Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween + See Ya November

The day has come—Happy Halloween!
October, you were great, but it's time we send you out in style.
Halloween has long been a favorite of mine. A fan of anything worth celebrating, I realize I say that pretty often, but costumes and themes are sort of my thing. So, we really knocked it out of the park this past Saturday at Alys Beach's annual Noche de los Muertos celebration at Caliza pool (You can see a final product of my painted- up tiger costume here.) Fire jugglers and stilt walkers and crazy costumes galore, today's celebration will deservingly be a little more low-key.

So, what's a girl to do when she's already put her time in energy into one costume? Rely on the basics of Halloween prep, which also work well for anyone with last minute plans or who make the decision to not stay in with your candy corn and cheesy scary movies for an evening on the couch (Who did that last night? Not me....)
  • I've obviously been into over-the-top makeup this Halloween season, and Camille Styles has some unique ideas that she featured last week here. I'm a fan of the Twiggy look.
  • Hit up your local Target for some white fishnet stockings, decorative Halloween cobwebs, and faux plastic spiders. Throw on a white dress or tunic, and drape the cobwebs over your ensemble, pinning the spiders to you in a few select places. Voila, you're a cobweb! Extra points for white hair paint, embellished eye makeup, and black nails.
  • An obvious choice—throw on some ears and a use eyeliners for a few whiskers. You're a cat, duh. (Mean Girls reference for those of you that didn't catch it and I can only assume have been living under a rock.) A fur vest tops it all off if it's chilly.
  • Other last minute faves of mine: revenge of the nerds (I love knee socks!), three blind mice, and I've been trying to talk someone into being a mime all month but so far, no takers...
So get up, throw a little glitter on somewhere, prepare one of these festively-inspired cocktails, and enjoy your Halloween as you prepare to greet November (already?!?!) tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Mantra + Being Choosy

I started thinking yesterday about living well. Again. I’m due these deep thought sessions about once a week these days. But I’ve found this free form of writing resonates with many of you faithful followers out there, as your emails undo all the hesitancy I have in writing them. And I’m a sharer. As someone very close to me once said, “You share and you love. It’s what you do.” Well, for today’s mantra, I’m sharing again.

So I started thinking about life and living well and beautifully. And how, oftentimes, we end up somewhere so very different than where we thought we’d be. These places can be good or dark or scary or golden, and, more often than not, some sort of unique combination of all of the above. And when that happens, you can choose two things: uncertainty or joy.

Choosing uncertainty isn’t something I think anyone actually intends to do—we are all, of course, pretty uncertain about many things. Rather, choosing uncertainty as I mean it here comes from not choosing to be certain that you’re going in the right direction. Because choosing to remain hopeful in His plan and the road you’re headed down is choosing the opposite of uncertainty. It’s choosing joy.

I embarked on a mission to choose joy when I turned 25. I’ve always had a bit of a hard time coping with the idea that perfection isn’t there for the taking—that I never will be and no one expects that of me but myself. So after moving away from, essentially, everyone I love, settling in a new place with a new job, and beginning to brave a new season of life so different from than one I expected to be in by the time I was 25, I threw my perfection hang-up on the ground, stomped on it a little, and decided to choose joy. During this time, there was so much potential for uncertainty, and it’s something that is still there, lingering in the back of whatever is in my head on any given day, always—the option to get lost in this uncertainty.

What will happen?
What will I do?
Who will I love?
What does the future look like?

But it’s time like this, where the uncertainty most certainly can seem all-consuming, that He shows up in the smallest of details to softly whisper, “Choose it. Choose joy. And I will show you peace and hope.” A testament to trust.

Yesterday, this happened on a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, wine in hand, new and treasured friends surrounding me, discussing life and love and the beauty of it all. After a long, chaotic, hectic week, my soul was rested, settled, and full to the brim, no, overflowing with the contentment that only choosing joy can do. And I could only think of eight words:

Even so, it is well with my soul.
Even so. Stress. Despair. Uncertainty. Sorrow. Pain. Heartache. Longing. Unmet expectations. Failure.
Despite it all... It is well with my soul. Rest from the madness. Trust in the unknown. Satisfaction in His love. Freedom from the ever persistent perfect complex. The capability to live right now, well, right now, and not a second ahead.
Just a few of the things He provides me with as I choose joy.
It is well with my soul.
Mantra that this week.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy {Wedding Part Une} Weekend

Friday, Friday, FRIDAY.
I love you so much.
I've said a thousand times, October at the beach is my absolute favorite time. It's warm during the day and crisp and cool at night—perfect to grab a cozy sweater to top off your suit after the sun begins to dip down from a day in the sun on the beach. This weekend will be filled with lots of that, as well as a lot of celebration as my dear, sweet friend Shelley gets married! So before wedding bells ring, we'll be doing a little celebrating at a few different parties before the big day.
Not spending the weekend on the beach? Don't worry, I've got you covered. A few Friday Finds to fill all that sweet extra time you've got on your hands this weekend:

Here's to hoping your weekend is fabulous and fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Living with Intention Lesson #2

I had a conversation the other day that I haven't quite been able to shake. It went a little something like this:
Me: Blah blah blah (I mean come on, this is me we're talking about). "I'm really just starting to think I expect too much."
Wise friend: "Excuse me—what? Those words have never come out of your mouth. When did that change, little miss 'I expect life to be lovely all the time'?"
Me: "I don't know, when I turned 25? Quarter-life crisis and such?"
Wise friend: "If by that you mean when everything you touched stopped immediately turning to gold, then ok."
Me: Silence.
Wise friend: "Hey, you said it—you're 25 now. Life isn't always easy. Gold takes a little longer to turn. That's why what you touch is that much more important."

Cue Mumford and Sons' "Awake My Soul."
Where you invest your love, you invest your life.

Living with intention lesson #2—touch only the things you deeply care about turning to gold.
I don't know about your days, but mine are often filled with completely frivolous things I feel like I must do. But respectively and ironically, I'm not a big fan of wasting time. Aside from the necessary evils—bills, working out, errands, etc—how often do you fill your time with things you could pretty simply say no to? I could list off a few pretty quickly. Many weeks have gone by where I feel like not only has nothing I've touched turned to gold, but many of those things haven't felt the warmth of my touch long enough to remember it was present. It's as if the world stands still and my presence in it is a blur of movement and self-imposed obligatory haste.

I tell myself let's be honest—daily—to slow down. Spend more time on things, Ainsley, Because that wise friend was right (hey you, don't let your head expand): Be choosey with what you invest your attention on—the things you care about nurturing, deepening, succeeding in will only turn to gold when the others are discarded.
Relationships. Talents. Wellness—all golden things on my list.
Faith. Thanksgiving. Hope—all gold.
My relationship with Him—the ultimate golden presence.
Pay attention to your source of joy, and it turns to gold. Listen to where He says your attention should be, and He helps turn it to gold. Surrender to Him your attention—give up the things that steal it from Him—and let Him turn your life to gold.
Discard the clutter. Choose joy.

So many words and perhaps incoherent fragments of thought to simply say: Living with intention lesson #2—choose joy and turn your life to gold.

In case you missed living with intention lesson #1.
Happy Thursday—just one more day!
{Photo creds}

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Details

... because on a gloomy day like today, they're the only lovely things you've really got.

{Photo creds}

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday How-To: Style a Graphic Tee

We're always told never say never. Well, I know that's the truth as I grow a new appreciation for the graphic tee resurfaced from my tween years.

In middle school, my top selection rarely ventured beyond the Lacoste polo and the Abercrombie graphic tee. Don't judge—you know you sported the baby tee boasting "Prep," too. Often paired with my Seven jeans or a madris mini, my wardrobe was more of a uniform. But now, I'm fascinated with the way graphic tees have made it back into even the working woman's wardrobe in a totally chic and stylish way. A few of my favorite graphic tee-styled ensembles and how to do it if you're older than 13:

1. Style them in a sophisticated way. Pairing a simple graphic underneath a streamlined blazer and a basic black bottom is cool without being over-the-top.

2. Mix prints with classics and use your graphic as the glue. This simple graphic holds together the classic navy blazer and the flirty leopard shorts in a quirky way that works.

3. French graphics are always a good idea—mainly because anything French is cool, if you ask me— but any graphic paired with a leather skirt is edgy in a good-girly way. Just don't bare too much skin or you're toeing the cheap-look line.

4. A graphic tee paired with a luxe statement necklace automatically turns it up a notch and can be worn with jeans, black cigarette pants, even the above leather skirt.

5. Pairing a graphic tee with something super feminine, like this chiffon pleated mini or the feathered one below, takes the potential fru fru down just a notch for a perfectly meet-in-the-middle match.

I'm on the search for the perfect graphic to pair with my black leather mini and some booties or my navy blazer for this fall beach weather. A few of my (cheap) favorites that I've found thus far:

  1. Sunday Best sweater
  2. Just Chic tee
  3. S'il Vous Plait tee
  4. Love Love Love tee
  5. Daydreamer tee
  6. Cabin Fever tee
  7. Eiffel Tower linen tee
  8. I Like the Thrill tee
A word to the wise, though: styling graphic tees is best done when they are as subtle as possible. Simple messages or images on shirts in black, gray or white are often the most non-competiting with what is sure to be the other awesome elements of your outfit if you're doing it correctly.
Happy Styling!
{Styling example photo creds here}

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Mantra

I am such a dreamer.
My whole life, people have commented on this particular state of thinking. I think my parents probably thought I'd grow out of the mad make-believe skills I practiced as a child. But as I grew older, my tendency for daydreams turned into something slightly different—just good ole dreams in general. Dreams for my future—where I would go, what I would accomplish, what I would be good at, who I would share it with. I was, and still am, quite the dreamer in anticipating my future.

So, as I made plans for the future, I was used to seeing the slight smirk on the face of the listener, or a delicate nod, and yes, occasionally a laugh and an "are you crazy?" I was therein labeled a dreamer, a romantic, at times cheesy and unrealistic—all of which I embraced because really, what else can you do? I oftentimes still don't take in the realistic factors that go into planning the future because I do wholeheartedly believe, good things are about to happen.

And yes, I'll admit, my dreams are big. And they change quite often, but they never go away. But I never look at what I haven't done, only all that there is left to do. It has been an insatiable quest my entire young adulthood that I've accepted without reason—a desire for something more to life. So when I stumbled across this quote a few weeks ago, I couldn't quite shake the feeling that it pertained to me in quite the specific way. Until I was looking for this week's mantra, and it suddenly dawned on me:

I am constantly searching for adventure, romance, creativity, innovation and change because, quite simply, this world is not enough for me. This world is not enough for me because it was not made to be. We, with hearts full of love for Him and on our mission to continue to grow closer to Him, were made for Heaven with Him.

Simple as that. So there's my reason for all that dreaming—I was made for something bigger than this life.
Remembering that as I start my week. Here's to a good one!
{1, 2}

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy {Nothing} Weekend

It seems I've been awaiting this weekend for quite some time. When I finally get home this evening, I'll be taking full advantage of a weekend itinerary full of, well, nothing. Isn't that exactly what the soul needs every so often?
Of course nothing doesn't actually mean nothing, as I'll be checking some ever-present items off the old to-do list, preparing for the upcoming holiday, and basking in some October sun while a tan is still there to nab.
A few Friday Finds to enhance your weekend, and mine as well:
  • Pumpkin carving is definitely on the agenda this weekend. Wait, did I say carving? I meant metallic pumpkin painting, as seen here.
  • I need a new fall manicure a bit more subtle than the blue hue I'm sporting right now. This one via Camille Styles (my role model) looks like the perfect pretty paint job.
  • I'll also be getting my Halloween costume together this weekend. Hint: it involves purchasing these.
  • Currently on the hunt for interesting vintage silk scarves to wear in this weekend fashion.
  • This video for Facebook. Told you I'm a sucker for sap—especially when it concerns mankind. Watch it here.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Toe-Tapping Tunes and Sappy Sweets

Do your moods correlate to your music? Mine do (big surprise), and I guess I’ve been feeling especially sappy lately according to my iTunes history. Someone reminded me of this song on Monday, and it’s been on repeat ever since. Give it a little listen—it’s a beauty.
Then I’ve been toe-tapping to this one in the shower every morning this week. What? Ok yes, I do in fact have a specific play list entitled Shower Songs. Right alongside Bad-Ass Girly Tunes and Feel the Music. Don’t judge. Just follow that link.
I'll stand by my love for John and his guitar talent (and heart-melting crowing), despite any other pre-conceived notions—I'm not much for those. And I've been bobbing my head and shaking my foot during post-workout stretches at Pure Barre when this one comes on the playlist. My subconscious affinity for ladies-man-turned-gentleman has nothing to do with it. Swear.
Lastly—I’ll admit to loving a ballad. No problem. And this one is doing it for me as of late.
I’ve always been a sucker for sappy, so I won’t act surprised.
Happy Thursday—almost there!
{All photo creds here.}

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday: Neutral Beauty

I noticed this morning I was pinning a pretty neutral palette lately, which seems somewhat interesting given my newfound affinity for the fall season. But upon thinking further, I guess it does come to show that at the very center of each of us is an individual style that, despite the elements and the trends, shines through when we’re subconsciously expressing ourselves.
Whoa, that was a deep thought.
Or it could just be because I was completely blown away by the beautiful delicate details of all of these looks, wanting each one to myself.
Why don’t you just enjoy some pretty things this morning?

{Sources here}

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Treats: Icons

I’m no history buff: I like certain time periods and certain eras. But there is one thing I’m constantly on the search for more information from: style icons.

What makes an icon? Whether it be for their art, personal style, or lifestyle, certain individuals define the quest many of us seek in defining these things on our own. Aside from my obvious obsession with the Kennedy family and Olivia Palermo, there are other icons I keep my eye out for, reading as much as I can and always entranced at their lives and the impact they made on society in each unique way. Often controversial, sometimes subtle, these individuals had It—and the world knew it and watched:

{Bridgette the Bombshell}

{Lee Radziwell created and defined 'street chic'}

 {Andy and Edie: the maker of modern art and his muse}

{Carolyn Kennedy, the definition of minimalist chic at its best} 

{Jane Birkin, artist/singer/actress and love of all things French} 

{Marilyn. Period} 

{Paul Newman, the great creator of sex appeal}

I’m curious to know who my grandchildren (God willing) will look back on and be interested in as the Who’s Who of icons during my lifetime. If I had to guess, these would be in my yearbook:
 {The Romantic: Marion Cotillard}

 {The heartthrob: Mr. Clooney himself}

{The Bombshell: Blake Lively} 

{The Girl Next Door: Jen Anniston} 

{The Style Icon: Olivia (duh)} 

{The Rockstars: Bowie and Kate} 

{The Trifecta: No words needed}

{The Artist: Leo Dicaprio}

For more icons of yesteryear and some up-and-comers, visit my Icon Pinterest page here (also where all photo creds are located).
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