5 Ways To Style One Summer Dress Into Fall

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.

Laid Back Plaid is always a favorite

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!

A Simple Blush Summer Dress

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H&M Short Sleeved Jersey Dress in Blush $17.99 on sale $9.99

 Jean Jacket

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.

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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)

Accessories: Sole Society Zyla Tote $32.48 | J Crew Necklace sold out (similar here)

White Sweater

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.

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Step 1: Grab the perfect thick cable knit sweater. | LL Bean Signature Cotton Fisherman Sweater $89.00

Step 2: It’s all about the riding boot. | Sam Edelman Penny Boot $149.90 (also available in wide calf sizes)

Step 3: Keep it classic with a leather cross body satchel. |Amazon Komal’s Passion Leather Messenger Satchel Bag $42.99 

Accessories: Classic Pearl Earrings | Daniel Wellington Watch 

Long Oversized Cardigan

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.

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Step 1. Think monochromatic. |Cardigan Shown is Sold Out (similar here)

Step 2. Create a waist. |Belt shown is Sold Out (similar here)

Step 3. Suede nude pumps you need. | Steve Madden D’Orsay Pumps $89.00

Accessories: Baublebar Necklace | GiGi New York Clutch 

Edgy Date Night

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.

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Step 1. Think rock and roll leather. | BLANKNYC Faux Leather Jacket $98.00

Step 2. Classic solid black tights keep your legs warm. |SPANX Luxe Leg High-Waisted Mid-Thigh Shaping Tights $38.00

Step 3. The perfect classic pointy toe pump. | Pumps shown are sold out (Similar here)

Step 4. An edgy cross body bag without an overly high designer price. | Rebecca Minkoff Small Love Leather Crossbody $195.00

Accessories: Ink + Alloy Set of 4 Stackable Bangles | Gorjana G Ring Hoops

Laid Back Plaid

 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.

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Step 1. Add a favorite flannel. | Rails Hunter Shirt in White, Black, & Charcoal (Similar here)

Step 2. Grab a comfortable and stylish slip on sneaker. | Steve Madden Owen Slip on Sneaker $59.99

Step 3. Rock a great backpack. | Cara Loren x Fawn Design set $219.99

Accessories: Quay Australia Needing Fame Sunglasses $55. | Apple Watch


Office Desk + Chair DIY


Design on a Dime

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.

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!

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Photo Credit: Miss Mustard Seed on Instagram

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.

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Photo Credit: The Nester on Instagram

Making IKEA Look Good

Let’s Get Down to Business…
Pick your furniture

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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.


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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
Paint Brushes
Glass Mason Jar
Furniture Wax
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!)

Six. Decorate
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.

Left: IKEA HACK: Make the $20 SNILLE Chair Look Like an Expensive Office Chair
Right: DIY IKEA Hack | Gold Office Chair

Left: Before + After: Ikea Table Become’s Katie’s Chic New Desk
Right: White + Gold Desk: Ikea Hack


Bottom Line

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

13 Basics Every Woman Needs In Her Closet

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.

Women’s Basic Hanes Tee: Amazon
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.

Classic Oxford White Button Up: Ralph Lauren

Three: Stripe Tee | Four: Olive Chinos | Five: Jean Jacket

Jean Jacket: J Crew | Stripe Tee: J Crew | Green Chinos: GAP

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

Charcoal Grey Crewneck Sweater: GAP

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).

Navy Blazer: J.Crew
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

JCrew Navy Tweed Jacket: ThredUP

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!

Chambray Button Up: Old Navy
Hands down favorite chambray button-up in my closet is from Old Navy two years ago, so sadly I cannot link the particular one in the photo above BUT I can link an affordable option with the 1969 Denim Fitted Boyfriend Shirt from Gap and a more expensive investment piece from Fashionable called The Western Shirt in Rita Wash.

Ten | Black Skirt

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.

Black Pleated Skirt: Express
This year the pleated black skirt is on trend in all lengths. My favorites are the J.Crew faux leather pleated mini skirt paired with a plaid button up, and the Express Midi-pleated skirt (shown above but out of stock).

Don’t worry about missing out on the Express Midi because there are so many other great styles. Check out skirt styles by Tutu Moi in Midi length Tulle, on trend high-waisted velvet pencil from Express, the Hold Your Haunches Skinny Pencil Skirt, or the pull on flippy skirt by Loft.

Eleven | Jeans

Jeans are something I wear 90% of the year in either black, white, or regular blue.

Skinny Jeans: Old Navy Rockstar Mid-Rise

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.

Twelve | LBD


Only two LBD make my list as a must-have.

One: The Topshop Fit N Flare Skater Sweater Knit Dress (pictured above)

Two: The Michael Stars Tank Midi Dress

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.

Diana Sleeveless Maxi: VICI Collection

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

When You Need A Side

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

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Photo Credit: Sweet Southern Life Writes


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.
10. Enjoy



Fashion Friday: Celebrating Summer

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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle

Y’all it has finally arrived in Germany! What am I talking about? SUMMER! The weather has finally turned warm enough to wear short sleeve shirts without a jacket or blazer. This is cause for celebration, bring on the cute summer gear and fun bright colors!

Now being a southern lady there are few things I love more in this world than ruffles, blue + white stripes, favorite white jeans, and a good nude wedge. I made it a point to celebrate this  with the Runway Ruffle One Shoulder top from Jess Lea Boutique. This top will be on outfit repeat and I’m not even sorry about it.

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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle

My second favorite fashion item has to be a good, affordable white jean. I always turn to the Rockstar Skinny from Old Navy perfectly priced at $29.00. Sizes range from 0 – 20 and carry inseam choices of short (30″), regular (32″), and tall (34″).


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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle

Shoes are my favorite part of any outfit. I grabbed up these BP wedges from Nordstrom a couple of years ago, sadly they are no longer available, but I’m listing a few of my favorite nude wedges below:

Jeffrey Campbell Rayos Perforated Wedge Sandal

Sole Society Rosea Fringe Lace Up Wedge  

Sole Society Hayden Backless Heeled Sandal 

Dolce Vita Dante Wedge Sandal

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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle

Clairee Belcher said it best, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize”, and she was right. This outfit is exactly what I would wear in the south so it seems only fitting to add pearl studs from Prep Obsessed, a nude belt like the halogen tailored trouser leather belt from Nordstrom, and this fun shiraleah braided pom trim clutch from Express .

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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle


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Photo Credit Theresa del Valle

and of course these Odin sunnies from Lennox and Lane in tortoise brown.
Which will come in handy for these sunnier days.

What’s in my Gym Bag

It’s All About the…

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Gym bag. Let’s be honest, I love the fact that my home has its own personal gym but now that I am working for our local fitness center, having time for a personal training session or grabbing a class is so much easier, I would be crazy to not be prepared. Lately my gym bag of choice has been a good old-fashioned basic tote, one you can fill with everything you need. I can’t say enough about my newest gym workhorse, the Mossimo Athleisure Tote from Target. It retails for $34.99 and comes in one color of solid black. As of this blog post the tote is back in stock for online shipping, after being unavailable for a few weeks. I’m sure this won’t last so grab your own while you can!

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Why do I sing its praises? The size is perfect; it has ZERO compartments to get in the way meaning I don’t have to be so mindful how I fill it (no bag filling Tetris), yet big enough to throw a yoga mat in. The bag is a great dark color meaning that I won’t have to worry about getting it dirty. The material is light in weight yet completely wipeable and sports a great perforated pattern allowing for airflow. It would be hard for this $34.99 tote to not become your summer staple as you could bring it to the beach, running errands around town, pool, play dates to the park, on vacation…

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A More Traditional Bag

If needing an actual gym bag is more your jam I have you covered. The FitMark Transporter Tote ($109.99) is not only a gym bag but a travel and meal prep dream with food storage built into the bottom of the bag. Don’t forget the added compartments to help keep your items accessible and organized. Talk about bells and whistles worth investing in!

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Tired of fighting with zippers while looking for things that might have fallen to the bottom of your bag? Need some built-in organization too? Check out the Vooray Burner Gym Duffle Bag (starts at $49.99). With zippers that reach deep to allow for easy access to all of your things, as well as padded compartments to protect your electronics at a steal of a price point.

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What’s in My Gym Bag

 Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.13.18 PMNow that you have your bag what should you pack in it? Let’s start with the “don’ts”. Consider your environment, does the place you plan to workout in have showers? Hair dryers in locker rooms? If it does this will change how you look at packing. Don’t forget to consider your everyday schedule after the sweat session. Are you heading to work or running errands or heading straight home? Thanks to my gym I stay away from carrying fitness “equipment” such as hand weights, belts, etc because the gym provides it for members, however, I do keep a personal yoga mat in the trunk of my vehicle just in case. I don’t pack anything needing electricity such as a blow dryer or flat-iron just because I don’t like the bulk and 9 out of 10 times I’m running a couple of errands or going straight home. Nothing a baseball cap can’t fix. Pretty short don’t list, right?
Now here’s what I can’t live without:

Entertainment: Anyone will tell you the gym can take on a whole new meaning of boredom without something to keep your mind occupied. I always grab my headphones, phone, and favorite fitness tracker. Right now I use Bose ear buds but the Beats Solo3 Wireless in Gold + White ($219.00) are on my christmas wish list this year. Another device I can’t live without is my iPhone because I am able to use it in several different ways; as a music source, a workout guide, and as a tracker. Wanting to lift weights but not sure what to do? There’s an app for that. Need to track your steps? There’s an app for that. It is amazing all of the helpful applications developed for the smart phone to promote getting the most out of your gym time without feeling overwhelmed. When you rely on your smartphone to perform multiple tasks it uses lots of battery power. I love having my mophie case ($54.79) to recharge my phone after an hour or two at the gym. Just flip the switch and your phone case becomes a recharging power source. Don’t forget the tracker that will record all these important stats. I love my Apple Sport Edition Watch for just this reason. Easy to use, all of my data is quickly stored on my phone and separate apps. Need extra equipment? Apple has a great health and fitness page full of high-tech gadgets that won’t take up room in your bag.
My second source of entertainment? A good magazine. NOTHING is more boring than a treadmill facing the gym flat screen tuned into silent ESPN. UGH! So I pack a good issue (or two) for quick reading while getting in some machine cardio.

Nourish your Body: Let’s talk snacks, supplements, and drinks. I never leave home without a good snack in my bag. Sometimes that extra bit of nutrition means the difference between less or more energy. The snacks I love to carry the most are bananas, apples, single serve peanut butter packets, rice cakes, almonds, epic bars, no cow bars, RX bars, and cold grilled chicken breast. Dragging to the gym? I love to reach for a Cliff Power Shot in Double Espresso. Tastes just like chocolate and gives me the boost I need 10-20 minutes before a workout. Don’t forget the importance of supplements. I love to carry small blender bottles ($10.63) with me where I can mix BCAA’s from MusclePharm ($12.58) before my sweat session and after to help with any muscle soreness. Last, you can’t kill it at the gym without H2O. Water is the key to everything health related. I recently have fallen in love with S’Well bottles after receiving a Lilly x Starbucks one as a gift. It’s like the female version of a YETI that comes in all these fun designs, the White Marble (starts at $25.00) has my name written all over it with the Waikiki print (starting at $25.00) in close second.

Performance Gear: Unlike Gym gear what I use to perform has to be small and lightweight while adding to my overall workout. I’m not afraid to say its all about comfort. Lululemon makes a great gym towel (small $18.00) for wiping up your face, arms, and hands in between workouts. There is also a full size version on the site used as a yoga mat topper to towels for the gym showers. Both are great investments I highly recommend. There is nothing wrong with carrying an extra high impact sports bra. This is a clothing item I don’t always wear due to the restrictive nature of the garment. Adidas has a beautiful marble print bra; CMMTTD Marble Chill on sale for ($32.00). Want to lift but don’t want callouses from the handlebars? Don’t forget to carry weightlifting gloves by Harbinger ($14.62) to keep blisters at bay. You’ll need a gym locker to store your things. I bring a good heavy-duty combination lock with me. It’s a bit of security when you aren’t around and the combination part keeps you from being responsible for a key.

What’s in My Gym Make Up Bag

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Beautycounter Cosmetics Bag $30 

Hair: All you’ll need are the basics. Basics are a good dry shampoo, hair ties, a brush, and on bad hair days a good hat. I always try to pick up my favorite dry shampoos  in travel size, the top three for me is Batiste ($7.99), Living Proof ($22.00), and Drybar Detox ($23.00). Need a good hair elastic? Give Invisibobble Traceless Hair Ring ($7.09 for 3 clear bands) a try, very comfortable on the wrist and leaves zero indention on your hair. When wet hair happens at the gym, my go-to brush for tangles and hair drying has to be the Olivia Garden Finger Brush ($13.69).  I have to rock a hat that allows me to sport a bun or ponytail too while showing some state pride, so I pack an Original Ball Cap by The Nash Collection ($32.00).

Face: After a good sweat session I always rock a pretty gritty feeling face so grabbing a good facial wipe is at the top of my list. Currently I am enjoying The Body Shop Tea Tree facial wipes ($10.34). Being fair complected having a flushed face happens, I love to calm down my skin with Beautycounter’s Nourishing Rose Water Mist ($35). It’s been one of my favorite toning sprays this summer.  I have incredibly dry skin since hitting my 30’s so it’s not a surprise that I reach for the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24-hour miracle cream ($20.00) thanks to being super moisturizing and yet light on my skin.

Make-Up: Like hair products, I don’t carry much make-up on hand but enough to not look like a hot mess. Think a light coverage BB cream from L’Oreal Paris ($7.56), a clear mascara by Maybelline ($4.22) accomplishes a very natural look or a waterproof formula from Lancôme ($27.50), and never forget a glossy gloss from lipsense.

Body: Two products cover this for me; 1. Deodorant 2. Perfume. Now hear me out, I don’t take showers at the gym because my sweat sessions are at the end of my gym shift so I take a military baby wipe type clean up. However, you can never go wrong with another layer of deodorant so I buy Dove Invisible Advanced Care ($4.66) for its sheer coverage and carry Jo Malone scents ($65.00) when I’m in a pinch.


Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Haul

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Photo Credit: Google Images 

What is all the Hype?

If you have an instagram and follow any lifestyle or fashion bloggers you know about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year. It definitely creeped up on me and I seriously wasn’t prepared for this nor the Amazon Prime Day (which I am still not completely sure I love). Seems the hype for this sale has been much bigger almost resembling a fashion “black friday”, however, it’s for good reason.

So what is all the hype?

Nordstrom Anniversary sales are a bit different. Rather than having a traditional sale where merchandise from the past season is marked down to make room on shelves for new season items Nordstrom will discount the new seasons incoming inventory. That means you get on trend, upcoming season fashion at a huge discount!

Here’s where Nordstrom is smart, store card holders get early access for an entire week. This means as an exclusive debt or credit card member you get first pick. I believe upper level card holders even get to shop the back holding area in stores BEFORE anything is even announced giving first access to what will be included in the sale. After the week of card holder only access, the sale is released to include the general public and items will sell out fast (they already are)!

Just to give an idea the frenzy among card holders was so big it shut down the Nordstrom site for an entire day halting all online orders! Due to this inconvenience Nordstrom is giving card members 10x the points for anything you purchase! Those points are GOLD y’all since the point system is what gets you free Nordstrom bucks. Everyone loves free money.

What Did I Buy?

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 9.21.21 AMTopshop Raw Ruffle Crop Jacket $54.90 ($85 after sale)

BP Bell Sleeve Off the Shoulder Top $49.00

Rebecca Minkoff Small Love Nubuck Crossbody Bag $149.90 ($225 after sale)

Lush Raw Edge Side Slit Tee $15.90 ($24 after sale)

J. Crew Tipped Pajama Shirt $57.90 ($78 after sale)

How is Shopping for German Weather Different?

Since moving to Europe it has been easy to say no to a lot of American clothing trends mostly because the cold weather we have for 90% of the year forces you to dress for warmth and not fashion (For example July 12th the weather was 60 degrees and raining). That ruled out a lot of the pretty oversized sweaters, lacy tank tops, fun blazers, open toed booties, and cut out design shoes. I even had to stay away from a majority of the off the shoulder trend and the beautiful exaggerated bell sleeves in fear that I would freeze or not be able to comfortably wear a thicker coat this winter with all that extra material.

When I shop I always look for pieces I can layer like the Lush Raw Edge Side Slit Tee or the J. Crew Tipped Pajama Shirt which is a take on a classic button up but with soft pajama material. I still wanted to embrace the bell sleeve and shoulder trend so I allowed myself one or two pieces in this category. The BP Bell Sleeve Off the Shoulder Top will be perfect for all the upcoming winery tours happening in August and September and is right on trend with subtle bell sleeves. I couldn’t say no to the Topshop Raw Ruffle Crop Jacket even though I suspect I may only get a couple of months use out of it.
I also opted for a new cross body bag from Rebecca Minkoff. I have learned living in Europe, that space is a luxury. Large tote bags don’t always work when aisles are small and packed or standing in line where personal space is non-exsistant. Book bag type purses don’t always have the best safety from pick pockets and I use all of my hand-held bags for everyday running around town (although, when tired of holding a purse I will switch everything out to a crossbody). Crossbody bags will become your best friend here.

For all of my APO, AE shoppers Nordstrom does (quickly) ship and their shipping materials/packing are some of the best! I have only had one thing arrive damaged to me, years ago, when I was sent a Tory Burch silk shirt with a hole in it. That wasn’t even from shipping and I ordered it while still living in the states. Knock on wood no accidents or damages in the 1.5 years I have been overseas! The longest an order took to get to me was two weeks. Seriously, Amazon and other companies could learn a thing or two from Nordstrom.

Things I Love

So what would I have bought if I did live in a place with four seasons? So many things my card and husband would probably cry.

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Rebecca Minkoff Julian Leather Backpack $196.90 (after sale $295)

Spanx Faux Leather Leggings *I own these* $64.90 (after sale $98)

Stuart Weitzman Elevated Over the Knee Boot $499.90 (after sale $798)

Trouve Raw Edge Leather Jacket $199.90 (after sale $299)

Vince Camuto Jumpsuit $98.90 (after sale $148)

Leith Stretch Knit Midi Dress $45.90 (after sale $69)

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 10.24.37 AMJoe’s Flawless- Icon Ankle Skinny jeans (Rosella) $118.90 (after sale $178)

Vince Camuto Karinta Block Heel Bootie $99.90 (after sale $149.95)

BRUNETTE Fries Before Guys Sweatshirt $51.90 (after sale $79)

Hunter Original Refined Matte Rain Boot $129.90 (after sale $195)

Vince Corbin Slip-On Sneaker $129.90 (after sale $195)

Jo Malone London Cologne Collection $115 (sale exclusive)

Barefoot Dreams Cozy Chic Lite Circle Cardigan $76.90 (after sale $116)
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Nordstrom Lingerie Seamless Bandeau $11.90 (after sale $19)

Nordstrom Lingerie Moonlight Short Pajamas $35.90 (after sale $55)

Nordstrom Lingerie Lazy Mornings Lounge Pant $25.90 (after sale $39)

Soprano Lace Trim Tank $18.90 (after sale $29)

Soprano Stripe Cotton & Linen Off the Shoulder Top $22.90 (after sale $35)

Pleione Double Ruffle Sleeve Blouse $39.90 (after sale $59)

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Vince Camuto Tipped Bell Sleeve Top $45.90 (after sale $69)

BP Lace Trim Satin Camisole $22.90 (after sale $35)

Trouve Y-Back Halter Tank $38.90 (after sale $59)

Nordstrom Signature Stripe Top $85.90 (after sale $129)

Halogen Gathered Neck Blouse $45.90 (after sale $69)

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 11.03.42 AMTed Baker London Mereda Cable Knit Peplum Sweater $122.90 (after sale $185)

J. Crew Pardon My French Graphic Tee $25.90 (after sale $39.50)

Hinge Long Sleeve Ruffle Tee $29.90 (after sale $49)

Madewell Catskills Jacket $78.90 (after sale $118)

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment *I own this* $118 (after sale $175)

MAC Look in a Box Basic Brush Kit $49.50 (sale exclusive valued at $162)

Smashbox Primer Duo $32 (sale exclusive valued at $52)

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 11.20.18 AMLiving Proof Perfect Hair Day Collection $75 (sale exclusive valued at $130)

Revitalash Advanced Duo $98 (sale exclusive valued at $196)

S’Well 25 oz Waikiki Stainless Steel Water Bottle $25

Destinations Golden Pineapple Shower Curtain $29.90 (after sale $39.99)

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 11.31.11 AMQuay Australia ‘Needing Fame’ 65mm Aviator Sunglasses *I own these* $35.90 (after sale $55)

Vince Camuto Francia Bootie $99.90 (after sale $149.95)

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2 X-Plore Running Shoe $119.90 (after sale $160)