The Black and White Closet

All my life, I used to argue with my mom that all she ever wore was black and white. I’d take her shopping (or she’d take me) and we’d dig through racks and racks of clothes only to purchase more black and white (or grey) items. I never understood because little girls and juniors racks are filled with color. Tons or bright colors.

Now, I understand. You can find colorful clothing at any store. It’s not that hard. What is hard, though, is having a diverse enough closet to be able to wear one top with multiple pairs of pants or vice versa.

Now, I wear color. I love blues and purples and the occasional splash of pink… but for the most part if I walk in my closet, I’m likely to pull out something that is a shade of black or white. And on the days I choose to wear color, I change about 4 different times, wasting time and then end up hating my outfit anyways. Or I have the tendency to buy a beautiful colorful top and it sits wasting away in my closet because I don’t prefer bright colors. Sigh.

So, instead of fighting my natural tendencies to wear a monochrome color palate, I’m embracing it and freeing myself from the frustration. I’m embracing my inner Steve Jobs (kind of) and kicking my colorful closet to the curb. I’m embracing the black and white wardrobe.

So, I started with the Ann Taylor Clearance Sale last week and ordered some gorgeous black and white blouses to really get me in the spirit. And I started today with my first initial clean out of my current wardrobe. Honestly, I could go and pull everything with color from my closet and I’d still be able to dress myself for a month straight without wearing a piece of clothing twice. My closet is straight out of an episode of Buried Alive, except everything in there is practically new. Joel says I have a problem. I say, I know how to deal with stress properly (wink to all my fellow stress shoppers).

My first clean out consisted of older clothes. You know the ones… the white shirts that are no longer white. The shirts or pants with beads on them because you’ve worn them so much. Or the ones where the seams are literally falling apart from being washed so many times. I also cleaned out anything that I hate wearing. Those shirts with a gap at the boob (C-cup and up ladies feel me…). Those pants that hit at the wrong section of your waist. That dress that you have to wear Spanx with and diet for a week straight prior to wearing… Yeah, no thanks.

I’ve also done an initial clean out of shoes. I actually had a pair of black flats that I wore nearly every day in New York. There was a hole in the sole. Like my foot would touch the concrete if I were to wear them. The platform heels I haven’t dared to put on my feet since my knee surgery… 6 years ago.

I have another phase of clean out that is necessary. Most of my winter wardrobe is shades of brown and I’m afraid Georgia weather will bite me in the tail if I donate it before May.

So cheers to simplicity, to spending less on clothes I won’t wear and more on experiences that I’ll remember for a lifetime and to doing my first spring cleaning of the year.




The Kardashian Effect: Social Media

I was chatting with a coworker the other day about our mutual hate for the Kardashians. I have never wavered on my hatred toward this family that America seems to be obsessed with. A family who made their fame and fortune on scandal (sex-tape, OJ, etc.) and lies (‘Real’ bodies). And we eventually made our way to how this family and the acceptance of their lies about women’s bodies is affecting women and teens today. And that leads me to this blog post.

When I was 13, Myspace was all the rage. And while I did my best with my cheap digital camera to post the most flattering photos (with a peace or duece up of course), there were limited options for editing – and those options rarely even covered my pimples much less gave me boobs and a butt while taking away my waist and looking natural. Now, kids and teens have Instagram accounts from the minute they inherit a smart phone… 8, 9, some younger, some older. And they follow their favorite Disney stars, and their older siblings’ favorite celebrities, and one by one they come across a Kardashian account. And, like the other 20 billion people, get scammed into following an account that documents through pictures and images the “real” life of these stars.

These youngsters see these photos and see the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of likes and realize the expectation that they must dress like and pose like and look like these humans for acceptance. Acceptance by family, acceptance by friends, acceptance by men, and acceptance by society.

Then these preteens and teens start dieting, exercising, doing things to their body (read Kylie Jenner lip challenge, waist trainers) to look like these women who supposedly have natural bodies.

Kylie Jenner admits to magazines it sometimes takes her 500 pictures to get the perfect photo for Instagram or Snapchat… 500. But that’s not in the heading of her Instagram page, its not on the caption of the photo and it’s sure not on the snap. Social media is supposed to give us a glimpse into real life… and that’s the expectation. That these photos are real life… not paparazzi photos or professional photos with editing.

We have to step in to ensure that teens and preteens grow up knowing they are beautiful and they are special despite the ratio between their waist and their butt. I am thrilled that today’s woman isn’t expected to be a size 00. But I’m pissed that society now expects an hour-glass figure with ratios of a literal Barbie doll.

Registries: 6 Tips to Get it Right and Save Your Time

Registering is usually a really fun process… We had a bit of a nightmare experience and I’d wished I’d done some research or taken someone with me that had registered before. Halfway through, I started leaving Joel at home and taking my mom. He didn’t care about which color the dish towels were and I didn’t know we needed dish towels. Moms are the best. Take her.

We registered at Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk, Target,  Amazon, and Local Furniture Store. I recommend registering for at least 2 different stores. We had family from out of town and not every city has a Bed Bath & Beyond (and some people just prefer shopping in person rather than online). Here’s 6 tips to keep in mind when registering that will save you time down the road:

1. Decide what you need, what you want and what you don’t want or need

We went in knowing that we didn’t really have a need for formal China right now. Our apartment doesn’t have room for a display China cabinet, and we definitely didn’t have the cabinet space. So, we skipped the fine China. Later, we found out my grandmother was wanting to part with her set… so we actually ended up getting a set I liked more than the ones available at the stores and it has sentimental value.

2. Decide what you’re registering for where

I registered for everything at Bed Bath & Beyond, then found better sets or something I liked better at the other stores. It was a hassle trying to keep up with adding stuff to one registry and taking it off another. If you go in knowing your main items (kitchen appliances, dishes, pots & pans, sheets and towels) are coming from a certain store, you won’t waste your time looking at the others.

3. Skip Customer Service

If I could go back, I would have skipped customer service. Too many times the person that sets you up with a nifty price gun ends up touring you around to store, ensuring you register for anything with $100+ price tag. That was our situation at Bed Bath & Beyond, and we ended up having to go back and redo our registry later. You can do this by finding out what stores allow you to register on their apps! Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk and Target all let you do this. It’s also helpful because we you stop in later and see something else you want, you can easily add to your registry.

4. Register at a local furniture store

We registered at Hobbs Furniture in Ardmore, Ala. and everyone went crazy for those items. Lamps, uplights, candlesticks, decorative bakeware and serving trays… Skip these items at the big name stores and register for them somewhere locally which usually means better quality and more unique options!

5. Register online

After we registered at all the locations, we knew there were a few things we were missing. We really wanted a butcher knife block, but the ones at the stores were cheap quality for high prices. We found a Calphalon set on Amazon that was perfect. If you can’t find exactly what you want in the store, Amazon probably has it!

6. Watch your registry

When I noticed people were purchasing all of the bakeware I’d registered for but none of the towels… I knew I was going to have a full kitchen and an empty bathroom. I quickly marked the towels and sheets we’d registered for as “really need/want” and people almost immediately started purchasing them. I love all my bakeware, but I’m glad to have fluffy towels!

Some people will totally ignore your registry… You may get some really unique items that you hadn’t thought to register for or some handmade items that you can’t register for! I ended up getting some really unique personalized items that I love. This also means you’ll get some stuff that doesn’t match you planned decor or that duplicates what you already have. The good news is most places will let you return for store credit.

Don’t feel guilty if you have to return items… I ended up with 4 Cuisinart Knife sets. It’s going to happen. Sometimes registries mess up or some people see what you registered for but buy online.

Week Two of Wedded Bliss

We had created a wedding website, but I eventually chose not to publish it. But, we had already filled out a few of the fields including our point of views from when we met, when we knew each other was the one, and the engagement. We are keeping somewhat of a diary of our first year of marriage. On our honeymoon, we found this book where you recorded short snippets of everyday for 5 years – so you could reflect on what you were doing on that day each year.

Knowing we’re way too busy to document everyday, we are choosing to document thoughts a week at a time. And since we’re officially officially married – aka Joel turned in our wedding license today, I’m going to share what would have been on these pages had we documented each of these events leading up to us actually getting married (to the best of our memory… it’s been 7 years since we first started dating)!

How We Met:

Kaitlin’s POV: I met Joel when I was in diapers. He and my brother were best friends growing up, and I tagged along to most of their playdates (little sisters, am I right?). Little did I know that one time I snuck him in the back of my mom’s green van after school (his parents didn’t know for 30 more minutes when he was missing and hiding in our backyard) that the rebel only child would one day become my husband. One random day, he and Kyler had to jump start my Mustang after I left the lights on to get to a basketball game. I stole his sunglasses for a cheerleading routine, we jammed to some 2000s music on the way home, and then suddenly Joel wasn’t Kyler’s best friend. He was mine. I’m so lucky to call him mine, and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience watching the boy that was my brother’s best friend turn into the teenager that would drive my parents absolutely crazy into the man that God selected for just for me. We still laugh recalling some of the things we did at 3, 6, 10 and X years old. From first bikes to first cars to first car wrecks (and almost wrecks), he’s been in a lot of my memories. To have 23 years of stories to recall at the beginning of our marriage is priceless.

Joel’s POV: Kaitlin’s brother was my best friend growing up… but Kaitlin was always in the background in my memories. She ran around in big t-shirts and no pants, laughed at Kyler when my mom had to put mayonnaise in his hair to get rid of lice, and always got the “special” lunch because she didn’t like sandwiches. She was the annoying little sister in every sitcom ever. In high school I beat her in foursquare at church (and she’ll dispute it until the day she dies) and Kyler left her, so I gave her a ride home. Kyler started dating her best friend, so she had a lot more time to talk to me. We’d be texting into the early hours of the morning. Every time I gave her a reason to leave, she gave me reasons why she would stay. Instead of her being the background of my memories, she moved to the foreground.

When We Knew:

Kaitlin’s POV: Joel was a strange one. I’d loved him far before I knew what that even meant. He had always been family. I knew he’d always be in my life, but I didn’t know that I was going to marry him until my sophomore year of college. I’d introduced him to my extended family at that point, and he was embraced just like family – for better or worse. He would come and sit with my grandfather while I would visit my Mimi when she was sick. One day, my grandfather came back to help with her medicine. Joel left the room for her privacy. Once we were done taking care of her, she looked at my grandfather and said she’d found a good one. We all laughed and he walked back to the living room. Joel peeked in for a minute then went to talk with my grandfather. When he left the room, Mimi asked if it was serious. I of course said it was. She replied “in sickness and in health, but I like him.” She’d mentioned over the years she was praying for my future husband, and she met him (and approved)!

Joel’s POV: We were in her dorm room her freshman year. At that point, we’d been dating on and off for nearly three years. She had fallen asleep (as she does any time a movie turns on for more than 5 minutes). I knew I was going to marry her, and I told her in her sleep. She talks in her sleep and sometimes responds to questions, but she didn’t respond that time. 

Our Engagement:

Kaitlin’s POV: We were in Birmingham. Joel woke up really early – like 3 a.m. early – even though he’d worked late that night. I had friends scheduled to come to town the next weekend, and the apartment was a wreck. We had plans for brunch then to go fly kites, but needed to run to Walmart for groceries. He told me the shirt I was wearing was not attractive and suggested I change (how rude!). After Walmart, I was hungry and too stubborn to wait until Five Bar opened, so we went to Taco Casa instead. When we got back to the apartment, Joel was stalling big time. I didn’t understand. I wanted to fly kites then come back home. He was putting kites off as long as possible. I would have suspected something was up – I already knew he had the ring – but mom was texting me about taxes, and I knew he wouldn’t propose without my parents being there. He managed to convince me to get popsicles (in February) and to roam around until we finally headed to Railroad Park to fly kites. Then we got there and a million people were at the park – no room to fly kites – AND the wind wasn’t blowing at all. We walked around but there was no way I was running around like a fool trying to get a kite to fly when there was no wind. Joel tried and tried to convince me otherwise – but that didn’t work. So we went back to the car to get rid of the kites, which is when I finally started suspecting something was up. He took forever putting the kites in the car. Turns out, he had the ring tied to the tail of one of the kites! We turned the corner and there our parents were… sneaking around trying to hide. He showed me the bottom of the ring tied to the kite and said something – I was still trying to put the pieces together… Mom was doing my taxes?!? He walked me up to the top of a bridge where he finally proposed. One knee… beautiful ring… planned photography… and the perfect speech. And I wasn’t wearing that ugly shirt!

Joels POV: CHAOS. First I had to ask her dad. Problem was, she was always there. I slipped him away, acting like something was wrong with her car to get Ray by himself. So he (engineeringly) explained, he was running back into the house, and I had to ask before he got away. I say something to the effect of “So I bought this ring, and I’m going to ask Kaitlin to marry me… if you are ok with that.” His response was “OK.” Then I asked if he could take pictures the day of (he was more excited about that part), but he couldn’t figure out if Kaitlin had the camera or where it was.  Then the day of the proposal was just as much chaos as the days leading up to it. I had to come up with some excuse to dress fancy, otherwise she would have showed up in leggings and a sweatshirt and probably would’ve said no if there was a camera there. We were going to go to brunch but Kaitlin was hungry and when Kaitlin is hungry… we eat now. So we went to the glorious Taco Casa. So now I had several hours to kill because I had planned for both our parents to be there to take pictures and celebrate. So we went to Steel City Pops, and I ate it really really slow – trying to procrastinate as much as possible. Kaitlin is quite efficient with her time and had to be getting suspicious at this point. I had told her to change shirts (she would’ve hated the other one in pictures). I had engineered the ring to be on the tail of a kite but when we got to the park there was no wind. Kaitlin suggested we just walk around and spend a day at the park, with no kites…  On the way back to the car, I spotted our parents and had to hide them from view. When trying to get the ring off the kite, it took a lot longer. Kaitlin kept asking what I was doing, and I couldn’t hold it together much longer. So I flashed her the ring and said “if you play it cool, we’ll get through this.” We walked around for a minute, stopping at a couple different spots in the park. Then, I grabbed her right hand, said some sweet stuff, (then she corrected the hand) and I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I slipped the ring the correct finger!