DIY Sticker Bag for less than $20! 

A few months ago, I put myself on the waitlist to get an Ebury Printed Tote by Anya Hindmarch (see below).  This week, my spot opened up and I was “allowed” to purchase the bag. Normally, I am pretty much a sociopath when it comes to purchases and the hiding of said purchases. And normally I am also fine with spending a ridiculous amount of money on handbags. But this bag has stickers on it… Slightly harder to go unnoticed!

Stickers are clearly becoming quite the thing.  Louis Vuitton (below) also just released a selection of sticker bags (most $3k+) that are clearly just a rip-off of the Anya Hindmarch bags. And that got me thinking… If Louis Vuitton is okay ripping off the look of another designer, I think I can be too.


I dug through all of my old handbags looking for a tote to give a makeover and found the perfect one. The bag needed to have little to no detail and flat, smooth surface to adhere the stickers to. This tan Coach bag did the trick and, because I would rather die than wear a Coach bag, had no risk associated with potentially screwing this whole thing up. (Note: I am not uppity about handbags –  I have plenty of super cheap bags of my own that I love – but I hate how Coach is a pedestrian brand that thinks it is luxury. Michael Kors is a runner-up in this department. UGH.) I have no idea why I held onto this one (other than the fact that there was no way to recognize it from the exterior as Coach), but it was about to get a whole new life as something not so… basic. (I also love this tote from Target – it comes in 8 colors and is a perfect style for the sticker look.)

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I ordered a set of leather travel stickers from Etsy that I thought would be really fun and also compliment the tan leather nicely.

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The stickers themselves would not hold on the bag by themselves, but I used the marginally adhesive backs to position the stickers where I wanted to before making it permanent with an acid-free adhesive glue.


This glue was fantastic! Not only did it dry completely clear, but it flexes with the bag so there will be no stickers popping off left and right.  And, as far as I can tell by experimentation, the glue does nothing to destroy the bag underneath.

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At the end of the day, I had not only resurrected a bag destined for Goodwill but I saved $3,480 too!


Not so basic anymore, bitches!





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Brigitte Bardot and the Boobie Bind 

I have been stuck in a bit of a rut with my looks lately. With all of the running I have been up to, my wardrobe has consisted entirely of sweat-wicking fabrics. And waterproof mascara. And not much else.  It is depressing.

So in order to kick it up a notch, I decided to look for inspiration for my summer look. Do you know how many god-forsaken pictures there are of the Kardashians on the internet?! I have been trying to escape my huge ass for twenty years, not embrace or inflate it any more.  Ugh.

Instead, I want to embrace a casually cool look – beachy hair, cotton, a little skin. I want to be Brigitte.


My first step in the process has been to grow out my hair.  Right now my ponytail is a pathetic little nub but I think I can get it to a pathetic medium-sized nub by July.

And I am absolutely loving the off the shoulder looks that are flooding stores right now! I scooped up several versions this week and learned a very, very hard lesson. In the wrong top, I look like a milk maid. Though boobs can be very useful in certain situations (job interviews, trying to flag down a cab), they are horrible in the situations I am currently finding myself in (running, trying to pull off a peasant top).

But just like in running, the correct bra (coupled with the right cut of top), makes all right in the world. Pin those suckers down with strapless minimizer bra and choose a top that has a straight cut across the chest (no ruffles, no ruching, no pleating) and you are good to go!

If you are lucky enough to not have much going on in the chest department, you can basically pull off any type of off-shoulder top, even the extraordinarily difficult peasant look. I am so jealous, I could spit.


This weekend, stock up on your desired trends with all the great sales! I love the selection of off-shoulder dresses found at ASOS (below). Right now you can get 20% off ALL full price items with code LONGWKND.


My favorite off-shoulder tops were found at Nordstrom, where they are having their Half-Yearly Sale with savings up to 40% off.


If only pulling off skinny jeans worked so well for all body types.  Whomp whomp.





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Pura Vida: Gringo Edition 

After two days in a row of me waxing philosophical about life (am I having a midlife crisis?), I think we all need a break. So instead let me bore you with a summary of my last vacation! One of my best friends had recently gone on a trip to Costa Rica and I, like any good friend would, totally jacked her idea.

Mr. A and I are hopelessly incompatible when it comes to defining a perfect vacation. He could sit on a chaise lounge for 12 hours, drinking in copious amounts of both frozen daiquiris and light cancer. If I had to imagine what hell would look like, it would be me sitting on a chaise lounge, drinking daiquiris and sunbathing. I can not sit still for long periods of time. Daiquiris make me fat. And good God, I am THE whitest person on the planet.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, I pretended I was booking a beach vacation and did nothing of the sort! My mother, who knows my husband’s proclivities quite well, nearly cried she was laughing so hard when she read my vacation plans (which I didn’t share with my husband until it was too late to change them). There was hiking and canyoning and rafting and ziplining. What was there not? Time for relaxation! Yippee!!

Where We Stayed (and Ate)

Tabacon Resort and Spa (La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano)

Our hotel was located at the base of the Arenal Volcano… not at all disturbing given the fair amount of volcanic activity going on in Costa Rica at the time. I absolutely loved this resort. We had our own little house (below), but the entire property was absolute perfection. Just a shame we didn’t have a second of downtime in order to enjoy it more.




Gaia Hotel and Reserve (Manuel Antonio)

I was pretty bummed to have to leave Tabacon. But Manuel Antonio had quite the reputation for being something not to miss while in Costa Rica, so we packed up and moved on. Gaia is nestled in the coastal forests of Costa Rica, the hotel’s terraced suites offering views of lush and pristine wild surroundings… not to mention the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets???  Gah.



I have pretty much been a teetotaler since I started running (and since I have also gotten OLD), but I made an exception when we visited Ronny’s Place, which is said to have the best sangria in the WORLD. Can you blame me? (And yes, it was THAT GOOD.)  They also had a mad sunset scene.




What We Did

Sky Tram, Sky Trek and Sky Walk Tour

My husband was probably the least pleased on this day, as we had arrived at our hotel at 3am and we were up at 7am for the day’s activities, which included a 3 hour hike and two hours of ziplining. Good thing it was awesome!



I learned a fun fact on this trip – my husband is afraid of heights! Actually, he tells me that he is NOT afraid of heights, he is just afraid of falling. If anyone can tell me the difference, you win a prize! Regardless, I ignored this fact and made him pause for a picture at every hanging bridge. He loves me.


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Pure Trek Canyoning Tour

My sister is the biggest outdoor/climbing badass. So I felt like I needed to do some sort of outdoor badassery to prove myself. I did not prove myself. Quite the contrary.

Arenal Volcano National Park Hike

Both Mr. A and I thought that this hike was the best of the bunch. Our tour guide was super passionate and we chased him around the trails trying to hunt down a toucan and a pack of wild pigs (you can see by the photos how successful we were in finding them). But the views from the top of the trail were outstanding, as was the incredible sunset.






Manuel Antonio National Park Hike

This park was overflowing with wildlife!  We saw sloths, iguanas, bats… but the MONKEYS. They came so close and were so cute. Unless they were stealing your backpack, which they did A LOT.






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MidWorld ATV Tour

This might have been fun if I had actually been given my own ATV.



Savegre River White Water Rafting

Apparently, rafting would have been a lot of fun during the rainy season. When there is actually water. Instead, we rafted during the dry season. So instead of white water, we got lazy river. On the ride up, I did get to see a palm plantation. So that was something.



MidWorld Canopy and Zipline Tour

We had a private zipline tour this time around, which was awesome. Not awesome? What they make you wear.


After ten days of adventure, it was time to swing back to Florida to scoop up Pickle and return to normal life. Boo.


But I think I managed to convince Mr. A that an active vacation is the way to go! Now onto booking the rest of his off days around my race schedule… That should be a another pleasant surprise.


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Work it, Girl 

I will fully admit that I have spent the majority of my thirty-seven years on this planet totally coasting. (I will let myself slide for the newborn/toddler years, but the rest were done totally by choice.) I shouldn’t complain that I am decently intelligent in nature, but I think it has hindered me more than helped. I really never needed to try hard to pass or even do fairly well in school. And all incremental effort took away from my time trying to be a high school/college/grad school princess.

So what has it gotten me? As I sit here and read all about my classmates who are top executives/entrepreneurs/public servants, I have the dubious honor of being the one with the most clothes? (Okay, this is not a completely terrible thing but it still won’t get me my own illustration in the WSJ.) Not cool, formerly “cool girl”, not cool at all.

As I said yesterday, I have been refocusing myself and attempting not to be a pathetic person who just lets life wash over them like a beached whale (also attempting not to have the figure to go along with this metaphor). I found that the best way to test my limits was to do something that I have absolutely no natural talent at and no innate interest in. Running.

I won’t bore you with all of the details of the past seven months (I kind of did that here). But I will say that my goal was to run two half marathons within a year. Less than a month ago, I ran those races. On back-to-back weekends. Now my goal is eight half marathons and two FULL marathons.

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{left: Kentucky Derby Half Marathon; right: 500 Festival Mini Marathon}

I still in no way consider myself a “runner”. Yes, I can run a decent distance but I am certainly no athlete. But what I am is pretty gosh darn proud of myself and that is something I have NEVER been before. In running you can not coast. But you can thrive. You can also:

See Amazing Things!

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{left: Churchill Downs; right: Indianapolis Motor Speedway}

Running the tracks at Churchill Downs and Indy was a tremendous thrill (I’ll also finish a race on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field this weekend!), but I have also seen a chihuahua run a 10k (and beat me).

Torture Your Family and Friends!

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What I have heard about runners is 100% true: they run their mouths infinitely more than they run their legs. I guess the only way I would consider myself a runner is in this department, as I can talk about running day and night. I even dream about running (and One Direction). This I am sure has become particularly annoying for my family, but not as annoying as me attempting to get them to run every single race I enter. So far I have only succeeded in getting my mother and sister to run a 5k with me.

I also succeeded in getting my husband to complete an entire Couch to 5k program in 35 minutes. I got him up from the couch and had him run 4 miles with me one morning. He was not a fan.

Shop Shop Shop Shop!

I never thought that running would be a sport that would tap into my true natural talent – shopping. But I have never met a group more passionate about their apparel (and hydration gear. and nutrition. and socks. and technology. and on. and on.) than runners. I have found my people. Besides being completely addicted to Lululemon (I know, I am such a cliché), I have become completely passionate about my running gear. Here are some of the items I cannot live without:


I guess I will never truly escape my predilection for acquiring stuff, but I have found the joy in testing myself, trying new things and actually working for something. And I highly recommend it.







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Writing Your Job Description: SAHM Edition 


After a genuine push to get back blogging on a regular basis, all of the wheels fell off the truck as soon as I went on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic trip (and will share pics and details this week) and wouldn’t have given that up for anything. But when I got back, everything was total chaos! I am not a person who functions well without a detailed schedule in front of me to follow.  I am basically like Tiger Woods out on tour… one moment of unplanned time and I am banging hookers. Except there are never any hookers. There are loads of laundry. Or dirty baseboards. Or something equally as glamorous. At least I know that my husband won’t break up with me for having a torrid love affair with his collared shirts.

This led me straight into a week-long – and totally unproductive – philosophical debate with myself over what exactly I was seeking to accomplish in this life. I am hopelessly overeducated as a SAHM, which was painfully pointed out when my daughter listed my biggest talent as “cleaning” on one of her Mother’s Day gifts to me (yet another reason to hate this made up holiday). And though I am very thankful that I have the luxury of staying home and taking care of my child, I don’t feel like being a “mom” is something that I really should be that proud of. If I had to add my last few years to my CV, here is what it would look like.

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Needless to say, this is not something that requires a master’s degree. Or any degree for that matter. Sometimes I find that I can stare blankly at a wall for hours and nobody will know the difference. This is not my intended life.

After a really nice heart-to-heart with my husband where he told me that he would support me if I went back to work and support me if I didn’t, I knew I had to figure my shit out and not just whine about it incessantly. So I looked for the following job:

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Guess what? Nobody was hiring. So I guess it was up to me to create my own job, list my own objectives and get my ass to work! From now on it will be:

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I know this job description is cheesy as hell, but I have yet to see one that isn’t, so whatever. It also avoids all of the more unpleasant duties involved with the job (toilet bowl cleaning, chauffeur duties, dog poop removal, et al.), just like a real job description! This mom thing is clearly what I make of it. I can do nothing more than autopilot through life or I can make things happen.


So I guess it is time to get to work. And starting tomorrow, I will show you how I have started!




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Fine Art Friday: Tom Blachford 

Dear Husband, Please close your computer now and do not continue on with this post. There are things here that I love and that will undoubtedly end up on your walls in the near future. I’d hate for you not to be surprised. (I’d also hate for you to tell me no and for me to have to ignore you.) Love, Your Doting (and selectively deaf) Wife

Okay good. Now that he’s gone we can move along.

I have always really loved aerial photography (see: Gray Malin). There is something about the symmetry (or lack thereof) of it all and the peacefulness of being a bit removed from the action. That is how I first stumbled upon Tom Blachford and his beautiful aerial work.







So when I heard that Tom had done another series, this time with feet firmly planted on Earth, my interest was piqued. And heavens rejoice! In his most recent travel series, he decided to capture my modernist obsession – Palm Springs!!!

Photography of Palm Springs is by no means new (see: Slim Aarons), but this series captures the city in a whole new light. Literally – moonlight. According to the artist, “Time is compressed from 30 seconds into one viewable moment. The stars blur into dashes to remind us that even seemingly immovable steel and mountains are actually spinning on a grand scale as our earth rotates on its axis, and in turn around the sun.” Okay, whatever. I just think it is so very pretty.






You can buy yourself a print from this most recent series HERE. Or you can buy me one. *wink*


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I Heart Pee-wee (and Jambi too!) 


I LOVE Pee-wee Herman.  I might have been only two when he tip-toed onto the scene (on the Dating Game!!! not joking), but I have been totally obsessed as long as I can remember.

He (still! at 62!!) has the perfect little elfin face and figure, his skin is beautiful and he has some on point dance moves. I want to crawl into his body and be him.


I mean, how sick are those platform loafers?! At 8 (when Pee-wee’s Big Adventure came out), I thought they were a bit out there. But at 38, I have to have me a pair.

{click “+” icon for direct link}

Also, I am pretty sure that his magical genie Jambi introduced me to the idea of the cocktail ring. He literally had one in the middle of his turban! (And don’t get me started on my love of turbans…) Jambi granted just one wish per day, so that means if he was my genie I would have at least ten thousand cocktail rings at this point.

{cocktail rings via Plukka; click “+” icon for direct link}

I have passed along my love of all things Pee-wee to Pickle, who has now watched Pee-wee’s Adventure 100 times and Big Top Pee-wee 1/2 times (it was bad, really bad). And we are just bubbling over with anticipation for the new Pee-wee/Judd Apatow movie – Pee-wee’s Big Holiday – to hit Netflix. Move over Piper Chapman, as Pee-wee says himself “Bowtie is the new black”.





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Simulating the Saguaro 

Yesterday it was 73 degrees out here. That is insane! It felt like a little slice of Spring Break had been delivered right to my doorstep. I spent my entire day split up between running (11 miles!) and sprucing up my patios (oiling teak, sanding off old paint, arranging furniture). It was glorious!!!

Last year, we didn’t get as much time to enjoy our patios as I would have liked so this year I am completely committed to having a perfect patio in April. And by perfect, I mean having a patio area completely inspired by one of my favorite places in Palm Springs – The Saguaro.


You knew it had to have color; there should have been no doubt. One day my dream is to have a small, modern residence in Palm Springs. It will be entirely white and will have a pool… and I will COVER it in color. Until then, I am sprucing up my own space and using as much vibrant color as my husband will allow.

{chaise lounge and umbrella: CB2, all other items: clickable icons}

What do you have planned for Spring Break? Will you stay at home or get away from it all?

For those staying at home, don’t worry, you can always get so drunk that you don’t know where you actually are. My helpful hint for having a Spring Break for under $20! You are most welcome.







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Look of the Irish 

Last year at exactly this time, I got the best news ever! And it has been such an amazing year since…  I somewhat expected to have a really rough winter given all the bemoaning I did about Cincinnati, but didn’t happen whatsoever. The gods realized my suffering and took pity.


Because St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Tuesday (today) this year, most of the celebrating took place over the weekend. I ran a St. Patrick’s themed race on Saturday (and will do another this upcoming Saturday – run run run run!!!), we saw the Chicago River dyed green and Mr. A and I went out for a rare date to dinner (mmm) and the symphony (meh).


My favorite thing about St. Patrick’s Day was reading the police blotter (thanks Tonia and Dana!) the day after. My second favorite thing was wearing my favorite Phoenix necklace out on the town. I paired mine with a tunic and fur coat (it got chilly at night!), but this necklace is so versatile you could easily wear it out to lunch.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! xoxo.





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4 Must-Haves for Transitioning to Spring 

This week in Chicago has been absolutely gorgeous. Although I loved Chicago through the winter, I do think I am having a bit of Spring fever with all this sun and warmth (I know, a Floridian thinking 50 is warm is nuts!). The most exciting part of this change in weather is most certainly the anticipation of not having to wear some item made by North Face at all times.

Because my hemlines are just itching to come up, I have been diving into my closet (and the internet) to make sure I am fully ready to present myself when Spring finally does arrive for good.

It is apparent to me that there are four necessities for my wardrobe to move seamlessly into Spring. 1) The Boyfriend Jean. So you aren’t ready to jump head first into shorts? Did you pack on a few winter pounds that need some forgiving? This jean is for you. It is slightly cropped so allows you to feel a bit free and the relaxed fit is kind to any and all sins. WARNING: They are so forgiving, that last year I didn’t even notice I put on so much weight until it was waaaaaay too late.

2) The Boyfriend Short. So it is warm enough and you are brave enough to finally show your legs again… Just don’t overdo it. We all know you’re not a preteen anymore (and by you, I mean me). Though these denim shorts are long enough to be age appropriate, they are DEFINITELY not jorts. And their relaxed fit (similar to the jean), offers both forgiveness and a seriously hip/casual vibe.

3) The Denim Jacket. It is heavy enough to offer warmth when there is still a chill in the air (imagine it over a light sweater and black jeans) but not so much so that you can’t throw it on over a sundress.

4) The Overall. This is certainly the most controversial item on the list but by far my favorite. Yes, it does take a bit of bravery to wear a pair of overalls out for the first time. And yes, some people still give you quizzical looks. But they are the ones missing out! Worn with a tiny white tank and Adidas Superstars, I think overalls can be the height of both comfort and cool.

Best news of all? All of these items (by my favorite denim brand Current/Elliott!) are an extra 25% off. Even sale items! Just click on any of the links in the post to take you to the site and enter “CEFRIENDS” during checkout (lasts through 3/16).

You can tell them Farmer AA sent you.



P.S. Current/Elliott runs SUPER large in bottoms (but TTS in tops). I usually wear a 28 in other brands. A 27 in Current/Elliott is a loose fit on me. I would recommend going at LEAST one size down.


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