Fearless Females: Christina Ochoa

Happy Friday beauties! Another weekend is on our horizon, and I am not mad about it. I love spending time with my boys and this recent weather in South Texas is perfect for walks and playground adventures with my insanely energetic toddler. Today I am thrilled to share with you a new installment of the blog interview series I started to highlight women in my community who I respect, admire or just generally aspire to emulate. I have several lined up for this month and couldn't be more stoked about them!

This week I'm delighted to feature a local entrepreneur and fellow blogger I had the pleasure to meet after getting involved in the San Antonio blogging community (an amazing community of men and women who happily share their knowledge to help others succeed. Just one of the many reasons I love San Antonio). I absolutely respect her drive for success and her ability to snap in public with absolutely no fear (I think I may be the only #influencer in the world who feels silly talking to my phone in public)! So, without further ado, I am proud to introduce someone who may love coffee as much as I do:

Q: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself!

A: Hi,  I'm Christina, founder of The Social Butterfly Gal. I'm an event + social media strategist helping local businesses & lifestyle brands strategize + generate a buzz online.  In between the sips of coffee, social media notifications and writing, you will find me living up to my brand name-being a social butterfly; attending various networking and local events around San Antonio, TX. 

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Q: I have so much respect for you as a young professional killing it in the San Antonio media/marketing/influencer field. Tell my readers a little bit about your blog, how it began, and the goals you have for your career.

A: The Social Butterfly Gal was created in August of 2014. Back then, I was using it as a lifestyle blog to document the PR internship I was doing at the time. When the internship ended,  I was hired by a PR Consultant to provide social media management for her clients. I didn't want to let go of the work I had done on the blog so I continued to write as a lifestyle blogger.  Then came one of the biggest decisions ever to happen in my life. I was noticing a need for social media strategy. After careful thought and constant prayer, I  took a leap of faith and launched my  social media strategy business. Because I already had a brand name and had been doing a lot of networking as The Social Butterfly Gal, I decided to stop lifestyle blogging and re-brand into a full-time business owner. I officially launched in June of 2015 and for the past two years have been conducting events & social media strategy for local businesses & lifestyle brands. Now my blog focuses on social media and business tips that go hand-in-hand with the services I provide. I see The Social Butterfly Gal continuing to grow and in the future I hope to be hosting conferences, participating in panels and would like to publish a few self-help books for teens girls and young women. 

Q: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told/read as a powerful female in your industry?

A:  There have been many things that have stuck with me through my journey. One of the most encouraging things that has ever been said to me was, "Progress over perfection." I'm a perfectionist. PERIOD. and it sucks. Entrepreneurship has taught me SO many lessons as well as being comfortable with being uncomfortable. From the outside, it looks like you're killing it. But inside your own mind, you can just be praying to get through the month without an anxiety attack. I've learned to be appreciative of the SMALL and big victories as well as all the failures. I don't see the failures as failures, I see them as growth opportunities.

Q: How would you describe your personal style? 

A: My personal style is peppy, bubbly and fun! I'm a colorful girl and love anything that screams HAPPINESS!  

NOTE FROM HOPE: If I had to describe Christina's style I would liken it to the style of Mindy Kaling's character in "The Mindy Project". It is girly #goals.

Q: If you were an article of clothing, what would you be and why?

A: If I was an article of clothing I would be a dress. It's one item and you can accessorize it as often as you like! 

NOTE FROM HOPE: Yes! As a style choice, the dress is completely underrated. It makes life so much easier.

Q: What person in your life has influenced your personal style the most and why?

A: My grandma Gora was my role model and has had a HUGE influence in my life and in my style. She was always dressed up with her hair done, lipstick on and in pearls. She was the life of the party and always made strangers feel welcome. She was ready to lend a hand if someone needed it and was always praying for people she didn't even know. She was and will forever be my angel! 

Q: Share anything else you'd like about your career, style, or goals.

 A: I love to help others. Which is why I launched The Social Butterfly Gal. As I continue to grow in my business and as a woman I hope at the end of this I've made an impact and have inspired young women to dream the impossible and make things happen! 

That's all for now beauties! If you know of anyone who deserves a special shout-out for all the fabulous things they do/embody, be sure to nominate them in the comments below.

My Fall Shopping List

Beauties,

How have you been? I have been enjoying the recent rainy weather to no end! I feel like this recently drizzling rain is actually our version of fall, so I am getting into it as best I can! I have unpacked and worn my fall riding boots, rocked a vampy burgundy lip, and been eating/drinking pumpkin-spice anything-I-can-get-my-hands-on (PRO-TIP: the pumpkin bagel from Panera is A+). Based on all of the above (and the fact that my birthday is nearing), I have also recently added several new items to my mental shopping cart (don't act like I'm the only one who has one). If you're interested in what I've been eyeing lately, read on!

  • Over-the-Knee Boots: I have wanted these for several years, but the high price-tag always scares me away. Well I just found these beauties via SheIn.com and am about two minutes away from purchasing them. I will keep you updated on how they wear!
  • Orangey/Peach Makeup Looks: I have had a love affair with various shades of peach since 2017 started (Pantone, misstep. Shoulda been the 2017 Color of the Year). I am wearing an orange dress as I write this. And I have been eyeing this Too Faced Peaches & Cream Palette since it launched at Sephora a few weeks back (I am also still loving the orangey-browns in my tried and true Tarte Clay Play Palette, which I'm sure you're sick of hearing about by now). I also really want to try the Loose Setting Powder in the Peaches & Cream line. I just wish the Peaches & Cream products were at Ulta instead of Sephora, because the Ulta rewards program is hands down the best.
  • This Adorable T-Shirt Dress: I can picture it now with my new Over-the-Knee boots!
  • Everything from Amanda Stanton's Closet: This super cute Influencer/Mom (#goals) who got her start on The Bachelor franchise (she was in Ben's season), has listed a ton of super cute, boho-chic items to her Poshmark closet and I am obsessed. Shop it here!
  • A Bold Lip for Every Day of the Week: Not dissimilar to my childhood days-of-the-week panties, I have a vision for the grown-up version: a different dark lip lined up daily. I know, I know, I'm ridiculous (you're not the first person to tell me so). But this season gives me a legitimate excuse to rock a dramatic lip whenever I want. And I love that. So here are the shades I'm currently eyeing: Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in Extra and Acid Wash, Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Lipstick in Suck It, and Too Faced Melted Latex Lipstick in Bite Me. {and for anyone who cares, here are the vampy lipsticks I already own that I've been loving lately: Too Faced Melted Latex Lipstick in Strange Love, Tartest Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in Sis, and Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Lipstick in Lady Balls}

Note from Hope: This blog contains some affiliate links. Feel free to click through and help me grow my blog, or do a google search for what I mentioned in an alternate tab. Either way, I promise to always keep my opinions honest. <3

My Summertime Closet Purge

Beauties,

It's that time of year. Usually my closet purges come in the Spring, when I'm in full-on Spring-Cleaning mode. But I have not purged my closet since getting pregnant, because my sizes have fluctuated GREATLY in the past 2+ years. But lately, the clothing piles have been growing. And growing, and growing...

Someone recently told me I should write a blog about re-purposing clothing, but that's not really my speed. My speed is more taking-bags-of-old-stuff-to-Goodwill and letting someone else re-purpose it, ha (I mean, one time I cut a sundress in half and used the bodice as a top and the skirt portion as a wrap scarf, but that is the sole extent of my re-purposing adventures)! 

So here are a few things I'm getting rid of, just in case you're as nosy as I am. And for the extra nosy, check out my Poshmark closet and pick up some of my old favs.

A quick raiding of my Postmark closet

A quick raiding of my Postmark closet

  1. A Bunch of Button-Downs: In my college years, I almost always found myself picking up button downs at resale stores, with the reasoning that I would rock them in my internship/office life. But honestly, button downs just aren't my jam. I love them on other people, I just NEVER find myself reaching for the super cute ones I own. Better for me to pass them on to someone who will love them and get tons of use out of them.
  2. Too Small Skirts: I have told myself for almost 2 years now that I will be back into my pre-baby XS. Butttt... is that really gonna happen in the near future? Probably not. So by the time I get to that goal, I'm guessing the majority of my favorite super small skirts will be off-trend. Time to move on and embrace the mom-phase I'm in now. Just not with mom jeans. #never
  3. Random Bags (Handbags / Travel Bags): I really don't travel enough to justify having 4 bags that are all the same size, and I know that my few name brand designer handbags will pull in some cash when I sell them on Poshmark.

I think the excessive items I'll purge next are my costume jewelry and my high heels. However, I also have a ton of business/work wear that I purchased in my XS days that probably won't fit me anytime soon...

What do you think I should purge next? Be sure to comment below! 

Summer Favorites

Ahhhh... summer in Texas! A time when temperatures consistently top three digits and your face regularly feels like it's melting off your body. Have I convinced you Texas is the best yet? HA! (it actually is, just not because of the summer time weather.) Today I just want to share a couple things I am really enjoying this summer, in the hopes that your summer absolutely ends on a positive note!

Tons of Pool Time: I am not alone in my love for the water during these frying summer months. My baby boy lives for the days we get to visit our neighborhood pool or we fill up our backyard inflatable! Just don't forget the SPF.

Yes he is wearing a swim diaper and not swim trunks. He is 1. If that's tacky, then so be it. 

Yes he is wearing a swim diaper and not swim trunks. He is 1. If that's tacky, then so be it. 

Maxi Skirts: God bless whoever invented these. They allow me to skip a few days of leg shaving in the summertime without all the sad, sweaty cons of pants (it's also important to note that maxi dresses also belong in this category of summer fashion goodness). My favorite maxi skirt is now about 5 years old (from White House Black Market), so here are some good alternatives: this SheIn Cotton Pinstripe Cutie, this Belted Yellow Number, or this Asymmetrical Striped Skirt.

A Multi-Purpose Makeup Palette: If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know I'm obsessed with Tarte, and their new Clay Play Palette which i just bought at the beginning of July is a new favorite staple. I use it for contouring, bronzing, setting my concealer, brightening, eye shadow, and filling in my brows. It is so dang convenient, my only complaint is that Tarte didn't create a version for darker skin tones (rude!).

Espadrilles: These are my favorite summer shoes, because I can rock them from day to night, from the office to the backyard and feel cool and comfortable all day! Sometimes sandals are just too informal for the office, but my favorite pair of lace-up espadrilles always fit the bill and provide the perfect summer touch. The pair I rock on the regular aren't sold anymore, but here are some great ones you can find online now: these SheIn Ruffled Espadrilles in Khaki, these Kitty Cat Cuties, these Rose & Striped Espadrilles, or these Tassled Espadrille Sandals. BONUS: they're all under $40!

The Perfect Lipgloss: I have honestly never considered myself a lipgloss girl, or ever gravitated toward them in the store, but lately I've been trying out some new ones and going back to a few of my Buxom favorites. And boy am I glad I did! I am straight-up obsessed. I've found some gorgeous nudes for summer (right #OnTrend) with the perfect amount of color and shine. Here's a list of the glosses I can't stop rockin:

That's all for now loves, but I also wanted to let you know I am selling a bunch of cute stuff via Poshmark, be sure to shop my closet here! Comment below with your summertime staples.

 

Note from Hope: This blog contains some affiliate links. Feel free to click through and help me grow my blog, or do a google search for what I mentioned in an alternate tab. Either way, I promise to always keep my opinions honest. <3

Fearless Females: Kara Wilde

Happy Friday Beauties!

I hope your week has been fabulous and full of reminders that you're loved.  ❤️  Today, I am so honored to share with you an interview of one of my dearest friends in the world. Her name is Kara and she is beautiful, brilliant, and amazingly creative. Kara inspires me in so many ways. Her love of people and relationships over things is a stark contrast to many I know. She has so many qualities I aspire to cultivate in my own life. Her and her husband are free spirits who take to adventures like fish to water. Their futures are so bright; I am honored to call them friends. Read on to get to know her and be sure to follow her and her cute hubby on Instagram, @wandercreativeco, to stay up-to-date on their current California escapades!

Her personal IG is full of even more beautiful photography: @kara.wilde

Her personal IG is full of even more beautiful photography: @kara.wilde

Hope: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Kara: I’m Kara, a twenty-something female with a love for traveling and great food.  For the past couple years I have been working in education.  I have a passion for working with underprivileged youth.  When I’m not at work you can find me crafting, taking pictures, or Netflix binging.

I’m married to Ben who is an amazing creator.  Seriously -- he creates cabinets, 3D printers, and buildings.  We love to use our combined talents to work on/renovate our previous house and our current home (an Airstream).

(Note from Hope: "Plot twist! They just moved to California and made the decision to live in an Airstream for practical/financial reasons and to live a more intentional life. Bold move. I was so intrigued when I learned about their decision. That is one of the reasons I'm interviewing her here. It gave me a great excuse to be really nosy about their novel living situation." 😏)

Hope: How do we know each other?

Kara: We met in college during an interior design class.  We bonded while pulling many all-nighters in the design lab. We still joke about how delusional we were at four in the morning while we tried to save everything before the computers rebooted.

(Note from Hope: "Note to self, Kara has so so many embarrassing stories about me from that time in my life...")

Hope: I am in awe of your travels to date, all before the age of 30! Tell me a little bit about how you and your hubby caught the travel bug and your travels to date.

Kara: In college my husband (then boyfriend) and I decided to participate in a mission trip to Thailand. After marriage and graduation, we went back and ended up living there for a full year working with a local church. That really introduced us to international travel. To date we have traveled to Malaysia, Cambodia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. We are both awful planners and tend to purchase plane tickets and make plans once we get to the country. Once we were able to obtain standby passes from a pilot friend and we literally showed up to the airport without knowing where we would go. We were trying for Germany, but Costa Rica had open seats so we hopped on that plane. 

Hope: Tell my readers a little bit about how your journey lead you to move to LA from Texas, and why you will be living in an air-stream.

Up until last week we were living in Austin, TX. My husband received a really awesome job offer in LA, and we decided to take it. We lived in Los Angeles a year ago for his internship. While in LA, a large part of our income was spent on housing. Our apartment was tiny and not well designed. When my husband received the job offer we were hesitant due to the housing situation. We started to wrestle with the idea of using the Airstream we had purchased a couple months as our home. We figured we could design it the way we wanted it, and make it into a really functional place. The Airstream idea soon transformed from a dream to reality. 

Hope: When you told me that you would be living in an Airstream, my first thought was "How?!" How have you de-cluttered and organized your possessions to make an Airstream lifestyle your reality? Did you have a certain question you asked yourself about all your possessions?

Kara: I was really nervous about getting all of our stuff into the Airstream.  While going through our stuff we really had to decide what we absolutely needed.  We incorporated a lot of storage into the bed and seating area.  We were able to bring all the camping gear we wanted, my camera and accessories, and I even have a craft drawer!  It really made us think what was important to us.  When deciding what to bring I asked myself these questions:

  • Is it useful?
  • Is it in good shape?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Do I use it on a regular basis?

Hope: How much closet space does your air-stream have? How many square feet is your air-stream?

Kara: I have two (TWO) feet of hanging closet space! The Airstream is 210 square feet (insert gasp of shock from Hope here) and there just isn’t a lot of room for closet space. To dwindle my closet down I went through my closet once and took out all of the stuff I hadn’t worn in over a year. The dress I have for one special occasion, the skirt that doesn’t match anything, the shirt that has that stain but is so cute. They all had to go. I then went through for a second round and weeded out clothes that were similar and clothes that didn’t really match anything in my closet. I knew that I would be riding my bike to work, so anything that didn’t fit that lifestyle was given away. It was hard. I had a lot of cute clothes that I loved. The truth was I didn’t have room for them and I didn’t need them all.

Hope: I can't help but think that living in such a small space will help you to combat materialism. What's your philosophy about spending? I know from our shopping trips together that you are much more budget-conscious than I am (often to my detriment, ha). Are there any creative comforts or personal possessions that you will have a hard time giving up?

Kara: I do like to be thrifty. I especially like thrift store shopping. It gives me the peace of mind that I am helping out the earth. If I am not buying at a thrift store I only buy things that match items of clothing I already have in my closet. Living in a small space does make me think about what I buy. If I don’t have the space for it then I simply can’t buy it.

The hardest thing to leave out of the Airstream was my decorating knick-knacks.  I had so many cool paintings, postcards, brass animals, etc that just didn’t have a place in the Airstream.

Hope: If you were an article of clothing, what would you be and why?

Kara: I’ve really been in to neck scarves/ bandannas lately.  I think I would be one of those. They are a fun accessory that add a little bit of pizzazz to an outfit.

That's all for now loves. What would be the easiest items for you to de-clutter if you were making the move into a radically small space? What would be the hardest items for you to de-clutter? Comment below, my nosy mind wants to know!

Date Night Lookbook

Beauties!

How are you? I am so excited to bring you a little date night lookbook. Date nights are one of my favorite things in the world. And Taylor and I have a baby-free night out this Saturday, so I thought I would take some time to compile a list of my favorite current looks for when I'm getting all dolled up to paint the town red with my baby daddy. Here they are, in no particular order.

Built-in Chokers: you know about my love affair with chokers, so when I realized incorporating them into blouses and dresses was a thing, I was sold! I love the casual "rocker" choker top I have on below, it's perfect for any casual date (day or evening). You can find it at Express. I also found an adorable floral dress with the same detailing here!

Photo Credit: Anh-Viet Dinh Photography

Photo Credit: Anh-Viet Dinh Photography

The Skinny Jean: Can we say too many good things about a great jean? Dark denim flatters every body shape, so be sure to check that off the list first. I hardly ever reach for light-wash jean anymore (you might catch me in a pair on laundry days). Next, look for some fun details, maybe a floral pattern or a zipper. Voila! You've found a piece to complete your flirty date look. Pair it with a cold shoulder top and you're golden! Check out these if you're on the hunt for a new pair: SheIn Dark Wash Skinnies, Topshop Embroidered Skinnies, and these SheIn Floral Skinnies [bonus: they're on sale]. (P.S. I almost inserted my Anti-Overall and Anti-Mom-Jean rants here, but I refrained. Comment below if you think I should dedicate a post to current fashion trends I loathe!)

Little Floral Dress: I love a darling floral, and summertime is when I break out all of my floral favorites. I love this SheIn t-shirt dress for any casual daytime dates. This Lush back-tie dress and this gorgeous Leith cold-shoulder dress are both great when you're ready to kick it up a notch.

One more thing I would hate for you to forget/miss: the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is upon us, now - August 6! It's the best time of the year to stock up on your favorite Nordstrom brands.

What's your favorite date night look?

Note from Hope: This blog contains some affiliate links. Feel free to click through and help me grow my blog, or do a google search for what I mentioned in an alternate tab. Either way, I promise to always keep my opinions honest. <3

The Best Day of My Life

Today's post is going to be emotional, so consider yourself forewarned! I want to share with you a little bit about the best day of my life. I'm not talking about my quinceañera (it helps that I didn't have one lol!), my first kiss, my last day of high school, my first day of college, a graduation, or even the birth of my son. Today is all about my wedding: the most perfect 8 hours of my life. I would go back in a heartbeat and relive that day a hundred times over. I have been inspired (mostly by social media) to stop and share a few of moments from my favorite day in the world. And, to be honest, this may develop into a series, because I could talk/write about my wedding for DAYS. It was a Southern affair to remember, and I will never be upset about that! 

Photo Credit: Suzanne Nolan. She was our incredibly talented photographer for the wedding. I have included all of her information and a link to her website at the bottom of this post!

Photo Credit: Suzanne Nolan. She was our incredibly talented photographer for the wedding. I have included all of her information and a link to her website at the bottom of this post!

The Reveal - One of my favorite memories from the day. Taylor and I did not subscribe to the typical "Bad Luck to see each other before the walk down the aisle" philosophy, and I am so glad that we threw tradition out the window! I initially made the decision to see Taylor before the vows out of practicality. I couldn't in good conscious make my guests wait around for dinner (esp. since our budget wouldn't allow for cocktails or hors d'oeuvres) while we took a billion pictures (because gurrl you know I wanted a billion pictures)! But that decision turned out to be probably the best decision I made along the way. Seeing Taylor before the ceremony began calmed my nerves and brought me the most joy I had all day (besides the vows, of course)! I was beyond ecstatic/excited/overflowing with joy, and he was so excited/nervous that he might have shed a tear or two. I could go on and on, but instead, I'll let the pictures tell the story for me (be sure to scroll through them all):

The Styling - What wedding -- no, what memory! -- is complete without a dress to remember? I picked up my wedding dress at a sweet little boutique in Austin (which is sadly no longer in business) on a special shopping excursion with my mother-in-law. She was such a dear during the whole wedding planning and throughout the big day. The one dark cloud when I got engaged was knowing that my mother wouldn't be there on my wedding journey, and just like that, God allowed sweet Dana to step in and help me out with many of the special mother/daughter moments. I cannot BEGIN to imagine my wedding without her, and I was so very happy she was there when I found my dress.  We were helped at the boutique by a kooky sales lady with an over-the-top, European-debonair personality, who made the whole experience a blast. I felt like a million bucks being served champagne while we shopped. It was our third stop of the day and by far the most fun! I tried on my dress and while all day long I had been trying on figure-hugging, lace silhouettes, the cloud-like tulle and a-line silhouette of what was meant to be my dress immediately spoke to me! I had a vision as soon as I put it on of floating down the aisle. I could picture it with just a few modifications becoming the most beautiful dress for my beautiful day. The rest just fell into place. 

I was able to customize my dress to perfection with the help of a local Austin seamstress. I added cap sleeves, a beautiful beaded belt, moved the flounce to the back (which gave it gorgeous movement when I walked/danced), and had a bra built-in to the bodice (in order to avoid the dreaded dress-tugging). Check out the transformation:

The Hair & Make-up - I had my make-up done at Ulta and my hair was done by one of my best friends and bridesmaids, (shout-out: Angeline! you are a rock star!) I was beyond pleased with the look, and one huge tip I have for other brides: ALWAYS do a trial run before the big day. No bride needs to look at themselves in a mirror an hour before they walk down the aisle and gasp in dismay! The picture below is from my bridal shoot which I used to test out my hair and make-up. I am so glad I did, because I was not a fan of the hairstyle I thought I wanted. It gave me time to make other plans and test out a second hairstyle.

Bridal Portrait Photo Credit: Royce Walston

Bridal Portrait Photo Credit: Royce Walston

Lest you think my day was too perfect, the truth is for all of my love of makeup, getting ready was not my favorite part. There was some chaos at the hair salon (a long story about a bridesmaid who asked for the same hair style as I had and another bridal party member who became vehemently protective of my hair-do), but almost all of us made it to the church on time! And what big day does doesn't have a hick-up or two? 

The Venue - this decision was the most pain-staking. It was the toughest to make, and by far the most expensive. But deciding on a beautiful backdrop to say our "I Do's" was important to me; therefore my fiancee, family, and friends helped made it possible. Our ceremony (along with all of our bridal party/family pictures) took place at the First Baptist Church of Boerne. It has a gorgeous chapel with beautiful stained glass, lofted ceilings, and gorgeous lighting, but even better is the quaint prayer garden with a sweet chapel, the most idyllic location for bridal party photos.

The reception took place at the Cana Ballroom, a gorgeous venue inside and out with beautiful sweeping views. It's located on Boerne's main street, right behind St Peter the Apostle Catholic Church.

Honestly, when all is said and done, all of the things I've listed above matter infinitely less than what the day was really about: Taylor and I coming together in love. The vows we wrote to each other will always be what I cherish the most about that day. He is my best friend in the world and I am endlessly grateful the Lord brought us together. 

I am also so very grateful for all of the beautiful family and friends who helped that unforgettable day come together. So many loved ones were integral to making our wedding possible. A HUGE shout-out to All In The Details Events, local San Antonio wedding planner Melissa Gaines, who swooped in at about t-minus 2 months before the wedding day and helped make it all possible! She helped coordinate all the last minute vendor details and kept our day on schedule from start to finish. I highly recommend her. And to all that made a journey to be a part of that beautiful day (whether it was the drive from San Antonio, the far corners of Texas, or my sweet family that traveled in from Missouri), I am so very thankful you did so. If you are reading this, and were a part of our big day, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To my groom, who I know is reading this (mostly because I force him to read all my blog posts), I love you to the moon and back. Without you my life would be dull and boring, I wouldn't have a beautiful baby boy or the wonderful life that we live together to the fullest! I would do it all over again tomorrow (could we please? It was so much fun)!

NOTE: All of these photos were taken by the endlessly talented Suzanne Nolan, and her company Love Stories (you can find her on Instagram here), unless otherwise noted. I did include 1 photo from my bridal portrait session, taken by a photographer my dad selected.

My Summer Beauty Shopping Spree

Beauties,

Are these blog posts interesting to you? I don't know, but I love watching hauls on YouTube. I am always so nosy about what people are loving and stocking up on. So in the event that you're like me, I wanted to share with you the beauty items I have picked up since summer began, many of which are quickly becoming new favorites. 

My Tarte Addiction: you guys, this addiction is growing. I just love that I can purchase their products and feel good that I'm not slathering junk on my face. Their Flash Sale last month (which was even better than their Friends & Family Sale which just ended this past Thursday), did not help matters any! So, I added all of these items to my beauty bag (The first one is totally my favorite!):

  • Clay Play Face Shaping Palette -- this has now become my bronzer, under-eye setting powder, occasionally all-over setting powder, my brow powder, my contour powder, and most days contributes to my eye shadow look. I am not trying to sound like a hype man, I just really love all of these buttery powders that smell heavenly to boot. I use it every day I wear makeup.
  • Limited-Edition Clay Pot Waterproof Shadow Liners, in the shades Crystal Ball and Lucky Penny -- These bad boys are gorgeous, and stay vibrant ALL DAY. I don't even wear them as liners, I rock them as cream shadows and oohlala! Muy bonita if I do say so myself! 
  • Tartest PRO Glow Highlight & Contour Palette -- I don't know if anyone will believe me, since I'm the sucker who purchased this, but I'm really not a huge contour fan. But I love a beautiful highlight, and this palette has 4! The shade Stunner is by far, my favorite. I have been wearing it almost every single day since I bought it off Poshmark. The "contour" shades are beautiful as well, but I put that in quotes, because honestly I tend to use them more as bronzers rather than true contours. All of the products in this palette get my seal of approval, because they stand up to my 9-10 hour work-day wear test!
  • Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint, in the shade Get It! -- a beautiful, warm-toned apricot nude, it has been giving me all the feels this summer. I don't usually go for warm-toned nudes, because they're not always flattering if your teeth aren't pearly white, but I made an exception for this gorgeous shade.
  • Limited-Edition Swamp Queen Eye & Cheek Palette -- I would give this palette a solid B-. It's not my absolute favorite, but it has some great staple shades and the highlighter is beautiful. To be quite honest, the blush and bronzer look a little too sparkly for my taste, so I haven't even tried them out yet. Hmm.... maybe today is the day!

Lest you think this is an ad sponsored by Tarte (I wish! If only they knew who I was), don't worry, there's much more:

  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Anti-Aging Finishing Powder -- When I'm not using my Tarte Clay Play palette to set my face, I'm been using this. And WOW! It's like a Snapchat blurring filter in real life. It minimizes my pores dramatically. I was between purchasing this and their loose (silk HD) micro-powder with the same name. If you've tried that and love it, be sure to let your girl know!
  • Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Concealer, in the shade Light -- I have been in need of a less intense, heavy-duty concealer than the Tarte ShapeTape (which don't get me wrong, I love, but sometimes it's just too much on my lighter makeup days), and this formula does the trick. Bonus: it's got a drugstore price tag and it has a great rating on the Healthy Living app!
  • BeautyCounter Nourishing Day Cream -- This product isn't the most exciting on my list, but it's certainly an essential. I don't allow myself to apply any makeup without moisturizing first. This is the first day cream I've tried from BeautyCounter, and so far no complaints!
  • SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Cleansing Facial Wipes -- These are currently my favorite wipes to use at night as makeup remover when I'm exhausted and totally lazy. They get the job done and smell so yummy! Even Mr. Hope for Fashion loves the smell and he is SO picky about scents.
  • SheaMoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Toner -- This is my favorite toner and when I ran out I had to repurchase. Shea Moisture is another brand that I feel good about purchasing knowing that they focus on using ingredients from nature that have been used in their beauty products for generations (not just for the past few months after being developed in a scary lab in a mysterious location).

Welp, I hope you had as much fun reading this as I had going hog-wild online, in my local Ulta and at Walgreens! What are your summer beauty essentials? Be sure to comment below!

Summer Fashion Forecast

Today I want to share with you the current, hottest fashion & beauty trends and the best ways to rock them. I was completely and 100% inspired to write this after attending the Taylor'd For You Fashion Show this past weekend. Hosted by local rising fashion star, Taylor Mobley, the show was a blast with a cocktail hour, raffle, and fashion from both men's and women's boutiques here in San Antonio. The backdrop for the evening was the sexy Hotel Valencia (their hotel restaurant would make a great date night! *clears throat*). Attendees could feel great about taking part since all proceeds benefited our San Antonio chapter Dress for Success!

My favorite collection from the event; the pieces featured are from Adelante Boutique.

My favorite collection from the event; the pieces featured are from Adelante Boutique.

So, without further ado, here are a few trends you'll be seeing this summer:

  • Embroidery: As you can see in the collection above, embroidery is a big trend currently (along with pom poms). I personally think it's an adorable trend that anyone can successfully rock. The pieces pictured above can be found in store at Adelante Boutique. I also found some great pieces to rock to the office, while running errands, or on weekend adventures
  • Sexy Shoulders: Guys, time for some honesty. This is my least favorite current trend. But I have to share it, because it's literally THE HOTTEST trend of the summer. I used to rock a strapless bra no problem, anytime, for any outfit. But my post-partum gals are just NOT here for it, they need more support than a strapless bra offers. I am so stinkin' jealous of allllllll the bloggers I follow who rock strapless tops and dresses... alas, I just value comfort too much at this age and stage. Besides that, I honestly have never loved my shoulders (they just look bony and awkward to me... one of the reasons I adamantly refused to wear a strapless wedding dress). All of that aside, if you're comfortable with your shoulders and have a great strapless bra in your possessions, I've found some extra adorable shoulder numbers. Check it out: a chambray dress and this bell-sleeved beauty.
  • Warm Tones: This is one of the biggest summer beauty trends. Warm tones are where it's at for summer makeup looks, and a red-toned brown can be worn 5 different ways, transitioning beautifully from daytime at the office to a sexy date night. My current favorite warm-toned eye shadow palette is the Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette Ablaze (bonus: this palette was formulated without parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, fragrance and talc!). I think my next beauty purchase will have to be the Tarte Clay Play palette featuring every warm neutral a beauty blogger could ever need. 
  • Tropical Prints: This one is most likely on its way out, but I am a sucker for bold, bright patterns during the warmest months of the year! Check out these cute items I found featuring palm leaves, tropical birds, and this floral tie-front. I also lervv this Palm Leaf Two Piece and tropical backpack for summer adventures to the beach/pool! Complete any summertime look with this tropical cuff from Wanderlust + Co.

P.S. Here's what I wore to the event:

Top: J. Crew, Skirt: Loft, Earrings: Kendra Scott, Shoes: Urban Outfitters 

Top: J. Crew, Skirt: Loft, Earrings: Kendra Scott, Shoes: Urban Outfitters 

That's all for now beauties. Let me know in the comments what trends you're adoring this summer!

Note from Hope: This blog does contain some affiliate links. Feel free to click through and help me grow my blog. Regardless, I promise to always keep my opinions honest. <3

Fearless Females: Michelle Bartonico

Happy Friday beauties! I address all of you, my readers & friends, as beauties because I know each and every one of you are beautiful. But we all need a reminder now and then. I love that you each give me an opportunity to speak into your lives; it's not something I take lightly. So, to those having a bad hair day, a rough work week, or just plain going through a funk, I pray that you are reminded today you are beloved and beautiful!

Today's post is another installment of my #FearlessFemales series, a chance for me to feature just a few of the strong women who inspire me. Today I will be sharing my interview with Michelle Bartonico, a friend who also happens to be my husband's boss. And she is the very definition of a #GirlBoss. She became the Marketing Director of Trinity University before turning 30. Her resume is almost as impressive as her smile is beautiful. So, without further ado, meet Michelle:

Hope: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself. 

Michelle: I was born in Scottsdale, Arizona. I'm the middle child of two brothers. I love dogs (especially my goldendoodle Franklin). I've been working in marketing and communications since 2008 when I graduated from Trinity University. Since then, I've had the opportunity to build an interactive team at one of the largest agencies in San Antonio, start my own business called BORDERLINEA (showcasing and connecting artists and musicians in SA), come back to work at my alma mater where I am currently Director of University Marketing and Communications. I studied history, communication, and Spanish at Trinity University; got my PMP; and earned a search engine optimization specialization from UC Davis. 

I love to travel and have visited 30 countries. I've taken a "girl trip" with my mom every year since I was 16. I've also kept a journal and written in it every day I've traveled abroad...needless to say, I have stacks of journals (especially from when I studied abroad in Spain).

Hope: I have so much respect for you as a successful marketer, and a Marketing Director before age 30. Working in educational marketing, do you feel there is a glass ceiling in world of higher education or would you describe it as a more inclusive profession?

Michelle: I've felt fortunate to have incredible mentors and coaches in my professional development who've taught me valuable lessons and showed great leadership. In my career, I've worked for several advertising agencies, two of which were owned by women, and now in higher education where there are also women in leadership roles. Certainly a ceiling does exist, though, I haven't seen this as prominent in my agency or higher ed experience. Higher education pays less than the corporate sector and people typically know that going into this industry. However, I don't see a great barrier based on gender. I'm not sure I would say it's a more inclusive profession. Rather, that it's a typical professional. 

Hope: As someone who thinks about collegiate/marketing to prospective college students all day everyday, what encouragement would you give yourself if you could speak to the college-aged Michelle?

Michelle: Let's see. I probably would tell myself to keep stretching beyond my comfort zone, e.g. Join a culture or dance club. Always remember how lucky you are to attend a university that challenges you with experiences and cares about your success. Don't let yourself get too stressed to the point that you wish away the experience. :)

Hope: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told by a mentor?

Michelle: Probably the most motivating thing I've heard from a mentor was a creative director of mine about 5 years ago. He told me I was the only one holding myself back. And, I'm sure he said some other things equally as inspiring. Something clicked and I thought, you know, he's right. I'm the only one stopping myself from doing something. From taking chances. I still think about that and obviously take calculated risks but at the same time I know going into things that I am the one putting up the barrier. 

Hope: How would you describe your personal style? 

Michelle: My personal style is one that seeks efficiency, whether in a professional setting or at home. I can't stand mess. I wake up and have a To-Do list that helps me focus so I don't waste energy on things that aren't essential. I asked some of my current employees and previous ones - they said "funny, collaborative, creative, bold, determined, analytical." They also asked me my Myers Briggs (which is INTJ). Always tough to describe your personal style. Perception is reality so really, it's whatever others think is my personal style! Ha. 

Hope: If you were an article of clothing, what would you be and why?

Michelle: Probably earrings. They can be subtle or make a statement; they complement the outfit rather than being the first thing you see. I don't like being the center of attention. 

Hope: Share anything else you'd like about your career, style, or goals.

Michelle: My goal is to be thought of as a great leader. When I think of a great leader I think of someone who is empathetic, collaborative, calm under pressure, innovative, driven, and inspiring. I enjoy listening to podcasts by Donald Miller and Michael Hyatt. An incredible book I read recently was Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Using your energy on the essential things and having the discipline to carry it out is really something I like working toward. Oooooh! I'm also really into Jason Silva and all his philosophical rants. One of the recent ones I've watched is the concept of, "I am who I think you think I am." Whaaaat?! #mindblown 

That's all for now loves, thanks for tuning in! Comment below what article of clothing you would be and why.

Fathers: The Unsung Heroes

Beauties,

I wanted to write this post for no other reason than to shine a light on a group of people in our society who are often overlooked or worse, portrayed as goofy and clueless. I'm looking at the dads of the world. I'm looking at the guys who work multiple jobs to provide, who soothe worried moms, who carry passed out kids from the car to the crib, who stay up late to balance the checkbook. I don't know if every dad in every family does these things, but most men do at least a few, and Taylor does them all. I do not thank him enough.

The two cutest.

The two cutest.

I have a few verses that I want to share with you today. They share just a few attributes of faith demonstrated by the dads in my sweet toddler's life. Yesterday I was blessed to be surrounded by not 1 but THREE amazing fathers who all care so much for JT; they would take a bullet for him in a HEARTBEAT. My baby's first name is James, after his Great-Granddad James, so I thought it was only appropriate to share verses from that book of the Bible. James is also a father (the dad of my sweet father-in-law, Tom) who I've never met, but I owe so incredibly much, and who I love and admire.

James 2:18 (about demonstrating faith through action). This verse speaks to all the times dads aren't the best at articulating, but will show their love and godliness through kind deeds, putting others first, or helping the ones around us who are in need.

James 5:20 (about turning a sinner from the error of their ways) Is it just me or are many Dads the disciplinarians of the family? They are able to demonstrate godly love by giving godly, firm correction to their family and friends. It's something many of us dread, but ultimately helps to shape the ones we love into stronger, better people. Where would any of us be without correction when we're traveling down the wrong path or making the wrong choice?

James 5:11 (about endurance/perseverance) Taylor, thank you for having an ocean of patience with JT when I need it the most. Thank you for stepping in when I'm at my wit's end and start to feel like screaming/ripping my hair out. Thank you for having patience during all of the family conflicts we've had over the past year. I continue to learn so much from your leadership. I respect you so very much. Thank you for choosing me. 

As I've very openly mentioned before, this whole parenting journey I'm on is pretty overwhelming. I have not a clue what I'm doing. But God is constantly reminding me to look around. JT has amazing men and fathers in his life. Those are the examples he will see on a daily basis. Each of them will lead and shape him based on their own gracious, godly lives. And that gives me so much hope for JT's future. 

I hope you had a blessed Father's Day. And if you had a rough Father's Day yesterday, I prayed for you. Your Heavenly Father loves you without condition, lean on Him today.

Of The Moment: Random Recommendations

Beauties! 

It is officially summer in Texas, and I am trying my best not to melt away! Anyone else who's lived through a Southern summer will totally understand what I mean. While I'm beating the heat by staying close to the beautiful AC, I had to jump on here and share a few of my quick, current favorites.  All super random, but they're my current go-to's and I wanted to share!

The eye palette pictured is the Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette "Ablaze"

The eye palette pictured is the Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette "Ablaze"

  • Books: A Man Called Ove (currently reading), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, & The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. You guys, all of these books are A++! If you're like me and you love reading fiction, but hate having to cipher through superfluous sex scenes, these are the perfect summer reads. They are each so sweet and so moving, I highly recommend you check them all out (with tissues on hand). Next on my list? Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
  • Beauty: Things I am currently obsessed with in my makeup & skincare routine are as follows (in no particular order): This e.l.f. blush palette (less than $7 AND okay-ed by the Healthy Living app), this gorgeous Tarte sparkler palette (one of my amazing Mother's Day presents! xoxo), and any eye look with warm shades (I blame Urban Decay for releasing their warm-toned palette and flooding my YouTube newsfeed with gorgeous, orangey inspiration).
  • Fashion: 1. Simple but comfortable jean shorts (here's some similar, the ones I bought at Target are already sold out, WAHH!) for my weekend days. 2. For days I'm stuck at the office dreaming of my next summer adventure, I've been reaching for all my favorite thrift store summer dresses (sorry, can't link to Goodwill inventory, but here are some other cute, comfy dresses). Both items are simple to throw on and great for staying trendy AND cool! #pun (or as cool as possible when the thermometer hits the high 90s)
  • Apps: I have been OBSESSED with the Poshmark app lately! You can find amazing steals from fashion to beauty to skincare to shoes. I listed a bit of my stuff, and have at least 50 more things hanging in my closet I want to list. I highly recommend you download the app, even if it's not to buy anything from my closet. And if you already have the app, be sure to give me a follow! My handle is @hopestakes (and if you're an avid user, pretty please list any tips you have for success in the comments below). I also just downloaded Influenster and started plugging in my social channels. I'm intrigued by this whole, "write reviews, get free stuff" concept. If it's true, I will be SO down! Can't wait to play around with it more. I will keep you guys updated.
  • Community: I'm currently so excited for the upcoming Taylor'd For You Fashion Show! It will be at a stylish location (Hotel Valencia downtown), feature stylish looks from a local fashionista who I adore (Taylor Mobley, previously featured in my #FearlessFemales series), and benefits Dress for Success! Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased here.

That's all for now loves, what have you been obsessed with lately?

Note from Hope: This blog contains some affiliate links. Feel free to click through and help me grow my blog, or do a google search for what I mentioned in an alternate tab. Either way, I promise to always keep my opinions honest. <3

The MORE Culture

More is more, right? But what if it's not...? What if our culture, our media, the Influencers we look to, have been lying to us? What if we don't need more to be content and live a rich, full life? This is something I've been pondering a lot as of late (especially when reviewing my credit card spending...). I can always come up with reasons for more. More makeup, more clothes, more sunglasses, more SHOES. But can I put together a list that advocates less?

This year, the year of 2017, my goal is self-discipline. Self-discipline in eating, exercising, and mainly: spending. I wrote a little blog about my budgeting struggles and strategies a few months ago (you can read it here). So, to motivate myself to stay on track (despite all of the amazing sales happening right now, including the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale, WAH!), I'm reminding myself: "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal." and more! Proverbs 16:16, Ecclesiastes 5:10-141 Timothy 6:9 The list goes on and on.

These boys right here bring me more joy than any single possession I could ever own!

These boys right here bring me more joy than any single possession I could ever own!

And to hold me accountable/help me stick to my goals, I'm sharing with you my reasons to buy less:

  1. I'm tired of having a cluttered house. Seriously, my house is overflowing with things. I don't have enough closet space for all my stuff. And I'm eyeing MORE? Am I insane?! (Don't answer that, it was rhetorical)
  2. Debt doesn't feel fun. Does spending feel more fun? Sure! But only temporarily. Only until the next time I check my bank statement or get my credit card bill in the mail. And then, it's back to shaming myself and listening to inner dialogue about how I'm the best at failing...
  3. I DON'T WANT TO KEEP UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS. Ok, this one's partially a joke. But seriously, who am I trying to keep up with / compare to? Our parents had to keep up with the Jones. Now our generation has to keep up with an obnoxiously affluent, always camera-ready LA family, eating Instagram-ready food someone else made for them in an all-white kitchen? I don't know about you, but when I watch the show, none of their friends or habits appeal to me. Do their vacations and homes make me drool a bit? Of course, I'm not crazy! But then I remember that they don't get snuggles with J.T. They don't get to go on date nights with my boo. They'll never enjoy all of the most beautiful moments in my life. And I value those at a price point 2,000X higher than their houses or their exotic island retreats.
  4. My favorite memories don't involve material goods. Think back on your life to date. I bet your favorite memory doesn't involve stuff, but rather people. Your best friends and your family. Those are the things I want to cherish and invest in. Not my closet. Because while an Instagram-worthy closet would bring me fleeting happiness, making memories laughing with JT will bring me pure joy that will last a whole lot longer.

Thanks for reading beauties! What would you add to my list? 

Color Me Coral

Happy Hump Day!

Today I want to share with you my two current obsessions: 1. all things coral (& peach 🍑) and 2. Chic-fil-a grilled nuggets. Ok, that second one obviously has nothing to do with fashion, but they are just so DELISH. If you haven't tried them yet, stop what you're doing and go try them. 😂

Ok for real, I just wanted to take a quick minute to share my outfit of the day and a few other ways to incorporate coral into your looks. I think it is SUCH a flattering shade on most skin tones! If you think your skin tone is a bit too rosy to handle this shade, consider incorporating a pop of coral via a fabulous handbag or shoe.

Shameless #selfie in my work parking lot!

Shameless #selfie in my work parking lot!

My pants are several seasons old, but I found some similar here and they would look darling paired with this Draper James top.

Another way I love incorporating coral is in my makeup. I am currently obsessed with Tarte's 12-hour blush in the shade Captivating.

It is a bit pricey, but it has great staying power. And bonus: it can totally be worn as an eye shadow! It is POPPIN'.

That's all for now loves, thanks for stopping by!

Date Night: A Marriage Essential

Hello blog fam! 

I'm writing this after enjoying my first full 8 hours of sleep in a week! I CAN CONQUER ANYTHING! Gotta love that #MomLife LOL - but seriously, isn't it amazing what a great night's sleep can do for you? Alternatively, today I want to talk about how a great date night can do wonders for you as well. I am a firm believer in dating. But I'm not writing this to all the single ladies. This post is aimed at the marrieds. Husbands/Wives: I'm lookin at you. I am by NO means a marriage expert. I am going on a measly 4 years of #MarriedLife. But I don't think it takes an expert to tell you that a time to reconnect, flirt, and converse is essential to keeping a marriage healthy and both partners feeling secure/safe. I've seen it recommended in book after book and resource after resource. I've heard pastors, counselors, and mentors repeat the same thing: don't stop dating your spouse.

And, my favorite tradition with Taylor: a #DateNight selfie (even when the lighting is awful)!

And, my favorite tradition with Taylor: a #DateNight selfie (even when the lighting is awful)!

Taylor and I have a firm one-date-per-month policy. Do we always stick to it? No, some months are crazier than others. Some months, work events or weddings count as dates. But that's the beauty of marriage, when you love the one you're with, even a trip to the grocery store can be special and full of flirting (no seriously, the cutest flirting idea I've ever seen on social media was a husband putting flowers in his wife's shopping cart when she wasn't looking. I mean stawwwwp, we're all jealous already). 

So I want to take this opportunity to share a few recommendations for fun/festive date nights right here in the Alamo city. And of course, be sure to keep in mind your spouses' likes/dislikes when considering these!

Picnic in the Park: This is one of the sweetest ideas, while also the most simple and least expensive! So what I'm trying to say is: it's the thought that counts. When a spouse puts time and effort into a date, no matter how simple, it gives us the feels!

The Pearl: This collection of shops and restaurants is great for a day date on Saturday or Sunday mornings when you can enjoy their great farmer's market (I have gone several times, but never with Taylor because he is NOT a morning person. Which will just make it all the sweeter when he and I finally get to go enjoy it together). Another way to enjoy this local spot (and Taylor's preferred method) is a night out, enjoying one of the many amazing restaurants throughout (Down on Grayson, The Granary, La Gloria) and stopping by a bar for a nightcap (Blue Box or Jazz, TX).

The Riverwalk: I love to go downtown and channel my inner tourist. On the main stretch my two favorite places are Paesano's and Casa Rio, but if you're willing to walk off the beaten patch, OCHO at Hotel Havana has a bomb menu! Super unique and always delicious.

Sports! There's really no excuse to not channel your inner sports fan covered in body paint considering how many amazing sports teams we have here in SA. The Spurs, the Stars, the Rampage, and the San Antonio FC all mean there's something for everyone. A pro-tip for the not-so-crazed-sports-fans who really just want a night to unwind: there's alcohol at all of these events! And guarantee your man will give you bonus points for suggesting a date that incorporates alcohol + sports (at least, mine does!).

Couch Cuddles: This one feels so unbelievably cheesy to type, but there is something so sweet and comforting about playing home bodies and catching one of our favorite shows (Brooklyn 99, Last Man on Earth, or the newest Netflix Original Series). 

That's all for now. Go steal a kiss from your love, but first leave your fav date night locale in the comments below!

Fearless Females: My College Professor, Heather Weidner

Hello beauties!

How have you been? I hope this week brought you joy, love and laughter! And if it didn't, that's OK because ITS FRIDAY! And most weekends bring us all of the above, AMIRIGHT??

Today's edition of Fearless Females is a fun one. It features a blast from my past, the opportunity to get to know one of my college professors! My very favorite one to be honest. She is intelligent, kind, warm, and witty. Her sense of humor is 💯! Taking her history courses made me seriously consider teaching high school history (HA! there's no way I could be awake by the time school teachers set their daily alarms! I can barely make it to the office by 9 AM most days... le sigh).

In a nutshell, Heather inspired me. She challenged me to think in a bigger way, to push myself, and to love the ones around me fully. I was honored when she agreed to be featured here. Today's blog undoubtedly features the most eclectic and hilarious answers in this series. She gave her fresh and unfiltered perspective! I know you will instantly adore this lady the same way I did. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to one of my real life heroines: Heather Weidner. She's a hero because she lives life well. 

Hope: It's been a while! Can you please share a little bit about yourself with my readers?

Heather: I was born in southern California in a tiny town on the Arizona border.  My parents decided to move because the only thing they loved more than each other and me was books and the town didn’t have a book store.  We moved west to the greater Los Angeles area.  I left California to go to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.  After college, I moved to Charlottesville for graduate school in history at the University of Virginia.  I wrote a dissertation on how British people in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries imagined going to sea and how they connected their ideas about the ocean to empire building.  It’s much more interesting than it sounds.  It’s full of shipwrecks and cannibalism.  There’s even a ghost.

I met my husband in graduate school.  He’s also a historian.  We ended up staying in central Virginia because of his job.  He works for the army as an intelligence analyst.  I teach history part time at colleges in the area and am writing a history textbook.  I’m working on a novel.  I read, write, bake, grow orchids, and console a neurotic beagle.  I volunteer at the SPCA and with the local task force on domestic violence.  I used to travel.  Then I became a parent.  I have a son who fills me with joy and despair, often at the same time.  I feel like I need a new hobby.  I keep thinking about quilting, but then I imagine lots of sharp needles and fabric scraps covered in dog hair and I’m not so sure.  My husband says I don’t need a new hobby -- I just need to finish writing the *%&$ novel and that it is perfectly obvious that I’m procrastinating.  He may have a point.

Hope: How do we know each other? 

Heather: I know you because I was your history professor when you were a student at Abilene Christian University.  I had you in Western Civilization II and in Medieval Europe.  You wrote a pink princess hat to my Beowulf party (Note from Hope: HA! I totally forgot about that. Heather hosted a pre-test prep party for us to review our notes about Beowulf. She invited students to wear goofy, era-appropriate hats. I wore a princess hat b/c there's totally royalty in that story, duh! and was one of two students to wear a hat).

Hope: I have so much respect for you as a successful educator, a college professor. Do you think there is a glass ceiling in academia or would you describe it as a more inclusive profession?

Heather: Oh boy.  I could write a book.  Um, I wouldn’t say there’s a glass ceiling.  I think there’s something much more complicated than that metaphor implies.  The system that creates professors -- grad school, job searches, tenure -- assumes that you are a man.  Nobody any more thinks that all professors are, or should be, men.  But the basic system hasn’t changed to reflect that new reality.  This is just one little example: the biggest conference of the year for historians is about 4 days after Christmas.  This is also when the first round of job interviews for ALL history jobs is conducted.  Because back in the day, this actually seemed like a reasonable idea.  Daddy pats the kids on the head and says “have fun playing with your new toys” and breathes a secret sigh of relief to be able to get out of the house for a while.  The assumption was that a historian was either a single man, or had a wife who was home with the kids and would get them back to school after Christmas and clean up after the holiday, giving him the freedom to fly across the country to hang out in hotel bars and discuss whether or not something is a discourse. 

Here’s another much bigger example: if you’re lucky enough to be hired, you spend the next 5-6 years trying to get tenure.  Different colleges have different requirements.  It’s usually a combination of teaching evaluations, committee work, and publications.  Grad school usually last 6-9 years.  By the time you’re done, you’re usually in debt.  So we do the math: you’re 21 when you graduate from college.  By the time you’re through grad school and (hopefully) have a job, you’re almost 30.  If you wait until you have job security and tenure and have paid down the loans and have jumped through all the hoops, you’re 36.  Do you want to wait until you’re 36 to look for a relationship?  If you look for one earlier, then you run the risk of having to choose between the relationship and the one available job wherever it might happen to be in the world.  Do you want to wait until you’re 36 to start a family?  Or do you want to be pregnant and frantically trying to meet your tenure deadlines?  Or do you want to take a chance and have kids while you’re in grad school and then run the risk that you won’t get a job or that you won’t get tenure and you’ll have to move and pull the kids out of their schools? 

So it’s not so much that there’s a glass ceiling as it is that academia is becoming incompatible with modern family life.  It sucks for everyone, but it sucks worse for women.

When I left Texas (and stopped working at Abilene Christian University), that was pretty much professional suicide.  It was incredibly hard.  I’m still conflicted about it and I think about the decision pretty much every day.  I’ll almost certainly never have a full time academic job now, and have to decide whether it’s worth staying in part-time jobs or trying to find something else.  It’s really brutal.

Hope: When it is age appropriate, what advice will you give your son on how to treat women (women he dates, women he works with, and women he interacts with in his day-to-day life)?

Heather: One of the best things about my husband is that he is good at being around women.  He was raised primarily by his mother and is very close to his sister and I think that turned him into someone who likes (as in “likes” -- not “is attracted to”) women.  I feel that a lot of men don’t like women.  They love women.  They’re attracted to women.  They have views about what women should be like.  But they don’t know how to be friends with women.  They don’t really listen to them, unless they’re trying to prove a point by showing how well they listen.  I’m not sure how to teach that, but that’s what I want for Paul.  Women are as fully human as men.  They’re not some exotic species that must be cared for in certain ways, but neither are they sub-human.  They’re fully human, full people, and deserve to be fully heard and fully respected and full partners in friendships or relationships or at work.

I’ve also got a blue-eyed, white-skinned boy baby.  He’s going to grow up to be someone who will have it easy just because of the way he looks.  So I want him to know that it’s his responsibility to be compassionate and proactive for people who don’t get that free pass -- and that includes the 50% of population who don’t have a penis.

Hope: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told/read as a parent?

Heather: That I’m doing a good job.  Isn’t that silly?  But I find it amazingly helpful when someone tells me I’m doing a good job.  It’s really simple and not specific but it keeps me going like no other piece of advice does.

But I also think about something my mother told me.  It really kills me that she doesn’t know her grandchild (she passed away several years ago).  I was worrying about whether or not to get married.  Brian and I are really different and I was worried that if our kids were raised to reflect his point of view, they wouldn’t like me.  That sounds really dumb now, but I was worried about it at the time.  My mother said “babies come loving their parents.  Even the worst parents, their babies came loving them.”  (And I know that’s not strictly true.  There’s bonding and all the rest of it.  And some babies have problems that prevent emotional development.  But that’s just me nitpicking.)  I’ve thought about that a lot.  It’s a very my mother thing to say.

Hope: How would you describe your personal style?

Heather: I would have to describe my style as eclectic.  When I was little, I had 72 Barbie dolls.  So in the morning I think, “which Barbie do I want to be?”  Arty flowy scarf Barbie?  Black turtleneck poet Barbie?  Power professional Barbie?  Audrey Hepburn Barbie?  Vintage Barbie?  Retro Barbie?  Preppy Barbie?  Eco-warrior Barbie?  Romantic Barbie?  Sophisticated and cosmopolitan Barbie?  Or, you know, the one I’ve been going for a lot lately -- It’s Clean Enough to Wear Again Barbie.  It’s not really my favorite look, but I can usually pull it off without too much trouble.

I think more in terms of what I can’t wear / don’t like.  No horizontal stripes.  No ruffles.  No beige.  No Uggs.  No fur.  No white pants.  I like bright, dark, and clear colors.  No sage green, no lavender, no light pink.  I’m also short waisted so I have to wear the right kind of necklines otherwise disastrous things happen.

That's all for now! I hope you're enjoying this series as much as I am. Your homework today: Share a laugh with someone in your path.

My Favorite Liquid Lipsticks

Happy #MakeupMonday beauties!

I wanted to take some time today to talk makeup, because let's be honest I have a low-key obsession. One of my favorite products to throw on when I want to feel beautiful: a simple liquid lipstick. I love a matte lip, so liquid lipsticks are the perfect choice for me (vs. a more traditional shiny lipstick or gloss). I'm guessing I dislike the wet look due to the number of times my hair has gotten caught in sticky lips over the course of my life (tell me I'm not alone in this struggle)! So below are a few of my favorites:

Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint - Come on, you had to see this one coming! This is my favorite brand ever. Ingredient conscious + high quality, long wearing: how could I not love this quick dry matte formula?? It would be absurd! My current favorite colors: OG when I need a nude lip and Sis when I want a more bold look.

Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in OG

Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in OG

These next few lipsticks are so gorgeous, I don't even mind the fact that they aren't anywhere close to natural/organic. But I am always on the hunt for those! What ingredient conscious brand has lipsticks you love? Be sure to comment below! 

  • Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick - These have amazing wear time and don't start drying out until probably hour 8-9 of wear. They last me comfortably all day at work (for reference, I work 9 AM - 6 PM). My favorite colors have to be Baci (the perfect mauve nude), Chianti (gorgeous wine color), and Beso (the perfect, fire engine red!). 
  • ColourPop Ultra Satin Lip - This formula is amazing because it never cracks or flakes but dries down matte! My favorite color HAS to be Point Zero, a collab with one of my favorite YouTube Beauty Gurus: Kathleen Lights, and gurrrrl it is the perfect cool toned brown nude. Even Taylor likes it, which is saying something because he ALWAYS prefer I go without lipstick.

Those are my top picks, what are yours? I love to try out new formulas so be sure to comment below! 

Mother's Day Hints / May Shopping List

Hello beauties,

I have missed you all! Life update: I am finally back to feeling like myself after getting a stomach virus last weekend. Then there was the added bonus of JT coming down with a cold Wednesday (he is well on his way to recovery guys, no worries). Sooooo yea... I've had better weeks. But with Jesus and coffee, I got through it! So onward and upward. I wanted to take a minute on this Saturday to put together my Mother's Day wish list and all of the items I've been adding to my shopping cart during my late night, online window shopping. Please tell me I'm not the only one who "Adds Items to Cart" with absolutely no intention of purchasing them (I read somewhere that act releases endorphins). Most of them I know aren't in my budget for the month, and the rest I'm just holding off on in the hopes that Taylor (aka Mr. Hope for Fashion, HA!) will buy it this Mother's Day. So read on to discover what's currently on my wish list. But first -- here are some recent pics of JT and I, just because I can.

Me and the cutie pie who made me a mommy.

Me and the cutie pie who made me a mommy.

  1. A day to sleep in! I think this one speaks for itself. As mama to a toddler, sleep is the one thing I covet in the lives of the childless!!! (Alternatively, I would accept a day of pampering. I did just see that The Pearl has a new spa. Have any of you guys visited yet?)
  2. Laser Hair Removal - Honestly, I know this isn't the sexiest thing to talk about, but I've been wanting laser hair removal on my legs for a few months now. Have you done it? If so, be sure to comment below and let me know how your experience went, if you would recommend it, and where you got it done!
  3. Shoes - I just wouldn't feel right bringing you a wish list without some killer shoes. Here are a few of my current favs and the name of the game: espadrilles: flamingo espadrilles, floral, strappy espadrilles, Tory Burch slip ons, and these lace up cuties.
  4. Cold Shoulder Blouses - This is one of my favorite trends for summer since it shows off some skin while still allowing me to wear a bra with straps. Off the shoulder tops are trending like crazy, but let's be real -- my postpartum girls are not about that strapless life. So here a few of my favorite alternatives: Gibson Girls Top, Cold Shoulder Bow Sleeve, this Tie Shoulder Print Top, & an adorable Chambray Cold Shoulder
  5. Casual Graphic Tees - If you're a regular to this little blog, you know about my current love affair with graphic tees. And the more rushed mornings I have (basically every morning as a mommy), the more grateful I am to the creators of these graphic cuties: Lips & Lashes Tee, Tequila Sunrise Lace-up, Cold Shoulder Tee (best of both worlds!), & this Camo Cutie
  6. Makeup - Tarte's Make Believe in Yourself Eye Palette and Magic Wands Brush Set (known online as the "Unicorn Collection"), I've almost bought both of these about 3 times, but I'm holding out -- at least until Mother's Day.
  7. Skincare - Tarte's Ready, Set Radiant Skin Mist and Drink of H2O Moisturizer. If it seems like I am a Tarte fangirl, I am. I absolutely love the fact that this brand focuses on ingredients without missing a beat in terms of quality. Their products can compete with any other high-end makeup brand, and that is pretty tough to find in the world of natural beauty.

What's on your wish list? Be sure to comment below what you've been eyeing (or your laser hair removal experience)!

Fearless Females: Aquila of Haute in Texas

Happy FriYAY!

This week has got me feeling exhausted but accomplished. I repainted the trim on my house, re-landscaped the garden in my front yard, and repainted my front door. Phew! But no complaints here, my favorite part of being a homeowner is making my home cozy and unique. Now that you know where I've been all week, I'm thrilled to bring you this week's edition of Fearless Females, featuring Aquila Mendez-Valdez of Haute in Texas. Aquila is a fellow blogger, a beautiful fashionista, a fearless momma, and a savvy PR expert all rolled up into one!

Photo Credit: Christina Dianne Photography

Photo Credit: Christina Dianne Photography

I am honored to introduce you to another woman who inspires me, particularly as a young mom working in the same business field (PR/Marketing/etc). We met when I interned at a PR firm during my senior year at UTSA, and I am so grateful we stayed in touch! She is so talented, well-written, polished, and professional. So without further ado: grab a drink and scroll on to get to know my friend Aquila. 

Q: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

A: I am a fashion blogger and PR consultant in San Antonio, Texas. I launched Haute in Texas as a personal blog in 2011, and it has since grown into a community of like-minded women in pursuit of the haute life. I am a passionate writer and social media enthusiast honored to have partnered with an array of brands including Vogue, Prada, H&M, and Keds, among others. I stay involved in the San Antonio fashion community by serving on the board of Fashion Group International as well as writing for San Antonio Woman magazine as the Fashion and Beauty Editor (Note from Hope: Check out her latest online feature here). But without a doubt, my greatest honor is my role of wife to my husband Orlando, and mother to Cora and Issa.

Q: I have so much respect for you as a successful business owner working in PR and as a blogger. How did you first begin working in those realms?

A: Thank you, that is truly a huge compliment! I started my blog with a friend of mine as we were both newly married and moving to Texas with our respective husbands. We wanted an opportunity to get to know the cities we were in, and also talk fashion, beauty, and motherhood! Ironically enough it was covering a fashion show for Haute in Texas that I met Tanya Sammis, who then hired me as an intern to work for her public relations company, Sammis & Ochoa. She and Mario were instrumental in teaching me the ropes of the San Antonio PR industry. A few years later I had taken the blog on solo, was expecting my second child, and felt like it was time for me to go off on my own. I’ve been operating Haute in Texas as a PR consultant and blogger for almost three years now!

Q: As a mother of two girls, what values will you emphasize the most in your household and how will you describe and/or teach them?

A: Ooh, good one! First off, I am very careful that I never say anything negative about my body in front of my daughters, and I tell them makeup is just for fun. I want them to feel confident in their own skin no matter what. Second, I tell them when I’m going to a meeting or headed to a business event because I’m ok with them knowing that their mother’s world does not solely revolve around them. They need to see an example of a woman who is pursuing a career and being a mother at the same time, because otherwise how can I expect them to feel it’s possible? And of course, I do not allow any mention of not being able to do something a boy can do. That’s just not going to fly in my house. :)

Q: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told/read as a parent?

A: I attended a networking event a few years ago where I had the chance to chat with the owner of one of the biggest PR agencies in San Antonio. I asked her how she juggles being a mom and a business woman and she told me, “Look. You need to understand the guilt is never going to go away. When you’re home you’re going to feel like you should be at work, when you’re at work you’re going to feel like you should be at home. So just feel the guilt and get over it. Don’t let it bring you down.” I thought that was a really powerful way to look at it, that it’s perfectly normal to feel that pull in both directions, but we are BLESSED to have that choice. Your kids will be fine, you will be fine, just pour another cup of coffee and get it done!

Q: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment, as a woman and as a person?

A: It’s tough to toot your own horn as a woman, but I think if anything I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep my blog and consulting business rolling while we travel quite a bit for my husband’s seasons as a professional basketball player. We’ve lived in Xalapa and Cancun, Mexico, as well as Israel, and I feel so privileged to have the chance to keep my little family together while my business can continue to grow.

Q: If you were an article of clothing, what would you be and why?

A: I would be a pair of fuzzy socks because I’m constantly cold and I love to stay home, watch movies, and snuggle with my family. Not very glamorous, but it’s real life. And I’m wearing a pair right now haha!

Q: What person in your life has influenced your personal style the most and why?

A: I’m actually going to have to say my husband, Orlando, on this one. When we first started dating in college he was FAR more stylish than I was. He would (and still does) dress up to go grocery shopping, and I was habitually in sweatpants. He would constantly encourage me to up my style game and I resisted until after we had our first daughter. Then it was like something clicked in me that taking care of myself mattered, and I needed to prove to this little human and myself that I could be both stylish and savvy. Now I think Orlando regrets encouraging me to go shopping more! ;-)

That's all for now beauties, be sure to tune in next week to meet another #FearlessFemale I admire!

    Fearless Females: Tara George, Founder of Le Mew Baby

    Happy Friday beauties!

    It's time for another installment of Fearless Females. My first few posts will be dedicated to ladies killing it in the fashion industry while living right here in South Texas. A) Because Texas needs to be known for more than western wear! and B) because these ladies didn't have to travel to NYC, LA, or Chicago to create thier place in the world of fashion. And that makes my heart so happy. So please allow me to introduce you to my coworker, Tara George. She is a superhero. She is a mama to two sweet girls, works full-time in the advertising industry, AND owns Le Mew Baby, an online store for fashionable littles, 0-6 years old.

    Tara and her two cutie pies.

    Tara and her two cutie pies.

    Tara describes Le Mew Baby as "an alternative to the sugary sweet clothing found in many baby clothing retailers." Their items are eclectic and precious without incorporating stereotypes or trite sayings. She is one of the individuals who motivated me to finally begin this little blog of mine. After hearing her share that she was running an online store without skipping a beat at her full-time job I thought to myself, "Wow. She had an idea and followed through. I have wanted to start a blog for 2 years, but still haven't done it... It may never be the "perfect time". I may never have the "perfect photos". But it's high time I do the thing I've been dreaming about! Tara's doing it and so can I!"

    So sit back, make a coffee, and get to know another inspiring lady I am so glad I know:

    Q: How would you introduce yourself to my blog fam?

    A: I am a determined and hard working wife and mother to two girls ages 2 and 4.  I absolutely LOVE being a mother to girls and watching them learn and grow each day is mind blowing at times!  I love traveling and learning about other cultures.  My favorite places are Tokyo and London and i'm always dreaming about the next trip!  I LOVE food...all types.  I moved to San Antonio 8 years ago and would eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner if i could!  I love fashion and am constantly on the lookout for good deals for me and my girls.  I find that shopping is such a great way for me to unwind and relax, especially if i'm kid free. Add lunch and a glass of wine to that and you've got the perfect afternoon!  For me, finding the perfect balance of family-time and me-time is key!

    Q: How do we know each other?

    A: We work together and just happen to be birthday buddies!  Note from Hope: How cool is it that we have the exact same birthday?! Basically the coolest.

    Q: I have so much respect for you as an entrepreneur in the fashion/retail industry. Tell my readers a little bit about Le Mew Baby and the inspiration behind opening your online store.

    A: When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I wanted to stock her wardrobe with the cutest little outfits.  The problem was, I'm not a big fan of what I was seeing in every baby store I walked into: ruffles, bright pinks, characters, etc.  I wanted her to wear more subdued modern colors and prints, more sophisticated fashion.  So, I turned to the Internet and that's where the worlds of baby and ultimately children's fashion was waiting for me with open arms!  I found that small specialty shops were the way to go.  The more shops I discovered, the more I felt compelled to curate my own collections with all of my favorite brands.  I wanted to bring brands from all over the world together and share them with other mamas, letting them know that there are more options than the pink ruffles and character tees.  I did months of research and finally dove in.  That's when Le Mew Baby was born.  The name Le Mew Baby reflects my love of Europe (France) and my love for cats :)

    Q: As a mother of 2 girls, what values will you emphasize the most in your household and how will you describe and/or teach them? 

    A: Love is the most important.  I want my girls to know they are loved and know that they should express their love.  I kiss and squeeze my girls as much as I can and tell them I love them a million times a day.  I hug my husband, hold his hand, and make sure we express our love for each other for the girls to see.  I want them to feel free to express their love. 

    Another important value I want to instill in the girls is consideration/empathy.  I try to express my feelings to them honestly. And I make sure to ask both of them how they're feeling.  I want them to understand feelings and emphasize that we should be considerate of other people because we might not know what they're feeling.  Maybe that girl in your class bit you because she is feeling sad no one plays with her.  I want them to be caring and have empathy for the people around them.

    Q: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told/read as a parent?

    A: I always feel encouraged after reading mom blogs or talking to my mommy friends and hearing honesty about all that raising children brings.  I feel relieved to know that other mamas are going through the same exact things:  "Did I yell at the girls too much today?  Should they be eating that packaged snack?  Should I follow her around the playground so she doesn't fall?"  Through friendships and the power of the Internet, I find so many people I can relate to!

    Q: How would you describe your personal style? 

    A: I would describe it as "mom chic".  I TRY to at least look and feel somewhat cute when I leave the house.  On most days you can find me wearing distressed jeans, tee and sandals or sneaks or a comfy summer dress.  I love stalking all the fashionable mamas on Instagram and finding out where they shop.  There's a sizable gap in the way I dress and the way I WANT to dress.  So, I'm trying to get there little by little.  Note from Hope: Girl, aren't we all??

    Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay tuned for more #FearlessFemales.