On Shopping and Homework

Since it’s a holiday three-day weekend, I thought a fitting subject would be “how to do your homework before buying an item.”

Wait just one tiny minute.  You mean that there’s HOMEWORK involved for shopping?  Here’s the easy answer.  If you want to save money, HECK YES there’s homework to be done!  Yesterday, I was doing a little online shopping, and I realized that I have a total process in which I make shopping decisions.  I didn’t even realize I was doing this until then.  I thought since today’s a holiday, why not have a little homework to do right?  I mean, it’s a day when lots of stuff is on SALE so shopping is definitely happening, so let’s talk about how to do your “due diligence” before you commit to buy!

Now for sure, there are a couple of things to consider when you’re shopping.  One of them is this: is the item you’re looking for very specific…like maybe you found it online or you saw it in a store and you know exactly what brand it is…if this is the case, there’s still homework to be done, but it might change the end result.  There have been times that I’ve done all my homework, and not saved a dime because it turns out I really just had found the best deal to begin with!  But more often than not, if I don’t do my homework before buying, I end up overpaying.  Plain and simple.  You want to get an A+ on your shopping skills?  Yeah me too!

Here’s my usual disclaimer…this is just MY process, you may have your own AND you may have some hot tips I don’t know about, so PLEASE share with me if you do!  I’m always looking for extra credit! :)


  1. Google the item you want.  This may seem simple, but how many times have I happened upon something I want, and not taken the two seconds it takes to just google it before buying it from the first place I found it??  OR maybe you are looking for a Free People dress and you just go straight to the Free People site without checking other retailers.  Here’s something I’ve found.  Often, places you don’t even suspect may carry a brand or an item that you want.  Once I desperately wanted a Novella Royale jumpsuit and I googled it, only to find it had gone on sale half price on freepeople.com.  Boy I was glad I googled it!  When you find what you’re looking for, google the exact name of the item, and who knows? You may even get lucky and find it listed on hautelook.com or gilt.com!  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  It kind of surprises me how simple this is, and yet how few people actually do it.  I have purchased things for a fraction of the normal price that it’s listed for AT THE SAME TIME as it’s listed for more…simply because I googled it.  This is also SUPER helpful if the thing you want is sold out in your size.  Sites like swell.com, revolve.com, shopbop.com, zappos.com, lordandtaylor.com, asos.com, as well as all the standards like Nordstrom and Macy’s, ALL carry a variety of brands and sometimes they will have a sale specific to their store that applies to that item!  Did you know that Minnetonka is also carried by American Eagle Outfitters and Urban Outfitters?  Yep.  Google will be your best friend!
  2. Do a search for the item…in different ways.  Sometimes things go by different names.  There’s really nothing new under the sun, we just often call things by different terms than they did in say, the 1960s.  I’ve often run into people who were teenagers during the original time a clothing item was popular and they always say: “in MY day, we called those dungarees” or something like that.  So, say you’re looking for a kimono.  Search for “kimono” of course, but don’t forget to use the term “robe” because often they are synonyms for each other.  This is VERY useful if you are looking at vintage items because people from different generations will call things by different names, so depending on the person selling it, you may need to use different key words.
  3. Check other sites for knock offs or similar items.  I have a few places that are my “go-tos” for this.  I’ve learned that as much as I love Free People, not all of their stuff is unique.  Not only do people knock them off very quickly, but some of their stock is not really unique to their store.  So, I check a few places first.  I check second hand retailers like thredup.com and poshmark.com…this is a great way to find what you are looking for, for less…and sometimes it’s even new with the tags!  I always check zara.com too, because yes, they can be just as expensive, but they often have similar items or sometimes things I like more for less money.  vicicollection.com has had items IDENTICAL to Free People for under $20!  I do a quick scan of their site to check.
  4. Search for a coupon code.  This actually works a lot of the time.  When I find something I’m looking for, I do a quick search for the name of the retailer and “coupon code” and I’ve gotten codes that save me money.  If it’s a smaller retailer or seller, check their instagram or Facebook feed for sales.  Get on their email list to save off your first order AND to get deals.  Once I was ordering something from England and was just about to click the magic “place order” button…when I thought I’d better check my email first.  I did, and since I had subscribed to her emails, I saw that she had sent out a code for free international shipping.  Yep, I just saved myself like $30 just by checking my email first.
  5. Look for the item that inspired the piece you want.  This is kind of interesting to do.  Sometimes I will be obsessed with something…and then I actually find a vintage piece that is virtually identical to what I want.  Um, I’d rather have the original thanks!  Sometimes it’s expensive yes.  But SOMETIMES it’s a fraction of the price.  Here’s a great example.  I bought this dress from Spell Byron Bay that is gorgeous.  I literally had not seen many things like it, so I went for it, shelled out the big bucks, and of course it’s beautiful.  Then I went down to Venice Beach and walked into a vintage store and they had four dresses on the wall that were virtually identical to my dress.  The owner of the store informed me that the Spell girls had just been in their shop to get inspiration!  The dresses were the same price as the Spell one I purchased.  Do you get my drift?  This is the reason I chose this kimono for today’s post.  I have been in LOVE with a Spell kimono that is quite similar to this one, but haven’t been ready to shell out the money for it.  I was on poshmark.com a week ago, and I could not click BUY fast enough when I saw this.  It is almost the same thing, at 1/4 of the price.  And it’s vintage, so it’s the original!  Yep.  Homework pays off you guys.

Okay so this kimono.  I’m freaking in LOVE.  And again, having a little patience and persistence really saved me some money in the long run!  These necklaces are BOTH handmade by amazing women, please support them if you need some new jewelry in your life that really wows people!  The choker is from Desert Mermaid on Etsy (it comes in white too and it is really the most comfortable choker I have ever worn) and the leather fringe one is a BRAND NEW creation by my DEAR friend Jessica of Hillbillygypsy Boots.  She’s selling them on Poshmark too!  The boots are Sam Edelman (they’re like almost completely sold out, so if you want them, I’d shop NOW for them), and even though I own so many fringe boots, boy am I glad I bought these babies.

Argh.  It is most definitely a Monday.  Will someone please tell my kids it’s a holiday?!?

On Feeling Stuck, and One Magical Outfit

I hate being stuck.  I hate when I’m driving and I’m stuck behind someone who is just SLIGHTLY slower than I want them to be.  I hate walking downtown being stuck behind people walking in a group, and I can’t get around them.  And I hate being  stuck in larger situations too.  I write songs on a semi regular basis (this is always a miracle to me that they come out singable!) and right now, I’m stuck in the middle of a song.  It’s kind of funny.  Sometimes they just flow out of me so freely I don’t even have time to think about what I’m writing.  And other times, I have to work for every single dang word.  I think that’s kind of just a metaphor for life so often, isn’t it?

I know for me, there have been times in my life where things just flowed.  Things seemed relatively easy, and I didn’t have to work all that hard to make things happen.  Then there have been times and situations where I have just felt plain stuck.  Times when I felt like things weren’t really flowing creatively, but more being ground out bit by bit.  I don’t exactly know why this is.  I am not sure why the beginning of this song that I’m working on flowed so easily and the end is dragging it’s feet.  But I do know that either way, the end result is worth it.

There are certain areas for me that I really feel stuck in right now.  Certain life goals and hopes and dreams that feel about as logical as winning the lottery.  That feeling is not even close to the reality of the scenario, but it’s just how I FEEL.  I am an overachiever by nature, so that means that when I can’t even “achieve”, I feel more like a failure than people who don’t really care about getting gold stars in life.  There are mountains that to me feel like I just can’t climb them because, well, I’m crap at outdoors stuff you guys and I have no endurance for such silliness.  You know I’m kidding right?  But my point is that I feel stuck at the bottom of them and I can’t see the pathway ahead of me.  It’s at times like these that I need someone like my husband, who CAN see the path, to help encourage me.

It’s been huge for me to surround myself with people who do not encourage those feelings of “stuckness” that I have in the areas that I struggle with them.  It’s been one of the best things to have friends (and a husband of course) who can be cheerleaders for me when I need them to be.  I mean, if you can’t see the path you need to take, find someone who can…or at least can encourage you to hang in there until you CAN see it.  Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective, or even just an ear to listen to you so that you can untangle all the bottled up frustration from feeling like you can’t move forward.  Sometimes you know the answer or the next step, but you need someone to let you unload on so that you can find it.  Like when you’re looking for that one t-shirt and you literally have to take every single t-shirt out of your drawer just to find that one that was buried in there.  (No, I do not do that every single day!)

I don’t know if the end of that song will come to me later on today, and just roll right off my pen and be finished, just like that.  Or if I’m going to have to sit down and try some things and see what works, until it finally does.  But one way or another, I will get unstuck and be singing that song soon.  Because sometimes you’re running with ease and other times you’re walking uphill in the sand.  No rhyme or reason, but you will get there if you keep going.

I love this dress and boots because it’s like the best easy outfit.  I tried on some necklaces and belts, but honestly, it was better without.  It is so great, that it can take one of those super stuck non creative type days, and make them a total breeze.

The dress is from Waiste Vintage and the boots are of course Spell Byron Bay.  It’s just a no brainer outfit, and for those other moms out there, you know that mom brain can really make you feel stuck sometimes! :)

I wanted to leave you with one chorus of a song that is particularly meaningful to me…because it encourages me when I’m feeling like a need a breakthrough.

You breathe life into dry bones, and You heal broken things.  You give hope to the weary, and You gave me a new song to sing.

Sing a new song today.  That’ll help you out with the old one you just can’t finish!


On Really Going For It…In Outfits and In Life

The other day I was scrolling through instagram, and one of the captions under a photo really caught my attention.  Now I’m not really all that much into inspirational quotes to be honest.  I’m not really moved by them most of the time unless they happen to maybe be different from the usual suspects or maybe are just really really heartfelt and original.  I guess I’m kind of suspicious of things that are trying to make me “feel something” so if it’s trying too hard, I will kind of have the opposite reaction.  But this quote…it really popped out at me and stuck with me in a big way.  It’s been stuck in my head ever since: “comfortable slavery or dangerous freedom, what will you choose?” Dang.  That is some powerful stuff right there.  That’s enough fodder for an entire book.

I think why this quote really caught me, was that it has basically been the theme of my life.  Now I want to clarify something.  I think the word “slavery” can seem a bit harsh to describe parts of our life in some ways, although I think there are situations that can actually be slavery to our emotions, finances, or to our souls…so if you use that term in not such a literal sense, it makes sense.  I was basically raised in a form of “comfortable slavery.”  It was a lot of choices that led to more of the same.  A lot of fear that prevented moving forward…because forward is scary and risky.  Staying the same is not.  When my husband and I got married, we stayed in the same house for a long time, not by my choice.  While I appreciated a lot of things about the place we lived, I rebelled against it because I wanted something bigger in a metaphorical (and literal to be honest) sense.  I was frustrated, I felt stuck, and I felt like I was kind of in a form of slavery in more than one way.  I longed to move forward and to FINALLY get the chance to make those choices that got us SOMEWHERE.  And we did.  We made choices, took risks, and did things as wisely as we could without not making the decisions altogether.  And let me tell you.  Going for dangerous freedom is just that.  Dangerous.

Because we haven’t gotten to the places that we are going yet, I can’t say that it wasn’t worth it.  But I can tell you one of the most dangerous things about choosing dangerous freedom: longing for the comfortable slavery.  I struggle with that every day.  I find myself thinking: “back then at least I had/did/felt/was _______ (fill in the blanks here).”  I find myself longing for the comfort of the familiar, and often willing to give up the dreams I have had my entire life just to go back to a place where I felt very stifled.  Because I think the thing is, dangerous freedom is a risk, it’s worth it, but it’s not always an immediate reward.  It’s a journey and it leads FORWARD, and forward is unfamiliar, and unfamiliar is uncomfortable and frightening.  Someday, I will go into more details, but for now I’m still wrestling with the cost of the dangerous freedom.  I know myself, and I will always go for it.  I’m not a “stay comfortable” kind of person…but when you get heartbroken, it’s much easier to try and settle than when you think you can leap off a cliff and fly.  My wings might be a little broken, but they’re healing…and the only way they’ll heal properly is if I keep using them correctly.  And that’s what I’m going to do.  Dangerous freedom is, and will always be, my choice.

I think the way I dress reflects my personality in more ways than one.  This outfit is a great example of my nature to “go for it” instead of staying within the boundaries of what’s comfortable.  Lest you think that I am talking myself up, let me assure you…I don’t always love this quality about myself.  I have countless times been quite frustrated with this part of my nature and wondered if I shouldn’t have compromised in certain situations…just a bit.  So I’m learning and growing and getting refined, but this is definitely a “go for it outfit” and I do love it, I gotta say!  The boots…THE BOOTS are from Spell Byron Bay and I think they’re just insane.  The lace dress is from an AMAZING vintage seller from the UK, Waiste Vintage, and the floral shirt is from Fred & Betty’s.  The Indian chief ring is from my favorite happy place Ruby Rose.  I put this all over a nice fluffy pink vintage slip skirt I unearthed from the madness that is my closet and I added a simple scarf tied in a bow to give a little bit of structure to the outfit!

Whatever your personality or your style, I hope you choose dangerous freedom and are wildly successful.  Because I think that no matter what, freedom is ALWAYS worth the price tag!

Happy Monday



A Maxi Dress With Sleeves

A maxi dress with sleeves.  This is what I set out to find for my Easter dress this year.  Actually, I had seen the Spell Xanadu dress which was completely sold out everywhere, so I was trying to find something I liked just as much.  Such a thing as a maxi dress with sleeves should be pretty basic and easy to find right?  Wrong.  Now these elusive creatures are plentiful online, but I of course had waited until the week prior to Easter to realize that I needed a new dress…so online shopping was kind of out of the question, especially if I was going to order from Australia.

I went downtown to a couple of stores and I found this beauty from August The Label at H&G Boutique in SLO.  It was one of those magical dresses where when you put it on, you kind of never want to take it off.  It has the softness of pajamas with the flowy feel of a fancy gown.  Plus it’s off the shoulder, which is my favorite.

It makes me feel so pretty and thin and it totally works with a western edge, which I find is one of my favorite ways to accessorize an outfit.  It’s totally a classic Monday Mojo outfit!

I did finally get my Spell Xanadu dress…which will undoubtedly be one my my Monday Mojo outfits :).  But this Auguste dress is still one of my absolute favorites.

Happy Monday!  Hope your mojo is strong today! :)