.blogs I love.

Even though I haven’t been the best at updating our blog, I do read a lot of blogs.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1.  Pretty Neat Living

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Technically Jen’s blog, Pretty Neat Living, is more of a segue for her YouTube channel {also called Pretty Neat Living}, but she is such a great resource for beauty secrets, organization tips, holiday planning, and baby stuff {that’s new}.  When we were moving, I watched so many of her videos about home organization and her holiday prep videos are fantastic.  I love her product reviews the most, because she takes a really objective approach to whatever she’s reviewing.

2.  Southern Curls & Pearls

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Caitlin is a Southern gal with a fantastic sense of style.  She posts really regularly and has really pushed me to think outside the box of my basic black wardrobe.  She’s really plugged into what sites and shops are having great sales and her hair is fantastic.  My most recent favorite post is her haircare routine.

3.  Jones Design Company

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I’ve followed Emily’s blog since its inception and I love her vulnerability and her many crafty projects.  I’m not crafty in the least, but even I could manage to make these little flower pins.  My co-teacher and I are obsessed with her Emily font and use it for almost everything and her home decor tips are really tasteful and simple.

4.  Emily Ley

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I love Emily’s products, especially her Home Base Binder and her Contacts book .  I also love her Weekly Top Ten and her Simplicity Series.  Emily is really pro-women in a way that is inspiring:  we should only focus on what matters most.  She’s also a blast to follow on Instagram because she has a really sweet sense of style and her babies are adorable.

5.  Classy Girls Wear Pearls

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Sarah Vickers truly embodies that classic, East Coast style.  She and her husband, Kiel James Patrick are fantastic to follow on Instagram.  Sarah has a more subdued style than Caitlin, but I’ve gotten tons of outfit inspiration from Classy Girls Wear Pearls.

What about you?  What blogs are you currently following?  Obviously I lean more towards design and lifestyle blogs, but I’m open to suggestions!

XOXO,

Court

PS:  this is Josh’s favorite blog.

I also love this Disney blog, because we’re obsessed.

I am so ready.  So, so ready.

 

Self-Care & Why It Matters

Ahem…is this thing on?  It’s been almost an entire calendar year since I’ve posted anything, but I firmly believe that I shouldn’t really say {type} anything unless I have something important to say {type}.  I’m in graduate school right now and my advisor keeps blasting me with emails about attending a Self-Care Seminar for graduate students {which would be pretty hard considering I’m in an online program} and self-care has been on my brain this week, so I thought it would prudent to talk {type} about ways I’m trying to practice self-care.

  1.  Make a daily schedule.  Josh will be the first to point out that I don’t do well without a schedule.  I’ve been on Winter Break this week and suddenly it was Thursday and I realized that I hadn’t put on real clothes or makeup {or washed my hair} for days.  Obviously, summer vacation poses quite a problem for me since I don’t work during the months of June and July.  Yesterday I jotted down a quick list of what I needed to do and the timeframes I had to work with and felt so much better.  I didn’t accomplish everything on my list and I definitely still rocked leggings all day, but the sense of accomplishment gave me a sense of worth.
  2. Say no.  Gosh, this has been my mantra.  I’m the daughter of a man with excellent boundaries, so I’ve learned firsthand how liberating the word NO can be.  If it’s not something you want to do or something that you don’t have time for, just say no.  If someone gets mad at you, let them fester while you do you.  Period.  I know so many people {especially women} who make themselves miserable for the sake of being polite.  Just don’t do it.  Your health and sanity are worth a lot more than the opinions of others.
  3. Keep up with the Joneses {appearance wise}.  This one may not apply to you, but I work better, play better, and just do better when I feel good about the way I look.  For me, this means that I don’t let myself feel bad about taking time on my appearance.  I had an excellent example of this in my mother.  Even when we were small {and probably driving her crazy}, she never let us allow her to look tired or worn down.  She took time each day to style her hair, apply makeup, and dress fashionably.  My Daddy helped her with this by making sure she had the time each day to devote to her outward appearance so she felt good inwardly.  *Side note:  didn’t y’all just love watching your Mama put on makeup?  It was my favorite thing growing up.  I loved all the lipsticks and blushers and all that.  My favorite part was watching Mama put on her perfume everyday…one spritz on the left wrist, rub on the right wrist, and a dab at the neck.  When I smell Halston, I smell my childhood.
  4. Keep your space tranquil.  Josh and I recently bought our first home and we finally unpacked the last of the boxes this week.  All the clutter made me miserable during the unpacking process, so we quickly developed a routine of things to do each day to make our home tranquil and neat.  I’m a no-clutter kind of gal {seriously, I recently tried to throw away my yearbooks, but Coach stopped me}, so each evening before I cook supper, I round up anything that is out of place and put it away.  My husband takes Atlas for an afternoon walk as soon as he gets home and then while the pup eats his supper, Coach quickly vacuums the rugs and carpeting and does a quick sweep with the Swiffer.  I really, really try to make the bed each morning before I leave for work, but if I run out of time, I make it my first priority when I get home.  I also try really hard to resist the temptation to change into my pajamas until it’s bedtime because it makes me feel a little more June Cleaver and a little less Peggy Bundy at supper time.  After supper, we load the dishwasher together, wipe down all the surfaces in the kitchen, light a candle {the Chardonnay scent is my current obsession}, and relax.  And as much as I hate doing laundry, it’s a lot better to do a load every day or so instead of waiting until Sunday afternoon.
  5. Take care of your health.  Don’t ignore your body telling you to slow down!  Eat whole foods and drink tons of water!  Schedule an annual physical and actually show up!  For me, 90% of my physical health depends on me setting myself up for success each day.  At night, I refill my water bottles I use during the day and stick them in my bag so I don’t have an excuse not to get my 70+ ounces in.  On Sundays, we {try to} meal prep for our lunches so we’re not dependent on eating out for microwaving a Lean Cuisine.  I take vitamins religiously, don’t keep cash in my school bag {because somebody installed a freaking Dr. Pepper machine in my workroom and holy cow, I cannot resist the call of the Dr. Pepper}, exercise frequently, and see a chiropractor regularly.  We only get one trip before we’re six feet under, so it may as well be a healthy one.  But it’s also okay to occasionally indulge in cookies, because we aren’t all Jillian Flipping Michaels.  

I know what you’re thinking…most of this seems pretty shallow.  And maybe it is.  But I can’t be my best self for my husband, my dog, my students, or my friends if I don’t make myself a priority.  If I take good care of myself, it means that the people I love get me at my best instead of getting me at my meh, this is all I have left to give.  In loving myself enough to take the time to care for myself, I’m also loving others.

What about you?  Do you have strong feelings about self-care?  Any self-care secrets to share?

XOXO,

Court

PS:  Josh bought me some prizes for Valentine’s Day and I’m so ready for Easter and warm weather!

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies was everything I wanted it to be because Mr. Darcy in a leather jacket is > Mr. Darcy in a frock coat.  And Matt Smith made a most odious Mr. Collins.

I’m reading Farmer Boy to Josh every night because he didn’t have sisters and doesn’t know Little House and I forgot how much I love Almanzo Wilder.  Josh’s review?  “All that kid does is EAT!”

.in defense of the summer hat.

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Recently I attended an outdoor wedding that took place in a large field.  The reception was held in an open-air tabernacle and it threatened to rain for the entirety of the ceremony.  I wore a simple J. Crew party dress with pearls and found that my outfit was still lacking.  I added a large, cream colored, wide-brimmed hat that accented the outfit nicely.

Upon arriving at the venue, I was immediately teased for being overly-dramatic.  What felt like confidence was soon squashed by eye-rolls or cutting remarks.  I eventually took off my hat because who likes to be teased?  I felt more than a little crushed and later I felt angry…why let naysayers rain on my parade?  And who made them {mostly men} the fashion police?

As a side note, I’d like to point out that my Daddy wears a hat to nearly every wedding or outdoor event he attends.  Nobody teases him or makes claims about him acting like a drama queen {king?}.  Instead, they remark on his taste.  Why the double-standard?

Exhibit A:  the man wearing the iPhone clip on his belt is praised for his style {no offense, Dad}.  If I wear a hat, I’m called a witch and burned at the stake {now that’s an excellent example of what being overdramatic really is}.

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I’ve never been one to really concern myself with the opinions of others, but being teased is never fun.  After developing a thicker skin {so necessary in the scorching Georgia heat!}, here are several hats I’d love to over-dramatically wear  outdoor events:

Aren’t they all just delicious?  We have several weddings left to attend this summer and I plan to wear a hat to each and every event.  If it’s good enough for Kate Middleton, it’s definitely good enough for me.

What about you?  Do you wear hats to weddings, church, or other events?  Why or why not?  If you knew people wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, would you wear a hat?

XOXO,

Court

P.S.

The greatest hat scene in a film ever, ever, ever.

The best hat of all time.

And the worst.

What Emily Post has to say about hats.

My Favorite Things: Makeup

Admittedly, I’m not well-versed in the art of makeup.  I tend to be incredibly basic:  foundation, blush, eyeliner, mascara, and maybe a smear of Chapstick and I’m good to go.  Lately I’ve ventured into contouring, but I really save that for special occasions.  I do have five products that I don’t leave my house without and they range from incredibly cheap drugstore finds to more expensive beauty counter products.  In no particular order, here are my favorite makeup products.

1.  MAC Face & Body Foundation {purchase here, $27}

My favorite thing about this water-based foundation is that you can build the coverage that you want.  I like to have a dewy complexion so a quick swipe with an angled foundation brush each morning does the trick.

2.  e.l.f Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer {purchase here, $6}

For my skin, primer is a must.  I love this brand because it’s clear, cheap, and it does the job nicely.  On days when I forget to use primer, my water-based foundation practically slides off my face.  P.S.  e.l.f. products are at Target!

3.  e.l.f. Studio Contouring Palette in St. Lucia {purchase here, $3}

This contouring palette is literally the best $3 I’ve ever spent.  The blush gives me a wonderful dewy, rosy glow and the bronzer is excellent when I’m in the mood to contour my face.

4.  L’oreal Voluminous Power Volume 24 Hour Mascara {purchase at anymore chain store, $7.95}

My mother got me hooked on this mascara several years ago when she placed some “Blackest Black” in my stocking one Christmas.  I’ve been using it ever since.  I have really long eyelashes and a few coats of this really makes my green eyes pop.

5.  Smith’s Rosebud Salve {purchase at major drugstores, usually about $6}

Realistically speaking, if I leave the house with, this is in my purse.  I also keep some on my desk at work, in my nightstand, and in my kitchen.  It’s been around for a long time and the company has never changed the formula or the packaging {which I adore}.  It’s like my lips, but better.

Are there any products you can’t live without?  What are your makeup favorites?

XOXO,

Court

Style, 2014

I should preface this entire post by saying that I’m not particularly stylish.  Any color, style, or pizazz is injected by my incredibly put-together mother.  Left to my own devices, I’m an all black everything kind of girl.  2014 is going to be the year of staple pieces for me…a good black pump, a great trench coat, perhaps some diamond studs {hint, hint Captain!}.  Building a wardrobe that will past the test of time means making investments that continue paying out over the years.  Here are a few of my picks…

1.  A great pair of black cigarette pants {to make you feel like this}.

2.  A classic trench coat {to make you feel like this}.

3.  A well-tailored black dress for work or play {to obviously make you feel like this}.

4.  A great red lipstick {for the ups and downs of life}.

5.  Simple diamond studs {and hopefully George Peppard will buy them for you!}

XOXO,

Court

P.S.  Some runners up…

Great multipurpose bag…

The perfect bra…

Great slouchy t-shirts…

October Birchbox

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My parents recently gifted me a six-month subscription to Birchbox for my 26th birthday.  I was really excited because I’ve wanted to try this service for quite a while.  Here’s how it works:  you pay your subscription fee, fill out a personal questionnaire based on what you like, what your lifestyle is like, and what your grooming needs are.  Birchbox sends you a box full of personalized goodies each month for the length of your subscription.  Every month is unique and you get discounts on full-sized products on the Birchbox website.

I picked up my first Birchbox today since the mail didn’t run yesterday.  I was really pleased with the contents:

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Billy Jealousy Adrenaline Junkie Energizing Scrub:  smells clean like mint.  I’ll throw this in my gym bag and use it after an early morning grind sesh.

Herban Essentials in Eucalyptus & Lemon:  fancy towelettes.  These are perfect for those times when I need to smell clean and I don’t have the time to actually make that happen.

Cartier Declaration Essence:  really nice cologne.  It smells like a cedar chest and oranges.  Courtney declared it to be “sexy.”

Vitamine & Sea Shaving Cream:  really smooth shave cream.  It smells really clean.

Topo Designs Dopp Kit:  tent-shaped Dopp kit.  Really nice quality.  At $25 this is already worth more than one month’s subscription fee.

All in all, I’m really pleased with what Birchbox had to send me.  I can’t wait to try out my new stuff and put my new Dopp kit to use.  To see what Birchbox had to offer this month, click here.  I would highly recommend this service to other gentlemen who are looking for something new or exciting.

 

 

WWBWD?

If you are not a fan of Gossip Girl, I highly suggest you queue it up on Netflix.  It’s a lifestyle, y’all.  Unless you’re my Daddy—you’re absolutely NOT allowed to watch Gossip Girl.  

Today I came to the realization that I am not Serena van der Woodsen.  I’ve been masquerading for quite some time with an ombre hairstyle and poor attempts at her effortless boho-chic style.  My frustration with my closet full of Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and J. Crew was palpable each morning…I wanted fringe and leather and maxi-everything!  I wanted to be free-spirited, spontaneous, and irresistible.  What I only just realized was this:  I was fighting against my own nature.  I mean, I nearly bought a straw fedora…

…just not me.

Everyone wants to be the Serena van der Woodsen’s or the Marilyn Monroe’s, or even the post-Joel Madden Nicole Richie’s.   They all exude charm and effortless boho-chic.  They’re the girls who will spontaneously jet off to Rio or dance in a fountain.  And you know what?  If that works for you, great.  Some deep crevice of my psyche will always be jealous of you and your carefree ways.  But I’ve got to be true to myself.

I’ll admit, pretending to be Serena has been fun.  I’ve nixed the uncomfortable undergarments like pantyhose and it’s been nice just rolling out of bed and slipping into a maxi-dress.  There’s a definite ease to it.  I even tried to learn to love jeans, but I just couldn’t do it.  I much prefer dresses or skirts with structure.  It’s time to embrace my preppy style a la Blair Waldorf.  WWBWD=What Would Blair Waldorf Do?

1.  Structure is key.  It’s rare to see Queen B in anything shapeless or poorly made.  Along with definite structure, B’s clothes are also impeccably tailored.

2.  Embrace your femininity.  Blair softens up her brittle personality with loose curls, delicate ruffles, and demure makeup.

3.  Don’t be afraid of color.  Blair always adds a pop of color into her ensembles.

4.  Rock a headpiece.

5.  Modest is hottest.  I’ll be the first to admit that Blair made some pretty terrible decisions {a la Chuck Bass in the back of a limo}, but you rarely see Queen B wearing anything particularly scandalous.  If she sports a shorter hemline, Blair typically covers up her décolletage.  If she favors a plunging neckline, she pairs the dress or blouse with opaque tights.

*Bonus*  When in doubt, channel Audrey.

One-Piece

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the appeal of a really great one-piece swimsuit.  Though I still own and wear bikinis, I feel more comfortable in something a little more modest.  When I was coming up, modest swimsuits were disgustingly boring {mostly of the Speedo or Nike variety}, but now it’s possible to find really cute pieces that are both flattering and provide coverage.

XOXO,

Court

 

Look for Less

I saw this grey-top-white-jeans look on GOOP months ago and since then I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect pair of white skinny jeans.  Though white pants are far from practical, they look put-together without becoming fussy.  I love this look for brunch with friends, travel, or vacation.

      

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Obviously I’m not Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m not a fashion model either. Just an everyday, semi-awkward gal.

Bottoms:  Old Navy

Top:  Target {old}//similar here

Flats:  Target

Total Cost:  $56.50

XOXO,

Court

P.S.  Remember to wear flesh-toned underwear when wearing white!

Leather–Year Three

Our third wedding anniversary is quickly approaching.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve been married for three years!  Josh is very traditional in many ways including how he plans our anniversary celebrations.  He references the traditional U.S. gifts and plans accordingly.  Our first anniversary gifts were paper:  Mumford & Sons tickets.  Our second anniversary gifts were cotton:  shopping sprees for each of us!  This year, we’re on the lookout for leather.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas.

For her:

1//Uptown Clutch from J.Crew.  Perfect for daytime to evening transitions.  I don’t care to carry large handbags, so this petite purse is perfection.  $138

2//La Mer Chateau Collection Wrap Watch in Mint.  This watch would add a gorgeous pop of color to my very neutral wardrobe.  $92

3//The Classic Cambridge Satchel in Red.  Handmade in the UK.  Utterly simple and completely useful.  $148 U.S. dollars

4//Tory Burch Tumbled Leather Thora Sandal in Royal Tan.  Neutral and preppy.  Perfect for the long summer months in the Deep South.

 

For him:

1//Classic Travel Case from Saddleback Leather Co.  100 year warranty.  American made.  If Ernest Hemingway could have carried this bag, he would have.  $181

2//Men’s Bean Boots by L.L. Bean.  Another American classic.  $99

3//Fish Hook Belt from Vineyard Vines.  Yet another quality American made product that looks sleek while maintaining an edge.  $98

4//Grant Chronograph Leather Watch by Fossil.  Interchangeable bands, 11-year warranty, and water resistant up to 5 ATM.