Friday, August 5, 2016

The Birth of Miss Jean Louis

All Gishers are familiar with the elusive Miss Jean Louis. As the Queen of gishwhes and the adult baby-sitter of Misha Collins, she is probably the sole reason for gishwhes’s success and continued existence. But not much is known about her personal life and history … until now, that is. Miss Jean Louis was born in a hut in Khor Angar. That much she has admitted to. But respectfully, how in the world did a white girl such as herself find her origins there? Here’s where I did a little digging. It turns out her parents were adventurers. Against medical advice, Mrs. Louis was flying around the world while nine months pregnant, when they had to make an emergency landing over Khor Angar. Luckily, the town is home to an air strip. Mrs. Louis went into labor while the plane was being fixed. Thus, Miss Jean Louis was born in a hut in Khor Angar, in the dirt. Over the years, Miss Jean Louis has returned to visit Khor Angar on her birthday, and even has her own hut there.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Top Five Fashion Fixes

Two things I've really realized about myself as of late: I'm a very picky person, but I can also be a very practical person. I like what I like, and I like to have it easy. Over the years, when it comes to fashion, I've honed it down to some very specific tricks. Today, I'd like to share with you my top five fashion fixes: products I use to make life a little (or a lot) simpler!

1) Clear Bra Straps 

This is the item I'm probably most excited about. I can't believe I haven't tried these sooner. Let's get real for a second: Good strapless bras are a myth for big-chested girls. I can't tell you how many I've tried. None of them work. It's always sag city, and I'm perpetually horrified when I have to look at myself in photos where I'm wearing a strapless bra (especially since it almost always involves a pretty dress and nice occasion.) I'd become so self-conscious that I basically avoided ever wearing anything that required a strapless. Until one day, when my Stitchfix stylist sent me an adorable top that I couldn't refuse - with a lace cutout strip above the chest, all the way across.



When I almost returned the shirt, my sister pointed out to me that I could try clear bra straps, which wouldn't be visible under the lace. (Again, I can't believe I had never tried these before.) I went to get some at Target, but they had all been snapped up. So the ones I use are these from Amazon. But they're actually back in stock at Target now; you can find them in the lingerie section.



I was surprised at how much I actually like using these. I simply attached them to my favorite Victoria's Secret convertible/strapless bra. (Most strapless bras come with detachable straps.) The silicone does dig into your shoulders a bit if you tighten the straps too much, so beware of that. But I find them to be generally comfortable. And they hold my bra up just as well as regular straps, with the bonus of being almost entirely invisible! While I wouldn't go as far as to wear them with a halter or strapless dress (a problem to be solved another day ... possibly only with breast reduction surgery, lol), I love wearing them with all of my lace shoulder tops (a major trend lately, if you haven't noticed!) 


2) Band-Aid Friction Block Stick

This next item is a total miracle worker for a shoe addict like me. I refuse to recognize pain when it comes to shoes. If they're pretty, I'll put them on my feet. Period. In reality, that's made for some pretty painful situations. Blisters and cuts galore.

I was finally introduced to the perfect solution at a Favorite Things party last year: the Band-Aid Friction Block Stick. While others were going for expensive hair products and designer make-up, I wanted that little $5 stick, because I had a feeling I would probably use it a lot - and I do.



This product has taken away all of my blisters and cuts from wearing tight or new shoes. I keep it in my purse, and apply it as soon as I feel pain coming on to prevent my shoes from continuing to rub against my skin. This works especially great for preventing blisters on your heels when you're wearing new flats!

3) Downy Wrinkle Release Spray

This is the ultimate lazy girl fashion solution. I feel like most people know about this one, but if you haven't, you're about to have your life changed forever. I can't remember the last time I picked up an iron. Simply lay your piece of clothing flat (on a bed or chair, etc), spray generously on the wrinkled areas, and smooth and stretch the fabric firmly to get the wrinkles out.

You can get this at Target, and the bottles come in two sizes - ginormous and tiny - for some reason. I always keep a giant bottle in my room and a bunch of tiny ones (from the travel section) to slip into all of my travel bags. Nothing worse than pulling wrinkled clothes out of a suitcase when you have somewhere to be!



4) Non-Slip Hangers

 Maybe (probably) it's a sign that I have too many clothes when I can't stop buying more and more boxes of these non-slip flocked hangers. But they have truly revolutionized my closet. These velvety hangers are super thin and keep pretty much any piece of clothing from slipping off.



The best deal (by far) that I have found on these type of hangers is the big box from Costco. You can get 35 of them for about $10. The only other store I've ever seen come close is TJ Maxx, with 25 hangers for $10.

My closet used to be a total mess, crammed with clothes on the floor that had slid off of plastic Old Navy and Target hangers. Plus, the hangers themselves were bulky and took up waaaay to much space. The flocked ones are less than half the width, opening up a whole bunch of room on my packed racks! Now everything feels neat and sleek, and I never have to worry about anything falling off!



5) Jewelry Cleaner

Confession: I spend a lot of money on jewelry. I probably spend more money on jewelry these days than anything else. So it's pretty important to me that my jewelry stays shiny and nice. Is there anything sadder than a rusty piece of Tiffany? Of course, it's not like I can exactly walk down to Tiffany to have them clean my jewelry. (I'm pretty sure that costs a pretty penny anyway.) So I've had to find an alternative.

You can find my favorite jewelry-cleaning supplies at Target (found at their jewelry counter). I am totally a silver girl all the way, so full warning that I've never tried to clean gold jewelry. But I love Connoisseurs brand products for my silver jewelry.

For my sterling silver jewelry, like my pieces from Tiffany, I use the sterling silver cleaning solution. It's super fast and easy to use. You just pull a little basket out of the jar, put your piece of jewelry in it, lower it into the solution for a couple of minutes (check the instructions for exact time) and voila! It'll be as shiny as when you bought it!



For my non-sterling silver jewelry (aka my massive collection of rhodium-plated Swarovski), I love the dry jewelry wipes. They polish your pieces and leave behind an anti-tarnish shield. Again, so easy to use!



So those are my top five fashion fix items. They save my life on a weekly basis! What are some of yours?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Discover Fabulous Beauty Products at Whole Foods Sale

Note: All products in the post were provided for free by Whole Foods Market Fresno. All opinions are my own.

Let me start this post by making one thing clear. I know NOTHING about make-up, and I am incredibly lazy when it comes to my beauty routine. (I bet Whole Foods is really glad they asked me to do this now.) That being said, I do love finding easy-to-use, fuss-free products for that very reason. And when my friends at Whole Foods contacted me about trying some of the beauty items that they sell, I was intrigued, because I practically live there (HELLO delicious deli and cookie bar) and I had never really focused on the fact that they sold make-up.


And boy am I glad I said yes to them. If nothing else, Whole Foods, you have made a convert out of me, and I have personally purchased some of the items you gave me already! The products they sell are high-quality and so easy to use! Plus, now through February 16th, every single body care, make-up, vitamin and supplement product is 25% off during the Whole Body sale!


I'll get right to my No. 1 favorite discovery out of the goodie bag: the Mineral Fusion eyeshadow trio. I don't usually get excited about eyeshadow. I've sort of always (incorrectly) assumed that they were all pretty much the same, with the exception of color and maybe a little bit of quality. But as soon as I started applying this stuff to my eyelids, I saw an immediate difference. It went on like the lightest cream, which was disconcerting and amazing. It made application super easy, especially for someone who has been struggling with swollen eyes. With the discount, the Mineral Fusion eyeshadow trios are currently $18.74 at Whole Foods, and worth every penny!


Speaking of Mineral Fusion, they also make a great volumizing mascara. I love mascaras that give you a pop in just a couple of swipes. And unlike many volumizing mascaras, it doesn't really clump, smudge or flake (huge problems for me). It isn't waterproof, but Mineral Fusion does make one that is. Their mascaras are on the pricier end, but you can get them right now at the Whole Body sale for $14.24.


If you're into a more subtle eyelash look (something I favor usually), I love Pacifica's Aquarian Gaze water-resistant mineral mascara. I've been told by Sephora experts that due to my tiny eyelashes, I should be using a mascara wand with smaller bristles, which this one has, and it makes the application super easy. No clumps at all! This mascara is so popular that it's currently sold out at Whole Foods (but will be back in stock next week). Other Pacifica mascara options are available for $10.49.


I wasn't even aware that Pacifica made make-up products. I knew them for their vegan perfumes, which are available at local boutiques like The Foundry Collective in Old Town Clovis. Their other beauty products are also 100% vegan (if that matters to you)! The other item I tried and loved was the Devocean natural lipstick. Normally, I HATE lipstick. It feels gross on my lips and I feel like it's too quick to dry and crack. But this skinny stick goes on smooth like lip balm and keeps my lips feeling fairly moisturized even when I've been wearing it for a while. Pacifica lipsticks are currently $10.49.


Other products of note: The ZuZu Luxe Mosaic Illuminator is an easy way to add some quick color and highlight to your cheeks (I forgot to price this one but I think it's around $20-25). A dab of Giovanni's 2Chic Super Potion with avocado & olive oil is great for taming flyaways or frizz ($5.99). In fact, I fell in love with all of the Giovanni's 2Chic hair products.


Want to try some of this stuff before you buy? Stop by Whole Foods's Pampering Party on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.! They'll have samples, giveaways, mini makeovers and massages! They also have super helpful beauty consultants working in the department who can answer a lot of your questions. The 25% off Whole Body sale continues through February 16th.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A New Season at Shoes Off My Feet

Hello there! Guess who's back?

I had some grand plans for this blog back when I started it in 2014. I was frustrated with my job, feeling like I was going nowhere and just wanted an outlet to talk about some of my favorite things. It's called Shoes Off My Feet because I love to discuss what I'm wearing and all my shopping secrets. I also love companies that give back and love giving gifts myself. I usually don't part with my shoes for real, but I've been known to give away my own stuff or buy friends things I like, just because.



Of course, life has a funny way of changing on a dime. By July 2014, I was recruited to write for FresYes.com and didn't have time to juggle two different blogging gigs and a super demanding full-time job. So this little thing lay dormant for a while.

But fashion has always remained one of my biggest passions. That passion has only grown and changed into something even greater while I explored the city as the primary shopping writer for FresYes. I found something else I became really excited about - shopping local - and have built so many great relationships with the amazing women who are running so many special businesses in Fresno and Clovis.



As I've built these relationships, I've begun getting more requests to feature or review products and stores. Because FresYes is a city-wide website that is about so much more than fashion, and because sometimes I want to be able to talk about a favorite store once, twice, three times a month if I feel like it, I decided it might be time to come back here to this space, though you can still see me at FresYes once a week, probably still talking about shopping a lot!

As it so happens, I've been on a break from working full-time for various health and personal reasons. So while I've got some extra time on my hands, I think it's the perfect time to get back to writing about the things I'm passionate about. So expect to see a lot more about our local stores, plenty of money-saving shopping ninja tricks, some gift-giving tips, and probably a sprinkle of baseball

I love all (five?) of you who are reading this and always support me in everything that I do. I can't wait to see what this new season has in store!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Look Cute in the Kitchen (For a Great Cause!)

Breaking news: I love all things Pujols. Oh, wait, you already knew that? Oh, OK then.

To catch my new friends up, the Pujols I'm referring to is Albert Pujols, former star first basemen of the St. Louis Cardinals. (He plays somewhere else now, but we won't talk about that.)

Me and Albert. No big deal or anything.

My favorite thing about Albert Pujols is all of the amazing work he does through his nonprofit organization, the Pujols Family Foundation, which benefits families affected by Down syndrome and people living in poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Last year, his wife, Deidre, began a new venture called Pujols Kitchen, a cookware company that uses its profits to provide impoverished families around the world with cookware and non-perishable food. The company sells pots and pans modeled after ones used in the Dominican, plus other kitchen accessories.

Pujols Kitchen products are available on their website, as well as on Kohls.com

This week, Pujols Kitchen and Pujols Family Foundation have teamed up to launch a new line of adorable aprons made by Dominican women. PFF developed a "micro business" with a group of nine women from Batey Aleman, a village that the foundation works in frequently.

The adult reversible baseball apron.

Each apron is handmade with fun themes and comes in both adult and kid sizes, so you can get a mommy-and-me set if you want! The ribbons and frills on the child aprons are so cute that I kind of wish I could fit into one. ;)

The kids' Lil Feliz BBQ Apron.

But more importantly, each apron represents a second chance for the woman who made it. Pujols Kitchen says the goal is "to create an atmosphere with certain job skills to help the women provide for their families. The women have mastered their sewing skills, and we will continue to provide certain projects pertaining to the Pujols Kitchen." (I mean, doesn't that totally sound better than getting your next apron from Anthropologie? Stylish AND meaningful!)

If you know me at all, you know that along with "loves Albert Pujols," another top Joanne fact is "can't cook worth anything." But I'm halfway decent at baking these days, and I LOVE all the Pujols Kitchen products I have, both for their practicality and their unique designs. The spoon in particular is huge and super helpful for mixing and scooping.

Making Butterfinger cake with my Pujols Kitchen spoon, spatula and baking dish.

I've also had the regular Pujols Kitchen apron for a while now, and I love what it represents! I'm excited to get one that kicks things up a notch. Because, you know, I can't even bake without worrying about whether my outfit works or not. ;)

Realizing this is probably not my best look...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fashion in a Flash

So. It's time for us to talk about flash shopping sites.

I almost felt like it wasn't necessary to tackle this topic because flash sales have been around for a few years now. But then I'm reminded that not everyone is an online shopping addict like I am, haha.

Flash shopping sites are kind of like a combination between outlet shopping and sample sales, but far more accessible than either.

It works like this: Each website launches a number of different sales per day. Each sale is either centered around a designer or a theme (summer shoes, kids' dresses, etc.) and only goes for a limited number of days. If there's a brand going on sale that you're a big fan of, it may be a good idea to log on right when the sale starts, because quite often, there's only one or two of each item available. Once you put an item into your cart, you usually have 10-15 minutes to buy it before it's released back to the sale.

You can find everything on these sites from basics for under $20 to vintage Chanel bags and Christian Louboutin heels.

There's many flash shopping options out there. I'm signed up for quite a few of them to make sure I never miss a good sale (and I'd advise you to do the same), but here are some of my favorites. Since many of them offer the same brands and types of sales, they're ranked by value and ease of shipping and returns.

Hautelook

Hautelook is my No. 1 for a very important reason: They're owned by Nordstrom, and all items are returnable for free at Nordstrom Rack. I've take advantage of this many times! In fact, since they offer free shipping over $100, I've sometimes ordered several things I'm on the fence about to try on, gotten the free shipping and then returned all but one to our local store.

Best current sales: Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Westwood, TOMS

Vince Camuto dress - $59.00


RueLaLa

Confession: I once went through a period where I bought the same pair of Sevens in three different colors. (You know how it is. I finally found THE PERFECT PAIR OF SKINNY JEANS. And they kept going on sale!!!) This is where RueLaLa's shipping policy came in handy: You pay a $9.95 flat fee on a purchase, and then get free shipping for another 30 days. Returns can be made for a full RueLaLa credit or cash back with $9.95 shipping deducted. That was useful when I made the mistake of trying Sevens in a different style. #sadface (Note: RueLaLa is the one site that doesn't e-mail you daily, for some reason, so I use their app and get sale notifications pushed to my phone. Most of the other sites also have apps you can check out if you want.)

Best current sales: Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture

Badgley Mischka heels - $59.90


Ideeli

Ideeli is basically tied with RueLaLa in my book. They also offer a $9.95 flat rate shipping with 30 days free afterwards. Their cash return is slightly cheaper at $8.95, or you can get full credit. Ideeli also offers something called a 1st Row Membership, where you can get access to sales an hour early and also be invited to exclusive sales. It costs $23.97 per quarter or $83.88 a year. They used to give out these memberships for a month after you bought something; honestly, I didn't find the benefit to be worth paying extra money for.

Best current sales: Balenciaga, Betsey Johnson, BCBGMaxazria shoes


Vince Camuto dress - $39.94


MyHabit

I don't shop as often with MyHabit (owned by Amazon), but they offer free shipping and easy $3.99 returns, making it another favorite. It works much the same as any other Amazon order.

Best current sales: Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade Saturday

Michael Stars Indian silk scarf - $39, Vince Camuto sandals - $39


Gilt Groupe

Gilt has been my go-to for feeding my addiction of Swarovski and other designer accessories, although they have plenty of sales of shoes, clothing and home goods as well. They charge a very reasonable flat rate of $5.95 for shipping on most orders. My only complaint is they seem to take a lot longer to ship items to you than other sites. You can get a full refund on items with Gilt credit or get cash back with $7.95 deducted for shipping. Gilt also has a rewards program where you can earn points through purchases, logging in every day or referring friends.

Best current sales: Laura Mercier makeup, French Connection, Zac Posen

Diane von Furstenberg sunglasses - $28