11.29.2012

No-Repeat October


First day of school in 5th grade. 
Can't remember who gave me this shirt, but it started my love for hand-me-downs. 
As I like to say, "One man's trash is always my treasure."

A few weeks ago, my friend Rachelle gave me a bunch of her old clothes. This was the second time she let me go through her donation box and I loved every minute of it. Most girls really like shopping and although I do enjoy seeing the latest and greatest in the fashion world and window displays, I hardly ever buy clothes. So that feeling of excitement that most girls get when they approach the cash register, eager to carry their bag around the mall... is the same feeling that I get when someone that I love (who also has great fashion sense) tells me that they are getting rid of clothes.

I think this is the 3rd post I have done about clothes since I moved to Texas and there is a reason for that. Clothes, especially fancy onces, are a big deal in Texas. Most of my friends growing up were athletes and even though we cared a little about clothes, we mostly cared about what we accomplished. Which was great, and in my opinion, the best way to establish your roots.
In college I was exposed to many more fashionistas but I typically surrounded myself with people who dress simple, practical, comfortable, with really great taste.

Now I live in Texas, and spend all day at America's largest private advertising agency. And let me tell you, if you've ever heard that advertising agencies have lots of really pretty people who dress really well, you are right. There are lots of heels, colored pants, statement necklaces, voluminous hair, clear complexions... or just picture the people in your favorite fashion magazine, and you will have the right visual.

When I first moved here, I found it very intimidating. Between the people I interacted with at work and then going to church and being told I need to buy more high heels or people saying, "Let's go dress shopping for you" ... I started to feel not too great about my appearance. Add some weight gain and you end up feeling a bit of disappointment.

My awesome roommate, Shana, and I have talked about this a lot and we like to visit stores quite a bit. There are so many in our neighborhood. Think of any clothing store chain that you love. There is a 90% chance that store is within a 7 minute radius of my house. Shana and I found ourselves going shopping a lot in our downtime. Sometimes we would buy things but most the time we would try stuff on and then decide, "Ok, I really don't need this..." and then we would leave.

Then Shana had a brilliant idea in late September. She said,"Let's have a no-repeat October." I was intrigued. She wanted to not repeat any tops for the entire month of October. I looked around at my closet and thought, I bet I can go the whole month of October without repeating pants, skirts, shirts, or jackets. Which is a little sick to think about. But I decided that if I can repeat tank tops, undergarments, leggings, socks, and shoes- then I could really come up with 31 different outfits.

I am happy to report that I did it.
It was hard.
It took a lot more time in the morning. I sometimes repeated a certain cream sweater that I really love and since it was new, I felt like it was ok to repeat because it still had the newness I was excited about. But I learned a lot in the month of October. Here are a few of my tidbits.

1. At least half of my clothes were not purchased by me. I have many, many hand-me-downs.
When put to lyrics, my wardrobe is a lot like the song "Tapestry" by Carole King.
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
My wardrobe has little bits of memories from the people who gave them to me in their hand-me-down box. It's really fun. Like this morning when I woke up, I put on Melissa's brown velvet pants and added Emily's cream cardigan and her gold flats from Target. And when I looked in the mirror it was like I was with my whole family. Ok, this is getting deep. But really. It's nice to have these physical pieces from my sisters when I don't get to see them too much. Sometimes I look at blogs written by girls who take pictures of their outfits everyday and then they say which stores every piece of clothing is from. If I ever did a blog like that my clothing credits would look like this:

Shirt- Laura Goodrich's mom, Val, bought this, but Laura didn't like it and it was too late to return, so they gave it to me.
Sweater- My co-worker, Jason accidentally put his J Crew lamb's wool sweater in the dryer and then it shrunk so he gave it to me. Score!
Pants- From my sister
Tank top- From the give-away box that my mom saw at her friend's sister's house. Thank you Aunt Cheryl! The gold camisole from Express is one of my favorites!
Shoes- Zack Golden's (my mom's best friend's son) old adidas shoes that have lasted me so many years.

2. You should never spend good money on an item of clothing that is "for road-trips."
I have learned now, that I have way too many linen capris that I bought thinking "these will be so great for when no one will see me and I will be stuck in a car for 8 hours."


3. Things come back in style.
I bought a light denim long sleeve collared shirt from Gap in the middle of high school, a good 6 years ago. I thought it was a risk and I only wore it a couple times and then probably once a year since then. Every time I cleaned out my closet, I would give that shirt a good stare and analyze its purpose and use in my life. Yep, getting deep again. So many times, I would take it off the hanger and then set it down in the give-away pile. But I always came back for it and rescued it. I am happy to report that the shirt is back in style. You know that denim chambray shirt you see all over pinterest that just happens to work with every outfit you could imagine? Yep, my shirt is exactly like that. So you could say I was ahead of the fashion world by 6 years. No big deal.



4. Creativity loves constraints.
One of my art professors told me that and I think about it at least once a week. I didn't take any pictures of my outfits, because I don't want to be that blogging fashion girl- if you know what I mean. But let's just say, things got a little crazy. I had to break out of the usual routine of this shirt with those pants and that accessory. If I had worn the item already, I hung it backwards on the rod. Thus, skirts were paired with tops that would never seem to logically go together, but actually looked quite alright. I came up with a some new combinations I would have never imagined. I re-evaluated the clothes I like and why I like them.



5. I embraced the pear in me.
As I observed which outfits worked and which did not, I re-learned that it is good to know my body shape and dress for it. I am a pear...which may or may not be caused by my love for the juicy pear jelly belly jelly bean.
When I was in junior high, my friend Steven commented on a skirt I was wearing. He said,"I really like it when you wear skirts. I don't know why, but it just seems so natural on you." That's all due to the pear shape, friends. Should have taken his advice sooner!

6. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I moved last week and when I hung up my clothes in my new closet, I gave each hanger a good look. I asked myself, "Do I enjoy wearing this? Have I worn it in the last year? Will I be excited about wearing it ever?" If the answer was no, out it went.

So little Lizzy, get excited. 3 boxes of clothes and shoes are coming your way.

image up top, courtesy of my dad. 
image of denim skirt
image of pear

11.07.2012

Central Market: A Love Story



The background for this post starts long ago, December of 2009 to be exact. My parents had been planning a fabulous holiday Hawaiian getaway for my family and we were all stoked. But when Melissa found out she was pregnant with Calvin, we knew it was going to be too close to his due date for her to fly, let alone fly to a tropical island less than a month before. We considered going without her little family but quickly decided that it would be too sad to leave them. So instead we rented a house in Austin, TX. We flew into San Antonio (where Melissa and Aaron lived at the time) and then drove to Austin. 

The house was great. The weather was great. We were all pumped for a fun weekend ahead. We drove into town fairly late into the evening and sent the boys off to find a grocery store so we could have some milk and cereal the next morning (this family is serious about our breakfast). When we woke up, Melissa and I headed to the kitchen ready to eat. There were a few varieties of cereals including a shredded wheat situation. I was pleased to find a cereal I had never heard of: Mango Peach Passion. 


When Melissa saw the cereal choices she began to cry. Literally. 
(Remember she was 8 months pregnant at the time.) 
I remember her saying something like, "I just want the brand name Frosted Mini Wheats. None of this off-brand healthy garbage." 
My dad and brother-in-law tried to defend themselves. Aaron said, "Well they didn't have Frosted Mini Wheats. I checked the whole aisle but it was as fancy grocery store and they only had the expensive stuff." My ears perked right up when I heard the words "fancy grocery store" while I ate every spoonful of the mango peach passion with much delight. 

I went back with my dad later in the day and I couldn't even handle the awesomeness. There were huge vegetables and fruits as decorations outside the store. The inside was even better. In fact, it was amazing. I had never seen so many varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and apples. I loved the layout of the space, the design of the signs, the uniforms on the staff, ALL of the samples, and the land of cheese that is bigger than a master bed-room. I was in awe and I wanted to stay forever. 



I came home and called the graphic-designer-temporary-home-teacher-boyfriend I had at the time. I literally talked for an hour about this grocery store and how it rocked my world. I think I was just overcome with the word "variety." There were so many choices and so many different types of people making those choices. Clearly the boy was tired of talking about food because he broke up with me 2 days later (yep, over the phone while I was still in Texas). But, no worries because so much good came out of this discussion; I decided to move to Texas. You may be thinking, wow, Bec. Hold your horses, it's just a grocery store. But to me Central Market is much more than a grocery store. 




Thanks to the dedication of my parents, I have had the great fortunate opportunity to travel quite a bit in my short amount of living.  And I've seen some great things and experienced a myriad of cultures, but there was something about going to Central Market that made me want to stay there forever. I wanted to get to know all of these people who cared about food like I did. I didn't want to just make a quick tourist visit, I wanted this to be MY grocery store. I decided that as much as I love everything about Utah and all the people in it, I needed to break out of my comfort zone and spend some time living in an unfamiliar place. And it was Central Market that gave me the initial push I needed. 





So let's fast forward to my life now. I got a job. I moved to Dallas. I settled into my apartment and felt pretty lucky to be walking distance from Wal-Mart and Target. One day I was chatting it up with my new friend Mike (who had so kindly just moved my new couch into our apartment), and the topic of food came up. 
He said, "So would you consider yourself a foodie?" 
I said, "Oh, yes. Definitely." 
He replied, "Then you'll want to check out a pretty cool grocery store. It's called Central... "
I cut him off right then and there. "They have a Central Market in DALLAS?!?" I yelled. 
"Yeah, it's right down the street, like half a block walking distance."

I was ecstatic. And I went the very next day. I slowly sauntered in the bulk foods sections admiring all of the nuts, chocolates, and individual spices. I grabbed a few items that Mike had specifically recommended and then headed to the floral section where I can get a little something special. It is great because you can buy individual bunches of flowers for $3. You get all the fun without the big price tag.  I've been hooked ever since and I visit the store at least every other week for most all of my grocery needs. 



When I started working for The Richards Group, I saw lots of Central Market posters around the office. We have a policy that any decor on the outside of our desk has to have been created by our company. So I wondered if Central Market was our client. It wasn't until a couple months later that I learned we were indeed their agency. I knew that I had to get myself on the Central Market team, but I wasn't quite sure how to make that happen. 

I got an email back in February from my supervisor needing a volunteer to work on the mobile site for the Central Market chocolate festival. I wrote back immediately and volunteered. I got the mobile site up without too much trouble and I am happy to report that I have been on the Central Market digital team ever since. And it has been pure bliss. I get to create all of their emails, make their facebook pages, advertise their festivals, and update their desktop and mobile site. 



We had a hatch chile peppers event and it was fun to see the process from the meetings to the actual implementation of all the advertising. I got the weekly specials in the mail, I made the form online, and then I bought the actual chiles in the store.  






Last week we went live with all of our holiday extravaganza. This was my favorite page I got to make. You get to move the food and decorate your own tree, complete with twinkle lights! 



Can you tell I love this store? I don't think I have ever loved another store or  brand quite like Central Market (Well, maybe Costco. I really love Costco.) But Central Market has become a little "happy place" for me. I go there when I need food, when I need some space, or when I just want to get in touch with the locals. Sometimes when I walk to Central Market with my wide brimmed hat, wearing a skirt and sandals, with a tote bag in hand and I think, wow, this life I have is pretty darn perfect. 




11.06.2012

Benson Elmer Wood

My sister Melissa and her husband, Aaron just welcomed a new precious little baby boy to their family. I got to leave work right after he was born to go meet him and it was much more emotional than I ever expected. He is so sweet and perfect and small and adorable. I have never lived in the same state as my sister when she has given birth and it was really great to be there. I just can't believe how much love I have in my heart for my sweet niece and nephews. They are the absolute best. And I am really lucky that Melissa and Aaron are nice enough to share their sweet and perfect family with me.

Here are a few photos of Benson's birthday and beyond. 











11.04.2012

Anything You Ever Wanted to Know




So I have lived in north Texas for over a year now. I am pretty observant and have noticed a few characteristics about the Texas I have come to know.

1. There are so many birds in the winter time. Makes sense though, birds fly south. They come here!
2. People dress real fancy here.
3. It gets warm, really warm.
4. The food is incredible. Everything I have ever eaten here is/was delicious. Fun fact: Dallas has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. It's hard to believe, but I did little google search to find the facts and was pleased with this article.
5. There are many, many freeways.
6. For as crowded as the metroplex is, it is quite inexpensive to live.
7. There are tons and tons of churches.
8. The people are real nice. And I can prove it.

I always think it's a little odd when someone says, "The people in France are mean." Or, oh "The people in Minnesota are so kind." I always think to myself, "How can you generalize a region to decide if they are kind or not?" As tourists you are typically exposed to people in the service industry, so it would make sense that when you're traveling, you think people are pretty nice.

Well I listen to NPR pretty much every time I'm in the car, and I particularly enjoy the episode called "Anything You Ever Wanted to Know." It is a local show that you can call or email on Friday at noon and ask a question or answer someone else's question. It can be about anything. Usually it is geared towards something someone is looking for in the region, like where to buy a certain type of meat or tea, or what that random warehouse manufactures at the corner of George Bush Turnpike and the Dallas North Tollway. But sometimes people call in and ask random questions, like what would happen if one of the presidential candidates died this week. Would the party replace them with someone else before the election?

The point is, you can ask anything. I love listening on Fridays during my lunch break because I learn so much about my neighborhood. Plus, I think there is something fascinating about not knowing what each caller is going to say, if they have a question or answer and what random tidbit they might share.

So this week, I was driving around during my lunch break looking for a place that had early voting. I was listening to "Anything You Ever Wanted to Know" and I decided to call in. I will admit, it was frustrating. I called in 2 times and got a busy signal. I called in a third time and it just rang forever. And then I decided to call one more time, and I finally got an answer! The lady put me on the line and asked me to turn down my radio while I listened to the show from the phone. I could hear the host chatting like we were just having our own little phone call. I waited as 3 other people asked questions and then it was my turn. I got really nervous. I have never called in to any radio show and suddenly I was all tongue-tied. I said that I was new to the area and that I wanted to participate in a choir. Not a church choir, because I already have a church and commitments on Sundays. But I said I would love to participate in a community choir that performs holiday music and maybe even a "Messiah" performance. The host thanked me for my question and I was off the air.

By the time I had finally asked my question, I was back to work and ready to go back into the office. Luckily, I was able to stream the show live on my headphones at work. I was delighted when someone called in and said, "Yeah Jeff, I have an answer for the young lady looking for a choir." He went on to suggest a Baroque Society that I could join and how it would be a great experience for me. At the end he said, "I hope she finds what she is looking for, best of luck to her."

I literally dropped my jaw. I was just in shock that some kind old man stopped what he was doing, called the station, waited until they finally were able to get him on the line... just so he could tell me about a choir. It was pretty much like Christmas morning listening to the rest of the show. FIVE more people called in. FIVE. And two people emailed suggestions. At one point there were 3 calls right in a row that were all choir suggestions for me. One guy was calling about his own choir and he said, "We would just love to have her."
I literally teared up listening to their answers. I couldn't believe that people would actually take the time to stop and share something they know. I also appreciated that most of them referred to me as "the young lady." I quite like that title.

So although I have not joined a choir as of yet, I feel pretty grateful for a community and for random people who want me to be part of theirs. It was just so random and so kind. These strangers that I don't know did something nice out of the goodness of their heart. They took the time to answer my question.

I remember my first time going to New York City. I was a wide-eyed teenager. My sisters and I had separated from the family to take our own little excursion on the subway to find the Guggenheim. We came out of the subway and tried to figure out which way we should go. We were all huddled around a map trying to figure out which way was north, when a woman came up to us and said, "Hey, are you guys lost? Could I point you in the right direction?" I was shocked. All I had heard about New Yorkers was that they were impatient and in a hurry, so don't slow them down. But this woman was so nice and we didn't even have to ask! That little moment made quite an impression on my teenage world, and I ended up using it as an example in every Good Samaritan lesson that I had in seminary and sunday school.

I think its the same feeling that I get every time I read an online forum. I know that some people get paid to answer questions on some of those yahoo forums, but for the most part- it's just people sharing what they know to other people. Yelp reviews, apartment ratings, ideas to get your ears to pop after a change in altitude, cleaning suggestions, etc. It's great.

So to all those random people who help me out, even though they don't me- thank you, thank you.

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