Gingham & Girlfriend Jeans 

Alternate Post Titles:
A day in the life of a girl who doesn’t have a handle on hair & humidity, yet.
How to feel like a recycled tablecloth in the very best way.
A Tale of Two Bargains

When I plucked it from the rack, this top felt edgy & trendy with a follow the yellow brick road flare that confounded me, yet drew me in.

I call this feeling: the gingham conundrum. Should I sprawl out and let a couple of starry-eyed honeymooners picnic on my back? Practice my hair-flip-cappuccino-sip under a tres chic cafe patio umbrella? Milk the goats? (Or maybe, just maybe, go to lunch wearing a perfectly adorable summer pattern like a perfectly normal girl with fewer gingham complexes?)

The SLEEVES gave me serious heart eye emojis, and bent my reservations to the practicality of the classic pattern in my own wardrobe. (Gingham = not crazy. Me = up for debate.)

I had lustfully tried on several tops in similar silhouettes on our trip to Italy this past spring, but deemed each a “non-critical” fashion emergency. This $14.99 version from the racks of TJ MAXX: emergency, declared. Three cheers for silencing a lingering non-buyers remorse, and four cheers for all the euros saved on pulling the trigger on this top, instead.

Denim has been an entirely separate scouting situation.
On another budget, I could have easily taken up the two-thousand mermaid-haired, deep-pocketed fashion influencers’ jeans suggestions during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to fill my fall fashion gaps. (The sale I could have shopped, maybe, had there been a sale on top of sale of some of those pretties. Equal parts yikes & drool.) 
The four-leaf clover I was hunting: destructed, medium wash, inexpensive without feeling inexpensive (feeling inexpensive, read: poor distress-placement and ultra-spandexy.)

I tried on ten. pairs. of jeans. between a few different sales happening over the weekend (Texas’s tax-free holiday), to no avail. I punctuated a separate errand entirely, and slipped into Old Navy for a quick once-over, not looking for denim, because I rarely do at Old Navy. Lo and behold: my four leaf denim clover, setting me back a whole seventeen bones (tax-free).
Adding one more pair of destructed jeans to my weekend/evening outfit rotation was a preemptive move to keep my favorites from becoming too ratty in the way distressing can with time and wear, and I think I’ll be happy I did.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom: aka only spending less than $35 between two happy pieces in one outfit.

The gift that made me cancel Birchbox 

My mother-in-law is the kind of woman who just gives you things. It’s fantastic.

(Note: I hate calling her my mother-in-law. Let’s call her my friend Michelle.She’s been my friend Michelle much longer.)

My friend Michelle is acutely in tune with her personal style and what fits her body type and image, and has a serious knack for spotting that in others. She can style a person or a coffee table to personal taste like no one’s business. And if she has something brand new or otherwise, and thinks it will look better on you, or look better on your mantel, it’s yours. Don’t argue. Go with it. You’re welcome.

This over-sized scarf/sarong situation: Michelle. Something a little more funky than I *may* have picked out on my own, I love, and have her to thank. My friend Michelle, plus also Fab Fun Fit.

I’ve been a Birchbox subscriber for something close to three years? Something like 36 boxes deep? And I’ve had this little probing inner conscience voice begging the question over the past several boxes: are you really that excited about these face cream samples? 


I imagine someday I’ll reach the height of disposable income nonchalance where I don’t notice $10 coming out of my account every month. And maybe I won’t. (And maybe I wouldn’t want to?)

Right now, I notice, and then the voice pipes up: are we sure, Robin? Really? 

Then, Michelle gave me the low down about Fab Fit Fun.

I’d seen the same 20 celebrities + Bachelor-Franchise-Cast-Off-Almost-Celebrities as you probably have promoting the service, but never thought seriously about signing up (after all – I had my Birchox to be loyal to, right? Right?) Plus, FFF was a little pricier, albeit only 4 times a year.

The weight of a friend’s endorsement tends to carry more weight with me, and going through her summer box of full-size products (and being gifted this funky drapey piece) gave me serious pause to the value I was getting out of my Birchboxes.

Verdict: I just wasn’t excited anymore. As I unsubscribed, I checked the box “I’m all sampled out,” and realized it was true: too many samples. Not enough time. Or disposable income nonchalance to turn the samples into full size products.

I’d also been subscribing so long, I’d begun doubling up, and I didn’t need that.

I haven’t subscribed (yet!) to Fab Fit Fun, but I see it as a serious contender + worthy investment in entertainment and fun value.

In the meantime, I have an easy Sunday styling piece in this scarf/sarong/almost-poncho to itch my layering urge + not melt away these weeks it feels like we’re living on the surface of the sun in Dallas, TX.

How To Be A Wildflower + creative habits 

When Instagram was new (new to me new – #EarlyMajorityAdopter4Life, cozy right behind the curve), and sharing grainy, low quality screenshots of inspirational Pinterest quotes was the rage, I shared this snippet of wisdom with all of my 27 followers:

(#Creativity. Wow. What a hashtag. What an image. Those mighty juices were flowing, y’all.)

Unbeknownst to me, these two cents nestled their roots somewhere nice and deep in my long-term memory, and I’ve found fewer quotes pop in my head as often. Mr. Law’s words were supplemental to an idea drilled down by great mentors and professors through college, which in so many words, is that “one does not simply begin spewing creative genius.”

Sitting in a silent white room, with a blank white sheet of paper (physical or digital it may be), is the best way for that paper to stay blank. Or conversely, filled with so much nonsense, it was better off clean.

Creativity does not happen in a vacuum. Some of your best, creative, most award-winning thoughts may actually happen in the shower (take that, Nick), but I’m willing to bet this is part of your system of creative habit all along, whether you like to think of it that way or not.

Because I might sound like esteemed Creative Guru #1 right now, let’s back up: I don’t know how to unlock anyone’s creative genes so that they begin, actually, spewing creative genius. I also don’t think any guru who may attempt to someday stake this claim with you actually can, either. I don’t even know if creative genius is ever –per se– spewed.

Dialing down to what gets your creative whatever in gear is like finding face wash. The market is nice and overwhelmingly saturated with thousands of face washes and skincare product options, but what is there only one of? Your face. What does it take? Trial and error, and finding exactly which clean skin cocktail works for your face. Not her face, not his face, not Jenifer Aniston’s face -your face.

All I know is, my face really likes philosophy Purity cleanser, and surrounding myself with lovely, inspiring, colorful, life-giving tangible books when I need to jump-start my creative juices. A new favorite I picked up a couple of weeks ago: How To Be A Wildflower by Katie Daisy.

General theme: harnessing the magic of experiencing nature through the eyes of a child, about calming down and taking note of the little things around you, and branching out and doing naturey-type stuff on the regular. Kind of right up my alley -minus the whole experiencing serious nature stuff– but it’s as inspired as I’ve ever been to almost think about going camping since reading Wild.

Thumbing through pretty pages, but also reading particularly well-versed authors and various bloggers, is also part of keeping my mind in a creative place. I also try to write a little something every single day because it just makes my soul feel better.

I keep little notebooks and scratch paper within reach nearly always, and have very full iPhone notes. And a very active Spotify account, because, music.

When I’m out of practice jotting stuff out, reading, or taking time to look through photographs and illustrations of artists and artisans far more talented than myself, I feel it, and I feel sad and rusty.

There isn’t a magic switch to make the acne go away the morning of the big day with the big thing you wish you didn’t have acne for. It’s a bit of a commitment, that pesky standard hygiene thing. With diligence + removing your makeup nightly + using fresh Clarisonic brushes + whatever whatever -there’s a good chance you’ll yield good results.

And there isn’t a switch to make your brain creative. It truly does take habit.

Is it a sure fire way to wake up with the radiance of Chrissy Teigen and the glow of a thousand Kylighters? Heck-to the-no.

I could read How To Be a Wildflower thirty-eight times, cook all the things in all the coffee table cookbooks, write every thought I’ve had the last twelve hours, and all that comes out are stick figures and weak meme punchlines for words. And the pimple is there, right before prom. It happens.

It doesn’t work that way all of the time, but it works for me. Maintaining and trying to keep my mind in a creative space, and develop creative habits, is personally extremely valuable.

I try and stay away from the sad and rusty place, but if I get there, these are all things that help kick my brain back into a space it can start being inspired to make again (and are great preventative tools for me, to begin with.)

And I’m kind of with Monet -fresh flowers never hurt, either.

When Life Gives You A Lemon-Print Dress

Professional Observation: lemons became more of an it pattern last year. (I know. My insights have been known to spark international philosophical debates of grandeur.)
But on-brand for every good fruit pattern of its kind, this trend only gained momentum into summer 2017 in “budget-friendly” stores. (AKA, the stores I actually shop-shop opposed to window-shop with crazy eyes.) Citrus + bargain lovers, rejoice.
Loft got serious with the summer of lemons memo with a super wide range of lemon-themed threads this year, and believe you me, I was about ready to give Country Crock a run for its fake lemon powder when I saw the collection and stock pile. With a fine line between the girl with the cute lemon dress and the girl who won’t stop wearing all the lemons, I settled on the dress alone.
As I’m writing this, I *think* Loft is coming off one of their super-weekend-sale-bonanzas where the whole store is a notch above free, and I think the dress is sold out online. Likely still in store somewhere! But it looks like shorts, scarves, and one-shoulder top aplenty in the eUniverse. In case you were wondering.
As I’m not exactly fun-sized at 5′ 9.75″sometimes wearing loud or extremely bright colors/patterns makes me a little nervous. Like I’m going to look like the large-and-in-charge-pint-size-Amazonian-lemon-lady.
With a little supportive coaxing from that sweet husband of mine, and a little following my figurative gut (and deciding my real one was pretty well camouflaged), I followed my impulse-purchase instinct and kept it. And I’m glad I did, because I’ve really grown to love this dress.
This weekend we had the pleasure of being in our hometown. In the last couple of years, a real life farmer’s market situation has been building in our downtown. A freaking great little city, but sometimes maybe a little slow to change (yet ultra supportive of community events! Most of the time!), it’s made me proud and excited to hear about this event growing weekend to weekend, and I was excited to finally shop it.
From the guy with the good pretzels, to the home goods booths, to Buttercup the Pig walking around on a leash with a tutu, it was a small-town win of a morning + a win for confidence & esteem with my summer of lemons dress.

High Five for Friday 05

Boy, does time sure fly when you’re lighting things on fire and trying to fit 40 hours of work into 28! (That’s how the saying goes, I’m almost totally sure.)

1. Last weekend we celebrated one of the dear members in our little pack of friends with hiking and tacos in ATX.

The day will also be commemorated in Kendrick’s Year One Album as Kenny’s First Hike. (Aww’s and heart-eyes abound.)

Friends commented on how surprisingly well little K-Dot took to the wilderness trek, but mostly I was surprised how well I took to the wilderness trek!

Hiking for me usually means opting for the Galleria stairs versus escalator on a day I’m feelin’ particularly sporty (flexing-bicep-emoji), but the great-outdoors was far less intimidating than my anxiety-prone, AC-loving self feared. As it turns out, dirt and sweat do wash off, and DEET is a beautiful, wonderful thing. Fresh air is also –gasp– refreshing.

How Dog & Dog-Mom spent the whole next day:Unmoving.

2. If you’ve ever wondered about the best BLT I’ve ever brunched in my life, wonder no more: Oddfellows in the Bishop Arts District. Holy fried green tomatoes, my mouth is still watering 5 days later.

3. The better part of my 1/2 day out-of-office Monday was spent:

a) attempting to find hip spots in Big-D who weren’t ALSO taking the almost-holiday off work

b) patio-sitting and chardonnay-sipping in good company at the Deep Ellum rooftop bar, Stirr. 9/10 service, 9/10 happy hour, 10/10 friends, 6/10 feeling a little too close to the sun in Dallas in July.

4. The Fourth of July! America! It happened this week! Small-town parade + corndog vendors + family made for a very merry Independence Day, indeed.

Any and every opportunity to get a little fam-facetime while living long-distance from them is super life-giving, especially on a holiday.

5. Me and that sweet husband of mine, we are talkers. With this, I believe I’ve shocked absolutely no one.

One of my favorite things in the world to do together is to simply sit on a patio, just the two of us, and talk. It sound so simple, and maybe dumb, and maybe kinda duh, but I love these simple “dates”.

And this week, we got one! And instead of a sweet photo of him, or us, here is a photo of me:

Because he is better than me, and actually took one.

Our new quick-drink spot in Oak Cliff has quickly become Small Brewpub. 10/10 for gr-eat craft pints. $2 HH

Bonus, making this a High-Six For Friday, but I just can’t help myself:

6. There’s a tiny blue shop in Dallas that sells tiny cheesecakes in tiny mason jars, and they are gooood. With four o’s. It’s called Val’s, and it’s worth a visit or 3.

Linking up!


Popsicles with a side of tassel trend love

A trendapalooza of a top with an off the shoulder silhouette + stripes + tassels + texturey happy trim (official runway term), 5 days into summer and I’ll stake the bold claim that this airy cotton piece will be a casual summer grab-and-go for me. Control your surprised face, please do try.

I’m a staples girl through-and-through with a weakness for neutrals, and it’s easier for me to justify buying what might be considered a “trendier” piece in a color palette I’ll be able to accessorize differently. (Bright baubles today, gold hoops tomorrow, what will she do next?) I know I keep you on the edge of your seat.

Bold claim number two: this was probably the second of seventy-two times we’ll visit Encanto Pops until temperatures dip down into sweater weather again this year. Which could be never. After all, this is Texas.

And this is the content you really should have come here for. If you live in Dallas: treat yoself, and go here. And call me. And we’ll go together. A bubbly, authentic Mexican paleta shop, the worst part will be limiting yourself to just one flavor.

I tend to color very much inside the lines with ice-cream, using 1 crayon.

When I was around 5-years-old, my mom loaded me up on the summertime outing of a lifetime: Baskin Robbins. Coolest Thing Ever #1: it had my name in it, even if they couldn’t spell it right, I couldn’t wait to go here. Coolest Thing #2: nose flat to the cold, domed glass, I wouldn’t stop commenting over and over and over about the assortment “fancy flavors, wow, the beautiful, fancy flavors!” And when my mom finally asked me, “Robin, what fancy flavor are you going to get!?” I replied, starry-eyed, “banilla!”

A flashback of my mother’s laugh rang in my memory when my first Encanto Pop selection was -wait for it- vanilla. Except I can say my V’s now, and this time my husband was laughing at me. Apparently, Robin’s Stripes don’t change much in twenty years.

But yesterday: strawberries and cream. I’m learning to live just a little closer to the edge in my shoulder-baring tassel top.


(Just a girl, trying to smile and eat her ice-cream before Texas triple digits eat it for her.)

High Five for Friday(ish) 04

(belated! by 3 days! but who’s counting?)

With last week planted firmly in my rear view, I have no intentions of wanting to rewind and relive. It was that sort of week. But! It is these kinds of weeks, in my humblest little opinion, that are the most important to hunt for “sprinkles” -and not let a half baked HF4F post wither in the elephant graveyard of forgotten posts, however late it might be. Because also, I make the rules, and need an excuse to share my new sunnies with you.

Top 5 highlights of last week:

1. I work with some really amazing people, one friend particularly who noticed I was pretty radically “off” one day, and surprised me with this small planet of a cupcake and sweet card. Thanks for being a true gem, Cari, and getting me one heck of a sugar high.

2. The number one way I feel better after a long day is soaking in a fancy tub with a glass of fine wine and going for a fancy facial eating breakfast food. As fancy as I’d like to pretend I may be, my natural state of relieving anxiety is cleaning + eating pancakes.

Alex & I discovered a g.r.e.a.t. diner within walking distance from our duplex, and I was able to drown my sorrows in syrup a-plenty.

3-5. Walking for wine and shopping local with two of my favorite humans at the Bishop Arts Wine Walk.

I could have been having a particularly wonderful week, and this would have easily been the highest of highlights. I just love the community/neighborhood/culture down in this little corner of Dallas. (And anyone who will let me drink wine in their boutique.)

New sunnies? Artisan jewelry? Organic local handmade soap? win win win. Cheers.

Thrifty Dining Table Makeover

This is less of a DIY How-To Makeover Your Table, seeing as that would imply I’m somewhat of a chief expert on the subject of making over tables. (Pause, cue laugh track.)

I would love to go elbows-deep in projects like this and earn my real DIY Wings someday, because it’s a whole heck of a lot of fun for me, and I don’t think I’m half bad.

Plus, the result? I really, really love it. (“How many really’s?” My mother would tease me growing up, when I excitedly double-really’d in a conversation.)

TWO REALLY’S here, Mom, two really’s. Maybe three.

Rather than considering this your holy grail table tutorial, consider this an aggregate source of my sources, with maybe a sprinkle of inspiration on the side.

A coworker buddy of mine moved recently, and as his move occurred around the same time as our move, there have been home-makeover cubicle-talks aplenty in recent months, and he introduced me to the ever-addicting world of buy-sell-trade apps. Think Craigslist, but better, and there are a lot of them.

While you were wondering what I was doing at any given minute in the past two months like I just know you were, you would win a lot of dollars betting that I was trolling buy-sell-trade apps. A brief timeline of the “you should take a look at these apps” conversation-day with my friend:

7:59am: friend tells me to look at apps.
8:00 am: app LetGo downloaded.
4:30 pm: met family to pickup table from app.

Time wasted: 0 minutes, approximately.

I scored this beauty for $30: bonus future-Picasso red-pen etchings on the top and alphabet-sticker legs absolutely included. This is a photo of the table in its best light, and I’m kicking myself hard for not taking better photos that would showcase the “what the heck are you thinking” notions that HAD to have crossed my sweet husband’s mind as he unloaded this gem. It was bad, and I probably should have negotiated lower.

But at the LetGo meeting, I super gelled with the sweet, small family of 6 who had loved this table hard through 4 children and many cousins, and the mom threw in an electric sander, free of charge. I left feeling, despite the evenings of elbow-grease I knew I was facing, like I came out with a great deal.

The piece has awesome bones. It’s structurally super sound, and has a foldable leaf for more dining real-estate that I’m obsessed with. It folds out from the middle and hides underneath; ideal as an apartment-dweller with limited space for trivial things such as table leafs.

As great as I thought it looked structurally, when my brain takes hold of an idea, I have to be careful. I easily have the confidence of ten Chip’s in my ability to DIY a whole roof over my head, and a very short track record of actual projects to prove I can do this.

This confidence stems not from a collection of participation trophies, millennial though I am! But my dad actually teaching me how to sand, stain, and use a hammer from a very young age. (In addition to a vested interest in HGTV from the time I was like eight). I would spend hours at the workbench he built himself with old scraps of wood, sanding them to perfection, staining, and hammering nails at odd angles until I made a Keychain Holder! A Necklace Holder! A Letter L For No Good Reason! And these are some of my fondest memories I have with him growing up. My dad is an expert gunsmith, and I love that he taught me the parts of this craft that I found interesting.

Therefore, sanding was not something I needed to really research. In sanding, the smaller the number, the heavier the grain -aka, the more coarse your wood will feel, but the better to strip crayola drawings with, my dear. Start with the smaller number, and do the job several times, graduating to a larger number each time so the wood begins to feel smoother and smoother with the finer grains.

I left bits of “character” on the surface of the table because that’s the look I was going for. I don’t have to worry about nicking or scratching it myself and creating an eyesore this way. Also, Farmhouse Chic is kind of *the* thing.

I layered two types of stain (jacobean and dark walnut), an idea from this great place, to get the color I was looking for, and because I thought it would add a little depth. I sealed with a clear polyurethane, and will likely reseal again several more times real soon when life settles down. (I just needed the project to be dry, and not look like crap, and be out of my Bustling & Unpacking A New Duplex way for a bit).

The legs + piece under the table top (professional name) received a face-lift with a couple coats of handy-dandy chalk paint, no sanding required, and sealed with the same polyurethane. I read an awesome comparison of Home Depot brand chalk paint vs. infamous Annie Sloan paint here, and went with the Home Depot brand at half the cost. (Thrifters, unite!)

The industrial-style chairs we virtually stole on a weekend furniture deal from Target (this wood and natural metal style sold out now), and the place mats are also Target of many moons ago.

I found the the aluminum charger plates at Pottery Barn to tie natural metal up into the place settings, but the centerpiece + napkins + rings are the brainchild of my mother-in-law and I working out the visual details of the space.

Napkins & rings are simple from World Market, but her idea for me to antique for something milk glass for the center really set off the look. (Thank you, Lula B’s Oak Cliff, for making all of my/our milk glass centerpiece dreams come true.)

Meals are so incredibly central to community, and for us, that is supremely important. We wanted a centralized place that was inviting, spill-friendly, and as un-cramped as possible in our space to be able to break bread with friends, and I hope we met that goal. By Robin standards, I’m thrilled with my $30 table to these ends.

Growing Pains

“Hey Michael, go get me some milk!” a bossy 12-year-old-Robin chirped from in front of the living room television. This was not uncommon. In fact, as the middle sibling, I knew my rights to practice the skillful art of bossing that had been exercised on me for years. It was the natural order!

Dutifully, Michael slid his Bob-the-Builder-undied bottom down from his perch on top of the back of the leather sofa, and scampered toward the kitchen.

He reached the entryway, and that’s when he stopped. I looked at him. He pivoted to look at me with the bewildered self-actualization of one discovering their self-autonomy for the first time and said, “No… get your own milk!” And resumed his position on top of the back of the couch. I argued, relented, and sighed.

The jig was up. My baby brother wasn’t a baby anymore. He was growing up, and that meant fetching my own snacks from the kitchen. He was too smart for his own good. It happened so fast!

But as quickly as that moment came, nothing compares to the eye-blink seperating splitting a cookie-jar’s worth of Oreos together after a day of hide-and-seek and the moment Michael walked the stage a fully-graduated 18-year-old, 6’3″ human man last weekend.

(I swear I just picked him up from basketball practice… the hip older sister with a license who stops for ice-cream on the way home! What, he has his own license?! He’s driven himself to practice for years?! He buys his own ice-cream?! Someone, quick, make it stop!)

The get-your-own-milk moment isn’t when he stopped being a baby. This he-shaves-and-drives-and-is-gradating moment is, and realization hit me all over again two months ago when my mom asked me to shoot some senior photos.

There’s a lot I miss about being kids together, but as less of a Mom #2 and babysitter now and more of an equal, there’s a lot I love about my grown-up relationship with my brother, too. I couldn’t be more proud of his goals, dreams, sense of humor, and gentle heart. And I love him.

Trend Love: Sleeve Drama

I didn’t so much stumble across this top as it felt like fate pairing me with my personal holy grail of favorite spring trends in one soft little cotton package at one of my most recent Loft shifts.

Casually akin, I’m sure, to what one feels after finding a long lost child they never knew they were missing.
Dramatic? Me, never.

Work-to-weekend versatility? Check.
Fun sleeves? Check.
Ruffle detail? Check.
Lace-up detail? Check.
Stripes? BLUE? Check & Check. (You get it.)

Coupled with the fact I get a serious employee discount, it was love at first fitting-room.

The drama a good, voluptuous sleeve adds to the overall personality of an outfit, while keeping the silhouette clean, is one of *many* reasons why bell sleeves have. my. heart.

Undoubtedly, too, why my trend crush is not unique. Runway to window display, and splashing the pages of every fashion magazine and sidewalk in the past 3 months, the 70’s trend has been given serious life -and gives me all the heart-eye emojis. Every single one.

Top: Loft (if you’re reading in real-time, 3/6/17, it’s 40% off today)
Jeans: JCrew Factory boyfriend fit of many moons ago.
Booties: Lucky
Jewelry: Kendra Scott rose quartz stones.