Freckles in April

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Curating My Closet

Last month Janssen threw me a lovely little birthday party at her house. Not only did she make a fantastic salad for lunch but she also gave me The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. I was really excited to read it but honestly didn't realize how much I needed this book until I read the first few pages. She talks about having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear and I was like, holy cow I'm back there, aren't I.

See, I first started this blog in 2010 to help me get my clothing groove back after my second child was born. Style blogging felt vain and a bit silly but it was SO useful when it came to nailing down what I liked and what I didn't and working with a body that had changed twice in the previous three years. By the time I got pregnant with baby number 3 in 2014 I knew my style and, thanks to how consistently I wore "me" pieces, so did other people. Friends would send me pictures of shirts in stores and be like, "This is such a Kayla shirt!" and I'd be like, THAT TOTALLY IS and then sometimes I'd go buy it.

But somewhere in the past three years I lost that. My body changed even more after having our little Caboose and I find myself turning my nose up at items in my closet that I used to love. Because I wasn't taking regular pictures of my clothing I stopped putting much effort into styling my outfits and they became super basic. Not that there's anything wrong with super basic! But that's not me, you know? Thanks to my regular gym-going I've become one of those people who wears active-wear most places just because it's the easiest stuff in my closet. I get home from the gym, shower, and put on clean gym clothes because anything else has started feeling a bit stressful.

Enter: The Curated Closet. I felt like I shouldn't need it after so many years of style blogging but it seemed more like gentle reminders to do things I already know how to do but have forgotten. Like take pictures of my outfits every day and assess (verdict: I still like a lot of dresses and skirts this time of year. If I had taken pics 3 months ago it would have been allll joggers).

Use Pinterest to gather inspiration pictures for what you WANT to wear (you can see my board here).

The center top pic is one I came back to again and again. I LOVE that oufit and that's exactly what I want to wear all summer long. The one directly underneath it I managed to pin two different images of the same outfit so I must be really into it. I also pinned a lot of pleated skirts even though I don't particularly love pleated skirts- there's just some good styling on display with those pleats.

Look for patterns in those pictures

Ok this is supposed to be a gif that flashes to the white tops, sneakers, and leather jackets. But it only seems to be working sometimes so just know that it looked REAL fancy when I put it together.

I was actually shocked by how many basic white tees and button downs showed up in my inspiration pictures. Guess how many basic whites I own? One. I used to have a really great white button down but it was looking sad after many many wears and I finally got rid of it last year. It looks like it's time to get some new basic white tops (I've got my eye on some of Everlane's stuff. They've added so much good stuff in the past few years and I've loved their tees in the past).

Shoes are currently a big problem area in my closet. My feet grew a bit while pregnant with the Caboose and shoes that I used to rely on no longer fit comfortably. I've hung on to them because...maybe they'll fit again someday? I don't know. But it's time to say goodbye and look for a couple pairs of non-gym sneakers (chucks are too narrow for me...maybe Vans?), a cool pair of flats and some interesting (but easy!) sandals.

Lastly, I would like a lightweight leather jacket. I actually already own a real leather jacket but A. it's brown and I think I want black and B. it's REALLY warm. I wear it about twice a year, usually in the depths of December. So I'm going to keep an eye out for something black and a little more light-weight. A faux leather version of my well-loved black moto jacket from Gap (I will be devastated when that dies).

I'm only just over halfway through the book but already its been so helpful. I'm trying to psych myself up for a good closet clean-out. I have a ThredUp bag ready to go and normally I'm super gung-ho about purging but this time it's got me a bit anxious. There's so much in my closet right now that I used to love but isn't doing it for me anymore. It's like...getting rid of old friends, I guess. Are closet growing pains a thing? I think that's what I have.

Does anyone else go through this closet cycle endlessly?


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Decorist Experience + Tips for Getting a Design You Love

Totally unsponsored. I paid for everything with my own money and Decorist doesn't know who I am.

A couple years ago I had a sort-of-vision for our master bedroom and I got started. I did some faux brick and a giant tufted velvet headboard...and then I got distracted by the rest of the house and our master bedroom remained mostly empty. It's a huge room but all we've had in there for the past few years is a bed, ONE bedside table (Aaron's) and a leaning mirror that I wasn't sure where else to put.

Aaron mentioned a couple times that we should hire a designer to help us get our bedroom to where we wanted it but I'd always come back with, "OR we could just give me a budget and let me do my thing." The end result being that nothing ever got done.

After seeing what Decorist did with my friend Alex's and then Janssen's bedroom I was pretty interested in their services. Last month they had a 40% off coupon which made a room design cost all of $179 and I jumped on it. I told Aaron it was his anniversary present (this was a big mistake as it gave weight to his taste over mine and you can imagine how well that played out).

To get started you take a short quiz asking about your preferences ("this more traditional couch or this modern couch?") to try to narrow down your style and pair you with a designer. Then you write down your project goals, upload some pictures of your room as well as a floor plan, and then pick some inspiration photos from their site. There were also places where we could input additional inspiration links or a Pinterest board but we didn't (this was also a big mistake).

Here's where I went wrong: I assumed we would be having a conversation with our designer where she would look at our quiz and 3 inspiration images and then ask a few specific questions to help nail down our style and preferences before getting to work. NOW I know that I should have used a Pinterest board and inspiration links to get as much information as possible about our taste and preferences across to our designer.

Instead, she asked about our taste in art and then specifics about our room (did we want a new fan?) and that was that. I shrugged and figured she had gotten enough information from the quiz and inspiration pictures.

Our inspiration picks

After your designer goes through your inspiration, they deliver two concept boards. Here's our first:

I was shocked by how much I disliked it. I don't think I've ever hated a lamp as much as I hate those bedside lamps. The upholstered ottoman is so so bad. The bedside tables are boring. The pillows are not remotely my taste. The only things that I might consider are the rattan bench and that painting in the second picture.

Here's the second concept she sent:

Definitely better than the first one. I love the chairs. I like the art in the second picture. I quite like the blue pillows on the bed.

But I hate the bench (my grandma would 100% have that in her house). The bedside tables are super boring. Meh on the lamps. And, as much as I love the gray walls, I ultimately decided I don't want to rip out the faux brick (we'd have to redo the crown molding and baseboards and I don't want to deal with that) and the gray wouldn't really mesh.

The designer read all my feedback and kind of pointed to the fact that we didn't give her much to go on. It was true, we didn't do a Pinterest board or any other inspiration gathering and that was our bad, but that first concept was NOTHING like the three inspiration pictures we chose so that's not just on me.

She gave me 3 more bedside table options:

When I showed them to Aaron he said, "That one's boring, that one looks like a refrigerator, and that last one reminds me of the 70s. Not in a good way."


So I went shopping and found this:

and this:

I got Aaron's approval and sent them over to our designer, crossing fingers they would lead her more in the right direction.

A few day later she sent over the final design concept board:'s fine. It's a jumping off point and I feel like it sent me in the right direction. I still wasn't blown away but at least the final concept looks like a room I would want to live in.

This is where I should do a grand bedroom reveal BUT we're slow-and-steady when it comes to decor so all I've done is add the bedside tables and a bench is supposed to arrive today (slightly different from the one I originally liked, but I had a gift card and Aaron prefers it). It'll probably be 6 months to a year before the room is actually done (and then I'll continue to mess with it for another year after that). That's how our house rolls.

But I wanted to share my Decorist experience because I think there's a lot of potential to get fantastic designs from them at a really great long as you approach it right. Here are my tips:

1. Make a Pinterest board

I have PLENTY of interior decor images pinned but they're 90% kitchens (since we remodeled our kitchen last year) and the odd living room. There's maybe one master bedroom in there and Aaron didn't love it. We actually did sit and go through Pinterest for a few minutes but kept running across the same images that Decorist had provided as choices in the first place so we gave up. What I SHOULD have done was create a group board for both of us to contribute to separately over a few days and then go through and delete whatever we really couldn't agree on before submitting it to our designer.

2. Request a designer

I don't think our designer was a great fit for us. What I didn't realize when I started was that I could go through all the designers (there are a TON), look at their profiles, and then specifically request one. I quite liked both the concept boards that Janssen's designer gave them for their master bedroom and, in retrospect, I should have asked Janssen for her name at the beginning and requested her. BUT I didn't know that was an option until after we'd already been paired with someone else.

3. Be honest and specific

I was hesitant to give my designer too much direction because what if that kept her from giving us an amazing design that would totally blow us away? I had design FOMO. I also honestly thought that I wasn't that picky (lol). I gave her a lot of open-ended answers that didn't end up being helpful at all. Like I told her I was open to ripping out the faux brick but, when I really thought about it, I wasn't. I told her I didn't have strong feelings either way about drapery even while suspecting that I'd probably never bother to hang curtains because our shutters are really good at keeping out the light. I thought giving her free reign was the way to go when the reality was that she would have found constraints a lot more useful.

4. Share pictures of things in your house you already love

Our front room is the most "done" in our house. It has lots of plants. It has a soothing color palette of grays, blues and whites. There's some texture and pattern. It contains the couch we loved so much that we ended up buying it even though we didn't know where we'd put it. A picture of that room probably would have gone a LONG way toward helping our designer nail down our taste and what we wanted in our bedroom. If you've got a space you already love, snap a picture and send it over!

Reading the above makes me sound like SUCH a moron (duh you should have done those things, Kayla) but honestly I had to go through the process in order to really understand it. So even though we weren't blown away by our master bedroom design we're definitely open to using Decorist again in the future. I think next time we could get a much better design based on the things we learned from this attempt.

Have you used Decorist? What was your experience?


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I love my birthday so much. Yeah, it's a day to feel special and eat cake and maybe open a gift or two but I also love the chance to reflect on where I'm at in life. And every year I think, "You know...I'm doing pretty good."

I'm kind of scared to even write this down because we all know how the universe works but: I feel like I've got my shiz together. I've taken charge of my health- I'm active, I eat healthy, I take good care of myself and I feel so so good. I've put a lot of time and effort into our house and it's a really pleasant place to be. My relationships with my family are good. I have a small business I'm proud of. I feel...on top of things.

I mean, sure, I have off days (side eye at my thyroid) but I mostly feel like I'm where I always thought I'd be at 32. A decently competent adult who handles stuff and has boring adult plans (office expansion! savings plans for my kids!) and occasionally does fun things like taking my husband on surprise trips and chopping all my hair off.

For 32 all I can really wish for is more of the same. More waking up early in the quiet of a clean, sunlight-filled house. More good times with my family. More long lunches with friends. More days exploring the outdoors and eating good food and reading amazing books.

I really can't complain. Life is good. Bring it on, 32!

My skirt will be released next week but right now I've got a fun birthday deal going on for Lark. Check it out!

Pictures by Chrissy of Let Me See You Sparkle Photography, who fit me in for a suuuper last minute birthday shoot yesterday and got me my pictures just a few hours later. Girlfriend is amazeballs.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Splurge or Save | Albion Fit Edition

If you haven't spent at least a few minutes drooling over Albion Fit's swimsuit line then what have you been doing with your life? Everything they do is gorgeous!

...and expensive.

Clothing retailers get their clothes one of two ways: they can design and manufacture their own (which is more expensive but it means they'll be the only one who carries that stuff) OR they can buy from wholesalers and resell at a markup (cheaper, but your competitors will likely have a lot of the same styles in their shops). Going by Albion's about page, it sounds like they do the former.

Which means the swimsuits I found are knockoffs and not the same suit bought from the same wholesaler and sold at wildly different prices. There will likely be quality and fit differences. If I was a better blogger I'd order them and compare for you but my blog budget right now is basically $10 per year for my domain so I'm just going to write about it and say caveat emptor.

Albion Fit Island Hopper One-Piece Cutout Suit vs CupShe Fashion on Amazon

There's a $98 difference between these suits. The Amazon reviews are decent- mostly sizing complaints.

Izabal Switchback Crop and Black Hipster Bottoms vs CupShe Fashion on Amazon

A $125 difference. The leaf print in the Albion suit is definitely a larger scale print, which isn't as obvious in the other suit. Again, the Amazon reviews on the cheaper suit are decent. Lots of girls sharing pictures and their measurements so you can check the fit.

CupShe also carries this high-neck bikini in the leaf print- similar to Albion's Izabal style but not a direct copy of anything they've done.

I'm willing to bet Albion's quality is totally worth the money. If you've got the budget, go for the better swimsuit. But if a $100+ swimsuit was never on the table for you then meh, might as well give the Amazon version a try, right?

After stumbling upon the Albion knockoffs I went down the rabbit hole and found a bunch more that I could directly line up to much pricier brands. I'll be sharing those as well- stay tuned!


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ten Years

I'm cheating a bit because we actually celebrated 11 years of marriage in December and these were taken for our tenth anniversary the year before but I wasn't blogging then and I wanted to post them.

Our wedding pictures are meh. We didn't set a big budget for a photographer and we got what we paid for- probably less, actually, since our photographer "went through a hard time" and disappeared with our wedding pictures for over a year.

I have so many words for him.

So when our 10th anniversary approached, I told Aaron I wanted some new pictures.

I wanted a new dress- something that flattered me a bit more. I spent months searching and finally found this one from ModCloth. I'm dying to find somewhere else to wear it!

I wanted pictures that ditched the stiff posing and reflected 10 years worth of being each other's safe place. No weird leaning or faux casual snuggling against iron railings!

I wanted a cool location. Downtown Gilbert is such a treasure trove of colors, textures and cool details.

I wanted a photographer we knew and loved. We hired Jed Davis. He and his wife are good friends of ours and he and Aaron have worked together in the past. He was fantastic, as we knew he would be. AND he delivered our photos promptly. I will never take that for granted after our experience with our wedding photographer!

It's been over a year and I still go back and look at these all the time. They turned out so well and were everything I wanted. We agreed we need to do it again after another 10 years!


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