Review: SimplyBe Western Denim Top

Hi everyone,

Long time no see! I’m still over on YouTube making regular videos — at least two a week! I hope you will join me there or follow on Instagram.

That said, I’m here to share a cute top from SimplyBe! This western denim top was gifted to me from SimplyBe’s team as part of a multi-influencer styling collab. I know Hailey of Discourse of a Divine Diva posted her look today, so check hers out too!

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I’m wearing the SimplyBe top in a size 28. When I first thought about styling it, I knew I wanted to do some kind of tied waist. I’ve been a little obsessed with that look. My first inclination was to go denim on denim and pair this top with a lighter color jean bottom, but then I knew that accessories would have to bring the outfit to life. That made me change direction and go with a different texture. I paired it with a ribbed knit pencil skirt by Leith in a 4X, faux leather booties by Old Navy, and this felt hat from Torrid. I loved the mix of textures and felt that this choice brought much more depth to the look.

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This top is so versatile, and I can’t wait to see how everyone else styled it! Let me know in the comments how you would wear it! ❤

Hey, I’m over on YouTube

Hi everyone! Long time, no posts, right?! I’ve moved on over to YouTube, and I hope you will join me there. Check out my review of the Girl With Curves x Lane Bryant line here! Please like & subscribe to see all new content.

The Listening List: The Audiobooks and Podcasts of My 2016

When I finished graduate school in 2012, I realized that I hadn’t read anything for the joy of reading in about 4-5 years. Yikes, school reading had taken over my life. I wanted to start reading more, but I was reading so much every day as part of my job that I found myself falling asleep every time I cracked open a book. Enter Audible to the rescue. I signed up for a monthly subscription ($14 a month for 1 book token), and I started reading during my commutes to work. At first I kept it to the car, but now I listen to audiobooks while I cook, clean, and sit in bed playing the “Mexican Train” game on my phone before falling asleep. I started in 2013 with 11 titles in my Audible library. Now I have 95!  I’ve spent some serious time getting back into books, and I love it. I still won’t crack open a book, but I will definitely press play, and I’ve even added podcasts to my weekly listening.

Below is a list of all the books I read through Audible during 2016 (with the exception of some I started but never finished). I also included three podcasts that I listened to throughout the year. If you click on the image, a gallery will appear with some notes about each piece, so if you want to hear my thoughts on each, just click through the gallery below.

What books and/or podcasts have you enjoyed this year that I should add to my list?

Any thoughts about the ones I’ve included?

Slowly Making My Home

I moved into my first solo, independent, only-me home a little over two years ago (see my two posts about my move here and here). I started with a lot of hand-me-down or donated furniture, no artwork on the walls, but a new blank space where the possibilities were endless.

It’s been fun (and expensive) making my home, and it’s also been a big learning experience. I am a naturally very messy person. As long as the place I want to be, say my bed or the couch, is clear enough, then I can usually ignore most clutter and piles of things. Couple that with a tendency to buy too many items, and you’ve got a messy home on your hands. This is something I’ve always known about myself. I was always the messiest kid in my family. I tended to never treat my items with much care. I also have a tendency toward depression, which completely takes away any motivation for keeping things decluttered and clean.

Turning those habits around is an on-going challenge for me, but my home, and the desire to have a home that is welcoming to others, is pushing me to confront those challenges. After deciding to no longer date earlier this year and working through the summer straight to teaching this fall, I let my home really go in terms of clutter and mess. I could feel myself coming out of my depression in September, and I’ve seen a huge rise in my energy and motivation. I also happened to be introduced to organization/decluttering YouTube channels via Natalie of Natalie Means Nice. It sounds so silly, but these YouTube channels have been able to motivate me to clean and declutter so much. I guess it makes sense — reading blogs changed how I viewed clothes and myself — why wouldn’t normal, everyday people help me work through my home?

I started by watching a professional discuss home organization but then moved to someone, Sophia, who was trying to work through her own issues with decluttering and organization. Sophia has a completely different living situation and style from me, but she does have the same struggles as me (hello, fellow shopaholic). All it takes is a little YouTube, a list, and I’m off to clean. I’ve managed to work my whole way through my main living area: livingroom, diningroom, and kitchen. I even made sure to FaceTime my sister to show her my progress. I’ve also worked on getting more personalized style in my home, so I figured it was time to update you all. And if you’re a messy person like me, who actually likes a clean place, check out those channels!

Let’s start by my back door.

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I picked up this wood pallet North Carolina piece at an antique/craft show. I also purchased the comfiest chair ever from my friend, Ashley, when she was redoing her apartment. Lola quite enjoys lazing on this chair, back behind the cushions, and keeping an eye on the animals in the back yard.

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Between the chair and couch is this Windham 2 door, 1 drawer cabinet from Target. I had been eyeing this collection for awhile, so when it went on super sale, I snagged it in “Overcast”. I had some cut wood that was left over from my sister decorating a party, so I keep a faux plant on top of that and am almost constantly burning a candle on the cabinet if I’m in the room.

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I also got this couch from Ashley. I think I paid $100 (!!!) because she was getting a new couch. I also put up this metal wall art from Kirklands.

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Across the couch is a closet and then my TV center. The apartment came with built-ins, and I don’t have a big TV, so it fit perfectly there. They did have these oddly-tall sections at the bottom of the center, which ended up fitting my card tables and tripod perfectly. I also keep blankets, now in a basket, and a small ottoman and a basket of Lola’s toys. Lola spends a lot of time in the livingroom, so keeping her toys accessible to her but out of the way was what I needed. I purged all the toys that I hadn’t seen her even sniff in months.

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Next to the built-ins is a bump out from my front closet. I have a simple squared bookcase there with all of my DVDs, some books, and other assorted items. I used some baskets to hide oddly shaped items. One holds a lot of tech things, like a lens for my camera, and the other holds some puzzles and games. The center holds some tech stuff that’s not-so-pretty to the eye. If anyone has a suggestion on how to hide that, let me know.

On top I have agate bookends, a lamp, and vase–all from Target. I also have a little photo gallery above that bookcase. Something that happened organically over time was that a lot of the decorations in my livingroom were wood and stone related, so I ended up going further with that in this space.

Next to my couch is a hallway to the second bedroom and a bathroom. There’s also a half wall that connects to my kitchen.

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I put in a long bookcase with a shorter height along that wall. I keep all of my coffee-table type books here, as well as some games. I bought two wooden boxes from Homegoods with a chevron pattern to hide knickknack items. One thing I’ve learned from YouTube is “everything must have a home”. If it doesn’t have a place that it belongs, do I need it? If so, find it a place.

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On top I have some items that I’ve collected over time. One is this letter box that can light up. I put that phrase on there awhile ago. Maybe I should change it to “Embrace the clean” — nah, not as fun :). I picked up the candle in front of it over the summer. Pineapples aren’t as in-season anymore, but I still think it’s cute so it’s still there. I just recently added this print of a tree ring. My sister had propped up a painting I did in this same spot, and I loved the placement of art but not so much my painting. This rounds out my wood-theme well. By the way, I just bought the print from art.com (cheap), and then bought a more affordable frame at Michaels. I think the whole thing was $40 in all, counting shipping prices.

I picked up the “yum” pie dish in the dollar section of Target. I thought it was cute, and I don’t make pies, so I used a plate display to prop it up for fall decoration.

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On the other side of my bookcase are some more fall/Halloween decorations. I picked up these little dog figurines at Kirklands. I have a dog-obsession, not afraid to admit it, but what often happens is that I cannot find a lookalike for Lola. She’s some kind of yellow lab mix, and companies just don’t have the ability to make figurines to represent all the mutts out there. When I saw this figurine, with the standing up ears like Lola, I had to go for it. Then later I felt like it needed a friend and picked up another. I think they were around $5 each. I also picked up the “Hello Fall” wooden jar piece from Kirklands. This is about as southern as it’s going to get in my decor.

The little orange frame was a piece from my aunt. I think she put card stock or illustrations that she liked in the frame. The lamp is also from Target.

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My diningroom is mostly the same, except with more things! The metal chair was bought to be my chair for my vanity area in my bedroom. It hasn’t made its way there yet, and I’m not sure that it will ultimately go there, but for now it’s in my diningroom. I did put up some wall art from Kirklands (I’m now realizing that my entire apartment is Kirklands+Target+Ashley :)).

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I organized this bookcase by category. The left hand side is what I use most: a basket holding Lola’s important items, like heartworm pills, her Thundershirt, and paperwork for her microchip; a toolbox with a hammer; and the rest are random items that I use maybe once or twice a year, such as office supplies, flashlight, and hooks for hanging wall art.

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On top of this bookcase is a desk organizer with some important mail/paperwork, a notebook, hand sanitizer, and an extra charging cord. I also have a picture from college, faux plant, and a cat statue I picked up at an antique store. So, this cat statue… it’s a little weird but I like it. Now, though, my sisters and friends like to laugh about me becoming a cat lady, even though I don’t even have a cat!! (but I want a cat). I also have a little dish that can hold my keys but often holds random jewelry that I take off when I get home. Above the book case is a little board that I got when I first moved in. I honestly do not use it or switch things out from it, but I see no reason to take it down.

Across the diningroom is my kitchen. It is as basic as can be, but I did go through and reorganize where dishes, pots and pans were. When I first moved in, I put things where I thought they should go, and I never changed their location. It’s just now that I rearranged based off of what was frustrating about my kitchen.

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I think the only visual change is that I got rid of my microwave and got a toaster oven in its place. This freed up more counter space, which I love. I also put up this shelf that holds cookbooks and also has a rod for hanging items like oven mitts.

I am not that experienced with decorating a home, but I do for the first time feel proud of how my place looks, and I love that I now have little decorative pieces that I adore. Next up on the decluttering/organizing/cleaning list is my bedroom… And let me tell you, that’s going to be a huge project..eek!

What do you do to declutter and/or organize your home? Any good tips you can pass along? Any YouTubers that I should check out?

Trying a New-To-Me Brand: Lovesick

One of the most exciting things about plus size fashion at the moment is that new lines and collaborations keep popping up. When hearing about each new place to shop, my inner teenager who had only 2 places to go to gets really, really excited, but if you’re above a size 22/24, so many of these new opportunities are still out of your reach. Because of that, I get even more excited when there’s a new line that goes beyond a size 22/24. Enter Lovesick, a sister brand of Torrid. They  advertise themselves as sizes 10-26; however, many of their tops and dresses are available in a size 5, which is comparable to a size 30. I decided to try multiple pieces, and as a definite size 4/28 top and dress size, the 5’s were too big on me and the 4’s fit perfectly. I decided to purchase the dress below in a 5 because it seemed straight cut and I was worried about the fit on my hips, but I definitely could have sized down once to have it fit slightly more to my form.

aaDSC_0155Continue reading “Trying a New-To-Me Brand: Lovesick”

OOTD: One Very Special Day

Wooohooo! Wedding day post! Not mine, of course, because I am perpetually single, but my brother and Brittany’s! This day was so perfect. A week and a half prior we were having non-stop rain, so the glorious sun and slightly chilled autumn air felt truly magical. The wedding was at an outdoor venue, and was decorated beautifully. Everyone was in a good mood (which for my family is sometimes hard :-p), and the bride and groom’s joy was palpable.

Figuring out what to wear to an evening, outdoor wedding of your sibling is a little complicated (or maybe I just made it that way). I knew it would be cool/cold, so I wanted long sleeves and a long length, not so easy to find! So many dresses in plus sizes are sleeveless, and it was hard to find a long dress that wasn’t styled like a summer-time maxi dress. I found a dress through ASOS, but it hugged my stomach. I went back and forth about wearing it because, while I liked the dress and felt good in it, the idea of seeing so many people from high school and having formal pictures taken reared my insecurity’s ugly head for weeks. Let’s just say that 5 years later with blogging about my body size and fashion, I’m realizing that body acceptance is constant work and practice for me. I finally just went for it. I liked the style and the color, and I was going to have to just get over the fact that it hugged my stomach and that it would show in pictures.

I was right. It did hug my stomach, especially in pictures, but I also felt awesome and confident in it all night. My confidence made the night fun and memorable. I danced, I played off awkward moments well, I talked to people I hadn’t seen in years and people that I just met, and I was able to forget my insecurity enough to put the attention where it needed to be: Danny, Brittany, family, and friends.
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My cousin, Blythe, and me – She’s now my roomie!

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This moment was one where you are forced to recognize how adult your little brother is. I’m really proud of the man he is and how he values Brittany as a partner.

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Mom and me

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Dress from ASOS and necklace from Charming Charlie

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Sister Katie and me

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I mean, look at my brother’s smile :). So happy for them both. Love you, Danny and Brittany!

OOTD: Dressing Up for a Rehearsal Dinner

This weekend was my brother’s wedding, and he married the wonderful Brittany, who you may recognize because she came with me to FFFWeek back in 2013. It was a really exciting weekend, and we had been looking forward to these events for months. I probably (most definitely) had been worrying about what to wear to both the rehearsal dinner and wedding a little too much, but the weekend came and all went well. I’ll have to discuss shopping for a dress in another post because as much as we like to think plus size fashion has gotten so much more accessible, shopping size 24+ is still an overwhelmingly frustrating experience.

But! Back to the good stuff 🙂 

My sister Katie put in so much time decorating and setting up for the rehearsal dinner, which was held in my parents’ back yard. It was beautiful! She painted jars, set up candle displays, made bouquets. and set up a loving mood.

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I had originally planned to wear an olive green dress from ASOS, but I wasn’t completely happy with the dress, so I decided to keep looking. A couple days before the rehearsal dinner, I decided to check out Dillards at my local mall. I don’t think I’ve ever shopped there before. I imagined it to be like Kohl’s, but it’s definitely not. I was really impressed with how many semi-formal options they had, and how large of a space their plus size selection was housed in. I ended up finding this sparkly Jessica Howard dress that is 100x better in person than through pictures. I had to laugh because the dress was a size 22, and I must have tried on 10+ dresses in a size 24 that didn’t fit. I had given up on finding anything in store when I spotted this number, and it was on super-sale for $35!

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I finished the look with gray wedges from Target and earrings and a bracelet from Charming Charlies.

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My sister Katie and brother-in-law Brandon

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Brittany and me

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The whole gang of Agosta siblings and spouses.

P.S. I’m officially the only one (out of 4 total) of my siblings who is still single and unmarried. Do I win an award? I should get something for always ending up on the end of the table or the end of pictures 😉

I’ll share picture from the wedding soon, and will continue to blog sporadically on here. Thanks for checking in every couple months!

OOTD: Hello There, Summer

Woo! The spring semester has finally ended, and although it had some amazing moments and inspiring work from my students, I’m happy to be on the other side of it. Last year, I went straight from spring to teaching over the summer to 2 weeks later starting at a new school, and as a new teacher, I’m pretty excited for some time to reflect and revise my classes before I get back in there in July.

As my last act of the semester, I went in to box up my office in preparation of moving to a different room. I needed something casual, but since I was able to sleep in past 5am I was energetic enough to actually dry my hair and intentionally pick what I wore (you don’t even wanna know the state of my hair this past month). I’ve been saving up to move into my own place, so lately my clothing purchases have been restricted to more frugal places, so this outfit (besides the shoes) is all Old Navy.
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I’ve been shopping a lot from Old Navy’s regular women’s Tall section. This works well for me with their soft fabric tops and soft fabric dresses, but this vest is on the small side (though that didn’t stop me from wearing it). I’m kinda in love with the style and length. I can see myself wearing it with maxis and dark denim skinny jeans. Unfortunately, the plus size section does not have this in green, but they do have it in khaki.

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For some reason my hair looks half blonde and half brunette, but I promise you that it’s evenly blonde. I’ve been wanting to get back to a lighter color, and I’m kind of in an in-between state, but I’m enjoying it.

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Old Navy Tall boatneck top, Old Navy Tall vest, Old Navy Plus jeans, Target flats (last year)


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By the way, I know I do not blog as often as I used to, but I do update instagram a little more regularly–you can follow me here (and comment on instagram so I can see and follow you back!)

 

ASOS Voucher Giveaway!

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Today I am in my own personal little snow globe, and I keep finding myself going between responding to student work, watching movies, and perusing online shops. Something about being shut inside is dangerous for my online shopping moves, and with many in the country currently experiencing this snow, I thought you all may be interested in doing some looking too, especially if it’s for the chance to win an ASOS voucher!

ASOS contacted me and generously offered to give away TWO $25 vouchers for their store. ASOS carries plus size, straight size, accessories, shoes, men’s clothing.. SO MANY THINGS! This could be used toward anything on their site, and the winner gets the equivalent of US$25 in their own currency. For those above a size US 24, I find a lot of their items to fit me, and I wear a size 26/28.

I put together a list with the things I currently love, so take a look. You can click on the individual items to be taken to their product page. I also have a pinterest board with more.

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To Enter:

1. Leave a comment here with a valid e-mail address telling me what you would spend the $25 on — a top, dress, shoes? What are you going to add to your closet? Visit the ASOS website to look around.

There will be TWO winners and each will receive the equivalent of a US$25 voucher. I will pull these winners at the end of day on Sunday, February 23rd using random.org!

Good luck!