Monday, September 30, 2013

work, play, get it done

Tomorrow I am going to share my September budget & it will be obvious that I had a huge thing for Old Navy this month. And I gotta say, they are on their A-game with this latest Fall collection - bedazzled sweatshirts, booties, colored denim, graphic tees, flirty skirts, all with my name written all over them!
When the big Old Navy package arrived on my doorstep, it was this windowpane dress that I was most excited about. The pattern is so now, but the shirt dress silhouette keeps it in the realm of completely versatile - a classic in my book!

I wore this dress unadorned to a food festival last weekend, to work with a blazer this past week & now I'm dreaming of sexing it up for date night (celebrating 4 years with my man in a few days!)
{ What I Wore: leather jacket c/o Chicnova // clutch c/o LookBook Store // BCBG generation heels (these would be fab too!) }
{ What I Wore: J.Crew school boy blazer (look for less) // Philip Lim x Target tote // Old Navy flats // Michael Kors watch }
Have you picked up anything from Old Navy lately?
What is doing all the work in your closet these days?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Shopping: Fall Preview

The seasons are a-changing! And that means my wardrobe is transitioning over too. This weekend I started pulling out some of my cooler weather clothing that has been tucked away. I love this "changing of the guard" because I get to rekindle the romance with some of my long forgotten pieces & identify some wardrobe holes too.

These 10 items are topping my Fall shopping list as pieces that will take what I already have to the next level. Some classic wardrobe investments, some just for fun (because glitter on your fingers & toes insures a good time is ahead!)
1 chic rain boots // 2 quilted vest // 3 burgundy hat // 4 b&w purse // 5 fox scarf // 6 classic trench // 7 perfect skirt // 8 glitter loafers // 9 glitter polish // 10 baseball tee
What's on your Fall shopping list?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

weekend reading: 9.28.13

1 // 2 // 3
This weekend why don't you :: celebrate Fall & pull out the plaid!

{what you might have missed on Here&Now}
{1.} Who will be stepping into the blogger spotlight next month? Interested, learn more {here}

{2.} Rocking my beloved Philip Lim for Target mini satchel

{3.} 5 tips for successfully blogging on vacation without stress

{4.} Finally found a workout that actually works for me!

{5.} Claim your $20 to Nyopoly {here}

{posts I'm loving around the internets}
{1.} I will certainly be hosting a clothing swap soon after reading this success story! 

{2.} Do you love, hate or have a love-hate relationship with Instagram?

{3.} Taken inventory of your closet yet? You might be surprised!

{4.} What are the foundations of your closet for the changing seasons?

{5.} My most recent blogger crush is this lovely lady... her hair, her style, those tats! swoon!

Friday, September 27, 2013

currently coveting + a giveaway

This season I am lusting after higher end bags & shoes that will take my closet basics to the next level. How amazing would these pairings be with your Fall foundation pieces?

I found all of these items on Nyopoly, a new to me shopping site that I can't wait to share with you! Nyopoly is fashion on your terms. With Nyopoly, you name your price on current season, in style, totally drool worthy designer pieces & shipping is always free. You can name your own price on designer goods from brands like Anne Klein, Versace, Melie Bianco... even Gucci & more. No more falling in love with a designer item & being unable to purchase because of le budget. Even better, with Nyopoly you can earn 20% cash back on every purchase. It's quick, free, only takes an email, & you can do it here.

Today is your lucky day because this is a giveaway that everyone wins! Nyopoly is giving everyone $20 just for signing up to shop! Use code "HERE&NOW" when you sign up to get the goodies! (Promo code valid for one week only, so hurry your cute little tush over there!)

Happy shopping & I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

work it out

When the Revolt Fitness team invited me to try out a month for free, I really thought I would try it, hate it, & come back here with a, "meh, it was ok, but not for me"... One of those it's not you, it's me things.

Boy was I wrong!

I have been open about my aversion to working out before, but have also started to realized that all those warnings my mother gave me about le metabolism slowing down the closer I get to 30 are unfortunately totally, completely (freaking) true! #bummer
Because talking about working out is way more fun with paired with cute pictures of pups!

Since Ty & I have both appeared to have gained the "engagement 15" & I would like to start my marriage in way better shape than I am now, I am proud to say that I went into this new fitness program with a positive attitude & for once didn't immediately fall off the wagon!

I love sharing things with you guys that I love & work for me, from beauty products, my latest clothing purchases or even a new work-out routine. I was truly surprised by how much this fitness plan worked for my lifestyle, from the low price of $4.16 a month to the results that I have already seen in 3 weeks, that I had to dish it with you!
Did you eat the last cookie?

So what is it? Revolt Fitness is an at home, video led workout program with accompanying meal plans (& optional supplements, that I didn't partake in). I started a 4 week "booty challenge" & was excited to tone up my thighs & glutes (aka da boo-tay!)

The Pros:
- little time commitment: I can change into my workout clothes, fire up the video, warm up, work out, cool down & shower in an hour's time. That's what I'm talking about!

- the comfort of your own home: I have zero clue how to work a single machine at the gym, so  being able to use free weights at my house & still see results is key for my workout happiness!

- Cheap! No expensive equipment needed, or gym memberships required. The plans start at $10 a month, but if you sign up for a full year, it is only $50 (or $4.16/month). Shut the front door!

- yummy meals: This is a complete program, or what they call "turn key", including a full meal plan. The breakfasts, snacks, shakes, & dinners are all delish, things that will be on my recipe short-list moving forward. 

- cheat day: no matter how yummy health food can be, if you can't indulge in a little fat & sugar from time to time, you are going to eventually binge. This program provides 6 days of healthy food & then a 7th day of cheating! All day, whatever you want. I can do anything for 6 days if there is a burger & bowl of ice cream waiting on the other side!

- Nicole Huntsman is YOUR trainer, & she rocks! The founder & creator of Revolt performs all the workouts with you in the videos, she has a banging body & is totally supportive & understanding! (sign up & you can interact with her on the private Facebook page too!)
No judgement here!
The Cons:
- a little repetitive: You eat the same things & perform the same workouts for a week at a time. I love sweet potatoes, but after 6 days of sweet potatoes & squats they become the last things on my like list. Moving forward I think I am going to mix up the recipes a little bit, intertwine the different recipes over several weeks.

- slow & steady (it's a lifestyle not a crash diet): You do the plan, you see results. But you don't just drop 20 lbs overnight. This is a lifestyle plan to get the body you want, & keep it that way.
Let's go for a walk!
So like I've said, I have been doing this plan for 3 weeks. Before starting I undertook the daunting task of measuring my body fat % & size (thighs, waist, arms, lbs, everything). These are personal numbers that I don't want to share, but let's just say that they are going down. Things feel tighter, my jeans are definitely fitting better & le fiancĂ© noticed too! (the first time I dyed my hair he had zero clue... so that's saying something!)
Couch pug-tato! 
Have you ever tried an online/video workout plan? 
Any tips for staying with it for the long haul?

*I was gifted 1 free month of Revolt Fitness ($4.16 value), but all opinions are my own!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

blogging on vacation

Last month Tyler & I took a trip up to Oregon to visit his friends & family & see his beautiful sister joined in wedded bliss. Living so far away, we only get to visit the great Northwest 1 maybe 2 times a year, & I don't like to waste any time with my nose buried in a laptop while we are there, so I take a blogging vacation. But because the idea of letting my screen go blank for a week or more makes me twitchy, I enlisted the following 5 tools to keep the content coming on my regular schedule.... without opening up my computer for more than 30 minutes a day!
1. Guest Posters
That's right, use your friends! This blogging world is great for many reasons, but one of my favorites is the network of friends around the world that I have made. Why not introduce your readers to the style of some of your blogging buddies?! Charge the guest posters with a topic (i.e. What to wear to a wedding while you are off attending a wedding), have them carry on one of your regular post series (i.e. 1 piece, 3 ways) or let them loose to showcase their style however they wish! Everyone wins.
2. Scheduled Posts
If you use Blogger (not sure about the specifics of this for other hosting sites), either prepare your posts the week prior, or ask those darling friends of yours to send you their posts a couple of days before you leave. Then schedule your posts to go live through your vacation. Blogger is already set up to pre-schedule posts! In the right sidebar you can pick the date & time for the post to auto-publish & not think about it again. Tip: when the post goes live, it is worth checking the links, content layout just in case... but that might just be my personal compulsions kicking in!
3. HootSuite
Now that we have covered scheduled posts, lets talk about scheduled tweets. If you write a post & don't tweet about it, does the post exist? Maybe, but better to send out that little chirp just in case! HootSuite is a dashboard that organizes your Twitter streams, multiple Twitter handles if you have 'em (I have three... why!!!!), Twitter mentions & yes, scheduled Tweets. My lovely guest posters sent me their content, I created a little permalink (right sidebar of Blogger when you are creating a post), drafted a Tweet to coincide when the post was to be going live, & a few other mentions throughout the week, then closed my computer & let HootSuite do all the work. Oh & the free app keeps me scheduling on the go too!
A much better view than my computer screen!
4. Disqus
Only the best commenting platform ever! (Ok, so I can't really claim that, as it is the only comment platform I have tried besides the built in Blogger option, but I do think it ROCKS!) What about Disqus makes it so great? First off, the spam filter is top notch so I don't have to have one of those word verification thing-a-ma-doogies, but as far as vacation blogging goes, you can respond to comments via email, & completely moderate on the go, outside of Blogger. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 
Because who really wouldn't rather be hugging giant trees than tweeting!
5. Evernote
Without lists, & lists of my lists, I'm pretty sure I would leave the house naked everyday. Scary right!? Evernote is a free app that I have on my laptop, work computer & iPhone that syncs my lists together & keeps them all at my finger tips, every second of everyday. When traveling it was great to have a list of my upcoming guest posters/blog schedule & new post ideas that bubbled up while I was doing all that resting & relaxing.

So that is how I GSD (get sh*t done) while on vacation. Do you use any of these tools? What vacation blogging tips do you have to share?

P.S. Don't forget to enter the J.Crew giftcard giveaway {here}

Monday, September 23, 2013

just like old times

{ What I Wore: sunglasses c/o Silvano Apparel // J.Crew button down // Forever21 shorts // Target wedges // Philip Lim for Target satchel }
Holy cow, it's Fall! Time to pull out the layers, put on the boots, wrap yourself in scarves & sip on some PSLs. Or not, in case you are somewhere like Nashville & the weather literally hasn't changed. Maybe by the time Thanksgiving rolls around there will be some of that much awaited chill!
So here's to dressing like the weather it is, instead of the weather I wish it was... because nobody wants to see me sweating in leather & wool just yet!

P.S. Thank you to my friend Natalie for taking these photos for me! Sure beats that silly tripod ;)

P.P.S. If you are looking for some unique & flattering sunglasses, might I recommend these wooden ones... the side arms are made of seriously stunning wood with exposed grain!

P.P.P.S. Enter to win my J.Crew giftcard giveaway {here}

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Shopping: Love21

We all know about Forever21... trendy, cheap, the last place any man on the planet wants to find himself on a Satruday. But have you checked out the Love21 "contemporary" collection? Didn't know there was a difference? Love21 is the section of the store/website designed for a slightly older crowd. They claim that Love21 items run a half size larger than regular Forever21 pieces, but I just like to call that "regular fit" for people that are 16+ & have thighs. I just recently picked up a few pieces & I've got to say, the construction & fit didn't disappoint!

Looking to add some affordable trendy items to you closet for Fall, here are my top 9 picks!
1 chevron skirt // 2 moto jacket // 3 plaid top
4 faux fur vest // 5 stripe skirt // 6 faux leather vest
7 stripe dress // 8 plaid sweatshirt // 9 boho dress

Saturday, September 21, 2013

weekend reading: 9.21.13

1 // 2 // 3
This weekend why don't you :: pair some cuffed boyfriend jeans with heels? (a perfect way to ring in Fall!)

{what you might have missed on Here&Now}
{1.} J.Crew giftcard giveaway, enter here!

{2.} remembering the Summer that was 2013

{3.} my tips for getting crisp, bright photos

{4.} do you dress for your age?

{5.} Enter the $500 Fall cash giveaway here!

{posts I'm loving around the internets}
{1.} my friend is starting a new life chapter & has a message for us all... be brave

{2.} Are you in blogging for the business

{3.} great tips for selling on eBay 

{4.} Which Spring 2014 trends will you be jumping on? 

{5.} A new outfit for your desktop :)  

Also, my Philip Lim x Target pieces landed on my doorstep this week! I can't wait to rock them every which way, & will definitely be taking notes from these fabulously stylish ladies!
Clockwise from top left: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6
Clockwise from top left: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blogger Spotlight: A Southern Drawl

TGIF! I have the great pleasure of introducing you to a fabulous lady today, Grace of A Southern Drawl
Grace is a self-proclaimed foodie & awkward turtle and in my unofficial "nerdy girls can be fashionista s too" club! I have had so much fun getting to know Grace over the past two years & hope that one day we finally get to officially meet!
Just try to not fall in love with her gorgeous style & smart girl commentary!

Outfits featured:
Currently obsessing over this look

So now that you have made acquaintances, Grace is doing her Southern lady duty & greeting you all with a heartfelt gift. After you enter to win a J.Crew gift card, be sure to head on over to her blog & give her a hearty Here&Now hello!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
* Open to readers of any countries that J.Crew ships to. Check out this site for shipping availability.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

so long sweet summer

I unzipped my boots to get the bugs out & forgot to zip them back up... country girl for life!
The day that bloggers have been talking about since pretty much the end of July is finally here... Fall officially starts this weekend!
But before I pack away the sundresses & pull out the layers, I just want to take a minute to look back on the Summer of 2013.
This was a Summer for celebrating engagements, boat parties, weddings, reunions with friends, cookouts that lasted long into the night, doggie play dates, new friends, saying "good-bye for now" to old friends, wedding planning, flea market scouring, canoeing, Oregon vacations, & commemorating a full 4 years in Nashville. 

If you are looking to celebrate sunny days & warm nights on into a late Indian Summer, you can join me in wearing flower crowns & frolicking (my favorites!)
This gorgeous crown (& the one here) is the fabulous work of my friend who runs the Flower Crown Society. Now you can all scoop up flower crowns at 15% off with code "Jessica15"!

Happy (almost) Fall y'all!

P.S. It is the last day to enter the Bella Fusion giveaway!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

lace it up + a giveaway

Here & Now style files: white after Labor Day
{ What I Wore: top c/o LookBookStore // necklace c/o SheerAdiction Jewelry // Celebrity Pink Jeans* // ShoeDazzle pumps // Rebecca Minkoff purse }
* gifted by the Southern Blog Society
Here & Now style files: white after Labor Day
Let this post serve as my full endorsement for white after Labor Day... you all saw it coming didn't you!
Buck those old fashioned "rules" & embrace the white!
Here & Now style files: white after Labor Day
Here & Now style files: white after Labor Day
And because who wouldn't want $500 cold hard cash for a little Fall Shopping, I give you a super duper blogger giveaway! Meet a few fresh faces & you might just win a lump of dough!

Giveaway ends Friday September 27th at 12am
Open to US & Canadian readers only this time

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

amateur photography

I consider myself to be a very very amateur photographer, learning as I go & enjoying the process, however the most common emails I get from readers (I love those!) are about my photography. So while I might not know much, I am always happy to share what I got:

Today's topic: how to get crisp, clear, bright photos?

My equipment: Canon Rebel T2i, 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens, tripod & remote (see this post for more of my remote/tripod photography tips)

First off, I do a couple of things while shooting to ensure sharp photos:
{1.} spot metering (this post helped for tips on metering mode)
{2.} Hold my remote next to my face so that is the most in focus point (my remote has a  2 second delay, so I have a little time to point the remote next to my face & then hide it)
{3.} For outfit photography I stick to an aperture of f/1.8-2.8 but I have found that f/2.2 is just about my happy spot.
{4.} Because it is just me standing in my alley, by myself, I typically have all the time in the world to get the right shot (just dealing with mosquitos, creepy neighbors, & dogs that need to be walked aside) - it is normal for me to take 50 photos/outfit & only 3-6 make it on the blog.... there are tons of blurry ones that the world just doesn't ever see... but they exist!

FYI: I shoot on manual, so I set the ISO (aka light sensitivity), aperture ("f stop") & exposure depending on the day's elements (with white balance set on auto). Figuring out manual settings is a more complex topic than I want to get into in today's post, but I just wanted to show you the settings & what each element means... there are pictures below that this key will be relevant for :) (P.S. you can find this info for each photo by clicking "info" in iPhoto)
See how ISO, aperture (f/#) & exposure (read as a fraction of a second, i.e. 1/1000 = 1 thousandth of a second) work with each other in these pictures below:
As far as the post-processing photo tips I know, those are few & far between. I use Photoshop (I have an ancient version, CS3) & don't extensively edit my photos but I do do three things to every photo:
{1.} lighten it a little bit (using brightness/contrast sliders)
{2.} Bump up the sharpening (I follow this tutorial for photo sizing & sharpening... but don't use their suggestion to save as .png files, I prefer .jpg & think they load better)
{3.} Resize the image to be exactly the pixel width I want & save it in the highest quality format so I can upload the original, high-res file directly to Blogger (& pick "original size" option every time)

Personal tip: Because I know that I have the power to adjust the brightness/contrast of each photo, I prefer to shoot the photos a little darker than I want as it is easier to "fix".

The photo on the left was brightened to achieve the look I wanted:
While I attempted to darkened the left photo, & the result on the right looks a little unnatural.
Finally, the sharpening that I do is very subtle, but an easy fix because I have the whole process automated in photoshop. Can you tell a difference?
What photo processing do you use? 
I would love for this to be an open forum for us to share tips with each other. 
If you have any burning questions let me know & I will try to include them in a future post!

P.S. Enter to win a shop credit to Bella Fusion {here}