My Weekend in AZ: A Novel

This past weekend, I flew across the country to visit my best friend, Rachel. If you read my study abroad post, you’ll know that she was one of my randomly assigned roommates during my semester in Barcelona. I use the word “random” loosely, because not one ounce of me believes it really was.

Anyway, enough of the friendship sap. I was super excited not only to see Rachel but also to see Arizona – I had never been! It is certainly unlike any other place I’ve traveled to. Rachel made fun of me for getting excited about seeing so many cacti. But hey, it’s the little things, right?

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Patio at The Henry. Couldn’t clear out the patio to take an ideal picture, unfortunately

On our first full day, we ate at The Henry in Phoenix. It was such a cool restaurant – everything from the decor to the hostess made you feel like a chic VIP. I was so excited to eat outside on the gorgeous patio – a meal outside in January?! The funniest part was that they had heat lamps on all over the patio – it was in the 60’s. But I’m still a cold weather wimp, so I was down with it after my initial chuckle. I had an amazing kale salad and some brie toast. Which fueled me up for part two of our day…

Nordstrom Last Chance. I actually hadn’t heard of this until I started researching AZ right before I got there. The store is the final home for returned and overstocked merchandise from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. We’re talking dirt cheap – and I’m very frugal! It may sound silly that this was my first event when I had flown six hours across the country, but this is me we’re talking about. Rachel tried to prepare me for the mayhem on our way, but this is one of those things you have to experience to fully understand. Within three minutes of being in the store I told her I wished I had taken a Xanax.

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That front bag is all shoes

This was a random Friday afternoon, yet I could barely navigate around without bumping into other shoppers. Grown women were sitting in the middle of the aisles to hoard merchandise and try on shoes. Rachel had to spend several minutes maneuvering her (ok, my) cart around a woman that refused to get up. She lugged around that cart the whole time like a pro while I narrated the experience and how overwhelmed I was. Now that is friendship.

I wasn’t quite as successful with the clothes and accessories as I had been with the shoes. If getting a cheap purse requires me to arm wrestle middle-aged women while riffling through tiny baskets surrounded by people, I think I’m good with full price. Ok, at least mid-price. The clothing was much less cutthroat, but there wasn’t a lot of it in the most common sizes, of course.

The dressing room line was very long, but we eventually made our way to the front. I assumed we would be guided into a room, but the attendant was offering space in the “open dressing room.” Rachel, bold as always, went right in, but the mere idea of stripping down in a large mirror surrounded by a bunch of strangers was enough to make me wait. Until time kept going by… and Rachel came out… and I was still waiting for a private room. She convinced me that it wasn’t so bad, so I put my big girl pants on – or should I say took them off – and stepped in there. Guess what? I made a dressing room friend in there! She gave me some brutal honesty when it came time to try on this ethereal Free People dress. I wanted to love it, but I wasn’t pulling it off. I was tempted to buy it anyway because of the price, but new-dressing-room-friend knocked some sense into me.

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Topshop wedges for $10. They deserved a good home

Then came time to be those annoying people sitting on the floor mulling over our options. At least we chose a corner out of the way. I had somehow acquired five pairs of shoes. Mostly wedges, aka the biggest space-taker-uppers. My suitcase was basically full on the way, so I was freaking out about how I was going to fit them. But they were such good deals! Rachel convinced me that this was my last chance (ha, get it?) to get these kind of deals. So yes, I bought all five. Plus two pairs of jeans and a dress. Sue me, ok?

Since I know my parents are currently reading this and about to dial me up on the phone to lecture me about my shopaholic habits, I will reveal the astounding total of all of these items: $114.00! Ok, and a decent amount of tax, but you can’t nickel-and-dime a once in a lifetime opportunity, people.

(Spoiler alert: Rachel and I dedicated a chunk of my last day to rearranging my suitcase to try and fit the new shoes… plus the five pairs I had brought with me in the first place. Yes, ten pairs of shoes for four days. Whatever. Anyway, we fit almost all of them in! Then she came in clutch with a huge Lululemon bag that she was going to throw out anyway. The remaining wedges went in there and I took that as my carry-on. Take that, air travel!)

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Heaven is for sure filled with pancake flights

Now that I’ve dedicated seven paragraphs of this post to Last Chance, I’ll move on. That evening, we went to a cool indoor/outdoor bar called Wasted Grain. Even though there were lots of cute Arizona boys, I told Rachel I hoped no males approached the table. Hi, I’m Haley, and I’m as antisocial as it gets. Apparently my detached vibes didn’t work that well, though, because one of her coworkers tried to buy me a drink. I never accept drinks from guys because A) I feel bad, B) I can buy my own and C) I never want to feel like I owe someone something. Mostly A, honestly. So I politely (or so I thought) declined. The guy was so insulted! All the girls at the table told me that you’re supposed to say yes or it’ll hurt their feelings. Lesson learned. Just kidding, I’ll probably say no next time, too.

While her coworkers went out, Rachel and I stayed true to our grandmotherly selves and watched Harry Potter on the couch with mediterranean takeout. It worked out perfectly, because we were well-rested enough for a decadent brunch at Snooze the next morning. 😉 This place has a thing called a pancake flight. Yes, like a beer flight, but with pancakes. Hello, heaven.

 

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These boots weren’t made for walkin’

After more Netflix-and-chilling (but actually) that day, we reluctantly prepared to go to a club that night. Rachel had been telling me for weeks how crazy the club scene in Scottsdale gets, but I guess I just assumed I’d be prepared since I went to school in Miami. Um, not really. The group of us were invited to sit at some guy’s table, so obviously we said yes – not because free drinks, but because sitting. In heels. Thank you, club gods. Anyway, they proceeded to pass around a bag of cocaine and ask if we wanted some. I literally grabbed it not knowing what it was at first and waved it around saying “OMG I wouldn’t even know what to do with this!” and one of them stopped me and reminded me that you can’t really wave around baggies of cocaine in public, even when you’re doing it in innocent outrage and confusion. Another lesson learned.

 

The next day, after our hungover stomaches had gotten down some breakfast burritos (#fitfam) we took a walk around Old Town Scottsdale. This was a Sunday afternoon, mind you. Yet there were groups of drunken young adults traveling around the streets in golf carts from one club/bar to the next. My old soul and aching head looked at Rachel in disgust, and she clarified that no, this was not because Monday was a holiday. This happens every weekend. Scottsdale, you have not ceased to amaze me.

 

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Not a real tattoo. Was just feelin’ the nature vibes

On Monday, my last day, we decided to finally be active and go for a hike at Pinnacle Peak. It looked super daunting, especially because I had never been on a real hike, but thankfully it was easy. We really did it for the ‘gram anyway, so we got all we went for. In all seriousness, though, it was really beautiful. I wish the climate in New England allowed hiking/walking/breathing outdoors to be a thing. I’d probably be much more fit! (Maybe.)

We had dinner at a Mexican place called Blanco, which had an awesome happy hour. We capped off the night with ice cream sundaes (duh) at Sugar Bowl, an old-school ice cream parlor decked out in pink booths. Now that’s my kind of late night scene.

So now that I’ve given you a play-by-play of every step I took on my trip, I’ll let you go. If you ever find yourself in the Scottsdale area, I hope this helps you enjoy your trip to the fullest! And if not, I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

 

 

 

 

 

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Deck the Halls (in Plaid!)

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While my original photog, Katie, was home for Thanksgiving, we reserved a day for photoshoots. It just so happens that I had purchased a few new items recently! Ok, so that’s the case any given week, but still.

The weather in New England has been unusually mild lately, which gave me the perfect opportunity to wear my new plaid skirt! I got this cutie at Bobbles & Lace in Andover. I had actually had my eye on a more expensive plaid skirt for a few weeks beforehand, but the price tag ($39!) of this one combined with the precious rolled-sleeve detail sold me. That and the elastic waist band – it is holiday season, after all.

I added a seasonal touch by wearing my favorite over-the-knee boots – purchased on Cyber Monday last year! I layered a classic light-blue oxford shirt under a white knit crewneck sweater. Of course I couldn’t leave the house without a statement necklace peeking out from beneath my collar!

Katie and I visited a Christmas tree farm in Dracut for a little holiday inspo. Christmas music + warm sunshine? The best of both worlds. My parents said it was too early to get our actual tree, though, so I just browsed. Plus, my Dad and I have a tradition of supporting Andover Youth Services at their annual tree sale. Gotta support the community!

What have you been wearing during this unseasonably warm weather? Share your current go-to outfit in the comments!

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

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The Colorful Details:

Skirt Bobbles & Lace // Sweater Lacoste (old) // Oxford Shirt Vineyard Vines // Boots Nordstrom Rack (old) // Photography by Katie McLean

Pajama Party

Wearing bright colors isn’t the only thing I’m known for in the clothing department. In fact, this other “thing” is more of a hot topic.

It’s true: I wear matching pajama sets. Every night.

I’m not sure when it started, but I’ve been obsessed with coordinating PJs for a looong time now. My mom and grandmother started buying them for me for holidays and birthdays, so my collection is quite extensive by now. I have everything from fleece to jersey, nightgowns to button downs, cheetah print to catchphrases.

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One of my most recent pajama set purchases. Fleece, covered in pandas, with “I Love Naps” written across the front. The trifecta.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my pajama-set-wearing has been the butt of jokes among my friends and family, but what I can tell you is that there is no shame in my pajama game. The cornier and fuzzier the ensemble, the better.

My brother, Colin, constantly refers to my sleepwear as my “onesies.” None of them are actually one piece, but since they all match, it apparently looks like it. When he’s home, I am greeted every morning by “Nice onesie!” Siblings.

I didn’t know this wardrobe choice of mine was unusual until I got to college. Communal quarters reveal a lot about how the other half lives. I, apparently, am the matching-pajama-wearing minority. But I know that every time someone pokes fun at my grandma sleepwear, they’re secretly jealous…right?

As my annual pajama receiving time of year approaches, I thought I’d round up some of my budget-friendly favorites. Some of these are on sale, so don’t waste time! You don’t want to be stuck wearing a ratty t-shirt and threadbare bottoms to bed, do you?

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or others, take my advice – buy some cute, dorky pajamas. Give the gift of a cozy sleep and macaron-filled dreams (you’ll see what I mean). You never know who you’re going to meet in your dreams, after all.

Here’s hoping whoever I meet in mine appreciates my quirky sleepwear. But if they don’t, I probably don’t want to meet them, anyway.

Sweet dreams, readers!

COZY

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Every time I babysit, I find myself getting jealous of the kids’ fluffy bathrobes with animal ears. I’ve always wanted one in adult size. Well, my wish has been granted! Stay cozy with these fuzzy ensembles inspired by the animal kingdom.

Left to Right: Plush Polar Bear Hooded Nightdress, $24.90, Forever 21; Cozy Zoe Animal Ear Hooded Robe, $48.00, Nordstrom; Faux Sherpa Top and Jogger Sleep Set, $24.99, Target; Plush Panda PJ Set, $29.90, Forever 21

CLASSIC

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You cannot go wrong with a classic two-piece flannel number. It’s the quintessential pajama set. If you don’t have at least one set of these in your pajama drawer, you are doing it wrong.

Clockwise from Left: Daizie Polka Dot Flannel PJ Set, $24.99, Target; Flannel Pajama Set, $44.00, J.Crew Factory; Striped PJ Set, $29.94, Old Navy; PJ Couture Velour Pajama Set, $29.99, JCPenney

CHEEKY

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I live for a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek saying. Plaster it on a nightgown and it is quite literally a dream come true. Oh, and there are those macarons I mentioned! ‘Sweet dreams’ is right.

Left to Right: Hibernate Graphic Nightdress, $12.90, Forever 21; New Look Hangover Pajama Set, $27.00, ASOS; Topshop Brunch Club Long Tee, $38.00, Nordstrom; BP Undercover Thermal Sleep Set, $14.97, Nordstrom Rack; Adolescent Clothing Designer Bags Nightshirt, $38.00, ASOS

10 Under 10: Winter Hats

Last week, I witnessed a woman pay $89 for a simple winter hat. It was knit, black, and had a pom-pom on it – that’s it. While it was very cute, it would have been just as cute with a $10 price tag. I wanted to yell out to the woman that she could find a hat just like that one for 1/8 of the cost! But I kept my mouth shut.

I can’t let my readers make that same mistake, though. That’s why I’ve compiled a selection of ten cute winter hats UNDER $10. That’s right – not $89, not $50, not even $25. TEN. DOLLARS. You’re welcome. Oh, and by the way? Most of them are significantly under ten. Call me a magician.

And since you’ve realized by now that I have several personalities when it comes to my outfits, I’ve separated my finds into categories. You’ve got classic, cute, and cool hats to keep you warm and trendy this winter. Take your pick! Just click the text of each hat and you can purchase straight from there. Could I have made it any easier? Gosh, I should be getting paid for this.

Happy hat hunting, ladies!

CLASSIC
classic hats

Left to right: H&M Knit Hat, $5.99; Forever 21 Fuzzy Pom Pom Beanie, $9.90; Steve Madden Polar Vortex Knit Beanie, $9.97

CUTE

cute hats

Left to right: Forever 21 Felt Wool-Blend Beret, $9.90; BCBGeneration Colorful and Cozy Pom Beanie, $6.30; Lands’ End Dot Hat, $5.99

COOL

cool hats

Clockwise from left: Boohoo Cara Bad Hair Day Slogan Beanie, $7.00; H&M Hat with Ears, $9.99; 14th & Union Waffle Slouchy Beanie, $9.97; Betsey Johnson Jeweled Beanie, $9.97

The Long and Skort of It

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My job consists of helping people pick out clothes all day. It’s safe to say that by the end of my shift I am just about crawling out of my skin with the need to go shopping myself. An alcoholic would probably know better than to work in a bar, but here I am trying to make a career out of my addiction.

So Friday after work, I decided to trek to Nordstrom Rack in Burlington just to ‘take a peek.’ Well, that peek turned into a two hour frenzy. I know this sounds absolutely insane, but sometimes I have an out of body experience while shopping. Like a person with a full time job and lots of money has possessed me. I think the fitting room attendant wanted to murder me by the end of my shopping spree. I eventually snapped out of La La Land (sort of) and discarded the 270 million items I was holding. I got my loot down to two pairs of shoes, one blazer, and one skort.

I have this unwritten rule that if a rack is annoyingly overstuffed and I’m losing patience, I only look at the items in bright colors or cool patterns. It’s like “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” but for clothes. That’s how I found this skort – although it’s black and white, the palm print caught my eye. I’m sure someone out there will roll her eyes when I say it’s Michael Kors, but if I like something, I don’t care if the brand is “in” and you shouldn’t either! Heck, one of my favorite workout outfits is from Walmart. No shame in my game.

I wanted to get some shots of the skort since I don’t have a social life to show it off during, and Katie is leaving her very-short-lived blog photographer position to go back to Florida. We had our final lunch date at Life Alive (obviously) and snapped some photos in the streets of downtown Lowell. I’m so cultured now.

I styled the skort with my gladiator sandals that garner me equal parts compliments and dirty looks and a top from Marshall’s that has had the tags on in my closet for three years. I told my mom I’d get around to it eventually! I swapped my extremely heavy Kate Spade purse for Katie’s adorable Alaina Marie clutch. Alaina is a Maine based designer whose bags are now sold by J.Crew!

To make a long story skort (still long, sorry) the best type of buy is a bargain. Thanks for putting up with me, Nordstrom Rack!