Plaid and Denim

DSC_0008 DSC_0004 DSC_0002DSC_0010DSC_0031 DSC_0030 DSC_0027 DSC_0018 DSC_0013 DSC_0012 DSC_0011DSC_0036Plaid Shirt: similar here| Denim skirt: Gap similar here| Heels: Nine West similar here and here| Bag: Rebecca Minkoff Perry Tote similar here| Watch: Anne Klein similar here| Hubbys shoes: Polo Ralph Lauren similar here

I love my honey. If he knew that I had posted these pictures of him, he would probably give me “the look.” He’d get over it very quickly though because he’s extremely easy going and can’t actually tell me, “no.”

These pictures are from another day of us spending the day together. We went to the building he cleans, and then when he got back, he changed into comfy duds to work in the garden. Of course, I had to snap pics of him while he was in his ‘work’ clothes (white shirt and jeans). He’s wearing the belt I bought for him in Mexico. He then went with me to take pictures. By then, he was wearing his gardening clothes, but he still looked so handsome.

On a typical day, I get dressed up, sometimes overdressed for no reason at all…in heels and a fancy bag. One morning I went into my son’s room to wake him up and he asked if we were going to church. When I told him that we weren’t, he asked why I was so dressed up. I didn’t think I was. I was just dressed for the day. Another time, we went grocery shopping and the cashier asked if we were celebrating something special and asked why I was dressed up. I didn’t really have an answer for her, but Milton told her that’s what I do every day. Hahaha! I know that I must have been a sight to see at my son’s football games. Everyone else would be wearing denim, sweats, shorts, etc. Not me. I was always dressed to the nines. Too funny. I always tell my hubby that I don’t want to get so dressy all the time, but it never happens. I always go overboard.

For this outfit, I wanted to look a bit more casual. I think I pulled it off. No? In keeping with sporting a few pieces that are being worn this fall, I wore this ah-mazingly soft plaid shirt with the denim skirt. I found the shirt at Ross. It’s really nice because it isn’t a full button down shirt. It slips over the head and has several buttons at the top. I (kind-of) dressed up the outfit a bit with the heels. Hey! A girl’s gotta have her heels, right?

I hope you have a blessed day!

XOXO Delaine



Oreo Cupcakes and a Keurig

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DSC_0014 DSC_0015 DSC_0016DSC_0004Baking is one of the things I like to do most. I think I wrote on here that I used to bake for my parents’ restaurant when I was 12-15-years old. I also did a lot of baking for my brother’s school when my mom was PTA president.

For many years, I didn’t bake the way I once did. I was busy being mom and getting homeschooling under control. I did make a lot of boxed cakes and brownies though. This continued until my sister was interested in business ventures. I recommended that she open a cupcake shop, but I think I suggested that mostly because I secretly had a desire to open one. I never thought I would open one, but I knew I would have helped her with this endeavor.

Well, she didn’t open one, but I couldn’t get the thought of baking cupcakes out of my head. I decided to take cake decorating classes at a local craft store. I was hooked.

After months…and months of practice…(and harsh criticism to boot), I finally came up with a signature swirl and style of baking that I love.

I spend a lot of money on my ingredients, and I don’t ever cut corners. The chocolate chips are from Belgium, the vanilla is from Madagascar, and the chocolate is from France. I also use a certain technique for very moist cupcakes. This is one area where I cannot share recipes and techniques because I do sell certain things that I bake. Sorry…

The cupcakes in these pictures were for my son’s get-together. His birthday was on 9/11, but he was sick. He asked if he could have a sleepover with a few friends the following week, so we did just that. It was very simple. Last year we had twenty-one of his friends at a karate party. Even though it was hugely successful, I couldn’t fathom the thought of doing that again. At my house this year, they swam, had pizza, and played games. The next morning, I made them my famous from-scratch pancakes with white chocolate chips :)

He requested vanilla cupcakes, but my hubby wanted me to also make chocolate. The frosting was a vanilla buttercream with crushed up Golden Oreos and a piece of Oreo sticking out the top. I heard they were amazing! It might seem strange, but I rarely eat my own cupcakes. I receive many compliments, but I bake so much that unless it’s a new flavor, I don’t feel the need to eat it…unless it’s red velvet. When I make red velvet cupcakes, all bets are off.

You’ll also notice in the picture before the one with the pancakes that I am the proud owner of the (not-so?) new Keurig coffee machine. I have waited a long time to get this coffee maker. I had an older Keurig for nine years and wanted to try something different. I tried a conventional drip coffee maker and a percolator. None of them worked to deliver consistently delicious coffee. I caved and went to buy this beauty. I can finally have a good cup of coffee.

Do you bake? If so, what’s your favorite thing to bake?

XOXO Delaine

My plates are Chantilly from Bloomingdale’s. They were a bridal shower present from my parents. Here is a similar style. They are actually very close to mine.

Also, the specks in the vanilla cupcake cannot be attributed to dirt. That is vanilla bean paste that I sometimes use in place of vanilla extract. I LOVE the look of the bean paste specks.

Fun Fall Day

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Fringe Shirt: Similar here| Sweater: Gap similar here| Slim belt: Old Navy similar here| Clutch: Gigi New York here| Pleated Skirt: Sunny Leigh similar here| Shooties: Franco Sarto similar here| Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs (old) similar here| Breadmaker: Breadman Convection similar here| Pyrex similar here| Trivet similar here

Though we homeschool, little Milt takes courses at his school three days each week. On this particular day, we had roughly three-and-a-half hours to run errands and shoot the breeze. The first thing I did was secure a cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. I was ready to hit the road. Come to think of it, any road trip, no matter how short or long, always commences with a tall, hot, caramel macchiato, but I can’t turn down Pumpkin Spice lattes once the fall season sets in.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you, but my hubby and I own a commercial janitorial business. He also does many other things such as remodeling/construction, pressure washing, carpets, floors, painting, tiles, and pretty much everything else.

We normally capitalize on any free moment we can get to be by ourselves. We always have such a great time in each other’s company. Before we could do anything though, we had to head up to a small building that he cleans five days each week.

While he was inside doing this job, I set up my tripod, and I also went to work. Before I was even finished taking these pictures, he was back downstairs. I don’t know if you can tell, but the job doesn’t take much time.

Before we picked up little Milt from his earth science lab class, we rushed home so I could start a bread in the bread machine. I had a taste for a particular dish for dinner, and the bread was a crucial part of it. The rest of the meal included a baked ziti with meat sauce and veggies. As you can see, Milton is making the meat sauce. For the most part, cooking is his department. I cook some things, but baking is where I contribute the most.

This was our day. This is how most of our days are. We are very low-key. Being together, and sometimes with family and friends, is what brings us the most joy. We spent the majority of the time talking about the dining room chairs we need to order, some trips that we’d like to plan, and how our bedroom remodel can no longer be put off. Trust me, it’s a wreck in there!

I am really excited to announce that I will be teaming up with a fantastic group of bloggers and shops to put together a giveaway on my Instagram page. Please stay tuned as it is coming up very shortly.

How do you fill the hours of your day?

XOXO Delaine

My Dining Room Table DIY Project

DSC_0001 DSC_0002DSC_0003DSC_0004DSC_0005DSC_0007DSC_0006DSC_0008DSC_0015DSC_0014DSC_0013DSC_0012DSC_0010DSC_0009DSC_0008DSC_0038DSC_0037DSC_0036DSC_0043DSC_0042DSC_0009DSC_0008DSC_0007DSC_0006DSC_0005DSC_0041DSC_0040DSC_0039DSC_0042DSC_0043DSC_0050DSC_0051DSC_0005DSC_0052DSC_0006DSC_0005Lately there’s been a lot of DIY projects going on at my house, and I am by no means a crafty person. I feel this is an area in which I wish I could improve, but I don’t know if I want to do so. I would almost rather just buy the item that I want. I know however, that this won’t work in every instance, and this table is no different.

Many years ago, we lived in a rather large house that had fairly massive rooms. One thing I always wanted was a really long dining room table, and that house could have supported such a piece of furniture.

We needed a dining room table, so we decided to go to used furniture stores to find one. One thing I have learned over the years is that when it comes to certain types of furniture, newer is not always better. We really wanted to find a table that was of solid wood and that would last a long time.

We found one. We walked into a second-hand furniture store and I laid my eyes on a beautiful table. When I asked about it, we were told that the table came in three pieces. That made it 12-feet long and over 4-feet wide! The table did not have a leaf. The middle piece had its own leg. After finding out the price, we were sold…but we didn’t buy it…at least not that day.

A few days later, we went back to the store. We asked about it again and the lady gave us a price $50 less than what she had told us just a few days prior. I’m not kidding you, it was a really good price, but now it would be foolish for us not to get it. I even searched the table on eBay and found that it would cost between $3,000 and $12,000 refinished or brand new.

We have since downgraded the size of our house. The table still worked for us, but it took up a lot of space. We then decided that we would either buy a smaller table or make one.

The table of my dreams is the weathered gray table from Restoration Hardware. See it here. Naturally, we were not interested in spending that much money, especially with how handy my hubby is.

So what I’m showing you here are the beginnings of our table and some of the progress that has been done. I helped as much as I could, and so did Bolt and Molly, as you can see in the pictures. They are such awesome helpers haha.

We wanted a white wash finish, and I honestly cannot wait to share the finished product with you. We just bought the polycrylic today, and Milton has two legs to sand. When I take the pictures of the finished table, I will explain the process of how this look was accomplished.

Are you crafty? Please comment below. Maybe you can help to inspire me :)

XOXO Delaine

Rainy Days

DSC_0061DSC_0077 DSC_0073 DSC_0070 DSC_0067 DSC_0066 DSC_0062 DSC_0056Shirt: INC Similar here| Skirt: Gap Similar here| Belt: Nine West similar here| Bag: Rebecca Minkoff Medium Perry Tote similar here| Boots: Hunter Boots here, but similar here

A little less than two years ago, rainy days used to find me inside as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I loved rainy days, but only because I would spend them indoors. One of the perks of homeschooling is that we would turn some rainy days into family movie days/nights.

The reason why I didn’t like going out into the rain is because I used to nurse my relaxed hair. Also, whenever we were headed to church and it was raining, the worse feeling was getting my shoes wet, grassy, and muddy. Blech!

Both of these are no longer an issue. Number one, I no longer have relaxed hair…at least for the most part. It’s been almost two years since I relaxed my hair. And number two is because of my favorite rain boots ever!

I bought these boots early this year while I was in NY. I was so excited because I had them shipped to my home so they would be waiting for me when I returned to Florida. It was really funny because when my hubby saw them, he asked me if I would be fighting fires. So funny!

Interestingly enough, these boots are so comfortable that I also wear them when it’s dry outside. However,I now rejoice when it rains. Not only do I not care if my hair gets wet (apparently my natural hair needs lots of moisture?!), but I happily throw on my Hunter boots and I’m ready to go. To spice up the rain boots, look at these adorable boot socks. I have similar socks with bows.

And about the movie thing…still one of our favorite things to do. Of course, my son’s schoolwork takes much longer nowadays, but we still try to enjoy those times inside listening to the pitter-patter of the rain.

Do you like the musical sound of rain?

XOXO Delaine

Save Money and Look Great Part 2: Department Store Shopping

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Striped blazer: similar here| Patterned top: similar here| Ruffle, tiered skirt: similar here| Sunglasses: Tory Burch cheaper here and similar and much cheaper here| Shoes: Madden Girls Digitize here (so comfortable)| Bag: Hermès Ostrich Kelly Sellier 32 here and cheaper here and wayyyyyy cheaper here| Watch: Anne Klein similar here| Scarf: Fur mink – mine is real, but similar faux option here

I think my mom ruined me in a good way, if that’s even possible. I remember when I was a pre-teen and teenager, we would go shopping every single Saturday. The stores we frequented were Gimbels, A&S, which later became Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. I spent about half the Saturdays of my teen years in these stores.

That wasn’t even the bad part. Shopping at any store besides these was an unspoken, forbidden thing. Mentioning that I had been to a store such as K-Mart garnered belly-holding, guttural laughs from both her and my sister. I quickly learned not to venture outside of department store shopping. I did, however, have a brief stint of thrifting while I was in college. My roommate/suitemates and I would go to The Salvation Army to get clothing. When my mom saw me in them, she almost had multiple coronaries.

After our son was born, as a mom, I had to learn how to shop on my own. I knew that I had to find good deals on kids’ clothing, so I would frequent Gap, Old Navy, Children’s Place, and other stores. We were always able to find such great deals at these stores. What I ended up doing was buying what he would need for the next year. This helped us to buy his clothes at unbeatable prices because we bought them when they were on sale as opposed to when we needed them.

My husband and I have successfully used this same strategy over the years. We both agree with buying quality items at a reasonable price and not having to replace things over and over…and over again. That’s why when I saw the phrase “cost per wear,” a lot of things made more sense to me. Now I understood why my mom would give me such a hard time about shopping at discount stores. Apparently, she had learned the hard way that “cost per item” was not the way to go.

So if you’re wondering what all this even means, I’ll be happy to explain. This post is the second in the series of how to look great without spending a lot of money. In the original post (here), I wrote about the reality that not everyone has a lot of money to go shopping every day. I also wrote that you can revamp the same outfit by just changing accessories, etc. In this post, I want to write a bit about department store shopping.

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday morning. I informed her that I was going to Macy’s and Pier 1 to figure out new bedding. She commented that she hadn’t been to Macy’s in a long while, and the main reason was that she didn’t want to spend a lot of money. What was interesting is that she then went on to say that she had been buying “cheaper” clothing because she thought she was saving money, but she realized that the “cheaper” items were falling apart, she was replacing them too often, and then was surprised that she wasn’t actually saving money. It was at that moment that I knew I had to rush home and finish writing this post.

Here are four of many reasons why you should consider shopping at a department store:

  1.  Department store shopping is probably the cheaper..ahem…less expensive way to buy clothing…and I know I’m going to get in trouble with people that frequent the thrift stores. Let me put it a different way. Shopping at a department store miiiiight cost more upfront, but if your item lasts for many years, then how expensive was that item? Most times I can find t-shirts for my son that cost between $2-$5, dress shirts for the hubs that are $15 or less, and shoes for me for $10 or less. BOGO at Macy’s?! Yes! Look here to read about it.
  2. Department stores stand behind their products. Did you know that some department stores will take back merchandise even after a year? A WHOLE YEAR! Sometimes even past a year. Yes, you can wear those shoes for a few months, and if for some reason, they start to fall apart, you can take them back. You won’t need a box, and in some cases, you won’t even need a receipt. I have two examples of this that I’d like to share. The first one is a coffee pot that I used for a few months and was able to bring back to the store. The other is a bedding set that I bought in a twin size and when I needed a full size, they allowed me to trade for the size I needed. I’ve never been able to do that at a thrift store. I am not proposing that you return random items for sport, but if there is an issue with something you bought from a department store, they will do whatever it takes to satisfy you as their customer.
  3. The quality at department stores are superior to discount/thrift stores. Of course, I know that people find great brands at thrift stores, but that doesn’t happen all the time. When that happens, it doesn’t always have a tag on it. If you do find something at the thrift store that is of high quality, and if there is a problem with it, you don’t have much of a recourse to returning or exchanging it. After buying clothes at many different types of stores, the quality I get at the department store is not one I’m willing to sacrifice. Even if I will buy less expensive clothing for my husband and me, I will not do so for my son. He is ALL boy. He needs strong, durable clothing. I can’t take the chance of getting him clothes with no return/refund policy in case something goes wrong. Again, I know that I might not get popularity votes on this blog post.
  4. If you love using coupons, you should love department stores. One of my favorite things to do is to bargain shop and use coupons. I do that more at malls than at the supermarket. Before I go any further, I must clarify something under this point. When I say that department store shopping is the way to go, I must let you know that I mean for you to find sale items at these stores. I never, ever buy anything full price (except certain handbags that NEVER go on sale but increase in price every year). I have found some of the best prices on shoes and clothing at some of the most “expensive” department stores. I used quotes on the word expensive because that’s the word people use. That is not the word I would use because I don’t think department stores are expensive. Many times when we buy clothes, we find rock bottom prices, and then we are allowed to use a coupon on top of that. A few months ago, we bought my hubby six pairs of jeans and spent $40.  That made them less than $7 each! They were originally $80 jeans. First, you might be wondering why we bought six pairs. We did that because as a couponer, I learned to stockpile on good deals. He doesn’t wear them all at once, and he’s not growing anymore, so buying them at that price will save us money over time. The other reason we bought six was because we had a coupon that took $10 off a $25 purchase, so we used that coupon twice. I don’t think I’ve ever found brand-new men’s jeans at a thrift store…and I don’t think I ever used a coupon at a thrift store. Another quick example of this is a really “expensive” toaster I just bought this past weekend. It was on clearance with an additional 50% off. I paid $20 for it.

In taking a look at my outfits, I try to look put-together. I do not spend my days shopping (I do that at night hehe). I really am a deliberate shopper. I usually only go shopping if I am specifically looking for something, and even before I get to that point, I check and recheck prices everywhere. Occasionally I do go browsing with a friend and end up coming home with something cute, but that really isn’t the norm. I do find that we spend less money on clothes because when we buy clothes, we’re not having to replace them. I do shop at Ross, Marshall’s, TJ MAXX, and stores like those, but for the most part, I shop at department stores. I especially like to buy my handbags and shoes at the department store, but I will buy some shoes at some of the stores listed just above. My handbags only come from boutiques and department stores.

In trying to stay a tad bit trendy, I opted to wear the mink fur scarf the day I took these pictures. This was a gift to me from my hubby (along with a matching hat that cannot fit my head over my natural hair), but definitely opt for the faux fur option as the weather starts to get cooler. I also liked pairing the stripes with a patterned shell shirt underneath. I thought it would be more fun than a plain shirt, and I was right haha. And as I wrote in the last blog post, I am wearing the same skirt, but styling it a different way. I just love versatile pieces that can be worn different ways and with different accessories.

So after I wrote all this, you might still be thinking that not spending a lot on clothes and accessories and  shopping at department stores are completely juxtaposed to one another. I promise you that they aren’t. I am in no way asking you to give up thrifting because you can definitely snag great deals that way. I especially love visiting a thrift store when I’m out of town or in an upscale area. I do know that I have had much better success with shopping at larger stores, and the purpose of these last few blog posts is to show you how you can look as though you spent a ton of money without actually spending much at all. The first point I brought out a few days ago was styling the same clothes in different ways, and I believe that shopping at department stores is another way you can accomplish this.

I’d love to know your thoughts about department or thrift store shopping.

XOXO Delaine

Look Like a Million Bucks Without Spending any Money: Part 1

DSC_0024DSC_0034DSC_0027DSC_0023DSC_0026DSC_0028DSC_0033DSC_0025DSC_0032DSC_0029Watch: Anne Klein similar here| Shoes: Madden Girls here| Cropped Sweater: Calvin Klein similar here| Bag: Louis Vuitton St. Jacques here, but similar here| Skirt: Ruffled Tiered similar here| Shirt: Patterned Shell similar here| High-waisted shaper: Similar here

I think one of the major misconceptions about being stylish is that you have to spend a lot of money to look trendy. Honestly speaking, most people are not out spending their days shopping and buying new clothes. For the majority of folks, new clothes are a rarity and only happens at the cost of forgoing something else. I had a friend that only shopped once a year, and when she did, she chose several things and bought them in every color. Smart!

I have also decided that I will spend the next few blog posts showing you how to reinvent your wardrobe. One thing I plan on doing is repeating several of the items I already own. I guarantee that if you don’t like shopping or can’t spend extra money on clothing, changing your look with accessories and shoes is the way to go.

In this post, I am wearing this ruffly skirt, and in an upcoming post, I will be wearing it again, but styling it a different way. The shoes I’m wearing are a prime example of what I wrote earlier. I had bought one color from Amazon, and when I went back on the website, I noticed that the other colors were deeply discounted. I quickly bought them because not only were they stylish, but they were extremely comfortable and the price was phenomenal. Also, my shirt is a colorful shell that I picked up at Ross Stores last weekend. I had seen the shirt many other times but didn’t commit to buying it. When I went into the store on this beautiful day, it was on clearance. I snagged it for only $2.49!

Over the past few years, I’ve had many people asking about where I bought different pieces of clothing. So because of that, what I did above is link what I’m wearing to either the exact item or similar, cheaper options. Take a look at them if you’d like to put together a similar outfit. As I always mention, I love to shop and get new pieces, but I don’t like to spend a lot of money doing so. I plan on always trying to link my exact item, but I will also list other items.

This past weekend was very special. My son turned 13-years-old on 9/11. I cannot believe that the time flew by so quickly. It seemed as if yesterday was the day that we brought him home from the hospital in Middletown, NY. He was the perfect baby and is now growing up to be the exact child I would have wanted.

We are normally spending his birthday week at a resort in Orlando or in NY. We opted to stay at home this year because we have some trips coming up in the near future, and we need to spend some time working on our remodeling projects. My dad had called a few weeks back to find out if we would be spending Labor Day with them in NY, but we will most likely go in October so we can see the changing of the leaves. I also want to head to the aquarium in Georgia in the next few weeks and take a detour to the mountains.

All in all though, we had an amazing weekend. The hubs lit the grill on both Saturday and Sunday, and we spent each day in the pool. We were supposed to have spent the day go-karting in Kissimmee, but because of the rain, we had a little staycation right here in our backyard. Here’s to living in Florida!

How was your weekend?

XOXO Delaine

Fun Fall Pieces and Killer Leopard Booties

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Living in Florida has taken away the change of seasons from me. I’m okay with that because the weather in Florida is usually so gorgeous and living where people vacation is rather splendid. When we do miss cool or cold weather, we head up north and spend a week…or five haha.

In the meantime, I pretend I have access to Fall-like weather by mixing up my outfits with some Fall-inspired pieces. As I wrote earlier this week, I think it’s best to buy clothing that can look fashionable all the time, but it’s also a good idea to throw in some season-inspired pieces just to keep things interesting.

These booties literally scream, “Fall!” They are so fun. They are very comfortable and I really like the shiny, gold heel. I literally got at least 10 compliments the day I wore them. I never liked the look of short boots and skirts before, but I’m digging it now. I got these boots at Macy’s when they had a BOGO sale just a few weeks ago. I bought a pair of wedges and received these booties free. When I went to a different store to get a different size, the wedges rung up for $22 less. I ended up getting the wedges and these booties for less than $18!!!

The bag I’m wearing is the Uber clutch from Gigi New York. I really like this bag because of the size and how well it’s made. I had mine personalized with my initials during their Summer Sale. I was able to convince my sister to buy one and she is in love with it.

The skirt I’m wearing is from the Gap. I went shopping with a friend one day and it seemed as though every store was having a sale. This was a great deal though because I found a $25 off $50 Gap coupon while I was shopping. I bought two skirts (including this one) and a cream button-down sweater for $25. What I love about the skirt is the fact that it has pockets. Love it!

This week, I’ll be planning something for my little boy’s birthday. He is turning 13 this Friday! I know, I know. I don’t seem old enough to have a 13-year-old lol. We’ll be spending the weekend doing some fun things with him. I personally think he’s too old for a party, so we’ll probably just have some of his friends over for a night of fun and games. Well, let me go get started.

What is your favorite season? And what is your thought about how old is too old for a traditional birthday party?

XOXO Delaine

A Few Fall Favorites

Happy Tuesday, everyone! How was your Labor Day? I spent the earlier part of my day cleaning and straightening the house. We have several projects going on right now, so at any given time, the house can look as though a tornado had just passed through. The remainder of the day was spent hanging out with the hubs and kid. We had a really great day.

For all the years I lived in NY, Labor Day marked the ending of summer for us. It was the last summer holiday before we went back to school. That’s not the case here in Florida. Since we homeschool, Labor Day doesn’t really represent the end of summer or the beginning of school but rather the perfect time to go on a last-minute staycation for an awesome price.

Keeping this all in mind, I wanted to share a few items that are Fall trends. I only listed nine. There are more, but these are my favorite.

I do want to make a few things clear before I present these items to you. First, I really don’t care too much about fashion per se. I am more interested in personal style. Fashion is what you buy, but style is what you do with the pieces you buy. Second, I don’t agree with running out and buying every single new style of clothing that comes out. If, and I use this word very loosely, you want to align yourself with some of the top trends, then invest in a few pieces that can transcend not just the season at hand, but others to come. I strongly believe in being creative with clothing instead of always buying new pieces. So, without further delay, you will find some of my favorite Fall pieces below.

  1. Booties here. I love these because of the fringes hanging off the side. They come in two colors.
  2. Denim is making a huge comeback. Check out this denim skirt here
  3. Lace-up flats here – LOVE the red color!
  4. Puffy vest here
  5. Leopard clutch here
  6. Anything plaid. Check out this shirt here
  7. Faux fur stole or vest. Look at this vest here
  8. Polka dot anything. Check out this skirt here
  9. Chunky knit sweater. I like this one here

So which ones are your favorite? Please comment below.

XOXO Delaine

Why I Blog and a Few Changes

DSC_0006 DSC_0004 DSC_0003 DSC_0002DSC_0007DSC_0005DSC_0008Here are the cupcakes I made for the baby shower last weekend. They were for a church sister that had just had twin girls. They were born prematurely and have been in the hospital now for quite some time, so this was more of a welcome-home shower. They were vanilla and chocolate/chocolate chip with vanilla buttercream frosting and fondant baby carriages. The colors were pink and purple.

When I look back at my life over the years, I realize that there were several things I always loved to do. One of those things is helping people. For my entire adult life, I have found myself helping people in various ways and it always brought joy to me. Things didn’t always turn out well, but I never felt that I should stop trying to be helpful.

One word that people have used to describe me is ‘resourceful.’ I have really enjoyed living up to that description. I think the reason they have done so is because I spend a lot of time doing research on things, and then I share this information with anyone that will listen. An example of this is when I started using coupons to save money for my family.

Several church sisters directed me to a website that taught people how to use coupons. Not only did the author of this coupon site have tutorials of how to use the coupons, but she also showed how to use her site. I learned so much from her, but I keep thinking about how I could do the same thing and teach my family and friends to also save money.

Within a few months, we had cut our grocery bill from roughly $800 a month to less than $150! This new figure included meat, paper products, dairy, fruits, veggies, and all other items. This was monumental because we are a single-income family. I try to do whatever I can to help stretch the money that we do make. As I’ve posted before, I love to shop (and I’m sure you know that hehe), but we save in so many other ways that this is possible. Also, we don’t eat out much. We save that for when we are on a road trip or going out with friends. We love to have homemade food and desserts, so couponing helps us to keep the house stocked with items we like. We were so well stocked with a lot of things that I haven’t shopped like that in almost three years. Sure we run out and pick up a few things, but not the way we used to. Also, I’m just now starting up my newspaper subscriptions again.

My natural response to learning how to use coupons was to try to teach others what I had learned. This was my first attempt at a blog. I wanted to combine teaching how to use coupons and sharing other ways to save, with writing about different topics that could be useful to families.

I didn’t realize how much work would be involved, but I stuck with it for about two years. I started the website and signed up to be a publisher with many different companies. I got connected with companies that provided coupons and savings deals. I paid for, and received access to a coupon database. I had someone help me on a weekly basis to match up the items on sale at various stores with matching coupons. In exchange for this service (because it was a LOT of work), I compensated her with paper products. I spoke to a company that would offer a deal on newspaper subscriptions, and I even taught free classes. Even though it was a tremendous amount of work, I was dedicated. I loved doing it. I loved…helping…

It got to the point though, where I decided that I would stop paying for my site, but I would continue teaching people how to use coupons. The only thing that kept me from continuing with my own coupon site is that very few people actually stuck with what I was teaching. I know that shopping in this manner is not for everyone, but it was costing me a lot of time and a lot of money to keep the site going. I was in no way trying to force people to use coupons to save money. I just had to look at the cost of running the website and the time that I spent updating it and looking for deals. It was very time-consuming.

I thought about teaching using the website that I had used when I first started using coupons, but then I ran into the problem of spending hours and hours…and hours with potential couponers, and then they didn’t continue. Again, I am not trying to say that I expected everyone to use coupons. I didn’t…at all. I just had to see whether or not it was worth my time to teach two-hour-long classes, sometimes spend hours on the phone walking people through their first few shopping trips, and then occasionally meeting them at the store to help them shop. It wasn’t worth it. I thought about different ways to be compensated for my time. When I started to think in that manner, then I knew it was time to stop. I wanted to help, but I didn’t start helping people to charge them. Could I have turned this into a business? Could I have charged people a fee to have me teach them? Yes, I could have, and I had numerous opportunities to do so, but I didn’t. Surely that would combat me feeling of being ineffective, but that’s not why I started the site in the first place.

So, I told you this long story just so I could tell you one of the reasons why I blog. There are other reasons that I will divulge in the near future, but for now, here’s the most important one: I blog because it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. That’s it. Of course there are other reasons such as sharing my personal style, my hubby and son, my baking addiction, my love of design, and other areas in which I’m interested, but this blog is about me. For the first time in my life, I am doing something about me and the focus is not on others.

I want to use this blog to get to know myself and other people. I don’t know if you agree with the Middle-Child-Syndrome, but I absolutely do. I have always been focused on other people and usually put myself aside. I have no plans to stop focusing on others. I just have to start focusing on myself a little too. I’ve spent too much time trying to keep the peace between certain family members and being expected to care more about them and their issues more than my own. I think I’m tired. (Say whaaat?!)

I absolutely love to write. That’s one of the reasons why I had started the coupon site in the first place. I wanted to write about resources that we can use to save money and help our families. This blog is not about that. The old site heavily depended on people in a different way for it to be successful. This blog will be successful if I can just pour out my heart in these posts. If readers share what I’ve written or leave comments because they can relate to something I wrote here, then this site will be successful. When I share outfits, I will sometimes try to list where I bought the pieces, but I will also try to list an alternative (if there’s one cheaper or if the one I’m wearing is no longer available). In posts about remodeling projects, I will try to list where I bought/found items used in my projects. The won’t be too forthcoming in the posts about baking because I do sell my creations.

I wrote all that to tell you about some of the changes that I’m making. One such change is that because I realized that I have a deep love for blogging, I want to dedicate more time to writing my posts. Of course some posts will be shorter and deal with light-hearted issues, but there will be some that will be deep in content and lengthy in words. If you are interested in receiving an email when I publish a blog post, please scroll up to the top of the site and look on the right-hand-side. You will see an area in which you can enter your email address to subscribe to this site.

Thank you so much for reading!

XOXO Delaine