Friday, August 31, 2018

Back to Black

I've really been on a bold, bright color kick lately. However, black will always hold a very special place in my heart. It's chic, elegant, and always in style, no matter the season. 

As you know, we've been loving straw hats this summer, especially boater hats. I paired my LBD with this boater for a Parisian look.

Gingham heels and round sunnies add just a bit of edge to this otherwise simple outfit. 

How do you like to wear black? 

Heels (similar)


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

48 Hours in NYC

Last weekend, my husband and I embarked on a quick 48 hour trip to NYC. We were in town for a wedding, but since I never have been before, we went a day early to get in as much sight seeing as we could! The wedding was for my husband's law school friend, but he also had not been back since he graduated, so he was very excited to go back and act as tour guide for me. We caught an early morning flight on Friday morning and landed in New York around 10 a.m., which gave us plenty of time to see the city. Our very gracious friends hosted us at their place in Brooklyn, so after dropping off our bags, we hopped on the subway (my first time!) and headed into Manhattan. 


The very first stop we made was the 9/11 Memorial and the site of the World Trade Center. It was an extremely emotional place. We paid our respects at the site of the twin towers and took a moment to read the names surrounding the memorial. 

I recommend stopping here if you've never been. It's a very moving experience. 

Two things I desperately wanted to do while we were in NYC was eat a slice of pizza and a bagel. I'm happy to report that I successfully ate both, but unfortunately, only got a picture of the pizza. The bagel was delicious though, take my word for it. ;) 

We ate our pizza before moving on to the Financial District. 

The thing about New York City that I never realized is how tight and small some of the streets are. Being such an old city, it's not surprising, however it wasn't what I expected! The Financial District definitely has an Old World feel to it that I love. 

Next up we moved on to Battery Park where we were able to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The line to go on the ferry to see them both was crazy long, and we were pressed for time, so we opted to explore the park and catch the view from across the bay. 

After Battery Park, we took the subway to Central Park, where I was able to see the hotel from Home Alone 2! #priorities 

Central Park was absolutely beautiful. It's amazing how it truly is a small oasis in the middle of the city. 

We took a stroll down 5th Avenue where, unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to go into Bergdorf Goodman. Next time! 

To finish out the whirlwind tour of the city, we ended at Rockefeller Center! We caught a glimpse of NBC and Radio City Music Hall. 

We headed back to Brooklyn for dinner with our friends and called it a night after a long day of exploring!  


The next day, we woke up, ordered bagels, and headed to the Brooklyn Zoo! 

The sea lions put on a great show, as did the tamarins, baboons, and all of the other animals there! It's a great zoo to hit up if you're in Brooklyn and want a little respite from the city. 


Last, but not least, we headed out to Long Island for the reason we came to New York in the first place - the wedding!

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but we managed to see a ton of stuff and I definitely have a list for what I want to do next time we go! Can't wait to go back! 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Bold, Curvy, and the Beautiful

We continue our guest blogger series with Natalie Allaz! Natalie is here to share her message of empowerment and fashion! Be sure to check out her Instagram and follow her gorgeous fashion @natahlee85.

“That print makes your tummy look big, I think you should go for the smaller size print” – Your Mother. God bless my mom! She would always encourage me to beat to my own drum but occasionally she requested that I would color inside the lines. We disagree like most mother and daughters, mainly about this old advice that you can’t be a beautiful curvaceous woman and wear bold prints. I believe that is simply UNFAIR and UNTRUE! 

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my mother and I value her advice, but not when it comes to my personal style. Our choices are an immediate reflection of our personality. I’m learning to embrace myself and how I look. I feel like I’ve evolved with my style choices; and that’s just me rediscovering myself and allowing a possible fashion failure to happen! WHICH IT WILL LADIES! You live and you wardrobe. 

Let your curves embrace the patterns. Don’t shy away from huge shapes, blocks of color, and big beautiful flowers! Just go crazy with it. I have always loved fashion, in particular the adorable prints that you spot on ModCloth or SHEIN, but I would always second guess myself if I could pull off any of those looks. Not anymore! You have curves for showing off, not for hiding them behind neutral colors, black pants and the mundane! 

Also, I am a bit of a frugal fashionista. When I shop, I’m on the prowl for clothes and accessories that can pair with multiple pieces in my wardrobe. I also like to purchase designs that are fun and a boost my mood. Bright colors are a must! 

When in doubt, throw some color in the mix! You can never have too much color with your look. If you’re afraid of stepping into the patterned pond, try and incorporate pieces slowly. If you’re uncertain about a piece for heaven’s sake try it on! You  will never know without taking the risk. You’ll discover a whole new world of fashion possibilities. Pairing mixed designs is so much fun. The rule for pairing stripes with a solid print is done! Pair your stripes with a floral print or a graphic tee. Let those designs mesh into something entirely magical. 

Growing up, I would hear my mother doubt herself when she fell in love with a pattern but wouldn’t wear it because it was bigger and she felt it made her look bigger. If I knew what I know now, I would have taken her in my arms and said “Darling, you are beautiful, you are unique and you are bold. And your outfit should reflect that.” 

Friends, your wardrobe should not be the stuff of dreams. Your wardrobe should not be a life of “wishful makeuping” as Ioana quoted in Pretty In Pink. Try on the next beautiful blouse, dress, skirt, or whatever that peaks your fancy. Lay claim to the dressing room. You could be opening up the world to undiscovered wonders and confidence you never knew you had. 

Here are some amazing looks I am crushing on at the moment:

Thank you to the moon and back again to Jodi & Molly for allowing me to be featured on their beautiful blog! 

-Natahlee85 (The Almond Girl)


Friday, August 17, 2018

The 48 Hour Tourist: Austin, TX Edition

We continue our guest blogger series with Melissa Rosenberg of The Melrose Chronicles! Melissa is a seasoned traveler and has written her own travel newsletter, plus has been a guest writer on other travel blogs and websites. Who better to tell us all about a fun destination like Austin, TX? Check out her 48 hour travel guide, complete with packing guide, below! Also, be sure to check out her Instagram @themelrosechronicles.

Hey Y’all! My name is Melissa and I’m an actor, dog mom, coffee lover, and travel enthusiast! I’ve checked off 48 of 50 states, traipsed all over Europe, and of course, am always planning my next adventure.  While I feel lucky to have seen so much of the world, people are always asking me: How have you seen so much!? The answer is short but sweet—literally.

48 hours.

No, not all of my trips are this short—you could never meander the London streets correctly or work on that Seaside, FL tan in only two days—but occasionally, just for a getaway, 48 hours is all you need to explore a new town and notch off a fabulous city on your travel bucket list while still getting a sense of the area and feeling like you achieved a great deal!

I wanted to share with you top tips and trades, recommend restaurants and rendezvous’, and even the ever popular: “But how do I pack for such a short trip?!” in one of my favorite cities:

Austin, TX is quite simply everyone’s cup of tea. There’s great foodie finds, unique shops, night life galore, outdoor escapades, and tons of fun to fill your time with so: let’s jump in!

Packing Guide for 48 hours of Austin Awesome:
First of all, the trick to short trips is not to over pack. Keep Calm and Carry On—for real! You won’t need anything more. Check out these items I took on my most recent visit:

*Packing guide details at end of post*

Day One
After an early travel morning or perhaps a late night flight after a long day of work, I always find my body craves a little movement to work out all the travel kinks. If you’re like me, you’re already sporting your yoga pants so head straight to Black Swan Yoga. With three different locations, this studio is hands down my favorite start-the-day-feel-good type of class, and the best part: it’s donation based which is a total thumbs up-ward dog! Don’t have a mat? Don’t worry—you can borrow one for $5.

Yoga not your thing? Part of the beauty of Austin lies in the access to nature. Take a stroll around Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake)! It will ease you into the day with fabulous views of downtown, paddle boarders on the lake, and a simple, sight-filled introduction to the city.

Now I bet you’ve worked up an appetite! There’s nothing I love more than sharing Austin food favorites so pending your mood here are a few options of ATX classics and new brekkie bests, alike:
You can never go wrong with the tried and true, Kerbey Lane Café. With seven locations and a presence since 1980, this signature café is the only place where it is totally acceptable to have your pancake and eat queso too. It’s open 24 hours, has tons of vegetarian/vegan options, and is downright delicious.

Newer to the 512 crew is June’s All Day Café. Situated on a South Congress Ave corner, this two year old restaurant packs a mature punch like it’s been hanging around the Austin restaurant scene for years (not to mention, it’s an Instagramer’s dream). Enjoy a sit down experience in the cozy bistro atmosphere and if breakfast impresses you— I have no doubt it will—come back for happy hour 4pm-6pm daily with 50% off all food and various drink specials.

Three Words: Nutella. Morning. Bun. Josephine House is one of those special finds that makes you feel like you’ve found a secret hideout spot in a vast city. It’s quaint, full of charm, and simplistic in the best kind of way. It’s quite small so be sure to make a reservation if you want to sit down or just pick a pastry picnic to go.

Other great spots to check out: Taco Deli, Juan in a Million, Bouldin Creek Café (vegetarian/vegan), Moonshine (for a weekend brunch experience)

Time to explore! There are about a million options but for the Mod Circus crowd, let’s dive in to some fashion frolics. South Congress is my favorite wandering place. It’s quintessential Austin boasting quirky shops, First Thursday festivals, food trucks, and more. For my fashionista’s looking to take a piece of Austin couture home, if you’re feeling…
Vintage: check out Feathers Boutique
Current Trends: score big at Favor the Kind or Creatures
Witchy Wonders: explore edgy at Blackmail

Other SoCo specialties: Kendra Scott (infamous Austin-based jewelry—this is one of the first locations), Stag (men’s shop), Lucy in Disguise (incredible costume shop with some excellent vintage buys), Prima Dora (souvenirs ), and there are always pop-up trailers worth perusing

With famous festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW, you can’t come to Austin without hearing some live music. To end an awesome day of exploring, see who’s playing at Stubb’s (double the deal if you get some TX BBQ), Antone’s, Emo’s, or The Backyard. (Insider tip: 9 times out 10 you can also stumble upon live music at any downtown restaurant on a weekend night or outdoor park.) Sit back and relax as you wind down the day with some great jams.

Day Two
It’s time for morning stretches and fashion catches as we race to squeeze in as much more Austin as we can. The 2nd Street District is home to some serious boutique beauties and you are sure to snag a special something to take home. First, there’s an actual ModCloth store—that’s right, you can shop the ever popular online mecca in person—as well as great spots like United Apparel Liquidators, which always has steals on upscale items, Prize, hosting super home décor originals and unique pieces, and the impressive Esperos handbags/backpacks where a portion of proceeds go towards raising money for women’s education. The 2nd Street District is a bit pricier but pieces are distinct and creative, making it a great area to find the ultimate Texas treasure.

By now, you’re probably feeling inspired to ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and keep on trucking through another day of Texas adventure. Speaking of trucking: Did you know that Austin is one of the first cities to rev up the food truck industry? You can see them everywhere around town and it’s safe to say your Austin experience won’t be the same if you don’t make a pit stop. Continue your day by heading to one of several area food truck gatherings (South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, The Picnic, East Side Food Park…the list goes on) and get a sampling of tasty treats from popular wheeled meals like Gourdough’s, the OG Torchy’s Tacos—get the queso, trust me—or even mmmpanadas.

If a sit down meal is more your style, I suggest heading to one of my all time favorites, Elizabeth Street Café. It’s an eclectic mash up of Vietnamese and French in an old converted home that is refurbed in the best Austin way. There’s a community table up front if you want to meet some locals and make a friend as well as a great outdoor patio-like space if it’s a nice day.

Another staple area to check out for both food and fashion is South Lamar. If you want another food fusion option, check out Chi’Lantro: a Korean BBQ meets Tex-Mex joint. Opt for the killer kimchi fries or fresh take on a rice bowl. Strut is not only a stellar shop name but also home to some sensational shopping. Grab some excellent accessories and browse apparel. Artisan threads are great but artisan ice cream? Right down the road is the newest addition to the Austin Awesome Ice Cream Association, Lick.  With everyday flavors featuring Texas Sheet Cake and Chocolate, Olive Oil, & Sea Salt as well as incredible seasonal flavors like Carrot & Tarrgon and Fromage & Fig, you can go classic cone or go off the beaten spoon with honest, Texas ingredients. They even have dairy free and vegan options!

Other fun things to check out on South Lamar: Alamo Drafthouse (this was one of the first locations for the now nationwide moviehouse and it has received a major upgrade to become part of a larger plaza and living space), Neiman Marcus Last Call (the high end retail store which was actually created in Dallas, TX has it’s clearance store just off South Lamar—totally worth a rack browsing), or South Austin Museum of Pop Culture (a wacky and wonderful little museum).

By now, you have probably eaten too much and spent too much money on dresses, but are feeling like maybe you want just a little bit more to close out your whirlwind weekend. Make your way to Zilker Park with a blanket and a good book and enjoy the setting sun as your weekend comes to a close. If you are visiting during the summer, see if anything is playing on The Hillside—each year, the park hosts a totally free summer musical that you can watch and enjoy with your own picnic (including glass free beverages). Or, gather that blanket and book to check out Auditorium Shores instead for some tunes (Blues on the Green and other live music events often occur) and a great view. Either option will refresh you and give you a little more taste of Hill Country Culture.

I hope you enjoyed your Austin escape! There’s always so much to do and so many choices to make but this is snapshot of what I assure will leave you saying, “I’ll come back real soon y’all!”

Til the next 48 Hour Tourist, follow Melissa on Instagram @themelrosechronicles for more travel inspiration…and lots of dog pictures.

Packing Guide and Outfit details: 

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