Category Archives: Style

Coming Soon…. Fall!

I am not wishing my summer away. This year we bought pool passes for the first time and as the summer goes on, more and more of our friends have joined in. After a summer by the pool, I finally caved in to so many cute vintage and retro-style bikinis. I have never worn a bikini in my life, but the vintage cuts that many clothing lines have out this summer are so much more flattering! I picked up this high-waisted skirt style bottom and it covers all of the right (or I guess, wrong, in my eyes) parts. I feel curvy and those few inches of my torso that stick out have never seen the sun before. It feels so good.

Of course, the minute that I found the perfect bikini, the blazing hot weather went away. We’re back down into the 70’s with cool evenings that call for a jacket. It’s like the weather wants me to start shopping for fall clothes. While summer may be my favorite season for lounging, fall is definitely the best clothing season- boots, tights, dresses, cardigans, jackets. It’s “back to school” every year and you can try out new looks and new costumes, decide who you want to be all over again.

After my success with a vintage look bikini, I was excited when Shabby Apple contacted me and offered to let me try out their vintage clothing. The retro styles don’t show too much skin and with a fall wedding on my agenda for Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t turn down the At Last dress.

As a redhead, I’m a sucker for a green dress. The wedding’s in upstate New York, so I should look great in front of the fall leaves. And this vintage look is just right for being covered up at the ceremony and has a swingy skirt for dancing the night away.

After the wedding, I can wear it to the office with a cardigan and heels. Or, because I’m thrilled that 90’s styles are also on the radar for fall, I can pair it with my brown combat boots for a weekend look and dress it down with some chunky leather bracelets and a military style canvas bag.

Once it arrives, I’ll post some photos of a few different looks. I think this will quickly become a new staple in my wardrobe!

(Note- Shabby Apple is giving me a free dress in exchange for this post. No money was exchanged, nor was content reviewed before posting.)



Filed under Style

Fall Shopping Spree

I can never figure out what I wore last year when it got cold. I dig through the bins of clothes and it seems like everything is just a bit ragged or too small or doesn’t match the few remaining pieces that still fit and don’t look like they spent the year in a moth colony (ok… I am a bit rough on clothes… let’s not blame moths). In order to get ready for the best time of the year, I splurged on some basics to jazz up the old wardrobe and mix in with the stuff that survived me all last winter.

This year, as always, I plan to spend all fall and most of winter in boots- I have three pairs (two black, one brown) of these motorcycle boots from Target. Yes, really. In genuine leather, they hold up like a dream and after two years, I’m just now having to re-sole them. Buy one half-size up for thick socks and enjoy. Also, if you have… ahem…. healthy-sized calves, these actually FIT. Buy all of them. I’ll probably buy two more pairs to hide away this year if the budget allows, just because I’m afraid that they’ll discontinue them one day and I will have to cry for the rest of my days. (Follow up- the boots are 16″ circumference at the top of the shaft, but stop just below the calf, shaft height-wise, for those of you who need numbers for fit. Since they don’t go over the calf, they fit great!).

My sister and I showed up on vacation and proved we are related by bringing along the same new  dress from Old Navy.

It wouldn’t feel like fall without lots of football on the agenda. I’m pretty stocked up on Steelers gear to celebrate the home team, but I picked up a pair of golden-yellow skinny jeans to wear with my jerseys and sweatshirts all season long.

And because the season officially begins when we all don some plaid for a certain Fall Party, I picked up a plaid skirt that will work with tights and boots all winter long. I may or may not have picked some back-up plaid choices… one can never be too prepared when it comes to plaid.  

Fall Purchases


Filed under Products, Reviews, Style

My Birchbox Addiction

I’ve always been a beauty products hoarder. I have a three-tiered shelf and four drawers in the bathroom overflowing with samples and items that I just never got around to using (or opened and hated). A quick run to the drugstore usually ends with me dragging home another nail polish or lip gloss. And all that buying adds up, money-wise.

So when my dear friend Baronetess started bragging about Birchbox on Facebook, I had to check it out. For $10 a month, you receive five or six samples in the mail- nail polish, lip gloss, perfume, hair and skin products- it’s always a surprise. In fact, on Twitter it’s a trend not to post “spoilers” about the monthly Birchbox as it arrives- the grab bag aspect of it all is half the fun. (Note: I’m not getting a dollar from them for raving about them- I’m just hooked).

This month, they offered a tie-in box sponsored by Teen Vogue. They offered me my usual adult box instead, but I’m so glad that I went with the teen box. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have these nails, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

I used the essie luxeffects polish from my Birchbox over a Sally Hansen “Going Green” picked up on one of my drugstore binges. Since every magazine insists that we all have an “accent nail,” (and because I didn’t have any adult business meetings this week), I painted the ring finger a light blue to match my pedicure. It’s a fun look- even if I’m not used to so much sparkle when I head to the office.

My box this month also came with a sample of kate spade new york Twirl, which I spritzed on this morning. After settling in, it’s definitely more floral than fruity, but very light and smells adult enough for office wear. On lazy mornings, I usually stick to some coconut body spray, so wearing actual fragrance is an upgrade for a Monday morning.

My hair is curly and dyed and longer and super-thick, so the Kerastase Elixir Ultime sample should be gone in two days. I love a good hair oil to add a little shine to the curls.

My other favorite product this month was a full-sized tarte LipSurgence lip tint in Barbie pink (Lucky). I never imagined that I would like a bright pink lip, but Birchbox eased me in a few months ago with a hot pink lip gloss and this matte lip pencil is the logical next step. It is matte, very matte, not a drop of shine to it. It almost looks like chalk, that’s how matte this stuff is. But, instead of drying out my lips and flaking, it makes them smooth and soft and looks like I’m auditioning for that episode of Mad Men when they all try on different colors of lipstick and Peggy gets a promotion.

Most months the box also includes a sample snack or beauty accessory item. This month, a cute spring-y peach hair-tie from twistband, so I can keep my hair out of my face when the humidity inevitably goes insane.

If you want to sign up, head over here. I believe I get points for referring new subscribers, but I’m just so hooked that I want you to experience the joy.

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Filed under Daily Life, Links, Products, Reviews, Style


Remember, oh two months ago, when I started a ten day challenge and then fell off the planet into the vortex of a new relationship? I barely do, either. Nonetheless, let’s saddle this horse, shall we?

Times are a little tight at Casa de Eleanor, due to some fun summer travel plans. A perfect time to browse the web and make some fantasy purchases for the future. There are plenty of things on the needs list, but I’ll just do a rundown of completely trivial things that I won’t be buying myself anytime soon.

How about this weird, delightful little book that reenacts murder scenes with dolls?

And now that I’m dating an artist who is constantly drawing me pictures, I’m going to need some new frames for my walls.

I can always use a bigger pot in the kitchen, especially in my favorite color.

I don’t get to the pool much, but when I do, I’d like to look like a movie star.

And a dress to make Christa jealous.

My luggage is constantly being destroyed, but this bag makes me want to upgrade.

And I’m feeling a little like a teenager these days, so something cutesy.

This weekend I’ll be off to meet the lovely new Lady’s parents and spend some time in the woods cooking out and splashing in the river. I’ll let you know how that goes- I pray that they like banana bread… and me.


Filed under Style

Gimme A Head With Hair

Today, now that I am back from a frantic two weeks spent bouncing all over creation to DC and Phoenix and back for work, I’m picking back up the 30 days of truth where I left off. Today’s topic? Something people seem to compliment you the most about.

Growing up, I hated my hair. It was a constant irritation, an ever-evolving experiment in progress on my head. It is thick and curly, which you would think is wonderful if you judged by shampoo commercials alone. However, my mom, bless her heart, is possessed of the baby-finest, pin-straightest hair you’ve ever seen. She had no idea what to do with it. When I was small, she would blow it dry with a round brush, creating a lovely mushroom cloud around my head. With bangs.

By age ten, I’d gotten sick of the cloud and asked for a short pixie do. The stylist clearly thought I’d look better with something even shorter, and gave me a functional crew cut. Nothing makes a ten-year old girl’s day like a crew cut. It looked great with my giant plastic glasses and I’m-a-little-teapot frame. And my mother got to field lovely compliments from strangers about how cute her son was.

Once it grew out again, it passed through a giant bangs and mullet stage. At which point, my mother, once again leaving me to my own devices, let me get a perm. On top of my natural curl, the perm gave me a senior citizen secretarial look that kept me un-kissed until age 14. Hair as a chastity belt.

Then I started the dyeing. Adding sun-in to my strawberry blonde gave me a traffic cone color. Trying to dye it back to match my roots brought it to black. College saw it hot pink, burgundy, long, short, bobbed, banged, and un-banged.  My hair was like a super-spy, unrecognizable as itself from month-to-month.

I’m not sure when I finally figured it all out, but thanks to some strict hairdressers and a good few rounds of sensibly-colored dye, it finally settled down. Now, it’s shoulder-blade length, curly, and a human color of red. If I want to spend two hours with a straightening iron, I can get it shiny and flowy, but I’m just not that vain.It’s sort of like the picture below (but a little longer and without the crazy-eyed stare…)

At least a few times a week, when I can be bothered to take it down from a bun or ponytail, I get complimented on it. And after everything I put it through to get here, I feel like the poor hair deserves it.


Filed under Daily Life, Style

That Ol’ Black Magic

It’s finally cold enough in the mornings here in Pittsburgh that I second-guess my usual boots and a skirt combo walking to work. Leggings and tights can only do so much to keep me warm when we’re in the low 40’s and the mercury is dropping every day.

Just in time, my friends at The Gap sent me a free batch of three of their new styles in black pants to test out:

The modern boot pant

Call me old-fashioned, or just a loyal fan of  What Not to Wear, but I think it’s hard to go wrong with a dark bootcut pant. These are  going to go in my work rotation since they are a nicer blended fabric- but still machine washable. Hooray! The pockets are just there for appearances, so they fit clean and smooth around the hips and back. Being sort of … ahem… flat on the back end, I thought the fit on me was perfect. No saggy extra fabric where I just don’t have it to give. They were nice and snug, but not tight around the waist and hips- very fitted. If you are fuller in that area, I might try their curvy style instead.

The boy fit pant

Another good work pant, but this one has a little more edge. In college, I loved the menswear look- and by that I mean, buying men’s pants at the thrift store.  When you’re short like me and every muffin goes to the belly area, the more generous waist area is a blessing. And again, the  lack of a backside… These are a much more forgiving fit in the waist area, true to menswear, but gently taper down to a more straight legged fit and a bit of slouch at the ankle. I can see putting them on with a fitted top (because a generous waist= no muffin top) and going out at night. The fabric is similar to the dressy boot cut style, so they will also work for the office.

The slim crop pant

The first time I wore these out of the house to walk to the store, an old guy shouted “You’re beautiful!” at me from across the street. (OK, he was drunk at 3 pm, but it’s a confidence boost, I suppose). These are slim, a very fitted cut, but not stretchy like the jean leggings. The fabric is a stiffer cotton, with just a little spandex. As a short woman, I love a cropped pant (which looks like a regular pant on five foot tall me). I threw them on with my new biker boots, a long T-shirt and a black jacket. They fit great under the boot, but I definitely wanted a longer top to cover up a little. I’m in my thirties after all, and not slender enough to wear skinny pants with a short top. But again, men shouted from across the street… so, take from that what you will. Definitely a weekend/ night-out pant for me.

They have seven styles rolling out now starting at $49.50. Thanks for the free trial, Gap!


Filed under Style

Hair Salvation

Monday night, I decided to touch up my roots and grabbed a box of hair dye at the drugstore on the way home. Keeping myself as red as I like to be is a challenge, but I’ve been doing it for 14 years so disasters are a rare occasion. But this time… a disaster of epic proportions. I went from my usual to something like this:

(Note: This is not me. I was too busy panicking to think about taking photos at this point)

Yep. My hair was purple-red. All of it. I googled away and got lots of advice about how to lighten it without frying it entirely. I shampooed four or five times. I washed it in dish soap. I washed it in laundry detergent. Still burgundy. And now crispy. Had I not been exhausted, there would have been tears. Instead, I coated it with coconut oil, wrapped it in a towel, and decided to try again in the morning when I could see straight and give my hair a chance to soak up some moisture before it all fell out.

I woke up on Tuesday, looked in the mirror, and decided not to leave the house. Yep. I’m a grown woman and I stayed home because of a bad hair day. I took a couple of conference calls and as soon as I could get away, headed back to the drugstore to seek out a solution. I knew my curly hair couldn’t take another round of dyeing and wasn’t confident in my color-mixing skills. But tucked on the bottom shelf, I found a box labeled Color Oops. What I was walking around with was more of a “Color Holy Sh*t” than an “oops,” but I was willing to try anything.

The Color Oops people are not giving me a dime for this. But I am telling you, this product is hair salvation. Seriously. I want to give people boxes of this stuff for Christmas. I want to write them a love letter. I want to wear a sandwich board for their company and walk around outside hair salons. I want them to marry me and to become Mrs. Color Oops. My hair is really long so I bought two boxes, followed the directions exactly and spent almost 45 minutes under the tap (thank heavens I don’t pay my own water bill). But after letting it soak in, three rounds of shampooing and rinsing, and a good conditioning, my burgundy hair went back to its usual coppery self. See:

I don’t pretend to understand the chemical process behind all of this, but this stuff is ammonia-free and bleach-free and just took it all right back to where I started from. The directions say that you can dye again immediately after use, but I decided not to press my luck. I’m  going to give my hair a chance to recover for a while before I try for glamor auburn again and just be grateful for what I have. And start shopping for a Christmas gift for Mr. or Ms. Oops, wherever they are. I love you.


Filed under Daily Life, Style