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.

    Fashionable Eats: Springtime Edition

    Beauties,

    Today I want to talk with you about my second favorite hobby (the first being shopping of course): EATING. Not only do I love eating, but I love talking about where I love to eat (just me?). So what places do I visit when I want to eat in style? Below are a few of my favorite places in San Antonio and the pros & cons of dining there. Because, let's face it, I have never encountered a perfect restaurant. If you have, please stop everything you're doing and comment below to let me know what it is. I will visit immediately.

      YellowFish

      • Pros: Their JapaMex fusion menu is out of this world. Completely unique, inventive pairings coupled with always fresh ingredients. And their staff is more than accommodating (when I was pregnant and specified in my order that I needed clean knives be used so no raw seafood touched my order, they went out of their way to confirm they had done so when I arrived to pick it up).
      • Cons: Their dining space is pretty limited. I have yet to visit during "rush hours" but can imagine it gets uncomfortably packed during peak times. 

      Piatti's

      • Pros: Delicious traditional Italian food with a pleasant ambiance (I love the Eilan location, afterwards you can stroll around or drive just down the road to La Cantera for some shopping). They even have a delicious zucchini noodle dish for those watching their carb intake. Their oil dipping sauce is next-level delicious, I honestly fill up on bread before my entree can even arrive. every. single. time. Le Sigh.
      • Cons: Parking at the Eilan can be tricky. Plan to valet or else expect a walk.

      FEAST

      • Pros: I have yet to try anything on the menu I didn't like (cocktails included). The chef likes to do fun twists on traditional favorites. Their pear salad and lamb kebabs are my two current favorites. Served up family style, your server will always recommend ordering multiple plates and sharing with the table. Makes the experience even more fun (I KNOW I'm not the only one who likes to steal food from other people's plates)!
      • Cons: The acoustics when you dine inside are pretttty awful. Like, shouting-at-your-dinner-partners-when-the-tables-around-you-are-talking awful. I recommend eating outside, therefore I am sad to say I don't recommend this restaurant during the summer months. AKA 70% of the San Antonio year...

      Picnikins

      • Pros: Best lunch spot in San Antonio. Serving "classic American fare" their sandwiches are delightful and every detail of the menu has been perfected (from their freshly made fries to their housemade dressings).
      • Cons: Just like YellowFish, the dining space here is pretty limited. Lunch time can get hectic. I recommend part of your party arrive just a few minutes before the rest in order to stake out a table during the lunch rush.

       

       JT and I both love Down on Grayson!

      JT and I both love Down on Grayson!

      Down on Grayson

      • Pros: Delicious food, divine atmosphere (without being over-the-top hipster. I mean, sometimes I feel if I see one more bartender in a leather apron I will scream. Is that just me?), and hands down the best strawberry cake I have ever eaten.
      • Cons: No changing table anywhere to be found! It is insane to me that restaurants don't accommodate families with babies. How is that still a thing that happens?

      Be sure to comment below and let me know your favorite place to eat in San Antonio!

      Confessions of a #Mom

      I have debated writing this blog for a while. It would be completely inaccurate to describe myself as a Mommy Blogger (does anyone describe themselves as such anyway?). I am a beauty blogger, and super proud of it. My passion and reason for creating this blog was to talk about fashion and makeup without seeing eyes glaze over as a result (LOL). On top of that, I've only been a mom for 18 months. Or in mom years: 1.5 minutes. Thus my indecisiveness, but here I am. Because sharing my life with you beauties has helped me. Allowing this little blog to act as an open journal has brought me such joy and even healing.

      So here I am, sharing my life at the moment. I have a thought (probably a taboo one): is there anything less "stylish" than parenting? I mean where is the glamour in these: disciplining disobedience, changing diapers, potty training, waking up early EVERY. SINGLE. DAY, having a tiny, fickle human with minimal communication skills attached to you 24/7. And yet, what is more rewarding? What could be more worthwhile in this life than shaping a mind; or creating a life that will impact hundreds if not thousands in this broken world?

      But enough about all that. I wrote confessions in the title of this post for a reason. Here's just a few of my recent mistakes:

      • I said s*** yesterday in the car with my baby in the back seat. Twice.
      • We break the "1 episode of Sesame Street per day, only on weekend days" Rule almost every day.
      • I have yelled at my baby to lay still while I was changing him. My baby. Who knows 12 words. 
      • I have allowed my son to play with my phone (le gasp!) when my pregnancy goal was to keep him from phone/tablet viewing until he was 5. 

      I write this post with the full disclosure that I have absolutely NO idea what the heck I'm doing. 90% of the time. But here's a few things I've learned over the past 18 months:

      1. Sensi-Care is the best diaper rash creme ever (it's what they used on J.T. in the hospital, and I've yet to encounter a drugstore creme that compares).
      2. Farting is funny. 💨
      3. Parenting will challenge your marriage more than you may have thought possible. Being in agreement 100% of the time just isn't possible.
      4. I NEED grace in order to survive. Grace for myself, my husband, and even my baby when he isn't being just the way I'd imagined. (HA!)
      5. I will NEVER judge a mama whose kid is throwing a fit/having a meltdown in public. Ever. Again.

      The full scope of raising a baby into a mature, godly man causes my throat to tighten a bit in panic. But at the end of the day, what gives me hope is that I'm not alone on this parenting journey. I have a godly man alongside me and wonderful family and friends who have helped me at every stage (you know, all 2 stages I've encountered so far). And I have you. I have you to laugh with, pray with, and share life's fullness as well as its heartache. Because boy, parenting is rich with both. 

      What parenting lessons have you learned on the journey?

      Fearless Females: Taylor Mobley

      Hello beauties and Happy Friday! 

      Today is the first installment of a blog series I am honored to bring you. I want to take the time to stop and celebrate just a few of the fabulous, fearless women in my world. Because why don't we celebrate more of the amazing ladies around us on a regular basis? Down with the negativity! Let's end the "mean girls" attitudes and snuff out the unnecessary drama. I don't want to live in a culture of comparison. I want to celebrate strong female leaders! I want to encourage and uplift the women around me. So I have taken the time to reach out to several women that I respect and admire with the goal of inspiring you. Read on beautiful!

      My first (virtual) interview is with the GORGEOUS Taylor B. Mobley, recent Trinity graduate & Associate Producer with SA Living of News 4 San Antonio. After seeing her in a video my husband produced, I felt a twinge of intimidation. And upon meeting her and seeing her authenticity & sweet spirit, all of that melted away in an instant. She lights up a room while making you feel truly special. It was my honor to feature her on my humble blog. So without further ado, I give you Taylor:

       Photo Credit: Anh-Viet Dinh Photography

      Photo Credit: Anh-Viet Dinh Photography

      Q: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

      I am a Texas native who graduated from Trinity in May with a degree in Communication and Theatre.  Now, I am an Associate Producer for the San Antonio Living morning show.  All my life, I have been passionate about theatre, but when I went to college, I knew I wanted to find something to pair it with.  Communication snuck up on me Sophomore year when I found myself in three communication classes, working as a tour guide in the Admissions office, and loving my involvement with our University news station, Tiger TV.  All of these experiences lead me to understand that Communication, specifically broadcast journalism, was the field I wanted to pursue.  It is funny because I have Trinity to thank for the position I’m in currently.  I was an intern in the Admissions office my Junior year and one of the counselors was told to appear on a San Antonio Living segment to promote the upcoming career fair.  She called me to her office as soon as she found out because she was nervous.  Knowing this was my field of interest, she asked me to join her on the show to offer a student’s perspective and put her nerves at ease.  This experience is one I will never forget because it reminded me why I love the connections made at Trinity, and it opened my eyes to the television industry and left me hopeful to find my place there.  While I am definitely not settled within the industry, I feel I am exactly where I need to be and growing in ways I never imagined.  I am creative and driven and this career field compliments my skills.  At times, adjusting to adulthood is difficult, but no risk, no reward – right? It will all be worth it.

      Q: How do we know each other? 

      After I met your husband, Taylor, while filming a video for Trinity, he connected us. He said you would be a perfect model for my new fashion segment, considering you have a blog and a mutual love for fashion.  He was right!  You have great legs, he has a great name. It was all just meant to be! 

      Q: I have so much respect for you as a recent college graduate killing it in the San Antonio journalism/media field. Tell my readers a little bit about Taylor'd for You, how it began, and the goals you have for your career.

      Thank you!  Taylor’d For You was created for two reasons.  First, because I love fashion.  Plain and simple.  It is a beautiful, honest form of expression that everyone can find themselves in.  But I also wanted to establish myself as "on-air talent”.  This segment allowed me to make fashion my beat on San Antonio Living and allowed viewers to identify me within the fashion world.  Ultimately I want to work for a national station that has a nice balance of lifestyle and news (such as the Today Show) or my own talk show.  Whichever comes first!

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

      My greatest accomplishment as a woman and a person is knowing my worth.  I feel many struggle with this, especially today, when the media can make women – and minorities- feel lesser than.  It can weigh you down and cause a never ending cycle of self-doubt.  I am thankful I was raised in a positive environment where I was constantly lifted up, encouraged, and reminded that I should never settle for less than I deserve.  Not just in my job but in relationships & friendships, as well as spiritually and emotionally.  Once you know your worth, you make decisions to stand for all that you are and all that you are becoming.  Are there times when I lose sight of it or need to remind myself?  Of course.  But I know it’s there and I know that what I deserve will surely come my way as long as I remain true to my worth.

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

      Hat. Does that count?  Hopefully…because that’s my final answer! When I studied abroad in London, I bought a black fedora hat at one of my favorite stores, Prinmark.  This store is basically a fusion of Walmart and Forever 21….in other words, a dream come true.  I wore the hat so much abroad, a few people noted that it was “my thing”.  Fast forward to now, my hat collection has certainly grown, but the black hat will always mean the most to me.  You can ask my coworkers- I wear it WAY too much, but I also regret nothing.

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

      My mom.  Growing up, whenever we were shopping for a dance, event, etc, she would always stress and reiterate the importance of dressing my age and remaining classy.  It became redundant, however, now it’s all I think about.  For whatever reason, some girls in this generation think less is more, but I truly disagree. Honoring your body and letting your confidence shine through will take you farther than showing skin. Class is timeless.

      Share anything else you'd like about your career, style, or goals. As a journalist, you probably could've written these interview questions far better than I did! Ha!

      I am so honored you wanted to hear my story. Truly! Answering these questions was a fun, almost therapeutic exercise, so I can’t wait to read about the other amazing women you are highlighting. I think what you’re doing is amazing. You inspire me.

      Thanks for reading! Comment below to let me know who I should interview next.

      Monday Musings + My Shopping List

      Happy April Beauties!

      I hope this post finds you feeling well and ready to embrace Spring! I know I am. March was a weird month and I'm ready to get out of the funky weather, the colds and the general icky-ness that was a part of March. The one highlight of my month was seeing my bestie and her boo. It was a great visit!! We went and checked out the new Witte: which I highly recommend. But downside... on top of Taylor, JT and I, alternating colds, I got wayyyy too crazy with my spending/shopping in March. So I am refocusing on self-discipline and budgeting, per my 2017 goals (I blogged about them here). I'm not the first one to say this and I KNOW I won't be the last: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

      April is already shaping up to be fabulous! Easter means: 1. JT will have his first Easter Egg Hunt (if you know of any great ones in the SA-area, comment below!), dressing up in my Easter best (I bought my Easter dress in February, don't judge) 2. we get to see some great friends who are coming in from DFW to check out the Valero Open (no idea what I will wear to a golf tournament...) and 3. Springtime means new life and a reminder of our hope in Christ. 

        Bestie Time is the Best Time! 

      Bestie Time is the Best Time! 

      Now, onto fashion. Below are the spring trends I cannot stop eyeing and some links to shop a few of my favs (which I will be splurging on in moderation, as my budget allows). BUT FIRST I have to give you guys a heads up: Tarte is having their Friends and Family sale! 30% off the majority of their products. *cue the happy dance*

      Sunnies: Diff Eyeware, Sam Edelman, Quay

      Sneakers (to clarify, these wouldn't be so much for working out, but running errands and taking JT to the park. Gotta keep it real!): Steve Madden, Nike Air Max (in Bright Melon of course)Adidas 

      All Things Peach: Tie Sleeve SweatshirtTarte Eye Palette, Cut-Out Tank, A-line Summer Dress

      What's at the top of your current Wish List? Comment below and let me know.

      Getting Graphic

      Beauties,

      I love a graphic tee. For times when I feel lazy, when I'm in a rush, or if its just Casual Friday, throwing on a great graphic t-shirt lets me make a statement with minimal effort. And as a mom, that is a beautiful thing.

      No matter the reason, count a t-shirt day as a win! Here are some of my favorite reasons to get graphic:

      1. March Madness The awesome t-shirt pictured that says "BEAT THE OTHER TEAM!" was a birthday gift from my husband's best friend and his wife. They saw it and immediately thought of me, because well, I'm not exactly into sports. But I do go to a lot of games, because my husband loves sports. So what better to wear? I can wear it to any game, no matter the sport. BONUS: it's just the thing to help me survive March Madness! You can purchase it online here.

      2. Brunching So Hard My favorite part of any weekend: the Brunch Hour. if you follow me on Instagram, you know I love a good brunch (#basic). And it's a great occasion to look "slouchy chic" in your favorite graphic tee. I love that wearing a fun t-shirt, makes a statement for you! No need to ever even open your mouth. You get to make an introduction statement before you even say hello.

      3. Errand Boy Who wants to squeeze into something a size too small (don't act like I"m the only one who does this!) for a quick trip to the grocery store or dry cleaners? Not I! I much prefer a t-shirt -- paired with jeans, sweatpants, or (for the moms who want to make all of us other moms look bad) a maxi skirt -- not all t-shirts have to be ugly!

      Most of the t-shirts pictured above are no longer available online, so here a few on my current wish list:

      Makeup Monday: The Best Highlights

      Happy Monday Beauties! 

      I hope this post finds you ready to conquer the week ahead. If not, fake it with one of makeup's greatest inventions: the highlight. Get your glow on girl! I have been so obsessed with this makeup product of late. I am constantly trying out new ones and looking for recommendations. That's probably why my bestie got me a new highlighter for Christmas (shoutout to my girl Grace). Below are a few of my favorite highlighting products, just click the title for product/purchase details. I also included a duds section for you guys. Not trying to spread hate, just wish I had known these products wouldn't hit the mark before I purchased them. 

      W3ll People Bio Brightener: I discovered this everyday highlight via BirchBox (shout out to my sweet mother-in-law for an extremely thoughtful subscription box! She knows me so well). I love the subtle way it makes my skin sing! BONUS: W3ll People is a brand I always feel great purchasing from knowing that they are ingredient conscious & never use harmful artificial chemicals found in most makeup brands.

      Benefit Dandelion Shy Beam Matte Liquid Highlighter: I know that I just mentioned this product in my February beauty favorites, but it is the highlight I consistently reach for every morning, so I couldn't leave her off the list!

      Tarte Skin Twinkle Volume II Lighting Palette: (longest title ever!). I would give this palette a solid B-. While it applies like a dream and stays all day, the color range is a bit off in my opinion. Of the 4 colors only 2 are truly wearable with my skin tone. I love the formula however, so I will probably give one of their other highlighting palettes a try (here's the one I've been eyeing for a while: Tarteist PRO Glow To Go Highlight & Contour Palette).

      Recent Duds (not even gonna link these): 

      L'oreal Infallible Pro-Contour: technically this is a contour palette, but the bronze and the highlight in it both fall so short... the highlight looks like nothing on my skin and I can't even build it up (the bronzer is just a weird muddy shade and is pretty patchy when you go to blend out).

      WetnWild Megaglo Illuminating Palette (in Catwalk Pink): what can I say about this? When you apply with a brush it blends away to nothing. If you apply with your fingers it applies okay as a subtle highlight, but disappears from your face after an hour or two. I love that there are affordable highlighting options at the drugstore, but there has to be a better option.

      What highlight is at the top of your makeup bag? Comment below and spread the glow!

      The Best Things I Added to My Wardrobe in 2016

      Ok you guys. I planned on getting this on the blog in January... and here we are in March! Life just always has a way of happening, amIright? Regardless, here I am and I'm excited to recap my greatest wardrobe hits from last year (of course, like everyone I purchased a few disappointments as well, but I'll save that for another post).

      Since most of these were purchased resale (shoutout: Clothes Mentor), I linked some similar looks below each item mentioned.

      A Little Lace Dress I actually purchased this dress for my dad's wedding in May, but didn't end up rocking it until JT's birthday party in September. Confession: I am in love. The paisley pattern and see-through midi-skirt give a simple silhouette the perfect amount of edge. Bonus: it is so comfortable. (Similar: Nordstrom, PrettyLittleThing, Lulu's)

      All of the Chokers I am beating a dead horse by mentioning this one, but if you have kept up with my blog, you know I am beyond obsessed. And if you work with me you know I wear the same black one at least once a week! #NoShame (Similar: Nordstrom, Zara, Forever 21

      An Asymmetrical Stunner I purchased this dress for a work event, and almost didn't wear it, because it's a half size too small around my thighs (my thighs are my post-pregnancy problem area; a big adjustment for someone who's never had thighs before, LOL). But I'm so glad I rocked it, the metallic gray paired with the tiered neckline was a beautiful combination and my insecurities were assuaged after I got several compliments. (Other eye-catching asymmetric looks, dress; Nordstrom, crop top: Zara, layered party skirt: Forever 21)

      Plaid Perfection I purchased a simple plaid, a-line dress to wear to Christmas gatherings this year, and my little 90s-inspired heart was content. (I also ended up buying JT a matching pull-over sweater. We looked beyond dorky and i'm sure JT will make fun of these pictures as soon as he is able, but guess what? I loved every minute of it!). (More perfect plaid looks: Forever 21, Eddie Bauer)

      What did you add to your closet last year that you still can't stop wearing? Be sure to comment and let me know!

      February Beauty Favorites

      Oh my goodness, February has come and gone already?! I've been busy like crazy with work and friends in town (shout out to my bestie Grace! She's the greatest and will talk to me about beauty products until I'm blue in the face-- a testament of her love for me), but I wanted to jump on and share my latest beauty favorites from the month of February. I am literally catching up on beauty vlogs/YouTube videos as I type this. My current priorities for the rest of my day: drink wine, watch YouTube makeup tutorials, online shop, and catch up on my favorite blogs. (#SheerBliss) In no particular order, the following have been my go-to beauty products over the past month. Let me know in the comments below what beauty products you can't stop using!

      Makeup

      • Milani Baked Powder Blush in Berry Amore: beauties, I had to list this first because it is my absolute favorite product of the moment. It gives the most gorgeous pink flush to my cheeks without too much pigmentation. Random fact: all of Milani's baked blushes are made in Italy, which just makes a girl feel fancy! It glides on like a dream and is soooo affordable ($7!), available at almost every drugstore.
      • Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector: I am loving this primer to smooth out my skin's texture, minimize my pores and keep my foundation on all day. The packaging claims to target oil-prone ares (which, unfortunately is my whole face) and act as liquid blotting paper. Big claim, I know, and while it doesn't solve my oil problems completely, I notice a significant decrease to shininess when I prime my face with this! It's a slightly higher price point, but definitely worth it since it keeps my skin looking gorgeous all day long.
      • Benefit Dandelion Shy Beam Highlighter: gurrrrlll if you want a natural highlight that will brighten up your face when you're feeling exhausted (say from having a toddler or living through the struggles of a time change), but don't want something to highlight texture or add chunky glitter to your face, this is the perfect product. It is so brightening and gorgeous without looking drag (the struggles of being a makeup addict are real. My greatest fear: looking like a drag queen). Pro Tip: you can pop it on before or after blush.
      • Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer: I am loving this for warming up my skin during the winter months when I'm at my palest. And bonus, it smells so delicious: like a tropical cocktail!

      Skincare

      I have been so excited to share with you my recent BeautyCounter experience! I was recently gifted some of their skincare by my coworker Danielle who is a consultant, and Wow! What a treat. I received the following items: the Nourishing Cream Cleanser (love, been using it every day), the Nourishing Cream Exfoliator (exfoliates without drying out my skin), the Nourishing Night Cream (huzzah! a night cream that doesn't make my face smell like a grandma's medicine cabinet! miraculous), and the Balancing Face Oil (be warned, only 2 drops are necessary! It is possible to go a bit overboard). My favorites have to be:

      • The Nourishing Cream Cleanser: smells like the most delicious citrus puree that I want to bathe in! My favorite part about this cleanser -- and all their products -- is that there are no harsh chemicals or questionable ingredients. The BeautyCounter brand is committed to a health and safety standard above and beyond what’s required by U.S. law: they've actually banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals. 
      • The Nourishing Night Cream: I have struggled to find a night creme without a hideous smell, and I have finally hit the jackpot! And from an ingredient-conscious brand-- that's just pure joy. No more complaints from Taylor when I kiss him goodnight. 

      Looking for Recommendations:

      Now please, help a sister out! My beauty quest continues, and I am now on the hunt for the best pore-minimizing, long-wear foundation, and the greatest mattifying setting powder of all time! And not to be picky, but I prefer to buy items from brands that are ingredient conscious or approved by the Healthy Living app (<-- this app is amazing, and has helped me purchase makeup products from drugstore brands as well as steer clear of prestige brand items that aren't necessarily the best). So can you help me out on my quest? Be sure to comment below with your holy grail foundation, powder, and current favorites!

      Note from Hope: The BeautyCounter items I discussed in this post were gifted to me. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

      A Legacy: Thoughts about My Mother

      "You are headstrong and inquiring. Something of her spirit is in you."

      This is a quote from a movie I just watched, Woman in Gold, about the heroine having a great similarity to her beloved aunt. As soon as I heard it, I grabbed my laptop and began writing, because it hit a nerve. Oh, how I wish that this statement was spoken about me and my beautifully headstrong, now departed mother. If you know me well (and friend, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and get to know me well), you know how much I love and miss my mom. There is something so truly special about our moms, isn't there? Such comfort and love is wrapped up in that short, sweet phrase: mother.

       The last photo I took with my mom (I was a baby). I'm on the left, my beautiful sister Joy is on the right.

      The last photo I took with my mom (I was a baby). I'm on the left, my beautiful sister Joy is on the right.

      I miss her laugh (she always told my sister and I how she fell in love with my dad because he made her laugh). She wasn't always the first to laugh, and that made a laugh from her all the more rewarding when you heard it. I miss her insane knowledge of the Scripture (I can barely remember my grocery list, how did she do it?!). I miss her love of literature, great men & women of history, and the theatre (all things that I was far too young to appreciate while I had the chance). She would discuss biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte and Patrick Henry at the dinner table. She was always yearning to be a part of something greater, something larger than herself. And she was. Her role in the Church defined her. Her passion for the Lord is something that I have seen rivaled by only a few others in my life (my sweet mother-in-law is one. I so fiercely wish they could have met. I think they would have been kindred spirits).

      Really today's post is just an excuse to share with the world a bit about her beautiful soul. She was a reader and a writer. Those were her two greatest passions, all of her life. I can never hope to write 10% as beautifully as she did. Her writing was more iconic, more rich, just more. I can't properly describe it! Here is a bit of her writing:

      "Hope keeps the swimmer from getting sucked into the undercurrents of fear and anxiety. Be glad for it. It is a gift. Rejoice in every shred of it crossing your path. The atmosphere of hope provides the necessary protection for the heart, one's inner being." 

      and in an article she wrote for our church's newspaper,

      "Will my lifestyle be a reflection of the eternal love I am absorbing? Will the only thing that counts in my life be faith expressing itself through love?"

      Dang, just reading her writing challenges me. What I wouldn't give for a 60 minute coffee date with her. Perhaps watching this movie (which I highly recommend BTW, it's available on Netflix) has me a bit too emotional and nostalgic, but I wanted to take this time to share a bit with you about my mom. If you love my writing or me, you have her to thank for it. If you have ever appreciated my style or a fashion tip from me, you are seeing a bit of her live on. 

      My longing to meet her is quenched when I remember the hope I have of seeing her again. Some of her last written words were, "I will surely see you in the morning of our bright, eternal day." You see, her death was not unexpected. It did not arrive suddenly or quickly. Sadly, she battled cancer for eight long years (half of the time I knew her), being pronounced cancer-free twice. But if she was here she would remind me not to focus on the fight, but on her Champion. The one who conquers death and the grave, who goes before us and writes our names on the Lamb's Book of Life. She would remind me, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." She knew her end was near and approached it with grace.

      What an odd memory to have as a 16 yr-old, to be called into your parent's room and sit on their bed while your mom talks to you about her dying requests. She made it clear that she wanted to pass away at home, surrounded by her family. She requested that those around her never focus on death or passing, but rather on life and joy. And that her daughters would love and embrace the next woman their dad chose to love (something I'm sad to say I mucked up horribly the first 2-3 years of my dad's relationship with his now wife). That last one was the toughest request for my adolescent heart, but through prayer and wise counsel the Lord has taught me much through that relationship.

      Ok, now how do I end this diary entry of a post...? If you've made it this far, thank you. I poured out my soul to you over a cup of coffee or tea (or through your smart phone while you take a break from your work today). Thank you for reading. Thank you for allowing me to share a few memories of my mother, and some of her writing. To this day, she inspires me to leave a legacy greater than myself, as I know she did.

      What will be your legacy?

      Oscar Overview

      Ohmergersh, there was almost more stunning fashion on my tv last night than it could handle! Gurrrllll you know I had to write about it all and recap my favorites. The following dresses, in no particular order, blew me away!

        Credit:  &nbsp;Steve Granitz/WireImage

      Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage

      Viola Davis looked beyond stunning in a gorgeous red number by Armani Privé. Such a classic color, just seeing her inspired me to inject more red into my closet the next time I go shopping (which based on my current finances will probably not be until August, LOL).

        Credit:  &nbsp;Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

      Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

      Naomie Harris wore a dress by Calvin Klein which was beautiful, but what I could not take my eyes OFF of was her shoes. Please, can we all just take a moment and appreciate how. stinking. cute. they are! I love that they have dazzle, color, and personality all in one.

        Credit:  &nbsp;Frazer Harrison/Getty

      Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

      This custom Armani Prive on French actressIsabelle Huppert just takes me to another world. A world where only fashionable people are allowed to live. 

        Credit:  &nbsp;Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

      Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

      I don't know what to stare at when I see this, the bronzed, pleated Dior on Charlize Theron or her blinding Chopard diamonds. 

        Credit:  &nbsp;Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

      Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

      To all my pale friends, never let ANYONE tell you that the nude trend isn't for you! Nicole Kidman was stunning in this embellished peach-toned nude by Armani Prive (Pro tip: It's all about finding a nude with the right undertones/hues to compliment your skin tone). Her orangey-red lip is the cherry on top!

        Credit:&nbsp; AP Associated Press

      Credit: AP Associated Press

      Ok, I know that I said this was in no particular order, but this is probably my favorite look of the night. From the strappy gold shoe to the minimal jewelry, it is a dream! This ethereal beauty on Felicity Jones is Dior.  It reminds me of a beautiful Edgar Degas sketch. 

      Tiny footnote: the most cringe-worthy moment of the night for me was when Dakota Johnson came out to present (and that shot didn't even reveal the confusing/sad bow drooping down from her waist). What in the world did Gucci send that poor girl to wear? Her necklace was beyond gorgeous, but that dress left me shaking my head. I had a lot of questions for her stylist after seeing her... but I digress (PopSugar liked it on her...).

      I've missed talking to you guys! I've had an awful virus for the past week-- it kicked my booty five ways to Sunday and I'm still recovering from my cough. I know, I still need to write up my SA Living/Taylor'd For You morning show-modeling experience! I had a blast with my 15 seconds of fame. How have all of you beauties been? Did you get to catch the Oscar's last night? What was your favorite look of the evening? Be sure to comment below!

      Random Updates

      Beauties, I have so many updates to share with y'all! An announcement, new products I'm about to test out, and an update on my 2017 goals! My announcement: I get to model on a local morning show segment! San Antonio Living (weekday mornings at 10 AM) has a fashion segment called "Taylor'd for You" and the host has asked me to model a Date Night outfit! I will be sure the link the video once it's online. 

      I have two new products that I am beyond excited to try out and share. First things first, I cannot wait to review these fabulous BeautyCounter products that my coworker Danielle has just started selling! She gifted me an amazing skincare set, including a face oil specifically designed for oily skin. They are a brand known for putting quality first, always focusing on ingredients because the beauty industry is basically an unregulated industry.

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      Secondly, I just purchased a Grace & Stella miracle hair brush (it's actually a hair straightener)! WHAT? If this works, A) it may literally change my hair routine for life and B) I will be SO ticked that I wasn't an online shopper at age 12 (oops! I just looked and it's sold out online. eek- I ordered it only a week ago).

      Now, onto my very sad update about my goals. Of my 2 budgets, I was only disciplined enough to stick to 1 (my work lunch budget). I spent more than double my "Fun Budget"... :/ And my 49 days of workout...? Yea, I only made it through 9. So really, my 2017 goal is this: BE MORE DISCIPLINED. I would say self-discipline is an area I've always struggled in. I'm a serial procrastinator. I love to sleep in and eat desserts. Reducing my sugar intake while pregnant, was basically the only time I've stuck to a dietary restriction (quite honestly, I've been blessed with one of the most kickass metabolisms ever. Right up until pregnancy). So, here I am. Documenting my journey towards self-discipline and asking for any tips that have helped you. That's all. No neat, tied-up ending. Just me, being honest with you.

      Note from Hope: The BeautyCounter items I discussed in this post were gifted to me. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

      Valentine's Day Gifting

      Friends, it's that time. That overly hyped, Hallmark-holiday that we all love yet hate. That's right, I'm talking about Valentine's Day

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      Because this is a holiday that I stress out about every year, seeking to find the perfect gift (not too much + something that my boo will appreciate and love) I have put together His vs. Hers gift ideas! Because we all know we don't want our bae to be shopping for us in Walgreen's, on their lunch break, day of. So don't you be that person either! Check out my ideas below, and if there are any great gift ideas I left off my list, be sure to let me know in the comments below.

      Oh- and the gifts for men were compiled with the help of my father-in-law & brother-in-law, so a bunch of manly men have signed off on each of the ideas below. 

      HIS

      • An Experience: This is my absolutely favorite idea, because it involves more than an item a person can toss aside or forget about. It's about creating a new experience with the person you love! My top recommendations are: 1) a TopGolf gift certificate 2) An iFly experience (in-door skydiving) and 3) if all else fails, check out this list of ideas Groupon curated
      • A Yeti Tumblr: This is a great option that falls on the lower-end of the price spectrum. Equivalent to the cost of a bouquet of flowers, this is totally man-tested, outdoorsmen approved and would be great for someone you've only been with for a short while.
      • Spurs Gift Set: This is a bit more of a craftsy idea, for the lady who loves a project. Put together some fun unique Spurs items (some Tim Duncan cheerios, a Greg Popovich meme t-shirt, a throwback Spurs baseball cap, and maybe a cute keychain or car decal), pop it into a black and gray basket (or even purchase a basket at the Dollar Store and spray paint to your crafty hearts content) and VOILA! you will impress your Spurs loving man. #GSG #PuroSanAntonio

      HERS

      • Perfume: Most likely the most expensive of my gift ideas, this one will also involve a little detective work. Most of you can figure out what your lady's favorite perfume is from A) checking her medicine cabinet/bathroom (in a sneaky fashion of course) or just asking her mom or BFF!
      • Flowers: Really, does this need an explanation? Every woman loves flowers, and PRO TIP- you get bonus points if they're delivered. I don't know why, but knowing your boo went out of his way to schedule a delivery just makes a lady feel extra special. These are great no matter how long
      • A home-cooked candlelight dinner: This one is so simple, but your lady will appreciate it every bit as much as a fancy night out on the town, guaranteed. It makes us feel good knowing the amount of time and preparation put into planning a special dinner (b/c trust me, we know), making an extra trip to the store (or two, depending on your culinary abilities LOL), dimming the lights and making everything just right. PRO TIP- if your dinner has a theme that corresponds with something you both enjoy together (i.e. foods that are eaten on Game of Thrones), your lady will swoon! It impresses us so much when you pay attention to what we love and put some extra special details into our gifts. And for the married men reading this (so what, all 2 of you? LOL) cleaning up afterwards needs to be included!