Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Good to be a Girl!

I am excited to be back in cahoots with some of my favorite blogger babes! My ladies Julie, Shelby and Katie are gracing the blog today with their best tailgate outfits! We have teamed up with Vera Bradley to show off their amazing Fall, tailgate ready bags, and It's Good To Be A Girl campaign.

I got the gorgeous Sidesaddle Crossbody, and it is the best of everything! Vera is really knocking out of the park with their leather options!

purse: Sidesaddle Crossbody c/o Vera Bradley

vest: My favorite J.Crew Factory puffer vest (I only own it in 4 colors!)

dress: J.Crew Factory crepe work dress

boots: 4 year old boots, but these go with everything flat boots are my current favorite.

sunglasses: Ray Ban aviators

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, & Nashville me doesn't believe it either, but it is already boot and sweater season here in Denver. Not every day, but we definitely had some sold "Fall" feeling days in September!

I love that with the blog I'm able to look back & see my style evolve, and I definitely feel like I'm settling into a great feeling style groove lately with many beloved pieces hanging in my closet. This dress + boot combo has been in my Fall rotation for over 3 years, and I love it updated this year with my ready for the weekend ready cross body bag & latest J.Crew Factory puffer vest (the count is now up to 4!).
Vera Bradley nails it every time, down to the linings of their bags! This one has all the right pockets in the perfect size!

I hope everyone has a good weekend & be sure to check out the It's Good to Be a Girl campaign from Vera Bradley!

Shop these exact pieces + other favorites:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cool it Y'all

shoes: Levi's white sneakers (similar to my beloved white Converse sneakers)

bag: "Cool it Y'all" cooler bag c/o Draper James

sunglasses: Ray Bans (borrowed from my husband!)

watch: leather strap watch c/o Daniel Wellington

Shop my top game day picks now:

I've been counting down for the past month & can't wait for college football to start this week! College football is my favorite sport & I love getting together to watch games with friends (Go Arkansas Razorbacks & Vandy 'Dores!). This week I'm teaming up with Draper James to celebrate our love of tailgating & you can get in on the action too! Head to the Draper James Instagram page to see how you can enter to win a $250 shopping spree! And be sure to follow along with the action by taking your tailgate ready looks with #GoYall!

I love this mid-sized cooler bag - comes in your favorite team colors & is the perfect accessory for bringing beverages + snacks to your next tailgate party! Stay tuned for more game day ready looks on my Instagram page over the next few days!

Shop these exact outfit pieces now:

Monday, August 1, 2016

work pants: the struggle is real

Happy August! Today is back to work for me - after 2 months off, I am excited to meet my new Denver co-workers & return a daily routine. While my Summer break has ended, I am prolonging my Summer style with my favorite warm-weather beauty secrets including these easy waves & my easy tan touring (contouring with sunless tanner) tutorial that I posted on the blog last week.

At the end of last school year, I pledged to find the perfect work pants (something that has eluded me for years!) & I'm excited to share that my search is FINALLY over! During the Summer, I tried on over 15 pairs of work pants, & found 5 great options. Scroll down for the pair I got for myself & a review of 4 other pairs.

pants: Ann Taylor "Ann" Trousers - many of the styles are now on sale!
I feel like a total GIRL BOSS in this pants!

top: J.Crew Factory striped button down (this floral print button down is my current work shirt obsession)

shoes: Sole Society nude wedges (this season's style) - comfortable enough to wear all day!

Pants are notoriously hard to shop for & work pants are a special type of fashion unicorn. In my search, I was looking for a pair that was fitted at the waist, had pockets, & was the right length for my go-to work shoes. I had already found this cropped style (now only $35) to wear with my work flats, & this search was focused on finding a flattering pair of full length trousers.

Try on tips: Take the shoes you want to wear with the pants with you to test length, & wear the type of shirt that you will typically wear with the pants. In each pair of pants, I tucked in the shirt and tested out how they felt while seated and with my hands raised, as I wanted to make sure that my shirt remained tucked while doing my normal activities.

Shopping tips: Work trousers can be pretty pricey, running $50 - $100+, but they often go on sale. In fact, all of my top 5 favorites are currently on sale - time to pounce!

My top pick was the Ann Taylor "Ann" Trousers. They fit the bill when it came to length, flat pockets, & they were fitted at the waist with a straight line of the leg that was the most flattering on me. I appreciate that this cut comes in many weights of fabric, as well as "season-less" material that is a mid-weight and appropriate for many climates.

Ann Taylor: Ann Trousers (shop now to get $25 off your order of $75+)
(also tried & liked the cropped Devin Trousers, & the Kate fit trousers are a great option for women with curvy figures)

Coming in 2nd place was the Banana Republic "Logan" Trousers. They were more fitted at the bottom of the leg - not quite a "skinny" fit, but more tailored than a traditional trouser. The pants cut a clean line and I felt as if they made me look leaner than some of the other pairs I tried.

Banana Republic: Logan Trousers (currently 30% off) - 

The most affordable pair I tried on & loved was the "Marisa" Trousers from LOFT. These had a very flattering fit, but they were not in my top 2 because they lacked pockets. Other than the missing pockets, these were almost identical to the Ann Taylor options I tried.

LOFT: Marisa Trousers (currently on sale for under $50!)

When I started on my work pant search, the Express "Editor" Pant was recommended to me by multiple people & I can see why these are crowd favorites. These pants had the largest amount of stretch, & definitely felt like they would be extremely comfortable for all day wear. The cut of this pair was fitted through the knee, & then flared out to more of a boot cut. However, I did find that the inseam was several inches too long - even when wearing heels.

Express: Editor Pant (buy one, get a second pair for $39.50 - lots of great colors!)

I really wanted to like the J.Crew "Campbell" Trousers, but the cut was not for me. These were the most fitted pair, skinny in the thighs and pretty straight down from the knee, however the fabric was very luxe and the construction felt to be of high quality.

J.Crew: Campbell Trousers (currently $20 off)

What are your favorite work pants? Who can tell me why work trousers are so hard to shop for!?

{Shop these exact pieces}

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Best Of: Summer Travel Bags

During our cross-country road trip, we did a BUNCH of "figuring it out" as we went, but one thing I was meticulous about before setting out was packing the car so that I knew where everything was located. Our Prius was literally packed to the MAX, but I will say that I was pretty proud of my organization strategy, & could snake my hand through the maze of things to find whatever I needed very quickly.

My organization strategy involved a series of bags. Every "category" of stuff had its own bag. There was a bag for snacks, a bag for dog stuff, Tyler's stuff, my stuff, camping stuff, dirty clothes… & so on & so forth. All of these bags seriously got put to the test this Summer & came out the other side still on my list of favorites & still looking great! Every one of these bags is super functional, & I recommend them for any of your future travel needs. Read on to see how each bag came in handy on our 9,000 mile cross country trip!

1. I have had this Vera Bradley weekender & make-up bag for 2 years now (see the post from when I first got them here), & they are the perfect size for my travel needs. On the road, I used these two bags for what I would take into the hotel/AirBnB/friend's house with me. I love that the weekender has 4 roomy inside pockets for storing my various tech cords & jewelry, & the make-up bag has one of the best brush storage situations I've seen in a bag this size.

2. My husband says that I have a purse problem (he's crazy), but the difficulty of picking only one purse to take on the road with us might indicate that he is more on to me than I would like to admit. Of all my purses, I picked this Rebecca Minkoff cross body bag to serve as my purse (often getting thrown into the larger bags if needed). I picked it based on the size, color, & inside storage (all of which are fabulous). And after 5 weeks on the road, I found that it went with everything & I still enjoy using it!

3. If my memory serves me correctly, I have had this L.L. Bean canvas bag since college & I honestly can't remember road trips without it. The XL size was perfect for storing all of the linens we needed on our trip, & now that we are in Denver, I have been using it to tote groceries up to our apartment. Bonus: I have thrown this baby in the washer many times & it still looks great!

4. Some bags are jack of all trades & this one certainly qualifies! The Scout bag is not only super cute (love those bold stripes), but is also super durable. The fabric is waterproof & easy to wipe down, & the oversized pockets are beyond useful! This bag stored all of the dog products we took on the road with us - food zipped safely inside, waste bags easily accessible from the outside pockets. 

5. Like the Scout bag, this Sea Bags tote is made of waterproof material (old sails in fact!) & easily used for many occasions. This bag held our tech accessories, & often doubled as my purse when I needed something larger than the Rebecca Minkoff cross body. I've gushed about this tote on the blog before & you can check out its many accolades (including being made from eco-friendly materials) here.  

6. The Nisolo leather tote is such a classy bag! This leather tote is ready to take a beating & still look great after - I have found that it keeps looking better and better with age! This was one of our camping bags, holding essentials like our cribbage board, lantern & wine bottle opener that came out everytime we stopped at a campsite. Put it on your radar: Nisolo is now having their end of year sale starting TODAY!  Shop now for up to 60% off select items!

7. The ladies aren't the only ones who need to be organized & we have found some great options for Tyler too. This tech bag is perfect for keeping all of his cords & personal essentials in place/not-tangled, while not taking up much space in the car. 

8. This travel duffel bag was recommended by my sister & brother-in-law & Tyler is now equally enthusiastic about its merits. He took it with him on a 10 day trip to Europe last Winter & it was perfect as his "weekender" while on the road (aka what he took in with him when we stayed overnight).

9. Unfortunately, Tyler had to work while we were on the road, but he always had what he needed close by (you never know when wifi is going to strike) in this gorgeous leather computer bag. He got this bag after completing his PhD & I think it looks like a modern doctor bag. 

10. Finally, men might not have as many person hygiene items as us ladies do, but they still need to keep them together in a toiletry bag. Tyler has this "dopp bag" & it is a great medium size to hold his razor & other bathroom products. It is a study canvas lined with plastic, so it is very durable too! 

What are your favorite bags that are stylish & functional?

Sally Beauty Summer Secrets: easy waves

Some are already thinking about Fall (I mean, it is the season with the best clothes), but I'm still trying to squeeze the most out of my Summer (teacher training starts back next week). Yesterday I dished about one of my favorite Summer beauty hacks - tan-touring (full tutorial here). Today, I'm sharing a Summer hair style that I've perfected for myself, getting it down to a 15 minute endeavor.

Laid-back waves is a style that is "done" without looking over-done. Putting waves in my hair is a foundation for many other hairstyles - rocking a high pony, trying my hand at the half up top-knot, and pulling the front back with bobby-pins or tiny braids.

The only tools/products you need to achieve this look is the BTZ "Super Sexy" styling sauce & a 1" curling iron (I have this one, & this one is high rated from Sally Beauty)

Curling my hair is something that has gotten better with practice & perfection of my technique. Read on to see the tips that make this a quick & easy style!

Step 1: After washing your hair, apply the BTZ "Super Sexy" styling sauce to damp hair (can also be applied to your styled hair after if you would like to add more texture). This product adds texture, volume & great hold (without feeling stiff!) With this product, I get 2 day waves, without having to add any additional hair spray products.

For my mid-length hair, a quarter size amount of the Super Sexy styling product is perfect. I run it from my ears to tips, & then get any remaining product off my hand by adding to my crown.

Step 2: Brush out hair & blow dry (or air dry) as you normally would.

Step 3: Section off hair. To help make this quick & easy, I use two sections. If I wanted to make my hair super curly, I would use more sections to ensure that every single strand got maximally curled, but this style is meant to look more relaxed.

Step 4: Time to curl! I personally love this curling iron because I can use it with the clip or without & the 1" barrel size is perfect for creating tight or loose curls. To create tighter curls, wrap the hair around without any gaps, and hold the hair on the iron for longer.

Starting with the bottom section, I curl alternating pieces of hair towards my face & then away. Moving from one side of my face all the way around, I continue to alternate towards/away until I reach the other side. Continue with all sections of your hair, alternating each piece as you go.

CURLING TIP: To create waves instead of pageant hair, hold the barrel of the iron straight up and down, then when you are finished with each piece, pull the iron straight down.

Step 5: You now have what I call "sausage curls". Using your fingers or comb, brush through the curls to break them up & blend them together. The more relaxed look you are trying to achieve, the more brushing required.

The BTZ Super Sexy styling sauce is the key to giving your curls' beachy texture, while also providing super hold. With this styling product, I don't even apply hair spray afterwards & still enjoy 2 day waves!

What is your go to Summer hair style? What tips do you have for getting the look in less time?

Looking for more Summer style inspiration? Follow along with Sally Beauty on Instagram (I am obsessed with all of the braid and nail polish tutorials!)

Today’s post is sponsored Sally Beauty, by my love for their products is all my own!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sally Beauty Summer Secrets: Tantouring Tutorial

While my beauty routine would be considered low-key year around, during the Summer I like to take it down to only the bare-bones basics. Summer is a time to throw on a dress, grab your bag and have fun with friends, not spend hours in the bathroom getting ready (especially if you live somewhere humid where your makeup melts off, & your hair falls limp the instant you walk outside). 

Today & tomorrow, I am going to be sharing 2 of my Summer beauty secrets, in partnership with Sally Beauty Supply. Sally Beauty is such a great resource for effective, inexpensive products, & I always feel like I'm tapping into a secret stash of goodies when I'm there - you know, the stuff that salons make you shell out the big bucks for! Today's post features tan-touring tutorial, and tomorrow I will be showing you how to create easy-peasy beachy waves. 

Never heard of tan-touring before? It isn't a new planet in the Star Wars movie, it is the easiest way to get glowing skin without wearing make-up! Tan-touring is using sunless tanner to "contour" your face! I promise it is not as scary as it sounds, lasts for several days to a week, & isn't harmful to your skin (like baking in a tanning bed). 

As all beauty tutorials go, this one starts with a before and after. In the before picture I am wearing my eyelash extensions, moisturizer & lip tint (had it on before I started and it didn't wash off all the way). 

The after shot features my newly tan-toured face, after letting it sit for an hour. Read on to find out how easy this bronzed look is to achieve on your own! 
How to tantour - contouring with sunless tanner

First up, happy skin is protected and moisturized skin. I love basking outside, but whenever I venture out into the sun I use the Caribbean Gold SPF 30 lotion (smells great!) to keep my skin safe. I also use the Heel to Toe intensive care lotion to keep my feet feeling spa fresh & this also helps to exfoliate the dry skin, making sunless tanner look more natural on the notoriously hard to look natural feet area. 

Next comes the tanning steps! For all of us that grew up in the early 2000s, we each have our own self-tanner horror story (orange hands, blotchy ankles, a missing chunk on the back of your arm…), but the formulas of today's products are so much better & natural looking! 

To prep your skin for the sunless tanning product, use a body scrub (the Tanwise pre-tan body scrub leaves your skin feeling so refreshed!). Next, apply sunless tanning lotion to your body (I used Tanwise sunless tanning lotion), & to your face (Tanwise self-tanning face gel). This is your base before starting the tan-touring. 

Contouring with sunless tanner tutorial

And now you are ready to TAN-TOUR! 
Step 1: After applying a base coat of Tanwise self-tanning face gel to your clean face, you are ready to identify the areas to contour. 

Step 2: Suck in your cheeks. Now you have found the areas to shadow under your cheekbones. Using a flat makeup brush (this flat foundation brush is the perfect size), follow the line under your cheeks. I first made a faint line, then went over it with a pretty heavy hand. It will not be this dark when you are finished, most of the color comes from the lotion & does not reflect what will be left on at the end. 

Step 3: Continue applying self-tanning face gel to your jaw line, hair line, & on either side of your nose (I skipped my nose - personal preference). I went darker on my forehead and cheeks, and lighter on my jawline, but this is where you can build your own personalized look. 

Step 4: Let it sit. I left the product on for ~ 1 hour, & was happy with the color that resulted. If you want darker color deposited, let is sit for 2 hours. After waiting for an hour, I rubbed all of the remaining product into my skin, then washed my face. 

Step 5: Enjoy glowing skin without the hassle of make-up!

Looking for more Summer style inspiration? Follow along with Sally Beauty on Instagram (I am obsessed with all of the braid and nail polish tutorials!) And stay tuned for tomorrow's easy beachy waves tutorial!


Thank you to Sally Beauty for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to share my summer beauty secrets!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Road Trip: Dog Friendly in Austin

Happy Wednesday! Today I am continuing with the round-up of road trip tips, focusing on dog friendly events/locations we loved in Austin, Texas. Along the way we found cities that were all along the dog-friendly spectrum. Austin & San Diego were SUPER dog friendly, while Phoenix almost killed them with them, but mostly because of the 120 ˚F temps (they had to stay in the AC 100% of our time there!). Regardless of where we were, we always checked for dog friendly hotels & resturants on BringFido.com. It is a simple site that never let us down & they just came out with an app!

If you are just joining the road trip series, read about our initial itinerary, how to set road trip expectations & my top 5 tips for exploring National Parks.

Austin, TX is such a great place to visit (I've now been 3 times - to visit a friend, for my bachelorette & on our road trip) - not only is it a very dog friendly town, but they have the best murals (I used this guide to find some new favorites) & it has an overall retro mid-century vibe (Tyler loved all of the kitschy neon signs). 

Topping our favorite dog friendly spots in Austin are these 6 restaurants & parks. If you have your own dog friendly favorites in Austin, let me know in the comments - I'm sure we will be back with the pugs soon!

1. Banger's - this sausage house & beer garden has a dog park in the restaurant area... how much more dog friendly can you get than that!? When traveling with dogs it can be such a juggling game as one person always has to wait with the dogs outside while the other goes in to order, & then you switch to do it all over again. But at Banger's, the humans get to sit at long farm tables, while the doggies play with their friends in the dog pen. Doug made lots of friends (as seen above) & Scout drank A L L the water, while we stuffed our faces with sausages + crisp beers. Win. Freaking. Win.  

2. Redbud Isle - Austin has some great public parks, but Redbud Isle is my favorite for the doggies. It is an off leash dog park that is actually an island in the middle of the Colorado River. Dogs are allowed to swim in the river, & even our non-swimming pugs enjoyed taking a dip in the calm, cool water right off the walking paths - some are even paved with steps so that the humans enjoy getting in too (as seen above). Our dogs aren't super accustomed to being off leash, but this is a calm spot & everyone's dogs are so friendly that our two little piggies did just great!

3. Yellow Jacket Social Club - hipsters love dogs, & this hip spot features great sandwiches, yummy brunch & tasty drinks, all in a dog friendly spot on the East side of town. It is equally great for people & dog watching! You have to get creative with the parking situation in this part of town, but the ambiance is worth it! This neighborhood is also a hot spot for mural hunting!! Happy searching :)

4. South Congress Bat Bridge - if you want an event to take your dog to, the nightly bat viewing is low key & dog friendly. About an hour before sunset, bat enthusiasts gather below the South Congress bridge to watch the bats fly out (they emerge right when the sky gets dark). You can bring your kids, dogs, picnic blankets, food & I even saw a red solo cup or two filled with adult beverages! Check out this link to see what time the bats will fly out before you go.  

And if you are in the area during the day, South Congress is a freaking HOT BED for murals. We just about wore the brakes down in our car as I forced Tyler to break suddenly at every corner with my mural induced squealing!! I really wanted to get a shot of this lion one (we are both Leos, how precious would that be), but I got cut off from my mural photography before I spotted it! Next time lions, next time!

5. Jester King Brewery - Located a little out of town, but definitely worth the drive! We do much of our new town exploring by hitting up the local breweries & this spot was an oasis in the outskirts of the Texas hill country that we spent a large chunk of an afternoon enjoying. The beers are very creative (lots of sour beers if you are into that sort of thing), but the highlight for me was the farm table seating, & amazing pizzas available from Stanley's Farmhouse, also located on the property. 

6. Oyster Landing - after hitting up Barton Springs early one morning (dogs are not allowed so we went super early so that it was still cool enough to leave them in the car + it is free before 8 am!), we stopped at the Oyster Landing strip of restaurants/shops to enjoy coffee on the amazing patio of Mozart's. Located close to Redbud Isle & also right on the Colorado River, this dog friendly coffee shop has ample patio space, serving up a front row seat for turtle & duck watching. 

Another of my favorite Austin spots, for tex-mex Hula Hut, is also located at Oyster Landing, but I couldn't find it on my favorite app for researching dog friendly spots (BringFido), so if you want to bring your pup, call ahead!

Just down the road from Oyster Landing is Maudie's (tex-mex) & their patio is dog friendly & I highly recommend the migas! 

Thank you Austin for your bevy of murals & dog friendly spots! 

What are your tips for traveling with dogs? 

Anyone else want to know why people can bring their unruly kids everywhere they go, but my well mannered pugs have been shooed from many a patio??