Current Vibes

December 22, 2017 I know what it's like to have a site that's been hacked and full of thousands of infected files! Three days, many phone calls to various tech supports and site security software peeps, and zero emails received (that happens when your Google Admin account is tied to your domain), we are back in business. Apparently it's shocking to have a site that's been running for 7+ years without any security that has never had hacking activity?

I won't lie. The forced "break" away from writing, emailing, etc. did feel somewhat freeing. Also irritating. To think, this Current Vibes has been waiting to post since Wednesday morning. The horror! #notrealproblems  (keep reading to see what stuff has been on my mind and meant to publish days ago but ohhhhh well, better late than never as we head into the Christmas weekend!)

1. SCREAMING // MARYELLIS BUNN’S MUSEUM OF ICE CREAM: The Museum of Ice Cream…a creative and highly instagramable concept (#musumoficecream) that’s been in four cities so far and sells out tickets each time. When it coms to the museum i think you’re in one of two camps, 1) “OMG I have to get a ticket and experience this bliss,” or 2) “Wait, this is a museum? About ice cream? Are those real sprinkles in that pool??” I was in the second camp till Sally made a visit to the San Francisco museum in September and she came back with tons of photos and a full explanation of what makes it such a special experience. So I’ve mad my way from camp 2 to camp 1 but I was still *slightly* confused on the museum as a whole. Thanks to The Coveteur and the interview / feature they did with Maryellen Bunn – the founder of the company that is the Museum of Ice Cream – I totally get it. Or at the very least, I understand that Maryellen came to the idea out of passion and dreams up the fantastical and colorful “rooms” that both reflect the culture of the city the museum is in and evoke feelings from the visitors. I highly suggest reading the interview (all your sprinkle pool questions are answered!). I for one am excited for what’s on the horizon for Museum of Ice Cream…and here’s to hoping that I’ll get to experience the concept in one of its 30-day city installations some day!

2. INSPIRED BY // GRAY BENKO’S HOME: If you don’t follow Charleston-based photographer Gray Benko on Instagram (@graybenko) you should do yourself a favor and do so. She’s extremely talented and her children are extremely hilarious. After getting glimpses here and there of Gray’s home via her feed I was very excited when it was featured on Glitter Guide last month. I loved reading the Q+A with Gray as much as I loved getting to see the full extent of her interior design aesthetic. So many things to love! I can’t decide which room is my favorite…the breakfast room with it’s amazing rug, table, well styled shelves and painting of a guy eating pasta…the playroom with a gallery wall of vintage painted portraits and floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with uniform boxes (my type-A heart loves this idea)…or the office space with dark blue walls and a huge portrait of Gray’s daughter Farris in one of her signature beauty looks (look up #farrisdoesfaces and you’ll be cracking up for hours). Even better than all the design inspiration, most everything is linked! I’m now dying for this desk chair, contemplating stick-on wallpaper, and will more than likely buy a ton of these boxes to mimic the playroom shelves.

3. SLEEPING // NIGHT SHIRT: I’m sure everyone has their Christmas Jammies by now (I happen to be wearing my Roller Rabbit pair right this minute) but if you’re wanting to buck the red + green trend or looking for pj’s to gift, I’m loving this cozy nightshirt from Madewell. From the crisp white and pink oxford stripes to the contrast cranberry-colored piping, it’s a classic look that would look great snuggled up in bed, hanging by the Christmas tree, or even thrown on over a pair of jeans (why not?!). And guess what…you can get said night sort 30% off with code LATEBIRD!

4. NOTING // PRODUCTIVE AF: I am a big time pen-to-paper person. I have a physical planner (get a Graphic Image desk diary each year – my fave!), notebooks devoted to actual note taking during calls and meetings, and various notepads that I use for listing. Making to-do lists is one of my favorite things…not just because it feels so good to cross things off but because they keep me accountable (can’t “forget” to do things when you’re staring at the task on a list). As I prep for 2018 I’m getting all my paper products in order (nerd alert). I’ve got my Desk Diary and just ordered this notebook (Sugar Paper spiral lined notebooks are the best), and when I came across a pretty pink “Productive As F***“) notepad I thought, “Oh yes, much needed for list making in the new year.” Pardon the French, but this is just the kind of motivation and sass I love. Plus, it’s hard to lose a to-do list when it’s made on pretty pink paper!

5. SALTING // CAP BEAUTY PINK SALT: I didn’t realize till recently that CAP Beauty had a “grocery” section of their site. I can already spend hours getting lost in beauty sites (especially ones as pretty as CAPViolet GreyFollain, etc.) and getting to look beyond the selection of skin care, make-up, and beauty tools can be fun when the additional assortment is as well curated and on-brand as what’s on the rest of the site. Basically, the CAP Grocery is very fun to page through. From tea + coffee, pantry items, adaptogens and more – there’s so many new-to-me things that are fun to explore. My fave part of the Grocery is the CAP-branded goods…pretty packaging, check! I’m not sure how I feel about matcha (though CAP may be selling me on the drinkable mood-lifter and antioxidant power powder) but I’d love to add the Pink Mountain Salt to my kitchen. It’s just pretty, it’s “packed with 84 vital minerals and trace elements to sustain and promote complete body function and wellbeing.” So I need it.

6. WANTING // MARGAUX MADE-TO-MEASURE: I haven’t worn a pair of classic ballerina flats in…years. Probably because I have never had a nice pair that I’ve loved. But I’d love to have a pretty pair of classic ballerinas (leather, grosgrain trim, cord bow, slight stacked heel). Essentially, I’d love The Demi by Margaux NY (experts of classic shoe silhouettes). But since I have “unique” feet (re: bunions) it can be tricky for me to find flats that are comfortable and that actually fit. So I love that Margaux has a Made-to-Measure option where you can order a Fitting Kit for $15 that contains everything to take your exact foot measurements and determine which flats you want. The custom option is a little more expensive that buying a stock size and width but for someone who has a tough time finding a fit, the extra cost and six week turn-around time for handcrafted flats could be worth it!

7. READING // STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS: “Here’s to strong women, may know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” I’m a girl power nerd so I love the “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” (volumes 1 and 2). Each volume has 100 stories – and accompanying portraits illustrated by 60 different female artists – of great women throughout time (think J.K. Rowling, Freda Khalo, Cleopatra, Beyonce and so many more). Each bio is short, sweet, and inspiring. Great for yourself, fearless females and little girls and boys!

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Giving Better

December 18, 2017

Hint, hint. Wink, wink. It may surprise no one that I'm pretty direct in letting people know what I'd love to be gifted. Prime example: I told my dad that I would LOVE new retainers for Christmas. He is thrilled to deliver (don't judge me, adulting is expensive and teeth are important). Although I might not be shy about sharing practical things I'd like to receive, gifts and (gift-giving for that matter) is not my love language and I frequently struggle with what to get my friends and family. My main goal is to buy and give presents that people both want and need. The older I get, the more thoughtful I become, and the more I believe that less is more when you're gifting quality over quantity.

Cuyana and their "Fewer, Better" ethos has always struck a cord with me when I shop for myself and I definitely turn to them when looking for high quality gifts that I can personalize and know are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Of course I can visit Cuyana's site year-round and find things I know will be ideal for birthdays and special occasions, but this holiday they've really nailed their selection of giftable offerings. It's "Giving, Better."


So what makes Cuyana’s gift assortment “better”? I’ll tell you: 1) A small curated selection. You don’t get overwhelmed by an endless scroll of options. 2) Each product is made with integrity and from the highest-quality materials. So you can pick literally one or all the items and feel good knowing that each piece is created thoughtfully and will last and last and last. 3) You can add personalization to the leather! The options are simple, lovely, and done by hand (which means they’re the quality stuff). How cute would this heart-shaped cosmetic case be with a monogrammed “xoxo”?! 4) There’s something for everyone. There is! Stuff for guys, an array of leather pieces for every need and/or style, cozy accessories (the baby cashmere and baby alpaca is the stuff of dreams), new pajama sets (that I may or may not be gifting myself), and must-have style pieces any girl would be lucky to have.

Having already gotten myself a mini jewelry case – which is undoubtably one of my favorite Cuyana leather pieces of all time – and a little leather coin pouch I felt like it was worth showing them off because aside from them being fantastic, they’re both part of Cuyana’s gift guide and both would make excellent presents! I love the jewelry case for all my big statement earrings because the height of the box keeps them from being crushed and the strap for stud earrings and rings is ideal for keeping them all tidy and safe (I’m always fearful of my teeny earrings and thing rings getting lost in the shuffle). Speaking of rings, I’ve actually been using the leather coin pouch as my designated ring holder. Perfect for having on hand so said rings have a safe place to go during a workout. I guess I should use it for loose change but…I never do cash and coins so it makes more sense to use it as a catch for rings, bobbi pins and hair ties in my tote bag!

I know it’s crunch time for ordering gifts in time for Christmas but fear not, there’s still time to get Cuyana’s gift goodness (even the personalized pieces!) under your tree or in the hands of your favorite people…check out this handy guide for order placement and shipping turnout times!

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Current Vibes

December 13, 2017

Its hard to believe that we are now less than two weeks away from Christmas. I am feeling somewhat on top of my shopping, but really only because Molly and I are splitting a lot of our gifts and she did all of the ordering. Thank goodness for Venmo. I finally picked up some wrapping paper last night and am hoping to do some wrapping tonight. The real wrapping happens when we get to Kansas City and into Santa's Workshop (aka our mom's basement) and help her with her wrapping. Seven kids, two of them being married, and one grand baby makes for a whole lottt of wrapping. But it's always fun and a group activity including Christmas music and cookies (my fave part, duh). Things will be a little bit different this year with a crawling 7 month old to chase after, but I'm lucky to have "babysitters" in the form of sisters jumping at the opportunity to watch him. (read on for more of this week's vibes!)

1. ROLLING // AWAY CARRYON: I’ll start out by saying that I promise this post isn’t dedicated to all things travel, but having just returned from Hawaii and flying out to Kansas City next Friday, it is kind of on the brain. Every time I fly with one of my giant L.L. Bean tote bags as a carry on, I swear that I will never, ever do it again. The tote is SO big (which is the one thing I love about them) that I can fill it with SO much stuff that I end up practically breaking my back while lugging it through airports. That plus a baby in the Ergo Baby and I was on overload. So, never again will I bring that God forsaken tote in the airport with us! When I fly solo with the babe next week I am only bringing my handbag-sized tote. I’m planning on checking all of our other luggage, but for our next trip in March, I would love to invest in an Away carry on. There are nothing but positive reviews on the popular hard-shell luggage and the prices are unbeatable. The two carry on sizes even have built in batteries, because there’s nothing worse than a low phone battery while traveling. The large is also looking pretty promising to purchase before our trip because my husband had to borrow Molly’s Rimowa when we flew to Hawaii! Its amazing how much stuff you end up packing with a baby in tow.

2. COZYING // CASHMERE WRAP: I have long lusted after one of White and Warren’s Cashmere Travel Wraps after seeing my friend Michaela with one a few years ago. Its amazing how something as simple as a scarf can instantly transform you into looking “put together” and dare I say even ‘chic’ while traveling. Maybe this would help my case with the next plane blowout or pee leakage while traveling? Whatever it takes! In all seriousness though, the price tag to the Travel Wrap seems pretty steep, but I know its one of those things that I would splurge on and never regret purchasing. One of those “you only cry once” situations. I don’t do a ton of traveling these days, but even so, this baby would be perfect to throw on over my usual casual attire when I want to look like I’m trying harder than I actually am. I’m always partial to grey this time of year as it goes with just about everything, but the pearl white is so pretty too.

3. RECOVERING // TAMMY FENDER CREME: This time of year my skin is insanely dry. Like cannot get enough moisture to save its soul, dry. I am alll about lathering on the face creams at night and have died and gone to heaven with Tammy Fender’s moisturizers. It is kind of indescribable what her products do for my skin. I experience visible results in the form of smooth, glowing skin after just one application. I have yet to meet a better moisturizer than her Spontaneous Recovery Creme and Intensive Repair Balm. I *try* to savor them and rotate with other products so that they last longer, but nothing compares and I miss that glow that I get upon waking up each morning after using Tammy Fender. I also love the Essential C Tonic (because I can’t get enough Vitamin C for my skin) and the Epi Peel and am dying to try the Quintessential Serum.

4. OBSESSING // SOLD OUT SWEATSHIRTS: Remember that sister sweatshirt obsession that we’ve mentioned on here countless times? Well the sweatshirt love strikes again with Sold Out’s graphic cozies. Sold Out is all about creating “must haves” which has clearly struck a chord with me as I have now added their sweatshirts to my “must have” list. Everything they create is limited edition, meaning that once its gone, its gone. Making the pieces that much more of a must have or its going to sell out and be gone forever situation. Gets me every time. When a product sells out, the brand releases the next product which is a surprise and could be any number of things. A sweatshirt, a tee, or even an accessory. A “life changing” accessory at that. At first I was leaning towards their “Together” sweatshirt as I can’t resist the pick stitch and the pale pink and red combo, but I’m also realllyy the Je Nais Sais Quoi (translation: “I don’t know what”) white on white sweatshirt that is a cozier version of my white tee uniform. Molly and I may have just found our next sister sweatshirts. We generally don’t give each other gifts for Christmas, but maybe thats how we can justify buying these just days out from Christmas?!

5. CAPPING // DOGS ON HATS: I’m a big fan of a good baseball hat. Especially with my newly minted Melasma and my fear of any amount of sun exposure on my face. Not a day went by while in Hawaii that I wasn’t sporting a hat for fear of growing a Melasma mustache. Cute, right? I love all things Outdoor Voices, but had yet to purchase a hat from them. That might just have to change with their dog hats. Although they don’t have a lab version, I still can’t help but love them. Particularly poodle version, because who can resist a sassy poodle embroidered on pale pink? Clearly not me.

6. STRIKING // FREDRICKS & MAE: Our mama is the queen of finding the coolest gifts for every occasion. Things that you’ve never seen before, are thoughtful, that serve a purpose, and are anything but junky. Perfect example: the 216 matches by Fredericks and Mae that she gave Molly. The giant, cork topped, glass tube is 12″ tall making the matches larger than your every day match and therefore so much cooler. The tube holds 216 “fireplace matches” and makes a pretty cool statement to have sitting out in the home. Not to mention that its practical, because there is nothing worse than realizing that you’re all out of matches and are dying to light your favorite holiday candle. How cool is the all black version? Would make an awesome gift to give to a guy as those are a little more masculine looking. As I was perusing the Fredericks and Mae website, I decided that its one of the neatest brands I’ve come across as of late. Hand painted Bocce Balls, thread wrapped Horsehair Brooms, and Backgammon Boards that resemble works of art make Fredericks and Mae the most perfect one stop shop for the person on your list who literally has everything. Do they have a thread wrapped Horsehair Broom? I bet not.

7. STILL SMILING // ELIZOEBETH JENSEN SIGNET RINGS: If you didn’t catch our post here about our new Elizoebeth Jensen sister signet rings – Truly feel SO lucky to have such beautiful, timeless pieces that we can wear every day. The fact that we get to match our mama with her pinky signet ring is just the cherry on top. Elizoebeth is SO kindly offering all A Piece of Toast readers 20% off online purchases on her site through the month of September. Enter ToastToLove at checkout to redeem! Today is the last day for guaranteed Christmas delivery!

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Giving Warmth

December 11, 2017

If you're anything like me, you've been counting down the days till Christmas since Halloween. I just love, love this time of'a a combination of the build-up that comes with knowing I'll be with all my family for a long stretch of time, being surrounded by festive lights and decor, the giddy excitement I get just thinking about our holiday traditions, and reminiscing over favorite Christmas memories. Some of my strongest and fondest memories are from Christmas' past and with each year new magical memories are made.

To me, Christmas is all about family, friends, and giving. The older I get the more I realize just how much I have - when asked what I want for Christmas I'm always answering with, "I don't need anything!" - and while the abundance makes me feel so much gratitude it also shines perspective on the reality that so many go without. This year I'm inspired by Altar'd State to re-thinking what it means to give. Altar'd State is a retail brand with a core mission of giving back in everything that they do and this season they're encouraging everyone to give warmth with their #ASGiveWarmth campaign. The idea is up to interpretation but I have a few ideas of how to put the idea into action...

Does anyone else nerd out for nostalgic Christmas movies and books? Sally and I recently inherited a huge collection of holiday children’s books (our own from way back when) from our mama and as I was going through them the other week I felt a rush of memories then quickly recognized how so many of the stories share common themes. From The Polar Express” and How The Grinch Stole Christmas” to A Christmas Carol,” so many of the tales we’ve loved since childhood focus on believing (faith in what can’t always be seen) and share the message of the holidays being about people (and not things).

A Christmas memory that really hit home for me happened as recently as a few years ago. My grandparents have always been notoriously generous when it came to holiday gifts – think thoughtful, exciting, and typically grand. But several years ago we (my siblings, cousins and I) didn’t get presents to unwrap, but modest envelopes containing a simple message: this year we were being given the gift of giving. Our grandparents told us that we each had a sum of money that they would donate to the cause or charity of our choice in our individual names…all we had to do was write to them with the name of an organization and why we went compelled to give to it. Such an incredible moment. Not only did they demonstrate how important it is to practice what you preach (my grandparents have always voiced how important it is to be generous and philanthropic) but their gift made us all feel so much happier than any sort of item that we would have unwrapped and kept for ourselves.

At a time when influencers like me are encouraged to treat Christmas as a an opportunity to buy, buy, buy it feels like a breath of fresh air to have Altar’d State promoting the type of thinking that’s more like, “Of course, buy pieces that feel special and authentic to you and those you love! But also consider giving back.”

Altar’d State has never been shy about stating that they’re a retail company wanting to fill a gap in the industry and change the world for the better. With a mission to “stand out for good and do their part to change the world for the better” guiding all that they do, they’ve been successful in growing their presence to over 80 boutique locations across the country. With values, faith, and a strong commitment to community Altar’d State has been able to offer fashionable and quality goods while inspiring customers to give back. To spark that inspiration, the brand is leading by example…funding local community service hours for employees, donating a portion of sales from each store to local communities, partnering with brands that have similar missions of giving back, and starting an Altar’d State Brand that helps feed, clothe, and educate children around the world.

I’m really happy to say that all my Christmas shopping is finished. I went with a “less is more” approach but I really feel like what I bought is special and specific to each of the people on my list. I even found some cute chew toys for my pups and a cozy pair of mittens while looking through Altar’d State’s gift guides! Since I’m feeling compelled to join the #ASGiveWarmth initiative I’ve come up with a few ideas of how to do more than just making my list, shopping, and crossing off to-do’s.

For my family and friends I’m going to spend time writing handwritten notes. Some will be serious, some will be funny, but I hope that all of them convey how much these individuals mean to me and how grateful I am to have them in my life. No gift could compare equate to the love they show me on a daily basis and I’m hoping that putting pen to paper will give them warm fuzzy feelings and maybe even result in a Christmas memory they’ll always cherish.

To give warmth to those I don’t know I’ll be continuing my annual tradition of selecting several names from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Sally and I have been doing this ever since we moved to Dallas and it always feels so good to be contributing to the cause that serves over 45,000 children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Taking a cue from my grandparents, I’m going to be contributing to a couple of my favorite non profit organizations. Whenever I start to think that what I have to give seems monetarily insignificant I try to remind myself that giving is giving is giving and that all donations make a difference towards a greater goal.

If you’re feeling inspired to join the #ASGiveWarmth campaign I highly encourage joining in the movement to spread the message about how it’s the season for giving and doing good for others!!

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Special Signet Rings

December 8, 2017

As Molly's 30th birthday was approaching, I wanted to think of something special to gift her that would always commemorate the big occasion. On top of wanting to make her feel really loved and celebrated, I also wanted a gift that would say "thank you" because with a 7 month old I quite literally would not be surviving without my sister/best friend living in the same city. Molly watches baby H for us while I work out and my husband and I are forever grateful for every ounce of help she has given us over the past seven months - and beyond! This mama has yet to leave her baby at home with anyone other than family (I know, I know - it's time!) and even though no gift could equate the selfless generosity Molly's given me, I wanted to at try...keep reading to see what I gifted her and what makes it so special!

Those details aside, I felt that Molly deserved something fantastic from our little family. I’m a big believer in jewelry as a gift for special occasions – especially if it’s jewelry that is worn every day. You are constantly reminded of who gifted the piece to you and what it was for. I still to this day regularly wear the Van Cleef necklace that our mama gave me for my 21st birthday and a diamonds by the yard necklace that I received for my graduation. So many of my most treasured jewelry pieces are ones that were gifted to me and I wear nearly all of them daily. I like to think that if I have a daughter someday that I’ll definitely be passing a few on to her which makes them that much more meaningful. My Mimi passed down an incredible pair of Michael Good gold hoop earrings to me that I had always admired. I could keep going with my list of beloved jewels but basically, I love that these pieces have a story to them.

Shortly after baby H was born, Elizoebeth Jensen made me the most perfect gold signet ring (to wear on my pinky) with his initials. I’m still blown away by her thoughtfulness – it was one of the few gifts I received for myself to mark the occasion. I love having something so personal with my sweet baby boy’s little initials and ever since I slipped it on my pinky I’ve rarely taken it off.

Delicate signet rings have always been something I admire thanks to my mama. Growing up I remember pawing through her jewelry selection and noting that one of the few rings that fit my small fingers was a gold one engraved with her maiden name initials. She explained to me that it was called a signet ring and that was gifted to her back in high school. I had always admired the classic look of the ring and loved when my mom started wearing it regularly on her pinky several years ago. No matter what other rings she wore along side it, the signet ring always stood out as being classic, feminine and personal. And really, I just loved the look of it worn on her pinky. Since the days of trying on my mama’s ring I’ve always perked up when I saw other signet styles…I envisioned having something similar to hers for myself someday but I wasn’t totally on the hunt. Imagine my surprise and serious delight when Elizobeth reached out to me just after baby H was born and offered to make me one of her 14k gold classic signet rings! Elizoebeth’s design is so strikingly similar to the one my mom has and the hand engraving makes the ring unique and gives it a look and quality of an heirloom piece. I will forever cherish it!

With our mama and me both wearing our signet rings on our respective pinky fingers, I felt like Molly most definitely needed to join the club. No one loves jewelry more than her and she had been lusting after one for years (even more than I had!). Her 30th birthday seemed like the perfect excuse to have Elizoebeth Jensen make her a signet ring of her own. When October 21st rolled around and I got to give Molly her gift I was basically jumping out of my skin with excitement. To say that she was surprised and elated is an understatement…she was so shocked by the sentimental treasure that she got a little teary-eyed (which then made me cry). It was the most perfect 30th birthday surprise and I’m so thrilled that it made her feel so loved on her special day. She couldn’t be happier with her ring, and just like me, has been wearing it ever since.

You all know that Molly and I love any excuse to match (in good taste, of course), so matching sisterhood signet rings are just the cherry on top. I just love that mine and Molly’s knowledge and fondness for signet rings came from the one our mom has had since high school and that the three of us now each have one that we wear on our pinkys. I’m so grateful to Elizoebeth for bringing her classic signet ring into our lives!

P.S. Elizoebeth (who could not be sweeter) would love to help you celebrate the special people and occasions in your life – whether it’s a gift or a little self-gifting love – and she’s offering A Piece of Toast readers 20% off online purchases on her site through the month of December. Enter ToastToLove at checkout to redeem!

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