Hobnobbing with the Rich and Famous

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Last weekend, I attended an event where I mingled with (OK, mostly gawked at) former presidents, professional athletes, and TV and movie stars. And, I didn’t even have to leave Minnesota. Jason and I were lucky enough to be invited to attend the annual Starkey Hearing Foundation “So the World May Hear” Gala. What an awesome opportunity! Not only is the cause amazing, but we got to see 2Cellos, Gene Simmons, Matt Nathanson and Katy Perry perform and listen to two former presents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, speak.

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Me and Jamie with Quinton Aaron from “The Blind Side”

Jason and I attend many black tie events as, through his job, he emcees charity galas in the Twin Cities. I have quite a collection of gowns and cocktail dresses. I always tell people that I don’t mind going to all of the events because I love being able to wear fun/beautiful/glamorous dresses! On this night, we were just guests, which was a nice change of pace.

After consulting with Jamie Yuccas, whose husband works for Starkey, I decided to dress on the fun side of formal, rather than a full-on gown. As always at these types of events, there was a mix of attire, but I felt like I was dressed appropriately! Most importantly, I loved what I wore!

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I went all out getting my hair and makeup done by Anna at WarPaint International. You can see the before and afters below. I loved the results!

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I purchased my dress a couple months ago from bluefly.com, a discount designer site. I loved the scale-like texture and how it changed color at different angles. I felt like a mermaid! Nicole Miller is the designer, and she is my favorite! My earrings are from baublebar.com, which is a great site for low-priced, decent quality costume jewelry. They have sales throughout the week, including a $10 Buried Bauble every Friday. My bag is by Nelle, now known as Ms. Made.

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And the shoes! I got so much love for the shoes on social media. They are Michael Kors from a couple years ago, but sadly I can’t seem to find them being sold anywhere.

About my formal dress collection… I do wear them more than once. I always consider what event I wore what to previously, the crowd at the upcoming event (will there be overlap from another event?), and how photographed it was the last time I wore it. Sometimes we end up in local magazines or the newspaper. (Not a sentence I thought I’d ever use to describe my life!) To be honest, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter and no one cares or remembers, but it gives me an excuse to keep buying dresses! I know that certain brands work really well for me, Nicole Miller in particular. I buy the dresses at Stephanie’s, bluefly.com, myhabit.com, and other sites where I can find a good deal. If I find a sale on a Nicole Miller dress that I love, I will often buy it as I know that the dresses work on my body and that I’ll be able to wear it eventually. I also pick up other brands on sale here and there as they catch my eye.

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As we move into fall, you’ll see a lot more formalwear from me, as peak “gala season” seems to be from September through November.

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College Memories

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Jason recently had the opportunity to introduce a concert at the Minnesota Zoo. They have a Music in the Zoo series every summer, and it’s really a unique venue to watch a concert. The intimate amphitheater holds about 1,500 people, and is used for the bird show when the zoo is open. It seems that wild birds like to flock (ha!) to that area as well, because every time we’ve gone I’ve noticed big birds flying overhead throughout the show. As someone who does not like birds, especially birds swooping over my head, it makes me a little uneasy, but I powered through.

Anyway, we cross-checked our schedule with the line-up of acts, and landed on the Indigo Girls. Jason and I used to listen to them back in college. Check that, as he told the crowd, we used to make out to the Indigo Girls. Thanks for sharing, honey. A couple days before the show, we listened to their most recent album so we’d be at least a little familiar with their current songs.

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We were told that the cool kids keep their all-access passes on their pant legs, not on their shirts.

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My outfit was decidedly not what I would have worn in college. Although, now that I think of it, I did wear a lot of leggings and long, oversized shirts in college. I guess this is an updated, more polished version.

I bought the pants at the D.NOLO sale that I mentioned in a post a week or so ago. They are Helmut Lang, the same brand as the dress I purchased from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I don’t have a lot of cropped skinny pants, and I really like the subtle pattern on these. At the store, I tried the pants on with a black tank top similar to the one above, but it was $120, so I passed on buying it. I went to Nordstrom Rack and bought 3 different black tanks, hoping to find one that I liked just as well. I decided on this one, by west kei. I wore this outfit with my Halogen suede wedges and my magenta GiGi New York clutch.

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The necklace was a birthday gift from my parents bought on a recent trip to California. I love the shape and design.

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The concert was a lot of fun!  We knew a lot more of the older songs (mid-90s) and recognized some of the new stuff, but there were a lot of holes in our knowledge of songs in the middle years. No matter, it was a great night, remembering the early days of our relationship at Campus Town on Marquette’s campus! (We did spare the audience from having to watch us make out.)

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Alyssa’s Picks: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

I thought I’d do something different today and share some of my picks from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. This annual sale is one of my favorites, as Nordstrom puts its fall merchandise on sale in the middle of July! Most of my clothes that don’t come from local boutiques probably come from Nordstrom. The sale goes through August 2, so there is still some time to shop. I did almost all of my shopping online, but I can’t wait until Nordstrom Ridgedale opens in October!

Clothing

  • Helmut Lang ‘Nova’ Print Ruched Jersey Dress – I love ruched jersey dresses like this. They are forgiving but also give the illusion of curves where you don’t have them. I first ordered an X-Small, but I couldn’t even get the neck hole over my head. The Small was perfect. This was my one splurge item this year.

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  • NYDJ ‘Aubrey’ Colorblock Plaid Sheath – This one is a bit out of my normal wheelhouse. I liked it, and so did Jason, it’s just not practical for my lifestyle. It’d be a great work dress if worked at an office. It has built-in shape wear, which I missed in the description. I’m not used to it, so it was a little strange. Fit was true to size. I sent it back.
  • Leith A-Line Turtleneck Dress – I tried this in black. It’s super simple, but I think that as a blank slate, it has potential to be worn in many ways, dressed up or down.

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  • KUT from the Kloth ‘Cameron’ Distressed Rolled Straight Leg Jeans – I love these and can’t wait to wear them as soon as the humidity dies down a bit. They have the perfect amount of destructed look and I love different look of the tall cuff. I had to size down. They appear to be out of stock right now, but keep checking back as sometimes there are returns.
  • Halogen Sheer Inset Sleeveless Top – This is a good staple layering piece and I’m kind of obsessed with the purply orchid color right now.
  • 1.STATE Sleeveless Peplum Top – I was drawn to the pattern and slight peplum on this top. Only the small was available when I ordered, and it was too big on top. I see that the X Small is available now. I might give it a try.
  • Trouve ‘Double V’ Colorblock Tank – Another pretty layering basic. I love the color contrast and the cutouts along the neck. True to size.
  • Trouve Zip Neck High/Low Gathered Top – I picked this up when we visited the MOA store today. I love the zip neck detail!
  • Chelsea28 Floral Embroidered Sweater – Another item I picked up at the store today. It was displayed in store with the striped scarf shown below. I’ll wear it with my Vince grey skinny pants from last year’s NAS sale.
  • Halogen Long Boucle Open Cardigan – I live in cardigans like this in the fall and winter. The basement is chilly to work in, and I hate being cold. This will get a lot of use. It’s long, so it may be better on taller women, but the fit was true to size.
  • Barefoot Dreams Drape Front Cardigan – Another cardigan that will be a workhorse in my wardrobe. This is so unbelievably soft, I love it! I got the navy stripe.

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Shoes

  • Halogen ‘Lidia’ Studded Leather Ankle Bootie – I purchased these in the grey color, as I really liked the interesting shade. I always struggle a bit with what shoes to wear with my boot cut or more flared jeans, as I mostly own tall boots and my flats won’t cut it in the winter. These will do nicely!
  • Ivanka Trump ‘Tenice’ Pointy Toe Pump – I don’t need a lot of pumps in my closet, but I loved the style of these in the grey suede. I will end up wearing them to our less formal events this fall and winter, and can wear them them on business trips too.

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Accessories

  • Halogen Tricolor Cashmere Infinity Scarf – This was so cozy and pretty, but in the end, I couldn’t justify the price for a scarf. I’m going to try to knit myself an infinity scarf instead.
  • Nordstrom Texture Stripe Infinity Scarf – I will wear this with the Chelsea28 sweater above. The texture is great on this and I can see myself reaching for this a lot.
  • Halogen Ombre Leather Envelope Clutch – A great clutch that’s on the casual side. I already used it for an event we had last Monday night. There’s a chain too, which is nice when you need your hands free. I’m trying to mix up my handbags a bit for the blog!

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Jewelry

  • kate spade glitter stud earrings – I was lusting after these at last year’s sale, but I didn’t buy them. This year, it was a no-brainer. I bought the multi-colored ones. So fun! They are a bit bigger than I expected, but I can’t wait to wear them!

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  • Nordstrom Semiprecious Stone Pendant Necklace – I got this in the white crystal. It should be a versatile addition to my jewelry box. I’ve been leaning toward longer necklaces lately, and I thought this one was unique.
  • Kendra Scott jewelry – I was tempted by many of these pieces, but did not buy. The color options are great. I own a Kendra Scott ring, and it’s great quality, but I haven’t seen any of these sale items in person.

Whew, that’s a lot! Some of this I didn’t buy, some went back, and some I’m still undecided on. Luckily Nordstrom has an awesome return policy, including free return shipping. There’s nothing I hate more than paying shipping on a return.

Prices go back up on August 3. If you can’t pull the trigger now, keep an eye out as items will often go on sale again in early fall. Sometimes they even show up at Nordstrom Rack in a few months. If there’s something you feel like you have to have, now’s the time to buy!

Typical Weekend

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A typical weekend for us involves a date night and family time. We bring the kids to the city (Minneapolis and/or St. Paul) all the time. As I’ve mentioned, I like to get out of the house on the weekends since I work in our basement all day, all week long. I can’t say that they’re always excited to be dragged along with us, but I like to think that one day they will thank us for showing them the world outside of the suburbs.

Since I started this blog (and, let’s be honest, before that, too), there is usually some shopping involved on every weekend excursion. On this particular weekend, we went to D. NOLO in Minneapolis, which is a cooperative of women’s clothing and accessory stores, with some home goods mixed in. My friend Lauren told me about their sale and I wanted to check it out. It’s a great concept, you can see several stores’ merchandise in one spot. Some of the stores have a separate brick and mortar location (Bluebird Boutique and Bumbershute), while others are only located here (Arafina). I found so many of my favorite brands, including Nicole Miller, Joie and Clover Canyon, and I will definitely check back often. I ended up buying several items in brands that were new to my wardrobe. Stay tuned to see them here soon!

I tried this dress on. I don’t remember the designer, but I was really torn about it and ended up leaving it behind. Looking back at it now, I kind of wish I bought it too!

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The boys can be good shoppers. They usually get one of our phones to play with while Jason helps me browse and I try stuff on. Handing the iPhone over buys us a good chunk of time. They often get complimented on how well-behaved they are in stores. I guess they’re well-practiced!

After the shopping trip, we went to Target Field Station to see the WCCO Blues Band perform before they Twins game. The band is made up of current and former WCCO employees and family members. They were really impressive!

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I wore a dress that I bought in some random store in Chicago a couple years ago. It was less than $40 and I love how comfortable it is. I ended up buying the hat from Stephanie’s (shocker) and this was the perfect day to debut it.

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For our date, we went to dinner at Il Foro, a new Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. We loved it, the pastas were so good! Definitely try the Red Wine Rigatoni. It sounds simple, but it’s full of flavor. After dinner, we went for cocktails at the newly opened Constantine and had another snack at Coup d’Etat. Our favorite way to go out is to graze our way through 3 or 4 different spots, sampling drinks and appetizers or dessert at each stop. That way we can try several places in one night, but only pay the babysitter once!

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I wore a Red Haute dress from Stephanie’s. I love the sheer ruffle that adds a bit of interest to the black linen dress. My necklace was a birthday gift from my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. So fun! The clutch is several years old, BCBG. My shoes are Halogen from Nordstrom, another comfortable sandal. I give Jamie a lot of credit for suffering through uncomfortable shoes sometimes in the name of fashion, I try to avoid it unless it’s a special event. I really liked the pop of bright pink lipstick with this outfit! I usually stick to a much more subtle shade, but with all the black, I decided to mix it up.

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Guest Post: The Many Shoes of Jamie Yuccas

I’m very excited to share my very first guest post – from Jamie Yuccas! Jamie is a good friend and my husband’s co-anchor on WCCO This Morning. She has been encouraging me to start a blog for awhile, so it’s only fitting that she be my first guest poster.  Jamie shares about her awesome shoe collection below.

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I am so honored Alyssa DeRusha asked me to guest blog on AlyssaStyled! Thank you!image1

I’m so proud of her for following her fashion passion and sharing her style secrets with the world. Girl Power!

I have always loved when her husband, Jason DeRusha, and I are asked to do events together. It’s not because Jason is really easy to work with, but because I get to see what Alyssa decides to rock at all kinds of events. 

Because she is the authority on putting together outfits, I thought I would focus on what I love best. Shoes.

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People seem to at the very least like my shoes, too, so that’s a plus. This week I was stopped to get a picture of my shoes and to  find out where I shop for my shoes. The final piece of evidence that I might pick out pretty cool footwear, was while Jason and I Grand Marshaled a parade (what a ridiculous sentence) and a woman yelled out: “I watch you every morning to see your shoes!” Thanks!

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According to Pinterest, I’m not alone in feeling pure enthusiasm for what goes on my feet.

There’s all those memes:

“A woman with cute shoes is never ugly.”

“My clothes might be tight, but my shoes always fit.”

“Some people say laughter is the best medicine, I would argue it’s shoes.”

They’re all true. The right pair of shoes can comfort you, make you feel sexy, playful or even tough. I have bought outfits just to go with my shoes. As a news anchor, when I’m asked to do promo shoots for the station, I actually think about my shoes first. I leave shoes everywhere. Under my desk, in three different closets at home, hanging in the studio. Why? Not to drive co-workers and my husband crazy, but because I might change my mind depending on my mood!

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While I do like shopping for shoes, I don’t like spending a lot. I invest in snow boots, cowboy boots, rain boots, but everything else is usually a cheapie.

What’s cheap? $40 and under. I use www.JustFab.com and www.Shoedazzle.comEach site is $39.99 a month. For that you get a pair of shoes. Both sites have also added handbags and clothes, but I stick to shoes. You can opt out of each month if you don’t want to spend the money or if they don’t have something you like. Sometimes other discounts are offered. I’ve gotten 2 for 1 sandals and 75% off fashion tennis shoes. Each site does ship to you, but provides everything you need to ship back, if they don’t work out. I find the sizing information on each site pretty spot on.

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Some things I think about when shopping for shoes:

 A nude shoe can be so sexy. Remember nude can elongate your legs, especially in a skirt or dress.

And on the flip side, a black pump is always sophisticated.

But sometimes for big events neither is going to look “right.” My advice is to then seek out a muted metallic and get a second opinion –either by taking a picture or having a girlfriend over. I always check out people’s shoes at events, they can make or break the entire outfit!

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I find shoes are a very easy conversation starter with people of all ages. If you have an event that you have to attend on your own or will be in front of a group of people you don’t know, why not stay conservative with hair and make-up and make a splash with your shoes? Do something a shade brighter than what you’re comfortable with. Maybe get the heel that’s got cut-outs in it. A pump with a lace up front.

 

Shoes that my gut yells: These are fun! Get the most reaction. Good and Bad! And to me both reactions are ok because if I like them, and they fit well, that’s all the really matters.

Cheetah print (Good)

Graphic design (Good) 

Studded (Ladies like them, Men don’t seem to get them or make a comment about getting hurt.)

Mesh boots (Mixed reaction from both sexes, people either LOVE them or HATE THEM, but most people give me props for trying!)

That’s why I say take a risk. Especially if you have a tendency to dress more conservatively either because you have to at work or because you like to. Shoes are an easy way to try a trend and spice up your wardrobe.

You can also find all these types of shoes at Target, cheap. (I have a cool pair of very sparkly flip flops that get complimented all the time that I found for $3!)

You can buy uncomfortable shoes. It’s ok, just make sure you  have some really comfy flats in your purse. I’ve ordered these from Amazon before and they’re great and yes, right now they’re $4.99! I also always carry Band Aids for the occasional blister in my handbag. Even your most sensible shoes can become uncomfortable because of weather, travel, how long you’re standing or because of water retention.

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You’ll likely never believe my must-shoe essential: cowboy boots. In Minnesota, they can be worn almost every season and look cute. You can cover up when in need of a pedicure. You can draw focus to your legs, especially if maybe the rest of your body isn’t feeling awesomely beautiful. You can get them dirty. All have some lift in them that gives your calf, quad and buttocks a boost, too. And they’re often the shoe I get the most compliments on from MEN!

Brunching

I love brunch. That’s not exactly a controversial statement these days. Everyone seems to love brunch. The Bloody Marys, the hearty breakfast food that keeps you full until dinner, the leisurely pace. We recently met friends at a new-to-us restaurant, W.A. Frost in St. Paul. I know, W.A. Frost has been around for 40 years, but we’ve lived here over 12 years and had never been. Neither had our friends, so off we went.

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Hi Seth!

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I wore a simple Bobi jersey dress from Stephanie’s. I was drawn to the tulip detail at the hem and the rich color. It’s lightweight and easy to wear. The t-shirt material makes it casual enough for a backyard barbecue (we went to one later in the afternoon) but I still felt a little dressed up, which made me happy.

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I wore this rose gold with black crystal Henri Bendel pendant necklace. Henri Bendel sounds very fancy, but I got it on major sale last year, and it really didn’t cost any more than other costume-type jewelry.

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I paired the outfit with these bronze Indigo by Clarks cork wedges that I’ve had for a few years. Clarks is definitely not a brand I would have normally sought out, but I’ve found some fashionable and comfortable choices over the last couple seasons. I do try to have an open mind about the brands that I shop for, though it’s easy to seek out my favorites. How else do you find new favorites?

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Brunch was delicious! They even have a 4-course brunch for $25. (Jason had it and didn’t eat the rest of the day.) We’ll have to try W.A. Frost again for dinner. Next time, we’ll make a reservation so we can get a seat on the lovely patio.

White and Blue x 2

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I have a lot of color in my wardrobe, but for some reason, I avoid red. Not sure why, it’s just not my favorite.  On the 4th of July, I ended up wearing two different blue and white outfits. No red, even on America’s birthday!

First, we went to the Guthrie Theater to see The Music Man. Jason introduced me to the musical while we were dating, and I love it.  It’s just a fun, classic show that the whole family can enjoy. We got Seth, our newly 10-year old, tickets for his birthday. Songs like “Ya Got Trouble” and “Pick a Little, Talk a Little” and “Shipoopi” put a smile on my face.

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My silly boys. Sometimes it’s impossible to get them both to smile in the same photo. And yes, Sam is wearing plaid shorts and striped shirt.  It’s hard enough to get them to wear something other than t-shirts and athletic shorts, I was not going to press my luck.

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Can you spot Sam?

My skirt is new, from the Stephanie’s sale.  It is by Waverly Grey. I tend to stick to dresses for my dressier occasions, but I loved the silhouette and texture of this skirt, and this blog is all about me branching out, right? Plus, pockets! Lora, a friend and manager at Stephanie’s, suggested I wear it with a denim shirt, tied at the waist. Mine is from Gap, several years ago, but this one is very similar. The clutch is by Nelle Handbags (though it looks like she is going by Ms. Made now). The designer, Laura, is local and I love her bags! I have 3, I think? They’re so unique and well-made. I picked up these Steve Madden NONSTP sandals a couple years ago, and they are by far my most worn dressy-casual shoes in the summer. They are really comfortable, and go with just about everything.

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I picked up the necklace on a day trip to Red Wing, MN this spring. It is made by Skagen, a Danish brand that makes beautiful watches. I didn’t know that they also made jewelry until we happened upon it at a shop in downtown Red Wing. I liked how the pearl buttons on my shirt mimicked the pearly disks on the necklace.

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After the show, we went to some friends’ house for a barbecue. It was hot, and my theater outfit was a bit to fancy for a backyard party, so I quickly changed before heading over.

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We didn’t get a full-length picture of this one, but it’s a Calvin Klein maxi dress that Jason picked out for me at Nordstrom Rack last year. Just right for hanging out with friends.

Such a perfect 4th – some culture (The Music Man plays through August 23!) with the family and laughs with great friends, followed by driveway fireworks!

 

 

Hot Summer Sunday

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I tend to wear dresses every day in the summer, no matter what we’re doing. I find them easy and comfortable, so why not?

A couple Sundays ago, it was going to be really hot, and we didn’t really have anything planned, so I threw on this outfit.

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Since I work from home, sometimes only leaving the house on a given day to take the boys to day camp, I need to get OUT on the weekends. I don’t care where we go, just as long as I’m out in civilization.

On this day, we settled on running some errands near home and ended up at Wagner’s Drive-In for lunch. It is one of those old-fashioned burger and shake joints where you pull up to the menu/intercom contraption, flip the switch to let them know you’re ready and place your order. They bring it right out to your car in a wire tray that attaches to the door.  The kids loved it!  The burgers were juicy and delicious and my blueberry shake had hunks of real blueberries. It was perfect hot summer day food.

I’m pretty sure the last time we were there was when we were on our way home from North Memorial Medical Center with barely 24-hour old Sam. IMG_3749.JPG

 

Almost 8 years ago!

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My top is the Lna Aura tank from Evereve. I like this one but even though I’ve washed it a couple times, the dye rubs off on my bag, which is annoying. The shorts are from J. Crew, 4″ chinos in sweet persimmon. I bought the Clark’s sandals years ago, and have really put them through the paces.  They are really comfortable and can be dressed up or down. We discovered Brittany Foster of bmf jewelry years ago, and I just love the organic twisting metal of this pendant. This was probably one of the first artsy pieces of jewelry I ever bought (not fine jewelry, not chain store costume jewelry). I recently rediscovered it in my jewelry box and I find myself reaching for it a lot these days. We still see Brittany around at many of the art shows around town, and I definitely make it a point to seek out unique jewelry.

I haven’t really worn a lot of shorts in recent years, but I’m trying to be more comfortable in them this summer. We recently took a family vacation to South Dakota, and I wore shorts and tennis shoes every day. It’s so rare for me to dress like that, when we got home my 7-year old made a point to proudly tell my friend all about it!

Cocktails and Family Time

We may live in the suburbs, but we spend most of our free time and money in Minneapolis or St. Paul. This week we took the kids to a preview of the new Tattersall Distilling cocktail room in Minneapolis (opens July 8!).  I can’t say that the boys are always thrilled to be dragged along on our eating and drinking adventures, but with delicious mocktails for them and refreshing cocktails for the grown ups (and a food truck offering cheese curds and french fries right outside), we all made the best of it.

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The kids like to try to “hide” in my photos.  I’m sure you can’t see anyone behind me, right?

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I love that Seth is casually reading, pretending like he doesn’t know he’s in the photo.

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“Hi boys, I see you!”

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The top is Splendid from Evereve (still not sure about their name change).  I love knits by Splendid!  The fabric is so soft, and I totally shop by feel.  Distressed James Jeans are from Stephanie’s.  Halogen pointed toe d’Orsay flats from Nordstrom, a necklace from Patina, and my GiGi New York bag finish off the outfit.

With Jason’s work schedule, we don’t often go out at night in the middle of the week (unless it’s for soccer of course), but it was awesome to get out and check out our friend Dan Oskey’s new venture.

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Soccer mom life

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That’s my goalie up there!

With 2 boys who love soccer, we’re at a practice or game at least 5 days a week. I don’t love how much soccer consumes our lives these days (not to mention my stomach does flip flops the whole time Seth is in goal), but it’s what the boys love to do. We’re nearing the end of the season, so it was time to break out my party pants.

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The past couple years, I’ve amassed a small collection of printed and colored denim. At first I thought it may be a passing trend, but it seems to be sticking around.  The pattern on these James Jeans pants is a little crazy, but I love them.  Paired with the matching Red Haute top (both pieces from Stephanie’s last year) and my comfy Target Merona sandals, I felt great.  Sunglasses are Valentino from Nordstrom Rack. Why not mix it up getting dressed to go to a soccer game? Working from home, sometimes the most excitement in my day is hanging out on the sidelines at an elementary school soccer field.

My husband, Jason, is my usual photographer, and he snapped these pictures as I was crossing the field at halftime after I brought Seth his water bottle. Once I realized what he was doing, I got self conscious. I’m trying to do better with having my photo taken!

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I love my summer dresses, but sometimes I just want to wear my party pants!