Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Moodlifter: Splurges Worth Saving For

Well, today is the last day of 2012.  We hope you all have fun plans for tonight, whether they be going to a party or watching the ball drop from your living room.  

While we typically prefer to shop more affordable, mid-range brands, occasionally we find pieces that are worth spending a little more on in return for the quality with which they are made.  So, in honor of the decadent feeling New Year's Eve seems to inspire within us, we figured it would be fun to share the splurge items we think are worth saving up a bit for.  Oh, and of course even with these items we do our best to find a good deal, which is why we recommend subscribing to sites like Rue La La and Gilt.  We have been lucky enough to save as much as 50-60% on some items through these sites.

Kate Spade Charlotte Street Miles Purse
A good, quality, basic purse is essential.  We're not talking about a fun, fashion purse, we're talking about the purse you use almost everyday.  We find tote style purses to be the most functional, but whatever style you prefer we highly recommend spending the money to get a good one.  In our early 20s, when we had little disposable income, we would buy the cheap $20 purses from Target.  These worked well enough, however typically 4-6 months later they would break and we'd be back looking for a new one.  Eventually we realized that spending a few hundred dollars up front on one good quality purse would actually be more cost efficient than constantly spending $20-$30 to replace cheap ones.  We both currently have Kate Spade purses we love, therefore we can speak for this brand and say that it is worth the money, but there are definitely other quality brands out there so feel free to shop around and find something you adore.

Michael Kors Blair Watch
There is something about a nice, basic watch that says "I am an adult professional" to us.  We prefer a metal link strap to leather ones which can wear, crack and fray.  For a basic watch we also prefer simple, non-flashy designs.  A little sparkle, like that shown above, is fine, but we would stay away from bright colors or too much sparkle.

Cole Haan Chelsea Pump
If you work in an office like we do then you should definitely have a good pair of basic, black pumps.  Patent leather has become acceptable even in more conservative offices it seems, and we really love the polish it adds to a basic pencil skirt and suit jacket.  Cole Haan, in our opinion, is the epitome of the quality work pump.  The Nike Air technology incorporated into their heels makes them the most comfortable for all day wear.  While the shoes are definitely pricey, we suggest subscribing to Cole Haan emails.  They tend to have large 60% off sales a few times a year which means you can score a $200 pair of shoes for less than $100, it's how we've managed to add these shoes to our closet.

LAUREN Ralph Lauren Newbury Slim Wallet

The reasons to splurge on a good wallet are the same as the ones for splurging on a good purse.  This is an item that you use almost every day, and buying cheap ones is just throwing away money because of the frequency with which you will have to replace them.  Wallets are also a good item to have a little fun with. Because it will hide in your purse and only be seen occasionally, why not choose one in a fun color, which can also make it easier to spot in your purse.

Chantelle Rive Gauche Demi Cup Bra
Every woman deserves to own at least one, although preferably more, really nice set of lingerie.  Putting it on makes you feel special, sexy, and feminine all at once.  It's an especially nice feeling when it's a style that can be worn under your regular clothes without notice, it's a secret you can walk around with all day.  So take some time to walk into that super fancy lingerie store, we promise your husbands won't mind the credit card statement for this particular splurge.

These are our splurge items, what are yours?

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Goals

Ok fine, this is a 4th of July picture, but fireworks are for NYE too!

Well it's that time again, the time when we get ready to say goodbye to one year and prepare to welcome a new one. We don't know where the tradition of making New Year resolutions came from, although google could probably inform us, but we do like the idea of taking this time of year as an opportunity to reflect on where we've been and where we want to go. Practically speaking there probably isn't any real difference between a resolution and a goal, but we prefer to call these goals. To us a resolution seems more like a one shot deal, you either succeed or you don't. A goal on the other hand is something you work towards and can progress on, so that it's not a failure if you don't reach the full end point so long as you moved closer to it.

2012 has been a pretty great year for both of us, particularly towards the end, so 2013 has a lot to live up to.  With our individual plans for the coming year though, we think 2013 has a pretty good chance of beating out 2012 as one of the best years ever.  So with that said here are our personal goals for 2013.

1.  Take Risks

We both discovered later in 2012 that if we just take a chance on ourselves, great things can happen.  It is all too easy to let a fear of failure or embarrassment hold you back, and we admit to having been guilty of this ourselves.  So in 2013 we hope to push past these barriers and take some risks on ourselves, albeit calculated risks.  As someone once said, you can never succeed if you never try, so here's to taking passions to the next level and taking chances!

2.  Listen To Our Bodies

While 2012 was a wonderful year for many reasons, we both have to acknowledge that we let our bodies down in various ways.  M got so wrapped up in work and other life advancements that she let exercise and healthy eating fall off her priority list.  Meanwhile, H had to face the reality that her body can no longer process dairy products with lactose.  We have both already started trying to work on this goal over the past month, M has perhaps been a little more successful than H (Holiday season is HARD!  So much cheese!).  However we both have a long way to go with this one.  It will take a lot of hard work, and pushing through nights when the couch beckons and saying no to that baked brie appetizer someone ordered for the table, but we both know it will be worth it.  M has a half marathon and a full marathon on her calendar for 2013 already, and H is busily testing recipes.  There will be progress updates from both of us along the way, and most likely we will each face some setbacks, but that is reality, and again a goal is something you work towards and mark progress for along the way.  We may or may not reach the full end point (is there even an end point for something like this) by the end of 2013, but we feel confident that we will be closer than we are now.

3.  Learn To Say No

It's so easy at this time in our lives to over commit.  We work all day, and there are various happy hours and events to attend at night.  Some of these are work related so you feel you have to go, and others are simply with friends that you feel like you should go to.  It is definitely important to make time for friends, however sometimes it's necessary to just simply say "No".  We aren't 21 anymore, we can't just skip an 8am class in the morning (or plan a schedule that gives Fridays off), we need rest, we need time to exercise, and we can not subject our bodies to bar food on a regular basis any more.  So in 2013 we plan to exercise the word "No".  Sometimes it will be a complete no because we simply need some personal time, other times it will be "No, I can't do happy hour, but how about we go for a run or cook a healthy meal together?"  We know some might take offense, but the real friends, the ones that will transition with us as our lives change over the next several years, they will understand and might even be grateful for new hanging out alternatives.

4.  Learn To Let It Go

Nothing feels worse than the realization that you've made a mistake.  It creates a deep pit in your stomach and puts a dark cloud over your head, or at least that's what it does to us.  It can be hard to let something like this go, but it's necessary in order to be able to forward and past whatever the mistake was.  We both have a habit of beating ourselves up when we've let ourselves down or messed up.  It's like a twisted game of "if I shame myself enough then it will make things better", but it does the complete opposite usually.  So we both need to work on acknowledging our missteps, taking a little time to learn why they happened, and then instead of engaging in self shaming learning to release ourselves from the negativity and move on.  In yoga, during the end meditation portion of a class, you are supposed to have a completely clear head.  However, great instructors will tell you that if a thought comes into your mind it's ok, you should acknowledge the thought that is there and then you should release it so you can come back to a clear head.  It is such a freeing experience to do this on the mat, and so we hope to put this into practice off the mat in our daily lives as well.

5.  Get Organized!

Ok, this is really an H goal, but man oh man do I need to focus on this one.  I function in what I would call organized chaos.  Basically my desks regularly look like disaster zones, and I tend to think that I know where the things I need are.  Sometimes I'm right, but there are times when something important gets buried and forgotten about, although thankfully these tend to get rediscovered just in the nick of time.  Really, though, I am 29 years old, I cannot allow myself to live like this anymore.  I need to find organizational methods that truly work for me, and the organized chaos method is no longer an option.  If I find any useful tips along the way I will definitely share them, although right now I could use any advice you have to offer me.

So that's it, those are five goals for the 2013 year.  We are very excited for the things that are coming up for us in this new year, and we look forward to more blogging and sharing with all of you.

What goals or resolutions do you have for 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Technical Difficulties

We have to apologize to you, our readers, we had a post almost ready to go, just needed a picture added and somehow all of the work we had added to it this week was suddenly lost (shakes fist at blogger!).  We promise to rewrite the lost portions and have it up and ready for all of you tomorrow.  Have a happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Perk - Blazers Set for Stunning!

We hope you all had a great holiday, and for those like H who had to be back at work bright and early this Wednesday morning, here's a post to entertain your day.

How we waited until our late 20s to discover the blazer trend is beyond us, but for those of you in unfamiliar territory, this wardrobe staple does it all.  A blazer can take you from an important meeting, to a hill briefing, to happy hour, and then on a date.  A blazer almost always looks appropriate & chic, and depending on what you pair with it can be casual or dressy.  M loves to pair blazers with jeans on the weekends for an easy pulled-together outfit, while H loves to add one over a simple t-shirt with skinny jeans.  Here are some examples that we either own, or are currently drooling over...

Classic Blazer
Schoolboy blazer in wool flannelSchoolboy blazer in wool flannel

The classic style is one of our favorites because, well, it's classic.  It can go with anything and will never go out of style.

Tweed or Herringbone Blazer or Ladyjacket
Lady jacket in blue tweed
via AE and via jcrew

These are classic patterns for blazers, which can be paired with a more modern cut.  This style is a great way to take that really casual outfit up a notch.

Patterned Jacket/Blazer
via CWonder
The patterned blazer can be a little more difficult to wear.  The key here is to keep everything else, including jewelry, simple so the blazer can be the star.

Product Image
via Banana Republic
via Bloomingdales
Velvet blazers are the perfect addition for a simple, elegant evening look.  Just be sure to roll your lint brush over the whole thing before you step out the door.
 Tuxedo Jacket

Lastly, we have the tuxedo jacket.  If you want to add a slight masculine edge to your outfit, while still retaining some femininity, this is the piece to add.

  What are your favorite blazer styles?  Do you think they're as versitile as we do?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from Skillets.Sneakers.Style!

Greetings from New England & the Midwest!

Both M & H travel hundreds of miles to be with our families during the holidays.  We are constantly reminded of how thankful we are to be able to see our parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and friends this time of year.  We cherish the short time we have with them, and hope you are able to do the same.  We want to thank each of you for reading our little blog this past year.  We wish you & yours a very Happy Holiday and look forward to the New Year!

Here are some scenes from our holidays:

Pretty Decorations Around the House

M's Family Christmas Card circa 1990

A White Christmas in New England

More snow

Even coral gets a holiday decoration

Friday, December 21, 2012

Egg White Omelettes and Homestyle Potatoes

Omelettes used to intimidate me.  The thought of not only having to cook eggs correctly, but also adding a filling and folding it over without falling apart just seemed too much.  However I eventually decided I would have to give it a try myself when I kept being disappointed by restaurant omelettes.  Am I the only person who doesn't like an omelette with veggies inside that seem barely cooked?  I was quite delighted when I realized that it really isn't that difficult, if you can cook pancakes then you can cook omelettes.  

Because heart disease and high cholesterol run in my family, I have gradually reduced the number of egg yolks in my omelettes so much that I now use none.  I do still indulge though, which is where the homestyle potatoes come in.  So simple but they really make this a full meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I do feel the need to apologize for the blurriness of some of the photos below, I am much better at photographing people, but I promise I am working on the food photography skills.  And now, without further ado, here are the recipes for egg white omelettes and homestyle potatoes.

Egg White Omelettes - Note you can choose whatever fillings you want, this recipe uses peppers and onions, but you can add mushrooms, ham, cheese, or anything else you would like.


4 Egg Whites Per Omelette
Small Pat of Butter
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Small Onion
Salt and Pepper

Step 1:  Dice the bell peppers and onion, and heat a saute pan over medium high heat.

Step 2:  Once the saute pan is heated add the diced peppers and onion.  Saute until soft and beginning to caramelize. (This step is my solution to the practically raw veggie problem I kept having in restaurants)

Step 3:  Heat a small saute pan or omelette pan over medium heat, add the pat of butter and melt. Note, add a pat of butter between each omelette you cook to prevent the egg whites from sticking to the pan.

Step 4:  Once the butter is melted and beginning to bubble (but before it begins to brown) add all 4 egg whites.

Step 5:  Once the egg whites have begun to firm (you will be able to easily lift the edges away from the pan with a spatula)  add some of your cooked veggies to one half of the omelette.  Leave some space along the edge so your filling won't fall out once you fold the omelette over and flip it.

(Notice I didn't leave much room along the right edge, so some of my filling slipped out when I flipped this one)

Step 6:  Fold the half of the omelette that you did not put filling on over so that it covers the filling.  You may not have to flip your folded over omelette to finish cooking, but I like to, and it is not that difficult.  Just place a spatula under the open edge and flip it over so that the folded edge stays in the center of the pan and the open edge ends up on the other side of the pan.

Step 7:  Transfer to a plate, add homestyle potatoes (recipe below) and enjoy!

Homestyle Potatoes


4-5 Potatoes
1 Small Onion
Cooking Spray
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Dice potatoes and onion.

Step 2: Spread diced potatoes and onion out on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss together to ensure all potatoes and onion are lightly coated  Place baking sheet in oven.  

Step 3:  Bake in oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until potatoes begin to lightly brown, some onion pieces will turn very dark. Once done remove from oven, add to plate and enjoy!

Do any of you have additional tips for making a perfect omelette?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Quick and Easy DIY Cork Board

Since I posted about my inspirations for making over my home office space here I've been very motivated and focused to get the process started.  So far I've managed to collect the artwork I plan to hang, and I believe I may have finally found my storage solution (that will be saved for a later post though).  As I have been contemplating the functionality of this space, and planning the wall arrangement for my artwork and photos I realized I could really use a cork board on the wall as well to keep important items in plain sight.  I needed a long and skinny one, however, to hang just above the desk, but below everything else.  I searched around online and could not find anything quite the right shape or size.  

With inspiration from this Pottery Barn organization collection, as well as this Young House Love post in the back of my mind I realized I could easily make exactly what I wanted myself.  

I found the same 4 pack of square cork boards at Target used in the YHL post for about $7.  I also luckily had an old long, skinny, white picture frame hiding in the back of one of my closets, unused for several years.

I removed the mat and the glass from the frame.  Then, using the backing as my template I marked my cork squares to the correct width.

I could not find an exacto knife in my home, so I used regular scissors to cut the cork, which worked just fine.  I would recommend an exacto knife, though, if you have one for a cleaner cut.

I then placed the cork pieces inside the frame, and used the adhesive squares that came with the pack to adhere the frame backing.

And then VOILA!  An attractive, functional, custom cork board is born!

I still need to actually hang it, but you can get some idea of how it will look from this photo (and notice how much less cluttered it is since the photo from this post).  I can't wait to finish this makeover!

Have any of you made a custom cork board before?  What other small DIY projects have you tackled lately?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Perk: Living Room Inspiration

Recently one of my friends gave me the best compliment I could ever hope to receive about my little home.  She told me that she loves coming over and hanging out because it just feels so cozy.  This thrilled me because cozy and comfortable is exactly the feeling I've been trying to create.  I love nothing more than a living space that invites people in and whispers in their ear "why don't you just sit for a spell".  While I love that I am apparently moving in the right direction with my living room, I have to admit that I personally feel that it is far from done.  This actually has less to do with it being unfinished and is really more about the fact that, as I look at it, I realize I am tired of the current accessories. 

The couches and chair are staying as is, the coffee table is staying for now although I am currently in year 2 of my hunt for the perfect, affordable replacement.  However, artwork, throw pillows and table accessories are all up for grabs and I simply don't know where I want to end up with them all right now.  So, in hopes of sparking some inspiration for myself here are some knick knacks, as well as some lovely fully decorated rooms to get the 'ole brain working, and hopefully they will help any of you also looking for ways to change things up. 

Photo via
 I realize this picture is of a dining area, but the colors are what I am finding some inspiration from.  The green seems to be similar to green of my throw-blanket, which I spent two months crocheting myself so it STAYS, and I love how well the aqua coordinates.  This color combo could really brighten up the dark colors of the couch and chairs.  FYI, the reason we chose such dark furniture colors is that we are realists, we spend most of our time in the living room so the furniture is used constantly, lighter colors would never stand a chance.

Photo via

Photo via

These two living rooms look super cozy and plush to me.  I love all of the throw-pillows and blankets on the couches, they just scream "come lay down".  I also adore the coffee table in the room on the right (why can't I find one like this for under $500?), and the candles add so much ambiance.

Photo via

I love so much about this room, the pillows, the colors, the lamps, but what really draws me to this picture is the oversized print over the couch.  I think the photo arrangement I currently have is just too small in scale, I really want to get some oversized prints hanging in that space.  Hopefully some panoramas I took in New Zealand will print out well and fix this issue for me.

Photo via
A rug is a great, easy way to instantly pull a room together and up the cozy factor.  I really love both of these.  They don't seem too crazy, but they look like they would add excellent accents to my room.
Photo via

I don't know what it is, but I am just crazy about this lamp.  It's just so interesting and could add a touch of whimsy to the room.  If I ever do purchase this I would have to name him, I'm thinking Harvey would work.

Photo via

Clearly my top priorities are comfort and coziness, and judging from my inspriation rooms at the top of this post, for me that means lots of pillows and blankets.  I have one nice, comfy throw blanket currently, which I made myself but that took about two months.  Perhaps if I want to grow my throw blanket collection I should just buy one or two, like this West Elm blanket on the left which is only $29. 

Photo via

Photo via

 Throw pillows on the other hand are super easy to whip up with my sewing machine, the hard part is finding the fabric I want.  I really love these coordinated fabrics on the right, which seem to match the color scheme I like, so perhaps I should browse around L&S Fabrics a bit more.

Are any of you feeling the itch to switch up your living room decor?  Oh and I promise the home office makeover is coming along, in fact tomorrow will have a quick update featuring a DIY tutorial for a custom cork board, so be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back in the Saddle: 2 Weeks In

Image via Pinterest
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a pretty personal post about my lack of focus on health & fitness for the 2012 year.  Since that public admission (gulp) I realized I needed to follow up and get back on the giddy up.  So, that's exactly what I've been doing over the past couple of weeks.

I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been easy.  We're in the midst of the holiday season, so prioritizing working out and eating healthy as I bounce from work happy hours to holiday parties, and turn down cake (I know, turning down cake is like torture) and beer in favor of the veggie tray and water/tonic and lime (I admit it, totally lame).

Image via Pinterest
However, and anti-festive as this sounds, I feel SO.MUCH.BETTER!  I've reworked my diet plan too, eating mostly veggies, very, very little meat, and only having healthy snacks when I'm hungry.  I've let myself cheat here and there, I indulge in ONE cookie, not 5, or I have a glass of wine instead of a sugary cocktail. (no grinches here)  I also am learning not to berate myself when I miss a workout or eat one too many M&Ms.  I scold myself once, vow to be extra good for the next day or two, and move on.  No self hate or beating myself up for 3 days because I missed ONE run or ate an extra 300 calories.

I've also been back to a regular running program because I signed up for a half marathon in March.  This was REALLY hard the first and second week.  It was awful dragging my butt out of bed before work to get a pitiful 3 miler in, then come home and feel like I was going to pass out in the shower because I was out of shape. It was equally awful when I'd get home at 6:30pm, look at how appealing the couch and my new Homeland Netflix looked, but still gear up and head out to get in a run before dinner.

But now, almost 3 full weeks back in, I'm starting to look forward to runs again.  I'm not feeling as winded when I get to the top of a big hill, or at the end of a run like I did a couple of weeks ago.  My clothes fit much better and I'm not constantly tugging at things.  Its also getting easier to order healthy food because I'm listening to my craves healthy food, and works better when I eat it rather than when I get a plate of french fries.

It's still a struggle, I've been out of shape for awhile, so I know that this is going to be an uphill battle (literally) while I fight bad habits and covet motivation.  But with the little improvements I'm seeing as a result of my discipline, I've got to say, staying on this track is a LOT more satisfying than not.

For example, last night I did a 4 mile run.  My first mile I did VERY slowly, but then, the next 3 miles I got progressively faster as my body settled into the activity.  I cut 30 seconds off my first mile on the second mile, then did the same on the third and forth miles. I ended the run a few minutes faster than I'd expected and felt GREAT afterwards. 

Did any of you take the re-dedication plunge like I did?  How are you doing with getting back on track?  Any tips/discussion topics?

To those of you who recently vowed to get back in shape, remember:

I need to print this out and put it at my desk at work, and at home, and above my tv, and on my coffee table...
Image via Pinterest