Let’s talk skin, better yet, let’s talk about my skin which has been a hot mess since moving to this much colder climate. Gone are the days of humidity and in are the long days of freezing temperatures and artificial heat. My regular shaving cream just wasn’t cutting it, nor my lotion. But I happen to have a few good friends who are into healthy beauty, their suggestion… Coconut Oil.
It wasn’t hard to read up on the benefits since coconut oil has been buzzing around the beauty community for some time. So, convinced, I went to my local commissary and ordered from Amazon in search of the perfect coconut oil to add into my beauty regime. Here’s what I thought and how I used it.
I am not incredibly picky but I can say grabbing my shaving item from the grocery store shelves was a bit un-nerving. What if the oil makes me break out? What if I smell like a nasty coconut? What if it stains my clothes? Is something so cheap going to give great results? Here are my pros + cons:
Pro: Coconut Oil does such an amazing job of conditioning your skin that you don’t need to worry about cuts and so moisturizing that you don’t even need lotion afterwards. Killing two birds with one stone y’all!
Pro: No Smell. Seriously.
Pro: No skin breakouts. Guess that’s why people love using coconut oil to remove make-up too.
Pro: No oily stains. Zero. Which really surprised me. Just make double sure you rinsed off well after shaving.
Pro: Doesn’t gunk up your razor blade like shaving cream.
Pro: I’m in love! Hands down coconut oil gives you an extremely close shave. Probably one of the closest shaves I’ve had in a while and part of the reason why it was so easy to give up waxing my legs after moving to Europe.
Con: It can be a bit dangerous in the respect that your shower floor or tub will be a bit slick and greasy. Make sure to wash your tub and shower floor after every use. No one has time for nasty build up or a broken ankle.
Con: If you are going to be outside in intense sun I don’t suggest using coconut oil beforehand. You will fry crispier than Nashville Hot Chicken and skin cancer just isn’t cute. My suggestion is to shave the day before.
Coconut oil is affordable and gives you more bang for your beauty buck.
Coconut oil is a huge time saver since you can shave and it pulls double duty as a moisturizer too.
Did you know coconut oil reduces the risk of razor burn? Sure does!
Coconut oil can help protect and repair skin from the effects of aging thanks to being rich in antioxidants which inhibit oxidization and prevent cell damage .
Fatty acids in coconut oil are what help to moisturize your skin but it also has vitamins A. C. and E.
So here’s the low down to using coconut oil for shaving. The constancy will definitely throw you off at first because it scoops out like a solid but with the warmth of your hands it can quickly turn to liquid so work fast. Keep in mine a little goes a LONG way so use sparingly. Usually beauty gurus say a teaspoon of product can cover a whole leg and the oil doesn’t slide down the drain like shaving cream so no need to reapply.
Please remember to wash your hands before picking up your razor just so you don’t loose grip, remember this is oil and its slick and cutting yourself hurts. Last bit of how to is to make sure this is the last step to your shower routine. You don’t want to risk slipping and sliding or running greasy hands through that freshly clean hair.
Viva, LouAna, and Green Elephant are my top three favorites. Stay away from glass jars, opting for coconut oil in plastic containers. Trust me, I’ve dropped my jar twice.
It remains a rumor that a thirsty doctor looking for a refreshing drink created the Chilton with a country club bartender in a Texas town named Lubbock. This lemony cocktail has a refreshing taste some have described as “sunshine” in a glass. Incredibly simple to mix up on a hot day, many claim it as the perfect low-calorie, low-carb drink. Chilton aficionados claim that this drink can be personalized (like aggressively shaking, not gently stirred) or replacing regular vodka with citron flavored (like Absolute Citron) and the juice of 1/2 a squeezed lemon. Anyway you make it this drink is delicious and near impossible to mess up. Cheers to Texas!
How To Video
What Will You Need
Lemon Juice + Lemon Wheel
Makes 1 Highball Chilton
Rim a highball glass with salt, then fill with ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and the juice of 2 lemons. Fill the glass with soda water and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.
‘Always prepared’ should be every good southern ladies motto if your mama taught you well. Y’all know that down south friends show up unexpectedly so you have to be on your toes. Now that I live in Europe old habits die hard. Just my luck that my southern mannerisms happen to be rubbing off on my fabulous German friends which has resulted in a couple unexpected hostess situations.
Never fear because I always keep a good coffee cake on the counter and a log of goat cheese in the fridge. Keep reading for my favorite entertaining recipe in a pinch and a few great alternatives. Like my daddy use to say, no one leaves this house hungry!
Unwrap the goat cheese and place on a small serving plate or wooden board. Top with fig jelly and follow with roughly chopped salted pistachios. Serve with Ritz crackers. Perfect with a dry white wine or light refreshing cocktail.
Don’t have Fig Jelly on hand? Replace fig with some regular honey and drizzle it on!
Try a completely different topping! Drizzle Honey, Apricot Preserves, Lightly Salted Almonds, and chopped fresh basil or parsley. Perfect with crackers and sliced granny smith apples.
Want something sweeter? Mix 2 tbsp fig preserves with 1/4 c. honey. Top with chopped pistachios.
Summer doesn’t last long in Germany but that didn’t stop me from picking up a blush colored t-shirt dress. I found it at our local H&M by chance, mixed in with a few casual pieces. Honestly is was downright sad, I’m not even sure what it was about the dress that appealed to me but I only had one other blush clothing piece in my closet that was on serious rotation and this happened to be a pretty good deal so in my shopping bag it went.
Y’all I am not even sorry. Date nights, brunch, BBQ’s, travel, I have definitely gotten my moneys worth. My go-to summer look involved a pair of nude wedges, gold Lisi Lerch earrings, a fun straw Lilly Pulitzer clutch, and my hair in a messy low knot. But it’s been crisp fall weather since the end of September so I had to think outside of the box if I wanted to keep wearing my favorite dress.
I figured if this was my challenge others might need some inspiration too so I’m sharing 5 ways to transition this plain jane blush t-shirt dress into your fall go-to. Before you know it you’ll be rethinking your summer dresses too!
I am pretty sure there is nothing that can top the look of a jean jacket. It’s easy to style and effortless to wear. I rarely leave my jean jacket open for this look, instead I like to button the three middle buttons (example in the photo). Add a fabulous statement necklace, cute neutral nude wedges and a matching tote. Perfect for a day of running errands and oh so easy to transition into girls night.
Step 1. A well loved basic. |Denim Jacket shown is sold out (similar here)
Step 2. Closed toed wedges. | Wedges shown are sold out (similar here)
The famous Kennedy family got it right, the North happens to be a beautiful place to vacation, definitely one of my favorite places. Known for its seafood, cooler weather, history, water activities, and stunning architecture, they are also home to well-known New England style fashion. I like to mix my inner English style rider with main pieces like the chunky fisherman sweater. The dark, rich, brown leather reminds me of the leaves when they turn colors in the fall and the thick sweater is perfect at keeping the cold away.
If you ask me what chic looks like I think of the beautiful monochromatic looks of Paris. Structured jackets, cardigans with big collars and belted waists, scarves of the same color as the dress. If you want to achieve this look all you have to do is match color, add texture, and rock it! I paired this oversized H&M cardigan with a leather double wrap belt in a nude color, suede pumps in nude, a GiGi New York croc embossed clutch, and a little gold number from bauble bar. My advice… consider self tanning for this look.
Step 1. Think monochromatic. |Cardigan Shown is Sold Out (similar here)
Step 2. Create a waist. |Belt shown is Sold Out (similar here)
I always feel cool, very rock and roll, with a great faux leather jacket. Take a page from the preppy fashion handbook by adding in tights and a great pair of black heels. This dark look gives the blush dress the exact background it needs to pop. Throw your hair into a low bun, add in gold jewelry, and matte black accessories to pull this dress from day time to-night chic.
I love to grab a plaid shirt to tie at my waist, or wear open when I am cold. Blame my flannel love on my 90’s grunge roots. But how do I pick the perfect color flannel? Think grey because blush and a softer neutral color like grey is perfect for daytime. Add in a great grey backpack, blush slip on sneakers, grey shaded lens sunglasses, and an everyday watch. My favorite is the apple watch because it’s always connected to my phone saving me the need to dig when I receive a text message. Now you are ready to tackle the Starbucks line and all those never-ending errands.
December 28th of this year we will celebrate 2 years in Germany.
This is amazing and yet sad at the same time because our 5-6 year stay in Europe is flying by faster than I care to admit.
But that didn’t stop us from doing the “American on a Saturday” thing and hitting up IKEA in celebration. This time I walked away with a new desk, chair, + HUGE plans to upcycle both. IKEA furniture are seriously what dreams are made of.
Now I know what you are thinking, IKEA furniture at 30? Yes, and here’s why; We move every 3-5 years like clockwork. Moving comes with its own challenges like missing a whole crate full of boxes, the outdoor grill turned upside down on your sofa, nails driven into the crate mere inches from your nice leather couch, never finding your Christmas lights rubbermaid tote or the lids to your plastic storage containers, water damage, just to name a few.
Moving into a home that is unknown is another issue dear to my heart. For example we went from a four bedroom house to a temporary two bedroom condo to a three bedroom home to a seven bedroom German Mansion. I have downsized and bought items several times in my moving life.
Because of this lifestyle I have been forced to adapt. I own a handful of expensive items like our Pottery Barn, Thomas Jefferson collection, Master Bedroom set, but I have learned to add in items to fill the space from places like the local thrift store and IKEA. Lets face it I am okay singing “Let it Go” as I pass on a $20 desk chair or smile as I watch my sons bike roll off the EKTROP white living room easy chair because it was $300.
The last I have learned to live with thanks to pinning my dreams on Pinterest. I am forever decorating and adapting my style to someone else’s home. To not deal with the hassle or sometimes live within the contract rules I cannot paint my walls beautiful shades of grey, install weathered wood chevron ceilings, or add beautiful traditional gold light fixtures wrapped in big wood spheres from Restoration Hardware. That also completely rules out wallpaper. So I pin and I dream that one day my forever house will have beautiful white trim, gold accents, light gray walls, and bold Navy touches. Someday.
Two Project Favorites + A Design Book
I figured I would share a couple (or three) things that I love to carry with me everywhere we go. These items have proved time and again to be worthy of a mention.
Gold Spray Paint.
Y’all, seriously. Nothing makes a piece look high-end like a touch of gold. I never look at an item at face value, everything can be changed. Drawer handles, picture frames, candle sticks, book covers, furniture legs,… Even office chairs + desks. My two favorite have to be Design Master in Gold Medal /$7.99 at Michael’s Craft Store and Rust-Oleum Metallic /$3.95 on Amazon, in that order. They dry fast and give a smooth even finish.
Design Master: Gold Medal from Michaels Craft Store $7.99
Rust-Oleum: Gold Metallic from Amazon $3.95
Milk Paint is the new Chalk Paint.
Trust me on this little piece of advice. It is not only easy to mix what you NEED but it’s also able to be shipped to APO addresses because its powder. But the best part? This paint is INCREDIBLY easy to work with from mixing to applying to clean up. It gives a similar look as beloved chalk paint which is every Americans unicorn paint living overseas. No surface is impossible, you don’t even need to pre sand, if you add in the bonding agent and tough enough to be applied to your most used piece with a thin layer of furniture wax buffed in. Want to have a weathered, loved, antiqued look? Grab a paint spatula/knife and run it across the area you want to distress, cover with furniture wax to seal it and done!
Love the Home You are In, but grab this book for inspiration.
The nomad life might seem romantic and exciting, sometimes it is, but moving and renting can sometimes be less than glamorous. The silver lining is being able to collect beautiful Interior decorating + style books, but few of them actually tackle decorating a rental home. Out of the very rare my favorite, hands down, is The Nesting Place, $10.71 / Amazon, written by Myquillyn Smith who has lived a similar life on the move as me. She chronicles good decorating choices + bad, decorating on a budget, + learning to love the home you’re in. My favorite chapter happens to be the timeline of homes where she lovingly + humorously reminisces on each place she had to live. My favorite DIY is the easy to (re)move wall paper trick. Sadly this will have to wait until my next home as this current one has concrete walls nothing sticks to.
Making IKEA Look Good
Let’s Get Down to Business…
Pick your furniture
Many of my pieces have to be versatile. For example a dresser has to be able to fit in a living room as a TV stand, a foyer table to hold hats + gloves, a dresser in a bedroom, or converted into a storage unit in an office. The KULLABERG looked like that kind of table. Depending on where you place the cross bars underneath it could be a foyer table, hall table, breakfast nook table, guest room desk, a coffee station table in the kitchen, or in this case my new office desk. The framework underneath is metal and easy to spray paint while the top is unfinished wood, perfect for staining or painting. If I decide to change the colors sanding and respraying will be possible.
I did a lot of Pinterest digging looking for an inexpensive or upcycle chair option and stumbled across this SNILLE swivel chair for $19.99. Many hacked the chair by spray painting the lower half which totally changed the overall look. The white chair seat goes with everything. If I am forced to pass this on due to downsizing paying $19.99 won’t make me feel so bad.
The Supplies You’ll Need
Gold Spray Paint
Clean, Unflattened Cardboard Box
Chair Instruction Book from IKEA
Tools Provided in your Chair Kit
Gold Spray Paint
Clean, Flattened Cardboard Box
White Milk Paint
Glass Mason Jar
Table Instruction Book from IKEA
Tools mentioned in Instructions
One. Designate a clean, covered work environment.
I chose my garage for this project just because it’s suppose to rain off and on the next week, plus I can spread out. I plan to assemble the finished pieces in my office.
Two. Set up your workspace.
Lay out your cardboard boxes for spray painting parts, just double make sure they are clean of dirt and trash or else whats in/on the boxes will end up on your furniture.
Three. Spray Paint all the metal gold.
I like to do two thin layers by spraying 2-3″ away from my intended target. Any closer and you could end up with a mess of pooling, dripping paint. That my friends is no bueno. Let the spray painted surface dry in between layers.
Four. Assemble the Chair + Paint the Desk Top
Follow the directions for assembly provided by IKEA for your chair (it’s done). Grab your painting supplies, mix your milk paint, and start working on your desk top. I like to apply two to three coats of paint for this project. Let table top dry in between coats. Once you have achieved the desired look + everything is dry, seal it with furniture wax.
Five. Assemble Desk
Just like the chair follow the directions for assembly provided by IKEA (now your desk is complete too!)
This is the best part. Future post to follow.
Have any questions? Just leave them below in the comments.
But if you want to know what inspired me click the links below.
So what was the final cost of this project?
I already owned all of my supplies so the total cost for me was just the furniture. That made my final cost only $158.99.
However, if you decide to take on this DIY I broke down what each item cost.
SNILLE Chair $19.99
1 Can of Design Master Spray Paint $7.99
KULLABERG Desk $139.00
1 bag of Milk Paint (covers 70 sq. ft of surface) $24.75
1 Can of Design Master Spray Paint $7.99
Furniture Wax (50 grams) $16.00
Wax Brush $13.50
Paint Brush $1.00 each
I’m back after what was almost three months of recuperating from a very serious emergency surgery that I was completely unprepared for. And out of all the blogging topics I start with my 13 favorite outfit pieces in my closet.
It’s all the rage, this idea of a minimalist clothing collection, lovingly called a capsule wardrobe. You can see this concept played out in other closets on Youtube channels, social media, and lifestyle blogs. This got me thinking…
what are my favorite foundation pieces?
I know a wardrobe of 25-30 items will never be my thing. Maybe because I like to fit in as many bows, bell sleeves, and off the shoulder tops I can, or that I would prefer several Lilly Pulitzer dresses full of color and pattern to add to my ever-growing collection. But if you asked me to pull the items I reach for most these 13 pieces would make my foundation clothing list. From travel packing (when suitcase space is a premium) to grocery shopping I can’t go wrong with this classic, comfortable, transitional, uniform.
One |Crewneck Tee
So what makes a foundation piece? To me it must be versatile, easy to transition from one season to the next, and have a classic or timeless feel.
This is probably an item that every person has in their closet so it’s a no brainer. Number one on my list goes to the solid crewneck tee. I always carry them in colors like white, black, navy blue, and grey. Easy to pack in a carry on bag for travel, comfortable material, no bulk when layering, matches everything, perfect for dressing up or down.
Two | White Button Up
There is nothing that is more classic than a white button up top. Just like the crewneck tee it meets all my requirements as a foundation piece. My favorite way to wear it? With a pair of skinny jeans (or white jeans), brown riding boots, and my Hermes ‘H’ belt. Hello equestrian preppy style.
Three: Stripe Tee | Four: Olive Chinos | Five: Jean Jacket
Stripe Tee: Did you know that this style of stripe, which has been photographed worn by James Dean to Coco Chanel and even worn by today’s British Royals, has a name. It is known as the Breton stripe. It was first introduced in 1858 as the uniform for all northern French navy seamen. The original design had 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories. The stripes also served a purpose while at sea. It made the spotting of wayward sailors who had fallen overboard easier. Today we wear our stripes with blazers, clashing prints, and classic chinos, proving that this stripe goes with just about anything.
Olive Chinos: This one piece is so versatile you could find outfit inspiration from both men and women. This year I finally forced myself to replace my beloved J.Crew skinny chinos for a more relaxed version from the GAP. Want to add a pair of pants that rivals the jeans in your closet? Check out the Girlfriend twill stripe chino.
Jean Jacket: Another fun fashion fact comes from Levi in 1905 when the denim jacket became the work shirt of the hard-working blue-collar class. The fabric was originally Italian but imported to France where Levi ordered enough to start his jean empire, finally bringing it to the states. Jean jackets have not only outfitted US military through two world wars, it also was worn by famous icons, and became the official symbol for rebel teens from the 1950’s to now. The J.Crew denim jacket in Newton Wash is an affordable option with the Fashionable jacket in merly wash being my favorite investment piece.
Six | Crewneck Cashmere Sweater
The Crewneck Cashmere sweater has become a huge favorite since moving to Germany where the temps are cold or cool a majority of the year. Of course its the perfect layering piece mostly because it’s not overly bulking. Solid neutral colors in cream, navy, black, and gray are the best investment. I grab my pieces from GAP, Two Bees Cashmere, Everlane, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers, and Nordstrom.
Seven | Blazer
Hello, my name is Kathleen and I have an addiction to Blazers
(and leather jackets if I have to be honest, but that’s another post).
Here’s some fun history (I love history) about the blazer we know today. The name “blazer” originated with the “red” blazers of the Lady Margaret Boat Club in 1825. This was the rowing club of St. John’s College, Cambridge where the red material used was so bright it was “blazing”. What was once the uniform of rowing clubs is now the most iconic piece in your closet besides the twill jacket, stripe tee, LBD, and jean jacket. It has been refashioned in every era and still stands the test of time. My favorite high fashion investment pieces are more affordable on eBay, Etsy, and The Real Real. But I am known to grab blazers from J.Crew where the Regent style comes in sizes from petite to tall and in fabrics like linen and wool.
Eight | Tweed Jacket
I blame this item on the iconic fashion house, Chanel. It is because of the classic, timeless, polished feel of a tweed jacket that I always make it a point to keep one in my closet. Perfect with jeans, beautiful with a favorite pair of skinny pants, timeless with a family heirloom broach. Dressed up with heels or laid back with a pair of Lacoste sneakers, it’s impossible not to feel like a million bucks! However, you don’t have to spend a million bucks to get this look. Where do I love to buy my tweed jackets? Second hand from the online store Thred-Up where I grabbed up a great deal paying only $35. eBay and Etsy can also be great resources for vintage J.Crew, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren treasures.
Nine | Chambray Button-Up
I kicked this one around when creating my list partly because I don’t think people consider this top as an outfit basic, but I promise it’s a classic like the white button up. I found it to be the perfect neutral but didn’t know why it was to me, until I was brainstorming ideas for outfits, that is when I realized I wasn’t wrong in adding this piece to my list. By the time I finished I had 23 total outfits all using this one top and what I already owned in my closet. I know… my mind was blown!
This past Friday the husband made reservations at the golf course restaurant near our house. Not knowing what German golf course restaurants required as acceptable attire I grabbed my pleated black midi skirt. Added a boatneck tee from GAP, a wide leather wrap belt from The Limited, and a beautiful faux fur jacket – Done and Done. Best part? I put that outfit together without even a thought because the black skirt is just that easy to style.
Jeans are something I wear 90% of the year in either black, white, or regular blue.
My favorite go-to style is the skinny, not because I am opposed to a good wide leg or bootcut but the skinny style, living in a cold European country, allows me an easier time to roll in the warmer seasons and tuck into boots during the colder ones. My recommendation, Old Navy Rockstar Skinny in mid-rise. This style is made in all colors, sizes, and waist choices of low, mid, and high rises.
I also love that jeans can be a personal fashion expression by cutting the bottoms, creating rips, adding bleach spots, sewing patches, bedazzling with rhinestones, dye dipping for an ombre effect… the creativity is endless and its all over the stores! Definitely a DIY fashion trend I can support.
I swear these two dresses look good on every body type and can transition easily from daytime sneakers and a bomber jacket to date night heels and a fierce leather jacket number. The material is so good you could even throw a sweater or shirt over to make it into a totally different look. That’s what makes these Little Black Dresses (LBD) a necessity in your closet.
Thirteen | Go-To Party Dress
A party dress always works overtime. It needs to be versatile enough to go from the theater to a company christmas party or a wedding to date night. I never buy my party dress in white for this reason, mostly leaning towards a pretty cobalt blue like my VICI Collection Diana maxi-dress. I usually won’t buy this number in black either because that is what my LBD is for. Right now the sleeveless Diana maxi is no longer available but the long sleeve Diana is TO-DIE-FOR.
How versatile can this dress be? Add a cropped blazer, faux fur, cardigan, leather jacket, even a jean jacket. Strappy closed or open nude heels are my go to but I have been known to pair a great nude pointy toed pump with it too.
I am awful at side dishes; barbecues, weeknight dinners, doesn’t matter the reason or event I have lost all creativity in trying to balance out the starch to vegetable ratio. Throw in summers without air conditioning in Europe and cooking can be downright miserable. Lately I have been wanting pasta salad for several reasons. Convenience of cooking once and storing in the fridge, never to be warmed up again. Convenience of making large quantities to mix and match with different meals or allow the family to pick and choose favorites. The perfect way to use up veggies left in the fridge because pizza sounded tastier on a Friday night. I really have yet to see a negative to this pasta salad wave going on in my house.
J (the hubby) decided he wanted to smoke a piece of beef called “the flat”. Don’t ask me what that means, my eyes glossed over 1 minute after making the mistake of asking. This piece of meat can be patiently smoked for hours to make what Americans know as brisket. We ate brisket a ton in El Paso, Texas at our favorite restaurant, Rudy’s. So with our favorite brisket in mind, J made a crust of course ground pepper and salt, then proceeded to smoke for the next 6 hours.
You’d think I would have had time to think of a side dish but in true form I waited until the last-minute dreading what I was going to throw together to complement what I knew would be delicious. Then I thought Texas brisket deserves El Paso Mexican style sides and that is where my adaptation of the Chelsea’s Messy Apron recipe for Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad was created.
Mexican Street Corn Past Salad
1 16 oz. box Elbow Macaroni
1 12 oz. bag Frozen Gold and White Corn
1 large avocado
3 green onions
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 finely chopped jalapeños with the seeds
1/2 container of crumbled Feta cheese
1 can black beans, drained + rinsed
1/2 Cup Olive Oil Mayo
1 fresh lime, squeezed
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp Sriracha
S+P to taste
1. Chop bacon into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces and cook over medium heat.
2. Boil salted water. Add elbow macaroni when water has come to a rolling boil. Add frozen corn towards end when macaroni starts to taste al dente.
3. While bacon is finishing and the pasta/corn mix is boiling chop up green onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. Add to bowl + mix black beans into chopped vegetables.
4. Drain bacon, pasta, and corn, add to bowl with black beans and chopped vegetables.
5. Mix all ingredients under “Dressing” in a separate, smaller bowl.
6. Add dressing to bowl with bacon and vegetables, mix together.
7. Add in chopped avocado and feta cheese.
8. Gently mix all ingredients until combined.
9. Serve at room temperature of leave in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.