Friday, August 29, 2014

Short Shorts: Summer Whites

I know everyone else is thrilled that Fall is right around the corner.  Texas isn't worried about Fall yet. It has been over 100 Fahrenheit for the last two weeks and I was actually irritated to discover Starbucks has already started serving their Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Seriously? In August? In Texas? In over 100 degree weather? No, thanks! I've been wearing shorts everyday and yesterday was no exception as I ran errands to prepare for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Top: Banana Republic Factory (old) (current); Shorts: Target (old) (similar)
Sunglasses: c/o Toms (LuckyFABB 2012); Earrings: Blue Nile; Necklace: c/o Gorjana (2012) (current)
Handbag: c/o Susu Handbags (LuckyFABB 2014)
I didn't realize until I was writing this post that both the sunglasses and the purse came from LuckyFABB conferences.  The Toms sunglasses are from my first LuckyFABB back in 2012 and the Susu clutch was from this last one I attended this year.  I just reached for purple accessories to complement the top. I love that sometimes things just come full circle on their own.
Sandals: Cole Haan (old) (current)
Any cool plans for labor day? We have been cleaning the pool and back yard to receive houseguests for Labor Day.  I am also looking for a new dip to serve in the summer, if anyone has any ideas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scalloped Lace: Casual Lunch Date

This park is in our neighborhood and a few months back, my husband and I decided to have a "picnic" lunch one day.  There is a water park at the park and of course, it was packed and there were soaking, screaming kids everywhere.  While they were cute, we took our What-a-burger home and ate in the relative peace of our couch.  The kids went back to school yesterday and my husband surprised me by working from home and inviting me out to lunch.  While we were driving out of the neighborhood, we saw that the park was completely empty. So we grabbed some pizza and came back to eat at the park.  It was great and we finally got to sit in the park by ourselves.
Sunglasses: Balenciaga (old); Earrings: Blue Nile; Necklace: c/o Dogeared; Top: Max Studio (similar)
Has anyone else ever shopped on Facebook? I've heard of bloggers buying and shopping on Instagram, but I've never tried it.  A few months ago, I was invited by a friend to join a local "online yard sale" page on Facebook. I was initially looking for furniture because we have an empty room at home since our move, but there have been some cute clothes that have popped up (like the $20 Tory Burch tunic from this post) and I've been able to snag them for a song.  These Zara lace shorts are my latest find at $10 with tags still on! I love the scalloped lace and also that they aren't too short.  I wouldn't wear these to church or work, but they are perfect for casual outings.
Lace Shorts: Zara (current style on sale!); Crossbody Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (old)
Wedges: Tory Burch Ashton Wedges (these Penny ones are similar and also under $100 in the store)
This weekend was weird in our house because the kids were preparing to go back to school and we were supposed to go to a charity event on Saturday.  I was running late from back-to-school errands and I decided to stay home at the last minute.  I think my husband felt bad because when we went shopping at Nordstrom Rack for the boys' shoes and a couple more shirts, he saw me admiring these wedges and he tossed them into the shopping cart.  They were a total steal at $89, but I wouldn't have bought them if I was out on my own.

Have you ever shopped on Facebook or other Social Media?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Take a Hike

Both of our boys are Boy Scouts and needed to do some heavy hiking this summer in order to badge.  I had spent one of my college summers in New Mexico and my memories of hiking around the Taos area were tinged a bit (okay, a lot) by the rose colored glasses of time.  So we drove out to New Mexico with the boys and hit the hiking trails around town.  We found a cute "casita" on VRBO that was in town and had two bedrooms and a full kitchen. That was great because we prefer to buy groceries and cook some of our meals (like breakfast) instead of always eating out.  I loved that we could sit out on our balcony in the mornings drinking coffee and enjoying the secluded view.
The first major hike was the Italianos Canyon Trail outside of town.  There are very few markings from the road and you have to park on the side of the highway, then cross the road and start your hike. This is one of the most beautiful and scenic hikes and I had truly forgotten how gorgeous the views are all through the trail.  There is a stream that winds down the mountains and the hiking trail crosses over at least 18 times.  We never saw the end of the trail and continued long past the 3.6 mile marker completely lost.  We finally turned back because it started hailing on us and we weren't prepared for how cold the hailing rain would be!  We did however, log almost 9 miles round-trip.
Sunlgasses: Lucky Brand; Tank: Old Navy; Crop Leggings: Hard Tail; Sneakers: Asics
A view of the stream on the Italianos Trail.
Mr. Fantastic crosses the stream.
The next day we headed to Abiquiu, New Mexico to Ghost Ranch and did an easy 3 mile round trip hike up to Chimney Rock.  It was fun to show the boys some of what I remembered, like the Yucca plants, and where the sedimentary rocks show the different time periods, and even a bee pollinating a cactus flower!  Since it wasn't raining and it was a fairly quick trail, we made it to the top and were able to see the spectacular views.
Sunglasses: Lucky Brand; Tank: LuluLemon No Limit Tank; Crop Leggings c/o GapFit gFast capris; Sneakers: Asics
The awesome view from the top of Chimney Rock. That is Georgia O'Keefe's house to the left of our heads.
The last hike was to Wheeler Peak and while I was initially going to go with the boys, I was so sore from the previous hikes that I decided to stay home.  Since that one is an 8 mile hike up and the most important one for them, I didn't want to hold them back.  They were really proud of themselves for reaching the peak and I was happy that now all of us have happy memories of New Mexico.  We are even thinking of going back this winter to try to ski around the Angel Fire area.

Do you hike? What are your favorite trails?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A New York Minute

On our way home from Europe, we had an overnight layover in New York City.  The highlight of our flight was that Conan was on our flight from London to JFK and can I just say how normal he seemed? He was traveling with his wife and their children and they really were just like any other family. We were in line behind them at passport control and then we were standing together at the luggage carousels and it was funny to see him lunging for their suitcases and soothing his irritated daughter at the same time.  Then we were in line behind them at the taxi stand (they were in line at the taxi stand!) and we got to go ahead of them because they needed a bigger cab and we only had the two of us and again he was just so nice.  It was pretty late when we arrived in New York so we just headed straight to our hotel and crashed, but we were up early the next morning and hit the town. We walked right by the New York Public Library as we headed to the Museum Mile.
Dress: Max Studio; Necklace: c/o Jane Basch; Scarf: Jones New York; Purse: Rebecca Minkoff; Sneakers: Converse
At Rockefeller Center with my guy. On me: Sunglasses: Lucky Brand; Earrings: Blue Nile. On him: Sunglasses: Maui Jim; shirt: Neiman Marcus Perfect Fit No-Iron Shirt
I wanted to wear this dress in Prague, but ended up wearing jeans and a sweater instead due to the rain. It was perfect for New York and it didn't rain at all. I love this dress, but I have to admit that it's already wearing thin in some places and that is disappointing. While I've had it on repeat all summer since our trip (I wore it to my mom's birthday, out to run errands and to go to dinner, and recently to one of the kid's events) I don't think that justifies the wear and tear on it already.  I have a couple of other maxis by Max Studio (I love their dresses) and I feel like the first one and the second one still look great compared to the last two dresses I've bought, including this one and the one in this post.  While I hope it is not a permanent decline in quality, I am disappointed because I loved both the cut and pattern of this dress and wish it would last me much longer than half a season. Also, I wore my converse sneakers because Mr. Fantastic hates to take cabs anywhere and I knew we would be walking everywhere!
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Guggenheim Museum
We started at St. Patrick's Cathedral because I was still high on the cathedrals in Germany and Prague, but it wasn't the same due to all the scaffolding that blocks the view.  Even the inside of the cathedral has heavy scaffolding right now as it is under renovation. Afterwards we headed to the Guggenheim and here is the proof that I am a rule-breaker.  You are only allowed to take photos from the ground floor, but I snuck this aerial shot when the docent was distracted.
Belvedere Castle in Central Park. I love this castle! I always head straight for it.
View from the Lake in Central Park
After the museum, we walked around Central Park and took some photos before dashing to the airport only to discover our flight was cancelled due to weather and we were rebooked on an afternoon flight for the following day.  We spent the following morning at the new 9/11 Memorial and Museum and I know it's been 13 years, but it was extremely emotional. No pictures, just so much grief.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Currently Want: Everything Kate Wears

This year has been a big year of personal growth for me.  I am starting to accept that even when I want things and pray for them fervently, the answer is sometimes no.  I haven't always had a good time with accepting things as they are, but I am getting better at it.  In the past, I could always figure out how to get a pair of shoes or a fancy dress for much less than retail; how to schmooze an invite to a swanky party; how to master an interview to get the job I wanted.  All of that started changing in the last 3-5 years.  Much of the change was that I didn't necessarily want only designer goods or an invite to a great party, I started wanting things that I can't necessarily buy.  Workwise, I stopped playing nice just to keep the peace and learned the very hard way why everyone HAS to play nice, even in situations of great injustice.  In the last few years, I've stopped wanting to be at every great party and have relished having quality time with my husband and my close friends.  And there are some things that no matter how much money you throw at them, are just not going to come to fruition.  Sometimes, I feel nostalgic for the days when all I wanted were pretty things.  So this is what is currently on my want list.  It's basically everything the Duchess of Cambridge wears because she always looks stylish without being trendy and she has reminded me that if you buy quality staples, you can wear them over and over again. These are some of my favorite accessories we see her reach for time and time again.
Kate's casual looks with her signature accessories.
Annoushka Pearl Earrings; Kiki McDonough Citrine Drops; Cartier Trinity Necklace; Cartier Ballon Bleu Watch
I really enjoy looking at Kate's jewelry collection. Her sapphire engagement ring and earrings are classic and elegant and it has made me think a lot about heirloom jewelry. Growing up we never had much money and the one nice piece (my mother's ruby ring) was stolen from me in college. We visited the Czech Republic last month and my husband allowed me to commission a few garnet pieces while we were there.  I am excited to finally wear them because garnets are his birthstone and also because I look forward to sharing them with my sisters and nieces in the future. All the pieces in the photo above are worn by Kate on a regular basis and I can especially see the Cartier pieces as future heirlooms.
Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch; Prada Silk Clutch; Mulberry Bayswater Clutch (other color)

As a princess, Kate is rarely required to carry more than some make-up in her bag and she is often seen carrying a simple clutch both during the day and for nighttime activities. I can only pull off small clutches and minauderies with formalwear, and have to carry a tote or hobo during the day.  But again, the Duchess of Cambridge is often photographed with her favorite bags repeatedly.
Jimmy Choo Vamp; Stuart Weitzman Corkswoon; Stuart Weitzman Minx
Shoes are the hardest for me to narrow down because I really love her footwear. These Minx wedges by Stuart Weitzman have been on my radar since two years ago when Kate wore them on the Diamond Jubilee Tour  of Southeast Asia in both the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, but they were sold out.  Then last year fellow blogger, Kate at All Things Kate, wore them in this post and mentioned how comfortable they were and she got them on sale for $125, I was sold.  Or course, they sold out again by the time I looked for them and I was excited when Stuart Weitzman re-released Minx and the Corkswoon wedges after she repeated them both numerous times during the tour of Australia and New Zealand. However, the fact that both were priced close to $400 was very disappointing for our household budget.  I still want them and I try to keep an eye out for deals on Zappos and eBay.  The Jimmy Choo Vamp heels have been sold out in my size for over a year and every time a pair pops up on eBay in my size, they are always over $500, which I just can't pay.

What's on your current want list?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Best of Prague

To wrap up the visit to Prague, I curated my favorite photos from our trip. I didn't want to make these into a collage of smaller photos because these really bring back the best memories of our trip.  When we first realized we had a free companion pass and miles, we wanted to take a beach trip to a very exotic location.  We looked at the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Tahiti before realizing that he couldn't take the necessary days off from his new job and there was no way to get a sitter for the kids.  We hadn't taken an international trip alone since our honeymoon on our first anniversary and it was starting to look grim.  When the boys summer schedule gave me an unexpected break, Mr. Fantastic checked his work schedule and saw that he was already scheduled to be in Europe for part of that time, so we took advantage and extended his trip to include some down time to take an abbreviated anniversary trip.  Fortunately, we know how to make the best of our travel and this was one of our best trips!
View of St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle
Love Locks over the Vltava in the Malá Strana district. We didn't leave a lock here, but they were pretty!
Graffiti on the Lennon Wall in the Malá Strana district.
View of Malá Strana from underneath a Bridge Tower at the end of the Charles Bridge.
Il Commendatore in homage to Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Estates Theater. This is not a dementor, as I first thought.
Inside St. James Church. It has one of the creepiest histories, I'm glad it was daytime and my husband was there!
The guards at the Prague Castle. We got to watch the changing of the guard and that was really cool.
Inside St. Vitus Cathedral had beautiful stained glass. We lit a candle in the chapel.
St. Wenceslas Vineyard on the trek down from the castle grows Riesling grapes. It was a beautiful view.
I hope you enjoyed these photos!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Wedding Anniversary!

Today is the 5th Anniversary of my wedding to Mr. Fantastic. I must admit that my wedding didn't start off the way I expected.  My then-fiance was hustled away right after breakfast and my day of hair, makeup and organizing began soon after.  I really felt like my day was progressively getting worse and things that normally wouldn't have stressed me out, were slowly compounding to drive me crazy. Even now, when small things start to stress me out, my husband is the first person to jump in and point out that those things are no big deal and we can just sail along.  On our wedding day, I wasn't allowed to see him after breakfast and I lost my phone at one point so I couldn't even text him before the ceremony. By the time my dad showed up to walk me down the aisle, I was already in tears over the dumbest things.  When I looked up the aisle and I saw the look on his face, I knew it was all going to be okay.
When my dad and I walked up the aisle and Mr. Fantastic saw my eyes were red, he tried to ask me what was wrong (in front of everyone) and I just burst into tears.  Somehow, he managed to squeeze my hand and comfort me and my mom came up and wiped my tears.  By the time our priest declared us husband and wife, I could not wait to kiss my husband.  I may not have started the day as I had hoped, but I ended my day exactly as I always dreamed: married to the love of my life.
Happy Anniversary, my love. Thank you for comforting me every day and showing me that together we can get through anything. Five years isn't very many, but I look forward to every single day I get to spend as your bride.  I love you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rainy Tour of Prague Castle & St. Vitus Cathedral

There is only one thing I love more than being an total tourist, and that is being a tourist when it rains! On our last full day in Prague, we spent the morning wandering around the Old Town Square taking in the Astronomical Clock while we ate a Trdelnik and enjoying some beers with lunch before we spent the afternoon taking a guided tour of The Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral.  It rained almost the entire time we were on the tour, but it was great because we braved the rain and got some excellent photos of everything with a minimal number of people around!
Sweater: Zara; Denim: Joes Jeans; Necklaces: c/o Dogeared & Jane Basch; Bag: Rebecca Minkoff; Umbrella: Nicole Miller; Sneakers: Asics
I was oblivious that the soldiers were heading up for the changing of the guard!
It was much cooler than I anticipated for July in Europe and it was compounded by the rain, so I bought this sweater at a local Zara shop for $20. I probably could have spent more time and bought something more "Czech" but I ducked in and bought this in the middle of the tour the day before and I already knew how Zara sizing runs, so I didn't have to take multiple sizes to try on. I was in and out of the shop before the tour guide finished explaining that we were in the "American" side of town.  After this tour of the castle and cathedral, we did spend time and bought some nice Bohemian crystal pieces as well as some garnet jewelry that I had been wanting because it is Mr. Fantastic's birthstone.
The Astronomical Clock in Prague is just beautiful.
Trdelnik, our breakfast of champions.  This is how they cook them over coals.
The back of St. Vitus Cathedral. The front is under renovation and I was happy the rain scared away most tourists!
Lightning strikes over Prague. We were at a lookout point from the Prague Castle when we took this photo.
I have alot of sweet memories of our days in Prague and I will definitely have to do a post of all the really neat things we got to see. But these photos above are some of my favorites, especially the one of the lightning strike because I'm never that lucky with my photos, even when I TRY!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Walk Around Prague

We arrived in Prague late in the evening on a Wednesday.  I was curious about the Charles Bridge and heard it was very romantic so we headed in that direction as soon as we checked into our hotel and dropped our luggage.  Well, so did everyone else.  All the photos of the bridge that I always see online are a mirage!  The Charles Bridge is PACKED every day and every night, you can hardly walk on the bridge.  We headed back to the center of town and admired the gothic spires that are abundant in town.  They don't call Prague The City of a Thousand Spires for nothing! The next day, we woke up and headed back to the square for a Free Walking Tour and got some history on this gorgeous city.  The tour is completely free, but you get so much detail (it's a three hour tour) and see all the places you want to see and even places you didn't know you had to see. At the end of the tour, you tip your tour guide.  Maybe it's an American thing, but we tipped him the equivalent of $20 each and we were shocked when some people only tipped a few coins and one guy tipped him what would be $5 for a family of 6!  If anyone has insight, we would love to hear it because we were afraid the free tours will stop if the tour guides aren't making money and really $20/person is way cheaper than some of the tours we found online! We also booked a paid tour of the Prague Castle for the following day with the same tour company.
Cardigan: Banana Republic; Tank: Nordstrom; Scarf: Zara (similar); Denim: Citizens of Humanity
Glitter Flats: Old Navy (old) (current); Footliners: Hue; Handbag: Sam Edelman (old)
One thing that struck us immediately is how well preserved the city of Prague is and it turns out that Prague was to be the hometown of Hitler after the war, therefore it was never bombed during any of the World War II raids.  The other interesting and disappointing tidbit is that all the statues on the Charles Bridge are fake! The originals were restored and are being preserved around the city in museums, universities, and other safe locations and all the statues on the bridge are just excellent replicas to guard against further damage to them from birds, humans, and the elements. I am going to do a post later this month just on the sights in Prague because there were just too many to reduce to one post!
Mr. Fantastic and I loved the tour & our guide who showed us this great place for photos of the Charles Bridge!
My favorite photo of the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Charles Bridge.
This was my most favorite photo from the trip and I am not ashamed to admit that it took us almost 30 shots to get this one.  We had to set the exposure really long to get both the castle and the bridge lit up and in focus, but we kept getting black burrs in the sky.  Those were birds that were flying through the frame and of course, it just looked like a black blob because the exposure was set so long.  But every time I see this photo, it always makes me smile.

What are tipping customs in Europe?