Hey there! How has your week been? The last week or so has been rather unproductive for me as I came down with a nasty cold (not COVID, thank goodness), and I’ve been trying to recover from that. It’s been a little slow going. With all of the COVID precautions, I haven’t been sick for two years, and I don’t think my body knows what to do anymore. At peak immunity (is that a thing?), I could fully recover from a cold in a few days. This is taking me a little longer.
There is no time to rest as we’ll be out of town again this weekend. We’ve had a lot of trips to Cleveland this spring, and I’m not mad about it. We’re going back this weekend, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends for dinner and celebrating Mother’s Day.
Officially Loving Wide-Leg Jeans
In other news, I’ve fully transitioned to loving wide-leg jeans! I will be a skinny jean STAN forever and always. What else are you supposed to wear with boots in the winter? But, there is something about wide-leg jeans this year that has me smitten. At first, it took me a while to get behind them. I kept thinking, eh, do these look weird on me? But the more I wear them, the more I fall in love with the silhouette. I think they’re perfect for this dressy but not dressy in-between that exists at the office now. For me, they look best with fitted tops or tops that can be tucked in and a pointy flat or heel.
Eagerly Watching Our Seedlings Grow
We started seeds inside this year, and I am so excited to watch them grow. We got one of those seed starter kits from Home Depot and watered and planted the seeds over the weekend. They’re already starting to grow like crazy. We’re growing zinnias, wildflowers, and foxglove. I can’t wait!
Watching and Loving Bridgerton
During my sickness, I started watching Bridgerton. At first, I was a little turned off. It seemed a little too over the top. But now, I’m zipping through episodes and just started season 2. The costumes and settings are a wonderful escape. I didn’t realize it would be such a bodice ripper, but now I know why it’s so popular. Also, I love all of the classical covers and have been listening to them non-stop on Spotify.
Baking Quiche with All the Spring Veggies
I love using seasonal ingredients in my cooking, so when I saw this Well Plated Spinach Quiche recipe, I had to make it. It features a lot of feta cheese (yum!) and leeks. It’s decadent and delicious — perfect for the weekend.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week and weekend!
Hi! How was your week? Did you get snow? How was your Easter? Mine was great. We had Easter brunch in Cleveland and Easter dinner in Pittsburgh. I dyed eggs with my 3-year-old niece, watched as Easter baskets were found, enjoyed peeps and deviled eggs, and had an all around nice weekend. This week, I’m pretty busy with work. I have two big projects I’m trying to get in a good place before the weekend. I was sad to see snow make its return earlier this week, but I can’t even be mad about it anymore because this weekend’s weather looks glorious.
I wanted to wear something “springy” despite the weather, so I broke out my cropped jeans and bright scarf this week. Notice I’m still wearing my warm layers and boots. It’s all about balance in the spring time. I found these Madewell jeans on Poshmark for half the retail price. I love a good bargain that’s also sustainable, and Madewell jeans are easy to find on sites like that.
Discovering Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
While I was home for Easter, my dad introduced me to Rockefeller Park Greenhouse & Botanical Garden, a pretty little escape just up the road from the Cultural Gardens (another Cleveland must-see). It has a combination of beautiful indoor and outdoor gardens. We were greeted by a gorgeous magnolia tree when we arrived and The Mall, their traditional formal garden with clipped hedges and statues. Inside there were more sculptures, rock and water features, and beautiful rows of tulips, lilies, and hydrangea. While we were there, we bought irises from a man selling what seemed like close to 100 varieties. It’s easy to find and quick and easy to walk through. It’s the perfect place to stop after visiting the Art Museum or Natural History Museum.
Reading Wish You Were Here
I finished my ninth book of the year, Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult. I need to warn you this book is about the early days of COVID. So if that still haunts you, especially if you’re a healthcare worker who was on the frontlines, you may want to avoid this book. That being said, now that we’re two years out, it was interesting to look back at that time during the pandemic, especially from the perspective of a frontline doctor. The setup is that Diana and her boyfriend Finn are on track to reach all of the major milestones in life: get engaged, buy a house, have a family. But when COVID hits, this interrupts their plans, including a trip to the Galapagos. Plot wise, I can’t say anymore because I don’t want to ruin it, but I thought it was an interesting reflection on how the pandemic changed many people and, at times, made us question our own realities. It was also an interesting look at relationships and how they can change over time. There is some travel lust, so it’s not all serious. And there were times when it lagged, but that is to be expected when describing how the world was shut down. For the most part, I couldn’t put it down. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5.
Thanks for visiting! I hope you have a fabulous week and enjoy the nice weather this weekend!
And just like that Easter is upon us. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m busier than I have been in the last two years, but the season of lent went by in a blur. I gave up scrolling on social media, allowing myself a pass only to share my blog posts once a week and respond to comments. It’s been harder for some reason than it was last time, so I’m trying to make this last week really count. I’m also trying to take this time to really slow down. Also easier said than done.
Instead of filling my weekend with various activities, I took the time to declutter and organize areas of the apartment that had been neglected. The pantry cupboards and entryway shoe collection are much tidier as a result, and I feel reinvigorated. It’s amazing the effect organizing a space can have on my mentality!
Saturday night we enjoyed a great dinner after attending early Palm Sunday mass. I wore this green sweater dress and my favorite scarf, which I may repeat for Easter given the weather forecast. I made this delicious spring gnocchi recipe and Trader Joe’s mushroom truffle ravioli. Both were easy and really hit the spot.
Sunday afternoon, when I finally emerged from the apartment, the weather miraculously became sunny and beautiful. The skies were so blue, and the grass was so green it looked fake. I took this picture while walking through a local park and just had to share.
In the interest of slowing down and relaxing a bit, I’m going to keep this post brief. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and get to enjoy some downtime!
It’s hard to believe we’re already through the first quarter of the year. It feels like just yesterday we were putting away Christmas decorations. It’s usually around this time of year that I feel ready for a break, whether that’s in the form of a single vacation day or a trip out of town.
This past weekend, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner out at a newer restaurant called 40 North. It’s the latest restaurant to share a space with City of Asylum, the largest residency in the world for writers living in exile. Their Alphabet City space is also home to a book store and performance venue. I love the vibe of the restaurant and its bar and that they ask for your vaccination card. The restaurant seems to focus on seasonal, locally sourced food. I really enjoyed the rainbow trout with butternut squash risotto and orange curd for dessert.
It’s still a little chilly out, so I wore this velvet top, skinny jeans, and close-toed heels to stay warm. I love wearing these vintage-inspired rhinestone earrings for a night out. My camel coat was the perfect layer to complete the look.
An Article on Confidence
In my weekend reading, I came across this article from The Every Girl about how to be more confident. Although I feel fairly confident most of the time, I do think it’s good to get a little boost every once in a while, especially in this digital age of constantly being seen. I thought the tips shared in the article were pretty good and actionable: understand what you want, don’t let fear hold you back, and commit to whatever it is. They also suggest creating a confidence toolbox, which could include things like gratitude journaling and meditation. Sounds like a plan to me!
New Music for Spring
Aurora released a new album, “The Gods We Can Touch,” and maybe I’m just excited for spring, but it feels like every song on this album has this ethereal yet energetic vibe that’s perfect for the season. I especially like the song “Giving in to the Love.”
Besides Oscars excitement this week, I have my own accomplishment to share. I completed Level 1 and the fourth speech of my Toastmasters pathway this week! I still have a lot to work on to become a better speaker, but that feels like a huge milestone. I wore this Audrey Hepburn-inspired, mostly black outfit and felt chic and put together on camera (we’re still meeting on Zoom).
How to Be Less Indecisive
A podcast I really enjoyed this week was Life Kit’s How to Be Less Indecisive About Every Day Decisions. I don’t know about you, but I suffered from decision fatigue during the pandemic. With every little decision becoming such a big decision, it became exhausting. This podcast episode gives strategies for becoming less indecisive. All of the tips are good, but I especially like the idea of decluttering one’s life and establishing routines to take some of the decision-making out of everyday moments. My capsule wardrobe approach is very much a way to declutter my life and makes deciding what to wear that much easier.
I Loved Stanley Tucci’s Memoir
I just finished Stanley Tucci’s memoir “Taste: My Life Through Food” and loved it. Tucci grew up in an Italian American family where food was very much the center of daily life. It made me think of my own family at times. He shares stories from his life and accompanying recipes — from the big family dinners growing up in Westchester, New York, to the meals he enjoys cooking for his colleagues on movie sets. He talks about his travels and the food he encounters. The parts about Italy are my favorite, but Iceland sounds promising too! I like the style of writing, too. It’s funny and very much in Tucci’s voice. I listened to the audiobook, which he narrated, so it felt like I was just sitting down to let Stanley Tucci regale me with stories about food, family, and life. It was a pleasure!
A New Vietnamese Place
We have a new Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood. A few months ago, New Saigon opened on Potomac Ave. in Dormont, where Mekong used to be. We’ve ordered their food twice in the last two weeks, so I’ve had a chance to try the Bun, Pho, and Banh Mi, and everything I’ve had so far has been great. Most dishes come with fresh mint, basil, and bean sprouts that make for a delicious meal when mixed with the different spices and sauces.
Even if it doesn’t always feel like it, it’s spring — and our Girl Scout cookies have arrived! Those are two worthy celebrations in and of themselves. Additionally, I attended my second Toastmasters competition over the weekend, where I wore this outfit and helped as a volunteer. I heard excellent motivational speeches, one of which included the following anecdote.
When elephants are first born in captivity, the first thing they learn is not to escape. Their caretakers enforce this lesson by securing a chain around one of their legs. No matter how hard the baby elephant tries, it can’t break the chain, so it gives up trying. When an elephant gets older, all the trainer has to do to prevent it from escaping is tie a rope around its leg. Because the elephant has been conditioned to think it can’t escape, it doesn’t even try to break the rope, even though it can. The point of the story is to make you think of your own limiting thoughts. What in your life was once a chain but is now a rope? It’s a worthwhile idea to ponder.
My Best Picture Pick
Do you watch the Oscars? They’re this weekend. We always try to see at least the Best Picture nominations each year. We even fill out paper ballots, which is very much a guessing game for me. But, I do have my pick for Best Picture. My favorite movie of the year by far is “CODA”. It’s the story of Ruby, a child of deaf adults (CODA) and the only hearing member of her family (her brother is also deaf), who loves to sing. She joins the choir at her school and is encouraged by her teacher to apply to a prestigious performing arts school. The only problem is she translates for her family, who is struggling to keep their family fishing business afloat. It’s charming, endearing, touching, and a serious cry fest. It features three deaf actors, one of whom, Troy Kotsur, is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. This New York Times article talks about his struggles to find work and his role in the movie. It’s exciting to see more mainstream movies featuring deaf actors. We loved “Sound of Metal” from last year’s Best Picture Nominations.
I would also recommend seeing “Don’t Look Up”, for something funny yet poignant, “King Richard”, for a great Dad and daughter movie, and “Belfast”, a sometimes sweet yet harrowing look at Northern Ireland in the 1960s.
Rereading Harry Potter
I reread “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the first time since my first reading in high school. Have you ever reread any books from your youth? It’s always an eye-opening experience. The change in perspective sometimes makes it feel like you’re reading a book for the first time. Having read all of the books a long time ago, I think of the Harry Potter movies first in my mind. Harry is portrayed so courageously in the movies I forgot how lonely he is in the books. Moments like his almost overlooked birthday celebration, the 50-pence piece the Dursleys send him for Christmas, and seeing his parents for the very first time in the Mirror of Erised make my heart ache for Harry. As an adult, I appreciate the adults like Hagrid who look out for him even more. I was equally touched to see how much he stands up for kids like Neville Longbottom. Rereading the first book renewed my love of and appreciation for the series.
Pittsburgh Run Club
I’ve discovered a new thing to love about Pittsburgh: City of Bridges Run Club. The club meets almost daily at locations, usually a restaurant or bar, all over the city for a group run. This past Thursday, I attended my first group run at The Saloon in Mount Lebanon. In reality, I arrived late and accidentally joined the Fleet Feet Run Club by mistake! Eventually, I did find the City of Bridges Run Club and had a great time chatting with everyone after the run. It seems like a very fun and inviting group! You can see locations and dates for upcoming runs on their website.
Podcast Recco: The Deep Dive
Thanks to my SIL’s recommendation, I am really enjoying the podcast “The Deep Dive” with best friends Jessica St. Clair and June Diane Raphael. You may know Jessica from her roles in “Bridesmaids” and, more recently, “Avenue 5.” June plays Brianna in “Grace and Frankie” and also appears on the podcast “How Did This Get Made?” with her husband, Paul Scheer. They talk about everything from the deep stuff — like motherhood, family, and friendships — to lighter fare, such as where to buy fake eyelashes. And they are absolutely hilarious together. I highly recommend listening to the episode with their stylist Abby Arad when she talks about her five must-have capsule wardrobe pieces and their Art of the Tablescape episode with Kulap Vilaysack. They are funny and informative!
Thanks for visiting and reading! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I hope you have plans later to drink a Guinness and listen to Irish music. If you need a dirty limerick or two to complete your celebration, watch this scene from the episode of the Crown when Princess Margaret goes on a mission to smooth out relations with the U.S. Much to the dismay of the queen, she gets into a drinking contest followed by a dirty limerick contest with Lyndon B. Johnson. It’s delightfully crass!
A Perfectly Plaid Cape for Saint Patrick’s Day and Beyond
I wore this outfit to give a presentation on an article I had the great privilege of writing last year. It’s a story I came across randomly on my company’s social networking platform. A colleague had posted about his great uncle, a fallen soldier at Pearl Harbor, whose remains were finally identified last year using our DNA sequencing technology. As soon as I read his post, I knew I had to write about it. It started as an article and a few social posts and grew from there. It was eventually featured in our company-wide newsletter and is now being considered for other campaigns. During my presentation to colleagues, I talked about my experience researching, writing, and promoting the story internally and externally. It’s a project I’m extremely proud of, and it still makes me emotional when I think about it. I prepared for my presentation so I could stay composed, but I think my cape gave me that little extra boost of confidence!
Finding My Voice Through Toastmasters
Although it’s fun to imagine my fabulous cape was the source of my composure during that presentation, the real reason for my newfound poise is Toastmasters, an educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. I joined in August and have been faithfully attending every week since. During our meetings, we practice both planned speeches and impromptu speaking. We measure our ability to keep time and avoid filler words throughout. For planned speeches, we practice giving and receiving feedback.
I’m certainly learning a lot about what I can do to improve my public speaking skills. But the true value crystallized for me last Tuesday, on International Women’s Day no less. I was leading the impromptu speaking portion of our Toastmasters meeting on the importance of empowering women. I spoke about how, as a woman, I tend to get quiet and not speak up in certain situations and explained how Toastmasters is helping me find my voice and the confidence to speak up and do it effectively. Clarity can be serendipitous!
Braiding Sweetgrass, a Reflection on Our Relationship with Nature
I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In the book, Kimmerer discusses our broken relationship with the natural world and what we can learn from it and give back to make it right. Her poetic style of writing is beautiful, although it can be repetitive at times. I enjoyed her teachings about plants and indigenous culture and her blending of science and tradition.
Some of her critiques of Western culture do a better job of connecting the dots than others. But I agree that in our everyday, modern lives, we’ve become disconnected from nature — the very thing that sustains us. I think we can all benefit from paying closer attention to how our actions affect the planet and be better caretakers of it for future generations. I’ll be thinking about the overarching themes of reciprocity and generosity for a while.
A Newer Pittsburgh Restaurant and Their Lenten Special
We finally went to Moonlit Burgers, a new burger place in Dormont. The first time we tried it was on Ash Wednesday, so we had the Lenten Salmon Burger, a salmon patty with jalapeno cilantro slaw, garlic dijonnaise, and pickles on a potato roll. It was delightful! I tried to recreate it this week with a few Trader Joe’s staples. It wasn’t bad, but I’ll definitely be going back to Moonlit Burgers before Lent is over.
I hope you have a fabulous rest of your week and a great weekend!
Winter is here! And with that, the challenge of dressing for freezing temperatures while looking put together for work. It’s hard enough getting out of bed when it’s dark and cold outside. Choosing an outfit needs to be simple and easy. Enter my winter work capsule wardrobe. Similar to my fall capsule wardrobe, it includes only the essential items. Consider it your inspiration for building a minimalist wardrobe.
I started organizing my closet into seasonal capsule wardrobes because I wanted to maximize what I already own and purchase fewer, higher-quality pieces.
What is a seasonal capsule wardrobe?
A seasonal capsule wardrobe is a small collection of your favorite clothing and shoes for a particular season. It doesn’t have to contain a set number of pieces, just the items you love to wear. Versatility is key. Everything you choose should be able to be mixed and matched. Therefore, it’s best to have a color scheme in mind. That’s why my capsule wardrobe only includes workwear. It’s easier to edit a small subset of my closet. And it’s the category of clothing I wear most often, so making it feel effortless is worthwhile.
The nice thing about this approach is that you don’t need to buy a completely new wardrobe. You just need to identify the pieces you wear most and go well together and start wearing them.
What should be in a winter capsule wardrobe?
Whatever you like. My winter capsule wardrobe is divided into tops and sweaters, layers and outerwear, bottoms and dresses — including skirts and jeans — and boots and shoes. I did not include accessories in my capsule wardrobe because I like to keep my options open. Part of the fun of having a capsule wardrobe is figuring out new and fun ways to accessorize it!
Here’s everything in my winter work capsule wardrobe this year organized by category:
My black turtleneck is another wardrobe staple I wear season after season. There is just something about it that looks good no matter what. It can easily be layered under anything from a cardigan to a dress. It’s both comfortable and chic.
A good v-neck cashmere sweater is a must-have. The v-neck is a great way to accentuate your neck and collarbone, especially in winter. It also looks great with a long strand necklace. Layer a shirt underneath to show off a cute print and add even more warmth.
I throw this cashmere cardigan over everything! It has a professional silhouette but is super warm and cozy. The cool gray is a nice contrast to black but also works well with jewel tones and other neutrals.
There is nothing better to traverse the icy landscape when temperatures drop than a puffer coat. A long one is even better. I have two — one that hits mid-thigh and one that hits mid-calf. The longer one is purely for going from my car to buildings. The shorter one is better for more vigorous winter walks.
For a special occasion, I love this wool cocoon coat. It’s such a pretty camel color that goes with everything and always looks so polished with its standing collar and silk lining. I always receive so many compliments on this coat.
Black jeans are my ride-or-die capsule wardrobe item. They look good with nearly everything and are always flattering. They can be worn dressed up or down and in practically any setting. I wear them all year, but they look especially stunning with winter neutrals.
Now that we’re allowed to wear jeans in the office, I gravitate to dark wash jeans for a slightly dressier vibe. This pair from Madewell is flattering and comfortable. They can easily be tucked into boots for extra warmth, like any pair of skinny jeans (Gen Z be damned).
I bought my black flounce skirt from Loft a few years ago, and they haven’t carried it since, but it is such a classic in my book. It’s flattering yet professional and looks cute with tights and ankle boots or over-the-knee boots. I definitely wear my long puffer coat with this one.
I have a similar flounce skirt from Loft that’s black with white specks. I couldn’t find anything similar but thought this black and white plaid skirt was a cute alternative. It would look great with a classic black turtleneck and black booties.
I recently bought this sweater dress and can’t wait to wear it with tights and ankle booties or layered under my cashmere cardigan. I had a tough time finding a flattering sweater dress. They were either shapeless or accentuated the wrong spots. This dress is flattering and not too form-fitting, but not too baggy.
I first bought my loafers when we went to Italy over four years ago. Since then, these have become one of my most worn pairs of shoes. I love a menswear-inspired item and how easily they elevate any look. In the winter, I wear my trusty snow boots into the office then slip these on.
These waterproof over-the-knee boots have quickly become one of my favorites. They add such a lovely extra layer of warmth over tights and pants, and their suede material makes them feel luxe. Their texture and height add an interesting element to any outfit.
Maybe it’s because I grew up during the height of the popularity of Ugg boots, but I love a pair of tan suede snow boots. This pair is super comfy with its fur lining and chunky sole. These are great for walking from your warm car into the office.
I love my duck boots. With their rubber soles, they’re great when it’s salty and slushy outside and I don’t want to get my snow boots dirty. They have a fleece lining so they can handle the colder temperatures. They’re a timeless classic.
Still Looking For
Of course, no capsule wardrobe is ever complete. Here are a few of the items on my wish list. I’m not actively shopping for any of these things, but it’s good to have this list on hand to limit any new purchases to the items I really want. And because there’s no pressure to buy any of these items right now, I can just wait until I find a good deal. I often find what I’m looking for in the off-season. It’s beneficial to have a list like this when I shop secondhand. Then I can focus my search on certain store sections instead of being overwhelmed.
Ivory pants, preferably straight leg and cropped, to be worn with tall ankle boots
Midi skirt in a heavier fabric, like wool or suede
Longer dress coat, maybe in a plaid or emerald green
Taller ankle boots, sort of like a glove boot, that can be worn with cropped pants
Getting dressed the last few months has been weird. For a while, I was working from home half the week and going into the office the other half. Life is back to normal in some ways, but in others, not so much. There are definitely fewer occasions to “get dressed up.” Now that I’m going back into the office full time, I’m starting to find my footing, and I like the idea of using a capsule wardrobe for my work week.
This is my fall wear-to-work capsule wardrobe. It consists mostly of items I already own or items inspired by something I own. There are still some pieces I’d like to add. For example, I would love to find a pair of bone straight leg jeans or a great floral print midi skirt, but for now, this feels complete.
I’ve tried a lot of capsule wardrobe approaches over the years, but focusing on one season at a time has always been something I’ve preferred. I tend to go for tan, black, cream, and jewel tones in the fall and winter and pastels, navy, and white in the spring and summer. It’s a lot easier to keep things cohesive if I don’t try to mix those two color palettes. Although there is some overlap.
My company lets us wear jeans, so you’ll notice that this wardrobe is not super dressy. If you are using this as a framework and need something dressier, you could easily swap out the jeans for nice pants or more skirts and dresses and the jean jacket for a fancier blazer.
I hope this helps you feel inspired if you’re heading back into the office or starting to get dressed again!
It’s springtime, the weather’s getting warmer, birds are chirping, and I’m beginning to feel a cautious sense of optimism. Although we’re not out of the woods yet, a post-pandemic world is coming into focus.
With both doses of the vaccine done, I’m starting to make plans. I have birthday parties, weddings, and other rescheduled events to look forward to. My social calendar is filling up.
I’m starting to dust the cobwebs off the frilly dresses and fussy tops reserved for such occasions. I’m looking forward to wearing shoes with a heel again. In between fantasizing about my post-pandemic social life and daydreaming about what I’ll wear, I’m taking time to reassess life before the pandemic. What aspects do I want to leave behind, and what do I want to take with me?
If you’ve been following me for a long time, you know I love fashion and the creative outlet it provides. Sharing my outfits has long been a hobby of mine. I love mixing and matching different pieces to create a look.
At the same time, I know fashion takes a substantial toll on the environment. Everything is made for the moment and made to be disposable. And it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to find quality clothing designed to last.
As I slowly return to pre-pandemic activities, I want to continue to be very thoughtful about my purchases by using a capsule wardrobe. For those who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to create different outfits. The idea is to limit your closet to only the pieces that work well together and that you wear often.
What I like about a capsule wardrobe is it has forced me to take account of and appreciate what I already own and better understand my style preferences. Inspired by that idea, I wanted to create a place where I could share my minimalist approach to style and anything else that strikes my fancy — great food, good books, and life in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Hence, Christina’s Capsule was born. I hope you enjoy it!