conference wardrobe 101...

I have been on two trips in the last month, both of which required a particular wardrobe. #Edel15 required a cocktail outfit and a few comfy yet stylish outfits that could stand up on the Charleston heat and humidity. New York City required a professional look for the day, sightseeing outfits, and two spectacular black tie/cocktail dresses. 

All of this needed to be done without spending a dime. I was already counting my pennies to even get to NYC, so spending money on my wardrobe was out of the question.

The other factor was that it all needed to fit into two very small bags. I was taking the bus with my writing pal and we were going to be schlepping whatever we took with through NYC to our hotel from the drop off point. 

So I had to look deep into the back of my closet to come up with what I wore. Thank goodness I have not gained a lot of weight since Court died or I would have been up a creek without a paddle. 

First a travel outfit that was comfy and casual and would take me through my first afternoon of sightseeing in the city. I have had the t-shirt for awhile now and new when I saw it in the drawer it would be perfect for an afternoon in the shoe capital of the world. I added a cami to make it long enough for me. The denim shorts are from Lane Bryant, two seasons ago I think. Nice and cozy for the four hour bus ride. 

Once we arrived, schleped our bags to the taxi stand, got a taxi and found our way to the center of Times Square and our hotel, it was time to change shirts and hit the town, since I had spilled coffee on my other one. 

Packing tip #1 - always roll and extra top or two that coordinates with a few of your other outfits in case of spillage stains or abhorent summer perspiration. You will not regret it.  

After we strolled through the city, got a cupcake at Magnolias, one of my bucket list bakeries to visit, we headed toward Bryant Park. After watching so many seasons of Project Runway and seeing a billion photos of fashion week (which takes place in the park) it was a thrill to get to see it in person. 

That evening we had a dinner date with a mutual friend at a fabulous Italian restaurant. It required a quick change into a maxi dress and I was all set. 

I added some JCrew jewelry (there sales are awesome!!) and wore the same beaded sandals I traveled in. The maxi dress is from DressBarn. The last three seasons they have had some very cute dresses for under $50. I have been checking out their fall line and it looks promising. Luckily I had the dress in my closet so no shopping was involved. It also rolled up easily without wrinkling wich is a plus when traveling light. 

The next day I had lunch with an old Navy friend who came in from NJ to meet up. I knew we would be walking to our restaurant so flats would work better. I had packed my sunshine yellow pair from Talbots. I wore a yellow and white striped cotton top from Lands End and a chambray denim skirt with pockets for the hotel key card. 

Cza Cza and me on a stoop in NYC

I also wore a special piece of jewelry from my friend Kathryn that commemorates my sweet Courtney. It is a leather cuff with a copper heart stamped with the phrase "Love always wins".  It has become a favorite. Every time I wear it I think of my Courtney and say a pray for Kathryn and her family. 

The next day there were two events to attend, so a dress was required. I went for a classic summer white cotton eyelet with green accessories. It was cool and I love the cut of the dress. Once again it's from Dress Barn. I have had it since Easter and have worn it multiple times. 

That night there was a cocktail party my critique partner and I were slated to attend. It was time to bring out the bling. This dress was a real bargain. I found it on sale at Lord and Taylor, 60% off the original price. That's my kind of sale.  It's a Ralph Lauren, a black  lace knit with sequins and a nude lining. With the cap sleeves and a classic princess cut, it will be with me for years. 

Add in a pair of sparkling gold heels and we have a winning combo

The next day was another opportunity to sight see. It was another day of my denim shorts, beaded sandals and this fabulous grey knit t-shirt. The pearls make it a bit dressier than a typical t-shirt which is perfect for the city. Again, rolled up and fit right into the small suitcase like a dream. 

Our final day in the city I got to have breakfast with a sweet internet friend who I am thrilled to call a in real life friend. It was the best start to my day. 

It was also the day of the big gala. My critique partner, Sharon (seen above), was up for a Golden Heart Award. In the romance writing world, these are the Oscars for unpublished authors. The are paired with the RITA awards which are the Oscars for published romance writers like Kristin Higgins and Nora Roberts. 

This gala is a black tie event. When I was packing for it, I was nervous because I don't live a black tie life. I had one dress in my closet that might work but it was cocktail length. So I got out my style and etiquette manual and did a little research. Given that my dress was beaded, I thought I could get away with it. After consulting with  few friends who do live black tie lives, I packed the dress with confidence. 

It was a great evening even though Sharon didn't win. There were beautiful dresses, fabulously awesome women in those dresses and the shoes were beyond. I was in my glittery happy place. This dress weighed ten pounds but it was so worth it. The cut, color and style worked as did my awesome shoes.

After a late night, including pizza in Time Square at midnight in our fabulous dresses, we went to bed and slept through the alarm the next day. Thank goodness we had already packed the afternoon before. I wore my denim skirt and another cotton t-shirt home. 

Packing tip #2 - luggage with wheels will be worth more than their weight in gold. I don't have any luggage like that. After this trip to NYC, I have dreamed of nothing else but luggage with wheels. 

Packing tip #3 - if you group your clothing by color, creating several interchangeable outfits, adding a splash of color when you can, it makes the decision making process at the hotel so much easier. I tried this with NYC and I know I can do better. I relied way too much on dresses. I need to slim the packing list down a bit. 

Packing tip #4 - keep your toiletries to a minimum. Use a basic palette for your makeup and then add in a pop of glitter for your eyes and a deeper color of lipstick for evening. The hotel usually has shampoo, soap and a blow dryer so you can skip those items if you are looking to save room. 

Traveling is a new thing for me. We have one more quick trip to OK for my in-laws 60th Wedding Anniversary in mid August. That will be one carry on bag for each of us. A challenge for this shoe hog for sure. But it can be done. 

Thanks for all your encouragement and good wishes during my trips to #Edel15 and NYC. You guys are the best readers. Truly. Cheering me on from all over the interwebs. You're just the best!!



help pay off medical debt from caring for our beautiful Courtney  

Our new goal is $3,209.00 which will eliminate the balance on a credit card used for Courtney's PT, OT and Feeding therapies and supplies used over the last five years. We have raised $780 of it so far. Only $2429.00 to go to pay this one off. If we can raise the full amount, we can pay it off and be that much closer to our larger goal. One thing at a time. Thank you so much for your help. 

The entire medical debt is extensive, now approx. $67,3000. It's a lot and will take years to whittle down. Anything helps. Anything. So, I will keep it at the bottom of my posts for awhile. You all have already given so much to our family. Our prayers are with you and we are so very grateful. We can never repay that kindness. So thank you...just thank you. If you would like our mailing address, please just email me at and I will send it.

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