Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October Budget

From all J Crew to no J Crew.  Sorry, Jenna Lyons.  Instead, a few random pieces that, though I didn't necessarily think I needed them, have gotten a lot of wear.  The booties are my favorite - super comfortable and the first pair of booties I've ever felt look good on me with skirts/dresses.

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1 // Old Navy Top - $15
2 // LOFT Top - $22
3 // Old Navy Vest - $25
4 // LOFT Shell - $14
5 // LOFT Skirt - $15
6 // Forever 21 Booties - $28

Some notes - the LOFT skirt is gorgeous - a very nice lined tweed with great winter or spring colors, but it runs quite small.  I sized up and was more comfortable. The length is appropriate for work.  The LOFT top is listed as gold, but is much closer to mustard.  It's completely see through, but moves beautifully. And the booties are fabulous - they make my legs look a mile long.

Linking up with Fran!

Monday, October 26, 2015

J Crew Field Jacket Review

I, like every other 20-something white girl in America, am the proud owner of a J Crew field jacket. It was an impulse purchase over 2 years ago, and is one of the first three pieces of clothing I would repurchase if my entire closet tragically died in a fire.  I was shopping with a friend recently and she referred to the jacket as a "Kyle Jacket" in the store.  My legacy is complete.

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Style //  I absolutely love the look of this jacket - basic but not boring.  It comes in three colors (moss brown, black, burgundy) and I have the olive/brown.  The style of the jacket leans towards military/utalitarian, but with the gold buttons and feminine shape, there's a nice balance.  So far, I haven't found an outfit this doesn't look cute with... I also love that there are 4 pockets.  The two chest ones don't hold much, but they work for my little wallet, a hotel key etc.

Fit //  As someone with a classic hourglass shape, jackets can be a hard fit for me. Basically, I need a jacket that doesn't make me look like a potato, but that does it's jacket job well - keeps me warm, works over other clothes and holds the huge number of random things I carry around (currently 2 lipsticks, my wallet, keys, a poop bag and a ticket to the Cliffs of Moher).  The jacket has waist snaps that allow for a more tailored fit, which I love, and the cut is generous enough that, even wearing my normal size, there is plenty of room for chunky sweaters without looking like an over-stuffed sausage.

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Functionality // My favorite aspect of this coat is the waxed cotton.  Though not particularly cozy, the coating means the jacket water resistant, without looking like a rain coat.  Personally, this feature is what makes me reach for this again and again. Throughout the winter and spring, this coat is able to take me from walking the dog in the morning to work and out to dinner at night no matter the weather. The best.

Worth the Price // Overall, absolutely. I've worn mine at least three times a week for the last 2 years, and, though it's showing it's age a bit, the jacket is still in good condition.  As you can see in the pictures above, the fabric is getting a bit thinned out in the back, and the arm creases are now permanent, but the snaps, zippers, corners etc are all perfectly fine.  I may replace it for next year, but even so, my cost per wear is down to about a nickel, so I'm happy to make the investment again.

Overall, my love for the Field Jacket is deep and wide.  I would feel bad about being so basic, but honestly, I don't even care.  The jacket is great and I'll wear it into the ground and buy a new one. Love it and highly recommend.  Buy it here (currently 25 percent off).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up with a mother who has innumerable talents, few of which are baking.  If she ever made cookies for us, I can't remember, but I'm sure she'll correct me.  I however, love to bake and live with 24 teenage girls, all of whom require chocolately confections on a regular basis to keep the crazy at bay.  This is my holy grail, ride or die cookie recipe that, as long as you can brown butter, is a piece of cake (PUNS), and you have to brown the butter - the deep, nutty, caramel flavor it gives the cookies is incredible

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Ingredients //

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag chocolate chips 

Instructions //

Brown the butter (place both sticks in a large frying pan over medium low heat.  Stirring continuously, allow the butter to cook until a deep, nutty brown, approximately 5 minutes

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While allowing the butter to cool, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together, set aside

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Once the butter is cool, add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes

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Add the egg and vanilla, mix to incorporate, then slowly add in the flour mixture

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Add in a bag of chocolate chips or less, if you are not feeding hormonal basketcases

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Chill the dough for 2+ hours, then roll into balls and cook for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees

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Nom Nom Nom

Monday, October 19, 2015

How To // Lemon Print "Wallpaper"

One of the nicest things about living where I do is that I have control over the walls and can paint whenever, whatever.  My first project when I moved in was to redo the kitchen.  Previously, it had very dark wood cabinets and a burnt orange wall color.  Way too gloomy for such a small space.  After painting the cabinets grey (Behr Dolphin Fin), I wanted to add in some yellow (gray and yellow are my favorite colors), but didn't want a full on yellow wall.  Enter this tutorial. Here's how I made it my own!

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What you need
  • Sponges (regular dish ones are fine)
  • 3 different yellow tone paints
  • 1 green paint
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Drop cloth
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How long it will take // 1 hour for about 5 square feet of wall - it's quick once you get it down

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Steps //
  1. Cut out the general shape of a lemon from the sponges - I found it easiest to trace it first. One for each shade of yellow you have
  2. Cut out two thin ovals for the leaves
  3. Starting with the lightest shade, use the paintbrush to coat the front of the sponge - you don't want the sponge to be dripping or over-saturated
  4. Carefully stamp, starting at one of the corners of the wall.  I found that I could get a couple of stamps out of each paint dip.
  5. I was pretty sparing with my stamps the first round, just to be careful, and ended up going in with a few more once the whole wall was done
  6. Once I had finished the walls, I cut the sponge in half on an angle and used it to place a few lemons on the edges of walls and under cabinets.
  7. After letting the first color dry a bit, repeat with the two darker colors.  I overlapped some, left others on their own - it's up to you
  8. Once the yellow is fully dry, repeat the process with the leaves

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Favorite At Home Workouts

I live on a boarding school campus, and the nearest gym is 20 minutes away.  On the vast majority of days, the 2+ hours it would take for me to get there and back is absolutely not going to happen.  Ain't no body got time fo dat. Instead, I've gotten into a pretty good groove with at home workouts.  I love that I can do them whenever there's a gap in my schedule and there are 439048201 options on the YouTubes.  Here are my favorites -

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Jessica Smith TV // Unlike most of the other options on this list, I haven't met a Jessica Smith video I didn't like.  She's sweet and bubbly without being obnoxious or saccharine. And she has a french bulldog named Peanut who usually makes a delightful little appearance. My favorite videos are the walking workouts and her barefoot sculpting.  She has a great variety of low and high impact, cardio and toning options, in videos that range between 5 and 50 minutes.  No matter what I'm in the mood for, there's an appropriate video on her channel, but this one is my favorite.

Tone It Up // A few years ago, I was pretty obsessed with Tone It Up, and while I've definitely backed down on that, my love for Karena and Katrina hasn't faded.  The vast majority of their workouts don't require equipment, yet are still pretty intense in terms of toning.  K and K are deeply adorable and I am always really motivated by them.  Kettletoning is my favorite of their videos, though I just use a dumbbell.

Fitness Blender // Though a little less personable than Tone It Up or Jessica Smith, I like Fitness Blender for their strict toning workouts.  If I'm in the mood to lift or workout without getting my heart rate up there, I go here.  The channel is run by a couple, and they do a nice job balancing each other.  Though the production value is comparatively low, they do a really nice job explaining what's going to happen during the workout, what you'll need and how the time will break down.  For anyone with less experience working out, I would probably start here, as they do a beautiful job explaining the movements.  Their barre workout is my favorite

PopSugar Fitness // This is the channel I turn to the least, but I'm not entirely sure why.  This channel has tons of options, which can be overwhelming for me, but I have a few favorites.  Because there are many different instructors and types of classes, there is something for everyone.  This class is my favorite for when I need a challenge, but I think the best part of this channel is the body-part-specific workouts.  Tons of options if you really want to narrow in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review // Oregon Trail, The House We Grew Up In, Ghettoside, All the Old Knives and A Walk in the Woods

Long time, no book reviews.  I've been reading up a storm, so these reviews are the cream of the relative crop.  Not pictured a long list of smutty crime novels and a few delightful-but-light Liane Moriarty books.  On to it!

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Oregon Trail // Be still my autodidactic heart.  This book chronicles two brothers experience doing the Oregon Trail together in a mule-pulled wagon in such rich detail I feel like an expert.  This book is not necessarily for those who love a romantic story, but it's so well written, so informative, so detailed that I could barely put it down.  It pretty quickly earned a top 5 spot of this year for me.

The House We Grew Up In //  My mom's book group read this together and she recommended it to me.  The story follows a family through 30 or so years, starting when the kids are teenagers.  At it's most boiled down, the book is about Big Crazy and how families fracture and come together and fracture again.  It's well written, I loved the characters and the drama is somehow presented without choosing sides.

Ghettoside // I loved and hated this book.  It's about the epidemic of black men on black men violence in LA. From a narrative side, it's amazing.  The story telling is woven together beautifully and all parties are presented as humans, not gangsters or bad people or victims.  I loved that the author was able to capture so many points of view on one issue, including families of those killed, the cops who prosecute, jurors and witnesses. There isn't much by way of problem solving - the author isn't presenting an opinion about the awful situation, just laying it out in all of it's horrifying glory, which, in my opinion, made an even stronger statement.  The book is truly masterful, and while I have no idea how to help the situation, it gave me hope that someone might soon.

All the Old Knives //  This book was a very quick read.  It's sort of a spy/crime novel, though lacking in drama.  In fact, the plot unfolds entirely in the two main characters minds and at a single dinner in a posh California suburb.  The narrative and characters were so well done that, by the time I finished the book, I felt like the world had shifted a little, like I'd missed a few days in there.  It's a great little read.

A Walk in the Woods // And on a much lighter note, this oldie-but-goodie came to me through Blogging for Books.  Bill Bryson is a favorite author of mine, so I was thrilled to pick this one up.  True to form, the book is informative, well-written and truly enjoyable. Though it's not my favorite Bryson book, I did enjoy it and look forward to seeing the movie.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lust List - Navy

In my new, minimalishtic wardrobe, I've been focusing on picking up basic pieces in neutral colors. Navy hasn't been on my radar for years, after leaving a school that required I wear only khaki, white or navy. This fall, however, I'm a little obsessed.  Below are a few of my favorite options.

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1 // 2 // 3
4 // 5 // 6 // 7
8 // 9 // 10

Monday, October 5, 2015


Image result for birthday cupcake
This little blog turns 1 today!! I am so grateful for all of you who have read along, it's made this outlet of mine even more rewarding.  When I started Professionalish, I didn't expect myself to keep at this long, and I certainly didn't expect anyone but my parents to read it.  We've come a long way, and I'm so excited to continue learning in this space.  Thank you for your continued support.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Play by Sephora Review and Birchbox Comparison (Updated!)

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My addiction to subscription boxes continues, this time with the brand new Play by Sephora box. Sephora only joined the box craze this month, so I'm excited to see where they go with it, but if they continue like this, I'll be a happy camper.

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First of all, the box itself is adorable.  Larger and more square than Birchbox (review here), I think I'll get more eventual use out of this shape. I love the lipstick design, and I'm interested to see if this is always the pattern, or if they switch it up like their competitors.

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Set Up // Mid-August, Sephora emailed me and asked if I would like to sign up for Play!, which I obviously did. Sign up didn't include much more than giving them my billing and shipping information, unlike Birchbox, which includes a style quiz.  Once I got my Sephora box, I understood why - everyone gets the same samples. This may change as the box continues, but it may not.  While I like all the samples in the box now, it worries me that all 6 samples are supposed to work for women of every age/race/skin type etc. Winner - Birchbox

Samples // The Sephora samples were phenomenal.  I got a mini Marc Jacobs eyeliner in black, a Ole Henrickson moisturizer, a mini Elizabeth and James Nirvana White, a deluxe sample of the Glam Glow cleanser, a Bumble and Bumble Hairdress Invisible Oil Primer and a Sephora lip stain.  I would and will use every product in the box, and I love the variety. Overall, the samples are larger, and more high end compared with Birchbox.  Like Birchbox, Sephora only includes samples of products they carry, but unlike Birchbox, I actually recognize all of them.  Winner - Sephora

Packaging // Both companies use sturdy boxes to ship products, but Sephora adds bonus wormy filler things, which makes the box feel much more luxe.  The fact that Sephora nests the products into the filler and gives every sample a little spot deeply appeals to my OCD tendencies... I am a little obsessed with the boxes both companies use and have them all over my apartment.  Winner - Sephora

Company Experience // One of the things I love most about Birchbox is their review system.  I'm able to rack up points by leaving reviews, and I use the points to purchase some of the more expensive parts of my beauty routine.  Sephora included a card worth 50 beauty insider points in the box, but those points are not as valuable and I have to make a purchase in order to use it.  Also, Sephora had some major shipping issues, which I assume is just because it was the first month, but I didn't get my box until September 28th, which was a bummer.  Winner - Birchbox

Overall, I'm thrilled to subscribe to both and will continue to do so.  I was definitely happier with Sephora than Birchbox, but I think Sephora was probably looking to impress with this first box.  We'll see how the next few months stack up against one another.

Update // The second month of the Sephora Play box is focused on dewy skin - perfect for the weather we've been having.  Included were a full size Sephora brand pearl mask and deluxe-sized samples of Dr Jart Ceramidin Day Tint, Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser, Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Instant Infusion and belif The True Cream, as well as a small Atelier Cologne perfume sample and a baby sized Konjac sponge.  All in all, it's a fabulous box.  I love every product, and really appreciate that they thought through how we would use it - they covered their broad bases in terms of achieving dewy skin, and each of the samples works well together.  I wish that the design of the box changed, but the presentation is very high class and feels luxurious.

Update // Six months in, and the Play box has my heart.  Every month, the samples have gotten better and better.  I don't love that there's no opportunities to customize, but so far, have only not used a handful.  Birchbox continues to win with the box designs and options for making the samples more personal for me, but overall, Play all the way.

See my most recent review here

Sign up for Birchbox here (only $5 your first month!) and Sephora Play (limited availability) here