Freckles in April: November 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

9 Pretty Christmas Dress Options for Women

I haven't bought myself a Christmas dress in ages but this year I got the itch and I've been online window shopping like crazy. Here are nine (+3!) options for a variety of tastes and budgets:

Velvet Crush

To be honest I wasn't on board with the velvet trend until I started shopping for Christmas dresses and then I was like SIGN ME UP. When I sent screenshots of velvet dresses to some friends, opinions were decidedly split. Some are super on board and all kinds of heart-eyed over it and others are like, nope did this when I was 8 hard pass. So if you fall more into the former camp than the latter, here are 3 I love:
1. Shop Henly | This deep cranberry wrap dress is to. die. for.
2. eShakti | Dark floral is perfect for Christmas but still works all fall and winter long.
3. ASOS | I can't pull off kimono style dresses despite MULTIPLE attempts but gaaah I adore the silhouette and this color.

I ordered this one from SheIn to try. My expectations are reeeeal low but the reviews are good and the price was right so why not. I will likely report back on my IG story.

LBD Forever

I have a couple friends who wear exclusively black. They always look super chic while openly admitting that they're just really lazy and an all-black wardrobe makes life easier. If you're of the opinion that black is perfect for all situations at all times of year, or you just really like the ease of a LBD, here are a few options for you:

4. eShakti | Apparently statement sleeves are like A Thing right now. Mostly I'm meh about that idea but these bell sleeves caught my fancy. I love that they're on a shift, which is theee best style for hiding the food baby we're all carrying around this time of year.
5. ASOS | tbh I love tuxedo anything. I'd 100% wear this dress with its structured top and drapey bottom and perfect satin lapels and I'd look dang good doing it.
6. SheIn | For people who are like I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MY FOODBABY. But seriously, I love the clean, classic shape and tall lace at the hem. A classy dress for classy broads who like paying only $15 for their holiday wear.

Plaid is Rad

Plaid (and buffalo check) is my jam. I've had this one red plaid shirt for years (it's appeared here a bunch but, because I am terrible at labeling my pictures, I can't find it) that I still get a TON of wear out of. I just love the way it looks with jeans or a leather skirt or, lets be honest, my sweatpants. Anyway, if you are similarly enamored, here are some lovely plaid choices:

7. eShakti | It's like DRAMA but in PLAID, you know? Also, if you haven't bought from eShakti before you may not know that you can add sleeves, change a hem or neckline, etc. I have no fewer than TEN of their dresses in my closet. The quality is fantastic, the fit is excellent, I am a super fan. They are not paying me to say any of that- legit unsponsored raving.
8. Shop Henly | Basically pajamas and I am here for it.
9. J Crew Factory | A woman from our church wore a super similar dress last week and paired it with a cream colored tasseled scarf and sparkly jewelry I probably scared her with how quickly I grabbed her arm like WHERE DID YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU ARE WEARING. Her dress was old from Anthro but totally doable from other, less pricey sources.

BONUS: I prefer skirts, TBH

I got you, boo.

10. Gap | My thoughts on sequin skirts: I got one on clearance a few years back because I couldn't bring myself to pay full price for something that I would only wear a few times a year. But I gotta tell ya- I LOVED pulling that skirt out around Christmas and NYE. If you fancy a sequin skirt, my dear, you should get a sequin skirt.
11. ASOS | Remember the Bride Seen Around the Pinterest World in her white tulle wedding dress with a plaid shirt on top? Do your own take with this ethereal little number (or really, just go look at allll the pretty tulle skirt options on ASOS right now and think of all the dreamy outfits you could create)
12. SheIn | I've come back to look at this skirt a handful of times. I love the windowpane print. The fuller shape makes it a bit fancier. It'd be perfect with a crisp button down, a glittery bracelet and some killer black heels.

Honorable mentions because I forgot how much time it takes to put together images for posts like this and I want to go do something else: ModCloth has some really good plaid skirt choices this year. I don't love lace but I'm pretty into this textured number from Called to Surf. Amazon kept recommending this Gatsby-esque dress and the more I look at it the more I like it so there's a fancy option for ya.

I think there are some pretty big gaps in the market though- very few good options in Christmas green or in a large scale classic red and black buffalo check, BOTH of which I am interested in (and was last year as well, to no avail). Get on it, clothing makers!!

Are you getting a Christmas dress this year? Let's see it!


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Friday, November 3, 2017

Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow What Could be Done Today. Or, How I Stay Sane During the Holidays

From our 2013 visit to Chicago and the Christkindlmarket

I spent years feeling vaguely discontented by the holiday season. Since I became an adult it feels like I have never had enough time to really get into the spirit of it. The Christmas activities I really wanted to do often got dropped just because we never got around to them. I often thought about things a hair too late to actually get them done (looking at you, neighbor gifts). It all seemed rushed and unsatisfying.

When my oldest was a baby I decided it would help a lot if all the gifts were bought and wrapped by the time December rolled around. I've gotten really good at this over the years- I have a spreadsheet with everyone I need to buy for that I re-use every year. I start keeping my eye open for gift options in July and usually have half my list covered by the end of October. I finish the rest of my Christmas shopping in November and get it all wrapped before December 1st. It takes a lot of the stress off! But it didn't go quiiite far enough.

with the siblings at the Mesa temple lights. Which we didn't even get to a couple years ago just never happened.

At some point I started using the first week of November as my holiday planning and prep week. This makes the entire holiday season SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE for me. I'm not stressed. Everything gets done. I get to do all the extras I want to do. It's amazing how much it helps me get in the right groove.

Here's how it works for me:

I sit down sometime during the first week of November and write two lists: things that I need to do for the holidays and things I want to do. I break each item down into individual to-do lists and then I do as much as humanly possible that week. Could it be done later? Sure. But why put it off if I can get it done now when life isn't as crazy?

Here's what my list looks like this year-

-email families- who is hosting? [me]
-plan menu [created Pinterest board]
-make side dish assignments for parents and in-laws [check!]
-plan decor [went to Michael's, got garlands for 80% off]
-Ask mom about china

Family Photos
-Schedule with Aaron [doing these Saturday!]
-Coordinate outfits [we had almost everything, only had to buy a sweater for The Caboose]

Christmas Cards
-Send out address request [I use a google form and sheet to collect addresses every year. I post the form on FB, people fill it out and it auto-adds their info to my sheet. It makes life easy]
-Get family photos done
-Order cards
-Order Christmas stamps  [we're doing Snowy Day this year]
-Address and mail by Dec 1

-check spreadsheet [I use the same spreadsheet every year so I can see what I've done in years past and what I've traditionally spent on each person/family]
-gifts still needed: [made a list of the people who still need gifts]
-Shop! [between Amazon and a local fall boutique, I'm almost done! Just a couple people left]
-Buy gift wrap (TJ Maxx?)

Christmas Meals
- Get together with parents and in-laws to figure out who is doing what and where [this can wait a bit...I already bombarded them with Thanksgiving related emails and they need a breather before I attack them with Christmas Eve and day meal planning. But it's on my radar!]

Outdoor Christmas movie?
-ask Aaron if technically possible [still figuring this out]

Schedule Christmas Activities
-temple lights
-Favorite things party with Alta Mesa girls [scheduled!]
-Train park lights with neighbors [scheduled!]
-Christmas Performance of some sort [Found a local Nutcracker performance, bought tickets]
-Kids ornament making party [scheduled and got a Pinterest board started!]
-Aquarium with cousins when they're in town [scheduled!]
-Look into service opportunities

Neighbor Gifts
-Get molasses cookie recipe from mom
-Make list of neighbors [done!]

I did 90% of this during one naptime. If you look at the list, most of it involved a little focused computer time and some texting with friends and family. A few things need their own dedicated to-do lists before they happen but at least I've gotten the ball rolling and I won't be scrambling at the last minute to get things done (or have to cut something out altogether). I feel totally ready to enjoy the heck out of this Thanksgiving and Christmas season and I'm really looking forward to the things I have scheduled.

Do you have any special tips or tricks for making the holidays go more smoothly? Share in the comments! 


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