Monday, June 29, 2015

6 beach bags you need in your life

I had so much fun at my friend's cabin this weekend. It's just an hour and a half southeast of Minneapolis, and the drive along the Mississippi is the prettiest. The weather was perfect on Saturday, and we made the most of it lying in the sun, swimming off the boat and staying up late. Dinner involved pigs in a blanket, so the day basically couldn't have been better.

I stuffed lake and overnight essentials in an old canvas carryall from college, which worked fine, but served as a reminder I could use an upgrade for future day trips. I've never had a "dedicated" beach bag—always repurposing totes bought for school or travel. But as I get older, I'm gradually able to buy products that serve unique purposes (like a panini press or margarita glasses) rather than relying on one thing to do it all, and as I do, I'm continuously pleased with the results. Like, there's a reason we don't sip wine from water cups.

Plus, hauling sunglasses and SPF in a tough but lightweight tote made for the sun and sand makes me feel more comfortable—like I know how to "beach." Nothing worse than looking like a rookie. All six of these fun styles would heat up the boardwalk, but forced to choose I'd proudly carry the playful clear turquoise (reminds me of jelly sandals!) or the tasseled Sensi, handmade by Ecuadorian artisans. That woven straw look is quintessentially coastal, evoking quaint seaside villages, and in black, it won't clash with whatever the swimwear of the day.

What are you carrying to the lake this summer?

1 | Clear Beach Tote (30% OFF) 2 | Sisal Tote

Friday, June 26, 2015

found. gold-plated barrette.

Before my parents moved out of their house a few weeks ago, I was forced to go through my bedroom and get rid of stuff that had been lingering far too long: magazine tears of Josh Hartnett and Paul Walker taped to the wall, faded from years in the sun. A mold of my teeth from before I got braces (yup). The never-lit candle keepsake from prom 2006.

Of course, I kept some things—the epic birthday menu my older sister developed (yes, developed) when I turned nine, professionally signed by the "restaurant manager." The program cover I was picked to draw for a kindergarten class performance. And a little pink and purple barrette, proudly displaying my name in puff paint.

I recognized it immediately when I found it in an old jewelry box, glad I had kept it. Magnets and mugs at gift shops and airports never said Kendall (Emily. Always Lauren. Even Cassandra.), so having something—anything—personalized was something to hold onto. And while I'm never going to wear it again, the sweet and preppy look of hair neatly pinned back by a barrette is still stylish—trending, in fact. I saw a feature in the July InStyle on the mane accessory of the moment, and am loving the dramatic, long and skinny styles reminiscent of clips used by stylists in salons. Worn with a side part, it offers a kind of runway feel, in real life.

I wear my hair down almost every day, rarely styling it beyond a blowout or couple quick waves with a curling iron (which is a workout in itself)—clipping in a simple barrette is an easy, effortless way to add a touch of interest to the same old story. This gold-plated one from Mrs. President & Co has a brushed finish for a modern, mature upgrade on my childhood relic, and it's handmade in Brazil for an authentic feel. I'm popping down to Pepin, WI, tomorrow for a day at my friend's cabin, and this would be such a cute way to keep flyaways at bay while boating. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

3 years!

Happy 3rd birthday to my blog! I remember June 2012 well, when the idea to start hatched. I jumped right in, unsure of what I was doing—randomly choosing Blogger over Wordpress (#regret) and scrounging up a then two-year-old photo from my senior sorority formal for the homepage headshot. But the details didn't matter; I was completely confident in my purpose and my goal.

Three years later, I've gone through a rebrand, design overhaul, unsuccessful platform transfer, domain registration pain, hundreds of dollars, periods without posting—plus two cities and three jobs—but the same feeling I had when writing my first post remains: excitement as I mentally construct the copy and design (even when "design" was just a JPEG), energy while the words flow out through my fingers and onto the keyboard, and then excitement again as I pop out of bed and post to the site. Especially on dull weeks when work is boring and there's not much going on with friends, having fun stuff happening on the blog starts my day on a high note. And while I certainly have mixed emotions sometimes about why I'm blogging, the fact that it makes me happy is really the only one that matters.

Scroll for a few more nuggets of wisdom (note the sarcasm!) I've collected since 6.25.12! And whether you've been reading since that summer or are stopping by for the first time, thank you, thank you, thank you!

one | two | three | four

1. There's always more to learn — I read a blog post by Blair recently and almost had an anxiety attack over all the things I could/should be doing to get casse-croute up to speed. I wish I knew how to code. There are design elements I want to update. Advertising. Pitching to brands. Rome wasn't built in a day, but my to-do list will never be more than that if I don't start chipping away. A year ago, I didn't know anything about Photoshop. But I cleared my schedule one October weekend for an online tutorial, and my graphics have drastically improved since. The same can be true for coding or sponsored content if I just walk the walk.

2. Not everyone will be a fan — I have friends that have never read my blog, "liked" a post or shown any outward support. It's hard not to get hung up on that sometimes. I think, "I'm putting myself out there with this creative endeavor that's a pretty big part of my life, and they can't even acknowledge it?" That's selfish thinking, though. Everyone has their own interests. I'm obviously into blogging—I follow other bloggers on social media and start each day skimming my favorite sites. But others may not care about Poor Little It Girl's "Weekly Weakness," what Gal Meets Glam wore to her latest international getaway, or the killer culotte jumpsuit I included in my Fourth of July style guide. In the end, I remind myself I'm not blogging for praise or fanfare. I do it because I enjoy it.

3. Stay original — It's tempting to want to imitate what other bloggers are doing well, especially if they have more followers (and most do!). But I'm very particular about my writing (ask a boss or coworker) and I'm not going to change or compromise it just to see the stats go up. I started the blog to get a job as a copywriter, and I'm still using it as a career-building vehicle, so I'm going to stay true to my voice. And my unique voice is what adds value, I think. In the end, I want to be proud of the content I'm producing—and, of course, have people follow along with me. But I won't determine my success solely on the Google Analytics dashboard. This is me, take it or leave it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

little things you deserve

Last weekend, I finally read Lena Dunham's book Not That Kind of Girl after putting it on my short list back in October! I love reading, but have been in a literary dry spell—and it feels good when something quick and engaging gets you back on track.

Overall, I loved that Dunham is a smart writer who doesn't turn her back on intelligent language and precise word choice in this age of blogging that celebrates "coffee talk" as the only way to connect with millennials and the digitally savvy. That's more my style, too, so I feel like I have a champion in the real-life Hannah Horvath. Ha.

There were some funny anecdotes—and some disturbing ones—but what made it such a captivating read is what makes Girls such a hit: relevancy. It's comforting to read about friendship and career and issues all twentysomethings experience from an actual twentysomething. One line really hit the nail on the head: in a chapter on "platonic bed sharing," Dunham describes who it is and is not OK to share a bed with. In the "not" column: "Anyone who doesn't make you feel like sharing a bed is the coziest and most sensual activity they could possibly be undertaking. Now, look over at the person beside you. Do they meet these criteria? If not, remove them or remove yourself. You're better off alone."

Amen, sister. I have definitely experienced that feeling and definitely been aware of it at the time, but didn't immediately remove myself. Don't hold onto something just because it's worked in the past if it isn't working now. Being comfortable with someone, I think, and having certain memories together can blur the reality of the present. And—speaking as a single girl—it's important to remember your kick-ass qualities, even if it's taking a while for the right person to recognize them.

So in the spirit of knowing your worth and feeling as fabulous as @badgalriri in pink feathers, I rounded up a few fun, #treatyoself things that YOU deserve! Because—it's a Wednesday, and you're pretty great.

feature image via ELLE

Monday, June 22, 2015

fourth of july prep

I have this thing for fireworks. I know—most people do—but the sound of a sharp crack and sight of bright explosions dripping through the darkness are inextricably linked to cherished memories of summers spent in the UP of Michigan. Something about those displays in the sky make you pause and bask in the beauty of a simple summer night—the present, those past, and the ones to come. It's been one of my holidays since the start.

There's nothing more fun than dressing in red, white and blue for the Fourth, and there are ways to do it elegantly. For a day on the water, a patriotic swimsuit is a must! Later, change into a wide-leg jumpsuit (obsessed with this one from Alice + Olivia!) for dinner. I also love a simple white cami with denim cut-offs or a sweet sundress—very clean and all-American.

In addition to what's shown, I'm dying for these easy Kate Spade slides (in white or gold). And this woven baseball hat, necklace and dip-dyed scarf would be great finishing touches. I can't deny wishing I were spending the holiday on the lake, but I'm excited to see some high school friends back in my hometown and spend a long weekend away from work! Keep scrolling for my ideal Independence Day menu! Bon appetit!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

song of summer

It's officially SUMMER! I trust you're already knee-deep in cucumber margaritas, bikinis and all the best things the season brings. But along with a signature drink and appropriate poolside wear, your summer needs a soundtrack. I caught Good Morning America while working from home on Friday morning and Robin Roberts & co. were trying to declare Adam Lambert's "Ghost Town" the "song of summer." No offense to the American Idol alum, but it wasn't really doing it for me.

Ryn Weaver's "OctaHate," however—hell yes. I have to give my younger sister credit for introducing me to this one. The song went viral last June after the California-born singer posted it to her Soundcloud account, and she released the full album just last week. "OctaHate" is so infectious. It's the kind of song that makes my shoulders and head roll and bounce crazily and unbidden—you can't help but dance. 

I'm excited to see her at Triple Rock next month. If you're in Minneapolis, looks like there's still tickets! And in case you're behind in the cocktail and swimsuit categories, here's a friendly kick in the pants (official Swimsuit Edit coming soon)! Happy summerrrrrrrr!

Friday, June 19, 2015

found. clare v. supreme fanny pack

My sister and I went biking a couple weeks ago (um, so much more fun than running!), and while I was planning to stuff my keys and phone in my bra or something practical like that (...), she was buckled into a cute little bum bag that securely stored the essentials. She was nice enough to let me share the space for the day, but I've since been on the hunt for my own stylish pouch.

Once reserved for dorky dads, designers have resurrected the highly efficient, hands-free fanny pack in luxe materials with feminine flair. The fashion-forward have been wearing belt bags party-hopping for a good year, so the stage is set for regular Midwest girls to follow suit (wink). I can't think of a better option for the music festivals, farmers' markets, art shows and let's face it—State Fair (you need TWO HANDS to handle your cheese curds and Sweet Martha's!)—that fill up summer.

The Clare V. Supreme Fanny is simple enough to work day or night, big enough to fit everything you need for a few hours' field trip, adjustable for the perfect fit, and embossed basketweave leather makes it more elegant than what you'd see on the Greenway. Do you need more convincing than that to add another bag to your collection? I don't! Enjoy the weekend—loving this 80º weather!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

summer gingham

I threw this blue outfit together as a kind of DIY-version of a co-ord/matching set (if head-to-toe blue is good enough for Prince George, it's good enough for me!). The heels will always hold a special spot in my heart because I bought them for my Lands' End interview (which I killed after driving through a snowstorm and surviving a stay in a creepy Dodgeville motel), and the Chinos are timeless, but the gingham shirt is the real star of this show.

Gingham is the "definitive message" of the spring/summer season and wearing the trendy pattern in a classic, boyish silhouette like a button-down shirt (rather than a sweet sundress that conjures up picnic cloth associations) strikes a balance I like. Button-downs can be overly starched, restricting and generally irritating, but this one is super light and a little oversized (see how far down my back the tail hem hangs?!) for an easy feel. I left it casually untucked to balance the more dressed-up look of tailored shorts and pumps. Looking back, it might be a little too messy-Jessie, but I was comfortable, and on a hot night that's what's important.

It was super humid when we shot these photos, making my hair feel like it weighed 10 pounds (and reminding me I need a haircut.. ), but it was fun to get across the river to check out the Soap Factory. The contemporary art exhibition center is focused on innovative and emerging work, but it's known outside of creative circles for hosting a haunted house around Halloween—have you been? It freaks me out that closed-toe shoes are required and contact lenses encouraged (?!)—and I'm just generally not as into that I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe as I was in middle school—so I'm happy sticking to daylight hours to explore this Minneapolis landmark.

I hope your week is running smoothly! I took some much-needed PTO yesterday morning—I haven't had a vacation day since New Year's!—for a long walk and some InStyle in the sun, which did amazing things for my mood. Here's to taking time off when you need it, and actually getting a tan this summer!

photos by Andrew Saxum 

J.Crew gingham shirt | J.Crew Chino shorts | Nine West pumps (old—similar)
Michael Kors watch | Banana Republic crossbody (old—similar here & here)
NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave

Monday, June 15, 2015

father's day gift guide

Father's Day is next Sunday so it's time to get serious about gifting! I picked up one of these items for my dad last week, and everything here is stuff I considered to show the number-one man in my life some love.

It's important to stay active, especially as we get older, and I love that golf balls (or a tennis racket or dri-fit t-shirt) encourage exercise (and happiness via a hobby). SPF is also so, so crucial. At a Gophers game last fall, I remember being surprised by the intensity of the October sun up in the stands, and my dad, who has had pre-cancerous moles removed, wished he'd had some protection. Other grooming essentials, like volumizing shampoo (gotta keep that flow!) and texturizing hair product, are fun ways to upgrade his morning routine.

I've talked about my obsession with before—it's one of my go-to gift destinations, especially for hard-to-buy-for individuals like bosses and grandparents. From jerky to jam, there's an artisanal treat to surprise and delight anyone, and they have pre-packaged gift bundles just for dad (perfect if you and your siblings are chipping in together).

Finally, I stopped into Barnes & Noble over my lunch break last week and stumbled across Tom Brokaw's latest book. My dad has enjoyed all of Brokaw's writing (fun fact: the renown journalist spoke at my college graduation!) and this memoir, reflecting on a life free of hardship in the wake of a terminal diagnosis, seems like an insightful and meaningful read.

Friday, June 12, 2015

found. lavender lace cami

That cami you can comfortably wear for a romantic mussels & frites repast at Barbette or an afternoon whipping around on Valleyfair's wildest rollercoasters is a rare thing—and one to be speedily scooped up. Lace accents and delicate straps that tie in a sweet bow give the J.O.A. Lavender Lace Cami feminine charm, while the billowy body keeps the look playful and light, like a summer breeze.

I wish I'd had it for pizza and patio drinks last night rather than the Canadian tuxedo I ended up in, but that's the way it goes, right? We celebrated my sister's birthday at  Psycho Suzi's, a tacky Polynesian-themed tiki bar overlooking the Mississippi you can't help but embrace. Despite rain and gloom all day, the evening ended in the prettiest blood-orange sunset and I'm continuing on island time straight into the weekend. Hope you have a fab Friday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

summer pencil skirt

When I first started at Target after college, the dress code was business casual. I wore heels or wedges most days, was reprimanded when I forgot to layer a cardigan over my sleeveless blouse, and regrettably reserved jeans for weekends. I collected a solid assortment of Minnie pants, pencil skirts and other professional pieces to carry me from Monday through Friday. And while I'm happy to wear denim to my current day job, it would be a waste to let all those workwear separates now simply hang sadly in my closet.

A skinny-strapped cami (I'm partial to racerbacks) loosens up the "strict" look of a corporate pencil skirt for a summer evening off the clock (bonus points if it's a fun color!). A chunky pendant necklace (I love this one's dark green against turquoise) and two-tone wedges add interest and contribute to the casual vibe for an ensemble that's totally transformed from what you'd see me sporting in TPS.

These happy colors have me wanting to drop everything and dash to the nearest rooftop, and since we made it to hump day, I think that's totally acceptable. In order, in fact.

Quick confession: I've been struggling lately with wanting to do so much, then getting in over my head and realizing I don't have the bandwidth to do it ALL. Why do we stuff our schedules like half-steak, half-chicken, extra-cheese Chipotle burritos (with guac)? I passed on a really cool freelance project this week, and I'm stressing about turning it down (and the potential doors it could have opened) as much as I was taking it on. Women like my grandma often didn't work at all outside of the home, yet still had very full lives—and we've made great strides since then—but so many of my peers are constantly on the fly, with a full-time job, a few freelance projects, plus a blog, a dog, grad school, softball league, volunteering and social schedules. There's a point when so many layers of salsa and sour cream make the whole tortilla taste like crap. Having ambition is a huge asset, but having one job is also enough.

It's a competitive world, but I don't want to "beat" anyone as long as I'm content when I measure myself against me. So let's take the night off! The only thing I'm measuring tonight is the amount of Pinto Grigio in my glass.

photos by Andrew Saxum

J.Crew necklace (old—similar here & here & here) | Victoria's Secret cami 
J.Crew pencil skirt | Steve Madden wedges (old—similar here and here)
Elliott Luca convertible clutch (old—similar) | Ray Ban aviators

Monday, June 8, 2015

power powder

A lot of us—me included—are trained to think department store ubiquitously trumps drugstore beauty. I spend $45 on NARS foundation (ouch, I know) because the formula caters to my skin type and a Sephora adviser determined Fiji the best match for my tone. For "complicated" products, I understand paying up; but for powder, Target does the trick. I recently switched from Bobbi Brown to Maybelline, and the "maybe she's born with it" brand is not only cheaper, but much more effective.

The compact gives me extra coverage after a day slaving at my desk and eliminates unflattering shine for the refreshed look and confidence needed to do anything social post-5PM—whereas Bobbi was a translucent dusting that only produced OK results after too many irritated swipes with the new application brush I was urged into (grr).

Let's save our splurges for Kit & Ace instead—the North Loop location opened last week! Have you been? Swing by after work and end Monday in some comfy new (washable!) cashmere.

image via

Friday, June 5, 2015

found. lille lace-up points

There's no better way to start the weekend than with shoe shopping. I found the Lille Lace-up Points earlier this week and it was L-O-V-E. The juicy tangerine shade is so fresh and I die for the strappy mix of beachy gladiator and refined flat. Plus, the suede upper means these will glide from summer right into fall. Shop this #cassecrouteFIND and more Boden footwear faves (the Thelma Heel in soft lime..!) below!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

poppy sandals

As a writer, I'm all about the words. But I can't deny the power of a picture. I've been writing about my style and the products I love for three years; I thought it was time to start showing you. I enjoy reading blogs so much more when I know the personality behind the "pen," so I hope that's what you gain from this, too—and that you feel like you know me a little bit better!

I'm definitely no natural in front of the camera (my license pictures prove it), but I had a ton of fun taking these in Linden Hills! It was a BEAUtiful night (though the humidity had some fun with my hair)—and a mandarin chocolate chip cone from Sebastian Joe's was just the thing to have on hand.

Pairing a powder blue halter with patent poppy sandals is my first attempt at inspiring you to use what's already in your closet in unique ways to maximize wearability (and save some moolah!). Even though some deals are tempting (hello $30 Old Navy overalls), I don't like to spend on stuff I really don't need. That might mean my closet is slightly slimmer than the next girl's, but with some creative styling, you can still slay it.

I think it's instinct to coordinate a loud color like red with a "quiet" white or black—which works!—but going the unexpected route with powder blue (or chartreuse or soft pink!) is so much more fun and original. These bold sandals see as much street time as my nude wedges—so practical—and give everyday basics like blue jeans an easy, sassy lift.

J.Crew silk cami (old—similar) | Madewell jeans | Boden sandals (old—similar here and here)
fingers: Essie Ballet Slippers | toes: Deborah Lippmann Blue Orchid | Shopbop ring (old—similar)

Monday, June 1, 2015

june edit.

Another new month! This is one of my most open summers in years. No weddings, no trips, no showers, no major events. While I like having "something to look forward to" as much as anyone, it's kind of nice to have the luxury of time—to fill it how I want and to have a minute to think about how I want to fill it, rather than just flying on autopilot from one obligation to the next.

My June Edit is really tight. I only included the REAL items on my real life wish list. My old pitcher started leaking months ago, and I need a new one for the strawberry watermelon Crystal Light I just bought (hello yum!). I was using a cheap-o acrylic one from Target, but want to class it up with version 2.0. Crate & Barrel's reef design comes in coordinating tumblers so you can eventually complete the set. I see this pitcher as an investment I'll have for years and be proud to serve guests from (more than just lemonade).

Round sunglasses are the it-style of the season, and I love the hippie, relaxed vibe for summer. Colored lenses make this pair a good alternative to my current black and tortoise frames. Sundresses are the unofficial uniform of June/July/August and I rarely wear them! If I had this effortless "drop-over-your-head" embroidered number, though, I think that record would turn right around (also love the Onyx!). Accessorize the pretty look with Dior Sunwashed nails (Byrdie declares it "the color everyone will be wearing this summer"—very reminiscent of this post from my archives!) and gold gladiators—I love how the lace-up detail and in-your-face metallic shade is balanced by a flat sole.

What's on your June agenda? Make it a good one!