These are a bunch of my favorite things — Part 1: Shopping while everybody else is watching The Game

Note: This is Part 1 of a continuing series about some of my favorite things that you need to know about so they can be your favorites, too. Check back frequently for the latest–and share your favorites, too.

 

There’s this Big Football Game (remember that you can’t say “Super Bowl” unless you’re an NFL team owner or actually playing in the game) coming up. Then, in a few weeks, Massive March (basketball) Madness happens. So because of these important televised Sports-Ball Games at which your people request your couch presence, you’ll probably be spending more time in front of the TV–you know, that big screen on your wall you keep forgetting to dust because you’re snuggled up in bed watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” And even if you’re a passionate I’ve-worn-my-team-shirt-for-12-straight-days fan who notices all the things–or you’re a casual observer who only REALLY pays attention when there’s a chance Alabama will get the @#$% beat out of them–it’s difficult to completely 100 percent focus on every single play 100 percent of the entire game. Sometimes you need a break–something quiet & unobtrusive that won’t earn you side eyes from those who frown on game-time side chatter.

Solution? Shopping on your phone.

Sure, you could do something like sit there & read a book or knit a sweater or grade some papers. (Wait, CAN you knit a sweater? Because if you can, you totally should do that, anyway.) But doing something that’s so obviously NOT watching the game is a bit I’ve-got-more-important-things-to-do-thank-you-very-much rude. Of course you could use your phone to play games or check email or engage in a Twitter war while everybody else debates an offside call. But those things take focus & concentration, too, and may cause you to be that person who looks up & asks plaintively “What happened? Why is everybody yelling? What did I miss?” Don’t be that person.

Shopping on your phone, on the other hand, is the perfect watching-but-maybe-not-so-much activity: You’re engaged enough to participate in game commentary but you’re also doing something nice for yourself. Win-win. Which–fun fact–is completely unlike the Sports Ball you’re (supposed to be) watching.

So, for your Big Game Day sort-of-watching pleasure, here are three of my favorite online boutiques. These are for mainly women’s clothes & accessories because that’s mainly what I shop for. I’ve got several other favorites, but these are simply the ones where I’ve recently spent waaay too much money because there’s so much cuteness & so many sales that I thought of first.

  • Lemons and Limes Boutique–Owned & run by the amazing Wendy Knight from her home in Loveland, Ohio, this is the place for fun & affordable jewelry, stylish yet useful handbags and unique items from her own product line, Lauren Lane. Double-stud earrings? Mix-and-match stretch bead necklaces? A purse you really & truly can wear five different ways? Lemons & Limes had them first. And now you can, too.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: Wendy has the best subscription shipments, grab bags & mystery auction boxes. The. Best. Even if you think you don’t like surprises, I guarantee you’ll like these.
  • Prep Obsessed–Best friends Nina Vitalino & Corey O’Loughlin started their boutique in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, six years ago … and shopping has never been the same. Known for their colorful Florida vibe, the two entrepreneurs & their hard-working team offer curated collections of Spartina, Simply Southern, Corkcicle, All for Color & other classic brands both online & in their store.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: New gotta-haves go fast, so don’t delay clicking “Add to cart.” (I NEVER hesitate.) However, Corey & Nina restock whenever things are available, so wait-listed items usually get fulfilled.
  • Tag Online Boutique–Julie Knight, of Cincinnati, couldn’t find an online clothing boutique that offered style & fit at accessible prices, so, four years ago, she started her own. “TAG” stands for “Trendy, Affordable & Gorgeous”–and everything she sells on her website meets that promise. Shop here for dresses, outerwear & separates–Julie was the one who introduced Magic Pants to the world.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip:  Join the Tag Facebook group for discounts on new releases, fabric info & to see items modeled by women of different sizes.

Each of the hundreds dozens one or two times I’ve shopped these boutiques, I’ve been amazed at the helpful customer service & quick shipping times. Each of these businesses is run by women–women with families & in some cases women with other jobs. Each of these boutiques gives back by helping individuals who could use a boost & by contributing to non-profits that help others. It’s win-win-win-win. Again, please don’t say that during The Game. The purpose of any sports ball is one–and ONLY one–win. Only in shopping can there be many winners. True story.

cropped-cwcslant1.jpgP.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like the Dark Adriatic Blue.)

Shopping

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to pay more attention to my appearance. Now I’m not really a shallow and image-conscious person — okay, maybe I  am — but I was definitely in an ongoing style slump. You see, ever since I traded writing in a newspaper office for writing at my kitchen table a couple years ago, I’ve been going steadily downhill, fashion-wise. Not that I always wore full-body business attire when I worked fulltime, but I did usually try to look professional and put-together when I had an office to go to. But despite everybody’s advice to treat working-at-home just as if I was working in an office, it felt so liberating — at first — to hang out in three-day-old jeans and an old “Save the Manatees” T-shirt. I mean, if I’m interviewing unseen folks on the phone and fighting only the cats instead of cubicle-mates for leftover doughnuts, who’s going to notice? The problem was that I noticed. And as my fashion-sense gradually eroded, I started to feel dowdy and frumpy. All the time. And lazy. If, for instance, a friend would call at 10 a.m. for coffee or lunch and I was still in my PJs, I’d be inclined to decline — too much trouble to get cleaned up. (Although I promise I always got dressed by lunchtime. Or around there, anyway.) In addition, the severe reduction in my clothes-budget due to that whole leaving-a-good-paying-fulltime-job thing meant I had the perfect excuse for just shlumping around.  And that is not good. Not good at all. So as 2009 wound down, I knew I had to make an effort and make a change. Luckily, Younger Daughter moved back home after college graduation to work part-time — and she does not allow style slacking. Or pity parties. So I’ve promised myself to do better — and I’m working on it, even if it means just putting on good jeans and a sweater that doesn’t look as if it were born in the 1980s. And to get myself back in the fashion mood, I’ve been perusing magazines and Web sites for inspiration. Then I head to TJ Maxx — or my own closet. Here are my new favorite style sites — see if you like them, too.

Stylecaster, http://www.stylecaster.com/, is like getting your own personal edition of Vogue in your mailbox every day. This “fashion social network” offers articles on style, trends, designers, jewelry, hair and makeup, but the best part is the personalization aspect — for instance, you can get e-mailed style suggestions for the day based on your town’s weather. How cool is that? It’s like when the TV weather folks say, “Make sure the kids have a coat for the schoolbus this morning,” but for grownups. I also like the trend breakdown of putting together separate elements to come up with a unified look. And you can buy things and upload your own photos — but I mainly just read and look.

The Gilt Groupe, at http://www.gilt.com, is all about luxury and designers and Things You Wish You Had Somewhere To Wear Them To but it’s perfect for looking and dreaming. And being on the lookout for affordable versions of the real thing. You have to be invited so there’s sort of a behind-the-velvet-rope feel to this, but e-mail me if you want in. I mean, if they take me nobody else should have any problem.

And then there’s Shopbop, at http://www.shopbop.com/. This totally is a retail site but it covers all price points and the daily e-mails are full of the latest trends so you always know what’s hot and what’s not.

Shopping and Style

Children's clothingOh my goodness. My husband always cautions me against turning into a Styleblubbering grandmother and overwhelming you all with photos and praise of grandson Capt. Adorable, but I just can’t help it. And you know I think all of y’all’s children and grandchildren are adorable, too. I really do.  I always want to hear more about their cuteness. And I’m not posting these pics because I think my grandson is the most adorable and cute of them all. Oh, no. You know that’s not the case here, I promise. I’m just posting these pics because … well … let’s see … uh … hmm … because I want to talk about children’s clothing. Yes, yes — that’s it. I want to have a completely objective discussion about little boys’ clothes and how they wear the exact same thing that big boys and men wear but somehow it just looks so especially adorable on their little 19-month-old selves. I mean, have black sneakers, dark cuffed jeans, a white untucked oxford shirt and a knitted sweater vest and matching scarf ever looked so cute? Somehow even though a grown man could wear the exact same thing, it just wouldn’t look the same, would it? Baby Gap and Old Navy excel at this look — translating grownup style to toddler chic at affordable new-parent prices. Until I had a grandson, I always thought that little girls’ clothes were far more fun than little boys’, but now I head straight for the T-shirts and cargo pants and don’t even notice the pink lace and ruffles across the aisle. See, now we’ve had our discussion about children’s fashion and I didn’t once mention our model, Capt. Adorable. It’s just a coincidence that he’s wearing the exact same thing I wanted to talk about, really it is.

Shopping

Scruggs in Tupelo, MississippiAny store with a sign on its front door requesting customers to “check Saddlestheir firearms at the customer-service desk for safety purposes” goes straight to the top of my favorites list. This is Scruggs, in Tupelo, Mississippi — a sort of combined feed store, general store and John Deere dealership. Think Home Depot, farmer-style. My husband swears it’s the best place to buy mouse traps and other mysterious manly things he uses around Scruggs the house and I’m happy to let him be in charge of those chores. And even though we don’t have a horse or cows or cornfields, I still like to wander around Scruggs’ aisles and browse. I think I like this store because it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite retailers — Rural King. And my all-time favorite Rural King store is in my mother’s hometown of Effingham, Illinois. When we’d go visit my grandparents, we’d usually stop at the Rural King, which anchored the local mall. (Who needs a JC Penney’s or a Sears when you can buy everything from jeans to seed at the Rural King?) For the longest time, that Rural King was the only place my dad could find Carhartts, and I’d usually find a comfy and cozy sweater while my brothers would head for the toys and my mom to the flower-gardening aisle. Maybe I’m just a country girl at heart. Check out Scruggs at http://www.scruggsfarm.com and Rural King at http://www.ruralking.com/

Shopping

White FlowersHomewood, Alabama — a small town that’s virtually White Flowersindistinguishable from adjacent Birmingham — is one of my favorite shopping destinations. Seems as if something new and different always is popping up there — such as the store White Flowers. Owner Diana Hansen recently relocated her gift and clothing boutique to Homewood from nearby Mountain Brook Village, and the all-white window displays immediately grabbed everybody’s attention — in a quiet and serene way, of course, because that’s how you feel as soon as you open the door and are surrounded by all things white. Hansen sells  jewelry, candles, home decor and clothing as well as T-shirts, nightshirts and baby clothes that feature her own designs inspired by art and gardens — all in varying shades of white and natural neutrals. Be sure to visit the White Flowers Web site, http://www.whiteflowers.com — it’s as graceful and peaceful as the shop.

Jewelry Part 2

 Younger Daughter is one of those people who has an eye for color and texture and she puts together the most gorgeous earring creations. Every time I wear her designs, people ask me where I’ve been shopping. She just made

Pair No. 8 -- icy lavender and green drops

Pair No. 8 -- icy lavender and green drops

some new ones and I told her I’d be honored to put them up in the blogosphere for worldwide admiration. So here you go. Each pair is $15 including postage — I’ll just wrap them up and mail them to you in a first-class envelope if that’s OK. E-mail me at cathylwood@gmail.com and I’ll send you payment info. All earrings are sterling-silver findings and most of the beads are glass. She can do special orders, too. And because I can’t figure out how to do all these pics in one post, be sure to check out Jewelry Part 1. Click on any pic to enlarge it.

Pair No. 5 -- my favorites -- love the green patterned glass bead at the bottom

Pair No. 5 -- my favorites -- love the green patterned glass bead at the bottom

Pair No. 6 -- beautiful shadings of lavendar and green

Pair No. 6 -- beautiful shadings of lavender and green

Pair No. 7 -- classic navy and white -- the blue color practically glows

Pair No. 7 -- classic navy and white -- the blue color practically glows

Jewelry Part 1

I don’t mean to brag here or anything, but I pretty much have the most creative and talented daughters ever. Ever.

Pair No.4 -- classic brown and black for fall

Pair No.4 -- classic brown and black for fall

Older Daughter is a wonderful dancer and can construct the most incredible costume  you ever saw out of the most mundane fabric and a random pile of assorted beads. Younger Daughter is equally skilled at making earrings. She is one of those people who has an eye for color and texture and she puts together the most gorgeous creations. Every time I wear her designs, people ask me where I’ve been shopping. She just made some new ones and I told her I’d be honored to put them up in the blogosphere for worldwide admiration. So here you go. Each pair is $15 including postage — I’ll just wrap them up and mail them to you in a first-class envelope if that’s OK. E-mail me at cathylwood@gmail.com and I’ll send you payment info. All earrings are sterling-silver findings and most of the beads are glass. She can do special orders, too. And because I can’t figure out how to do all these pics in one post, be sure to check out Jewelry Part 2. Click on any pic to enlarge it.

Pair No. 1 -- classic black and white

Pair No. 1 -- classic black and white

Pair No. 2 -- Beautiful blues and greens

Pair No. 2 -- Beautiful blues and greens

Pair No. 3 -- a fun mix of color, shape and size

Pair No. 3 -- a fun mix of color, shape and size