Spring Break Guide: Shabby Apple


I am back with some more swimsuits from what was meant to be a Spring Break Guide but turned into a summer guide because of some las tminute additions! Are you sick of swimsuits yet? Of course not. Because you are seriously dreaming of spring break right now and you are ready to finalize your packing list with one last swimsuit. Well, guess what. I am here for you. Kaylynn and I are both here for you – to give you some swimsuit insight and to help you get the perfect suit for your summer vacay.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to share this post. I know the other day I talked all about embracing your body and getting out there in your swimsuit, but the other part I talked about was making sure you found a suit that flattered your body! Not that this one doesn’t flatter me, some people said it does – but they also might totally be lying to me so I don’t feel like a doofus but I appreciate them for doing that. I loved the styling of this suit but I was a little slash a lot nervous and anxious to share it. But whatever – here we go! There is no turning back now.

Swimsuit: Shabby Apple
Sandals: Sanuk

Okay – so I fell in love with this suit on their model. Something about the design with the hood just seemed way fun to me. And different than anything I owned – maybe that was what totally drew me in. There are so many suits that look the same. High waist. One piece with ruffles. You get the idea – but this one was unique. So I decided to snag it up. It literally arrived at my house as I was on my way out the door to take my photos so I didn’t try it on until I was getting ready to take these photos. And plot twist. This swimsuit was not at all what I expected. I still loved the look of it – but I am here to give you the real downlow on the suit.

Remember, I am generally a 10 or a 12. I have a few 10 skirts and dresses as well as one 12 dress from Shabby Apple – so based off of those items I ordered a size large in the top and in the bottom. First, as I was opening the package I realized that the white is actually mesh – so both the panels and the back with the hood are a non-stretch material. So when I was pulling everything on you could hear little “pops” as I stretched it on. No big deal. That happens sometimes. The suit overall fit my body but the real shocking thing was the length of the top. On the model there was maybe a half an inch of midriff showing. Well on my long torso you can see that is not the case. So while I still love the swimsuit and the look of it, I was really anxious and nervous to show that much middle. So if you are tall like me – that might be something to take into consideration when ordering a tankini.

Don’t forget to head over to Among the Young to check out her Shabby Apple look! And swing back here in one week for my final Spring Break look.

Defining Landscaping Styles for Your Backyard


If you’ve never landscaped your backyard but would like to—or even if you have but want to update its landscaping—it’s a good idea to approach your landscaping with a particular style and design scheme in mind. This will give your backyard a cohesive feel, and it can help you tailor your backyard landscaping to your home’s particular style. Here are several great ideas for landscaping design styles to try in your backyard, along with features that might complement each particular style.

Formal style. For something more structured, you might try formal style. Formal style landscaping features geometric shapes, straight lines, and often symmetrical features. You’ll also find intricately maintained gardens in this type of landscaping, with plants and shrubs pruned consistently to maintain a formal appearance. Imagine gardens rich in flowers along the perimeter of a rectangular yard, lined by squared off hedges and a path featuring right angles. As this article details, opting for brick or stone for your path will give it a more formal look. There may be benches placed symmetrically on either side of the yard, and perhaps a fountain in the middle.

English garden style. English garden style is reminiscent of the formal style, but it is much more relaxed, as its purpose is to highlight the wild beauty of nature. Imagine a formal style cobblestone or pebble pathway in your backyard that leads to a secluded circular table for two, and an arch over the pathway on which climbing rose blossoms all over. You might also find climbing rose or ivy growing freely along the fence, carefully pruned to keep it from running wild while still looking natural. To give this type of a garden a more relaxed feel, you might plant a vegetable and herb garden, reminiscent of those cottage gardens that were traditionally planted to sustain households.

Southwest style. Southwest landscape style (also known as desert style) is most often used in arid regions like Arizona and New Mexico, but you can find it in other regions as well. This style features Spanish and Native American details and tends to be simple, functional, and easy to maintain. You’ll find accents like red clay pavers, terra cotta tiles, wood, desert hues, gravel instead of mulch, and dry climate plants like cacti and succulents.

Tuscan style. For something similar, yet more Old World tradition, you might try Tuscan style, inspired by the rustic, sun-baked homes of the Italian Tuscany region. This style features warm earthy hues, terra cotta tiles, stone with mosaic inlay, wrought-iron accessories (such as your railings or light fixtures), and rough plaster. Popular plants for Tuscan style gardens include olive trees, bay trees, lavender, sage, and ornamental grasses.

Tropical style. Tropical landscaping style typically features plants with ultra large leaves and rich blooms, making plant life a very prominent feature in this design style. Imagine bright, vibrant colors, dense planting, and an overall jungle-like appearance. There are hundreds upon hundreds of plant types to choose from when creating a tropical style garden, and usually you can find plants that will work well for your particular climate. Some of the most popular plants for tropical style landscapes are palms, cycads, big-leafed hostas, hibiscus, and bird of paradise. Bamboo furniture is also very commonly used in this landscape style because it is most reminiscent of the tropics.

Oriental garden style. Oriental garden style is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world as people gain interest in Eastern traditions and philosophies. This style draws heavily on symbolism and on recreating nature in miniature form. You’ll find a bridge, statues, heavy use of stones, bamboo, meandering pebble pathways, lanterns, and blossoming trees. Water features, like those mentioned in this article, are also common, as water is deeply symbolic of wealth, money, and career success in feng shui tradition. You’ll notice that symmetry is not so important in this landscaping style since symmetry is not naturally found in nature.

Contemporary style. Contemporary or modern landscaping style features bold patterns, clean lines, and mixed materials, and it tends to be simple, minimal, and calming. Concrete and gravel are used heavily in contemporary design because they make for a low-maintenance landscape. You’ll also frequently find drought resistant grasses and shrubs, shades of green or gray, and geometric lawn accents. Contemporary style is often blended with other styles to give a more modern feel to traditional look.

By: Maurine Anderson

Styled by 5: Love Winnie James


I might not be great about blogging lately, but at least I keep up with the best collabs, right? And when I say best collabs I am obviously talking about Styled by 5. We had another change in our 5th blogger - so you will get to meet her at the end of this post, but she came in strong getting us our June item from Love Winnie James.

Okay – so I decided to go with a dressy preppy look. Like maybe I just got back from the Hamptons or something? I also could be totally off with how I assume they dress, but I am going with it. Ha. Since the stripes in the chambray were white I decided to pair it with white skinnies to bring out the accent. And then to lengthen my legs I decided to put on some strappy nude sandals. To add another element of style to the outfit I accessorized with my Color by Amber bangles. I decided to go with a variety of styles to add dimension.

Top: Love Winnie James
Jeans: Target
Shoes: Cousin Couture
Bracelets: Color by Amber

Since we are all sharing the same piece on a different body type here is a reminder of my sizing – I am 5’9″ and I generally wear a 10/12 – 10 on a good day, 12 on a not good day… you understand, right? So I ordered this top in a large. I won’t lie, I hate ordered button up shirts because they always are a little tight in my chesticle area… so I was nervous about this one. But this is the BEST fitting button up I have ever gotten for my body. And I love it so much I have worn it three times already. I love sharing my style with you, but I also want you to see clothing I style in other body types so you can find what is best for you. So feel free to check out how Kaylynn, Bethany, Jacque, and Lauryn styled this outfit as well! And watch for a new piece of clothing styled by 5 every month.

Easy DIY Decor for Your Living Room


The prospect of investing in decor for your living room can be financially daunting, especially if you’ve already spent a great deal of money on new furniture. Living room decor, however, need not be expensive, and there are a great many DIY projects that you can do on your own to truly complete your living room space. Here are some easy DIY decor ideas for your living room.

No-sew curtains. Did you know that you can make your own shades and curtains for the windows in your living room? This article details a few different DIY options, and the easiest option it details is probably no-sew curtains. Simply take a flat sheet of fabric and attach curtain ring clips to the top edge for hanging. It’s suggested that you hem along the edges, but you can always use Heat ‘n’ Bond to avoid sewing.

Blanket ladder. Why not let the blankets you use in your living room on a daily basis double as decor for your living room? A blanket ladder makes for easy storage of your blankets, and it also happens to be very design-conscious. To make a blanket ladder, all you need are some wood glue, 1 ¼” pocket holes screws, wood stain, and about $5 worth of wood (two tall and narrow boards for the sides and five short and narrow boards for the rungs). To attach the rungs to the sides, you can either drill pocket holes into the rungs, or simply drill screws through the sides and into the rungs. Secure the rungs with wood glue first before finishing with the screws. Then, stain the dried ladder if desired.

Painted letters. For another custom and interchangeable decor piece, try created your own painted letters. You can find large wooden letters at your local craft store and purchase a few of them to spell out a phrase of your liking, such as “LOVE,” “HOME,” or “FALL.” Use them as-is for a more natural look, or paint them with the colors of your choice. Alternatively, you can string yarn around them and/or add fun, decorative accents such as rhinestones, confetti dots, or fake flowers. You could even glue photos onto your letters. Display them on a coffee table, side table, or fireplace mantle.

Wreath. The beauty behind wreaths is that there are a myriad of ways that you can DIY a wreath. This means that you can always make a new wreath to perfectly suit the season, giving your living room an ever-changing piece of decor. A wreath works especially well over a fireplace mantle or behind a side accent table. Do a quick search on Pinterest for the particular type of wreath you are interested in making; chances are it will be as simple as added some springs of a favorite fake floral to a ready-made wreath base.

Crates-turned-wall shelves. While you have the wood stain and screwdriver out, you can also thrift some vintage looking crates and repurpose them as shelves on your wall. Stain them and line them with a decorative paper for a custom look, or leave them unfinished for a more natural look. Look for shallower crates such as wine crates, since these tend to make for better wall shelving. To install the crates as shelves on your wall, simply attach sawtooth hangers to the back top edge of each crate and apply peel and stick rubber bumpers to the back corners to ensure that the crate hangs level. Then display some of your favorite small decor pieces and maybe a few books on your shelves.

Picture frame serving tray. Instead of purchasing a tray for your coffee table that will cost you $50 or more, you can easily make one at home using an old picture frame. Look for an extra large picture frame at your local thrift store, and simply place a cheap, decorative place mat on the inside. (Or you could use a favorite patterned paper here.) For something truly customized, you can also spray paint the frame any color that you like. Set the tray on your coffee table and display a few small pieces of decor on top of it, such as a small vase, a candle votive, and a decorative paperweight.

By: Maurine Anderson

Are You Ready for a Puppy?


Who doesn’t love a puppy? They’re cuddly, funny, and loveable. However, for most people, the appeal dims once that puppy grows up into a dog. In fact, the problems may happen even before that, when the puppy proves to be more of a handful than expected.

When people get in over their heads with a pet, the results are awful. Animals are dumped and abandoned, and animal shelters are filled up. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I want to be clear about something: a puppy is a huge responsibility! That little life is dependent on your care and devotion.

Never go into pet adoption lightly. Consider these four essential questions before you get sucked in by a pair of puppy eyes.

Do You Have the Funds? Animals can get expensive. Even if the upfront cost is minimal, there are costs that build up over time, and significant surprise-costs that will put a dent in your pocketbook. It’s said that a child costs $200,000 or more to raise, or about $12,000 per year.

Animals aren’t quite as costly, but it’s still good to put things in perspective before you adopt. An animal is very much like a child. It’s estimated that dogs cost $1,000 the first year of ownership, and an additional $500 each year after that. And that’s a modest estimate. Many pets end up costing a lot more, depending on the pet itself, and what kind of an owner you are. So consider your money needs before you pick up that “free” puppy outside of the grocery store… it’s far from free. Costs will include:
  • Veterinarian fees: There will be upfront costs in shots and neutering, and then subsequent costs when your pet gets sick, or hurts himself.
  • Registration fees
  • Supplies: a collar, leash, dog house, pillows, dog bowls and toys.
  • Regular grooming
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Food
  • Damage to your home: Many pet owners find it wise to invest in a carpet cleaner, or a better vacuum. Also consider that even with a well-behaved dog, there’s always a possibility that you’ll come home to a shredded-up couch.
  • Doggy day care, or a dogwalker if you’re someone who’s away from home during the day
  • Training
  • A dogsitter or kennel for when you’re on vacation
Do You Have the Time? Pets are long-term commitments. One should expect a dog to live 10-15 years, depending on the breed. Not only should you consider time in terms of years, but also hours in a day. Dogs need time with you. They need companionship for the sake of their health and well being. If you live alone, and if you’re usually gone during the day, consider doggy day care, or a dogwalker, or even a neighbor who can check in during the day.

Do You Have the Space? Ask your landlord what the terms are for pets. Many people don’t like to rent to pet-owners because they can devalue their property. At the very least, if you’re renting, most places will require a pet deposit, or a monthly fee on top of your rent to cushion the cost of cleaning and repair when you leave. Make sure that at every property that you rent, this is at the top of your list of questions to ask the landlord. If you are unable keep your dog in your house, you might have to give it away.

Will your pet be inside or outside or both? If they’re going to venture outside, do you know their safety needs? For example, scan the yard for poisonous plants that puppies might chew on. If there are prowling coyotes, take safety precautions for a small dog. Dogs should always be in fenced-in-enclosures to protect them from passing traffic, and to keep them from wandering off and getting lost.

Do You Have the Heart? Dogs require more than your time, money, and space. They require honest care and emotional investment. If you’re not made of stone, prepare for them to take up a lot of room in your heart, too. Making judgment calls about training, discipline, time spent together, health expenses, and travel arrangements can be difficult. Prepare for this creature to become a part of your family. If you’re ready to welcome your puppy into your home and heart, the amazing rewards will be worth all of the sacrifice and effort required.

By: Christine Hill

How We Wore It: Comfy Casual


It is finally and officially summer and June is here! Which means it is time for June's How We Wore It, and I could not be more excited! In case you need a refresher, this is how it works. All of us were given the same “inspiration outfit” and we were asked to create our own take on it once we let our creative juices flow. Any outfit can be inspired by the colors, the patterns, the pieces, or the textures is fine. So our how we wore it is coming from the inspiration side – with things we already have! Because not many people have the luxury to just go buy a new outfit based on what they see on Pinterest, so you have to work with what you have. First up is the look we used for our inspiration.

I loved this look from Gentri for so many reasons – the simplicity of it, the tied shirt around the waist, the bag she is wearing that you can’t see in this photo so you will have to go check out her post, and the overall stylish yet casual feel she put together. Gentri always puts together outfits that remind me how simple style can speak volumes, so when I came across this one I was totally sold for June’s inspiration. The outfit is perfect for summer because it looks like something you would wear on a roadtrip, or a long day at an amusement park, or out all day on some adventure. Here is my take on Gentri Lee’s look.

Jeans: Old Navy
Flannel: Goodwill
Shoes: Converse
Bracelets: Color by Amber

Alright. So the shirt tied at the waist was a huge selling point for me. It is a trend I have adopted into a lot of my outfits – for tap dance, for UJam, for turning a dress into a more casual look. I am a fan of chambrays and flannels around the waist – so I started there with my Wayne’s World flannel. From there I was thinking of keeping an all grey, black, and blue scheme but I decided to add a touch of red with my Dance Unlimited tee instead. Of course, black jeans were easy because it was a twinning to Gentri. And then instead of black shoes – I am not huge into black shoes for some reason, but they are growing on me – I added my converse to make the look a cohesive casual. Also – I had plans to wear my Fawn Design bag just like Gentri did in her photo… but I realized after the photos were taken that I left it in the car. Whoops! Overall, I wanted to stay as close to Gentri’s as I could but still add in a few elements like the detailing on my tee and the white shoes which added some color variety.

Want to see more Gentri Lee inspired outfits? Check out how all these babes styled their look – Madeline atCaseyLand / Riley at Riley Jo Blog / Jessica at Mason Jars and Lemon Bars / Kelsi atLovestrong / Samantha at The Samantha Show / Emily at Emmy Jake / Rachel at Rachel Sayumi / Robin atPenn & Quill / Ruth at My Little Nest / Britt at My Little Sunshines / Autumn at Stay gold Autumn / Jen atReal Life, On Purpose / Alyssa at Pinsent Life / Emma at Ever Emma. Want to be one of the 15 How We Wore It stylists next month? Don’t forget to sign up!

The Bachelorette Season 12: Week 2


So I missed posting about Episode 1. It was all a little crazy with a three day weekend following a vacation and being so busy. I barely had time to watch - but don't worry I did. Here are my quick thoughts. I really loved that the intros were quick and didnt take a million minutes of my precious two hours. I was really surprised - after my awesome review of contestants - who I loved and didn't love. I surprisingly really loved James Taylor, Christian, and Luke more than I thought I would. Also - Derek didn't stand out as much as I would have wished. All my thoughts can be summed up like this - DRAMAAAA. I wish she would have booted more of the drinkers.

Okay. Onto Episode 2. Week 2. Looks like lots of the drama that I thought would come later is already coming up. Did they decide to bring in all the hyper aggressive gentleman to one season!? Couldn't they have spread it out a tiny bit? Wait... what am I saying. I LOVE IT! Bring on the crazy.

First up. A firefighting date. The men get to work and... wait. Wells is down for the freaking count. BYE WELLS! But not really bye, but he seems like he couldn't hack it. And by seems I mean he couldn't hack it. I sort of feel like that is sad because I think I could maybe even hack it? I don't know. But okay. The men get to be firefighters for the day and obvi Grant kills it because this is his actual full time career. Then they do a top three contest and somehow Wells gets in - are they trying to kill the dude - and then Grant, duhhh, and Luke. And When Grant beats Luke, Luke is so sad. And then the night date is norm as norm can be.

The first one on one goes to Derek! Maybe he did make a better impression on Jojo than I thought. Because he was behind the scenes on the first episode – like I thought he might go home because he got so tiny of airtime. But this puts him back on the map, emiright? Their date was super cute and unique. Choose your adventure – like those books from grade school, but in real life. Loved it all. Okay, but poor Derek with that story about his last relationship. Him and Jojo have so much in common. Both being in love with someone and not getting married to that someone because someone else swooped in. My heart. Ouch.

Cut back to the house the drunk and the dbag. Look. They are besties with testies, don’t test these besties. And they just talk there talking about muscles and protein shakes and how they are so much stronger than everyone else and more manly. And they know the other one is cool because they both wear muscle tanks daily.

Okay. Now the cocktail party. A few guys try to woo and win her throughout the night and Chad eats a lot of meat. I didn’t realize how great of a spread the contestants got each cocktail party. All you ever see is the wine glasses and scotch. But that is a ton of food and it looks like Chad didn’t even make a dent in it! It was like buffet paradise. The rose ceremony overall is pretty norm except for the bubble snow that Jojo doesn’t realize wont spread like regular snow when being blown out of your hand.

Alright. Time to rose some dudes. The three men that go home are Sir Hipster-a-lot which was an abvi choice, Will who surprisingly never got as drunk as I predicted, and my dear sweet superfan James… and in this moment my heart breaks. You should have kept the superfan, Jojo!! And yes – she kept the man I hate the most, Big Bad Chad. One part of me thinks it was due to the producer’s request but the rest of me thinks Jojo is crazy and actually likes him. Don’t do it, Jojo! Don’t do it! I will be honest – during the rose ceremony I was more of listening than watching so I cannot tell you who actually was best dressed, but I will keep my eyes peeled this week for it.

With all that being said and all that being shared – ultimately my tops are Luke, Aaron, and Robby for now, but I think I will be able to get a better idea of who I want to win as the season progresses on because… things change. Remember how last season Olivia was in my top three? So let’s watch and see how this all unfolds. With that being said – who are you loving this season? Anyone you are hoping to see go home, other than Chad?

Grey Summer


I know that summer is a time to introduce all the bright colors and florals back into your closet and your wardrobe, but you guys - I can't. I am a sucker for the neutrals. And I became even more of a sucker when I spotted this grey bag from Fawn Design. And it has officially become my bag for summer because of the simplicity of the bag styling but also because hello, backpack! I never knew how much I loved a backpack purse. Which is especially strange because through high school and my first couple years of college I was anti backpack... crazy right?! But now I live for the hands free tote when out running errands and walking around.

Bag: Fawn Design
Top: A Dip of Darling
Pants: Old Navy
Shoes: Target
Watch: Arvo

I laid eyes on my very first Fawn bag at Alt last summer where I actually got to meet the women behind the brand. And I loved her and I loved the bag. Ever since then I have been swooning after this grey diddy – my only regret was buying it before the navy came out, you guys it is a dream. But the bag is perfect. The bag has a ton of space – it is a diaper bag after all – to hold everything I need and when I travel I can throw my laptop and everything in there no problem. There is one large pocket on the back of the inside and then four additional pockets lining the rest of the inside. On the outside of the bag you have three large pockets and one small zipper pocket. Plus – the bag can be backpack or over the shoulder. And I personally am a huge fan of the straps and how wide they are so it sits comfortably no matter how much is tucked in my Fawn bag. Would you pick a Fawn Design bag for your summer go to? What do you look for in a summer bag?
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