Monday, April 25, 2016

Springtime in the Rose Garden



OUTFIT DETAILS:

TOP: Boutique (similar here, blue)  // JEANS: Merona old (love these + 30% off!)thesethese)
ESPADRILLES: J.CREW (also in black) *30% OFF w/code: SCORE 
RING SET:  Banana Republic old (similar) //  SUNGLASSES: Target (Tom Ford version)
WATCH: Fossil  //  PEARL BRACELET: Nadri  // BANGLE: Forever 21 old  (similar)
EARRINGS: Jewel Mint old (similar)  //  NAIL POLISH: Essie (color: Ole Caliente)

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During this time of year it's so easy for me to become distracted  (anyone else?) while working at the kitchen table in front of our large window when the sunshine and warm breeze gently kiss my skin and tempt me to come out and play. Right now we also have a confederate jasmine vine in full bloom along our property that I just can't get enough of, the scent is both delicious and intoxicating!

I confess that I'm not someone who enjoys very hot and humidity weather for a long stretch of time so as you can imagine, living in Florida, this poses a challenge during the majority of the year. On a side note, we had the best time in California and there are serious considerations for moving there. I live for the months of January through April here and spend as much time outdoors as possible. A few days ago, I picked up some groceries along with a bunch of sunflowers then decided to make my way to one of my favorite local parks that just so happens to have the most fragrant and beautiful rose garden. The relaxing fountain and delicate roses made for the perfect backdrop for today's casual outfit shoot. This is a typical outfit that I wear daily when I'm not meeting clients, I always strive for a look that is somewhat effortless yet put-together at the same time. I definitely don't wear a lot of white around Lily, because let's face it, toddlers will destroy white faster than anything else however for drop-off and pick-up to school during the week, it's usually pretty safe.








I purchased this mint top locally a few weeks ago and knew it would pair well with both dark denim as well as white shorts, jeans and skirts. I've owned this pair of cropped white denim Merona jeans that I picked up at Target for a few years now, I bought them when I was in the very early stages of pregnancy with Lily because I loved how much stretch they had so I could wear them afterwards as well. Since they are not maternity, I still wear them however, in humid weather especially if I'm bending/sitting a lot the material is such that they tends to stretch out of shape (as they did this day after wearing them all afternoon since they were never a tight fit) so I'm on the hunt for a new pair that keep their shape, so far I'm loving these and they're 30% OFF right now!, or this pair under $75 and this pair comes in 8 other colors!

I decided to bust out a recent find which you may have seen on instagram-this structured navy Zac Posen satchel that I picked up for a steal. I had had my eye on this lighter spring version but I couldn't pass this one up as it was well under half off and more in line with my budget. Although it's technically seen as a fall color, I still wear navy well into the spring and summer as it pairs so well with red + white or with softer colors such as blush pink, pale blue or even bright fuchsia or yellow. I'm looking forward to using it year round and it's such a sturdy well-made bag that holds a lot which I've learned is very important with a little one as I've transitioned away from using a diaper bag!





I have had my eye on these gorgeous cat eye Tom Ford sunnies however, at $400 they are not in the budget right now. I was so excited to stumble upon this nearly identical dupe for less than $20!  They are so much nicer on person than on the website and they have full 100% UV protection (not UV absorptive like many inexpensive sunglasses that allow the rays in-something to look out for). Even though she has her own, Lily loves to wear mama's sunglasses and broke a pair right before our spring break trip, so I tend to only wear budget-friendly ones around her now.








I bought these leather cognac color Espadrille wedges (30% off!) recently and love how comfy they are, even for hours at a time, they also come in black and I may get the second color as it's so versatile. I decided to paint this bright pop of color on my toes (one of my go-to pedi colors) and got to wear my favorite turquoise ring set from Banana Republic  + bangle along with my everyday most-worn pearl bracelet and my favorite white watch.







One of the perks of living in Florida is that something is bound to be in bloom year round-even it that just means palm trees or sea oats at the beach. This time of year makes me feel so alive and giddy inside. There's something so exciting about seeing the bright green new growth leaves sprouting out from our oak tree or hearing all the baby birds tweeting on our property and seeing flowers blossom all over the city. Our neighbor across the street has the most wonderful yellow flowering tree.













Above is a look at the rose garden at the Estate House of Cypress Grove Park. The trickling fountain in the center of the garden is so soothing, I was happy to be the only one there. The green & white estate house in behind is lovely and has a beautiful waterfront property overlooking the lake which makes for the most beautiful wedding ceremony backdrop, the outdoor garden and patio is equally as delightful. A girlfriend of mine got married here a few years ago and although it was sunny and quite hot in May, it made for a stunning garden party venue.






Just across the street from the rose garden in the main open portion of the park is a white bridge that leads from the lake side, gazebo, open grounds and playground to large open soccer fields and volleyball, basketball areas and more. This park frequently hosts jazz festivals and is home to some beautiful outdoor family gatherings and birthday parties with it's picnic tables and BBQ's. It's actually where we had Lily's 1st Birthday photo shoot (that was a crazy day which I still need to share here-it was literally the hottest most humid day of the entire year), August is a hot one here or else I'd love to have a casual gathering with all of our friends + family there this year for her 3rd birthday. Speaking of toddlers, a sweet little girl about Lily's age walked over to the end of the bridge smiling during the shoot and said "hi" to me, so this moment was captured. ;)



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SHOP THE POST:









Let's Socialize!



What are your favorite things about springtime?

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

XO

Thursday, April 21, 2016

10 Secrets to Having Clear Skin




A few of you have reached out to me at different times asking about my skincare routine and what products I use. While I've shared a few of these things in previous posts before, I haven't actually dedicated a specific post to it so I thought it was about time, now that spring is here and we're all looking for a fresh start to the season, to come out of winter hiding and put our best face forward.

Let me start off by saying that my skin is not as perfectly clear as it once was in my younger years, but I'm still thankful for what it is today as I can usually go sans makeup most of the time as it is typically pretty blemish-free. While I was in high school, while everyone was battling acne, I considered myself pretty lucky to only get a minor blemish here or there and remember having the best skin which continued on into my college years. However, as the years have passed, I've not only noticed fine lines appearing, but I've also noticed that I sometimes get hormonal acne along my chin area (it first appeared during pregnancy for a few months then subsided and reappeared about 1 year after I had my daughter, precisely during the time my monthly cycle returned). For the first time in my life I could relate to and empathize with teens and adults everywhere who suffer from acne, it truly does affect the way you feel about yourself and extends to other areas such as your social life.

At first, I felt so unfamiliar and frustrated with what to do to keep it in check, I mean, who thinks they're going to experience acne in their 30's? To be honest there were days that I just felt ugly and didn't want to leave the house (but thank God for makeup during that time!) Then all of a sudden it went from a day or two to trying to figure out how to cover up what resembled cystic acne (which sometimes left scars) for about a week straight when the flare-ups were at their worst. Given my background in health and wellness, knowing that putting a bunch of chemicals on my skin or getting a prescription from a dermatologist wasn't the answer (nor would I have gone that route as I was nursing Lily and continued to do so for many months after), I did what I always do when my health is compromised, I started looking at my best alternative natural options available which is what led me to change my diet. Fast forward to a month later when Exposed Skincare reached out to me and shared their nature-meets-science anti-acne products which I was eager to try.



My results after taking the Exposed Skincare Probiotics 
+ eliminating dairy from my diet for 60 days: consistently clearer skin.


Good skin is a result of two things in my opinion: proper skincare + good nutrition (along with adequate exercise). They go together, you can't have one without the other. What I realized was, while hormones likely played a part with what I was experiencing, there were other triggers (such as food) that caused my skin to become angry and irritated. Once I addressed those underlying causes, things improved dramatically for me. So, I'm sharing my tips with you all today in the hopes of not only answering your questions about skincare that I've received but also to reveal what I do in other areas of my life that are most beneficial to maintaining clear skin, that it may help you too.

1. Drink More Water We've all had it drilled into our heads a million times, we need to drink 8 glasses of water per day (more if we're exercising or in extreme heat or a dry climate outdoors). How many of us actually follow this guideline? I always thought I was doing pretty great in this department, but I realized after logging my water consumption for a few days that I simply wasn't drinking enough. Our body is 60% water and it relies on filtered clean water to function and detoxify-and lots of it! These days, instead of playing a guessing game, I fill a large pitcher (since I work from home) and add organic lemon slices, cucumbers or both to it and sip on it all day. When I'm in the car, out at the beach or when I travel for a road trip, I always carry this reusable glass container in turquoise so I can stay hydrated on the go. This is the single easiest thing we can do to not only get clearer skin but benefit our internal organs and brain also!

2. Get Sweaty- Whether saunas are your thing or you prefer to go running, one way or another, we need to sweat to open our pores and allow our skin to properly release toxins. Because I don't want to clog my pores and the whole idea is to perspire, I don't use an anti-perspirant but rather a deodorant (I also love these wipes post-gym + during plane travel, however a bit pricey. They work amazing and are perfect for new mamas too when you can't get that shower in-been there, done that). I realized while I was pregnant with Lily that while I did go for walk and would jog and do yoga during my 1st trimester, I pretty much stopped exercising after that. I think part of it was that I was afraid that I'd injure myself and I had the most amazing, healthy pregnancy so I didn't want to mess it up. ;) After I gave birth to her, I allowed my body the necessary rest, got cleared to begin working out after 6 weeks but apart from a few in-home yoga sessions, and taking her for walks in her stroller daily, never really made it back to the gym. Personally, I've always found that my skin has a glow to it when I work out regularly, when I don't it looks more dull and breaks out easily. So, that was the next thing on the list I needed to tackle. Oh, and purposely embracing the hot, humid Florida weather outdoors to get my sweat on.




3. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, Sugar & Dairy- So, you may not be lactose intolerant (like I am) but based on what I've learned in my many years of research and education in wellness, is that certain foods are triggers for a large majority of people and dairy is one of them. When our body doesn't break it down properly, in can react in different ways, one being acne. My cousin Kim is one of those people who noticed a dramatic difference in her skin when she became vegan after discovering the casein in dairy was wreaking havoc on her body. You can check out her blog for her story. While I get so tempted and often indulge in an ice cream cone with Lily during the weekend, a slice of cheese pizza or even a healthy bowl of greek yogurt + fruit, I tend to pay for it later in how my skin reacts so I've also found the same thing if I overdo it on the sweets. When it comes to dairy and sugar, I've come to the conclusion that a few mins of pleasure is not worth the pain that inevitable follows. Caffeine dehydrates, as does alcohol, which can cause skin to become dry, flaky, itchy and overproduce oil to compensate, causing blemishes not to mention it junks up our liver which causes toxins to be released often with the same result: acne. If you are someone who consumes these 4 things and have skin you're unhappy with, this could be why. For others, grains like wheat are a source of issues, so testing out a gluten-free diet may be just what you need. It's a process of trial and error to learn what our body needs.

4. Eat Clean- If you're anything like me, your days are busy and you're always looking for ways to make them run smoother, sometimes nourishing ourselves with what our body needs gets trumped by what we're craving in the moment (which for me is almost always chocolate!) or if I'm feeling a bit lazy, an organic frozen grocery store Margherita pizza or a stop at Chipotle for some healthy-ish takeout. Having said that, we eat almost entirely organic at our house and focus on eating a ton of raw fruits + veggies throughout the day and animal products are always hormone-free, antibiotic-free and free-range/grass-fed/cage-free and organic. This is something I won't compromise on because we don't eat a lot of meats to begin with, it's worth it to buy quality over quantity and I just can't bear the thought of consuming unwanted pesticides daily + genetically modified ingredients which have both proven to cause cancer and other diseases. My days usually begin with a fresh fruit smoothie + greens (either fresh spinach or kale) or I add hemp protein powder and whip it all up in my Vitamix blender. If you follow along on Instagram, you've seen a few of my concoctions like this recent tropical smoothie recipe). I also LOVE avocados and add them for a creamier consistency of smoothie but I'm also kind of obsessed with avocado toast with cucumbers. I eat half to one full avocado daily and I swear it has kept my skin from being dry during winter and it feels great on your skin too. Throughout the day I like to have fruit on hand (especially berries and melon) but during lunch and dinner try to focus in on a variety of veggies either raw, steamed or oven roasted. I have always eaten quite healthy but have made small tweaks over the years, one being to not use a microwave at all. Another is to up my raw intake by trying new recipes like raw lettuce wraps filled with veggies or simply by adding a variety to my salads vs. mixed greens with tomatoes and cucumbers for example, it also makes eating a lot more fun especially when there are a variety of colors. I encourage you to give it a try!





5. Supplement with Probiotics- A staple in my supplement cabinet (or in this case-my fridge) has always been probiotics. Our gut regulates our entire body-everything from immune system and how often we get sick to our mood on a particular day as well as our digestion. Probiotics are friendly, healthy bacteria that are essential for good health (and clear skin!). Most of us don't get enough from diet alone (think yogurt, fermented foods like kefir, cold refrigerated pickles, kimchi (fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, etc.) I'm kind of obsessed with GT's Kombucha and these Kevita drinks, I have one nearly every morning (the Lime Mint Coconut Mojita is my favorite!) Probiotics are especially needed to restore our body after we've taken antibiotics for an infection or illness, antibiotics can't differentiate between what is good or bad bacteria, so it wipes out everything! It can take  years to build these levels back up-this is just one reason why I stay away from prescription medications especially those for acne. When Lily was a newborn I got so busy taking care of here that I started to forget to take certain supplements and ran out of others forgetting to reorder online, basically I wasn't taking care of myself the same way. A few months ago, Exposed Skincare reached out to me, interested to collaborate (their timing couldn't have been more perfect!) I looked at their website and saw the array of acne-fighting products they offered. Given that I was still nursing, I combed through every ingredient (their philosophy is the best of nature + science to create the perfect anti-acne skincare for the best of both worlds. They sent me a body wash which my husband used on his body and it helped some bumps he had on his arms along with their probiotic complex (it's a 60 day supply). Once I added the capsules to my routine, and was taking them daily, I noticed an improvement in my skin, especially when I also stayed away from one of my skin triggers-dairy! The photo above was taken in February. Doing that alone was helping but not as much as with their product. I love that they combined their probiotics with other liver detoxifying ingredients such as milk thistle which I've taken before in the past. I didn't use the 6-piece acne kit they offered me (which is currently on sale for 50% off!) as I was still nursing Lily in the mornings + evenings at the time after she turned 2 and didn't want to use anything that could potentially get to her by way of milk but now I'm so curious to try their complete set and see how their facial cleanser and acne treatment serum helps too as they have a money-back guarantee that you'll have clear skin in 30 days! You can visit their website here to learn more.

6. Cleanse Religiously- Not all facial cleansers are created equally. Bar soap isn't really intended for our face and can dry out our skin, and many are filled with a lot of chemical ingredients that only add to our body's toxic chemical burden. With so many natural and organic skincare products available, it's never been easy to find something that will truly be a treat for our skin. From the time I began high school my mom always encouraged me to wash my face with cleanser day and night and I'm so thankful that I took her advice. As I got a bit older and experimented with makeup, she stressed the importance of never falling asleep with makeup on at night. Not only does it not allow our skin to breathe as it clogs pores, but it can cause our skin to age. Even when I've been dead tired after a cross-country flight or a long day, that is one thing I've always done which is why I believe I've had pretty great skin nearly all of my life. I also make sure to wash my face right after working out at the gym or even working in the yard all day. Right now I'm using this vitamin c. cleanser when my skin is very clear and I use this purifying one when my skin is more sensitive and crazy to keep things clear and I love that both can easily be found in most drugstores. In addition, I like to use a mask every couple weeks, and just began using this natural purifying mask. If you can afford the time and money, regular facials are a great way to keep skin looking and feeling its best, but you can always hover your face over a sink of hot water with a towel over your head to trap in the steam and open up your pores before cleansing and exfoliating. I used to do this weekly and realized it's been far too long since the my last session.




7. Use a Skin Cleansing Brush- To get clear, radiant skin, it's essential to remove dead skin cells for fresh cell turnover by exfoliating. What I've found is that many exfoliating cleansers are actually irritating, scratchy and make my skin appear red after and often are the cause of  more skin issues and capillary damage. However, because it's essential, after trying numerous gels, creams, scrubs and using a wash cloth (which helps), I finally discovered the Clarisonic skincare brush for my face a few years ago. My husband gifted it to me and bought himself the larger one as well which does the entire body. It's safe enough for daily cleansing and is said to remove 6x what washing with water and cleanser alone does. It takes me 2-3 mins, I wet it, add a bit of my favorite cleanser and I don't press it into my skin, rather let it spin and glide across in a circular motion. You can really see your pores opened up afterward and skin not only looks clean but feels so incredibly soft too! I've actually tried washing half my face with just cleanser and using my Clarisonic on the other half and it feels so much softer on the brushed side. The bottom line-it works and tons of other women give it 5 star reviews too! It's a bit of an investment but their least expensive version (the Mia) which comes with one brush head and a tube of cleanser is under $100, which can easily replace the cost of 2 facials, plus you can do it anytime in your own home, take it with you when you travel and takes far less time! I use mine 2-3x per week and the weeks where I get so busy and somehow forget, I really notice my skin looks more dull which is when I'm reminded to pull it back out again.

8. Moisturize- More than just an anti-aging tip or to relieve dry, flaky, skin, moisturizer keeps skin balanced and well hydrated so that our body doesn't feel the need to overproduce oils to supply the skin with it (which can cause breakouts). A quality moisturizer should absorb quickly, but leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated. I've tried many that feel greasy or too thick and my skin never thanks me for it later. ;) Right now, I've been using this peace rose calm + soften sensitive skin moisturizer because we were traveling from our humid climate of Florida to dry Nevada, California and back home again which always changes my skin's texture. I bought this right before we left on a whim at Target as I love the entire Shea Moisture body care line as well as their hair care (but had never tried their facial skincare) and have been pleasantly surprised. They days my skin is red or blotchy fresh out of the shower or aggravated for whatever reason, about an hour after I apply this, things subside and I'm good to go! My go-to moisturizer has been this skin-balancing one for the past year because it's light, absorbs quickly and isn't greasy. For the winter months (and in my 'after' photo above) I was using the intense hydration lotion at the time, but it's far too thick for my normal skin type during spring/summer. Also the Mineral Fusion toner that I apply before my moisturizer is amazing, these days I love anything with hyaluronic acid to help plump up fine lines! Some people like to skip a step and wear a moisturizer with sunscreen (I typically do not, opting to keep them separate), but I do make an exception for duos with this 100% organic tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 in 'natural to tan', which I wear over top of my daily moisturizer as a foundation to cover any blemishes. I also use this all-natural Devita SPF 30 solar protective moisturizer specifically for days I'll be outdoors quite a bit and it's the best I've found at being toxin-free plus doesn't irritate my skin. The entire Devita line is incredible. I use it all over Lily's face too and save our organic thick pasty sunscreens for the body only.

9. Spot Treat Sparingly- I'm sure I'm not alone in that when I have a blemish, the first thing I want to do is hide it (but also treat it so it goes away). This is when I think the Exposed Skincare treatment will come in handy for the odd break out here or there. I've tried a few things over time (mostly natural products containing tea tree oil, white willow bark extract, lavender, chamomile, etc. which are all skin soothing). I have found that they 'sort of' work. When I really need to get rid of a blemish fast when I'm going to be in a wedding party, on stage for a speaking engagement or scheduled to get family photos, I'm not going to lie, I use this go-to drugstore spot treatment that I used in my 20's when I'd get the odd pimple before a date. It contains salicylic acid at a low strength but it works for me I just don't like to use products with chemicals on an ongoing basis, unless it's an emergency because from what I've read they can create that need for your skin to produce more oils as they dry skin out and it's not beneficial long term.

10. Avoid Contact with Your Face- Sometimes we don't think about what touches our face such as our germy smartphones, icky office handset, unclean hands that have touched everywhere or even the pillowcase that we sleep on. It's important to wipe down phones and handsets frequently (I just use baby wipes since they're always with me-sometimes with a squirt of natural lavender hand sanitizer) but most importantly I change my pillowcases often (every 3 days), even if it's not a day I wash my sheets. Products from our hair along with oils can seep into the pillowcases even after a few days and become what your face lays on while you sleep causing bacterial breakouts or product-reactions from hair spray, etc. For the best results, keep a few extra clean pillowcases on hand and switch them out every few days. While we're on the subject, the best pillowcases I've found are these 100% natural silk ones (which you may remember me mentioning in a previous post I wrote about 'How to Get a Better Night's Sleep')- I just wash them on delicate cycle with a bit of gentle, natural detergent and hang them to dry. The side bonus is silk doesn't create those unsightly creases on our face that we sometimes get after a good night's sleep and prevents wrinkles plus my hair has been smoother and less tangled as it glides instead of being dragged on cotton pillowcases. I've found that they are better to my skin and I'm all for anything that prevents aging too!





SHOP THE POST:







Hopefully you're still awake after this extra L-O-N-G post. As many of you know, brevity is not my strong suit, I'm a details kind of girl. ;) So, these are my 10 essential secrets for having clearer skin! To make things easy, you can click on any image in the scroll bar above to find all of my favorite products linked in this post. While these tips might seem like a lot of new things to try, making a few changes isn't as daunting as it may seem. Adding more water, eating healthier, these are all things we need to do anyway. Popping a probiotic capsule with my multi-vitamin at breakfast is super easy. If you already do a few of these things, maybe add in one new thing each week or month and see if that helps you achieve the clearer skin you're dreaming of. I'd love to hear how it goes for you!

Also, this is a sharing community, so I'm all ears and would love to hear from you! Do you have any must-have products or tricks that keep your skin clear that you recommend? I'd love to know about them, please share in the comments below.

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Let's Socialize!




As always, thanks for reading! If you enjoyed today's post, please share it, pin the top image to Pinterest or tweet it!

XO





*In partnership with Exposed Skincare.  I received complementary product to try in exchange for my honest feedback. All opinions + thoughts expressed are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Day to Night: 1 Classic Look Worn 2 Ways



DAYTIME OUTFIT (left):
Blazer: Toronto boutique old (love this scallop edge, black & white,  + ivory for spring)
Skirt: Ann Taylor 45% off! //  Top: H&M old (similar here, here + this is pretty
Heels: Nine West old (similar here + slingback version here)  *all are 20% off right now!
Handbag: Michael Kors out of stock (similar here + here //  Earrings: Majorica

EVENING OUTFIT (right):
Clutch: Nine West old (similar here, here, here, under $40)  //  Earrings: Target old (similar
Skirt: Ann Taylor  45% off! //  Top: H&M old (similar here, here + this is pretty, ) 
Heels: Nine West old (similar here + slingback version here) *all are 20% off right now!
 Bracelet: J.Crew old  // Ring: J.Crew old (love this one + this one)

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A month ago I was invited to attend Color Mix 2016, a Sherwin-Williams event for Interior Designers and other trade folks. It's an opportunity to preview the new color forecast and see the new palettes available and what inspired them. It was my first year attending and it was a lot of fun. When I attend business events, regardless of how casual I know others may arrive (as there is more of a laid-back vibe in Florida), I always aim to remain more polished and professional because it's a time to mingle and you never know who you will meet, not to mention it's a sign of respect.


As I was laying out my outfit for the evening, looking at these essential basic separates ( my new Ann Taylor flared skirt + a black lace detail tank ) I had put together, it sparked an idea to write today's post focusing on how to take a classy outfit from day to night using the same key pieces worn 2 different ways. In my case, I chose to wear the same peep toe pumps as they complemented both outfits however in other instances, I will slip on a different pair of shoes (especially if I wore flats during the day).



DAYTIME:

The daytime look with my tweed blazer is actually the evening look I wore out to the event. I wanted to wear a jacket in this particular case because back in March  the temps were still dropping once the sun went down and the weather was cooler overall. Ideally this look can be worn for either day or night however, I wanted to provide an option that allowed for a more casual, relaxed vibe that is still classy but a bit sexy if you're heading out for cocktails with your girlfriends or a weeknight date with your man. It's a look I wear when going from meeting clients to enjoying dinner out with my husband or girlfriends. Instead of black separates, you could just as easily replace them with a little black dress (sheath and shift dresses are great options) depending on where you're heading after hours.





EVENING: 

For the purpose of sharing a sleek low ponytail for the evening look when these photos were shot, I left my hair straight. However, before my actual event which was a couple hours later, I took the time to curl my hair as I almost always do when heading out for the evening (here's a pic on my way to the event).

I removed the blazer for the second look, pulled my hair up and swapped out the large handbag for a red faux croc clutch for a pop of color and instead of the more tame drop pearl earrings, I replaced them with chandelier style earrings with accents of black + gold as well as a gold statement ring and leopard print bracelet. What I've found, is that the smartest thing to do is place a clutch inside of your daytime handbag along with a small jewelry pouch with what you plan to swap out and any makeup you wish to apply later in the day such as darker eye shadow, eyeliner or bolder shade of lipstick for the evening, it makes getting ready in the office ladies room a cinch.

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To me, skirts and dresses are one of the easiest ways to transform office-appropriate attire into an evening-ready look. Below are a few of my favorite staple pieces right now in basic black as well as softer spring-inspired hues that can all be worn to work and beyond, many of which are currently on sale!









Let's Socialize!




What are your favorite ways to take your office style out on the town?

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Trust the Timing of Your Life



A few weeks ago while were were on vacation, a quote came to me somewhat out of the blue: "Trust the Timing of Your Life". I was standing in the bathroom of our beautiful hotel suite getting ready for the day, it was quiet and I had a few child-free minutes to myself after my shower. I took a step up to the mirror, staring into my own eyes feeling as though I had just received an answer to prayer, a confirmation. I've read that quote a few times before and agreed with its words but never really internalized it for myself. This time was different though, it spoke to me. I have been praying about a few specific things pretty hard for the past few months (and have been thinking about them for even longer than that-years really). I felt as though in that moment questions were answered that I've long wondered about and gave me peace that although my life is in many ways different than what I had planned on, that I was still on the right track. It also gave me extra dose of hope for the future for where I'm headed!


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I find a lot of times, it's our own expectations that lead us to believe that we're somehow not on the right track. Sometimes we create idea in our mind of how things are supposed to be, and when they are not, we begin to feel that we've somehow failed at life or weren't successful in our 20's, 30's etc. I remember back in high school after I had just graduated, I was driving home one day listening to music in the car (I don't even know why I still remember this, but I do) and I was thinking about what age I'd ideally want to be married and have children one day (as us ladies sometimes do) and age 24 stuck out in my mind followed by 26 being my ideal age to have my first baby, that just seemed perfect to me on paper allowing me more time before turning thirty to have one or two more if I chose. 


The truth is we can plan out the fine details all day long and they will never all go according to plan, and really how  boring would life be if we had it all figured out? Pretty mundane I would think. In my case, these numbers were definitely off. As I neared that milestone turning point age of 30 (you know the age when some believe you're supposed to have your life together), I started to fret a bit after a long term relationship that didn't work out and wondered if I was ever going to find love and have a family of my own. Of course we now know how that all turned out, I've been married for nearly 10 years and I have a beautiful 2.5 year old daughter for whom I'm so blessed to call mine.  What I realized though, was that I wouldn't have been ready at the age I first imagined. From a practical standpoint-yes, I had a solid career and was doing well financially speaking, I've always been more mature than my years and very responsible and had helped raise my much younger brother so that would have been a plus however, during our married (but child-free) years, I had the opportunity to explore the idea of running a business in a new country, enjoying married life (after a short engagement)  and got to travel and see the world-25 countries to be exact and I wouldn't have it any other way! I believe God and the Universe were up to something. Now, could all of this have happened when I was much younger? It very well could have but I believe things do happen in their own timing and I'm so grateful for the moments we got to be selfish and focus on ourselves and just us two.






Sometimes a timely quote or scripture is just what we need to give us a boost! Wherever you're at in life, whatever heartaches you're experiencing (or have experienced), whatever you may feel anxious or even fearful of, whatever you're most confused about, just trust that life unfolds in its own timing. Sometimes circumstances and events take place that we don't understand or we question decisions we've made but life has a way of course correcting and often it was that 'something' that we wished we didn't have to endure that causes us to have a greater level of faith, character, trust, confidence, success, awareness, hope, peace, etc. I want to encourage you today to cast all your cares aside of what you feel your life should look like/be like at this very moment and just embrace the here and now-your story and the timing of the events in your life.


Below are a few scriptures that speak to trusting God, His timing and purpose for our life. I believe it's in these times that He can speak to us the most, and of course it's when we most often first seek Him and pray. If none of us had any problems in life, uncertainties, frustrations, confusion or pain, most would choose to be self-sufficient. I have personally found in these times I discover more about myself and it helps build greater character in me as a woman.
















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I'd smile emoticove for your to share in the comments below if you've gone though a rough season, trusted the timing of your life and came out the other side better for it. It just might encourage someone today! 
smile emoticon


Let's Socialize!



Was there a frustrating or confusing time in your life that you saw come to pass and later on understood how the timing of it was necessary for your own life? I'd love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments below. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

XO




*image credit for quotes + scriptures: Pinterest

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Top 7 Fashion Trends for Spring



Hi Lovelies! It's so great to be back, Happy April! We had a wonderful family spring break vacation out west and arrived home bright + early last Tuesday morning and we're finally back into the swing of things and have adjusted back to our own timezone after a full week. After a 2 month hiatus from the series, I finally posted a new Manners Monday post yesterday, so be sure to check it out! Also, I'm so excited to share our trip pics, details and some of my favorite outfits and locations with you in the coming weeks (including a once in a lifetime helicopter ride + outfit shoot inside of the Grand Canyon!) so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, with April being a true spring-like month for most, I wanted to share the top trends for spring along with my favorite picks of the season below each!

The basis for a classy woman's wardrobe will always be the staple classic pieces, the ones you'll invest in and own forever. Wardrobe basics are a must to build upon and once those are in place, adding to them with a few trendy of-the-moment items each season will create a more versatile wardrobe, one that is also a lot of fun.




When it comes to my own wardrobe (as you've seen in my outfit posts here and on Instagram), I naturally gravitate towards timeless style and much of what I share was often purchased years prior, with some pieces being even a decade old Every season I get inspired by the current colors, textures and trends and make a point of adding a few that best suit my personality, body type and lifestyle into my closet. During springtime, dresses always pull on my heartstrings, especially given that I live in a warm climate nearly year round so I know I'll make good use of them. During our trip recently, I essentially lived in dresses and sandals, when the sun went down and the temps dropped I simply added a denim jacket, blazer or cardigan.

Today I'm sharing 7 Top trends for Spring with you! Beneath each one you can shop my favorite looks. Over the years I've honed in on what works for me and what doesn't, there are some trends that no matter how great they look on other people or how popular they are, I just can't embrace (like ripped denim shorts for example-I just can't!) because I feel silly in them but this list is perfect for every classy woman, they are all lovely styles to complement the basics that you likely already own and can't go wrong with!

1. Lace: Romance always comes to mind when I think of lace, it's so elegant, feminine and delicate. Lace makes a comeback every spring and is a popular selection for wedding dresses, however we're now seeing it everywhere in a big way and I'm loving it! There are so many gorgeous dresses-everything from casual everyday wear to formal dresses for special events. If you're looking to add a more feminine touch to your everyday career look, incorporate a lace blouse or even a lace pencil skirt (just not both at the same time). ;)  Below are a few of my personal favorite lace pieces right now, and this classic style is one on my wishlist:

LACE










2. Bell Sleeves: This style evokes a more Bohemian look, a relaxed feel and one that you may associate with hippie days or those participating in festival season. When done right, they can be very elegant and can add the perfect touch to a pair of jeans or even a skirt. In order to keep it polished, opt for tops that do not have a busy print but instead something more solid with hints of color and pattern such as these below:

BELL SLEEVES










3. Off-the-shoulder Tops & Dresses: Another soft, romantic look in my opinion is anything off the shoulder. It shows just enough skin in the right places to be considered sexy and alluring without showing off areas that should be kept covered up. I've long loved this style as well as strapless dresses and halter tops for this reason. These are so feminine and a great option for brunch with girlfriends or a date night out. Take a peek at these beauties:



OFF THE SHOULDER TOPS










OFF THE SHOULDER DRESSES









4. Espadrille Wedges: While wedges of varying heights and flat espadrilles have been quite popular during the past few years, combined together as an espadrilles wedge they are the perfect choice for shorts, skirts, dresses or jeans-they're both stylish and versatile and can be dressed up or down. How pretty is this blush pink version?! *Many I've shown below come in several colors other than the ones shown.

ESPADRILLE WEDGES








5. Straw Hats: I love straw bags in spring and summer weather, I take them with me to the beach, to a resort with a pool or even just around town while running errands and straw hats are no different. Everything from boater hats to floppy hats can really help to block the sun's harsh rays all while looking stylish at the same time.  My favorites right now are those with a message like this 'wish you were here' floppy hat or this 'lovely' version.  I own this $15 black & white hat and it goes with so much!

STRAW HATS










STRAW BAGS










6. High Neck Bikinis & One Pieces: If you've been looking for a new swimsuit for an upcoming trip or just to round out your collection, you may have noticed that many have higher neck options which I really love because they are both practical and chic. As a mom to a busy toddler, I'm constantly bending over to build sand castles, dry her off at the beach and attend to her needs so tops where people have a clear view of my chest when I bend over is a no-no. Also, while swimming with her I find that somehow she manages to pull my bikini tops up (it's a constant battle) so this is a great solution as are one pieces. There are so many pretty colors and styles this season, take a peek...

HIGH NECK SWIMSUITS







7. Lace-up Flats & Lace-up Sandals: I don't know about you but I'm loving the look of lace-up shoes and sandals, particularly pointy toe flats. They add such a polished look to even the simplest skirt of pair of jeans, especially in classic black but I must say I'm loving bold colors such as cobalt blue and blush pink too. Last fall I started seeing them popping up everywhere and that trend has continued. Of course, many sandals with stiletto, wedge and stacked heels are also emerging and are equally as beautiful. *Many I've shown below come in several colors other than the ones shown.

SHOP: LACE-UP FLATS & LACE-UP SANDALS










Other trends that are worthy of noting but I haven't included above are: Ruffle hem tops (similar to peplum tops but I love the looser options this season), round sunglasses (such a 70's vibe as are bell sleeve tops, flare jeans and off-the-shoulder looks), pompoms on accessories such as shoes and straw bags (I love this clutch with pom poms-it makes me happy), tassels on handbags, clutches, shoes and other accessories such as earrings + bracelet sets as well as bold colors. It's such a great season to have fun with fashion!

Classic styles that you can never go wrong with this spring (if you're focusing more on building a timeless spring wardrobe) are: scalloped edges (love this tank which comes in 3 colors), pastel hues, ruffled details, gingham, rompers and of course everything lace.



Let's Socialize!


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What are your favorite spring trends right now? Have you invested in anything new for the season yet?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

XO







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