house (except in the eyes of my warped children), but Saturday afternoon football is still the programming of choice.  We may keep it a family affair, or we may gather with friends to “tailgate” right here at home! 



We’ve also taught or own girls to pick their team and cheer them on!  


It’s our legacy as Southern girls!
And speaking of the importance of football in the south, here is a funny take on the differences between football in the south and north.
Football Season, North vs. South

WOMEN’S ATTIRE

Up North: Chapstick in their back pocket and a $20 bill in their front pocket.

Down South: Louis Vuitton duffel with two lipsticks, powder, mascara (waterproof), concealer, and a fifth of bourbon. Wallet not necessary – that’s what dates are for.


STADIUM SIZE

Up north: College football stadiums hold 20,000.

Down south: High school football stadiums hold 20,000

WEATHER
Up North: Snow and Ice.

Down South: Sunny, highs mid-60s, lows in the teens.

FATHERS
Up North: Expect their daughter to understand Sylvia Plath.

Down South: Expect their daughters to understand pass interference.

ATTIRE

Up North: Male and female alike: woolly sweater or sweatshirt, jeans.

Down South: Male – pressed khakis, oxford shirt, cap with frat logo, Justin Ropers. Female – ankle-length skirt, coordinated cardigan, flat riding boots, oxford.

ALUMNI

Up North: Take prospects on sailing trips before they join the law firm.

Down South: Take prospects on fishing trips so they don’t leave for the NFL their senior year.

CAMPUS DECOR

Up North: Statues of Founding Fathers.

Down South: Statues of Founding Fathers and Heisman Trophy winners.

HOMECOMING QUEEN
Up North: Also a physics major.

Down South: Also Miss USA.

Bradley at an Auburn game with my parents last fall

HEROES
Up North: Mario Cuomo

Down South: “Bear” Bryant

GETTING TICKETS

Up North: 5 days before the game you can walk into the ticket office on campus and still purchase tickets.

Down South: 5 months before the game you can walk into the ticket office on campus and still be placed on the waiting list for tickets.

with their Nana @ an Auburn game
FRIDAY CLASSES AFTER A THURSDAY NIGHT GAME
Up North: Students and Teachers are not sure if they are going because they have class on Friday.

Down South: Teachers cancel class on Friday because they don’t want to see the few hungover students that might actually make it to class on Friday.


PARKING
Up North: An hour or two before game time the university opens the campus for game parking.

Down South: RV’s sporting their school flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend’s festivities. The real faithful begin arriving on Tuesday.


GAME DAY
Up North: A few students party in the dorm and watch ESPN on TV.

Down South: every student wakes up, has a beer for breakfast, and rushes over to where ESPN is broadcasting Game Day “Live” to get on camera and wave to the idiots from up North who wonder why game day is never broadcast from their campus.


TAILGATING
Up North: Raw meat on the grill, beer with a lime in it, listening to local radio station with truck tailgate down.

Down South: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker fires up at dawn. Cooking accompanied by live performance by Hootie & the Blowfish, who come over during breaks and ask for a hit off your bottle of bourbon.


GETTING TO THE STADIUM
Up North: You have to ask, “Where’s the stadium?” When you find it you walk right in with no line.

Down South: When you’re near it, you’ll hear it. On game day, it becomes the state’s third largest city.


CONCESSIONS
Up North: Drinks served in a paper cup filled to the top with soda.

Down South: Drinks served in a plastic cup with the home team’s mascot — filled less than halfway to ensure enough room for bourbon.


WHEN THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IS PLAYED
Up North: Stands are less than half full.

Down South: 100,000+ fans sing along in perfect 3-part harmony.


THE SMELL IN THE AIR AFTER THE FIRST SCORE
Up North: Nothing changes.

Down South: Fireworks with a twist of bourbon.


AFTER THE GAME
Up North: the stadium is empty before the game ends.

Down South: Another rack of ribs on the smoker. While somebody goes to the nearest package store for more bourbon, planning begins for next year’s party.

If you need a little inspiration for your game day menus you can check out this post here, or here.
Are you a college football fan?  Who is your favorite team?