daily outfit, dress, summer

Cream-Colored Feminine Floral Dress

July 16, 2015

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Dress: eBay (must be sold out now because the listing is gone.)
Shoes: Diane Von Furstenberg
Earrings: Charming Charlies
Bracelet: Claire’s

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I will be the first to admit that I get a little nervous when ordering clothes online, especially if I am ordering for the first time from a company – or, scarier still, ordering via eBay from a company in China. But this summer I was on a mission to find an adorable, feminine floral dress with sleeves. There are SO many dresses out there without sleeves, but this is the coldest summer in years, and in the Midwest sleeveless dresses are really not practical nor are they really that comfortable. So sleeves it is.

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When I stumbled upon this dress on eBay, I fell in love with it immediately. But, I’ve had some bad China clothing experiences. You know, the type of moments other bloggers have talked about with the clothing seeming more appropriate for a child than an adult and the sizes being completely unrealistic. But I liked this dress and it was inexpensive, so I gave it a try and figured what was the worst – I was out less than $25 and my niece would have a great dress-up gown.

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But then I got this little number in the mail and immediately knew upon pulling it out of the tiny little package it arrived in, that it would fit! The length was perfect, the sleeves adorable. It is super feminine, and while not really my personal style, it got a ton of compliments the very first time I wore it. I like the cream color and the way the floral patterns come together in the middle. (The dress also comes in a white background with more of a green tint to the floral pattern. I honestly couldn’t decide between the two of them!)

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daily outfit, red, skirt

Swirly Flirty Skirt from Karina Dresses

July 14, 2015


I’m in the midst of camp this week. More on the greatness of summer camp later, but I found this Flirty Skirt from Karina Dresses a perfect one to pack for camp. Sure there aren’t many opportunities to dress up at a camp in the middle of the woods, but we do one dress-up meal in the middle of the week. The swirly skirt worked perfectly for the occasion because it packs well and easily stayed in my suitcase all week without getting wrinkled. Plus, the ease of wear makes this really easy to wear while running around and looking after a bunch of little campers.


If you have been following along, you know this is the first skirt by Karina Dresses that I have tried. Usually I opt for the dresses, but as I have been trying to do this summer I decided to branch out and try this new style. I will say, the undergarments worn with this style skirt is crucial because of the way it lays. But a slip takes care of any or all issues you might have.

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And, as always, stay tuned for a new Karina Dresses giveaway post, which will go live later this week!

Of course, I received this skirt to review and share my honest opinion about the product.
family, gifts

Anniversary Gift Ideas for Your Parents

July 11, 2015

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My parents anniversary is coming up at the end of the summer. With so many siblings, and all of use wanting a say in the gift, there is a lot to consider! Whether your parents are about to celebrate another decade of marriage or you just want to give them something special to make them feel appreciated, it’s always a good idea to have a few creative ideas in store for anniversary presents.  Consider some of these outside-the-box anniversary gift ideas for parents if you’re looking for inspiration.

Gifts for the Recent Empty Nesters

If your parents only recently became empty nesters, they’re probably looking forward to that newfound bit of freedom that they haven’t had for quite a while. Some things they might appreciate include:

  • A little help starting a new hobby. If you know there’s something they’ve been thinking about trying for a long time or you have come across a hobby you know they’d love if they’d just give it a shot, think about getting them a starter kit of sorts. This might include materials, accessories, classes, or tickets to travel. For example, if your parents have always talked about learning about wine, send them on a tour of wine country, pay for them to attend a tasting class, or buy them some small accessories like a good bottle of wine with a nice set of wine glasses. It’s the personal and unique anniversary gifts that will mean the most to them.
  • An excuse to come visit. Some parents have a harder time than others with being new empty-nesters, so give them a reason to come visit you or go to visit them. They will appreciate your attention and time as they are adjusting to their new lives!

Gifts for the Big Decade Anniversaries

If your parents are about to celebrate a big number in their anniversary, you may want to do something special to celebrate them and to show them that you are happy to have a great model of a happy and long marriage in your life. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Riff off of the classics. All of the big numbers in anniversary dates have themes: paper for the first, cotton for the second, tin or more recently diamonds for the tenth, etc. Especially if your parents aren’t planning to observe the tradition, they might appreciate a small gift from you that acknowledges the tradition. For example, for the silver twenty-fifth anniversary, you could get them each an accessory (a silver watch and a silver pair of earrings) or you could go for something more unique and personalized, like a silver-themed photo album of their 25 years of marriage (silver book, silver decorations, silver picture borders, etc.).
  • Send them somewhere special. If you can afford it, send them on a vacation or send them to their original honeymoon destination. You can get together with your siblings and all pitch in for it. If you can’t afford it, help them recreate their honeymoon. If they went to Hawaii for their honeymoon, throw a tropical themed party or cookout in their honor.

Sentimental Gift for All Parents

There are many gifts that will always make good anniversary gifts for sentimental parents, no matter the year or particular occasion.

  • An artistic version of their wedding photos. Have old photos restored or hire an artist to do a customized piece of art based on their photos. Another idea would be to uncover some wedding photos of their parents and have those restored, colorized, and nicely framed as a set.
  • Reenacted family photos. In a semi-recent Internet trend, people have recreated favorite childhood photos as gifts for parents. So get your siblings and parents together to recreate a goofy family moment. Dump spaghetti on your head, wear a sailor suit – do whatever it takes to recreate that great shot. And of course, the fun of you and your siblings getting together to do the shoot is part of the gift, too!
  • Sentimental, meaningful gifts. Give gifts that reflect on your parents’ marriage and your relationship with them. Small gifts can still be extremely meaningful. Find out where your parents had their first date, where they got engaged, or where they took a meaningful trip and put together a gift based on that. Take them for pie at the diner where they had their first date. Put together a collage based around the time and place that they got engaged.

Giving your parents a thoughtful and sentimental anniversary gift is an excellent way to make them feel loved and to show them how much you appreciate their commitment to each other and to your family. Take the time to make your gift really special to make the biggest impact. They’ll love all of the thought you put into making their special day even more memorable.

life, technology, tourism, travel

The Best Apps for Travel

July 9, 2015

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I’m back in Chicago now and realized a post on the apps I used heavily while on vacation would be a perfect way to wrap-up this leg of summer vacation. There are so many apps out there, it can be hard to weed through them. I’ve tried a lot of different ones over the years and I find these are the best apps for travel. And honestly, my friends in Boston were constantly teasing me for my use of an app for everything. But really, why stress about any situation when an app can simply solve it? No thank you.

The Best Apps for Travel:

AccuWeather – When on vacation you need to know what the day’s weather is going to be. Often you need an hour-by-hour to figure out if it is a beach day, a touring day, or a stay in and read kind of day. I think this weather app the best because it gives an hour-by-hour forecast, which I’ve found to be really accurate. (Accurate down to the minute the rain will begin.) Not only can you get the actual temperature but you can also get the RealFeel temp, which personally I find so much more important, as well as the chance for precipitation. It also gives the forecast for 10 days at a glance.

Yelp – I use this exclusively for finding great restaurants on the go. Last week, for example, I went hiking in New Hampshire. After the climb up and down Mt. Monadnock we wanted to find someplace with great burgers and crisp cold beer. As we loaded into the car, I pulled out the app, pulled up the local burger joints and we ended up at Lab & Lager, a small local pub that had some excellent sweet potato fries and really great beer. Just driving around would never have landed us there. (You can check out my Yelp account and reviews, if you’re so inclined. LOL)

Oyster – A friend of mine brought 15 books along with her on vacation. Her suitcase contained mostly books and a couple pieces of clothing. While I’m determined to read a lot on vacation too, I only brought one actual book with me. All the rest of the books I’m reading on Oyster. Yes, there are many reading apps you can download. I have at least 5 on my phone. But Oyster I like because for a monthly fee you get access to thousands of books. They have best sellers, old classics and everything in between. It doesn’t limit the number of books you can read in a given month – like some book services do. Not every book is free, there are some you can pay for, but there are more than enough free books to keep you busy during the entire summer. (Want a month free? Use this Oyster referral code.)

Waze – This is hands down the best map app I’ve tried. Each and every time it gives you the best and fastest route to your final destination. If you hit a traffic snag and there is a shorter way it will automatically reroute you. Plus, it warns you of police cars, traffic cameras, speed traps, construction, stalled cars, etc… The information is powered by fellow Waze users and I’ve yet to find a place in the USA that it doesn’t work really well. It’s worked even along the backroads of Cape Cod and in the foothills of VA.

CNN – Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I need to stay up on the most important news items of the day, even while on vacation. While I have a lot of news apps on my phone I like this one the best because it sends push notifications only for the most pertinent news stories of the day. It also has a world-wide scope. And while it sends push notifications it does not blow up my phone with them, which I also appreciate on vacation. I want the basics but not to be overwhelmed.

Uber – When I don’t have a car, this is the only way I get around a city while on vacation. It is so much more reliable than so many taxi companies (at least that is true in NYC, Chicago and Boston). Plus it is nice not to have to worry about paying anyone. No need to swipe a card and work the awkward taxi payment methods. No need to worry about tips and the appropriate amount to leave your driver. It’s all done for you from the comfort of the app. Simple, easy – which is perfect for vacation. (Never used Uber before? Use the code katieh4253ue to get $20 off your first ride!)

Swarm – Okay, maybe this won’t help you have a better vacation but it will show your friends where you are and it will help you remember all the places you visited on your trip. This is the new generation of FourSquare – so you check in to the places you are at. This also gives you the chance to read short reviews by others who have visited the place. So if the bar has great fried pickles, you’ll learn that from fellow swarmers.

daily outfit, denim, tourism, travel

Perfect Casual Boyfriend Jeans for Exploring New Places

July 8, 2015

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In my suitcase I packed only one pair of jeans. Admittedly I didn’t think I would be reaching for the denim option very often. I figured I would spend most of my time in shorts and dresses. But alas, the temperatures were too cold most days to wear shorts. And dresses are great, but at times even they were a little too chilly. So, I ended up pretty much living in these perfect casual boyfriend jeans.

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Jeans: Current/Elliott via Shopbop
Shirt: Target
Scarf: H&M
Bag: gift from St. Ives.
Sandals: c/o Havianas
Bracelet: Tammy Spice
Earrings: Mimi Boutique
Sunnies: gift from St. Ives

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I wore these Current/Elliott jeans pretty much everywhere. I wore them to tour the Newport mansions. I wore them to watch fireworks. I wore them to a Fourth of July BBQ. I wore them on an expedition to determine the best local ice cream shop. I wore them home on the plane.  Needless to say, they got a lot of use in the last 3 weeks.

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Why are they so easy to wear? The light color makes them go with almost everything in my closet since I tend toward darker tops as opposed to light colors or pastels. The slouchy boyfriend style makes it easy to move around with a lot of ease and comfort. The cropped length gives off a summer vibe while still giving a little extra coverage on the days that barely reached 70*. So, basically, they are awesome.

food, life

As American as Dr. Pepper – The Summer of Flavor

July 6, 2015

This year I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in the Boston and Cape Cod area. Whenever I’m back in this part of the world, especially in the summertime, I feel the urge to check dozens of ultra-American type things off my temporary bucket list.

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While my vacation post is still pending, so you’ll need to wait for those details, I did indulge in multiple ice cream treats, especially of the multiple scoop waffle cone variety. I also went hiking along the beach and up a mountain. I watched fireworks launch in a small Massachusetts town despite the rain. I snacked on fried pickles and sweet potato fries. And along the way I drank Dr. Pepper. While many of them might not be only American these are things I always equate to summer and to this great country.

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I’ll be honest, until this summer I didn’t necessarily directly equate Dr. Pepper with America. But then a friend of mine, who happens to hail from Mexico, mentioned she had the hardest time drinking Dr. Pepper in all its yummy flavors because she didn’t grow up with the taste. I did a little non-scientific study and those I ran into from the US all seemed to love the taste explosion that Dr. Pepper provides. Those from outside the US said it was something they never experienced before coming to this country. So cheers to Dr. Pepper and it’s American roots.

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Why not turn this summer’s parties and plans – whether it be a backyard BBQ, a day at the beach, a leisurely stroll through town or the exciting adventure of exploring a new place – into a summer of flavor? A summer of Dr. Pepper. After all, you remember things better when all your senses are involved. I might be able to sit along the esplanade in Boston watching the ducks play and hearing the tourists converse in multiple languages. Add a little Vanilla Float Dr. Pepper to the mix and it’s a memory that is much more likely to be seared in my head for years to come. (Check out my previous post about summer memories and Dr. Pepper.)

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The opinions and text are all mine.

dress, giveaways

July Karina Dresses Giveaway – Part I

July 3, 2015
I’m part of the Karina Dresses Frockstar Giveaway blogger group. Karina Dresses provides me with a dress to review and this twice-monthly giveaway. All opinions are my own. #frockstar

New month, new Karina Dresses giveaway! One lucky winner will own SIX new dresses by the end of the month! This giveaway runs until July 15th, so make sure to enter soon.

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In case you need some inspiration or incentive to enter this amazing giveaway… Here are the dresses I’ve tried so far and the outfits I created using these great dresses as the starting point:

The TRUDY – blue and white polka dots. (This is the most recent style I’ve tried.)

The RUBY – blue and pink flowers, black and pink flowers, navy and brown leaves, blue and orange paisley, bold red and vibrant blue patterned,

The MEGAN – floral, blue and red flowers.

The GALA – teal wrap dress.

The NORA – blue and white patterned.

The PEGGY – red, white and blue, black and pink polka dots.

The CAROLYN – bold green pattern.

The RITA – black and white wrap.

The PATTY – navy and orange flowers. (A personal favorite.)

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True, not every style is available at the moment, but throughout the year Karina Dresses brings in new styles, retires old and keeps some tried and true looks! The versatility and yet the uniformness of the dresses is what always impresses me. You know you are getting a dress that is going to be easy to wear and easy to style. You know you are going to get a bold, fun pattern – no solids, no classic little black dress. You know you are going to get a dress that travels well and never needs an iron.

 



Karina Dresses has a newsletter you will want to get in your inbox. Each weekly newsletter has a winner of a new dress selected from the email subscribers. You have to open the email to see if it is you! In addition to giveaways, The Karina Dresses newsletter also has flash sales with the hottest prints at almost 50% off! To make this newsletter even more desirable to join, if you sign up and confirm your subscription (or are already a subscriber and enter this giveaway) you will be entered into the sweepstakes for $1000 in Karina Dresses! Are you ready to join the Karina Nation? Subscribe here!

If you are a blogger and you would like to do a review of a Karina Dress, they choose their reviewers from their affiliates! You can sign up to be an affiliate here.

daily outfit, dress

Meet the Trudy by Karina Dresses

June 30, 2015
I was provided this dress by Karina in order to give my honest opinion as one of the Karina Dresses Frockstar™ event bloggers. All opinions are my own, obviously. #frockstar

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Dress: Trudy by Karina Dresses
Shoes: Steve Madden
Scarf: H&M
Earrings: Claire’s
Watch: Kohls

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This time around, I branched out again and decided to try a new style of dress from Karina Dresses! This one is the Trudy. It has a sweet-heart neckline, a little puff to the sleeves, and the classic flowing skirt of all the Karina styles. Plus, of course it has the wrinkle-free, uber-comfortable material that makes up the entire line of dresses.

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Honestly, I’ve never owned a sweetheart neckline before. Usually they go a little lower than I would feel comfortable wearing. Plus they tend to over-emphasis the bust area. But this one, at least on me, is perfect. It still have the classic sweetheart look but doesn’t go low enough to make me fidget. Admittedly, I did use a little double-sided tape to hold it in place and keep it from gaping open when I move. Then again, I use double-sided tape a lot to keep things exactly where they belong.

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I’m loving this material, especially with the approaching Fourth of July holiday. While I paired it with a patterned scarf this time around, on the 4th I’ll likely put it with a pair of white sandals and a red sweater. Perfect! Actually Karina Dresses has a lot of dresses that would be perfect for the patriotic holiday – and the rest of the summer too. That’s what I love about these dresses, that while they are all patterned they are also versatile enough to wear in a variety of ways.

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Get social with Karina

Sign up for Karina Dress Newsletter. And if you are a blogger and you would like to do a review of a Karina Dress, they choose their reviewers from their affiliates! You can sign up to be an affiliate here: http://bit.ly/KDAffiliate

life

How To Beat the Monday Blues

June 26, 2015

Why is it that people dread Mondays so much? Every start of the week, my twitter feed is filled with longing for the weekend and dread for the week ahead. I know I might be in the minority, but I look forward to Mondays. Yes, I know I’m on summer vacation now so I shouldn’t be talking much about the working world these months, but I look forward to Mondays even during the school year.

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Mondays are great because they’re so busy. During the school year, Mondays are full of potential for the week ahead, excitement for the lessons ahead, the subject matter I’ll be teaching. Busy days mean they fly by and are over with faster. Dragging through a work day is the worst. It’s much better when you look up at 5 o’clock and realize it’s time to go home. Heading into the week with this mindset makes it so much easier to face the alarm after a wonderful two-day break.

If you don’t share this mindset and facing Monday is a bit tougher for you, there are ways to turn it into a good day. Of course, nothing beats a Saturday night of fun and a Sunday morning of sleeping in, but Monday doesn’t have to be the worst thing.

How To Beat the Monday Blues:

Schedule something fun. Why do Saturday and Sunday get all the fun? Mondays can be fun too. Whether it’s a nice lunch date or a yoga class with friends after work, planning something to look forward to makes the day so much better. Make your whole week fun with little treats here and there. Add a delicious creamer to your coffee. Use your lunch break to read a good book. See a movie – some theaters offer discounts on certain weekdays. Even the smallest things make a big difference when you’re facing a long week ahead.

Speaking of treats, reward yourself with something nice. If you’ve just completed a big project or deadline, celebrate your wins with something nice. Plan a wine night out or a little bit of pampering like a pedicure or a facial. Another nice idea is to buy yourself some jewelry online, or better yet order it the week before so that it arrives on Monday, if you’re the planning type. There’s nothing like checking the mail and seeing something sparkly! Much better than boring bills or junk ads that’s typical for a Monday, right? Consider getting a monthly subscription box to come home to every once in a while. Sometimes you can choose when you want them to be delivered, so choose Mondays as your day!

Host a dinner. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but instead a time to get your girlfriends together to watch reality TV or a rom-com and eat a nice, home-cooked meal. Spaghetti or tacos are a hit among everyone and are so easy to make. A potluck means that everyone can bring a dish and share it buffet-style. Wanna make it completely stress-free? Order a pizza.

Hit the gym! Heading to the gym often gets met with groans, but getting your workouts in at the beginning of the week will make you feel better. You’ll feel more energized, better rested, and accomplished. If you’re tired of the same routine, shake it up with a spin class, join a running club, or gather up a few friends for a long walk after work. Doing the same thing over and over can make it seem boring, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Relax. If you’re anything like me, sometimes the weekend is filled with all the things you weren’t able to do during the week. You’re busy running errands, doing laundry, and cleaning the house when really you just need some time to relax. Draw yourself a hot bath on Monday evening and indulge in a glass of wine. Put on some soothing music and catch up on your personal emails or reading through your fashion magazines. Watch your favorite television show and hit the hay early.

No matter what day of the week it is, it’s important to make time for yourself. Whether that’s 30 minutes or a few hours, there should be always be time to take care of you. This will help you feel energized throughout the week and make facing a Monday morning that much easier.

The thing about a Monday is that no matter how much we resist, they’re going to happen anyway. The good news is that we can take control of how we handle it. A positive attitude and a little bit of perspective can get your week off to a fantastic start. And obviously, a fabulous new outfit always helps. Mondays will never take place of looking forward to a weekend, but you can still sneak in a little fun and make the day all about you!

beauty, product review, review

Live Radiantly – St. Ives Fresh Hydration Lotions Review

June 25, 2015

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I’m on vacation right now, which means afternoons at the beach, daily runs in the afternoon heat, reading in the sun, etc… All of that is great for the mind and soul, but it isn’t always so great for the skin. While I’m being careful about the amount of time my skin is exposed to the sun, I’ve noticed more and more that my skin is dry. My legs are especially dry after all the sun and salt water exposure. At the same time, I have to admit that I hate traveling with lotion and I hate applying it even more. Enter St. Ives Hydration Lotion.

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For the lazy lotion applier, like me, this stuff is amazing. No need to squeeze out a goopy mess and then attempt to spread it around evenly without leaving white streaks all over your legs/arms/etc…  You just spray it on and then run your hands over quickly to make sure the lotion is equally distributed. Spray and done. Yup. The St. Ives hydrating lotion spray is that simple. Sweet, right?!

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Even better, the lotion bottles are easy to transport. I took the apricot scent with me as I toured the historic Newport, RI mansions last week. It was easy to carry and even easier to apply on the go. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the bottle leaking or spraying everything in your bag, because you can close off the spray spout with a simple twist of the top.

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These St. Ives hydrating lotions come in a variety of scents. I likes the simple smell of the Coconut Milk and Orchid Extract. Not your style? The lotion also comes in Apricot, Citrus, Oatmeal and Shea Butter, etc… Each one does a little something different. The Apricot Spray is formulated to replenish moisture in the skin. To get that done it’s made with a number of natural moisturizers including apricot extract, vegetable glycerin and shea butter. On the other hand, the coconut milk and orchid extract is meant to leave skin feeling silky smooth; with hints of fragrances like guava, pineapple, Hawaiian jasmine, Lily of the Valley, etc…  The St. Ives hydrating lotion spray retails for $7.99 for 6.5 fl. oz.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of St.Ives. The opinions and text are all mine.