Lifestyle

PLUS SIZE COSTUMES: Epic DIY Costume Compilation

Like I've mentioned in several of my posts leading up to Halloween, finding affordable and cute costumes can be tough for us plus-size ladies! (And, let's be real, it can be rough for lots of folks regardless of gender or body size!)

I've found the best way to look and feel great in costume is to craft my own!

Here is a compilation of of all of my recent costume posts. Just click on each one to be taken to that blog post where you'll find more pictures, info about how I created each look, and suggestions for items you can use to make your own version of these costumes.

And, for a little more costume inspiration, here are some looks I didn't have a chance to detail in the posts above.. .

 Mermaid

Mermaid

 Circus Ring Master

Circus Ring Master

 Retro Flight Attendant

Retro Flight Attendant

What are you wearing for Halloween?? Let me know in the comments below!

PLUS SIZE COSTUMES: Favorites Throughout the Years

Costumes are a good way for me to get crafty and thrifty - two things I love to do! This post highlights some of my best costumes throughout the years and shares a little info on how I created each look. I can't even choose which is my favorite - I love them all!

ADELE

Yeah, yeah, I feel like every curvy, bright-eyed woman in the world has been compared to Adele at some point (or, is that just me?), but I really do love her and loved this costume!

I was really proud of this costume! It's a recreation of her 2012 Grammy look with all of her awards! I created the whole outfit from things I already owned - a lacy top and high-waisted a-line skirt. I bought the wig (which I think looked better in person). And, I crafted the grammy's! I spray painted mini bread loaf pans, sponges, and dixie cups and then hot glued them all together!

SCARY ZOMBIE/HAUNTED HOUSE CREATURE

I HATE haunted houses. . .hate 'em! I get way too scared and they are absolute no fun at all. I will, however, happily be in a haunted house! Maybe it was working at universities for several years, but I have found myself being part of many haunted houses (or, more like haunted hallways, haunted Rec Centers, etc).

I love creating bloody zombie type looks for occasions like these. And, it's really pretty easy! I find an old flowy dress or nightgown and rip holes in it. (I always wear leggings and a tank underneath!) Bonus for blood stains on the dress. Every time I've been in haunted houses, they've supplied the face paint and fake blood but never have a good selection of costumes in my size. So, I always bring my own and always get compliments on how scary I look!

I paint my face with white paint and then darken my eyes and add lots of smudges. (You can't really tell in the pics but this usually looks extra scary with my bright eyes!) Make sure you put the white paint over your lips, too. I make my hair big and messy. Finally, I use fake blood to make fake gashes on my skin and always do some from my hairline and lip or nose.

PUNK

We're going way back with this one! (Yes, I had short hair! Yes, it was amazing! No, I didn't spike the top like that regularly. Yes, I plan to have short hair again soon. #30Before30 Bucketlist!)

Although, for one summer I did have my lip pierced, that ring was fake for the costume. Those fake tattoos were amazing! They were rebel librarian themed temporary tattoos and said things like "Literature 4 Lyfe!"

 

PIRATE

I do love a good pirate costume! This was actually one of my favorites! My friend Margot and I are both dressed as pirates here. I put some work into this one! It's actually probably one of my sexier costumes, too! Gosh, I was a hottie in college, wasn't I? ;)

I'm wearing a wig. It's not a great one, but with the scarf over the top it doesn't matter. I have tons of layers - ripped fishnets, a sheer black nighty thing, a cream top ripped up and worn off the shoulder, (lol, I wore a bra with lacy straps because I knew they'd be revealed), and an epic coreset dress thing that I crafted! I cut a dress open and made those ties with a ripped up black t-shirt.

 

NON HALLOWEEN COSTUME FAVORITES

Since I'm sharing costume favorites, I have to mention the following two looks that I would also qualify as winning costume moments. . .

A few years ago I had a pretty epic tacky holiday party outfit! I saw this look as an avant-guard Christmas tree. Gold bow at the top (with the help of a headband). Amazing turtle neck. My German dirndl as the main "tree" look covered with ordainment.  (Shoes not picture. They were wedges with bows on the toes to resemble presents under the tree.)

Years ago I was a camp counselor at a German immersion summer camp, Waldsee. They had an amazing costume collection because we were constantly dressing up to act out lessons and skits. The picture below is of our fairy tale evening where we were all dressed up as fairy tale characters.

AND, THESE GEMS FROM LAST YEAR!

What were your best costume moments?

GAL ON THE GO WORKOUTS: Catching Up & Working Out While Traveling

I was home in Minnesota for two and a half glorious weeks in September & October! What an amazing trip. Literally, every day I was catching up with people I love! Most of it was over brunch or drinks, so I really appreciated time to be active and get in workouts while spending quality time with my besties! Here are some ways I remained active while still being a social gal on the go!

HIKING

The weather happened to be beautiful and unseasonably warm when I was home. One of my high school bff's, Krissy, and I went for a hike with her two cute dogs. She was familiar with the trails and we went through both fields and wooded areas. Then, we stopped at the top of Granddad Bluff in La Crosse, WI to take in the view.

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TRAMPOLINE PARK

Y'all know I LOVE giant trampolines! We grew up with a trampoline in our backyard and I suppose that's why I am so natural on them. Plus, I am flexible and love getting in some toe touches (something I could never do by simply jumping off the ground).

While I was in Minnesota, my friend, Margot, went through a bone marrow donation process. Margot is on the national bone marrow registry and, four years after signing up, was asked to donate. Talk about #WomenSupportingWomen and, essentially, being a selfless angel, Margot donated bone marrow to a woman she might never meet. Because of the donation process, she needed injections to draw out her bone marrow into her blood stream and was sick with side effects for 5 days leading up to the donation procedure.

Because she knew she'd be in bed for almost a week, she suggested we do something active before hand to get the wiggles out! ;) She loves these trampoline places as much as I do, so we spent the afternoon jumping!

We went to a kind of amusement place that had a pretty small trampoline area (not like the other trampoline parks I am used to), but it was literally just the two of us on them the whole time we were there. (They also made us wear grippy socks - which I was not used to nor a fan of.)

 

ZUMBA CLASSES

Zumba is also one of my favorite fitness activities. When I am home, I love joining friends at their gyms for zumba or asking for suggestions on where to find a great class. Last time I was home my friend Karyn and I got a class in at the local YWCA ( shoutout to Tania!)! And, this time, my friend Maryse got me in to a really great zumba class at her fitness center! No pictures of this one - I was too busy gettin' it! ;)

 

I love love loved my trip home. Infusing some active social activities helped keep me feeling good while I was there. (Also, I am convinced that drinking an EmergenC a day helped, too!)

DIY DECOR: Crafting Large Wall Art

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I am staying in my summer space through at least the end of the year, so it's about time I start settling in! My room isn't totally put together just yet, but I have completed a major project - creating some large wall art for my biggest, blank wall. 

As a gal on budget,  I knew what I wanted but had to find a way to do it inexpensively. Plus, I love an excuse to paint and be crafty. (I'm looking to infuse more of that into my life!)

I completed this project for around $40 and m very excited about the results! Let me share the details! 

 

SUPPLIES

  • 3 large canvases: These are 24 X 36 (I think?)! I found two at thrift shops and bought one new. (I could have saved money if I spent more time looking at thrift shops! I probably could have found them all for around $4 each!) The new one was $16 on sale at Michael's and the others were $4 and $10 at the thrift shop. (One is slightly thicker than the other two, but it's not really noticeable.) Total cost: $30
  • Paint: I got got black, white, & gold craft paint. (The gold was too yellow - so I ended up mixing some black into it. Also, I didn't get enough gold but thankfully had some laying around from a previous project. Total cost: $9
  • Brushes: I did all of this with one pack of those foam brushes. Total cost $1

 

INSPIRATION 

I found some images on Pinterest that reflected the type of patterns I as looking to create. But, my main inspiration was one of my favorite bags! In the end, my attempts at other looks failed, so they each ended up being the same design but with colors playing different roles in each. When I started painting, I didn't know that would be my end result. 

 

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PROCESS

  • I started by painted the two used canvases white. I did two coats each and let them dry. I am not fancy with this. I literally squirted the white on to the canvas and spread it out with the brush. 
  • Then, I started with the new canvas - I created a design inspired by the bag pattern (described & pictured above). 
  • I tried  to do some other fancy stuff on the two other canvases - but it looked terrible so I decided to make one all gold and the other all black (mainly to cover up my failed attempt at different designs). Then, I created the same pattern on them but used the colors for different elements. 
  • Voila! This is what I created! 
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I'll show more when I actually get around to completely decorating my room and creating a put-together look! Till then, this is adding a little character to my space and I'm loving it! 

SUNSHINE & MOM TIME: What More Could A Girl Ask For?

I am such a lucky lady!  Last week I added another beach trip to my summer.  Thanks to my wonderful mom, I had a beautiful vacation full of sunshine, great talks, good food, and opportunities to snap pics in my fab swimwear. My mom flew down to New Orleans and we drove further down to coast - almost to Florida.

Here are some pics of our time on vacay. . .mostly of swimwear because you can never have enough fatkini photos! (Hover over images for details.) 

 
 This suit is one of my old go-to's. It's actually a maternity suit from Target - purchased several years ago. The gathering on the sides allow it to come up and look like a regular non-maternity suit. 

This suit is one of my old go-to's. It's actually a maternity suit from Target - purchased several years ago. The gathering on the sides allow it to come up and look like a regular non-maternity suit. 

 
 
 Loving this small and simple top from Asos Curve! I recently got it on super sale so I don't think it's available. It's not the most supportive but small and great for getting as much body in the sun as possible! 

Loving this small and simple top from Asos Curve! I recently got it on super sale so I don't think it's available. It's not the most supportive but small and great for getting as much body in the sun as possible! 

 
 
 Recent purchase! This  Swim Suits For All #SwimSexy fatkini from Gabi Fresh  is pretty great!  (I also am wearing this with a different Lane Bryant top in some pictures further down.) 

Recent purchase! This Swim Suits For All #SwimSexy fatkini from Gabi Fresh is pretty great!  (I also am wearing this with a different Lane Bryant top in some pictures further down.) 

 
 
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 BLTs! 

BLTs! 

 
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 Selfie stick struggles! But, I kind of love this photo. . . 

Selfie stick struggles! But, I kind of love this photo. . . 

 Best work space ever! (Tumbler from  The Golden Gurl Shop !)

Best work space ever! (Tumbler from The Golden Gurl Shop!)

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 My mom sure knows how to do it. These floaties are everything! 

My mom sure knows how to do it. These floaties are everything! 

WATER WORKOUTS: & Confidence at the Pool

I love all things sunshine & swimming pool & beach!

One of my favorite ways to workout is at water fitness classes! These come in multiple forms. The classes that I frequent include Aqua Zumba, an H20 Cardio class, and general aqua fit/water aerobics. I also like to swim laps. Well, mostly kickboard laps.

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I seek out water fitness classes everywhere I go! Currently, I take them at my amazing (albeit expensive for a #GirlOnABudget) gym & community center. Most places with a pool offer these type of classes.

Like any group fitness classes, the quality of the class depends a lot on the instructor and the focus. Some classes I’ve attended have crappy music (or, no music – ah!) and not very challenging moves or routines. While others are more active with a great cardio and strength workouts. It really just depends. My perspective is to try everything to see what I like. Also, I like to replicate water work out moves on my own later. (Yes, I am that lady at the pool!)

I usually wear a more supportive, “sensible” suit for these classes – purely based on comfort. I don’t like being distracted by my boobs popping up, bottoms falling down, or tankini top sloshing around when I’m trying to get my work out on.

My favorite water workout suit is a Reebok one-piece purchased years ago. (I can’t find the link but there are a few pics of me in it on Instagram.) And you know how I found this suit? Another fat girl was in a water work out class with me and I saw her wearing it. After class I pumped her for information! I especially wanted to know about the length (#LongTorsoProbs) but she assured me that it was really roomy in terms of length. And, it is!

 

Fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good. 

Whether you’re in a water workout class or just lounging at the pool, I think we can all agree that it feels good to see other body positive people there! For me, I especially love seeing other plus-size/curvy/fat ladies loving life in the sun and giving no fucks. I also try to be one of these people!

I notice when girls run for their towel or cover-up as soon as they get out of the pool. I see people’s hunched backs to draw attention away from their breasts or strategically placed arms to cover up tummies. I also see the judgmental looks people give others at the pool.

But when I see another curvy girl standing up straight and tall, unconcerned with covering things up or the illusion of angles, and owning her space, I feel a little more confident, too. And, I don’t know her or her heart. Shoot, this confidence could be a “fake it till you make it” situation. (Sometimes mine is, too!) But seeing her there makes it easier and better for me. It makes me feel good. I imagine it makes some of you feel good, too!

I recently shared a video of me in a bikini on Instagram where I say “tummies out at the pool and fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good”.  I remind myself of this when I’m considering which suit to put on. If I am just chilling at the pool, I challenge myself to wear what I feel most comfortable in and not what covers up the most.

When I am showing my tummy at the pool I feel like I am creating a small little revolution for me and other larger ladies. And, providing an educational experience for people (including all the kids at my pool) about the sizes and shapes of bodies and what is “acceptable”.

The same holds true for folks who are unbothered by their body hair, darkness between their thighs, or other things we're told are not pretty or not acceptable. 

Wear whatever you want to the pool! Do whatever feels right to you. I'm just saying that I have so much love and respect for people at the pool exuding a confident, body-positive vibe. Let us be be surrounded by those people and let us be those people if  we can. 

"Tummies out at the pool and fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good."

 

SUMMERTIME FINE: Work, Play, & Outfits of the Day!

Instead of stressing about not having a bigger blog post out to y'all this week, I thought I would simply share some short, photo updates letting you know what I've up to! You may have caught some of these on Instagram. Here's a peak at what's been going on in my world . . .aptly divided into work, play, and outfits of the day! (Just hover over the photos for details.) 

WORK 

 I'm loving the freedom of working from anywhere! 

I'm loving the freedom of working from anywhere! 

 Lots of trips to the post office. Although I love chatting with my post office ladies, soon I'll be printing labels and doing most of the shipments from home (and simply dropping off at the post office). 

Lots of trips to the post office. Although I love chatting with my post office ladies, soon I'll be printing labels and doing most of the shipments from home (and simply dropping off at the post office). 

 I've been doing some mini-road trips to check out new thrift shops. 

I've been doing some mini-road trips to check out new thrift shops. 

 I finally got a big bulletin board in my new space so I can better organize my thoughts. 

I finally got a big bulletin board in my new space so I can better organize my thoughts. 

 I've found so many great fall pieces in the last week! I'm going to start posting fall items in my shop in August. 

I've found so many great fall pieces in the last week! I'm going to start posting fall items in my shop in August. 

 I'm finishing up my first draft of my forthcoming goal setting workbook. Lots more details to come!! 

I'm finishing up my first draft of my forthcoming goal setting workbook. Lots more details to come!! 

PLAY 

 "See you later" parties and tex-mex feasts! 

"See you later" parties and tex-mex feasts! 

 So much pool time at my beautiful gym! Aqua zumba, H20 Cardio, sunbathing, and spending time in the pool chatting with au pairs. . . I've been there a lot lately. 

So much pool time at my beautiful gym! Aqua zumba, H20 Cardio, sunbathing, and spending time in the pool chatting with au pairs. . . I've been there a lot lately. 

 I got a new journal that's helping me remember to be "all in" in every aspect of my life. 

I got a new journal that's helping me remember to be "all in" in every aspect of my life. 

 My Facebook followers know that I have seen Magic Mike XXL twice in the last week. It is AWESOME - sex positive, women centered, shows positive representations of male friendship, has all types of women included, and there's even a spanx sighting! I may need to do a full post about this because. . .it's just that good. 

My Facebook followers know that I have seen Magic Mike XXL twice in the last week. It is AWESOME - sex positive, women centered, shows positive representations of male friendship, has all types of women included, and there's even a spanx sighting! I may need to do a full post about this because. . .it's just that good. 

OUTFITS OF THE DAY 

 I love wearing a simple t-shirt over a dress transforming it into a skirt. 

I love wearing a simple t-shirt over a dress transforming it into a skirt. 

 This isn't an actual #ootd, but one of my favorite looks from the items posted in my shop this weekend. (This one has already been sold.) 

This isn't an actual #ootd, but one of my favorite looks from the items posted in my shop this weekend. (This one has already been sold.) 

 LOVING this floral skirt. Lane Bryant clearance rack find. You might still be able to find it? (I'm wearing a size 20.) 

LOVING this floral skirt. Lane Bryant clearance rack find. You might still be able to find it? (I'm wearing a size 20.) 

 Floral top from Old Navy. No longer available. 

Floral top from Old Navy. No longer available. 

 Asos curve pencil skirt found at a thrift shop. Belt found on super clearance at Lane Bryant. 

Asos curve pencil skirt found at a thrift shop. Belt found on super clearance at Lane Bryant. 

 H&M is the best and the worst, y'all! It seems like every location has a plus-size section in utter disarray, but they do have some amazing pieces! Found these pants on super sale and love this top. I also recently bought some amazing shorts. . . full price - but cute enough to justify it.  (So, extremely cute!) Oh, yeah - I am standing on the bench in order to get my whole bod in this selfie! 

H&M is the best and the worst, y'all! It seems like every location has a plus-size section in utter disarray, but they do have some amazing pieces! Found these pants on super sale and love this top. I also recently bought some amazing shorts. . . full price - but cute enough to justify it.  (So, extremely cute!) Oh, yeah - I am standing on the bench in order to get my whole bod in this selfie! 

A few of these images have been taken from Snapchat - which I am starting to get really into! Feel free to add me! Just search Cat Polivoda! 

SUMMER ESSENTIALS: 10 Things Every Fat Girl Needs This Summer

Ten of my current summer essentials include. . .

1. Good facial sunscreen
Hopefully everyone is using sunscreen on a regular basis! Although I can usually get away with an SPF 15 or SPF 30,  I have a special sunscreen routine for my face. I use this amazing mineral powder sunscreen that provides a powder veil that blocks the sun but doesn’t add any extra grease to my face. It also is a nice oil absorbing powder that I can easily whip out and reapply throughout the day.  (Sometimes I also wear my liquid foundation that contains an SPF and then apply the mineral sunscreen over it.)

2. coconut oil.
Coconut oil is, by far, my favorite moisturizer! It is also a great hair deep conditioner (or leave in conditioner, depending on your hair type) and cooking oil! (I also know some folks who put in in their smoothies.) It’s amazing for after-sun skin care, including sunburns, and is perfect for sensitive skin like mine.

3. a fabulous fatkini.
Due in large part to Gabi Fresh, bikinis are now fab and flattering for plus-size ladies! For the last few years they have become more widely available. Now you can find them in several stores and in a variety of price points. You need one! ;) And, yes, “fatkini”! I support calling it this. If you haven’t gleaned this from my other content, and the title of this post, I like using the word “fat” to describe myself in order to take the stigma and “ick” away from the word.

4.  a sensible swimsuit.
I qualify a “sensible suit” as something that you can swim laps in or jump off a diving board in and not worry about a nip slip or exposed booty. I wear a sensible suit to water aerobics and in situations when I want to be my fabulous self but not reveal all of my fabulousness ;)! (Not that fatknis aren't sensible. . I just can't resist a good alliteration!) 

5. a light scarf to protect you from the sun.
I love a thin, summer scarf as an everyday accessory or at the beach. I wear a scarf in my hair for sun protection or, in instances where my skin has had too much beach time but I have not, I will wear it damp around my shoulders to protect my skin and keep me 

6.   bright polish for your nails and/or toes.
I am usually attracted to brown, purple, grey, and maroon tones for my nails but I love to go bright and colorful for my toes (and nails) during the summer. It’s a fun time to try some new colors!

7.  a new journal or pens.
Summer is a great time for reflection! For me, journaling is my mode of choice. Opening up a new journal (or putting a fresh, new pen to paper in a journal that I am already using) while sitting outside, laying on the beach, or enjoying an iced coffee on a patio is a great way to reflect.  

8. shorts, spanx, bandelettes, (etc.) that are comfy for summer
If you can wear skirts or dresses and do not have irritation from your thighs rubbing – count yourself very, very lucky! I need protection from this. . .and, something stronger than a little body glide or deodorant. Thinner spanx brand shorts and bandelettes are the most comfy for me. (I am sure you can find spanx-like shorts that are thinner and more comfy for summer but my thin pare are spanx brand and the most comfortable for warm weather.) Note: bandelettes are a lovely option but not for long walking adventures.

9.  a good set of podcasts in your iPhone.
With summer travel and beach or pool time, you’ve got to have some great podcast on deck! My favorites are a combo of small business podcasts and women-centered podcasts.  I’d LOVE to hear about what your favorite podcasts are. (As I listen to more and more of them, I am becoming very tempted to start my own. Would you listen?!)

10.   body-positive sisters in your (real or virtual) life.
Feeling confident in summer styles can be tough. Y’all, it takes bravery to go out on the beach with your tummy or wear a crop top.  You will be ok. And, so will everyone else, but sometimes it is hard!
Aside from simple practice (the idea that the more you do it the easier it gets), I think that seeing other women confidently bearing their bodies and surrounding yourself with body-positive people are invaluable ways build your body confidence. Some of us are lucky to have folks around us that can serve in that capacity. Other of us might need to find that online. Either way, be sure to be getting that community somewhere and surrounding yourselves with a variety of bodies in summer styles.

 Love this suit paired with a flowy maxi skirt. This suit is actually for sale right now in my shop! Check it out! 

Love this suit paired with a flowy maxi skirt. This suit is actually for sale right now in my shop! Check it out! 

 Tummy out and a scarf in my hair! 

Tummy out and a scarf in my hair! 

 Bright toes and a tumbler from The Golden Girl Shop! 

Bright toes and a tumbler from The Golden Girl Shop! 

 This vintage, thrifted suit is one of my current favorite "sensible suits"! 

This vintage, thrifted suit is one of my current favorite "sensible suits"! 

These are ten of my summer essentials. What are your must-haves this summer??

30 BEFORE 30: Bucketlist

Today is my golden birthday! As I turn 28, I thought it would be a perfect time to share a "30 Before 30" Bucketlist! This is actually my first bucketlist. I am more of a goal setting/dreaming/planning kind of lady, so lists of goals are more common for me. (For example, I currently have ten 2nd quarter/April, May, June goals that I am working on. Those align with my year and long-term goals, etc., etc., etc. That's just the kind of person I am.) 

A bucketlist feels different to me. Sure, some of the items on this list relate to goals I am working on, but many are just fun things I want to experience or chances I want to take. Some are things I have been meaning to do but haven't put a deadline on yet. Or, things that I want to do again! 

I was careful to craft a list that was not too serious! Plus, I made sure to include multiple parts of myself and not just list off my business-related dreams or financial goals. I've actually been thinking about many of these things for a while and am really excited to share them with you here! 

So, without further adieu, here are 30 things I want to do within the next two years - before I am 30! 

30 Before 30 Bucketlist

  1. Go on a cruise

  2. Take boudoir photos

  3. Grow an herb garden

  4. Lead a zumba class

  5. Cut my hair short

  6. Eat crawfish out of the shell

  7. Reconnect with my German host family

  8. Go blonde

  9. Work exclusively for myself

  10. Get a large, amazing arm tattoo

  11. Visit at least 2 countries I’ve never traveled to before

  12. Take a solo relaxation, meditation, visioning vacation

  13. Develop a strong relationship with a mentor

  14. Visit at least 2 states or major US cities I’ve never visited before

  15. Pay off credit cards

  16. Buy a new car (Or, have money saved for that time!. . .It’ll be a miracle if my car is still kickin’ in 2 years.)

  17. Do a photo shoot by murals and pretty fences around NOLA

  18. Organize and lead a Women’s Retreat

  19. Publish something

  20. Go back to Germany to visit (or live for a short time)

  21. Start investing

  22. Have a stay-cation weekend in New Orleans

  23. Hike Stone Mountain in Atlanta (again)

  24. Donate a large (for me) sum of money

  25. Be on a podcast

  26. Drive a manual car again

  27. Eat vegan again for at least 1 month

  28. Get sister tattoos with my sis

  29. Develop a group of close girlfriends in New Orleans

  30. Go to a musical or dinner theatre show

What's on your bucketlist? Do we have any things in common? Let me know in the comments below! 

CHICAGO: Weekend Away

Last weekend I was in Chicago to visit a close friend and for my Sip & Shop event with Ready to Stare at BLAIR! I had a wonderful time! Susun is an amazing host and it is always a pleasure catching up and spending time together. Plus, I loved getting to know other amazing ladies through our Sip & Shop event. 

For the first time in my life, I actually missed my flight! It was completely my fault, too. But, Southwest was awesome and I was on the next flight to out of New Orleans to Chicago - no problems or complications. Susun and I spent time catching while walking around Lincoln Park.  (I always love walking but am even more focused on making time for walks since I started wearing a pedometer. No, not a Fit Bit. A dorky, old-school pedometer. I love it!) We snapped some fab photos while we were out.

 
 
 
 

OUTFIT: I recently found this over-sized top while thrifting. The chillier Chicago weather was a great opportunity to wear it. Paired with Torrid's stiletto skinny jeans, Torrid booties, bangles, Lane Bryant sunnies, and one of my favorite scarves that's too thick/warm to wear now in humid NOLA.  

 
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Fun included walks around the city, visiting the lovely Lincoln Park Conservatory, eating lots of great food, and relaxing at King Spa & Sauna after the Sunday event. Speaking of - stay tuned for another post about the fabulous Sip & Shop event!

This trip kicks off quite a few travel weekends in the upcoming months. Several trips to Minnesota for weddings and wedding related celebration, a beach bachelorette party weekend, a trip to Miami, and more. Looking forward to sharing my excitements throughout the summer! 

OUTFITS & ACTIVITIES: What I've Been Up To The Last Few Weeks

Life is busy and beautiful these days so I wanted to share a quick peak at some of my outfits and activities the past few weeks! 

OUTFITS 

I've been working constantly, so most of my looks are business casual or gym clothes lately. Although, the pic at the top, right is from a night out with my sis! I'm all about floral (obvs!) and can't get enough of these new flats from Lane Bryant

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ACTIVITIES  

My beautiful sister visited last week and we went to a trampoline park. These places are my BLISS! And, as you can see from my in-the-air-splits. . .I still got it! ;)  We also attempted (and failed miserably) at a sundae eating challenge at the historic Creole Creamery

I spent some time journaling about my first quarter of 2015. (My financial coach encouraged me to start breaking up goals into quarter/3 month segments - like businesses do- and I love it!)  Other than that it's just been prepped lunches and dinners and quick rests on my (carpeted) office floor before heading out to teach night class each night. I'll be excited to catch up on sleep and me-time in May! 

LOVE YOUR BODY: Make Healthy Choices Because You Love Your Body

 



I've been feeling mysteriously tired and kind of run down the last two weeks. I described it to someone as "pre-burned-out feeling". Like, I'm fine - not sick, not too overwhelmed, not too busy. . .but it seems like just a little bit more and I would get there.

Acknowledging that "pre-burn-out feeling" is important! Last week I made several conscious choices to benefit my physical and metal health! I ate more veggies, drank more water, went to yoga, and cancelled some evening commitments. 

I chose to do these things because I love myself and I love my body. It is counterproductive to make "healthy" choices out of punishment or judgement of yourself. (How "healthy" can something be if you are pressuring or shaming yourself into doing it?!) 

When mid-March comes (like, next week), things get even busier for me. So, I'm taking a few moments now to get back into my groove and prioritize my health. 

Hope you liked the quick video excerpt above reminding us to make healthy choices because we love our bodies! You can see the full video from a few months ago here

 

WELCOMING 2015 WITH INTENTION: Part 3 - Health & Wellness

In part three of my series Welcoming 2015 With Intention, I share my thoughts and tips for embracing health and wellness! Many folks vow to "get healthy" in the new year! Unfortunately, for many people, "get healthy" is code for "lose weight". Well, not for me!  If you're thinking about health and wellness in the new year, this blog post shares some ways you can approach health in a supportive, body positive, loving way!  

Health and weight-loss are not the same thing! 

In case this is something new to you, health and weight-loss simply do not go hand in hand.  I am a strong believer in the Health at Every Size movement. Many folks have broken this info down better than I have, so I encourage you to take a look here and here. Plus, some thoughts on the weight-loss resolution trap here

Listen to your body and do more of what feels good! 

Like I've mentioned before, I believe our wisdom lies within. Our bodies know what we want and need. It's just a matter of listening and doing it! 

Think about wellness holistically! 

Health and wellness is so much more than just exercise and nutrition. I encourage you to think about health holistically. To consider all components of wellness, I like to use a wellness wheel. Take a look at the image to the right and feel free to look at this presentation that I modified from something I created for my day job. It goes in detail to describe each area of wellness. 

No need to label yourself as "good" or "bad" when talking about your actions. Just say what you mean! 

I think my example in the video says it all. You are valuable, good, worthy, and deserving. While your actions may be positive or negative, they don't make you a good or a bad person.  And, just say what you mean! 

Love your body! 

Let your love for your body and yourself motivate your healthy habits! Don't get caught up in the negative and scary cycle of making "health" choices out of anger or hate or shame or dislike for your body! 

GOOD EATS: Some Of My Favorite Homemade Lunches & Dinners of 2014

Here are some of my favorite homemade lunches and dinners from this past year. . . 

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Crockpot Carnitas, avacado, blue corn tortilla chips, sour cream, & cilantro. 

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Homemade hummus with feta and Aidell's spicy mango 
meatballs with veggies. 

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Simple beef tacos. 

Homemade veggie turkey meatballs, asparagus, and sweet potato mash. 

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Butternut squash coconut milk soup with homemade croutons and squash seeds. 

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Homemade turkey & veggie pot pie in a flaky, homemade crust. 

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Sweet potato gnnochi with parmesan and sauteed kale with feta. 

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Whole wheat pasta with oven roasted cherry tomatoes, kale, pesto, and feta. 

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Homemade hummus plate with Aidell's spicy mango meatballs, cucumbers, peppers, cilantro, pickles, feta, and lime. 

You can find recipes for most of these things online or on pinterest. I usually reference recipes and then add in extra veggies, spices, or other modification. I'm looking forward to sharing more cooking posts through this blog!

THRIFTING TIPS & TRICKS: Thrifting at Large Brick & Mortar Thrift Shops

Many of you know me from my plus-size, online thrift shop Cat’s Closet. I started selling my clothes online last year but quickly ran out so I began posting fab items I found at thrift shops! Now, I have a whole operation going. I visit thrift stores regularly and find items to share with other plus-sized women. I style them in outfits so other fatshionistas can get some styling ideas and see how the clothes look on someone else. Then, I post them on my shop website and ship nationwide.

Because I have so much luck finding great items at thrift stores, lots of folks ask for advice! So, I wanted to share some thrifting tips and tricks for those of you who are interested in doing some thrift shopping.

Before You Shop 

Get in the mood and set out some time. Plan to spend a few hours thrifting. Rarely can you just pop in for a few minutes and find a quality item that’s perfect for you. Also, I have experienced some intense lines on Half-Off-Saturdays!

Be open! Similar to shopping in retail stores, I rarely find the item I’m looking for. So, you might have some items in mind but part of the beauty of a thrift shop is being open to multiple items, styles, and looks.

Find shops. You can find some thrift stores pretty easily – google, yelp, etc – but rarely do the best ones have websites. Ask around and keep an eye out if you’re driving in new or different parts of towns.  I’ve found a few thrift shops while simply driving through an area I haven’t explored yet.

There are some nicer second-hand stores and consignment shops. These shops can be lovely but also tend to be more expensive. This post refers to my experiences in larger thriftstores!

Be Prepared

Once you’ve visited a specific thrift store, you’ll have an idea how it operates. Here are some things to be prepared for: 

Organization: Like the Target clearance section, thrift shops run the gamut from wonderfully organized and sized to hot messes. 

Fitting Rooms: Some thrift shops don’t have fitting rooms. And, oddly, some that do close them really early. (Maybe it’s just a New Orleans thing? But the Salvation Army store closes fitting rooms at 5PM although the store is open till 7PM.) I suggest wearing leggings. Only one thrift shop I’ve ever visited didn’t have a full length mirror.  (I’m looking at you, America’s Thrift in Baton Rouge!) So, I suggest leggings and a tank top so you can slide things on over your clothes. I’ve found that, as I thrift more and more, I have gotten pretty good at guessing what will work for me without trying items on.

Cash Only: My favorite shops are cash only. Some accept cards – but you might want to have some cash on hand the first time you visit a new store. 

Deals: Many stores have deal days. This often is a flat-rate discount or based on a tag color. Here are some examples based on stores I frequent: Salvation Army store has 50% off all items on Wednesdays, The Red, White, & Blue thrift shop offers 50% off a different tag color each day but on Saturdays all tags except for one color (the most recent arrivals) are 50% off, and Goodwill Stores in the area have 15% off every day for senior citizens. (You better believe I had my mom help me out with that when she visited!) 

Develop Your System

Although my plan of attack varies a bit based on store, let me share my general system. I always get a cart. (Sometimes I bring an abandoned one in from the parking lot to ensure that I have one to use.) In stores that have a specific plus-size women’s section, I head there first. The best stores also have women’s plus size dresses separately, too. If not, that’s where I head next. I usually go through the blazers and swimsuits in the women’s section. And, I sometimes look for flannels in the men’s section.

Most places have items divided by gender and type. Sometimes within those sections they will be sized or divided by color.

If you want to find good stuff, you really have to commit to digging through the racks. At each section, I try to shove everything to one end to give mysef a little wiggle room as I look at each item individually and slide it over. Unfortunately, sometimes the racks can be jam packed (F21 style) and you can barely squeeze things in or out.

I haven’t had a lot of luck with bags or shoes, but I know some folks who find a lot of great accessories at the thrift store. Sometimes I might also walk through the home décor or book sections if I have time, too!

I usually fill my cart based on preliminary impressions. Especially on a busy Saturday morning, I want to claim my items before someone else does! (Sometimes I separate the items in my cart – like one side probably yes’s and the other side maybe’s.) Once I’ve perused all of my sections, I go to the fitting room or take my cart off to the side somewhere quiet. I try on some items and inspect them all. Here are things to look for:

Are there any stains on the items? Is the item dirty? Are there original store tags on the item? (Cha ching!) Are there zippers? Do they work? Any buttons missing? Rips or tears? If so, in a mend-able area? Does it smell funny? Do you think the smell can be washed out? (Seriously, y’all, I have put back so many items based on smell. Ick. I just can’t deal sometimes. . . ) Some of these things can be easily fixed – it’s just good to know what you’re getting into.

Also, I look at price and identify if the item is on sale. (Note that some stores won’t sell an item if it doesn’t have a tag on it. I’ve had to part with some beautiful pieces because of this rule. Always give it to someone who works there to save the next thrifter from the disappointment!)

That’s my general system. I wanted to share specifics so that if thrifting is new to you – this will give you an idea of where to start. As you frequent thrift stores, you’ll learn which ones are worth your time and those that might not be. And, you’ll develop a system of your own!

For Plus-Size Fashionistas
I have two pieces of additional advice for us larger ladies out thrifting! 1) Always look for a plus size section. My favorite shops have plus sizes separated which saves so much time and disappointment. Don’t be afraid to ask!  2) Don’t just buy an item because it’s in your size. When you’re on your 6th rack of dresses and have only found 2 size 18’s, it’s really tempting to snatch anything up just because it’s in your size. But if it’s not cute, don’t go there!

Benefits of Thrifting 

I see multiple benefits of thrifting! Of course you can save money and acquire unique items. It’s also better for the environment because you are reusing items instead of purchasing newly produced ones. And, many thrift shops have a philanthropic component to them. I like to investigate this. I’ll go anywhere, but I prefer to spend my money at places that have a mission that aligns with my values.

Before we go, let’s talk about cost! I usually find items for $2-$6. If it’s more than $6, I really think about it. My fav thrift shop regularly has items that are $12.99+ so I usually wait till they’re half off unless it is a truly amazing garment!

If the thrift shop is a bit nicer, I might pay more but that will also come with a better shopping experience. Nicer, boutique thrift shops usually have price-points from $12-$24. Oh, and when considering cost, sometimes it is worth it to get something that might need to be dry cleaned or mended before you can wear it as you are paying so little for it in the first place.

Let me know! 

Was this info helpful? If you have other thrifting tips and tricks, share ‘em in the comments below!

If you’re a New Orleans local, stay tuned for a specific New Orleans thrift shop review that I plan to post in the upcoming months! And, for those of you in or around New Orleans, consider scheduling a Style Session if you'd like to go thrifting with me so I can give you my personal attention! 

Happy thrifting!