Summer is by far my favorite season. I love that it’s filled with warm weather and tons of travel. I love that I can swim in the ocean and walk along the beach, and I love that it stays late long enough to spend time outside long after I’ve finished eating dinner. It’s the sweetest season – one that I look forward to all year long – and it’s one that seems to come to a close much too quickly.

Earlier this year, I said that I wasn’t sure this year could ever top last year. But it already has in so many ways. I’ve met some of the best people, I’ve worked a number of beautiful weddings, and I’ve made it my mission to do things. I’ve learned that the very best way to experience something is to just say yes and make it happen. This summer, I learned how to do calligraphy, traveled to DC twice, visited Asheville (a place my parents and I have said we wanted to see countless times, but this time I said we should go!), adventured to Niagara Falls and faced some of my biggest fears (re: heights and small spaces), and, of course, enjoyed every moment of being on Kiawah Island #myhappyplace.

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I view my blog as a way to document parts of the life I lead. It’s not to brag or draw attention, but instead to share what can happen when you say yes to adventure – whatever adventure means for you. Instead of getting completely excited about the fall, I’m always left feeling sad. When I see the leaves starting to change, I want to turn back the hands of time and make them green again. Because green means the promise of summer lives on. Go & Do became my summertime anthem, and I want to make sure that trend continues long after the leaves have changed color and the trees have become bare in time for winter. My sweet season may have ended, but my anthem continues.

I hope you’re having a wonderful start to this new season! xo

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Obviously, this post was supposed to be live much earlier today. Then my computer seemed to be overheated and starting a fire in order to blog didn’t seem like a great idea. So, better late than never, right? I hope so. ;)

With a number of different weddings on the horizon with a florist and a possible trip to Bridal Market (the wedding industry’s version of Fashion Week), this is my last completely free weekend for a month. And by free, I mean I have a date tomorrow. With my Poppy. He’s 94, and he’s been counting down the days until we have lunch. Other than that, I’m in store for a low key weekend, and I’m really looking forward to it.

My favorite links I’ve been loving:

1. Choosing Meaningful Over Perfect // Carly is Inspired:

Meaningful-is-better-than-perfect

This is one of my favorite posts to date because I truly don’t believe in perfection, but I was so nervous about how it might be received by others. I’m happy to report that it’s gone over really well! Now matter if you work in the wedding industry or not, I think it’s worth a read. Choosing meaningful and purposeful over perfect will never let you down.

2. Getting Out of a Funk // Mackenzie Horan

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Photo via Mackenzie Horan

I always look forward to reading Mackenzie’s blog each morning, and this post was particularly relatable. I think we all have moments when we’re not sure where our lives might take us next, and that causes us to fear making any decisions at all. Especially in this season of my life, I’ve definitely experienced almost everything she’s talking about in her post. And I loved reading through some of the comments to see that there are a bunch of other people in the same boat. In a funk? Not sure what to do? Read Mackenzie’s post.

3. Lauren McCaul’s Home Tour // The Everygirl

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Photo via The Everygirl

Lauren’s style is slightly different than mine, but what I love about her home is how cozy her design has managed to make it feel. I’ve also always been drawn to older homes that have a story, and her home was built before Alabama was even a state. The best part of her feature, in my opinion, is her story about her job. She works for the US Army Corp of Engineers where she orders furniture for military spaces (an honorable position that definitely seems to involve far more rigid choices than the color she’s able to bring into her home). I work for a company that sells furniture to commercial spaces, and I’ve talked to professionals who are in the middle of bidding for government spaces. Maybe those pieces were for Lauren? I’m not positive, but it’s fun to see who you might be working with. :)

4. “Chandelier” Cover by Sara Bareilles:

One of my friends told me I had to watch/listen to Sara Bareilles cover Sia’s “Chandelier”. Sara’s voice is always stunning, and I’ve been known to turn on this video to listen to the cover a few times while I work. The one thing I really wish I could do: sing like Sara Bareilles.

5. Father Daughter Dance to Shake It Off:

There are so many things to love about this video: a.) this dad spending a fun afternoon with his sweet daughter, b.) his daughter’s adorable dance moves, and c.) “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! PS: The first day of fall is on Sunday. WHAT?! It’s basically time for Christmas.

This post is one that’s been on my heart for a long time now, but it’s so hard to put this idea into words. It’s scary to say something so honest and real about an industry I love, and I’ve been trying to determine why this matters so much to me. But a 13 hour road trip has the best way of lending some perspective, so…get ready:

The wedding industry is one that’s largely known for pretty. Professionals, especially event planners, work to create a pretty day – one that’s filled with pretty details in a pretty location with a goal of creating a vendor team to make all of that pretty happen. Of course, each piece will be tied together with a pretty bow that makes the day seem as though it’s perfect.

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Photo by Amanda Young; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

I love pretty details. I’m drawn to each and every one of them (all of the flowers!), and I do believe that each and every piece fits together into a larger wedding day puzzle. But, sometimes the quest for pretty and perfect leaves me feeling flat. Pretty and perfect are great, but they shouldn’t be the only two things that are chased. In fact, perfect shouldn’t be chased at all. Why? Because a wedding day is never perfect. Something will happen. And that’s OK. Because the chances of a wedding day being meaningful are far greater.

“I don’t ever want to just create beautiful things. I want to create beautiful moments. I’m not doing this for the money. It’s to be rich with joy. I used to think my job was full of frivolous things. Now it’s clear my job is indeed full, but full of the unseen and must-be-felts. I’m not building an empire. I’m building a legacy.” – Rhi, Hey Gorgeous Events

I saw Rhi’s post while road tripping home from Charleston, and it’s my favorite note I’ve ever seen about the wedding industry. I often feel like there are so very few people who aren’t chasing perfection. I believe in the must-be-felts, too – moments before a walk down the aisle, groomsmen huddling together to cheer before a ceremony, first dances, family and friends filling the dance floor for the entire night, and all of the pretty details that make a bride smile because it’s how her day was meant to look. Those moments, and the joy I feel when I’m helping a guest, are what make me return again and again to weddings.

Just like Rhi, I also used to question whether this industry is too frivolous. But then I realized over time that what I love and the work I chose to do are meaningful because of the outlook I choose to have. I’m chasing my best work and creating a day that is the best that it can be all while problem solving and rolling with the day as it happens. It won’t be perfect, but it will still be pretty. More importantly, the meaningful moments are what matter and what should be remembered over time. I view weddings as a privilege. It’s a privilege to coordinate the start of someone else’s legacy, to write about someone else’s story, to create a social media plan for a company I believe in with everything I have because each of those elements impacts my own legacy. And I hope it’s one filled with (imperfect) meaning.

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The passage of time is always something that amazes me whether it’s something positive, like a vacation or birthday, or a tragic event, like September 11. The day may seem long in the moment, but time never stops (even when we wish it would…even just for a minute or two).

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September 11 was horrific. I was in 7th grade, and I learned about all of the events one-by-one while in math class. It was all anyone could talk about that day and for many days and weeks after. As tragic as that day was and will forever be, in some ways it’s September 12 that now stands out even more.

Morning came and time marched on as it always will. But for those who tragically passed away, time stopped.

Each victim has missed family birthdays and watching their children grow up. They’ve missed graduations, celebrations in honor of new jobs, and weddings. They’ve missed the little things and the big things that sometimes the rest of us take for granted.

So, just as Joy from Oh Joy! did yesterday, I thought I would share five things that I’m grateful for today:

1. Thanking a Navy serviceman at last night’s 9/11 memorial ceremony in honor of my Grandpa who also served. Thanking servicemen and women is something that always makes me think of my Grandpa, and yesterday would have been his birthday.

2. My trip to Kiawah, seeing my Charleston friends while I was in town, and spending a ton of time on the beach with my family. The beach is my happy place.

3. Serving couples and their families at three weddings this month.

4. The most supportive circle of friends. The ones who make texting fun because they just get you, and the ones who support your every idea over longwinded conversations on the phone.

5. Resilience – both my own and America’s will to never give up. The passion that other’s have is inspiring and makes me realize that I shouldn’t give up on my goals either.

The days may be long, but the years are short. Remember to stop and be grateful as you walk along your path.

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My Nana’s china is my favorite thing she owns. My grandparents are English, and tea is their love language. Plus, my Nana’s china is vintage and from England, which makes it even more a part of her story and mine. With that in mind, I decided to honor her and design a bridal shower shoot primarily inspired by her china.

Welcome, to my version of a vintage tea party shower in my backyard!

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Guests were welcomed with garlands hanging from my backyard fence, and I love the sweet monogramed garland hanging on the bride’s chair. Naturally, I had to pull together a few pieces from my shop. Plus, the monogram you see? It belongs to my photographer, Amanda Young. Surprising her with it was one of my favorite moments from the shoot. :)

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I imagined guests visiting the table first where they would find a teacup with the help of a handmade spoon place card. Because warmer months beckon for cooler drinks, I love the idea of planning an ice tea bar instead of traditional hot tea. Having raspberry, peach, and black ice tea will do the trick! The lunch menu included my Nana’s famous scones, traditional tea sandwiches, and classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes complete with berries and a DIY rose topper. Amanda and I can both attest to the fact that the cupcakes were SO GOOD. I also hand painted all of the stationery (invitations, menus, and ice tea bar sign) and made sure to include tea cups and flowers to continue to carry my theme throughout each area.

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Finally, I adored each and every one of the floral arrangements I designed. Fifty Flowers graciously sent me flowers (I opted for this box), and I cut peonies the night before from the bushes in my backyard. I filled tea cups, teapots, creamers, milk glass vases, and mason jars with flowers (I had a TON of flowers). I wanted to make each space, from the welcome table and ice tea bar to the table and railing on my deck, feel like a warm area with a dash of pretty where the bride and her guests could catch up.

In addition to honoring my Nana, my goal was to create an approachable design that felt like me but that could also be recreated by a bride’s mom or bridesmaids for a bride’s shower. I’m thrilled that my photo shoot is featured on Every Last Detail, but I’m also offering up my best tips and tricks for planning a shower! Make sure to hop over to ELD and take a peek!

PS: The most memorable moment from this photo shoot? Offering flowers to friends, neighbors, and coworkers to brighten their day. Please never throw away your flowers. Give them away and make someone smile!

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With back to school in full swing this week where I live outside of Philadelphia, a post about planners seemed all too appropriate. While there are many things I don’t miss, the number one thing I miss about going back to school is purchasing new school supplies. Everything coordinated from my notebooks to my binders. And I also always debated between using pencils or pens. So, I allow myself to buy just one item each year in August: a new planner.

This might make you think that I used my planner a ton in past years, but think again. I would start out strong by writing down appointments, important dates, and to-dos I wanted to cross off. Inevitably, though, I would resort to jotting things into my calendar on my iPhone…and remembering the rest.

Until this year. This year, I upped the ante and purchased a bigger planner – the kind that is the actual size of a piece of paper with more space to write down specifics for each day. I was determined to stop resorting to my memory alone and actually write things down. With a bit of diligence, it’s safe to say it’s a complete game changer.  I’m a month in to actually using a planner (much different than having it next to me…closed and nearly empty), so I thought I would share a few tips to effectively use (really use) your planner:

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Photo via Style Me Pretty; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

1. Find a planner you love: I adore the planners from May Designs, I’ve heard rave reviews about Whitney English’s Day Designer, and you can’t go wrong with Poppin. Even though I have serious admiration for these pieces, I made a split second decision and purchased my planner at Target. It’s pink (shocking!), has a grey font in a fun design, and the key feature: there’s tons of space for me to write things down. Because I love it, I want to use it.

2. Mark down to-do’s in accomplishable groupings: Aside from actually using my planner, this is the top point that I’ve found most helpful. As temping as it is to write down 25 things that I want to accomplish in a day, I usually only write down 3-5. This makes every project feel much more manageable, and I don’t feel stressed because I’ve accurately scheduled my time by making sure I’m not overloading one day and leaving a ton of time free the next.

3. Take time to map out your week: Sometimes Sundays feel overwhelming when I only think about the long list of everything that needs to be completed by the following weekend. But then I sit down for 15 minutes and completely map out my week on Sunday nights, and I always realize that what I want to accomplish is, in fact, possible. I check in with deadlines I’ve already established and work backward to fill in the time for each day. I usually attempt to start one larger project, maintain another, and send off another with a quick email.

4. Be flexible: Each day has a way of sometimes making a quick change, and that may mean not being able to complete or even start a task. But the awesome thing about using a planner is you can easily cross things off and move them to another day. Please remember to be kind to yourself. Moving to-do’s and adapting to each day is what will allow you to work in a smart manner. You have not failed, and you are still doing enough.

5. Be present: Choose a day to map out your week, remember to be flexible, and try not to look too far ahead. For me, this means only focusing on the day that’s in front of me. I know I’ve scheduled my time with due dates in mind, so I focus on completing that day’s tasks and that’s it. The only time I will look ahead is if I find that I have additional time and want to work ahead with the idea of taking time to regroup later in the week when I’m more likely to be tired.

Those are the top five practices I’ve put into place so far. How do you use your planner? Let me know in the comments!

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Headbands are by far my most loved accessory. I almost always wear one when I’m working out, but I grab one just as quickly to finish off a top knot…because my hair is curly and anything helps.

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Last week I added my Ban.do Twist Scarf on a whim because it’s pink (!), and I was in major need of something to brighten my day. I loved pulling a new look together while my hair was down, plus it didn’t hurt at all and cause me to want to take if off right away. In honor of my favorite accessory, I’m rounding up a few of my favorite headbands from across the web:

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For a Night Out: 1. Leather Braided Headband – Loft // 2. Coral Beaded Headband – Loft // 3. Beaded Head Wrap – Nordstrom

For a Classic Daytime Look: 4. Mermaid + Cream Twist Scarf – Ban.do // 5. Glitterati Jumbo Headband – Ban.do // 6. Blush with Gold Triangles & Dots Twist Scarf – Ban.do

For Working Out: 7. Under Armour Settle In Headband – Dick’s Sporting Goods // 8. Under Armour Multi Braided Headband – Dick’s Sporting Goods // 9. Navy & Pink Stripe – Banded

What’s your favorite way to accessorize?

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I’m thrilled to bring back Inspired By today with none other than Jessica Clinch from Simply Jessica Marie. Jessica has a thriving creative business that she started last year after attending Making Things Happen. She began by offering mini canvases and letterpress prints, but it wasn’t until she started offering custom watercolor paintings, cards, and logos that her business truly began to thrive. In addition to SJM, she also is the Lead Planner of Pretty for Amber Housley’s wedding planning division in Nashville. Let’s just say, she’s busy…and has the best title ever!

I adored reading Jessica’s Q&A, which you’ll be able to read below, because I loved hearing how she turned her lifelong passion for painting into a business; when she knows it’s time to step away from her work for a moment; and what she plans to launch next (plus much more)! Jessica is truly one of the kindest creatives I know, and I hope you love getting to know her today on Carly is Inspired:

CarlyisInspired_SimplyJessicaMariePhoto by Reaux Photo

1. Let’s get to know you! Explain a little bit about your background. How did you get to where you are now? Hey y’all! I’m Jessica, the owner and creative designer of Simply Jessica Marie. My shop is my creative outlet for watercolor painting, designing stationery and custom brand design. I have always adored painting. When I was younger, I was the girl who took art lessons instead of going to soccer camp, chose to take painting as my elective in school, and loved creating paintings to decorate my home. It is something that has always been a large part of my life, and always will be! So, last year I decided to turn my passion into a business, and began offering canvas paintings, art prints, and greeting cards. My shop really began to blossom when I started to offer custom paintings, invitations and logos, and I have loved working with so many wonderful clients on a variety of creative projects.

2. What are your favorite ways to stay inspired? Who inspires you? The beauty about inspiration is that it can come from anyone or anything! I can become inspired by reading a book, walking outside, seeing a pattern on a dress, or simply doodling while daydreaming. There are also a multitude of people who inspire me. Other artists and designers like Evelyn Henson, Victoria Austin Designs and Kylie Swanson who are true to their core and create unique products and designs inspire me to continue to be unique each and every day.

 

3. If you’re having a bad moment, how do you turn your day around? Honestly, bad moments often spur from working too frequently. I love my work, and I love every project I work on, but I need to know the limits of my mind and body and when to stop! So, once I come close to the point where I begin to feel frustrated or defeated, I usually step away from my computer or painting, and either call my mom or my boyfriend and simply talk to them. They both know how to bring my focus back to what is important, and keep me level headed, and I am eternally grateful for that!

CarlyisInspired_SimplyJessicaMarie_bridesmaidpaintingCustom Bride & Bridesmaid Wedding Illustration

4. How did you know you had made the right decision to follow your current path? Have you had a favorite moment? I knew I made the right decision when I started offering custom paintings and illustrations, and had a variety of people asking me if I would paint pictures of them and their loved ones for important moments in their lives! Having other people show interest in my work is such an indescribably beautiful feeling. Every time that a client tells me that I exceeded their expectations for their custom piece is my absolute favorite moment! 

5. What’s next for you? What are you most excited about right now? Oh my goodness, so many fun new products! I have a birthday card collection that will be in my shop next week coinciding with the first birthday of my shop, a Fall greeting card collection coming in September, and some products that I wish I could spill the beans about, but need to keep secret for now!

CarlyisInspired_SimplyJessicaMarie_bestfriendtopknotprintBest Friends in Top Knots Art Print

Five Favorites:

1. Song: Ooh, The Dog Days Are Over by Florence & The Machines is a song that always gets me pumped up and wanting to dance around the room!

2. Outfit: My tulle skirt, glittery J.Crew top, gold heels, a bright pink lip and fun cocktail accessories!

3. Quote: “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter”

4. Day of the year: Is it corny to say Christmas? I still love all of the joy that is felt and shared on Christmas, and especially love that I get to be surrounded by family and friends!

5. Ideal way to spend your day: I would wake up early, make a cup of coffee, and begin painting. I would continue painting throughout the entire day, and get lost in my work!

Thank you for offering such thoughtful answers, Jessica! Make sure to keep up with Jessica through her blog, shop, and Instagram! She’s definitely one to follow, and she’s a great source to turn to for custom pieces and cards.

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Summer is my all-time favorite season (anyone else?). I was thinking over the weekend how much time it seems like we all spend waiting for it to arrive only to see it speed by faster than any other season. Fall is pretty, winter is so cold, and the spring means I become allergic to all of nature. So, SUMMER! I’m definitely not ready for this season to come to a close, plus I’ve been loving a number of different things recently. I thought it was high time to share a few of my favorite highlights of summer with you:

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1. Reading: Since I posted this list a few weeks ago, I’ve already breezed through The Vintage Teacup Club (and a short sequel) and Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim. I highly recommend both! Next up is The American Heiress. Reading has become my new go-to whether I’m picking up a book before I go to bed, reading a few pages in the morning, or relaxing outside. Here’s to hoping my reading trend continues!

2. The Bachelor: Hello, Monday night fun! I started watching The Bachelor again last year. When I started, I thought it would be for one episode because I was researching for an article. I’ve now watched two seasons of The Bachelor, two seasons of The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise started last week. Obviously, I’m watching it. These shows might be slightly ridiculous, but my mom and I watch them together (because crazy is better watched with someone). If a show can make me look forward to Mondays, I’m all for it.

3. Lou & Grey: I talked about my love for Lou & Grey a few weeks ago, and the dress I purchased was absolutely worth it. It’s so comfortable, plus it’s a piece I can wear for just about everything  - work, dinner with a friend, weekend wear. I’ll definitely be revisiting this line!

4. Jack Roger’s: I had been admiring them for a few years, and I finally purchased a very classic pair of Jack Rogers. They’ve been in constant rotation ever since I received them! I’m a firm believer in less is more, which is why I’m fully on board with spending a bit more on clothes and shoes I’ll wear over and over again rather than purchasing something less expensive just because it’s less. Buy what you love and less of what you simply like.

5. Farmers Market Flowers: My town has what might be the world’s smallest farmers market every Thursday night, but I decided to stop by earlier this season anyway. I found flowers (shocking…)! Do you know what that means? It means I go back every week to the same stand to purchase a new bouquet. I crave chocolate. And flowers. Always. Plus, they’re $6. #winning

6. Biking: Because the mature thing to do at 25 is purchase a new bike, that’s exactly what I did. I say it’s because I want to cross train, but part of the reality is that I just really wanted one (and I seriously can’t run all the time). It’s hot pink, white, and yellow…with flowers…and a basket. Girly to the max! I’ve learned biking as it’s getting dark is one of summer’s little luxuries.

7. Traveling: I think I will forever associate summer with traveling even though I graduated from college three years ago. This summer, I’ve definitely seen more places than I have in year’s past. Between trips to Charleston, I’ve also been to Asheville, D.C, and Niagara Falls (Canada is so lovely). The funny thing about this year is I wasn’t sure it could top last year, but it definitely has in traveling alone.

What are some of the highlights of your summer? I’d love to hear!

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All of a sudden, it seems like my weeks are getting fuller and fuller. As much as I’m not complaining at all (ever!), I’m realizing the importance of making sure to get outside even more and making time for my little blog. My computer is always present, but the sun only shines for a limited amount of time each day. Plus, I’m so afraid we’re going to having another polar vortex – horrendously cold temperatures, but awesome skiing. A lose-win? Make sure to enjoy the summertime this weekend, friends!! And with that, my favorite links:

1. One Fine Day // The Styled Bride:

Lindsay and Dan's Pomme Wedding by Asya Photography. asyaphotography.com

Photo via The Styled Bride

Susan from The Styled Bride is my favorite Philadelphia based event planner. She’s so fun to work with, plus she plans killer weddings. Lindsay and Dan’s celebration is no different. I love the formal style, and Lindsay’s ‘maids’ are wearing a few of the best neutral gowns with hints of metallic I’ve ever seen. In just a few words: this wedding is stunning.

2. Stephanie Sterjovski:

Stephanie-Sterjovski

Photo via Stephanie Sterjovski

I definitely have a few favorite people to follow on Instagram, and a few blogs I truly look forward to reading each day. Stephanie is always so positive, and her style catches my eye every time. Her blog is much more about photography (her photos are always lovely), plus she is a graphic designer with her own shop. Definitely take a few moments and check out her site. You won’t be disappointed!

3. Dear Girl with a Daydream… // Carly is Inspired:

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As always, I have to include one of my recent posts. I’m a girl with a serious daydream (I want to combine event planning and styling together with editing), and I’m so determined to make that happen. Over the past several years, I’ve learned the power of never giving up. And I don’t want you to give up either.

4. TOMS Desert Wedge Bootie // Nordstrom:

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Photo via Nordstrom

I’m so undecided about these booties for fall because while I LOVE TOMS, I don’t wear heels often ever. I keep coming back to them though because they’ll make me taller (I’m 5′ 2″); they’ll go with just about everything, especially jeans; and I’ve stalked them now for over a year. Oh, and I’m a really big fan of boots. So, maybe this is the year that I’ll finally just “add to cart”. Thoughts?

5. Whitney English // The Lively Show:

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Photo via Jess Lively

You’ve heard me rave about The Lively Show before, and I have to give another shout out today! I listed to Whitney English’s episode from last week twice. It’s not too long (45 minutes), and both Jess and Whitney provided such great insight into failure – how we should look at our failures, why failure can sometimes be great, and what we can learn from each experience.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! What’s everyone up to?