Thirsty Thursday: Pumpkin (spice) Perk Poser

Pumpkin Spice Latte…poster child for coffee posers?

Starbucks Latte

Recently I partook in an act I would consider innocuous to my “rep.” I ordered, and enjoyed I should point out, a Starbucks PSL.

Since its inception in 2003, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has been fodder for both adoration and abhor-ation. Many, MANY blogs and articles have been written about it, some notable ones being:

My intentions with this post are not to add  much to the debate over whether enjoying a PSL (skinny, hold the whip) is good or bad, cool or uncool, “in” or “so passe’.” Truthfully, I’m more interested in the cult hysteria and discussion surrounding one, java-based drink and how it has come to represent a line-in-the-sand between acceptance or rejection of the mainstream. It’s an quirky occurrence to recall several scraps of information just from a beverage order…

It seems this flavored brew has come to represent all that is right and wrong with, not PSLjust Starbucks, but large coffee conglomerates, or, for that matter, conglomerate society. I’m sure the coffee realists had quite a field day with comparisons and explanations of the negatives in mainstream American society when one could (finally? sadly? obviously?)  get their franchise coffee (Starbucks) inside and while shopping in a big box store (Target). Again, I’m not here to debate right or wrong, but I will admit I was jazzed to be able to pick up a chai along with my E.L.F. Cosmetics and Market Pantry items.

As a New Orleanian I was raised on coffee milk (a blend of chicory coffee and lots of milk) at my grandfather’s table and remember the distinguished feeling of finally being allowed to enjoy a cafe-au-lait with the adults after dinner at a fine restaurant.

I respect true coffee experts’ pallets and discernment between various brands, brews and beverage preparations…I’m just not that sophisticated in my coffee drinking. I tend to go more with the “drink what you like” mentality.

I support the ideas of “Shop Local” and financially contributing to mom-n-pop establishments over large corporations. There is certainly something to be said for the feeling one can only get from a steamy, neighborhood coffee joint, most likely filled with notable and interesting characters (especially the ones in the Uptown area of New Orleans). To me, there is also something to be said for the exhilaration of receiving stars, points and perks with my perk! The loyalty/reward system usually only being offered by franchised coffee locations, however.

Lest we forget the big, franchised brands started as Original Starbucksjust another neighborhood shop down the street. I’ve been to the original Starbucks in Seattle, and I enjoyed checking it off my “touristy to-do” bucket list. I didn’t feel that I was visiting coffee mecca nor did I feel I was visiting the hell where “real” coffee goes to die. I imagine lobbyists on each side of the java debate would feel one of those ways.

The price argument is an interesting one as well.

Coffee pricing can be compared to wine pricing. There is a societal equivocation with the price and quality of wine, understood that, as the price of a bottle of wine goes up, so too should the quality and taste of the wine. The counter to that is the movement that says wine should be accessible and a $10 bottle could taste as complex and palatable as a $1000 bottle. Similar school’s of thought can be correlated to coffee pricing. Upwards of $8 for a beverage is justifiable for the quality of the ingredients, time spent crafting it, taste output, etc.. But why spend that much on a beverage we make so readily at home for considerably cheaper? -or- If you’re going to spend that much, spend it at a neighborhood establishment.

So the argument goes, and goes, and goes…

For me, I will continue to get my PSL and other frothy beverages from Starbucks and continue to justify my purchases based on my points system. Points from credit card purchases get turned into a Starbucks gift card which earns me points with each now “free” beverage which, in turn, leads to more free beverages. (Nice huh?)PSL Latte I will also feel comfortable knowing that, when my purchases don’t come from a mom-n-pop owned coffee shop, I’m still supporting the job of the barista behind the bar at the Starbucks I frequent, or at the one in the airport I just found. I will enjoy their service because, frankly, they are always so nice! Seriously, 90(+)% of the time they are infectiously nice. Perhaps it’s because that’s part of the hiring process and a standard for the Starbucks brand. Another positive hashmark on the side of  the big-box-brewer.

So it looks like, for now, I will remain a

Pumpkin Spice Perk Poser

…Proudly? well let’s just say Purposefully 😉 

 

What side of the coffee line do YOU sit on, dear readers? Would you proudly, or indifferently for that matter, walk around with a PSL on your green and white cup? Do you prefer your local java spot because the barista knows your order, or how to make latte foam leaves? I would LOVE to know your thoughts.

 

& for the record, while I like a PSL, my prefered Fall hot bev is:

Hot Chai

  • no water
  • skim milk
  • add Pumpkin Spice
  • hold the whip

It’s a bit sweet, but good & punchy. Try it if you like spice, you’ll thank me!

Try it Tuesday – Bag Balm

 

Made for Cows – Great for Humans

BB

The Bag Balm Clover and Cow Logo


The only way that I can think to properly begin this post is to start with a confession…”Hi, my name is Alicia, and I love the reality show Laguna Beach.” I share this  because the show was the first place I saw Bag Balm. In a montage of behind-the-scenes footage, the product was raved about by almost all of the female characters. Me being the kind of gal who loves to try cult products (& now to blog about them) I went out to investigate.

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I was pleased to easily locate some Bag Balm at my local pharmacy but I was utterly confused to read that it was made for use on cows! (Utterly…cows…get it? Get it?? Ha. OK, I’ll stop.) Seriously though, the product says that it’s made

“…to provide moisturizing and softening…For use on cows…teats & udder…”

However, turning the signature green, square tin, I read it was

“For chapped conditions and superficial abrasions.”

IMG_5597Checking out the ingredients, it was clear that the “petroletum, lanolin base” are what provide most of the moisturizing properties.

I decided if it was a hit with California girls who dealt with the sun and salt water in Summer and wind and snow on ski trips in Winter, I was down to loose the less than $6 it cost if I hated it. I would be a fibber if I said the packaging, with it’s vintage, slightly apothecary look, wasn’t a significant factor in my choice to purchase. But then again, that’s why companies put so much research and money into packaging; it sells!

I got home and opened the signature, clover covered tin. I found exactly what I expected, a naturally colored, waxy salve.

IMG_5592Bag Balm has a fairly neutral smell and, thankfully doesn’t taste like much. If anything, a faint hint of minerals is present, but nothing overpowering. Because of this and due to it’s soothing qualities,  Bag Balm is excellent for all kinds of dry/chapped skin needs.

I had decided when I first got my hands on the packaging that I was not carrying the cumbersome cube around in my purse as the Laguna girls had done (note they do come in 1oz cans but are sometimes harder to find individually. Online, you can get them in packs) and choose instead to keep it on my nightstand. It comes in handy for all sorts of nightime rituals. I slather a considerable sized glob on my hands and then place them in moisture gloves, letting the balm soak in while I soak up a satisfying half-hour of whatever Bravo show I’m currently addicted to. I rub some on dry elbows, knees and feet. I have made coating my lips with a serious swipe a do-not-skip nightly step, the result of which has been soft, pleasantly plump lips when I awake.

Use on nails and cuticles. Take off stubborn eye makeup and waterproof mascara(carefully). Mix with lipstick remnants for a D.I.Y. gloss of a color you have almost used up. Treat burnt or blistered skin…The list goes on.

As we move into the winter months and our skin will soon be exposed to frigged outside air and drying inside heat, I highly recommend you grab yourself some udder jelly and make Bag Balm a part of your soft-skin regimen.

*Readers: Are you a Bag Balm lover already or have you taken my advice and purchased some of your own? Leave comments below and let us all know how you

Blob on  Bag Balm 

 

A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 2

haus 131
 Social_media_fashIn PART 1 of SAS’s Accessory blog I talked about some tips and how-tos of accessorizing with accouterments and adornments.  In this PART 2 I’m sharing some tips on why boutiques make ideal places to find accessories, inspiration and shopping assistance.

 

Tip 1: Use Social Media to your Fashionable Advantage

One of the smartest ways to expand your fashion knowledge and know-how is to follow the Social Media sites of fashionable people and shops. I always recommend choosing the sites of local or online boutiques. Most boutiques only carry one or two size runs of each style. The low inventory ensures well selected pieces and a less likely chance that your outfit will be on someone else at the same event. Following their social media sites means you can keep up with their inventory and snag something you love while it’s still in store.

Boutiques are known for carrying on-trend, of-the-moment inventory. Since accessories are the easiest way to update a wardrobe without breaking the bank, find trendy  accouterments and adornments at boutiques and incorporate them with your own clothes with help from social media.

Tip 2: Make Friends with Boutique Associates

Another advantage of boutique shopping is the associates that work at them. In general, boutiques are the place to find associates who want to be surrounded by fashion, love to read about and research what’s trending and want to dress up-to-date; they’re not just “working in the mall” for an after school job. Associates at boutiques are more accustomed to helping a customer pick out an entire outfit than, say associates at some department stores. So window or internet browse some local boutiques then go into the ones who best reflect the kind of style you have or want.

Get to know the associates and let them get a feel for the looks you’re after so they can help you pick pieces to update your closet.

 

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Have a fave place to shop? Follow them on social media and be the first to see what they have in store and how to style it!

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Styling tip: Follow IG posts of local boutiques for inspiration and make friends with the associates for in-store help!

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Make sure the places you shop have knowledgeable associates. The fashionable girls of Haus131 show off their fabulous arm candy!

 

Tip 3: Dress IN your Comfort Zone & be willing to step OUT of it

When you are first shopping a boutique and becoming familiar with the staff, dress in a style that most epitomizes how you like to look on a daily basis and best represents what can be found in your closet. In this case though, skip the accessories. By dressing in a style you’re most comfortable rocking, you allow yourself and the associate a jumping off point. Like I demonstrated in Part 1, a few accessories can make clothing appropriate for various occasions.

Instead of purchasing one whole head-to-toe outfit, work with the associate to select which accouterments and adornments they would suggest to transform the look you have on, thus what could also transform what you already have in your closet.

 

 

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The always fashionable owner of Haus 131 Miss Katie Rae Bowen

 

The key to a on-trend, chic and well stocked boutique is an owner with a excellent sense of personal style who cares about their shop and clients. A great local example is a lady who is beautiful inside and out, Katie Rae Bowen, the owner of Haus 131. This New Orleans native who just got back from meeting some of her fashion faves at Magic in Vegas, is passionately making her boutique dreams come true in bigger and better ways each year.

 

 

Find her at her shop at  5517 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 where she personally curates her inventory to make sure Haus 131 is “a boutique that provides individuals with a style that is exceptional and suitable for any lifestyle or budget”. Katie Rae has a personable and inviting demeanor so be sure to chat her up when you visit the shop and find out what’s the latest in the Fall fashion scene or how to incorporate trendy pieces into your current collection.

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Talk about a girl who knows her adornments! Katie Rae made these marvelous necklaces and has them on sale at Haus 131. Pick her brain about what she would pair them with, then get one of your own!

 

 

 

Follow Katie Rae and Haus 131 for styling ideas, inventory sneak peaks, sale announcements and much more!

 

 

So remember: Follow for Finds, to Accelerator your Accessory Aptitude then Buy at Boutiques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Pictures from Instagram and Haus 131 logo borrowed with permission. Logo and images are the representations of Haus 131 and associated sites and not directly affiliated with SAS.*

A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 1

Raise your hand if this has happened to you: You open your closet doors, stare into the mess of fabrics and whine “I have nothing to wear” … We should all have a hand up right now…I do…seriously, I’m typing this one handed…

Our rational brain is telling us what we already know; we have plenty of things to wear. The problem? We have worn the things in our closet previously and we’re searching for an outfit that feels new or special. The trick to solving the nothing-to-wear dilemma without spending more money: decategorizing and accessorizing!

Accessories – The most effective way to change an entire look, sometimes in the most affordable way. Most people think of accessories as only jewelry and a few extras, like a scarf. I like to take a much broader approach to defining accessories – accessories are everything but the clothing to cover you. It’s the “what you don’t need” but it makes a world of difference. I think about accessories in two categories:

  • Accouterments – pieces of clothing added to the outfit for interest and/or purpose
  • Adornments – pieces to adorn oneself with such as jewelry & headpieces

You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s good advice to start with one piece of clothing and build an outfit from there. I like to follow a 5 step thought process:

  1. What are the circumstances I’m getting dressed for (pretty basic, right?) – Consider location, activities, attendees, etc.
  2. What “style” look I am going for – Church? A preppier, conservative look. Date? I will want to look attractive and approachable. By focusing on a style you can begin to hone in on certain pieces.
  3. Temperature is of great importance – It seems like a no-brainer, but give temperatures and temp changes some significant consideration. It may be sweltering outside but chilly in an office or restaurant.                                                                           —After those 3 considerations you should have an idea of your fashion end-goal. The last two seal the deal and complete the look—                           
  4. What can I wear differently – This is where decatergorization comes into play. Taking things out of the “for work”, “for day”, “dressy” categories and mixing them into other looks is the fastest way to expand your wardrobe and fashion prowess.
  5. What accouterments and adornments can I add for function and/or visual interest.

I put together some examples of styling with accouterments and adornments.  I chose one piece to add to and decided on a medium-weight dress to transition into Fall weather. Since brights and prints are going to be big trends in Fall (hallelujah for not giving up fashion-sunshine in the cold) I chose a dress with both:

 

AC1This first look is an example of converting a “dressy” piece into a casual-daytime look. The denim accouterments immediately chills-out the fancy factor of the dress and makes it fitting for more causal events like a day-date to the Aquarium or brunch with friends. The sleeves of the jacket can be worn down or rolled up based on temperature.

AC2The adornments are easy and a bit kitschy. I love the look of over-sized link-chains. The necklace and earnings are plastic to keep the causal vibe going. The Yurman style bracelet is simple but more sophisticated than the other pieces, to prevent the outfit from feeling too young.

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I chose Converse to complete the look because I wanted to keep the overall theme fun! Plus I love the opposition of sneakers and a floral dress.

If you wanted to do the same casual look but go for a preppier vibe or a look that’s more age appropriate to you, change the accouterments. Switch out the jean-jacket for an over-sized boyfriend sweater that runs most of the length of the dress and trade the Converse for laid-back flats; choose a shoe more along the lines of a Tom’s Canvas Flat than a ballet flat.

Check out your closet and see what dressy pieces you can do a casual spin on!

 

Though the Fit-&-Flare dress has a conservative cut, I wanted show its versatility when paired with the right adornments.

AF1

 

Bejeweled and glamorous pieces take the dress out for a night on the town.  A jeweled statement necklace has enough heft to stand up against the dress but the complimenting colors don’t compete for attention. Jeweled earring and bracelet-watch assist in glamorizing the look.

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AF3With so much heavy sparkle in the other jewelry pieces, a delicate ring like this black-diamond cross is all you need. It still looks luxe but not gaudy.

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I have a “slight” addiction to sparkle, so the fact that I own about 6 pairs of “glitter” shoes doesn’t shock the people who know me. I chose this ankle strap pair because the satin in front is more subtle but the glitter heel is a party. It’s like the mullet of shoes, in the best way! 🙂

And remember, if fancy-but-not-so-glamorous is what you’re after, just switch out the jewels for golden pearls and the glitter-shoes for classic nude pumps. Instantly going-out-dress becomes going-to-a-wedding dress!

What pieces in your closet would love to go for a night at the club instead of a day at the office?

 

AW1This last look takes the dress right into the cooler weather of Fall and tops it off with some edge. The accouterments supply the outfit with crisp-weather appropriateness.  A faux fur and leather vest, ankle booties and tights (not pictured) combat chilly weather. Choose a pair of black tights with interest like lace, fishnet, or chevron.

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I  juxtaposed two  “ideas” for the adornments; dainty and tough. This is two necklaces layered to grab the dainty prettiness of the thin chains and small black stones, then toughen them up with spikes. The earrings and bracelet each pick a team to continue the mix.

 

 

If it’s even colder outside (Polar Vortex, I’m glaring at you) layer a black scoop-neck shirt in a thin wool under the dress and vest, and go for thicker, opaque tights. The shape of the dress will maintain a femininity for the outfit and the colors and pattern will keep the covered look feeling light.

Ready to bring out your inner rock goddess? Peruse your closet for pretty pieces, then toughen up!

 

What have been some of your favorite accessory moments? What’s one of your favorite accessories to wear? Share your accessory wins, fails or tips below!

 

 

Be sure to check our PART 2 of our Accessories conversation where we will be discussing where to purchse and find help for:

Adding Accouterments & Adornments!

Makeup Monday – Mascara, Buy the Best Brush

I love, love, LOVE mascara and the way my eyelashes look when I apply the right formula with the right brush, which I have found is the key. (For my money, nothing has ever come close to the awesome results I get with L’oreal Double Extend Mascara in Waterproof Black as a standard for everyday use.) Since I tend to play around with about 3 mascara’s at a time, depending on the lash look I’m going for, I like to try different formulas and brushes. Sometimes it’s a waste of money, though, if the brush wasn’t meant for the results I’m after…

This month Sephora  opened their Buxom® Mascara Bar which they are describing as:

“A collection of seven mascara brushes, each customized for a head-turning lash effect.”

I first read about the Lash-Bar opening in the August issue of Allure magazine. What I found most helpful about the article was the breakdown of types of mascara brushes and their results. This is the kind of information that sends Jackpot bells ringing through my head!

I have spent many 10 minuet periods of time staring at the VAST array of mascara’s out there, each one promising 100%, 200%, 500% more lashes! Or longer lashes, thicker lashes, doll-like lashes! With each new mascara comes a differently shaped brush.

Buxom® takes the guess work out of the process by breaking down the results each brush is meant to create and how the brush is designed to get these results! Thanks Buxom®! So whether you purchase from the Buxom® Bar or from a different brand, check out the Buxom® wand chart, or rollover the wand heads for descriptions on the Buxom® page,for insight into the kind of eye-fringe you’re after!

Bonus read from Allure online: 6 Steps to Perfectly Thick Eyelashes

Wishing you: Enticing Eyelashes Everyone 😉

 

A if for…A Blog and An Author

 

August – Since the first letter of the alphabet happens to be A, which happens to be my favorite letter, I consider it fitting to begin the blog in the month beginning in the same fashion. It also seems fitting to start the blog in a transitional month; it’s not quite summer but it’s not quite fall. School is starting and it feels like the 2nd NYE of the year. So welcome to the second half of the year, a new season change, and to Some Alphabet Soup, which I hope will soon become your alliteration addiction! (see what I did there) 😉

 

Author – Keeping with the alliteration theme of the blog, A is a perfect letter to also  introduce the author of the blog because…it’s me! & my name begins with an A! You can find out a little bit “About Me” in the section “About the Author” under the “About Alphabet Soup” tab. You can also gather some insight into the blogs inception and naming there too. Check it out! While you’re at it, find me on Twitter and send me a shout!