Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beach Style: 6 Outfits to Pack Lightly for a Weekend Getaway

Packing light for a beach trip: simple beachy outfits for a perfect weekend getaway! |
When you pack for a trip, do you only bring along the perfect number of outfits, or do you include back ups and alternative options?

Uh, I do the latter..kind of to the extreme. Who knows what you're going to feel like putting on every morning?

hashtag packing problems

I tried to be better about that on our recent trip to Long Beach, considering it was only a 2-night stay. I did surprisingly well with picking out complete outfits (as well as accessories) and bringing only those things. I don't know if I could convince myself to always do things this way, but it was pretty successful. Wanna see?

Duh, of course you do, CLOTHES! ;)

First, I planned the outfit that I'd wear the day we traveled. It's only a 1 hour car ride (assuming the bridge isn't packed - Long Beach is in Canada and we're coming from Buffalo, NY) so I didn't need travel-specific clothes. In fact, I wanted an outfit that could take me right from the car to the beach!

Shorts: Mossimo (Target)
Top: Mossimo (Target)
Sandals: Merona (Target)
Jewelry: Stella & Dot
(Celestial Choker, Engravable Bar Necklace, Sparkle Studs - all silver)

I'm not much of a swimmer, especially in natural bodies of water, but I decided to plan and pack a bathing suit/beach lounging outfit just in case I decided to actually use the beach as its intended to be. (Yeah, I didn't, but I was prepared...ha)

Bathing Suit: Assets by Sara Blakely (Target)
Cover Up: Capeside Cover Up by Matilda Jane
Beach Towel: Matilda Jane
Sunglasses: Target
Necklace: Paparazzi
Beach Read: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

The rest of my packing was a little less planned. I put together 2 pj outfits, and 2 daytime outfits to be worn however I felt like wearing them for our remaining time there. The leggings ended up saving me in the evening of the second day - my legs got a little too much sun, and everything that touched them was killing me! I put those on, and it was sooo much better.

Leggings: LulaRoe
(yes, I doo own some)
Tank: Merona (Target)
Hoodie: Old Navy

Pants: Aubrey Big Ruffles by Matilda Jane
Tank: Merona (Target)
Hoodie: Old Navy

Shorts: Girlfriend Shorts from Gap
Tank: Merona (Target)
Sandals: Mossimo (Target)
Jewelry: Stella & Dot
(Rose Gold Wishing Necklace & Rose Gold Dejavu Studs)

Top: Tropical Dream Cami by Matilda Jane
Shorts: Pixie Shorts from Old Navy
Sandals: Merona (Target)
Jewelry: Paparazzi Necklace & Three Birds Designs bow earrings

I was surprised by how well I stuck to my planned outfits (so much for morning indecision), and how much less crap I had with me for a short trip. In fact, I was able to pack my entire 5-person family into ONE suitcase. Total win.

Do you plan outfits before traveling?
Which one of my planned beach outfits was your fav??

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Monday, August 14, 2017

12 Things I'm Crushing On

12 Things I'm Crushing On: birthday wishlist 2017! |
The people in my house know that when the calendar flips to August 1st, it's Jenn month.

I know everyone jokingly claims the entire month of their birth, but I also celebrate my anniversary this month, so it's a double whammy. It's really a big 'ol celebration. Matt was actually out of town on August 1st this year, and the first thing he texted me at 7am was "Happy Birthday Month!"

My people, they get it.

With my day on the horizon, I spent some time dreaming about my wishlist. Here's what I'd love to get....

Birthday Wishlist 2017

Grey Converse (size 8.5, wink wink)
I need a less athletic looking sneaker this fall to go with outfits that I'd normal wear with flip flops. I picked these because I want something neutral, cute, and trendy!

Women's Tall Hunter Boots in Dark Slate (size 9)
I've always wanted a pair of Hunter boots, but I had a perfectly good floral pair of rain boots from Target and I couldn't justify it. Wellll, the buckle on those busted this spring, so I feel better wanting these, now. Typically I'd pick something bright and colorful, but neutral seems like a better idea for the cost.

Stemless Wine Glasses
It seems ridiculous that I haven't just run out and bought a box of these, but I've wanted to ditch stemmed glasses for years. I don't know why...just not feeling them anymore! I found a set of 12 at Target that seem nice enough for $20!

What to buy a 33 year old for her birthday!

Felt Letter Board (Black, 13x17" or 12x18")
Do you have any idea how many quotes and things I've got saved up for this baby? I would have so much (maybe too much) fun with one of these bad boys. I want the bigger size because mama can be wordy. ;)

Stella & Dot Signature Engravable Bar Cuff in Silver
I'm loving all my recently acquired Stella (I promise to share it all soon!), and the engravables are especially exciting to personalize. I want this bracelet with the word "everything" which is a new mantra of mine that acts as a reminder that I already have everything and more. It's a call to be present and grateful right now.

Stella & Dot Chevron Leather Wrap Bracelet in Silver
Every bracelet needs party guests, and this is one I love paired with the engravable cuff!

12 Things I'm Crushing On

Love Grows Best Sign from Between You & Me Signs
This is kind of a lofty want, but I love the saying on this one - it's a testament to the environment I've always wanted to cultivate in this little home of ours, and a good reminder (when it's loud and cluttered) as to why our home appealed to us in the first place.

Babette Ate Oatmeal Tee by Sew Called Life
This one is a little silly, but I'm trying to be more diligent about keeping separate PJ and daytime wardrobes (hashtag stay at home mom problems), and I would love to add this to my pajama, lazy morning closet. Triple bonus points if you understand it! ;)

Tiny Leaf Studs from Humble & Spark
I think these are the perfect dainty fall accessory to add to my collection...while silver matches most of what I wear, I feel like rose gold fits the fall hues better. Decisions!

Internet Window Shopping for my birthday!

Leather Wrap Necklace by 93 Percent Stardust Co
This is such a simple necklace that I think will complete a lot of of fall outfits. Can't beat that price, either!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them BluRay
If you don't already know this about me, the world of Harry Potter is also part of my world (hashtag nerd alert) and while I was skeptical, I love this new HP series. Matt and I just watched some of it on our anniversary getaway over the weekend on HBO...definitely need this in my permanent collection!

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (pre-order)
Gretchen Rubin is one of my self-help gurus, and I love everything she puts out. I've been looking forward to this book since she first mentioned it...can't wait to read it! I don't purchase many books these days (HP related and self-help is really it, I get the rest from the library), but hers definitely make the shelf.

What do you have your fingers crossed for this season?

PS, some of these links are affiliates - thanks for supporting my blog, and my internet window shopping ;)

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Friday, August 11, 2017

10 Facts, 10 Years Later

Ten years ago today was my wedding day.

It was a beautiful, sunny, sweltering Saturday, filled with love, family, and bright colors.

Pink & Orange Rose Wedding Bouquet

Visions of my wedding day had changed over the years, and what we actually ended up with was not at all what we'd expected.

I hate being the center of attention (so does Matt), so the thought of a big 150-guest wedding with all the ceremony...the bouquet toss, the garter thing, shoving cake in each other's faces, and planned really didn't appeal to either of us.

Our first plan was to do a small, quaint winter wedding.

The next was slightly bigger, but was very traditional....all pastels and formality.

And by the time it was all said and done, our guest list had tripled, and we had an outdoor reception with horseshoes and dancing planned - but full of the bright, vibrant colors that are deeply true to who I am. I ended up enjoying the creative side of wedding planning and ran with it.

At the end of the day, we probably would have been more comfortable with the small and quiet, but our day was gorgeous and wonderful all the same.

It seems crazy that it was a decade ago. An entire decade!

To commemorate, I thought I'd share some of the details from our big day.

1. On our wedding day, I was 22 and Matt was 26. I turned 23 twenty days later.

2. Though neither of us are overly religious, we married in the Catholic church (more for family than for us, really) and one of the things that has always bothered me is the way they do "the kiss" in the middle of the ceremony. If you watch our wedding video, everyone was so caught off guard by the timing that one person clapped lamely during it, and at the end of the ceremony we just sort of awkwardly walked away without the kiss to signal the end of things. Total awkward l-o-l looking back.

3. We had a BIG wedding party. I had 7 Bridesmaids, and Matt had an equal number of Groomsmen. We also had 4 flower girls (yes, 4!) and a ring bearer. It was maybe a little excessive, but it was a ton of fun, and we are still close with every one of our wedding party members! We love them all :)

4. Speaking of those flower girls...not only were they outrageously adorable, they kicked off our ceremony with the best ice breaker ever. Only 3 of them actually made it down the aisle, and the littlest of the bunch got resourceful when she realized she didn't have a spare hand to throw her petals. She stopped the procession, set her basket down, and started tossing them by the handful right where she stood. Everyone laughed, and it totally made everything feel more playful.

5. We were on a super tight budget (read: super young) so we had to cut corners in a few places. I handmade a lot of things (like our invitations, favors, place cards, etc.) and I went for a wildly inexpensive photographer. It turned out that she was just a girl with a nice DSLR and though she did a wonderful job with what she had, I often wish I splurged for better photography.

6. Our cake was AMAZING! It was marbled with a chocolate whipped cream center that had tiny chocolate chips in it. (If you didn't already know this about me, chocolate is my love language.) Matt has ordered the same cake for me, from the same bakery, for anniversaries over the years.

7. Someone didn't believe that my cake was real because of how professionally smooth the frosting was. This GROWN MAN couldn't rein in his curiosity, and he touched my cake to see if it was real. So before I had even arrived at my reception, there was an imprint of three big fingers right on the middle layer of my cake. My family kept the secret of who touched my cake from me FOR YEARS! They finally admitted it to me, and when I found out I couldn't believe it wasn't a kid that had done it! Thankfully, my photographer was able to photoshop most of the hand print out of our pictures.

8. Our reception was outdoors, under a big pavilion. Everything was all white, with little splashes of color all over the place. We used thin vases with big, dramatic gerbera daisies, and brightly colored wine goblets (which were our wedding favor) to add the color to the tables.

9. Our flowers were my favorite aspect of our decor. They were GORGEOUS, and if you are local to Buffalo, be sure to ask me who we used - I recommend them to everyone. I couldn't believe how perfectly they executed what I'd wanted! The bridesmaids carried bouquets of hot pink, bright orange, and yellow gerbera daisies. My bouquet was made of 2 dozen vibrant pink and orange roses (they smelled SO GOOD!) Matt wore a hot pink rose, and the groomsmen wore alternating pink and orange mini gerberas. I'm still so crazy about how it all looked together...especially the bridesmaids dresses and their bouquets!

10. Matt and I danced to Just You and Me by Jayson Belt and Rie Sinclair for our first dance. No one had ever heard of it before, but it was an original song from a show I grew up watching about a couple who stick together and work as a team through all of life's trials. It was maybe not the floofy typical wedding song, but I thought it was perfectly fitting for us, and for the reality of marriage. I'll post it below so you can hear it. Our wedding party danced to Here's To The Night by Eve 6, which was also my prom song!

Oh! Here's a bonus one.

My Aunt, and our good friend shared their birthday with our wedding day. We felt bad that they were spending their entire day with us, so we surprised them with a little celebration after dinner. It was our friend's 21st birthday, too, so she got to enjoy the open bar! haha

It's such a happy, amazing day to look back on, and we were so lucky in so many beautiful ways!

And now, we are off to celebrate our first decade of marriage! xo

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Make Believe's FIRST Release! (August Jane Parade)

August Jane Parade - Matilda Jane's First Make Believe Release! You guys - I'm so behind - I'm sorry!

It's awful when the first of the month lands in the midst of a busy-busy week, and that was the case for August.

Matt was traveling, so I was doing this parenting gig totally on my own, and we are. A week behind schedule. Woops!

I think you'll forgive me when you see these beauts. I am seriously wild about Fall clothes, and...well, you know...Matilda Jane. So combine the two and it's a party!

Our Fall season is called Make Believe, which I kind of love because I wholeheartedly believe in imagination and magic. It's maybe a better theme for the kiddos than the women's line, but...the kitchen pieces that go along with this are legit, so. No complaints from me!

Here's what's new and beautiful this August!

There's a maxi dress this month called the Curtain Call that is gorgeous, flattering, feminine, and perfect for the summer to fall transition. It is such a hit that it's already sold out in XS, and it's getting low in XL & XXL inventory.

Matilda Jane Curtain Call Maxi MJ Womens Maxi Dress

It's such a for-any-occasion beauty that I highly recommend scooping it up while there's still won't last! It's pretty long, so if you are any shorter than me (I'm 5'5") you may need a heel with it, but it's TTS otherwise. I'm wearing a small in the picture, and I'm totally happy with it.

Next up is a top that is SO versatile because of its neutral color and flattering shape.Mixing it up with vests, accessories, and different shoes makes it perfect for August and all through Fall!

Matilda Jane Shadows Top MJ neutral women's top

Pairing it with espadrilles and a pony tail makes it feel light and breezy, where booties and my hair let down made it look more cozy. This is only the beginning, but tell me how much you love our Shadows Top already! It's a perfect Fall staple, amirght?? This is a small I have on.

Matilda Jane That's the Ticket Vest MJC women's vest with tween top

You can play with it even more, and pair it with the That's The Ticket Vest from our tween line (one of my favs this month!) and upgrade to boots to get an awesome early-fall outfit! I'm wearing a 14 in the vest, and it goes up one more size so it will fit sizes XS-M for sure!

Matilda Jane Run-Through Vest MJC Orange Womens Vest

You can also pair it with the vest from the women's line, which is called Run-Through, and is the perfect Fall orange. Or, you can extra-accessorize with the tween vest and a big blanket scarf and boots (I think that's my fav!)

I'm also a big fan of our plaid popover that is based on a vintage design that MJ calls the Millie. This particular one is the Plaid All Day Millie.

Matilda Jane Plaid All Day Millie MJ women's plaid top

Super cute, right? Be careful with sizing this one...if you are between sizes, go up! It is a little tight in the upper back and the sleeve openings so better to go big! This is the medium on me - I sized up intentionally. (XS is running low in inventory, FYI!)

This next one is such a beauty, especially in person.

Matilda Jane So Vivid Top

It's called the So Vivid Top, and I love that it's juuuust a little bit dressy for times when you want to look just a touch more put together. Such a perfect staple top. And the rose pattern is gorgeous! This is the small on me - it's not a fitted top, so it's meant to have a little bit of flowy, flattering room all over.

There were two dresses released this August, too, and they both have a total boho vibe to them. They'd both look great with the dress extender under them, and maybe some cowboy boots? I don't have any to model with, but that's what I was thinking when I had these on ;)

Matilda Jane Visionary Dress Matilda Jane Intermission Dress

The one on the left is called the Visionary Dress, and the one on the right is the Intermission Dress. Both of these were in bigger sizes that I pinned for pictures, so don't use mine as sizing examples!! The Visionary was a pinned Medium, and the Intermission is a pinned Large.

So, there's a shirt that was released in August called the Ventriloquist Top, and it's a gorgeous white staple with a very unique hemline. You'll have to trust me and click over to see that one, because my sample was 4 sizes off from my norm and it's a very buttery modal fabric, so it was impossible to photo myself in it. Clicky clicky, and trust me when I say it's made out of heaven :)

Finally, BLUE FINNS!

I love Finns....well, I love all MJ's pants, actually. Leggings and Big Ruffles and Finns - gimme! They are all outrageously comfortable, a little bit unique and festive, and look beautiful with MJ and non-MJ pieces alike.

I never actually took a picture of myself in them, but here's one of my sister wearing them with a top from June's release (still available!), and yes - they coordinate perfectly with the girls AND baby Big Ruffles from August!

Matilda Jane Off Script Finns

They are called the Off Script Finns, and run pretty true to size. Finns tend to relax as you wear them, so if you are between sizes, it's best to go down. Don't drop a full size, though...that would be too drastic :)

Did you happen to notice how cute those little cutie pies are?? We did a HUGE photoshoot featuring July, August, and some of June on my nieces and my friends little beauties! See them all on my Facebook page to get a peek of all the other August pretties I didn't have room to share here!

What's your favorite August piece?? Let me know in the comments, and I hope to see you on my TK page! xo
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Monday, August 7, 2017

Clothes, MLMs & Those Ugly Leggings

How some network marketing companies are preying on you for business It has come to my attention that a whole lot of you have swung by my blog in response to an article about multilevel marketing businesses, and in particular LuLaRoe. And so, since this is now a mainstream discussion, I wanted to step up to the podium for a second, if you don't mind.

Let me first start by saying that I love clothes. I hoard them, I adore them, and I love them for flattering the imperfections I've collected through motherhood. I don't have a designer budget, and I am by no means qualified to participate in the professional fashion community, but I believe in making a person feel truly complimented rather than covered up and hidden. Which is why I spent time making fun of LLR twice here on my blog. (Here, and here.)

They are both poorly written, comedic rants about the unattractive patterns that have invaded our current fashion scene (guys, imagine looking back at this in 30 years?), and yet they are the two most popular posts on this blog OF ALL TIME. On a blog mostly written about happiness, family, and living a positive life. That says a lot.

leggings and impulse shopping

Here's the thing. I'm not going to pretend to know everything about LLR's company policies, or their manufacturing methods, or anything specific about how they are run. But what I do know, is what it's like to watch someone get sucked in by their marketing.

I have a friend that went through some difficult life situations, and she filled the gaps with shopping. I know firsthand how new clothes, or a sense of winning something can give you a little boost on an otherwise dismal day. The thing is - this friend turned to this quick fix more often than she should have, mostly because of the way LLR made it available to her. She was a member of over 150 LLR consultant's Facebook groups, and she stalked their pop up sales to try and nab the rare patterns before anyone else could. Even the outlandish patterns were sometimes appealing (girlfriend wore flying pigs on her legs once!) because of the satisfaction in scooping them up before others did.

The appeal was two-fold, though, because the style and design of LLR can hide a body you are unhappy with for as long as you want it to. Maybe this is an outlandish claim to make, but I'm willing to bet their marketing team knows their demographic pretty well (any successful company does), and they are aware that by catering to those who want comfort and hiding, superficial acceptance of a body they aren't treating well, and the thrill of racing to claim unique pieces before others, they are milking a goldmine of depressed impulse shoppers.

I am not blind enough to believe that these are the only LLR customers out there. I own a handful of their leggings myself, and I enjoy them (in patterns that don't look like they came from an acid trip) for different reasons than I just described. But I also don't identify myself as their key demographic. I'm their lucky one-off customer, not their target.

Gimme all the leggings!

My friend plunged herself into debt and an overflowing closet because of the biological thrill of their marketing design. Smart for business, sickening for consumers. Though I'm happy to report that she has worked her way far out of this situation, I'm willing to bet that it has gotten much worse for many other LLR customers. Which brings me to another thought.

I saw a post in a support group yesterday that discusses this phenomenon of victim marketing. This is something I have taken issue with a lot over the years, but didn't have the right verbiage to describe how I felt about it. Here's a quote from Motivational Coach, Meagan Ward:

"When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I was trained to market using the almighty I-overcame-tough-shit strategy. With the obligatory terrible incident, moment of truth, and phoenix-like return... Every day I’d scour my mind for a time when I’d been screwed over, passed off, etc."

Victim Marketing...perfect name for it.

LLR doesn't use this method...they are more sly about it. They don't need to point out the struggles of life to its customers - they have already evolved past that, to a point where they need something to patch the holes in their lives.

But both of these methods irk me - they get under my skin in a bad way, and I think are to blame for much of the bad reputation that MLMs have garnered over the years.

The impulse to 'add to cart' with network marketing

I say all this as someone who is NOT "too good" for an MLM. Technically, I am a part of one myself. The difference (for me), is that when I share the company I am a part of, I do so with good conscience, knowing that they give back to worthy causes, and with a genuine love that I share with my customers. I don't have to sell them friendship. I don't have to sell them rare, one-of-a-kind designs. I don't have to market in a way that attacks the tough parts of their lives. I like that I am a part of something that is admittedly frivolous, and just for fun. I may not like all of their ideas all of the time, and they may not like how I find some of their suggestions limiting to getting an actual business off the ground, and that's just reality. But some things I just can't get over.

Preying on the vulnerable, potentially emotionally unwell doesn't sit with me.

I have often called LLR the Trump of direct sales. And ooooh I AM fearful of the comments I will get for that one, but whatever, it's out there, and I believe it. Wildly successful thanks to subtle bullying. (One of them is a little less subtle, haha.)

Anyway, that's my two cents. You can read more about this modern day phenomenon on the post that has brought everyone over to my poke-fun-at-the-patterns LuLaNOPE posts, HERE, where they explain with much more detailed research what I'm getting at above. ;)

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