Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where trouble melts like lemon drops

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We just returned from the Big Island of Hawaii for our lovely friends' wedding, and though I feel as though part of my heart was left behind, I've never felt more whole. It was our first trip to that magical island but certainly not our last.

I fell in love with that place. Thanks to priceline, we were able to stay at an amazing hotel where I got to stretch out for yoga on the beach, take ukulele and hula lessons, and thread my own leis out of locally grown orchids. But those experiences, though wonderful, were only a tiny fraction of what I fell for. (Plus, we hardly spent any time in the resort as we tried to do as much as we could with the guidance of this book.)

The Big Island is perfect for someone like me who can sometimes get bored and easily distracted. If I wanted a different adventure, all we had to do was drive half an hour up a mountain and we'd encounter a tropical jungle where you could visit fruit stands with locally grown mangoes as big as my head. If you drove a bit more, you'd find yourself in an endless desert of black lava rock. When we ventured a little further, we found ourselves on one of the world's most beautiful black sand beaches. Then we were in Volcanoes National Park, breathing the hot, sulfuric air and hiking on land younger than ourselves.

Here's a snippet of the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, and here's a snippet of La'Aloa Bay Beach..

I just felt like sharing this experience and its impact on my well being. It is no secret that I haven't been the happiest person lately, and I've had my fair share of mental speed bumps along the way. But there was something magical about that Island and its atmosphere. I've returned to Austin a different person. I know that sounds all sorts of silly, but I feel different. I feel better. I feel rejuvenated.

I did manage to bring back a priceless reminder of the island that will not come with a curse. I splurged on a ukulele and have been serenading myself (and my poor husband) every day since we returned. As a result, decided to try something with it.

 I am challenging myself for the month of November to learn (and record) a new song for most days of the month. I realize that this will be a huge challenge seeing as how I've been so consumed with my job and school these last 2 years that I've hardly touched my instruments, but I am determined to try. Plus, making music makes me happy. It is truly the most effective (and cheapest) antidepressant.

I'll be sure to share my videos here.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Plus-Sized Light in the Box Review

I first stumbled across Light In The Box's website when I was searching for the perfect, affordable wedding dress almost 3 years ago. I remember distinctly just how excited I was. For the first time in my life I had access to red-carpet attire, just like those worn by the celebrities our culture idolizes. Best of all, they weren't only available in a size 0. 
You can buy that dress up to a size 26. Thank me later.

I contemplated purchasing my wedding dress from their site for a mere $150 over 2 years ago. It was a beautiful dress that caught my eye immediately and the reviews on the site were nothing but praises about the fit and quality. However, I let my skepticism take over, and I ended up going with a dress that I was able to physically try on at a local boutique. I do not regret that decision, but  I now know that my fears about ordering a dress from this website were unfounded.

Since that first encounter with their website, I have purchased two dresses from Light In The Box.  Both of them were perfect for what I needed. More importantly, both dresses made me feel like I was wearing designer-qualitygowns.

The first dress that I purchased was heavily inspired by Reem Acra's 2008 dress worn by both Olivia Wilde and Julie Bowen above. I look nothing like either actress and I am certain that I alone weigh more than the both of them combined. Still, the reviews and customer-submitted photographs on Light In The Box's website proved to me that the dress looked amazing on all body types. I took a chance and ordered it in navy for my best friend's wedding.

It looks a little long here, but that's due to the high grass.
I was impressed by the quality. The fabric and construction were impeccable. The bodice was so well constructed that I was able to wear it with-out a bra. Mona and Lisa were not going anywhere if they tried.

I did have one regret though. I did not pay for the custom-sizing, though I should have.  Custom sizing would have only cost an addition $50 and would have saved me the time it took to get it hemmed by a local tailor. Being frugal and stubborn with my order ended up costing me more in the long-run because my local tailor charged me $92 to have it hemmed to the right length. Lesson learned.

It certainly was a blast to twirl in.
The other dress that I ordered from Light in the Box was also extraordinary. For LESS THAN $100, I received a beautiful bridesmaid's dress to wear to my other bestie's wedding. It was airy and made for a great dancing dress, even in the stifling Texas heat.  This dress looks like a bridesmaid's dress because of the color, but not because of the design. In fact, I would wear it again if it were not a powder blue that screams "I only own a dress in this color because I was in a wedding!" (And that, ladies and gents, is why I let my bridesmaids wear any black dress they already owned.)

If I have to attend another formal event in the future, I know precisely where to look first. Their regular shipping takes about 2-3 weeks but that is super speedy when compared to the usual 10+ weeks Alfred Angelo and David's Bridal require. The $50 custom sizing is absolutely worth it.

 Where else can you get red-carpet dresses sewn to your exact body measurements at such affordable prices? If they exist elsewhere, please share the information! :-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Zig zagging through the spring

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Since we bought our house 6 months ago, I have spent entirely too much time and money at home improvement and home decor shops. It's been so bad that people at our nearby Lowes basically know us by name now. But furnishing and decorating our home hasn't been all work and no play. It's been loads of fun and has resulted in some pleasant surprises.

While trekking around the maze that is Ikea, we were surprised to find these luxurious robes. Since when did Ikea start selling robes?! They are MAGICAL, I tell you! We started off with 2 and now have 4 because I am addicted to them. They are so soft and absorbent and only $20!

While searching for patio furniture, I realized that I wanted ALL THE THINGS inside of World Market. Did you know that they also sell jewelry and clothes?! I wanted their jewelry, their furniture, their knick-knacks, everything. I wanted it ALL, and it's probably best that I refrained from buying out the store or else I would have turned our house into this (which I already sort of have...don't judge me).

The greatest surprise so far has resulted from a trip to Steinmart. Those old ladies have kept that store a secret!  They sell everything, including this adorable dress!

Yes, you read that right. I found this beauty for less than $50 at a Steinmart. I am convinced that it is THE EXACT SAME dress that Eloquii is currently selling for $149 (Eloquii's Chevron Pleated Dress). It's made of the same material, same texture, same color, same cut, and carried in the same sizes.

I paired it with my favorite cabochon necklace, which can be found here on etsy. 

I love it so much, I want to wear it every day.

And twirl in it some more.

And jump for joy. 
Yey, Steinmart!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

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...there was a blog, and I used to write in it.

The last time I stopped by was to warn you all about how crazy my life was about to get. Well, I wasn't lying. It got cuh-ray-zee, y'all, even crazier than I had imagined.

So much as happened in such little time, and it has been hard for me to keep up with all of the things that I used to do for fun. For starters, our home was completed and we moved in August. Immediately after that, I started my new job as a bilingual teacher and neglected said home (and husband). I came back up for air during the winter break, but went right back under for the brutal spring semester. Now we're in spring break and here I am writing about work on my blog that has nothing to do with work. Ugh. I'll get better at it, I promise.

It's been a tough year, y'all. It's been tough. But I'm back.

Will I be focusing solely on life as a frugal fatshionista? Perhaps not, because I am so much more than a fat woman who likes affordable clothes. I am so much more than just a teacher, too.

I hope you're up for the ride. <3

And that there is a GIANT photo of my face. Like a boss.