I cannot believe that it is already November! Time flies! We have finally gotten some fall weather here & I could not be happier. There are few things that I love more in the fall than cozying up by the fire with a good book! Here are 7 fall book reviews of mysteries & thrillers that I’ve picked up recently:
It’s no secret that reading is my all-time favorite hobby & I always have at least one book loaded onto my iPad & another one on my nightstand. My mother has always been an avid reader & my grandmother was a librarian, so I guess that I come by it honestly! Now that summer is quickly approaching & vacation plans are in the works, I’ve been compiling my summer reading list. While my taste in books ranges from YA to historical fiction to chick lit, I’ve found myself gravitating toward mysteries & thrillers lately. Must be all of the Investigation Discovery Channel I’ve been watching! While I can’t get enough of the page-turners, I’ve also included a few beach reads to lighten up the list. I would love to know what you’re reading this summer!
A few weeks ago we took a Sunday day-trip to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. Tyler is only an hour & a half drive from our home in Shreveport, so it’s a really easy & fun trip to make in an afternoon. With 85 acres, 6 exhibit areas & over 3,400 animals, it’s an impressive facility for our area. The zoo is beautiful, with winding paths, lots of shade, & carefully designed habitats. I took so many pictures (an obnoxious number), so I’m sharing a small portion & some of my favorite animals today!CONTINUE READING
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend The Zoe Report’s first Box of Style event in Dallas, Texas. The event was part of Dallas Start Up Week & began with a panel featuring Marissa Heyl of Symbology Clothing and Katie Sansom of Tribe Alive to discuss the rise of ethical fashion practices in the industry. Both brands were featured in the spring Box of Style. Symbology’s scarf, which I’ve been wearing tied onto my bag since it arrived weeks ago, was handcrafted by women in the desert region of India. Tribe Alive’s black & white handbag was also made by independent artisans in India. I love that both brands were founded by women as a way to provide women in developing countries with meaningful employment & fair wages.CONTINUE READING
Happy Valentine’s Day! I know that some people view this holiday as nothing more than Hallmark holiday, or a cheesy couples’ day, I love Valentine’s Day. In elementary school, I loved decorating a paper bag with hearts & flowers to hang on my chair & collect cartoon cards & candy from my classmates. In middle school, the cards were fewer, but I could always count on candy from my family. In high school, my friends & I celebrated each other by purchasing the roses sold by student council & there was always the fear that you wouldn’t have a boyfriend to bring you something at school. It’s no secret that pink is my favorite color & that I love getting all dressed up, so is it really a surprise that I love a holiday centered around pink, lacy, & ruffled dresses?
But Valentine’s Day isn’t all about the clothes, the flowers, the gifts, the cards. At its core, for me, it’s a day to celebrate relationships of all types. I’ve been lucky to have the same core group of girlfriends for most of my life (going on two decades now – are we really that old?!?) & we love our girls’ nights. While we aren’t having an official Galentine’s celebration this year, we try to catch up as often as we can & celebrate each other’s victories, large & small. It can be a huge, themed birthday party, drinks to celebrate a new, or a phone call when things are tough, we are always there for each other. Over the years, we’ve become more like family than just friends & I think it’s important to take a moment today to really appreciate how rare & special relationships like that are.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have the most amazing man by my side for the last 5 years. In the fall of 2011, I had been out of law school & living in my hometown of Shreveport for one year. I had just finished a one-year judicial clerkship & was beginning my first year of practice with a law firm. I had just gotten out of a pretty awful relationship & wasn’t really looking to rush into another one. I told myself that I would be open to something if it came my way & that I wouldn’t close myself off, but I wasn’t actively searching. On September 9, 2011 (yes, I still remember the date, I’m a dork like that), my friend Angie offered me tickets to an art opening, so I recruited one of my BFF’s, got dressed up, & headed out for a girls’ night. We ran into an old friend of mine, Ian, & his super cute friend, Patrick. Ian, Patrick, Angie, & I ended up going to dinner later on that night. We talked, we flirted, we had a great time! Then, Patrick & I were just friends for several months. Looking back, I am so glad that we took the time to slowly get to know each other. By Christmas, we were dating & have been together ever since! When I walked into an art opening over 5 years ago, I never imagined that I would meet the love of my life, but I am so glad that I was open to the possibility. There are so many reasons that I love Patrick, but I thought that I would open up & share my top 5 for Valentine’s Day.
He is the most supportive man that I have ever known. I am involved in so many activities, probably too many, & even though he gets frustrated with my self-inflicted lack of free time, I know that he is always behind me, 100%, ready to help in any way that he can. He takes the majority of the pictures for this blog & never complains! Can’t beat that!
He pushes me to be the best person that I can be & encourages me to push myself. He has been so encouraging of this little adventure in blogging. I honestly don’t think that I would have had the guts to put myself out there without him. I love that he continually challenges me & helps me to develop new skills.
His ambition & dedication are inspiring to me. I really hope that just a fraction of them have rubbed off on me. I love that he takes such pride in everything that he does, even the smallest things around the house. He truly is “all-in” in everything & never gives up.
He makes me feel appreciated & beautiful, even when I’m not dressed up for a photo shoot & or at my best. It’s so easy, especially in the fashion industry, to get wrapped up in outward appearances, but it’s still nice to have your significant other make you feel sexy & beautiful. It’s also nice to know that he appreciates all of the hard work I put in around the house to make our lives run smoothly.
Finally, he never fails to make me laugh. Seriously, he is one of the wittiest, funniest people that I know. His dry sense of humor & one-liners cannot be beaten! I love that we can be goofy & silly together.
And now, on to the really good stuff…
I love this cookie recipe because it allows you to change it up each time depending on what mix-in you add. Try it with candy sprinkles (aka funfetti in my house), M&M’s, chocolate chips, raisins & oatmeal, chocolate & marshmallows, etc. Check out even more options by clicking the link above! Last night I mixed funfetti sprinkles into the batter, then topped each cookie with vanilla icing & more sprinkles. I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but all I could find were star sprinkles. 🙁 It’s also super easy. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, so if I can make these cookies, anyone can! Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup Country Crock Spread
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1-2 cups mix-ins
1. First, preheat your oven to 375°.
2. Mix the Country Crock Spread, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, egg, egg yolk & vanilla in large bowl until well mixed.
3. Then stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda until blended. The dough will be soft and creamy.
4. Add in your favorite mix-ins until every spoonful of dough has some of the mix-ins.
5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets 3-inches apart. I use Reynolds Baking Sheets to keep the cookies from sticking to the pan. They are pre-cut sheets of parchment paper that fit perfectly onto a cookie sheet. Amazing!
6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Cool 1 minute on wire rack; remove from sheets and cool completely.
7. Decorate! I used vanilla frosting & extra sprinkles, but you can use whatever floats your boat!
Happy Groundhogs Day! Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, so it looks like we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter. It’s been unusually warm here, but I feel for everyone dealing with ice & snow up north.
I cannot believe that it’s already February! Where did January go? We had my Krewe’s Mardi Gras Bal, which I was the chair of, last Friday night & it was a huge success! I spent the rest of my weekend recuperating. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’m kicking off the month with some gift ideas for guys & gals. Guys are always so hard to shop for! I feel like you can’t wrong with some tasty chocolate or a cozy pullover. Cologne is always a classic choice. For girls, I rounded up some of my favorite spring choices. This bag is the prettiest blush color & has the cutest bow accent, it’s definitely on my wish list! A block heel is still on trend & this cork option will be perfect with spring dresses. Finally, these drop earrings are already everywhere & I can’t wait to snag a few colors!
This year, rather than blindly set resolutions as soon as the clock strikes midnight on January 1 (which I inevitably break by mid-month), I decided to take my time, go through Whitney English’s “Well-Designed Year,” & really think through where I want to focus my time & energy in 2017. I love that the “Well-Designed Year” guides you through setting goals that align with your principles, powers, & passions. While I used the “Well-Designed Year” last year, I went back through the process of uncovering my values & passions because those can change over time. I don’t want to get into the rut of focusing on the same goals year after year, even though those goals no longer align with what’s most important to me. I wasn’t surprised that many of my principles & passions were similar to last year, but there were a few changes. I used Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 to identify my powers & it was really cool to see myself so truly reflected in the results. It’s also interesting to see where the overlaps are: Learning & Thinking & Reading, Compassion & Fairness, Integrity & Responsibility, Balance & Harmony & Organizing.
After going through the process of identifying your principles, powers, & passions, you brainstorm all of your potential goals in each of 5 categories. These aren’t necessarily things that you have to accomplish in the next year, but an idea of what your ideal achievements would look like.
Once you brainstorm what you want to accomplish this year, you bring it all together as three “big ideas.” Rather than focusing on specific goals, the “big ideas” are your areas of focus for 2017. Many of my goals centered around my family & personal well-being, so two of my “big ideas” are my relationships & my health. My family, spiritual, & personal goals fit under those two areas. My third “big idea” is this little corner of the internet since it includes two of my big passions – fashion & writing. I love having a creative outlet & this year I really want to focus on my content.
Once you have your three “big ideas,” you have your core! I keep a copy in my Day Designer & hanging above my desk for easy reference throughout the year. Anytime I feel myself straying off course, I can refer back to my core values, strengths, & passions, plus my mission for the year to refocus myself.
By now, almost everyone has heard of The Zoe Report’s Box of Style. Every season, it delivers over $400 of exclusive Rachel Zoe picks for only $99! I started receiving the Box of Style this past fall & was immediately hooked! The soft, color-blocked poncho was a game-changer. And let’s get real – if Rachel Zoe says that something is a must-have, then you have to have it. Plus, it’s a chance to get pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. In case you’re undecided, I thought that I would share what was in the Winter 2016 box. Click here to get $10 off your first box!
Everything comes packaged in a chic box. Usually, the box is black, but I like that they changed it up for winter. Each item is individually wrapped in tissue paper, so you the excitement of unwrapping each little gift! It’s the small things in life, lol. Included in each box is a guide with tips on how to use each item.
Dylanlex Zoey Custom Necklace ($200)
How gorgeous is this crystal necklace?!? I tend to lean toward more delicate jewelry, but I cannot resist this statement maker. The length is adjustable so you can wear it as a choker or more of a collar. I wore it recently with jeans & a white button down for some instant glam! I’ll also be pairing it with a cocktail dress later this week. The necklace was designed exclusively for the Box of Style, so you can’t get it anywhere else!
Soia & Kyo Olivia Cable Knit Hat ($50)
We don’t get many days where it’s cold enough to need a warm beanie, but this soft knit one will come in handy when it does! Subscribers got the choice of three colors – black, winter white, or burgundy. I went with the winter white because it’ll go with just about everything in my closet.
Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Brightening Water Cream ($65)
Winter weather can be so harsh on your skin. My skin is more dry & breaks out more during the winter, so I’m always on the lookout for something to give my skin a little TLC. I was excited to see this cream included in the winter box. It’s a water-based cream that will soothe & hydrate the dryest skin. It also helps fight wrinkles & brighten dark spots. You can layer it on for a deep hydration mask at home, or wear a thin layer under makeup during the day to protect skin. I love how light it is & it smells sooo refreshing!
D.L. & Co The Zoe Report “Birch” Custom Candle ($50)
I am a candle-hoarder. Seriously, I can’t walk out of Bath & Body Works without a new scent. This black & gold candle is perfect for a winter night, with a woodsy “birch” scent. Right now, it ‘s sitting on the desk in my home office, ready for me to buckle down & do some work! I was really impressed by the quality of the candle, it holds a ton of scent & the jar is heavy glass. Once I’m down with the candle, the jar will make a great holder for makeup brushes!
Dagne Dover Leather Card Case ($50)
Does anyone else have trouble finding a wallet small enough to fit into a clutch? I have so many cute, tiny bags that I love to carry out, but I end up just tossing my ID & cards into the clutch & hoping that I don’t lose anything. This card case holds just the essentials – ID, credit card, some cash – & fits perfectly into my smallest bag! I carried it several times over the break to keep everything together & organized while out & about. When you aren’t using it as a mini-wallet, it’s a chic alternative to a business card holder.
Clinique Lip Color + Primer in Berry Pop ($18)
A deep berry lip is a great winter alternative to the classic red lip. I’d been looking for the perfect color & it turned up on my doorstep! This formula has a built-in primer to make the lipstick go on smooth & last for hours. Anything that combines steps is a lifesaver in my book. The berry color is universally flattering & is saturated to stay true as it goes on. The color + primer also comes in 15 other shades, so I may have found my go-to formula.
Juciy Couture Viva La Juicy Fragrance (bonus!)
As a bonus, each box contained a trial size of Viva La Juicy, a fresh & fun fragrance. It blends berries, vanilla, & jasmine for a floral, fruity scent that will be amazing for spring!
Ack! Christmas is only 9 days away! Has it snuck up on anyone else this year? If you’re like me & scrambling for gifts at the last minute, I’ve rounded up my 10 favorite stocking stuffers, all under $50. For loved ones that are always on the go, an extra power pack will keep their phones going & an emergency kit will keep them prepared for anything! I keep this monogrammed business card holder in my purse at all times. I love moleskin notebooks – the size fits easily in a bag & the quality is outstanding. For the beauty lover, a beauty blender kit or set of nude lipsticks is sure to please. This knit beanie, with a cute pom, is under $30 & comes in 8 colors! I hope that these help you narrow down that list so you can enjoy your weekend!