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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Instagram Roundup: What I’m Wearing Lately

What. A. Month.

Busy is a gross understatement in our home these days, but hopefully things are calming down a bit in the coming weeks. This time of year is always such a crazy time for us with kids and their activities, and three of our littles have birthdays two days apart in March. And that’s just the beginning…and a little bit of my excuse for being so MIA these days.

I haven’t done an IG roundup lately, so here we go!

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{ Manolos | 7FAM Jeans |Black Tee | Slate & Willow Jacket is sold out so similar here, here, and here | similar YSL glasses | BaubleBar Earrings sold out similar here}

I wore this casual date night look a few weekends ago to an Orlando Magic game. Our best friends had a presidential suite, 12 VIP tickets, and a party bus with a driver to take us to the game and enjoy the night in total VIP style – and it was the most fun night imaginable!

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{ Tory Burch flats | 7FAM Jeans | Black Top sold out similar here | Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM |YSL glasses similar here }

Travel uniform. This is basically what I wear anytime we get on a plane. My favorite jeans – I told y’all I bought like four identical pair of these amazing jeans – comfortable flats, and black all day. This was the perfect travel ensemble to depart sunny Florida and land in frigid NYC a few weeks ago when we took our big girls for a weekend in the city doing all our favorite things.

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{ Similar dresses here, here, and here | Raybans }

This dress. This dress cost me all of $30 years ago when Lilly Pulitzer and Target introduced their collaboration. Everything was sold out while we were running errands that day except this little number. It’s one of my favorite dresses, and it’s not available. I had so many questions about this dress – and I did my best to find you some that are kind of similar!

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{ Faux Leather Leggings | Manolos | Tunic | Blazer |YSL similar here }

My other uniform. I hate pants, but I can get into the faux leather leggings all day everyday situation. Add this Lush tunic from Nordstrom I own in every single color ever, these suede Manolos, and oversize black glasses and I’m done.

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{Caslon pink tunic sold out similar here and here | 7FAM Jeans | Tory Burch Espadrilles sold out similar here and here | RayBans }

Sometimes I just want to have a little fun with what I wear, and color is all that and more for me. I’m a little bit obsessed with mixing bright pink with this pop of blue in my glasses lately, and it’s been something so many people have asked about!

Instagram Roundup: What I’m Wearing Lately

I have to share a secret you might have noticed; I have such a uniform depending on the season. Also, seasons are impossible in Florida. We had a kind-of winter for a few weeks. Just enough to realize we have nothing appropriate or anything below 60-degrees, and now we’re back to 50s in the mornings and 80s during the day.

It’s so difficult to get dressed in the morning in that situation. Layers are a serious thing right now, which is why you’re seeing me in my ‘this time of year’ uniform. Jeans – or faux leather leggings – and tees with a sweater or blazer over it.

And we can all agree I cannot get enough of these suede BB pumps. I feel no shame.

I’m trying to be a little better about IG roundups on the blog so you can have faster access to all the details you want without yelling at me about it via DM or email (I’m sorry!), and I’m going to try and post one every two weeks or so.

You’re welcome!

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{ Jeans, Pumps, Tee, Bag }

{Sweater is Old Navy and a few years old, so similar here, here, and here | Sunglasses are Yves Saint Laurent I purchased years ago in Hawaii and are currently sold out so similar here and here}

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{ Jeans, pumps, tunic }

{see first photo for sunglasses | I just ordered this scarf from Amazon for $15 but I can’t get the link to work. There’s a similar one here, but you can search grey and blue blanket scarf on Amazon and have it in two days for so much less }

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{ Faux-leather leggings, pumps }

{ Tunic is TopShop from Nordstrom but it’s sold out, so similar here and here | see first photo for sunglasses | Blazer is Forever 21 from like 12 years ago – I know – so similar here and here }

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{ Jeans, ballet flats }

{see first photo for sunglasses | Hogwarts tee is from Target, but it’s sold out. Similar here and here }

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{ Jeans, pumps, bag, bralette }

{ These RayBan oversize Aviators are sold out from what I can find, but there are similar here | Lush tee is sold out at Nordstrom, but similar here and here | see previous photo for blazer}

Also – to clarify a question I’ve gotten a lot recently, my Neverfull is the GM and it’s too big. I love it because I have four kids and 700-pounds of stuff to carry around between the six of us. If I bothered with the diaper bag, I wouldn’t carry it. However, I’m entirely too lazy and rushed to change out my bag regularly to be quite honest. I’d recommend the MM if you want a Neverfull.

 

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?

 

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?

Friday Favorites: 4 Easy Ways to Make A Statement When You Have No Time

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Sometimes you just want to make a statement. Sometimes that statement is a big one. Sometimes it’s a small one, and sometimes it’s just the icing on the cake.

I love cake.

When it comes to style, we all make our own personal statement. Mine is borderline lazy. I need to feel put-together and well-dressed, but I don’t have much time most days. With a business to run, a husband to make out with, and four very cute kids, sometimes I have about half a second to make myself look as good as the kids (whom I spent an hour dressing meticulously…except for Ava. Ava dresses Ava. Please give Ava credit for Ava…I don’t want any of that!).

The secret is simple – own all the Lilly Pulitzer because it’s fun and pretty and feminine and because it takes a half second to throw on a dress and cute shoes. But when I don’t have the kids with me, it’s more of a game on kind of situation. I still like simple. I like monochromatic looks with a pop of color. I like simple ensembles with great accessories. I’m a classic kind of girl, but I love to make a statement.

It’s not always easy to figure that out, but sometimes you can make a big statement and a massive style impact with one item that’s so simple it’s underrated. Trust me – with no time and a great deal of vanity, I know a thing or two about making a statement. That’s why today’s Friday Favorites are all about the simplest ways to make one.

Statement Jewelry

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A long strand of pearls knotted at the bottom is one of my favorite ways to make a statement. It’s classic, but it’s also fun and fearless. Since I don’t typically wear much in the way of jewelry, it’s big for me to wear a statement piece. My jewelry all has meaning to me, and I keep it very simple.

You’ll know I’m making a statement when you see me in my pearls or when you see me in big, colorful earrings. The secret with the earrings is I like to keep them cheap. I don’t care if they break, I don’t care if they’re trendy and I never wear them more than once, and I don’t care if they get all kinds of messed up in the ocean or in the pool – but they do make such a fun statement when the rest of my look is simple.

I love Bealls Outlet, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Target for statement jewelry. Let’s face it, the cheaper the better when it comes to things I won’t wear often!

Statement Shoes

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Again, I’m a sucker for a classic nude pump, but sometimes I like to make a statement. Anytime I have no time or I don’t feel good in anything (you know that week every month, ladies), I gravitate toward black. Black skinny jeans, a black sweater or tunic, a black top with a black blazer. All black.

But I like to mix it up with these gorgeous sometimes red, sometimes fuchsia, sometimes pink and gold heels I found at Bergdorf’s two or three years ago. They are the one pair of shoes I receive the most compliments on, and I love them.

I love these with all black, and sometimes I love to really make them pop by adding a scarf to the mix. My mother-in-law saw the scarf in the photo a few years ago and decided it was perfect for me – and she was right. It was made for these shoes with the same colors, and pairing them together makes everything stand out.

If you can make a statement, do it by choosing one color on the top and bottom and adding bold accessories. Bright shoes are great. Bright shoes and a secondary bright accessory are everything.

My Manolos in the photo are old, but I am in love with these, these, and these.

Statement Lips

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If you know me at all, you know I go nowhere without a bold lip. Statement lips are my serious go-to, and how much easier does it get than throwing on a shade of red or pink or whatever color you prefer? I get so many compliments on my lipstick I’ve had to give out the designer and the color names so many times I can virtually recite the URL to each page on Nordstrom’s site.

People love a bold lip, but I think most people are a little intimidated by it. They want to try it, but they can’t get past the concept that a bold pink or bright red has no place on a Tuesday morning dropping the kids off at school. I beg to differ. A bold lip is everything.

Confidence

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Ladies, listen; you can make the biggest statement of all by just being comfortable in your own skin. At the risk of being just a little TMI-ish right now, here I go. When my monthly visitor (to whom I am so appreciative of because the Good Lord knows a fifth baby or another set of twins would actually kill me) is in town, I’m a mess.

I’m emotional. My feelings are easily hurt (read: I’m a big bitch) and I swear I gain 48 pounds of bloat (48, 3, whatever). I feel unattractive, I have zero confidence, and I’m not my best version of my best self). I can put on my favorite outfit anytime this week and feel horrible in it, receive zero compliments, and feel gross.

I can put it on three days after my visitor is gone for another month and hear a half-dozen compliments in one night – and I swear it’s my confidence. I suddenly feel much prettier, much happier, and much more like myself. Maybe it’s because I’m actually smiling and happy and appear to others as a normal human versus an angry dinosaur with an attitude…I don’t know.

All I know is you have to have confidence. If you don’t feel 100% perfect in something, take it off. You’re never going to pull it off without the confidence to rock it. I don’t care how trendy, fashionable, or overly-worn by every single supermodel, celebrity, or Instagram fashion blogger it is. You don’t feel good in it, no one thinks you look good in it.

And that’s all I’ve got for you on this gorgeous Friday. I’m off to get my 95 percent silver hair done, and then it’s a fun-filled weekend with my little (huge) family – and I can’t wait! What are your weekend plans, and what’s your favorite statement piece?