Cozy Fall Moments With Wayfair: How I Bring Fall to Florida Year With My Decor Year After Year

 

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Being a lifelong Floridian probably makes it a little ironic fall is my favorite season, but I like to be a little bit of a rebel. So what if it’s 96 degrees today? My front door is flanked with fresh mums (not yet dead from my lack of green thumb) and my house is filled with the fragrant smell of fall-scented candles. Fall is special in my heart, and I only care a teeny tiny little bit that I’m still sweaty and hot and miserable the moment I open the front door.

Inside – it’s fall. And my electric bill shows just how hard I’m trying to make that a reality in my house! It’s college football season (Go Gators!). It’s my birthday (yay!), and it’s pumpkin spice season. What’s not to love? The hope that the nights will one day become cooler, the humidity will disappear, and a good hair day could happen ANY moment gives me life this time of year. And I work hard to ensure my husband and our kids love this time of year as much as I. Cozy fall moments are the ones I live for, and that’s why I’m sharing with you how I bring a little bit of fall to Florida even when Mother Nature is laughing at me.

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere

It’s not fall if you don’t have pumpkins taking up every square inch of space in your home, and I love these little faux pumpkins I have all over my home. My kids actually picked them out a few years ago at Target. They fell in love with the sparkles, and who can say no to a couple of sweet faces? Or sparkly pumpkins? No one. That’s who.

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The Scent of Fall

So…fall in Florida does not smell much like crisp air and cool breezes. It smells a little more like sweat and freshly mowed grass and sunscreen. Okay, okay. It smells just like summer. Outside, that is. In my house, it’s all about the scent of fall. I am such a huge fan of Bath and Body Works fall scents (here, here, and here are my favorites), and I really love when they are on sale for $12.50 (which seems to happen every other week or so!). You won’t find a room in my house without a fall scented candle.

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This time of year I also switch up our hand soap in the laundry room, kitchen, and all the bathrooms (and my body lotion, too) to include the fall scents from Bath and Body Works. What can I say? I want everything to smell like a pumpkin and some crisp fall air. It makes me happy.

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Read Between the Lines

Who doesn’t love a fun sign? We do in our house, and we love them even more during fall when they have fun sayings (and GLITTER!) on them. We hang them up, prop them up, and basically make sure everyone who comes into our home knows it’s fall because they’re reading it on the signs. They might not feel it, but they can read it.

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Always Fresh Flowers

Fun fact about me: You will never once walk into my home and not find fresh flowers everywhere. The master, the bathrooms, the entry, the kitchen, the mantel, our home office…fresh flowers are so near and dear to my heart. When fall arrives (unofficially on September 1st in our home) I immediately begin purchasing only “fall” flowers.

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Mums by the front door. Sunflowers in the office. And while I know roses and Gerber daisies aren’t ‘fall’ flowers, I buy them in fall colors and make them fall-like. Reds, yellows, oranges, and a mixture of white makes everything more fun. I also sometimes throw them in a fun fall vase to add a little ambiance. There’s something so gorgeous about flowers in bold fall colors that adorn the top of my favorite accent tables like these fun nesting tables in my home office or this fun faux-marble coffee table in our sitting room, all from Wayfair!

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Gimme All the Coffee Mugs

If you love coffee mugs, you’ll really love my house. I have a mug obsession, and even my husband wonders why I feel the need to own a mug for every day of my life. He might not get it, but he supports my addictions both to coffee and mugs in which to put cup after cup. This fun fall cup came straight from Etsy – my favorite place for fun coffee mugs.

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We might not get much in the way of cool weather here, but the end of September does bring with it a small change in the morning air. The humidity hovers around 75% and the temps about the same, which is basically a cold winter’s day. I like to come home in the morning after dropping our kids off at school and take my coffee and my laptop onto our back deck to sit and work until it gets too hot. It’s my way of pretending it’s fall (and you can find my fun deck table from Wayfair HERE).

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Family Fun

I think what I love the most about fall is the family time. The sun sets a little earlier so it’s not quite as warm outside in the evenings, and we find ourselves outside night after night with the kids playing on the trampoline, running around the yard playing ball, taking bike rides or golf cart rides through the neighborhood, playing with our sidewalk chalk, and basically having fun. We spend more time at Disney with the glorious fall décor. We bake a little more this time of year, and I love that the kids love it.

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We sit down together as a family every year (well, this will be the first year the twins join us since they’re no longer begging for bed at 6:30 every night) as a family to drink hot chocolate and watch “Hocus Pocus” and we roast marshmallows on the back deck in the fire pit. We make s’mores. We just tend to spend so much more time together – and that’s the kind of cozy fall moments I long for all year.

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{ Fall Wreath from Wayfair HERE }

Happy Fall, y’all.

I’d love to hear what you do to embrace fall with your own family!

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34 Life Lessons to Live By For My 34th Birthday

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s true – but it’s really inside your personality. If you’re ugly on the inside, it won’t take people long to determine you’re ugly on the outside. Basically, you control your beauty and it starts from the inside (remember – sarcastic people who love to laugh and genuinely kind people are the best…and we could all strive to be a little most of all of the above) but that doesn’t mean you get to forget about the outside. I mean, you can be Mother Theresa’s personality twin but girl, if you’re not taking care of the outside, you’re going to look more like the kid from the Exorcist. Just saying.

Beauty tips and lifestyle tips are really a dime a dozen. The internet is filled with them (and the internet doesn’t lie, y’all) but it’s really the simplest, most basic habits that really help you put your best face forward both literally and figuratively.

As I age, I’m learning that basics are my best friend. I’m turning 34 on Saturday – Happy Birthday to ME! – and I thought I’d share 34 of my favorite beauty and life tips. Use one, use 34, use 7, ignore them all – it’s your face, ladies – but hopefully one of these tips that have changed my life more than once over the past 34 years can do the same for you.

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Basic Health Makes You Gorgeous

  1. It keeps you young, helps you sleep better, and gives you energy. Now you don’t have dark circles, your stressful attitude is gone, and your smile is more sincere. Instant gorgeous.
  2. Drink the water. Drink all the water. I might have a small three cup of coffee obsession in the mornings, but it’s water, water, water, water, all the time. I keep my Yeti filled all day long so I always have cold water – your skin cannot thank you enough for all the water you should give it.
  3. Seriously. Get some sleep. I have four kids, a husband I like to spend a little personal time with each night, a house to maintain, an active social life, and a business to run – and you better believe nothing stops me from sleeping 8 hours every night (also, you’re all welcome. I’m a monster with less than 8). There’s nothing so pressing in your life you can’t get a solid 8 hours (unless you’re new parents).
  4. Eat well – and often. I loooooove good food. I don’t tell people to diet. I don’t. I love donuts and ice cream and other things that aren’t so good for me. And I never say no. But I also never go overboard. I love those things, but I’d much rather have a bowl of yogurt and blueberries or some roasted broccoli. I’ve found healthy food can be made into something magical, and your body will crave it.
  5. If you’re not laughing to a point you feel it’s probably inappropriate each day, you’re not doing life right. Sorry. Laugh more. Forget everything else.
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Care for Your Skin Every Day 

  1. Don’t forget to moisturize. It’s the best thing you can do for your skin, and not just your face, ladies.
  2. Wear sunscreen. All. The. Time.
  3. Wash your face. I don’t care what you wash it with, just wash it at the end of the day.
  4. Keep your hands off your face – they’re really gross.
  5. Keep your phone off your face – it’s even nastier than your hands (at least those are washed!).

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Change Your Attitude and Watch Your Glow

  1. Choose to be happy. Sure, some days suck. It’s true, but focusing on the all the negatives gets you nowhere. Focus on the good in life, and be thankful for your problems. My grandmother always said that if I threw all my problems into a pile with everyone else’s, I’d want mine back FAST.
  2. Be nice. Seriously, it’s not that hard.
  3. When you decide to be a giver, you decide to be a happier version of you. Just remember that giving is only pretty when it’s private. Once you post it on social media, you take away from the giving and become a taker.
  4. Don’t compare yourself. Girl, you are amazing and you don’t have to try and be like or better than or whatever than anyone else. Everyone has a different life, different wants, different tastes, and differently dreams. Live yours, love yours, and be happy for everyone else doing the same. It’s very, very simple.
  5. Be you. It’s much easier. And it’s much better than trying to be someone else.

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Know Yourself and Be Yourself

  1. Know what looks good on you, and stick with it. For example, high necklines and sleeveless tops and off-the-shoulder tops are not flattering on me. I don’t wear them. They’re amazing on others, and I really love them, but I know they’re not spectacular on my broad shoulders – so I avoid them.
  2. Know your colors. It might sound silly, but it’s not. You might have yellow or blue undertones. Figure out it, and pick colors that flatter you. Want to know why I wear so much Lilly? Because bright, very bold colors look good on me. Muted colors do not. That once made me sad, but I’m growing to appreciate it.
  3. Don’t wear it if you’re not comfortable in it. Darling, if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t look confident. If you don’t look confident, you don’t look good. I don’t care if you’re wearing a $7,500 Versace gown or a $7 H&M dress. If you’re not comfortable, it doesn’t flatter.
  4. Wear the heels. They make your legs look amazing. I’ve never met a woman in heels who doesn’t look like a bombshell.
  5. Don’t worry about anyone else. If you like it, rock it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

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Pick Good People and Be Good People

  1. All right, so sometimes you can’t really choose the people in your life (I mean, you can’t pick your family, right?!) but you don’t have to spend too much time with great auntie Sue and her secondhand smoke, so that’s a plus. The people you do get to pick, pick them well. They should complement you (both literally and figuratively).
  2. Get rid of toxic people or minimize your time with them. We all have them in our lives, and sometimes you just have to minimize your time with them. If they don’t fill your tank or make you feel good, you don’t need ‘em.
  3. Be a good person. Treat your people well. Be good to them. Make an effort. Remember they are on your side and you are on theirs. Check in, find time, make time, and have fun.
  4. Be kind. If you’re not a kind person, you’re not anyone’s kind of person.

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Be Deliberate With Your Time

  1. Say no. It’s okay to say no to people and things that don’t add value to your life, that you’re simply not in the mood for, or that you simply don’t have time for.
  2. Forget busy. It’s overrated. We’re all busy, but I never really realize how much “busy” we have in our lives until we had the twins and became the parents of four. Our busy now is much different. The kind of busy we have with four kids is not like the kind of busy we had before. A lot of our ‘busy’ is not by choice. Before, it was. Get rid of it and take back your life.
  3. Go on dates. With yourself, with your friends, with your spouse. I went on my first date with my husband 16 years ago, and I enjoy our date nights more now than I did then – and that never fails to amaze me! I love that time alone. I feel so energized and refreshed when it’s just the two of us having a good time. Probably because he makes me laugh. I like to laugh. Also, he’s cute. And I like kissing him. But that’s not any of your business.
  4. Keep it simple. I won’t lie – I’m a very fancy girl at heart, and I want the high heels and the fancy date nights and the champagne. But it’s the simplest things that make the most of our time. It’s cookie baking with the kids. It’s Gator football parties with our people. It’s our weekly Wednesday night dinner date with some of our favorite friends in the world that we’ve been having for – wait for this – almost 10 years. From one baby and a weekly dinner at our favorite restaurant on Wednesday nights to 7 sweet (mostly) babies and Wednesday dinner at alternate houses every week. It’s a really simple thing, but it never fails to make my heart happy.
  5. Make time to rest. The best thing we ever did for ourselves was take our Sundays and turn them into our own personal Sunday Funday. We don’t make many plans on Sundays unless it’s something really important. We church. We eat. We sleep in. We shop. We play outside. We basically say no to everyone but our kids – and Mondays are so much easier because of it.

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And a Few Others

  1. Do what makes your heart happy. Trust me when I say it makes all the difference in the world.
  2. Spend some money on your shoes and handbags. Who cares about anything else?
  3. Wear lipstick. It’s pretty.
  4. It’s prettier.
  5. Love your kids. They are the coolest people you’ll ever know. Love them hard – but don’t forget to be a parent first, to strive to be the worst parent ever from time to time (it means you’re doing it right), and don’t forget to be realistic. They’re not perfect. They’re actually probably pretty annoying sometimes, but they’re also funny, sweet, and they love hard. So try to ignore the annoying, embarrass them as often as possible, and have all the dance parties in the family room. They’re the best things.

Florals: Pretty Even in the Fall (And Always Gorgeous on Date Night)

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{ Dress: Charles Henry (old) | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik (old) | Crossbody: Prada }

People ask me all the time what I love most about my job. Is it working on my own schedule? Is it working from home? It is being my own boss?

It’s Monday. I really love Monday. It’s a fresh start, it’s a relaxing day, and I love that it’s all on my terms. I do keep a strict schedule for myself, but I like it that way. And today is Monday – and it’s a good Monday. It’s a good Monday because all four kids are back in school. They’ve been home for 10 days. They missed six days of school because it was closed due to Hurricane Irma. Our schedules didn’t change once the hurricane – and all the anxiety it brought – passed.

People always say it must be so nice to get to work from home so we can be home with the kids, but let me just tell you this. Working from home with kids at home is like “Bring your child to work day,” every single day. Think about what you do for a living. Now imagine going to work in your office every single day with your kids present. How much would you get done? How would your sanity be?

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Fun, right?

Imagine a full – and unexpected – week of kids being at the office with you and that was our week. Never mind that half of them were sick all week, and that everything in Florida was closed, there wasn’t any gas, and we couldn’t really leave the house all week. It was rough.

So….this Monday is a pretty Monday in our house!

It’s made even prettier because it’s coming off a lovely weekend. We had two kids relapse Saturday night with their fevers and coughs, but they’re better. Friday night, though…it was pretty good. My husband knew it was me suffering the most while the kids were home.

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You see, I work for myself. He works for someone else. He cannot choose his hours and work when it’s convenient for him. The kids were home, and that meant I was the one getting up every 7 seconds to make snacks, wipe little bottoms, clean up messes, get everyone ready for naptime, play games, and be there for them while he worked.

That meant very long nights stuck in the office for me after he was finally done working and could care for the kids so I could catch up on my deadlines. It meant we basically spent the week like roommates in passing, caring for the kids and basically surviving.

He knew I was one, “Mommy, mommy? Mom? Mommy? MOMMY!” away from taking the top spot on the evening news, so he very sweetly called my mom and asked her to babysit Friday night, made reservations at our favorite local restaurant, and then he asked me out on a date (I loooooooove that!). So that’s what we did.

And I needed it so badly.

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And I’m sharing my date night outfit with you, because I’m obsessed with it. I love a good floral and some serious statement shoes. This dress is two seasons old (It’s a Charles Henry I picked up at Nordstrom in summer 2015 and CANNOT get enough of…I mean, it has pockets!), but I’m linking a few similar floral dresses for you.

Florals are so hot this fall, and I love that people are finally realizing they aren’t just for spring. Floral is pretty, and it’s for all seasons. So here are a few of the most fab floral dresses of the season you need in your closet. This one This one is perfectly casual, this one is so flirty, and this one leaves just a little to the imagination!

What’s your favorite date night consist of?

Professional At-Home Teeth Whitening with Real Results: How A Busy Mom of 4 Gets Pro Whitening Results On the Go {And a GIVEAWAY}

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{Before and After using Smile Brilliant’s At-Home Whitening Trays}

I have terrible vision. I’ve worn glasses/contacts since I was in middle school. It’s a family trait on my dad’s side of the family, but I can’t complain because along with horrible vision comes beautiful teeth. In my almost 34 years, the most my dentist has ever had to do to my teeth is clean them. No braces. No cavities. Nothing. I hope I pass that along to my four little ones. I’ve always believed that your smile is the first thing people notice about you – and it might as well be gorgeous, right?

Unfortunately, my perfect teeth began changing a bit in my 30s. It happened when I turned 30 and gave birth to our now 3.5-year-old twins a few months later. The twins are our third and fourth babies, and I’m sure I don’t need to explain the level of exhausted that comes with parenting four kids in addition to running my own business.

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I’d always loved coffee before, but I was a cup a day drinker. Now I’m carrying my third cup into my office when I get home from taking the kids to school. It’s not great for my pearly whites. If you add the fact that we are sticklers for having all the kids in bed no later than 7:30 pm so we can relax and have a glass of red, my teeth have certainly been whiter.

I’ve been considering whitening my teeth for a while now, but I’ve already tried the over-the-counter stuff without being impressed. It doesn’t feel good, taste good, or work well, and I’m a big fan of not wasting my time. Because I don’t have much of that being an un-paid Uber driver to four little people who all have activities, places to go, things to do, and people to see every. Single. Day.

My oral health is important to me – because it’s directly related to my overall health, something I highly recommend everyone take the time to research – and I’m at the dentist every six months. However, I barely have time to sit there for my cleanings let alone for an expensive whitening process that I know might cause sensitivity and even require additional appointments.

To quote Pinterest: “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

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When Smile Brilliant reached out and asked me if I’d like to try one of their at-home whitening kits, I was intrigued. I’ll admit that I didn’t think it would work as well as an office whitening, but they were offering me a chance to use their state-of-the-art technology at home; and that’s pretty time-saving for me. So, I said yes.

And boy was I wrong (don’t tell my husband…it would break his heart to learn that I am, in fact, occasionally wrong after 16 years of thinking otherwise).

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The Kit

When my kit arrived, I was impressed. I spent a few minutes going over the instructions to ensure I didn’t make any mistakes, and they could not have been easier to comprehend. Mix the blue and the white putty together – quickly – stick it in the mouth guards, put your teeth in them, and leave them there for 3 minutes.

The only thing the instructions didn’t mention was that I’d lose 3 pounds in saliva weight by the time I was done molding my teeth. I won’t lie – it was hilariously gross, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed watching me mop up the mess I was making!

Once my teeth were molded, I filled out the form in the kit, mailed it all back the Smile Brilliant’s lab in the pre-paid, self-addressed envelope, and I had my custom teeth trays on my doorstep in less than a week.

The Whitening Process

If you thought the molding portion of the kit was simple, you will love the whitening process. The kit comes with several syringes. Some are whitening gel and some are desensitizing gel. I began whitening by filling my custom trays with the whitening gel, and I left it on for an hour the first time. I followed using the desensitizing gel for 20 minutes.

I don’t have sensitive teeth, but I figured I might as well be safe rather than sorry. The entire process is so simple. You can whiten every day, but I chose to do every other day just to ensure I didn’t experience any sensitivity – and I did not. What’s even more amazing is how convenient it is to whiten. I whitened driving my kids to and from school, while I sat at my desk working, while I made dinner, went through the nightly prep getting the kids all ready for school the following day…you can whiten any time.

I noticed a significant change in the color of my teeth the first time I whitened, and I cannot even begin to express how happy I am with the results. It’s painless, but it’s even more effective. I can’t believe I found a way to whiten my teeth at a professional level without the pain, without the cost (the entire kit costs less than $200 – and it’s custom-made!), and I can use it again and again by ordering new whitening and desensitizing gel as needed.

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Best news ever – I can continue to drink all the coffee and all the red wine without worrying about the color of my teeth. If you love convenience, saving money, and getting real results (while still drinking all the things you love the most) you will love the Smile Brilliant process. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it takes no time.

Win Your Own Smile Brilliant Kit or Save $20 on Your Own Kit With This Code

And if all that isn’t spectacular enough, I’m super excited to offer my readers a chance to win your very own Smile Brilliant whitening kit. All you need to do is click here to enter for a chance to win! If you don’t win, don’t panic! I’ve partnered with Smile Brilliant to offer a discount on your own kit by using promo code “tiffanyraiford20” when you check out!

You’re never fully dressed without a smile, and Smile Brilliant is making it almost laughably easy to fully dress yourself with the kind of killer smile that makes people do a double-take.


Tooth Whitening Gel

Surviving Hurricane Irma With A Grateful Heart

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{#floridastrong Our sweet girl offered to sweep all the leaves and branches off the drive the morning after}

Hurricane Irma.

What a bitch.

To say that we are exceptionally thankful right now is a gross understatement.

  • We have a home
  • We have no damage
  • We have power
  • We have one another

The worst of the worst was predicted for our small Gulf Coast Florida community Sunday night, and it didn’t happen. It did happen to so many people across my home state, but we were spared the worst. It certainly didn’t feel like it as we lay awake all night long Sunday watching the trees bend almost completely over in our yard thanks to the wind.

The howling.

Oh my goodness; the howling.

It’s a sound you cannot describe, and I know it wasn’t anything like what people down south listened to for days while this hurricane barreled down on our state. We were so fortunate. Six long, miserable hours of devastating wind – and we lost one tree. It uprooted, fell on our driveway, and that was that. Everything else remained intact. We never even lost power.

We are so fortunate, and we don’t take that for granted. I touched on the fact that Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on our lives last week before she ever even made landfall in our gorgeous state, and I wanted to update you all after receiving so many emails and Instagram DMs from my readers asking how we fared.

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{The wind blew so hard and long it uprooted this tree and left it leaning about 10 feet further forward than usual before it came down}

Very, very well. It’s hard not to have a grateful heart right now even though things are nowhere near back to normal around here. Many are without power. Our kids will have 6 cancelled days of school before they go back next week (a miserable nightmare for my husband and I considering we both work from home), and few things are open. Gas is still scarce, and we are all suffering extensively from cabin fever.

But we are grateful.

And I want to share a few of the things that have been on my heart and mind this week following the devastation left behind when Irma departed.

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Our Beautiful Sense of Community

We didn’t “wake up” Monday morning. I’m willing to bet most of us were up all night long listening to the wind, watching it, and praying. I know I was listening to it so that I could keep my family safe in our safe room if the worst occurred.

But Monday morning. Oh, Monday morning. We waited for the wind to die down before heading outside to see the damage. We had a major tree down, and that was it. My husband, dad, mother, and mother-in-law had it cut up and moved off our driveway in under half an hour.

There was a tree down across our street making it impassable. One of our neighbors was out by 9 am cutting it up and moving it. I took my trusty broom down the street and did what I could to get the leftover debris off the street just because I didn’t know what else to do. Neighbors helping neighbors, people helping people, people opening their homes.

We were blessed to have power through the storm and after, and we opened our doors to our many friends and family who didn’t. We have hot meals, air conditioning, and we have hot water. But to see how many people on my Facebook feed did the same thing to people they barely know, don’t know, would never have known otherwise touched my heart.

One Nation Under God, Indivisible

I have no actual idea what is happening in the world. For the past two weeks we’ve been cut off from all things reality and focused only on things like the weather. So forgive me if I sound ignorant at the moment. Our world is nowhere near as divided as people believe. We see the worst of the worst. You’re seeing it right now.

You’re seeing people in our beautiful state looting, stealing, being arrested for breaking curfew. Believe me when I tell you this is the small, small minority. We are united. We are indivisible – the media simply chooses not to show this. Ratings, or whatever.

Men and women putting their own lives on hold to help those in need, opening their doors, paying it forward, offering water to those out restoring our power and keeping our street safe, helping those in need clean their damage and restore their sense of peace. People being kind to one another, going out of their own way to help others – that’s what Florida is all about right now. I don’t care what you see on the news; that’s our reality.

We are all frustrated; even me, and I’m not hot, sweaty, miserable, and dying for a shower. Schools are cancelled, stores are kind-of open or entirely closed, and no one has all of anything. The gas supply is still short, so those of us will full tanks are too scared to do any driving for fear of wasting our gas. Grocery stores are empty because they lost their fresh foods and perishable items. Lines at open stores, available gas stations, and restaurants with limited menus of what’s left are long and tedious. Many people are without power. The roads are a mess.

It’s a mess here even though we were so fortunate. And we have no idea when anything will open completely, when gas is something we can get in a second or less anytime we want, and we have no idea when our lives will go back to normal. We are all frustrated – but far more people are being kind, generous, and loving than not.

We are one nation under God, and we are indivisible.

My heart is overwhelmed with all the love and support I’m seeing. I can’t even. I’m emotional and chocked up at so many sweet stories and so many selfless people. My heart is so full I don’t even care that my kids are making me so crazy I can’t even remember why I had them – or that I’ll feel like this for another five days.

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My Perspective Has Shifted

Our grass is so high it makes our yard look trashy. Our mulch washed away so badly you can see the black plastic weed covering stuff under it all the way around our house. Our kids are making such a mess this week while we work and they play that I want to cry. Laundry in our house is never done despite washing three loads a day. We can’t leave the house. It’s hot. And we are bored as hell.

But that’s all right.

I don’t care how high the grass is because I still have a lawn to bitch about. I don’t care how un-mulched our landscaping is right now because my husband thought to get tons of new mulch before the storm, and we get to spend some quality time with our kids outside laying it. The mess makes me twitchy. I’m a little OCD. But at the same time, I’m so glad we still have a home in which our kids can make a mess and make me crazy.

I’m so glad we have power so we can wash 8,000 loads of laundry every week. I can’t even imagine what might happen if we let one day go by without doing those loads. I don’t mind that we can’t leave the house, because we are never home. The break has been nice, and the rest is very welcome. We are bored and I want to go shopping, but watching our kids use their imaginations and have the best time doing it has been amazing.

Perspective in this kind of situation is paramount. We can be unhappy that lines are long, nothing is open, and life is kind-of back to normal yet so weird and uncontrollable at the same time. Or we can remember to be so very, very thankful that we are alive and that no major damage occurred. After the fear in my heart for days this past weekend, I choose to be thankful. That fear was real. It was terrifying, and it was heart-stopping. It made breathing difficult. It made everything difficult. I baked everything in our kitchen over the course of three days to give me something to do that wasn’t panicking, yet I put not one bit of food in my mouth those same three days (don’t worry – I’m making up for lost time now that I have my appetite back!).

I never want to feel that way again, but I always want to feel the way I feel right now. Grateful and thankful and fortunate. I have my husband. I have my kids. I have my home. Nothing else really seems to matter much at this point.

(But if my lawn company is reading this, I’ll double your rate this week if you put me first on your list when you finally have fuel again….just a thought).

To those who did suffer during this hurricane, my heart cries for you. To those complaining about the long lines and the lack of gas as life slowly gets back to normal, well, suck it up. You’re alive and if you’ve got time to bitch, you probably didn’t suffer much during this storm. So I’ll say it again – suck it up and quit being whiny. We all have our kids home this week, and their whining is all we can take. Yours is unnecessary.

To the linemen, the police officers, the doctors, the medics, the ambulance drivers, the firemen and women, and all the other people who are out working to make sure our spoiled lives go back to normal as quickly as possible; THANK YOU.

Difficult Decisions in Difficult Situations: Family First Always

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It turns out being a grown-up is entirely too overrated. I mean, honestly.

You guys…we are facing some serious problems here in Florida. Serious problems – and this is a serious post. I know you want fashion and lifestyle tips and things like that, but this week things these seem a little less important than what’s happening. Or perhaps that’s what I’m telling myself as I cross off one flight, two flights, hotels, limos, and dinner reservations as cancelled/refunded/rescheduled one at a time. You see, I’m leaving tonight for NYFW. This is my third year going – and it’s my all-time favorite part about what I do for a living.

Except that I’m not leaving. For the first time in three years, I’m missing Fashion Week in New York City. Am I disappointed? Oh, I’m crushed. I love NYFW. I love NYC. It’s my home away from home. My husband and I spend several weekends a year in NYC, and I was certainly looking forward to a weekend of quality time with him. But…our kids, our home, our family. Those things are more important.

Fashion Week happens again in February. I’ll be there. This weekend is all about being safe. It’s about praying and being with my family and hoping Hurricane Irma doesn’t devastate us and our sweet Coastal Florida community. Could we make it Friday and come home Saturday first thing so we don’t miss my most important day of shows and presentations on Friday? Yes, we probably could.

Do we want to take the chance this beast changes track at the last minute, speeds up, or anything else changes and we can’t get home even on a 6 am flight Saturday morning? No. Absolutely not. There’s not a chance in HELL we want to be away from our kids if that happens. We don’t even know about being here as it stands right now. We’re fortunate we both work from home and have the option to pick up and go anytime we want/need. We are also very fortunate my father-in-law lives in North Carolina and has always made it very clear to us his door is always open (I mean, we totally know it’s because we bring all these cute grandkids of his with us, but we’ll take it).

So, we make grown-up decisions this week; all kinds of grown-up decisions. Does it suck? Yep. Absolutely. But, I’ve officially managed to get FULL REFUNDs on every single thing we booked this weekend. I’ve been refunded our flight costs, our hotel costs, our limo costs – all of it. Everyone has been so accommodating and amazing and wonderful and kind and sweet, and I love that. And our parents have been so gracious to offer to keep the kids so we can rebook our trip for the end of the month to celebrate my birthday. No NYFW, but we still get to spend a long weekend away with one another focusing on us and our marriage – and my 34th birthday.

On that note, I want to address a few very serious things.

Be Kind – If you’re not being kind right now in the midst of this storm, change your attitude. Don’t be a miserable bitch at the gas pump because the lines are long. Don’t be an ass because someone else got the last bit of water before you. We ae all scared. We are all worried. We have a Cat 5 hurricane breaking records left and right barreling down on us – some of us worse than others – and we are all terrified. Be kind. The world needs more of that. Offer a helping hand rather than a snide eye-roll. Know there will be more gas. Know there will be more water. Work together to help your neighbors with their window covers. Work with them to communicate when you’re evacuating or staying behind. Be kind, people. Please.

Be Respectful – This is a great time of need for many people. The storm is taking a more Easterly track at the moment (and that’s very good for me and my West Coast Florida address) but it’s not great for any of us. There will be rain. There will be flooding. There will be power outages. Stay home once it begins. Don’t be the jerk driving through flood waters if you aren’t on your way to check on your family, home, or business. Every time you drive through those waters – even slowly – you push the water into homes and businesses more than it’s already in those homes and businesses. The devastation is going to be everywhere – and we must all be respectful.

Be Safe – Have a plan, have a system, and have some common sense. This is not the time to worry about increasing your Instagram following by posting a crazy video of you driving your Golf Cart through the backyard in hurricane-force winds. This storm is a killer. It’s a beast. It’s not a joke, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by treating it as such. If you’re ordered to evacuate, get out. Don’t play games. The governor doesn’t require you do this because he loves to see traffic backed up all over the place. He does this to keep you alive.

Be Welcoming – Do you have an elderly neighbor without a spouse or family? Do you have a single mom living next door with her small baby? Do you know someone who has no one? If you do, consider opening up your home if you’re staying behind. Think about how terrified you are, and now think about how terrified that single mom/child/elderly person is all by him or herself without anyone in the dark, the heat, the damp, the storm. Open your door by opening your heart.

Be Prepared – I know this is tough. Supplies are low (but the wine aisle is FULL, so that’s something to consider). It’s a mess out there. But be prepared. Know where you’ll go in your home if there is a tornado. Have a safe place. For example, my husband’s closet has a door on the back wall that opens up into a room beneath our staircase. We keep blankets, pillows, non-perishable items, shoes, and other things in here for us and our kids if ever there is a tornado or other dangerous situation. We want to be safe – and you should know where you will go in your home if something happens. There is no time in the moment to think about this. Think now. It might save your life.

Be Prepared…Again – Be prepared for what might occur. This is not a Cat 1 or even a Cat 2. This is a Cat 5. Even if this storm loses some of its power, it’s still going to be a strong storm. This storm has 185 mph winds. Even if it loses significant strength, it can still be a powerful storm. Be prepared for what might happen.

Friends, I don’t love this situation. I hate it. I don’t hate, because hate is such a wasted emotion. But I hate thinking of what might happen, but it’s time to for us to do that. Understand and be prepared for the worst. You might lose your home. You might lose your belongings. You might come home after evacuating to a mess unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You might come home to nothing wrong. You don’t know. But you must prepare yourself. Know how to get in touch with your insurance agency. Take photos and videos of the interior of your home before you go. Take photos and videos of all your belongings. Do this for you and your family.

You guys, this is going to be a very long road for so many of us. I’m praying that this thing doesn’t affect us nearly as much as it could. I’m praying that this storm goes out to the Atlantic and misses the states. I’m praying for all the people in the islands. I’m praying for us. I’m praying.

I’m praying.

Night. Day. I’m praying. Our strength at this time lies in Him. Pray. And be prepared. And be nice. Because honestly, mean people suck. Don’t suck.

Good luck. Stay safe. And may the odds be ever in OUR favor. We are in this together, and we will get through this.

3 Classic Ways to Style a Blazer for Instant Chic

Is anyone else keeping an eye on the tropics like it’s their job? As a lifelong Floridian, I’ve been so exceptionally blessed to have never been through a major storm. The worst was back in 2004 when we had three or four back-to-back hurricanes and tropical storms come our way. It pushed back the permit-pulling process of our new construction at the time. We were 20 and 21, building our first house, and very annoyed our permits kept being pushed. Of course, it’s hard to be annoyed when the reason was to give current homeowners a chance to rebuild and repair after such significant storm damage.

Right now, I’m concerned because I’ll be in NYC this weekend for NYFW. If this storm hits us here, we aren’t going. If it skirts the coast and there’s any chance it might affect NYC, we aren’t going. We have four small kids – and they are our priority. So….we shall see how this plays out and affects our flights, our trip, and our weekend. God’s plan is always greater than my own, so there’s no sense in stressing over things right now.

There’s also no sense in not sharing one of my favorite closet stapes – the blazer. I love it. I love everything about it. I love a black blazer, and I love a white blazer. I’m on the hunt for a blue one right now, but I can’t seem to fall in love with any I’ve seen thus far.

So as you’re enjoying the final day of your long weekend – as am I – it’s time to think about how you can change the entire look of any ensemble with a chic blazer. I’m sharing three of my favorite ways to make my favorite go-to outfits a little chicer with a blazer below. It just gives it that little extra, don’t you think?

{Blazer: Forever 21  | Belt: Gucci  | Dress: Old Navy | Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Sunglasses: Yves Saint Laurent}

Over A Casual Dress

I love a classic black blazer over a casual dress. This is such a fun dress because it’s got small straps, and it can be worn as a casual dress with flip flops for a fun day at Disney, to a pool party, or to run errands. Add some fun heels (I love these with the bow), a belt, and a blazer, and you’re instantly polished and chic.

{Jeans: 7 for All Mankind | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Top: Lush | Blazer: Mural | Sunglasses: Gucci }

With White 

A white blazer is so effortless, and who cares if it’s a fashion faux pas to wear white after Labor Day? I’m a rule breaker…I love the dark denim with the all white. It’s fun, and you can wear it as casual or as dressed up as you prefer. It screams casual Friday with a twist of chic.

{Jeans: Rag & Bone | Shoes: Tory Burch | Blazer: Forever 21 | Hogwarts Alumni Tee: Target Style | Sunglasses: Ray Ban

With A Basic Tee

If I had my way, I’d dress up every single day. I have four kids and 100 million things to do, so sometimes it’s more like jeans and a tee. To keep it from being too basic, however, I love a fun tee with a fun saying (and I looooove Harry Potter so this shirt is everything) and a blazer. It always feel so casual cool in my eyes.

How do you love to dress up your basics?

*And I hope that everyone is keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma at this point – preparing for the worst while praying for the best. Please listen to your local meteorologist and prepare for this storm if there is even a minor chance it might affect you and your family. This is not a storm to take lightly, nor is it wise to prepare at the last moment*