Thursday, July 2, 2020

gorgeous new arrivals for summer

Anyone else feel like summer is just finally starting mentally!?!? The weather is super warm and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm coming out of the fog of the last 4 months. (maybe? hopefully? fingers crossed!)

Pretty new summer pieces at my favorite retailers are definitely getting me in the mood! A little (online) window shopping is one of my favorite activities these days.

top row, from left:
blue/white mini striped tiered dress, this is so pretty and feminine!
mini straw bag, this is so small and cute! Adorable for bike rides to ice cream or summer date nights.
long tiered dress, we started with sweatsuits and leggings... I love the idea of switching to mumus next!

middle row, from left:
ruffle strap tank, so pretty with shorts or jeans! I love how feminine this is!
floral dress, this would be adorable as a swim cover up or paired with a denim jacket for everyday.
puff sleeve sweatshirt, I'm still not entirely over sweatshirts. LOVE 'em.

bottom row, from left: 
striped tee, I'm always up for a new striped tee. I love the drop shoulders on this one.
pink puff sleeve top, this is gorgeous and would be perfect for zoom calls or easing back into the office.
oversized sleeve top, I'm loving this high-drama top. Perfect for dressing up a simple pair of jeans or shorts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

books I've read lately, May & June 2020!




I'm back with what I've been reading lately... I have to say I have been a terrible reader lately! I'm super behind on my book goal for 2020 and in general just in a book slump. I am finding that I crave books that are plot driven but still lighthearted. It's a weird time for a lot of people and my brain is all over the place right now. I'm not reading as much as I used to - I both miss it and also it seems like some days I just don't have the patience for it.  I've got lots of mixed feelings!  For the most part these books are light, fluffy and easy to read. I am finding my attention span can't muster more than that lately.

Conviction by Denise Mina

Book blurb: The day Anna McDonald's quiet, respectable life exploded started off like all the days before: Packing up the kids for school, making breakfast, listening to yet another true crime podcast. Then her husband comes downstairs with an announcement, and Anna is suddenly, shockingly alone. Reeling, desperate for distraction, Anna returns to the podcast. Other people's problems are much better than one's own -- a sunken yacht, a murdered family, a hint of international conspiracy. But this case actually is Anna's problem. She knows one of the victims from an earlier life, a life she's taken great pains to leave behind. And she is convinced that she knows what really happened. Then an unexpected visitor arrives on her front stoop, a meddling neighbor intervenes, and life as Anna knows it is well and truly over. The devils of her past are awakened -- and they're in hot pursuit. Convinced she has no other options, Anna goes on the run, and in pursuit of the truth, with a washed-up musician at her side and the podcast as her guide.

My review: Okay so I loved the podcast within a book idea here - but this book fell a little flat for me being completely unbelievable and at times just straight weird. The beginning was good, the middle was super slow and then end felt incredibly rushed. I don't know. Maybe I am being harsh. This book just wasn't for me. I rate this book a 6/10.

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Book blurb: Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy. James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

My review: This book was so sweet and such a fun escape. It felt like it would make a really cute movie too. I know very little about Grace Kelly - which is shocking, considering my love for the royals! - and loved getting to know her in this book. This is great escape book and a perfect summer/beach read. I rate this book a 8/10.

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

Book blurb: Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves. But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real. Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks--her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.

My review: Continuing my newfound obsession with Grace Kelly I read this book next! This was a really great follow up to Meet Me in Monaco because it was much more in depth about Grace Kelly. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend as a summer/beach read! I rate this book an 8/10.


Book Blurb: 1939. As the wife of the King George VI and the mother of the future queen, Elizabeth—“the queen mother”—shows a warm, smiling face to the world. But it’s no surprise that Hitler himself calls her the “Most Dangerous Woman in Europe.” For behind that soft voice and kindly demeanor is a will of steel. Two years earlier, George was thrust onto the throne when his brother Edward abdicated, determined to marry his divorced, American mistress Mrs. Simpson. Vowing to do whatever it takes to make her husband’s reign a success, Elizabeth endears herself to the British people, and prevents the former king and his brazen bride from ever again setting foot in Buckingham Palace. Elizabeth holds many powerful cards, she’s also hiding damaging secrets about her past and her provenance that could prove to be her undoing.

My review: I loved every minute of this book! It combined my two favorite genres: historical fiction and the royals. This was a new angle on WWII historical fiction from the point of view of the Queen of England. Plus there were some 'juicy' secrets that I'm not really sure if they were true but they made for a great story line. This was one of my favorites this year so far. I highly recommend and rate this book 9/10. If you loved The Crown or the movie The Kings Speech this book falls right in between the storylines of those two.

Currently reading:

On audio I am listening to The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and really enjoying it. The storyline moves quickly and the narration is great. I usually only listen to non-fiction on audio, but I am loving the switch to fiction.

On Kindle I am reading The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams. I love when one books piggy backs on another book like a chain - it's so satisfying! And this book takes place in the Bahamas during WWII featuring the Duke & Duchess of Windsor who were sent there on official business by the Kind of England at the time.  The book I just read The Queens Secret filled us in on why they were there in the first place, so it's a fun little connection.

For non-fiction I have been slowly working through The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson I love Erik Larson books and this one is a little slow by very interesting. It's the story of WWII through the eyes of Winston Churchill. Again, there is a fun connection here with The Queens Secret and another great WWII book from a new perspective.

Monday, June 29, 2020

J.Crew try on post!

I've got some fun J.Crew try ons for you today... just a few classic summery pieces that I am looking forward to wearing this summer. I will outline sizing information, my thoughts on each piece and whether or not I decided to keep it... let's take a look at the pieces!

(above) beachy sweater
Sizing: Definitely go down a size on this one, it's quite oversized. I am wearing an XS and it still has plenty of room.
Thoughts: I love this slouchy summer sweater SO MUCH. I actually got this last year in a small and it was way too big and by the time I went to rebuy it in a smaller size it was SOLD OUT. So when I saw it returned this year I was so excited. It's super soft and while it's a nice open knit it isn't see through.  It looks great with jeans or shorts and is perfect for a summer date night or sunset session.
Keep or return? Definitely keep. I'm in love.

Shop the look:

(above) linen shorts
Sizing: Per the reviews these run big and I agree. Definitely size down. I am in an XS and usually wear a 26/27 in jeans.
Thoughts: I have a love/hate relationship with shorts. I mean they are great, but also sometimes they drive me nuts. I love that these are super comfortable and soft like pjs and also a great alternative to denim shorts. 
Keep or return? I'm keeping these. I really like them and hope to get lots of wear out of them on super hot summer days. Also stay tuned for a 6 ways to style featuring these shorts!

Shop the look: 

Sizing: I am in my usual size small. It's a touch oversized - if you are between sizes you may want to go down a size. Otherwise stick with your usual size, it may shrink up a tiny bit in the wash.
Thoughts: This is the CUTEST top. I often find myself reaching for simple white, black or grey tops in the summer. They are easy to style but can also get a little boring. I love that this one is still really simple, but with a little extra something!
Keep or return? Keep!

Shop the look: 

Sizing: This is a size small and fits everywhere but the waist area. Sizing up may help that?
Thoughts: I really wanted to love this sweater. I love the fabric and I love the lace up details. But the fit on the waist is so weird to me. It's very tight and maybe a big cropped but I tried it with shorts and jeans and it felt a little off with both. So sad.
Keep or return? This gets returned. The fit is just too weird on the waist.

Shop the look: 

Sizing: True to size, I went up a size to a medium. It's a little big looking here but I think it will be perfect once I wash it. J.Crew sweatshirts always run a little small for me.
Thoughts: I am still very much loving the sweatshirt and legging combo for work at home days. I mean, how can you go wrong? This one is a nice summer weight and is available in lots of bright colors that are super cute but I love this more tonal olive too.
Keep or return? Keep. The more sweatshirts the merrier!

Shop the look:


I'm loving layering necklaces lately! This circle link necklace is so beautiful in person. Shown with this necklace.

~~~


This dot chain necklace another piece that works great layered or on it's own. It was sold out but I'm linking it here with hopes that it restocks because it really is so pretty. Shown with compass necklace.



Friday, June 26, 2020

9 recent amazon purchases!

Amazon to the rescue, you know? I'm not sure exactly how we ever lived without it, especially these days when we are still limiting trips to stores.  Here are a few of my recent Amazon purchases...


By far my favorite snack and often times my breakfast or lunch while sitting at my computer I love to stock up on RX bars from Amazon because they are such a good price!

My husband and I love this Vega protein mix. We usually order it on Amazon because its out of stock at Target a lot. 

I'm on a mission to organize our fridge/freezer better. I found this fridge can organizer I love that it has a flat surface on top so that you don't sacrifice the space above the cans in the fridge. 

These nuun tablet multi-pack are great for hot and sweaty days or during/post workouts. I always drink one while I play tennis or immediately after to avoid feeling dehydrated. 

We were in need a of pool/beach towel refresh. These striped pool towels come in sets of two and are great quality. 

These deep food storage containers work GREAT in our freezer I realized. Having a counter depth fridge/freezer is a pain, but this helps keep the freezer organized really nicely. 

 With so much food going in and out these days with us all home I snagged this turntable for the fridge and love it so much I want to get another too! 

I used to always get these Starbucks refreshers mix at the grocery store and now I can never find them - they are so delicious and almost better than the version they make at Starbucks!

I started taking these Olly beauty vitamins at the beginning of the stay at home order and honestly I'm super impressed with them. My hair and nails have been growing like nuts and with salons closed for so long I didn't have to worry about my mani or hair color growing out. I highly recommend these!


Thursday, June 25, 2020

easy zoom-ready hair with Herbal Essences!

This post is sponsored by Herbal Essences and Shopstyle.  All opinions are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

At-home hair care has never been more important than it has been the last few months. The last few months have shown me that sometimes it's the small things like feeling good about our hair that can help us get through challenging days. In an effort to preserve my cut and color while taking a longer than average break from my stylist I found choosing the right hair care products has been key. A good shampoo & conditioner, a really great deep conditioner and a break from damaging heat styling has helped tremendously.

For the last month I have been using Herbal Essences' Potent Aloe Collections that features sustainably harvested Aloe Vera.  The Herbal Essences bio:renew collection contains real botanicals endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew so it's no surprise my hair has been feeling amazing lately. Not only does it feel great, it smells great too! Herbal Essences is the first-ever global hair care brand to have real botanicals endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Even being terribly overdue for a trim my ends feel good as new since the potent aloe ingredient works to protect my hair from damage.

I've simplified my styling routine big time these days.  On the days I deep condition my hair with the Herbal Essences Coconut Milk + Aloe Hair mask, I usually let my hair air dry in a bun to avoid excess heat damage. This mask is sulfate free (so it's color safe), paraben free and certified PETA cruelty-free. It's scent is floral with coconut and it leaves my hair smelling like summer.

On days when I have Zoom calls or errands I have a new trick! I wash my hair with the Herbal Essences Potent Aloe + Hemp shampoo and conditioner.  Then I blow dry my hair and simply curl four to five pieces on each side at the front only. It takes less than two minutes and gives a nice soft curl. It's like an ultra stylish stay-at-home mullet. Business in the front, casual in the back.

I'm always looking critically at the ingredients in my beauty products. That is why I was pleased to learn that Herbal Essences bio:renew Anti-Frizz Potent Aloe + Hemp Shampoo and Conditioner is verified by the strict safety standards of EWG (Environmental Working Group). The Potent Aloe collections are available at Walmart in stores and online, I highly recommend giving them a try!


(above)







Wednesday, June 24, 2020

ootd #15!

Mood: Running all the errands. Getting back into the swing of things. Still trying to perfect that at-home mani/pedi.


Monday, June 22, 2020

madewell try on session!

I've got some Madewell try ons for you from a recent order I placed... read on to find out sizing info on each piece, my thoughts on each piece and whether I decided to keep it. Quite a few of the items are on sale, so I will note that as well.


denim shorts (above & below)
Sizing: I am usually between a 26/27 with Madewell denim and I like my denim shorts to be a little roomy. I went with the 27. They are roomy indeed and maybe a touch too big, but I also like that they aren't constricting. You could definitely go with your usual size or go down if you are between sizes because I do think these run a little big. 
Thoughts: I started the spring/summer season by saying I was only going to buy one pair of denim shorts and that was the AGOLDE shorts (full review here) but I went back on my word. These were intriguing to me because they are a new cut for madewell and I love the relaxed feel. They have a button fly and are 100% cotton, so they won't stretch. 
Keep or return? The first time I tried them on I really didn't like them. But after styling them up a few times and realizing they really are so relaxed and comfortable I think these are keepers.

Shop the look:
(above) denim shorts, black top (runs big, size down), sandals
(below) denim shorts, t-shirt (true to size), Birkenstocks



striped sweater - on sale plus extra 35% off (above & below)
Sizing: I am in my usual size small. It's a bit oversized so if you were between sizes you may want to go down a size.
Thoughts: I am obsessed with this through and through. When I first saw it online I knew I had to have it and when it arrived it didn't disappoint. I love a summer sweater which kind of seems silly but it's perfect for overly AC'd spots, working from home or chilly evenings. 
Keep or return? Definitely keep! It's so summery and cute!

Shop the looks:
(above) striped sweater, jeans (on sale + extra 35% off), sandals
(below) striped sweater, joggers (color is black, though they are more of a dusty grey in person), birkentstocks



linen popover - on sale plus an extra 35% off! (above & below)

Sizing: This is an XS and fits perfectly, I would recommend going down one size.
Thoughts: I am really into woven tops lately. They feel a little more pulled together than a cotton tee and I am really craving a little extra something these days that they provide! This top is SUPER soft, has a great tunic length and is just gorgeous.
Keep or return? This piece is gorgeous and so classic. It's a keeper.

Shop the looks:
(above) linen popover, white jeans (runs big, I went down a size), sandals



neon sweatshirt (above)

This is a REPEAT since I already bought this sweatshirt once and wore it a TON. Then I ruined it with an awful stain that I tried repeatedly to get out.  I ended up re-buying it because seriously, that is how much I love it! It runs true to size or maybe a touch oversized, I am in my usual size small. You find see 6 ways to style it here.

4 safe beauty treatments with immediate results!

I've never been as loyal and diligent with my beauty products as I have over the past three months. We are just starting to come out of the stay at home order here in Michigan and the combination of lots of extra time on my hands and spas being closed has me fully depending on at-home treatments. Today I am rounding up 4 of my favorite at home beauty treatments that give immediate results. And BONUS - they are all safe for your skin too!

Powerful ingredients doesn't have to equate to harsh or unsafe ingredients and these products prove that. Let's take a look at 4 of my favorite at home treatments that give immediate results and feel just like a trip to the spa!

(from left to right)

Drunk Elephant Babyfacial - I have raved about this product for years and it's still a favorite. I try to use it once per week for a deep clean and exfoliation. I use about 2-3 pumps to cover my entire face and one bottle lasts about a year for me at this pace. In the evening on clean skin you will experience a little tingling at first, then you let the product sit for 15-30 minutes. If you are just starting out with Babyfacial maybe even start with 10 minutes. Then I rinse with a warm washcloth. You will immediately feel softer and smoother skin. It's unlike any product I have tried before!  I also highly recommend this product if you struggle with acne. If I feel a pimple coming on I make sure to do this mask before bed. And sometimes my son will use it on his teenage acne breakouts. It works great at exfoliating blackheads too. (Note: If you have large areas of breakouts or open skin I would avoid this until your face is more healed as it can sting quite badly on open skin) After you rinse Drunk Elephant recommends following it with a simple facial oil (a small sample of their Marula Oil is included FREE in the box) or I use this one.

Goop Glow Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator - This is a new-ish product to me in just the last 2 months or so. I've used it three times and each time I have been blown away by the results. The instructions say to gently scrub this exfoliator into damp skin. Then to let it sit for 5-10 minutes once it's been well massaged into the skin. Then I rinse with water (a washcloth doesn't get the microbeads off my skin as well as splashing my face with warm water) and do my entire PM skin care routine after. I know it's not great to touch your skin once it's clean - but I promise you, you will be so tempted to touch it because it's so unbelievably soft! I purchased the smaller size to start and so far I would guesstimate that it has about 6 uses.

Goop Glow 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Peel- If you are all about the BURN when it comes to skincare treatments and love a product that really packs a punch - this is the one for you! In the evening you will wash your face and then apply this overnight peel.  When you open the packet there is one product soaked cotton applicator that you slip on two fingers like a little puppet and then sweep over your face. One side has a harsher cotton texture and one side has a softer texture. You can alternate between the two sides as you like. Then after that - you don't touch it! It tingles and burns (a good burn, I promise!) initially and then becomes kind of dry and sticky. I don't love the stickiness, but for the results I am willing to put up with it. You don't apply any other products for the night and wait to rinse it off in the morning. Again, the stickiness wasn't my favorite (it had disappeared by morning) but when I woke up my skin was soft and smooth and definitely had that GLOW! (don't worry, your skin won't actually "peel" after using this - or it shouldn't)

Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel - While the other three products are for use once a week or every other week - this is something I use almost everynight (but I wouldn't combine it with any other treatment here in this post). You can see the full order of products I do every evening here to see how I incorporate it.  You will notice that your skin is softer after only one use! But what I love the most is that over the long term you will see amazing results too. Not only does this product work to make your skin glowy and reduce fine lines it also does amazing at keeping acne away. I have used this religiously for 2 years (-ish!?!?) and have seen my adult acne clear up almost completely. This is also great for teens to use for acne as well. You definitely want to be using it 2-3 nights a week minimum to be seeing long term effects. Plus, it's about half the price of it's competitor and doesn't have the harsh scent.

Friday, June 19, 2020

#ootd 14!

Mood: Feeling those summer vibes. Craving the beach. Diversifying my summer reading list.*



swim cover upnavy swimsuitearringssandalsstraw totesunglasses

(*today I am featuring four Black authors and their books that I have enjoyed, please comment with any recommendations of Black authors or authors of color that you may have, I would love to hear them!)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (I read this in college and I'm due for a re-read.)

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (A fun and light royal-inspired novel, the perfect summer read!)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (A story of two Nigerians arriving in both the US and the UK to make their own way and later meet again in their homeland.)

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (I'm currently listening on audio and really enjoying the story and the narration.)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Everlane Summer Try on Session

Today I've got some fun new Everlane pieces to show you that just arrived... I'll give details on sizing, show you two ways to style each piece and then also let you know if I'm going to keep them or not.  I partner from time to time with Everlane and the items featured in todays post were gifted from them. I also shop at Everlane a lot with my own money... it's a brand that I really love. Their pieces are super high quality and always seem to be the pieces I reach for most in my closet. Let's take a look at the pieces!


white puff sleeve blouse (above & below)
Sizing: I am in a size 2, similar to a small.
Thoughts: This top is adorable and I've already worn it a few times since it arrived. It's super lightweight and perfect for summer.  Here I styled it more casual with jeans or more pulled together. It works for everyday wear, the office or summer dates (when those return!).
Keep or return? Keep. I've already worn it and love it so much!

Shop the looks:



button front tank (above & below)
Sizing: I am in a size small and it's a little too small for me. I would size up on this piece
Thoughts: I'm bummed it's too small because its a unique piece with the buttons all the way up the front and very soft and stretchy fabric. Perfect for layering or on it's own for hot summer days. It's also available in a few other colors.
Keep or return? This is going back since the sizing doesn't work for me.

Shop the looks:
(below) button front tank, shorts (full review of the shorts here), hat, sandals



tie dye tee (above & below)
Sizing: I am in my usual size small. It's a little small/cropped. I recommend sizing up for a looser fit if desired.
Thoughts: The tie dye trend is SO FUN and I love that this option is a little more subdued. It's also available in quite a few other colors too! And this t-shirt is so soft. It works with leggings for a casual lounge look or with jeans for everyday errands, etc.
Keep or return? It's a keeper! I've already worn it and love it!

Shop the looks:



denim shorts (above & below)
Sizing: Everlane denim has always seemed to run a little small on me and because I like my denim shorts a little looser I went up two sizes-ish. I'm usually between a 26/27 and these are 28. Probably the 27 would've fit fine but I'm okay with the 28 too. I may wash them and dry them (I never put jeans in the dryer!) to shrink them a tiny bit.
Thoughts: I love the thick denim fabric with just a touch of stretch making them very comfortable! I would rate these as mom-friendly too. You can see my full review of them here.
Keep or return? Keep! I've already worn them and love them.

Shop the looks:



black dress (above & below)
Sizing: I am in a size 2, I would say that's the equivalent of a medium. It's a touch oversized. I could probably go down a size but because it's woven it doesn't have a lot of give and I kind of like the oversized feel.
Thoughts: I'm obsessed.  This is SO cute and it just launched and I can imagine it will sell out quickly. I love how breezy and lightweight it is. It's easy to throw on around the house or dress up a big too.
Keep or return? Keep! I already can't wait to wear it!

Shop the looks:




the easiest summer makeup routine!

How are we feeling about makeup these days? I mean, I think there have been FULL WEEKS I haven't worn it in the past few months. But here and there I will put it on. I've noticed that while I don't usually wear makeup as much in the summer - this summer I seem to be wearing it MORE. I feel like I've aged from stress over the past few months (anyone else?) and on top of that I am craving feeling more PUT TOGETHER more than ever.  You know?

My makeup routine is always changing depending on my mood but one thing remains the same. It's always SUPER SIMPLE. I'm no pro with makeup. I want simple products that are easy to use!  Here is a makeup routine that took me 3 minutes... I timed it! I feel fresh faced and inspired to face the day and only used 6 products! Below you can also see the before and after... and boy do I need fresh hair color - looking forward to getting it done this weekend!


Here's the products I used to get the look...
And LOVE these makeup wipes to use while getting ready or for mid-day refreshes!

Or you can buy all the products together here. Individual products are currently 15% off!



 

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