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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019

July 11, 2019

Categories: Beauty, Fashion, Home

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (fondly known as the #NSale) is probably my favorite sale of the year. I’m a fall + winter girl, so when the July sun is searing down here in Denver there’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing the new fall sweaters, cozy coats, and chic boots. I use this sale both to stock up on essentials and basics like tees, underwear, and beauty products and to have a little fun with some new pieces for fall.

It’s obvious everyone else loves this sale just as much as I do. To reward its most loyal customers, Nordstrom opens up the sale a bit early to Icon and Ambassador status customers. Then it opens the sale up to any Nordstrom cardholder (if you’re a Nordstrom debit card holder like me, you still get access even though they only do the credit card now) and next week anyone will be able to shop the sale online. Items will sell out during the Early Access portion – I tried on the last pair of boots in the store yesterday. So if you have your eye on something, sign up for a card and shop when you can.

Early Access Icons + Ambassadors: Can shop in store July 9th and 10th and online starting Thursday, July 11th at 12:30 PM ET.

Early Access Nordstrom Cardholders: Can shop in store or online starting Friday, July 12th at 12:30 PM ET.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Can shop in store or online starting Friday, July 19th through Sunday, August 4th. Prices go back up Monday, August 5th.

Home + Gifts

When I first heard about the Barefoot Dreams blankets, I wasn’t sure what everyone was raving about – how could it be so great? One blanket later and I’m a forever fan. These blankets (they now make loungewear too) are buttery-soft and come out of the wash looking like new. Since being pregnant, I never sleep without mine tucked underneath my bump or between my knees. This Barefoot Dreams Blanket in Stone was my first purchase during this year’s #NSale; I’m planning on bringing it to the hospital with me for a little extra comfort post delivery.

I’m not sure exactly what’s been going on with the silver picture frames in our bedroom turning an odd shade of pink, but even my best silver polish won’t improve it. I saw these gorgeous Mother of Pearl Picture Frames at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and I snapped them up right away. They’re the perfect blend of sleek and feminine and will go perfectly with the soft, serene colors in our bedroom. And they’ll replace the frames that have gone a strange tint!

I like to keep home fragrances like candles and oil diffuser reeds on hand for last-minute gifts. I stock up on these goodies and then stash them in my “gift cabinet”. Any time I need a birthday or hostess gift I can choose something from the cabinet and be on my way. A few of my favorites I came across during the sale? Antica Farmacista, Voluspa, and Anthropologie.

I couldn’t help but take note of the beautiful blue and white pottery pieces and Missoni Towels in this year’s sale. We have been trying to make room in our house for the little lady’s arrival, but if we had the space I would snap up that beautiful blue and white pottery in a heartbeat! And I think the Missoni towels would look so gorgeous in a sleek, modern or minimal home.

Beauty

My favorite section to browse during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is definitely the beauty section. This year I spotted a lot of my favorite beauty products and skincare gadgets; if you haven’t tried these items, I suggest you do. And if you’re looking to gift the beauty lover in your life, stock up now!

Dermaflash Set: Takes the place of dermaplaning with a facialist. Removes peach fuzz and the top layer of dead skin to help skincare products absorb better and makeup lay smoothly on skin!

BeautyBio GloPRO Microneedling Set: Brings professional microneedling to your home. I love this set because it includes the GloPRO, body attachment, and skincare products. It’s a great value and you’ll love the way your skin looks once you start using this and helping your skin build collagen naturally! Skincare products also reach deeper layers of your skin.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream: If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’ve probably heard me mention the skin allergies I’ve struggled with the past few years. This nourishing cream has truly healed my skin and keeps it hydrated even through harsh, dry Colorado weather. It’s pricey, but this jar will last you well over a year. And the changes I’ve seen in my skin are definitely worth it.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Duo: This is the brow pencil I use every day. I love the tiny little tip and the realistic brushstrokes it creates. After I fill my brows in I use the spoolie on the other end to blend the color. This set also comes with a clear brow gel.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lip Set: This is my most-used lip liner lately; I love how plump it makes my lips appear! And this set includes the matching lipstick and lip gloss as well

Supergoop! SPF 45 Setting Powder: My favorite SPF powder is on sale during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! I love dusting this over makeup or a cc cream and knowing my skin is protected; I even carry it in my bag to touch up throughout the day. The brush portion is magnetic, so you can pop it off to wash it and keep it clean.

Simplehuman Round Sensor Mirror: If you don’t have one of these, you need to invest in this right now. This item is a game changer. The first time I charged it and turned it on I spent an hour tweezing and picking at my skin because I realized I had missed so much using a regular mirror! It’s a lifesaver when applying makeup too. If you have the counter space, I would splurge for the Pro Wide View Version. It makes a great gift – I gave my mom one for Christmas last year.

NuFace Facial Toning Device: This product lifts and tones skin with frequency. I haven’t been using it while pregnant and I miss it so much! It really does tone and tighten skin, especially around the neck and jawline.

My beauty shelves are well-stocked at the moment, but I did pick up this giant Kiehl’s Body Fuel pump for my husband’s bathroom. And I’ve been eyeing this Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Set. If you’re prone to clogged pores like me, this Dr. Dennis Gross Facial Steamer I’ve been contemplating would be a great investment. Trying to hold myself back, but indulging in #treatyourself while pregnant is just too easy to do!

Cozy Pieces

While I love putting together fun looks and getting dressed up, I managed to stay quite realistic during the #NSale and invested in items I really need and use currently, as well as pieces I see myself wearing in the next few months as a first-time mom to a newborn baby! First on my list was my favorite bra during pregnancy – the Spanx Bra-llelujah Bra – which has been a complete lifesaver! And to go along with it, a few new pairs of Hanky Panky Low-Rise Undies which have managed to stretch right along with my bump and are still the most comfortable option for me to wear at 8 months pregnant.

I mentioned these Nordstrom Lingerie Moonlight Pajamas when I listed a few of my first trimester favorites in my Pregnancy Journey blog post. They were my favorite pajamas before pregnancy and some of my favorite pajamas to gift to good friends. Putting them on at the end of the day is like giving yourself a hug! I grabbed two new sets in Purple Shake and Grey Pearl to bring to the hospital with me. You can go with your smaller size because these run roomy, but I love wearing oversized pajamas so I go with my usual size and have been able to wear them throughout my pregnancy!

Speaking of Barefoot Dreams, I decided to treat myself (see? I told you – blaming it on pregnancy) to two new cardigans. These are the coziest cardigans you’ll ever own and look equally great with a tank and leggings, over a pair of pajamas, or paired with a simple tee and jeans. I plan on wearing these often once the little lady arrives because they’re equal parts versatile, soft, and washable. I chose the Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan in Pewter Pearl and the Barefoot Dreams Long Cardigan in Black.

If you need a fresh pair of leggings, I suggest the Zella High Waist Live-In Leggings. They are my favorites for their flattering fit, easy-to-wash fabric, and all-day comfort. I have even given these to good friends as a gift!

To help with my allergies and keep our house clean, we don’t allow shoes in the house. Instead, I have a pair of slippers I wear inside the house and it seems I’m always needing a new pair! I love gifting cozy new slippers to my mom and aunt at Christmas as well. These Ugg Scuff Slippers are cozy and hold up well to every day wear. Definitely worth snapping a pair up while they’re on sale!

Update: Added this soft beige TopShop Lounge Sweatshirt and matching TopShop Joggers to my cart! I thought this would be a cute set for after I have baby girl and need something easy and comfy to throw on! I also added this Flora Nikrooz Pajama Set in Lavender to my cart – they are not in the #NSale, but I thought they would look so cute with the Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan in Pewter Pearl.

Clothing

Most years, I find myself stocking up on lots of clothing during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I replace basics that were stained or damaged during the last year and often invest in the staple pieces of my fall wardrobe. Basic tees and knits (like this ribbed long-sleeve), cozy fall sweaters, and denim jeans are some of my favorite things to purchase during this sale.

This year I focused on sweaters and, to my surprise, coats. They were some really gorgeous coats in this sale and I ended up choosing three of them.

Update: I also added this Ribbed Henley Midi Dress in Navy to my cart last night. I can’t speak to the size or material since it hasn’t shipped yet, but I thought it would look so cute with my Halogen Wool and Cashmere Long Cardigan and Vince Booties I got from the sale.

Sweaters

Halogen Wool and Cashmere Long Cardigan: I bought this in the Heather Tan Cobblestone color, which is a really flattering warm beige. These are the kinds of cardigans I pair with everything come fall and winter. They are great for everyday. I took my usual size.

Vince Cable Wool and Cashmere Sweater: I cannot resist a chunky fishermen’s style sweater and this gorgeous Heather Forest version is no exception. If you don’t have a cable knit sweater like this, I would choose the cream Marzipan color because it will go with everything. But if you’re always building your sweater collection like me, go for the gorgeous green! I took my usual size.

Nordstrom Funnel Neck Cashmere Sweater: I love these beautiful cashmere sweaters and pair them with leggings in the fall and winter. When we went on our trip to the U.K. last fall, I even wore this over a silk cami and shorts pj set. So chic! This one is gorgeous too. These run roomy, but I take my usual size since I’m a bit taller and love the oversized fit with leggings and skinny jeans.

Coats

Ted Baker Wide Collar Brushed Wrap Coat: I saw this coat in the beautiful Dusty Pink color and my heart melted! I love this color and I could imagine toting my baby girl around this winter in our matching pink. The fabric is so soft and the wrap fit is flattering. Ted Baker has different sizing (1-5) but if you look at the size guide it runs true to size!

Vince Camuto Lightweight Long Coat: Oh my gosh, this color. It’s the most perfect sky blue and I couldn’t resist. This coat is unlined, which makes it nice for fall days and layering. I noticed the website suggests going down a size, but I found the smaller size a bit narrow through my shoulders so I took my usual size.

Avec Les Filles Double Face Wool Coat: This soft wool blend is beautiful and I couldn’t resist the classic Black Watch plaid color option. I went down a size in this coat.

This colorful tweed Halogen Shawl Collar Blazer also made the cut. I plan on styling it with a Chanel brooch, skinny jeans, and a great pair of boots.

If you don’t currently own a Barbour jacket, I would take a peek at the Barbour Quilted Jacket in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I’ve owned one of my Barbour coats since I was eight years old – they really do last forever! My favorite color option is the Navy.

I had my eye on the Pendleton Wool Blend Riding Coat and Pendleton Water Resistant Field Coat in the #NSale catalog. I wasn’t able to find either of these in store, but I’m still debating on ordering one of them to see if I like it as much as I think I will!

Shoes + Accessories

Ohhh how the shoe department gets me into trouble! During the #NSale there are so many great options, it’s tough to know where to start.

This year, I really tried to focus on shoe styles I’ve purchased before during the sale and ended up wearing constantly. There are always a couple of pairs of booties I buy during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that I end up wearing all the time – for years! This year, I bought these Vince Booties in Cognac Suede and these Vince Camuto Booties in Black Leather. The Vince Camuto booties are a tad higher and the line is a bit slimmer through the foot. They both run true to size.

Update: Just ordered the Vince Camuto Booties in the Tortilla Suede color. These booties go with everything and it’s what I end up wearing the most throughout the fall and winter. I typically pair booties like this with a sweater or cardigan and jeans!

Baby

So many cute baby things! I’ll let you browse for your baby and gender, but I just wanted to share what I have my eye on for baby girl in case you’re having one too! If you’re in Denver, a lot of these items are not in store, so its best to shop online for the littles in my opinion.

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10 Must-Try Beauty Products

April 10, 2019

Categories: Beauty

beauty products

1. Kérastase Serum Extentioniste

$41.69 Available Here

I wore tape-in hair extensions off and on ever since I got them for our engagement photos in 2014. For the most part, I loved them. Especially when taking blog photos. My natural hair is fairly thick, but has a silky-fine texture, so it can be hard to make it look voluminous in photos and keep the style all day. Extensions can add volume, length, and hold curl for days.

The downside of hair extensions? They add a substantial amount of time to your getting-ready time. And over time (and the severity of this depends on the skill of your stylist) a little damage will be done to your natural hair as you take out and move up your extensions every 6-8 weeks. One day I wasn’t feeling well and I realized I just wasn’t up to blowdrying my hair for forty-five minutes. I wanted something more low maintenance and natural with a baby on the way.

So we took the extensions out (keeping a few in the sides so I didn’t panic!) and my stylist suggested this scalp and hair serum to help heal my hair. I just apply one or two droppers to my hair after shampooing and towel drying. I think it will take time to see a difference, but the serum is supposed to strengthen and reinforce the hair follicles so hair grows longer and stronger.

2. Dermaflash Facial Exfoliating Device

$189.00 Available Here

I used to get a dermaplaning service done with my facials. For around $100, a facialist uses a medical grade razor to remove the top layer of dead skin and peach fuzz from the skin. It’s a popular service and everyone is talking about this new exfoliation trend because it helps your skincare absorb better and makeup apply more smoothly. Skin feels like butter after!

But those services add up and now there’s a device that allows you the same experience from the comfort and convenience of your own home once or twice a week! Just cleanse and dry your skin, hold skin taut, and use light strokes of the Dermaflash at an angle to start removing dead skin and hair. Once you try this you won’t be able to go without it!

3. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer

$55.00 Available Here

If there’s one thing I haven’t experienced this pregnancy, it’s a “pregnancy glow”. My skin has been breaking out like crazy and it’s from a mixture of pregnancy hormones and not being able to take 3/5 of my allergy medications during pregnancy. It’s disappointing since I feel I just sorted my skin out!

But people keep telling me I’m glowing and I’m certain it’s because of this primer I’ve been using. It has a beautiful, luminous glow without looking sparkly or shimmery. It literally adds a natural glow to skin!

4. Estée Lauder Double Wear Matte Powder Foundation

$42.00 Available Here

I like to keep a small powder compact in my purse for when I need a makeup touchup throughout the day or if I’m out without makeup and just want to add a bit before running errands or meeting someone for coffee. I recently tried carrying a really light, translucent powder and I felt naked! I really prefer having a more medium coverage foundation that’s buildable and can cover my dark circles if necessary!

This one is silky and mattifying. I like to apply it with the sponge for more coverage and a retractable travel brush for light, all-over coverage. I wear the color 2N1 Desert Beige.

5. Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder in Medium

$43.00 Available Here

My skin tone is neutral/peach with both pink and yellow undertones. When I have a spray tan I can get away with wearing bronzers that have a bit warmer tone to them. But when I don’t, most bronzers look orange on my skin.

I discovered this bronzer randomly and was pleasantly surprised by its neutral tones; it gives me a natural looking glow with just enough shimmer. It lends a beautiful beach vacation tan to any makeup look.

6. Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45

$30.00 Available Here

I am religious about using SPF here in sunny Colorado! And I’ve found one of the easiest ways for me to consistently apply my sunscreen is to have it in a powder-brush form. I previously used the Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50 in Medium which I loved but the only frustrating part happened when I attempted to clean the brush with the Colorescience Brush Cleaner. It became clogged and I could no longer apply the rest of the powder.

This brush-on sunscreen has a magnetic brush head that can be completely removed for cleaning. The downside is the brush head can move or slide off if you press too hard. But… Since this version is less than half the price of the Colorescience version, I was happy to use a little extra care when applying it. Both versions are physical sunscreen only; I always break out when I use chemical sunscreens so this is something important I always look for when choosing an SPF! I wear the shade Light, but would need to use Light-Medium when wearing a sunless tanner or with a little summer color.

7. Lancôme Eye Liner in “Chocolat”

$27.00 Available Here

I switched from black eye liner to this rich chocolate some time last year and it’s all I’ve worn since. It looks softer than black liner, but still gives a smoky look and brings out light eyes beautifully. I like using the smudger on the end as well.

8. Lancôme Lip Liner in “Natural”

$26.50 Available Here

I recently discovered this lip pencil and I love the beautiful mauve-rose shade. It has a creamy consistency and the color is slightly more mauve/cool toned than the liner below. I like switching out between them both depending on the day and my mood! And I find I do actually use the brush end for blending out the line.

9. MAC Lip Liner in “Soar”

$18.00 Available Here

This lip liner is slightly more matte and more of a warm-toned neutral rose than the liner above. This has been my go-to lip pencil for years and I always get compliments on it when I wear it. It looks gorgeous with the lipstick listed below; both are featured in my “lip look” mini look book in the sidebar of my website this week.

10. MAC Lipstick in “Angel”

$18.50 Available Here

In my opinion, this is the perfect natural-pink lipstick and I’ve been using it for years! The “frost” formula doesn’t look shimmery, but is really creamy and flattering on the lips. I always get compliments on this lip color and it never fails to make me look feminine whenever I swipe it on. This lipstick is featured along with the lip pencil above in my “lip look” mini look book in the sidebar of my website this week.

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Lilly Pulitzer Brights

April 5, 2019

Categories: Fashion

lilly pulitzer resort 2019
lilly pulitzer resort 2019
lilly pulitzer spring summer 2019

For Grandma: White Shirtdress Coverup. Pink Tie-Sleeve Top. Blue Silk Elsa Top. Blue + White Sea Turtle Print Shirt.

For Mom: Turquoise Tunic Dress. White Shirtdress Coverup. Pink Maxi Dress. Pink Fringe Hem Cardigan. Blue Silk Elsa Top. Blue + White Sea Turtle Print Shirt.

For Baby: Baby Shift Dress. (Turquoise Dress – Girls’ Version). Pink Bubble Dress. (Pink Dress – Girls’ Version). Baby Polo Dress. (Polo Dress – Girls’ Version).

Lounge: Pajama Top. Pajama Shorts. Blue Racerback Tank. Blush + Blue Palazzo Pants. Off-Shoulder Pullover.

Accessories: Blush + Pearl Earrings. Blue Flower Earrings.

I still remember the first time I saw Lilly Pulitzer’s signature bright prints in the wild, so to speak. My parents and I were vacationing in Palm Beach and I saw a mother wearing a whimsical print that matched her children. I grew up between Iowa and London, neither of which are known for their tropical colors, so to see these bright patterns popping against swaying palm trees and a crashing turquoise ocean in the background was something special to me.

I used to save all my Lilly pieces for beach vacations or summer trips. But I’ve since realized the colors make me happy, so now I’ve embraced wearing them wherever and whenever! My best tip is to focus on one bright piece mixed with neutrals like white or tan if you’re nervous. I think you’ll find, as I have, that Lilly pieces are often in forgiving fabrics that can go anywhere – to lunch, to the beach, chasing after kiddos – and you’ll end up wearing them more often than you think.

Lilly is often offering gifts-with-purchase promotions (they’re currently offering an adorable wicker wine basket with two wine glasses) and I can’t resist them. My mom thought it would be fun to have a few matching sets of spring + summer pieces we could wear with the babe eventually, so we placed an order for some Lilly brights that came with some cute Lilly gifts. (At this point, we were on our second week spent clearing out the baby’s nursery and felt we deserved a little perk!)

We have a lot to get done in the next few months, so we aren’t planning any travel until after the baby arrives. I am so looking forward to our first vacation as a little family!

Baby’s Pink Hangers

Turquoise

I’ll be honest, we basically coordinated all our pieces with that of the little babe; she’ll be the trendsetter of our little fam! When I saw this tiny little Baby Shift Dress with matching diaper cover, I knew we had to organize a look around it. I got the matching Lillith Tunic Dress which I was happy to find was slightly longer than the Lilly shifts, which I wasn’t sure I could pull off at nearly 5’8″ as a mom bending over with a tiny baby. I also added this beautiful white, slightly sheer Natalie Shirtdress Coverup to go along with this look; I think it will look perfect with a straw beach hat, solid color swimsuit, and slide sandals.

Lounge

I wanted a new pajama set for summer, so I went for this super-soft Pajama Top with matching Pajama Shorts in one size up to fit the bump.

I discovered the beauty of Lilly’s Palazzo Pants a few years ago. They’re one of the few pants that are long enough for me and allow me to wear a print in a flattering way. I love being able to throw them on with a tank and sandals to run errands or be around the house while still looking put together. This periwinkle Racerback Top is a perfect match.

I loved the aquamarine color of this Off-Shoulder Pullover, so I ordered it in a size up to fit my bump this spring and summer and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived – I hadn’t expected it to be so soft! I have a feeling I’ll be living in it, paired with some leggings and sandals or sneaks as an easy on-the-go look.


lilly pulitzer 2019

Pink

How darling is this tiny Pink Bubble Dress?! To coordinate, I went with a flowing pink Melody Maxi Dress and my mom went for this pink Langston Top with tie-sleeve details. This pink Fringe Hem Cardigan is a perfect coordinating piece that goes with the little’s dress, but could be worn with something as simple as a white tank and white jeans.


lilly pulitzer 2019 haul

Blue

My mom and I decided to order a couple different sizes in the baby clothes, so in case the baby is running smaller or bigger we could use one of the outfits for a winter beach getaway or save one for spring and summer. This little blue Polo Dress is in the smaller size and I think the tiny collar is just too cute! To match her, my mom and I both ordered the Elsa Silk Top in the same print. These tops have been my favorites for a long time; I love the soft silk material and they can easily be paired with white jeans and strappy heels to transform them into an evening look.

My mom and I also both ordered this pretty Sea View Button Down Shirt with blue sea turtles. It’s so beachy and relaxed; it would look perfect with denim shorts or jeans or even a pair of loose linen pants. If you’re looking to get something Lilly without the traditional bright prints, this is a great option that would still coordinate with the Baby Polo Dress.

Earrings

Jewelry is one of my favorite things to get from Lilly because they have affordable options to add a statement pop of color to your look. I decided to get these blush and pearl Caliente Hoop Earrings and these earrings with dangling blue petals called the Cascading Petals Earrings. I thought these would both be great options this summer when not much else is fitting!


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Gender Announcement

March 31, 2019

Categories: Lifestyle

baby girl announcement
Maternity Photos
Baby Gender Announcement
Pregnancy Photography

Dress (Non-Maternity – Order Size Down, Same Size if Pregnant). Baby Girl Crochet Booties. Flowers from Bloom by Anuschka.

IT’S A GIRL!

We are so happy to announce we will be welcoming a baby girl this August! We are both looking forward to a sweet little girl to love and protect, hours spent playing dress-up and having tea, and watching her grow up into a woman. Today John and I even talked about how blessed we would feel to become grandparents someday and make memories with her children. We just feel so grateful to be bringing this sweet little life into the world and cannot wait to meet her!

I did NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) at my doctor’s office at my twelve-week appointment. The blood test scans for fetal abnormalities but also reveals the baby’s gender… The only downside is the results don’t come back for a few weeks. And those days seemed to pass by so slowly! So I decided to visit the SneakPeek clinic here in Denver, which promises gender results as early as nine weeks and within 24-72 hours. You can order the test and take it at home to send in as well, but I don’t really trust myself to draw my own blood so I took the test at their clinic and opted for the expedited delivery. But… The weather in Denver had other plans. A sudden snow prevented the mail planes from leaving the airport (the genetic lab is located in California) so it meant even more waiting for us!

Around this time, a girl I went to school with posted about her baby’s gender blood test being false. She just had her twenty-week ultrasound appointment (where the doctor looks for all the baby’s physical features to be developing properly) and they discovered the previous blood test had been wrong. Naturally, this made me really nervous about the accuracy of the blood tests and I didn’t know what to think! I wondered if we should even announce the gender once we got the blood tests. So we decided to find out together and then tell only family until we confirmed the results with the twenty-week ultrasound.

I purchased two cakes – one with blue frosting inside and one with pink frosting inside – and waited for the emailed results. The cake boxes were labeled on the outside and I planned on surprising John with the proper cake when I received the email. John insisted he wanted to be the one to deliver the surprise, so I waited with the unopened email in my inbox until he came home from work and opened it! He brought out the cake for me to cut into and find out our little one is a GIRL! I was shocked and beyond happy. I had been certain the baby was a boy and I even thought I saw a telltale mark in the cake’s frosting that was present on the ‘boy’ cake. So it was quite a surprise.

Once we knew, we went out and celebrated at dinner and picked up a few things for our little girl at Janie and Jack. Then I sent cute little duck bath bombs to our families. The rubber duckies change a container of warm water to either pink or blue and they were so cute I knew we had to share our news that way! It was a fun way to tell our families. And now that our twenty-week ultrasound has confirmed our good news, I can finally share with you! It was nice to have a little secret the past few weeks. I have been dancing around and singing to my bump, just wondering what she will look like and how her little personality will develop! I will always cherish these sweet moments of her still in my belly.

Gender Reveal Ideas
Baby Girl Gender Announcement
Baby Girl Gender Reveal

My grandmother, my mother, and I were all very close; my mother and I are best friends and continue to talk multiple times a day just as she and her mother used to do. And it fills my heart with joy to think I might be lucky enough to experience that kind of bond with my own little girl. And I also know how strong the father-daughter bond can be. My father and I are alike in many ways and I have always put him on a pedestal of sorts; there’s just nobody else that will ever make me feel as safe and secure as my father does. Nobody as intelligent, as handy with a tool kit, or as strong. No matter what, at the end of the day, he is in my corner and I can’t wait for my little girl to have that relationship with her daddy. John is going to be an incredible father; the way he’s loved me has proven it over and over to me. He’s kind, caring, loving, gentle, patient, and understanding.

So many parents say they don’t care about gender and just want the baby to be healthy and I can promise you that cliché is 100% true. While there’s always a part of each person that hopes to share some of their favorite things with a child of the same gender, the concern for that unborn baby’s wellbeing and health is overwhelming. The process of pregnancy and childbirth used to scare me, but when I became pregnant I stopped thinking about myself first. I just want my baby to be safe, to feel loved, and to be healthy.

I hope someday we might also get to experience raising a little boy of our own, but right now I am so overjoyed to welcome this little girl into our lives. I’m certainly happy I decided to clear out my closets in preparation for her arrival because my mom has already been filling the nursery closet – I have a feeling this will be one well-dressed little girl! (And I might be down yet another closet!) So far, we’ve been loving things from Feltman Brothers, Pepa & Co., and Rachel Riley. I’ve linked a few pieces my mom and I have added to her closet down below.

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My Pregnancy Journey

March 27, 2019

Categories: Lifestyle

baby surprise

Red Midi Dress. Fuzzy Baby Booties. Nude Pumps.

Photos by Miranda L. Sober Photography

My Story

Before you get married, well-meaning people in your life will ask you some terrifying questions, such as, “Are you sure you’re ready to get married?” and “Are you sure this person is the one you can spend forever with?” These questions are ridiculous, of course, because no first-time bride or groom can possibly know the answer… In fact, they are impossible questions no matter how many times you’ve been married! We have feelings so sure we would bet almost anything on them. I knew I wanted to spend all my life moments with John. I couldn’t imagine life without him and I knew I loved him more than I’d ever loved anyone else.

But that truly certain, confident, assured feeling in marriage comes later after you’ve been there for one another over and over again and have begun to understand one another as only those in a marriage can. When you’re up at 3 AM with food poisoning. When you’re doubting yourself or your decisions. When you’re staring at what seems like an insurmountable challenge and you feel that person’s hand reach for your own. And sometimes that feeling shows up in the simplest of ways.

Last summer, John and I rolled up our Midwest-raised sleeves and launched into a landscaping renovation. We spent quite a few weekends under the unrelenting Colorado sun, covered in dirt, finishing this project together. Together we pulled up and removed a dumpster’s worth of mulch and landscaping fabric, spread over 8 tons of river rock by hand, installed a sprinkler system, laid sod, and planted too many flowers and trees to count. I remember being drenched in sweat, my muscles aching, but looking over at John and thinking I could do – would do – anything with him by my side. Knee-deep churning fresh soil as it started to rain, I realized we were quite literally in the trenches together. And that’s the kind of partners we try to be for each other every day.

When I think about the journey that led me to becoming a mother I can’t help but feel emotional. My parents have always told me that things in life happen for a reason and I believe it. My husband moved in just a few doors down from me, we officially met one another in law school, were placed in the same law school section and were in most of the same classes, began dating as we finished our law school experience together, I eventually moved to Denver for John, and we decided to begin our lives together as husband and wife. I had always known I wanted to be a mother… And John had mentioned wanting to start a family soon. But above all, we wanted it to happen when we were truly ready. We finished some projects, went on a few adventures, and were blessed very quickly with a baby.

How I Found Out

As I mentioned above, no one truly knows when they are ready for life’s major moments and the same is true for starting a family. I prayed for guidance and asked God to send me a sign to let me know when we were ready for this big step in our lives. That sign showed up in the form of ‘PREGNANT’ on a pregnancy test about a month later. We conceived our baby in the place where my ancestors lived. My great grandmother left Wales in the 1900’s and after the dishes were done each night, would look up at the stars and cry thinking of her home. I remember watching the sun set over the wild, romantic Bracelet Bay in Swansea where she lived, holding onto John, and understanding why Wales meant so much to her. I didn’t know it yet, but I was sharing that moment with my little babe.

We came home from our trip to England and Wales in December and I noticed some odd symptoms, like feeling queasy and suddenly possessing a near-superhuman sense of smell. I couldn’t stand restaurants or crowded areas because of the various food scents and even the scent of strangers’ perfumes and the laundry detergent on their clothes would make me sick. I took a test and discovered I was pregnant! We told our family members very early because we were so excited we just couldn’t wait.

I didn’t know how long it would take me to get pregnant or if I even could, so I feel grateful to become pregnant easily because I know just how many women struggle with infertility. And this is the reason I chose to stay off social media while I was dealing with 24/7 nausea, morning sickness, migraines, and fatigue in December and January. I’ll be honest, it was overwhelming and after a few weeks I began to feel a bit down and sad from the constant sickness. But at the same time, I know how incredibly blessed I am to carry this baby and I didn’t want to get on social media and complain about those special early days of my pregnancy. Instead, I tried to allow myself rest and comfort. I stayed in bed, drank my ginger tea, lived on toast and English muffins, and watched all the Downton Abbey seasons over again.

Things That Helped Me

I have received questions about my pregnancy journey and I know so many women get stressed about their own process to become pregnant, so I wanted to share the things that helped me in the hopes that it may help some of you.

First off, I highly recommend taking a Natural Family Planning (NFP) class or reading an NFP book to learn more about your body and your natural fertility cycle. We took one of these courses prior to our marriage and it has really helped us. In fact, we used NFP for 2.5 years before we were ready to have children and once we switched the “timing” we were pregnant within that very month. Obviously many other factors affect fertility, but I wanted to share this in case it helps any of you. I personally don’t like the way artificial hormones affect my mood and I believe this 100% natural form of birth control helped us conceive when we wanted.

There are lots of ways to track your cycle and symptoms via NFP, but I simply began with cycle tracking and found it worked for us. The tracking app I like best is called Flo because of its accuracy and ease of use. You can even use this app through your pregnancy!

I also wanted to share the optional Counsyl Family Prep Genetic Carrier Screen I took toward the beginning of our marriage. I wanted to be certain we were being responsible in conceiving our own children and this genetic screening scans to see if you are a carrier for over five hundred diseases and disorders. Only if you are a carrier for one of the diseases or disorders does your partner also need to take the test. It really gave me peace of mind, especially considering the amount of tests we have to undergo during pregnancy!

The Family Prep screening is different from the Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) you can take during your first trimester. The NIPT is also done via blood but tests the fetus’s risk of developing abnormalities versus your risk of passing them on to the baby. If you decide to do the NIPT, you can also find out your baby’s gender at around twelve weeks, which is a bonus! Once we got those results back and I knew our baby was doing alright I felt so much better.

The question of what helped me during the first trimester is a bit more difficult to answer. I was really sick and found that while ginger tea and ginger candies helped slightly, there was really nothing that prevented my sickness. I recommend drinking plenty of water and eating often – I ate about every 2-3 hours to keep dry heaves at bay (sorry for the TMI) and enjoyed cold fruit, icy smoothies, and breakfast foods like toast, oatmeal, waffles, and cereal. I found that allowing myself caffeine (okayed by my doctor) in the form of morning coffee and a hot herbal tea at night helped as well. I lived in these soft pajamas and cozy slippers and slept as often as I could since my nights were usually disrupted. I would watch soothing shows like Downton Abbey and Gilmore Girls while I rested. And my sister-in-law saved my life by recommending these prenatal vitamins that have been the only ones that don’t make me sick! Because I was living off carbs my first trimester and am prone to stretch marks, I knew I needed to start using something to hydrate my skin ASAP. I’ve found this stretch mark cream is a nice one and moisturizes without feeling greasy. My mom recently treated me to a huge pregnancy body pillow and I swear it’s the best thing ever; I feel completely cradled when I sleep and it helps to support my back.

John was such a great support over the first few months when I was really sick and continues to be today. I truly could not have done this with anyone else by my side. My mom flew in at the end of my first trimester for my twelve-week ultrasound and to help me begin to prepare the house for our little one’s arrival; she kept me calm through the first trimester roller coaster! She just came for another visit this week, including my twenty-week ultrasound. I love being able to share this journey with her, listen to her advice, and have her help preparing for our little one’s arrival!

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Riviera Travel Guide

November 24, 2018

Categories: Travel

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eze france

nice beach riviera

cap estel hotel

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best places in french riviera

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, and Essential Francophile Gifts.


Although it was my least favorite spot we visited, the French Riviera was beautiful – the perfect kind of beautiful that made me think we were on the set of The Little Mermaid or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – swaying palm trees, turquoise water, giant boats docked in the harbor, palatial French resorts dotting the coast. And beautiful pairs well with relaxation. The Riviera is designed for pure relaxation, which is why we scheduled three days there at the end of our trip. But… The Riviera is also really touristy. As soon as we left our hotel each day, we were in traffic winding up and down the hills facing the coast. A guide told us that places like Nice and Monaco used to be just as authentic as places we visited like Provence and the Jura, but construction hasn’t stopped since the 70’s and 80’s and now these cities have nearly every square inch jammed with condo buildings and mansions. I will say the French Riviera is worth seeing and experiencing at least once. And if you’re planning to only stay at your resort and lay by the ocean, it will be the perfect relaxing ending to a long trip.

If you go, here’s what I recommend. If you’re coming from Provence, stop at the village of Apt and the city of Aix-en-Provence on your way. Consider spending a little time in the fragrance capital of Grasse; I’ve heard their perfumery tours are incredible. Besides these, there are so many other villages and towns to explore along the Riviera: Nice, Monaco, St. Tropez, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cannes. Pick a few and start exploring!

We stayed at Cap Estel in Èze and I would highly recommend this hotel. It’s absolutely stunning; set on a lush green lawn with the waves crashing onto the rocky shore below. They had Sothys products and Dyson hair dryers in the bathroom. Even if you’re not staying at the property, you can make a reservation for dinner at their romantic restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea or listen to their live music on the weekends. Further up the rocky cliff behind the hotel is the medieval hilltop village of Èze – it’s a short drive and worth an afternoon of exploring as well!

I did really enjoy just relaxing after our journey with a great book and listening to the waves crash next to me. My husband and I searched for sea glass on the rocky beach. One of my favorite nights was spent enjoying comfort food at a little Italian place in the Port de Beaulieu-sur-Mer overlooking the harbor. And shopping in Nice wasn’t bad either. Just expect a lot of tour buses and tour groups, even in the quiet season, and you’ll be prepared!


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Provence Travel Guide

November 21, 2018

Categories: Travel

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chateau d alpilles restaurant

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chateau d alpilles bar

st remy de provence

au bistro marin

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Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, and Essential Francophile Gifts.


Church bells ring across the villages each morning as the gentle fog leaves the lavender fields of the Luberon valley. Ivy creeps up the crumbling fronts of peach and cream French architecture. A bespectacled woman in a linen dress carries a fresh baguette in arms for breakfast. An orange cat eyes you warily from the doorstep of an old French farmhouse. His owner is smoking a cigarette in the garden. This is the heart of ‘French country’. This is the beautiful, perfectly relaxed Provence.

I had a feeling Provence would be my favorite stop on our trip. I truly love the French culture and all it has to offer. A large part of this is their effervescent joie de vivre – or enjoyment of life. We Americans tend to push for extravagance and excess – super malls the size of a village, huge theme parks that cost the average American family thousands to visit, giant sprawling casinos with oxygen in the ventilation systems, sparklers coming out of your champagne bottle at the club. But in all that muchness we’re missing something important. We’re missing the simple joys of life.

In Provence, I learned to enjoy life. Period. No complications, no excess, just life. I enjoyed waking up to an open door, the breeze blowing in across clean linen sheets. Walking to the market, buying fresh strawberries, and enjoying all their juicy sweetness on the walk home. Lying back on the crumbly ruins of an old fountain and reading the perfect book under the southern French sun. Eating dinner by the light of four simple ivory candles and hearing the crickets begin to chirp. The French appreciate life and don’t take anything too seriously. Because if you can’t enjoy your life, what else is there?

We spent the majority of our time in Provence and discovered some beautiful places. Quaint little villages and palaces that will take your breath away. No matter what, when you go, make time to enjoy the little things. Because that is the beauty of this place and the culture of the people who live there.

Saint-Rèmy-de-Provence

This charming little village lies just 12 miles south of Avignon. Unassuming and casual (people can be seen dining in comfortable linen and their daytime espadrilles) this village is made up of Michelin star restaurants and luxe boutiques tucked into its winding streets. We stayed outside St. Rèmy in the beautiful Château des Alpilles hotel. If the château’s exquisitely French façade, alfresco breakfast, and relaxing grounds with swimming pool don’t persuade you to stay, at least visit for dinner. As you crunch through the gravel under trees older than the United States, you’ll feel transported to another time.

In the village, take some time to browse the local shops and boutiques. Don’t miss boho chic Provence staple Souleiado, mentioned in my Essential Francophile Gifts post. The St. Rèmy market is worth a visit as well; you can find everything there, from linen and fresh lavender to the most delicious olives and paella of your life. For dining options, I suggest the effortlessly French, semi casual L’Aile ou La Cuisse and the playfully inventive, Michelin starred Restaurant Fanny Rey.

Outside the village, take in the nearby Roman ruins of Glanum or take a tour of St. Paul de Mausole where Van Gogh was treated after he cut off his own ear.


les baux de provence

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provence photography

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places to visit in provence


Les Baux-de-Provence

From St. Rèmy venture to the cliffside Medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, a stunning cliffside fortress since the Bronze Age where you can spend the afternoon wandering the winding streets, shopping for souvenirs, and exploring the breathtaking views and ancient temple at the top. This village is so beautiful and so full of history, we decided to spend a full day here. Don’t forget to take in the multimedia show Carrières de Lumière as the sun goes down; the show is always changing and focuses on incorporating history and art.

Tip: Wear comfortable, flat shoes here. The village sits at the top of nearly one hundred stairs from some of the parking areas and the streets in the village are steep and worn smooth. A tiny, elderly French woman was making her way down and looked so unstable, I offered her my arm and we walked the rest of the way arm in arm.


chateau vaudieu

grape harvest

chateauneuf du pape wine tasting

france travel guide

best view chateauneuf

cooking class chateauneuf du pape

wine class chateauneuf du pape

popes palace


Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Avignon

Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the Pope’s “new” country palace, away from the politics and spying eyes in Avignon. There are only ruins left now (John and I are standing beside it above) but it’s worth the walk up to see the interior arches of the palace and the beautiful view over the valley the Pope would have had. Châteaneuf-du-Pape is now a world-renowned region for wine, especially red wine made from grenache grapes. The region is an AOC or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, subject to strict standards and quality control for the best wine production possible. In 2010, there were just over 300 wine producers, so this makes the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine a bit more rare and special. It’s because of this I would recommend doing a vineyard tour and tasting here. We toured the beautiful Château de Vaudieu vineyard and were even able to witness the grape harvest in action before sitting down to a wine tasting with our tour guide.

Another suggestion for this area is to take a tasting with a master sommelier; they aren’t tied to a particular winemaker and will be able to teach you a bit more about the different fragrances, flavors, and textures in the local wines. I would recommend Guy Brémond at Les Caves St. Charles. He offers cooking classes at his wine shop as well.

We enjoyed lunch with a view at Hostellerie des Fines Roches before heading to Avignon to tour the Pope’s Palace. Take the iPad tour; it brings the space to life as it was centuries ago. Our friends have told us the Avignon market is quite nice as well, but it wasn’t being held the day we visited.


gordes france

gordes market

french baskets for sale

fresh lavender

menerbes france

menerbes france view

village of menerbes france


Gordes & Menerbes

Gordes and Menerbes are two of my favorite villages we visited in the Luberon Valley. Gordes is a Medieval village that appears to be cascading down the cliffside. It offers beautiful vantage points for photography, lovely shops (take a peek at ISA near Le Bastide hotel), and a lively market. Menerbes is nearby and offers twisting, winding streets and a breathtaking view from the top of the village near the famous Truffle House. Stop at Bistrot le 5 in Menerbes for a delicious lunch and another beautiful view. Shop at Sacha Décoration Mode for beautiful European clothes for both men and women. These villages are less about sightseeing and more about relaxing, wandering, souvenir shopping, and beautiful photography opportunities. We didn’t use a tour guide on these days; we just drove with a Spotify “French Café” playlist and the windows down and wandered at our own leisure. It was the perfect way to experience them.


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Essential Francophile Gifts

November 20, 2018

Categories: Beauty, Fashion, Travel

best french gifts

More French posts: French Driving Itinerary, Reims Travel Guide, Beaune Travel Guide, Jura Travel Guide, Annecy Travel Guide, Provence Travel Guide, and Riviera Travel Guide.


Something I always ask my readers pre-travel is, “What should I bring back?!” I love bringing back meaningful gifts to my friends and family at home; something that says, I wasn’t only thinking of you… I was willing to sacrifice suitcase space for you! (Because aren’t those the best presents?!) And of course, when traveling I always hope to find little mementos that remind me of my trip as well.

Keep reading to discover the items I would suggest picking up if you’re traveling to France. And… Maybe a few pieces we Francophiles can get here in the U.S. as well!

Linens

This was the overwhelming response I received when asking about the best French souvenirs. The French have become masters at linen and you can find the best linen in the world in little French shops and marketplaces. A few of my favorites? Tablecloths, napkins, dish towels, and little sachets to tuck in drawers and cabinets. We got some beautiful tablecloths with matching napkins at a little shop in Les Baux de Provence; they’re cottony-soft and will last for years and years. Shopping in the U.S.? Take a peek at this linen tablecloth, this grey stripe linen cushion, and these vintage striped kitchen towels.

Tips: Take measurements of your furniture beforehand and keep in mind a “table for four” in Europe is generally a bit smaller than what we would call a “table for four” here in the U.S. Ask for 100% linen or cotton products; some vendors sell ones mixed with polyester and these will become warped when steamed or ironed.

Traditional French Items

Ahh yes. Did you think I would forget about the beret?! I know, I know… It’s cheesy. But delightfully so, wouldn’t you agree?! My top three French staples would be a beret, a traditional Breton stripe top, and a leather ballet flat.

Take a peek at Laulhère, the only beret manufacturer still making berets start-to-finish in France. They have a shop in Paris, but I don’t think they’re shipping to the U.S. yet. I’ve actually ordered a few from their Amazon shop. And if you don’t see this brand in France, just ask for a beret that is wool or cashmere and made (at least partially) in France.

My favorite Breton stripe manufacturer is Petit Bateau. I like the traditional Mariniere, but also got a drop-sleeve style this trip. Go one size down if you want yours a bit more fitted. And mamas, rejoice… Their shop makes me wish I had littles to dress because their things are so darling!

I fell in love with the Repetto brand years ago. Repetto made their first ballet shoes in 1947 and slowly celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn began wearing their Repetto flats out on the street. They are the only shoe I can buy and immediately wear for hours comfortably; and they only get better with time.





francophile gift guide


Region-Specific Items

This is something you might have to experience to decide, but each region in France has at least a few products they make exceptionally well. In Reims, of course, it was champagne. In Beaune, it was their wine and delicious mustards. In Provence, it was their hand painted pottery, beautiful printed textiles, lavender, and comfortable linen shoes. Everyone was wearing one of these Panama hats in Provence and though the one I purchased was Italian, I felt like I blended right in.

Tips: Simply ask your tour guide or the front desk at your hotel what items the region is famous for producing and where they prefer to shop for those items – you’ll find the best local spots this way. Another idea is to walk the local market and browse; I found so many lavender items in Provence this way.

And you may discover a new brand simply walking around the local village; I stumbled upon Souleiado this way. The brand came into being during the 1700’s when France banned the import of Indian block-printed textiles the people in Provence loved. So… Provence found a way to make their own printed textiles and Souleiado was born. Today the brand offers a selection of bright, colorful prints for both men and women. The beautiful silk blouses were my favorite. You can see a bit of the blue and white style I chose in the photo above.

Other gift ideas for the Francophile in your life? These Toni Pons espadrilles – order your regular size. Made in Spain, but they were quite literally everywhere in Provence. Put them on with a breezy dress and you’ll feel Provençal in no time. Tuck a pack of Les Anis de Flavigny mints in their stocking. I fell in love with these in France; smooth and with just a hint of delicate flavor, they become addictive in no time and you’ll feel just a little bit fancier pulling them out of your purse.




best french lingerie


Fashion + Lingerie

Fashion is one of France’s main exports and understandably so; walk around any French city or village and you’ll see numerous women looking très chic. Aside from the famous French designers, there are a few lesser-known brands and items I love to pick up when I’m in France.

The first item? Knits. French women wear little sweaters, cashmere, and knit wraps so well. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but their knits seem to look effortlessly elegant both during the day with jeans and at night with a pencil skirt or ankle pants. I like browsing around in local shops for cashmere finds, but one of my favorite U.S.-accessible French brands is Sézane. They just get their sweaters right – their styles with the removable collars are my favorites.

Another knit brand I love is Majestic Filatures. Their silky-soft knit tees and long-sleeves are so comfortable, but still look crisp enough to wear out under a blazer or jacket. This style is my favorite, but I’ve gotten several colors/styles/materials from them and have been pleased every time. You can find them for 30% to 50% off the U.S. price when buying in France, but I promise they’re worth the investment.

Last, but certainly not least, lingerie. The French know lingerie. My favorite brands are never tacky, but always feminine. Aubade Paris, ChantelleEberjeyLise Charmel, and Simone Perele. Any woman knows the confidence pretty underthings can give us, but quality undergarments can actually help clothing lay better on the body, creating a more flattering fit.




best french skincare


Beauty Products

The amount of articles I’ve read on “French skincare tips” is embarrassing – it should be banned by Google, really. But there is something to the whole European beauty phenomenon. Ever since I moved to Colorado and moved in with one of my top allergens (hello, shedding dog) my skin has become extremely sensitive. The downside? Rashes and allergic reactions at the most inconvenient times. But the upside is I have done a lot of research on skincare and am now extremely disciplined about my skincare routine and the products I use on my face and body. The E.U. has banned over 1,300 toxic ingredients in their skincare. The United States? Only 11. We shouldn’t need a chemistry degree to understand the products we apply onto our largest organ each day and we shouldn’t be forced to accept allergic reactions as ‘normal’ just because so many toxic ingredients exist in our products. When in France, I picked up a lot of beauty products for myself simply because the quality standards are so much higher there; I was able to test every one of those products without any reaction.

Among my favorites? The hydrating and soothing NUXE Rêve de Miel line – especially the lip balm and the face and body cleansing gel.  Biotherm’s gentle Deo Pure invisible deodorant that worked well, moisturized, and didn’t get white marks all over my clothing. Klorane Dry Shampoo for hair and La Roche-Posay Lipikar moisturizer for body. La Bonne Maison sophisticated home fragrances and candles. Any and all of the elegant Fragonard and Molinard fragrances, but especially Belle Cherie, Reine des Cœurs, and Le Rêve Nirmala.





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Annecy Travel Guide

November 17, 2018

Categories: Travel

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annecy france travel guide

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annecy

annecy village

french flower shop

what to do in annecy

provence travel guide

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Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of Annecy Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also available to view here.


We initially structured our trip a bit differently and changed it to visit Annecy, per a friend’s recommendation; I’m so happy we did. Annecy is situated at the northern end of turquoise Lake Annecy and is often compared to Venice, with its canals and river weaving throughout. There are quaint wooden bridges, flowers spilling out of baskets and windows everywhere, and an overall Medieval feel to the city. In fact, it was so perfectly pretty I found myself wondering if I was walking through a Disney village! We walked through the city, enjoyed lunch at a little outdoor café, and dipped our toes in the lake before continuing on our journey.

Because of its rich history and beautiful setting at the foot of the mountains, Annecy is host to many concerts, festivals, and events. It’s worth looking into the event schedule before you go; you might be interested in something or you might prefer avoiding the tourists altogether and coming at a more quiet time during the week. Walk past Le Palais de L’Isle, a 12th century prison and courthouse shown in the last photo above, and browse the artists’ selections for a souvenir to take home. We brought back a beautiful watercolor – ask for originals and don’t be afraid to bargain!


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Jura Travel Guide

November 16, 2018

Categories: Travel

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montbeliard france jura

ancestry trip

temple saint martin montbeliard

montbeliard jura

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of “Montbéliard to Geneva” Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also available to view here.


The Jura is a mountain range north of the Western Alps, following the border between France and Switzerland. My great great grandmother Adele (from Reims) married a man named Pierre whose records led me to this part of France. As we drove from Burgundy, the change in the scenery surprised me; the land became more mountainous and the buildings took on a distinctly Swiss style. Tall draft horses stared at us from their pastures as we drove by. Of all the places I visited along this ancestry journey of mine, Montbéliard was where I felt most connected to the past. It was strange, but as soon as we arrived I instantly felt a sense of calm wash over me; I felt comfortable in this place and I didn’t want to leave. I was able to FaceTime my parents while there and it felt especially rewarding to take my father to a place so ingrained in the history of our family. They lived there for over 300 years and I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow this place had written itself into our genetic code.

Leaving Montbéliard, we drove through the Jura with its towering green mountains and foggy valleys to Geneva, Switzerland. I’ve spent time in Switzerland before and wanted my husband to experience it as well; I knew he would love the breathtaking views the country offers. This “Jura” part of the trip involved lengthy drives and would definitely be for those who enjoy driving and getting away from the tourist traps, but I would highly recommend this area to anyone who loves photography, nature, or hiking. There were so many beautiful vistas and little hiking trails along this part of our drive and I felt they were completely worth the three hours of drive time between Geneva and Montbéliard. In fact, I found myself wishing we had an extra day or two to get out and get closer to the nature around us.

Montbéliard, France

As I mentioned above, the city of Montbéliard was another stop on my ancestry journey. My great great grandfather and his ancestors lived there for over 300 years and it’s the place I’ve been able to tie most closely to our family with church records and government positions. So it’s not a necessary stop if you’re planning a France trip, but there is a lot of interesting history and a truly breathtaking drive from this location down to Geneva, Switzerland. This region is mostly farmland with lush, densely packed trees but it quickly transforms into green mountains and fog-filled valleys with charming chalets tucked here and there. It’s the kind of place I imagine on a Christmas card with lots of snow and a team of draft horses pulling a sleigh in front.

A highlight from Montbéliard was locating the Temple Saint-Martin church where many of my ancestors were baptized and married; some were even pastors there. We found it and were able to go inside and speak with someone from the church. She told us it was the oldest standing Protestant church in France and I got chills down my arms. It was so surreal to stand in a place – such a historic place, no less – where my ancestors stood in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. I’m sure they could never imagine one of their direct descendants returning someday.

Another interesting site in Montbéliard was the remaining ramparts from the Château de Montbéliard, the palace of the Dukes of Württemburg. Because of their influence, Montbéliard was a Protestant stronghold for centuries, and became an enclave for Protestants fleeing persecution in both France and Switzerland. The culture became an interesting mixture of French and Swiss and the architectural influences can still be seen today. Inside the château there is a museum covering archaeology, history, and natural history from the area. I would love to return to see their famous French Christmas Market during the holiday season.



laduree lausanne

beau rivage hotel switzerland

beau rivage hotel lausanne

port ouchy switzerland

pully ouchy lausanne

domaine de chateauvieux vineyard

switzerland sunrise

hotel geneva switzerland

domaine de chateauvieux

domaine de chateauvieux switzerland

swiss winery


Lausanne, Switzerland

There are about a billion and one things to do in Switzerland. It’s quite literally the most visually stunning country I’ve ever visited and I would definitely suggest any visitor make the trip up to the mountains, take in the miles-wide views and stand next to a glacier, go hiking past cows with bells and see little marmots scurrying past alpine wildflowers . But since we were on a long road trip and only had two days in Switzerland, we didn’t want to fill our time with more driving. We had experienced a lot of history in Reims and Beaune, a lot of emotion in Montbéliard, and once in Switzerland I just wanted to show my husband around Lausanne, see a few of my favorite sites, and indulge in a little retail therapy.

If you do visit Lausanne, I would suggest walking along Lake Geneva near the Port of Ouchy and catching one of the art exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum. Don’t miss grabbing lunch, a cocktail, or dinner at the beautiful Beau Rivage hotel overlooking the lake; this Ouchy/Lutry area feels a bit more peaceful than the busy (but lovely!) shopping area of Lausanne. And you have to experience a true Swiss fondue restaurant; ask your hotel for their favorite local spot and indulge!

We stayed at Domaine de Chateauvieux in Satigny, just outside Geneva. I would highly recommend it for its charming Swiss rooms, gourmet restaurant, and property overflowing with flowers and vineyards. I will never forget opening our shutters at sunrise and watching the sun come up over the vineyards outside our window – I felt like Heidi every morning.


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