Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Interlude I (Ripe & Ruin) + alt-J

She only ever walks to count her steps
Eighteen strides and she stops to abide
By the law that she herself has set
That eighteen steps is one complete set

And before the next
Nine right and nine left
She looks up at the blue
And whispers to all of the above

Don't let me drown, don't breathe alone
No kicks no pangs no broken bones
Never let me sink, always feel at home
No sticks, no shanks and no stones

Never leave it too late, always enjoy the taste
Of the great gray world of hearts
As all dogs everywhere bark, it's worth knowing
Like all good fruit the balance of life is in the ripe and ruin

Monday, January 26, 2015


I am so happy! One of my articles got published on one of my all-time favorite websites!

I have struggled financially for years, and finally committed to getting out of my credit card debt so I can live my life. I thank Literally, Darling for allowing my first published article to be such a valuable one. Take a look!

5 Tips to Pay Off Your Not-So Free Credit Card Debt
by Adele Stewart 
I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time I touched it, I knew we would have a special bond. I recall running my fingers over its bumps and feeling its smooth front under my fingertips. It didn't really smell like anything, though—mostly like the envelope it came out of.
My first credit card beamed back at me, my name glimmering on the front underneath a trail of digits.
“We are going to have so much fun together,” I said to my card as I slid it into its designated home in my wallet.
I had been waiting for this card since I received a letter telling me I was pre-approved for some extra college cash.
I was a junior in college at the time. I had a hostess job at school that I absolutely hated going to. I found myself calling off on weekends so I could pregame before going out to the bar with my friends, instead of barreling through a quick six-hour shift. I had a terrible habit of not paying my bills on time because I never really saved any of my paychecks.
I was every credit bureau’s worst nightmare.
Upon receiving the letter that I somehow was qualified for a credit card with a $1,000 limit, I figured this was the answers to my prayers.
It wasn’t until about 45 days into some major spending that I realized a credit card was absolutely, 100 percent, not free money.
I was trying to purchase $50 worth of groceries at the local Walmart and my card got declined. I immediately called my mother, because what else are you supposed to do when you’re 21 and publicly humiliated at the cash register at the cheapest store in the United States? At first she was shocked that I even had a credit card. It seemed I had kept that information from her.
She said, “Well, have you been paying your minimum?”
“Um… my what?”
“You’re kidding me, right? Have you not been paying on your card?”
“See, here’s the thing… no?”
My mom then lost most of her shit. I had to smile weakly and gesture to the cashier who was still impatiently waiting for me to pay for my stuff, that I would be just another minute on the phone.
After my mother finished swearing at me about being irresponsible with my money, I hung up and smiled at the cashier.
“Can you swipe it again? I just paid on it.”
My life became a series of, “I just paid it off” and “Oh, my payment probably hasn’t gone through yet.”
It was exhausting.
I let the errors of my 21-year-old financially inept self follow me around for an unnecessary amount of time. I was still terrible at money. Every time I thought I was ahead, I found myself 10 steps behind only months later.
I was starting to fall into a deep and very dark financial hole—going out for lunch when I had already packed a perfectly filling meal, buying new clothes with every new paycheck, while also paying for my student and car loans, insurance, and (of course) my credit card payments.
It wasn’t until a recent injury left me incapable of leaving my couch, that I realized maybe it was time to stop spending and start saving.
I pulled out a piece of notebook paper, my checkbook, my Mint account and a pen to begin my planning process. It took me about two hours to figure out when everything was due and how long it would take me to pay off certain bills. Since it’s taken me such a long time to get my finances together, I figured I could relay how I did this in the form of five easy free tips for the financially impaired twenty-something:

1. Sign up for a Mint account (or any budgeting software)

On Mint you are able to get your free credit score and see a graded summary of your spending habits. You can add all of your cards and loans to be notified when a bill is due and to track your spending. Mint also lets you budget on how much you spend monthly on food, entertainment, and other expenses based off of your income.
2. Pay off your lowest balance first
If you have two credit cards and one has a balance of $125 and the other a balance of $300, put a little more towards paying off that $125 than the $300.
3. Try to pay more than your monthly minimum
Figure out how much you owe total and divide it by a reasonable time frame which you can pay it off. For example, if your balance is $300 and your minimum is $25/month, you’re going to be dishing out $25 for 12 months. Imagine paying that back in half the time. Pay $50 a month instead of $25. You’ll be done in six months, and your credit score will rock.
4. Stop with unnecessary monthly charges
I am so guilty of this—who isn’t? But when you’re not very good with money, you shouldn’t be dishing excessive amounts of money into other people’s pockets every month. I had two gym memberships. TWO—for two gyms I barely had time to attend. One cost me $89 for an unlimited amount of classes. Being a collector of Jillian Michaels DVDs and having some nice equipment at home, I realized this was totally crazy. If I absolutely need to head to the gym, I can pay $10 up front before the class. 
With gimmicks like Hulu and Netflix, why are you still paying for cable? Either-or, sister.
          5. Ditch the credit card 
Pay it off, freeze it, burn it, bury it—just stop using it. If you don’t have the money already at your disposal, for heaven’s sake, DON’T USE IT. Obviously emergencies happen where you simply don’t have the funds, but avoid using that plastic piece of poison the best that you can.

I will finally be “debt”-free by the end of March, assuming I don’t get wild in these next 10 weeks and buy a purebred puppy or something completely superfluous like a pair of Elsa Peretti Diamond earrings.
I’m not telling you to break your most valuable bones in order to budget your finances, but it won’t hurt you to take the night off and figure it out. You will never know true financial freedom until you do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sam Smith Gets It

Yes I do, I believe
That one day I will be, where I was
Right there, right next to you
And it's hard, the days just seem so dark
The moon, and the stars, are nothing without you
Your touch, your skin, where do I begin?
No words can explain, the way I'm missing you
Deny this emptiness, this hole that I'm inside
These tears, they tell their own story
You told me not to cry when you were gone
But the feeling's overwhelming, it's much too strong
Can I lay by your side, next to you, you
And make sure you're alright
I'll take care of you,
And I don't want to be here if I can't be with you tonight
I'm reaching out to you
Can you hear my call? (Who's to say you won't hear me?)
This hurt that I've been through
I'm missing you, missing you like crazy
You told me not to cry when you were gone
But the feeling's overwhelming, it's much too strong
Can I lay by your side, next to you, you
And make sure you're alright
I'll take care of you
And I don't wanna be here if I can't be with you tonight

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mix & Maxi Monday

Mondays. I'm not sure what your week is looking like, but mine is pretty snowy.
What outfit goes better with the changing weather than an "all-season" black maxi?
And what goes better with an "all-season" maxi than literally everything?

No seriously guys, literally everything goes with a maxi. 
You can wear it as is if you're somewhere warm & sunny this January, or you can add a kimono.
Throw a blouse on over it, or a sweater and blazer,
I'm choosing to liven mine up with a sweater, only because it's freezing here.

Pair it up with a sock bun, or down with a few twists and a ton of accessories.
Perhaps some of the following?

 Adele Stewart Keaton Row Certified Stylist

If any of these looks caught your eye, or if you'd be interested in styling with me, feel free to send me a message on Keaton Row! You don't have to fill out the entire profile, in fact fill in the most general facts and then I can take over the rest. I can't wait to get you ready in budget (or splurge) friendly for whatever winter weather you may be facing!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Work it Wednesday: NC and Erie Winters 2015

Since I'm currently disabled (I took a bit of a tumble last week and had to get some metal parts screwed into my leg) and can only rock stretchy pants with a leg wide enough to slip over my cast, I figured I could post the outfits I WISH I was wearing.

This week, I wish I were in sunny Raleigh, North Carolina with fellow blogger Courtney Fashionista. In her most recent post, Courtney mentions that Raleigh's typically warm temps have dropped to around 20 degrees. Well, Erie is a balmy 3 degrees so I would kill to be rocking tights and adorable booties right about now.

These looks are all from my Keaton Row lookbook, "Winter 2014-2015"

Here's my ideal North Carolina winter outfit - skirts and stockings! This outfit is perfect for temps above 25 degrees. Add a cross-body bag over your shoulder and enjoy your "chilly" winter day! I'd suggest doing one of these neat scarf styles to really add to your look.

 Winters 2014-2015 Lookbook North Carolina Pg 6

This is a variation of what my day-to-day looked like in Snow Capital of the World Erie, PA before my injury. And, YES, I am well aware that I push beyond the limits of "business casual" by wearing boots and leggings to work every day.

 Winter 2014-2015 Lookbook Erie Winters Pg 7

By the way, those Joan of Arctic boots from Sorel are an amazing companion in the middle of a winter wonderland. I got mine from Massey's, but they are since out of stock as is Nordstrom's. A few styles can be found on Zappos so get them while they are hot - well, while it's cold, at least.

Side note: Erie is currently the snowiest city in the United States. Make it stop!

 Adele Stewart Keaton Row Certified Stylist

If any of these looks caught your eye, or if you'd be interested in styling with me, feel free to send me a message on Keaton Row! You don't have to fill out the entire profile, in fact fill in the most general facts and then I can take over the rest. I can't wait to get you ready in budget (or splurge) friendly for whatever winter weather you may be facing!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Broken bones, but mended dreams

New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.  Sarah Ban Breathnach

I do try to remain an optimist about the start of every new year, though I typically refrain from the dreaded, "new year, new me" mantra which everyone and their brother decides to tattoo on their forehead come the eve of December 31st.

I like to think of January 1st as a new opportunity, even though it's just another day. It marks the first of 365 days of which I can either make especially great or astonishingly poor decisions. It gives a set time frame to announce that I've quit a terrible habit, or picked up an advantageous one; i.e. "I believe the last time I had fried food was the first of the year" or "I've been working out four times a week since January 1st! I can't believe I'm still going strong three months later" - please bear in mind that neither of these are my own resolutions.

January 1st allows you to start writing a new chapter in your book of life. 

There's something incredibly opportunistic about starting on a clean page. While you're not forgetting the events of the year prior, you're able to render hope that this new year will be better.

To say that 2015 has started off on the wrong foot would be a horribly ironic understatement.

On January 2nd, I received news that a friend had lost a battle he had struggled with for quite some time. I remember thinking to myself, the Drama Queen that I am, "Could the start of this year be any worse?"

Three days later, as I walked into the Pennsylvania tundra of January 2015 to warm up my car at 5:30am, I realized it really could. I typically get out of the house early to take care of a 19 month old whose family lives a few blocks down before work. Usually no one in the neighborhood is awake which allows for a peaceful and quick commute, but can also be fairly dangerous in times of an emergency.

As I approached my car, I quite literally fell upon black ice. Usually being able to stabilize myself before falling, I quickly tried to regain my balance. I then heard which can later be described as the sound of my right fibula snapping as I hit the ground and landed on my right leg. I attempted to stand up, but couldn't without my right foot sending a shock through my body. I called for help, but it was meek - I was cold, it was windy, I was in some oddly numbing kind of pain. I began to crawl back up the sidewalk to my house, sobbing along the way. When I got to the front set of stairs, I managed to drag myself to the porch, one hand on the railing, one on the stairs. I manager to get into the house to call an ambulance. Once in the ER, it was verified that I was undoubtedly broken and that my next step was to get on crutches and pray the orthopedic doctor would give it a short recovery period.

The rest of the day was a messy blur. I wound up going into work a few hours later hopped up on medicine and sheer adrenaline - I could feasibly be on an episode of "My Strange Addiction" from the measures I take for my job.

At any rate, I went to see the orthopedic surgeon a few days later who only verbalized my worst fear - surgery.

I have always been terrified of the idea of being asleep while someone digs medical weapons inside of you, poking your bones for one to two hours while a fish-pool of nurses and nerdy med students stand over him, gawking at your exposed parts. I mean, if they weren't meant to be seen, why did our Creator cover them with flesh??? Then they just sew you up like you'd fix a hole on your favorite sweater. It's a terrifying concept.

As the doctor was describing the operation, careful not to skip a single detail, I felt my heart drop and my stomach start to churn. The only benefit to this would be a more timely and accurate recovery, although I would still be posted up for at least six weeks.

The events of this week definitely took a toll on me. I was really sad - like, "your life is over for a minimum of six weeks" sad. But as I entered day three of rest and repeat, it hit me. My life was not over, it was actually just beginning.

Although I sit here broken, I am realizing that this is more and more a wake up call. I finally have the time to decide and reflect on my next plan of attack. I can write. I can finish a book. I can look into grad schools. I can craft. Most importantly, I can think.

I have been saying for years I wanted to do something more - be something more - but I haven't had a spare moment to think about it. I've kept myself so preoccupied that I had forgotten what I wanted to do. I am optimistic for these next six weeks (minimum) and all I can accomplish in that time.

I am always talking about my future. I talk about it to everyone - my friends, my family, my coworkers, my Tinder matches, strangers at the bar... More people are aware of my plans than even I am. I think the most important thing is, I had to take this fall and feel this break in order to stop talking, and start doing.

For that, I thank the Universe.