Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, loves!

I love a good Friday, especially when it’s one that’s about to go into a super exciting weekend – and that is this one. It’s also extra exciting because tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. He’s turning 36, and he is aging so well. I’m so proud of the man he’s become – the best husband, the best father, the best friend. He is everything good in my life, and I’m just thankful every day that he picked me. Or that I picked him? Or that he tolerates me? Either way, I’m happy about it!

Because it’s Friday, I thought something fun would be just right. So, that means we’re going to do some Friday Favorites. They’re not all categorized or sitting pretty in one niche. They’re kind of all over the place, but they’re my favorites. So, I’m sharing.

My absolute favorite designers

I get this question from readers sometimes, and even from people in my ‘real life’ looking for some advice on which designers are the best. I mean, it’s such a personal opinion, but I do have some suggestions that work for me – and might just give you some sort of guidance on what to look at when you’re shopping for designer pieces.

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Handbags – hands down, Louis Vuitton and Prada. I bought my very first LV when I was 19, and I currently have five. I don’t buy many handbags, if we’re being honest. I don’t have the time or the inclination to trade them out every single day, so I tend to choose neutral bags that go well with everything and never go out of style. LV is where it’s at for me. I have two Speedy 30s, an Alma, a Mini Pochette, and a Neverfull GM. The Neverfull is my go-to – I bought it in 2014 right before the twins were born so I’d have a massive bag to carry all their stuff. It’s basically a piece of luggage I can carry every day, and I’m not mad about it.

In terms of clutches and evening bag – I’m all about Prada. The same for my wallets. I love a Prada wallet, and that’s all I carry. I’m considering a Double Medium. I have been thinking about a more structured bag for a while, and this one continues to draw my attention. We’ll see, but I can’t help but think this will be my next bag.

Business wise – I love Kate Spade. I have 7 or 8 Kate Spade totes. The very structured tote. I use them exclusively as a laptop case. I hate traditional laptop cases and their lack of appeal, but I need my laptop and my iPad when we travel, and Kate Spade makes a great structured tote. It’s also cheap, so I buy them in almost every color so I always have a fun one to choose from. I also have a couple of Kate Spade diaper bags. I bought my first when Addison was born, and I still use that same one every single day to carry the twins’ lunch boxes and stuff into their VPK class every morning.

Shoes – hands down, Manolo Blahnik. My husband gifted me my very first pair in 2005. We got married that year, and they were under the Christmas tree. I still have them. They’re timeless and classic, and I think I have something like 20 pair at this point. I also love Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, and Stuart Weitzman. In terms of everyday shoes, Tory Burch is my favorite because they are also timeless, classic, and they’re super affordable. You can ask for much more than a pair of sandals you can wear to the pool, the beach, travel, Disney, and every day wear that last 3-4 years and only cost $200. Talk about a bang for your buck.

Sunglasses – I don’t have a very specific favorite brand, but I will tell you that my least favorite is Chanel. I know…but every single pair of Chanel sunglasses I’ve purchased are total trash at this point. The lenses scratch SO easily – yet no other designer pair I own has the same issue – the color fades, and the logo discolors. Biggest waste of money ever, and I take excellent care of my sunglasses. My favorites have to be Givenchy, Gucci, YSL, and Ray-Ban. They seem to last a million years. When I’m spending $400-$500 on sunglasses, I want them to last longer than a year or two (sorry, Chanel).

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My absolute favorite snack

Okay, so I get this a lot, too. My favorite go-to snack in life is either a protein ball (I like to use steel cut oats, mini chocolate chips, creamy peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract in mine) or Vanilla Greek yogurt topped with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and the Publix-made granola in the produce section. You’ll never find me without one or the other.

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My absolute favorite thing about my husband

Since it is his birthday tomorrow and all….and this is an easy one. He doesn’t complain about anything, and I’ve never had to ask him for help with anything. For example, since the day we had our first child, he just changes diapers. I’ve never had to ask him to do laundry or to straighten up or to cook or to stay with the kids when I want to go anywhere. He doesn’t consider parenting a job or an act of babysitting, and he’s totally in 100 percent no matter what. I have zero complaints when it comes to him, and I feel so grateful for him when other wives say their husbands are ‘babysitting’ or ‘watching’ the kids while they do something, or when their phones ring incessantly because their husbands don’t know where to find their kids’ stuff or what to feed them or how to do this or that, or whatever.

I never take for granted that Craig will never complain about parenting or cooking or bath time or diaper time or homework time, or that he will never act like it’s my job to do those things and he’s just stepping in for me. I also never take for granted the fact that both me and the kids never have to question his love for us because he shows it every single day in his acts of service and his affirmations. He’s a total keeper – and I know it!

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My aboslute favorite go-to drink

Coffee. Water. Sangiovese. In that order.

Though when I’m more casually drinking something alcoholic, I prefer Pellegrino and Grey Goose. I’m not one much for mixed drinks (but I do like a nice Pinot Gris when I’m drinking white wine, a bloody mary or mimosa if we’re morning drinking or a Miami Vice if I am doing something mixed).

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My absolute favorite thing to buy when I shop

Flowers. I’m a sucker for fresh flowers in my home all the time. I can’t keep real plants alive to save my own life, but my fresh flowers and I know that we have about 5 to 7 days together before they die, so there are no expectations. So, I always have an array of fresh flowers. I don’t have a favorite – specifically. I do love peonies, but they’re so darn hard to find around here even when they are in season. Otherwise, my favorites change depending on the season.

Right now, for example, I have two vases of gerber daises and a vase of white tulips in the formal living room, a vase of white roses in the kitchen, a vase of colorful roses on the breakfast nook table, two vases of pink tulips on the dining room table, and another vase of pink roses on the fireplace. I like my flowers white first and foremost, but other colors depending on the season. Right now it’s all about soft pinks and whites. In the fall, I will buy a lot more yellow and orange and white. During the holidays, I will do red roses. Either way, I loooooooove to buy fresh flowers. They just always make me feel good and happy. And that’s what I love.

 

So, there’s my Friday favorites this week. What are yours?

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Subscription Boxes: The Christmas Gift that Keeps On Giving

Happy Monday, loves!

It is officially December, and that is officially exciting! We’ve been living our best lives over here the past few weeks, and I’ve been a little MIA. Last week was a crazy one. Thanksgiving was the week before last, and it was a beautiful week. Family, friends, food, and so much love. We have so much to be thankful for, and we certainly don’t take that for granted.

Last week was back to normal except not normal. Carter developed a viral infection that turned into a double ear infection that he shared with his twin sister. He was out of school 4.5 days (he left early Monday) and she was out the last two days of the week. It was a hectic week in general, but we made it work.

This week is just as crazy. I’m up even earlier than 5 am all week to get a few hours of work in before I have to be at the girls’ school to do my PTA board member duties with my PTA sister wives at the Gingerbread Shoppe all day, every day, and into the night Friday because of the Winter Festival with Santa. It’s the mom life, and I love it. It totally helps that my PTA sister wives are the most inappropriate, hilarious, completely insane, questionable, fabulous women imaginable – as am I – and we work very, very well together.

Because of that, I worked my behind off last week and over the weekend to get ahead on my deadlines so I don’t stress myself out this week, and I basically killed it. I also killed my second ever 5k this weekend – if you remember that I only began running the last week of April this year. I ran all 3.1 (except it was really 3.33) miles without stopping – in the pouring rain. I did 3 miles in 28:47 and finished overall in 30:58.14 – 99th place out of 206 runners. And I’m really, really proud of myself.

And then I shopped online for things. All the things. Because I love to shop, and I love to give gifts to the people I love, so Christmas is my jam. And while I was shopping online for all the things and my husband was going through his yearly tradition of wondering what kinds of gifts to get me since we buy what we want when we want it, I had a thought.

Subscriptions.

Subscription services are the best thing ever right now. Who doesn’t love to get new things all the time while paying a small fee for it? Boxes that show up on your doorstep filled with things that you love? It’s a win-win for everyone since these are typically the one gift that no one ever has.

That said, I’m going to share a few of the lesser-known subscription boxes that I think will become huge before much longer – and they’re not all boxes; some are just subscriptions – because I love them and have them at home. It literally is the gift that keeps on giving.

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photo from sephora.com

Play! By Sephora

It’s not like it’s a big secret that I’m totally obsessed with Sephora. It’s where I’ve done all my beauty and haircare shopping for the past 15 years of my life, and I was not about to pas sup this box when I saw it a few months ago. The box comes monthly, it’s small, and it has a few fun-size samples and larger sizes in the boxes. Every month is totally different, but you also get to fill out a questionnaire when you sign up for it that allows you to customize your personal needs (is your skin oily or dry? Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?) so they always send you something you can use.

This box costs a grand total of $10.60 per month, and it’s so much fun. It always comes with 4-5 items all in the trial-size portions. Perfume, lip stick, mascara, moisturizer, and so much more. You even get a gift card that gives you 50 free Beauty Insider points to add to your next purchase if you enter it at check out. This box is my favorite because it allows me to try new things I might not otherwise try, and I can decide for 10 bucks if I love them, hate them, or have no feelings for them whatsoever.

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photo from art of organics 

Art of Organics

This box has become one of my favorites ever since the company reached out to me and asked me if I’d like to try it out. It’s all about clean beauty delivered monthly to your door. This box comes with two to four products every month, and they are beyond amazing. What’s even better – they are full-size products. No sample or trial sizes here, thank you very much.

Every box has a theme. It might be a hair care month. It might be a winter box. It might be a skin care box. It might anything, but it’s always amazing. You can choose to order one box at a time for $41.95 monthly, buy six boxes at a time for $39.95 a box ($239.70 one time payment) or buy a full year of boxes for $455.40 ($37.95 per box).

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photo from cosmobox

CosmoBox

Thank you, Cosmo, for sending this to our lives. It is the best. It’s a box with all of the latest and greatest in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle items. You get to try them out every months for a grand total of $29.99 per month. This box always contains more than $60 in goodies, so it’s a great deal. It is another on that lets you try new things for a great price – which is always a win!

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photo from the bouqs company 

The Bouqs Company

If you’re anything like me, you love fresh flowers. I cannot go without them in my home, and you will never find us without fresh flowers in most rooms. This is a perfect subscription for anyone who loves beautiful flowers. For $32 per month, you get to have a fresh floral arrangement delivered to your front door. It’s always different, always seasonal, and always makes you feel so much happier when you see it arrive. It’s your personal best, and you will love it.

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photo from target

Cat & Jack Outfit Box from Target

So…new moms. Here you go. You’re welcome, and you’re going to love this. If you know a new mom, this will cost you $40 per month. It’s all kinds of adorable Cat & Jack (you know the brand from Target) clothing that is delivered monthly – and they even send the next size up as your baby grows. They keep track of all of it for you, and it might be the best idea since, well, anything else.

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Rent the Runway Update

If you have someone in your life who loves designer clothing and accessories, you want to spend the $80 per month on this shipment. It’s four items that come to your door. You get to keep them for one month. You get to choose what you want so you always have four gorgeous news items in your closet to wear for one month. If they don’t fit, send them back and they will ship you new ones. Hate something? Send it back and you’ll get a new one. You get to choose what you want, how you want it, and you get to have it all sent to your door. It’s hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes shipped to you every month.

The best part is that you can customize the shipment every month to meet your needs. Going on vacation? Get all the Lilly Pulitzer. Is it the holiday season? Order all the beautiful red dresses. You can update your wardrobe monthly without any commitment, and that’s what makes this the best box on the market.

The Best Fall Closet Staple: The Basic Tee

Happy Halloween, loves!

I love Halloween so much! It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let’s face it, I just love this time of year so much. It’s cool and beautiful outdoors. Well, as cool as can be in Florida. It’s still in the mid-80s all day, but the humidity level is low and the evenings and mornings are perfectly cool. I’ve been running at home instead of at the gym because it’s so gorgeous to run outside this time of year. I seriously cannot get enough of it!

We get to party hard with the twins at their school today, trick or treat with friends tonight, and hopefully not have a late night. I’ve already been practicing eating all the Halloween candy – and I’m doing a good job of it.

So, we’ve already established this time of year is my favorite (I mean, how can it not be when I get to move my office outside to the lanai or the deck or the front porch every day? I don’t work inside these days). And now I’m going to share with you another favorite – a staple.

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{Michael Kors Booties, Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM, 7FAM ankle jeans, Givenchy Sunglasses, TJ Maxx tee, necklace from Tiffany & Co. Bracelets from Tiffany & Co. and David Yurman}

{Sidenote: I have the funniest story about these booties. I wore them to a Halloween party this weekend as part of my costume (we were Chip and Joanna Gaines) and I melted the bottom right off when I had my feet up on the stones surrounding the firepit! My sweet niece told me about it a second before my foot started to burn, and then my sweet husband almost died because I’m not known for my ‘affordable’ shoes…he thought I’d burned the bottom of a pair of Louboutins or Manolos or somethings. He was BEYOND thankful that it was a pair of inexpensive shoes! Be careful around the fire when you have your feet up!}

If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you might already know my style is classic. I love basics, and I totally have a uniform. I tend to gravitate toward classic pieces. Think Lilly Pulitzer all summer and basic tees with skinny jeans and blazers all winter. I like to dress things up with my accessories.

This year, I’m all about a plain pocket tee. I love it because I can throw it on with my Millers and my Neverfull and run out the door when I’m late. I can come home, throw on a blazer and my favorite Gucci belt, a clutch, and some fun heels for the evening. I can wear it with a long sweater and booties. I can wear it with my Hunters on a rainy day. I can pair it with anything to create any look I want in a moment.

If you look in my closet, you’ll see I have something like 30 basic black tees – my go to. I’m trying to be a little different this year, and I hit the jackpot the other day at – of all places – TJ Maxx. I found a beautiful Bordeaux, a basic dark grey, a light gray, a navy, a black, and a white tee. All the same. All for $5.99. And all of them with short sleeves and long. So, naturally, I bought them all. (I usually advocate for investing some money into your staples, but you don’t need to worry about your tees. For this price, you can wear them three times and come out a winner).

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{ Faux leather leggings, Manolo Blahnik pumps are old, Blazer, Prada Saffiano bag, Givenchy Sunglasses, Necklace from Tiffany & Co. }

Pair it With Anything

A basic tee shirt can go with anything you want it to go with. A blazer and skinny jeans. A pair of camo pants. A skirt. A pair of wide leg jeans. A pair of shorts. A sweater. Flip flops. High heels. Boots. Anything. It can be dressed up or down. That’s what makes it the best.

Look For Quality

I’ll be honest and say I don’t believe the shirts I bought at TJ Maxx are high-quality. I’ve never heard of the brand, and they were only $5.99. However, that’s so cheap that it doesn’t matter if they don’t last a lifetime. You only want them to last if you’re spending some money on them. These are cheap enough that I won’t care if I only get a few wears.

What I do recommend looking for with anything you buy is at least a good quality. These are soft, and they are not see-through. They don’t seem to pull, and the seams look good. If you find a shirt without those qualities, it’s not even worth your $5.

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{ 7FAM jeans, Tory Burch Espadrilles sold out similar here, Black tee from TJ Maxx, similar here , SugarFix by Bauble Bar Earrings from Target, Givenchy Sunglasses, bracelets by Tiffany & Co. and David Yurman } 

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold

Basic colors are fun, but bold colors are also fun. Fall is a beautiful time of year to try some darker colors such as this great Bordeaux. You should also be excited to try them with new prints, and don’t be afraid about being too casual. I love a good mix of high and low. For example, I have a date night outfit planned that includes a pair of $9 camo jeggings and a $6 black tee shirt (both TJ Maxx) and a pair of Christian Louboutin So Kate pumps. Talk about high and low. Don’t be afraid to be bold.

What’s your favorite basic this time of year? Drop a comment to let me know!

Your Next Travel Must-Have: Charcoal Whitening Powder

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Travel is one of my favorite things, but it definitely has a way of taking its toll on my body and my health. It’s so easy to eat fast food, it’s so easy to say yes to that second glass of red wine, and it’s so easy to drink all the coffee. I’m so guilty of using travel as an excuse to treat myself – and who doesn’t? – and then head to the hotel gym for a two-mile run like that’s going to make up for all the room service Belgian waffles and bacon.

However, the biggest problem I have when I travel is the damage I do to my white smile. Red wine and coffee. Coffee and red wine. We’re having fun, so the glasses of vino are flowing, and I’m exhausted being in a different time zone, away from my bed, and away from my carefully crafted routine, which means my coffee consumption becomes a problem. I’m sure I need coffee intervention, but that’s not the point here, right? We travel often, and I need something to keep my smile in check.

I take a lot of photos for social media and tiffanyraiford.com, and that means I need to be sure my smile is always white, which is basically impossible after 200 trips to Starbucks. I don’t always have time to wear whitening trays or head to the dentist for a whitening treatment. I need something fast, easy, convenient, and portable.

When the amazing people from Avistar asked me to try their charcoal whitening powder, I was excited. I’d heard such good things about this easy way of whitening in the past, and I was hoping it was the answer to my travel whitening needs.

The Avistar Natural Teeth Whitener and Detoxifier with Activated Charcoal Powder changed my travel life. I simply bring it with me on my flights, and I use it every day. The difference is immediate, and it helps me feel more confident in my smile when we aren’t home – even after a gallon of coffee.

The best part is that it’s so simple to use. I wet my toothbrush, dip it into the powder, and I brush for two minutes. After rinsing, I brush my teeth as usual – which helps remove the charcoal residue from between my teeth. My teeth are whiter and brighter, and my smile that much more confident.

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Tips for Use

Now that you’re ready to change your travel game face (literally) forever, here are a few things I’ve learned to make your whitening experience a little easier and less of a mess (hello, living and learning).

  • Whiten before you put your makeup on, so you don’t end up with charcoal powder on your lipstick
  • Don’t use a lot on your toothbrush. You only need to dab your brush in the powder for a very small layer. A little of this whitening product goes a LONG way.
  • Brush afterward. You can use it alone or you can put it on top of your toothpaste, but I found the best way to use it to make a smaller mess and to have the brightest smile is by using it first and then brushing afterward.
  • Expect a mess – unless you’re perfect, unlike me. Just grab a baby wipe or a Clorox wipe to have on hand while you brush. The charcoal does make a bit of a mess in the sink if you brush like me, but it wipes right up.

If you’re looking for a quick, efficient, and effective whitening method to use on the road, this is it. And you don’t have to reserve it for travel, either. You can use it at home. It’s easy, and the best part is that it has no effect on sensitive teeth. I have sensitive teeth, and I’m always hesitant to try new products. This one is perfect if you want to have the pearliest whites because you won’t feel anything.

It’s a win, but the fact that it’s sold on Amazon.com and you can have it in two days or less with Prime Shipping is a game-changer, for certain. It’s organic, too, so you needn’t worry about putting anything questionable on your teeth and gums.

You can’t lose, so why are you waiting to order?

Five Summer Staples Under $100

Summer is HERE! Y’all already know this is my least favorite season, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love certain things about summer. I really love not being 100% pasty. That 5% color I manage to hold onto throughout the summer is everything.

Summer means we’re all spending more time outside (wishing the humidity wasn’t a million percent and the mosquitoes didn’t exist), and I have a few things I just cannot live without this season. We are headed to the Caribbean in two weeks, and you can bet you’ll find all five of these UNDER $100 items in my luggage. They’re my favorite affordable summer staples, and I want to share them with you.

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The Lilly Pulitzer Essie dress is hands-down my favorite style. I have this dress in almost every color/pattern, and I’m in love with it from start to finish. I bought the navy Essie two years ago for our best friends’ Fourth of July party, and I quickly began buying it each time a new style was introduced. The best part – it’s only $98!

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This Peter Thomas Roth moisturizing lotion is my go-to summer lotion. I cannot tell you enough how much I’ve fallen in love with PTR products over the past year, and this is one that I cannot live without! It’s only $52, and it lasts forever.

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I have been a lover of my Yeti cups for years now. I know the company is in the middle of a total political situation right now – but I don’t care. I have my own beliefs that don’t always align with those of the brands I shop, but I also love that living in America means we have freedom of speech. To me, this means we get to believe in what we want to believe in and respectfully disagree when our opinions don’t line up with those of others. So – I love my Yetis. We have like 20 Yeti cups in our house, and my most recent purchase was this coral 20 oz. customized with my name. Did I need another 20 oz. tumbler? No. Did I want the coral color? Yes. Prices vary.

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The Tory Burch Mini Miller Jellies are the BEST flip-flops for beach days and pool days. I can get them as wet as I want, and they wipe right off. I love my regular Millers, but they were not meant to get wet. These jellies can be worn in the rain, the sun, the beach, the pool, on the boat, and anywhere in between. And they’re only $98.

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The Tarte BB cream/primer is a recent favorite for summer. I always wear a primer and a BB cream under my foundation, but I’ve found that this amazing creation does both – and it’s SPF 30. We recently took our parents and our kids away for a long weekend, and I forgot to reapply my own sunblock throughout the day. I ended up super-burnt all over my body – except my face. This Tarte cream was all the magic for me. The best part is it’s only $37!

Weekend Recap and IG Round-Up: The Best Dresses for The Season

Happy Tuesday, loves!

Well, it’s Monday my time – and I’m just sitting here on my deck living my very best life. The Florida sunshine is currently giving me all the happy feelings. It’s cool, breezy, and my back deck is shaded and perfect. I’ve moved out of mine and my husband’s office to sit out here today and work – and I’m thinking it’s been an amazing decision.

April was a crazy month (I say that every month), and May is ramping up to be just as crazy. I’m on the board of two PTAs, and next week is Teacher Appreciation Week (which means work, work, work), it’s the last month of school for the big girls, we have amazing trips the same weekend the next three months to pack for, field day at the twins’ school, PTA meetings, events, and things, last day of school stuff, cheer tryouts, dance recitals, gymnastics, tumbling, date nights, Mother’s Day to host – you name it, we’re doing it.

We planned on spending the weekend at Disney with the littles – because we don’t do Disney in the heat and crowds of the summer, so May is basically it before we skip out until September-ish with our passes – but they actually asked us if we could just not.

I know, right?

They’re tired. We’re tired. We had a fun Friday night with friends at a birthday pool party, and got home late, and the kids were overly tired. They didn’t have one normal night last week because of activities and such, and the late nights got to them (and us). So, we said of course to staying home. And we did. We spent all weekend having fun. The girls and I had a salon day Saturday morning while the boys took a golf cart ride and did boy stuff. And other than church on Sunday morning, all weekend was spent in our swimsuits. Our evenings were spent grilling and enjoying the cool breeze on our deck (this is the BEST time of year for that).

We even had movie night Saturday. The kids couldn’t agree on anything, so Craig and I made the executive decision to watch Beethoven, and they loved it – and now they all want a St. Bernard. Carter-man fell asleep on my lap during the first 5 minutes, and I cannot even begin to describe how sweet it was to spend an hour and-a-half cuddling with my littlest love, my sweet boy, before we carried the twins upstairs for bed when the movie was over. I needed all those sweet snuggles.

Life. Is. Good.

Now it’s back to the hectic weekly life we live, but we are all living it a little better this week because of that time. You guys – if you’re not taking time every so often to be low-key and hang with your kids, you’re so missing out. They’re a lot of fun. And it does wonders for your soul to just be still.

How was your weekend? We’re so excited about all that we have to look forward to in the next few months, but also enjoying the last month or so of pretty weather. Hot days with cool mornings and evenings. A month from now = death by humidity and heat.

I’ve rounded up a few of my most recent IG looks for you – some sold out or no longer available, but – always – something super similar and just as much fun to check out!

{ Dress (I bought it at Nordstrom last year, I think, but I can’t find it anymore so I’ve linked similar here, here, and here) Michael Kors wedges (old) similar here, here, and here, Ray-Ban Sunglasses, BaubleBar Earrings similar here and here }

I wore this fun dress to church Sunday. I love the color blue, and I had to wear it because both my boys were in blue. Sweet Carter asked me if I’d wear blue like him and Daddy, and there’s no saying no to that kind of sweet request!

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{ Dress (I just found this at Marshalls a few weeks ago, and I can’t find the exact one online but I’ve linked some similar maxi dresses in the tee-shirt style here, here, and here) Tory Burch sandals (old, but I love these, these, and these) Hat (sold out at Nordstrom but similar here, here, and here) Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM }

I love this dress. I think I might be all about the tee shirt dress this summer – and for like $20, who isn’t?!

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{ Lilly Pulizter Dress (I can’t find the same print online, but there are great ones here, here, and here) Tory Burch Millers, Ray-Ban Sunglasses, BaubleBar earrings similar here }

I think this Lilly Pulitzer dress is like 2 or 3 years old now? I can’t remember, but it goes down in history as my favorite LP of all time. Anyone who knows me knows this time of year at least 5 of 7 days of the week are spent in one form of Lilly Pulitzer or another, and I really just love all the prints. However, there is something about this simple stripe I just adore. I can’t find it online, but I still see it in stores regularly, so check it out!

Best Buys of The Holiday Season: 3 Classic New Favorites

Happy Monday!

I’m having a love/hate relationship with this day for a few reasons.

  • It’s warming back up in Florida and I miss the really cold weather, but the kids will go back to spending all their time outside playing and we can open the doors and windows again…and I love that.
  • The kids are still home from school for the 78th week of Christmas vacation. Okay, so it’s the first day of their third week home, and they go back to school on Wednesday, but there’s been a lot of child-togetherness the past few weeks, and they’re tired of one another. We’re tired of them being tired of one another.

But, otherwise, my mood is a good one. It was such a nice weekend. I spent Friday night in my office working on a few upcoming collaboration details with some amazing companies and I cannot wait to share the deets with everyone, and then I shut it down and we had family movie night.

Saturday the kids wanted Cheesecake Factory, so we spent a fun family day in Tampa eating, shopping, and behaving. The kids were complimented by numerous people and staff in the restaurant for their excellent behavior, and the best one was from the people in the booth behind us who had no idea there were four kids sitting at the table right behind them. Literally the best compliment you can have as a parent. #doingsomethingright

The past few weeks have been fun, but I am so ready to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, even though I miss the holiday season already. September 1 – December 25 has my heart, and the rest of the year is like a waiting period for that time to start again (maybe that’s a little dramatic since it’s not like we don’t have fun the rest of the year…I just reallllllly love those four months in a kind of obsessive manner).

Christmas was good in the Raiford household – if ridiculously overdone according to my sweet husband (can’t stop, won’t stop, sorry not sorry…you knew what you were getting when you married me, darlin’). My husband is the best gift-giver. He is always so thoughtful in choosing things that he knows I need or want even if I don’t know I need or want them, and he’s also quite good at ordering the things I know I want in my life (it’s like he can read my mind…or the screenshots I send him of exact item names in the exact size and color perfect for me, but who’s counting?).

I’m sharing my three favorite new must-haves – you know I love the basics – two from my husband, and one I ordered myself. They’re (mostly) classics, and two of the three are on major sale right now!

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{Shoes: Manolo Blahnik (old, similar here) | Jeans: 7Fam | Top: Old similar here | Scarf: Gift from my mother-in-law similar here | Handbag: Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM | Sunglasses: RayBan | Computer Bag: Kate Spade }

These released hem 7 For All Mankind Jeans are my new favorite ever – first, they’re ankle jeans (though that only means they’re perfect actual jeans length on my 5’3 frame) and they’re so, so, so soft. I love them. They were one of the amazing gifts under the tree from my husband this Christmas, and they are on major sale!

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{Jeans: 7FAM | Top: Dreamers by Debut Cowl Neck Sweater (sold out, similar here) | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Sunglasses: YSL (old similar here) | Handbag: Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM | Earrings: SugarFix by BaubleBar }

I’ve been eyeing these Manolos for a while now, but I already have two pair of black pumps that I’ve been loving on for approximately a decade. A gorgeous pair of snakeskin Jimmy Choos I got on major sale before I even had kids, and a pair of patent leather Louboutins I love. But I don’t have a pair of suede pumps, and I really wanted them. Manolo’s BB pumps are my favorite of all time, and I was excited on Christmas morning to find them under the tree!

I am such a sucker for classic heels in black and nude, and I’m always going to invest in a pair that last forever. Trust me when I say these last!

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{Tory Burch Blossom Ballet Flats}

Who doesn’t love a good pair of ballet flats? In Florida, these are kind of our winter shoes. We put away the flip flops and sandals a few weeks out of the year in favor of ballet flats that cover our toes and keep us warm in the chilly mid-60 degree winter weather.

Okay, so it’s been in the 30s here the past week and I love it, but we all know that’s not actually normal winter weather. 60s is about right. Anyway, I saw these during the Tory Burch 30% off sale – and I still hadn’t used my $50 gift card from TB that expired the last day of the year. I ended up ordering these from the Tory Burch website, and I paid $67. They were already on sale, plus they were 30% off, and I had my TB gift card TB is so amazing to send every year. It was a major win.

What amazing buys did you score this holiday season on sale or not?

 

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.

Simple Tips for Shopping the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

{The Marlowes: Short Sleeve and Boatneck}

You guys…it’s finally here. The Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale runs from Monday, August 28 until Wednesday, August 30th. Three days of one of my favorite sales of the year.

No – my absolute favorite sale of the year. With that I mind and only the weekend to prepare, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips….and a few of my favorite dresses you can get for next to nothing.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a closet filled with LP, and I’m not ashamed. I love it, it’s such good quality. It doesn’t matter how many times I wash things, they always look spectacular – and it’s always chic. I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but being a mother to four small kids is not an easy task. It means I have approximately half a second to think of me.

And LP is my go-to. The bold colors are flattering, and they hide dirty little fingerprints and stains that typically end up all over me if the kids have any say in life. The cuts are super flattering, the fit is always perfect, and how easy is it to get dressed in the morning when all you have to do is choose which dress to wear? A whole outfit in one place? Yes, please!

That said, it’s time you get to know how the sale works, what to do, and what advice I have after shopping the sales twice yearly.

{The Essie and the Amina – my two favorite dresses ever}

First – you can find LP on sale other times, but not through LP. I find dresses on sale all the time at Nordstrom, Dillards, and just about any LP-authorized boutique in any beach community. All. The. Time.

Second – you must know the rules.

Third – you must be ready ahead of time.

Here we go.

Know the Rules

Ladies – there are rules. Here they are.

  1. You can add all you want to your cart, but that does not reserve the item.
  2. You cannot log into the website until the sale opens at 8 am.
  3. You better be at your computer ready to login when 8 am rolls around.
  4. Expect to wait.
  5. Don’t panic.
  6. Check back regularly, because new styles are added throughout the sale.

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I know you already have an LP account online, right? If you don’t, do this now. You need to have your address and other personal information already stored to save you time and provide you with a better chance of seeing the items in your cart still available when you check out. If you aren’t comfortable saving your credit card option, you can always check out with Paypal – which means you can pay with your bank account or debit card through Paypal on the LP site with the click of a button. It’s so easy, and it’s much safer.

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Prepare to Wait

And don’t panic. Here’s the deal – sometimes I’ve waited over an hour – DO NOT REFRESH – to get into the sale on the first morning, and it’s totally fine. I’ve never had anything in my cart sell out before I can check out. Most everything is in my size by the time I get in, and it’s been a seamless process.

Even better, there are new styles added regularly throughout the three days the party lasts. This means what you love might not be on sale right away, but it might show up before the sale ends. There’s no need to panic – even if there is a long wait. I promise it goes by so much faster than you imagine.

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What to Buy

Whatever you want. However, I would really use this opportunity to buy some of the more expensive items you’ve been eyeing. This allows you even more savings, but there is NO reason not to buy the inexpensive dresses, shorts, and tops for even less. Savings are savings, my friend. I also think the sale is a great time to purchase accessories, since no one wants to pay full price for accessories, right? I also love buying my kids’ stuff during the sale. They are huge LP fans – my oldest daughter only wants to wear LP half the time – and I love buying it at the sales since they grow so fast and it’s so not an investment piece for kids who can only wear these items for a short period.

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You feel the anticipation, and that’s all right. But remember not to panic. You’ll get what you want. You’ll save money. You’ll shop more than once over the course of the sale…even if you make a serious promise to yourself that you will only shop once.

That’s a lie, and you don’t want to be a liar.

Happy shopping, friends! What do you have your eye on during this sale?

Last Day of the #Nsale & A Few Favorites You Don’t Want to Miss

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{Tunic: Lush here | Leggings: BP here | Shoes: Christian Louboutin So Kate here | Bag: Prada here | Earrings: Sugarfix by Bauble Bar here | Glasses: Yves Saint Laurent (Old) similar here}

Happy Sunday, darlings!

I hope everyone is having a gorgeous weekend filled with whatever it is that makes your heart happy. We’ve had a lovely weekend thus far. Friday night was date night with another great couple, yesterday we took our big girls on our annual back-to-school wardrobe shopping trip (do not get me started on our 6-year-old’s choices….she makes me cry silent tears of horror and resignation), and today is bedroom switch day.

Our big girls share what we call the private ‘wing’ in our house. They have a cool pocket door that separates their section of the house from the rest of the first floor so their bedrooms and their bathroom are kind of private. Anyway, they want to switch bedrooms this weekend, so it’s paint (because they both hate the color of the other’s room) and new décor and all that fun stuff…all with a 9-year-old with an upset stomach. That’s not awesome, but they’re still excited about their room switch.

But before we get started on that, I wanted to share with you a gentle reminder it’s the last day of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale if you haven’t done your shopping just yet. I have to be honest when I tell you that most everything I’ve purchased in the past few weeks from Nordstrom wasn’t actually included in the sale….oops.

Anyway, I this amazing Lush Tunic is a MAJOR staple in my closet. I have it in 8 (maybe nine?!) colors. And I’ll share a secret – it’s always on “Sale” for $27. I bought this black one in 2015 just before NYFW and every time a new color is introduced, I order it….for $27.

These faux leather leggings are everything.

So hurry up and shop the last day of the sale. Or don’t. Either way, you’ll still find these great fall pieces tomorrow.