Coffee Break #40
Happy February, friends! (Whoa, where did January go?!?!) In this month’s blog break, I’m chatting about my recent budget-friendly “glam” look, how I organize my purse, and a schedule “shift” here on the blog. So grab your favorite cup o’ whatever and catch up with me!
My $100 Ball Look
Every November, the Marine Corps celebrates its birthday in a big way: there is often a ball and always cake (seriously…cake is an important part of the tradition!) We haven’t attended a ball in many years (hello, COVID); but a few months ago, we got all dressed up and partied with Greg’s unit.
Fashion blogger I am not, but I really wanted to share “my look” with you because both this dress and these shoes are ah-mazing! It’s been a very long time since I’ve found two items that look good, make me feel great, and are totally budget-friendly! Let me share!
I originally purchased this dress for a “Monte Carlo”-themed event. The style was classic, the reviews were amazing, and the price was (more than) right!
The event was later canceled, and I was about to return the dress when I decided to quickly try it on. It fit so amazingly well and was so flattering, that I couldn’t imagine returning it…clearly, I could wear it somewhere!
Fast forward to the USMC Birthday Ball, to which I was planning on wearing a different (fancier) dress I already had. When I was looking back through old ball photos though, I realized I had worn the dress to 3 different balls already (whoops)! Not a huge deal necessarily, but I figured I was overdue for something new.
So (kind of in a panic) I tried on the dress again, assuming it was a too casual for the ball. But I quickly realized that with the right shoes and jewelry, it sure would work…and boy, did it!!?
In true Megan fashion (ah – punny!), I forgot about shoes. So I headed off (the day before the ball) to Rack Room Shoes (thank goodness there are still brick-and-mortar shoe stores!)
Originally, I planned to buy nude shoes; but when they didn’t have any in my size, I opted for these.
Friends – these shoes are the whole reason I’m even chatting about my ball “look” in the first place – they are AWESOME! They are the perfect height for heels (you feel powerful and confident but can still dance in them all night!) and they have an incredibly flattering silhouette (the ankle strap is juuuuuust right!)
I got so many complements on them and LOVED wearing them, that I’ve since added BOTH the black and nude versions to my shoe collection (replacing other heels I don’t like as much). I’m super pumped (ha, another pun!) to now have the “perfect heel” to wear with pretty much any dress!
TIP! I bought the silver ones on sale at Rack Room for $30. The price fluctuates at both RRS and Amazon, so keep an eye out for when they go on sale!
A Look Inside My Purse
A few readers have asked how I organize my purse, so I thought I’d share a quick glimpse at my current “system”!
As a lover of all patterns, I’ve been a long-time user of Vera Bradley bags (there’s an outlet back in Virginia where I always stock up on different patterns). Over the years, I’ve shifted away from the busy patterns on the outside, and prefer the solid bags with the fun pattern on the inside.
Up until about a year ago, I was still using a “diaper backpack.” But as our 3 YO transitioned out of diapers, I realized it was (finally) time to ditch the diaper bag (woo hoo)! As a Mom with younger kids though, I still needed something to carry a change of clothes, snacks, entertainment, etc.
I found (and LOVE) this smaller Vera Bradley backpack. It’s small enough that just a wallet and single pouch don’t get lost. But big enough to also carry coloring books, water bottles, snacks, jackets, etc. The “performance” fabric is weather proof, so it handles the NC weather great (and of course, I LOVE the pink flowers on the inside!)
NOTE: Since I buy my Vera bags at the Outlet, the colors/patterns aren’t usually available online or at “regular” Vera retailers. This one is a “Factory Exclusive” pattern.
For my wallet, I use this Vera Bradley crossbody wallet. It holds all my cards, money, etc, but it also has a spot for my phone. With an attached wristlet (and optional longer strap), it’s perfect for running out to do quick errands when I don’t have the kids (and therefor, don’t need their stuff in a backpack)!
Although my instincts are to over-pouch-ify my purse, I’ve actually landed on a system that’s working beautifully.
I have two larger pouches (similar). They both measure ~9×11″. One holds absolute necessities I must have with me at all times (e.g., change of underpants and Epipen for the little guy, bandaids, hand sanitizer, etc). The other pouch holds crayons, notebooks, stickers etc.
Although my backpack comfortably holds both pouches, I only grab the “coloring” one when needed (e.g., church, restaurants, etc). So on a daily basis, my backpack only holds my wallet, one large pouch, and snacks (usually in the front pocket).
When I’m home, my purse (and the large pouch I don’t use all the time) get tossed into one of the baskets under our foyer console table. This (initially temporary) solution has actually been working brilliantly. I love that my purse isn’t hanging on the banister, but is still easy to find and grab whenever needed!
On the Struggle Bus
I know you don’t necessarily read these Coffee Breaks to hear about my “work struggles,” but these posts are one of the only ways for me to communicate with you (my very regular readers and super fans)! So I want to quickly update you on a slight schedule shift and the “why” behind it.
You may (or may not!) have noticed that my once very-predictable-regular posting schedule has been a little less-than-predictable in recent months. And the reason? To put it bluntly: I’m tired, friends!
Years and years of producing robust creative content amidst an ever-evolving life backdrop (e.g., a move, a new baby, COVID, and another move all in ~3 years) has quite simply caught up with me. And I think tackling a TON of ambitious home projects right on the heels of a very stressful move this past summer was the “camel’s straw” so to speak. For a little while now, I just haven’t been able to muster my usual motivation to keep up with the posting schedule that…ironically…I get to set!
I felt this burnout creeping in around the holidays, which is why I decided to take 3 straight weeks off. So imagine my surprise (and panic!) when I came back in the New Year not quite as refreshed and ready to go as I thought I’d be. I guess constantly scrambling to pull posts together and feeling “behind” all the time has taken a toll that a few weeks off just couldn’t resolve.
So I’ve finally, stubbornly, unwittingly, frustratingly accepted that I can’t keep up with 3 posts/week…every week…right now. As such, I’m going to shift back to two posts per week for a little while (Tuesdays and Fridays).
Don’t you worry – this isn’t forever. Quite the contrary. I’m hoping that by crying “mercy” and down-shifting a bit, I’ll reduce my overwhelm, improve my burnout, and ultimately get back to the productivity level I’m used to. Allll the fingers crossed!
You guys always ask the greatest questions, and I love learning what you all want to read more about. If you have any topics or questions you’d love to see me cover, submit them via the (anonymous) form below. Then keep an eye out for answers in upcoming Coffee Breaks!
Thanks for catching up with me this month!
30 Comments on “Coffee Break #40”
Megan, I’ve followed you ever since I became a member of your blog. I just have to comment on the dress, shoes, the whole FANTASTIC outfit for the Ball. You look amazing!
Thank you SO much, Sharon! It’s not very often that I feel as great as I did that night! ❤️
I’m so glad you are taking time for yourself. It is so important for women to realize how how busy they are and how necessary to their overall health it is to relax and refresh themselves. Thanks for not only providing great ideas for us but also emulating a healthy lifestyle !
Thank you SO much for this!
I admit that I feel strange saying my job is “stressful” but you’re right: even just the “busyness” of life can really have an impact…no matter what kind of job/tasks fill up your time!
Thanks for stopping by today!
A great post as usual! You (and hubby) look amazing for the ball. Getting ready for something that fancy is stressful but you put together a great outfit. Thanks also for the purse/backpack/wallet info. Very useful! Two posts a week is a lot and plenty to satisfy me. I look forward to your posts and refer back to many of them. It is so important to take time to refresh and restore and revitalize, and everyone benefits. Looking forward to hearing about that too as you rewind and fill your own emotional/physical/spiritual/creative bank.
Gosh – thank you so much for this comment! I always get so nervous to share certain things, but my readers always “fill my cup” back up whenever I do!
Thanks for doing that for me today!
You and your husband look wonderful at the ball! Your dress and shoes are gorgeous! How nice to have a regular enjoyable occasion to dress up. We have reached the age where weddings have slowed down and I can’t remember the last time we got to dress up!
Thanks for the peak into your purse! I have a “work purse” and a purse for everything else and just switch my wallet back and forth. My MIL was shocked recently that I don’t schlep around entertainment for my kids (they are 6 and 8 and usually do pretty well) so I had my 6 year old put together a little pouch and he crammed it full and now my purse weighs a ton! lol. But like you, I’m glad the diaper bag days are over!
I recently got a Cricut so have been enjoying your Cricut content and have referenced older posts as I’ve tried some new things. My next project is Lego tshirts for our upcoming Legoland trip! I look forward to your content and am happy to enjoy it on whatever schedule works best for you. Your productivity amazes me and as I’ve said with every move, your house is more put togther than mine (8 years and counting!) I hope your schedule change offers the rest you need.
Thank you so much for this, Kristin!
You guys are all really showing me the love this morning, and it means more than I can say! ❤️
Can’t wait to hear how your Lego shirts turn out – gosh, we LOOOOOOVED Legoland when we lived in CA – so many memories!
Have a great weekend!Megan
WE all get overwhelmed with real life and I’m sure you are no exception. You must come first…..so sit back, relax, enjoy your family. We will all be here when you feel like sending us your wonderful emails. I find all of them to be extremely helpful!!
Thank you so much for your support, Connie!
And I love knowing my content is out there being used and enjoyed!
Thanks for “filling my bucket” this morning!
I have followed you for several years now and just wanted to say how much I enjoy the monthly coffee breaks (I really did just sit down with my coffee to enjoy your post!). I love the way you make them feel like you’re just chatting with your friends to share what’s going on in your life.
I also wanted to say what a great photo that was of you and hubby! The dress and shoes are amazing and I am going to share your links with my daughter who has a Mardi Gras ball coming up!
I’m a Vera Bradley fan too. I’m currently using one of the very small wallets but have been wanting to get the bigger size with the RFID protection and a place for my phone, so I read that with much interest.
Finally, I totally get the burnout. It happens to us all and sometimes we just have to give ourselves some grace! Friend, if you need to pull it back to once a week or less, that is okay, too, and may be what you need to take some pressure off. You are successful and we all love what you do, but you need to be able to enjoy doing it! Your site has so much content already for newbies to find valuable information, and your existing audience is not going to fall away. We are behind you!
Oh, Brenda! Your note really brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to write such a kind comment!
Writing the Monthly Coffee Break is such a treat for me, I look forward to it each month. I love hearing how much you like reading it too!
Thanks for being such a loyal and supportive follower ❤️
Just wanted to jump in here to say you look absolutely DYNAMITE!
Mate, I’m still following YHL and they do blog posts, like, five times a year and took a whole year off. Do what you need to do, these last three years have been bananas.
Thanks for the purse update! It’s the information I didn’t realise I needed and I’m going off to find a pouch or two TODAY. You don’t carry around a paper planner? Do you put everything (notes, lists, dates) in your phone?
1. Your dress was phenomenal with shoes-wow!
2. Two posts a week is definitely enough, and please prioritize your happiness! We love you and want you to enjoy your job and not burn out to the point you don’t come back.
3. Big fan of the backpack purse as well and love the pouches. With a 10 and 14 year old I actually have switched on most days to wearing leggings with two pockets and have a zippered one opening credit card/cash holder wallet in one and my phone in the other -with my key either in one legging pocket or in my jacket. The ultimate freedom!!
You do this because you love it. If you burn out you will not love it…as much. Self care is important and difficult when juggling so many balls. You are wise to recognize that something needed to change! Good for you, Megan!
Oh my goodness girlfriend, don’t be killing yourself to keep up with an insane schedule! You could post once a month and I’d still be thrilled, because you always offer links that can offer me a deep dive into subjects later! So here’s my “mom voice” coming out, it’s ok to focus on your family – it should be #2 priority! First is YOU!! Thank you always for your fun and informative posts and remember, sometimes you just gotta breathe 🙏🤗 And wow, if you can look that stunning after all you do, you have super powers we all want!
1. You and Greg looked awesome for your ball.
2. Take as much time as you need to find your mojo. And if you find that two posts a week works for longer than you hope, we are loyal followers. Your posts are always educational and insightful and well worth the wait.
One word for that ball gown and photo–WOW!!! You look gorgeous and that dress is incredibly flattering on you (Greg looks great, too ;-). As for posting 2x/week and taking time off, you do what is best for you. “Put your own mask on first before assisting others…” . I’m a long-time follower as well, and fully support whatever is best for your total health. I reference so many older posts–you have so much content on your site–and I’ll always be here for the new stuff however often you can post.
I carry a backpack, too, although mine contains puppy/dog supplies as I raise Guide Dogs for the Blind. I do like your small wallet combo that I think would be great for me for when I don’t have a puppy with me. Going to look for one of those today.
And lastly, thank you for all your family sacrifices as a military family. Your resilience with all those moves never ceases to amaze me!
Girl! You look SO AMAZING In your dress, shoes, and makeup! Don’t you feel like you’re on Cloud Nine when your know your outfit looks great AND is actually comfortable. Priceless!
You tell your hubs that I said he’s a lucky man! 😁
Love the dress! You looked fantastic in it!
And love the purse/backpack. I have all grown kids, and I still carry so much! I need to simplify. My sister in law called it my Mary Poppins bag. 🤪😀
I agree, this last school year has just revved up and all the sudden we are more on the down swing side of it all. And I keep thinking what have I actually accomplished? The sad answer is it feels like not much. So mercy you get, at least from me! I get the feeling. And wish I could slow down just a bit. But at the same time, I enjoy all the kid things I get to go and do. It’s a tough balancing act.
Keep up the awesome work! I love checking in.
Oh my! We just moved a week ago to a plus 55 community home from our FIRST retirement (from the Air Force) 3-story home home, after TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! I used to be able to get kitchen and bathroom(s) unpacked and put away the first day. I’m definitely feeling the difference between 42 yrs and almost 68 yrs this week!
I plan to use some of your cute ideas on this new house – where everything I NEED is on one floor (bed, bath, laundry, garage, etc) and only go downstairs when I want to sew, or maybe unpack. 🙂 I read the Swedish Death Cleaning book, in hopes of making our children’s lives easier down the road.
I did cry just a little as the playhouse and trampoline we’d acquired for our grandchildren were given away. But our youngest grandchild is 7, and oldest is 19, so it was time. (We’ve had 9 grandkids from our 4 children, and everyone is done!)
PS You NAILED the military ball look!
I got to take this lady to the dance; if you look closely you’ll see me holding on tight so I didn’t lose her.
You looked stunning! I love what you chose to wear. So beautiful. I am going to see if I can find a place to wear a dress like that. What a gift to feel so beautiful.
And speaking of beautiful, your authenticity about your blog schedule is a reason you are beautiful inside and out. I sincerely appreciate your honesty and transparency. And I admire you for recognizing what you need.
Thank you so much for a peek into your purses and backpack – stylish and practical! Your posts are most appreciated, no matter the number per week. Your level of detail both in the photos and descriptions is simply incredible.
Wow! Thanks for sharing the absolutely fabulous picture of you and your hubby at the Birthday Bash. You looked gorgeous in your lovely striking outfit and he very handsome.
The well planned and well placed (basket in hallway) purse/backpack is an inspiration.
Hope you get much rest and refreshment.
You look wonderful! It’s even better to look nice at a good price! May have to look into this dress for our next dining out.
We moved from Japan this summer, and I am still tired. Hope you get a chance to feel refreshed.
You guys look amazing! Total glam power couple! (and I loved Greg’s comment!)
Honey, you take all the time you need to re-charge your batteries and find your blogging joy again. You are so worth waiting for!
Sending love and blessings <3