Hope in the Shadows

I have started writing this blog half a dozen times. I have so much to say and so few words. I struggle to share joy when my current outlook is bleak. I struggle to spread courage when I feel pretty darn defeated. I have moments of peace and joy, followed by memories of the saddest days of my life. I want to tell you guys about what's going on in my life, but typing out the words make them so much more real.

Breast cancer. My mother-in-law has cancer.

Blegh. Seeing that C word gives me a pit in my stomach. It reminds me of half my childhood. The darker parts, the times I watched my mom battle and battle that same ugly disease. Does all of this sound overly dramatic? I'm tearing up writing this, yet I fear my words come across like click-bait. 

What to do, what to do. Oh yeah, there's nothing. There's prayer -- always prayer. And I know the power of prayer. Yet, everything in my being is ready and poised to spring into tangible, physical action. This amazing, loving woman who truly is a mother to me and the sweetest, kindest grandmother there ever was to JT is fighting something and I feel 100% helpless. Here I am with no ability to provide energy or strength to her being. I pray, of course. That's all there is to do. It feels like a drop in the ocean. 

So many prayer warriors have sent up prayers for her and I am so very grateful. The Lord is truly the only hope in this situation. The only way out. The only light in this darkness. Then I worry -- I'm making this about me. How selfish is that? I just want to help without memories from my past jumping up in my mind, bringing with them a lump in my throat.

Where would I be without the knowledge (no -- assurance)  that the Lord is fighting for her? I would not have a thread of a rope to hold onto. My namesake feels ironic and soothing all at once. A jumbled mess. So many of my thoughts and feelings are jumbled. I want to spread hope in writing this, yet right now truly feels like the valley of the shadow David spoke about.

Where was I? I think I was just checking in with you guys. Sharing where I'm at and wondering who it was that needed to see all of this. Maybe it was just me.

When I thought I was finished writing this, I walked to my fridge for a glass of water. One of my mother's writings lives there, above the wedding announcements and all of JT's artwork. These words sprung out:

"The search brings one full circle, back to the one perfect love capable of casting out all fear. Can I walk in it? Better yet, can I abide there?"

Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. Love and hugs.

What to Read

I'm just gonna say it: reading is hot.

 Have I mentioned I have the best #InstagramHusband?

Have I mentioned I have the best #InstagramHusband?

There you have it. I'm a super nerd. Loud and proud! I'll say it again for the people in the back: I like to read. I always prefer fiction, because I love to escape into my imagination, but a great self-improvement or parenting book is also usually on my list. So here's some of my recent discoveries, maybe you'll check out one or two of these, maybe you'll check out all of them. Knock yourself out kid!

Just Finished:

Currently Reading:

On My 2018 List:

I LERV getting new book recommendations, so please leave all your new (and old) favorites in the comments! If getting excited about going to the book store makes me lame, I don't wanna be cool.

Share the literary love: what books are on your reading list? 

Random Favorites: 2017 Edition

You guys, I think the only YouTube videos I watched in January were "2017 Favorites"; so I decided to round up my overall lifestyle/beauty/fashion favorites from the 365 days that made up 2017. Here they are, randoms and all, in no particular order:

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Boyfriend Jeans & Graphic Tees: I've said it before, I'll say it again: I currently value comfort more than almost anything else (#momlife). For that reason, these two closet staples have been my most worn items. Boyfriend fit are consistently the only style of jeans I love and repurchase. I hate tight fitting jeans and typically refuse to wear them (my closet has only two exceptions). My current favorite are from J. Crew Factory and I love them so much I bought 2 pair! And graphic tees are just fun to wear. Here's a few cute ones: watermelons, champagne for breakfast, more bubbles less troubles and wine aisle.

Rose Gold Everything: I love rose gold jewelry! It makes me happy to look at it and I feel extra chic every time I wear it (Kendra Scott, Kate Spade).

EO Spray Hand Sanitizer: this is clearly the most random product on my list, but I had to share because this stuff is LIFE SAVING. It's so easy to grab and apply when you're out and about (particularly with a sticky-fingered toddler).

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue: I have tried more foundations this year than I care to admit, but this makeup staple NEVER lets me down. It doesn't ever look cakey or exaggerate pores. It's a great, light foundation that I reach for on workdays & whenever I want a minimal makeup look that still hides my flaws. The downside, that I realized while writing this, is it's shade range sucks. Only two options for dark skin tones -- wut? That can't be right... that isn't right!

Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent: This one may be cheating a bit, since I didn't purchase it until December, but I have worn it every day since and that's a BIG deal. You can ask my bestie, I am very particular about scents. It's described as having vanilla and coffee notes, which explains why I love it!

Mac Matte Lipstick in A Girls Got Needs: This was my go-to lip color of 2017. It looks great with my olive complexion, and adds just a tint of color that I love. It's closer to brown than rose, so I feel edgy and sassy whenever I rock this hue.

What were your must-haves of 2017? Be sure to comment below!

 

My Springtime Shopping List

Valentines, the Rodeo, Easter, oh-my! Springtime in South Texas brings a plethora of occasions that allow for new outfits (or re-imagining a few of your wardrobe staples). If you're anything like me, you're constantly adding new items to your 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!

Sneakers with Style: I love these mauve beauties but I'm obsessed with these Sam Edelman Insect Sneakers! I have been riding the comfort train lately, and distressed jeans and comfortable sneaker slip-ons have been my BFFs. 

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The Perfect Hoops: I have been eyeing a pair of rose gold hoop earrings with tons of sparkle from Swarovski that deserve all of the heart eyes.

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New Lips who Dhis: These new powder puff lippies from NYX come in a ton of shades that I will definitely be trying out the next time I visit my drugstore. Plus it's just fun to say powder puff. 

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Winky Tees: Both this pink t-shirt and this white tee with bold red lips are adorable and under $15!

I'm super into the norm-core/comfy clothes trend that's going around, but very much over crop tops. Where can I ever wear those? Obviously not to work, and I would just feel goofy in them when I'm running errands and chasing after JT. I don't think I'm alone in wanting to cover my belly on a very regular basis!! Why did designers do this to us? That's all for now loves. Hope this gave you some inspiration or just something fun to read while you take a coffee break. Hugs!

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

What trends are you loving this spring?

 

 

What I'm Leaving in 2017

Ok you guys,

I'm finally writing my "New Year New Me" blog post. Why have I waited this long? Let me count the reasons: I'm busy, I'm lazy, I traveled after the Christmas holiday and was exhausted when I got home, it doesn't even feel like a new year to me... the list could go on and on. Regardless, I'm here and I'm ready to share.

Instead of writing out a ton of resolutions, I have decided instead to focus on leaving something behind. I don't want to be a whole new me, I just want to be a better version of myself. And something that I increasingly notice about myself is my outstanding ability to compare myself to those around me and fall disgustingly short, each and every time. 

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If you only remember one thing from this post, I want it to be this: no one has it all together. Least of all me (that should be glaringly obvious since it took me 21 days into the month of January to collect these thoughts).

I don't care what content can be found on someone's Instagram feed or what photos make the Facebook cut, every single person has issues and areas where they can improve and grow. And living in the age of social media has made all of that SO much harder for me to remember. I look at the gorgeous influencers I follow (The Darling Detail, Katey McFarlan, The SToribook), and I get discouraged. I don't own a Gucci or a Chanel handbag. I don't own any white furniture (you guys, HOW do they keep it clean?! Black magic??). I don't have a beautiful vanity or dressing room.

And then, like turning on a lightbulb above my head, the Lord reminds me: my value is NEVER defined by the things I have. That when I chase stuff, I feel more unsatisfied than ever. The Lord always reminds me of all the beautiful people and things I have been blessed with (and that owning white furniture with a toddler boy would surely bring me headaches & heartburn).

Social media can be so deceptive. It rarely shows the struggles and the valleys; only the beautiful, the whitewashed and the airbrushed. Who doesn't want to put their best foot forward, I get it. But it's an edited existence. It's perception not reality.

So this year, I want to leave comparison behind. I know I'll mess up (I already have), but it's exhausting to live my life wishing for what someone else has. I want to enjoy every moment of MY life to the fullest. And I'm certainly not doing that when I'm zeroed in on someone else's. 

What are your 2018 goals? Comment below; I love when we inspire each other!

Fearless Females: Elizabeth Schultz

You guys, this lady I get to introduce to you today is #goals. Great mommy, successful businesswoman (check out her IG page @elizabethannschultz to learn even more about her career with Monat), and certainly gorgeous. So without further ado, meet Elizabeth:

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H: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

E: I’m a Texas girl, through and through. I love queso, our hot summers, Rodeo seasons, and Country Music. I lived here all my life and can’t imagine raising my kids anywhere else! I have two girls, 7 and 1…oh, and another baby girl on the way. (My poor husband.) I love dogs but if I had to choose between a dog or cat, id totally choose the cat. I taught preschool for five years and decided to take a break from teaching when I found out I was going to be a mom for the second time. Since then, I started working for an MLM and have tripled my teaching salary, so being able to stay at home and raise my kids-while making that extra money…total plus. I never considered myself a “business woman” or even business savvy utile I started this new job. I’ve learned more about myself, my strength, my leader ship skills, and my will power, then I think I ever have. Its opened so many doors for me that wouldn’t have opened had I not jumped on this opportunity. I love, LOVE being a mom, it’s my favorite job I have, but sometimes it’s nice for me to step out of the mom role for a minute, an hour, and be something else. I think it keeps me sane. ☺

H: How do we know each other? 

E: I’ve known you since…gosh, I think the 6th grade. We met at our tiny, private Christian school. I think I was 11, or maybe 12. So that’s 16 years now, give or take (WOW we’re old)!

H: I absolutely have respect for you as an stay-at-home-entrepreneur(?) (momtrepreneur?) Tell my readers a little bit about the direct sales you do, how you make it work for you, etc.

(SPOILER: sales pitch ahead. But you guys are spoiled and I don't think I've ever put any on here, so read on at your own risk. However, I also feel it's only fair to mention that I've never tried her company's products so if you're curious feel free to reach out directly to Elizabeth on IG. The sales model seems fairly similar to Mary Kay / Avon if that helps.)

E: I work for a company called Monat. We are the very first and only anti-aging hair care company on the market. All of our products have been clinically tested and proven to regrow, repair, and restore your hair. Our products were designed to penetrate the hair, healing it from the inside out. Most products just sit on top of your hair, not really doing much for it at all. This job honestly is a dream come true.

I always poo-pooed “those girls” on social media who were selling things. No, I don’t want buy your face cream or your candles or your lipstick or your wraps. I was so against it for some reason. Untill God slapped me in the face and said, “HELLO! Look what you’re missing out on here!” This company practically fell into my lap in April. I didn’t even try the products before I joined the company. I was so enticed by their car program, compensation plan, and trip incentives I was hooked before I started. One of my very favorite things about this business is, I can work whenever and wherever I want. I’m not tied down to a desk or an office, I don’t have to clock in at 9 and clock out at 5. If I need to take a day off, I don’t have to worry about calling my boss and finding a sub, I simply just don’t work. This was one of the big reasons why this works for me, because with two kids and another one on the way- I don’t want someone else raising my kids. I want to be the one who does that. And im lucky enough that Monat gives me the ability to do so.

H: What is the most encouraging thing you have been told/read as an entrepreneur?

E: The most encouraging thing someone has ever told me... “You are a badass leader.” I have a team of about 500 people now. Often, I doubt myself. I wonder if I’m doing enough to share things with them and teach them. I question if they are learning from me and if I am being encouraging enough to them.  Its easy to fail at these kids of businesses. But I TRULY believe that if someone wants it bad enough, they can be as successful as they want. I know this because I want it BAD.. so at end of this month I will be getting a brand new Cadillac Escalade, in February I’ll be flying to San Francisco, and in May I’ll be going on a cruise to Bermuda, all courtesy of my company. I work my ass off to try and reach these goals for myself, my family and my team.

H: As a mother of 2 girls (with another little one on the way), what values will you emphasize the most in your household and how will you describe and/or teach them? 

E: I always want to instill in my girls that they can do and be anything they want to be, that they are beautiful no matter what size or shape they are, that they will never need the approval from the world that they are perfect, wanted, needed, and loved. And most importantly, that they were created by God and that he has a specific plan and purpose for each of their lives. (I’m totally crying while I write this part. I blame it on those hormones.) I try to constantly tell them these things, especially my seven-year-old. Self-doubt starts at such a young age, so I try really hard to keep myself in check with those things because kids are ALWAYS watching, listening and learning from their parents.

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

E: “This too shall pass.” I sometimes get overwhelmed with life. Homework that needs to be done, laundry that needs to be folded, a baby that is entering the toddler phase who never, ever, ever stops moving and playing and making messes. I have to stop and remember that life won’t be like this forever. One day they will come home from school and won’t need help with homework, they won’t want to play dolls and I won’t be able to pick them up and hold them in my arms. Life goes way too fast.

H: What has been your biggest struggle as a parent?

E: Finding balance. There must be a balance in work, family, friends…life. I have to make myself put my phone way because I would be on it all the time if I didn’t. You miss so many things when your phone is in your face. I also think making time to spend with your friends is super important. It hard to schedule time with your friends when you have kids, a husband, and work… but spending time with friends is always a must. Also, schedule time alone with your husband. We plan it and make it a priority.

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

E: My greatest accomplishment in life… raising my oldest daughter by myself for four years. Being a single parent is really hard. It broke me, tested me, strengthened me and made me who I am today.

H: How would you describe your personal style? 

E: My sytle…black. Lots and lots of black. Is that a style? LOL. I try to avoid wearing yoga pants and tennis shoes every day. Being pregnant my style changes a little bit, but I still stick to my style and avoid looking too much like a “mom”. I love jeans and maxi dresses…luckily I have been able to find some cute maternity stuff to fit my taste.

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

E: I’m gonna have to go with my husband on this one. He is HUGE on “name brand” clothes. The man spends more money on his clothes and shoes than I do. No lie. It wasn’t until I started dating him that I kind of stepped up my style game. I bought my first pair or Tory Burch shoes and ventured into the world of clothing other than Target. (although I still shop there all the time.) But I realized its okay to splurge a little on something that you really want sometimes, treat yo self.

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.&nbsp;

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.&nbsp;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&nbsp;

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!