With just two weeks left until my due date, the number of items in my closet that actually fit is dwindling by the day. I find jeans to be less and less comfortable - mainly because I feel like I am constantly pulling them up - so dresses have become my jam! Dresses are so easy to throw on and luckily, the warm weather in Dallas means they're also seasonally acceptable for 24/7 wear. As soon as I saw this eyelet dress on kate spade, I fell in love with both the color and the style. I knew that the style would work with a bump (trapeze and flouncy a-line silhouettes are perfect) and that I'd want to wear postpartum all summer long. Since getting the dress about a month or so ago, it continues to fit my growing belly (the longer length insures that it won't get too short!) and in turn is one of the most worn pieces in my closet these days. Wearing the sunny yellow color is an instant mood lifter, too! The white version is just as pretty and may have to be next on my list. For anyone not feeling the lack of waist definition, the dress comes with a tie that can be worn for cinching.
I feel really lucky that Sally is both my sister and best friend. And I feel even luckier that we both live in Dallas and get to see each other daily. But one of the things I love most about Dallas (in addition to having Sally and my brother-in-law here, the Tex-Mex, the weather, etc.) is that I have some wonderful girl friends that are equal parts fun, loving, creative, hardworking, and more. These girls are the kind of women who I can always be myself with (they laugh at all my jokes and are the best listeners when I'm feeling down) and could literally spend every day with. Sadly, we are all so busy that we're lucky if we get to see each other one or two days a week. So when we do get together, we always make the most of it - quality over quantity!
The other day my bestie Cristina and I were feeling like it had been too long since we'd had a real hang so we met up late in the afternoon to run some errands together and plan a night among friends...
Cristina is one of my most dear lady friends. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit you’ve more than likely heard me gush about her and her brand Mi Golondrina. I mean, you can basically feel my love for her radiating through some of the photos in this post – she’s been a friend, creative confidant, and soulful part of my life for a few years now our friendship means the world to me. Not only is she super inclusive and always down for hanging out (when our schedules align!) but she’s introduced me to other women who I now consider to be great friends.
Our girl date started in Highland Park Village – a perfect meeting spot being that it’s halfway between her showroom and my home office. We did a little shopping prep at Royal Blue Grocery for hosting happy hour for friends (wine, cheese, flowers, done) then indulged in some sugar cookies and ice teas at Bird Bakery. Cristina and I could talk for hours about everything and nothing…so anytime we get one-on-one time it’s generally spent over something yummy and involves lots of chatting. After evening drinks and appetizers we headed back to the Village for dinner and a night out with our buds. Definitely an ideal day with our favorite people!
As you can imagine, style and shopping is just one of many topics Cristina and our friends always hit on during our conversations. Being the good girl friend that I am, I made sure to spread the word about the amazing Friends & Family sale event at LOFT. You and your lovely friends can currently get 40% off everything in store and online (use code FRIENDS at checkout)! The event ends TODAY and is a discount deal that’s not to be missed. I personally scooped up great pieces to get me through spring and summer while in the store earlier this week and I have a cart full of additional things I feel like I just can’t life without…
LOFT favorites: The sunny color of this halter dress is beautiful, love this stripe off-shoulder dress, this is perfect for upcoming wedding weekends, and it’s hard to resist the sweet pink and eyelet of this one-shodler dress! So many great pairs of shorts…I really like this safari-style (and they come in great colors!), the scallops on these are perfection, and I already brought these ombre stripe shorts home and love, love them. As far as tops go, this guy is even prettier in person, I scooped up this textured sweatshirt (wearing as I type this) in white, and this basic silk cami is a spring/summer essential! And if you need some new sandals (who doesn’t!?) I can’t get enough of the heeled and flat version of these cutout lace pretties, and this wedge is an incredible classic (love the brown and metallic!).
We checked into the Joule Hotel yesterday afternoon and it was so nice to just lounge by the pool for a few hours. We've had weird weather here that has been cloudy and rainy, so it was nice to enjoy some sunshine finally! Can't believe another weekend is already here and that we only have three weekends left before my due date. With less than 3 weeks left, we're installing the car seat this weekend just to be safe. Also enjoying some downtime with our pups and some serious organizing! (read on to get the sales + steals)
This + That:
- A. FAVORITE READ // Olivia Palermo Cover Story “New York Doll” via Net-A-Porter Mag
- B. FAVORITE PIN // this via Spell & The Gypsy
- C. FAVORITE INSTAGRAM // @amberinteriors (She seriously can do no wrong when it comes to design…)
- D. FAVORITE OUTFIT // Blank Itinerary (Love how Paola looks in this gingham Vetiver dress!)
- Ann Taylor: 50% off everything! With code SPRING50. (How pretty and different are the colors in this? These come in SO many colors and are adorable. Love that the heel isn’t too tall.)
- Anthropologie: 20% off hosting essentials + 25% off sale items. (These are beyond pretty.
- Athleta: New & further markdowns online and in stores.
- Banana Republic: Online and in stores – 40% off your purchase! (This is such a classic, timeless piece that would look great with a white tee or tank! Obsessed with this – might have to order to wear in the fall with jeans/jean shorts.)
- BaubleBar: Pick a free treat with any $40+ order!
- Calypso St. Barth: Enjoy an additional 30% off newest sale styles!
- Crate & Barrel: 20% off wine and dine. (I’ve always loved this entire line.)
- Free People: Sale on sale – enjoy an additional 25% off sale styles! (This looks SO cozy and I love the color.)
- Gap: 40% off your purchase with code HOPTOIT. (This is adorable – especially love how they styled it on the model.)
- H&M: Deals from $5! Up to 60% sale off plus free shipping. (This would be perfect paired with white jeans for the rainy weather we’ve been having lately and that is supposed to continue!)
- Intermix: Spend more, save more! Save up to 25% off. New markdowns added to sale! (The style and color of this is perfection.)
- J.Crew: 30% off shirts, tees, tops, and more with code MUSTHAVES. (I don’t know if I will ever tire of chambray. It goes with everything and can transition through seasons. Especially liking this style.)
- J.Crew Factory: 50% off everything! (This is the ideal dress for when it is too hot to deal outside.)
- kate spade new york: Enjoy an extra 25% off sale styles with code CAKE. (It doesn’t get any cuter than a scalloped card holder.)
- LOFT: Friends and family event – 40% off everything in stores and online! Use code FRIENDS. (My friend Hannah has these and they’re adorable on.)
- Lou & Grey: 25% off a purchase of $150+. (Hello, cutest bikini I’ve seen all season.)
- Madewell: Extra 30% off all sale styles with code DREAMBIG. (These are hands down one of the best sandal purchases I’ve made. Considering the black pair with the sale price!)
- Old Navy: Entire store on sale – up to 50% off. (This in the hot tamale color is super cute! Love the style.)
- Saks: Home sale – up to 30% off. (This book has been on my wish list for awhile now!)
- Serena and Lily: Enjoy 20% off outdoor furniture with code LIVEWELL
- Shopbop: EVENT OF THE SEASON! Take 20% off orders under $500 and 25% off orders over $500. (These have been sitting in my cart for a good week or so – thinking I need to finally order them!)
- Steve Madden: Buy one, get one 50% off plus free shipping with code SHOPNOW.
The last week of March may go down as one of my favorite times as a blogger. That Tuesday-Friday I was invited to travel to Aurora, New York to experience an up-close-and-personal view into a brand I've known and loved for years and years: MacKenzie-Childs. This visit (#CampCourtlyCheck) was unforgettable and completely magical for several reasons...
First of all, the town of Aurora is set on Cayuga Lake, it's both historical and quaint, and their Inns are beyond beautiful and comfortable (we stayed at the E.B. Morgan House and it's incredible). The trip was made up of fellow bloggers Lynsey (also based in Dallas!) and Katie of Tomboy KC, Kathleen of Carrie Bradshaw Lied, Marissa of Style Cusp, and Amanda of The Fashionable Hostess. I've been on blogger trips before but I have to say there was something really special about this particular group of women. We all became very fast friends and had some of the most real, honest, and creative conversations I've had in a long time. Being able to experience this trip with them made it even more meaningful. And of course, the behind the curtain look at MacKenzie-Childs was like being in Wonderland. We got to tour their barn studio (where all the ceramics and furniture is created from start to finish), wander through and lunch at the Farmhouse (decorated tip-to-toe in MacKenzie Childs), experience the storybook like grounds (complete with sheep, geese, and sprawling lawns overlooking the lake), and gawk at the brand mecca that is their Shop. I have so much to share it's slightly overwhelming. But I hope you all enjoy getting a glimpse of my trip!
The words I can use to describe MacKenzie-Childs: whimsical, fun, quality, innovative, loyal, community. I could go on, but those do a good job of summing things up. Whether you already know and love the products or have never seen them before today, it’s immediately apparent that they stand out with a look that’s both whimsical and fun. Bold checks, butterflies, colorful patterns, bright florals, playful shapes and forms – I can say without a doubt that within the vast collection, there’s something for everyone. The brand has always been build on a foundation of quality (whether handmade craftsmanship or impeccable factory conditions) and innovation. The founders – Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs – humbly introduced their handmade ceramic creations in 1983 and slowly but surely made their dream-like visions become reality as they introduced furniture and lighting, enamelware, etc. Now, 34 years later, the band continues to create new categories that showcase the timeless “fun!” that makes MacKenzie-Childs so beloved. Speaking of love…it can be easily be seen, felt and realized by the loyal customers and community of employees that support the company. From the fanatic collectors (I’m looking at you, Kris Jenner!) to the artists who have worked at the company for decades – this deep loyalty and sense of community is unlike any brand I’ve experienced.
If I had to pick a favorite part of the trip (at least one that didn’t include food or talking with the wonderful people that work for MacKenzie-Childs) it would be touring in the barn studio and getting to see the artists as they work. It’s easy to walk into a store or set the table with my mom’s collection of MacKenzie-Childs and forget that every single ceramic item is handmade. Learning about the various steps in this craft and watching the artisans as they worked made me have an even deeper appreciation for both the MacKenzie-Childs brand and the pieces they make. In an attempt to explain how the ceramics are made, I’ve tried to arrange my photos in order of the steps below:
- Solid clay is either molded by hand, pressed (ex: plates, platters), or liquid clay is poured into plaster molds used for slipcasting (ex: mugs, cow creamers!).
- Once the clay forms are “leather hard” and able to be gentle handled without losing their shape, they are fettled (all the edges are smoothed, any imperfections from the molding is removed), pieces with handles get them added at this stage.
- These pieces go through a first kiln firing.
- After the first firing, the bottom (or “foot”) of each ceramic piece is hand painted or dipped into a wax coating, then the whole piece is dunked into a base glaze. The glaze covers the item but doesn’t adhere to the part coated in wax – this is so the piece can be placed in the kiln and the bottom part won’t stick. This hand-done process results in a “snake bite” marking on every piece – showing the spot of the tongs used to hold the item when it’s dipped in the glaze (just one of many nods to the hand-done process MacKenzie-Childs celebrates!).
- Once coated in a first layer of raw glaze, the pottery pieces will go straight to being decorated (with a technique called “dipping”) or they fired again then decorated (with China paints).
- The dipping process is done by artisans who hand mix glaze mineral stains and paint directly onto the initial glaze. Each time an artist dips their brushes in the stains they swirl the pigment to keep the powered stain from settling on the bottom. Even more impressive than the constant swirling, dipping and brushing of pigment is the fact that the artist that paint the various designs don’t use a template but free-hand paint each pattern. They do have color guides and finished examples to go off of to insure consistency but no two pieces are identical and small variations can be seen based on the handcrafted nature. (Examples of pieces painted with mineral stains: the Taylor and Piccadilly collections)
- The other painting technique that’s done on top of the the first base of fired glaze is done using China paint. Unlike painting done with stains, this paint process allows artists to wipe off the paint if they’ve made a mistake (the smooth, shiny, white glaze base kind of acts as a dry erase board of sorts). This paint technique is what’s used for the famous Courtly Check. Though it might seem easier for the artists that do this check pattern vs. those that freehand the designs onto raw glaze and can’t really mess up, it’s actually quite complex because each check made involved dragging the brush through several accent colors – resulting in a one-of-a-kind checkerboard that’s anything but boring or flat. (Examples of pieces painted with China paint: the Courtly Check and Parchment Check ceramic collections)
- The Courtley Check ceramics and several others receive another painted treatment of gold lustre embellishment. This application is added after any previous painting done is fired again. The gold lustre (re: it’s 24 karat gold in a liquid form!) looks like a red tint and is brushed or dotted on by hand. To help mask the fumes, the tint has a special lavender scent added.
- Some items – like this heart bowl – get all three decorative techniques! Once fired and glazed, the middle part is painted with mineral glaze on top of the raw glaze, then it’s fired again, and the outside gets painted with the checkered pattern in China paint, fired a third time, then gold lustre is applied, and the piece gets a fourth and final firing. (P.S. watch a Parchment Check teapot go from start to finish via this great video!)
- The amount of artisanal hands that touch one piece as it goes from unformed clay to a completed piece is amazing! To acknowledge the talent and craftsmanship that goes into the process, artists stamp the bottom of each piece with their initials once completed with their process (this teapot has four stamps: 1) for the person who did the felting, 2) for artist who did the mineral glaze, 3) for the artist that painted the check, and 4) the artist who painted the gold lustre.
Aside from the ceramics department, the barn houses also houses a furniture studio. If you’ve ever seen MacKenzie-Childs furniture pieces, you know they’re completely fantastical and range in scale from grand (example: the Ridiculous Bench) to petite (like this petite side table) but none are lacking in character or detail. Each piece – no matter how big or small – is decorated with Mackenzie-Childs signature designs and painted start-to-finish by a single artist. One piece and can employ many different techniques (marbling, appliqué, gold-leafing, etc) and the many hours dedicated to brining each to life. Seeing artist work on various furniture pieces was a very Alice In Wonderland experience…so much fun and fantasticalness in one place.
A quick walk from the barn studio leads to the MacKenzie-Childs Farmhouse. As I mentioned earlier, the Farmhouse is decorated tip-to-toe in MacKenzie Childs. Rather than looking like an overwhelming explosion of the brand, it’s designed to highlight the famed designs, pieces and products (some of which are now discontinued) in a way that’s both thoughtful and fun. Rooms are centered around various collections and themes – expertly executed with everything MacKenzie Childs in the from of furniture and lighting, dishes and tiles, drawerpulls and knobs, rugs, fabrics and wall treatments. I couldn’t get over the level of detail…it was almost impossible to pick a favorite room but the one-of-a-kind finial wall sconce and custom art (Papa Parchment!) were definitely the things I most wanted to steal.
One visit to Aurora and MacKenzie-Childs headquarters is just not enough for me…I have big plans to return back with Sally and our mom. Sally and I grew up revering our mama’s collection of Taylor dinnerware – there’s not a spring or summer I can remember not using it for special occasions – and gave us an early introduction into the whimsical world of the MacKenzie-Childs brand. Now that we’re adulting, creating our own homes and entertaining friends and family alike, we’re both slowly but surely incorporating treasured MacKenzie-Childs pieces into our lives. If any of you are fellow fans of the brand, I highly encourage you to visit the headquarters! Seeing the gorgeous gardens, Farmhouse, and Shop is such a special experience.
Just a few current MacKenzie-Childs favorites…
Half of my vibes this week are in relation to vacationing - clearly I am feeling the travel bug. Either that or I am dying for the cloudy/rainy weather to leave Dallas. With my mom and Molly in Palm Springs last weekend at our best friends' wedding that both my husband and I were supposed to be in (doctor said no traveling after 36 weeks), I am only slightly jealous and in mourning of their warm weather, palm tree-filled trip. Not to mention having to miss witnessing some of our dearest friends tie the knot, but obviously it was important that we stay close to home this late in the game. (aside from dreaming of a vacation, read on for more vibes...)
P.S. Shopbop is having an amazing three day event that just kicked off today...now through April 14th, use the code EVENT17 to get 20% off orders that total under $500 and 25% off orders of $500 or more! Hop to it!
1. VACATION SCHEMING // KID & COE: Have you all heard of Kid & Coe? The company has curated thousands of “kid-friendly” rental houses and apartments across the globe to make traveling as a family that much easier. Each home is equipped with everything you may need while traveling with little ones – cribs, toys, books, you name it. The houses also come with recommendations for babysitters as well as suggestions of what to do and see in the area – all family friendly of course. We have yet to plan a trip after my due date with the exception of visiting Kiawah Island for a family vacation in July, but just browsing the Kid & Coe site has me wanting to get something on the calendar!
2. SWOOING // BRRCH: I am a sucker for a pretty flower arrangement and could stalk them on Instagram/Pinterest for the better part of my day. I discovered BRRCH Floral through Glossier when they used them for one of their events and have been obsessed ever since. The company was founded in 2013 by Brittany Asch who has made quite a name for herself since the beginning! Vogue even named her “One of Six Florists to Keep on Call”. What I love most about the blooms is that they are far from your traditional arrangement and tend to evoke actual works of art – where you wonder if what you’re looking at is truly real, live flowers. Do yourself a favor and check out their Instagram account – you won’t be sorry!
3. OBSESSING // HATCH TEES: It’s safe to say that Molly and I fell even more in love with the brand that is HATCH after hosting last Tuesday’s event with them here in Dallas. The HATCH team was amazing and the products exceeded our expectations. By the end of the day we wanted to own every single piece that they brought with them to Dallas. One of the pieces I fell in love with was their “longsleeve tee” in the chambray and ivory stripe. Its honestly the softest, coziest, and most flattering t-shirts I have worn in awhile. It can be worn while pregnant, but also if you aren’t pregnant. In fact, our friend Kelsey isn’t pregnant and the tee looks just as amazing on her, too. The best part? It literally comes in every solid and stripe that you could imagine so you can stock up, because something this good is worth buying in every color!
4. BOOKMARKING // CHIC STAYS: The latest addition to my bookshelves is “Chic Stays: Conde Nast Traveller’s Favorite People on their Favorite Places.” The book features 36 personal stories of favorite spots around the world with breathtaking photos and descriptions of each. Who doesn’t want to know where people like Sofia Coppola, Kate Moss, Florence Welch and 33 others consider to be their most favorite places? Having feeling quite “landlocked” and home bound these days, this book was just what I needed to fulfill my wanderlust!
5. SUITING // MARA HOFFMAN: With a family vacation planned in July and just a few months after my due date, I am being realistic about my expectations of “bouncing back” to a pre-baby body and therefore about what bathing suits I will be sporting on the beach. To be honest, I actually don’t own a single one piece as I’ve never found them to be flattering on myself, but I’m thinking these may become my new bff post-baby. Mara Hoffman has always, always killed it in the resort-wear scene, so its no surprise that her latest collection of swimwear is jaw-dropping good. With lots of one pieces that are anything but boring, I’m thinking I may need to make one (or two) of them mine. How darling is this pattern? Also love this – is there anything more classic than a black bathing suit?
6. SLIDING // GINGHAM + BOWS: I can’t get enough of slides these days. Mules, sandals, they’re all my favorite – mainly due to the ease at which I can just slide them on without bending over, which is key! My latest obsession in the slide sandals department is this adorable gingham, bow pair by Jeffrey Campbell. The blue and white would go with just about everything and if you wear a lot of solids like I do, they’d be a nice punch to an outfit. Think solid dresses all summer long. I would happily slip the sandals on today with jeans and a white tee!
7. STAYCATIONING // THE JOULE: My husband and I have had a lot to celebrate this spring. His 30th birthday last month, our two year anniversary this week, and our first baby due in just a few weeks. We would have loved nothing more than to take a beach vacation to celebrate all of these happenings, but all places that were warm enough had a risk of Zika that neither of us felt remotely comfortable with. Each day with pregnancy is such a milestone in itself, that it just didn’t seem worth it – our friends who were in Cabo in January told us there were warning signs for Zika everywhere – scary. Instead, we’ve decided to save the beach trip until we can go as a family of three, which we can’t wait for. We’ve also decided to take a “stay cation” within Dallas to the Joule Hotel, which is always the best experience. Between the delicious room service, to the spa (they have the best prenatal massage that I am still dreaming about), the rooftop pool and the Taschen Library – we’re pretty pumped for our little escape.