Wednesday, December 19, 2018

{casual chic holiday party look}

An easy holiday look is as simple as a great pair of heels and a bright red lip!

Photography by Katie

With all of the holiday parties coming up it can be stressful to pull together a new outfit and feel like you have to purchase something new. Sometimes it's best to go with a classic look and add in a subtle bit of red or green and top it off with a bold lip! I love pairing heels with a great pair of blue jeans and a crisp white shirt - it's basically fool proof. The tie on this shirt gives it a fun detail and helps give you some shape while still leaving room for the dessert table. The accessory I never leave home without is always my cashmere scarf... because this shirt is thinner, throwing a scarf over my shoulders like a shawl helps add some warmth (and then when the party heats up you aren't going to be having a heat stroke in a tacky sweater because the shirt is breathable hah)!

I purchased this NARS lip color in "heat wave" years ago and it consistently remains a holiday favorite. It's matte so it doesn't budge and genuinely lasts for hours. Somehow the color works on so many skin types and it makes your teeth look whiter! I can't recommend it enough!

And because this photoshoot was SO windy I figured y'all deserved the outtakes haha - Katie and I had to be pretty patient with the wind and waiting for people to get out of the background. The things you do to get the shot! I've always wanted to shoot at The Line Hotel in DC and it didn't disappoint!

What's your go-to holiday look?

Love Always,

Friday, December 14, 2018

{gift guide | amazon finds #2}

Psst this board is shoppable... just click on the item you want to shop!

I know this list is really random just like the last one! BUT y'all loved these fun, unique finds so I went searching for even more! I can guarantee you that you won't find these items on any other blogger's gift guides ;) They're perfect for everyone in your life: dog lover, party animal, movie watcher, sustainable guru, etc. Amazon is so addicting so be sure to check out my Amazon "Christmas Present Idea" page because I have over 70+ more gift ideas!

Monogram Wine Cork Holder // I always save corks from special date nights and memories! I picked up on that habit from my parents - they have corks saved from when they first started dating! My sister made me a shadow box that holds corks but it's almost full. I love that this creates a shape... how perfect would this be for your friend who just got married?

Wine Wars Game // Any thing that has to do with wine and games - sign me up!

Popcorn Maker // I have attempted to make popcorn on the stovetop and just can't do it. This little popcorn maker is not only adorable but the perfect way to get that perfectly buttered movie theater popcorn! This takes movie nights to a whole new level :) extra butter, please!

Corki Wine Stopper // My best friend Emily got this for me earlier this year and it's my favorite wine stopper! Y'all know I'm obsessed with corgis so this little guy peaking out of the bottle just makes me smile! His little legs hanging in the bottle are too precious.

Underwater Dogs Coffee Book // A coworker introduced this photo series to me almost 5 years ago - she had it as her desktop background and I cracked up every time I came over to her desk and saw it. This is perfect for the dog lover in your life! Dare I say it's even one of those coffee table books that you artfully want to leave open on your table haha!

Geometric Vases // Everyone likes to bring a little green to their desk at work - it can be so drab sitting at a blank white desk all day. These geometric vases come in a variety of sizes and I love the gold on this base.

Giant Yard Pong // Move over frisbee! This is THE new beach game I want! I know everyone of all ages will get a kick out of this massive pong set. It's priced really well at under $40 too!

Double Jewelry Tray // I love beautiful ways to display jewelry. I always say if it's not out where I can see it then I won't wear it! This double tray is a great way to maximize space on your dresser as well.

Eberjey Pajamas // My girlfriend Andrea gave me a pair of Eberjey pajamas as a bridesmaid gift and I lived in them all summer! They are the softest things I own and the piping is too cute on the edges.

Embark Dog DNA Test Kit // For all of those amazing pet owners who adopted their fur baby! This is the 23 & Me version for dogs ;)

Salt & Pepper Shakers // I wasn't sure what these were when I first scrolled by them... but the palm tree and Christmas tree combo caught my attention and I had to click. When I discovered that the salt was supposed to be snow and the pepper was sand I cracked up. They look like little snow globes! Adding this to my list right now haha

Stainless Steel Straws // I use my stainless steel straw all the time and it's the best way to save the planet and the turtles haha. So great that it comes with the cleaner too!

Don't forget to check out my Amazon page for more present ideas!

Love Always,

Thursday, December 13, 2018

{putting together a christmas outfit from your closet}

Photography by Chloe

Red Button Down (old - similar linked below) // Faux Fur Vest, TJmaxx (old - similar here!) // Black Pants // Aldo Black Booties // Gigi New York Purse c/o // Baublebar Tassel Earrings

Before we dive into today's post... thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your kind words yesterday. I'm truly so appreciative to have the support from so many of you. I can't put into words how much it means to me.

Today's post doesn't have exact links to every single thing I'm wearing (just a couple) and that's because I want you to feel inspired to create a "christmas-y" outfit from your own closet!! I've had this shirt and vest for years! The trick is combining a little bit of festive flair with some glam. These are the steps I take whenever I'm "shopping in my closet" for an outfit!

First let's create the base - grab your best pair of black pants. Then grab your favorite black shoes... these could be leather boots, flats, high heels, suede booties, black slip on sneakers, etc! You want to create a monochromatic bottom so that you can really just make the top festive!

This red button down obviously has the holiday appeal when you look at it - it's red, plaid, and is made up of christmas colors. So take a look in your closet. Do you have a red shirt? Do you have any cute plaid button downs? Do you have a simple green sweater? Great! Add that over your monochromatic base. If you don't have green or red or plaid or whatever, find your nicest white or black sweater/shirt! Make sure it's wrinkle free and clean :)

Then we want to move on to the fun accessory - the accent to your top. I chose this black faux fur vest because it's super warm and I wanted to break up my red top a bit and stick with the monochromatic appeal. There are lots of things you can add (adding something else makes it look like you put more time into your outfit in my opinion) like a scarf, a sweater over your button down, a poncho, or a vest like me. To keep things simple stick with neutral colors like black, white, or tan. If you have a red scarf that would be perfect to amp up the festiveness! If your top isn't patterned you can obviously add a patterned scarf (maybe a plaid one? So festive!)

Now all you have to do are add a cool pair of earrings or some jewelry. For me, it was a no-brainer to add white tassel earrings. I wear these year round and I liked that they broke up the all black to draw attention to my face. Something as simple as studs would help keep your outfit casual but you could also do dangly, sparkly earrings or a long gold necklace. The jewelry is just the icing on the cake!! Everything else will look polished and the earrings can become the statement.

Simple enough right? Told ya so!

Love Always,

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

{holiday emotions + the best gift I've received}

The holidays are full of magic and joy with beautiful things around every corner but they can also be a really tough time. This is the first year that I've truly felt that second feeling. It's that empty emotion that no matter how much Christmas joy you surround yourself with... there's still something big missing. I have so many vivid memories of Christmases growing up and knowing that this year will be different has been a hurdle I can't quite get over.

I've put a lot of thought and time into buying presents for friends and family this year along with creating gift guides and coming up with budget friendly gift ideas for y'all (that I share on my IG stories). I keep getting asked what I want for Christmas and I truly only want one thing: to spend Christmas with Kyle. Luckily, he comes home on Christmas Eve so my wish will come true. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, I want so much more. It's a wish that belongs in the past and that's what is making these days so hard for me. I want just one more Christmas with my Dad and our whole family together... more than anything. Isn't that what everyone wants though? One more day, one more hug, one more memory? 

We knew last year was going to be our last Christmas together with my Dad. I treasured every single moment and cemented each conversation in my mind. Because of that, little things have become triggers for me during this holiday season. I understand why some people feel immense sadness during the "most wonderful time of the year" because it reminds them of a time when their loved one was around. Looking at the star on top of a tree reminds me of the last 3 years that I got to put ours on the family tree with my Dad. Seeing families get dressed up for Church reminds me of the funny Christmas ties my Dad would wear. The pretty packages adorning every window reminds me of the meticulous bows my Dad would tie on every present (Mom did the wrapping and he tied the bows)!

I was kind of walking through a Christmas daydream loving all of the lights and music unsure of why I was feeling a little lost until the photo above came up on my Timehop memories yesterday. I realized that I was really missing my Dad and trying to push those emotions away - detaching myself from my own personal Christmas memories. When I look back at this time last year it was the final days with my family all together. My Dad passed away on January 9th, 2018. Sure, time has flown by, but it's also felt like I was reliving 2017 all over again with every passing day of this year. Looking back and saying "oh, this time last year"... That's what has made this holiday season so difficult for me - because it's missing a very large part of my life. A lot of our family traditions haven't happened because we're all going to be apart (the first time ever in my life) and things are changing with us growing up.

All the memories of Christmas with my family made me think about the lengths my parents would go through to give us our "big gift" in a clever way. One year we had Scrabble letters that spelled out Basketball Hoop, another year we watched a VHS (lol) of what we thought was a home movie but it was our nanny waving with new bikes next to her. They always did something clever to drum up the excitement! The year we got iPods I'm pretty sure Samantha and I legit shrieked out of excitement and scared the whole neighborhood haha.

But, I think the best gift I've ever received was watching my parents love each other so unconditionally. I'm not sure my parents even realized that despite all the toys and tech gadgets they gave my sister and me that watching them simply love each other is the present I'll treasure the most. Every time my Mom would walk into a room my Dad absolutely lit up. Even when she was wearing a Santa beard he thought she was hilarious and beautiful! To love someone so much that you would do anything for them is so amazing. Growing up my Dad made sure that my Mom knew she was always the most important woman in his life and he treated her like a queen. In Dad's final days my Mom did the same for him - she got up and made sure he had his medicine, went to work, came home to cook dinner, and made sure he ate, took more medicine and got to bed okay (all while being a support system for Samantha and me). When I was home on the weekends I would pitch in but it wasn't easy... I'm not sure how she did it on her own for so long. But that's what love is: giving yourself completely to a person without asking for anything in return. 

Every time I write a personal post like this I feel extremely vulnerable because I don't get to see the people that come to my blog and hear their reactions (aka y'all reading this right now). Sometimes, in my mind, I imagine that nobody even sees this... However, I know I'm not alone in my emotions and that this hole in my heart and crack in my smile are not mine alone to carry. So if you're reading this and you are feeling this way as well I want you to know that it's okay. That this is normal and you're allowed to cry during the holidays and be sad. Maybe you lost your Dad like me or are going through a tough breakup. Regardless of what it is - feeling every emotion possible during the holidays is okay.  It's all going to be okay. I just remind myself that I also need to smile and be happy because that's what my Dad would want.

I love Christmas so much and I find a lot of joy during this season - sometimes it just takes an old photo from a year ago to pop up and remind me what I have to be grateful for. Thanks for being a wonderful support system this year my blog readers! xoxo

Love Always,

Thursday, December 6, 2018

{gift guide | for the workout guru}

Psst this board is shoppable... just click on the photo you want to shop!

With a pretty strong workout schedule going this month I have definitely found what I like and don't like in the gear department. I've added a couple of these items to my wish list because I know they will make my life easier (resistance bands) or step up my gym swag a couple of notches (cute sports bras). I love to wear black leggings and then colorful tops with my favorite white sneakers. I've also realized the importance of having some basic things in your gym bag so you can always be prepared! If you're going to schedule out your classes and focus on what you're eating and putting into your body you should take some time to focus on how you show up to class too - in style! If you dress the part and take yourself seriously then you're more likely to stick to your goals because you believe in yourself! At least, that's what's worked for me :)

Old Navy Leggings // These are easily some of the best low price but high quality leggings I've ever owned. They are so amazing that I own around 8 pairs and am always ordering more (they go on sale for under $20 pretty often)! I love the style with the mesh panels - such a cool touch. Work out clothes should be fun and these leggings definitely check that box! I've really only tried out the black color but they aren't see through and they don't show sweat. Even better is that they don't fall down!!!

S'Well Water Bottle // A classic water bottle that keeps your water cold through the whole workout. The stainless steel is easy to clean and I love this stone pattern!

Garmin Smart Watch // I saw this watch on Instagram and have been absolutely obsessed with it since that day - I went and tried it on at Target even!! It looks like a regular watch but it's actually a smart watch!!! It shows you your steps, tracks calories burned, workouts, etc! It does everything a "regular smart watch" does but in a fashionable way without being in your face. Obviously, this is at the top of my wish list!

Carbon38 Takara Leggings // Another item at the top of my wish list... the infamous C38 Takara leggings. A cult favorite!! I own these in a silver grey and it feels like a second skin - they're so thin (not see through though) and comfortable you feel like you aren't wearing pants. I'm dying for the black pair!!

Mario Badescu Facial Sprays // My skin always gets super dry after working out and the face wash at the gym isn't too great. I love to keep a hydrating and refreshing face spray in my gym bag for quick touch-ups! Especially if I'm walking home after a class my skin needs some instant moisture.

Gym Bag // I found this Adidas bag on Amazon yesterday and was instantly intrigued by a couple of things. The price was so reasonable , there are tons of color options (for gals or guys too!), and lastly all of the pockets! It was 2 outsides pockets, a small interior zipper pocket for catching "small things" as it's labeled, and the best part is it has a dedicated zippered pocket for your shoes! Hello, genius! I always place my shoes on the bottom of the bag bc of the dirty soles! This eliminates all those problems. I just think this is the best workout bag on the market - for $30!

Fabric Resistance Bands // Okay you're probably thinking I put this on here because they're cute. Well, yes, they're adorable but they're also fabric!! So they won't roll and won't pull at your skin. I like to travel with resistance bands so I can get a strong workout completed in my hotel room if the hotel gym is less than ideal. However, I'm one of those people that always struggles with the rubber band rolling up and moving on my legs - these solve that issue.

Forever 21 Sports Bra // I like my sports bras to be cute and I don't like to spend a lot of money on them... I find that I wash my workout clothes more than anything in my closet. The majority of my sports bras (even nicer ones) don't last too long. So I opt for low budget bras in super cute colors ;) this one is only $10

Dagne Dover Pouch // The perfect, durable pouch to hold catch-alls in your gym bag! I keep extra hair ties, travel deodorant, bobby pins, makeup remover wipes, chapstick, and facial spray in mine.

Under Armour Shoes // The best running shoes I have ever owned. I wear these to Blast every single time because I feel like I'm running on a cloud. They have great support for the top of your foot when you're lifting weights and doing squats too. I've worked really hard to keep them pristine white but it honestly hasn't been that difficult - the fabric used is so amazing and breaths better than any shoe I own. I can feel the breeze coming through the top of my foot - so incredible!

Collagen for Her // I add a scoop of this to my shake every morning - it helps with nail and hair growth and reducing cellulite! As you get older your body makes less of this naturally... I'll take all the help I can get. Fun fact the owner is a Hokie! So she's given y'all a discount for 10% off with code JENNROG! You can get a container or individual packets if you travel a lot - so convenient!

Shop all my other Gift Guides here!

Love Always,

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

{what to wear winery hopping on a cold fall day}

Photography by Katie Urban

The key to staying warm while hopping around wineries is layers! A warm sweater with a little mock neck, a large scarf that you can drape over your shoulders and a wool coat (not pictured since I sat in the sun)! I put on a hat to keep my head warm and over-the-knee boots over jeans add an extra layer of warmth for your calves/knees. The reason I love layers is you never know what the temperature is going to be like outside of the city - the breeze could be stronger or the sun could be shining. It's funny the difference an hour drive can make! Some wineries can be so toasty warm inside that you practically want to roll your boots down off your knees haha.

All of these layers make for a classic outfit. If you stick with dark skinny jeans and a white sweater you can make your scarf stand out and focus on the details. I loved making the red in my scarf pop by wearing my mirrored blue sunglasses! Think about how different this look would be if I had a camel scarf on instead - the focus would probably be on my hat because that would be the eye catching detail. I think that's why I love white sweaters... they're the perfect backdrop for any fun accessory. With a scarf that has a price tag like this one does it's no wonder I can't help but want every color!

What is your go-to outfit for a day of fun? What do you consider to be a fall/winter staple?

Love Always,

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

{winery day with dca car service}

The blogger girls: Kristyn, Katie, Ashlee, Laura, and Monica

A couple of weekends ago I planned a trip to the Virginia Wineries with my best DC blogger girls! We're always so scheduled so making time to be together and just chat about life was such a great escape from our busy day to days. We started off the morning with a brunch at my house complete with mimosas and breakfast tacos before gathering all of our cheese, muffins, and crackers for lunch later on.

Going out to wineries is easily my favorite weekend activity (I know you've heard me say this before). There's something so relaxing about escaping the city, sitting back to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and just being able to catch up with friends. It's so neat to meet the owner's of these unique wineries and hear the love they dedicate to their craft - the names behind each wine, designs of the label, what food they like to pair with their wines, etc. It's truly a learning experience with each winery I get the chance to visit.

I was in charge of scheduling the day so I picked two wineries that the majority of us hadn't been to (which was hard since we have all been to a lot)! I also wanted to make sure that they were two different styles of wineries and that they were close together - so we could maximize our time at each location versus spending it in a car. Luckily for me, there are more wineries in an hour radius from DC than I can list. A lot of them are 10 minutes away from each other.

So now you're probably wondering how we managed to get 6 girls with all of their cameras and a lot of food into one car? DCA Car Service, aka the best part of the whole day - we didn't have to worry about driving! We had a wonderful driver, John, take us out to Virginia to visit our two chosen wineries and then back home at the end of the day. We rode in style in a big black SUV that comfortably seated all 6 of us. It was even stocked with mints and water! John had all of the directions to and from our two planned stops so we simply had to bring our things to the car and he did all of the work; including opening and closing our doors - he was a true gentleman. We never had to worry or wish for a thing.

I bet you didn't know that DCAcar can not only take you out to your favorite winery but also to Reagan National AirportBWI Airport, and even Dulles Airport!  With the holidays coming up quickly I will be using their services to get myself and my family to and from the airports. Forget those surge prices that happen every time you need to get to the airport ha! My mom and mimi already have their rides booked because the driver will help them with their luggage :) [if I had a dollar for every time an Uber driver didn't even offer to help me with my heavy suitcase - ha!]

Our first winery of choice was Zephaniah. This place came recommended to me by a friend who works in the design industry! He said it's his favorite spot to enjoy a bottle by the fire with his boyfriend because it was full of charm and history. Sold! We loved getting to meet the adorable owners, hear how their great great grandfather Zephaniah started the business and the history of each room that you could enjoy in the historic house. The labels were designed with every detail in mind including the font being representative of certain eras. We even got a special tasting of a reserve wine and their homemade mulled wine... bought those spices faster than you can say "happy holidays"!

Our next stop was a more well-known, popular winery, Greenhill. It's a fan favorite amongst winery hoppers in Virginia! I hadn't been to visit since they redid their main tasting room and wow, it is absolutely stunning. The whole building is filled with clean white walls, gorgeous lights, and an assortment of seating arrangements. There were so many people sitting outside enjoying the patio in Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. Luckily the wind had died down by the time we arrived so we chose a table in the sun and set up all of our food. Greenhill allows outside food but only on their patio or terrace - this was fine with us because it was such a welcome weather change to be able to enjoy the sun! We bundled up, ate all of our food and enjoyed a tasting together. It starts off with sparkling wine so we toasted to friendship [a tradition of ours] and all of the great things to come :)

When the evening had to come to an end we gathered all of our things, John (from DCA Car) helped us load up the car, and we were whisked back to DC in our chariot full of wine and delicious food. I'm so grateful to have met these incredible ladies and call them some of my best friends. We know so much about each other, share in each others victories like new jobs, console each other through hard times, and even know each other's significant others and hilarious dating stories. The internet may seem like a big, weird place but it's given me some pretty cool friends!

I'll be sharing all of my outfit details in tomorrow's post so stay tuned :)

*Thank you to DCAcar Service for providing us transportation. All thoughts, words, photos, and opinions are my own.*

Love Always,
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